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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

West’s Relations with the White Helmets have gone Stale

By Jean Perier – New Eastern Outlook – 30.07.2019

At long last, Western sponsors of the so-called “humanitarian group” White Helmets have woken up to the fact that their love affair with those pseudo-humanitarianists is more damaging that beneficial, which in turn invoked a number of problems.

The White Helmets which have been exposed as a propaganda operation launched by Washington and London to feed the international community with fake videos depicting false-flag chemicals attack in Eastern Ghouta started experiencing its first difficulties last year when the White House decided to stop sponsoring them. For sure, their activities have been pretty beneficial for the US as it provided Washington with a pretext to attack Syria, but then Washington has never had much concern over the well-being of its minions once they are no longer useful.

Even though Donald Trump would have a change of heart in mid-summer 2018, ordering the US State Department and US Agency for International Development to allocate another 6.6 million dollars to sponsor the activities of this organization, at this point nobody had any doubts about the provocative and untruthful nature of the reports that would be released by the White Helmets.

A well-known British journalist, Vanessa Beeley has already exposed the ties between the British intelligence agencies and the White Helmets and through them to the Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorist group. According to her revelations, the White Helmets branch in Eastern Aleppo was once established by Abdulaziz Maghribi, who previously headed a local Al-Nusra-affiliated militant group. Further still, this individual had also been an armed member of the Turkish-backed Al Tawhid brigade which invaded East Aleppo in 2012

The ever growing awareness of the Western public about the deceptive nature of the White Helmets and their activities has rendered them useless in any future anti-Russian or anti-Syrian provocations. Therefore, Washington had to take some sort of decision about their future, musing over the possibility of turning them into a purely British local propaganda vehicle, as the group was created back in 2013 by a retired British servicemen, the head of the Mayday Rescue Foundation NGO – James Le Mesure, or scrap this project altogether. Under these circumstances it became clear even for Washington that it had to find much more credible partners on the ground to carry on advancing its agenda.

As the number of Syrian towns under control of pro-Western jihadi fighters has been dwindling steadily, Jordan’s intelligence agencies in cooperation with the Mossad launched a withdrawal operation, transporting a total of 98 White Helmets activists together with their family members to Jordan from south-western Syria, on July 22, 2018. Some publications claim that they’ve evacuated 422 people, while others state that there was over 800 people transported in total. Initially, it was planned that those so-called activists would dwell for some time at the Muwaffaq Salti Air Base before heading to a number of western countries.

Initially, it was announced that the resettlement of the White Helmets wouldn’t take more than three-four weeks, with the UK, France, Canada, and Germany claiming that they would be delighted to become a new home for those “brave souls”, but it’s been over a year now. No more than three hundred out of the initial 800 have found their new homes, as reported by Reuters, but now the process of resettlement has come to a screeching halt.

In particular, as it’s been reported by Canadian media sources, there’s still White Helmets members dwelling with their family members in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp, including those that were supposed to be moved to Canada. In total, there’s over 42 people that have been waiting for resettlement to Canada for almost a year now. However, after the initial security check, including an “interview” conducted in the camp, Ottawa realized that it had no intention of providing asylum to the much-touted “human rights champions,” seeking a pretext to send them some place else instead. The situation is getting even more peculiar due to the fact that Amman gave permission of transit to those individuals, but didn’t say a word about their right for permanent residence. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau hopes that the Nazi-ridden Ukraine would develop a taste for hosting pro-Western “human rights activists,” after all the newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to pay his dues after the warm welcome he received in Ottawa and Canada making a promise to deliver its old armored vehicles to Ukraine.

As for Canada itself, in spite of its relatively relaxed migration legislation, it’s in no hurry to grant refuge to those representatives of the White Helmets that are stuck in Jordan. It is equally reluctant to grant entry permission to those Canadians who were fighting against the legitimate Syrian government in the ranks of ISIS militants together with their family members. In total, the latter group consists of 32 individuals (6 men, 9 women and 17 children). According to the information leaked to the media, Canadian intelligence agencies are currently collecting evidence to identify the role they might have played in committing various war crimes.

In general, as Canadian observers note, the flow of Syrian refugees to Canada has been put on halt once Ottawa faced a number of difficulties with their integration into the local society. After all, Justin Trudeau couldn’t care less about Syrian refugees, since they were only beneficial to him during the initial years of his stay in power, when he could score a number of political points talking about them. It is obvious that Western governments have no stomach for hosting those individuals they were praising as heroes, since such a move could result in a spike of xenophobic moods and a wide-spread panic over the possibility of terrorist attacks. And besides, the White Helmets have already played their propaganda role, so they are no longer needed.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

MSM Mourns Death Of CIA-Backed Syrian Al-Qaeda/ISIS Ally

By Caitlin Johnstone | June 8, 2019

On Wednesday the alternative media outlet Southfront published an article titled “New Video Throws Light On Jaysh Al-Izza High-Tolerance To Al-Qaeda Ideology” about newly discovered footage showing the leader of a “rebel” faction in Syria cozying up with a militant who was wearing a badge of the official flag of ISIS.

“The video shows Jaysh al-Izza General Commander Major Jamil al-Saleh congratulating a group of his fighters on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr in a underground bunker,” Southfront reports. “One of the fighters greeted by Saleh was wearing a batch of the Islamic Black Standard with the Seal of Muhammad. This is a well-known symbol of al-Qaeda and the official flag of ISIS.”

Today, mass media outlets are mourning the death of a well-known Jaysh al-Izza fighter named Abdel-Basset al-Sarout with grief-stricken beatifications not seen since the death of war criminal John McCain. An Associated Press report which has been published by major news outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian, PBS and Bloomberg commemorates Sarout as a “Syrian soccer goalkeeper” who “won international titles representing his country”, as “the singer of the revolution”, and as “an icon among Syria’s opposition”.

Remember Major Jamil al-Saleh from two paragraphs ago? AP features his glowing eulogy in its write-up on Sarout’s death:

“He was both a popular figure, guiding the rebellion, and a military commander,” said Maj. Jamil al-Saleh, leader of Jaish al-Izza rebel group, in which Sarout was a commander. “His martyrdom will give us a push to continue down the path he chose and to which he offered his soul and blood as sacrifice.”

Other mainstream outlets like BBC, The Daily Beast and Al Jazeera have contributed their own fawning hagiographies of the late Jaysh al-Izza commander.

“Formed in 2013, Jaysh al-Izza was one of the first Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in northern Syria to benefit from U.S. support through the CIA’s ‘Timber Sycamore’ train and equip program, which had been approved by then U.S. President Barack Obama,” Southfront reports in the aforementioned article. “The group received loads of weapons from the U.S. including Grad rockets, as well as Fagot and TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).”

“Jaysh al-Izza received this support under the pretension of being a ‘moderate group’ led by a known Syrian Arab Army (SAA) defector, al-Saleh,” Southfront adds. “However, the group’s acts were not in line with these claims. Since its formation, Jaysh al-Izza has been deeply linked to al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the al-Nusra Front. The group became one of the main allies of al-Nusra when its changed its name to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in 2017.”

“Western thought leaders are lionizing Abdel Baset al-Sarout who was killed fighting the Syrian army,” tweeted journalist Dan Cohen of the mass media response to Sarout’s death. “They conveniently omit that he fought in a militia allied with al-Qaeda and pledged allegiance to ISIS.”

Cohen linked to an excerpt from his mini-documentary The Syria Deception featuring footage of Sarout holding an ISIS flag, leading chants calling for the extermination of the Alawite minority in Syria, and announcing his allegiance to ISIS.

Other publicly available video footage includes a speech by Sarout urging cooperation between his own faction, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise), saying “we know that these two groups are not politicized and have the same goals as us, and are working for God.”

“God willing we will work with them shoulder-to-shoulder when we leave here,” Sarout has been translated as saying in the speech. “And we are not Christians or Shiaa to be scared of suicide belts and car bombs. We consider these things as strengths of ours, and God willing they will be just that. This message is to the Islamic State and our brothers in Jabhat al-Nusra, that when we come out of here we will all be one hand to fight Christians and not to have internal fights among ourselves. We want to take back all the lands that have been filthied by the regime, that were entered and taken over by Shiaas and apostates.”

This bloodthirsty terrorist warmongering was taken by the aforementioned AP hagiography and twisted into the single sentence, “He repeatedly denounced rebel infighting and called on Syrians to unite against government forces.”

The Atlantic’s Hassan Hassan framed Sarout’s unconscionable agendas as mere “flaws” which actually add to his inspiring and heroic story, tweeting, “Some individuals celebrated as heroes make you doubt all stories of heroes in history books. Others, like Abdulbasit Sarout, not inspire of but despite his flaws, make those stories highly plausible. He’s a true legend & his story is well documented. May his soul rest in peace.”

Yeah, come on, everybody’s got flaws. Some people suck at parallel parking, some people team up with ISIS and Al-Qaeda on genocidal extermination campaigns. We’ve all got our quirky little foibles.

We can expect more and more of these mass media distortions as Syria and its allies draw closer to recapturing Syrian land from the extremist forces which nearly succeeded in toppling Damascus just a few short years ago.

As these distortions pour in, keep this in mind: all of the violence that is still happening in Syria is the fault of the US and its allies, who helped extremist jihadist factions like Jaysh al-Izza overrun the nation to advance the preexisting goal of effecting regime change. The blame for all the death, suffering and chaos which ensues from a sovereign nation fighting to reclaim its land from these bloodthirsty factions rests solely on the government bodies which inflicted their dominance over the region in the first place.

You will see continuing melodramatic garment-rending from the US State Department and its mass media stenographers about “war crimes” and “human rights violations” as though the responsibility for this violence rests somewhere other than on the US-centralized power alliance, but they will be lying. What these warmongering propagandists are doing is exactly the same as paying a bunch of violent thugs to break into a home and murder its owner, then standing by and sounding the alarm about the way the homeowner chooses to fight off their assailants.

After it was discovered that the US and its allies armed actual, literal terrorist factions in Syria with the goal of effecting regime change, the only sane response would have been for the public to loudly and aggressively demand that all governments involved to take immediate action to completely rectify all damage done by this unforgivable war crime at any cost, and for there to be war crimes tribunals for every decision maker who was a part of it. Instead, because of propaganda circulated by the same mass media narrative management firms who are sanctifying the memory of Abdel-Basset al-Sarout today, the public remains asleep to the depravity of its rulers. This dynamic must change if we are to survive and thrive as a species.

June 10, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New US Ambassador to Tajikistan Seems to be Up To the Task

By Martin Berger – New Eastern Outlook – 29.03.2019

To this day Central Asia remains an arena of struggle for a number of major international players, namely Russia, China and the United States. In this struggle, Washington has now started losing its influence, which resulted in a series of desperate attempts to establish a sound foothold in this region, which could serve as a bulwark against both Russia and China. Against this backdrop, it’s no coincidence that the so-called private intelligence service known as Stratfor would reveal in its forecast for this year that the United States is planning to step up its efforts in Central Asia, especially in those countries that share a common border with Afghanistan, namely Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This service won’t go into much detail about the efforts it’s referring to, but it’s hardly a secret that Washington has been busy redeploying radical Islamists from Syria, where they are getting defeated by the government forces and its allies, to Afghanistan, while making claims about its devotion to the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

In this situation, a relatively small regional player – Tajikistan found itself at the forefront of Washington’s attempt to push Moscow and Beijing out of the region. The US is particularly interested in influencing the foreign policy pursued by Dushanbe due to the two following reasons.

First of all, Tajikistan is not just an immediate neighbor of Afghanistan, but it shares the longest common border with this country out of all of the former Soviet republics – 800 miles in total. Secondly, Dushanbe has been enjoying close ties with Russia, which resulted in Moscow establishing its largest overseas military installation in Tajikistan – the 201st Military Base.

Due to the negligible size of its economy and its relative geographic isolation, Tajikistan can hardly be described as a promising trade partner of the United States, as Western oligarchs would have a hard time justifying investments in this country. So, the only approach that Washington can take in influencing Tajikistan into those decisions that it’s not willing to make is to complain about Dushanbe undermining democratic values, while pursuing closer military cooperation with it. For instance, as it’s been reported by a number of media sources, last year the Pentagon handed out 8 million dollars worth of military equipment to Dushanbe.

However, the situation on the ground may change rather abruptly and unexpectedly at any given moment. For instance, on the back of a long list of complaints Washington has made about Dushanbe being “not democratic enough” the West may decide to pursue a regime change in this country, which will result in the CIA and the Pentagon cutting costs on the illegal transit of opiates from Afghanistan.

That is why, in order to achieve its goals, the United States has been actively promoting the notion of establishing a regional young leadership network in Central Asia, under which young activists from Central Asian states would be able to receive education in Western universities together with the offspring of the regional elites. It goes without saying that after returning home those youngsters would promote Western neoliberal ideas, pedaling American interests like there’s no tomorrow. That is why Washington spends hundreds of millions of dollars on sponsoring various non-governmental organizations in Tajikistan.

In recent years, a large network of various organizations has been working for American money in the country, including, among others, the Soros Foundation, the Aga Khan, the Institute of War and Peace, and so on. In fact, there’s there’s well over 3,000 non-profit organizations registered in Tajikistan, with most of them being involved in the promotion of Western interests, including news agencies and law firms.

Back in the early 90s the United States and Tajikistan signed a deal on mutual attempts to facilitate the promotion of humanitarian and technical assistance. It’s hard to say how much money Washington has spent so far while promoting its narrative in Dushanbe, but it’s clear that USAID alone spent some 450 million dollars on such activities in the last three decades alone.

However, a series of “color revolutions” that Washington staged across the globe resulted in a considerable tightening of anti-NGO legislation in Tajikistan, which means that Dushanbe has been steadily increasing its ability to shape the internal situation within the country.

Now the US is testing a new strategy of coercion developed at the Pentagon for Venezuela and a number of other countries that dare to disagree publicly with Washington. It involves the use of a number of leverages, including financial sanctions and offensive online operations against the target country, along with the support of the political opposition and continuous threats of imminent military aggression.

There’s every reason to believe that the United States is going to test this new approach in Tajikistan, combining anti-government street protests with armed “revolutionary” jihad mounted by radical forces and, quite possibly, supported by a rebellion of local criminal groups. At the same time, Washington’s calculations of such developments clearly suggest that the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, Muhiddin Kabiri would be advertised as the new leader of Tajikistan, while the prominent Badakhshan drug dealers would be tasked with fielding militants to support the runaway Tajik commander of the special forces who defected to ISIS, Gulmurod Khalimov. The Tajik portal Akhbor, in particular, has already announced that the United States initiated the transfer of elite ISIS fighters from Afghanistan that are being led by Halimov, with Saudi Arabia footing the bill for this operation.

Against this background, the arrival of the new US ambassador to Dushanbe, John Pommersheim can only be regarded as a troubling development. Pommersheim is considered to be one of the best experts on Russia in the entire State Department, as he would study Russian in Moscow after obtain scholarship from the US Department of Defense. The man who made a career at the US Information Agency (USIA) back in the 1980s is being transferred to Tajikistan from the US embassy in Kazakhstan. Moreover, Pommersheim is reverted as an expert on Central Asia and the Caucasus. His appointment in Tajikistan further demonstrates Washington’s growing interest in Central Asia. By using Tajikistan as a bridgehead, the United States can inflict extensive damage to both Russia and China, that are being described as the strategic opponents of Washington. In particular, should it succeed in destabilizing Central Asia, Washington would render the entire concept of the One Belt One Road initiative senseless, which implies China reorienting its trade routes to Europe from sea to land.

Of course, it would be naive to assume that John Pommersheim will start staging a “color revolution” in Dushanbe on the day of his arrival. As of now, the US cannot build enough momentum to force Russia or China out of Tajikistan. Instead it’s going to support all sorts of anti-Chinese and anti-Russian sentiments, taking advantage of the network of NGOs, the tactics that Pommersheim managed to master a long while ago.

We are going to follow the achievements of Pommersheim in Dushanbe rather closely, as it seems unlikely that Washington would have sent such a figure to Tajikistan for him just to enjoy the view.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

President Starts a War? Congress Yawns. Threatens to End One? Condemnation!

By Ron Paul | February 11, 2019

Last week’s bipartisan Senate vote to rebuke President Trump for his decision to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan unfortunately tells us a lot about what is wrong with Washington, DC. While the two parties loudly bicker about minor issues, when it comes to matters like endless wars overseas they enthusiastically join together. With few exceptions, Republicans and Democrats lined up to admonish the president for even suggesting that it’s time for US troops to come home from Afghanistan and Syria.

The amendment, proposed by the Senate Majority Leader and passed overwhelmingly by both parties, warns that a “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from the on-going fight…in Syria and Afghanistan, could allow terrorists to regroup.” As one opponent of the amendment correctly pointed out, a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is hardly “precipitous” since they’ve been there for nearly 18 years! And with al-Qaeda and ISIS largely defeated in Syria a withdrawal from that country would hardly be “precipitous” after almost five years of unauthorized US military action.

Senators supporting the rebuke claim that US troops cannot leave until every last ISIS fighter is killed or captured. This is obviously a false argument. Al-Qaeda and ISIS did not emerge in Iraq because US troops left the country – they emerged because the US was in the country in the first place. Where was al-Qaeda in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion the neocons lied us into? There weren’t any.

US troops occupying Iraqi territory was, however, a huge incentive for Iraqis to join a resistance movement. Similarly, US intervention in Syria beginning under the Obama Administration contributed to the growth of terrorist groups in that country.

We know that US invasion and occupation provides the best recruiting tools for terrorists, including suicide terrorists. So how does it make sense that keeping troops in these countries in any way contributes to the elimination of terrorism? As to the “vacuum” created in Syria when US troops pull out, how about allowing the government of Syria to take care of the problem? After all, it’s their country and they’ve been fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda since the US helped launch the “regime change” in 2011. Despite what you might hear in the US mainstream media, it’s Syria along with its allies that has done most of the fighting against these groups and it makes no sense that they would allow them to return.

Congress has the Constitutional responsibility and obligation to declare war, but this has been ignored for decades. The president bombs far-off lands and even sends troops to fight in and occupy foreign territory and Congress doesn’t say a word. But if a president dares seek to end a war suddenly the sleeping Congressional giant awakens!

I’ve spent many years opposing Executive branch over-reach in matters where the president has no Constitutional authority, but when it comes to decisions on where to deploy or re-deploy troops once in battle it is clear that the Constitution grants that authority to the commander-in-chief. The real question we need to ask is why is Congress so quick to anger when the president finally seeks to end the longest war in US history?

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 11 Comments

Yemen: Hodeida Truce in New Hands as UN Replaces Biased and Ineffective Monitor

By Ahmed Abdulkareem – MintPress News – February 5, 2019

SANA’A, YEMEN — The newly-appointed head of the United Nations mission to monitor Yemen’s truce agreement between the Houthis and the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition, Danish Lt. Gen. Michael Anker Lollesgaard, arrived in Yemen’s capital Sana’a on Tuesday, along with a five-member team, to assume his duty in the country’s Red Sea port city of Hodeida. Lollesgaard succeeds retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert.

The development comes after MintPress News revealed on January 24 that the United Nations promised to replace Cammaert, who was leading a UN joint committee tasked with overseeing the truce in Hodeida, a conduit for the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid. The replacement of the joint committee’s head was promised in order to save the fragile truce after the Houthis accused Cammaert of pursuing an agenda favoring the Saudi-led coalition, according to a high-ranking Houthi official.

Prior to his replacement, the Houthis boycotted a meeting chaired by Cammaert in Hodeida, accusing him of pushing the Saudi coalition’s agenda after he requested that Houthi forces withdraw eight kilometers outside of Hodeida while asking Saudi coalition forces to withdraw only half a kilometer — giving the coalition an opportunity to quickly occupy Hodeida unopposed, according to a source in the negotiating committee.

In an attempt not to portray the change as a victory for the Houthis, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who announced Lollesgaard’s appointment on January 31, said Cammaert was on a temporary one-month contract and did not resign. However, the decision to appoint a new monitoring chief in Yemen’s key port may give UN envoy Martin Griffiths a chance to succeed, according to observers who spoke to MintPress.

Monday on a UN-hired ship off Hodeida, Cammaert held his final meeting between the Houthis and coalition representatives in an effort to end a month-long stalemate over the implementation of a mutual troop withdrawal from the port city.

Yemenis still see the agreements reached in Sweden as the best chance yet of ending the Saudi war against the poorest country the Middle East, a war that has killed thousands of people since it began in 2015 and pushed 14 million to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.

In the view of Yemeni analysts who spoke to MintPress, if Saudi Arabia persists in its behavior, no UN envoy or monitor will be able to help reach a peace agreement in Yemen; and, without pressure on the Kingdom, the UN will go on playing a feeble role. Accordingly, the replacement of the head of the UN monitoring mission is regarded as effectively meaningless by many Yemenis.

The Saudi-led coalition appears willing to commit to war as a solution and further fighting will give rise to more disease, famine, and lack of access to humanitarian aid and food commodities. The repercussions will be fast and conspicuous across Yemen.

“Hanging in the balance”

Representatives of the Saudi coalition and the Houthis met in Jordan on Tuesday for a new round of UN-brokered talks on a troubled prisoner-swap deal that was initially agreed on in Stockholm last December. UN envoy Griffiths said the new talks aim to finalize the lists of prisoners and detainees to be released or exchanged.

A source on the negotiation committee told MintPress that the Houthis proposed releasing 400 prisoners from both sides as an initiative to get the talks going. There was no comment from Saudi Arabia on the proposal.

Last week, representatives from the coalition and the Houthis had held a round of UN-brokered negotiations in the Jordanian capital city of Amman to hammer out details of the prisoner exchange. The two sides met separately with the mediators and submitted lists of prisoners they wanted to be released.

Both sides have said repeatedly they remain committed to the agreement, which could see thousands of prisoners released by each side, including hundreds of al-Qaeda and ISIS members who were fighting on behalf of the coalition. So far, however, no breakthrough has been made.

Fears linger that failure of the prisoner exchange would have a knock-on effect on the next round of peace talks, owing to the nature of the list of prisoners made by both sides. Each side presented a list of up to 8,000 detainees to be freed, but many of those detainees on the list are not able to be accounted for, according to a senior official from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The prisoner swap would, therefore, involve a significantly lower number of prisoners, an outcome likely to draw the ire of both sides.

A senior International Committee of the Red Cross official, which will oversee the deal’s implementation, said on Monday that the prisoner exchange was “hanging in the balance,” with trust among the parties “insufficient.” He also indicated that “there is a lot of disappointment on both sides,” adding: “What we now see on both sides is that they don’t have them all [i.e., the listed prisoners] because a lot of them, they probably died during the conflict.”

There are positive signs, however. In a move that could boost ongoing UN-led efforts to save the deal, the Houthis released an ailing Saudi prisoner, Musa al-Awaji, on humanitarian grounds at the end of January. The Saudi coalition also released seven Houthi prisoners who were not part of the negotiated exchange.

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

US Caught Helping ISIS Commanders Escape from Prison in Afghanistan

Tasnim News Agency | January 28, 2019

Kabul – A large number of prisoners, all of them senior members of Daesh (also ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group, broke out of a Taliban prison in northwest Afghanistan after US troops helped them escape through a covert operation.

According to Tasnim dispatches, American forces operating in Afghanistan carried out a secret military operation in the northwestern province of Badghis two weeks ago and helped the Daesh inmates escape the prison.

The report added that 40 Daesh ringleaders, all of them foreigners, were transferred by helicopters after American troops raided the prison and killed all its security guards.

Abdullah Afzali, deputy head of Badghis provincial council, confirmed the news.

Informed sources have given a detailed account of the US operation to rescue the Daesh forces and the developments that helped Americans pinpoint the location of the prison in the mountainous areas.

Aminullah, a man from Uzbekistan, was one of the Daesh commanders held captive in the Taliban prison. His success to escape from the prison led to the dismissal of the Taliban prison guard and his punishment.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment