[Many observers have been stating the obvious for years, that America would NEVER LEAVE AFGHANISTAN(SEE: Manufacturing Justification for the NATO Takeover of Central Asia–Smashing Greater Central Asia – (Part One); (Part Two) Risking the World; (Part III) Smashing Greater Central Asia; (Part IV) Smashing Greater Central Asia).]
President Barack Obama has secretly signed an order that expands the United States’ direct combat role in Afghanistan throughout 2015, the New York Times reported.
Signed over the last few weeks, the secret order permits American forces to continue to battle the Taliban and other militants that pose a threat to either the Afghan government or US personnel. According to the Times, US jets, bombers, and drones will be able to aid ground troops – be they Afghan or US forces – in whatever mission they undertake.
Under the order, ground troops could join Afghan troops on missions, and airstrikes could be carried out in their support.
If true, this marks a significant expansion of America’s role in Afghanistan in 2015. Previously, President Obama said US forces would not be involved in combat operations once the new year begins. He did say troops would continue training Afghan forces and track down remaining Al-Qaeda members.
Obama signed the secret order after tense debates within the administration. The military reportedly argued that it would allow the US to keep the pressure on the Taliban and other groups should details emerge that they are planning to attack American troops. Civilian aides, meanwhile, said the role of combat troops should be limited to counter-terror missions against Al-Qaeda.
The Times said an administration official painted the secret order’s authorization as a win for the military, but another said the US would not carry out “offensive missions” against the Taliban in 2015.
“We will no longer target belligerents solely because they are members of the Taliban,” the official said. “To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe.”
The change in direction came as the administration faces pointed criticism from those who say the US withdrew from Iraq too quickly, allowing the so-called Islamic State to make rapid gains in a country whose military proved to be easily intimidated and defeated.
Meanwhile, new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has a much softer position on the US presence in his country compared to his predecessor Hamid Karzai. Ghani reportedly asked the US to keep battling the Taliban into 2015. He also removed restrictions against US airstrikes and joint raids that were implemented by Karzai.
It appears that the number of troops that will be operating in Afghanistan next year will remain unchanged from previous plans. There will be 9,800 soldiers left throughout next year, and that number will be cut in half by the end of the year.
By the end of 2016, the remaining troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan, ending the US military presence in the country.
[SEE: The Gaza Bombshell]
Some people dismiss claims that outside powers have manipulated the Arab political landscape, creating division and new movements, but the record suggests there may be merit to the allegations, writes Galal Nassar
As they marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, Palestinians were torn by discord, aggravated by Israeli measures aimed at voiding the Palestinian cause of its substance, such as expanding settlement construction, confiscating Palestinian property, Judaicising Jerusalem and, most recently, recurrent acts defiling Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The spike in tensions accompanies an outburst of angry and sustained recriminations between Fatah and Hamas, the two major factions of the Palestinian resistance, in the aftermath of bomb attacks that targeted the homes of Fatah officials in Gaza.
The worsening polarisation hampers the measures intended to enable the Palestinian Authority to reassert its control over Gaza (which may well have been the purpose of the attacks) after years of Hamas control. This, in turn, jeopardises the creation of a national unity government, reconstruction of Gaza, implementation of the Cairo Agreement, and a return to the provisions of the Gaza Crossings Agreement, the lifting of the blockade and resumption of negotiations with the Israeli occupation.
Hamas, since it was founded, has always played a curious role in the Palestinian resistance. This is in view of its birth as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (it is a member of the International Muslim Brotherhood, as stipulated in Article 2 of its charter), its conflicting affiliations, its ideological and organisational frame of reference, and its ulterior motives and aims.
Yet, however we might judge that movement, this does not diminish the Palestinian resistance, the struggle and sacrifices that the Palestinian people have endured over the decades, or the place that their cause has in the hearts and minds of every Arab.
In November 1994 I had an exclusive interview with Richard Hrair Dekmejian, political science professor at the University of Southern California and author of Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab world. A Syrian of Armenian origin, he acquired US nationality at a young age.
The interview appeared in Al-Ahram Weekly and was translated into Arabic by the late Saadeddin Wahba and published in his weekly column in Al-Ahram daily. Dekmejian, who had served as a political advisor to President Ronald Reagan, discussed the part Washington played in supporting and funding the idea of creating the Hamas movement in Gaza.
Why would Washington work to create an Islamic, fundamentalist entity to fight its ally, Israel, I asked?
He said that Washington and Tel Aviv wanted to pull the rug out from beneath Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Most of the members of these two organisations hailed from the political left and sometimes used a lexicon that did not connect with the general Palestinian public.
The Reagan administration believed that by setting up or supporting the creation of an Islamist movement that used religious rhetoric and language that resonated with large segments of the Palestinian street, it could create a schism and erode the popularity of the PLO and Fatah. The division could be exploited in any negotiating process and manipulate Palestinian and Arab emotions towards the realisation of certain ends.
Washington acted on this advice. The CIA, setting into motion the customary devices it uses in its covert operations, channelled $3 million through an intermediary to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his aides, although of course Yassin was unaware of the provenance of the funds. (Neither Yassin, who was alive when the Dekmejian interview appeared in Al-Ahram, or any other Hamas leader ever denied or commented on the claims.)
Since that time, Hamas and its decisions have been subject to the pressures and conditions of its sources of funding and political support. These have been manipulated in such a way as to keep the movement in a permanent state of political and ideological collision with Fatah and the PLO and, subsequently, the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah officials.
Israel and Washington have constantly used that clash to cause negotiations to breakdown, to weaken Palestinian ranks and to facilitate the processes of settlement expansion, land confiscation and the Judaicisation of the occupied territories.
In addition to the these links, Hamas is organisationally linked to the International Muslim Brotherhood, which is also one of the movement’s most important sources of funding. Hamas is thus bound to Muslim Brotherhood policies and agendas, which do not necessarily mesh with the aims and aspirations of the Palestinian people.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s actions and decisions are informed by its particular calculations of power balances and what best promotes its own interests, rather than by what is best for the Palestinian cause. The conflicting pull of Hamas’s affiliations was manifested in Hamas’s attitudes toward recent events in Egypt and the effect of these on Egyptian-brokered inter-Palestinian reconciliation, for example.
That the behaviour of Hamas is controlled from abroad because its leaders are subject to pressures from their (US, Qatari, Turkish) sources of funding, support and protection has rendered people in Gaza — and Palestinians in general — pawns to interests that often have no relationship to the interests of the resistance against a brutal occupying power.
This has led to actions that have often been counterproductive to the needs of the Palestinian cause and the welfare of the people who suffer under occupation and are struggling to win their freedom.
Hamas is no different from the other paramilitary movements that use religion and claim a monopoly on the truth in the name of Islam, and that have come to dominate the stage in the Arab nation and, in the process, hijacked, destroyed and distorted the humanitarian and democratic calling of the Arab Spring.
The scheme to establish and support Hamas is echoed in the creation of Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS), Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, some Salafist fronts, Hizbullah, the Houthis and other such groups and movements. The model for this may well have been the creation of the Muslim Brotherhood, fostered by the British embassy in Cairo as an instrument to drive a wedge into the Egyptian nationalist movement and to beat back other political forces.
With regard to Washington’s role in the creation and promotion of militant Islamist movements and other Islamist movements that have been thirsting for political power, I would like to call the reader’s attention to the testimony of some retired US intelligence officials cited in The Atlantic Monthly following 11 September 2001.
According to that testimony, the CIA and other US intelligence agencies at the time failed to detect the threat because they had lost the initiative after many of their agents were withdrawn from the field.
The agencies had built up a structure for collecting intelligence, assessing positions and controlling events from afar using “moles” who had been planted many years before among those movements. They grew their beards, prayed and thoroughly blended into the environment of those groups.
The former intelligence officials added that the agencies at the time had stopped creating new organisations that they could control from afar in order to promote US interests in the Middle East. But after disaster struck at the World Trade Centre, officials recommended reviving these “pre-emptive” policies.
I have little doubt that attempts to undermine the spirit and goals of the Arab Spring, the drives to promote the empowerment of the so-called “political Islamic current” and its political, intellectual and journalistic advocates and pundits, and the emergence of new regional roles for Hamas, IS and their sisters are manifestations of the faithful implementation of those former intelligence officials’ recommendations.
I wonder to what extent the Arab political and intellectual elites are aware of that game and its players. The evidence is that in order to formulate counterstrategies and measures to rescue our region from its tragic plights, and perhaps worse to come, we need to summon at least a modicum of conspiracy theorising in our analyses, and to drop the sarcasm while doing so, as the situation does not permit it.
April 25, 2014 6:33 AM
Yatsenyuk warned Friday that Russia’s actions could lead to a wider military conflict in Europe. He told an interim Cabinet meeting that Moscow “wants to start World War III.”
U.S. President Barack Obama also criticized what he called Russia’s “further meddling” in eastern Ukraine, where armed, pro-Russian separatists have occupied government buildings.
Speaking in Seoul, Obama said he would talk to “key European leaders” later Friday about implementing wider sanctions in the event Russia further escalates the situation.
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin must decide whether he wants to see his country’s already fragile economy weakened further because he failed to act diplomatically in Ukraine.
His comments echoed that of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said Thursday that Moscow is making “an expensive mistake” by failing to restrain the separatists.
Underscoring the threat to Moscow’s economy, credit agency Standard and Poor’s cut Russia’s credit rating to BBB- . The agency said it is concerned about increased capital outflows from Russia, and said the rating could be cut further if sanctions are tightened.
Both Obama and Kerry have accused Russia of failing to uphold the four-party deal it signed last week calling for all parties in Ukraine to lay down their weapons and vacate public buildings. Kerry said Moscow has not taken “a single step” to de-escalate tensions since the deal was signed in Geneva.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday blamed the West for raising tensions, saying the Pro-Russian militants would only lay down their weapons if the Ukrainian government first clears out its own protesters in the capital.
Lavrov also denounced Kyiv’s security operation to clear the pro-Russian militants, calling it a “bloody crime.” Ukrainian officials on Thursday said the crackdown killed up to five people.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is vowing the operation will continue. On his Facebook page, Avakov said “terrorists should be on guard 24 hours a day,” but that civilians have nothing to fear.
The flurry of diplomatic exchanges come amid rising tensions along the Ukraine-Russian border, where a huge Russian military force is gathered. A Ukrainian diplomat at the United Nations told VOA that Moscow has doubled its military presence on the border to about 80,000 troops.
[EXPOSING AMERICAN FRAUD]
[Another Taliban leader killed for the second time (SEE: 56 killed in shelling by fighter aircraft, helicopters ). The continual repetition of this demonstrated pattern of the alleged re-killing of famous militants, either confirms the total and complete unreliability of those Pak spies who identify drone victims for the Western press, or else it confirms consistent Pentagon lying about the alleged “successes” of its drone murder program. The Pentagon never really knows for sure “who” it kills in these strikes, or whether any militants were killed at all in the isolated mountains, even though nearly every publicized strike is linked with a known militant name. The sheer number of the drone murders -vs- the limited number of known militant names in Pakistan, necessitates the re-running of the names of the alleged victims.]
A senior Pakistani Taliban commander has been shot dead in a militant stronghold near the Afghan border, security sources and relatives say.
Asmatullah Shaheen was ambushed as he drove through a village near Miranshah in North Waziristan, reports said. Two others in the vehicle also died.
It is unclear who killed them. There has been no word from the militants.
Shaheen was briefly the Pakistani Taliban interim leader after its chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed last year.
Asmatullah Shaheen, who came from the small Bhittani tribe, shot to prominence in December 2011 when his men kidnapped and killed about 15 security force personnel.
The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says he is believed to have depended on the much larger Mehsud tribe for his clout in militant circles.
Sure, American drones still smash into al-Qa’ida operatives, wedding parties and innocent homes in Pakistan. But it’s General al-Sisi of Egypt, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran – even powerless President Michel Sleiman of Lebanon – who are now fighting “terrorists”.
It shows how powerful the bad guys have become that mutually antagonistic dictators and satraps can gang together against America’s enemy. This is “Arab unity” as we have never seen it before. The Ottoman Empire lives again. But watch out.
You need to put on a tin hat to avoid the ironies crashing out of the sky. John Kerry – now the most outrageously funny Secretary of State in US history, he who promised an “unbelievably small” airstrike against Syria – says America supports the secular rebels against Assad, who are fighting the Islamist rebels who are fighting against Assad even though the US still wants the overthrow of – you guessed it – Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile private Saudi money is still pouring into Syria to help the al-Qa’ida-associated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) – against whom Bashar and the secular Free Syrian Army are now fighting – while the Saudis also contribute billions to Sisi’s army in Egypt which is fighting identical al-Qa’ida-linked “terror” in Sinai and now, it appears, in Cairo itself. And if you are confused by all this, try Lebanon.
Last week, the authorities claimed to have arrested Majid bin Mohamed al-Majid, one of the “most wanted” al-Qa’ida men in Saudi Arabia. All they had to do to confirm this extraordinary detention was to use DNA to check the man’s identity. This came only weeks after Lebanese Shias blamed Saudi “terrorists” for blowing up the Iranian embassy in Beirut, an attack followed by the assassination of a prominent Sunni politician and then – last week – by a further attack on Shias in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital. No sooner had Sunni ex-minister Mohammed Chatah been car-bombed to death, than the Americans promised more money to the Lebanese army. How, then, could the Lebanese avoid being drawn into the “anti-terrorist” war after arresting Majid? Miraculously – and there have been a lot of miracles in the Middle East region, as we all know – the Lebanese not only confirmed that they had indeed got the right man, but that he had regrettably died of organ failure while in their custody. Phew!
Majid al-Majid was the alleged leader of the group that claimed responsibility for the attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut in November
But US support for the Lebanese military will go ahead. Just as Washington is now offering more missiles and planes to the Shia sub-dictator President Maliki of Iraq if he goes on biffing Sunni insurgents and al-Qa’ida men in Anbar province. History, of course, repeats itself in Fallujah and Ramadi, the two cities repeatedly conquered and then re-conquered and then re-conquered for a third time by US forces after the illegal invasion of 2003. In 2004, the Marines claimed they had wiped out al-Qa’ida in Fallujah, then handed the city over to Baathist policemen. Then the Americans virtually destroyed the city around the heads of al-Qa’ida after another few months – we will not mention the use of US phosphorous shells and the outbreak of childbirth abnormalities more than five years later – and now the largely Shia Iraqi army is fighting the Sunni tribesmen of Fallujah. Who are in turn (be patient, readers) claiming they are fighting the local al-Qa’ida groups, just as the Free Syrian Army insists that it is now in combat against the same al-Qa’ida groups in Syria.
Meanwhile Kerry – who has not invited the Iranians to the Geneva 2 talks on Syria – says Iran might play a valuable role “on the sidelines” (has ever an invitation to Iran appeared more insulting?) while the main Syrian opposition forces have no intention of taking part in the Swiss conference. Geneva 2, in other words, is a dead duck; just like the Palestinian-Israeli talks of which Kerry still speaks with optimism – a sure sign that this particular duck is also dying.
Who now remembers the Arab Awakening – or “spring” as some of my colleagues still insist on calling it? Well, let’s just take a look at an ominous statement this past weekend in which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the latest bomb in Beirut – the one that killed at least four civilians in the Hezbollah suburbs. So now Isil – as I suppose we must call it – acknowledges it is fighting on three fronts: Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. So we have Arab regime unity at last. As for America – well, I guess they’ll go on supporting the Free Syrian Army which is fighting al-Qa’ida which is fighting Bashar whom Washington wants to dethrone.
America’s Muslim Brotherhood friends in Egypt have just been formally classed as “terrorists” by Sisi who is supported by the country which is paying – long live Salafism – for Islamist “terror” in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. And Saudi Arabia – the key to the whole fandango, though no one will say this – remains a close and “moderate” friend of America. Say no more.
[There is no AQ In Iraq, no ISIL, nor any “Islamic State In Syria (Sham)….there are only secret military operations needing a name, an excuse to be, most of all, a real leader. Today, the state of Iraq, Interior Ministry released the following photo of the man who is known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.]
A handout picture released by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI) shows a photograph purportedly of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, an Al-Qaeda-linked group fighting in Iraq and Syria. AFP PHOTO / MOI/ HO
THIS IS CLEARLY NOT THE MAN IN THE PHOTO BELOW.
[This is the man that is currently pretending to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, alleged to be leader of Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the guy who is supposedly leading the insurrection against the Free Syrian Army. Would that make him a “terrorist” or an “actor,” since he is playing a role in this grand production? In the performance, we see a weird, unintended script twist, where life imitates art, meaning that the Baghdadi guy is much like the “Mandarin” character from “Ironman 3,” played by Sir Ben Kingsley.
The actor playing a role to cover military action. Perhaps “Al-Qaeda In Levant” is a “Sham,” existing only on video (SEE: U.S. Military: ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ Fronted by Imaginary Leader).
“Baghdadi” was allegedly the man in charge of the Iraqi group, after original leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed.
As for Zarqawi himself, he was allegedly killed in Chechnya, long before the second Iraq War, according to respected Jordanian/Chechen terrorist leader, Ibn al-Khattab.
The photograph, the first of its kind published by an official source, provides a rare glimpse of the man leading a militant group blamed for killing countless Iraqis, as well as fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The black-and-white picture shows a balding man with a beard wearing a suit and tie.
“Intelligence forces have obtained a recent portrait of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and they also got three handwritten letters,” said the statement accompanying the photograph, published on the ministry’s website.
“The security forces call on the people to provide any information that helps lead to the arrest of this criminal.”
Baghdadi’s group has been blamed for a litany of attacks across Iraq in recent months, and ISIS has been involved in a deadly standoff with government forces in western Iraq’s Anbar province.
In Syria, ISIS has also been fighting not only forces loyal to Assad but also fellow rebel groups. The ISIS leader has, however, reached out to other rebel groups in a bid to curb the infighting.
ISIS, which was previously the Islamic State of Iraq, was formed in April 2013 when Baghdadi sought to merge his group with Al-Nusra Front, but they rejected the alliance and pledged allegiance directly to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Since then, the two groups have functioned separately.