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Why is the US Hyping Up the Threat of ISIS in Afghanistan?

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 16.11.2021

To justify its interventionist actions in the Middle East, the United States, following the now cliched example, actively uses its alleged commitment to fighting against terrorism, focusing on countering such well-known terrorist formations as Al Qaeda and ISIS. The same goes for the actions of the USA in Afghanistan. However, Washington didn’t take any accountability before the rest of the world about the results of this fight against terrorists in Afghanistan during its 20 years of abysmal military intervention.

At the same time, the Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov and foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mentioned several times that Russia has sufficient facts backing the claims about the USA’s cooperation with the ISIS militants in the northern part of Afghanistan. In particular, since 2017, unmarked helicopter flights have been recorded within areas of ISIS militant activity, not without the explicit knowledge of US and NATO forces in their area of responsibility, especially in northern Afghanistan… According to Afghan sources, these aircraft have been used to deliver manpower, weapons, and ammunition to ISIS militants. Moreover, there were recorded instances of surgical strikes by the US Air Force not against terrorists, but positions of radical Taliban fighters engaged in combat against ISIS.

After the termination of the US military intervention in Afghanistan in August this year under the pressure of the international public and Americans themselves, certain American politico-military circles, clearly dissatisfied with this step, started to spin the propaganda campaign about the allegedly intensified in recent months “danger of ISIS activity in Afghanistan” through their lackey media. With the apparent hope of triggering a new international armed aggression in Afghanistan, again under “US patronage.”

Thus, on September 28 this year, General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the supposedly obvious danger of strengthening of Al-Qaeda and ISIS positions in Afghanistan: “And we must remember that the Taliban was and remains a terrorist organization, and they still have not broken ties with al-Qaeda. I have no illusions about who we are dealing with.” “A reconstituted al-Qaeda or Daesh/ISIS with aspirations to attack the US is a very real possibility,” General continued.

The allegedly growing threat of ISIS in Afghanistan has recently been actively picked up by the American media, handy to the current military and political elite. In particular, recently The New York Times began to scare the world with stories that, since the Taliban came to power, ISIS militants in Afghanistan have intensified, their terrorist attacks are exhausting the new government and raising fears among Western powers of a potential revival of the group. During his speech in Congress, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl admitted that the ability of Afghan authorities to combat the Islamists “has yet to be determined.” However, he did not say anything about who and when will determine the results of 20 years of fighting them by the United States itself.

The New York Times acknowledged that, after its disgraceful flight from Afghanistan in August, Washington had lost reliable access to intelligence. Limited drone flights now provide only partial information given the distance they need to travel to reach Afghanistan, and its established network of informants has been destroyed.

However, the real reason behind Washington’s new propaganda wave regarding the allegedly heightened threat of ISIS from Afghanistan becomes apparent in one of the final paragraphs of the article published by this newspaper. It states that the Taliban “refuse to cooperate with the United States in fighting ISIS by fighting the war on their terms.”

As for the organization of today’s fight against ISIS, Dr. Bashir, head of the Taliban’s intelligence services, has directly pointed out that such work is constantly being done, and his men have adopted the methods of this fight from their predecessors. Moreover, they even rely on Western equipment to intercept messages and radio communications. He insists, however, that the Taliban have something the past government and the Americans did not have: widespread local support that can alert authorities to attacks and militant positions, something that has always been hard to detect in the past.

As for some Western propagandists who attempt to use the thesis about the alleged merger of the Taliban with ISIS terrorists at the instigation of Washington, keep in mind that ISIS does not have such a strong influence in Afghanistan as the Taliban, and they are seen as antagonists in the country. The fact is that ISIS relies on Salafi ideology, while most Afghans identify themselves with the Hanafi school of fiqh. Therefore, the organization is a foreign body in the structure of Afghan society, which undoubtedly limits its growth of influence and popularity in the country.

As you know, ISIS announced the formation of the group in Iraq in 2014. Then came the ISIS affiliate in Pakistan. As for Afghanistan, a branch of ISIS emerged here in January 2015 under the Islamic State – Khorasan Province, which later the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan joined with. In 2015, several regional media reports revealed that the National Directorate of Security (NDS), under complete US control, had helped ISIS gain a foothold in Nangarhar province. There have also been reports that some leaders of the Afghan branch of ISIS, including Sheikh Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost (a former Guantanamo Bay detainee!), traveled in Afghan intelligence vehicles and lived in guesthouses belonging to Afghan intelligence agencies. Therefore, some analysts accuse US intelligence services of involvement in creating and strengthening ISIS in Afghanistan.

At a certain point, the Taliban viewed ISIS as temporary “allies” fighting against US intervention within Afghanistan. However, after ISIS demanded that Taliban leaders swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, clashes broke out between the Taliban and ISIS, especially in Nangarhar province. Notably, after such clashes broke out, government helicopters rescued ISIS fighters besieged by the Taliban in some areas, such as Jawzjan province. In particular, Afghan army helicopters supported by US forces evacuated ISIS fighters and their families and housed them in guesthouses in Sheberghan, Jawzjan province, belonging to Afghan intelligence. Afghan intelligence agencies implicitly acknowledged this.

The estimated number of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan is 5,000. A UN report released in mid-July said the number of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan ranges from 500 to 1,500. Currently, ISIS does not possess heavy weapons, guns, and tanks, even though such equipment was abandoned in large numbers by the US army after fleeing Afghanistan, and has no centers, headquarters, or open fronts on Afghan soil. In these circumstances, ISIS can gain a foothold in Afghanistan only if some foreign patrons support it with people, arms, and money to use this organization to weaken the Taliban’s power and turn Afghanistan into a new breeding ground for terrorism. And here, one cannot rule out such actions precisely on the part of the United States and its Western allies. For example, Washington has done it before by supporting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in its confrontation with the Soviet Union.

In a sense, former Afghan army and Afghan intelligence officers trained in the United States, who had already joined ISIS in Afghanistan in August after the US fled Afghanistan, could be used by the United States to manipulate ISIS. Their numbers, as admitted by The Wall Street Journal, “are still relatively small, but they are growing, according to those who know these people, and also according to Afghan and Taliban intelligence agencies.”

Today, the Taliban control the entire country and view ISIS as a foreign group to be fought and wholly expelled from Afghanistan. As for the restraints the Taliban has towards carrying out joint counter-terrorist actions against ISIS, confirmed by the Taliban on October 11 at the meeting with the Americans in Doha, one cannot rule out that it was Washington’s former ties with ISIS that could lie behind such a position of the current rulers of Afghanistan.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Washington’s Assembly Line for Retraining Soldiers in Syria Isn’t Stopping

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 25.09.2021

According to the Syrian news agency SANA, on September 19, US Air Force helicopters transported two new groups of militants to their base in Al-Shaddadah in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria, for retraining. There were about 60 people in total who had previously fought in the ranks of the terrorist group ISIS.

These militants were transported from a prison in the city of Qamishli, where they were guarded by Kurds from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after ISIS’s defeat in 2019. The majority of these prisoners have Iraqi citizenship, and among them are also Saudi Arabians and Tunisians. According to SANA sources, at least three former ISIS members have held senior positions in its regional structure in the past. One of them presided over the police force in Deir ez-Zor, another headed penitentiary facilities, and the third was responsible for finances.

SANA elaborates that they will undergo retraining at the US military base in order to later integrate into puppet groups under the label of the “Army of Free Tribes,” which are used by the US command to conduct subversive operations in northeastern Syria.

It is notable that this is not the first such US operation to organize “retraining courses” for Islamist militants at its bases in Syria. For example, on August 7, 40 ISIS supporters were transported to a base controlled by the US Armed Forces in Al-Shaddadah. As reported by the Syrian media, the terrorists, among whom were an ISIS “spy group leader” and “explosives specialist,” were moved to the military base from prisons under the control of the Kurdish SDF. It was stressed that the terrorists “were armed and received logistical support for the perpetration of further acts of terrorism, the target of which could be populated areas, sites occupied by the Syrian army, and infrastructure.”

On June 21, US Air Force helicopters transported yet another group of militants to Al-Shaddadah from the Es-Sanawiya prison, situated in the administrative center of Al-Hasakah. They were also preparing to join the Army of Free Tribes group, which the United States uses to conduct operations in northeast Syria.

Prior to this, in April no less than 70 other former mercenaries from the ranks of ISIS were transferred from Ghuwayran prison, which is also controlled by SDF fighters, to the pro-Western coalition base at Al-Tanf where the borders of Syria, Iraq, and Jordan meet.

Mehmet Ali Güller, the Turkish author of “ISIS. Black Terror,” writes that ISIS has always been a “convenient enemy” for the USA and has served as a “skeleton key” for doors, which Washington has wanted to open.

Another Turkish publication, Milliyet, emphasizes that the USA has constantly signaled the need to focus on the fight against ISIS, but it has never acted with the aim of destroying it. The USA used ISIS to change the map of the region, reconstruct it, establish the space for a terrorist mini-state, and partition and destroy the region’s states. Somewhere there was ISIS, and somewhere “Al-Qaeda” or “Khuras al-Din”. In other words, the USA has never seriously fought against the by-products of its own creation, which have appeared under different names. The publication emphasizes that the USA only ever acted with the consideration of exploiting them in their own interests and for their own benefit.

Any supporting information about secret ties between the USA and ISIS should not surprise anyone, since even The Washington Post writes that the leader of ISIS, Amir Mohammed Said Abel-Rahman al-Mawla, also known as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Kurashi, previously performed the role of informant for the US military in Iraq. An in-depth investigation of the support that several Western intelligence agencies, including the CIA, provide to jihadist groups in Syria can be found in “The Secret War in Syria” by Maxim Shae, an expert on covert operations, intelligence and US foreign policy.

Not only does the USA continue to conduct “retraining” for former ISIS fighters and other extremist groups in “its own interests,” but it also supplies them with weapons. The aim of such US actions is extremely simple: to prepare a new detachment of radical pro-American groups that will perform the rough work of Special Force units. And the results of these actions are already plain to see: on September 17, the militants cut off the power supply across Damascus and sabotaged a gas pipeline to the South near Deir Ali. In addition to disabling the pipeline, according to Reuters and Al-Ikhbariya there have been attempts to blow up two power lines in the Khuran district of Damascus.

Besides training ISIS fighters at American military bases in Syria, the US-backed SDF abduct civilians to force them to fight in their ranks, carry out raids on Syrian cities, and wreak havoc in the country. Thus, on September 20, as reported by SANA news agency, the SDF executed another raid on houses in the town of Abu Hamam in Deir ez-Zor during which they abducted nine local residents, who were taken in an unknown direction. It is reported that the militants indiscriminately opened fire to disperse some people who were trying to recapture the abducted residents, sowing panic among the civilian population. Windows were also broken in several houses. The kidnapping was carried out with the support of the US military.

In order to avoid allegations against the US Air Force of killing civilians, the Pentagon plans to train SDF militants in independent operations with the use of military aircraft. For this, training in aviating and using T-6 Texan aircraft and MD-500 helicopters was organized at the Al-Kafr base. For this purpose, according to the available data, three such aircraft and two helicopters have already been delivered to the American base.

Furthermore, as El Mundo and many other Western media have already reported, US militants who have undergone “special training” are actively deployed in Syria, along with mercenaries from the American private military company Academi, to guard and transport convoys with stolen Syrian oil to Iraq.

Meanwhile, it should be recalled that US military personnel are in Syria illegally, violating the norms of the UN Security Council. Washington funds the militants through a program of assistance to the “Syrian opposition” and is using them to retain its positions in the Syrian oil fields.

These illegal and predatory actions on behalf of Washington must ultimately be subject to a legal assessment by the international community and be stopped!

September 25, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Arranging The Middle East Narrative To Push The Agenda Forward

South Front | February 11, 2021

The United States is returning to a level of activity in the Middle East unseen in nearly 4 years. This development has become obvious over the weeks since Joe Biden became US President, firstly with a large deployment into Syria, and subsequently with smaller ones.

On February 9th, the Pentagon said that it was no longer in Syria to protect and exploit oil fields.

It is now back to hunting ISIS. Back to the square one of 2014 and the Obama era. ISIS somehow obliged by ramping up their activities throughout Syria.

It is a mystery that they were able to make such a sharp and sudden resurgence. It should also be noted that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces allegedly have about 10,000 ISIS terrorists imprisoned.

This statement of intent denotes a massive shift in posture for the US. When defending the oil fields the US troops were mostly static, when hunting ISIS they can, once again, roam around and carry out various operations.

It appears likely that Idlib is now also in focus – US combat drones were observed surveying Greater Idlib. Idlib is a mixed bag – it has Turkish troops, Russians, the Syrian Arab Army along with terrorists and the moderate opposition, although confusing these two groups can be forgiven. The newest, future, US ally is there – the soon-to-be-rebranded Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

An indication of expected escalations and attacks are the Russian and Syrian military drills being carried out near Aleppo during effective wartime. Russia, separately, carried out a naval drill near Tartus.

And, as if by design, long-range missiles attempted to strike Russia’s forces at the Hmeimim Air Base. Drones occasionally attempt to infiltrate its airspace, but missiles are a rare sight.

Meanwhile in Western Daraa, the rebel leaders submitted to Damascus, likely fearing the upcoming chaos and wanting to choose a side.

Finally, the Biden administration is also working to secure Israeli support. The State Department said it doesn’t endorse Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but doesn’t oppose it. It also provided a $9bn weapon sale as consolation. Tel Aviv is likely to use these weapons to counter its nemesis – Iran. It does so by targeting alleged Iranian interests in Syria.

Syria remains the lynchpin of US Middle East policy but the US posture in Iraq and Afghanistan has also changed. Withdrawing from the region is now out of the question – ISIS is making a resurgence, and there are other groups targeting American forces and convoys.

In Afghanistan, specifically, if the withdrawal does not move forward, the Taliban are also likely to begin targeting the US again.

The democrats are back in control and back to spreading democracy in the Middle East.

February 11, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

US attempts to destabilize region through supporting terrorism: Iraqi MP

Press TV – January 26, 2021

An Iraqi legislator has warned against the Unites States’ attempts to disrupt peace and security in the Middle East through supporting terrorism, saying Washington is even ready to set entire Iraq on fire so it can keep its military forces in the Arab country.

Karim Alaiwi, a legislator from the Fatah (Conquest) alliance and a member of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi legislature, told Arabic-language Baghdad Today warned against the policies of new US President Joe Biden towards Iraq, reminding the government that Daesh terrorists started their activities during the reign of Democrats.

“The Daesh terror group became active during the former and current presidencies of the [US] Democratic Party. Washington’s policy is to disrupt security and stability in the Middle East, especially in Iraq,” Alaiwi said.

He added, “The United States has supported and financially sponsored most of terrorist operations in Iraq, and has protected leaders of the Daesh terrorist group in many parts of the country.”

The Iraqi lawmaker highlighted that there are areas in Iraq where Daesh is still active, saying Washington is preventing military flights over those regions.

Washington, he said, is ready to “burn” all of Iraq so it will have a pretext to prolong its military presence in the Arab country.

Daesh has claimed responsibility for a rare twin bombing attack that tore through a busy area of central Baghdad on January 21, killing at least 32 people and wounding 110 others.

Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, said one of the two bombers lured a crowd of people towards him in a market in the central Tayaran Square by feigning illness, only to detonate his explosives.

The second bomber struck as people helped victims of the first attack, Rasool added.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh in December 2017 after a three-year counter-terrorism military campaign.

The terror outfit’s remnants, though, keep staging sporadic attacks across Iraq, attempting to regroup and unleash a new era of violence.

Daesh has intensified its terrorist attacks in Iraq since January 2020, when the United States assassinated top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), along with their companions in a drone strike authorized by former US president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport.

Following the assassinations, the Iraqi parliament approved a bill demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

The US began the drawdown under the administration of ex-president Donald Trump, but it has said a number of troops will remain in the Arab country.

January 26, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

More scandals on Dutch government’s involvement in supporting terrorism in Syria

SANA | December 6, 2020

Amsterdam  – A new chapter in the scandals of the Netherlands’s involvement in supporting terrorist organizations in Syria is unfolding in front of the world public opinion after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has recently admitted that he personally intervened to obstruct parliamentary investigations into his government’s provision of millions of dollars to terrorists, which shows the blatant hypocrisy in the policies of the Netherlands and the West regarding the allegations of fighting terrorism and protecting human rights.

The new development in the Dutch scandals file came after Rutte had been forced a few days ago to admit that he had obstructed the investigations by a fact-finding committee formed at the Dutch Parliament two years ago after Dutch media published files revealing the Dutch government’s involvement in supporting terrorists in Syria over several years and supplying them with technical equipment, especially for communication, military and logistical equipment, and hundreds of trucks and various vehicles.

At the time, the Dutch investigators did not reach any conclusion due to Rutte’s obstruction of the work of this committee and his deliberate concealment of secrets that prove his direct involvement with terrorists and his flagrant violation of the international and Dutch laws as the organizations that he supports financially and logistically in Syria are classified as terrorist organizations by the Dutch Public Prosecution itself.

The Parliamentary Investigation Committee was formed in the Netherlands after two media outlets revealed in a special documentary in 2017 the Dutch government’s support for about 22 terrorist groups, including the so-called “Levantine Front” organization, which is classified as terrorist even by Dutch institutions.

Rutte’s obstruction of the investigations has been met with great indignation by the Dutch people, as the media there has focused on his government’s involvement in providing millions of dollars, foodstuffs, medicines and telecommunication equipment to terrorists, while Dutch and European parties started to raise this issue at the public opinion platforms, calling for transparency and the truth while wondering about the benefit of democracy if it is not reflected on the ethical dimensions of the international policies.

The Dutch support for armed terrorist groups has continued throughout the years of the war on Syria, despite the pledges of the Amsterdam government to its parliament that only the organizations it described as “moderate” would receive support in harmony with the hypocrisy adopted by the United States of America, which has always claimed that it provides support and training to those whom it describes as “moderate opposition”, but later many reports have refuted these claims and confirmed that “Washington’s moderates” are nothing but terrorists who joined the ranks of terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda and Daesh “ISIS”.

The Dutch government has claimed that the reason behind its illegal interference to obstruct the investigations into the scandal is that the investigation would lead to the disclosure of secret information, in addition to exposing the alleged international coalition which had been formed under the pretext of fighting Daesh “ISIS” and the crimes committed by the Western states which are members of this coalition against Syrian civilians and the Syrian infrastructure under the pretense of fighting terrorism, while the facts on the ground confirm the involvement of this coalition in protecting Daesh.

The Netherlands, which is on the top of the European countries that export terrorists to Syria and Iraq, and the Dutch government’s support for terrorist organizations in the context of its submission to the American decision, makes it the last to have the right to talk about democracy and human rights in Syria or elsewhere and its government should be held accountable at the International Court of Justice.

December 8, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Coup’ preparation, or move to stop endless wars? What’s behind Trump’s Pentagon purge

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | November 11, 2020

Democrats and their allies are alarmed that President Donald Trump’s firing of top Pentagon officials could be preparation for a military coup. What looks more likely is that US troops might finally pull out from Afghanistan.

In addition to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, whom Trump “terminated” on Monday, Esper’s chief of staff Jennifer Stewart, acting policy chief James Anderson, and intelligence undersecretary Joseph Kernan have also been shown the door. They were replaced by National Security Council counter-terrorist chief Christopher Miller, former NSC aide Kash Patel, General Anthony Tata, and another former NSC aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick, respectively.

The purge and the appointment of the officials widely described in mainstream media as “Trump loyalists” has led to Democrats and neoconservatives warning that a “coup” might be in the works against Joe Biden, who has claimed victory in the November 3 election.

4. Who knows whether intentions are mostly petty, or domestic election interference, or unimpeded decisions in foreign policy (latter could range from military force to military withdrawals, and from pro-Putin to pro-MBS). But, I’m told, both Esper and Milley are truly worried.

— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 11, 2020

Allowing for the possibility that Trump could just be acting out of spite against people who were disloyal to him, The Nation’s Michael Klare noted that Miller had been involved in covert operations in urban settings of Iraq and Afghanistan with US Special Forces.

Democrats should look for any evidence that the Pentagon purge “signals a covert White House plan to use the US military in support of an illegal drive to subvert democracy and install Trump as dictator,” Klare warned.

Wednesday’s appointment of retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor as Miller’s senior adviser, however, points in an entirely different direction. First reported by Axios, it was confirmed by the Pentagon later in the day, with a statement noting that Macgregor’s “decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities.”

While that sounds like properly vague Pentagonese, Macgregor is well known for his advocacy of a speedy US withdrawal from Afghanistan – something Trump said last month he wished to see by Christmas this year, ahead of the 2021 timeline envisioned in the peace agreement the US have struck with the Taliban.

The Intercept’s Lee Fang quoted an anonymous Pentagon official who basically confirmed that the Pentagon purge is aimed at overcoming resistance by career bureaucrats and the military-industrial complex to Trump’s policies.

Trump official claims the rapid personnel changes are designed to end the “forever wars” in Afghanistan, withdraw troops by Christmas, which many Pentagon leaders opposed. Others argue moves are designed only to award loyalty and punish dissent.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) November 11, 2020

“The president is taking back control of DOD. It’s a rebirth of foreign policy. This is Trump foreign policy,” said the official.

“This is happening because the president feels that neoconservatism has failed the American people,” he added.

Trump campaigned in 2016 on ending the ‘endless wars’ in the Middle East. Within a few months, however, he allowed himself to be persuaded by the Pentagon to ramp them up instead, bombing Afghanistan and launching missiles at Syria. Once all the territory held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists was liberated, however, he pushed hard for withdrawal from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq – running into resistance from the Pentagon.

His first Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned over Syria at the end of 2018. Most US troops there were withdrawn by October 2019. Some troops were also pulled out of Iraq this year, citing concerns over the coronavirus, though many still remain. A peace treaty with the Taliban was signed in February this year, after nearly 20 years of war that perfectly defined “mission creep.”

There is no denying that the present political situation in Washington, with Biden claiming he won the election and Trump disputing that citing irregularities in key states, is fraught with peril. Whatever the outcome, unless everything is handled above board and with transparency, half the country is going to feel cheated and disenfranchised.

There are two things to keep in mind, however. Whatever one thinks of him, Trump has kept his word, implementing his electoral promises – by working through the system – despite the obstacles thrown before him by the administrative apparatus, legislators and the courts. So far, the current flurry of activity at the Pentagon seems to point towards a withdrawal from the Middle East, rather than a coup at home.

Secondly, it was actually the Democrats – Joe Biden himself – who first brought up the notion of using the US military to forcibly remove Trump from the White House, should he lose but refuse to concede. That was in June, long before the election and its controversies. What did Biden know at the time to make him say that, nobody knows – because nobody in the mainstream US media has bothered to ask, preferring to entertain partisan fantasies based on conjecture instead.

November 12, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

The Truth Behind the Biggest Threat to the ‘War on Terror’ Narrative

By Cynthia Chung | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 27, 2020

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.”

– Julius Caesar

The illegal invasion of Libya, in which Britain was complicit and a British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s report confirmed as an illegal act sanctioned by the UK government, over which Cameron stepped down as Prime Minister (weeks before the release of the UK parliament report), occurred from March – Oct, 2011.

Muammar al-Gaddafi was assassinated on Oct. 20th, 2011.

On Sept 11-12th, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyron Woods and Glen Doherty were killed at two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi.

It is officially denied to this date that al-Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization participated in the Benghazi attack. It is also officially denied that the attack was pre-meditated.

On the 6th year anniversary of the Benghazi attack, Barack Obama stated at a partisan speech on Sept 10th, 2018, delivered at the University of Illinois, that the outrage over the details concerning the Benghazi attack were the result of a “wild conspiracy theory” perpetrated by conservatives and Republican members of Congress.

However, according to an August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report  (only released to the public in May 2015), this is anything but the case. The report was critical of the policies of then President Obama as a direct igniter for the rise of ISIS and the creation of a “caliphate” by Syria-based radical Islamists and al-Qaeda. The report also identified that arms shipments in Libya had gone to radical Islamist “allies” of the United States and NATO in the overthrowing of Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi. These arms shipments were sent to Syria and became the arsenal that allowed ISIS and other radical rebels to grow.

The declassified DIA report states:

AQI [al-qaeda –iraq] SUPPORTED THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION FROM THE BEGINNING, BOTH IDEOLOGICALLY AND THROUGH THE MEDIA… WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES AND TURKEY ARE SUPPORTING THESE EFFORTS… THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION… THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…” [emphasis added]

Another DIA document from Oct 2012 (also released in May 2015), reported that Gaddafi’s vast arsenal was being shipped from Benghazi to two Syrian ports under the control of the Syrian rebel groups.

Essentially, the DIA documents were reporting that the Obama Administration was supporting Islamist extremism, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

When the watchdog group Judicial Watch received the series of DIA reports through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits (FOIA) in May 2015, the State Department, the Administration and various media outlets trashed the reports as insignificant and unreliable.

There was just one problem; Lt. Gen. Flynn was backing up the reliability of the released DIA reports.

Lt. Gen. Flynn as Director of the DIA from July 2012 – Aug. 2014, was responsible for acquiring accurate intelligence on ISIS’s and other extremist operations within the Middle East, but did not have any authority in shaping U.S. military policy in response to the Intel the DIA was acquiring.

In a July 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera, Flynn went so far as to state that the rise of ISIS was the result of a “willful decision,” not an intelligence failure, by the Obama Administration.

In the Al-Jazeera interview Flynn was asked:

Q: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?

FLYNN: I think the Administration.

Q: So the Administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?

FLYNN: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.

Q: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?

FLYNN: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.

Flynn was essentially stating (in the 47 minute interview) that the United States was fully aware that weapons trafficking from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels was occurring. In fact, the secret flow of arms from Libya to the Syrian opposition, via Turkey was CIA sponsored and had been underway shortly after Gaddafi’s death in Oct 2011. The operation was largely run out of a covert CIA annex in Benghazi, with State Department acquiescence.

This information was especially troubling in light of the fact that the Obama Administration’s policy, from mid-2011 on, was to overthrow the Assad government. The question of “who will replace Assad?” was never fully answered.

Perhaps the most troubling to Americans among the FOIA-released DIA documents was a report from Sept. 16, 2012, which provided a detailed account of the pre-meditated nature of the 9/11/12 attack in Benghazi, reporting that the attack had been planned ten days prior, detailing the groups involved.

The report revealed that it was in fact an al-Qaeda linked terrorist group that was responsible for the Benghazi attack. That despite this intelligence, the Obama Administration continued to permit arms-trafficking to the al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels even after the 9/11/12 attacks.

In August 2015, then President Obama ordered for U.S. forces to attack Syrian government forces if they interfered with the American “vetted, trained and armed” forces. This U.S. approved Division 30 Syrian rebel group “defected” almost immediately, with U.S. weapons in hand, to align with the Nusra Front, the formal al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

Obama’s Semantics War: Any Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine

“Flynn incurred the wrath of the [Obama] White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria… He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out.”

– Patrick Lang (retired army colonel, served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency)

Before being named Director of the DIA, Flynn served as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Staff, as Director of Intelligence for the U.S. Central Command, and as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command.

Flynn’s criticisms and opposition to the Obama Administration’s policies in his interview with Al-Jazeera in 2015 was nothing new. In August 2013, Flynn as Director of the DIA supported Gen. Dempsey’s intervention, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in forcing then President Obama to cancel orders to launch a massive bombing campaign against the Syrian government and armed forces. Flynn and Dempsey both argued that the overthrow of the Assad government would lead to a radical Islamist stronghold in Syria, much like what was then happening in Libya.

This account was also supported in Seymour Hersh’s paper “Military to Military” published in Jan 2016, to which he states:

“Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he [Flynn] said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’

[According to a former JCS adviser]’… To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing U.S. intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State [ISIS].” [emphasis added]

According to Hersh’s sources, it was through the militaries of Germany, Israel and Russia, who were in contact with the Syrian army, that the U.S. intelligence on where the terrorist cells were located was shared, hence the “military to military”. There was no direct contact between the U.S. and the Syrian military.

Hersh states in his paper:

“The two countries [U.S. & Syria] collaborated against al-Qaida, their common enemy. A longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command said that, after 9/11, ‘Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us. That quiet co-operation continued among some elements, even after the [Bush administration’s] decision to vilify him.’ In 2002 Assad authorised Syrian intelligence to turn over hundreds of internal files on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany. Later that year, Syrian intelligence foiled an attack by al-Qaida on the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and Assad agreed to provide the CIA with the name of a vital al-Qaida informant. In violation of this agreement, the CIA contacted the informant directly; he rejected the approach, and broke off relations with his Syrian handlers.

… It was this history of co-operation that made it seem possible in 2013 that Damascus would agree to the new indirect intelligence-sharing arrangement with the U.S.”

However, as the Syrian army gained strength with the Dempsey-led-Joint Chiefs’ support, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey escalated their financing and arming of al-Nusra and ISIS. In fact, it was “later” discovered that the Erdogan government had been supporting al-Nusra and ISIS for years. In addition, after the June 30th, 2013 revolution in Egypt, Turkey became a regional hub for the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organization.

In Sept. 2015, Russia came in and directly intervened militarily, upon invitation by the Syrian government, and effectively destroyed ISIS strongholds within Syrian territory. In response, Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 on Nov 24th, 2015 for allegedly entering Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. Days after the Russian fighter jet was shot down, Obama expressed support for Erdogan and stated at a Dec. 1st, 2015 press conference that his administration would remain “very much committed to Turkey’s security and its sovereignty”. Obama also said that as long as Russia remained allied with Assad, “a lot of Russian resources are still going to be targeted at opposition groups … that we support … So I don’t think we should be under any illusions that somehow Russia starts hitting only Isil targets. That’s not happening now. It was never happening. It’s not going to be happening in the next several weeks.”

Today, not one of those “opposition groups” has shown itself to have remained, or possibly ever been, anti-extremist. And neither the Joint Chiefs nor the DIA believed that there was ever such a thing as “moderate rebels.”

Rather, as remarked by a JCS adviser to Hersh, “Turkey is the problem.”

China’s “Uyghur Problem”

Imad Moustapha, was the Syrian Ambassador to the United States from 2004 to Dec. 2011, and has been the Syrian Ambassador to China for the past eight years.

In an interview with Seymour Hersh, Moustapha stated:

“‘China regards the Syrian crisis from three perspectives,’ he said: international law and legitimacy; global strategic positioning; and the activities of jihadist Uighurs, from Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Xinjiang borders eight nations – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – and, in China’s view, serves as a funnel for terrorism around the world and within China. Many Uighur fighters now in Syria are known to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – an often violent separatist organisation that seeks to establish an Islamist Uighur state in Xinjiang. ‘The fact that they have been aided by Turkish intelligence to move from China into Syria through Turkey has caused a tremendous amount of tension between the Chinese and Turkish intelligence,’ Moustapha said. ‘China is concerned that the Turkish role of supporting the Uighur fighters in Syria may be extended in the future to support Turkey’s agenda in Xinjiang. We are already providing the Chinese intelligence service with information regarding these terrorists and the routes they crossed from on travelling into Syria.’ ” [emphasis added]

This view was echoed by a Washington foreign affairs analyst whose views are routinely sought by senior government officials, informing Hersh that:

“Erdoğan has been bringing Uighurs into Syria by special transport while his government has been agitating in favour of their struggle in China. Uighur and Burmese Muslim terrorists who escape into Thailand somehow get Turkish passports and are then flown to Turkey for transit into Syria.”

China understands that the best way to combat the terrorist recruiting that is going on in these regions is to offer aid towards reconstruction and economic development projects. By 2016, China had allegedly committed more than $30 billion to postwar reconstruction in Syria.

The long-time consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command could not hide his contempt, according to Hersh, when he was asked for his view of the U.S. policy on Syria. “‘The solution in Syria is right before our nose,’ he said. ‘Our primary threat is Isis and all of us – the United States, Russia and China – need to work together.’“

The military’s indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey’s retirement in September 25th, 2015. His replacement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in July 2015, two months before assuming office, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia.”

Flynn’s Call for Development in the Middle East to Counter Terrorism

Not only was Flynn critical of the Obama Administration’s approach to countering terrorism in the Middle East, his proposed solution was to actually downgrade the emphasis on military counter-operations, and rather focus on economic development within these regions as the most effective and stable impediment to the growth of extremists.

Flynn stated in the July 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera:

“Frankly, an entire new economy is what this region needs. They need to take this 15-year old, to 25 to 30-year olds in Saudi Arabia, the largest segment of their population; in Egypt, the largest segment of their population, 15 to roughly 30 years old, mostly young men. You’ve got to give them something else to do. If you don’t, they’re going to turn on their own governments, and we can solve that problem.

So that is the conversation that we have to have with them, and we have to help them do that. And in the meantime, what we have is this continued investment in conflict. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just fuels the conflict. Some of that has to be done, but I’m looking for other solutions. I’m looking for the other side of this argument, and we’re not having it; we’re not having it as the United States.” [emphasis added]

Flynn also stated in the interview that the U.S. cannot, and should not, deter the development of nuclear energy in the Middle East:

“It now equals nuclear development of some type in the Middle East, and now what we want… what I hope for is that we have nuclear [energy] development, because it also helps for projects like desalinization, getting water… nuclear energy is very clean, and it actually is so cost effective, much more cost effective for producing water from desalinization.”

Flynn was calling for a new strategic vision for the Middle East, and making it clear that “conflict only” policies were only going to add fuel to the fire, that cooperative economic policies are the true solution to attaining peace in the Middle East. Pivotal to this is the expansion of nuclear energy, while assuring non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which Flynn states “has to be done in a very international, inspectable way.”

When In Doubt, Blame the Russians

How did the Obama Administration respond to Flynn’s views?

He was fired (forced resignation) from his post as Director of the DIA on April 30th, 2014. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was briefed by Flynn on the intelligence reports and was also critical of the U.S. Administration’s strategy in the Middle East was also forced to resign in Feb. 2015.

With the election of Trump as President on Nov. 8 2016, Lt. Gen. Flynn was swiftly announced as Trump’s choice for National Security Adviser on Nov. 18th, 2016.

Just weeks later, Flynn was targeted by the FBI and there was a media sensation over Flynn being a suspected “Russian agent”. Flynn was taken out before he had a chance to even step into his office, prevented from doing any sort of overhaul with the intelligence bureaus and Joint Chiefs of Staff, which was most certainly going to happen. Instead Flynn was forced to resign on Feb. 13th, 2017 after incessant media attacks undermining the entire Trump Administration, accusing them of working for the Russians against the welfare of the American people.

Despite an ongoing investigation on the allegations against Flynn, there has been no evidence to this date that has justified any charge. In fact, volumes of exculpatory evidence have been presented to exonerate Flynn from any wrongdoing including perjury. At this point, the investigation of Flynn has been put into question as consciously disingenuous and as being stalled by the federal judge since May 2020, refusing to release Flynn it seems while a Trump Administration is still in effect.

The question thus stands; in whose best interest is it that no peace be permitted to occur in the Middle East and that U.S.-Russian relations remain verboten? And is such an interest a friend or foe to the American people?

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey’s Erdogan Cuts off Water to One Million Syrian Civilians in the Blazing Summer Heat

By Steven Sahiounie | Mideast Discourse | August 24 ,2020

Turkish President Erdogan has sought to create an image for himself as the champion of religion. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also tried to claim they were following a religion, yet both used water as a weapon of war.

Water in Islam

Turkey is almost 100% Muslim and has made world headlines converting Christian cathedrals into Mosques. Turkish President Erdogan has been converting a secular democracy in Turkey, founded by Ataturk, into a Muslim Brotherhood haven, which follows Radical Islam as a political ideology, which is the same ideology as ISIS.

Water in Islam is considered as a gift from God, belonging to all equally, which has to be distributed equally among all living beings, humans, animals, and plant life, according to Cherif Abderrahman Jah, an Islamic academic and humanist.

The ISIS terrorists have often used water as a weapon of war in Iraq and Syria by cutting off supplies to villages that resisted their rule and as a tool to expand their control over the region’s water infrastructure.

They wanted to seize the water to prove they were building an actual state. In 2014 ISIS besieged the Syrian town of Kobane to secure a piece of the border with Turkey.

6 years later, 2020, the same scenario plays out, and in the same area, but ISIS has been defeated, and the Erdogan regime in Turkey has taken their place. Many experts feel ISIS and Turkey have been connected in their use of Radical Islam as a political tool, devoid of any connection to Islam, which is a religion.

ISIS was using water as a weapon, according to Tobias von Lossow of Berlin’s Institute for International and Security Affairs. He said, “IS uses water systematically and consistently. IS uses the entire range of possibilities and variations of water warfare.”

Death without water

A person can survive without water for about 3 days; however, a person living in a very hot climate will sweat, causing them to lose more water, which leads to dehydration, causing extreme thirst, fatigue, and ultimately, organ failure and death. A person living in a hot place, like Hasaka, and having to perform laborious activities such as taking care of animals, or small children, could die in only a few days without water.

The role of the SAR in the crisis

Friday marked the ninth consecutive day without water in Hasaka.  The Turkish occupation forces, and their Radical mercenaries, are endangering the lives of more than a million civilians.

The SAR water authorities continue to try to provide clean drinking water, with cooperation from the Hasaka City Council and civil society groups, who used many water tankers to provide the locals with drinking water from Nafasha and al Himah Water Projects.

Chairman of Hasaka City Council Adnan Khajou, said that the daily quantity of water to be transported is 300,00 liters, which came from shallow wells dug by the locals, but is not drinkable and used only for cleaning.

The Turkish Army of occupation and its terrorist mercenaries in Ras-al-Ayn countryside continue to stop the operation of Alouk water project and to cut off the drinking water from Hasaka city, threatening one million persons with thirst and causing them to suffer from the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

General Director of Hasaka Water Establishment Mahmoud Ukla said that since the Alouk Water Station was shut off by the Erdogan regime army, and their mercenaries, the summer temperatures have soared and water demand has increased, with the devastating additional threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, which needs water for hygiene.

Aziz Michael, geologist and water specialist, said that the Alouk water station is essential for water and it should be reopened.

The role of Turkey in the crisis

Turkey has a long history of using water as a weapon of war in Syria. In 1998 Erdogan had threatened to shut off water to Syria, which brought the two countries close to military conflict.

In May the water supply to 460,000 civilians in northeastern Syria was cut off by Turkey for the sixth time.

Syrian Observatory activists have reported Friday that residents have been protesting in Ras al-Ain, which is under Turkish Army occupation, and were calling for water, and electricity to be restored.

The role of the UN 

On Friday, Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s Permanent Representative at the UN, called on the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to intervene immediately and to exert all his efforts to stop the Erdogan regime’s crime of cutting off drinking water for nearly one million Syrian citizens in Hasaka. In the phone call between al-Jaafari and Guterres, the Ambassador stressed that the Turkish aggression constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity.

He said that the situation caused by this crime is exacerbated by hot weather and the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guterres said that he has tasked the UN team in Syria and his Special Envoy Geir Pedersen with taking steps to address this matter, resolve it urgently, and deliver humanitarian aid to affected people. He said he will exert his best efforts by contacting the Turkish government to put pressure and resolve this matter.

Guterres has asked Pedersen to meet the representatives of the US, Russia, and Turkey in Geneva on Monday, as the committee for drafting a new Syrian constitution meets, which is part of the UN 2254 resolution which will pave the way to a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict.

The SAR and AANES (Autonomous Administration of North and East of Syria)

The Northeast section of Syria is split by various groups. The SAR based in Damascus controls areas, and has forces, checkpoints, and provides free health care and education to those areas it controls. The AANES is a separate group of Kurds, following a communist political platform, and they have become known to foreigners as “Rojava”. They have a military wing, the SDF, which was aligned with the terrorist group PKK, and they were in a coalition with the US military, who are now illegally occupying parts of the region while tasked with stealing Syrian oil by the Trump regime.

Covid-19 danger

“Turkish authorities’ failure to ensure adequate water supplies to Kurdish-held areas in Northeast Syria is compromising humanitarian agencies’ ability to prepare and protect vulnerable communities in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Human Rights Watch said in a report published late March.

What is the solution?

The Kurdish leaders of the ‘Rojava’ area, and the central government of the SAR in Damascus, are in complete agreement that the solution of the water crisis in Hasaka must be the removal of all Turkish occupation forces, and their Radical terrorist mercenaries. The SAR is a secular government, and this is what the Kurdish leadership of ‘Rojava’ also claim as a core value of their administration. With so much in common, and both ‘Rojava’ and the SAR facing the same enemy, Turkey, and the possible resurgence of ISIS, it appears they may soon form renewed cooperation to re-take the land from occupation forces and defend the borders from all enemies.

Steven Sahiounie began writing political analysis and commentary during the Syrian war, which began in March 2011. He has published several articles, and has been affiliated with numerous media. He has been interviewed by US, Canadian and German media.

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

34 US-Backed Militants Surrender, Hand Weapons to Syrian Army – Reports

Sputnik – April 18, 2020

28 militants and six drivers from the Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (‘Revolutionary Commando Army’) rebel group arrived in Palmyra, handed over all their weapons and equipment and surrendered to take advantage of the Syrian government’s recent amnesty decrees, SANA has reported, citing a source said to be involved in the process.

Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry’s Centre for Syrian Reconciliation confirmed that over two dozen militants trained at a US military base in Syria had surrendered to the Syrian Army after breaking out of the US-controlled At-Tanf area and engaging in a shootout with other militia members.

The group’s evacuation from the At-Tanf area, a blob of US-held territory in southern Syria near the Jordanian and Iraqi border, was facilitated following over four months of planning, according to authorities.

SANA’s source said that the haul of surrendered equipment included eight vehicles, some of them fitted with heavy machine guns, along with a small number of automatic weapons, sniper rifles, 2 RPG launchers and a grenade launcher, along with communications equipment and binoculars.

Ghannam Samir al-Khedair, the group’s leader, said he and his comrades had been displaced from Sweida by Daesh (ISIS) and crossed the border into Jordan, where they were trained, after which they were sent to guard the Rukban refugee camp. Al-Khedair also revealed that his men were demoralised after finding out that much of the relief supplies meant for the camp, which once held as many as 45,000 people, was being sold to Daesh, and discovering that other Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra militants also supported the terrorists.

Khaled Samir al-Khedair, another former militant from the At-Tanf base, said that US occupation forces were training militia to attack Syrian Army positions, as well as civilian infrastructure and oil and gas fields. Salah Rashid al-Zaher, another militant, confirmed that this training for sabotage ops was taking place. According to al-Zaher, in addition to much of the Rukhban camp aid being sold to Daesh, some of it was also traded on the black market to camp residents at exorbitant prices.

The SANA report comes two days after confirmation by the Russian military that a group of over two dozen militants trained at At-Tanf had surrendered to the Syrian Army. The militants began their journey to Palmyra on the night of 13 April, but had to fight off a detachment of Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra forces to escape, arriving in the ancient city on 14 April.

Rukban Disaster

Officials in both Damascus and Moscow and the Syrian and Russian militaries have repeatedly expressed concerns about the disastrous humanitarian situation at the Rukban refugee camp over the course of many years, and have reported on the Pentagon’s use of the At-Tanf military base to retrain former extremists to renew their struggle against the Syrian government.

Damascus has stressed repeatedly that the only solution which could end the al-Rukban refugees’ suffering would be for the US to withdraw from At-Tanf and leave Syria. At the moment, it’s estimated that there are still as many as 13,500 people at the camp, among them 6,000 militants, and members of their families. At least 150 US troops are estimated to remain at At-Tanf.

The US moved in to take control of the At-Tanf area in early 2016, just as the Syrian Army began its counteroffensive against Daesh militants in the sparsely populated desert areas of central Syria. US forces formally established the Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra militia after dissolving its predecessor, the so-called ‘New Syrian Army’ militant group, in late 2016. Syria and its allies have repeatedly demanded that the US withdraw from the Arab Republic’s sovereign territory. The area has seen repeated deadly clashes between Syrian forces and entrenched US forces and their militia allies.

April 18, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

NYT: ‘Iran-Backed Militia’ Attack That Provoked Soleimani Killing Was Possible ISIS False Flag

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 02/06/2020

The initial major rationale and justification the US administration offered for the drone assassination of IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani and commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was the Dec. 27 rocket attack on K1 camp in Kirkuk, which houses coalition forces.

That attack involving surface-to-surface missile strikes killed an American contractor and reportedly wounded several US troops. Washington immediately blamed the Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary group Khataib Hezbollah, with Mike Pompeo saying of the attack: “We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” after he briefed President Trump. But top Iraqi military and intelligence officials are now calling this entire narrative into question.

A new lengthy New York Times investigative report cites multiple top Iraqi officials who go on record to say of their analysis of the Dec.27 Kirkuk incident: “These facts all point to the Islamic State, Iraqi officials say.”

The Pentagon says it has evidence decisively pinning it on Khataib Hezbollah, known for its closeness to Tehran; however, the paramilitary group itself has denied that it was behind the operation. US officials have from the start been scant on details and have not made public any evidence or intelligence.

This led some analysts in the days after the attack to question whether ISIS cells, still known to be active in the area, might have been behind it — given also it would be to the Sunni terrorist group’s benefit to sow a major rift between US and local Iraqi Shia forces, which is precisely what happened (Trump has recently gone so far as to threaten “very big sanctions” on Baghdad if US forces are kicked out). Alternately the White House perhaps appeared ready to manufacture a justification to take out Soleimani.

Further, as detailed in the Times report, the white Kia pick-up from which the rockets were launched was found near a known ISIS execution site, in a heavily Sunni area not known to have had a Shia paramilitary presence since 2014:

But Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets that started the spiral of events, saying they believe it is unlikely that the militia the United States blamed for the attack, Khataib Hezbollah, carried it out.

… Iraqi officials say their doubts are based on circumstantial evidence and long experience in the area where the attack took place.

The rockets were launched from a Sunni Muslim part of Kirkuk Province notorious for attacks by the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group, which would have made the area hostile territory for a Shiite militia like Khataib Hezbollah.

Khataib Hezbollah has not had a presence in Kirkuk Province since 2014.

The Islamic State, however, had carried out three attacks relatively close to the base in the 10 days before the attack on K-1. Iraqi intelligence officials sent reports to the Americans in November and December warning that ISIS intended to target K-1, an Iraqi air base in Kirkuk Province that is also used by American forces.

And the abandoned Kia pickup was found was less than 1,000 feet from the site of an ISIS execution in September of five Shiite buffalo herders.

The NYT further says this single event set off “a chain of events that brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war” which President Trump confided at a private luncheon this week was “closer than you thought”.

Brig. General Ahmed Adnan, the Iraqi chief of intelligence for the federal police at K-1, told the NYT : “All the indications are that it was Daesh.” He said further: “I told you about the three incidents in the days just before in the area — we know Daesh’s movements.”

“We as Iraqi forces cannot even come to this area unless we have a large force because it is not secure. How could it be that someone who doesn’t know the area could come here and find that firing position and launch an attack?” he questioned.

Anonymous US officials, however, claim that evidence from within the Kia pickup points to Khataib Hezbollah, and also cited “multiple strains of intelligence” though without making it known.

Interestingly, amid a general breakdown in trust between Baghdad and Washington, a top Iraqi general has said the US side hasn’t even shared its claimed evidence that Khataib Hezbollah was behind the Kirkuk attack:

“We have requested the American side to share with us any information, any evidence, but they have not sent us any information,” Lt. Gen. Muhammad al-Bayati, the chief of staff for former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, said in an interview.

The director general of Iraqi Intelligence and Counterterrorism, Abu Ali al-Basri, said the United States did not consult Iraq before carrying out the Dec. 29 counterattacks on Khataib Hezbollah.

“They did not ask for my analysis of what happened in Kirkuk and neither did they share any of their information,” he said. “Usually, they would do both.”

The bombshell NYT report further collects eyewitness accounts and other Iraqi official statements, all of which strongly suggests the chain of events which led to Soleimani’s Jan. 3 killing, which in turn led to an Iranian ‘revenge’ attack with ballistic missiles on Ain al-Asad Air Base, wounding scores of troops (we later found out as part of an ever growing number of solders with ‘Traumatic Brain Injury’ from the blasts), was a possible ‘false flag’ event undertaken by ISIS meant to be pinned on the Islamic State’s Shia enemies backed by Iran.

February 7, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , | 1 Comment

Trump’s Fatal Mistake in Iraq and Beginning of End for US Occupation

Iraqi PMU commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad following their defeat of ISIS in 2017 (Photo: Patrick Henningsen 2017©)
By Patrick Henningsen | 21st Century Wire | January 3, 2020

The United States may have just worn out its welcome in Iraq. Whatever comes next will be laid at the feet of the Trump Presidency.

As a result of a series of disastrous moves by US central command, the region now faces the very real prospect of another multinational conflagration in the Middle East, which could include a direct military confrontation between the US and Iran.

How It Began

This past Sunday December 29th, just before the New Year rang in, President Donald Trump gave the order to bomb an Iraqi military base, killing and wounding a number of Iraqi military personnel, including Iraqi Army officers, Iraqi police, as well as soldiers belonging to the People’s Mobilization Unit (PMUs). US Air Force F-15E fighters struck five targets located in Iraq and along the Syria-Iraq border, all said to be controlled by an ‘Iranian-backed paramilitary group,’ according to the Pentagon.

According to Washington defense spokespersons, Sunday’s US airstrike was supposedly in response to a rocket attack which struck the “K1” joint US-Iraqi military base located in Kirkuk in north Iraq, which happened just two days before on Friday December 27th, killing one U.S. defense contractor, and one Iraqi police officer, as well as wounding a further 4 US defense contractors, and 3 Iraqi Army officers. US officials claim they had intelligence which confirmed  that Friday’s rocket attack near Kirkuk was the work of “Iranian militia,” therefore holding the Islamic Republic of Iran responsible. However, no evidence was presented by the US in relation to the claim.

In response to the US bombing its facility on Sunday, Iraqi protesters, including friends and family of fallen soldiers killed in the US bombing raid, and led by Iraqi PMU members and their supporters, stormed the outer perimeter of the US embassy in Baghdad located inside the infamous US-controlled Green Zone. Many US embassy staff were evacuated or airlifted from the compound, and an additional detachment of 100 US Marines were called in as reinforcements, along with an additional 750 troops from fast battalion 82nd Airborne Division sent to Kuwait preparing to go into Iraq. US combat helicopters circled overhead, as well as around the entire Green Zone and over civilians neighborhoods in Baghdad. This move was not received well by the Iraqi government who forbid such US military patrols as part of their status of forces agreement for the country. The siege lasted until News Years Eve on December 31st, before the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Mukhabarat internal security eventually arrived to disperse the angry crowds.

Following the embarrassing scenes at the US embassy on New Years Eve, Washington promised retribution. What followed could very well be the trigger for a renewed war in Iraq, and which may likely result in US forces and personnel eventually being asked (or forced) to leave the country. On Wednesday January 2, 2020, the US launched another airstrike, targeting an access road leading to Baghdad International Airport, and reportedly killed Iranian Quds Force leader, General Qasem Soleimani, as well as senior Iraqi PMU commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, according to reports by Iraqi TV.

Both Soleimani and al-Muhandis are considered to be among Iran and Iraq’s most revered military figures, and their targeted assassinations by the US government will certainly be viewed as an act of war by a large portion of the Iraqi and Iranian populations, as well as their respective military and security apparatuses. In particular, al-Muhandis is regarded by many a hero in Iraqi’s hard-fought victory over ISIS in 2017.

Iraqi cabinet officials and parliamentarians have been meeting over the last 48 hours to discuss reviewing the status of their cooperation agreement with the United States which allows for intelligence sharing and US training and technical assistance for Iraqi military divisions. Whether this escalates into officials calling for the US military and its 20,000 troops and defense personnel to pack up and leave the country – remains to be seen.

It should go without saying that this provocative military action by the United States means that US troops and personnel may no longer be safe operating in Iraq.

Questioning US ‘Intelligence’

In order to grasp the full gravity of what the Trump Administration has just done, it’s essential to consider these events in historical context, as the latest reckless move in a long line of US failures in Iraq.

According to veteran Middle East correspondent Elijah Magnier, “The United States of America has fallen into the trap of its own disinformation policy, as exemplified by the work of one of its leading strategic study centres, a neocon think tank promoting war on Iran.”

Magnier adds, “Analysts’ wishful thinking overwhelmed their sense of reality, notably the possibility of realities invisible to them. They fell into the same trap of misinformation and ignorance that has shaped western opinion since the occupation of Iraq in 2003. The invasion of Iraq was justified by the presence of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ which never existed.”

According to Iraqi officials, at the time of the initial rocket attack on Dec 27th, it was not clear who had actually fired on the K1 joint base. Regardless, a number of data points strongly indicate that the US had already decided who it would be targeting.

According to the New York Times, “President Trump was briefed by Defense Department leaders on Saturday, and allowed the strikes to proceed. Senior officials including Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Sunday for discussions with the president, American officials said.”

The US had already taken the decision to bomb Iraq before any joint investigation could be conducted between the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the US authorities. Soon after the Mar-a-lago meeting, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called acting Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to inform him the US was not interested in working with Baghdad to find out what happened and who had fired the rockets. Esper told the Iraqi PM that Washington had already received “intelligence” from its trusted sources which said the rocket attack was carried out by a branch of the Iraqi PMUs known as Katiab Hezbollah (no relation to Lebanon’s Hezbollah defense force). It should be noted that these PMU brigades are composed of Iraqi citizens who serve under the official Iraqi military command headquartered in Baghdad. Because this PMU division’s membership is composed of Shia Muslims, United States officials and the US mainstream media have taken the liberty of labeling them as “Iranian militia” – a blatant falsehood, but one which has been disseminated by US officials in order to infer these are somehow ‘Iranian proxies’ and proceeded to pin the alleged responsibility of the initial rocket attack on Iran, in effect, justifying the heavy-handed US retaliation on Sunday, and Washington’s targeted assassinations of Qasem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on January 2nd.

To date, US officials have provided no evidence to support their claim that the rocket attack on Dec 27th was carried out by Katiab Hezbollah PMUs, nor has the US given any specifics as to the provenance of its ‘intelligence’ which attributed blame to PMUs. If this was indeed a rush to judgement, it would not be the first time the US has perpetrated an act of war against a sovereign state based on faulty, and less than credible intelligence. The recent OPCW leaks have demonstrated beyond any doubt that the US-led airstrikes against Syria in April of 2018 were based on misinformation of a supposed ‘chemical attack’ just days earlier in Douma, Syria on April 7, 2018.

Upon closer review, it’s now clear that what the US claimed it was doing, does not actually match the actions which it had undertaken on Dec 29th. In addition, the US bombing raid on Dec 29th will also have aided ISIS. Magnier explains the obvious US disconnect here:

Mr Abdel Mahdi asked Esper if the US has “proof against Kataeb Hezbollah to share so Iraq can arrest those responsible for the attack on K1”. No response: Esper told Abdel Mahdi that the US was “well-informed” and that the attack would take place “in a few hours”.

In less than half an hour, US jets bombed five Iraqi security forces’ positions deployed along the Iraqi-Syrian borders, in the zone of Akashat, 538 kilometres from the K1 military base (that had been bombed by perpetrators still unknown). The US announced the attack but omitted the fact that in these positions there were not only Kataeb Hezbollah but also Iraqi Army and Federal Police officers. Most victims of the US attack were Iraqi army and police officers. Only 9 officers of Kataeb Hezbollah – who joined the Iraqi Security Forces in 2017 – were killed. These five positions had the task of intercepting and hunting down ISIS and preventing the group’s militants from crossing the borders from the Anbar desert. The closest city to these bombed positions is al-Qaem, 150 km away.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the US and allies have targeted an Iraqi PMU facility and tried to label it as “Iranian.” Back in September, 21WIRE reported how Israel and Saudi Arabia were reported to have launched supposed ‘retaliatory’ airstrikes against “pro-Iranian militias” stationed along the border between Syria and Iraq. This was reported by the Jerusalem Post at the time:

“Saudis, Israel attack pro-Iran militias on Syria-Iraq border,” and adding that,“Saudi fighter jets have been spotted along with other fighter jets that have attacked facilities and positions belonging to Iranian militias.”

21WIRE also noted how the Jerusalem Post had compiled their report citing multiple sources, including pieces of information from the Independent Arabia, Lebanese outlet Al Mayadeen and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. They reported air strikes hitting targets over the course of that week, killing 31, after hitting what they called “Iranian-backed” Iraqi Hash’d Shaabi (PMUs) positions along the Iraqi-Syria border.

“On Wednesday, five people were killed and another nine were wounded in an airstrike carried out by unidentified aircraft that targeted positions of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces militia in Albukamal, according to Sky News Arabia.”

Why this is crucial, is because it demonstrates previous form by Israel and Saudi Arabia – against near identical targets which the US bombed on Dec 29. It stands to reason then, that the ‘intelligence’ source for both attacks, on Sept 19th, and Dec 29th, seem to be related, deriving from either Israel or Saudi Arabia – both of which are heavily biased against Iran, and viewed it as an existential threat to their own regional geopolitical and military hegemony. In the case of Israel, it has played a visible role in directing US policy regarding Iran since the onset of the Trump Administration. It was Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu who boasted about his role in convincing the White House to unilaterally withdrawal from the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.

It’s also important to note with the US bombing raid on Sunday Dec 29th, the Iraqi bases hit along the Syrian-Iraqi border are located approximately 540km from Kirkuk, far away from where the US claim that Kaitab Hezbollah PMUs had fired the initial rocket attack on Dec 27th – which means that those US targets played no role in Friday’s rocket attack on K1, and more likely had already been selected in advance of Dec 27th, and the US was simply waiting for the right ‘incident’ to green-light a military attack on what it claims to be “Iranian” military targets.

Again, the fact that the US insists on mislabeling its supposed enemy means that nothing productive can come out of the latest series of events – unless Washington considers another full-scale war in Iraq a productive endeavor – a proposition which many would not find that far-flung considering America’s tawdry record in the region.

Iraqi PMUs Defeated ISIS in 2017

In order to properly understand the Iraqi military and PMU’s reaction to this ham-fisted US attack on Iraqi soil, it is important to understand who are the Iraqi People’s Mobilization Units (PMUs), aka the Hash’d al-Shabbi, or ‘Hasheed’ for short. This is the new national militia of Iraq and are the very same soldiers who have fought and died against ISIS for ultimately defeating their terrorist occupation in late 2017. The PMUs were formed in response to the emergence of ISIS and the fall of Mosul in June 2014. The Grand Ayatollah Sistani issued a fatwa in the summer of 2014, which called on all able-bodied men of fighting age to form a coalition of national militias, roughly 130,000 strong, to fight back against ISIS after it had routed the Iraq Army during ISIS’s summer blitzkrieg which saw several key cities taken by the terrorist army, as they headed dangerously close to the capital city Baghdad.

Based on the rhetoric and media coverage we are seeing this week, it’s painfully obvious that few, if any, within the ranks of American foreign policy ‘experts’ and national security journalists, are really aware of this reality on the ground in Iraq. It is widely acknowledged in Iraq, and in the region, that the PMUs played the decisive role in defeating ISIS and securing liberated communities in the latter stages of the country’s terrorist ordeal. It’s important to note also that tens of thousands of Iraqis, including Iraqi Army, Police, Iraqi civilians, and Iraqi PMUs – including these very same PMU units who the US has killed this week – have all died, sacrificing their lives for their country in the fight against the foreign-backed terrorist menace. For the United States political leadership and mainstream media to crassly label them as “Iranian militias,” is to rob Iraqis of an important national victory and strip them of their agency.

As we can now see from the incredible scenes at the US embassy on Tuesday, Washington’s ignorance of the reality on the ground in Iraq has come at a heavy price.

Since its opening in 2008, the new US embassy has not faced any serious challenge to its structural integrity. It is not just any embassy either – it is the world’s largest and most expensive embassy ever constructed, covering a total of 104 acres which is roughly the size of Vatican City, and houses 5,000 embassy staff, military and intelligence personnel. Iraqi protesters breached its outer security walls and main gate, and proceeded to lay waste the embassy’s periphery structures, before pinning down US Marines guarding the compound inside the foyer of one of the outer reception buildings. Now that this facility has been compromised, it can no longer be relied on as the ‘fortress America’ and forward operating station it has been for the past decade.

Trump and Washington’s Fundamental Error

Another important takeaway from all of this is for Americans to realize that Iran posed no national security threat to the United States, but Washington’s insistence on framing every incident in the region as “the work of the Iranian regime” means that forces in Washington desperately want war, and now they can’t hide their agenda. This drive is most certainly being spurred on by US allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. From an imperialist standpoint, the US and its allies do benefit geopolitically by keeping Iraq divided and weak – ensuring that it can never get back on its feet economically or politically to become influential in the region, and can never become close partners with its two most important neighbors Syria and Iran.

For Washington and Tel Aviv, the road to Tehran has always been through Baghdad, only we’re not in 2003 anymore, and the Middle East playing field has changed dramatically since that time, mostly as a direct consequence of US military and proxy aggression in the region.

Besides this, Iraqis are well aware by now that it is the United States and not Iran, who has already ruined their country for generations to come.

If Washington continues down this path, it could also lead to Trump’s downfall politically.

Unfortunately, Iraq is set again to become the pitch for another ugly geopolitical grudge match between the West and Iran. By showing its ugly hand, Washington has left its adversaries with little choice but to fight back this time.

***

Author Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq. See his archive here.

January 3, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US uses ISIS as ‘scarecrow’ to intimidate others, while secretly backing them, Syrian FM tells RT

RT | December 25, 2019

Despite claiming to fight jihadists in Syria, the Americans are gladly using them to further anti-Damascus policies and occasionally giving them a helping hand, the Syrian foreign minister told RT.

“The Americans are using ISIS as a scarecrow,” Minister Walid Muallem said in an interview with RT Arabic. “At the same time they are feeding ISIS, [they] encourage them, protect ISIS leaders and help them move from one area to another.”

“The US policy is aimed at investing into terrorism.”

The Syrian government has long accused the US of fueling groups of foreign Islamist fighters, even those bragging of committing atrocities in Syria, as long as they were willing to fight against the forces loyal to Damascus. Washington claimed its illegal deployment of troops in Syria was aimed at destroying IS, but even after the group was declared defeated the American boots remain on the ground.

The latest public justification coming from the US is that oil in northeastern Syria needs to be “secured” from the defeated jihadists. In practice, the US denies the internationally recognized government of Syria of using the country’s national resources.

Muallem also said the US continues its attempts to topple the government he serves with various measures, including by targeting Damascus with economic sanctions. A new round of those is expected after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this month.

Part of the NDAA orders punishment of companies who would help the Syrian government in rebuilding infrastructure and the energy sector – which presumably should not be allowed to happen while President Bashar Assad remains in power.

“All nations that were victimized by this system need to join forces and resist those sanctions,” the Syrian official said.

December 25, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 5 Comments