Taliban Changing the Army’s Game

Clashes in North Waziristan continue to intensify

The army operation in North Waziristan gains steam as the militants announced they were scrapping their ceasefire — AP/File photo. Pakistan 16 civilians, two policemen hurt in Buner bazaar blast SPECIAL COVERAGE Lack of funds threaten aid efforts

MIRAMSHAH: Clashes between security forces and militants intensified in the North Waziristan tribal region as local Taliban announced the scrapping of a 16-month old peace deal on Monday.

Sources said that the death toll from Sunday’s attack on a military convoy rose to 27 on the troops’ side. Locals said that Wacha Bibi where the convoy was ambushed was littered with burnt military vehicles.

On Monday helicopters pounded suspected positions in Wacha Bibi, a narrow pass in the mountainous region. Cobra helicopters were seen taking off from a helipad in Miramshah and flying towards the embattled area to run bombing missions.

Official sources said that five civilians were also killed in the choppers’ shelling of residential areas in Wacha Bibi. They said that two suspected cars were hit in Madakhel, and one vehicle in the Kherkamer area. These sources said that the army had retrieved the bodies and wounded soldiers from the area and shifted them to Islamabad.

Militants loyal to a local commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur had ambushed a military convoy on Sunday. A spokesman for the militants claimed killing about 60 soldiers and capturing several others. He also claimed destroying about 16 military trucks and pickups.

Inter Services Public Relations confirmed 12 deaths on the army side and claimed killing 10 militants in the ensuing gun battle.

Local Taliban Shoora announced the scrapping of a nine-point peace deal signed between the government and elders of Utmanzai tribe of North Waziristan on February 17, 2008.

A spokesman for the militants, Ahmadullah Ahmadi told journalists by phone that the Shoora had decided to continue guerrilla activities until the government stopped drone attacks and withdrew troops from the North Waziristan.

‘We will attack forces everywhere in Waziristan unless the government fulfills these two demands,’ he said, adding that the government had allowed US to carry out drone attacks in the tribal region.

Government had claimed that peace deal had been signed with elders not local Taliban in the North Waziristan led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Saddiq Noor. Under the nine-point agreement there would be no target killing and attacks on security forces in the area.

The agreement bound elders that nobody would set up parallel administration in the area and all issues and disputes would be resolved in accordance with the Frontier Crimes Regulation and with the consultation of political agent.

The elders of the Utmanzai tribe had also given guarantee to the government that there would be no cross border movement of militants into Afghanistan and foreigners would be expelled from the area. Sources said that elders could not control activities of the militants and agreement had apparently become dysfunctional.

U.S. supplied Afghan insurgents for ‘Al Qaeda’ in Iraq

U.S. supplied Afghan insurgents for ‘Al Qaeda’ in Iraq

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

(WMR) — WMR has learned from an intelligence source who served in 2007 at the Tallil Air Base in Iraq, also known as Camp Adder by the U.S. Army and Ali Air Base by the U.S. Air Force, that United States intelligence services imported Afghan mercenaries into Iraq in order to attack Iraqi civilians and military personnel, as well as coalition forces, including U.S. service personnel. The Afghans were recruited from Taliban ranks and were paid for their services in Iraq.

WMR has learned that during 2007, Iraqi police stopped a truck hauling a 40-foot trailer on the Kerrada Bridge in Baghdad. When the Iraqi police officers checked the truck’s trailer, they were amazed to discover between 30 and 40 Afghan Taliban. They said they were brought into Iraq by the United States and were tasked with stirring up trouble in Iraq, much of it ascribed by U.S. military commanders as the work of the dubiously-named Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Country of the Two Rivers) or more commonly known as “Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia.”

The Iraqi police were told by senior U.S. military commanders on the scene to allow the Afghani insurgents to depart the Kerrada Bridge without any further hindrance.

The Taliban cell in Iraq apparently operated in conjunction with a covert U.S. plan to look the other way as Mahdi Army cells planted bombs in Iraq. On April 9, 2009, WMR reported: “WMR has been informed by a former private military contractor in Iraq that the United States was aware of the identities and even the cell phone numbers of several bomb making operatives within Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army. The bomb cells were responsible for detonating a number of bombs in Iraq that targeted Sunnis and coalition personnel, including Americans.” The failure of Generals David Petraeus and George Casey to act against the bomb-making cell was to not put in jeopardy a six-month extension of a cease-fire agreement agreed to by the MNF-I [Multi-national Force-Iraq] and [Muqtada] al Sadr’s Shi’a militia in 2006.

One of the Shi’a bomb-making cells was located in the Kerrada district of Baghdad, the same area where the Taliban truck was stopped by Iraqi police. WMR has obtained a list [Part 1 and Part 2] provided to U.S. authorities by the coordinator of the Kerrada bomb cell. No action was taken by U.S. intelligence or military personnel to curtail the Shi’a militia bomb-making operation.

An English translation of the bomb-making cell list follows:

My name is Fadil Salim Naji of Jaderiya 923/43 Baghdad,Mobile 07901289687.

Before 2003 I was a Bathist party member and co-ordinator with the Iraqi government to the Iranian government. Since this time I have been working with the Iranian government in co-ordination with the Jeshil Mehdi army. My role has been to take money for arms purchases for the Mehdi army from the Iranian Intelligence and to place orders for weaponry. My meeting point with the Iranians was at the border point near to Maraghen City Iran. . . . My orders were always from Athora City in Kerrada where I had contact to the Medhi army leaders.

Akiel Salam Hamid nicknamed (Al Iranie) of Jaderiya Baghdad works with his father Hussein Salim Hamid who and are responsible for bomb making and arranging the planting of devices. Mobile 07702 668 185.,Land line govt issued – 7786495.

Hussein Salim Hamid is responsible for counting military vehicles in the area of Jaderiya and is the main planning officer for appointing targets and building roadside bombs including the use of mainly semtex. He made the recent bomb which exploded outside the ice cream shop on Jaderiya street. Mobile – 0780 341 1480.

Fathil Dabus, Basin Hyder/Salim N023 ? was told by Hussein Hamid he had three days to leave his job or he and his family would be killed. Fathil Mobile-079067 61723 of Athora City received two calls from Hussein Hamid 23/10/07 and 11/10/07.

Fathil Dabus wife also threatened by Hussein Hamid in front of the Azur Girls school Jaderiya.

Mr Rand Badri a supervisor teacher was killed a week ago by Hussein Salim Hamid and also Rand’s father the headmaster at the school was killed by Hussein Salim Hamid.

Fadil – Mobile 078016 575 66 Another leader of the Mehdi army.

Ziuna City – 079022 72814 – Mobile of an assassin working for Hussein Hamid.

The reg on the car N0.26888 BMW white test Baghdad. A car used to transport arms from the border meet point.

Saed Ahmed 07902272814 Enforcer for Hussein Hamid and responsible for many killings and bombs in the area

The use by U.S. special operations forces and covert U.S. intelligence agents of Taliban fighters from Afghanistan and Mahdi Army insurgents to foment violence and terrorism in Iraq represents yet another serious violation of international and domestic anti-terrorism treaties and laws by the Bush-Cheney administration. In the case of using Taliban fighters to stage attacks on U.S., coalition, and Iraqi targets and blaming them on “Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia,” the Bush-Cheney administration once again has demonstrated that “Al Qaeda” is as much an invention of the last administration as the billing of “9/11” as a foreign terrorist attack.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2009 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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Demonising Iran conveniently hides uncomfortable truths for the West

Demonising Iran conveniently hides uncomfortable truths for the West

Robin Yassin-Kassab

THE MAINSTREAM media narrative of events unfolding in Iran has been set out for us as clear as a fairytale: an evil dictatorship has rigged elections and now violently suppresses its country’s democrats, hysterically blaming foreign saboteurs the while. But the Twitter generation is on the right side of history (in Obama’s words), and could bring Iran back within the regional circle of moderation. If only Iran becomes moderate, a whole set of regional conflicts will be solved.

I don’t mean to minimise the importance of the Iranian protests or the brutality of their suppression, but I take issue with the West’s selective blindness when it gazes at the Middle East. The “Iran narrative” contains a dangerous set of simplicities which bode ill for Obama’s promised engagement, and which will be recognised beyond the West as rotten with hypocrisy.

Iran’s claims of Western incitement for the protests are roundly scorned in our media, and of course Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s scapegoating of foreigners and “terrorist groups” demonstrates an unhealthy denial of the very real polarisation within Iranian society.

Yet Iranians still have good reason to fear outside interference. It was, after all, British and American-orchestrated riots that brought down the elected Mossadeq government in 1953. And in 2007, Bush administration neocon John Bolton told the Telegraph that a US attack on Iran would be “a last option after economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution had failed”.

According to veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, ongoing US special operations in Iran include funding ethnic-separatist terrorist groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Jundallah in Baluchistan. With some honourable exceptions, this dimension has not been touched by the mainstream media.

And Mir Hossein Mousavi’s vote-rigging allegations are accepted without scrutiny, despite there not yet being any hard evidence of organised cheating. The official result is similar to that in the second round of the 2005 elections, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received 61.7 % to former president Rafsanjani’s 35.9%.

Iran is troublesome not because it’s any more dictatorial than its neighbours but because it’s less submissive

A few weeks before the latest elections, a poll commissioned by the BBC and ABC News predicted a nationwide advantage of two-to-one for Ahmadinejad over Mousavi. Even Israel’s Mossad chief Meir Dagan reported that there were no more irregularities in the Iranian vote than in elections in liberal democracies.

I visited Iran in 2006, with a backpack and guidebook-standard Farsi. I noticed two things. First, Iran is far freer, fairer, less littered, and more literate than any of its neighbours. Second, very many Iranians are unhappy with their corrupt rulers and, unlike people in nearby Arab states, they are not afraid to say so openly. To an extent, the revolution has been a victim of its own success, having transformed a largely feudal land into a highly educated urban society, creating along the way a swollen middle class and an idealistic youth which chafes against the petty oppression of dress codes and state-enforced morality. But everyone I spoke to favoured evolution of the existing system over counter-revolution.

The Islamic Republic has been a great – if seriously flawed – experiment in economic and strategic independence, its engines oiled by class consciousness and national pride as much as by religion. Iran is at least a semi-democracy, and has held 10 presidential elections in 30 years. Iranian women are obliged to cover their hair, true, but women in US-client Saudi Arabia are obliged to cover their faces. In Saudi Arabia of course there are never any elections to dispute – but there are US military bases, so we don’t dwell on the issue.

Here’s the nub of it. Iran opposes the US military presence in the region, and vigorously supports resistance to Israeli expansionism. On these two points, the Iranian regime is closer than any other to the true sentiments of Middle Easterners.

And this, fundamentally, is why Iran is imagined to be such a problem in the West: because it’s a Venezuela or a Cuba of a country. Iran is troublesome not because it’s any more obscurantist or dictatorial than its neighbours, but because it is less submissive.

The world worries about Iran’s nuclear energy programme while keeping quiet about Israel’s 200 nuclear weapons. Israel occupies Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian territory. Iran has not attacked another country in its modern history.

Iran is accused of backing terrorism because it helps to arm Hizbullah and Hamas, grassroots anti-occupation groups with a legitimate, even legal, cause. Both groups have targeted civilians (rarely, in Hizbullah’s case) but not on as grand a scale as Israel, which is armed and funded by the United States. And Iran doesn’t export Wahhabi-nihilist terrorists of the Taliban or al-Qaeda-in-Iraq variety. Again, that would be our ally Saudi Arabia.

President Obama recently chose to address the Muslim world from Cairo, seat of a client regime which has “pre-emptively” arrested hundreds of democrats in recent months, fearing they may demonstrate.

Commenting on Iran, Obama called the “democratic process” a “universal value”. But obviously not quite universal enough to cover Egypt, or the elected Hamas government, what remains of it, in besieged Palestine.

Silences can be more significant than words. Is Obama also “deeply troubled” when Israel shoots unarmed protesters or arrests children as young as 12? Does he mourn “each and every innocent life that is lost” in Gaza as well as in the plusher streets of Tehran? If so, he still hasn’t told us.

At present our opinion-formers are blithely simplifying and demonising a complex culture, allowing illusions and half-truths to become shining certainties in our minds. This is how we arrived in Iraq.

Robin Yassin-Kassab was born in Britain to a Syrian father and English mother. He worked as a journalist in Pakistan before moving to Oman where he taught English. He now lives in Scotland. His novel, The Road From Damascus, is published by Penguin, £8.99

Obama Depopulation Policy Exposed!

Larouche researcher exposes Ezekiel Emanuel’s (brother of Rahm) cost-cutting measures that target life support for “useless eaters.”

more about “Obama Depopulation Policy Exposed!“, posted with vodpod

Obama calls for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid

16 June 2009

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama called for cuts in funding for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal health insurance programs for the elderly and the poor, including the elimination of subsidies for hospitals that treat uninsured patients. This proposal, combined with plans to limit medical tests and treatments, underscores the reactionary, anti-working class character of Obama’s proposed “reform” of the health care system.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the essence of the administration’s health care policy, under the guise of universal coverage, is a downgrading of care for the majority of the population so as to cut health care costs for business and the government.

Administration spokesmen have also indicated that Obama is receptive to the idea of taxing workers for the health benefits they receive from their employers—something for which he denounced his opponent, Senator John McCain, during last year’s presidential election campaign.

In a speech before the American Medical Association (AMA) in Chicago on Monday, President Obama made it clear that his health care reform would in no way impinge on the profit interests of insurance companies, hospital chains and drug companies. He added that he was open to limiting the ability of patients to pursue medical malpractice suits.

As he has done before, Obama framed the health care issue entirely from the standpoint of containing rising costs that are fueling federal budget deficits and undermining the competitiveness of US corporations. The fact that nearly 50 million Americans are uninsured and tens of millions more cannot afford adequate health care was chiefly raised to point to the added costs of unpaid emergency room visits.

Rising health care costs, particularly for the government-run Medicare and Medicaid programs for the elderly and the poor, the president said, were a “ticking time-bomb for the federal budget” and “unsustainable.” If the health care system was not fixed, he warned, “America may go the way of GM,” referring to the bankrupt automaker.

The cost of his plan—estimated to be a trillion dollars over the next ten years—would be “budget neutral,” he said, and would be funded through cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, along with “modestly limiting the tax deductions the wealthiest Americans can take to the same level it was at the end of the Reagan years.”

The president plans to cut $313 billion over the next decade from the two federal health programs by limiting the growth of Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and health care providers. He also said he was open to expanding the role of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission—a body set up by the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress in 1997—to save another $200 billion.

As the Wall Street Journal noted Monday, “New York City offers a window into what could happen when payments to safety-net hospitals are cut. Already running at a deficit, the city’s public hospital system is looking at $150 million in state Medicaid cuts for next year. Next month, it will close some outpatient services, such as community-based primary and preventive-care offices.

“’We are in a position already where we are making painful decisions that require us to reduce access and services,’ said Alan D. Aviles, president and chief executive of the system, known as the Health and Hospitals Corp.”

Under the terms of Obama’s plan, the wealthy would still have access to the best medical care while tens of millions of working people would have a choice of lower standard plans available in a so-called Health Insurance Exchange, where coverage was limited to what one could afford. This would include a government-subsidized “public option,” he said, which “would inject competition into the health care market to force waste out of the system.”

Far from guaranteeing decent health care for the population, the program would create a system, dominated by private companies seeking to maximize their profits, where health care for working and poor people was rationed according to its “cost-effectiveness.” Doctors would be under intense pressure from government “advisory boards” not to order tests, use drugs or carry out medical treatments that were deemed too expensive.

Obama recently told the New York Times that prolonging the lives of terminally ill and very old people presently accounts for 80 percent of the total health care bill. He suggested that such outlays might not be cost-effective.

In his speech before the AMA—a body that opposed the establishment of Medicare in the 1960s—Obama gave assurances that his proposal for a public insurance option as part of his reform did not threaten private markets. He said, “The public option is not your enemy; it is your friend.” He denounced those who claimed it was a “Trojan horse for a single-payer system” like those in Europe, and said it was “important for us to build on our traditions here in the United States,” i.e., to maintain a system based on the profit principle.

Obama brought the AMA delegates to their feet by declaring that he was willing to provide relief to doctors facing the high cost of malpractice lawsuits—long a plank of the Republican Party. “I recognize,” he said, that “some doctors may feel the need to order more tests and treatments to avoid being legally vulnerable,” he said, assuring them that “evidence-based” guidelines established by the government would allow physicians to “scale back the excessive defensive medicine,” which supposedly plagued the health care system.

The socially destructive implications of Obama’s health care plan are spelled out in a recent book by Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and a medical advisor to the administration. In a review of the book, Health Care Guaranteed: A Simple, Secure Solution for America, the New York Review of Books wrote that under Emanuel’s proposal, “Employee-based insurance would disappear,” and “Medicaid would also end and Medicare would be gradually phased out.”

In opposition to this reactionary plan, the working class must advance its own answer to the health care crisis, based on the nationalization under workers’ control of the insurance and pharmaceutical giants and the hospital chains, and the establishment of a genuine system of socialized medicine to meet human needs, not private profit.

Jerry White

The author also recommends:

Obama chooses private profit over healthcare needs
[8 June 2009]

The Obama recovery
[6 May 2009]

Now We See You, Now We Don’t

Now We See You, Now We Don’t

June 29, 2009 By Kathy Kelly

In early June, 2009, I was in the Shah Mansoor displaced persons camp in Pakistan, listening to one resident detail the carnage which had spurred his and his family’s flight there a mere 15 days earlier.  Their city, Mingora, had come under massive aerial bombardment. He recalled harried efforts to bury corpses found on the roadside even as he and his neighbors tried to organize their families to flee the area.

“They were killing us in that way, there,” my friend said. Then, gesturing to the rows of tents stretching as far as the eye could see, he added, “Now, in this way, here.” The people in the tent encampment suffered very harsh conditions.  They were sleeping on the ground without mats, they lacked water for bathing, the tents were unbearably hot, and they had no idea whether their homes and shops in Mingora were still standing.  But, the suffering they faced had only just begun.

UN humanitarian envoy Abdul Aziz Arrukban warned on June 22nd that the millions of Pakistanis displaced during the military’s offensive against the Swat Valley would “die slowly” unless the international community started taking notice of the “unprecedented” scope of the crisis. (Jason Ditz, Anti-War.com)

UN agencies and NGOs such as Islamic Relief and Relief International report that many of the persons now living in tent encampments, or squatting in abandoned buildings, or crowded into schools designated as refugee centers, may soon start dying from preventable disease.

Health teams note increasingly frequent cases of diarrhea, scabies and malaria, all deadly in these circumstances, especially for young children. With so many people living so close to each other, these diseases are spreading fast.

Relief groups are concerned that as the monsoon season approaches, in July, these problems will get considerably worse. Monsoons bring regional floods and cause escalating rates of malaria and waterborne diseases. The impact, this year, is expected to be much more severe because so many people are living in crowded and unsanitary conditions.

Pakistan’s already rundown health care system, officials report, is now near collapse.  Hospitals in northern Pakistan have been overwhelmed, with exhausted doctors, depleted medicine supplies and avalanches of red tape blocking money and medicine for the crisis.

Writing for the Associated Press on June 7th, Kathy Gannon described the men’s ward in the Mardan District Hospital:  “30 steel beds lie crammed together, with two-inch mattresses and no pillows. Pools of urine spread on the floor, and fresh blood stains the ripped bedding…The one bathroom for 30 patients stinks of urine and faeces. The toilets are overflowing, the door to one cement cubicle is falling off and a two-inch river of urine covers the cement floor. In one corner, garbage is piled high.”

The annual budget for health care in Pakistan, this year, is less than $150 million, while Pakistan’s defense budget last year came to $3.45 billion, and is expected to reach $3.65 billion next year.

People in Shah Mansoor worry that the international community as well as their own government won’t notice the health care crisis they face.  But villagers yet to flee their homes in Waziristan agonize under constant military scrutiny from lethally-armed U.S. surveillance drones.

A villager who survived a drone attack in North Waziristan explained that even the children, at play, were acutely conscious of drones flying overhead.  After a drone attack, survivors trying to bring injured victims to a hospital were dumbfounded when a driver stopped, learned of their plight and then sped away.  Then it dawned on them that the driver was afraid the drone would still be prowling overhead and that he might be targeted for associating with victims of the attack.

The U.S. drone aircraft can see Pakistan – their pilots in air-conditioned Nevada trailers see the terrain even though they are physically thousands of miles away.

Writing about U.S. Air Force efforts to “meet the voracious need for unmanned aircraft surveillance in combat zones,” Grace Jean notes, in the June, 2009 issue of National Defense Magazine, that the Air Force’s 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, is expanding base operations.  “We have 34 video feeds over the battlefield right now,” says Col. John Montgomery, the wing’s vice commander. When operating a drone, Montgomery says, “You are part of the battlefield.” Commenting on the hundreds of combat sorties he flew over Sadr City, in Baghdad, Montgomery said he even knew where people hung out the laundry and when they took out the trash.  “I knew the traffic flow for the hours that I could see, and when that changed, I knew it. Once you know the patterns of life, when things are different or odd, that means something’s up, and that gives the battlefield commander, the joint commander on the ground, a heads up.”

On Tuesday, June 23rd, U.S. drones launched an attack on a compound in South Waziristan.  Locals rushed to the scene to rescue survivors.  The U.S. drone then launched more missiles at them, leaving a total of 13 dead. The next day, local people were involved in a funeral procession when the U.S. struck again. Reuters reported that 70 of the mourners were killed.

Drone operators and their commanders at Creech Air Force Base will become increasingly well informed about the movements of Pakistani people, but meanwhile the U.S. people will have lost sight of war’s human costs in Pakistan.

Now, we’re hearing of imminent army operations in South Waziristan that have already forced about 45,000 people to flee the region, joining about two million men, women, and children displaced by fighting in the Swat Valley and other areas. People from Waziristan who flee from their villages, trying to save their lives, trying not to be seen by the omnipresent drones, will likely join the unseen, the displaced people whose lives and hopes escape international notice as they die slowly.

President Obama has taken us into an expansion of Bush’s war on terror, presumably guided by the rationale that his administration is responsible to root out Al Qaeda terrorists.  But the methods used by U.S. and Pakistani military forces, expelling millions of people from their homes, failing to provide food and shelter for those who are displaced, and using overwhelmingly superior weapon technology to attack innocent civilians, — these methods will continue creating terrorist resisters, not defeating them.

If we want to counter Al-Qaeda, if we want to be safe from further terrorist attacks, we’d do well to remember that even when we don’t recognize the humanity of people bearing the brunt of our wars, these very people have eyes to see and ears to hear. They must be asking themselves, who are the terrorists?

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)