Obama’s Syria Gambit: New “War Powers” Can Expand Military Action Against Assad Government

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By Timothy Alexander Guzman Global Research, February 13, 2015 Silent Crow News 12 February 2015 In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a written statement that “The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad … Continue reading

Netherlands Opposition Party Has Documents Proving Turkey Sent Arms to Al Qaeda Terrorists in Syria

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By Global Research News Global Research, January 24, 2015 Today’s Zaman The Dutch opposition Christian Democratic Party (CDA) announced that it has confidential documents proving that Turkey had sent weapons to al-Qaeda militants in Syria and that it conveyed the … Continue reading

Turkey: Military Says Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT) Shipped Weapons to Al-Qaeda – Government Bans Reporting

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By Fehim Taştekin Global Research, January 21, 2015 Al-Monitor 15 January 2015 According to information published on and then banned from the Internet in Turkey, on Jan. 19, 2014, the prosecutor of an Adana court instructed the Adana Provincial Gendarmerie … Continue reading

Militants raze Muslim holy site in northwest Syria

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This file photo shows a destroyed historical monument in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo. Foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants have destroyed the centuries-old mausoleum of a Sufi Muslim saint in Syria’s troubled northwestern province of Aleppo. Hessam Hout, a religious scholar, said … Continue reading

Sydney Sheikh believed responsible for Syrian massacres, kidnappings

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Researchers, officials and residents hold Sydney Sheikh Fedaa Majzoub responsible for two appalling massacres and kidnappings in Northern Syria. Worse, the sectarian sheikh has for some time enjoyed protection from the Australian media as well as from some political figures. … Continue reading

Reports reveal scale of destruction of Syria’s world historic heritage

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By Jean Shaoul 29 December 2014 In recent days, reports from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) have revealed extensive destruction and looting of Syria’s archaeological sites … Continue reading

The Islamic State’s (ISIS) Bloody Footprints Lead From NATO Territory

Global Research, December 18, 2014

syria-natoIt was reported recently that Germany’s broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) investigated what turned out to be hundreds of trucks a day carrying billions of dollars in supplies,  flowing into Syria and directly into the hands of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS). 

Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has played a pivotal role in the destabilization and destruction of neighboring Syria. Since 2011, Turkey has allowed its territory to be used as a transit and staging point for sectarian terrorists flowing from around the world and into Syria in what could be described as a defacto NATO invasion by proxy.

In 2011, after the Libyan conflict drew to an end in favor of NATO, terrorists it had armed and provided air cover for in North Africa were promptly shipped to Turkey where they then slipped into Syria to engage the Syrian government and its military. Since then, an untold number of terrorists have used not only Turkey as a staging ground, but also Lebanon and Jordan.

In addition to literal terrorists being harbored in NATO territory, security agencies of NATO members including the US and UK, have been active along the Turkish-Syrian border arming, funding. and equipping what they call “moderate rebels.” These moderate rebels have recently been revealed as affiliates of or organized directly organized beneath both Al Qaeda and ISIS.

DW’s report does not implicate merely Turkey in aiding and abetting ISIS, but exposes the fact that ISIS’ supply lines lead from within NATO itself – in other words, ISIS is a creation, perpetuation, and agent of NATO.

Contrary to Western propaganda, Al Qaeda was intentionally organized and directed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to engage in a regional confrontation aimed at Iran and its powerful arc of influence. Exposed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article,  “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” it was stated explicitly that (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

Clearly, ISIS is the verbatim fulfillment of Hersh’s 2007 warning.

And while some may question what took place between 2007 and the current disposition of ISIS today, those documenting the ongoing conflict in Syria starting in 2011 have noted substantial and continued state sponsorship of militants fighting in the Syrian conflict, many of which are now confirmed to be operating under the banner of ISIS.

Headlines over the past 3-4 years including, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” “First Syria rebels armed and trained by CIA ‘on way to battlefield’,” “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” and “Official says CIA-funded weapons have begun to reach Syrian rebels; rebels deny receipt,” reveal ongoing Western support, bridging the gap between the conspiracy exposed by Hersh in 2007 and the current torrent of supplies flowing to ISIS via NATO territory.

It is clear that the ISIS threat was NATO all along, the culmination of a conspiracy spanning at least two US Presidential administrations, and resulting in a regional conflict marked by some of the most horrific barbarism documented in modern history.

With NATO feeding the ISIS threat directly, no serious attempt to destroy ISIS in either Syria or Iraq can be attempted without first cutting its supply lines leading from NATO territory. Clearly the United States, NATO, or regional partners like Israel, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia have any intention of doing so. As indicated by DW’s report, Kurds operating on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border are attempting to seal off the flow of supplies leading from NATO territory.

The Syrian Arab Army, the Iranian forces supporting anti-ISIS fighters in Syrian territory, and the allies of both countries must insist that strict resolutions are passed to secure the border and stem the flow of ISIS’ lifeline. A clearly worded resolution, if voted down by the likes of the US and its NATO accomplices, will expose further the true nature of ISIS and the misanthropic agenda of the West it is a manifestation of.

If the West capitulates and the resolution is passed, further steps toward arming and aiding the Syrian and Iranian governments and their various allies in the securing of the Turkish-Syrian border can be made. From there, the proxy war engineered and executed by the West which has engulfed the region for years, may finally be brought to an end.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-bloody-footprints-lead-from-nato-territory/5420408

U.S. Has Given Up On The Fee Syrian Army

By Moon Of Alabama

December 14, 2014 “ICH” – The U.S. has given up on the Fee Syrian Army in the north of Syria:The United States has stopped paying most of the pro-western rebels fighting in northern Syria and has suspended the delivery of arms to them, rebel commanders told McClatchy Tuesday.

Some of the FSA mercenaries, now no longer getting paid, are joining jihadi groups:

As many as 800 to 1,000 fighters from U.S.-vetted rebel groups already have joined Nusra, …

The stop of support in the north is confirmed by additional reports. That this is likely real can also be seen in the number of arms video posted. The U.S. gave TOW anti-tank missiles to the mercenaries but demanded video uploads to prove their use. Eliot Higgins, though not always trustworthy,counted these numbers:

TOW videos posted by the opposition by month Apr 9 May 16 Jun 16 Jul 37 Aug 35 Sep 44 Oct 58 Nov 26 Dec 3

The U.S. is still paying for some small FSA groups within Aleppo city but these are now surrounded by the Syrian Arab Army and unlikely to be able to hold their positions. Their hold of Aleppo city is politically symbolic and therefore something the U.S. wants them to keep. It is the reason why the UN envoy is trying to negotiate a ceasefire for Aleppo. Syria and Russia are playing along but Aleppo will likely be completely in government hands before any ceasefire is reached.

It is also noteworthy that some “western” media are no longer friendly with the FSA and that its atrocities are now finally “news”: Syrian rebel ‘hell cannons’ kill 300 civilians: monitoring group

The “rebel” position in the south, supported by the U.S. through Jordan and Israel, is different. There Jabhat al-Nusra is leading a southern attack directed against Damascus disguised under the FSA mantle:

As part of the attempt to surround Damascus, al-Nusra Front was able to continue a simultaneous offensive to the south of the capital. The offensive led to significant advances in Dara’a province, including the taking of the government’s military base in Dara’a city. Because Dara’a borders directly on Damascus province (Rif Dimashq), these advances set up a future offensive into Damascus proper.

The official FSA mercenaries in the south have announced another alliance but this one. like many of the older ones, will fail. The U.S. knows that al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in Syria, is the dominant force in the south and is, unlike in the north, supporting these al-Qaeda affiliates.  Colonel Pat Lang remarked

I have been told that the nearly complete collapse of the unicorn army of FSA moderates has caused the US to covertly approach Nusra with a proposal to offer support if Nusra will scale back its IS-like habit of butchering its enemies when they are captured. That would include a more tolerant attitude toward US journalists.

A leopard does not change its spots and Nusra does not stop its beheadings. A video from Sheik Miskeen, a town halfway between Jordan and Damascus which is currently the center of fight in the south, shows dead Syrian soldiers who were beheaded after Nusra, with the help two large suicide vehicle bombs, captured a military housing area.

U.S. support for the Nusra attack in the south is directed by the CIA in Jordan. But the training program in Jordan and the support may also stop soon as the money for these programs is running out. Congress at least no longer supports these “adventures”:

As Congress struggles to pass a bill to fund the government for the rest of the year, one curious and significant item was left on the cutting room floor: a request from the Barack Obama administration for $300 million to expand the secret CIA program to arm the “moderate” Syrian rebels.

I expect that the attacks in the south will soon run out of steam. The U.S. knows that its side in the war, the Fee Syrian Army as well as Jabhat al-Nusra, can not win:

In a grim assessment of the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday that the country’s armed opposition will not be able to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad now or in the foreseeable future, despite the existence of a Pentagon program to train and equip 5,000 rebels per year.

The Pentagon is deliberately walking very slow with that train and equip program. It may well end before it achieves any results.

The only enemies left to fight for the Syrian Arab Army are remnants of the FSA/Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.

The Islamic State has achieved nothing in its campaign on the Kurdish enclave Kobane. The Kurds are holding their positions and while it is sad that the city gets destroyed through the fighting the Islamic State is losing lots of materials and people. The U.S., which is supporting the Kurds in Kobane with a few air attacks, wants to keep it that way. Kobane is used to destroy wave after wave of Islamic State attack groups and to exhaust its reserves. The Islamic State has looked for new targets in east Syria and decided to attack the military airport in Deir Ezzor, held by the Syrian army. Several waves of attacks with suicide bombers and lots of IS infantry have had no success there. Deir Ezzor is well supplied and well defended and will be another point where IS is using up its reserves.

The U.S. has given up on the attacks in north Syria. In the south its support for Jabhat al-Nusra is indefensible on political and moral grounds. It will have to stop before it attracts more public scrutiny. Otherwise some Republicans in Congress may find that direct support for al-Qaeda by the Obama administration is an impeachable offense.

Soon the Islamic State will be the only significant threat left to fight in Syria. But the Islamic State is loosing large parts of its energy (and money) due to heavy losses in fights on several fronts. It is still a serious enemy and may achieve this or that surprise. But I doubt that it is an existential threat to the Syrian government and the Syrian people.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40468.htm

Israeli bombing of Syria threatens wider war

By Bill Van Auken

9 December 2014

Israeli air strikes conducted against Syria on Sunday constitute a provocative and criminal act of military aggression that poses the threat of widening the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria across the region.

The Syrian government accused Israel of sending warplanes to bomb targets near the Damascus international airport as well as the Dimas area near the Lebanese border.

State-owned Al Ikhbariya television charged “the Israeli enemy committed a heinous attack by targeting two peaceful areas in the Damascus countryside.” It said that there were no casualties in the air strikes.

The Syrian foreign ministry called upon the United Nations Security Council to condemn the attacks and to impose immediate sanctions against Israel, actions which Washington, with its veto power on the council, is certain to block.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad charged that the Israeli strikes represented direct support for the Islamist militias in Syria such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front.

“Syria calls for imposing deterrent measures against Israel, which didn’t hide its pro-terrorism policies and its premeditated intentions against Syria,” the ministry’s letter to the UN stated.

Israel, following its standard policy, refused to comment on “foreign reports,” neither confirming nor denying the attacks. The bombing raids represented at least the eighth time that Israeli warplanes have struck inside Syrian territory since the Western-backed war for regime change began in 2011.

These attacks have been justified by Israeli officials in the name of destroying missiles and other weaponry supposedly bound for Hezbollah, the Shia-based movement in Lebanon, or in retaliation for shells fired across the disputed Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights. While this fire has generally come from the Islamist anti-government militias, Israel has invariably directed its own fire at government troops.

Israel occupied Syria’s Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war, and in 1981 illegally annexed the area.

There have been varying accounts of what the Israeli strikes were targeting. Pro-Israeli and Syrian “rebel” sources have claimed that it was Iranian missiles and other weaponry destined for Hezbollah. Lebanese television, however, said that one of the facilities struck was a Syrian intelligence facility that was being used by Iran.

Syrian state media said that the strikes were aimed at Russian anti-aircraft weaponry. Tel Aviv had previously warned that it would prevent Syria from deploying Russia’s advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. While Moscow agreed to sell the systems to Syria in 2007, earlier this year it announced that it was canceling further delivery of the weapons.

The DEBKA web site, which has close ties to the Israeli military intelligence complex, cited “Middle East military and intelligence sources” as describing the raids as “Israel’s first overt military clash with Russia in the course of the more than three-year Syrian war.”

“Those sources assert that the strikes demolished components of Russian SA-25 or other types of top-line anti-air missile systems that Moscow had destined for Syria and” Hezbollah, the report stated. “Russian transport planes are said to have shipped these consignments in the last few days to the military section of Damascus international airport.”

The Russian government sharply condemned the attacks, denouncing Israel’s “aggressive action” in a letter to the United Nations and insisting that such attacks should not be reported.

“Moscow is deeply worried by this dangerous development, the circumstances of which demand an explanation,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

Iran’s and Syria’s foreign ministers met in Tehran Monday and publicly denounced the attacks. “This move is [aimed at] boosting the morale of terrorist groups which are suffering very serious blows from the resistance of the Syrian and Iraqi people,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

He warned that the entire Middle East is confronting a “big regional and global crisis.”

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem charged that Israel was attempting to offset defeats on the ground suffered by the Western-backed “rebels.”

Israel is clearly banking on the ongoing conflict within Syria preventing Damascus from striking back over the attacks. It nonetheless has placed its forces on Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon on a state of alert.

In a comment published in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Amos Harel wrote that the latest raid was “exceptional from at least three aspects: It is done after Hezbollah had made effort to define new game rules opposite Israel in the northern front, it takes place after the international community had changed its order of priorities in relation to the war in Syria (from toppling Assad first to defeating his opponents from ISIS now) and this is the first time that Israel seemingly acts in Syria since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared his intention to go for elections.”

Syrian officials have charged that Netanyahu launched the attack in part to boost his prospects for reelection in the vote scheduled for March.

The Syrian and Iranian charges that Israel is actively seeking to aid the ISIS and Al Nusra Front forces inside Syria have received substantiation from the United Nations, which made public reports issued by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which patrols the cease-fire line in the Golan Heights, indicating continuous Israeli contact with and aid to the so-called rebels.

A report issued by UNDOF in June 2014, for example, cited 59 incidents at a Syrian-Israeli crossing point known as Position 85 in which the UN forces “observed armed members of the opposition transferring 89 wounded persons from the Bravo [Syrian] side across the ceasefire line to IDF and IDF on the Alpha [Israeli] side handing over 19 treated and 2 deceased individuals to the armed members of the opposition on the Bravo side.”

Nor is the contact limited to medical aid. The report added that “on one occasion, UNDOF observed IDF on the Alpha side handing over two boxes to armed members of the opposition on the Bravo side.”

Israel’s i24news web site cited records from the country’s Ministry of Health revealing that at least 1,000 Syrians have been treated at four hospitals in the north of Israel, many of them fighters.

The news network added that last month Israel’s Druze minority carried out a public protest against the country’s aid to ISIS and the Al Nusra Front fighters, which are viewed as a mortal threat to Druze communities in both Syria and Lebanon.

The Israeli action could have other motives as well. Tel Aviv is strongly opposed to the negotiations to reach a nuclear settlement with Iran and can only be further agitated over the fact that US and Iranian warplanes are simultaneously attacking the Islamist forces inside Syria. The latest intervention may well be aimed at provoking a conflict that could disrupt any rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.

It is certain that the raids have been watched closely by the Pentagon, serving as a means of gauging Syria’s air defense systems in advance of any move to impose a much-debated no-fly buffer zone in northern Syria on the Turkish border.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/09/syri-d09.html

UN Reveals Israeli Links With Syrian Rebels

Reports by UN observers in the Golan submitted to 15 members of Security Council detail regular contact between IDF officers and armed Syrian opposition figures at the border.

By Barak Ravid

December 08, 2014 “ICH” – “Haaretz” – Reports by UN observers in the Golan Heights over the past 18 months reveal the type and extent of cooperation between Israel and Syrian opposition figures. The reports, submitted to the 15 members of the UN Security Council and available on the UN’s website, detail regular contacts held on the border between IDF officers and soldiers and Syrian rebels.

The observer force, UNDOF, was established in 1974 as part of the separation of forces agreement between Israel and Syria. The agreement set up a buffer zone several kilometers wide. About 1,000 UN observers supervised the implementation of the agreement until 2013, when the Syrian civil war severely reduced the force’s ability to function.

While Croatia and Austria pulled out and Ireland, Fiji and India agreed to send troops, the increase of attacks on UN forces in recent months caused the force to abandon many of its positions along the front and to transfer its command to the Israeli side of the border.

The observers have continued to file reports to New York, which were relatively mundane; but their content changed in March 2013, when Israel started admitting injured Syrians for medical treatment in Safed and Nahariya hospitals. The Syrian ambassador to the UN complained of widespread cooperation between Israel and Syrian rebels, not only treatment of the wounded but also other aid.

Israel at first asserted the injured were civilians reaching the border of their own initiative and without prior coordination because they could not obtain suitable treatment in Syria. Later, as the numbers increased, Israel said it was coordinating with civilians but not opposition groups. However, the reports reveal direct contact between the IDF and armed opposition members.

According to a report from December 3, 2013, a person wounded on September 15 “was taken by armed members of the opposition across the ceasefire line, where he was transferred to a civilian ambulance escorted by an IDF vehicle.” Moreover, from November 9 to 19 the “UNDOF observed at least 10 wounded persons being transferred by armed members of the opposition from the Bravo side across the ceasefire line to IDF.”

Further reports indicated similar incidents. However, cooperation between the IDF and Syrian rebels that was revealed in UN observer reports does not just include transferring the wounded. Observers remarked in the report distributed on June 10 that they identified IDF soldiers on the Israeli side handing over two boxes to armed Syrian opposition members on the Syrian side.

The last report distributed to Security Council members, on December 1, described another meeting between IDF soldiers and Syrian opposition members that two UN representatives witnessed on October 27 some three kilometers east of Moshav Yonatan. The observers said they saw two IDF soldiers on the eastern side of the border fence opening the gate and letting two people enter Israel. The report, contrary to previous ones, did not note that the two exiting Syria were injured or why they entered Israel.

This specific event is of particular interest in light of what happened on the Syrian side of the border in the exact same region. According to the report, UN observers stated that tents were set up about 300 meters from the Israeli position for some 70 families of Syrian deserters. The Syrian army sent a letter of complaint to UNDOF in September, claiming this tent camp was a base for “armed terrorists” crossing the border into Israel. The Syrians also warned that if the UN would not evacuate the tent camp, the Syrian army would view it as a legitimate target.

Copyright Haaretz

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40414.htm

Israel Bombs Syria … Again: Hits Agricultural Centers, Warehouses

Global Research, December 08, 2014

War-against-Syria-400x300On Sunday December 7, Israel reportedly launched airstrikes inside Syria yet again, this time very close to Damascus in the area near Damascus International airport. Israeli airstrikes also took place in the town of Dimas which is located close to the Lebanese border.

At this time, Israel has yet to comment on the airstrikes.

Syrian state television has stated that “The Israeli enemy committed aggression against Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, in all of Dimas and near the Damascus International Airport.”

State news agency SANA also stated that the strikes were a “flagrant attack on Syria.”

Lebanese state news agencies have reported that Israeli jets “breached its airspace” on Sunday.

Reuters reports that “Residents in Damascus said they heard loud explosions and opposition activists posted photos online of jet streams in the evening sky and fiery explosions. Syria’s army general command said on state television that there were “material losses in some facilities.” It said the strike benefited al Qaeda.”

Further reports suggest that the targets of the Israeli jets were an agricultural airport in Dimas and an import-export warehouse in Damascus. Both of these locations are under control of the Syrian military and involve supplies and food greatly needed for the Syrian people.

These targets, of course, fit in with the larger trend of both Israeli and American airstrikes in Syria in the past that have targeted civilian locations, Syrian infrastructure, Syrian oil refineries, and, particularly, food centers such as grain silos.

While airstrikes are conducted under the guise of defeating ISIS, the fact is that these airstrikes have done little to even inconvenience the terrorist organization which itself is funded, directed, trained, armed, and controlled by the U.S., NATO, and the GCC. The airstrikes have been largely aimed at Syrian military interests as well as necessities of the Syrian people.

The attacks come as the Western-backed forces of the Islamic State launched a major assault on the Syrian air base in Deir el-Zour. That attack was ultimately repelled and defeated by the Syrian army.

This is by no means the first time that Israel has attacked Syria in support of the Western-backed terrorists or even the first time that it has done so in coordination with them.

For instance, on October 30, 2013, Israel attacked and completely destroyed a Syrian air defense base in Snobar Jableh, Syria which is located near Latakia, a port city on the coast of the Mediterranean. The base was alleged to have housed a surface-to-air missile battery.

It is also known that Israel launched attacks against Syrian forces and military convoys at least four times prior to the October 30 attack.

As recently as June, 2014, Israel launched a series of airstrikes against Syrian military positions under the pretext of retaliation for a cross-border attack which was almost certainly initiated by death squad fighters whose logistical inadequacy spilled over into Israeli occupied territory in the Golan Heights. Given the questionable circumstances surrounding the justifying incident – the killing of an Israeli teenager by an alleged anti-tank missile – one would be justified in questioning the Israeli story.

While the occasional attack on Syrian territory is bad enough, the fact is that Israel has apparently coordinated these attacks with the death squad directors on the ground so as to provide cover fire and diversions for death squad “swarming” and jihadist invasions.

For instance, in May 2013, WABC host and best-selling author Aaron Klein stated that an Israeli airstrike in Syria was closely coordinated with Turkey which, in turn, helped coordinate the death squad attacks to occur at the exact same time as the Israeli airstrikes. The sources speaking to Klein came from Jordanian and Egyptian intelligence agencies.

Klein wrote,

Israel’s air strike in Syria today was coordinated with Turkey, which in turn coordinated rebel attacks throughout Syria timed to coincide with the Israeli strike, according to Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence sources speaking to KleinOnline. The sources said the rebels did not know about the Israeli strike in advance but instead were given specific instructions for when to begin today’s major assaults against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “Almost the moment the Israel Air Force departed was the moment the rebel advance began,” added the Egyptian intelligence source. Multiple reports have noted how the Syrian rebels consist in large part of al-Qaida-linked jihad groups. The Egyptian and Jordanian sources described how immediately after today’s Israeli air strike the jihadist rebels used access roads to advance toward Damascus and began heavy clashes with Syrian military forces throughout the country.

Some have speculated that Israel’s continued incursions into Syrian territory is not only an attempt to weaken the military forces of the Syrian government and support the terrorists operating inside the country but to cause Syria’s air defense system to light up and give away its concealed positions. Regardless, Israel has once again demonstrated how it is, in reality, the most volatile state in the Middle East despite its claims to the contrary.

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) gmail.com. 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/israel-bombs-syria-again-hits-ag-centers-warehouses/5418666

Do You Fear Facing The Same Fate As Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi?

Interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

By Régis Le Sommier in Damascus

The Full Paris Match interview of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, granted in Damascus on November 28th. 

Paris Match: Mr. President, three years into this war, and considering how things have turned out, do you regret that you haven’t managed things differently at the beginning, with the appearance of the first signs of the revolution in March 2011? Do you feel that you are responsible for what happened?

Bashar el Assad: Even in the first days of the events, there were martyrs from the army and the police; so, since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism. It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number. In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There’s no other choice. We cannot say that we regret fighting terrorism since the early days of this crisis. However, this doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made in practice. There are always mistakes. Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different. If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the events had internal causes.

Paris Match: Your army is blamed for its excessive use of force during this war. Why are civilians shelled?
Bashar el Assad : When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people, with dialogue?! The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians. There’s no reason to shell civilians. If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time, and fighting the states which stand against us and which support terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey, and the West, how could we stand for four years? If we haven’t been defending the people, we wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure. Consequently, saying that we are shelling civilians doesn’t make any sense.

Paris Match: Satellite imagery of the cities of Homs and Hama show completely destroyed neighborhoods; and the United Nations, of which your country is a member, talks about 190,000 people having been killed in this war. Were all the people in those neighborhoods terrorists?
Bashar el Assad : First of all, you need to verify the figures provided by the United Nations. What are the sources of these figures? The figures being circulated in the world, particularly in the media, are exaggerated and inaccurate. Second, images of destruction are not only obtained through satellite images, they are there actually on the ground, and they are accurate. When terrorists enter a certain region and occupy it, the army has to liberate it, and there is a battle. So, naturally, there is destruction. But in most cases, when terrorists enter a certain area, civilians flee from it. In fact, the largest number of victims in Syria is among the supporters of the state, not the other way round; and a large number of those were killed in terrorist attacks. Of course, when you have war and terrorism innocent people die. This happens everywhere in the world. But it is impossible for a state to target civilians.

Paris Match: According to the United Nations too, there are three million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, what amounts to one eighth of Syria’s population. Are all those allied with terrorists?
Bashar el Assad : No, no. Those who left Syria are generally people who left because of terrorism. There are those who support terrorism, and there are those who support the state but left because of the security situation. There is also a significant number of those who do not support any side.

Paris Match: From a military perspective, do you have the means which enable you to win this war?
President Assad: Now we are fighting states, not only gangs. Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs. They receive arms from different countries, including Turkey. So, it is not an easy war from a military perspective. Nevertheless, the Syrian Army is winning in many places. On the other hand, no one can say how this war will end or when. But the major war for them in the beginning was how to win the hearts of the Syrians; and they have lost this war. The communities which embraced terrorists have become very small, and that is the reason why the army is winning. So, we have to look at this war militarily, socially, and politically.

Paris Match: But they haven’t lost yet, since half your territories are out of your control.
Bashar el Assad : The Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence everywhere, and it’s impossible for it to be everywhere. Consequently, in any place that the Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence, terrorists cross the borders and enter that region. But the Syrian Army has been able to regain control over any region it decided to enter. This is not a war between two armies where you can say that they took a certain part and we took another part. The war now is not like that. We are talking about terrorist groups which suddenly infiltrate a city or a village. That’s why it’s going to be a long and difficult war.

Paris Match: Many people say that the solution lies in your departure. Do you believe that your departure is the solution?
Bashar el Assad :  The president of any state in the world takes office through constitutional measures and leaves office through constitutional measures as well. No President can be installed or deposed through chaos. The tangible evidence for this is the outcome of the French policy when they attacked Gaddafi. What was the result? Chaos ensued after Gaddafi’s departure. So, was his departure the solution? Have things improved, and has Libya become a democracy? The state is like a ship; and when there is a storm, the captain doesn’t run away and leave his ship to sink. If passengers on that ship decided to leave, the captain should be the last one to leave, not the first.

Paris Match: This means that the captain is prepared to die. You talked about Gaddafi. Do you fear facing the same fate and to meet your death like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi?
Bashar el Assad : A captain doesn’t think of life and death, he thinks of saving his ship. If the ship sinks, everybody will die, so we would rather save the country. But I want to stress an important point here. Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis. But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles.

Paris Match: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?
Bashar el Assad : In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages. Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition. This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?

Paris Match: The Syrians we meet in Damascus talk about sleeping Jihadi cells in the West more than they talk about the war against ISIS. Isn’t that strange?
Bashar el Assad : Terrorism is an ideology, not an organization or a structure; and ideology doesn’t acknowledge any borders. 20 years ago, terrorism used to be exported from our region, particularly from Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia. Now, it is coming to our region from Europe, especially from France. The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria are French; and you had a number of incidents in France. There was also an attack in Belgium against a Jewish museum. So, terrorism in Europe is no longer asleep, it is being awakened.

Paris Match: The Americans, in their war against ISIS, are tactical allies. Do you still think that their intervention constitutes a violation of national sovereignty?
Bashar el Assad : First, you said that it is tactical, and this is an important point. You know that tactics without a strategy do not produce results, so it will not defeat terrorism. It is an illegal intervention, first because it is not authorized by a Security Council resolution, and second because it did not respect the sovereignty of a state, Syria, in this case. So, it is an illegal intervention, and consequently constitutes a violation of sovereignty.

Paris Match: According to Agence France Presse, your air forces made at least 2,000 sorties in 40 days, and this is a huge number. When your aircraft cross the alliance’s aircraft, for instance on their way to shell Raqqa, do you coordinate or do you have a non-aggression agreement?
Bashar el Assad : There is no direct coordination. We attack terrorism everywhere, regardless of what the United States, or the alliance it leads, is doing. You might find it strange that the number of daily Syrian air strikes against terrorists is larger than that launched by the alliance. There’s no coordination; and at the same time you need to realize that the alliance’s airstrikes are merely cosmetic.

Paris Match: But these airstrikes are helping you, and one reason why U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel resigned is that he believed that they support your government and your positions.
Bashar el Assad : Don’t you see that this question contradicts the earlier question, in which you said that we support ISIS? This means that we are ISIS’s enemies.

Paris Match: I said that some people say, sometimes, that you have supported ISIS to divide the opposition.
Bashar el Assad : And I didn’t mean “you” by my remark, I meant “those” people.

assad.jpe_inside_full_content_pm_v8

Bashar al-Assad and Paris Match reporter Régis Le Sommier © Paris Match

Paris Match: Since one result of the alliance’s airstrikes, from an American perspective, was Chuck Hagel’s resignation, do you think that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping you?
Bashar el Assad : Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes. That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction. And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true. Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us. But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground, and we haven’t felt any change, particularly that Turkey is still extending direct support to ISIS in those regions.

Paris Match: On July 14th, 2008, you stood on the presidential podium in the Champs Elysees on the sidelines of the Mediterranean summit. Today, the French government considers you an outcast. How do you feel about that?
Bashar el Assad : The good relationship which extended from 2008 to 2011 was not based on a French initiative. It had two sides: the first was an American effort to make the French government influence the Syrian role, particularly in relation to Iran. The second side was a result of Qatar urging France to improve relations with Syria. So, the good relations with France had American and Qatari motives and were not the product of an independent will. Today, there is no difference since both administrations, I mean those of Sarkozy and Hollande, are not independent.

Paris Match: Francois Hollande still considers you an opponent. Do you believe that you can revive relations with him some time in the future?
Bashar el Assad: The issue has nothing to do with personal relations, for I don’t know him to start with. It has to do with relations between states and institutions, relations based on the interests of two nations. When there is any French official, or French government, seeking mutual interests, we will deal with them. But this administration is acting equally against the interests of our people and against the interests of the French people. As for him considering me a personal enemy, I don’t see the logic of that. I’m not competing with Hollande for anything. I believe that Hollande’s competitor in France now is ISIS, because his popularity is close to that of ISIS.

Paris Match: Are there chemical weapons in Syria today, yes or no?
Bashar el Assad : No. When we announced this, it was a clear announcement, and when we decided to abandon chemical weapons, our decision was final.

Paris Match: But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accuses you of violating the agreement because you used chlorine. Is that true?
Bashar el Assad : You can find chlorine in any house in Syria. Everyone has chlorine, and any group can use it. But we haven’t used it because we have traditional weapons which are more effective than chlorine, and we do not need to use it. We are fighting terrorists, and using traditional weapons without concealing that or being shy about it. So, we don’t need chlorine. These accusations do not surprise us; for when did the Americans say anything true about the crisis in Syria?

Paris Match: Have you used chemical weapons?
Bashar el Assad : We haven’t used this kind of weapons; and had we used it anywhere, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people would have died. It’s impossible for these weapons to kill, as it was claimed last year, only one hundred people or two hundred people, particularly in areas where hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, of Syrians live.

Paris Match: In your latest visit to Paris in November 2010, I conducted an interview with your wife, Mrs. Asmaa al-Assad. Do you miss traveling outside the borders of your country?
Bashar el Assad : Traveling is not one of my hobbies anyway; and my visits were not for tourism, but for work. What I truly miss is Syria as it was. This is what we miss. And of course we miss the existence of a different world, a world which has logical and moral relations. At that time, we used to have great expectations for the development of our region, for more intellectual openness. We used to believe that France, with its cultural heritage, is the country which is most capable of playing this role with Syria in the Middle East.

Paris Match: Your wife used to consider herself an ambassador of modernity. How does she live in Syria, and how does she feel about what is happening in Syria, particularly that she hasn’t left the country?
Bashar el Assad : Like all Syrians, she feels pain. Both of us feel pain for the destruction and the blood we see in Syria, to see Syria going backwards decades and not years. It’s painful to see the country which used to be one of the top five countries in the world in terms of security become a safe haven for terrorists. It is also painful for both my wife and I to see our belief that the West will help us in our bid for development and openness go in the opposite direction, and what is even worse, to see the West having allies among these medieval states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Paris Match: People describe you as being very close to your children. How do you explain to them what is happening to your country when you return home in the evening?
Bashar el Assad : Of course, this discussion goes on in every Syrian house now; and the most difficult thing in this discussion is when you deal with children whose social consciousness has developed during this crisis. There are two basic questions asked, not only in our family but in many families. The first question: how can people who believe or say they are defending God and Islam kill and murder? This is a case which is not easy to explain, and children ask whether these people know that they are wrong. And the answer here is that there are those who know but make use of religion for private purposes, and there are ignorant people who do not know that religion is good. They think, instead, that religion means killing.

The second question: why does the West launch an aggression against us, and why does it support terrorists and destruction? Of course, they do not say the West in general, they specify certain countries, including the United States, France, and Britain. Why do they do that? Have we done anything to hurt them? We also explain to them that people are something, and states are something else.

© Copyright Paris Match 2013. Tous droits réservés.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40394.htm

Pentagon in Denial About Killing Civilian in Iraq and Syria

U.S. and allied forces have reportedly killed dozens of civilians in airstrikes while bombing the Islamic State. But the Defense Department refuses to take responsibility.

By Chris Woods

December 05, 2014 “ICH” – “FP” – The Pentagon accepts that with hundreds of allied bombings aimed at Islamic State targets since August, there is a “continued risk inherent in these strikes” for civilians on the ground. But that doesn’t mean the United States will offer compensation if it kills them.

The United States is not planning to grant compensation for civilians killed in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, Foreign Policy has learned, despite claims by credible groups that at least 100 noncombatants may already have died in the 16 weeks of U.S.-led bombings.

The decision, confirmed by a senior spokesman for U.S. Central Command (Centcom), the military command organization in charge of the air war, marks a significant departure from recent conflicts, in which payments have regularly been made to civilians negatively impacted by U.S. military actions.

Washington continues to insist it cannot confirm a single noncombatant death from more than 1,100 airstrikes against Islamic State targets — despite a number of apparently well-documented cases of error or collateral damage in both Iraq and Syria.

America’s 11 allies in the air war in Syria and Iraq may be no better placed to help. “If a claim of civilian casualties were found valid, that claim would be processed in accordance with the laws of the nation that conducted the strike,” a Centcom spokesman told FP. But for civilians on the ground, it is often impossible to attribute responsibility.

Eight coalition members — including Denmark, the Netherlands, and the three Arab partners — currently refuse to say publicly where in Syria or Iraq they are bombing. Although Centcom releases information on airstrikes, its statements only say whether allies participated in the strikes, not where they took place.

Justifying its own decision to keep strike locations in Iraq secret, a spokesperson for the Australian Defence Force told FP that it “will not release information that could be distorted and used against Australia in [Islamic State] propaganda.”

Centcom is now citing a 72-year-old U.S. law for its justification for not awarding compensation in Iraq and Syria. As a spokesman told FP, “For U.S. forces, claims would be processed in accordance with the Foreign Claims Act, which generally does not authorize compensation for damage or injury caused in combat operations.” The Foreign Claims Act is a World War II-era statute that bars the military from compensating for civilians lawfully killed on the battlefield. These can either be noncombatants accidentally killed or civilians caught up in legitimate strikes, for example, on high-value targets.

Yet in other recent U.S. wars, the government has enabled a system of “no-fault” payouts for situations in which civilians were accidentally killed. It was a common-sense recognition of the damage such deaths can do to U.S. war aims, say analysts.

“The U.S. and its allies began making no-fault payments for civilian casualties in Afghanistan after their failure to acknowledge these tragedies created a backlash and handed a recruiting card to groups like the Taliban,” said Letta Tayler, a terrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch. “While states have no international legal obligation to compensate for so-called ‘acceptable collateral damage,’ doing so is the right move morally and strategically.”

A U.S. Defense Department official, speaking to FP on background, claimed that the congressional authorizations that allowed for such payments in Afghanistan and during Operation Iraqi Freedomwere only temporary and do not apply to Syria or Iraq today. That means the government has no choice but to cite the Foreign Claims Act, U.S. officials believe.

Others contest this. The New York-based Center for Civilians in Conflict, an advocacy group, points, for example, to permanent legislation passed by Congress this year designed expressly to ensure that “no-fault” compensation could continue to be paid to victims of any U.S. conflict. The new law is aimed specifically at “matching Washington’s rhetoric for responsible use of force with practical actions,” wrote Sahr Muhammedally, a senior program manager with the center. Campaigners are now wondering why it isn’t being applied to Iraq or Syria.

Multiple partners and secret targets

Despite a common enemy in the Islamic State, two different allied air wars are emerging in the Middle East. In Iraq, only Western countries are bombing. They are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, which the air campaign is in part devoted to propping up. Indeed, both the Pentagon and Britain’s Defense Ministry confirm that allied airstrikes are being cleared in advance with Iraq’s military.

In Syria, only Arab countries — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates — have joined the United States in bombing Islamic State targets. (Qatar and Bahrain participated in the first night of attacks on Sept. 23 but have not since participated in bombing operations.) Bashar al-Assad’s regime does not consent to these bombings, though its air defenses remain dormant.

So far, only the United States is attacking on both sides of the border, and it remains the dominant partner. Latest figures from Centcom show that the United States has carried out around 85 percent of coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Unlike United Nations-sanctioned operations in Afghanistan, the allies in the anti-Islamic State campaign are not part of any formal alliance. It is more a loose “coalition of the willing,” according to one U.S. defense official — an echo of the original Iraq invasion back in 2003. Although the United States has established “coalition standards on targeting and the appropriate use of lethal force, which always must account for the possible risk of civilian casualties,” these are for guidance only, said a Centcom spokesman.

Instead, “each nation participating in the coalition may modify or supplement this coalition guidance, including rules of engagement, with its own ‘caveats,'” the Centcom spokesman told FP. Every one of the 12 countries involved in the air campaign operates “in accordance with its own legal requirements,” according to the spokesperson. Britain’s Defense Ministry, for example, confirmed toFP that “we will not undertake missions [in Iraq] if they do not fall within U.K. [rules of engagement].” Britain’s rules of engagement, like those of all other countries in the alliance, remain classified.

So where does an air war leave civilians when 12 countries fly by 12 different rule books? The Pentagon insists that “no other military in the world works as hard as we do to be precise in our targeting.” And all allies “have implemented significant mitigation measures within the targeting process and during the conduct of operations to reduce the potential of civilian casualties and collateral damage,” according the Centcom spokesman. Yet a number of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria show the difficulty of verifying these assertions.

The difficulty of counting

On Oct. 25, a “US raid on a stronghold of the IS [Islamic State] killed two civilians by mistake,” according to an Iraqi news agency, citing a medical source at a hospital in Mosul, Iraq. The airstrike, the source said, had hit the city’s southern Qayyarah district, and the bodies were taken to the hospital’s morgue.

The Mosul case — one of more than a dozen incidents in which allied aircraft are alleged to have killed Iraqi or Syrian civilians — highlights many of the challenges for advocates who record civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria and the lethal risks that the air war poses to Iraqi and Syrian civilians.

International monitors picked up on the reported civilian fatalities in Mosul via the National Iraqi News Agency (NINA), an independent Iraqi news wire. According to groups tracking civilian deaths in Iraq, NINA is a reputable source; yet monitors are finding it increasingly difficult to independently verify claims of civilian deaths. In part they are simply overwhelmed: the U.K.-based Iraq Body Count, an independent web-based organization, reports almost 16,000 civilian deaths in Iraq so far this year. Where deaths can be attributed, the overwhelming majority have been caused by the Islamic State, but the cause of thousands of deaths cannot so far be attributed to any party.

The Mosul case is one of at least nine in Iraq in which allied aircraft may have caused civilian deaths, according to monitors. On Oct. 5, for example, at least 18 civilians died when a marketplace was bombed in the town of Hit in Anbar province, according to monitors and international media. Centcom has dismissed the claim of civilian deaths in Hit as “false.”

Margaret Griffis, who has helped compile Antiwar.com‘s daily tallies of civilian deaths in Iraq since 2006, said that the quality of casualty reporting depends heavily on location: Outside the ISIS [Islamic State] zones, we’re getting a reasonable idea of the numbers of civilians killed,” she said. “But in areas held by Islamic State? I’m not happy.”

Mosul, which has been occupied by the jihadi group since June, is a case in point. One senior Baghdad-based journalist, who requested anonymity due to security concerns for the staff of the international news agency where the journalist works, told Foreign Policy that while the news agency was aware of reported civilian casualties from an allied airstrike in Mosul on Oct. 25, “we were never able to confirm it.” Local journalists have been a particular target for harassment and murder by the Islamic State, making news-gathering a fraught business and keeping the number of civilian casualties ambiguous.

Centcom’s own daily reports can be of little help. “Are the targets they’re hitting significant? We can be pretty clueless about that,” said the Baghdad-based correspondent.A house might be bombed. Was it empty, occupied; did it contain weapons? We can’t really determine ourselves on a day-to-day basis.”

Human Rights Watch also reports significant problems in following up and confirming reports of civilian deaths. “We have heard, for example, of a family killed in Mosul by a U.S. airstrike. And we’ve tried to verify that claim. But Mosul remains completely inaccessible,” said Erin Evers, the group’s Iraq director, referring to what may be another incident in Mosul.

In these opaque circumstances, say casualty recorders, there is a particular onus on the United States and its allies to declare where and when each bombing in Iraq and Syria takes place — particularly where civilian deaths have been alleged. This is frequently not the case.

The responsibility gap

Of the 15 likely airstrikes examined for this report that allegedly caused civilian casualties, seven took place on days when U.S. forces alone carried out missions or where the United States has claimed sole responsibility for an attack. Reports from independent monitors indicate that 49 or more civilians may have died in such attacks.

Three local Syrian residents, for example, have described to Human Rights Watch the deaths of seven women and children in a U.S. cruise missile strike in Syria’s Idlib province on Sept. 23, whichallegedly targeted the Khorasan Group. Centcom continues to deny any confirmed civilian casualties from the attack.

Another eight airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria reportedly responsible for civilian deaths present significant attribution challenges, with up to four allies participating in attacks on these dates. The refusal of most coalition members to say where they are bombing means some civilians may never know what country was responsible for dropping the bomb that killed their neighbors or families. (Only in one of the 15 incidents of alleged civilian casualties — a Sept. 26 strike in Mosul — were there no allied airstrikes reported in the vicinity by Centcom or its allies.)

The Oct. 25 strike in Mosul, which allegedly killed two civilians, clearly illustrates this problem. Almost one-third of the 600 allied bombings in Iraq to date have targeted Mosul and the surrounding area. Between Oct. 24 and 26 alone, Centcom confirms some 20 allied airstrikes in the area.

That term “airstrike” can be misleading, however. U.S. defense officials concede that what they report as a single incident might involve the targeting of numerous locations. British and Australian statements describe a recent bombing raid on an alleged Islamic State bunker system near Kirkuk that involved 20 aircraft from seven countries and that hit 44 targets. In its own reporting of the incident, Centcom describes just three “strikes.”

Nor can any given target location be assumed to be accurate. While Centcom places all allied airstrikes around Oct. 25 in some 45 miles northwest of Mosul, near the city’s dam, other allied reports prove otherwise. France’s Defense Ministry reported that two of its aircraft dropped four bombs “on a suburb of Mosul” at around midnight, Iraqi time, on the night of Oct. 24.

Other countries might have bombed Mosul that day. Denmark will say only that its air force dropped30 bombs” somewhere in Iraq during the week of Oct. 26 at locations unknown. The Dutch, too, say they released “dozens of bombs” during the week of Oct. 26 at locations unknown.

As the Mosul case demonstrates, it is often impossible for the public to determine which country is bombing where. Justifying Denmark’s position, a Danish military spokesman recently told reporter Rasmus Raun Westh, “One particular attack on one particular area could lead directly back to Danish aircraft. We would rather hide in the crowd.”

A lack of aerial intelligence

A particular risk for civilians in Iraq and Syria today is the low quality of pre- and post-strike intelligence. With few U.S. boots on the ground, there is a near-complete dependence on aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Yet many analysts and even U.S. officials say that U.S. forces are stretched too thin to provide sufficient intelligence.

By the end of October, only 10 weeks into the campaign, the allies had already dropped 500 more bombs and missiles in Iraq and Syria than in Afghanistan across all of 2014. Even so, Air Forces Central Command, the Air Force division of Centcom, reports 9,450 ISR missions over Afghanistan between August and October. During the same period, just 1,140 ISR flights are reported for Iraq and Syria combined.

That situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, with one Air Force official telling theDaily Beast, “As the troops draw down [in Afghanistan], they will need more, not less, ISR.” With so few intelligence-gathering assets to call on, it’s little wonder that a Pentagon spokesman recently described current civilian casualty assessments in the air war against the Islamic State as “inconclusive.”

Centcom’s continuing assertion that it has “no operational reporting or intelligence” confirming civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria, despite more than 1,000 airstrikes to date, is therefore unlikely to be accurate. Indeed, NATO was later forced to retract similar claims at the end of the 2011 Libyan air war after investigations found that dozens of civilians had in fact died in allied airstrikes.

Casualty monitors believe Centcom’s claims are not credible. Iraq Body Count estimates that up to 100 civilians may have died in U.S. and allied airstrikes in Iraq — though these represent less than 2 percent of civilians reported killed in Iraq during the same period, according to the group.

Lily Hamourtziadou, a casualty recorder with Iraq Body Count since 2006, said that of around 6,800 civilians killed in Iraq’s violence since August, more than 2,500 are believed to have died at the hands of the Islamic State and its allies. A further 600 or more civilians have been reportedly killed in aggressive operations by the Iraqi military. Due to the lack of reporting and the chaos of the war, it’s not possible to attribute all of the 6,800 deaths.

Across the border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that has gained a reputation for balanced reporting of Syria’s civil war, uses a network of locals to track civilian and combatant deaths caused by the Assad regime, rebel groups, and now coalition airstrikes. More than 900 people were killed by the United States and its Arab allies in airstrikes between Sept. 23 and Nov. 21, according to the Syrian Observatory. Of these, around 50 were reportedly civilians. That number pales beside the actions of the Assad regime, which frequently targets civilians in rebel-held areas. “In one week alone in October the regime killed 182 civilians in airstrikes,” said Syrian Observatory founder Rami Abdul Rahman.

As allied airstrikes have shifted from rural battlefields like Mount Sinjar and the Mosul Dam to the Islamic State’s urban strongholds, they are now often targeting the same locations as the Assad regime or the Iraqi government, adding to the confusion. The Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, was the target of indiscriminate bombings by the Assad regime in the last week of November, killing up to 200 civilians. Days later, U.S. forces carried out multiple airstrikes of their own on the city, though there have been no reports of noncombatants killed in these attacks.

While there is no love lost between the Assad regime and the allied Arab and Western forces, airstrikes in Iraq are being conducted with the full knowledge and approval of Iraq’s security forces, both Centcom and the British Defense Ministry told Foreign Policy. Yet how much this represents any safeguard for civilians is unclear.

According to Iraq Body Count’s Hamourtziadou, Iraq’s military has itself killed hundreds of civilians during operations in Sunni cities such as Mosul and Tikrit. “There have been nightly airstrikes by the Iraqi Army [in 2014], and these raids have reportedly caused civilian casualties almost every time,” she said. The Iraqi military doesn’t release information about its targeting and is understood not to pay compensation.

Casualty recorders are calling for the United States and its allies to be far more open about who they are hitting in Iraq and Syria — and to pay promptly when civilians are killed or injured, whether such actions are lawful or not. “Transparent investigations of all allegations — and creating appropriate programs to address civilian harm — are mission critical for U.S. and coalition operations in Iraq and Syria,” said Muhammedally, of the Center for Civilians in Conflict. “Ignoring losses can and will create anger and resentment among the population.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40383.htm

The War on Syria, Who is Behind the Terrorists? President Bashar Al-Assad. Paris Match Interview

Global Research, December 05, 2014

131250The Full Paris Match interview of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, granted in Damascus on November 28th. 

HIGHLIGHT

Paris Match: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?

Bashar el Assad : In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages. Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition. This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?

TRANSCRIPT 

Paris Match: Mr. President, three years into this war, and considering how things have turned out, do you regret that you haven’t managed things differently at the beginning, with the appearance of the first signs of the revolution in March 2011? Do you feel that you are responsible for what happened?

Bashar el Assad: Even in the first days of the events, there were martyrs from the army and the police; so, since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism. It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number. In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There’s no other choice. We cannot say that we regret fighting terrorism since the early days of this crisis. However, this doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made in practice. There are always mistakes. Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different. If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the events had internal causes.

Paris Match: Your army is blamed for its excessive use of force during this war. Why are civilians shelled?

Bashar el Assad : When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people, with dialogue?! The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians. There’s no reason to shell civilians. If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time, and fighting the states which stand against us and which support terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey, and the West, how could we stand for four years? If we haven’t been defending the people, we wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure. Consequently, saying that we are shelling civilians doesn’t make any sense.

Paris Match: Satellite imagery of the cities of Homs and Hama show completely destroyed neighborhoods; and the United Nations, of which your country is a member, talks about 190,000 people having been killed in this war. Were all the people in those neighborhoods terrorists?

Bashar el Assad : First of all, you need to verify the figures provided by the United Nations. What are the sources of these figures? The figures being circulated in the world, particularly in the media, are exaggerated and inaccurate. Second, images of destruction are not only obtained through satellite images, they are there actually on the ground, and they are accurate. When terrorists enter a certain region and occupy it, the army has to liberate it, and there is a battle. So, naturally, there is destruction. But in most cases, when terrorists enter a certain area, civilians flee from it. In fact, the largest number of victims in Syria is among the supporters of the state, not the other way round; and a large number of those were killed in terrorist attacks. Of course, when you have war and terrorism innocent people die. This happens everywhere in the world. But it is impossible for a state to target civilians.

Paris Match: According to the United Nations too, there are three million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, what amounts to one eighth of Syria’s population. Are all those allied with terrorists?

Bashar el Assad : No, no. Those who left Syria are generally people who left because of terrorism. There are those who support terrorism, and there are those who support the state but left because of the security situation. There is also a significant number of those who do not support any side.

Paris Match: From a military perspective, do you have the means which enable you to win this war?

President Assad: Now we are fighting states, not only gangs. Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs. They receive arms from different countries, including Turkey. So, it is not an easy war from a military perspective. Nevertheless, the Syrian Army is winning in many places. On the other hand, no one can say how this war will end or when. But the major war for them in the beginning was how to win the hearts of the Syrians; and they have lost this war. The communities which embraced terrorists have become very small, and that is the reason why the army is winning. So, we have to look at this war militarily, socially, and politically.

Paris Match: But they haven’t lost yet, since half your territories are out of your control.

Bashar el Assad : The Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence everywhere, and it’s impossible for it to be everywhere. Consequently, in any place that the Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence, terrorists cross the borders and enter that region. But the Syrian Army has been able to regain control over any region it decided to enter. This is not a war between two armies where you can say that they took a certain part and we took another part. The war now is not like that. We are talking about terrorist groups which suddenly infiltrate a city or a village. That’s why it’s going to be a long and difficult war.

Paris Match: Many people say that the solution lies in your departure. Do you believe that your departure is the solution?

Bashar el Assad :  The president of any state in the world takes office through constitutional measures and leaves office through constitutional measures as well. No President can be installed or deposed through chaos. The tangible evidence for this is the outcome of the French policy when they attacked Gaddafi. What was the result? Chaos ensued after Gaddafi’s departure. So, was his departure the solution? Have things improved, and has Libya become a democracy? The state is like a ship; and when there is a storm, the captain doesn’t run away and leave his ship to sink. If passengers on that ship decided to leave, the captain should be the last one to leave, not the first.

Paris Match: This means that the captain is prepared to die. You talked about Gaddafi. Do you fear facing the same fate and to meet your death like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi?

Bashar el Assad : A captain doesn’t think of life and death, he thinks of saving his ship. If the ship sinks, everybody will die, so we would rather save the country. But I want to stress an important point here. Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis. But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles.

Paris Match: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?

Bashar el Assad : In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages. Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition. This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?

Paris Match: The Syrians we meet in Damascus talk about sleeping Jihadi cells in the West more than they talk about the war against ISIS. Isn’t that strange?

Bashar el Assad : Terrorism is an ideology, not an organization or a structure; and ideology doesn’t acknowledge any borders. 20 years ago, terrorism used to be exported from our region, particularly from Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia. Now, it is coming to our region from Europe, especially from France. The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria are French; and you had a number of incidents in France. There was also an attack in Belgium against a Jewish museum. So, terrorism in Europe is no longer asleep, it is being awakened.

Paris Match: The Americans, in their war against ISIS, are tactical allies. Do you still think that their intervention constitutes a violation of national sovereignty?
Bashar el Assad : First, you said that it is tactical, and this is an important point. You know that tactics without a strategy do not produce results, so it will not defeat terrorism. It is an illegal intervention, first because it is not authorized by a Security Council resolution, and second because it did not respect the sovereignty of a state, Syria, in this case. So, it is an illegal intervention, and consequently constitutes a violation of sovereignty.

Paris Match: According to Agence France Presse, your air forces made at least 2,000 sorties in 40 days, and this is a huge number. When your aircraft cross the alliance’s aircraft, for instance on their way to shell Raqqa, do you coordinate or do you have a non-aggression agreement?

Bashar el Assad : There is no direct coordination. We attack terrorism everywhere, regardless of what the United States, or the alliance it leads, is doing. You might find it strange that the number of daily Syrian air strikes against terrorists is larger than that launched by the alliance. There’s no coordination; and at the same time you need to realize that the alliance’s airstrikes are merely cosmetic.

Paris Match: But these airstrikes are helping you, and one reason why U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel resigned is that he believed that they support your government and your positions.

Bashar el Assad : Don’t you see that this question contradicts the earlier question, in which you said that we support ISIS? This means that we are ISIS’s enemies.

Paris Match: I said that some people say, sometimes, that you have supported ISIS to divide the opposition.

Bashar el Assad : And I didn’t mean “you” by my remark, I meant “those” people.

assad.jpe

Bashar al-Assad and Paris Match reporter Régis Le Sommier© Paris Match

Paris Match: Since one result of the alliance’s airstrikes, from an American perspective, was Chuck Hagel’s resignation, do you think that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping you?

Bashar el Assad : Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes. That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction. And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true. Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us. But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground, and we haven’t felt any change, particularly that Turkey is still extending direct support to ISIS in those regions.

Paris Match: On July 14th, 2008, you stood on the presidential podium in the Champs Elysees on the sidelines of the Mediterranean summit. Today, the French government considers you an outcast. How do you feel about that?

Bashar el Assad : The good relationship which extended from 2008 to 2011 was not based on a French initiative. It had two sides: the first was an American effort to make the French government influence the Syrian role, particularly in relation to Iran. The second side was a result of Qatar urging France to improve relations with Syria. So, the good relations with France had American and Qatari motives and were not the product of an independent will. Today, there is no difference since both administrations, I mean those of Sarkozy and Hollande, are not independent.

Paris Match: Francois Hollande still considers you an opponent. Do you believe that you can revive relations with him some time in the future?

Bashar el Assad: The issue has nothing to do with personal relations, for I don’t know him to start with. It has to do with relations between states and institutions, relations based on the interests of two nations. When there is any French official, or French government, seeking mutual interests, we will deal with them. But this administration is acting equally against the interests of our people and against the interests of the French people. As for him considering me a personal enemy, I don’t see the logic of that. I’m not competing with Hollande for anything. I believe that Hollande’s competitor in France now is ISIS, because his popularity is close to that of ISIS.

Paris Match: Are there chemical weapons in Syria today, yes or no?
Bashar el Assad : No. When we announced this, it was a clear announcement, and when we decided to abandon chemical weapons, our decision was final.

Paris Match: But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accuses you of violating the agreement because you used chlorine. Is that true?

Bashar el Assad : You can find chlorine in any house in Syria. Everyone has chlorine, and any group can use it. But we haven’t used it because we have traditional weapons which are more effective than chlorine, and we do not need to use it. We are fighting terrorists, and using traditional weapons without concealing that or being shy about it. So, we don’t need chlorine. These accusations do not surprise us; for when did the Americans say anything true about the crisis in Syria?

Paris Match: Have you used chemical weapons?

Bashar el Assad : We haven’t used this kind of weapons; and had we used it anywhere, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people would have died. It’s impossible for these weapons to kill, as it was claimed last year, only one hundred people or two hundred people, particularly in areas where hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, of Syrians live.

Paris Match: In your latest visit to Paris in November 2010, I conducted an interview with your wife, Mrs. Asmaa al-Assad. Do you miss traveling outside the borders of your country?

Bashar el Assad : Traveling is not one of my hobbies anyway; and my visits were not for tourism, but for work. What I truly miss is Syria as it was. This is what we miss. And of course we miss the existence of a different world, a world which has logical and moral relations. At that time, we used to have great expectations for the development of our region, for more intellectual openness. We used to believe that France, with its cultural heritage, is the country which is most capable of playing this role with Syria in the Middle East.

Paris Match: Your wife used to consider herself an ambassador of modernity. How does she live in Syria, and how does she feel about what is happening in Syria, particularly that she hasn’t left the country?

Bashar el Assad : Like all Syrians, she feels pain. Both of us feel pain for the destruction and the blood we see in Syria, to see Syria going backwards decades and not years. It’s painful to see the country which used to be one of the top five countries in the world in terms of security become a safe haven for terrorists. It is also painful for both my wife and I to see our belief that the West will help us in our bid for development and openness go in the opposite direction, and what is even worse, to see the West having allies among these medieval states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Paris Match: People describe you as being very close to your children. How do you explain to them what is happening to your country when you return home in the evening?

Bashar el Assad : Of course, this discussion goes on in every Syrian house now; and the most difficult thing in this discussion is when you deal with children whose social consciousness has developed during this crisis. There are two basic questions asked, not only in our family but in many families. The first question: how can people who believe or say they are defending God and Islam kill and murder? This is a case which is not easy to explain, and children ask whether these people know that they are wrong. And the answer here is that there are those who know but make use of religion for private purposes, and there are ignorant people who do not know that religion is good. They think, instead, that religion means killing.

The second question: why does the West launch an aggression against us, and why does it support terrorists and destruction? Of course, they do not say the West in general, they specify certain countries, including the United States, France, and Britain. Why do they do that? Have we done anything to hurt them? We also explain to them that people are something, and states are something else.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-war-on-syria-who-is-behind-the-terrorists-president-bashar-al-assad-paris-match-interview/5418017

Washington denounces Syrian air strikes on ISIS

By Peter Symonds

28 November 2014

The US has seized on Syrian air force strikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stronghold of Raqqa to denounce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and push for his government’s removal. For the past three years, the Obama administration has backed anti-Assad militias in Syria. The main aim of its new Middle Eastern war remains regime-change in Damascus.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Wednesday said the US was “horrified” by reports that Syrian air strikes the previous day killed scores of civilians. She condemned the Syrian regime’s “continued slaughter of Syria civilians” and “callous disregard for human life,” declaring that “Assad long ago lost all legitimacy to govern.”

According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 95 people were killed in the air strikes on Tuesday, including 52 civilians. A Raqqa activist with the Syrian opposition network—the Local Co-ordination Committees—told the BBC that further deaths were likely because only one hospital was operating normally in the city and “a lot of people [are] dying from their wounds.” Both organisations are aligned with the pro-Western opposition in Syria that is hostile to both Assad and ISIS.

Psaki’s comments are utterly cynical from every standpoint. The Pentagon routinely dismisses evidence of civilian casualties from air strikes by US and allied war planes in Syria and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan, even in the face of eyewitness statements. It wages its bogus “war on terror” with complete indifference for civilian life.

Earlier, the same Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released figures on Saturday indicating that at least 52 civilians, including 8 children and 5 women, were killed in air attacks by the US-led coalition in Syria. Given the organisation’s political sympathies, this figure is likely to be an under-estimate. Not surprisingly, the US State Department expressed no horror over these casualties.

It is also unclear whether the deaths in Raqqa were solely due to the Syrian air force. American warplanes bombed the city as recently as Monday. A Wall Street Journal report stated: “It wasn’t clear whether the US and its allies had carried out airstrikes in Raqqa on Tuesday. The scale of the casualties and how many were civilians or Islamic State militants was also unclear.” It noted that it was often “hard to distinguish Raqqa locals from the extremists.”

The Raqqa activist told the BBC: “All the markets in the city are closed after the air strikes. There is nobody walking in the streets … They are just afraid because they say in the morning there are regime air strikes and in the evening there are [US-led] coalition air strikes and it’s very, very hard to live under IS [ISIS].”

According to US Central Command figures, its war planes carried out 41 air strikes inside Syria and Iraq from last Friday up until Wednesday, including on Raqqa and the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane. The Voice of America web site reported yesterday that the US recently brought a squadron of A-10 Thunderbolt fighter jets from Afghanistan to Kuwait to carry out low-level bombing raids in Iraq and Syria, as well as six more Reaper drones armed with missiles.

Inside Iraq, US-backed government forces are battling to retain control of the city of Ramadi in the western Anbar province, much of which is already under ISIS control. ISIS militias launched an offensive earlier this week to capture the provincial capital. According to government officials on Wednesday, ISIS fighters advanced to within several hundred metres of governor’s office, before being pushed back. Kurdish peshmerga forces in the northern province of Kirkuk are also involved in heavy fighting to hold off a major ISIS offensive.

Last weekend, US Vice-President Joe Biden visited Turkey to try to patch up frayed relations and enlist greater Turkish support for the war in Iraq and Syria. The Turkish government has pressed the US for a more explicit call for regime-change in Damascus, as well as support for the imposition of a no-fly zone and buffer zone inside Syria. It has also been reluctant to support Kurdish militia holding out in Kobane, due to their affiliation with the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey.

After meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Biden told the media they had agreed not only to roll back ISIS in Syria, but also to “strengthen the Syrian opposition and ensure a transition away from the Assad regime.” The Turkish foreign ministry announced it would collaborate with US forces in training 2,000 “moderate Syrian opposition fighters” at a base in the central Turkish city of Kirsehir. Turkey has also indicated it would be prepared to equip and train national guard units in Iraq to fight against ISIS.

Biden clashed with Erdogan last month when he accused Turkey of encouraging the rise of ISIS in Syria. While Turkey has certainly backed the Syrian opposition militias that have been dominated by right-wing Islamist organisations such as ISIS and the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, it is not alone. The US and its other Middle Eastern allies have been closely involved in training, financing and arming anti-Assad forces. The CIA has maintained a base inside Turkey to assist and arm opposition forces in Syria.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the CIA was also involved in covertly training anti-Assad fighters at a camp in the Gulf state of Qatar. The desert camp lies inside a military zone guarded by Qatari special forces. The program has been running for a year and reportedly involves small groups of 12 to 20 fighters affiliated with the pro-Western Free Syrian Army (FSA). According to Reuters: “In recent weeks, the Qataris, disappointed by the lack of progress in the fight against Assad, have started to consider training members of the Islamic Front—another Islamist militia.”

While the US claims to distinguish between ISIS and “moderate” anti-Assad fighters, these forces have commonly worked closely together. Arms supplied to the pro-Western FSA have ended up in the hands of Islamist militias. Now amid a groundswell of civilian opposition inside Syria to US air strikes, sections of the FSA are going over to ISIS, according to a Guardian article on Monday. Such defections will only encourage the US to openly declare war on Assad, sooner rather than later, in a bid to stem the tide.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/28/syri-n28.html

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.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-war-in-syrian-kurdistan-the-fall-of-kobani-is-a-prerequisite-for-the-invasion-of-syria/5414609

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

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

syrian-war-propaganda-400x240

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) gmail.com. 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-agrees-to-work-with-itself-us-calls-for-panic-attack-on-assad/5414552

Obama Administration Loses Collective Mind Sending Troops To Iraq, Targeting Assad In Syria?

By Doug Bandow

November 17, 2014 “ICH” – “Forbes“- In 2009 President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize before doing much of anything. Since then he has initiated two wars, first in Libya and now in Iraq and Syria, and escalated another, in Afghanistan. Alas, he has demonstrated that it is bad to start wars unnecessarily, but even worse to wage wars foolishly.

The administration appears to have lost its collective mind. The president has added ground forces to the battle in Iraq and the military has suggested introducing thousands more. His officials reportedly have decided to focus on overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the name of fighting the Islamic State.

It is hard to know which of these ideas is worse.

The U.S. has been back at war in the Middle East for more than two months. The results have not been pretty.

The administration claims to have created a vast coalition of 60 nations, roughly 30 percent of the world’s countries. Alas, as in the past the celebrated gaggle assembled by Washington turned out to be mostly a PR stunt. The U.S. accounts for about 770 of the roughly 900 strikes on Iraq and Syria. The Arab states have done little in the air and nothing afoot. Only Iran, which Washington fears almost as much as ISIL, has put boots on the ground.

Most flagrantly AWOL is Turkey, which has tolerated radical fighters transiting through and even operating on its territory. Many of the Islamic State’s combatants came from Turkey and ISIL has targeted Turkish territory for its caliphate. Yet Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan only cares about the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, once a close friend. And Erdogan expects the U.S. do the job for him.

Nor has the administration’s scattershot bombing campaign had much effect. Iraq’s Baghdad has not fallen. That was never likely, however. Kurdistan’s Irbil remains in danger. Syria’s Kobani is unconquered but in ruins, and thousands of its residents have fled.

The Islamic State quickly adjusted its tactics to minimize the vulnerability of its forces. By one count U.S. strikes have killed 464 Islamic State personnel and 57 fighters for Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate. However, the estimated number of ISIL fighters trebled to as many as 30,000 just a couple weeks into Obama’s war.

Moderate Syrian rebels, most notably the Harakat al-Hazm and Syrian Revolutionary Front, favored by the administration have been routed in that country’s north. Many fighters defected or fled while abandoning their heavy weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles and BM-21 Grad rockets, provided by Washington. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken essentially admitted failure: “Unfortunately, every day there is going to be in some part of Iraq or some part of Syria, a community that is under siege, under attack, and is looking for help. We can’t be every place, every time.”

The Free Syrian Army, the biggest Western-oriented insurgent group, also is losing fighters, perhaps 3000 in the last few months, largely to al-Nusra. This raises questions about how “moderate” the group actually is. Some of Assad’s opponents now are criticizing the U.S. Former U.S. ambassador Robert Ford explained: “they are burning American flags because they think we are helping the regime instead of helping them.” Residents of Raqqa, the ISIL stronghold bombed by American forces, blame Washington for higher food and fuel prices, as well as electricity outages.

Iraq’s Shiite majority has formed a new government—handing the Interior Ministry to a hardline Shia faction responsible for past atrocities against Sunni civilians. President Obama hasn’t even sold his policy to his own aides. One unnamed administration official told CNN: “It has been pretty clear for some time that supporting the moderate opposition in the hopes of toppling Assad, isn’t going to work.” Four months ago the administration announced that it planned to vet and train “moderate” insurgents; as yet not a single Syrian has been approved. Once begun, that process will take three to five months, followed by eight to nine months of training. Thus, it will be at least another year before the first U.S.-backed fighter is ready to do battle.

Moreover, last week reports emerged that the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, long at odds, agreed to stop battling each other. The pact appears to have grown out of a series of informal local ceasefires begun last month and envisions the two radical groups fighting together. The administration’s plan for the “moderates” to defeat this strengthened radical axis and the Syrian government looks ever more fantastic.

Through everything the Islamic State is unbowed, accepting recruits, raising funds, slaughtering opponents, and launching attacks. The administration appears to have created its own variant of the infamous quagmire: continuing, desultory warfare with little effect other than to suck America deeper into sectarian strife. At the same time Washington is relieving Middle Eastern nations of the need to act in their own defense and making ever more enemies by intervening yet again in someone else’s quarrel. The Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi responded to the U.S. campaign with a call to “erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere.”

So the administration apparently is rethinking its policy. And preparing to make everything worse.

The president already has doubled U.S. boots on the ground, sending in another 1500 advisers to Iraq. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated in September that as many as 15,000 U.S. troops might be needed for “a ground component to the campaign” to retake Iraqi and Syrian territory seized by ISIL. Last week he said that the administration was considering sending American personnel to cooperate with Iraqi troops in the battle for Mosul and to guard Iraq’s border.

As yet he didn’t “foresee a circumstance when it would be in our interest to take this fight on ourselves with a large military contingent.” However, if, as is likely, the administration’s latest escalation has little effect, the administration will be under greater pressure with fewer options. Already this is as much America’s as Iraq’s war, even though the Islamic State did not attack the U.S.

However, Baghdad holds the key to defeating ISIL: either reconcile with or free Iraq’s Sunnis. The majority Shia must give the Sunni tribes and former Baathists who don’t want to live in the 7th century—the great majority of the population of Mosul, Anbar Province, and elsewhere—an incentive to confront the Islamic State. (Either federalism or independence would work.) But Baghdad has little incentive to do so if it believes the U.S. will do the fighting instead.

Equally foolish, administration officials reportedly want to shift their focus to wrecking the most competent military force opposing ISIL: the Syrian army. While escalating the conflict Obama officials have declared the Iraq-first approach to be “untenable.”

True, but not because America is not doing more. Baghdad holds the key in Iraq, while U.S. policy in Syria is internally inconsistent. Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the National Security Council, explained: “Alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition.” The first is the strongest opponent of the Islamic State, while the latter spends most of its time attacking the first. The president should not expect his policy to defeat anyone.

Yet the administration apparently is moving toward a Syria first strategy, based on the ouster of President Assad. Proposed steps include accelerating aid to the “moderates” and establishing a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Ca.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he understood the proposal to be at least in part a response to pressure from Turkey and the Gulf States, which have funded radical forces in Syria against Assad and expect Washington to protect them from their folly. On the record administration officials speak of a reappraisal as part of a constant review process.

Focusing on Damascus would be twice stupid. First, it would mean essentially doubling down on the policy of supporting the weakest faction in Syria, whose members have been defecting to the radicals. Second, it would entail targeting what today is the strongest force resisting the Islamic State. A “moderate” victory against both jihadist and government forces is the least likely outcome. Far more likely, U.S.-supplied insurgents would weaken the Assad regime, perhaps enough to contribute to an ISIL/al-Nusra victory. Then the fun would really start, perhaps with mass beheadings in Damascus.

One reason Americans elected President Obama was their belief that he had learned from the Bush administration’s foolish misadventure in Iraq. That hope faded when the president launched his own war against Libya’s Moammar Qaddafy, which also had disastrous consequences. Now it appears that Sen. Obama’s famous 2002 speech denouncing the Iraq invasion reflected partisanship rather than prescience. Barack Obama no less than George W. Bush believes in trying to bring peace to the Mideast through war.

The Islamic State is evil, but until now it was not interested in terrorizing Americans. Rather, ISIL’s raison d’etre was establishing a Middle Eastern caliphate, or quasi-state, from the territory of several Middle Eastern countries which have large armies and para-militaries, and competent air forces. The administration used the tragic but limited plight of the Yazidi people as an excuse to micro-manage an entire conflict-filled region. As a result, the Obama policy could end up sacrificing the lives, wealth, and security of Americans for years to come.

Like a second marriage, Washington’s latest Middle Eastern excursion represents the triumph of hope over experience. It is hard to point to a military intervention in the broader region which has worked well: Lebanon in 1983, Iraq almost continuously since 1990, Somalia in 1992, Afghanistan for more than 13 years starting in 2001, Libya in 2011. Other forms of meddling have been scarcely more successful: drone warfare in Pakistan and Yemen, decades of financial, military, and diplomatic backing for Egypt, destruction of Iranian democracy in 1953, dismissal of Saudi-backed suppression of Bahrain’s Shia majority by its Sunni monarchy, and tepid support for Syria’s insurgents. Virtually every U.S. action has resulted in a worse reaction, including by al-Qaeda and now the Islamic State—the latter but one of many ill consequences of the Iraq invasion.

Despite this extraordinary record, the administration would have us believe that it can simultaneously destroy ISIL, rid Iraq of sectarianism, replace Bashar al-Assad with a Syrian Thomas Jefferson, contain Iranian influence, and convince a gaggle of hostile Middle Eastern states to work together to further America’s ends. The administration admits that it’s been tough going so far, but all we need to do now apparently is put more ground forces into Iraq and better target Assad.

President Obama told Americans in explaining his policy toward the Islamic State: “Keep in mind that this is something that we know how to do.” Very badly. It’s time he and others in Washington learned from past mistakes, which are almost too many to be numbered. The first may be the most serious: the belief that the U.S. can transcend religion, history, ethnicity, tradition, politics, and geography and “fix” the Middle East. America can’t. It’s time to give up trying to do so.

2014 Forbes.com LLC™   All Rights Reserved

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40256.htm

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.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/50-civilians-killed-in-us-led-airstrikes-in-syria/5413668

ISIS Fires American-Made Missiles At Syrian Army

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

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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) gmail.com. 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-fires-american-made-missiles-at-syrian-army/5413381

US steps up military operations in Iraq, Syria

By Patrick Martin

10 November 2014

US warplanes struck across a wide area of northern Syria and northern and western Iraq over the last four days, in the most extensive bombing since President Obama ordered US military intervention in the region three months ago.

The Syrian targets included several positions in the northwest province of Idlib held by Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist group fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad and aligned with Al Qaeda.

The Iraqi targets included a meeting of leaders of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) held outside Mosul, a city of two million, which destroyed a dozen vehicles and killed as many as 50 people.

An Iraqi military spokesman claimed that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been wounded in the strike, but the US military command said it could not confirm this. There were other air strikes at Qaim, on the Syria-Iraq border in western Anbar province, and at other targets in Anbar, the main stronghold of ISIS in Iraq.

The intensified airstrikes began as the Pentagon announced that Obama had approved the doubling of US ground forces deployed in Iraq, with another 1,500 military trainers, including special forces, to be sent to join the 1,400 troops already stationed in Baghdad and in Irbil, capital of the Kurdish region.

In an appearance Sunday morning on the CBS interview program “Face the Nation,” Obama was questioned whether he would send additional troops to Iraq, beyond the 3,000 already deployed. Interview Bob Schieffer asked, “Should we expect that more troops may be needed before this is over?” Obama replied, “You know, as commander-in-chief, I’m never going to say never.”

This wording is vague enough to drive a truck through, and it contrasts sharply with previous declarations by the White House that there would be no deployment of ground troops in Iraq, and that US troops would not engage in combat.

Given that at least 630 of the new US troops are to deploy to Anbar province, the bloodiest battlefield in both the 2003-2011 US war in Iraq and its current sequel, the claim that US troops will not be in combat is a barefaced lie.

Obama said that the deployment of additional troops marked a new stage in the mobilization of US and Iraqi forces against the Sunni fundamentalist group ISIS. The group presently controls the eastern third of Syria and western third of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest.

The initial phase of the operation was to push out Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and install a new government in Baghdad, while using airstrikes to halt the momentum of the ISIS offensive that overran Mosul and brought the Sunni fundamentalists to the outskirts of Baghdad, Obama said.

With the additional US military advisers, he claimed, “We’re now in a position to start going on some offense. The airstrikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL’s capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making. Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops that can start pushing them back.”

The first stage of this offensive began with two military operations Saturday. In both cases, the advances by Iraqi pro-government forces were preceded with heavy bombing by US warplanes.

In the first attack, Iraqi Army troops began an effort to relieve the siege of the Baiji refinery, Iraq’s largest, which has been surrounded by ISIS for two months. Baiji is in Salahuddin Province, northwest of Baghdad, about halfway between Baghdad and Mosul.

In the second attack, a Shiite militia joined forces with Sunni tribesmen in Anbar province in an effort to recapture the city of Hit, which ISIS took control of last month. It was the first large-scale use of Shiite militia troops in the Sunni-populated western region of the country. Shiite militias were notorious for slaughtering Sunnis in mixed areas of the country, and particularly for practicing a form of ethnic cleansing that drove much of the Sunni population out of the capital, Baghdad.

McClatchy News Service commented, “The need to call in some 3,000 Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen underscored the shambolic state of the Iraqi army, which all but imploded when the Islamic State swept out of its sanctuary in Syria in mid-June, conquered Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, and charged to the doorstep of Baghdad.”

ISIS forces and their allies among the Sunni population were said to be putting up ferocious resistance in both Baiji and Hit, although there was little independent reporting of the battles in either city. The weakness of the pro-government forces has led to stepped-up demands from the Pentagon for a direct commitment of US ground troops in Iraq.

The airstrikes in Syria marked a significant escalation of US attacks on non-ISIS Sunni fundamentalist groups, particularly the al-Nusra front, which has been waging a complex, multi-sided battle against groups of US-backed “rebels,” against the Assad regime and against ISIS itself.

A Wall Street Journal article on the fighting in Syria admitted that the group had been increasingly successful, reporting, “Nusra’s continuing advance appeared to be the result not only of the demoralization of rebel forces, which have been receiving ever-diminishing assistance through a US-backed covert program, but of growing support among local residents. Unlike the Islamic State, whose fighters are mostly from abroad, the vast majority of Nusra fighters are Syrians.”

General Lloyd Austin, commander of CENTCOM, which directs all US military operations in Syria and Iraq, denied that al-Nusra was the target of US airstrikes, maintaining the official fiction that US warplanes are only targeting the previously unknown Khorasan group, the name applied by US officials and the US media to a sub-section of al-Nusra.

Local observers in Idlib Province, however, said that several children had been killed in the airstrikes.

In relation to Syria, Obama reiterated the US commitment to removing the Assad regime, even while it targets some of the groups fighting Assad for airstrikes. In his interview Sunday on CBS, he said, “It is still our policy” that Assad should go, even though “our priority is to go after” the ISIS group, to prevent it from using its positions in Syria as a rear area to support its offensive in Iraq.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/10/isis-n10.html

Washington Moving Towards Wider War in Iraq and Syria

By Bill Van Auken

November 07, 2014 “ICH” – “WSWS“- There are new indications that Washington is moving toward a wider and protracted military intervention in the Middle East in the name of combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In the wake of last weekend’s collapse of US-backed Syrian “rebels” in the face of an offensive by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Al Nusra Front, plans are being prepared to extend the three-month-old US-led bombing campaign deeper into Syria. The ostensible purpose of these air strikes would be to provide air support for the Western-backed militias formed to prosecute the war for regime change against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The concern within US military and intelligence circles is that the Nusra Front fighters appear poised to seize control of the strategic Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, which has served as a key conduit for funneling arms and other aid to the Syrian “rebels.”

A substantial portion of that aid, including heavy weapons such as TOW anti-tank missiles and GRAD rockets, fell into the hands of the Nusra Front last weekend as the American-backed groups—the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm (Steadfastness Movement)—surrendered without a shot being fired. Many of the members of these groups then joined the Nusra Front.

“The recent fighting in northwestern Syria has been taking place a long way from areas farther east where US and Arab warplanes have been pounding Islamic State positions,” the Washington Post reported Wednesday. “But US concern has grown rapidly in recent days amid fears about the [Bab al-Hawa] border crossing, according to senior administration officials who spoke about internal discussions on the condition of anonymity.”

The report cited discussions about likely “complications” arising from air strikes in the area, in particular whether the Syrian government would “tolerate an expansion” of the war beyond Iraq and areas of Syria near the Iraqi border, which have fallen under ISIS control.

There are, however, multiple demands that Washington carry out such an expansion with the aim of directing the US-led war precisely at toppling the Assad regime.

This is the position being advanced by the governments of both France and Turkey. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius wrote an opinion column published by several media organizations earlier this week calling on the US and its allies to shift the military intervention away from the Kurdish border town of Kobane, where there have been regular US bombings, to the city of Aleppo. Previously Syria’s industrial capital, Aleppo has been the scene of stepped up fighting as the Syrian government seeks to consolidate its control by defeating the so-called rebels.

“France cannot resign itself to the breakup of Syria or to the abandonment of the Aleppans to this fate,” Fabius wrote. “That is why—together with our coalition partners—we must focus our efforts on Aleppo, with two clear objectives: strengthening our support for the moderate Syrian opposition, and protecting the civilian population from the twin crimes of the regime and Daesh [ISIS]. After Kobane, we must save Aleppo.”

Just two days later, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned that if Aleppo were to fall to the government forces, Turkey could face a major new refugee crisis. “This is why we called for a safe zone as well as taking measures against not only the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS] but also the Assad regime,” he said. Turkey has called for the creation of a “buffer zone” inside Syria along the Turkish border. Such a “buffer” would serve the dual purpose of providing a safe haven for the Western-backed “rebels” and breaking up the autonomous zones created in the border area by Syrian Kurds, which Ankara sees as a threat in terms of its own conflict with the country’s Kurdish population.

Turkey has also advocated the imposition of a “no fly zone,” which would entail a massive bombing campaign against Syria’s air force and air defenses.

These same positions find support within Washington from, among others, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who, after Tuesday’s midterm election, will become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, giving him access to a significant lever for shifting the US toward a more aggressive policy.

On the eve of the election, McCain charged that the collapse of the American-backed “rebels” to the Nusra Front constituted proof that “the administration’s current strategy in Syria is a disaster.” He demanded a greater military intervention to “protect the Syrian people.”

An escalation of the war is a virtual certainty now the US midterm elections are over. As Foreign Policy commented Wednesday: “When it comes to foreign policy, a GOP win could make it easier for Obama … if the president decided to shift his strategy against the Islamic State, [to] win Congressional backing for sending ground troops to Iraq or Syria.”

A revealing indication of the intense and protracted character of the war that US imperialism is preparing in the Middle East was provided by the Washington Post ’s well-connected national security correspondent, Walter Pincus.

“The Defense Department is certainly preparing for a long fight,” Pincus wrote, citing a recent notice to military contractors of department plans for an eight-year contract for the Air Combat Command of the US Air Force, set to begin in October 2016. The contract is for operating and supporting the command’s “major war reserve materiel facilities in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.”

Among the items to be pre-positioned at these sites are mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs), massive amounts of ammunition and “medical contingency hospitals for expeditionary medical support.” The plan also calls for creating “facilities and equipment that could house 3,300 airmen and 72 fighter aircraft at expeditionary locations.”

In the meantime, the Pentagon’s Central Command announced Wednesday it had carried out four air strikes in Syria and 10 in Iraq since Monday. A CENTCOM spokesman said the strikes had hit various ISIS vehicles, bunkers and small units.

From Iraq itself, however, came a different account of the US bombing runs. In al-Qaim, in western Anbar province near the Syrian border, security officials told the National Iraqi News Agency that a US warplane fired two missiles into a popular market in the center of the city. The explosions ripped through the crowded market, leaving at least seven Iraqi civilians dead and 27 others wounded, many of them critically.

Copyright © 1998-2014 World Socialist Web Site – All rights reserved

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40161.htm

The U.S. Has Ignited A Vicious Politico-religious Sunni-Shi’ite Civil War in Iraq And Syria

By Rodrigue Tremblay

[There] is a memo [at the Pentagon] that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (1997-2000), (March 2, 2007) 

“I don’t want to just end the [Iraq] war, but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.”

Presidential candidate Barack Obama, (January 31, 2008) 

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809—1865), 16th President of the United States (1861-65) 

November 06, 2014 “ICH” – When the U.S. government of George W. Bush (2001-2009) decided to illegally invade militarily the country of Iraq and overthrow the Sunni government of Saddam Hussein, against the advice of many thinking persons, it opened a “Pandora Box” of woes that is still spewing out its calamities today, and probably will for many years to come. This is the first and foremost cause of the current quagmire prevailing in Iraq and in Syria today.

In 2009, the Barack Obama administration thought that it could wash its hands and walk away from the “biggest mistake in American military history” and let local Iraqi politicians sort things out and form an “inclusive” government in Baghdad. Here is what President Obama said on February 27, 2009:

“Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end… Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government[negotiated by the previous Bush administration], I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.” 

Well, as it should have been expected by anybody who has any knowledge of history in that part of the world, Iraq was far from being a stable “democracy”. Instead, the Shi’ite-led and paranoid Malaki government was everything but “inclusive” of the Sunni minority. Indeed, the Shi’ite-controlled Iraqi government was bent on taking revenge on the Sunnis for the suffering Shi’ites endured under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Using the sophisticated military gear supplied by the U.S., it tracked down Sunni opposition and dissenters to the regime, many were killed, and it excluded prominent Sunni politicians from the government. 

There lies the second cause of the Sunni revolt that has helped create the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State militia (IS), [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)], whose fighters are often foreign volunteers, at least in Syria. Some are ethnic Chechens, and many come from western countries such as the U.K. —Whenone sows terrorism, one should expect to reap terrorism. And that’s what the U.S. government and some other western countries have got in Iraq and Syria. In the U.S. case, it is for invading the former militarily and for reneging on its obligations to behave as a responsible occupying power under international law.  

Added to that ill-thought and improvised U.S. policy in Iraq was the incoherent and misguided American policy of destabilizing the neighboring Syria by supporting and arming Islamist rebels against the established Assad government, in association with the Sunni governments of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These three countries had political and economic reasons of their own to oppose the Syrian Assad government, but not the United States. Many of these American-supported “moderate” Islamist terrorist organizations have since been absorbed by the rabidly terrorist ISIL organization. One can hardly think of a more flawed policy.

Last year, while the religious totalitarian terrorist IS organization was gaining strength both in Iraq and in Syria, and U.S. ambassadors in those countries were sounding the alarm, the Obama administration’s attention was concentrated on overthrowing the elected government of Ukraine and on overthrowing the Assad regime in Syria. Now, the IS militiaare well entrenched in many cities and well armed with sophisticated American-supplied weapons that they have used to terrorize, torture and slaughter thousands of people who oppose their lunatic views, both in Iraq and Syria. That’s a total mess. 

But what does the Obama administration do? Faced with a most serious humanitarian and military crisis in Iraq and in Syria that the United States itself has ignited with its policies, President Obama, surrounded by his neocon advisers (whose real allegiance is most dubious), has appeared hesitant, confused, overwhelmed, clueless, incoherent, passive and reactive. The old saying “A stitch in time saves nine”would seem to apply here. Indeed, problems tend to pile up when solutions are postponed and delayed. The brutal monster of IS in Iraq and in Syria has been allowed to develop and grow because of the U.S. government’s wishful indifference in Iraq and of its misplaced policies in Ukraine and in Syria. The result has been a Washington D.C.-made quagmire in those countries. It is not exaggerated to say that the U.S. government has blood on its hands for the savage carnage taking place in these countries.

How could the world stand still when fanatical and delusional seventh century barbaric butchers slaughter people right and left, for their ethnicity, their religion or their ideas? There is a word for that savage behavior, and that is ethnic cleansing. It is genocide.

The sad truth is that for the last twenty some years, there has been very weak intellectual leadership in Washington D.C., and this at the highest echelons. Ruinous wars and costly financial crises have resulted.

In the future, the Clinton-Bush-Obama years will probably be known as the “Vacuum years”, because the U.S. government of the day would have abused and de facto destroyed the international law system created after WWII, while being incapable of providing an efficient and socially and politically responsible alternative. In fact, the U.S. neocon-inspired U.S government of the last twenty years has been unable to match its world empire ambitions with concrete solutions and workable institutions. This is not a good record, far from it.

On Tuesday, November 4, American voters had their say about the U.S. elected officials who have been behind the mayhem and destruction brought to Iraq and Syria, and also Libya, by their failed policies. Indeed, the November 2014 mid-term election was dubbed a “referendum on President Barack Obama“, focusing on his competency, coherence and relevancy, but also on the weak state of the U.S. economy. The electoral results have not been very good for democratic candidates who paid a heavy price for their president’s failures.

With both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate now under firm Republican control, it is obvious that the last two years of the Obama presidency will be difficult for the embattled “lame-duck” president. 

With both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate now under firm Republican control, it is obvious that the last two years of the Obama presidency will be difficult for the embattled “lame-duck” president.

Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is an international economist and author, whose last two books are: The Code for Global Ethics, Prometheus Books, 2010; and The New American Empire, Infinity Publishing, 2003. To read Dr. Tremblay’s blog, please visit: http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm   The author can be reached at: rodrigue.tremblay1@gmail.com

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40154.htm

In Assad’s Syria, Death Notices Litter The Walls – and Life Goes On

Driving along roads that cost many lives to capture, Robert Fisk sees hasty monuments to dead soldiers of a state that was once a pariah

By Robert Fisk

November 06, 2014 “ICH” – “The Independent” –  Abdul Qadir al-Djezairi’s palace is on the right, noble in spirit as well as architecture. He is the one who brought the Christians and Jews of Damascus to his home when they feared the Muslims in the 19th century.

He refused to countenance a Sunni-only city here; he was an ancestral enemy, I suppose, of the Daesh, as he would have called Isis had they existed in his day, and as Arabs call it now. Below the walls at this moment are a row of minibuses at the local filling station. Their drivers queue for days for their diesel, ever more expensive, ever scarcer as an early winter burns up fuel for home heating.

In the coming days, I will see the alternative, truck after truck heading past me to Damascus, loaded with the chopped-up branches of great trees. The forests above Lattakia are being denuded, the hillsides turned naked to warm the people of  Syria’s capital. Think Kabul. Or maybe Germany in the winter of 1944.

Of course there is no real comparison with that titanic tragedy. But drive north from Damascus and you cannot shrug off the Syrian war just because the first rains have washed the desert and the wind blows cold across the scrub. There to the west is Sidnaya. The Christians in their little towns here endured the taunts of those who said they “stood aside” in the war,  hoping to escape the fury of the government’s enemies.

In Homs, they tried to step aside, and when the Free Syrian Army – which existed then outside the Obama imagination – asked them to get Syrian checkpoints off their streets, the Christians obliged, only to find the rebels in their streets the next day.

Well, in Sidnaya, the Christians caught members of the Nusra Front and decided to change the narrative. They chopped off the heads of the Nusra and pushed them onto sticks because they didn’t want the Christians to appear “soft” any more. Christians in Syria are traditionally very educated. They open restaurants, become doctors, engineers, make jewellery. A new picture now.

The road north is under repair – they are widening the dual carriageway to motorway proportions. Normality, you see. Just like it would have been four years and 200,000 lives ago. Nothing unusual. The government has confidence, does it not? So widen the roads! The industrial city of Adra glides by to the east, recaptured by the Syrian army last month, a place of horror for those who were massacred there and those few baked alive in the local bread ovens (courtesy of one Zahran Aloush of the Islamic Army).

Thousands were taken hostage, so many that they had to be freed and turned over to the Syrian army’s Third Division, which witnessed this Biblical exodus, a replay of Palestine 1948 according to some  soldiers who feared gunmen were among them – but who eventually overturned trucks carrying tuna so that they could feed the refugees. Vehicles in road accidents, you have to understand, become the responsibility of the security forces.

We drive past in silence. Empty highway. Not good news to any driver in a civil war. So we talk. My companion has a brother in the army and he was in the Aleppo military academy when the rebels surrounded it in July of 2012. Back in 1979 – 16 June, to be precise – Muslim Brotherhood rebels had stormed the academy and slaughtered 70 cadets. In 2012, my friend’s brother – with his fellow undergraduates – waited amid the stench of corpses on the hillside around the school as his enemies shouted from below: “Remember the massacre of 1979? We’re here to do it again!”

The Syrian military held out. The brother was saved. It’s not always like that. In the Minegh air base in Aleppo province, the Syrian army was overwhelmed by Islamist fighters, its last 130 soldiers attempting a final escape (having buried their dead comrades in the compound). The army claims it killed 1,300 rebels in the 15 months of siege (pinch of salt time, perhaps). Even their commander, Air Force Major General Ali Selim Mahmoud, was killed in the final days of battle. Now Minegh is home to those famous gentlemen whose capital is in Raqqa, throat-cutting capital of the world, at least on video, certainly when journalists and Western NGO workers are to be dispatched.Elsewhere in Syria, government soldiers are still surrounded, supplied by helicopter in their little fortresses, “festungs” that must not be surrendered – shades here of the German army on the Baltic coast in 1945 – as government-held territory slips and slides. There’s a long, bleak stretch of road on the way to Homs which I don’t like. Too few checkpoints. The Syrian Third Division fought twice to recapture this highway from the rebels last year.

Altogether, the Islamists held the road for 60 days. There are smashed restaurants, broken gas stations, a mosque tipping into a street. Turn left before Homs and there, far away beyond the trees is Krak de Chevaliers, Lawrence of Arabia’s favourite Crusader castle, still standing, gleaming in the winter sun – too far for me to see its modern wounds – but blessed by a crescent of rainbows in far away rain.

And how suddenly we come to the brash money-belt of Tartous and Banias, landowners flourishing from the refugees flocking from the east of Syria. New apartment blocks of outrageous proportion above the Mediterranean, behind walls blossoming with death notices. If you doubt the 33,000 Syrian soldiers dead – or 46,000 as I suspect the real figure to be – then take a look at these black and white advertisements for war. The city flourishes as it loses its own sons in conflict.

There’s a vile new shopping mall in Tartous that has appalled even Bashar al-Assad’s supporters – you can’t build a mall in Syria without someone giving you permission – and the death notices grow thicker as you drive north, even past the magnificent red-roofed villas of ex-vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam, defector and now Paris resident, but perhaps one day to return to his seaside home as a Prodigal Son of the regime – though I doubt it.

At Banias we turn east into the mountains, the Alawite hills, “heimat” of Bashar himself, his father Hafez and some of his warriors. Dreikish with its olives is home to “The Tiger”, the general who freed the road from Hama to Aleppo, and some of these villages hold graves of men whom Baathist history books will record in years to come, supposing the party of the great Arab renaissance survives.

Sunnis are the backbone of the Syrian army – as they are of their enemies – but the Alawites, a minority of course, have paid a bloody cost for their own allegiance. Their soldiers fought in the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, the Israeli-Lebanon war of 1982, the town of Jibleh always a reservoir for the military. And now the mountain villages – the higher you go, the more breathtaking their beauty – are shadowed with crumbling Crusader keeps and waterfalls which shower down the rocks as flourishing and bountiful as the death notices on every wall.

This is the homeland of Hillal Assad, cousin of the president, head of National Defence in Lattakia, felled by a mortar shell on the front line. There are squares named after the dead – the early casualties of this war were given whole streets named after them; but as the war gobbled up more casualties, there were not enough streets. A giant boot in Banias, planted with flowers – all soldiers supposedly know the suffering involved in wearing military boots –remembers the city’s dead.

But above the Mediterranean, we come across the memorial to “Air Force Major General Ali Selim Mahmoud”, born 25 July 1958, died 4 May 2013, commander of the Minnegh air base in Aleppo province, a “Martyr Hero”, or so it is written on the plinth, whose 130 surviving men made it home. Well, most of them, but that’s another story). On top of the marble is a scale-model Mig fighter aircraft, any child’s dream to take home as a toy, And so we drive on, ever higher, till there is frost on the roofs. Opposite what the locals call the ‘Spring of Esther’ –yes, of course we drank the water – is a small garden of remembrance, and then wall after wall of the local dead. In some cases, their faces stare at us in monochrome photographs. Here is Corporal Amal Mohamed, killed in Aleppo, Major General Yassin Hassoun of the Syrian Army’s 17th Division, killed in the Raqqa air base on 29 July 2014 before it collapsed to Isis. “Considered dead,” the poster says. In other words, his body never came home.

 And here, too, are the death notices of – let us give them a little reality for a moment – Petty Officer Ayman Ibrahim, Private Ali Hafez Ahmed and Private Bashar Maon Aissa, Captain Murad Subah (killed 25 September 2012 at Quneitra, six months married), Captain Hassan Ali Mohamed (killed on the road to Aleppo,1 October 2013), Lieutenant Hassan Daboul and Private Samir Youssef Ahmed.

Yes, the Alawite villages have paid for all this. Beneath Private Aissa’s death notice is printed a poem. “You will answer the call of the homeland/Our feet are firm on the ground./The mountains may move, but we won’t/And God knows that our memory will live.” Will it? Here in the village, perhaps. But remember, in the eyes of the world, these are the army of war criminals, the enemies of the West, of America – before Barack Obama decided that ISIS was even more horrible than the Syrian army.

But just one pause for thought. It was here in the mountains that I learned of a unique Syrian military law. No family of brothers will serve in the army at the same time, even in war. There will always be a survivor. And a lone son does not have to serve in the military. In Syria, they don’t have to save Private Ryan.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40147.htm

Washington-backed “rebels” surrender US arms to Al Qaeda in Syria

By Bill Van Auken

4 November 2014

Washington’s strategy in its three-month-old war in Iraq and Syria appeared to suffer another humiliating blow over the weekend as one of the last remaining strongholds of US-backed “moderate rebels” in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib fell to the Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda.

The collapse of the US-backed force in Syria came amid reported plans for a major retraining of the Iraqi army in preparation for a US-orchestrated offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq sometime next year.

Both developments underscore the unreliability of the proxy forces the Obama administration has indicated are to serve as the “boots on the ground” in the two countries and point to the inevitable expansion of the number and role of US troops deployed to prosecute the new Middle East war.

Washington Post correspondent Liz Sly, who has been one of the most enthusiastic media propagandists for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the so-called “moderate rebels,” questioned whether the FSA would “manage to survive the trouncing inflicted in recent days” by the Nusra Front. She described the events in Idlib as “throwing the rebels into disarray and upending the Obama administration’s hopes for a moderate alternative to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

The “trouncing” was accomplished without a shot being fired. Two US-backed groups, the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm (Steadfastness Movement), surrendered without opposing the Al Qaeda-linked militia. It was reported that a large number of their members went over to the Nusra Front, while others fled.

The clashes between the various “rebel” groups have been developing and growing in intensity for over a year, pitting the Nusra Front and ISIS (which Al Qaeda disavowed earlier this year) against other US-backed groups as well as against each other. While these conflicts have been attributed in some instances to Islamist ideological differences, they have often arisen over control of oil and gas fields, border crossings and other sources of wealth.

One of the reasons for the latest clashes appears to be the US air strikes against Nusra Front positions in Syria, carried out under the pretext of disrupting a previously unheard of “Khorasan group,” which was supposedly plotting attacks against the West. The reaction of the Nusra Front, which had previously fought together with the Western-backed militias against ISIS, has been an offensive against US-backed groups, which it sees as a threat. The US attacks also have led to a mending of fences between the Nusra Front and ISIS, which have recently fought together in joint operations.

In the latest developments, significant stocks of arms supplied by the US, including heavy weapons such as TOW anti-tank missiles and Grad rockets, have been turned over by the so-called moderates to the Nusra Front, which is classified by Washington as a foreign terrorist organization.

“For the United States, the weapons they supplied falling into the hands of Al Qaeda is a realization of a nightmare,” the British daily Telegraph commented.

Following the overrunning of the northern Idlib province villages previously held by the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm, Nusra Front fighters have reportedly begun massing near a strategic Syrian town on the Turkish border, Bab al-Hawa, which has served as a key pipeline for arms and supplies funneled by Washington and its allies to the “rebels.” It is also a major smuggling route, providing whoever controls it with a reliable source of revenue.

Despite support from the US, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf State monarchies, the so-called “moderate rebels” never developed into a serious force, with the Western-backed war for regime-change in Syria remaining dominated by extreme Islamist groups such as ISIS and the Nusra Front. Nonetheless, Washington had hoped to draw on these “moderate” militias to carry out its stated plan to train 5,000 fighters a year as a new force to be turned against both ISIS and the Assad government. That plan now lies in ruins.

An article by independent journalist Theo Padnos in the Sunday magazine section of the New York Times on his abduction and two-year imprisonment by the Nusra Front in Syria is instructive in terms of the reliability and allegiance of supposedly “vetted” forces.

In the article, entitled “My Captivity,” Padnos recounts how not once, but twice, he managed to escape from his Nusra Front captors and seek aid from the so-called moderates of the Free Syrian Army, only to be quickly handed back to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group.

He also writes that FSA soldiers, who were fighting alongside the Nusra Front group that was holding him about 20 miles east of Damascus, told him that they had recently returned from training at a US base in Jordan, ostensibly for the purpose of combating groups such as the Nusra Front and ISIS.

Asked by Padnos about fighting the Nusra Front, one of the FSA fighters replied, “Oh that, we lied to the Americans about that.”

In Iraq, meanwhile, the New York Times reported Monday that US and Iraqi officials have agreed to prepare a “major spring offensive” against ISIS, which the newspaper notes “is likely to face an array of logistical and political challenges.”

At the center of these plans is the US training of three new Iraqi divisions, some 20,000 troops, to replace units that disintegrated in the face of the ISIS offensive last summer, with commanders deserting and troops throwing down their weapons, tearing off their uniforms and fleeing for their lives. The Pentagon had spent $25 billion over the course of eight years to train those forces.

To prepare for the planned offensive, the Pentagon, according to the Times, has set up a new task force under Lt. Gen. James Terry, the top Army commander for CENTCOM, which oversees all US forces in the Middle East. The newspaper reports that as these preparations are implemented “the American footprint is likely to expand from Baghdad and Ebril to additional outposts,” including in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, which has been largely overrun by ISIS.

Citing senior US officials, the Times reported that “Army planners have drafted options that could deploy up to an additional brigade of troops, or about 3,500 personnel, to expand the advisory effort and speed the push to rebuild the Iraqi military.”

No matter how many US “advisers” Washington deploys to the country, however, the contradictions underlying the US intervention—not least the bitter sectarian divisions provoked by a decade of US war and occupation—are overwhelming. The Iraqi army that Washington claims will do the fighting in predominantly Sunni areas such as Anbar is some 90 percent Shia and is seen by the population in these areas as an occupying force. Moreover, in recent fighting, the army has leaned heavily on Shia militias that have openly engaged in ethnic cleansing operations against Sunni populations.

Until now, Washington has tried to paper over these contradictions while waging a sporadic campaign of air strikes that has had little effect on ISIS’ control over a broad swath of Iraq and Syria. The real war is still to come and will be launched in earnest once today’s midterm elections are over. Given the sorry state of Washington’s chosen proxy forces in both Iraq and Syria and the real aims that it is pursuing—US imperialist hegemony over the entire Middle East—sooner rather than later this new war will involve large numbers of US ground troops in another killing spree.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/04/isis-n04.html

Syria’s Alawites Pay Heavy Price as They Bury Sons

By DIAA HADID

November 03, 2014 “ICH” – “AP” – DWEIR SHEIKH SAAD, Syria (AP) — The posters of slain Syrian soldiers, put up by families to commemorate their sons killed in the fight against rebels, are plastered on walls throughout the coastal province of Tartous. The impromptu murals of death illustrate the price supporters of President Bashar Assad are paying to defend his rule.

The khaki-clad men often pose with guns, with Assad’s image often imposed above the slain soldier.

For government supporters, Assad is synonymous with Syria itself, particularly in Tartous, a scenic Mediterranean port that is majority Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam that is the faith of Assad’s family. For Syria’s Alawite minority, there is no other way out but to back the president, despite rumblings of dissent. Rebels often indiscriminately target Alawites because they are seen as the firmest pillar of Assad’s rule — and because extremists among the rebels consider them heretics.

More soldiers have been killed from Tartous than any other region in Syria in the fighting to quell the armed rebellion seeking to topple Assad, now in its fourth year.

“This is the price we must pay for the country,” said Ramadan Haidar, whose 23-year-old son Mahmoud was killed fighting in northern Syria. “Because if the country doesn’t regain its sovereignty, then I have lost my son and my home.”

It’s unlikely that need for the sons of Tartous will ease, with the government seemingly desperate for soldiers as the conflict grinds on.

Some 4,000 soldiers from Tartous have been killed in the war, according to a Syrian official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to media.

The death toll forms some 10 percent of the estimated 40,400 soldiers killed, even though Tartous’ population is fewer than a million people — less than one-twentieth of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million. Alawites form some 13 percent of Syria’s population, concentrated in the coastal provinces and the central city of Homs.

They are not the only ones to die in the fighting. Syria’s army represents the sectarian makeup of the country: it is largely Sunni Muslim, fighting mostly Sunni Muslim rebels. But Alawite troops are the most trusted by leadership.

School teacher Haidar’s son Mahmoud was killed two years ago in a suicide bombing. The family home in the town of Dweir Sheikh Saad in Tartous province is now a memorial for the young man, strung with photos of Mahmoud in his army uniform, with his girlfriend, with his two sisters.

Haidar’s wife Ibtisam, 43, stashed away her son’s belongings, including red love-heart cushions his girlfriend gave him. She wore a necklace with a pendant of Mahmoud’s face, often clutching it as she described her pride in her son for joining the Syrian army.

“He was sacrificed for the homeland,” she said, smiling. “He is in my heart. I talk to him and it makes me feel better,” she said.

The town, nestled amid olive groves, has lost 34 men so far, said mayor Mohammed Shaban.

Reflecting a broader trend, Shaban said most of the men were killed in the past two years, mostly by the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and in mass killings perpetrated by the extremist Islamic State group as they seized a string of military bases in the country’s northeast.

Among the massacres was the killing of more than 150 government troops captured when the militants took the Tabqa base in Raqqa province, in August. The militants stripped the soldiers to their underwear and forced to run through the desert before they were shot.

“We can’t live with them. We are fighting ignorance and terrorism” said Issa Mariam, 54, whose son Abdullah was killed two years ago fighting in Aleppo.

Posters of Abdullah, 25, were plastered around the house, alongside his framed death certificate. His mother also bore a gold pendant bearing Abdullah’s image.

There appears to be growing resentment toward Assad, particularly after the mass killings by militants. Some families say they felt their sons were sacrificed for the survival of one family.

But as Islamic militants become more powerful, many Syrians see little choice — better Assad’s rule than the extremists.

An aid worker who works closely with Syrian officials said because the fate of Alawites was tied with Assad’s rule, some were demanding the government pound rebel areas harder.

“If anything, their critique of Bashar is that he is too weak, so they would rather have a hard-line guy in power,” said the aid worker, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t meant to speak to reporters.

A demonstration in early October in an Alawite-dominated neighborhood of the central Syrian city of Homs may be instructive. After twin bombings killed 25 children there, hundreds of Assad supporters held a rare protest, accusing the Homs governor of not doing enough to stop rebel attacks on their neighborhood.

Haidar, the school teacher who lost his soldier son, suggested there was weariness.

“Certain provinces are motivated to go to the army, and perhaps they are affected more,” Haidar said, referring to Tartous. “Many people were killed, and they are buried here in this cemetery.”

The government appears to be trying to mitigate potential dissent.

A Syrian economics expert said the state was prioritizing social affairs spending on families of slain soldiers. But a decision to grant first priority in civil service jobs to those families was cancelled this week, said the Health Minister Nizar Yaziji. It appeared that the decision had caused an outcry.

As the war grinds on, with no decisive winner and no political headway, the military is becoming low on personnel resources, meaning there’ll be no rest for Alawites soon.

“They will have to be patient, what can they do?” said Assad adviser Bouthaina Shabaan. “We all in Syria have to be patient, and we all have to persist in our resilience. What is the alternative?”

This week, soldiers at checkpoints in Tartous began stopping men aged between 23 and 42 years old, examining their ID cards and ordering some of them to report for reserve duty. Men were taking alternative routes to avoid being caught.

There was no formal announcement of the move, and an official on state-run television this week denied what he called “rumors” that men were being seized.

Parents of slain Alawite soldiers said they would allow their other sons to volunteer service if they wanted.

But the price is clear. In the provincial capital city of Tartous, an informal mural made of the posters of slain soldiers stretched for meters on a wall.

Further down, there was an official memorial: it was a large billboard featuring Assad’s face, and thousands of names of slain soldiers scrawled on either side.

Across the road there was another billboard, also listing names of the killed. It too, was full.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40123.htm

Why is there such an explosion of violence across the Middle East? Here’s an alternative view…

By Robert Fisk

November 03, 2014 “ICH” – “The Independent” – What on earth has descended upon the Middle East?

Why such an epic explosion of violence? It feels strange to ask these questions of Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s close advisers and former translator to his father, Hafez. Her office is spotless, flowers on the table, her female secretary preparing a morning round-up of the world’s press on the Middle East, the coffee hot and sweet. At one point, when she spoke of the destruction in Syria and the mass attacks on the region’s Arab armies, it was difficult to believe that this was Damascus and that a few hundred miles to the east Isis have been cutting the throats of their hostages. Indeed, Shaaban finds it difficult even to define what Isis really is.

Not so with America and the war in Syria. “Right from the beginning of this crisis, I never truly felt that the issue was about President Assad,” she says. “It was about the weakening and destruction of Syria. There has been so much destruction – of hospitals, schools, factories, government institutions, you name it. I think the Americans take their battles against leaders and presidents – but only as a pretext to destroy countries. Saddam was not the real target –it was Iraq. And it’s the same for Libya now – America told everyone it was about Gaddafi. The real issue is about weakening the Arab armies, whoever they are. When the Americans invaded Iraq, what was the first thing they did? They dissolved the Iraqi army.”

Shaaban, of course, reflects Syria’s regime. Thus she calls the war a “crisis” and does not choose to reflect on the regime’s responsibility for this – or the numbers killed by the regime forces as well as by the rebels. What she does have is a very clear analytical brain which can shape an argument into coherence however much you disagree with her. She showed this in her research through Syrian presidential and foreign-ministry archives when she was writing a remarkable book about Hafez al-Assad’s peace negotiations with the Clinton administration, in which the old “Lion of Damascus” turns out to be a lot shrewder than the world thought he was –and his betrayal by America much deeper than we suspected at the time. She talks on about the destruction of the Iraqi army, the losses in the Syrian army, the massive suicide attack against Egyptian troops in Sinai and the killing of Lebanese troops in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. And you have to listen.

“Now all Arab armies are targeted – and the purpose is to change the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the crux of all that is going on in the Middle East. I am not saying these tactics will work. I am saying ‘they’ are targeting the Arab armies. The Egyptian army is very strong. It is a logical army that is defending its country. And then it received this huge attack in Sinai. It’s my opinion that the target is to eliminate the threat that Arab armies represent for the liberation of Gaza and the West Bank and Golan and to make Israel’s occupation easier and less costly. This is a major dimension of the cause of the ‘Arab Spring’. In fact I call it an ‘Israeli Spring’.”

Of course, it’s not difficult to argue with this. Why should the West – presumably the author of these Arab military calamities – want to weaken an Egyptian army which is, by proxy (or directly) protecting Israel itself? Why would the West want the new Iraqi armies to be crushed by Isis – which Shaaban, even though she is speaking in English, naturally refers to by its Arab acronym of ‘Daesh’? Why, indeed, would the West be bombing Isis if it wished to weaken the Syrian army?

“The Americans are the major power in the world and they are weighing this power. But what is ‘Daesh’? I feel it could be the thing it is now without financial and political help from leaders. How does it sell its oil and get its money? In Syria, we are under sanctions and we cannot transfer a penny through New York. So how does ‘Daesh’ get financed in such a huge way? Let me ask you something. When Mosul fell to ‘Daesh’, the Americans did nothing. The Americans intervened only when Kurdistan was threatened – which means the US supports the partition of Iraq. So the US move against ‘Daesh’ is a political move for other objectives. It’s interesting that the Syrian people in Ain al-Arab” – this of course refers to the Syrian Kurds in the Isis-besieged town they call Kobane – “have been more successful in fighting ‘Daesh’ than the Americans.”

Shaaban looks at me sharply. There is no mention of the constant US air strikes against Isis around the town. But she is also contemplating the darkness of that throat-cutting institution, the woman stoned to death in Idlib, the extraordinarily effective propaganda campaign which it runs. “This is propaganda made by very professional experts. There are professional media people involved. It is being ‘directed’ by professionals. And once those who are behind ‘Daesh’ achieve their goals, then they can dispense with it, take off the black clothes and become a ‘moderate’ opposition.”

Shaaban laughs. She knows this is a clever conceit – the Middle East has been littered with monstrous “terrorist” organisations– the PLO, the Muslim Brotherhood, Abu Nidal – which have either been turned into pussycats or eliminated themselves. The next line I was waiting for. “And by the way, what is this ‘moderate’ opposition which is supposed to exist here in Syria? ‘The moderate armed opposition’, they say. How can someone who is armed and puts a gun to your head be a ‘moderate’? Our army is defending our people.” I interrupt. The world would say that civilians have a right to bear arms when they are killed by the government’s forces. No reply. The people of Syria fight for their president, she says, morale is high, the destruction of their enemies – to the health and education systems and to the architectural heritage – is enormous. And so it goes on. President Bashar al-Assad, needless to say, gets a clean bill of health.

But then Shaaban turns to Saudi Arabia, the “Takfirist”curricula in Saudi schools, the culture of head-chopping criminals in Saudi Arabia, its support for the Taliban. “It is a culture very similar to the ‘culture’ of ‘Daesh’. So why was ‘Daesh’ created?” But as an Arab nationalist, does Shaaban want to restore the old Sykes-Picot colonial border between Syria and Iraq which Isis symbolically destroyed?

“I hope the new generation of Arab nationalists will break these borders and help to create a new Arab identity, the emergence of a different reality, to be a real player in international politics. I hope young Arabs will not cling to these borders. Why should Lebanese and Syrians have to stop at their border when the terrorists can move freely across? As Arabs, we should sit down and think how we can face these challenges together. There is a master-plan, a ‘maestro’ – yes, I know people say that this is a ‘conspiracy theory’. But what I’m saying is that the the conspiracy is no longer a ‘theory’ – it is a reality we must confront together.”

This was a bit like the end of a long symphony concert, the rousing send-off as Arab nationalism is reborn. Surely that is what the original Syrian Ba’ath party was supposed to be about. Shaaban condemned Turkey for its “lies” and President Erdogan’s desire for another “Ottoman military hegemony” in the Middle East. She takes comfort from the ease with which Sunni refugees from Idlib and Aleppo have settled among Alawites and Christians around Lattaki and Tartous – although she at no point names these religious groups. And she talks about the vast number of families who have lost loved ones – no blame attaching to anyone at this point – but then she utters an irrefutable truth. “When you kill a member of a family, you kill the whole family.” And there really is no answer to that one.

© independent.co.uk

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40121.htm

US Destroying Syria’s Oil Infrastructure Under Guise of Fighting The Islamic State (ISIS)

Global Research, November 01, 2014

oil-400x266The US is considering bombing pipelines in Syria, which it claims is in an attempt to cut off the huge profits being made by ISIS from captured oilfields.

The Independent quotes Julieta Valls Noyes, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs during a visit to London, that ISIS was making $2 million a day off oil sales and that the US would consider airstrikes as well as “kinetic strikes against some pipelines” and “actual physical action to stop the flow”.

The trouble with this justification for destroying Syria’s oil pipelines, is that ISIS does not have the capability to use the pipelines to transfer oil. ISIS transports the stolen oil on the back of trucks, and sells it on the black market in Turkey.

This is admitted in the same Independent article that quoted Ms. Noyes.

The Independent claims:

Isis has sold some of the fuel from seized facilities back to the Damascus regime through local deals, while shipments had been sent into Turkey for the black market, with the Erdogan government accused of turning a blind eye to the illicit transactions. 

If the US truly intended to stop ISIS oil profits, they would bomb these oil convoys, which are easily spotted via conventional surveillance flights already allegedly taking place as part of ongoing Western operations. The US agenda behind destroying Syria’s pipelines has very little to do with ISIS oil profits, and far more to do with destroying Syria’s oil infrastructure.In fact, the statistic that ISIS is making 2 million dollars a day from the sale of crude oil is an estimate from a single consulting company (IHS) based in Colorado in the United States. The US administration is choosing to quote this as if it were without a shred of doubt. It’s far more likely that the scale of the profits has been overblown to deflect from the fact that ISIS is receiving funding from state actors such as Turkey, Qatar and other Persian Gulf states, while at the same time providing an excuse to target Syrian infrastructure.

Earlier last month the US-led airstrikes on Syria and Iraq supposedly destroyed small oil refineries in Raqqa. No effort was made to prove whether or not ISIS was in fact capable of using Syria’s oil refineries. In fact the same consulting company which the US administration is quoting about ISIS oil profits (IHS), states that ISIS is selling unrefined crude oil. The IHS adds the caveat that this estimate was made before ‘US airstrikes’ eluding to the notion that US airstrikes have had an effect on ISIS oil profits. However, the Britain based pro-insurgency Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which was the West establishment-run media’s most reliable source years into the Syrian crisis, said that the oil refineries were not real targets and were not being used by ISIS.

Reuters would report:

These so-called refineries are not a real target and they do not weaken the Islamic State as they do not have any financial value for them,” Rami Abdel Rahman of the Observatory told Reuters. “They are composed of trucks with equipment to separate diesel and petrol used by civilians.

Syria’s two main oil refineries are known to be in Homs and Banyas, not anywhere near Raqqa. The US Declaration that they are destroying ISIS makeshift refineries, is all smoke and mirrors, and will probably be used as a justification to destroy more of Syria’s infrastructure in future.

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.

Pipe Dreams 

18_bThere is more to the US objectives than profiting off of Syria’s oil. The US also seeks to control the flow of oil and its sale to other nations, which is a far more important in achieving global hegemony. Their objective may also have more to do with Iran and Russia’s gas reserves than it does Syria’s oil.

The Guardian claims:

In 2009 … Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was “to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.

Instead, the following year, Assad pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran, across Iraq to Syria, that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field shared with Qatar. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project was signed in July 2012 – just as Syria’s civil war was spreading to Damascus and Aleppo – and earlier this year Iraq signed a framework agreement for construction of the gas pipelines. The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline plan was a “direct slap in the face” to Qatar’s plans. 

The planned Iran-Iraq-Syria Pipeline running through Syria’s coast and into the Mediterranean along which Russia has a presence, would allow Russian control over the tap and flow of Iran’s gas, mitigating rivalry between the countries.

Qatar’s interest in funding the insurrection, was to overthrow Syria and install a pliable opposition that would sign Qatar’s pipeline agreement. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan also had a vested interest in this plan. This suited the US objective of undercutting and weakening Russian influence over Europe.

However they also have an alternative plan for doing so. The planned Nabbaco Pipeline, running from Iran to Turkey to Europe, would directly set Iranian gas against Russian gas. Furthermore, in the absence of the successful overthrow of the Syrian government, the US has settled for destroying what it cannot control. Perpetual war and the destruction of pipelines would prevent or at least delay any possible pipeline agreement in future.

With mainstream media headlines like “US bombing ISIS pipelines” it’s easy to forget that the Pipelines and refineries the US is planning to bomb do not belong to ISIS, but to the Syrian people.

Maram Susli also known as “Syrian Girl,” is an activist-journalist and social commentator covering Syria and the wider topic of geopolitics. especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-destroying-syrias-oil-infrastructure-under-guise-of-fighting-the-islamic-state-isis/5411310

Cities on Speed Bogotá: Improving Civic Behavior

Documentary

A unique and surprising story of two mayors, Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa, who have changed behaviour patterns in the Colombian capital, bringing Bogotá out of a negative spiral of violence and chaos and remaking it as something of a visionary role model for other megacities.

Posted October 29, 2014

“The real secret behind Mockus and Peñalosa’s success is that they are two people characterized by extreme honesty and integrity in everything they do. They are two leaders who have the necessary courage to stay true to their visions, even when the opinion polls go against them. Unlike other politicians who are controlled by strategies and tactics, they have not been driven by a lust for power, only by their ideas and philosophies. And if there is a lesson to be learned by their story, it must be that the change they have managed to bring about could never have come from the traditional political system. It could only have come from the outside.” — Andreas Dalsgaard

Bogotá, Distrito Capital (Spanish pronunciation: ( listen)), from 1991 to 2000 called Santafé de Bogotá, is the capital, and largest city, of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent capital district and no longer belongs administratively to that department. Bogotá is the most populous city in the country, with 7,363,782 inhabitants as of 2005. Bogotá and its metropolitan area, which includes municipalities such as Chía, Cota, Soacha, Cajicá and La Calera, had a population of 7,881,156 in 2005.

In terms of land area, Bogotá is the largest city in Colombia, and one of the biggest in Latin America. It figures amongst the 30 largest cities of the world and it is the third-highest capital city in South America at 2,625 metres (8,612 ft) above sea level, after Quito and La Paz. With its many universities and libraries, Bogotá has become known as “The Athens of South America”. Bogotá owns the largest moorland of the world, which is located in the Sumapaz Locality. The city ranked 54th in the 2010 Global Cities Index, and is listed as global city of the Beta+ kind by the GaWC.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40088.htm

The Kerry-Abdullah Secret Deal Oil-Gas Pipeline War On Iran, Syria And Russia

By ​​​​F. William Engdahl

October 29, 2014 “ICH” –  The details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King. The unintended consequence will be to push Russia even faster to turn east to China and Eurasia.

One of the weirdest anomalies of the recent NATO bombing campaign, allegedly against the ISIS or IS or ISIL or Daash, depending on your preference, is the fact that with major war raging in the world’s richest oil region, the price of crude oil has been dropping, dramatically so. Since June when ISIS suddenly captured the oil-rich region of Iraq around Mosul and Kirkuk, the benchmark Brent price of crude oil dropped some 20% from $112 to about $88. World daily demand for oil has not dropped by 20% however. China oil demand has not fallen 20% nor has US domestic shale oil stock risen by 21%.

What has happened is that the long-time US ally inside OPEC, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC, with Iran following suit and panic selling short in oil futures markets. The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100. [1] That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that is gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely.

The deal

According to Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer. The public reason claimed is to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran on her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria.[2]

When combined with the financial losses of Russian state natural gas sales to Ukraine and prospects of a US-instigated cutoff of the transit of Russian gas to the huge EU market this winter as EU stockpiles become low, the pressure on oil prices hits Moscow doubly. More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas.

The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. The strategy is similar to what the US did with Saudi Arabia in 1986 when they flooded the world with Saudi oil, collapsing the price to below $10 a barrel and destroying the economy of then-Soviet ally, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and, ultimately, of the Soviet economy, paving the way for the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, the hope is that a collapse of Russian oil revenues, combined with select pin-prick sanctions designed by the US Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence will dramatically weaken Putin’s enormous domestic support and create conditions for his ultimate overthrow. It is doomed to fail for many reasons, not the least, because Putin’s Russia has taken major strategic steps together with China and other nations to lessen its dependence on the West. In fact the oil weapon is accelerating recent Russian moves to focus its economic power on national interests and lessen dependence on the Dollar system. If the dollar ceases being the currency of world trade, especially oil trade, the US Treasury faces financial catastrophe. For this reason, I call the Kerry-Abdullah oil war a very stupid tactic.

The Kerry-Abdullah secret deal

On September 11, US Secretary of State Kerry met Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. The King invited former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar to attend. There a deal was hammered out which saw Saudi support for the Syrian airstrikes against ISIS on condition Washington backed the Saudis in toppling Assad, a firm ally of Russia and de facto of Iran and an obstacle to Saudi and UAE plans to control the emerging EU natural gas market and destroy Russia’s lucrative EU trade. A report in the Wall Street Journal noted there had been “months of behind-the-scenes work by the US and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when. The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh US commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority.” [3]

For the Saudis the war is between two competing age-old vectors of Islam. Saudi Arabia, home to the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina, claims de facto supremacy in the Islamic world of Sunni Islam. The Saudi Sunni form is ultra-conservative Wahhabism, named for an 18th Century Bedouin Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist named Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahha. The Taliban derive from Wahhabism with the aid of Saudi-financed religious instruction. The Gulf Emirates and Kuwait also adhere to the Sunni Wahhabism of the Saudis, as does the Emir of Qatar. Iran on the other hand historically is the heart of the smaller branch of Islam, the Shi’ite. Iraq’s population is some 61% majority Shi’ite. Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad is a member of a satellite of the Shi’ite branch known as Alawite. Some 23% of Turkey is also Alawite Muslim. To complicate the picture more, across a bridge from Saudi Arabia sits the tiny island country, Bahrain where as many as 75% of the population is Shi’ite but the ruling Al-Khalifa family is Sunni and firmly tied to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the richest Saudi oil region is dominated by Shi’ite Muslims who work the oil installations of Ras Tanura.

An oil and gas pipeline war

These historic fault lines inside Islam which lay dormant, were brought into a state of open warfare with the launching of the US State Department and CIA’s Islamic Holy War, otherwise known as the Arab Spring. Washington neo-conservatives embedded inside the Obama Administration in a form of “Deep State” secret network, and their allied media such as the Washington Post, advocated US covert backing of a pet CIA project known as the Muslim Brotherhood. As I detail in my most recent book, Amerikas’ Heiliger Krieg, the CIA had cultivated ties to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood death cult since the early 1950’s.

Now if we map the resources of known natural gas reserves in the entire Persian Gulf region, the motives of the Saudi-led Qatar and UAE in financing with billions of dollars the opposition to Assad, including the Sunni ISIS, becomes clearer. Natural gas has become the favored “clean energy” source for the 21st Century and the EU is the world’s largest growth market for gas, a major reason Washington wants to break the Gazprom-EU supply dependency to weaken Russia and keep control over the EU via loyal proxies like Qatar.

The world’s largest known natural gas reservoir sits in the middle of the Persian Gulf straddling part in the territorial waters of Qatar and part in Iran. The Iranian part is called North Pars. In 2006 China’s state-owned CNOOC signed an agreement with Iran to develop North Pars and build LNG infrastructure to bring the gas to China.[4]

The Qatar side of the Persian Gulf, called North Field, contains the world’s third largest known natural gas reserves behind Russia and Iran.

In July 2011, the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq signed an historic gas pipeline energy agreement which went largely unnoticed in the midst of the NATO-Saudi-Qatari war to remove Assad. The pipeline, envisioned to cost $10 billion and take three years to complete, would run from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria via Iraq territory. The agreement would make Syria the center of assembly and production in conjunction with the reserves of Lebanon. This is a geopolitically strategic space that geographically opens for the first time, extending from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.[5] As Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar put it, “The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – if it’s ever built – would solidify a predominantly Shi’ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord.”[6]

Shortly after signing with Iran and Iraq, on August 16, 2011, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Ministry of Oil announced the discovery of a gas well in the Area of Qarah in the Central Region of Syria near Homs. Gazprom, with Assad in power, would be a major investor or operator of the new gas fields in Syria. [7] Iran ultimately plans to extend the pipeline from Damascus to Lebanon’s Mediterranean port where it would be delivered to the huge EU market. Syria would buy Iranian gas along with a current Iraqi agreement to buy Iranian gas from Iran’s part of South Pars field.[8]

Qatar, today the world’s largest exporter of LNG, largely to Asia, wants the same EU market that Iran and Syria eye. For that, they would build pipelines to the Mediterranean. Here is where getting rid of the pro-Iran Assad is essential. In 2009 Qatar approached Bashar al-Assad to propose construction of a gas pipeline from Qatar’s north Field through Syria on to Turkey and to the EU. Assad refused, citing Syria’s long friendly relations with Russia and Gazprom. That refusal combined with the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline agreement in 2011 ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power, financing al Qaeda terrorists, recruits of Jihadist fanatics willing to kill Alawite and Shi’ite “infidels” for $100 a month and a Kalishnikov. The Washington neo-conservative warhawks in and around the Obama White House, along with their allies in the right-wing Netanyahu government, were cheering from the bleachers as Syria went up in flames after spring 2011.

Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal. The true aim of the US and Israel backed ISIS is to give the pretext for bombing Assad’s vital grain silos and oil refineries to cripple the economy in preparation for a “Ghaddafi-”style elimination of Russia and China and Iran-ally Bashar al-Assad.

In a narrow sense, as Washington neo-conservatives see it, who controls Syria could control the Middle East. And from Syria, gateway to Asia, he will hold the key to Russia House, as well as that of China via the Silk Road.

Religious wars have historically been the most savage of all wars and this one is no exception, especially when trillions of dollars in oil and gas revenues are at stake. Why is the secret Kerry-Abdullah deal on Syria reached on September 11 stupid? Because the brilliant tacticians in Washington and Riyadh and Doha and to an extent in Ankara are unable to look at the interconnectedness of all the dis-order and destruction they foment, to look beyond their visions of control of the oil and gas flows as the basis of their illegitimate power. They are planting the seeds of their own destruction in the end.

William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics in the New World Order.  www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net 

Notes:

[1] M. Rochan, Crude Oil Drops Amid Global Demand Concerns, IB Times, October 11, 2014http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/crude-oil-drops-amid-global-demand-concerns-1469524

[2] Nihan Cabbaroglu, Saudi Arabia to pressure Russia Iran with price of oil, 10 October 2014, Turkish Anadolu Agency, http://www.aa.com.tr/en/economy/402343–saudi-arabia-to-pressure-russia-iran-with-price-of-oil

[3] Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, Deal With Saudis Paved Way for Syrian Airstrikes: Talks With Saudi Arabia Were Linchpin in U.S. Efforts to Get Arab States Into Fight Against Islamic State, Wall Street Journal, September. 24, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/deal-with-saudis-paved-way-for-syrian-airstrikes-1411605329?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

[4] POGC, North Pars Gas Field, Pars Oil and Gas Company website,http://www.pogc.ir/NorthParsGasField/tabid/155/Default.aspx

[5] Imad Fawzi Shueibi , War Over Gas–Struggle over the Middle East: Gas Ranks First, 17 April, 2012. http://www.voltairenet.org/article173718.html

[6] Pepe Escobar, Why Qatar Wants to Invade Syria, Asia Times, September 27, 2012,http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32576.htm

[7] Ibid.

[8] F. William Engdahl, Syria Turkey Israel and the Greater Middle East Energy War, Global Research, October 11, 2012, http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-turkey-israel-and-the-greater-middle-east-energy-war/5307902

http://www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40089.htm

Syrian Army Leaders ‘Slaughtered’ as Isis and Nusra Front Militants Storm Idlib

In a major setback to President Assad, the second city – Idlib – narrowly escapes falling to jihadists as rebels storm provincial governor’s office and set about executing senior regime officers. Archive image of Idlib province

By Robert Fisk

October 28, 2014 “ICH” – “BT” – – Syria almost lost its second city to the jihadists of Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra last night when hundreds of fighters stormed into the provincial capital, Idlib, captured the newly installed governor’s office and began beheading Syrian army officers.

By the time government troops recaptured the building, at least 70 soldiers – many senior officers – had been executed, leaving one of the oldest cities in Syria in chaos. “They were slaughtered,” a message to Damascus said before the army was able to declare Idlib saved.

The eastern city of Raqqa has been in the hands of Isis for months, but Idlib lies strategically placed between Aleppo and the coastal city of Latakia – both of which are still held by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Idlib’s fall would have been a devastating blow to the government.

At one point, the Assad administration was told the city had fallen after police and security officers in the headquarters of governor Kheir Eddib Asayed defected to the rebels. Many did, in fact, surrender the building. But by chance soldiers on the city’s perimeter did not receive this news and continued to fight hundreds of jihadis trying to break into Idlib. They were still holding off the attackers when the governor’s office was recaptured.

Idlib lies scarcely 30 miles from Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and is home to more than 200,000 people. Its museum is well known to long-ago tourists wishing to see the treasures of the so-called Roman “dead cities” of northern Syria, and it has been in a virtual stage of siege for well over a year.

But the shock at its near-collapse was palpable in the capital, Damascus, where the new governor – who was not in his office at the time – managed to call army headquarters just in time to prevent the announcement of Idlib’s fall.

Although the attackers were identified as Jabhat al-Nusra rebels – the Syrian army regards all of its opponents as “terrorists” and part of Isis – the assault was obviously intended to crown another shattering victory for the so-called Islamic caliphate which now stretches from eastern Aleppo to the outskirts of Baghdad in Iraq.
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The ferocity of the attack – some soldiers managed to call Damascus to alert the government to their imminent execution – shows just how hard-pressed the Syrian regime is in its battle against the same enemy that the US President, Barack Obama, has promised to “degrade and destroy”. Degraded was the one thing the armed men who stormed Idlib appeared not to be.

When they arrived in the city centre, much as their comrades flooded into the Iraqi city of Mosul when the caliphate was first declared, the gunmen made sure to capture as many senior regime officers as possible. Their murder – by ritual beheading with a knife rather than shooting – was entirely in keeping with Isis policy.

Before they lost the centre of the city, Jabhat al-Nusra was boasting that its “victory” was “a second Raqqa” and that “soon, you will hear the screams of unbelievers”. At Mushamah Hill outside the city, the jihadists captured two army tanks and 12 soldiers – their fate still unknown – while police in the city, apparently in league with would-be suicide bombers, opened the governor’s office to the attackers.

It seems they were able to identify the senior regime soldiers for decapitation. They could not be saved. Government officials in Damascus would speak only of “many dead” when the first news of the assault reached the capital.

The country’s army has already lost at least 33,000 men – the real figure may well be above 46,000 – and the fall of Idlib would have marked a gruesome new stage in the Syrian war. Last night, the government’s flag again flew over the governor’s office. But for how long?

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40082.htm

The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria

The Kerry-Abdullah Secret Deal & An Oil-Gas Pipeline War

The details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King. The unintended consequence will be to push Russia even faster to turn east to China and Eurasia.

One of the weirdest anomalies of the recent NATO bombing campaign, allegedly against the ISIS or IS or ISIL or Daash, depending on your preference, is the fact that with major war raging in the world’s richest oil region, the price of crude oil has been dropping, dramatically so. Since June when ISIS suddenly captured the oil-rich region of Iraq around Mosul and Kirkuk, the benchmark Brent price of crude oil dropped some 20% from $112 to about $88. World daily demand for oil has not dropped by 20% however. China oil demand has not fallen 20% nor has US domestic shale oil stock risen by 21%.

What has happened is that the long-time US ally inside OPEC, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC, with Iran following suit and panic selling short in oil futures markets. The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100. [1]That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that is gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely.

The deal

According to Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer. The public reason claimed is to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran on her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria.[2]

When combined with the financial losses of Russian state natural gas sales to Ukraine and prospects of a US-instigated cutoff of the transit of Russian gas to the huge EU market this winter as EU stockpiles become low, the pressure on oil prices hits Moscow doubly. More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas.

The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. The strategy is similar to what the US did with Saudi Arabia in 1986 when they flooded the world with Saudi oil, collapsing the price to below $10 a barrel and destroying the economy of then-Soviet ally, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and, ultimately, of the Soviet economy, paving the way for the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, the hope is that a collapse of Russian oil revenues, combined with select pin-prick sanctions designed by the US Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence will dramatically weaken Putin’s enormous domestic support and create conditions for his ultimate overthrow. It is doomed to fail for many reasons, not the least, because Putin’s Russia has taken major strategic steps together with China and other nations to lessen its dependence on the West. In fact the oil weapon is accelerating recent Russian moves to focus its economic power on national interests and lessen dependence on the Dollar system. If the dollar ceases being the currency of world trade, especially oil trade, the US Treasury faces financial catastrophe. For this reason, I call the Kerry-Abdullah oil war a very stupid tactic.

The Kerry-Abdullah secret deal

On September 11, US Secretary of State Kerry met Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. The King invited former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar to attend. There a deal was hammered out which saw Saudi support for the Syrian airstrikes against ISIS on condition Washington backed the Saudis in toppling Assad, a firm ally of Russia and de facto of Iran and an obstacle to Saudi and UAE plans to control the emerging EU natural gas market and destroy Russia’s lucrative EU trade. A report in the Wall Street Journal noted there had been “months of behind-the-scenes work by the US and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when. The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh US commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority.” [3]

For the Saudis the war is between two competing age-old vectors of Islam. Saudi Arabia, home to the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina, claims de facto supremacy in the Islamic world of Sunni Islam. The Saudi Sunni form is ultra-conservative Wahhabism, named for an 18th Century Bedouin Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist named Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahha. The Taliban derive from Wahhabism with the aid of Saudi-financed religious instruction. The Gulf Emirates and Kuwait also adhere to the Sunni Wahhabism of the Saudis, as does the Emir of Qatar. Iran on the other hand historically is the heart of the smaller branch of Islam, the Shi’ite. Iraq’s population is some 61% majority Shi’ite. Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad is a member of a satellite of the Shi’ite branch known as Alawite. Some 23% of Turkey is also Alawite Muslim. To complicate the picture more, across a bridge from Saudi Arabia sits the tiny island country, Bahrain where as many as 75% of the population is Shi’ite but the ruling Al-Khalifa family is Sunni and firmly tied to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the richest Saudi oil region is dominated by Shi’ite Muslims who work the oil installations of Ras Tanura.

An oil and gas pipeline war

These historic fault lines inside Islam which lay dormant, were brought into a state of open warfare with the launching of the US State Department and CIA’s Islamic Holy War, otherwise known as the Arab Spring. Washington neo-conservatives embedded inside the Obama Administration in a form of “Deep State” secret network, and their allied media such as the Washington Post, advocated US covert backing of a pet CIA project known as the Muslim Brotherhood. As I detail in my most recent book, Amerikas’ Heiliger Krieg, the CIA had cultivated ties to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood death cult since the early 1950’s.

Now if we map the resources of known natural gas reserves in the entire Persian Gulf region, the motives of the Saudi-led Qatar and UAE in financing with billions of dollars the opposition to Assad, including the Sunni ISIS, becomes clearer. Natural gas has become the favored “clean energy” source for the 21st Century and the EU is the world’s largest growth market for gas, a major reason Washington wants to break the Gazprom-EU supply dependency to weaken Russia and keep control over the EU via loyal proxies like Qatar.

The world’s largest known natural gas reservoir sits in the middle of the Persian Gulf straddling part in the territorial waters of Qatar and part in Iran. The Iranian part is called North Pars. In 2006 China’s state-owned CNOOC signed an agreement with Iran to develop North Pars and build LNG infrastructure to bring the gas to China.[4]

The Qatar side of the Persian Gulf, called North Field, contains the world’s third largest known natural gas reserves behind Russia and Iran.

In July 2011, the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq signed an historic gas pipeline energy agreement which went largely unnoticed in the midst of the NATO-Saudi-Qatari war to remove Assad. The pipeline, envisioned to cost $10 billion and take three years to complete, would run from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria via Iraq territory. The agreement would make Syria the center of assembly and production in conjunction with the reserves of Lebanon. This is a geopolitically strategic space that geographically opens for the first time, extending from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.[5] As Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar put it, “The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – if it’s ever built – would solidify a predominantly Shi’ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord.”[6]

Shortly after signing with Iran and Iraq, on August 16, 2011, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Ministry of Oil announced the discovery of a gas well in the Area of Qarah in the Central Region of Syria near Homs. Gazprom, with Assad in power, would be a major investor or operator of the new gas fields in Syria. [7] Iran ultimately plans to extend the pipeline from Damascus to Lebanon’s Mediterranean port where it would be delivered to the huge EU market. Syria would buy Iranian gas along with a current Iraqi agreement to buy Iranian gas from Iran’s part of South Pars field.[8]

Qatar, today the world’s largest exporter of LNG, largely to Asia, wants the same EU market that Iran and Syria eye. For that, they would build pipelines to the Mediterranean. Here is where getting rid of the pro-Iran Assad is essential. In 2009 Qatar approached Bashar al-Assad to propose construction of a gas pipeline from Qatar’s north Field through Syria on to Turkey and to the EU. Assad refused, citing Syria’s long friendly relations with Russia and Gazprom. That refusal combined with the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline agreement in 2011 ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power, financing al Qaeda terrorists, recruits of Jihadist fanatics willing to kill Alawite and Shi’ite “infidels” for $100 a month and a Kalishnikov. The Washington neo-conservative warhawks in and around the Obama White House, along with their allies in the right-wing Netanyahu government, were cheering from the bleachers as Syria went up in flames after spring 2011.

Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal. The true aim of the US and Israel backed ISIS is to give the pretext for bombing Assad’s vital grain silos and oil refineries to cripple the economy in preparation for a “Ghaddafi-”style elimination of Russia and China and Iran-ally Bashar al-Assad.

In a narrow sense, as Washington neo-conservatives see it, who controls Syria could control the Middle East. And from Syria, gateway to Asia, he will hold the key to Russia House, as well as that of China via the Silk Road.

Religious wars have historically been the most savage of all wars and this one is no exception, especially when trillions of dollars in oil and gas revenues are at stake. Why is the secret Kerry-Abdullah deal on Syria reached on September 11 stupid? Because the brilliant tacticians in Washington and Riyadh and Doha and to an extent in Ankara are unable to look at the interconnectedness of all the dis-order and destruction they foment, to look beyond their visions of control of the oil and gas flows as the basis of their illegitimate power. They are planting the seeds of their own destruction in the end.

# # # #

F. William Engdahl, BFP contributing Author & Analyst
William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics in the New World Order. He is a contributing author at BFP and may be contacted through his website at www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net where this article was originally published.

<Endnotes:


[1] M. Rochan, Crude Oil Drops Amid Global Demand Concerns, IB Times, October 11, 2014     http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/crude-oil-drops-amid-global-demand-concerns-1469524

[2] Nihan Cabbaroglu, Saudi Arabia to pressure Russia Iran with price of oil, 10 October 2014, Turkish Anadolu Agency, http://www.aa.com.tr/en/economy/402343–saudi-arabia-to-pressure-russia-iran-with-price-of-oil

[3] Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, Deal With Saudis Paved Way for Syrian Airstrikes: Talks With Saudi Arabia Were Linchpin in U.S. Efforts to Get Arab States Into Fight Against Islamic State, Wall Street Journal, September. 24, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/deal-with-saudis-paved-way-for-syrian-airstrikes-1411605329?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

[4] POGC, North Pars Gas Field, Pars Oil and Gas Company website, http://www.pogc.ir/NorthParsGasField/tabid/155/Default.aspx

[5] Imad Fawzi Shueibi , War Over Gas–Struggle over the Middle East: Gas Ranks First, 17 April, 2012. http://www.voltairenet.org/article173718.html

[6] Pepe Escobar, Why Qatar Wants to Invade Syria, Asia Times, September 27, 2012, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32576.htm

[7] Ibid.

Washington Post seizes on chemical weapons claims to press for wider war in Syria

By Niles Williamson

25 October 2014

Two articles in Friday’s Washington Post reporting chemical weapons attacks in Iraq and Syria are part of a general propaganda campaign by the mainstream media to turn the operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) into a war to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

A front-page article headlined “Jihadist launched chemical assault” reports that ISIS forces deployed chlorine gas in an attack last month against Sunni police officers in the Iraqi city of Duluiyah, approximately 60 miles north of Baghdad. The officers reported being overcome by a cloud of yellow gas which hung low to the ground, consistent with chlorine gas. The attack reportedly sickened at least 11 officers who were taken to a nearby hospital and treated with oxygen and anti-inflammatory medication for shortness of breath.

According to the Iraq Defense Ministry, ISIS has obtained significant quantities chlorine from water treatment facilities where the chemical is used to chlorinate water to prevent the spread of water-borne disease. Improvised chlorine bombs were used previously by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of ISIS, at the height of the Sunni insurgency against the US occupation in 2006 and 2007.

There have been other reports in recent weeks of the use of chlorine gas by ISIS in Iraq. According to soldiers who managed to escape an ISIS attack last month on the Saqlawiyah military base in Anbar Province, chlorine gas was deployed as part of the brutal assault which killed approximately 370 soldiers. ISIS fighters reportedly fired chlorine gas canisters into the base.

The Al Nusra Front is suspected of being responsible for a chlorine gas attack in March of last year that killed 26 Syrians, including 16 Syrian soldiers. The Al Nusra Front seized control of the Sheikh Suleiman military base in western Aleppo as well as a chlorine factory at the end of 2012, giving them access to chemical weaponry. Sheikh Suleimna, also known as Base 111, is believed to have been an important site in Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The Post’s editorial titled “Obama gives Syria’s Assad another pass on chemical weapons,” seizes on the recent reports of use of chlorine weapons by ISIS in Iraq to press for the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria. “The Islamic State, too, may be using chlorine,” the editorial states, but “the difference is that, while the United States has mobilized a coalition against the Islamic State, Mr. Assad is taking advantage of the fact that the U.S. strategy in Syria is to ignore him.”

The paper states quite bluntly that “the Assad regime is once again blatantly violating the ‘red line’ drawn by Mr. Obama against the use of chemical weapons—and getting away with it.” The editorial quotes Simon Limage, a State Department nonproliferation official, who said that the “evidence strongly suggests the Assad regime is the culprit.”

The editorial cites a report published this week by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, D.C. think-tank which laid blame for 18 recent alleged chlorine gas attacks in rebel held areas on the Assad regime. The ISW was founded and is overseen by Kimberly Kagan, the sister-in-law of Robert Kagan, one of the founders of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century. Robert Kagan served as an advisor to Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus during President Barack Obama’s 2009 surge in Afghanistan.

The editorial concludes that Obama’s refusal to establish a no-fly zone or target the Syrian military has given the Assad regime “a pass.” The conclusion which the Washington Post intends for its readers draw is that a massive military campaign must be undertaken immediately to oust Assad.

Ironically this propaganda for war is published on the same day that the Post’snews reporting vindicates earlier exposures of the Western-backed “rebels’” responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria that were largely ignored by the mainstream media at the time.

UN special investigator Carla Del Ponte stated in May of last year that investigators had “strong, concrete suspicions” of the use of sarin gas “on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

Plots by Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, and Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusra Front, were broken up in May and June of last year. The groups were accused of planning to manufacture and deploy chemical weapons, including sarin and mustard gas.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry arrested five members of ISIS in Baghdad who were allegedly seeking to deploy chemical agents against crowds of Shia pilgrims via remote controlled planes. Turkish authorities claimed to have broken up a plot by the Al-Nusrah Front to launch a sarin gas attack either inside Syria or on the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh exposed claims by the imperialist powers that Assad was responsible for a sarin gas attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August last year as a calculated fraud. Hersh reported that Al Nusra also had the capability to deploy sarin gas in Syria but never came under suspicion from the US. This remarkable exposure of claims that had served as the principal pretext for the Obama administration’s aborted plan to launch air strikes against Syria at the time was subsequently buried by US media.

The Washington Post is seizing upon the most recent claims of chemical weapons attacks in Iraq and Syria as part of a cynical maneuver in the Obama administration’s drive to oust the Assad regime. The yellow press is churning out this propaganda in an attempt to prepare the general population for an escalation of the current military operations against ISIS into an all-out war for regime change in Syria.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/10/25/wapo-o25.html

Direct Democracy The Kobani Riddle

By Pepe Escobar

October 24, 2014 “ICH” – “Asia Times” – The brave women of Kobani – where Syrian Kurds are desperately fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – are about to be betrayed by the “international community”. These women warriors, apart from Caliph Ibrahim’s goons, are also fighting treacherous agendas by the US, Turkey and the administration of Iraqi Kurdistan. So what’s the real deal in Kobani?

Let’s start by talking about Rojava. The full meaning of Rojava – the three mostly Kurdish provinces of northern Syria – is conveyed in this editorial (in Turkish) published by jailed activist Kenan Kirkaya. He argues that Rojava is the home of a “revolutionary model” that no less than challenges “the hegemony of the capitalist, nation-state system” – way beyond its regional “meaning for Kurds, or for Syrians or Kurdistan.”

Kobani – an agricultural region – happens to be at the epicenter of this non-violent experiment in democracy, made possible by an arrangement early on during the Syrian tragedy between Damascus and Rojava (you don’t go for regime change against us, we leave you alone). Here, for instance, it’s argued that “even if only a single aspect of true socialism were able to survive there, millions of discontented people would be drawn to Kobani.”

In Rojava, decision-making is via popular assemblies – multicultural and multi-religious. The top three officers in each municipality are a Kurd, an Arab and an Assyrian or Armenian Christian; and at least one of these three must be a woman. Non-Kurd minorities have their own institutions and speak their own languages.

Among a myriad of women’s and youth councils, there is also an increasingly famous feminist army, the YJA Star militia (“Union of Free Women”, with the “star” symbolizing Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar).

The symbolism could not be more graphic; think of the forces of Ishtar (Mesopotamia) fighting the forces of ISIS (originally an Egyptian goddess), now transmogrified into an intolerant Caliphate. In the young 21st century, it’s the female barricades of Kobani that are in the forefront fighting fascism.

Inevitably there should be quite a few points of intersection between the International Brigades fighting fascism in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, as stressed by one of the very few articles about it published in Western mainstream media.

If these components were not enough to drive crazy deeply intolerant Wahhabis and Takfiris (and their powerful Gulf petrodollar backers) then there’s the overall political set up.

The fight in Rojava is essentially led by the PYD, which is the Syrian branch of the Turkish PKK, the Marxist guerrillas at war against Ankara since the 1970s. Washington, Brussels and NATO – under relentless Turkish pressure – have always officially ranked both PYD and PKK as “terrorists”.

Careful examination of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s must-read book Democratic Confederalismreveals this terrorist/Stalinist equation as bogus (Ocalan has been confined to the island-prison of Imrali since 1999.)

What the PKK – and the PYD – are striving for is “libertarian municipalism”. In fact that’s exactly what Rojava has been attempting; self-governing communities applying direct democracy, using as pillars councils, popular assemblies, cooperatives managed by workers – and defended by popular militias. Thus the positioning of Rojava in the vanguard of a worldwide cooperative economics/democracy movement whose ultimate target would be to bypass the concept of a nation-state.

Not only this experiment is taking place politically across northern Syria; in military terms, it was the PKK and the PYD who actually managed to rescue those tens of thousands of Yazidis corralled by ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Mount Sinjar, and not American bombs, as the spin went. And now, as PYD co-president Asya Abdullah details, what’s needed is a “corridor” to break the encirclement of Kobani by Caliph Ibrahim’s goons.

Sultan Erdogan’s power play
Ankara, meanwhile, seems intent to prolong a policy of “lots of problems with our neighbors.”

For Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, “the main cause of ISIS is the Syrian regime”. And Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – who invented the now defunct “zero problems with our neighbors” doctrine in the first place – has repeatedly stressed Ankara will only intervene with boots on the ground in Kobani to defend the Kurds if Washington presents a “post-Assad plan”.

And then there’s that larger than life character; Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, aka Sultan Erdogan.

Sultan Erdogan’s edicts are well known. Syrian Kurds should fight against Damascus under the command of that lousy fiction, the reconstituted (and to be trained, of all places, in Saudi Arabia) Free Syrian Army; they should forget about any sort of autonomy; they should meekly accept Turkey’s request for Washington to create a no-fly zone over Syria and also a “secured” border on Syrian territory. No wonder both the PYD and Washington have rejected these demands.

Sultan Erdogan has his eyes set on rebooting the peace process with the PKK; and he wants to lead it in a position of force. So far his only concession has been to allow Iraqi Kurd peshmergas to enter northern Syria to counter-balance the PYD-PKK militias, and thus prevent the strengthening of an anti-Turkish Kurdish axis.

At the same time Sultan Erdogan knows ISIS/ISIL/Daesh has already recruited up to 1,000 Turkish passport holders – and counting. His supplemental nightmare is that the toxic brew laying waste to “Syraq” will sooner rather than later mightily overspill inside Turkish borders.

Watch those barbarians at the gates
Caliph Ibrahim’s goons have already telegraphed their intention to massacre and/or enslave the entire civilian population of Kobani. And yet Kobani, per se, has no strategic value for ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (that’s what US Secretary of State John Kerry himself said last week; but then, predictably, he reversed himself). This very persuasive PYD commander though is very much aware of the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh threat.

Kobani is not essential compared to Deir ez-Zor (which has an airport supplying the Syrian Arab Army) or Hasakah (which has oil fields controlled by Kurds helped by the Syrian Arab Army). Kobani boasts no airport and no oil fields.

On the other hand, the fall of Kobani would generate immensely positive extra PR for the already very slick Caliph enterprise – widening the perception of a winning army especially among new, potential, EU passport holder recruits, as well as establishing a solid base very close to the Turkish border.

Essentially, what Sultan Erdogan is doing is to fight both Damascus (long-term) and the Kurds (medium term) while actually giving a free pass (short-term) to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And yet, further on down the road, Turkish journalist Fehim Tastekin is right; training non-existent “moderate” Syrian rebels in oh-so-democratic Saudi Arabia will only lead to the Pakistanization of Turkey. A remix – once again – of the scenario played out during the 1980s Afghan jihad.

As if this was not muddled enough, in a game changer – and reversing its “terrorist” dogma – Washington is now maintaining an entente cordiale with the PYD. And that poses an extra headache for Sultan Erdogan.

This give-and-take between Washington and the PYD is still up for grabs. Yet some facts on the ground spell it all out; more US bombing, more US air drops (including major fail air drops, wherethe freshly weaponized end up being The Caliph’s goons).

A key fact should not be overlooked. As soon as the PYD was more or less “recognized” by Washington, PYD head Saleh Muslim went to meet the wily Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani. That’s when the PYD promised a “power sharing” with Barzani’s peshmergas on running Rojava.

Syrian Kurds who were forced to abandon Kobani and exile themselves in Turkey, and who support the PYD, cannot return to Syria; but Iraqi Kurds can go back and forth. This dodgy deal was brokered by the KRG’s intel chief, Lahur Talabani. The KRG, crucially, gets along very well with Ankara.

That sheds further light on Erdogan’s game; he wants the peshmerga – who are fierce enemies of the PKK – to become the vanguard against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and thus undermine the PYD/PKK alliance. Once again, Turkey is pitting Kurds against Kurds.

Washington for its part is manipulating Kobani to completely legitimize – on a “humanitarian”, R2P vein – its crusade against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. It’s never enough to remember this whole thing started with a barrage of Washington spin about the bogus, ghostly Khorasan group preparing a new 9-11. Khorasan, predictably, entirely vanished from the news cycle.

In the long run, the American power play is a serious threat to the direct democracy experiment in Rojava, which Washington cannot but interpret as – God forbid! – a return of communism.

So Kobani is now a crucial pawn in a pitiless game manipulated by Washington, Ankara and Irbil. None of these actors want the direct democracy experiment in Kobani and Rojava to bloom, expand and start to be noticed all across the Global South. The women of Kobani are in mortal danger of being, if not enslaved, bitterly betrayed.

And it gets even more ominous when the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh play on Kobani is seen essentially for what it is; a diversionary tactic, a trap for the Obama administration. What The Caliph’s goons are really aiming at is Anbar province in Iraq – which they already largely control – and the crucial Baghdad belt. The barbarians are at the gates – not only Kobani’s but also Baghdad’s.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War(Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). – He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

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