“Adam Szubin serves as the Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. In this role, Mr. Szubin leads the policy, enforcement, regulatory, and intelligence functions of the Treasury Department aimed at identifying and disrupting the lines of financial support to international terrorist organizations, proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics traffickers, and other actors posing a threat to our national security or foreign policy. He is also responsible for overseeing the Treasury Department’s efforts to combat money laundering and financial crimes.”—Combating Terrorist Financing
Remarks of Acting Under Secretary Adam Szubin on Countering the Financing of Terrorism at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
“The problem is that there are forces within the Pakistani government – specifically in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI – that refuse to take similar steps against all the terrorist groups active in Pakistan, tolerating some groups – or even worse.This is a distinction we cannot stand for.We continue to urge our partners in Pakistan to go after all terrorist networks operating in their country. We stand ready to help them. But there should be no doubt that while we remain committed to working with Pakistan to confront ongoing terrorist financing and operations, the U.S. will not hesitate to act alone, when necessary, to disrupt and destroy these networks.”
US said that Pakistan may be tolerating some terrorist groups.
“The problem is that there are forces within the Pakistani government — specifically in Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence or ISI — that refuse to take similar steps against all the terrorist groups active in Pakistan, tolerating some groups — or even worse,” Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary on Countering the Financing of Terrorism, told a Washington audience.
“We continue to urge our partners in Pakistan to go after all terrorist networks operating in their country. We stand ready to help them. But there should be no doubt that while we remain committed to working with Pakistan to confront ongoing terrorist financing and operations, the US will not hesitate to act alone, when necessary, to disrupt and destroy these networks,” Szubin warned.
In his remarks at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Szubin said at the same time, Pakistan has been — and remains — a critical counter-terrorism partner in many respects.
“Of course, Pakistanis are themselves often the victims of brutal terrorist attacks on schools+ , markets, and mosques, and the list unfortunately goes on. And in the face of such violence, Pakistan has in some ways pushed back,” Szubin said.
“Pakistan has achieved success in its ongoing operations against traditional terrorist safe havens in northwest Pakistan. It has officially designated ISIL as a terrorist organization. And it has gone after the funding and operational capabilities of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP,” he said.
But the ISI problem of supporting terrorist groups continues, he said.
“This is a distinction we cannot stand for,” Szubin asserted.
The US has been saying that Pakistan has not yet placed adequate pressure on the Haqqani Network of militants to prevent them from plotting deadly cross-border attacks in war- torn Afghanistan.
Afghan authorities allege leaders of the Haqqani group, which is fighting alongside the Taliban, are directing high- profile attacks, particularly in the capital, Kabul, from their sanctuaries on Pakistani soil, with the covert support of the country’s intelligence operatives.
There is not adequate pressure being put on the Haqqanis” by the Pakistan government, The commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson had said last month.
“The Haqqanis operationally have been able to continue to conduct operations inside Afghanistan. They constitute the primary threat to Americans, to coalition members and to Afghans, especially in and around Kabul,” he said.
Pakistani authorities routinely deny the presence of any sanctuaries and insist counter-terrorism military operations have targeted and uprooted all militant infrastructures on their side of the border.
KARACHI: A case was registered on Thursday against a Frontier Constabulary (FC) official after he slapped a female reporter of a local news channel at a Nadra office in Karachi’s Liaquatabad.
A video which went viral on social media showed an FC guard on duty slap a female reporter of channel K-21 while she was doing a live programme. The reporter was discussing the problems people face at the Nadra office.
The reporter and the guard got into a rift after the guard allegedly misbehaved with the cameraman and then slapped her when she insisted on filming him. The FC guard also fired 18 bullets in the air after the mob tried to beat him up for slapping the reporter.
Police confirmed a case had been registered against the FC guard for “conducting aerial firing” and “assaulting” the reporter after the video went viral.
Meanwhile, police officials said Nadra officials have also submitted an application against the TV channel reporter for creating “hindrances in official work”.
Chaudhry Nisar orders inquiry
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan took notice of the incident, and ordered inquiry.
In a statement, the interior minister said misbehaving with the media representatives cannot be tolerated.
North Korea test-fired a missile that failed immediately after launch today, the US and South Korean militaries said, hours after the two countries agreed to step up efforts to counter the North’s nuclear and missile threats.
The missile, believed to be an intermediate-range Musudan, was launched from the western city of Kusong, from where the isolated state had attempted and failed to launch the same type of missile on Saturday, the U.S. Strategic Command and South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The launch comes after the United States and South Korea agreed in Washington on Wednesday to bolster military and diplomatic efforts to counter the North’s nuclear and missile programs, which it is pursuing in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
After a meeting with South Korea’s Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said such launches threatened the stability of the Korean peninsula and the broader Asia-Pacific region.
“We strongly condemn last night’s attempt, that even in failing, violated several U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he said at a news conference.
“This latest provocation only strengthens our resolve to work together with our (South Korean) allies to maintain stability on the peninsula.”
The failed missile launch was the eighth attempt in seven months by the North to launch a weapon with a design range of 3,000 km (1,800 miles) that can be fired from road mobile launchers, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said.
Han said North Korea was conducting its missile launches for “political purposes” and was showing its limitations through the failures.
U.S. PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
News of the North’s latest ballistic missile launch came during the third and final U.S. presidential debate, in which Republican candidate Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, exchanged sharply contrasting views on U.S. alliances in Asia.
Trump said U.S. defense treaties around the world, including with South Korea, had to be renegotiated because “we’re being ripped off by everybody in the world.”
Clinton said Trump wanted to tear up alliances that keep nuclear proliferation in check, relationships that she believed make the world and the United States safer.
Japan condemned the North Korean launch and said it would make a formal protest through its embassy in Beijing.
North Korea has been pursuing its nuclear and missile programs at an unprecedented pace this year.
In June, it launched a Musudan missile that flew about 400 km (250 miles), more than half the distance to Japan, a flight that was considered a success by officials and experts in South Korea and the United States.
North Korea said on Thursday that it would continue to launch satellites despite its rival South’s objections, in a statement by its space agency carried by official media.
Pyongyang says it has a sovereign right to pursue a space program by launching rockets carrying satellites, most recently in February, although Washington and Seoul worry that such launches are long-range missile tests in disguise.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking before the failed missile launch, said the United States would do “whatever is necessary” to defend itself, South Korea and other allies against North Korea.
Kerry and Carter reaffirmed that any attack by North Korea would be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons “met with an effective and overwhelming response,” a joint statement said.
As part of the military effort, Kerry said the United States would deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system to South Korea “as soon as possible.”
China strongly opposes deployment of the U.S. system, saying it would impinge on its own strategic deterrence.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, also speaking in Washington on Wednesday, said North Korea was nearing the “final stage of nuclear weaponisation” and the allies would mobilize “all tools in the toolkit” to defend themselves.
A U.S. aerospace expert, John Schilling, said this week in a report on the 38 North project that despite the missile launch failures, the pace of testing could enable the North to put the Musudan missile into operational service some time next year.
Stephen Gowans Correspondent
“IN Syria almost everybody is under siege to a greater or lesser degree,” observes the Independent’s Patrick Cockburn. Most people, however, think the only siege in Syria is the one imposed on (East) Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces. But siege as a form of warfare is hardly uniquely embraced by the Syrian Arab Army and Russian military.
On the contrary, the United States and its allies have been practising siege warfare in the Levant and beyond for years, and continue to do so. It’s just that US-led siege warfare has been concealed behind anodyne, even heroic, labels, while the siege warfare of countries Washington is hostile to, is abominated by Western state officials crying crocodile tears.
Here’s how the deception works
Sieges of cities controlled by Islamic State, carried out by US forces and their allies, are called rescue operations, or campaigns to liberate or retake cities — never sieges. Other sieges — the ones carried out by Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Al Nusra, which, herein, I’ll call Al-Qaeda for convenience — are ignored altogether (which might suggest something about the relationship of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate to the United States.) And a particularly injurious form of siege — economic sanctions — is presented as a separate category altogether and not siege warfare at all.
But sanctions, imposed by rich countries, such as the United States and those of the European Union, on poor countries, such as Syria, are a modern form of siege, and have been called sanctions of mass destruction, in recognition of their devastating character.
In the Levant, the sieges which are identified as such by Western state officials, and in train, by the Western mass media, are sieges of cities controlled by Al-Qaeda, carried out by Syrian forces and their allies. These sieges — which cause hunger, kill civilians, and destroy buildings — are denounced in the West as ferocious attacks on innocents which amount to war crimes. “Russia’s bombardment backing the siege of Aleppo by Syrian government forces,” notes the Wall Street Journal, “has created a humanitarian crisis.” A UN Security Council resolution — vetoed by Russia — has called for an end to Russian bombing of Aleppo. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has mused openly about war crimes indictments against Syria and Russia.
Yet US campaigns to drive Islamic State out of Manbij, Kobani, Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit, and now Mosul, have also caused hunger, killed civilians, and destroyed buildings. Unlike the Syrian military’s siege of East Aleppo, these campaigns have been celebrated as great and necessary military victories, but have, themselves, created vast humanitarian crises.
Cockburn observes that the “recapture” of “cities like Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit … would scarcely have happened without the coalition air umbrella overhead.” That is, the cities liberated by Iraqi forces and their US patron were bombed into submission, even though civilians were trapped inside. Iraqi ground forces only moved in after these cities were left in ruins by coalition airstrikes and Iraqi artillery bombardment, as mopping up forces.
Rania Khalek, writing in the Intercept, points out that “US-backed ground forces laid siege to Manbij, a city in northern Syria not far from Aleppo that is home to tens of thousands of civilians. US airstrikes pounded the city over the summer, killing up to 125 civilians in a single attack. The US replicated this strategy to drive ISIS out of Kobane, Ramadi and Fallujah, leaving behind flattened neighborhoods.”
To recover Ramadi from Islamic State, Iraqi forces surrounded and cordoned off the city. In addition, the US-led coalition bombarded Ramadi with airstrikes and artillery fire. The bombardment left 70 percent of Ramadi’s buildings in ruins. The city was recovered, but “the great majority of its 400 000 people” were left homeless.
Iraqi forces also besieged the city of Fallujah, preventing most food, medicine and fuel from entering it. Militias “prevented civilians from leaving Islamic State territory while resisting calls to allow humanitarian aid to reach the city”. This was done “to strangle Islamic State” with the result that civilians were also “strangled”. Inside the city, tens of thousands endured famine and sickness due to lack of medicine. Civilians reportedly survived on grass and plants. Many civilians “died under buildings that collapsed under” artillery bombardment and coalition air strikes.
The current campaign to recover Mosul is based on the same siege strategy US forces and their Iraqi client used to liberate Ramadi and Fallujah. US and allied warplanes have been bombarding the city for months.
Iraqi forces, aided by US Special Forces, are moving to cordon it off. “Some aid groups estimate that as many as a million people could be displaced by fighting to recapture the city, creating a daunting humanitarian task that the United Nations and other organisations say they are not yet ready to deal with.”
Writer and journalist Jonathan Cook commented on the utter hypocrisy of Westerners who condemn the Syrian/Russian campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Islamist fighters while celebrating the Iraqi/US campaign to do the same in Mosul. Targeting the British newspaper, The Guardian, beloved by progressives, Cook contrasted two reports which appeared in the newspaper to illustrate the Western heart beating for all except those the US Empire drowns in blood.
Report one: The Guardian provides supportive coverage of the beginning of a full-throttle assault by Iraqi forces, backed by the US and UK, on Mosul to win it back from the jihadists of ISIS – an assault that will inevitably lead to massive casualties and humanitarian suffering among the civilian population.
Report two: The Guardian provides supportive coverage of the US and UK for considering increased sanctions against Syria and Russia. On what grounds? Because Syrian forces, backed by Russia, have been waging a full-throttle assault on Aleppo to win it back from the jihadists of ISIS and Al-Qaeda – an assault that has led to massive casualties and humanitarian suffering among the civilian population.
Central to Western propaganda is the elision of the Islamist character of the Al-Qaeda militants who tyrannise East Aleppo. This is accomplished by labelling them “rebels”, while the “rebels” who tyrannise the cities the United States and its allies besiege are called “Islamic State”, ISIL” or “ISIS” fighters.
The aim is to conjure the impression that US-led sieges are directed at Islamic terrorists, and therefore are justifiable, despite the humanitarian crises they precipitate, while the Syrian-led campaign in East Aleppo is directed at rebels, presumably moderates, or secular democrats, and therefore is illegitimate. This is part of a broader US propaganda campaign to create two classes of Islamist militants —good Islamists, and bad ones.
The first class, the good Islamists, comprises Al-Qaeda and fighters cooperating with it, including US-backed groups, whose operations are limited to fighting secularists in Damascus, and therefore are useful to the US foreign policy goal of overthrowing Syria’s Arab nationalist government. These Islamist fighters are sanitised as “rebels”.
The second class, the bad Islamists, comprises Islamic State. Islamic State has ambitions which make it far less acceptable to Washington as an instrument to be used in pursuit of US foreign policy goals. The organisation’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aspires to lead a caliphate which effaces the Sykes-Picot borders, and is therefore a threat, not only to the Arab nationalists in Damascus—an enemy the organisation shares in common with Washington — but also to the US client states of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which Islamic State attacks. The US objective in connection with Islamic State is to push the organisation out of Iraq (and out of areas in Syria that can be brought under the control of US-backed fighters) and into the remainder of Syria, where they can wear down Arab nationalist forces.
Syria’s “moderates”—the “rebels”— if there are any in the sense of secular pro-democrats, are few in number. Certainly, their ranks are so limited that arming them, in the view of US President Barack Obama, would make little difference. The US president told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that his administration had “difficulty finding, training and arming a sufficient cadre of secular Syrian rebels: ‘There’s not as much capacity as you would hope,’” Obama confessed.  Obama’s assessment was underscored when “a US general admitted that it had just four such ‘moderate’ fighters in Syria after spending $500 million on training them”  Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk dismissed the idea of the “moderates” as little more than a fantasy. “I doubt if there are 700 active ‘moderate’ foot soldiers in Syria,” he wrote. And “I am being very generous, for the figure may be nearer 70.”
Elizabeth O’Bagy, who has made numerous trips to Syria to interview insurgent commanders for the Institute for the Study of War, told the New York Times’ Ben Hubbard that my “sense is that there are no seculars” Anti-government fighters interviewed by the Wall Street Journal found the Western concept of the secular Syrian rebel to be incomprehen- sible.
To be clear: Syrian and Russian forces are waging a campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Islamists, whose only difference from Islamic State is that they’re not a threat to the US client states, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
It’s “primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo”, US Department of Defence spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren said on April 25, referring to Al-Qaeda. Other militant Islamist organisations, including US-backed groups, are also in Aleppo, intertwined with, embedded with, sharing weapons with, cooperating with, and acting as auxiliaries of Al-Qaeda.
Author and journalist Stephen Kinzer, writing in the Boston Globe, reminds us that:
“For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: ‘Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.’ Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.”
The Invisible Sieges
While sieges imposed by US-led forces are hidden by not calling them sieges, sieges imposed by Washington’s Al-Qaeda ally are simply ignored.
“Only three years ago,” notes Fisk, the same Islamist fighters who are under siege today in East Aleppo, “were besieging the surrounded Syrian army western enclave of Aleppo and firing shells and mortars into the sector where hundreds of thousands of civilians lived under regime control”. Fisk observes acidly that the “first siege didn’t elicit many tears from the satellite channel lads and lassies” while the “second siege comes with oceans of tears”.
To the ignored Al-Qaeda-orchestrated siege of West Aleppo can be added “the untold story of the three-and-a-half-year siege of two small Shia Muslim villages in northern Syria”, Nubl and Zahra. Those sieges, carried out by Al-Qaeda against villages which remained loyal to Syria’s Arab nationalist government, left at least 500 civilians dead, 100 of them children, through famine and artillery bombardment. The “world paid no heed to the suffering of these people”, preferring to remain “largely fixed on those civilians suffering under siege by (Syrian) government forces elsewhere”.
And then there’s the largely untold story of the 13-year-long siege imposed on a whole country, Syria, by the United States and European Union. That siege, initiated by Washington in 2003, with the Syria Accountability Act, and then followed by EU sanctions, blocks Western exports of almost all products to Syria and isolates the country financially.
This massive, wide-scale siege plunged Syria’s economy into crisis even before the 2011 eruption of upheavals in the Arab world — demonstrating that Washington’s efforts to force Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down began long before the Arab Spring. The roots of US hostility to Assad’s government are found in the danger of its becoming “a focus of Arab nationalistic struggle against an American regional presence and interests” – another way of saying that the Arab nationalist goals of unity, independence and socialism, which guide the Syrian state, are an anathema to the US demand—expressed in the 2015 US National Security Strategy — that all countries fall in behind US global “leadership”.
Under US siege warfare, unemployment shot up, factories closed, food prices skyrocketed and fuel prices doubled. “Syrian officials” were forced “to stop providing education, health care and other essential services in some parts of the country.” Indeed, so comprehensive was the siege, that by 2011 US “officials acknowledged that the country was already under so many sanctions that the United States held little leverage.”
Western siege warfare on Syria has blocked “access to blood safety equipment, medicines, medical devices, food, fuel, water pumps, spare parts for power plants, and more”, leading Patrick Cockburn to compare the regime change campaign to “UN sanctions on Iraq between 1990 and 2003”. The siege of Iraq — at a time when the country was led by secular Arab nationalists who troubled Washington as much, if not more, than the secular Arab nationalists in Syria vex Washington today — led to the deaths, though disease and hunger, of 500,000 children, according to the United Nations. Political scientists John Meuller and Karl Meuller called the siege a campaign of economic warfare amounting to “sanctions of mass destruction”, more devastating than all the weapons of mass destruction used in history. When the West’s siege warfare on Arab nationalist Iraq ended in 2003 it was immediately resumed on Arab nationalist Syria, with the same devastating consequences.
According to a leaked UN internal report, the “US and EU economic sanctions on Syria are causing huge suffering among ordinary Syrians and preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid”.  Cockburn notes that “Aid agencies cited in the report say they cannot procure basic medicines or medical equipment for hospitals because sanctions are preventing foreign commercial companies and banks having anything to do with Syria”.  “In effect” concludes the veteran British journalists, “the US and EU sanctions are imposing an economic siege on Syria as a whole which may be killing more Syrians than die of illness and malnutrition in the sieges which EU and US leaders have described as war crimes.” 
Meanwhile, a US Navy-backed blockade of Yemen’s ports —in other words, a siege— has left much of the country, the poorest in the Arab world, “on the brink of famine”. Last year, a United Nations expert estimated “that 850 000 children in the country of 26 million” faced “acute malnutrition” as a result of the US-backed siege. The blockade amounts to “the deliberate starvation of civilians”, the UN expert said, which constitutes a war crime. “Twenty million Yemenis, nearly 80 percent of the population, are in urgent need of food, water and medical aid,” wrote British journalist Julian Borger last year. The siege, also backed by Britain, has created “a humanitarian disaster”.
That Washington protests so vehemently about the humanitarian consequences of Syria’s campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Al Qaeda, while US forces and their allies kill civilians through airstrikes, artillery bombardments and siege-related famine and disease in campaigns to capture territory from Islamic State, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Syria’s secular Arab nationalists, invites the obvious question: Why the double standard? Why does the Western heart beat for the civilians harmed in the campaign to liberate East Aleppo but not for the civilians harmed by Western campaigns to bring territory under the control of the United States and its proxies?
The answer, in short, is that Al Qaeda is a US asset in Washington’s campaign to overthrow the Arab nationalists in Damascus, and therefore Washington objects to military operations which threaten its ally. On the other hand, Washington sparks one humanitarian crisis after another in pursuit of its foreign policy goal of coercing submission to its global leadership. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham’s value to Washington resides in its implacable opposition to the secularism of Syria’s ruling Arab nationalist Ba’ath Party, and its willingness to accept the Sykes-Picot boundaries drawn up by Britain and France after WWI. Thus, the Syrian al-Qaeda outfit limits its operations to working toward the overthrow of secularists in Damascus. Washington is unwilling to accept radical Islamists seizing control of the Syrian state, but is willing to work with Al-Qaeda to eliminate a common enemy.
Washington plays a similar game with Islamic State, by calibrating its military campaign against the bad Islamists, in order to prevent them from threatening Iraq and Saudi Arabia while at the same time using them as a tool to weaken Syria’s Arab nationalist state. US airstrikes have been concentrated in Iraq, reports the Wall Street Journal. The air war focusses on Islamic State targets in Iraq, explains the newspaper, because “in Syria, US strikes against the Islamic State would inadvertently help the regime of President Bashar al-Assad militarily.” Likewise, France has “refrained from bombing the group in Syria for fear of bolstering” the Syrian government. The British, too, have focused their air war overwhelmingly on Islamic State targets in Iraq, conducting less than 10 percent of their airstrikes on the Islamist organisation’s positions in Syria.
The New York Times reports that “United States-led airstrikes in Syria … largely (focus) on areas far outside government control, to avoid … aiding a leader whose ouster President Obama has called for.” Hence, US-coalition “airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria” have been so limited as to make them “little more than a symbolic gesture”. Fisk sums up the phony war against Islamic State in Syria with a sarcastic quip: “And so we went to war against Isis in Syria—unless, of course, Isis was attacking Assad’s regime, in which case we did nothing at all.”
Consistent with the US approach of employing Al-Qaeda as a cat’s paw against Syria’s secular Arab nationalists, any military operation which sets back Al-Qaeda’s campaign to overthrow the Assad government is a blow against a US foreign policy objective. Those who implore the United States to join Russia in a coalition to destroy Islamist militancy in the Muslim world miss the point. Washington only abhors jihadists when they threaten the United States and its satellites; otherwise, the US state embraces militant Islam as a useful tool to be used against secular governments which refuse to submit to the international dictatorship of the United States.
Owing to the harm they inevitably inflict on non-combatants, it is easy to condemn military campaigns to liberate cities occupied by enemy forces. But it is much more difficult to suggest a realistic alternative to using force to extirpate enemies from urban redoubts. Compromise and negotiation? For the United States, compromise means Arab nationalists stepping down and yielding power to US puppets — not compromise, but the fulfilment of US objectives. Washington isn’t interested in compromise. It has declared that it can and will lead the world, which means it is determined to set the rules. But even if there were a willingness in Washington for compromise, why should the United States have a role to play in deciding Syria’s political future? We can’t be true democrats, unless we fight for democracy in international relations. And we can’t have democracy in international relations if the United States and its allies intervene in other countries, enlisting jihadists to carry out their dirty work, in order to have a say in a political transition, once their mujahedeen allies have created a catastrophe.
What’s more, even had Damascus and its Russian ally concluded that the humanitarian consequences of attempting to drive Al-Qaeda out of East Aleppo were too daunting to warrant a siege campaign, the day of siege would only be delayed. Were Syria’s secular Arab nationalists to yield power under a US negotiated political settlement, the United States, acting through its new Syrian client, would arrange the siege of the city to crush its former Islamist allies, who could not be allowed to challenge the new US marionette in Damascus. Only this time, the siege would be called a rescue operation, the label “rebel” would be dropped in favor of “radical Islamist terrorist,” the ensuing humanitarian crisis would be duly noted then passed over with little comment, and hosannas would be sung to the US military leaders who slayed the Islamist dragon.
On October 19, a Swiss journalist confronted Assad on civilian deaths in East Aleppo. “But it’s true that innocent civilians are dying in Aleppo,” the journalist said. Assad replied: “The “whole hysteria in the West about Aleppo (is) not because Aleppo is under siege…Aleppo has been under siege for the last four years by terrorists, and we (never) heard a question (from) Western journalists about what’s happening in Aleppo (then) and we (never) heard a single statement by Western officials regarding the children of Aleppo. Now they are asking about Aleppo…because the terrorists are in bad shape.” The Syrian Army is advancing “and the Western countries—mainly, the United States and its allies (the) UK and France” feel “they are losing the last cards of terrorism in Syria”.
Stephen Gowans is a Canadian writer and political activist resident in Ottawa. This article is reproduced from <http://gowans> wordpress .com
When the United States announced that it would be abandoning “peace talks” with Russia regarding the ongoing conflict in Syria, many had already dismissed them as disingenuous.
The Washington Post in an article titled, “U.S. abandons efforts to work with Russia on Syria,” would claim:
U.S.-Russia relations fell to a new post-Cold War low Monday as the Obama administration abandoned efforts to cooperate with Russia on ending the Syrian civil war and forming a common front against terrorists there, and Moscow suspended a landmark nuclear agreement.
The Washington Post would also admit however, in regards to Russian allegations that the US categorically failed to separate militants it has been backing in the 5 year long conflict and universally-designated foreign terrorist organisations, that:
Russia’s version of the sequence of events mandated by the deal is “explicitly not true,” a senior administration official said. “Separation was not step one,” but was supposed to occur after seven days without major violence. The Russians, the official said, have “constantly tried to move the goal posts.”
This admission made by US policymakers, politicians and the Western media all but admits that the US has never prioritised confronting terrorism in Syria and has been using the presence of terrorist organisations merely as a pretext for more direct Western military intervention. In fact, by acknowledging that Western-backed militant groups are indistinguishable and inseparable from designated terrorist organisations including Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, Jabhat Al-Nusra, the US is all but admitting it is intentionally arming and equipping the terrorists themselves.
This explains the apparently inexhaustible resources terrorist organisations like Al-Nusra possess and why they have risen to prominence above so-called “moderate rebels” the US and its allies have repeatedly claimed they were funding hundreds of billions of dollars throughout the conflict.
It appears that the answer to the question as to how Al-Nusra could rise to prominence in Syria despite “moderates” receiving hundreds of billions in aid from the US and its allies is that there were never any moderates to begin with, and that the US and its allies were arming and funding terrorist organisations, including Al-Nusra, since the conflict began.
It also appears to be no coincidence that this scenario now openly unfolding in Syria fulfils warnings published by Western journalists as early as 2007 (Seymour Hersh, The Redirection) in which it was revealed that the US was already at that time providing material support to extremist organisations “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” toward the end goal of overthrowing the governments of both Iran and Syria.
While the US now claims Russia has sabotaged US efforts to bring an end to hostilities in Syria, Washington is also illogically attempting to argue that the failure of its feigned “peace talks” has also somehow prevented the US from targeting terrorists organisations in Syria, the alleged pretext of America’s presence in Syria to begin with.
Despite strained relations with Russia, the US is still cooperating with Moscow regarding the use of Syrian airspace to avoid unintentional confrontations. While the cessation of hostilities may have collapsed, is there really any excuse as to why separating designated terrorist organisations from militant groups the US and its allies are providing billions in weapons and equipment to is still not an absolute and urgent priority?
The answer is, no — there is no excuse. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say, it is simply an excuse for the US to continue funnelling men and materiel into Syria Washington knows with absolute certainty will end up in the ranks of Al Qaeda, whom the US admittedly intended to use as early as 2007 to overthrow the Syrian government with.
What Washington Really Wants in Syria
Beginning in 2001, the United States has systematically destroyed the nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, while either directly or indirectly laying waste to the nations of Sudan and Somalia. The nation of Iran was also subjected to multiple attempted provocations and US-driven subversion since 2001.
While the United States has created narratives for the public to serve as apparently “unique” and independent justifications for each and every one of these conflicts, often predicated on averting a “humanitarian disaster” or pursuing “terrorists” and even preventing “weapons of mass destruction” from being used against the West and its allies, America’s serial blitzkrieg across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia are part of a singular, admitted agenda.
US Army General Wesley Clark, in a 2007 Flora TV talk titled, “A Time to Lead,” would reveal this singular agenda by relating a conversation he had as far back as 1991 with then US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, Paul Wolfowitz, by stating (our emphasis):
I said Mr. Secretary you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm. And he said, well yeah, he said but but not really, he said because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and we didn’t. And this was just after the Shia uprising in March of 91′ which we had provoked and then we kept our troops on the side lines and didn’t intervene. And he said, but one thing we did learn, he said, we learned that we can use our military in the region in the Middle East and the Soviets wont stop us. He said, and we have got about five or ten years to clean up those all Soviet client regimes; Syria, Iran, Iraq, – before the next great super power comes on to challenge us.
And indeed, even from 1991 onward, the goal of US intervention across the planet has been to establish deeply-entrenched global hegemony before another rising world power could balance American geopolitical domination.
Fast forward to today, with the US on the brink of war with Russia in Syria, and with China in the South China Sea, the United States has run out of time and finds the leading edge of its hegemonic ambitions chaffing against a reemerging Russia and a rising China.
So while Washington has concocted an array of excuses as to why it is involved in Syria’s conflict, running the full gambit from fearing “weapons of mass destruction” to fighting terrorists to addressing humanitarian concerns, the reality of America’s involvement in Syria boils down to the pursuit of the latest and most desperate leg of its rush to dominance before emerging world powers reintroduced balance and limits to Western hegemony.
It is therefore incumbent upon the world to reject Washington’s various excuses for intervening in Syria, expose the truth driving its involvement in (and responsibility for) the conflict, confront Washington regarding its state sponsorship of terrorist organisations it itself has designated as such and bring the Syrian conflict as well as America’s latest “growth spurt” to an abrupt end.
Global peace and stability depends on bringing this decades-long global power-grab to an end, in an atmosphere of conflict and confrontation many fear may even lead to a direct confrontation between nuclear-armed states.
On October 7, 2001, American and British forces began air strikes in Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden, blamed for the 9/11 attacks. This was followed by an invasion of the country by the United States, supported by troops from Nato and other allies, under Operation Enduring Freedom. Though in May, 2011, American Navy SEALs helicoptered into Pakistan and finally killed the Al Qaida leader, the war in Afghanistan drags on, becoming the longest in American history.
A coalition from the so-called developed world, spearheaded by the leader of the free world, that waged war against a nation from the developing world, but was unable to finish what it had started 15 years ago, has a lot of explaining to do.
Last week, Taliban fighters, who effectively control one third of Afghanistan, penetrated Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. Though they had not raised their flag over the strategic southern city and were later pushed back, the psychological damage was done. Ironically, the Taliban ground assault came two days after General John W. Nicholson, the US and Nato military commander in Afghanistan, flew from Kabul to Lashkar Gah and promised worried local leaders that his forces would make sure the city would not collapse. Abdullah Habibi, the Afghan Defence Minister, who accompanied Nicholson, promised the group that his forces would “defend Lashkar Gah with our blood”.
Maybe. Maybe not. Later in the week, Taliban members disguised as police officers, brazenly attacked a Shiite shrine packed with hundreds of worshipers in the heart of Kabul. And so it goes.
Fifteen years and counting.
Fifteen years and counting more than $850 billion (Dh3.12 trillion) of taxpayer money spent by the US, of which, $110 billion has gone towards “reconstruction”, even as 2,300 Americans and well over 91,000 Afghans were killed in a war against a group of insurgents that had shown no hostile ambitions against the West.
Yet, America remains there, 15 years on, engaged in bloody conflict in the most violent corner of one of the world’s most violent nations.
Why? Does America, as a superpower, like other superpowers before it in history, have a reservoir of unused turbulent energy that it needs to sublimate by launching wars? Much in the manner the Europeans had done when they launched the first war of the 20th century, thereby putting an end to that era between the 1870s and the 1910s — between, say, Waterloo and the Somme — an era characterised by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity and literary innovation. It was an era that was outwardly serene, but menacingly ripe beneath the surface with anarchic compulsions.
To follow on Sigmund Freud’s poetic essay, Civilization and Its Discontents, does a superpower, by virtue of it being a superpower, bring with it the need to unleash the terrors of history on the world, terrors that spawn in the individual, as in the collective consciousness, a death wish? Do Americans need, just need, to go to war against a perceived enemy, any perceived enemy, whether they find him or her in the Philippines, in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, in Iraq or elsewhere?
“Does America, as a superpower, like other superpowers before it, have a reservoir of unused turbulent energy that it needs to sublimate by launching wars?””
Do people from such a polity need constantly to combat the tensions that civilised manners — today we call these political correctness — impose on unfulfilled human instincts? And do citizens, socialised in a superpower — as Frenchmen, Germans, Englishmen and other Europeans had felt during their heydays, on the eve of the two devastating World Wars — feel an inescapable drive towards a supremacist assertion of identity?
These are questions that, along with Freud, cultural critics, all the way from T.S. Eliot in Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948) to George Steiner in In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1971) have considered cardinal to any contemporary theory of what we call culture.
Fifteen years ago, Americans went to fight a war in a country known as one of the world’s poorest, a country resistant to change, scornful of outsiders who wanted to win over its people’s “hearts and minds” by force of arms rather than by force of friendship.
So what is to be done now? Let Washington take its cue from the late Senator George D. Aiken of Vermont who, in 1966, at the height of yet another costly war that the US was waging against “peasants in black pajamas” in Vietnam, called on the White House to simply “declare victory and get out”.
Come to think of it, that’s precisely what the New York Times, resorting to less folksy language, appears to advocate these days. “The Afghan government remains weak, corrupt and roiled by internal rivalries”, an editorial in the Grey Lady, a publication whose influence at times surpasses that of the White House, said on September 17. “The casualty rate for Afghan troops is unsustainable. The economy is in a shambles. Resurgent Taliban forces are gaining ground in rural areas …”
In short, the US needs to answer some painful questions. “One such question”, the editorial added, “is whether the Afghan Taliban — an insurgency that has never had aspirations to operate outside the region — is an enemy Washington should continue to fight. American forces started battling the Taliban in 2001 because the group provided safe haven to Al Qaida, which was based there when it planned the September 11, 2001, attacks on America. While Al Qaida has largely been defeated, the Taliban has proved to be extraordinarily resilient”.
Great advice. Fellows, declare victory and get the devil out.
Fawaz Turki is a journalist, lecturer and author based in Washington. He is the author of The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile.