Category Archives: Midle east

The Middle East Big Game: Forecasting the Conflict

Foreign Policy Diary

Global Research, October 25, 2015
South Front 21 October 2015

us-military-400x206The main strategic result of the ongoing Russian military operation in Syria is loss of the US monopoly on the recourse to force. Now, the US is lossing the leadership in the Middle East region. The success of the alternative anti-ISIS coalition will mean that the US could lose the leadership in a great part of the world, in Eurasia.

The US is pushed to answer on this challenge through political, military and media means. This is why Washington is preparing a military operation of Peshmerga and People’s Protection Units (YPG) to take control of Raqqa. The US military will coordinate this offensive and provide air support.

It’s important that Turkey is supporting this plan. Earlier, SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence noted that the Turkey’s attitude against Kurds could conduct tensions between Washington and Ankara. Now, it seems that Erdogan has decided to support the US because of security threats conducted by the fail of pro-terrorist policy in Syria. On Octoober 7, six people linked to ISIS were arrested on charges of illegally minting coins in the Turkish province of Gaziantep. Also, Turkey has reportedly reduced an oil traide with ISIS.

Two blasts at the venue for a peace rally in Ankara on October 10 shown that Erdogan can’t defend even the Turkish capital and ISIS militants decided that they had been betrayed by Turkey.

The internal conflicts are also growing. A part of the Turkish elites have supported ISIS. Moreover, Erdogan is a leader of the Justice and Development Party largerly financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This is conducting tensions because Qatar is linked with ISIS. The actual results of the Russian operation including the future US operation in Raqqa generate a real threat of purging ISIS in Syria.

In this enviroment, the Erdogan’s group decided to end its attempts to conduct independent policy in the region. It adopted the course on the rapprochement with the US, NATO and EU.

On October 18, Merkel arrived Turkey and gave her support to a new start in EU-Turkey membership talks. Turkey also demanded a €3 billion aid package for measures to strengthen the control of Turkey’s border with the EU and facilitate returns of unwanted migrants to Turkey.

Thus, Turkey has been shaping its approach in the region. It will likely include a hard anti-Iranian policy and cooling in relations with Russia. This marks the major developments going in the region affected by the major crisis. Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are its core, but the destabilization has been spreading. Turkey is affected by terrorism. Israel is involved into the conflict against Palestinian. Saudi Arabia is involved into a protracted war in Yemen and affected by Yemeni cross-border raids.

SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence expects that the global alliances competing in the Middle East will have the next shape:

A core of the first alliance includes Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel lead by the US. On October, pro-Israeli statements occurred in the major Saudi media. They characterize Israel as a solid and needed ally of Saudi Arabia in the contemporary situation. Turkey and Israel will likely strengthen a joint military cooperation. They already have a success story of a long standing cooperation on the level of intelligence services military departments.

A core of the second alliance includes Russia, Iran and Syria. Iran supported the start of the Russian military operation in Syria. And it could expand its role in the region due to the Russian support. The alliance set on this core will likely oppose the US-led powers.

Indeed, this situation looks as a background of the future war. Nonetheless, the near-war situation can’t be stable. At the moment, the US and Russia stay on different sides of the trench. But, the rapidly changing situation could lead to occurrence of the shotgun marriage between Russia and the US.

President Bashar al-Assad Interview: “We are at War with Terrorism, and this Terrorism is supported by Foreign Powers”

Are Manned U.S. Helicopters Flying In Syria?

Decoding the Current War in Syria: The Wikileaks Files

US- Israeli Attempted “Color Revolution” in Lebanon?

Israel’s Torture Method: Force-feeding

Israel’s Netanyahu government widens use of anti-democratic detention orders

Return to Yarmouk Martyr’s Day

Israeli Strike in Syria Threatens Wider War

Israel Empowers Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorists in Syria

CNN: Libyan “Rebels” Are Now ISIS

November 19, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – The United States has attempted to claim that the only way to stop the so-called “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq is to first remove the government in Syria. Complicating this plan are developments in Libya, benefactor of NATO’s last successful regime change campaign. In 2011, NATO armed, funded, and backed with a sweeping air campaign militants in Libya centered around the eastern Libyan cities of Tobruk, Derna, and Benghazi. By October 2011, NATO successfully destroyed the Libyan government, effectively handing the nation over to these militants.

Images: Same convoy, different flag. Even in 2011, it was painfully obvious the so-called “rebels” fighting with NATO assistance in Libya were in fact members of long-standing Al Qaeda franchises including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Their strongholds in eastern Libya served as the “revolution’s” cradle, meaning the “revolution” was merely cover for a NATO-assisted Al Qaeda uprising. In other words, NATO handed Libya over to Al Qaeda, and is attempting to do likewise with Syria.  
What ensued was a campaign of barbarism, genocide, and sectarian extremism as brutal in reality aswhat NATO claimed in fiction was perpetrated by the Libyan government ahead of its intervention. The so-called “rebels” NATO had backed were revealed to be terrorists led by Al Qaeda factions including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).The so-called “pro-democracy protesters” Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was poised to attack in what NATO claimed was pending “genocide” were in fact heavily armed terrorists that have festered for decades in eastern Libya.

Almost immediately after NATO successfully destroyed Libya’s government, its terrorist proxies were mobilized to take part in NATO’s next campaign against Syria. Libyan terrorists were sent first to NATO-member Turkey were they were staged, armed, trained, and equipped, before crossing the Turkish-Syrian border to take part in the fighting.

CNN Admits ISIS is in Libya  

CNN in an article titled, “ISIS comes to Libya,” claims:

The black flag of ISIS flies over government buildings. Police cars carry the group’s insignia. The local football stadium is used for public executions. A town in Syria or Iraq? No. A city on the coast of the Mediterranean, in Libya. 

Fighters loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are now in complete control of the city of Derna, population of about 100,000, not far from the Egyptian border and just about 200 miles from the southern shores of the European Union. 

The fighters are taking advantage of political chaos to rapidly expand their presence westwards along the coast, Libyan sources tell CNN.

Only the black flag of Al Qaeda/ISIS has already long been flying over Libya – even at the height of NATO’s intervention there in 2011.  ISIS didn’t “come to” Libya, it was always there in the form of Al Qaeda’s local franchises LIFG and AQIM – long-term, bitter enemies of the now deposed and assassinated Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Images: While CNN claims the “black flag of ISIS” is just now flying over Libya, in reality, the black flag of Al Qaeda and US-Saudi funded global terrorism has flown over Libya for years. Just weeks after US Senator John McCain was in the terrorist capital of Benghazi pledging funds and weapons to the militants, overt public demonstrations in support for Al Qaeda took place right on the doorsteps of the courthouse McCain appeared at. 

CNN’s latest article is merely the veneer finally peeling away from the alleged “revolution” it had attempted to convince readers had taken place in 2011.

ISIS Didn’t “Come to” Libya, It Came From Libya

Image: Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the Al Qaeda affiliate LIFG, leading
Libyan terrorists in Syria. LIFG terrorists would pass through NATO territory
in Turkey on their way to Syria’s border. ISIS “coming to” Libya is simply
LIFG terrorists returning from their NATO-backed expeditionary mission. 

Even amid CNN’s own spin, it admits ISIS’ presence in Libya is not a new phenomenon but rather the above mentioned sectarian extremists who left Libya to fight in Syria simply returning and reasserting themselves in the eastern Cyrenaica region. CNN also admits that these terrorists have existed in Libya for decades and were kept in check primarily by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. With Qaddafi eliminated and all semblance of national unity destroyed by NATO’s intervention in 2011, Al Qaeda has been able to not only prosper in Libya but use the decimated nation as a spingboard for invading and destroying other nations.

Worst of all, Al Qaeda’s rise in Libya was not merely the unintended consequence of a poorly conceived plan by NATO for military intervention, but a premeditated regional campaign to first build up then use Al Qaeda as a mercenary force to overthrow and destroy a series of nations, beginning with Libya, moving across North Africa and into nations like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and eventually Iran. From there, NATO’s mercenary force would be on the borders of Russia and China ready to augment already Western-backed extremists in the Caucasus and Xinjiang regions.

In 2011, geopolitical analyst Dr. Webster Tarpley in his article, “The CIA’s Libya Rebels: The Same Terrorists who Killed US, NATO Troops in Iraq,” noted that the US strategy was to:

…use Al Qaeda to overthrow independent governments, and then either Balkanize and partition the countries in question, or else use them as kamikaze puppets against larger enemies like Russia, China, or Iran.

Dr. Tarpley would also note in 2011 that:

One of the fatal contradictions in the current State Department and CIA policy is that it aims at a cordial alliance with Al Qaeda killers in northeast Libya, at the very moment when the United States and NATO are mercilessly bombing the civilian northwest Pakistan in the name of a total war against Al Qaeda, and US and NATO forces are being killed by Al Qaeda guerrillas in that same Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of war. The force of this glaring contradiction causes the entire edifice of US war propaganda to collapse. The US has long since lost any basis in morality for military force.

In fact, terrorist fighters from northeast Libya may be killing US and NATO troops in Afghanistan right now, even as the US and NATO protect their home base from the Qaddafi government.

Indeed, the very terrorists NATO handed the entire nation of Libya over to, are now allegedly prime targets in Syria and Iraq. The “pro-democracy rebels” of 2011 are now revealed to be “ISIS terrorists” with long-standing ties to Al Qaeda.

US Long-Planned to use Al Qaeda as Mercenaries 

Not even mentioning the fact that Al Qaeda’s very inception was to serve as a joint US-Saudi mercenary force to fight a proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, the terrorist organization has since played a central role in the Balkans to justify NATO intervention there, and as a divisive force in Iraq during the US occupation to blunt what began as a formidable joint Sunni-Shia’a resistance movement.

In 2007, it was revealed by Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh that the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were conspiring to use Al Qaeda once again, this time to undermine, destabilize, and destroy the governments of Syria and Iran in what would be a regional sectarian bloodbath.

Hersh would report (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda

Hersh would note that Iran was perceived to be the greater threat and therefore, despite a constant barrage of propaganda claiming otherwise, Al Qaeda and its various affiliates were “lesser enemies.” Even in 2007, Hersh’s report would predict almost verbatim the cataclysmic regional sectarian bloodbath that would take place, with the West’s extremists waging war not only on Shia’a populations but also on other religious minorities including Christians.

His report would note:

Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites. 

And this is precisely what is happening, word for word, page by page – everything warned about in Hersh’s report has come to pass. In 2011, geopolitical analyst Dr. Webster Tarpley and others would also reiterate the insidious regional campaign Western policymakers were carrying out with Al Qaeda terrorists disguised as “rebels,” “activists,” and “moderate fighters” for the purpose of arming, funding, and even militarily intervening on their behalf in attempts to effect regime change and tilt the balance in the Middle East and North Africa region against Iran, Russia, and China.

CNN’s attempt to explain why ISIS is “suddenly” in Libya is one of many attempts to explain the regional rise of this organization in every way possible besides in terms of the truth – that ISIS is the result of multinational state sponsored terrorism including the US, UK, EU, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel as its chief backers.

NATO Handed ISIS Libya, Wants to Hand ISIS Syria

Inexplicably, amid allegedly fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the United States now claims it must first overthrow the Syrian government, despite it being the only viable, secular force in the region capable of keeping ISIS and its affiliates in check. CNN, in an article titled, “Sources: Obama seeks new Syria strategy review to deal with ISIS, al-Assad,” would report:

President Barack Obama has asked his national security team for another review of the U.S. policy toward Syria after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, senior U.S. officials and diplomats tell CNN.

Neither CNN, nor the politicians it cited in its article were able to articulate just why removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power would somehow diminish the fighting capacity of ISIS. With CNN’s recent article on ISIS’ gains in Libya despite US-led NATO regime change there, after decades of Libyan leader Qaddafi keeping extremists in check, it would appear that NATO is once again attempting not to stop Al Qaeda/ISIS, but rather hand them yet another country to use as a base of operations.

The goal is not to stop ISIS or even effect regime change in Syria alone – but rather hand Syria over as a failed, divided state to terrorists to use as a springboard against Iran, then Russia and China.

Clearly, ISIS’ appearance in Libya negates entirely the already incomprehensible strategy the US has proposed of needing to first depose the Syrian government, then fight ISIS. The Syrian government, like that of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, is the only effective force currently fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda’s many other franchises operating in the region. Deposing the government in Damascus would compound the fight against sectarian terrorists – and the West is fully aware of that. Therefore, attempts to topple the secular government in Damascus is in every way the intentional aiding and abetting of ISIS and the sharing in complicity of all the horrific daily atrocities ISIS and its affiliates are carrying out.

The morally bankrupt, insidious, dangerous, and very genocidal plans hatched in 2007 and executed in earnest in 2011 illustrate that ISIS alone is not the greatest threat to global peace and stability, but also those that constitute its multinational state sponsors. The very West purportedly defending civilization is the chief protagonist destroying it worldwide.

Israel’s Netanyahu threatens clampdown after synagogue killing

By Jean Shaoul
19 November 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to respond with a “heavy hand” to the killing of four rabbis and the wounding of eight others in a Tuesday morning attack on a synagogue.

The attack by two men, armed with a gun, axes and knives, took place in an ultra-orthodox neighbourhood of West Jerusalem. Israeli police shot and killed the attackers at the scene.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that its members, identified by police as cousins Ghassan Abu Jamal and Uday Abu Jamal, had carried out the attack, calling it a “heroic operation” and a “natural response to the crimes of the occupation.”

Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack, saying it was in response to the death of Yusuf Ramouni, a bus driver from East Jerusalem who was found hanged inside his vehicle on Sunday. While the police claimed Ramouni’s death a suicide, Palestinians said he had been beaten and murdered.

In contrast, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement “condemning the killing of worshippers in a house of God in West Jerusalem.” He called for a halt to Israeli “raids into al-Aqsa” and “provocations” by Israeli settlers on Palestinian lands.

Israel’s police chief, Yohanan Danino, raised the alert level in Jerusalem to the second highest and ordered police nationally to prepare for any possible scenario. Security forces stormed the Jabal al-Mukaber neighbourhood in large numbers while police arrested a number of the attackers’ relatives. Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said he would seek some easing of gun control rules so that military officers and security guards could carry weapons while off-duty. Right-wing Israeli protests have taken place throughout the city.

Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the homes of the attackers’ families in East Jerusalem. He accused Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of inciting violence. The prime minister’s spokesperson Mark Regev went further, equating Hamas with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

With Israel having already waged a bloody war against Gaza in July that led to 2,200 deaths, overwhelmingly Palestinians, Washington is clearly concerned at Netanyahu risking an escalation of a situation already teetering on the brink of what many are terming a third Palestinian Intifada. The US is particularly worried by Netanyahu’s targeting of Abbas, a key US asset.

President Barack Obama issued a statement condemning the attack, while declaring: “At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.”

Shin Bet (internal security) chief Yoram Cohen publicly rejected claims that Abbas encouraged terrorism, saying, “Abu Mazen [Abbas] is not interested in terror and is not leading his people to terror.”

The attack and Israel’s response portend a wider conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and within the Palestinian-dominated towns and cities of Israel itself that could embroil neighbouring Jordan. It follows mounting provocations by the Israeli authorities in support of nationalist religious zealots who, along with ultra-right politicians of the Jewish Home Party in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, have called for an end to rules banning Jews from praying at the site of al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on Haram al-Sharif, known as Temple Mount to the Jews, and full Israeli sovereignty over the site.

Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount was the site of the Jewish temple destroyed 2,000 years ago, of which all that remains is the Wailing Wall. But Haram al-Sharif is one of the three most important sites in Islam.

Israel seized the Al-Aqsa site along with the rest of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in defiance of international law.

According to Muslim belief, the Prophet Mohammed rose to heaven from the Dome of the Rock. Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who claims descent from the Prophet, is guardian of the city’s Islamic holy places by tradition and by the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Any challenge to the religious status quo would also challenge his legitimacy in Jordan and throughout the Arab world.

Whereas just a decade ago a few hundred religious Jews visited the site, some 8,500 visited it last year. In the last few weeks, hundreds of Jews and several politicians have marched onto the Mount, including prominent members of the ruling Likud party and Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, escorted by armed police.

This has given rise to repeated clashes between Israeli riot police and Palestinian youth at the compound, culminating on October 29 when a Palestinian assailant shot and wounded Yehuda Glick, a prominent messianic activist and nationalist provocateur. Israel then closed the compound to Muslim worshippers.

Since then, visits by Jewish Israelis to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount have increased. Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are refused access.

As tensions have mounted, five Israelis and a foreign national visiting Jerusalem have been run over deliberately or stabbed by Palestinians, while the security forces have killed a dozen Palestinians.

Jordan also fears that right-wing Israeli elements will force the annexation of Area C in the West Bank, triggering a third flight of Palestinians to Jordan, politically destabilising the country, where Palestinians already form a majority.

Jordan’s Abdullah has made clear that any unilateral Israeli move on the al-Aqsa compound would force a review of the 1994 peace treaty. On November 5, he withdrew Jordan’s ambassador to Israel.

With friction between two of Washington’s most important regional allies cutting across its plans for military escalation in Iraq and Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Amman to try and persuade Abdullah and Netanyahu to calm the tensions.

Netanyahu publicly proclaimed his adherence to the status quo, but at the same time made it easier to sentence young Palestinians who throw stones at Israeli security forces to up to 20 years in prison. Some 800 young Palestinians have been locked up in the past two months.

Netanyahu also approved new housing for Jews in Jerusalem, including 500 units to expand an existing Jewish enclave north of the city, Ramat Shlomo, and 2,600 units at Givat Hamatos, a hill in southern Jerusalem that links two other neighbourhoods lying outside Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The construction will encircle the Palestinian village of Beit Safafa, which is also being bisected by a highway linking Jewish settlements to the city centre.

All this comes as Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem are being demolished, ostensibly because they have been built or extended without permission, which is, in practice, impossible to obtain. According to the United Nations, 298 Palestinians were evicted and their homes demolished in 2013 and well over 100 this year.

There have been riots and clashes between Palestinian Israelis and Israeli police in the northern towns following the brutal killing by police of 22-year-old Kheir Hamdan in Kafr Kana, near Nazareth. Netanyahu and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett both suggested Hamdan was a “terrorist.” Netanyahu called on the interior minister to investigate stripping the Palestinian Israeli protesters in Kafr Kana and elsewhere of their citizenship and their right to live in Israel. He told them to “move to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza… Israel will not put any obstacles in your way.”

How Many Islamic State Fighters Are There?

By Ray McGovern

November 18, 2014 “ICH” – “Consortium News“- Why was I reminded of Vietnam on Saturday when Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq to “get a firsthand look at the situation in Iraq, receive briefings, and get better sense of how the campaign is progressing” against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL?

For years as the Vietnam quagmire deepened, U.S. political and military leaders flew off to Vietnam and were treated to a snow job by Gen. William Westmoreland, the commander there. Many would come back glowing about how the war was “progressing.”

Dempsey might have been better served if someone had shown him Patrick Cockburn’s articlein the Independent entitled “War with Isis: Islamic militants have an army of 200,000, claims senior Kurdish leader.”

Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, told Cockburn that “I am talking about hundreds of thousands of fighters because they are able to mobilize Arab young men in the territory they have taken.”

Hussein estimated that Isis rules about one-third of Iraq and one-third of Syria with a population from 10 million to 12 million over an area of 250,000 square kilometers, roughly the size Great Britain, giving the jihadists a large pool of potential fighters to recruit.

While the Kurdish estimate may be high – it certainly exceeds “the tens of thousands,” maybe 20,000 to 30,000 that many Western analysts have claimed – the possibility that the Islamic State’s insurgency is bigger than believed could explain its startling success in overrunning the Iraqi Army around Mosul last summer and achieving surprising success against the well-regarded Kurdish pesh merga forces, too.

So, on his flight back to Washington, Dempsey will have time to ponder whether he has the courage to pass on this discouraging word to President Barack Obama about ISIS or whether he will put on the rose-colored glasses like an earlier generation of commanders did about Vietnam, where Westmoreland insisted that the number of enemy Vietnamese in South Vietnam could not go above 299,000.

Unfortunately, those obstinate Vietnamese Communists would not observe that artificial, politically inspired limit. Westmoreland was aware of the troubling reality but knew that acknowledging it would have undesired consequences in the United States where many Americans were souring on the war.

The inconvenient truth finally became abundantly clear during the Tet offensive in late January and early February 1968, but still the misbegotten war went on, and on, ultimately claiming some 58,000 U.S. lives and millions of Vietnamese.

Westmoreland’s gamesmanship with the numbers was known to some CIA officials – first and foremost, a very bright and courageous analyst named Sam Adams – but CIA Director Richard Helms silenced them out of fear of political retribution. “My responsibility is to protect the Agency,” Helms told them, “and I cannot do that if we get into a pissing match with a U.S. Army at war.”

Today’s CIA Director John Brennan is similarly at pains to protect the Agency on a number of fronts. Is he likely to tell the truth about ISIS if it means the prospects for a renewed war in Iraq and a new war in Syria are especially grim? If not, are there no Sam Adamses left at the CIA?

Honest Analysts?

Honest intelligence analysts played a key role in the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities,” which helped thwart Bush/Cheney plans to apply Iraqi-type “shock and awe” to Iran during their last year in office. The NIE concluded, unanimously and “with high confidence,” that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in late 2003.

In his memoir, Decision Points, President George W. Bush called the NIE’s findings “eye-popping.” He openly bemoaned how the estimate deprived him of the military option, writing “How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

The NIE on Iran was issued seven years ago. One has to hope that a few honest analysts on the Near East have survived the CIA directorships of Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus and John Brennan and have the courage to tell the truth about ISIS – including how U.S. military intervention now is swelling ISIS’s ranks, much as the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq in 2003 created the conditions for the group’s birth, then called “Al-Qaeda in Iraq.”

If honest intelligence analysts are silenced, as Sam Adams was 47 years ago, they need to plumb their consciences and see if they have the guts to make public both the undercounting of enemy forces AND the fillip given to their multiplication by further U.S. military involvement.

Though having worked within the system to get the real enemy troop estimates to senior U.S. officials, Sam Adams went to an early, remorse-filled death, unable to overcome the thought of what might well have happened to shorten the war if he had broken with the CIA’s demands for secrecy and made the actual enemy numbers public.

Possibly, the armed conflict might have ended in 1968. Or, to put it another way, the Vietnam Memorial in Washington would have no need for a western wall since there would be no names to chisel into the granite.

If Gen. Dempsey decides to ape Westmoreland and dissemble about the realistic obstacles to military success against the Islamic State fighters and about the counterproductive effects of U.S. intervention, well, our country will need a new Sam Adams willing, this time, to blast the truth into the open.

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

Sam Adams’s memory is invoked each year as Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence make their annual award for integrity. SAAII is a movement of former CIA colleagues of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, together with others who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power.

SAAII confers an award each year to a member of the intelligence community or related professions who exemplifies Sam Adam’s courage, persistence and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences.

It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were more than a half-million Vietnamese Communists under arms — roughly twice the number that the U.S. command in Saigon would admit to, lest Americans learn that claims of “progress” were bogus.

Gen. Westmoreland had put an artificial limit on the number Army intelligence was allowed to carry on its books. And his deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, specifically warned Washington that the press would have a field day if Adam’s numbers were released, and that this would weaken the war effort.

A SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Abrams on Aug. 20, 1967, stated: “We have been projecting an image of success over recent months,” and cautioned that if the higher figures became public, “all available caveats and explanations will not prevent the press from drawing an erroneous and gloomy conclusion.”

The Communist countrywide offensive during Tet made it clear that the generals had been lying and that Sam Adams’s “higher figures” were correct. Senior intelligence officials were aware of the deception, but lacked the courage to stand up to Westmoreland. Sadly, Sam Adams remained reluctant to go “outside channels.”

A few weeks after Tet, however, former Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg rose to the occasion. Ellsberg learned that Westmoreland was asking for 206,000 more troops to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam — right up to the border with China, and perhaps beyond.

Someone else promptly leaked to the New York Times Westmoreland’s troop request, emboldening Ellsberg to do likewise with Sam Adams’ story. Ellsberg had come to the view that leaking truth about a deceitful war would be “a patriotic and constructive act.” It was his first unauthorized disclosure. On March 19, 1968, the Times published a stinging story based on Adams’s figures.

On March 25, President Lyndon Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to theNew York Times hurt us. … We have no support for the war. This is caused by the 206,000 troop request [by Westmoreland] and the leaks. … I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.”

On March 31, 1968, Johnson introduced a bombing pause, opted for negotiations, and announced that he would not run for another term in November.

Sam Adams continued to press for honesty and accountability but stayed “inside channels” — and failed. He died at 55 of a heart attack, nagged by the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled, many lives might have been saved. His story is told in War of Numbers, published posthumously.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a close colleague of Sam Adams; the two began their CIA analyst careers together during the last months of John Kennedy’s administration. During the Vietnam War, McGovern was responsible for analyzing Soviet policy toward China and Vietnam.

The War in Syrian Kurdistan: The Fall of Kobani is a Prerequisite for the Invasion of Syria

Global Research, November 17, 2014

Rojava-flagSince October 2014, both Ankara and Washington altered or adjusted their approaches to the battle over Kobani. Mounting pressure, including domestic anger and protests in Turkish Kurdistan against Turkey’s ruling AK Party, forced neo-Ottomanist Turkish President Erdogan and his officials to allow token support to cross the Syrian-Turkish border into Kobani. One hundred and fifty Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) peshmerga troopers from Iraqi Kurdistan were allowed to transit through Turkish territory into Kobani on November 1, 2014. The Pentagon also started to airdrop supplies near Kobani.

There are, however, catches to both gestures of support from the US and Turkish governments. Firstly, the corrupt KRG in Iraqi Kurdistan is a Turkish, US, and Israeli ally and business partner. The KRG is also a rival of the local Kurdish authorities in Kobani and hostile towards the most popular political movement in Syrian Kurdistan, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Secondly, some of the US supplies that the Pentagon has dropped near Kobani got into the hands of the ISIL. In context of the US and Turkish goals addressed earlier, it appears that the US airdrops getting into the hands of the ISIL was intentional.

Washington’s attitude towards Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava has been very different from its attitude towards the corrupt KRG in Iraqi Kurdistan or Southern Kurdistan. In August 2014, when the ISIL attacked territory under the KRG’s control in Iraqi Kurdistan, the US immediately «appeared» to come to the aid of the KRG’s peshmerga units in the battles for Zumar and Sinjar (Shingal), albeit the Iraqis and other local actors, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurds, did most of the work fighting the ISIL, and evacuating the multi-ethnic Yezidi, Muslim, and Christian populations from these areas. Moreover, the US airstrikes utterly failed to stop the ISIL’s siege of Sinjar and many of the defending KRG peshmerga actually fled their posts when the ISIL’s forces advanced. If it was not for the PKK’s deployment, the Iraqi military would not have been able to evacuate many of the residents. The point here is that while heavy weaponry was delivered to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan, it has not been delivered to the Democratic Union Party in Syrian Kurdistan, which has done more to fight the ISIL than the KRG.

The main reasons for the different US attitude and approach towards the Syrian Kurds are based on the facts that the Syrians Kurds are: (1) not US allies; (2) they are not opposed to Damascus or pushing for regime change in Syria; and (3) they are not working to fragment Syria or Iraq.

Tensions run high between the Turkish government and the PYD. The ideological and working affiliation of the PYD to the PKK, which was aligned to Damascus in the past and has fought a bitter civil war against the Turkish military in Northern Kurdistan, has been cited as one of the reasons for the tensions between Ankara and the PYD. The reasons for the tensions, however, are not merely on account of the PYD’s affiliation to the PKK. In reality, Turkish officials do not want to see another autonomous Kurdish region on their southern border, especially a free-thinking one that is run by an inclusive grassroots movement which is unpredictable and not under Turkish influence.

Turkey sees the PYD and an autonomous Rojava or Syrian Kurdistan as a potential threat to itself, because a genuinely independent and inclusive Kurdish polity could encourage Turkish Kurds to make demands for similar autonomy in Northern Kurdistan or Turkish Kurdistan. Syrian Kurdistan could also be used as a pedestal to reinforce the Kurdish struggle in Northern Kurdistan and as a base for the paramilitary wing of the PKK, the People’s Defence Force (Yekineyen Parastina Gel, HPG). Moreover, Syrian Kurds and the majority of Turkish Kurds speak the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish, use the same Latin alphabet, and generally have closer cultural, linguistic, social, and political affinities towards each other than they do with the majority of the ethnic Kurds in Iraq and Iran.

Did the KRG coordinate with the ISIL or did they have a Tacit Understanding?

Albeit there was fighting between the KRG’s peshmerga forces and the ISIL, it has to also be remembered and emphasized that the ISIL and the KRG both took coordinated steps at expanding their territory inside Iraq (at the expense of the Iraqi federal government) in June 2014, respectively taking over Mosul and Kirkuk. This took place while the US refused to share any satellite images or intelligence data about the ISIL offensive entering Iraq from Syria with the Iraqi security forces or the federal government in Baghdad.

In context of the August 2014 fighting between the KRG peshmerga and the ISIL, the Pentagon’s role has greatly been exaggerated to provide support for its airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. «Coming to the aid» of the KRG is language taken from the misleading narratives that want to promote Washington as an «indispensable power.» When the US came to the «aid» of the KRG, it merely demarcated the territorial boundaries inside Iraq between the KRG and the ISIL. Essentially, the US airstrikes let the ISIL know where its territory was, where the KRG’s territory was, and roughly where their borders were.

Iraqi officials also reported that Israeli forces were present on the round in Iraq with the ISIL fighters when they invaded Mosul. US weapons that had disappeared from NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan also reappeared in the hands of the ISIL during their offensive of Mosul. These «missing» US arms from Afghanistan were most probably smuggled either through Turkey and/or Jordan (with lesser possibilities of Iraq and/or Lebanon) with the knowledge of the US and NATO.

The Democratic Union Party Has Worked to Protect and Unite All Rojava and Syria

For the sake of unity inside Syrian Kurdistan and to prevent fragmentation and infighting among the Syrian Kurd community, the PYD pursued a policy of cooperation with the KRG-supported Kurdish National Council while it steadfastly refused to compromise its political platform or end its support for national dialogue inside Syria and with the government in Damascus. Albeit tensions remain between the PYD and the Kurdish National Council, the PYD agreed to form the Kurdish Supreme Committee with the Kurdish National Council, through an accord brokered in Iraqi Kurdistan by the KRG, on July 12, 2012.

Under the accord, which recognizes the primacy of the PYD in Syrian Kurdistan, the seats in the Kurdish Supreme Council are equally divided between the PYD and the other Kurdish parties forming the Kurdish National Council. As part of the power sharing agreement, control over the YPG and YPJ is said to have formally been transferred to the Supreme Kurdish Council by the PYD. The YPG and YPJ, however, are nominally run by the Supreme Kurdish Council and are under the control of the PYD in practice. While the YPG and the YPJ act like a local army in Rojava, the policing and internal security forces of the Supreme Kurdish Council are the Asayish.

At the same time that the PYD has worked to maintain unity among the Syrian Kurds, it has not forgotten the non-Kurds of Syrian Kurdistan or the rest of Syria. PYD leaders have worked to create a system of inclusion that works to preserve the diversity of Syrian Kurdistan and maintain a spirit of tolerance in Rojava and Syria. This is why the PYD has reached out to the Arab, Armenian, Assyrian, and Turcoman (Turkoman) communities of Syrian Kurdistan to also represent their interests and to be their movement too.

YPG and YPJ troops have also worked to protect all the members of Syrian society in their areas of control, regardless of their faiths or ethnicities, from attacks by the US-backed insurgents. Many Sunni Muslim Arab Syrians have even sought refuge in the areas of Syria under PYD administration. The YPG and YPJ even have Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, and other ethnic groups among their ranks. Plus, it was the YPG and YPJ that quickly came to the rescue and aid of the Syrian Turcoman when they were attacked by the ISIL and ironically not Turkey which never passes a chance to parade itself as the champion of the Turcoman and Turkic minorities in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In the case of Sinjar, it was also the YPG and YPJ that entered Iraq with the PKK to help save most the residents there from being executed or enslaved by the ISIL.

After the Arabs, Manipulating the Kurds: Preparing for a Kurdish Summer? 

The KRG on the other hand has taken a different path from the Kurds in Syria. Although the KRG preaches Iraqi unity and pays lip service to pluralism, Iraqi Kurdistan under the KRG has become a hub for a dangerous alliance of neoliberal profiteering and intolerant ultra-nationalist sentiments that have racist views towards Arabs, Turks, Turcoman, Persians, and other ethnic groups. Washington wants to use ethno-nationalism in Kurdistan as a weapon, just as it has capitalized on ultra-nationalism and anti-Russian views in Ukraine.

Preparations are being made to eventually ignite a «Kurdish Summer.» This goal includes igniting Kurdish ethno-nationalism to (1) help divide Syria and Iraq and to (2) destabilize the countries that have Kurdish populations. When systematic attacks by Jabhat Al-Nusra against Kurdish towns commenced in 2013, it was precisely with this understanding that it was noted that the following was the objective: «The targeting of Kurdish civilians in Syria by US-supported armed thugs is part of a deliberate attempt to galvanize the Kurds and pit them in a resurgent struggle againstthe non-Kurd regions.»  The same text, written on August 15, 2013, noticed that Washington was silent, because the Syrian Kurds were systematically being tortured, raped, and executed by insurgents groups supported by it, Turkey, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and their allies. It was warned, however, that Washington and its cohorts would opportunistically «make supportive noise for the Kurds once they get the result they are seeking

To recap the argument made on August 15, 2013 about the situation in Rojava was thus: «The systematic massacres of Syrian Kurds mark the start of a new strategy to entangle the Kurds in the fighting inside Syria. The targeting of the Syrian Kurds by insurgent groups like Al-Nusra is premeditated and strategically executed precisely with the intention of galvanizing the Kurds in Syria and elsewhere into forming more armed groups and segregating themselves from non-Kurds.»

The PYD realized this too. This is why the PYD’s strategy has been based on maintaining pluralism and peaceful coexistence between all Syrian citizens. This is yet another reason as to why the US and its allies want to defeat the PYD.

Neutralizing the Syrian Kurds as a Free Force

Kobani is one of the three unofficial administrative divisions of the de facto autonomous region of Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava. The other two administrative division of Syrian Kurdistan are Efrin, which corresponds to Aleppo Governorate’s northwesternmost district that goes by the same name (called Afrin in Arabic and Efrin in Kurdish), and Jazira or Cizire, which roughly corresponds to northernmost sub-districts (nawahi) of the multi-ethnic Al-Hasakah Governorate’s three northern districts (manatiq) of Al-Malikiyah (Derika Hemko in Kurdish), Al-Qamishly (Qamislo in Kurdish), and Ras Al-Ayn (Sere Kaniye in Kurdish).

What sets Kobani apart from Efrin and Cizire, however, is its strategic location in north central Syria and the fact that it the intermediate de facto district of the autonomous areas held by the YPG, PYD, and Kurdish Supreme Council. Capturing it is a step towards de-linking the Kurdish zones of autonomy. The surrender of Cizire, Kobani, and Efrin also means that almost all the northern Syrian border with Turkey will be in insurgent hands. With these Kurdish zones gone, the anti-government held border areas in the Syrian governorates of Al-Hasakah, Ar-Raqqah, Alepp, and Idlib will be united as one vast stretch of compartmentalized insurgent territory that will be fortified from the Turkish border by the US, Turkey, and their allies.

 Kobani was surrounded on three fronts by October 6, 2014. The Turkish military had mobilized with armed columns of tanks and troops on the Syrian-Turkish border to the north while from the southeast and southwest the ISIL anti-government brigades were inching closer with their military assault. Hiding his joy, President Erdogan declared that Kobani would collapse on October 7, 2014. While the battle was raging, either tacitly or directly, the Turkish government essentially gave the Syrian Kurd fighters defending the area against the Turkish-supported ISIL offensive ultimatums. Syrian Kurds were told that they could either join the anti-government forces working for regime change in Syria or be butchered by the ISIL. This is why US Department of State Spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki was asked by a journalist the following question on October 6: «Are you waiting for a Turkish deal with the Kurds?»

Speaking to the Istanbul-based Turkish newspaper Özgür Gündem, the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) leader Sabri Ok testified that the ISIL’s fighters in Syria were merely foot soldiers in the service of the Turkish government. He explained that Ankara had actually requested the offensive on the Syrian Kurds. According to Sabri Ok, the AK Party was using its links to the ISIL to push for the elimination of the de facto autonomous Kurdish areas in Syria.

What this should make clear is that the ISIL attacks on Kobani and Syrian Kurdistan seek to neutralize and marginalize the PYD. The goals of the offensive include either forcing the PYD to make concessions to Ankara and Washington or replacing the PYD by allowing those Syrian Kurds aligned to the KRG and Turkey to take control of the area under substitute administrations that would be inclined to follow US and Turkish edicts and desires.

Things in Kobani, however, did not go as planned. Refusing to give up, the outnumbered YPG and YPJ volunteers heroically maintained their positions against the ISIL. Two days after Erdogan said Kobani would fall, on October 9, he was forced to say that the riots in Turkey had nothing to do with Kobani. As mentioned earlier, both Erdogan and the US government faced mounting criticism and pressure to support Kobani too. This forced them to voice their support or to make gestures of support.

Rojava and the Domino Effect Strategy in Syria

The war on the ISIL has been presented by the US and its allies as a new war against a new enemy, but it is in fact a continuation of the war against Syria and all of Syria’s people, including the Syrian Kurds. For decades many of the Kurds wrongly thought that the US supports them. Instead Washington and players like Israel have geopolitically manipulated them time and time again. While Kurds have hoped for help from US military jets, even if they are illegally bombing Syria, they have instead found themselves being killed by US tanks and arms in the hands of the ISIL.

Among many of the Syrian Kurds it is an open secret that the battle for Ayn Al-Arab or Kobani has really been about controlling the Syrian-Turkish border and forcing the Syrian Kurds to fall into line with the objectives of Ankara and Washington. The war in Rojava is a battle for control of the peripheries of Syria. If the YPG and YPJ fall or are absorbed into the insurgency, the fighting against the Syrian military will increase and the insurgents in the north will look towards the Mediterranean coast and southward towards the Syrian capital. This process could very well be described as a geographic or spatial domino effect strategy that intends to takeout the PYD and Rojava as a means of going after the Syrian government in Damascus.

Aside from a geographic domino effect, there is also a social one. While it has amply been demonstrated by the Democratic Union Party that it does not want to divide Syria and that the Syrian Kurds see themselves as constituents of Syrian society, hazardous conditions have arisen in Rojava and Syria. The growing mixture of militias in Syria has the potential for widening existing cleavages. Lebanonization has clearly and unfortunately made inroads in Syria. Albeit this will not necessarily divide the country, it can lead down a path of communitarianism and federalization. The Syrian Arab Republic will surely never be the same again.

Come what may, the Syrian Kurds and the inhabitants of Syrian Kurdistan have categorically stated that they do not need or want foreign intervention by the US or Turkey, but would appreciate logistical help in their battle to save their homes.

To read the first part, please click here.

ISIS Agrees to Work with Itself – US Calls for Panic, Attack on Assad

Global Research, November 17, 2014
Activist Post 15 November 2014


In yet another example of how the actions of death squad terrorists in Syria conveniently seem to benefit the agenda of NATO and the United States, new reports suggesting that ISIS and the al-Nusra Front are now working together to defeat the elusive “moderate rebels” fighting against Assad are timed right alongside reports of Obama’s decision to refocus his Syria strategy to openly pursue the ouster of Assad as a part of his plan to “defeat ISIS.” These new reports will ultimately be used to justify NATO and America’s plan to openly overthrow Assad even while claiming to be fighting ISIS and extremists.

The mainstream media’s accounts of the “new alliances” between Nusra and ISIS are compelling indeed, as good narratives always are, regardless of whether or not they are true.

For instance, as Deb Reichmann of the Associated Press writes,

Militant leaders from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida gathered at a farm house in northern Syria last week and agreed on a plan to stop fighting each other and work together against their opponents, a high-level Syrian opposition official and a rebel commander have told The Associated Press.

Such an accord could present new difficulties for Washington’s strategy against the IS group. While warplanes from a U.S.-led coalition strike militants from the air, the Obama administration has counted on arming “moderate” rebel factions to push them back on the ground. Those rebels, already considered relatively weak and disorganized, would face far stronger opposition if the two heavy-hitting militant groups now are working together.

Of course, what the Associated Press neglects to mention is that while, admittedly, ISIS and Nusra have engaged in battle against one another on several occasions [such is the nature of fanaticism], the fact is that the two are actually the same organization.

For instance, it is important to remember the genealogy of ISIS which can be discovered through observing the career of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. As Voltaire Net writes,

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is an Iraqi who joined Al-Qaeda to fight against President Saddam Hussein. During the U.S. invasion, he distinguished himself by engaging in several actions against Shiites and Christians (including the taking of the Baghdad Cathedral) and by ushering in an Islamist reign of terror (he presided over an Islamic court which sentenced many Iraqis to be slaughtered in public). After the departure of Paul Bremer III, al-Baghdadi was arrested and incarcerated at Camp Bucca from 2005 to 2009. This period saw the dissolution of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, whose fighters merged into a group of tribal resistance, the Islamic Emirate of Iraq.

On 16 May 2010, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named emir of the IEI, which was in the process of disintegration. After the departure of U.S. troops, he staged operations against the government al-Maliki, accused of being at the service of Iran. In 2013, after vowing allegiance to Al-Qaeda, he took off with his group to continue the jihad in Syria, rebaptizing it Islamic Emirate of Iraq and the Levant. In doing so, he challenged the privileges that Ayman al-Zawahiri had previously granted, on behalf of Al-Qaeda, to the Al-Nusra Front in Syria, which was originally nothing more than an extension of the IEI.

Note also that Voltaire Net describes al-Nusra, a documented al-Qaeda connected group, as merely an extension of the IEI (Islamic Emirate of Iraq) which itself was nothing more than a version of Al-Qaeda In Iraq. Thus, from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, came the IEI, which then became the Islamic Emirate of Iraq and the Levant. IEIL then became ISIS/ISIL which is now often referred to as IS.

In other words, Nusra=Al-Qaeda-IEI=IEIL=ISIL=ISIS=IS.

Although too lengthy of a study to be presented in this article, it is important to point out that al-Qaeda is entirely a creation of the West, created for the purpose of drawing the Soviets into Afghanistan in the 1970sand a host of other geopolitical goals in the Middle East and around the world, 9/11 being the most memorable instance of Western intelligence al-Qaeda mobilization.[1]

As for the “moderate rebels,” the reality is that the so-called “opposition” in Syria is anything but moderate. As Tony Cartalucci wrote in his article, “In Syria, There Are No Moderates,”

… there were never, nor are there any “moderates” operating in Syria. The West has intentionally armed and funded Al Qaeda and other sectarian extremists since as early as 2007 in preparation for an engineered sectarian bloodbath serving US-Saudi-Israeli interests. This latest bid to portray the terrorists operating along and within Syria’s borders as “divided” along extremists/moderate lines is a ploy to justify the continued flow of Western cash and arms into Syria to perpetuate the conflict, as well as create conditions along Syria’s borders with which Western partners, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, can justify direct military intervention.

Indeed, even the New York Times has been forced to admit that there are, as Cartalucci expertly argues in his article, no moderates in the ranks of the Syrian death squads. As Ben Hubbard wrote in April, 2013,

In Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, rebels aligned with Al Qaeda control the power plant, run the bakeries and head a court that applies Islamic law. Elsewhere, they have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce.

Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.[emphasis added]

Even one of the FSA commanders, Bassel Idriss, recently admitted to openly collaborating with ISIS and al-Nusra, revealing yet another example of the fact that the “moderate rebels” are not moderate at all.

In an interview with the Daily Star of Lebanon, Idriss stated “We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in . . . Qalamoun . . .  Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values.”

Idriss also admitted that many FSA fighters had pledged allegiance to ISIS. He said, “[ISIS] wanted to enhance its presence in the Western Qalamoun area. After the fall of Yabroud and the FSA’s retreat into the hills [around Arsal], many units pledged allegiance [to ISIS]”.

Abu Fidaa, a retired Syrian Army Colonel who is now a part of the Revolutionary Council in the Qalamoun, corroborated Idrisss’ statements by saying that “A very large number of FSA members [in Arsal] have joined ISIS and Nusra. In the end, people want to eat, they want to live, and the Islamic State has everything.”

Not only the FSA, but also the Syrian Revolutionary Front has also openly admitted to working with Nusra and al-Qaeda. The leader of the SRF, Jamaal Maarouf admitted that his brigades coordinate with Nusra and al-Qaeda regularly.

Salem Idriss, one of the men seen in the photograph with John McCain, is the commander of the FSA, the “opposition group” touted as a “moderate rebels.” In reality, of course, the FSA is nothing of the sort. As Daniel Wagner wrote for the Huffington Post in December, 2012,

In the outskirts of Aleppo, the FSA has implemented a Sharia law enforcement police force that is a replica of the Wahhabi police in Saudi Arabia — forcing ordinary citizens to abide by the Sharia code. This is being done in a secular country which has never known Sharia Law. This type of action is currently also being implemented in northern Mali, where the West has officially declared its opposition to the al-Qaeda government that took control earlier this year. If what is happening near Aleppo is representative of what may happen if the FSA assumes control of Syria, the country may become an Islamic state. Is that really what the U.S. and other Western countries are intending to tacitly support?


Indeed, the FSA has also been targeting the infrastructure of the country. One of the main power plants in Damascus was knocked out for three days last week, impacting 40 percent of the city’s residents. Do ‘freedom fighters’ typically attack critical infrastructure that impacts ordinary citizens on a mass scale? The FSA long ago stopped targeting solely government and military targets.

The FSA is no stranger to atrocities. The FSA is the “moderate opposition” that was filmed forcing a young child to behead a Syrian soldier. It is also the “moderate opposition” that maintained “burial brigades,” a system of mass murder and mass executions against soldiers and those who support the Syrian government. The burial brigades were only one small part of a much wider campaign of terror and executions implemented by the Free Syrian Army.

Of course, the Free Syrian Army is merely the umbrella group of death squads carefully crafted to present a “moderate” face on what is, in reality, nothing more than savage terrorists. Thus, the FSA encompasses(d) a number of smaller “brigades” of al-Qaeda terrorists in order to cover up the true nature of its own ranks.

One such brigade was the Farouq brigade, to which Abu Sakkar was a member. Sakkar, also seen in photographs with John McCain, was the famous rebel videotaped cutting the heart out of a Syrian soldier and biting into it.

It is thus necessary to understand that there is no difference between the “moderate rebels,” ISIS, and Nusra in order to understand the deceptive nature of the narrative being promoted by mainstream media outlets regarding the recent “alliance.”

As it is, the story provided by Western media outlets will be used to justify NATO military invasion in Syria based on the lie that the poor “moderate rebels” and “peaceful democracy-loving ‘activists’” are being overwhelmed by both ISIS/Nusra extremists on one side and brutal dictator Assad on the other. If America does not step in on the side of the moderates, the story goes, the poor “moderates” will be eradicated and America left with the choice between Islamic extremists or a civilian-killing dictator.

Of course, the very notion that America deserves any options in the internal affairs of a foreign nation is an expression of gross arrogance. It is also absurd to paint Bashar al-Assad as a brutal dictator who kills his own people when there has been no shred of evidence to indicate that Assad has intentionally targeted civilians during the entire conflict.

Even more absurd, however, is to paint the FSA, SRF, and other “moderate rebels,” as moderate in an effort to pretend that there is such a thing as a desirable faction of the “rebellion,” in Syria. In reality, it is nothing more than a false narrative cooked up in order to justify American and NATO involvement on behalf of Western-backed death squads.

Also note that the clever script regarding the plight of the poor “moderates” comes on the heels of a White House announcement that America cannot continue its fictitious war on ISIS without removing Assad from power. As Reuters reported on November 12,

President Barack Obama wants his advisers to review the administration’s Syriapolicy after determining it may not be possible to defeat Islamic State militants without removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, CNN reported on Wednesday.

Citing senior U.S. officials, the network said Obama’s national security team held four meetings in the past week that were driven by how the administration’s Syria strategy fit into its campaign against Islamic State, which has seized large parts of Syria andIraq.

“The president has asked us to look again at how this fits together,” CNN quoted one senior official as saying. “The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria.” ISIL is another acronym for Islamic State.

The Times of Israel was somewhat more forthcoming in its own report which stated,

US President Barack Obama has instructed his national security advisers to review the administration’s policy on Syria and make removing embattled President Bashar Assad from power a key element in defeating the Islamic State group in Iraq, CNN reported Thursday.

According to a report from the American news network, the US administration is moving away from its previous strategy of confronting IS in Iraq first and then dealing with Assad in Syria.

Officials now see replacing the Damascus regime as a necessary step to success in Iraq.


In Syria, where the administration was planning on waiting to confront the Islamic State and Assad, the Pentagon is now considering expanding and speeding up its program of vetting and training moderate rebels.

Obama had wanted $500 million to train 5,000 Syrian rebels within a year on condition that they are vetted first to ensure their intentions are aligned with US interests. The vetting process has proved to be tricky and not yet even begun, the report said.

Including the ouster of Assad will also allow Washington to firm up its coalition, whose members have been irritated at the less enthusiastic attitude of the US when it comes to removing Assad.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is said to be in talks with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Russia to look at a diplomatic ousting of Assad. However, officials say that while Russia, which has backed Assad in the civil war, has said it is ready to see him leave office, Moscow has not taken any practical steps to that end.

Obama has announced plans to double the number of American troops in Iraq to up to 3,100 as US-led efforts against the jihadists enter what he called a “new phase.”

In other words, in order to defeat ISIS, we must remove the person fighting ISIS so that we will be able to bring ISIS into power, all while stating our resolute opposition to ISIS.

Such logic would be staggering in its stupidity if it were truly being applied.

In the end, the claims surrounding the plight of the death squads presented to the American people as “moderates” against the death squads presented to the American people as extremists is nothing more than theatre, albeit mindboggling at times. The United States and NATO have funded, armed, trained, and directed the terrorists rampaging across Syria from the very beginning of the crisis and continue to do so today. We must not allow ourselves to be fooled by propaganda and false narratives designed to stampede us to war.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at)

Af-Pak a frontline against IS goals

By Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy


Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

Early in October, six leaders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a terrorist group based in northwestern Pakistan, announced their allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and to the self-declared Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. While this was yet another indication of the steady percolation of IS into terrorist groups based in Pakistan, the implications will not be limited to national security alone.

The porous borders, historical narratives, and ideological leanings of the group will ensure that the effects will cut across social, economic, and humanitarian lines, unless there is an understanding of the IS’s perspectives towards the region. Pakistan is more vulnerable to that risk than other countries.

The keyword is Khurasan
The IS believes that all territories historically ruled by Muslims and later conquered by non-Muslims and/or allegedly non-Islamic forms of governance were wrongfully taken from them; and intend to reclaim it. When the IS unilaterally declared a “Caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, it also released a map highlighting the territories it aims to control in future.

The present-day territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan form the heart of the historical Greater Khurasan region highlighted in the map, which includes parts of modern-day Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and parts of western China.

Given the IS’s specific ideological leaning and approach, today’s nation-states are irrelevant for the group. The IS views the region only as Khurasan and will try to replicate precisely what it has done in Iraq and Syria: to undo modern political borders that separate countries in the region.

Already, IS propaganda material and declarations of allegiances have begun to crop up in various parts of Pakistan, with the latest being wall-chalking supporting the group, not too far from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Lahore residence.

However, the IS is not the only group that has its eyes set on the coveted Khurasan. The new TTP chief, Mullah Fazlullah, who fancies himself as the father of the Khurasan movement in Pakistan, and the relatively unknown group, Jaish-e-Khurasan, among others in Pakistan and Afghanistan, are also reclaiming Khurasan in their agendas.

Although the Pakistani military launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb to flush out militants from the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas earlier this year, the result has been to bring closer together the militants with like-minded counterparts in the bordering Afghan provinces of Kunar, Khost and Nuristan.

These provinces and the region along the Durand Line will become the epicenter of the turf war between these groups and the IS in the attempt to reclaim and control the historical Khurasan. While it is unlikely that the scale of breakdown of law and order will be on the lines of what is unraveling in Iraq and Syria, other implications will threaten to rip the very fabric of society in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the neighboring Central Asian countries.

Salafi catalyst in insecurity
Pakistan, though formed as a homeland state for Muslims, has, over the years, witnessed nationwide Sunni-ization. Minority communities are often targeted by violent hardline Salafi Islamists for their beliefs. In the past several months, non-Sunni Muslims, especially Shi’ites and Ahmadiyyas, have been targeted with terror attacks and mass killings.

Intolerance towards ethno-sectarian minorities can be understood via the attacks on the Shi’ite Hazara community in Balochistan. The Pakistani government’s indifferent attitude towards ethno-sectarian violence is not just disconcerting in general, but also, on a practical level, detrimental to the country’s security as a whole.

While sectarian violence in Afghanistan isn’t as pronounced as it is in Pakistan – especially given how Afghanistan suffers more from ethnic rivalries than sectarianism – any grip of the IS on the country could trigger sectarian violence by terrorist groups competing for legitimacy among their peers and potential sympathizers. Pakistan-based groups, in conjunction with counterparts in Afghanistan will try to one up the IS, resulting in human tragedies.

The ongoing withdrawal of Western forces has brought Afghanistan to a delicate point in time, despite the high competency of the Afghan National Security Forces, and this could be exploited by the groups competing to control the region.

Central Asia, which has witnessed increasing Salafi Islamization among its younger generations over the past few years, has also exhibited a growing tendency of intolerance towards Shi’ites – something that wasn’t the case until recently. The attraction towards the status of the Arab world in Central Asian countries, that takes precedence in comparison to that of the plight of Muslims elsewhere in the world – combined with the 1,300-year old prophecy in the Hadith about a Malahim (day of reckoning) in Dabiq, Syria, that the IS uses to recruit and gain sympathy among masses – has the potential to destabilize the social fabric of the region.

The difference will be noted in al-Qaeda’s approach towards sectarianism in comparison to the IS approach. Al-Qaeda, thought a violent Islamist terrorist group, never sought the absolute elimination of the Shi’ites. Conversely, the IS policies are as much about the elimination of Shi’ites as their goal to expand the borders of the “Islamic Caliphate”.

This could again lead to the softening of opinions about al-Qaeda, among the people. While most residents of the region may not approve of al-Qaeda, in the face of two evils, the masses will choose the lesser evil; and the numbers will matter because the relatively non-anti-Shi’ite policies of al-Qaeda will, comparatively, resonate positively among Shi’ites, who cumulatively make up a considerable chunk of region’s population.

The new resources curse
The Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border, which is already teeming with Salafi Islamists, could become problematic for Afghanistan. The comparatively weak structure of the Kyrgyz governmental systems could easily be taken advantage of to gain a foothold in the country. Tajik oil fields could become especially accessible to the resource-seeking IS, if the group manages to get an anchor in the eastern region of the country. Afghanistan too is flush with resources – tapping which is mostly only held up because of security problems.

Essentially, the draw of resources that can fund the caliphate combined with the historical narrative of greater Khurasan together have the potential to hit the region where it hurts most: in its social fabric. Given the complex multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of western South Asia and Central Asia, any shift in balance in the social construct would set the region back by decades.

Afghan linchpin
Afghanistan is the linchpin that has the potential to play decision-maker, as the fight for Khurasan is likely to culminate in a showdown in the country, especially at the Af-Pak border along the Durand Line. If all regional countries work together in conjunction with Kabul to ensure the stability in Afghanistan post the withdrawal of Western troops, the region will be better guarded to fight the new threat.

The Khurasan narrative is extremely central to dealing with this menace, for, the terrorists view the region from the point of view of a single construct, and their planning will be on similar lines. Therefore, if the Khurasan narrative is studied and understood thoroughly, and if planned well, Afghanistan could, together with Iran and the Central Asian countries, be the torchbearer in halting the eastward advance of the IS.

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online’s regular contributors.

Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy is research officer and member of the editorial board of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in India and a member of the advisory council of the Research Institute for Women Peace and Security in Afghanistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

(Copyright 2014 Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy)

The US Doesn’t Want to Stop The Islamic State (ISIL) – Only Exploit them for Other Means

Global Research, November 16, 2014

isil.si_-400x224Update November 16, 2014

Doubts have been raised over the alleged alignment of al-Nusra and ISIL.  Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi has reasonably argued that perhaps the western-backed FSA factions are falsifying this link as a means to justify more US-Support.  

Brandon Turbeville has also reasonably argued that this could be a marketing ploy by western media to justify more US-aid.  If reports of this alignment are false, the facts remain that large amounts of US-backed rebels (SRF/FSA/Hazm) have defected to Nusra and ISIL, many, as the above Washington Post report states, have done so peacefully and without a fight.  If the Nusra-ISIL link is true, then my argument stands that this in no way justifies more US-aid to rebel groups, and it instead means that al-Nusra has taken US-aid given to it by western-backed rebels to ally with ISIL 

Instead of deterring the radical Islamist group, American airstrikes against them have accomplished two things: they have increased ISIL recruitment while at the same time have destroyed and degraded Syria’s infrastructure, murdering innocent Syrian civilians along the way.

FBI Director James Comey told Congress in mid-September, just a week before airstrikes against ISIL expanded from Iraq and into Syria, that, “Support for Islamic State increased after U.S. airstrikes began in Iraq,” and, “ISIL’s widespread use of social media and growing online support intensified following the commencement of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.”(1)  According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a large increase of 6,300 new fighters has been recruited into the group since the US began airstrikes. (2)(3)  This is not surprising given the fact that Islamic extremist groups like ISIL draw their greatest legitimacy among their constituency from either actually fighting, or appearing to fight against the United States.

A month ago, Patrick Cockburn, a leading correspondent on the Middle-East, reported that, “The US-led air attacks launched against Islamic State (also known as Isis) on 8 August in Iraq and 23 September in Syria have not worked. President Obama’s plan to “degrade and destroy” Islamic State has not even begun to achieve success. In both Syria and Iraq, Isis is expanding its control rather than contracting.”(4)

Despite not only failing to degrade ISIL, the US airstrikes have also accomplished another long-standing US goal in the region: the further destabilization of the Syrian state.  It has accomplished this by bombing Syria’s energy facilities and infrastructure under the pretext of choking off the revenues ISIL receives from its illicit oil sales. However this justification completely falls apart upon closer examination.

The US has been bombing oil and gas production sites, including oil fields and refineries inside Syria, and following one such strike in late September Reuters would report, “These so-called refineries are not a real target and they do not weaken Islamic State as they do not have any financial value for them,” Rami Abdelrahman of the [Syrian] Observatory [for Human Rights] told Reuters.  “They are composed of trucks with equipment to separate diesel and petrol used by civilians.”  These attacks, instead of striking at ISIL’s financial base, are accomplishing only the further destruction of Syrian infrastructure.

Coupled with this is the fact that although there have been widespread airstrikes against oil production in Syria, there have however been exactly zero strikes against oil production facilities inside of Iraq; the US is keeping in-tact energy facilities inside of the state that it has control over, whilst destroying the infrastructure of Syrian state which it seeks to degrade and destroy.  This two-faced approach is a further attack upon the Syrian government, eliminating any chance they have of recapturing their nation’s oil refineries in-tact, which would also subordinate Syria to foreign investment in the rebuilding process if they were ever to be recovered.  “The destruction of Syria’s oil infrastructure would also open the door for US and UK oil companies to win contracts to rebuild it, paid for in debt, by the Syrian state. Foreign companies running Syria’s oil and gas production would prevent Syria from nationalising their own resources and becoming an independent prosperous country. This would result in the basic enslavement of the country while mitigating the threat it poses to US client states including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” Maram Susli, a chemist who worked alongside Theodore Postol to debunk false claims of Assad’s complicity in the Ghouta chemical weapons attack, further analyzes.(5)(6)

It should also be noted that this isn’t just an attack on the Syrian government, it is also an attack on the Syrian people, as fuel and oil prices have soared following the bombings, as well as have electrical failures and power blackouts.  “The Americans are destroying our infrastructure,” one 35-year old resident said.(7)  It should be stated that in the end, these oil resources ultimately belong to the Syrian people.

Casting further doubt on the United States’ stated aims is the fact that senior Obama administration officials are now considering bombing pipelines in Syria “in an attempt to cut off the huge profits being made by Isis from captured oilfields.”(8 However ISIL does not use these pipelines to transport and sell its oil, instead it uses trucks and smuggles the oil through Turkey.  “Current oil production by the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL) is estimated to be worth $800 million per year… The oil that ISIL sales on the black market—mostly via trucks through smuggling routes on the Turkish border—is sold at a steep discount at prices ranging from $25-$60 per barrel,” IHS, the consulting company widely quoted as an authority on ISIL oil revenues, reports.  Thus we see the seeds being planted for further justifications to attack and destroy Syria’s energy industry, with no valid connection to stopping ISIL. (emphasis added)

Along with the destruction of Syria’s oil infrastructure, in September the Ambassador for the European Union in Iraq, Jana Hybaskova, testified before the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee stating that several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State, while refusing to name the guilty parties.(9)  So while the western powers are profiting from ISIL’s illicit oil trade, keeping intact the refineries and oil fields in Iraq presumably to do so, they are as well destroying Syria’s infrastructure, as a further way to destabilize the Syrian state.

US-Supplied Rebels Align with al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda Aligns with ISIL

On November 1st Jamal Maarouf’s forces, the US-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front, were routed by al-Nusra, and according to reports ISIL fought alongside Nusra in the attack.(10)  Back in April, CIA-vetted Maarouf admitted to working alongside al-Nusra, providing the al-Qaeda group with whatever US-supplied weapons they needed whenever they asked for them.(11)  Despite US officials being aware of the fact that their weapons were going straight to al-Qaeda, in September Congress approved Obama’s plan of arming and training more rebels.(12)  Now it seems that al-Nusra, strengthened by weapons given to them while fighting along-side US-sponsored rebels, are using their US-weapons to ally with ISIL and take more weapons and fighters from the US-backed SRF headed by CIA-vetted Maarouf.

A day after Maarouf was routed on November 2nd, in the early hours of the morning between midnight and 4am, according to AP sources al-Nusra and ISIL agreed to stop fighting each other and to work together.  Agreements were made to work against the US-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm.  FSA and Harakat Hazm fighters were reportedly overtaken by al-Nusra later that day, ISIL sending about 100 fighters in 22 pickup trucks to aid in the effort.(13)  Al-Nusra is the longtime ally of the US-backed FSA.  Back in early September FSA commander Bassel Idriss stated, ““We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front… Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch.”  It should be noted that Congress agreed to further supply Syrian rebels just a week after this admission.

Now it seems that al-Nusra and ISIL have joined forces against the FSA, yet reports of the encounter state that the FSA and Harakat Hazm militants defected to Nusra and ISIL peacefully, transferring large quantities of US-supplied weapons to them while doing so all without a fight.

Moderate rebels who had been armed and trained by the United States either surrendered or defected to the extremists as the Jabhat al-Nusra groupaffiliated with al-Qaeda, swept through the towns and villages the moderates controlled in the northern province of Idlib, in what appeared to be a concerted push to vanquish the moderate Free Syrian Army.”

 “Among the groups whose bases were overrun in the assault was Harakat Hazm, the biggest recipient of U.S. assistance offered under a small-scale, covert CIA program launched this year, including the first deliveries of U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles. The group’s headquarters outside the village of Khan Subbul was seized by Jabhat al-Nusra overnight Saturday, after rebel fighters there surrendered their weapons and fled without a fight.” (Washington Post, 11/2/14) (emphasis added)

This raises the question as to whether they were overrun at all, or if they freely allied with the much more successful and resource-equipped al-Nusra and ISIL groups.

In sum, US-backed Maarouf and his SFR, who admittedly have been fighting alongside and giving US weapons to al-Qaeda all along, were overtaken by Nusra and ISIL, their fighters defecting and their weapons being transferred.  Al-Nusra and ISIL have also agreed to work together, and the US-backed FSA and Harakat Hazm groups have freely defected to Nusra and ISIL, taking with them all of their US-supplied weaponry, including TOW antitank missiles.

It is not surprising that defections to Nusra and ISIL are widespread.  “Abu Majid, another rebel leader, who has been receiving western support for six months, said it had not prevented his recent defeat by Jabhat al-Nusra and that he was losing faith. More than 1,000 men, half his brigade’s strength, had left in despair, many defecting to Isil.”

Defection to the jihadists has now been going on for years. Mahmoud, a former prisoner of the regimewho used to work for the FSA, now runs safe houses in Turkey for foreign fighters looking to join Jabhat al-Nusra and Isil.” (The Telegraph, 11/11/14) (emphasis added)

This is not surprising given the fact that the majority of the arms shipments coordinated by the US through Saudi Arabia and Qatar have gone to the extremist elements that the Gulf States historically always have supported. For years the US has been actively coordinated the arming of the most virulent elements inside of Syria, making them the most powerful players within the region.  A year ago the New York Times reported that, “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.”

“The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.” (emphasis added)

Therefore the fact that the most hard-lined extremist in Syria are also the most powerful makes a lot more sense. As the media constantly has been telling us that the US is only arming ‘moderate’ rebels, it has instead been coordinated the arming of Nusra and ISIL through its allied Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  At the same time it has been overseeing this arming of extremist, al-Qeada jihadists, it has also been actively funding ‘vetted’ groups like the FSA and SRF who have been working alongside Nusra and ISIL, freely coordinated with them while supplying them with US-weaponry the CIA had given to them just days before.  The end result of all of this is that Nusra and ISIL have become the dominant military forces within the region, prompting widespread defection of groups armed and trained by the US into their ranks.  As Nusra and ISIL have grown stronger through US tutelage, they have further been able to overcome other recipients of US aid like the Harakat Hazm brigades, further consolidating US-weaponry and US-trained fighters.

Anthony Cartalucci has argued, “But if the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) is being funded, armed, trained, and otherwise supported with the combined resources of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, NATO-member Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and others, just how exactly is the “Islamic State,” and other extremist factions such as Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, Al Nusra, getting even more cash and weapons?

“The answer… is that there were never, nor are there any “moderates” operating in Syria. The West has intentionally armed and funded Al Qaeda and other sectarian extremists…”

This is similar to the argument used by Senator Rand Paul when he recently testified against the arming of rebels in September before the Congress voted to approve the measure, deciding apparently that arming al-Qaeda and ISIL is worth the price of regime-change in Syria:  If the US and its allies have been arming moderate factions, to the tune of up to a billion dollars, how is it that the so-called moderates are virtually non-existent while the extremist elements have all of the power, weapons, and fighters?

Roots of the Bombing Campaign – Why US is Bombing ISIL

It should be understood that before the beginning of this year, when ISIL broke away and started fighting al-Nusra, that Nusra and ISIL had been working together for years.  Former British Army and Metropolitan Police counterterrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge has stated, “It should also be noted in this respect that the ‘moderate’ rebels the US and UK support themselves openly welcomed the arrival of such extremists. Indeed, the Free Syria Army backed by the West was allied with ISIS, until ISIS attacked them at the end of 2013.”

‘Vetted’ US rebels such as the FSA and the Syrian Revolutionary Front have admittedly been transferring US-supplied arms to, and working with, al-Nusra, who for the entirety of the Syrian crisis before 2014 was allied with ISIL, a working relationship we now see has reemerged as recent developments have unfolded.

When ISIL and Nusra did begin fighting earlier this year, we have seen that Obama had done nothing as ISIL was rampaging throughout Syria.  He was, however, benefitting from the media PR campaign which could now state that Obama’s rebels were fighting the evil ISIL terrorists, the American public conveniently forgetting that those rebels were fighting alongside al-Qaeda as they were doing so.

The rise of ISIL and their subsequent push into Iraq was anticipated; as early as February it was already predicted that ISIL would attempt to take territory in Iraq.  On February 11th the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, delivered the annual DIA threat assessment to the Senate Armed Service Committee.  He stated, “”Al-Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL): AQI/ISIL probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah, and the group’s ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”(14)  The push of ISIS into Iraq was anticipated and known, yet the Obama administration had done nothing to stop them.  The Wall Street Journal further states that, “The failure to confront ISIS sooner wasn’t an intelligence failure. It was a failure by policy makers to act on events that were becoming so obvious that the Iraqis were asking for American help for months before Mosul fell. Mr. Obama declined to offer more than token assistance.”

However, we do not have to wonder why Obama refused to act in this regard, he told us himself.  In an August interview with the New York Times, Obama said the reason, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.”  Obama thus exploited the rise of ISIL in order to obtain the geopolitical goal of pressuring Maliki to step down, which happened shortly afterwards.  The plan was successful, the slaughter and subjugation of countless Iraqi’s mere ‘collateral damage’ for this ‘higher end.’

ISIL then went onto consolidate its holdings further into Iraq, culminating in the overtaking of Mosul.  An event which Noam Chomsky describes as being, “pretty remarkable.  In fact, western military analysts were astonished.  Remember what happened, Iraq has an army, and the Iraqi army knows how to fight.  During the Iran-Iraq war that army fought hard and viciously, and in fact ultimately won the war, with US support.  There was an Iraqi army of 350,000 men, armed to the teeth with all kinds of advanced weapons.  They had been trained by the United States for over a decade.  They were faced by a couple of thousand lightly armed jihadi’s.  First thing that happened was all the generals ran away. Then all the troops ran away, leaving their weapons behind them. And then the jihadi forces just marched into Mosul and then into large parts of Iraq.  It was a pretty amazing phenomenon, it tells you a lot if you think about it.”

The Guardian would report,

“Iraqi officials told the Guardian that two divisions of Iraqi soldiers – roughly 30,000 men – simply turned and ran in the face of the assault by an insurgent force of just 800 fighters. Isis extremists roamed freely on Wednesday through the streets of Mosul, openly surprised at the ease with which they took Iraq’s second largest city after three days of sporadic fighting.”(15)

The main discourse on this ‘amazing phenomenon’ has stated a few reasons to explain this event, however virtually no one, besides Professor Michel Chossudovsky, has been asking the obvious questions, “Had the senior Iraqi commanders been instructed by their Western military advisers to hand over the city to the ISIS terrorists? Were they co-opted?”

These questions are highly justified to ask.  Most analyst readily accept that the army was disloyal and unwilling to fight for their cities and thus fled, however asking whether they were instructed to flee is no more far-fetched then these mainstream assumptions.

Still after this the US did not start its airstrikes, it was only after ISIL began to threaten the Kurdish region of Erbil that the US initiated its bombing campaign.  The bombings were started ostensibly to defend the beleaguered Yazidi’s from the oncoming ISIL advance, however the problem with this is that the Yazidi’s were already protected and being escorted off Mt. Sinjar a full 3 days before the first US action; they were already being protected.  The US announced its airstrikes on August the 8th,(16) while the socialist Kurdish PKK fighters had already begun rescuing the Yazidi’s as early as the 5th.(17)

The real reason the US bombed ISIL now and not before was to protect western oil interests located in Erbil,(18)as well as defend the myriad of CIA agents stationed in the region,(19) along with the Israeli intelligence and military operatives conducting anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian operations.(20)  Obama admitted as much, “Obama, in a statement delivered at the White House late Thursday, said that strikes would be launched against extremist convoys “should they move toward” the Kurdish capital of Irbil, where the United States maintains a consulate and a joint operations center with the Iraqi military.”

 “We intend to take action if they threaten our facilities anywhere in Iraq . . . including Irbil and Baghdad,” he said.” (Washington Post, 8/8/14)

Obama was fine with ISIL rampaging through Iraq, killing civilians and pressuring Maliki to resign, until they threatened western oil interests.

Thus the Yazidi’s were saved by the socialists the US says is a terrorist organization, their bombs beginning to drop 3 days after the fact while the Yazidi’s were already safe and being evacuating off the mountain, all in order to protect Chevron and Exxon.(21)(22)

Mission Creep – ISIL Bombings to Justify Military Intervention

It has just been announced on November 12th that Obama is reviewing his ISIL strategy.  “In just the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of the President’s national security team, one of which was chaired by Obama and others that were attended by principals like the secretary of state. These meetings, in the words of one senior official, were “driven to a large degree how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy.” (23

Given the recent developments, of Nusra and ISIL aligning, of the US-backed rebels freely taking their US-training and US-arms into the ranks of al-Qaeda and ISIL, of how the US covert policy of Syrian regime-changecreated ISIL, with a little help from their Gulf allies, one would perhaps think that the Obama administration would abandon its oil-inspired plan of using virulent Islamic extremists to topple Assad, realize that there has never been a ‘moderate’ rebel force in the region, that Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia are the most capable forces able to defeat the ISIL and have in fact been fighting them and al-Qaeda for over 3 years, and work towards realistically combating terrorism in the region, but you would be gravely mistaken.

“I think the President wants to make sure that we’re asking hard questions about what we’re targeting in Syria, how we’re able to degrade ISIL but also how we’re supporting opposition and building them up as a counterweight to ISIL but also ultimately of course to the Assad regime.”

Assad has been the biggest magnet for extremism in Syria, and the President has made clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern. Alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition …”

“Among the options being discussed are a no-fly zone on the border with Turkey and accelerating and expanding the Pentagon program to vet, train and arm the moderate opposition.  Turkey has called for a no-fly zone, both to protect its border and to provide relief to Syrian rebels facing airstrikes from the regime.” (emphasis added)

It should be noted that the Syrian airstrikes are targeting al-Qaeda and ISIL rebels, and that a no-fly zone would protect the terrorists and further endanger the Syrian government along with the beleaguered Syrian population. As for arming more rebels, the evidence is abundantly clear that it was this exact same plan that created ISIL in the first place and encouraged terrorism to thrive in Syria, thus any such plans should be viewed for what they really mean: the Obama administration has chosen to continue supporting and showering weapons upon al-Qaeda linked extremist jihadi’s for the ‘greater good’ of massacring the civilian population, further miring Syria in chaos and turning it into a failed-state, with the end goal of toppling the insubordinate Assad ‘regime.’

We are now witnessing the contours of what many have been warning against all along, that the threat of ISIL and the US bombings that were justified through them, will eventually turn against the Syrian government, which, as stated above, is the real goal here.

The US will continue providing money and weapons to the rebels, never balking when proof after proof comes to light that their ‘vetted’ ‘moderates’ are working alongside al-Qaeda and ISIL, committing the exact same kinds of atrocities as them, and that all of the US-weapons in the region are going to violent extremists who daily murder innocents, rape women and children as young as 15 years old, eat the organs of their victims, and daily terrorize the Syrian population.  Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, who through US oversight are the main actors responsible for aiding and supporting the worst of the extremists, will continue pushing for regime change, pressuring the US to expand its bombs towards Assad.  As the war-hawk Republicans take control of the Senate in a month, with the likes of John McCain heading the Senate Armed Service Committee, the drums of war will continue to be sounded, loyally aided by the sycophantic mainstream media, and all will have forgotten the voices of the Syrian’s themselves; the western hubris justifying these ungodly atrocities under the guise of ‘helping’ and ‘protecting’ the Syrian people, blinded by their imperial greed to the fact that the only ones calling for this ‘help’ are everyone except the Syrians themselves.  It says a lot about one’s stance when regime-change efforts are justified in the name of humanitarian aid the local population while the indigenous Syrian’s themselves are opposed to it, compounded by the fact that such ‘humanitarianism’ involves arming and funding al-Qaeda and ISIL, although in reality, the FSA and SRF, along with all the rest, are themselves no different from the Islamic State.

There is still hope for the Syrians, but it will only be realized once we as western citizens honestly look upon our actions and understand our true role in all of this, and stop pretending to care about the Syrians by supporting an agenda aimed at making them suffer for the geopolitical aims of colonial powers.  We should be willing to accept the hard truths of what we have been involved in, and not be diluted by more comfortable lies of our professed benevolence and high moral intentions.  And not least of all, we should listen to what the Syrians have to say for themselves.

A few lost voices of the Syrian people, courtesy of Eva Bartlett:

 In a different area of Lebanon, I meet another Syrian, this time from the Aleppo outskirts. He is wiry, with grey hair though not yet 50, and a bright face, his presence emanating peace and calm… in spite of what he has gone through and lost.

“It isn’t a revolution,” he says, “What is that? Stealing from us, beheading us, destroying my country?  How is that a revolution? If it was a revolution, you target the government not the people, not the history.”(24)

Over the past two weeks in a small Lebanese village, I’ve gotten to know a number of Syrians, including a family from the Hasaka region in eastern Syria who’ve been pushed out of their village.

They returned six months ago, yearning to see their country, their home. But most people they knew had left, driven out by foreign terrorists. There was nothing left to return to.

“Their two kids help out with work but are otherwise in limbo, not able to continue university here…no money to do so. In Syria, it was virtually free.

Her words:

“We never thought we’d leave Syria, life was good. Everything was cheap, we had security. But we eventually had to…. not because of the government or the Syrian Army, because of the terrorists, mostly al-Nusra then. Now Daesh [ISIS] are there too, but they’re the same anyway.

Before we left, it had gotten to the point where we scarcely had access to water, had little electricity… The terrorists destroyed the power lines. The municipality would repair things and the terrorists would return and destroy them.”(25)

Following an April 21 mortar attack on Bab Touma, which killed 2 and maimed 23, I spoke with shop employees who had been present at the time of the attack. An employee in a shoe shop said:

“It was just after 3 pm, the area was packed with people. It happens a lot, a lot, a lot…all the time. Shrapnel flew everywhere, little bits and pieces. In the last two weeks, around ten mortars have landed in this area. This isn’t a revolution. They’ve come from outside. Do you know how we were living? We had security, work…but, sorry, now?”

“The terrorists know that their mortars accomplish nothing practically, they are just a vengeful act against the people of Damascus for not supporting them. Sometimes they film themselves as evidence of their loyalty, presented to anyone who would sponsor them financially to keep fighting against President Assad.”(26)

Although he chose to stay in the Old City, Father Frans was critical of the insurgents. In January 2012, he hadwritten: “From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

“People in Homs were already armed and prepared before the protests began,” said Kanawati. “If they hadn’t been planning for the protests from the beginning, the people wouldn’t have had the quantity of arms that they had.”

Abu Nabeel explained that in addition to the Hamidiyeh district where various old churches are to be found, Christians in other areas occupied by the armed insurgents also fled. “There were an estimated 100,000 Christians living in the Old City of Homs before it was taken over by terrorists. Most fled in February 2012. By March, only 800 had stayed, and by the end just over 100 remained,” he said.

The siege that the Syrian army enforced on the Old City in an attempt to drive out the insurgents had a drastic effect on the daily lives of those remaining.

“Suddenly, we didn’t have electricity or water. We had to wait for the water trucks to refill tanks,” said Kanawati. “There were many elderly who couldn’t leave their homes. We’d take food and medicine to people in the community.

Mohammed, a Syrian from the Qussoor district of Homs, is now one of the reported 6.5 million internally-displaced Syrians.  He spoke of the sectarian nature of the insurgents and protests from the very beginning in 2011.

 “I was renting a home in a different neighbourhood of Homs, while renovating my own house. Just beyond my balcony there were protests that did not call for ‘freedom’ or even overthrowing the ‘regime’. They chanted sectarian mottos, they said they would fill al-Zahara – an Alawi neighbourhood – with blood. And also al-Nezha – where there are many Alawis and Christians.”

“My aunt lives in another neighbourhood nearby. She’s Allawi and her husband is Sunni. Because she is Allawi, the ‘rebels’ wanted to kill her two sons. I chose Bashar al-Assad, so they said, ‘we will kill you, because you chose him.’”(27)

This is a conversation I had with a Homs man earlier in June. Homs, dubbed by the corporate media the “heart of the ‘revolution’…” hear what he says about freedom and the terrorist-rebels:

“You call for ‘freedom’, so my choice is Bashar al-Assad. This is my choice. ‘No, we must kill you for this choice, because you don’t know….you must die for this choice.’”(28)

“Later, in a convenience store near my crappo apartment-hotel, I chat with Samer, from Jaramana. Things are better he says, and I experienced. Less mortars now. “Udhak alei? You’re laughing at me? Democracry? That’s what this is about?” he says of the corporate media/NGOs/Western line of “human rights” and “freedom and democracy” re Syria.”(29

Back at the simple hotel I’ve stayed in here I see Mahmoud, the young Syrian teen I’d spoken with a couple of times while here last month.

“How’s the situation in Syria?” he asks earnestly when he understands I’ve just come back. I tell him Damascus, while still being mortared by those terrorists, is a little quieter now that the Syrian army has cleared them out of some areas of the Damascus countryside. And I mention that Kasab has now been liberated. “I know! I was hearing that just now on the news,” he says.

I’d been unsure of where he stood politically when I spoke with him before, but tonight he made it clear.

“I haven’t seen my family in three years. Those dogs “Jaysh al Horr” (“Free Syrian Army”) control the area of Ghouta where my family lives. If I go back to Damascus, I can’t see them. If I tried to go to my home, they’d slaughter me. God rid us of those bearded men.”(30)  

Yesterday, meeting with someone to coordinate a visit to an area outside of Damascus, after taking a phone call, he lamented that pretty much no corporate media will cover the story he’s just been reminded of: a man from the Latakia countryside whose male family members were slaughtered and female members kidnapped by foreign mercenaries in August 2013. The man himself has gone blind from an injury at the time. “They don’t want to hear these stories, it doesn’t suit their narrative,” my contact said.”(31)

Back at my hosts’ rented home in a different area of Homs, they show me photos and videos of their own ravaged home, footage which Abu Abdu took himself. He meticulously points out how not only did the “revolutionaries” occupying their home utterly trash and destroy it, but they thieved every conceivable thing from it. “Here, they took the motor to the washing machine. Here, they stripped the fridge of its motor. Here, they took the taps in the kitchen. They stripped the electrical wiring.” Basically, they took anything that could be ripped out of wall or floor that could in any way be sold: metals, piping, wiring…and of course all of the family’s jewelry and valuables

In the video he shows, the bedrooms are so trashed and a hole has been knocked into a wall for passage to the next apartment… you’d think the IOF had been here instead of the “freedom-loving revolutionaries.”(32)

“They want to burn Syria from within, want to leave these factions fighting each until Syria is burned down and Syria is bled-out.”(33)

Even when I’m not “looking” for stories to share from Syrians, they come to me. Sitting at the sea, a young man a few metres away began talking with me after he saw my Syria wrist-band.  I asked a few general questions, and then he let loose on the hell that is life in Halab (Aleppo) with the foreign insurgents. He did so in the same mournful voice that others I’ve met here and in Syria have had, again without the bitterness and anger you’d expect from people suffering so greatly under this manufactured crisis filled with its unending, ghastly atrocities.

He also said what virtually every other Syrian I’ve met has said: “You should have seen Syria before, it was the most beautiful place, the safest place.

Walked into a supermarket which I forgot I’d been to… When I got to the counter I realized he was Abu Mohammed, the new Sweida friend I’d met some days ago, who’d insisted on serving me coffee.

“Hi Ava (Eva, Ava, I like both renditions), I read many things on your blog… what you wrote about Gaza and now about Syria. You wrote the truth about us! Thank you! We want people to know we are not like what the TV says about us.”(34)

Most news accounts of Syria paint a desolate, sectarian country where people in areas secured by the Syrian army are miserable and where people, above all, want to see Bashar al-Assad gone. In all regards I found the opposite. In particular, I found wide-spread, and usually ardent, support for the President.

We also visited two different schools now housing displaced Palestinians and Syrians from Yarmouk. Their words were the same. “The terrorists took over the camp, took over our houses, stole our food. We want the camp back. Tell your governments to tell those terrorists to leave Yarmouk.”

Berwin Ibrahim, chair of the National Youth Party for Justice and Development said, “We don’t agree with the regime on many things, but we insist that our homeland comes first. We have corruption in the government. But that is like any government. The conspiracy, terrorism, and interference from Western countries has united supporters of the government and the opposition,” she said.

One of the opposition who had formally called for Assad to step down, Mohammad Abu Qasem, Secretary General of the Solidarity Party, said, “What’s happening in Syria is international terrorism, with many countries interfering in Syria. Since the elections were announced, the insurgents started working harder in Kasab and in Aleppo.”

Feminist activist, Suheir Sarmini, Deputy Secretary General of the Syrian National Youth Party, said, “President Obama and Congress have armed these gangs to kill our children, our people. Tell Obama and Congress to stop killing the Syrian people and not to interfere in Syrian sovereignty.”

In contrast to accusations that no ‘real’ opposition could exist within Syria, Mazen al-Akhrass, a member of Syria’s NDF and a political analyst, pointed out that two very vocal (and far more critical than those I met) opposition members remain in Syria, unscathed.

Louay Hussein and Hassan Abdul-Azeem are very well known and extremely against the regime, and they ask for more than ‘reforms’. Yet they have been living in Damascus—the “stronghold of the regime”—during the events, and their lives weren’t threatened. They are not in jail, and at this point they seem to have settled for partial reforms as a step towards full regime change.”

We met with Syria’s Grand Mufti, Dr. Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun. He spoke of the need for reconciliation and forgiveness amongst Syrians. He’s notable for walking the talk: Sheik Hassoun’s 21 year old son Sarya was assassinated in October 2011, on the same day that it was announced he’d be engaged ; during the funeral, while sobbing, the Mufti called for forgiveness and reconciliation, even for those who murdered his son.

“All of the churches and mosques that have been destroyed, we can rebuild. But who will bring back our children? Who will bring back my son Saria? When we have violation against any child, it is a violation against God. 

He mentioned that in March he’d been granted a prestigious Italian peace prize, by The Ducci Foundation, for his non-sectarian preaching of interfaith peace. But the Mufti never got to Rome.

“I was granted a visa for only ten days. They were afraid I’d stay longer. But Europeans are among those killing our people. If all the Syrian people die, it’s okay, no problem, just to keep their oil. I reject this ‘democracy’. We in Syria are not Sunni or Shia or Allawi nor Muslim nor Christian. We are human beings and must be respected. They want to start a religious war. We are going to extinguish this fire.”

On a personal note, I’d echo the Mufti’s call, and those of so many others I met in Syria. Come to Syria, see for yourselves. Very quickly you can get a taste of the senseless mortars, and the horrific testimonies of those assaulted by foreign mercenaries and takfiri ideologists. But also of the strength and resistance that is the Syrian people, who don’t intend any time soon to fall to occupation, and who will vote for President Assad in June.”(35)

Steven Chovanec is an independent geopolitical analyst based in Chicago, IL.  He is an undergraduate of International Studies at Roosevelt University and is a regular writer and blogger on geopolitics and important social matters.  His writings can be found at, find him on Twitter @stevechovanec.

Writing History: “The Pen Is Dipped In Palestinian Blood”

Video Interview with Dr. Mads Gilbert.

“Israeli impunity is one of the greatest moral challenges of our time”

Posted November 15, 2014

Israel bans Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert from Gaza: “The fundamental reason for the ill health of the population in Gaza is of course the siege and the bombing,” he said.

Libya’s Lesson for Iran: Beware of Rapprochement

By Dan Glazebrook

November 13, 2014 “ICH” – “MEE“- Three years ago, in late October 2011, the world witnessed the final defeat of the Libyan Jamahiriya – the name by which the Libyan state was known until overthrown in 2011, meaning literally the “state of the masses” – in the face of a massive onslaught from NATO, its regional allies and local collaborators.

It took seven months for the world’s most powerful military alliance – with a combined military spending of just under $1 trillion per year – to fully destroy the Jamahiriya (a state with a population the size of Wales) and it took a joint British-French-Qatari special-forces operation to finally win control of the capital. In total, 10,000 strike sorties were rained down on Libya, tens of thousandskilled and injured, and the country left a battleground for hundreds of warring factions, armed to the teeth with weapons, either looted from state armouries or provided directly by NATO and its allies. Britain, France and the US had led a war which had effectively transformed a peaceful, prosperous African country into a textbook example of a “failed state.”

Yet the common image of Libya in the months and years leading up to the invasion was that of a state that had “come in from the cold” and was now enjoying friendly relations with the West. Tony Blair’s famous embrace of Gaddafi in his tent in 2004 was said to have ushered in a new period of “rapprochement” with Western companies rushing to do business in the oil-rich African state, and Gaddafi’s abandonment of a nuclear deterrent apparently indicative of the new spirit of trust and co-operation.

Yet this image was largely a myth. Yes, sanctions were lifted and diplomatic relations restored; but this did not represent any newfound trust and friendship. Gaddafi himself never changed his opinion that the forces of old and new colonialism remained bitter enemies of African unity and independence, and for their part, the US, Britain and France continued to resent the assertiveness and independence of Libyan foreign policy under Gaddafi’s leadership. The African Oil Policy Initiative Group (AOPIG) – an elite US think tank comprising congressmen, military officers and energy industry lobbyists – warned in 2002 that the influence of “adversaries such as Libya” would only grow unless the US significantly increased its military presence on the continent. Yet, despite “rapprochement,” Gaddafi remained a staunch opponent of such a presence, as noted with anxiety in frequent diplomatic cables from the US Embassy. One, for example, from 2009, noted that “the presence of non-African military elements in Libya or elsewhere on the continent” was almost a “neuralgic issue” for Gaddafi. Another cable from 2008 quoted a pro-Western Libyan government official as saying that “there will be no real economic or political reform in Libya until al-Gaddafi passes from the political scene” which would “not happen while Gaddafi is alive,” hardly the image of a man bending to the will of the West. Gaddafi had clearly not been moved by the flattery towards Libya (or “appropriate deference” as another US Embassy cable put it) that was much in evidence during the period of “rapprochement.” Indeed, at the Arab League summit in March 2008, hewarned the assembled heads of state that, following the execution of Saddam Hussein, a former “close friend” of the US, “in the future, it’s going to be your turn too…Even you, the friends of America – no, I will say we, we the friends of America – America may approve of our hanging one day.”

So much for a new period of trust and co-operation. Whilst business deals were being signed, Gaddafi remained implacably opposed to the US and European military presence on the continent (as well as leading the fight to reduce their economic presence) and understood well that this might cost him his life. The US too understood this, and despite their outward flattery, behind the scenes were worried and resentful.

Thus, the so-called rapprochement period was anything but. The US continued to remain hostile to the independent spirit of Libya – as evidenced most obviously by Gaddafi’s hostility to the presence of US and European military forces in Africa – and it now seems that they and the British used this period to prepare the ground for the war that eventually took place in 2011.

The US, for example, used their newfound access to Libyan officials to cultivate relations with those who would become their key local allies during the war. Leaked diplomatic cables show that pro-Western Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul-Jalil arranged covert meetings between US and Libyan government officials that bypassed the usual official channels and were therefore “under the radar” of the foreign ministry and central government. He was also able to speed up the prisoner release programme that led to the release of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group insurgents who ultimately acted as NATO’s shock troops during the 2011 war. The head of the LIFG – al-Qaeda’s franchise in Libya – eventually became head of Tripoli’s military council, whilst Abdul-Jalil himself became head of the “Transitional National Council,” that was installed by NATO following the fall of the Jamahiriya.

Another key figure groomed by the US in the years preceding the invasion, was Mahmoud Jibril, head of the National Economic Development Board from 2007, who arranged six US training programmes for Libyan diplomats, many of whom subsequently resigned and sided with the US and Britain once the rebellion and invasion got underway.

Finally, the security and intelligence co-operation that was an element of the “rapprochement” period was used to provide the CIA and MI6 with an unprecedented level of information about both Libyan security forces and opposition elements they could cultivate that would prove invaluable for the conduct of the war.

Thus rapprochement, whilst appearing to be an improvement in relations, may actually be a “long game” to lay the groundwork for naked aggression, by building up intelligence and sounding out possible collaborators, effectively building up a fifth column within the state itself. This is what the neo-conservatives in the US Congress opposing Obama’s “thaw” in Iranian relations apparently fail to understand. Thankfully, it is likely that the Iranians understand it perfectly well.

 Dan Glazebrook is a political writer specialising in Western foreign policy. He is author of Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis.

50 Civilians Killed in US-led Airstrikes in Syria

Global Research, November 12, 2014

Kobani-Syria-400x224Attacks in Syria by the US-led coalition have killed more than 860 people, including at least 50 civilians.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Wednesday that at least 50 civilians, including eight children and five women, were killed by US-led coalition airstrikes since mid-September.

The UK-based group added that 746 ISIL militants and 68 al-Nusra Front terrorists had also been killed.

This comes as the US-led coalition carried out three fresh airstrikes against ISIL positions near the Syrian city of Kobani on Tuesday, killing a number of militants.

Meanwhile, top local officials in Syria said on the same day that Kurdish forces were advancing street by street in the southern areas of Kobani, which is close to the Syrian border with Turkey.

They said the ISIL terrorists would soon be pushed out of Kobani.

The UK-based SOHR said, “The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) recaptured streets and buildings in the south of Kobani after a fierce battle against ISIS (ISIL) that began yesterday [Monday] evening.”

A recent report by the SOHR says more than 1,000 people have lost their lives since the ISIL militants entered the border city.

The ISIL militants have committed terrible atrocities in Syria and Iraq, including mass executions and the beheading of local residents as well as foreign nationals.

The US and its allies started their air campaign in Syria in September under pretext of targeting ISIL militants. However, they have also hit Syrian infrastructure including oil and gas facilities and attacked the provinces where ISIL militants are not active.

The US and its allies have been staunch supporters of the al-Qaeda-linked militants fighting the Syrian government.

Iraq War Vet Tomas Young Pens ‘Last Letter’ to Bush and Cheney Accusing Them of War Crimes

Global Research, November 12, 2014

iraq5This article was first published on 21 March 2013. Tomas Young passed away one day before Remembrance Day November 2014. His powerful message will not be  forgotten.

by Dylan Stableford

An Iraq War veteran who joined the U.S. Army two days after 9/11 has writtena powerful open letter to former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney accusing them of war crimes, “plunder” and “the murder of thousands of young Americans – my fellow veterans – whose future you stole.”Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed during an insurgent attack in Sadr City in 2004, five days into his first deployment, penned the letter from his Kansas City, Mo., home, where he’s under hospice care.

“I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney,” Young wrote in the letter published on “I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans – my fellow veterans – whose future you stole.”

© Tomas Young

The 33-year-old, who was the subject of Phil Donahue’s 2007 documentary “Body of War,” continued:

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues.

Young believes he was injured fighting the wrong war:

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

“When Tomas Young saw President Bush on television speaking from the ruins of the Twin Towers, his life changed,” his bio on the “Body of War” website reads. “As his basic training began at Ft. Hood, he assumed that he would be shipped off to Afghanistan where the terrorist camps were based, routing out Al Qaeda and Taliban warriors. But soon, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq.”

In an interview with, Young – who suffered an anoxic brain injury in 2008 – said he had been contemplating “conventional” suicide, but decided to go on hospice care, “stop feeding and fade away.”

He said, “This way, instead of committing the conventional suicide and I am out of the picture, people have a way to stop by or call and say their goodbyes,” Young said. “I felt this was a fairer way to treat people than to just go out with a note.”

ISIS Fires American-Made Missiles At Syrian Army

Global Research, November 12, 2014
Activist Post 10 November 2014


Art – Susan Ohanion

The fact that the United States and NATO are arming the death squads fighting the secular government of Bashar al-Assad is, by now, accepted news in both the alternative and mainstream media circles. However, due to the U.S. State Department’s and its media mouthpieces’ incessant claims that there is such a thing as “moderate” rebels vs. extremist rebels in Syria, it is not considered “credible” or mainstream to suggest that the United States is, in fact, arming extremists.

Of course, the reality is that there is no such thing as “moderate rebels” in Syria. The truth is that the FSA, largely presented as “moderate,” is, in actuality, the same thing as Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, and ISIS.

Regardless, the mainstream press and the governments that it represents continue to push the deception of “moderates” as well as the claim that NATO is opposed to ISIS. These claims, however, are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as more and more evidence emerges from the Syrian front demonstrating them to be patently false.

Such evidence involves reports producing evidence of ISIS’ possession of American military hardware and strong suspicion that the United States is providing direct guidance and assistance to the terrorist organization.

For instance, in a report published by The Independent, entitled, “How did Islamists receive American weapons? See the evidence from guided missile that exploded near Syrian front line,” Robert Fisk writes that

Syria’s special forces troops are strung out across a pinnacle of hills here just north east of Lattakia on one of the country’s most dangerous front lines, under daily missile attack from reinforced rebel forces now supported by Isis.

The officers, all of whom are paratroopers, speak of new tactics and upgraded weapons used against them since Isis seized the Iraqi city of Mosul – and some of the radio traffic they listen to from their enemy is in the Chechen or Georgian languages.

Intelligence reports speak of a unification of various rebel factions calling themselves the “Legion of the Coast”, a clear sign that the Isis-inspired rebels – including Isis supporters themselves – intend to strike westwards towards the Mediterranean, scarcely eight miles away.

It’s fair bet that a big battle is shaping up in these pine-covered mountains.


The soldiers themselves talk of the thermal heat-seeking missiles fired at them with detailed knowledge, and agree that the mixture of Islamist groups above and to the east of them are carrying out daily probing attacks to test their defences.

Intriguingly, their surveillance patrols are returning at dawn to report the sound of unidentified night-time aircraft flying into Syrian airspace from Turkey and then east, deep into Syria.

The aircraft flying overhead at nighttime is obviously suspected to be American or at least NATO-operated flights, although the Syrian forces are unsure of exactly who the aircraft belongs to or even if the flights are actual planes or drones.

Fisk continues with his description of the arms that ISIS militants have recently procured by writing,

But their officers talk of the new TOW anti-armour weapons that have appeared in rebel hands.

One officer showed me an Islamist website videotape of rebels firing a heat-seeking rocket at his own encampment just to the north of here at Qastel Ma’af. The missile can be seen exploding but in fact disintegrated against concrete revetments around a tank.

Most notably, Fisk recounts how parts of an ISIS-fired missile, which were brought in for evaluation by the Syrian Special Forces, actually contained damning proof that the weapons were American made. He writes,

But when a corporal dragged a sack load of missile parts into a room in this Syrian hill-top fortress, it contained some fascinating evidence of the rebel armoury. Most missiles fragment into thousands of pieces on detonation but just over a month ago – on 26 September – a guided missile exploded deep beneath sand and earth and the fragments clearly show the name of its American arms manufacturer, circuit boards and the coding of the weapon.

Part of the missile identifies the “Eagle-Piche IND (Indiana) INC.” company as the manufacturer and says, in English, that it is “helium charged”, adding – rather ironically as it turns out — the words: “CAUTION — CONTAINS 6400 PSIG He (high explosive), FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS TRANSPORATION IF REFILLED — PENALTY UP TO $25,000 AND FIVE YEARS IMPRISONMENT (49 USC 1809). The Syrians do not know how this weapon – which appears to have been manufactured as long ago as 1989 – made its way from the US to the hands of their country’s Islamist rebels – but it would not be difficult for the Americans to find out. Its full computer coding reads: DOT-E7694 NRC6400/11109/M1033 79294 ASSY 39317 MFR 54080.

A battery tube from another missile fired on the fourth of last month carries an inscription indented in the metal: “132964 Battery thermal MFG DATE 12/90 LOT No (indecipherable numeral then 912 S/N 005959.”

These codes should make it easy for the Americans to identify the purchaser – or receiver – of the weapon, if they choose to do so.

Fisk goes on to ask the pertinent question of “How did the Islamists receive these American weapons? On the international arms market? Or from ‘moderate’ rebels who were given American weapons and then sold them to the highest bidder?”

The answer, of course, is clear.

ISIS received these weapons because the United States and NATO have been funding and arming ISIS from the very beginning. The U.S. has been arming the terrorists ever since 2010, when violence, shootings, and indiscriminate killings erupted in Syria (reported as “peaceful protests” in Western media). Before, during, and ever since, the United States and NATO have continued to support, train, arm, fund, and direct the death squads attempting to overthrow the Assad government.

From covert CIA assistance to actual coordination from death squad experts like Robert Ford, the United States and NATO were directly responsible for the Syrian crisis. By supporting the “rebels” early on, NATO was, in fact, supporting ISIS, since ISIS is nothing more than the current name for what was already in place in Syria when NATO embarked on its destabilization campaign in 2010.

Similar assistance was provided by Syria’s neighbors and fellow Middle Eastern countries with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and a number of other Gulf State Feudal monarchies providing many of the terrorists and the money needed to pay and supply them. Jordan provided training grounds and logistics, Turkey provided the conduit and air support, and Israel provided air cover and intelligence.

Such coordination and military support continues in 2014, with the U.S. now engaging in air strikes that are aimed not at ISIS but at Syrian infrastructure.

In addition, many death squad fighters were recently re-armed by having arms passed from the United States to terrorist brigades that are presented as “moderate” by the mainstream media. These terrorists then immediately passed these arms to Jobhat al-Nusra.

While the revelations that ISIS forces have access to as well as possession of U.S.-made missiles are by no means shocking revelations, they are yet one more puzzle piece fitting together the tangled web of deception that the United States and NATO have woven in their effort to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad and the secular Syrian government.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at)

Stone Cold “Justice” Israeli Army Is Targeting Palestinian Children

A joint investigation by Four Corners and The Australian newspaper reveals evidence that shows the army is targeting Palestinian boys for arrest and detention.

Reporter John Lyons travels to the West Bank to hear the story of children who claim they have been taken into custody, ruthlessly questioned and then allegedly forced to sign confessions before being taken to court for sentencing.

The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) has been investigating these claims and last year released a scathing report finding that “children have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault.”

Palestinian children have more to fear than the Israeli army. Reporter John Lyons shows clear evidence that Israeli settlers in the West Bank regularly attack Palestinian school children, knowing the authorities will not intervene.

Israel Controls Congress How the Israel Lobby Set Congressman, Beto O’Rourke Right

What Happens When Freshman Lawmaker Misses the Memo

By Nathan Guttman

November 12, 2014 “ICH” – “The Forward“- It took only one wrong vote to teach a freshman Democrat from Texas how sensitive, and even wrathful, the Jewish community can be when it comes to Israel.

But the real story of what happened to Rep. Beto O’Rourke did not stop with the angry reaction he got when he cast one of only eight votes in Congress against special funding for Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system during the recent Gaza war.

What is notable is how quickly the carrot followed the stick.

It was almost a textbook case of how the establishment pro-Israel lobby works its magic — and a story not yet completed in early September, when The New Yorker magazine took note of what had happened to O’Rourke.

In an in-depth report on the work of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the large Washington-based lobby, during the Gaza war, New Yorker writer Connie Bruck recounted the blasts that rained down on the El Paso congressman following his vote.

The reactions, as Bruck reported, included a mass email blast labeling O’Rourke as “an anti-Israel congressman” and denouncing his vote as “shameful.” Critical local press coverage included a public comment by one of his own Jewish donors to the El Paso Times that in voting as he did, O’Rourke “chooses to side with the rocket launchers and terror tunnel builders” of Hamas.

But since then, behind the scenes, what has followed is a long process of mutual outreach and hours of hashing out differences, until the final act, which is now in the works: an El Al flight to Tel Aviv on the pro-Israel lobby’s dime.

“He’s a good guy, but he didn’t know how the Jewish community would react,” said Daniel Cheifec, executive director of the Jewish Federation of El Paso. “Now he knows that this community is not going to be very happy if he screws up again.”

O’Rourke, in fact, had no prior record of criticizing or voting against Israel. He did not even oppose more funding for the Iron Dome system. He only opposed rushing through the large appropriation with no debate as members of Congress were hurrying home for the summer recess when a more considered vote to boost the program was coming in October.

Israel, which receives more than $3.6 billion per year in various forms of aid from Washington, is already the single largest recipient of American largesse. But the August 1 House vote appropriating $225 million to Israel above and beyond its usual aid was meant to allow the Jewish state to restock on Iron Dome interceptors that had proved effective in countering Hamas rocket attacks into the country.

Congressional leaders squeezed the vote into the legislative schedule just as members were packing up to leave for their summer recess. The overwhelming support of 395 representatives with only eight voting against was not unusual for a pro-Israel piece of legislation, especially one that deals with military assistance at a time of war.

“I really don’t understand how he makes his decision,” Rabbi Stephen Leon of Congregation B’Nai Zion, a local synagogue, told the El Paso Times even before The New Yorker piece picked up on the pushback. “It’s a great, great disappointment to the Jewish community here. We had meetings with him prior, to talk to him about the importance of Israel, and the way he voted makes very little sense.”

El Paso, a city with a 70% Hispanic majority, has a relatively small Jewish community, estimated at 4,000, amid a population of some 862,000. But Jews are well represented on O’Rourke’s donor list, with local businessman Stephen L. Feinberg among the top contributors to his campaign.

O’Rourke, in a Facebook posting, tried to explain his vote. “I could not in good conscience vote for borrowing $225 million more to send to Israel, without debate and without discussion, in the midst of a war that has cost more than a thousand civilian lives already, too many of them children,” he wrote. He also stressed that with an aid package for Israel up for a vote in two months, he felt no need to rush more spending without adequate debate when Congress was all but empty.

To members of the Jewish community who later spoke with him, O’Rourke also explained that he was one of the last to vote in the roll call, at a point at which it was clear the bill was cruising toward passage. He consequently felt free to cast a vote on principle, knowing it would not impact the final outcome. O’Rourke believes that every appropriation should be properly debated.

Veteran Democrat Jim Moran of Virginia, who is known for refusing to vote along the lines of the pro-Israel lobby, tried to warn O’Rourke. “I tried to find him on the floor, but I couldn’t,” he told The New Yorker. “I’m afraid he may have a tough race in November.”

At O’Rourke’s office, emails flooded his inbox. The El Paso Jewish federation sent out an alert to members, urging them to take action. It contained O’Rourke’s contact information and a suggested sample letter. Another email, for which no one will now take responsibility, circulated among Jewish activists urging supporters not to re-elect him.

This threat is all but empty, since O’Rourke faces no real challenge in his strongly Democratic district.

Beto (short for Robert) O’Rourke, 41, is a fourth-generation El Paso native who started off his career in a teenage rock band. He studied at Columbia University and returned to his hometown, where he ran for city council before moving on to the national scene. His political focus has been on immigration and veteran affairs, two key issues for a border town that hosts a large army base. But he won more recognition for his call to legalize marijuana, an uncommon voice in the state of Texas. Foreign policy has never been a top priority.

Hours after the controversial vote, O’Rourke launched a damage-control campaign that proved to be effective. He reached out to Jewish donors and friends who were more than happy to start the healing process.

A meeting was arranged with a group of 10 pro-Israel local leaders, including key members of AIPAC, along with heads of the local synagogues and of the Jewish federation. “We didn’t ask him to apologize for his vote,” Stuart Schwartz, a former county commissioner and longtime AIPAC supporter, told the Forward. “He is a very principled man, and he believed that his vote was justified under these circumstances.” It was Schwartz who earlier denounced him for having sided with “the rocket launchers and terror tunnel builders.”

“We explained that it was particularly painful for us,” Schwartz added, “and he understood there is a lot of emotion here.”

After the first meeting came another and then a third one. In between, pro-Israel activists sent O’Rourke articles explaining Israel’s position. O’Rourke also met with the Israeli consul general to the Southwest, Meir Shlomo, and invited federation leaders to meet with him in Washington when they come to the capital for the Jewish federations’ General Assembly in November.

The talks, participants said, were friendly and open. O’Rourke, they reported, took real interest and noted that his voting record makes clear he had never opposed American aid to Israel. He even doled out an anecdote about some Jewish ancestry in his family. Pro-Israel activists came out satisfied, attributing the vote against Iron Dome to a freshman’s mistake rather than to a pattern of anti-Israel voting. “A bump in the road,” in the words of Schwartz.

O’Rourke, according to Cheifec, even absorbed some of the pro-Israel activists’ skepticism regarding talks aimed at dismantling Iran’s nuclear capabilities. “He told us he is a lot less optimistic about a diplomatic solution with Iran than he was in our first meeting, and that was only a month and half ago,” he said. “This means he is doing his homework.”

O’Rourke initially agreed, but then later he declined to be interviewed for this article.

The final chapter in his run-in with the pro-Israel lobby will be written soon. In the spring, or perhaps even sooner, O’Rourke will join a group of lawmakers going to Israel on a trip arranged by an AIPAC-affiliated organization.

“We’re very pleased he will be setting aside time to visit Israel,” Schwartz said.

Contact Nathan Guttman at or on Twitter, @nathanguttman

The Israel Lobby

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Colin Powell’s former chief-of-staff) explains how the lobby’s influence affects the decision-making structure in the White House.

Israelis Slowly Wake Up To The Nakba

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, November 24, 2013
Global Research 8 January 2009

111680The following article was first published by Global Research in January 2009 at the height of the Israeli bombing and invasion under Operation Cast Lead.

The ongoing attack on Gaza, which envisages a ground invasion, is  from the point of view of Israeli military planners a followup to the December 2008  attack on Gaza.

Michel Chossudovsky, November 17, 2012.


War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

by Michel Chossudovsky

January 8, 2012

The [December 2008] military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.

Map 1

Map 2

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

 ”Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security?  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics 

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine’s Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or “peacekeeping” troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)

Map 3

Look With Your Own Eyes: The Videos of the Chemical Attacks in Syria Show Tampered Scenes

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research, September 19, 2013

syria-chemical-prepared-advance.si_-400x224The videos presented by the US Intelligence Community as evidence have staged scenes. Simple observations of the videos can verify this. This is exactly what a recent and modest study did.

A detailed independent  report by Mother Agnes Mariam de la Croix and the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria (ISTEAMS) makes some important observations about what happened in the Damascene suburb of East Ghouta on August 21, 2013.

The independent ISTEAMS study contradicts the assertions of the Obama Administration and the entire US Intelligence Community—a gargantuan network of sixteen different intelligence agencies that includes the standalone Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the US Depart of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and the Pentagon’s National Security Agency (NSA)—through simple observations of the video material that has been put forward as evidence by the United States.

The ISTEAMS report does not deny that chemical weapons were used or that innocent Syrians have been killed. What the study does is logically point out through its observations that that is empirical evidence that the sample of videos that the US Intelligence Community has analyzed and nominated as authentic footage has been stage-managed.  This is an important finding, because it refutes the assertions of the representatives of the US Intelligence agencies who testified that the videos they authenticated provide evidence that a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government took place in East Ghouda.

In turn, the Obama Administration has used mainstream media reports from unnamed sources, unnamed social media comments and a series of videos that came out of Syria to make their case for attacking Syria. The videos that the ISTEAMS report looks at are the thirteen videos that the US Intelligence Community selected or nominated as the best video evidence for the Obama Administration to make their case against the Syrian government to the Senate Committee on September 5th, 2013.

The videos that are examined by the study are among the first thirty-five videos uploaded on the internet after the attack in East Ghouta. Almost all of them were uploaded between two to seven hours after the incident and the Local Coordination Committees.

Key Observations and Questions

The report starts by asserting that on the basis of personal observations that the most the residents in East Ghouda had been fleeing the suburb since it was was the scene of fighting been the Syrian military and the anti-government militias; as validation, it also refers to the interview of a young Syrian boy by the name of Abdullah who responds that nobody died among his family and neighbours, because most of them were already displaced from East Ghouda.

Key findings are:

(1)  Most the footage is of children.

(2)  There is almost a total absence of adult corpses next to the bodies of the children

(3)  There is almost a total absence of parents, especially mothers, coming to claim the bodies of the dead children.

(4)  There is virtually an absence of the sound of ambulances in the background of the videos.

(5)  The testimonies being used against the Syrian government include those of individuals claiming to have smelled the chemical that was used whereas sarin is an odorless gas.

(6)  The testimonies that most the victims were found in their homes are at odds with the claims by the same people that most the victims could not be identified.

(7)  The same footage is used for videos with different scenarios.

(8)  There is different footage that proves that the bodies were being arranged and moved around for display and specifically for filming.

(9)  The same couple appears as parents looking for their children in two different videos and each time they claim a different child as theirs among the corpses.

(10) The same groups that have been involved with posting and disseminating the videos that the US Intelligence Community has selected have also tried to pass pictures of Egyptian civilians killed in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square as Syrian victims.

(11) Children that are still breathing in Zamalka are just filmed and left alone without medical treatment.

(12) In one video, where it is stated that all the bodies are those of the dead, it can bee seen that some of the corpses are being injected by syringes with an unknown liquid from.

(13) There is no knowledge or evidence that public funerals took place for the large number of victims that surpasses 1,460 people.

(14) In breach of all cultural norms and last rites, no public announcements about the dead or their funerals were made.

(15) There is no more than 500 people in all the videos, even when all the bodies that appear in different videos are added to the count.

(16) In two videos of the same location with a difference of about one hour and forty minutes the entire medical teams changes in the middle of an emergency.

(17) The identities of the dead have largely been left unknown; especially by the anti-government groups archiving and disseminating their pictures; for example we see the body of a little boy in a red shirt that was filmed in Zamalka and then in filmed again among different bodies in Jobar and the inanimate bodies of at least nine of the children that filmed in Kafarbatna also oddly appear at makeshift morgue in Al-Majr a few hours later.

(18) In the footage of one burial only eight people are buried and three of them are not even covered in the “compulsory” ritual shrouds.

As a result these questions emerge:

(1)  Why such a high rate of dead children?

(2)  Why are the bodies of children being displayed with a virtual absence of adult corpses?

(3)  When adult corpses are seen, why are the unusually segregated?

(4)  Where were the parents?

(5)  If the parents died with their children, why are the bodies of adults virtually absence, especially with the bodies of the children?

(6)  If the parents were not killed, then where are they? Why are they not looking for their children?

(7)  According to the cultural norms and gender scripts of Syrian society, children are almost always found with their mothers. So why is there a relative absence of women and specifically mothers in the US Intelligence Community’s nominated videos?

(8)  How was it possible that all these children died alone?

(9)  There was virtually no outdoor movement in East Ghouda after the attack. How were all the bodies transported to the burial sites without anyone noticing?

(10)  What was being injected into the dead bodies? Do you need to give medication to corpses at a makeshift morgue?

A lot of things do not add up in the footage presented by the US government.

 The same little boy in red is in two different locations

At least nine of these children appear in different footage from different locations

 A little boy that appears in two different videos with two different scenarios


Bodies being injected by the woman and man outlined in yellow

 A Diabolical Conclusion

Even if many of the observations and premises of the study are ignored, there are some observations that are irrefutable. The same corpses of children were found in different arrangements and in different places at different times in the footage used by the US Intelligence Community. This means that corpses were being staged in arrangements for propaganda purposes.

The videos nominated by the US Intelligence Community need to be carefully looked at and meticulously studied using the ISTEAM observations that have been found as a basis and then expanded upon. The revelations implicate the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States and discredit it int the same tradition as the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There are serious flaws in the US Intelligence Community that equate to either a lack of professionalism or/and its outright subordination to Washington’s political agendas that involve false analyses. To think that such a large network with so many resources could overlook the same observations that laypeople have made is embarrassing to say the least.

There is an important Latakia connection that has to be addressed about these videos. There was actually a massacre carried out by the US-supported anti-government forces in that region of Syria on August 4, 2013. It went largely unreported in countries like the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Qatar, and France. Reporting on the massacre of Syrian civilians in Latakia at the hands of the anti-government forces would have been too inconvenient for the US and its allies.

What is also known is that a large amount of women and children were abducted by the anti-government forces, specifically by Jabhat Al-Nusra, as hostages to be used for negotiations and trade with the Syrian government for captured insurgents.  About a hundred and fifty cases are known.

ISTEAMS also mentions that that Syrians from Latakia have come forward claiming that their relatives were on display in the footage that the US Intelligence Community has showcased to justify bombing Syria. The Latakia connection would explain a lot of the questions that arise about the bodies of the unaccompanied children. It also pains a disturbing picture of the bodies of innocent Syrian children being prostituted to spark a foreign attack on Syria by the United States and its allies.

Regardless of any political positions or stances on Syria, everyone who is advocating for war or peace on the basis of these videos has a responsibility to take the observations of the ISTEAMS report to task and verify for themselves the nature of its claims.

Christian Zionism: The Heresy that Undermines Middle East Peace

The Illusion of Israeli/Palestinian Peace for Our Time

Soon, no more obstacles to the new Sykes-Picot

by Thierry Meyssan

You’ve probably noticed the change in tone of the atlanticist press on the Syrian issue. The “rebels”, these “champions of Freedom”, have suddenly turned into fanatical terrorists who tear each other apart. For Thierry Meyssan, there is nothing new under the sun: Washington has simply abandoned the idea of ​​overthrowing Assad and is heading to the Geneva II conference. Next step: the loss of French influence in the region.

JPEG - 18.7 kb
Secretary of State John Kerry abandons his allies. There will be no delivery of decisive weapons to the “rebels” in Syria. Assad will not be ousted. The promises of the United States were binding only on those who believed in them.
©U.S. Department of State

On June 13, the spokesman of the National Security Council of the United States announced that the red line had been crossed: as shown by the evidence gathered by the French and the British, Syria Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people. We would see what we would see … Without delay, the new NATO Allied Land Command was activated in Izmir (Turkey). War was imminent.

A month later, Western resolve has petered out. The atlanticist press has discovered with horror that the armed opposition in Syria is composed of fanatics hated by the vast majority of Syrians, which is what we have been saying for two years. Meanwhile, on site, the Free Syrian Army and the Al-Nusra Front, instead of fighting against Damascus troops, are waging a merciless war against each other.

What has happened, then, that could have transformed the war of “liberation” of Syria into this enormous mess? In fact, none of the stakes have changed in a month: the Syrian Arab Army has never used chemical weapons against the “rebels”, and the latter have not “radicalized”. However, the U.S. plan that I was the first to bring to light, last November, is slowly unfolding. The current stage is the desertion of the armed opposition.

All this confirms that Anglo-American imperialism is spent. The on-the-ground implementation of decisions made in Washington moves very slowly. This process highlights the blindness of the Western media which ignore these decisions until they are translated into action. Unable to analyze the world as it is, they continue to relay and lend credence to “political communication”.

So what I wrote [1], which was labeled as “conspiracy theory” by the mainstream press, is becoming obvious to it ten months later. Eric Schmitt wrote modestly in the New York Times that “the administration’s plans are far more limited than it has indicated in public and private.” [2] While David Ignatius in the Washington Post crudely titles “Syrian rebels get ’the jilt’ from Washington.” [3] They were waiting for anti-tank weapons and they received 120-millimeter mortars. They were promised planes, and they received Kalashnikovs. Weapons arrive in large quantities, not to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, but so that the “rebels” may kill each other off until none remains.

And so as to avoid any doubt: CIA director, John Brennan and Vice President Joe Biden, have convinced Congress behind closed doors that they should not send decisive weapons to Syria. Meanwhile in London, the House of Commons has stepped into the breach. And in Paris, Alain Marsaud and Jacques Myard – for other reasons -, attempt to embark the National Assembly on the same Western refusal to continue to support the “rebels.”

Without any qualms, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who, in December, had deplored the United States’ inclusion of the Al-Nusra Front on their list of terrorist organizations, “because they do a good job on the ground”, has now himself asked the UN to put it on the international list of terrorist organizations. And Manuel Valls, the French interior minister, said on France 2 that the French fighting in Syria alongside their former Islamist allies would be arrested and prosecuted on their return to France.

The Geneva II Conference, discussed for the past year, is coming into focus. The main obstacles were the National Coalition, supported by Qatar, demanding the prior capitulation of Bashar al-Assad, and the Franco-British who refused to see Saudi Arabia and Iran at the negotiating table.

Ayatollah Khamenei removed from play President Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff Meshaie, men of faith and anti-clerical fanatics, to be replaced by Sheikh Rouhani, a very pragmatic religious person. Once installed as the new president of Iran in late August, the latter should agree to participate in the negotiations. For their part, the Anglo-Saxons removed Qatar, the gas micro-state which they used to cover up the alliance between NATO and the Muslim Brotherhood. They entrusted the management of the “rebels” in Syria to Saudi Arabia alone, while undermining the international “rebels” in their press. With or without King Abdullah, Riyadh should also accept negotiation.

Fake surprise: at the urging of Secretary of State John Kerry, the Palestinian Authority has agreed to resume negotiations with Israel, even if the latter continues the colonization of the territories.

Barring unexpected reversals in Egypt or Tunisia, there should no longer be, within two to three months, major obstacles to the holding of Geneva II, the braodened “new Sykes-Picot”; named after secret agreements by which France and the United Kingdom shared the Middle East during the First World War. During this conference, the United States and Russia will divide North Africa and the Levant, at the expense of France, dividing the region into zones sub-contracted by the Saudis (Sunni) or the Iranians (Shi’ites).

After forcing the emir of Qatar to resign and having abandoned the “rebels” in Syria, Washington is thus going to withdraw regional influence from its faithful ally, France, which has soiled its hands for two years for nothing. Such is the cynical law of imperialism.

Thierry Meyssan

Roger Lagassé

[2] “No Quick Impact in U.S. Arms Plan for Syria Rebels” by Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Erin Banco, The New York Times, July 14, 2013.

[3] “Syrian rebels get ’the jilt’ from Washington” by David Ignatius, The Washington Post, 18 July 2013.

Turkish police crack down on internal opposition

By Stefan Steinberg

23 July 2013

As part of an ongoing crackdown on political opposition, the Istanbul police carried out a series of raids last Tuesday.

Early Tuesday morning, police anti-terror units broke into more than 100 homes in Istanbul, including some student dormitories. More than 30 people were detained on charges of being members of terrorist organisations and damaging public property connected to the Gezi Park protests. In separate raids, police also arrested 15 people in the İzmir Balıkesir, Manisa and Bursa provinces.

The draconian action of the Turkish state comes in the wake of a wave of demonstrations and protests in Istanbul and nationwide in the course of the past six weeks. The protests were triggered by the decision of the Istanbul council to bulldoze large parts of one of the city’s central parks in order to rebuild an Ottoman-era military barracks, which in turn was to house a large shopping centre.

The protests spread quickly in June, engulfing a number of major cities, and increasingly assumed the character of demonstrations against the right-wing policies of the Islamic Justice and Development Party government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, 2.5 million protesters have so far taken part in the protests, with major demonstrations in no fewer than 79 cities. The Ministry reports that around 4,900 protesters were detained and 4,000 people injured in clashes with riot police.

In Istanbul, riot police have repeatedly resorted to tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse protesters. In addition to the thousands of injured, five people have been killed in the course of violent clashes with police.

On Saturday, July 20, a young couple who first met in the course of the demonstrations attempted to hold their wedding ceremony in Gezi Park. The couple, accompanied by a crowd of thousands, were met by units of riot police who first blocked any access to nearby Taksim Square and then used water cannon to drive the couple and their supporters out of the area.

Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister Erdogan repeated his mantra that terrorists groups were behind the protests. At an AKP dinner, he declared: “It was seen that behind the wedding were members of a terrorist organisation, people wearing black masks. Why are you setting the ground for such things?”

Police also clashed with protesters in Hatay, Eskişehir and Ankara last week. Thousands had taken to the streets of Hatay following the announcement that 19-year-old Ali İsmail Korkmaz had died in hospital from his injuries.

During protests in Eskişehir on June 2, Korkmaz was savagely beaten by a group regarded to be either police provocateurs or supporters of the Erdogan government. After the beating, Korkmaz fell into a coma from which he never recovered. Video footage showing the attack has been removed from the Internet.

At the same time, a person allegedly identified in the videos as a key figure in Korkmaz’s beating was released from custody by a court in Eskişehir.

The government has also sought to censor media coverage of anti-government protests. According to a report by the Association of Photographers, a total of 111 photographers were detained, and victims of violence had their photos erased by the police during the demos in Istanbul and Ankara in June and the first week of July. Many photographers complained that their cameras had been broken or pictures erased by the police.

In a series of recent speeches in Turkey and abroad, Erdogan has repeatedly linked the alleged threat of domestic terrorism to recent developments in Egypt. Erdogan is a firm ally of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi and has criticised Western governments for not directly intervening in Egypt to restore Morsi to power after the July 3 Egyptian military coup.

In his vicious response to the latest protests in Turkey, Erdogan makes clear that he fears his own regime could suffer the same fate of his ally, Morsi.

At the same time, because of his support for US Middle East wars, Erdogan has been able to rely on unconditional support from the US government, and particularly President Barack Obama, in his suppression of dissent inside Turkey.

A report of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs entitled “Getting Erdogan Wrong” notes that Obama refrained from criticism during the crackdown on the Turkish protests, concluding: “Erdogan has been legitimised and elevated by the friendship Obama has bestowed on him.”

While mass opposition to Erdogan is fueled by class antagonisms and deep social inequality, combined with growing hostility to Erdogan’s pro-US foreign policy, these issues find no reflection in the perspective of the groups organising the Gezi Park protests.

From the very start, the 127 groups involved in the Taksim Solidarity Platform have sought to ensure that broader social and political questions are kept off the agenda.

In its statement of June 5, the Solidarity Committee restricted its demands to an end to the construction work in the park and an end to police violence.

Following a massive police action authorised by Erdogan in mid-June to clear Gezi Park of protesters, the Committee subsequently entered into talks with government representatives. It accepted assurances from the Istanbul council that a referendum would be held to decide the fate of the park.

The Road to Nowhere – Kerry Mideast Journey

By Eric Margolis

July 21, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  Here we go again, another round of Mideast peace talk kabuki.

A process in which Washington, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization hold intense talks over holding talks, a ritual as stylized as the traditional Japanese dance. In the end, it’s the same empty, cynical ritual, year after year.

This past week, US Secretary of State John Kerry has been leading the dance in the latest attempt to restart peace talks between Israel and the Mahmoud Abbas’ PLO. As of this writing, the talks appear off. But they may be on again just as quickly. It depends on how much Washington offers its feuding clients, Israel and the PLO.

Watching this annual charade is both painful and exhausting. It makes cynics of the most idealistic hopers for Mideast peace.

Israel holds all the cards, and knows it. Jewish settlements, roads, and security walls are roaring ahead, relentlessly gobbling up the occupied West Bank, Golan and their water resources. West Bank Palestinians are being crammed into future native Bantustans patterned after South Africa’s apartheid-era reservations for blacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vows there will be no Palestinian state, appears to have an impregnable hold on power. Israel’s economy is doing very well, thanks in part to billions in US economic and military aid, privileged access to the US market, and exports of arms and electronics. Israel’s high tech and medical industries are among the world’s leaders. New gas and oil finds between Israel and Cyprus may make Israel an energy exporter within a decade.

The United States has eliminated any possible Arab military challenge to Israel’s absolute military domination of the Mideast by destroying Iraq as a functioning state and then fueling Syria’s civil war. Egypt, once Israel’s leading foe, has been bought off by American money.

Israel has finished deploying an indestructible triad of nuclear forces based on missiles, aircraft and, most lately, submarines that can fire cruise or, possibly, ballistic missiles, all targeted by Israeli and US satellite networks. This means that Israel can survive any nuclear attack and retaliate in kind against attackers. Israel’s Mideast nuclear monopoly remains secure.

Equally important, Israel, through its American supporters, effectively guides much of America’s Mideast policy. Almost 50% of Republican voters are now rural born-again Christian Zionist for whom Israel is an essential part of their Biblical prophecy of the return of the Messiah.

President Barack Obama’s feeble efforts to press Israel into real peace negotiations with the Palestinians were quickly squashed by the pro-Israel lobby and its partisans in Congress. Netanyahu probably exerts more influence over the US Congress than President Obama.

Moreover, Israel is “negotiating” with a PLO that has become a sock puppet for the US and Israel after its former leader, Yasser Arafat, was very likely assassinated to make way for the compliant Mahmoud Abbas. The PLO is run and financed by the US and Israel, its security forces trained and directed by CIA, its intelligence agency an arm of Israel’s Mossad. Its elected rival, Hamas, remains jailed in Gaza.

Yet even this is not enough. Netanyahu now demands the Arabs recognized Israel as a “Jewish state,” knowing this is unacceptable. Twenty percent of Israel’s population is Christian and Muslim.

Tragically, Israel right wing parties have spurned the sensible 2002 peace offer led by Saudi Arabia. The plan calls for a withdrawal to 1967 borders, with some minor rectifications for large Jewish settlement blocs, full peace and recognition between Israel and 57 Muslim nations, and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis – meaning some token repatriation of refugees and compensation for Jews who fled the Arab world.

This is clearly the best solution. But it is rejected by Israel’s Likud Party and other rightists because they refuse to define Israel’s borders. As the late Israeli Moishe Dayan stated, it is up to god, not man, to determine Israel’s future growth. Israel’s right wingers have long looked with desire upon Lebanon and parts of Syria. Baghdad once had a large Jewish population.

Why sacrifice all this for the sake of little Palestinian rump state that will anyway become an Israeli protectorate? Just keep talking about talks while the bulldozers roar ahead.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013

Netanyahu: Palestinians must make concessions at ‘tough talks’


July 21, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “RT” – Palestinians must make concessions to Israel’s national interests for the future Middle East peace talks to bring fruit, says the Israeli prime minister. The negotiations promise to be hard, with a wave of criticism already coming from both sides.

Benjamin Netanyahu said his two principal goals in the negotiations would be maintaining a Jewish majority in Israel and avoiding creation of an Iran-backed “terrorist state” on its borders.

“Our negotiating partners will have to make concessions that enable us to preserve out security and crucial national interests,” he explained to his cabinet at a Sunday morning meeting.

Netanyahu added that if any agreement is reached with the Palestinians, it will have to be ratified by Israel in a national referendum.

“I don’t think that decisions like these are possible to make with one coalition or another, but have to be brought to the nation for its decision,” he explained in an apparent effort to neutralize opposition.

Some partners of Netanyahu’s Likud party in the ruling coalition voiced their skepticism over the practical results of the negotiations.

“It’s important to negotiate, and even more important for negotiations to be predicated on realism and not illusions,” Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu party wrote on Facebook. “There is no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least not in the coming years, and what’s possible and important to do is conflict-management.”

Additional doubt was expressed by the Arab League, which stated it is “forming a political support network” for Palestine after it declared willingness to participate.

“Many in the Israeli government do not want an Arab peace initiative,” said the League’s assistant secretary general, Mohammed Sabih, commenting that the process could become “negotiations for the sake of negotiations, going round in a vicious circle.”

Israel said on Saturday that it plans to release some Palestinian prisoners ahead of the negotiations, which are expected to commence in the United States next week. The resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday.

Kerry’s statement was brief and didn’t mention important details of the basis of the upcoming talks. Israel and Palestinian Authority have plenty of conflict issues between them, including the return to the 1967 borders, recognition of Israel as a state by Palestinians, construction of settlements in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and others. Officials from both sides have clashed verbally over which of those issues are negotiable.

According to the British newspaper The Sunday Times, a compromise  Israel and the Palestinian Authority may seek would include allowing Israelis settlers to stay in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem while making them subject to a new Palestinian state. Israeli President Shimon Peres agreed this condition with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the minimum needed for PM Netanyahu to agree to the peace talks, the report claims.

Such a compromise, if reached, is certain to spark anger from some Palestinians and Israelis, increasing the number critical of the renewed negotiations on both sides. The talks were already rejected by Palestinian militant movement Hamas which controls the Gaza strip, making it uncertain how any agreement brokered in Washington would be implemented there. Hamas said the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “succumbed to American extortion” by agreeing to talks and has committed political suicide by doing so.

The consideration was not missed by critics of the talks in Israel.

“Abu Mazen (Abbas) rules over Palestinians less than (President Bashar) Assad rules in Syria,” Transport Minister Yisrael Katz of Likud party told reporters, referring to the ongoing military insurgency in Syria.

Abbas’ move also sparked criticism from some factions of his own Fatah movement, which are frustrated he didn’t secure concessions from Israel as a precondition. Opposition was voiced by smaller independent political parties in Palestine as well.

Direct peace talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were last held in 2010, but they broke down after Israel failed to renew a moratorium on the construction of settlements in the West Bank. At the time Israel demanded formal recognition of the Jewish State from the Palestinian Authority before the moratorium would be extended, but the Palestinians rejected it.

US, Britain push for Syrian military intervention

By Chris Marsden

20 July 2013

The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has told the Senate that the Obama administration is actively considering the use of military force in Syria.

Dempsey said Thursday that he had provided President Barack Obama with options for military strikes in Syria. Responding to hostile questioning from Republican Senator John McCain, a leading advocate of US military intervention, he said the use of “kinetic” strikes—i.e., missiles and bombs—“is under deliberation inside of our agencies of government.”

He said that if not, then President Bashar al-Assad would still hold power in a year because “[C]urrently the tide seems to have shifted in his favour.” Given how much Washington has invested in Assad’s removal, this is a powerful indication that the US is moving to a military solution sooner rather than later.

Senator Carl Levin even asked Dempsey to provide the Senate panel with an unclassified list of options by next week. That same day, it was announced that the military commander of the opposition Free Syrian Army, General Salim Idriss, would visit the US next week for meetings at the UN and possibly the White House.

Also speaking to the Senate, Samantha Power, Obama’s nominee for ambassador to the UN, described “the failure of the UN Security Council to respond to the slaughter in Syria” as “a disgrace that history will judge harshly.”

She cautioned against placing too much emphasis on breaking Russia and China from their alliance with Assad, indicating that Washington is contemplating action without UN authorisation.

Dempsey spoke after the outgoing head of the British armed forces, General Sir David Richards, spoke to The Daily Telegraph and Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun, indicating that a joint military intervention with the US was under active discussion. Richards said “there is a great reluctance to see Western boots on the ground in a place like Syria,” and that a no-fly zone “is insufficient… You have to be able, as we did successfully in Libya, to hit ground targets.”

He told The Sun that the UK “would have to act” if the Assad regime collapsed, to stop the proliferation of chemical weapons to Islamist insurgents. “The risk of terrorism is becoming more and more dominant in our strategic vision for what we might do in Syria,” he said. “If that risk develops, we would almost certainly have to act to mitigate it and we are ready to do so… Some could characterise that, even though it might be for a limited period, as a war.”

Advocates of war from across the political establishment, from Power to McCain, invoke the humanitarian disaster in Syria as providing a supposed moral imperative.

This week the media was filled with chilling depictions of the situation in Syria, emanating from the UN or from pro-opposition groups. The UN’s refugee chief Antonio Guterres told the Security Council that the Syrian conflict has caused the worst refugee crisis for 20 years, with 6,000 people fleeing the country every day. In addition, 5,000 people are being killed each month, bringing total casualties to over 93,000 and refugees to over five million.

Leila Zerrougui, the UN’s special representative for children and armed conflict, visiting refugee camps, spoke of “serious human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Syria as “the rule.” The conflict was producing “a generation of children who lost their childhood, have a lot of hate and are illiterate.”

The media dutifully reported the visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to a refugee camp in Jordan. A carefully choreographed appeal was made by six “refugees”—supporters of the opposition—for the US to immediately set up a no-fly zone and buffer zones.

“Where is the international community? What are you waiting for?” asked an unnamed woman.

This is contemptible propaganda. The devastation of Syria, the refugee crisis, the growing list of casualties, and its descent into sectarian warfare, are wholly the responsibility of the imperialist powers.

In the aftermath of the downfall of Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the US moved to dictate events—first in Libya and now Syria—by force of arms and through various compliant proxy forces.

The Baathist regime of al-Assad is reactionary to the core, but the opposition movement that developed against him is wholly the creature of the US. It is made up of an alliance of CIA assets, ex-regime figures and Islamists entrusted with the creation of a pro-western regime to ensure that the oil riches of the Middle East continue to flood into the coffers of US-based transnationals and banks.

In the process, brutal sectarian crimes have been committed, threatening to plunge the entire region into a bloody, communal struggle. This week alone, the BBC reported on how Syria’s Christian minority is being targeted by jihadis. Also, mortar shells struck near a major Shiite shrine of Sayida Zeinab, the Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter, outside Damascus; it has become a rallying point for Hezbollah fighters supporting Assad, now that the Syrian conflict has already spread to Lebanon.

The argument presently unfolding in ruling circles in the US and Europe is over whether Syria should be bled dry through an ongoing campaign of destabilisation funded by the Gulf States and Turkey, or whether to model Syria policy more directly on the war in Libya—which ended in the deposing and murder of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

This campaign is provided with political cover by pseudo-left tendencies such as the International Socialist Organisation in the US, the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and the New Anticapitalist Party in France, who line up to hail the supposed “revolutionary forces” represented by the Syrian opposition.

Speaking in London last weekend, the political representative of the SWP in Syria, Ghayath Naisse, supported the arming of the opposition by Washington declaring, “We want to arm the people,” but “with no conditions.”

Simon Assaf of the SWP was more cynical still, stating, “We support the uprising of the people, to give them arms,” adding that “There is no such thing as a weapons fairy.”

The overthrow of Assad by the imperialist powers and their flunkeys would be a bloody step in the consolidation of US hegemony in the Middle East and towards war against Iran. It would escalate conflict with Russia and China, bringing with it the danger of a far bloodier global war.

Dealing with Assad and all of the region’s corrupt regimes—in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel alike—is a task that belongs to the working class. It requires a unified struggle against imperialism, against all of capitalism’s regional representatives and of their regimes, and for socialism. The political responsibility of workers in the US, Britain, Europe and internationally is to mobilise in a common struggle against the threat of imperialist war in Syria.

Kerry Announces Talks Resumption Between Israel and the Palestinians

Did Abbas Backs Down On Illegal Israeli Settlements?

Kerry thanks Netanyahu and Abbas for the “tough choices” they made

By I24

July 19, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “I24” – US Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, stalled for three years, will resume next week in Washington.

As part of the deal he negotiated, Israel will free 250 Palestinian prisoners. In return, the Palestinians will refrain from demanding UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

Kerry told a hastily convened news conference in Amman, Jordan that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had made “tough choices” which enabled their return to the negotiating table.

Talks between the sides are expected to last nine months or more.

Kerry arrived in Jordan on Wednesday on his sixth shuttle to the region this year, determined to announce the talks by Friday. Earlier in the day it had seemed he would go back to Washington empty handed, after the Palestinian leadership refused to approve the blueprint he proposed.

But Kerry met twice during the day with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat before flying by helicopter for an unscheduled meeting with Abbas. It was after that meeting – the third in as many days – that he convened the media in Amman.

The whirlwind diplomacy came after the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on Thursday rejected Kerry’s proposals for a framework to guide the relaunch of peace talks with the Israelis stalled for nearly three years.

Erakat had planned to tell Kerry that a return to talks could not happen based on his plan, a Palestinian official told AFP ahead of their meetings.

“Erakat will inform Kerry that without a clear basis on the 1967 borders, a settlement freeze and a clear position on the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, the Palestinian side thinks there will be no talks,” he said.

Their first meeting lasted barely 45 minutes, but Kerry and Erakat then went back into talks which lasted more than an hour and half, State Department officials said.

Shortly after the second talks broke up, a Palestinian official told AFP that Kerry had decided to travel to the West Bank.

The setback to Kerry’s peace push came from the governing Revolutionary Council of Abbas’s own Fatah movement, which demanded changes to the US plan.

The broader Palestine Liberation Organization, which also includes leftwing factions less sympathetic towards a compromise, said it was also drawing up a formal response to Kerry’s proposals.

Talks have stuttered and started for decades in the elusive bid to reach a final peace deal between the Arab world and Israel.

But they collapsed completely in September 2010 when Israel refused to keep up a freeze on settlement building in Palestinian territories.

A State Department official said in a statement issued just after midnight that serious Palestinian debate over resuming talks was “appropriate and encouraging”.

Kerry arrived on Tuesday in the Jordanian capital, where he held two rounds of talks with Abbas. He also won endorsement from the Arab League for his proposals to resume talks.

Kerry’s plan would have seen Israel, now ruled by a coalition that has tilted sharply to the right after elections early this year, make only a tacit commitment to slow settlement construction in the occupied territories, not the publicly announced freeze long demanded by Abbas.

On Wednesday, the US envoy had expressed cautious optimism that he was making progress.

But he acknowledged that there were still differences over “the language” governing any resumption of talks.

It is the top US diplomat’s sixth visit to the region since he took office in February, to try to broker a compromise to resume direct negotiations.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resume talks.

“The president encouraged Prime Minister Netanyahu to continue to work with Secretary Kerry to resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible,” the White House said in a statement, after the two leaders spoke by telephone.

An Israeli newspaper editorial pinned the blame squarely on the Palestinians for any setback in Kerry’s peace push.

“The Palestinians again did what they do best: they shot themselves in the foot and then cried that it hurt,” Alex Fishman wrote in Yediot Aharonot.

But commentator Shimon Shiffer, writing in the same paper, said the Israeli government presented just as much of an obstacle to peace.

“Netanyahu is today shackled with a coalition that makes it impossible for him to budge a millimeter,” he wrote.

Kerry’s latest peace bid has also been complicated by new European Union guidelines for its 28 member states that will block all funding of Jewish settlements

From Turkey With Love: Another Israeli Attack on Syria?

By Mahdi Darius

July 19, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Prime Minister Erdogan and his AK Party government have a track record of being deceitful, especially in regards to both Israel and Syria.

No one should be surprised to hear that Israel and Turkey are collaborating together against the Syrians. With the aim of tightening the front against Syria, President Obama even travelled to Israel in March 2013 to directly broker a quick rapprochement between the governments of Israel and Turkey. Getting a public nudge from the Obama Administration, Israel and Turkey would announce that their diplomatic row was over only two days after NATO announced it had put together contingency plans for operations in Syria on March 20, 2013. Even when relations were publicly sour between the Ankara and Tel Aviv, the two countries maintained military and commercial ties.

Despite the fact that Prime Minister Erdogan denounced Tel Aviv for attacking Syria, the first fruits of Israeli and Turkish collaboration became visible in May 2013 when Israeli warplanes attacked a Syrian military research facility in the town of Jamraya with US approval, as admitted by President Obama to Telemundo. Right after the Israeli attacks the Turkish and Israeli militaries launched simultaneous exercises on their respective borders with Syria. Although the military operations were presented as uncoordinated events, both Ankara and Tel Aviv were coordinating with one another in a military posture against Syria. The Israeli and Turkish moves on their borders with Syria were probably aimed at preventing Syria from responding through intimidation. The Turkish government would also put extra pressure on the Syrians by blaming them for a terrorist attack in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli, which the Turkish activist group of internet hackers named Redhack would be revealed was known about well in advance by Turkey’s Gendarmerie Intelligence.
What Happened in Latakia?

Just when it began becoming apparent that the US and its allies were facing serious regional setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa, reports began circulating about an explosion in Latakia. Unverified reports, originating from anonymous sources in Israel in early July 2013, began claiming that Tel Aviv had launched an attack against the Syrian port of Latakia that caused a massive explosion. As the rumours began to circulate in the media, it was dubiously claimed that the Israeli attacks were launched against shipments of Russian-made S-300 air defence systems that were in the process of being delivered to Syria by the Kremlin. US officials would enter the picture by deliberately leaking more information about what happened in Latakia by claiming that Israel used its air force to bomb the port there to destroy a military depot filled with Russian-made Yakhont land-to-sea anti-ship missiles.

Then, on July 15, RT’s Paula Slier would report from Tel Aviv that Israel had attacked Latakia by using a Turkish military base. This would upset the Turkish government, which would deny it and say anyone making the claims was involved in an “act of betrayal.” In response to the Russian report, Turkish officials would up the ante by claiming that the Russian anti-ship missiles in the Syrian port were destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon and that the US and Israel had coordinated the attacks by holding meetings in Turkey with the anti-government militias operating inside Syria. Uzi Mahnaimi would complicate the matter by reporting through the British press that the Israeli attacks were launched from a German-built Dolphin from the sea, which essentially vindicated Turkey by refuting the claim that a Turkish base was used by the Israelis.

What has to be understood is that countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia conceal their collaboration with Tel Aviv due to the heavy opposition against the Israeli occupation of Palestine among their respective societies. What is also important to note is that a Turkish jet was downed in 2012 by Syria when it was following a route that was used by Israeli jets near the Syrian-Turkish border. The use of this aerial route by Tel Aviv has never really been challenged by Turkey. It is also part of an important pattern that shows how close the tactics used by Israel and Turkey against Syria are.

From Turkey with love! (The first time around)

On June 22, 2013 a Turkish F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber from Malatya in Turkey was shot down above Syrian airspace. There would be conflicting reports about the fate of the pilots. The Turkish media would report that they were rescued while Syrian sources would claim that they were captured. The fighter-bomber’s two pilots, however, would reportedly be found dead trapped under the jet’s wreckage almost two weeks later.

Perhaps coming as a surprise to many, the Syrian and Turkish governments would conduct joint search and rescue efforts to find the airplane’s wreck and the two missing pilots. Damascus would even allow Turkish rescue units to enter Syrian territorial waters and make the proposal that a joint Syrian-Turkish military committee be formed to investigate what really happened.  Syria would even apologize to Turkey and argue that its troops thought that the Turkish warplane was an Israeli jet violating Syrian airspace.

Initially, it was clear that the Turkish government did not know how to react and made several contradictory statements. Erdogan would even say that he was unaware if the Syrians had shot the jet down and was waiting for precise information about the incident. Ultimately, Ankara would claim that the Turkish jet was shot down by the Syrian military without any warnings inside international, airspace above the Mediterranean Sea. Later the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network—the Fox News of the Arab World—would claim that the two Turkish pilots were executed by the Syrians and had their corpses planted into the wreckage under instructions from the Russian government, which also directed Damascus to apologize and then tried to manage the entire event.

What had caught the Turks, and NATO, by surprise was the fact that the Syrians had detected the F-4 fighter-bomber. The Turkish jet was actually spying against Syria on an intelligence mission conducting low altitude reconnaissance work and testing the air defence systems of Syria. This is why the Turkish government quickly changed its position several times. Expecting to be exposed, the Turkish governments at first played stupid. At the outset Turkish officials talked about the incident like it was a mistake. They even admitted that the Turkish plane had crossed into Syrian airspace, but said it was an honest accident during a training mission. When Damascus said nothing, however, Erdogan and his government began to aggressively blame the Syrians of unjustified aggression.

The Syrians would respond to Ankara’s lies by relying on the technical facts. From a technical standpoint the Turkish government’s story that Ankara’s jet was shot by the Syrian military while it was flying outside of Syrian airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was impossible. The reason was that the Turkish warplane was downed by an anti-aircraft artillery machine gun with a maximum range of 2.5 kilometers, which can only operate from land and operates on the basis of visual confirmation. It would have been impossible for the Syrians to use the anti-aircraft machine gun to target the Turkish jet if it were in international airspace, because it was out of firing range. Surface-to-air missiles would have had to been used instead by the Syrians. Moreover, Syria would even warn NATO as a whole, after Turkey called a NATO consultative meeting under the Washington Treaty’s Article 4, not to even think of violating Syria’s airspace, territorial waters, or land borders.

Many of the same tactics that were used against the Libyans by Turkey and NATO have been recycled against the Syrians. The failed Turkish spy mission for NATO in 2012 was actually a repeat of what happen to Libya in 2011. A Syrian pilot had defected by flying with his jet from Al-Dumayr, just northeast of Damascus, to Jordon’s King Hussein Air Base in Mafraq on June 21, 2012. The Syrian pilot, Colonel Al-Hamadeh, even sent his family out of Syria to Turkey before he defected. From Jordon his Syrian jet’s flight codes were passed to NATO and Turkey to disguise or cloak their aerial units as friendly Syrian ones. The Turkish military and NATO had tried to disguise the Turkish F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber as a Syrian jet using the stolen codes. The Syrians, however, were aware of what happened earlier to Libya when two Libyan warplanes defected to Malta and handed over their military flight codes to NATO, which used those codes months later when it attacked Libya as a means of bypassing Libya’s air defence system.

The AK party’s dirty hands

The AK Party has dirty hands and has tried to hide many of its activities from its own citizens. When the idea that a Turkish military jet could have been involved in operations against Syria was reported in 2012 by members of the Turkish media, the AK Party government began a very aggressive campaign to censor them. The Turkish government began drafting new media laws to prevent criticism against the Turkish government and Erdogan attacked the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet and anyone that dared to question the official narrative provided by his government as a “traitor” and “enemy of the state.”

Skeptics cannot be blamed for thinking that the story about the Israeli military strike on Latakia was planted to disguise the miserable failure of Washington’s regime change project in Syria, Israel’s growing fears about the regional environment, and the regional decline of the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite Ankara’s denials, the revelation of Turkish involvement in the events surrounding Latakia is pushing the different players involved to talk more. It should be remembered that Prime Minister Erdogan and the AK Party government in Turkey have a track record of being very deceitful, especially in regards to Turkey’s cooperating with Israel and their government’s aggression against the Syrians. In this context, the news that Israel used a Turkish base against Syria to avoid detection should come as no surprise either. Even the same tactical approaches were used by both the Israeli and Turkish militaries in regards to entering Syrian airspace from the Syrian Arab Republic’s northwestern coast.

Things will become cleared once, and if, more governments start talking openly about the events that occurred in Latakia. Only then can there be a clear picture of what really happened in Latakia. Nevertheless, there should be no mistake about it that the Israeli-Turkish alliance never really ended and that Israel and Turkey are comrades-in-arms against the Syrians.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is sociologist, award-winning author, and noted geopolitical analyst.

This article was originally published at RT

New Reports Of Israeli Attack On Syria Make turning a Blind Eye Difficult for Assad

It remains to be seen if Assad will chose to ignore this latest attack, believing that slight humiliation in the media is still preferable to a direct confrontation with Israel.

By Amos Harel

July 14, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Haaretz” — The American cable news network CNN reported Friday that it was Israel that was behind the series of explosions in the Syrian port of Latakia on the night of July 5. According to the report, which corroborates an earlier report from an Arabic news website, the attack was aimed at destroying Russian Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles. Israel has yet to respond to the report.

The Arabic and international press reported on a series of explosions early on July 6th in the port located on the shores of the Mediterranean in northern Syria, but made no mention of who might be responsible for the blasts. The press coverage of this incident was rather minor, mostly because of the drama that was taking place at the time in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood was confronting the Egyptian military that had forcibly ejected Mohammed Morsi’s government from power. Two days later the Syrian website Al-Hakika, associated with the Syrian opposition, reported that the attack was orchestrated by Israel in order to destroy warehouses in which Yakhont missiles were held.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon evaded the subject when asked about it last Tuesday while visiting Tze’elim, an Israeli Defense Forces’ base in southern Israel. “We have set red lines in regards to our own interests, and we keep them. There is an attack here, an explosion there, various versions – in any event, in the Middle East it is usually we who are blamed for most.”

In its report, CNN quoted numerous American government officials, but did not reveal their names. Those officials say that the explosions in question were the result of an Israeli airstrike, and this is currently the consensus regarding the circumstances surrounding the blasts. Last May, it was also Pentagon officials that indicated that Israel was responsible for an airstrike, the second of four strikes in Syrian territory that have been associated with Israel this year.

The first Israeli airstrike took place in late January, and it targeted a Syrian Army industrial facility located between Damascus and the Lebanese border. A convoy carrying SI-17 advanced anti-aircraft missiles was destroyed. In early May, two other airstrikes took place, two days apart, both targeting shipments of Fatah-110 midrange cruise missiles coming into Syria from Iran. According to some reports, those missiles were equipped with advanced satellite navigation systems, which drastically increased their accuracy. Israel has not claimed responsibility for any of those strikes, Ya’alon, and his predecessor, former Defense Minister Ehud Barak, hinted at Israel’s role in the strikes on numerous occasions. It seems that the strikes were meant to prevent those weapons from reaching Hezbollah.

As Ya’alon stated earlier this week, Israel has publicly declared red lines regarding Syria. The lines set by Ya’alon, Barak before him, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, include allowing Assad’s chemical weapons fall into “irresponsible hands,” transfer of advanced weapon systems to Hezbollah (a list which has thus far included SI-17 and SI-22 anti-aircraft missiles, as well as the Yakhont), and the formation of a “terror front” on the Syrian side of the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. Israel has also expressed great concern over the idea Russia will complete its arms deal with Syria, and supply Assad’s army with the new S-300 air defense system.

Lately, in light of the Assad’s close cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah, and the support they have shown the Syrian president, concerns have increased among western governments that Assad will reward his friends with advanced Russian weapons. Israel has said that this would be a “game changer” on the Lebanese front. The Yakhont missile especially troubles Israel, as a launch from Lebanon or Syria could accurately hit Israeli infrastructure in the Mediterranean Sea, or on the coast itself. Yakhont missiles in the wrong hands would endanger the power plane in Hadera, natural gas infrastructure in the Mediterranean, or activity at Israel’s ports in Haifa or Ashdod.

If indeed it was Israel that attacked last week, the attack has largely flown under the radar, at least until the CNN report. After the two suspected Israeli attacks in May, Assad clearly stated that he would not ignore another Israeli infraction, and Israel would pay a heavy price for any attack. Assad hinted then that he was considering opening a terror front in the Golan Heights. The fact remains that if CNN is correct regarding the identity of last week’s attacker, Assad must know it as well, and if he chooses to ignore this attack as well, we can learn that he still has no intention of directly confronting Israel, despite his aggressive declarations. Assad’s silence relies upon his ability to comprehensively deny the attack, much like in the past, and totally ignore the violation of Syrian sovereignty.

The CNN report makes comprehensive denial rather difficult – but it comes rather late, more than a week after the incident took place. During the coming days, it remains to be seen if Assad, who is concentrating all his efforts at putting down the fierce rebellion within Syria, will chose to ignore this latest attack, believing that slight humiliation in the media is still preferable to a direct confrontation with Israel.

Israel’s ‘Indigenous Invaders’

Israel justifies the immanent relocation of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin by characterizing them as invaders.

By Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini

July 12, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Al Jazeera“–  On June 24th the “Prawer Plan for the Arrangement of Bedouin-Palestinian Settlement in the Negev” passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament. If implemented, the Plan will constitute “the largest single act of forced displacement of Arab citizens of Israel since the 1950s,” expelling an estimated forty thousand Palestinian Bedouin from their current dwellings.

The Plan’s ultimate objective is to Judaize the Israeli Negev. In order to do this, however, seventy thousand (out of 200,000) Bedouin who currently live in villages classified as ‘unrecognized’ by the Israeli government must be moved. The government already forbids them from connecting to the electricity grid or the water and sewage systems. Construction regulations are also harshly enforced, and in 2011 alone about a thousand Bedouin homes and animal pens—usually referred to by the government as mere “structures”—were demolished. There are no paved roads, and signposts from main roads to the villages are removed by government authorities. The villages are not shown on maps, since as a matter of official geography, the places inhabited by these second-class citizens of Israel do not exist.

The government has, for years, argued that because these people live in small villages scattered across a relatively large area, it cannot provide them with basic services and therefore its objective has been to concentrate them in a few townships. Consequently, in 2009 Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed his planning policy chief, Ehud Prawer, to liberate the “Jewish land.” Prawer’s main task was to relocate these seventy thousand Bedouin who have refused to sign over their property rights to the State and have continued living in their “unrecognized villages.”

The logic informing the plan is actually best expressed in two reports Silent Conquest and There is a Solution published by a settler NGO called Regavim (The National Land Protection Trust), which has been working in conjunction with several government agencies.  The NGO maintains that the Negev’s Bedouin inhabitants “rob” the Jewish people “of the Land of Israel” “ever so quietly, without the roar of battle and clamor of war.” “On this battlefield,” the organization continues,

cement mixers have replaced tanks, plows replace cannons and innocent-looking civilians replace uniformed soldiers….  Acre after acre, house after house, buying, squatting, illegally cultivating the soil that is not theirs, sometimes with guile, other times with violence, with huge sums of money and firmly backed by anti-Zionist organizations in Israel and abroad – Israel is losing its hold on the Jewish people’s lands.

Regavim further maintains that Israel has until now “offered the Bedouins ‘carrots’ –but never a ‘stick,’” claiming that through their “criminal activity” these Beduin are colonizing the land and thus threatening to “put an end to the Jewish future of the Southern region.”

Citing Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s famous declaration that “The Negev is the test of the nation in Israel,” Regavim offers a four stage solution to counter this threat, which includes: curbing “illegal Bedouin construction,” preparing the population for removal, evacuating all the “illegal populations” and then transferring them to legal settlements. Finally, the government must prepare for “the day after” and not allow “matters to return to their original state.” “Original state” refers to the existing situation, which in Regavim’s view is characterized by the invasion of Jewish space by Palestinian “illegal populations.” According to this narrative, space is, by definition, Jewish and therefore non-Jewish presence is a form of contamination—and the stake of Ben-Gurion’s test.

The transformation of the indigenous into an invader or a “Palestinian settler” – to borrow the phrase recently used by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon(Likud)– is key to understanding not only the Prawer Plan, but also the very logic of the State of Israel. In a context in which Palestinians have been systematically alienated and elided from history and geography, the constitution of the Palestinian native as an illegal subject or foreign invader serves as the condition of possibility for Judiazing the land. The ethos in which all this is being played out is grounded in Israel’s ethnocratic commitment to dispossess the non-Jews, which is cynically elevated to an act of self-defense and, ultimately, justice.

Neve Gordon is the author of Israel’s Occupation.

Nicola Perugini is an anthropologist who teaches at the Al Quds Bard Honors College in Jerusalem. His work focuses on colonialism, space and law. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Libya, Syria, Lies, Perfidies and Tony Blair

By Felicity Arbuthnot
Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terrorism.
— President Barack Obama 15th February 2013 (re Boston bombings)
June 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Having learned nothing from the catastrophes of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, it seems President Obama, the equally clueless UK Prime Minister Cameron and his culturally challenged Foreign Secretary William Hague are cheerleading another bloodbath in formerly peaceful, secular, outward looking Syria.
Having covertly provided arms and equipment to insurgents from numerous different countries for over two years, they have now moved to the overt stage, a move over which even arch hawks such as former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former Republican Senator Richard Luger, six term leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged caution.
Luger said such action would boost extremists, with Brzezinski dismissing Obama’s talk of “red lines” as thoughtless and risking “a large-scale disaster for the United States.”
During Brzezinski’s time as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter the decision was made to finance the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in response to Soviet deployment there. He’s had a bit of time to reflect on blowback and perhaps the 2,243 wasted US lives in that “graveyard of empires” – so far.
It seems, however, the Washington and Whitehall regimes remain increasingly disconnected from reality. In spite of the plethora of gruesome images circulating on the internet of grinning terrorists holding up severed heads, cannibalising body organs and summarily executing, they are to provide further arms to insurgency’s Hannibal Lecters. This, also regardless of the fact that Riad al-Assad, founder of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” is quoted as saying that suicide bombing is “an integral part of revolutionary action, of Free Syrian Army action.”
Meanwhile, less than a month after the murder of a soldier in London’s Woolwich by wanna be jihadists (with reported relationship to hard drugs) Britain’s increasingly rudderless ship of state allows entry to a controversial Saudi preacher, Muhamed Al Arefe, alleged to have made anti-Shia and anti-Semitic exhortations and who argues that a husband “may use beatings to discipline his wife” as long as he beats her “lightly.”
Informed friends from the Middle East charge bluntly that he recruits jihadists, as last week in visits Riyadh and Cairo. One added:
David Cameron may as well stand at the gate (of the Mosque) and hand out arms for the ‘good freedom fighters’ who will be heading to Syria after hearing Arefe’s sickening lies, sectarian incitement and calls for jihad against the ‘infidel regime’.
This was not a low key occasion. Arefe spoke at the London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, built on land donated by King George V1 to the Muslim Community of Britain. The Cultural Centre was officially opened by the King in 1944. The Mosque, completed in 1978, which can hold over five thousand worshippers in the main hall alone, was designed by renowned architect Sir Frederick Gibberd. Quite a platform for any recruiter.
However, Obama and Cameron hardly need to arm terrorists. They are seemingly doing fine, via the US-UK-NATO last mega screw up: Libya.
This week it was reported that weapons are flooding in to Syria from a Libya awash with weapons, “with spy chiefs saying” that the country has become a supermarket “of the world’s illegal arms trade.”
“Up to 3,000 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) have gone missing since the conflict” with more than “one million tonnes of weapons belonging to Colonel Quaddaffi” looted after his terrible death at the hands of NATO’s “allies”.
Potentially that is enough SAMs to down 3,000 airliners.
The Daily Mail understands that, unsecured “ … there are now more weapons in Libya than in the entire arsenal of the British Army” according to MI6 estimates.
One internet video showed a stockpile of SAMs, which can hit an aircraft flying at 11,000 feet, in the hands of the Syrian insurgents. Used from airport perimeters anywhere, the result could be tragedy.
However, Akhbar Alaan TV reports Benghazi has been supplying weapons to the Syrian terrorists for “over a year.” With pictures they “show the shipments from Libya, via Turkey to the Syrian opposition.”
The TV station’s reporter states:
Their own Libyan revolution was supported by NATO … But these former Libyan rebels say the world is abandoning the Syrian opposition. And because of that Benghazi decided to act …
All these weapons are donated by former rebel units in eastern Libya … According to the Libyan organizer they also have shipped around 120 SAM 7 surface to air-missiles to Syria.
Rebel units were, of course, aided by US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who arrived in a cargo ship loaded with arms (news, websites) and was murdered with colleagues in Benghazi on 11 September 2012.
According to the New York Times, Qatari C-17 cargo planes, capable of carrying a payload of over 70 tonnes, have picked up a weapons shipment at least three times this year, which were then delivered to the Turkish-Syrian border to be handed on to the “rebels”.
British-Libyan arms dealer Abdul Basit Haroun – who was a property developer in Manchester, UK for twenty years, until 2011 – has told Reuters that weapons are reaching Syria not alone by numerous flights, but on ships, concealed amongst humanitarian aid. Haroun has claimed that the authorities know about the shipment, “everybody knows”.
Further, Libyan Assembly Member Tawfiq Shehabi has said he supports the activitites of people like Haroun, who was a brigade commander during the Libyan uprising: “After the end of the (uprising) he became involved in supporting the Syrian revolution … he does a good job of supporting the Syrian revolution.”
Claims are that permission for shipments is sought from, and sanctioned by, Turkey. The UN has criticized Libya for proliferating weapons at an “alarming rate” and for “enriching the arsenals of a range of non-State actors, including terrorist groups.”
Reuters interviewed Haroun and a reporter was taken to a container of weapons being prepared for delivery to Syria “… stacked with boxes of ammunition, rocket launchers and various types of light and medium weapons.”
Arms are flown in to “neighbouring countries on chartered flights”, several to Jordan as well as Turkey, “weapons were then transferred over the border.”
In Libya, the versatile Mr Haroun “helps the government with state security, according to interior ministry spokesman Majdi al-Ourfi.”
Quite an own goal, NATO.
But no lessons have been learned. On Saturday (22 June) the ridiculously named, eleven nation “Friends of Syria”, meeting in Qatar, agreed to supply “all the necessary material” to the insurgents. Britain, with the US, is, of course, cheerleading.
This in spite of warnings from such as Charles Lister, analyst at HIS – Jane’s Terrorist and Insurgency Centre – of the danger that weapons “almost invariably end up in the hands of” terrorists and extremists, and possibly even back in Britain.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the army, said last week he was “very much in the camp of those who would not wish to be involved and intervene in any shape or form”, with Major General Julian Thompson, who commanded British forces in the Falklands War in 1982, saying it was “absolutely ridiculous” to contemplate another intervention …and getting involved with something else” whilst still mired in Afghanistan after nearly twelve years.
“Our information from Doha says that five countries have decided to start arming us immediately, and four other countries will give us logistical and technical support and, at a later stage, arm the Free Syrian Army,” a spokesman for the opposition fighters, Loay Al Mikdad, said in an interview with Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV.
Incredibly, with not a glance towards legality, the Doha plotters “repeated their call for the establishment of a transitional governing body to which full executive powers would be transferred … Bashar Assad has no role in the transitional governing body or thereafter.”
However, Syria is a founding Member of the UN, one of the fifty one countries who signed to the Charter on 26 June 1945. Member States of the United Nations are bound by the UN Charter.
Article 2 (4) states:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Article 2 (1) The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
Article 2 (2) All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
The UN’s 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States directs:
No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state.
Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the state or against its political economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law.
Recalling the duty of States to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any State,
Considering it essential that all States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,
In accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, States have the duty to refrain from propaganda for wars of aggression.
Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing or encouraging the organization of irregular forces or armed bands including mercenaries, for incursion into the territory of another State.
Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such acts, when the acts referred to in the present paragraph involve a threat or use of force.
End note. That Middle East “Peace Envoy” Tony Blair who lied his way into the destruction of Iraq, kissed his welcoming host Colonel Gaddafi then betrayed him worthy of any Judas, has entertained President Assad.
In 2002, when Bashir al Assad visited Britain, met the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and dined with Blair at Downing Street, it was considered bestowing an honour on the President.
According to documents, on November 14, 2002, a desk officer covering Syria and Lebanon at the Foreign and Commonwealth office wrote:
You should be aware that President Bashar of Syria will visit the U.K. as a guest of government … This will include an audience with the queen. I have been advised that we need to consider whether the queen should bestow an honor on him.
Blair is, of course, cheer leading for Syria’s destruction: “A spokesperson for Tony Blair defended the actions of the government under the former PM, stating, “Engagement with Syria and Assad in 2002 was absolutely right … Mr. Blair has said many times since that the situation has changed and Assad now has to go.”
Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books

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If The Syrian Dictator Must Go… Why Not The Dictators In Saudi Arabia, Qatar And Bahrain?

If We’re “Fighting for Democracy”, than Why Are We Arming and Financially Supporting Dictatorships throughout the Middle East?
By WashingtonsBlog
June 01, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Western Israeli leaders call Syrian leader Assad a dictator.
Fair enough. He and his father have ruled Syria since 1971.
But what about Saudi Arabia? The Saudi royal monarchy has been ruling that region for hundreds of years.
Wikipedia notes:
Due to its authoritarian and theocratic rule, the House of Saud has attracted much criticism during its rule of Saudi Arabia. Its opponents generally refer to the Saudi monarchy as totalitarians or dictators.
There have been numerous incidents of demonstrations and other forms of resistance against the House of Saud.
All surviving males (including Utaybi himself) were beheaded publicly in four cities of Saudi Arabia. 
While the Saudi royal family pushes the most strict and fundamentalist form Islam, the Saudi royal family’s debauchery and corruptionis legendary. The monarchs – while pushing strict Wahabism as the official state religion – don’t practice it.
Similarly, Qatar has been ruled by one family monarchy for over 150 years:
Qatar has been ruled as an absolute and hereditary emirate by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century.
CBS News includes Qatar on its list of “The world’s enduring dictators“, noting:
Like many of its neighbors, the controversial host of the 2022 World Cup in soccer is accused of many human rights abuseswhen it comes to its foreign workers, like setting them up in squalid labor camps separate from society, confiscating their passports upon arrival, and giving them a general lack of rights. That said, Amnesty International reports only sporadic instances of torture and abuse by state security forces. As for Sheikh Hamad’s dictatorial bona fides, The New York Times writes: “While Qatar calls for democracy outside its borders, democracy here is provisional at best. While there are municipal elections, and women can vote in them, the country has a Parliament building but no Parliament — or any other political institution, for that matter — that can challenge the royal family’s grip on power.”
Similarly, Bahrain has been ruled almost continuously by the Al Khalifa royal monarchy since 1820.
Bahrain also makes CBS News’ list of “world’s enduring dictators”. CBS noted in 2011:
Uprisings in the late 1990s as well as right now have been fueled as much by resentment from the repressed, poor Shiite majority against their privileged Sunni rulers as anything else. In both uprisings, accusations against the government of gross human rights violations and protester murders have been plentiful. At least 11 demonstrators have been killed so far this year. Most recently, Bahraini security forces stand accused of indiscriminate abduction and torture of dissidents.
Things have gotten worse since then. Three-time Emmy award winning CNN reporter Amber Lyon reported on her first-hand experience of the systematic torture and murder of peaceful protesters by the government of Bahrain. But she was fired by CNN for doing so … while CNN accepted payment from the Bahraini monarchs to run a fluff propaganda piece about them.
Indeed, the U.S. government has supplied substantial military support to the Saudi, Qatari and Bahraini dictators.
Why is the U.S. backing the dictators in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain?
Because the U.S. backs the Sunni Muslims against the Shias. The leaders in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain are Sunni Muslims … while the leaders in Syria, Iran and Lebanon are Shia Muslims.
Yup … the U.S. is involved in a religious war – between the two factions of Islam (and is actually backing the most violent elements) – as part of a geopolitical strategy to exert control over the natural gas market.
Indeed, the U.S. is liberally backing Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood (both Sunni) terrorists in their fight against Shia Muslims …
… And in their fight against Christians and atheists.
This article was originally published at WashingtonsBlog

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US and Allies Step Up War Preparations Against Syria, Lebanon, Iran

By Chris Marsden 
May 26, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“WSWS” – The United States and its allies continue to escalate their military aggression against Syria, behind the smokescreen of a proposed international peace conference scheduled for June in Geneva.
In official public discourse, the conference is seeking a political solution to end Syria’s civil war, involving a negotiated settlement between the Ba’athist regime and the Islamist-dominated opposition forces that are funded and armed by the US, Turkey and the Gulf States.
Russia’s foreign ministry has endorsed the conference and has persuaded the Syrian government, “in principle”, to attend in the hope of shaping the outcome in its interests.
Based on the final communiqué of the United Nations-backed Action Group for Syria meeting in Switzerland in June 2012, the stated aim of “Geneva II” is to secure a ceasefire, paving the way for a transitional regime charged with ensuring a “democratic and pluralist” Syria in which the “people” will “determine the future of the country.”
All of which is transparent nonsense.
Some leading representatives of the Syrian regime are being offered a place in a new political constellation that includes Islamist and other bourgeois opposition groups and which will be dictated and determined by Washington and its allies and to some extent by Moscow. The alternative to doing so—as has been made abundantly clear—is stepped up aggression up to and including direct military intervention.
Of the two options, a negotiated agreement is by far the least likely. Every day brings fresh indications of preparations for war against not only Syria, but also Lebanon and Iran, threatening a region-wide conflagration that could yet involve Russia and China.
On Thursday, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces began a three day meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss its possible participation in the Geneva conference. Much was made of a proposal for a transition tabled by the coalition’s previous leader, Sheik Moaz al-Khatib.
Its 16 points included absolving all combatants in “legal military action” from prosecution and allowing Assad, 500 people of his choosing and their families to seek refuge in any country willing to welcome them. Assad would hand power to Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa or Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi within 30 days of accepting the plan. The current government would then continue to govern for 100 days, restructure the security and military apparatus, and release political prisoners.
However, there is little or no support for this proposal in the fractured opposition group, let alone more broadly in Syria.
A better indication of what is planned was provided by the attendance of the conference’s most important guest, US Secretary of State John Kerry. He threatened Thursday that if Assad was not prepared to make “a commitment to find peace in his country,” Washington and its allies would consider increasing backing for his opponents.
The US has been arming the opposition from the start, channelling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other regional allies. The US and the European Union have in addition stationed Patriot anti-ballistic missiles in Turkey. But what Kerry is threatening is something far bigger, as indicated by the decision of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support directly arming opposition militias. In line with this decision, Kerry has spent the past week lobbying for escalating military involvement in Syria by Europe and the Middle East powers.
On Wednesday, May 22, the Friends of Syria group held a meeting in Amman, Jordan again attended by Kerry. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague was particularly bellicose in Amman, but only because he was acting as a frontman for Kerry. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday with his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh, he warned: “we must make clear that if the regime does not negotiate seriously at the Geneva conference, no option is off the table.”
Iran and Hezbollah were “propping up” Assad and thereby “increasing the threat to regional stability,” he added, calling on the European Union to put Hezbollah’s armed wing on its list of terrorist organisations.
A spokesman for German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle publicly stated support for the proposal.
The Friends of Syria meeting formally backed the call for a transitional government, but opposed any negotiation with Assad unless it was about him giving up power.
Immediately after the meeting, the 11-member Arab Ministerial Committee on Syria decided to assign the current head of the Arab League, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim, to represent it at the mooted Geneva conference. Qatar is among the states most implicated in militarily backing Islamist fighters and will represent the foreign ministers of Qatar, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Oman, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The foreign ministers denounced Iran and Hezbollah’s support for the Assad regime as a threat to regional stability.
In Europe, Kerry has been lobbying hard for European states to drop their opposition to Britain and France’s plan to lift legal restrictions on arming the opposition. So far, Italy and Spain have backed the lifting of the arms embargo, while Germany has effectively done so, taking a “neutral” stand.
Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo spoke cynically of allowing the delivery of “defence material for people’s protection” that apparently includes arms and anti-aircraft batteries. He even spoke at a joint press conference with Mouaz al-Khatib.
A decision will be taken on lifting the embargo on Monday, May 27.
Israel too is becoming increasingly involved in the conflict, with three direct strikes on Syria so far this month.
The Israeli media has been discussing the advisability of establishing a new buffer zone on the Syrian side of the 43-mile cease-fire line established in 1973, following an attack on an Israeli military vehicle that had crossed the line in the disputed Golan Heights. To do so would require a full-scale invasion. There are also reports of efforts to establish a proxy force, based upon the minority Druze population near the border.
On May 23, Major General Amir Eshel, commander of the air force, warned that unrest in the Middle East could result in Israel becoming involved in a “surprise war” with Syria. He cited the possibility of Islamist forces gaining control of chemical and other weapons as a casus beli for “having to act on a very broad scale.”
War with both Syria and Lebanon could be imminent, he said. “It’s not as if we can say we have two weeks to prepare. I am not sure we have two weeks to prepare,” he added, given that advanced Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles are on their way to Syria.
The previous day, Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz warned Assad that he would “bear the consequences” in the event of further attacks on Israeli forces. “If Assad destabilizes the Golan Heights, he will pay a heavy price,” he said. “He needs to know that we will know how to defend ourselves and we will respond should the need arise.”
Paralleling the denunciations of the Assad regime, a key aide to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Minister Yuval Steinitz, warned that Iran’s nuclear industry was “many times larger than that of either North Korea or Pakistan.” He said that Tehran was intent on becoming a “nuclear superpower.”
Copyright © 1998-2013 World Socialist Web Site

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Al Jazeera Deletes Its Own Controversial Op-Ed, Then Refuses to Comment

The bizarre behavior by the media giant reflects brewing tensions as it seeks to enter the US television market
By Glenn Greenwald 
May 21, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“The Guardian” – Last Tuesday, Al Jazeera English published a lengthy Op-Ed byColumbia professor and Middle East scholar Joseph Massad entitled “The Last of the Semites”. Massad’s argument was obviously controversial: he highlighted the shared goal between the early Zionist movement and Europe’s anti-Jewish bigots (namely, the removal of Jews from the continent), detailed the cooperation between German Nazis and Zionists to facilitate the departure of Jews out of Europe (the existence of that cooperation is not in dispute, though the extent of it very much is), and highlighted the extensive disagreements among Jews themselves over the wisdom and justness of Zionism (large numbers of European Jews were insistent that they did not want to, and should not have to, leave their homelands for a distant land that was not theirs).
Predictably, numerous commentators – largely the ones who have spent years casually smearing as anti-semites those who criticize Israel – instantly and vehemently denounced Massad’s arguments. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg sarcastically tweeted: “Congratulations, al Jazeera: You’ve just posted one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory,” while the editor of the neocon journal Commentary, John Podhoretz, wrote: “Congratulations, donors to Columbia University, for paying this monstrous []head’s salary!” A blogger for the Jerusalem Post claimed thatMassad’s writings on Israel can easily be confused with material from the neo-Nazi ‘White Pride World Wide’ hate site Stormfront.”
All of that is par for the course when it comes to debates over Israel and Palestine: as any writer who ever ventures into that topic well knows, nothing triggers greater venom and personalized attacks (and a greater risk of losing one’s job) than opining on any of these matters. And the critics of Massad’s Op-Ed were doing nothing wrong per se: it’s perfectly appropriate to harshly criticize controversial arguments that are published in a major media outlet. An intense debate was triggered about Massad’s thesis, just as Massad and his Al Jazeera editors undoubtedly anticipated, and that is what opinion journalism often does and should do.
But all of that changed on Saturday. Without issuing any comment or explanation of any kind, unknown officials at Al Jazeera ordered Massad’s Op-Ed to be deleted – in essence, silently retracted. I actually discovered this deletion because, aware of the controversy that had erupted, I attempted on Saturday to read Massad’s Op-Ed. But none of the specific Al Jazeera links I found would work: they all went to Al Jazeera’s home page, which said nothing about Massad’s Op-Ed. I finally was able to read the Op-Ed only by finding it on blogs which had re-printed the Op-Ed in full (a .pdf version of how it appeared on Al Jazeera’s site can be found here).
As a result, on Saturday morning I asked on Twitter whether Massad’s Op-Ed had been deleted by Al Jazeera, and emailed several people who I believed had contacts with Massad and Al Jazeera to make the same inquiry. One of them, Ali Abunimah, then spoke with Massad and reported that Massad “had ‘received confirmation’ from his editor at Al Jazeera English that ‘management pulled the article'”. Someone on Twitter advised me that the article could still be read in the mobile version of Al Jazeera’s site, which I then noted on Twitter, but by the end of that day, that, too, had been deleted. That Al Jazeera silently deleted an Op-Ed that it itself had published was then beyond dispute. In an email interview with me on Monday, Massad confirmed that his editor at Al Jazeera – who had solicited Massad to write an Op-Ed for Nakba Day – did not even know that it had been removed, and had to make several calls to confirm that it had been.
I spent much of the weekend emailing various Al Jazeera officials for comment, to no avail. Everyone either ignored my multiple inquires or said they were barred from commenting and referred me to the head of the outlet’s PR department, who never responded. How can a media outlet possibly publish an Op-Ed, quietly delete it six days later in response to controversy, and then fail to utter a single word about what happened? Was there a fabrication or some glaring, retraction-worthy error in Massad’s Op-Ed? Was it a mistake for Al Jazeera to have published it in the first place, and if so, who made that mistake, what was it, and why did it happen? Who made the decision to take the extraordinary step of deleting the Op-Ed, and what was the rationale for doing so?
No media outlet can possibly do something like this without publicly accounting for what happened and expect to retain credibility. How can you demand transparency and accountability from others when you refuse to provide any yourself? Refusing to comment on secret actions of this significance is the province of corrupt politicians, not journalists. It’s behavior that journalists should be condemning, not emulating.
Media outlets do occasionally retract stories or even Op-Eds, but they then provide an explanation. Earlier this year, the Observer published a repellent Op-Ed by the British columnist Julie Burchill, which contained all sorts of ugly slurs against transgendered people (it was also published in the Guardian’s online Comment is Free section). In the wake of intense condemnation, the Observer decided to retract the Op-Ed and remove it from the site. The paper’s editor, John Mulholland, issued a statement explaining the retraction, and the paper’s readers editor (the rough British equivalent of an ombudsman), Stephen Pritchard, then wrote a detailed account of what happened.
Although I condemned the original Op-Ed, I did not agree with the decision to delete it. For one thing, it’s a futile gesture: in the internet age, everything published is permanent. For another, it’s contrary to the journalistic ethos: although it would have been appropriate to decide in the first instance not to publish it, once a decision is made to publish something, it should not be removed merely because it provokes controversy or even offense. Retractions should be reserved for serious factual errors. But at least the Observer transparently explained its actions and provided an account of what it did.
I’m not expressing any views here on the merit of Massad’s arguments because that’s irrelevant to the issue of Al Jazeera’s conduct. I have spent years, both as a lawyer and then a writer, objecting to the suppression of all sorts of views which I find repellent, from anti-gay and anti-Muslim bigotry to Ann Coulter and Ezra Levant’s bile to Mohammed cartoons to advocacy of violence. I am a firm believer that, for multiple reasons, it is far preferable to air and then debunk even the most offensive ideas than it is to suppress them.
It’s one thing for a media outlet to decide in the first instance not to publish an opinion piece on grounds of quality; it’s another thing entirely for them to retract one they decide to publish simply because it offends people. Offending people is a necessary part of journalism and the fact that something produces offense is not evidence that it is invalid. Having media outlets afraid to publish opinions which offend people is a menacing state of affairs that nobody should want.
Massad is a provocative and controversial intellectual. Both he and the Al Jazeera editors who published this Op-Ed undoubtedly knew that many people would find the arguments both infuriating and offensive. There is nothing wrong with that: that’s what good journalism does. Massad’s Op-Ed led to some very aggressive and forceful criticisms of his arguments – see here for one example – and that’s exactly how it should be.
But deleting Massad’s Op-Ed does not make this debate disappear. He did not invent these views. Indeed, as History Professor Daniel Myers wrote recently in the Daily Beast, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, made similar claims recently and actually wrote his dissertation on this topic at a Russian university. Professor Myers is quite hostile to the Abbas/Massad claim about the Zionist movement, labeling it “an historiographical sin of commission that rests on a faulty grasp of context and a distorted reading of the sources at hand”, but the view is prevalent and held among credible scholars and influential politicians. Even Myers writes that “it must be noted there were periodic contacts between Zionists and Nazis before and during the War.” Specifically:
“For example, in August 1933, the Zionist Federation of Germany signed an agreement with the German government (and the Anglo-Palestine Bank) known as the ‘Haavara’ (Transfer) which allowed for the transfer of Jewish property from Germany to Palestine as a means of encouraging Jewish emigration there. And during the War, Zionist officials in Palestine and elsewhere pursued a number of ransom plans whose goal was the liberation of European Jews. Perhaps the most well-known of these plans was the ‘Merchandise for Blood’ proposal of 1944 according to which one million Jews would be exchanged for 10,000 trucks. The negotiations were conducted between Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer for Jewish Affairs, and the Hungarian Zionists Joel Brand and Rudolf Kasztner.”
Myers argues forcefully that these episodes were so limited that they do not remotely support the broad claims of Massad and Abbas. That’s fine: that’s what debates about history can and should entail. If you find the views of Professor Massad and the Palestinian president offensive, then you should want those views debated, not silenced. The solution is to debunk them, not suppress them, since they’re not going anywhere.
Al Jazeera’s deletion of this Op-Ed, and especially its refusal to provide any explanation for what happened here, is significant beyond just this one episode. Several people who work for the outlet, none of whom was willing to speak for attribution due to fear of retaliation by the network’s officials, say that Al Jazeera officials have become much more cautious and fearful ever since theypurchased Current TV last December for $500 million and prepared to enter the US television market under the brand name “Al Jazeera America” (as disclosure: I had some preliminary discussions several months ago with some Al Jazeera officials about the possibility of doing something for that new network, though it never advanced beyond that stage; I also covered the US election for Al Jazeera English from Doha, and have appeared many times on that network).
In particular, these sources say, the primary impetus for the removal of the Op-Ed came from Ehab al-Shihabi, who was recently namedto head the American TV network. They say that he is petrified that angering “pro-Israel” factions in the US will bolster the perception of Al Jazeera as both anti-American and anti-Israel, thus dooming the network with both corporate advertisers and cable carriers and render it radioactive among mainstream politicians. Al-Shihabi, they say, went to the network’s top executive in Doha, Director-General Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, and demanded the removal of the Massad Op-Ed.
The tensions here reflect a broader internal conflict about how Al Jazeera intends to position itself as it enters American television. Many (and I include myself in this) believe that Al Jazeera can be successful only if they provide something that no other US cable news outlet regularly provides: fearless journalism of the type the network has displayed in the past, unconstrained by (and liberated from) the orthodoxies of the two dominant political parties and the airing of a wide range of views, including those typically excluded by mainstream US political television.
But several Al Jazeera executives have adopted the view, seemingly the one that is prevailing, that it should instead replicate the failed CNN model of risk-averse, viewpoint-free, colorless, soul-less “straight news reporting”. That Al Jazeera’s first announced prime time host was the extremely uncontroversial, long-time CNN employee Ali Velshi, and is reportedly considering a horde of former CNN and NBC executives to run the network, illustrates the risk-averse, CNN-copying path they seem to be taking. Silently removing Massad’s Op-Ed and then refusing to comment on it is behavior perfectly in line with that mentality.
All of this takes place in the context of increasing criticisms from multiple quarters, at times including its own journalists, that the ownership of Al Jazeera by the Emir of Qatar has increasingly affected, and degraded, its journalism, rendering it a propaganda tool for the Qatari dictatorship’s foreign policy. Most of that criticism in the past had been directed at its flagship network, Al Jazeera Arabic. By contrast, Al Jazeera English has, by all appearances, remained largely independent, consistently producing truly outstanding and brave journalism.
The question is whether this can continue now that Al Jazeera is seeking to establish a serious TV presence in the US. The Qatari regime is a close American ally, hosting several vital US military assets used to wage the war in Iraq. But the regime has come under criticism from US officials and “pro-Israel” commentators for its support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is hard to see how a US television network owned by the regime in Qatar will regularly broadcast journalism that is truly adversarial to its close ally, the US government, or air commentary that offends influential political factions in the US.
It’s certainly possible that Al Jazeera America can provide unique and important journalism: networks owned by governments can and do produce real journalism. American cable news – drowning in mindlessly partisan outlets that are endlessly focused on trivial Beltway gossip, along with the fear-driven pointlessness of CNN – could certainly use an independent and intrepid journalistic competitor. Al Jazeera English has some outstanding, fearless journalists and produces some high-quality shows. But that will only happen if it remains independent of the Qatari regime’s foreign policy aims and is free to risk offending and alienating powerful people: the hallmark of good journalism. That’s what makes its silent deletion of Massad’s Op-Ed so alarming and disappointing: it signals that the network is being driven by exactly the corrupting fears that preclude meaningful, independent journalism.
For his part, Massad is convinced that it is Al Jazeera’s imminent entrance into the US television market that caused the deletion of his Op-Ed. He wrote to me by email:
“It seems to me that if any media outlet, which still holds on to any expression of ideas that deviates from the established ‘truths’ of the American mainstream press, seeks to enter the US mainstream market, it will have to pay the heavy price of surrendering its right to air out such ideas and submit to the highly restrictive political line of the mainstream American media, especially on Israel. AJE has clearly shown that it is willing to pay such a price.
“When in the past Al-Jazeera resisted paying such a price, its journalists were targeted and killed by the US invading forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it was refused entry into the American system by refusing it cable access. The road of concessions began in the middle of the last decade when Arabic Aljazeera TV under an inordinate amount of US pressure stopped referring to the US invading forces in Iraq as ‘American forces’ but, as the US dictated, as ‘Coalition forces.’ It has been a slippery slope since then.
“Surprisingly, however, when Al-Jazeera changed its editorial line from one that was critical of US policies and interventions in the Arab world following the Libyan and Syrian uprisings, I criticized them harshly in an interview with the Washington Post, but they continued to welcome my articles. When I criticized the Qatari Emir in the second article I wrote for them, I was not censored, and when I harshly criticized Qatari foreign policy since the Arab uprisings began, which I did in a number of articles, I was also not censored.
“It is ironic, though not shocking, that it was my criticisms of Israel and its Western allies that would be banned. . . . essentially neutralizing the remaining critical edge which made Al-Jazeera popular inside and outside the United States.”
The way in which corporate influences on media outlets – in ownership, in the need for advertisers, in not offending cable carriers – restrict the range of permissible debate is a complex and vital topic. But whatever else is true, this episode provides a fairly potent illustration of how corrupting and restrictive those influences can be.

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