HAVE A NICE DAY
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“Somewhere between collapsing oil prices, dollar strength, and consumer lethargy the economy’s narrative has drifted off plot. The theme has transitioned from one of renewed growth and recovery to one of recurring sickness and stagnation. Mass malinvestments in U.S. shale oil, Brazilian mines, and Chinese factories and real estate must be reckoned with.”
by Tyler Durden
“This market is looking like a disaster and the rates are a reflection of that,” warns one of the world’s largest shipbrokers, but while The Baltic Dry Freight Index gets all the headlines – having collapsed to all-time record lows this week – it is the spefics below that headline that are truly terrifying. At a time of typical seasonal strength for freight and thus global trade around the world, Reuters reports that spot rates for transporting containers from Asia to Northern Europe have crashed a stunning 70% in the last 3 weeks alone. This almost unprecedented divergence from seasonality has only occurred at this scale once before… 2008! “It is looking scary for the market and it doesn’t look like there is going to be any life in the market in the near term.”
Baltic Dry at record lows…
And Shanghai Containerized Freight collapsing…
Shipping freight rates for transporting containers from ports in Asia to Northern Europe plunged by 27.9 percent to $295 per 20-foot container (TEU) in the week ending on Friday, one source with access to data from the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index told Reuters.
The drop came after spot freight rates on the world’s busiest route dropped 39.3 percent last week, and the current rates are widely seen as loss-making levels for container shipping companies.
The spot freight rates for transporting containers, carrying anything from flat-screen TVs to sportswear from Asia to Northern Europe, has fallen 70 percent in three weeks.
In the week to Friday, container freight rates fell 22.5 percent from Asia to ports in the Mediterranean, dropped 8.6 percent to ports on the U.S. West Coast and were down 8.0 percent to ports on the U.S. East Coast.
But even more concerning is this collapse is occurring just as the containerized freight industry enters its golden seasonal period…
Now where have we seen this massive unprecedented decoupling before?
Of course the clarion calls of the status quo, everything is awesome, optimists is that this has nothing to with demand but is merely due to over-supply of ships…
Supply has indeed surged…
But only thanks to totally manipulated and decoupled-from-reality signals from ‘markets’ that caused firms to massively mal-invest in building ships for the renaissance of global trade… which never happened…
In fact, as the chart above shows, growth in global trade has been slowing down for some time, as Acting-Man’s Pater Tenebrarum notes,
But somewhere between collapsing oil prices, dollar strength, and consumer lethargy the economy’s narrative has drifted off plot. The theme has transitioned from one of renewed growth and recovery to one of recurring sickness and stagnation. Mass malinvestments in U.S. shale oil, Brazilian mines, and Chinese factories and real estate must be reckoned with.
Price adjustments, bankruptcies, and debt restructuring must be painfully worked through like a strawberry picker hunkered over a seemingly endless furrow row of over ripening fruits. Sore backs, burnt necks, and tender fingers are what the over-all economy has in front of it. The U.S. economy is not immune to the global disorder after all.
More evidence is revealed each week that the unexpected is happening. Instead of economic strength and robust growth, economic fundamentals are breaking down. Manufacturing is slowing. Consumer spending is soft. For additional edification, just look at copper, iron ore, or aluminum…
The medical uses of cannabis and its derivatives are continuing to be discovered at an astonishing rate. This is despite the fact that U.S. government clings to an absurd, baseless classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, which severely limits research and scientific advancement.
The diversity of medical uses for cannabis lies in its ability to stimulate cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are fundamental to the proper functioning of physiological systems.
A survey of 446 patients with traumatic brain injuries was carried out by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (La BioMed). The results, reported in The American Surgeon, found a strong association between cannabis use and survival of the trauma.
“Previous studies conducted by other researchers had found certain compounds in marijuana helped protect the brain in animals after a trauma,” said David Plurad, MD, an LA BioMed researcher and the study’s lead author. “This study was one of the first in a clinical setting to specifically associate THC use as an independent predictor of survival after traumatic brain injury.”
There is strong rationale for conducting clinical trials on trauma patients using medical cannabis. The case was bolstered by Israeli researchers, who found that the timely application of cannabinoids can prevent negative effects of PTSD.
Administering synthetic marijuana (cannabinoids) soon after a traumatic event can prevent PTSD-like (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms in rats, caused by the trauma and by trauma reminders.
Dr. Irit Akirav had discovered in previous studies that administering cannabinoids within a certain time window after a traumatic event reduces PTSD symptoms. The more recent study found that cannabis made the effects of trauma reminders “disappear.”
Another important finding of the study is that cannabinoid substances are better at treating PTSD than SSRI antidepressants, which bring a host of negative side-effects including violent tendencies.
Other research is showing more potential for medical cannabis to treat problems of the mind.
Cannabinoids may reduce depression that results from chronic stress, according to scientists at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions. Chronis stress reduces the production of endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced compounds similar to chemicals found in cannabis. This loss can be supplemented with cannabinoids.
“Chronic stress is one of the major causes of depression,” Haj-Dahmane says. “Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”
The research again makes a strong case for clinical trials in humans, particularly by using the non-psychoactive cannabis extract cannabidiol (CBD).
The wide variety of studies being carried out on the medically useful properties of cannabis is a challenge to the absurd nature of prohibition. For decades, government attempted to deny citizens of their human right to use this plant, but this is crumbling quickly in the face of scientific advancement.
Justin Gardner writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com
Crimean authorities rushed to connect hospitals and other vital infrastructure to reserve power stations and generators late on Saturday after the four main transmission lines from Ukraine were cut off in an apparent act of sabotage. The regional energy ministry has created an emergency response center to deal with the power cut.
“Crimea has been completely cut off,” the Krymenergo energy company’s director Viktor Plakida told TASS, adding that he could not immediately provide any more details.
The Crimean Emergencies Ministry has declared a state of emergency due to the complete power outage and has put rescue teams on high alert.
Nearly 1.9 million people have been left partly or fully without electricity. While important public facilities and infrastructure have been wired up to reserve sources of energy, homes all across the region have been left in the dark.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian police and journalists simultaneously posted social media reports of explosions in Chaplinka in the Kherson region, where power transmission towers supporting the lines delivering energy to Crimea are located. Photos of severed towers with a Crimean-Tatar flag hanging on one of them have been posted online.
Earlier on Friday, unidentified saboteurs damaged two of Kherson’s four electricity transmission towers, prompting Crimean authorities to issue warnings of possible power cuts. However, when local Ukrainian repairs crews attempted to reach the site, they were blocked by Crimean Tatar activists and Right Sector militants, who proclaimed they were taking the area “under protection,” TASS reported.
The stand-off ended in clashes with Ukrainian riot police, who were dispatched to the site. Several activists were slightly injured, while one police officer was stabbed during the turmoil.
While the Ukrenergo energy company’s maintenance crew finally managed to start the repair work, dozens of Crimean Tatars gathered in Kiev at the presidential administration building to protest the police response. Radical activists called for resistance to any attempts by Ukrainian authorities to undermine the so-called “blockade” of Crimea that has been organized by several activist groups in Kherson and had initially targeted Ukrainian vehicles transporting goods for sale to the peninsula.
Crimea ‘in standalone mode’
The Crimean power grid has been working in standalone mode since the incident. “Due to the complete shut off from the Ukrainian power grid, Crimean grid is operating in standalone mode,” TASS quoted a local emergency response unit as saying.
It could take up to 48 hours to repair the damage on the Ukrainian side, and reestablish the power supply to Crimea, a source from Ukrenergo told RIA Novosti.
All Crimean medical facilities are connected to backup power supplies and their operations will not be affected, Crimea’s first vice premier, Mikhail Sheremet, told journalists.
TV and radio broadcasting services will not be interrupted and are currently using an autonomous power supply, Russia’s Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications said.
However, Sheremet warned that Crimea will be able to make up for no more than 50 percent of its daily power consumption autonomously, even after resorting to additional wind power and solar energy.
“Our demand today is 1200 Megawatt. At the present point, with all the power sources, we could have about 600 Megawatt. This is under the most favorable conditions,” the official predicted.
The local airport, Kerch Strait ferry line to mainland Russia, as well as bus and railway stations are operating normally, the head of information department within the local emergency services Vladimir Ivanov said.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol has continued to operate on reserve power, the city’s governor, Sergey Menyaylo, has said.
Meanwhile, the Crimean energy company stated that the region’s reserve power stations could last up to 25 days independently. Petrol filling stations will be contributing to the work of the reserve mobile stations.
The brother of wanted Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam on Monday told the Belgian TV RTBF channel that he did not know where he was. He added that his sibling was a « normal lad ». Profile of Jihadist and Islamic State organisation recruitment methods.
« As far as my brother is concerned, we don’t know where he is right now, » Mohammed Abdeslam told RTBF in Brussels after he was released by police without charge after two days in detention.
Salah Abdeslam is not only suspected of firing at people with a kalashnikov on Friday night, but also of being the logistics provider of the Paris terror attacks.Neither his family nor his employer noticed anything untoward with the 26-year-old former Brussels tram worker who is the subject of an international arrest warrant by French police.
« He was fired because of his repeated absences, » said the Belgian tram company Stib. « We have no information about him » being radicalised at that time. « He was not reported as radicalised, » added Stib.
« Among hundreds of youngsters we monitor, some have never been to a mosque, » said Dounia Bouzar, head of a sectarianism prevention centre. « But some go to Daesh without ever having met a Muslim, » she told to France2 television on Monday night.
His brother Mohammed has also insisted that the alleged radicalisation of his brother did not come to anyone’s attention. Salah seems to be a « normal lad, (…) he has not yet been interviewed by the police. We don’t know what really happened, we don’t know in the present climate if Salah will dare surrender to police ».
« We are an open-minded family, we have never had any trouble with the police, » added Mohammed.
A « normal lad »
Undoubtedly, the Muslim movements which exclude reason from their teachings don’t encourage young people to question their own understanding of religious texts, but drive them into adopting repetitious and mimetic automatisms, to adopt a herd behaviour.
« The Daesh recruitment handbook clearly calls for the targeting youngsters who know nothing about Islam, who are not practising believers, who are socially isolated. (…) It’s Daesh’s objective to manipulate youngsters with no religious knowledge, because they are easier to brainwash, » Bouzar said on France2.
« It’s the beginning of a recruitment process that leads to psychological and emotional isolation, in a bid to escape the real world ». Also, in its final stage, « Daesh proposes a final confrontation with the real world », she added.
Friends and relatives describe how 26-year-old was into drinking and dancing, but suddenly adopted strict Islamic dress six months ago
Hasna Aït Boulahcen, who died in the St-Denis raid, had a troubled childhood, say those who knew her. Photograph: Social media
A female terror suspect who died during a police siege in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis did not blow herself up, French investigators have revealed, but was killed when somebody standing next her detonated a suicide vest.
The body of Hasna Aït Boulahcen, widely believed to be France’s first female kamikaze, was one of three found in a third-floor flat at rue du Corbillon in the suburb of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, after a seven-hour shootout on Wednesday morning.
Amateur video of the police shootout, which was shown on French television, captured a member of the armed intervention force shouting: “Where’s your boyfriend?” A woman’s voice replies: “It’s not my boyfriend,” before a volley of shots and a loud explosion is heard.
A neighbour, Christian, 20, reported hearing a blonde woman he believed was Aït Boulahcen shouting “help me, help me, help me,” and police ordering her to raise her hands before hearing a burst of gunfire.
Investigators were unable to say whether the suspect who triggered a suicide vest was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the Paris bombings and shootings a week ago, that left 130 dead. The apartment was completely destroyed and investigators have had difficulty identifying what was left of the bodies inside.
On Friday evening, a spokesperson for the Paris prosecutor’s office told the Guardian: “We have to be extremely careful because we do not have all the identities, but I can tell you that Hasna was not the kamikaze.”
“At the moment we cannot say if it was Abaaoud who blew himself up,” she added.
It was Aït Boulahcen, who friends said had been radicalised only six months ago, who led investigators to the Saint-Denis apartment, where at least six terror suspects were holed up and possibly planning a further attack.
Her phone was being tapped and her bank account monitored. She had expressed a wish to travel to Syria and become a jihadi, but recordings of her phone conversations allegedly showed she was “in a panic” when she learned her cousin Abaaoud had returned to Europe from Syria and was in France.
Aït Boulahcen has been described by friends and relatives as an unstable, lost soul who until recently smoked, drank vodka and liked to party. She was said to have “lived in her own world” after a troubled and disruptive childhood.
Paris investigators formally identified her on Friday after DNA tests on human remains found in the rubble of the apartment. A passport in her name was found in a handbag nearby.
Her mother said she had been brainwashed by extremists and apparently taken up with an Islamic State cell led by Abaaoud.
Neighbours on the run-down estate where her mother lived said they had last seen her 10 days ago.
They said they had been shocked when the young woman, described as a talkative tomboy who wore jeans and sunglasses, transformed into an apparently devout Muslim around six months ago.
Aït Boulahcen exchanged her trademark cowboy hat and boots for a long robe and a full veil. “She started wearing the jilbab [the long, loosely fitted outer garment] then a month later she was wearing the niqab [which covers the face],” a man called Youssouf, who said he was her brother, told AFP. “She was living in her own world. I’d never known her study religion or even open a Qur’an.”
Born in August 1989, Aït Boulahcen was a toddler when her family moved to the Rose-des-Vents (Compass Rose) estate, known locally as The 3,000 (the number of apartments), in Aulnay-souys-Bois, whose romantic name belies its reputation as one of Paris’s most troubled suburbs.
Her parents, both from Morocco, separated shortly after the move, and her father moved out and went to work for Peugeot in Lorraine, eastern France.
French media reported that Aït Boulahcen’s was placed with a foster family from the age of eight until she was 15. “At first everything went well. She was a child like any other,” said her foster mother, who insisted on remaining anonymous. However, there was one thing that marked her out from other children, the foster mother added: she never showed or sought the slightest sign of affection.
Her foster mother believed her troubles followed the monthly visits to one of her parents. “For me, the problems stemmed from there,” she said. On 11 September 2001, she was shocked to discover Aït Boulahcen “applauding in front of the television” at reports of the attacks in New York.
In the end she was “doing just what she wanted”, sometimes shouting, other times sulking and refusing to speak. “She would roll herself up in her duvet with her head hidden. She would say the devil was there in the night,” the foster mother said.
At the age of 15, Aït Boulahcen walked out on the foster family. “When she left, I told myself, she is lost,” said the foster mother, adding that she had not seen her former charge since 2008. On Thursday, when she saw her again, it was on the television and Aït Boulahcen was dead.
Youssouf, her brother, said: “As she grew up, she lacked points of reference and in the end chose this carefree attitude, running away more and more often, hanging out with dubious people.”
He added: “She was living in her own world. She was not interested in studying religion. She was permanently on her phone, looking at Facebook or WhatsApp. I told her to stop all this, but she wouldn’t listen. She ignored my numerous attempts to give her advice, telling me I wasn’t her dad or her husband and I should leave her alone.”
Youssouf said his relationship with his sister was complicated. “She spent her time criticising everything. She refused to accept any advice, she didn’t want to sort herself out. On the rare occasions that I spoke to her it was to tell her to behave better, to have a better attitude, to be more easygoing about her strict dress code.
“I was never very close to her because we lived apart but during the opportunities I had to talk to her she was full of enthusiasm, although her instability always dragged her down, she was not grounded and went from one life project to another, without question.”
Youssouf said that in one of their last conversations his sister had told him: “Live your life and I’ll live mine.” He said she went to live with a friend in Drancy about three weeks ago.
Khemissa, one of Aït Boulahcen’s close friends, told Le Parisien she had a reputation as a “crazy girl … who smoked dope and danced all night on the street, in rapper or cowboy mode, with her cowboy boots.
“She had a joie de vivre, she loved life. But she got on to a bad path, she allowed herself to be influenced,” Khemissa said. “She told me she was going to Syria to fight, but because she was a bit crazy, I didn’t take her seriously.”
Another friend said: “She drank in the evenings. During Ramadan she would drink until drunk. Vodka, that was her favourite tipple.”
Those who knew Aït Boulahcen at Creutzwald, where her guitar-playing father lived, described her as an extrovert who “loved partying and going to clubs” as well as drinking and occasionally smoking.
“She had lots of boyfriends, but nothing serious. She had no real friends, just people she hung out with. When you don’t have a family it’s easier to get into bad things,” one friend said. “She wasn’t religious at all,” another added.
At one point she was registered as the owner of a building company, Beko Construction, which appears to have gone into liquidation two years ago.
Her mother, 58, who was taken into police custody after her daughter’s links with terrorist groups was revealed, said Aït Boulahcen had undergone a “metamorphosis … a brainwashing”.
She added: “She spent all her time criticising, wouldn’t accept any advice, and had some very dubious friends.”
Neighbours in Aulnay-sous-Bois told journalists that the last time they saw her was 10 days ago. At this time she was already under police surveillance for suspected drug dealing, thought to be “feeding the radicalised, in arms and money”.
Further phone taps revealed her connection to the Islamic State commando teams that carried out the devastating attacks on Paris on Friday 13 November.
[The phenomenon of ISIS has demonstrated a clear M.O., rising-up as the opposition and all resistance simply melted-away (SEE: Iraq army leaders to face trial for surrender to ‘Islamic State’ in Ramadi ; 130 Iraqi officers under investigation or forced retirement for surrendering Mosul to ISIS ). Is this explained by massive bribery, secret deals of a geostrategic nature, or is it that the inadequate training that US Forces have been giving its former enemies is being exposed as a great, cruel sham perpetuated upon unsuspecting fledgling armies?]
By Khaama Press
The control of the strategic Kunduz city in northern Afghanistan fell to Taliban control due to government’s failure in leadership and structural complexity.
The former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh who was leading a delegation to investigate the fall of Kunduz city said Saturday that over 2,000 documents related to the fall of Kunduz were reviewed besides interviewing several people including government officials and ordinary citizens.
Saleh further added that the main question in their investigation was “Whether Kunduz city fell due to a conspiracy or a failure or whether both factors were involved?”
He said the delegation did not find any evidences regarding the involvement of any conspiracy in the fall of the city.
According to Saleh, the delegation concentrated on three main subjects, including strategic leadership, condition of institutions structure and condition of access to facilities.
Saleh said one of the main strategic errors of the government ahead of fall of the city was ignorance of the fall of other districts of Kunduz province including Dasht-e-Archi and Chahar Dara.
He also added that the Taliban militants continued to weaken the Afghan Local Police by taking control of Aqtash and Khanabad district.
According to Saleh, the Taliban militants entered to Kunduz city after weakening the Afghan Local Police and in the meantime starting war in the other parts of the north including Badakhshan, forcing the Afghan National Army troops to disperse.
He said there was a vacuum in the leadership as the Taliban launched coordinated attack on Kunduz city on 28th September and called US air support as the turning point in Kunduz war as the Taliban militants were close to take control of the airport.
Saleh said the delegation has exposed vacuums available in the operational method of the National Security Council led by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in their report, calling it a main factor which led to the fall of Kunduz city.
He also added that all the institutions and government officials who are to be blamed for the fall of the city, mainly due to negligence have bee exposed in their report.
Photo: In this 2013 photo, former Saudi King Abdullah stands next to his younger brother Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, who was crown prince at the time and is now king of Saudi Arabia. Tribes of the World/Flickr
Using its vast oil wealth, it has quietly spread its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world, secretly undermined secular regimes in its region and prudently kept to the shadows, while others did the fighting and dying. It was Saudi money that fueled the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, underwrote Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, and bankrolled Islamic movements and terrorist groups from the Caucasus to Hindu Kush.
Today that circumspect diplomacy is in ruins, and the House of Saud looks more vulnerable than it has since the country was founded in 1926. Unraveling the reasons for the current train wreck is a study in how easily hubris, illusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.
Stumbling over oil
The Kingdom’s first stumble was a strategic decision last fall to undermine competitors by upping oil production and, thus, lowering the price. Their reasoning was that, if the price of a barrel of oil dropped from over $100 to around $80, it would strangle competition from more expensive sources and new technologies, including the U.S. fracking industry, the Arctic, and emergent producers like Brazil. That, in turn, would allow Riyadh to reclaim its shrinking share of the energy market.
There was also the added benefit that lower oil prices would damage countries that the Saudis didn’t like: Russia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Iran.
In one sense it worked. The American fracking industry is scaling back, the exploitation of Canada’s oil sands has slowed, and many Arctic drillers closed up shop. And, indeed, countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, and Russia took a serious economic hit. But despite obvious signs, the Saudis failed to anticipate China’s economic slowdown and how that would dampen economic growth in the leading industrial nations. The price of oil went from $115 a barrel in June 2014 to $44 today. Because it is so pure, it costs less than $10 to produce a barrel of Saudi oil.
The Kingdom planned to use its almost $800 billion in financial reserves to ride out the drop in prices, but it figured that oil would not fall below $80 a barrel, and then only for a few months.
According to the Financial Times, in order to balance its budget, Saudi Arabia needs a price of between $95 and $105 a barrel. And while oil prices will likely rise over the next five years, projections are that the price per barrel will only reach $65. Saudi debt is on schedule to rise from 6.7 percent of GDP this year to 17.3 percent next year, and its 2015 budget deficit is $130 billion.
Saudi Arabia is spending $10 billion a month in foreign exchange reserves to pay the bills and has been forced to borrow money on the international financial market. Two weeks ago the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) regional director, Masood Ahmed, warned Riyadh that the country would deplete its financial reserves in five years unless it drastically cut its budget.
But the Kingdom can’t do that.
When the Arab Spring broke out in 2011, the Saudi Arabia headed it off by pumping $130 billion into the economy, raising wages, improving services and providing jobs for its growing population. Saudi Arabia has one of the youngest populations in the Middle East, a lot of it unemployed and much of it poorly educated. Some 25 percent of the population lives in poverty. Money keeps the lid on, but for how long, even with the heavy-handed repression that characterizes Saudi political life?
Stumbling over Yemen
In March, the Kingdom intervened in Yemen, launching an air war, a naval blockade, and partial ground campaign on the pretense that Iran was behind the civil war, a conclusion not even the Americans agree with.
Again, the Saudis miscalculated, even though one of its major allies, Pakistan, warned Riyadh that it was headed for trouble. In part, the Kingdom’s hubris was fed by the illusion that U.S. support would make it a short war – the Americans are arming the Saudis, supplying them with bombing targets, backing up the naval blockade, and refueling their warplanes in mid-air.
But six months down the line the conflict has turned into a stalemate. The war has killed 5,000 people, including 500 children, flattened cities, and alienated much of the local population. It has also generated a food and medical crisis, as well as creating opportunities for the Islamic State and al-Qaeda to seize territory in Southern Yemen. Efforts by the UN to investigate the possibility of war crimes were blocked by Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
As the Saudis are finding out, war is a very expensive business, a burden the Saudis could meet under normal circumstances, but not when the price the Kingdom’s only commodity, oil, is plummeting.
Stumbling over Syria
Nor is Yemen the only war that the Saudis are involved with. Riyadh, along with other Gulf monarchies, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, are underwriting many of the groups trying to overthrow Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. When anti-government demonstrations broke out in 2011, the Saudis – along with the Americans and the Turks – calculated that Assad could be toppled in a few months.
But that was magical thinking. As bad as Assad is, a lot of Syrians, particularly minorities like Shiites, Christians, and Druze, were far more afraid of the Islamists from al-Qaeda and the IS then they were of their own government. So the war has dragged on for four years and has now killed close to 250,000 people.
Once again, the Saudis miscalculated, though in this case they were hardly alone. The Syrian government turned out to be more resilient that it appeared. And Riyadh’s bottom line that Assad had to go just ended up bringing Iran and Russia into the picture, checkmating any direct intervention by the anti-Assad coalition. Any attempt to establish a no-fly zone will have to confront the Russian air force, not something that anyone other than U.S. presidential aspirants are eager to do.
The war has also generated a flood of refugees, deeply alarming the European Union, which finally seems to be listening to Moscow’s point about the consequences of overthrowing governments without a plan as to who takes over. There is nothing like millions of refugees headed in your direction to cause some serious re-thinking of strategic goals.
It’s a mess
The Saudis’ goal of isolating Iran is rapidly collapsing. The P5+1 – the U.S., China, Russia, Great Britain, France, and Germany – successfully completed a nuclear agreement with Tehran, despite every effort by the Saudis and Israel to torpedo it. And at Moscow’s insistence, Washington has reversed its opposition to Iran being included in peace talks around Syria.
Stymied in Syria, mired down in Yemen, its finances increasingly fragile, the Kingdom also faces internal unrest from its long marginalized Shia minority in the country’s east and south. To top it off, the IS has called for the “liberation” of Mecca from the House of Saud and launched a bombing campaign aimed at the Kingdom’s Shiites.
Last month’s Hajj disaster that killed more than 2,100 pilgrims – and anger at the Saudi authorities foot dragging on investigating the tragedy – have added to the royal family’s woes. The Saudis claim 769 people were killed, a figure that no other country in the world accepts. And there are persistent rumors that the deadly stampede was caused when police blocked off an area in order to allow high-ranking Saudis special access to the holy sites.
Changes in the region
Some of these missteps can be laid at the feet of the new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, and of a younger generation of aggressive Saudis he has appointed to key positions. But Saudi Arabia’s troubles are also a reflection of a Middle East in transition. Exactly where that it is headed is by no means clear, but change is in the wind.
Iran is breaking out of its isolation and, with its large, well-educated population, strong industrial base, and plentiful energy resources, is poised to play a major regional, if not international, role. Turkey is in the midst of a political upheaval, and there is growing opposition among Turks to Ankara’s meddling in the Syrian civil war
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is impaled on its own policies, both foreign and domestic. “The expensive social contract between the Royal family and Saudi citizens will get more difficult, and eventually impossible to sustain if oil prices don’t recover,” Meghan L. O’Sullivan, director of the Geopolitics of Energy project at Harvard told the New York Times.
However, the House of Saud has little choice but to keep pumping oil to pay for its wars and keep the internal peace. But more production drives down prices even further, and, once the sanctions come off of Iran, the oil glut will become worse.
While it is still immensely wealthy, there are lots of bills coming due. It is not clear the Kingdom has the capital or the ability to meet them.
“On November 20, the warships of the Caspian Fleet launched 18 cruise missiles at seven targets in the provinces of Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo. All targets were hit successfully,” he reported to President Vladimir Putin.
Overall, there are 10 warships taking part in the operation, six of which are in the Mediterranean.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) have been suffering huge losses as a result of the Russian offensive, Shoigu said, adding that data on the ground shows that the flow of terrorists arriving in Syria has decreased, while more and more militants are fleeing the warzone to head north and south-west.
Over the past four days, Russian air forces have conducted 522 sorties, deploying more than 100 cruise missiles and 1,400 tons of bombs of various types, the minister stated.
He added that a strike on a target in Deir ez-Zor utilizing multiple cruise missiles had killed more than 600 militants.
Shoigu stressed that the number of aircraft taking part in the operation has been doubled, and now consists of 69 jets conducting 143 sorties on a daily basis.
The minister pointed out that Russia is focused on destroying the terrorists’ economic base, having targeted 15 oil storage and refinery facilities as well as 525 oil trucks.
“We stopped supplies of 60,000 tons of oil per day to the black market and terrorists are losing $1.5 million daily,” Shoigu said.
Russia has also destroyed 23 jihadists training camps, 19 plants producing explosives, 47 ammunition depots, as well as many other targets, according to the minister.
In addition, Russia’s air campaign has provided significant support for Syrian government troops near Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia and Palmyra, he noted.
He also added that the Russian military has begun cooperating with its French counterparts, as ordered by President Putin.
The Defense Ministry has published a video showing Russian servicemen at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria writing ‘For our people’ and ‘For Paris’ on bombs that were later dropped on the terrorists.
“We have a lot of evidence that Russian airstrikes are effective,” Syrian Brigadier General Ali Maihub told Interfax.
“Russian mass airstrikes did irreparable damage to international terrorist organizations in Syria, disrupted their administration and financing systems and destroyed their bases and depots,” he added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov still maintains that Russia will not engage in a ground operation against the IS in Syria.
“There has been no discussion about a ground operation and there is still no discussion,” Peskov told reporters.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have discussed in a phone conversation the need for a joint effort to combat Islamic State in Syria, as well as the necessity of launching talks between Damascus and the Syrian opposition, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
A US official said on Friday that Russia has given the US advance notice before airstrikes at least three times since the attacks in Paris, Reuters reports.
Citizen Lebanon Osama Mohammed Said Hayat, who was arrested the day before in Kuwait, admitted that Ukraine purchased man-portable air defense systems FN6, which are then sent through Turkey fighters of the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IG; banned in Russia). This was reported by Western news agency with reference to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kuwait.
The cell of the “Islamic state” has been opened on the eve of the Kuwaiti security services. It is reported that she was standing at the head of a Lebanese citizen Osama Mohammed Said Hayat. It was he who coordinated the activities of the IG in Kuwait, recruiting new fighters, raise money for the continuation of jihad (and then they are transferred to the account of the IG supporters in Turkey), as well as organized the supply of weapons to the battlefield.
In particular, news agency AP with reference to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kuwait, was arrested conduct transactions relating to the procurement of arms, Ukraine. Agency AFP adds: it was a Chinese anti-aircraft missile complexes FN6, designed to destroy aircraft and helicopters at low altitudes. Based on the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry, they were purchased in Ukraine, and then transported to Syria through Turkey.
It is also reported that in addition to Lebanese leaders in the detection cell IG included three Syrians, one Egyptian and one Kuwaiti. Another four – two Syrians and two Australians of Lebanese descent – at the time of the arrest of members of the cell were outside Kuwait.
“Islamic State” is quite active in Kuwait. So, in June, a Sunni group, organized an explosion in the Shiite mosque of Imam al-Sadeq. The attack was carried out during Friday prayers. Killed 26 people, more than 200 injured. Suspected of involvement in the terrorist attack were found and convicted seven of them were sentenced to death, eight more suspected Islamists were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 2 to 15 years. Kuwait’s Court of Appeal make its verdict on the case on December 13.
There are many who sympathize with the Islamists. In November Kuwait’s Court has sentenced five defendants in the financing of the IG. For sending militants sum equivalent to $ 1.3 million, they received ten years’ imprisonment each.
On November 10, during a meeting in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Emir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah agreed to coordinate efforts in the fight against terrorism. The head of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the two countries’ positions on the Syrian issue coincide. “The decision of the Syrian crisis have common positions: as soon as possible to stop the fighting, to stop the bloodshed and immediately begin a political process between the government and all opposition groups,” – the minister said.
Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied the information about the sale of the representatives of the terrorist group “Islamic State” Chinese man-portable air defense systems FN6, the defense ministry said that such weapons do not have. “We can not sell or resell, or to perform any transactions regarding weapons. We are not a business entity, and in service, we do not have such weapons, “- said in a comment ” RIA Novosti “official representative of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Viktoria Kushnir on Friday.
to strike oil installations controlled by the organization “Daash” terrorist in Syria and Iraq
Questioned Ilya Rogachev, director of the challenges and issues new threats in the Russian Foreign Ministry today in the motives behind the steering number of strikes oil installations Western countries under the control of the organization “Daash” terrorist in Iraq and Syria.
The news agency TASS ROGACHEV saying in an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant published today that “executing strikes led by the United States against Daash which is still ongoing for over a year now did not cause any real damage to infrastructure oil installations controlled by the terrorist organization which carried out 8,000 sorties In a quarter of cases, air planes returned to their positions without exhausting their ammunition under the pretext that there was no targets to hit her while organizing Daash continue extracting oil from the fields and start building new fields where oil transport trucks roam its region. “
Commenting on the strikes carried out by France against oil installations in Syria Russian official said that “the French jumping in this strike from the fact that their sense of inevitable victory of military operations of the Syrian army and the imperative to restore control of the oil fields to the Syrian government.”
Rogachev said that French aircraft are not similar strikes on terrorist targets in Iraq.
He added Rogachev “The Western experts drew attention to the ambiguity of the Western position in this regard,” noting that “the Americans might be woken after comments launched by political analysts and they have to strike at oil facilities in Iraq and it is impossible not to note that these steps were taken by the coalition forces under the influence of decisive and effective strikes carried out by the Russian Aviation “Was wondering coalition’s goal of causing a loss of actual military organization” Daash “terrorist.
He said: “It is because the experts noted last year that the organization Daash terrorist produced about 30 thousand barrels of oil per day, the figure now will be between forty to fifty thousand barrels,” pointing out that the UN Security Council Resolution 2199 stressed that oil trade illegal carried out by the “Daash” is his main source of funding and is therefore called on all nations to confront the phenomenon.
The Russian aviation began to carry out air operations on regulatory sites “Daash and Al-Nusra Front” terrorists in Syria on 30 last September at the request of Syria.
There are both government and opposition representatives on the list of figures for the new Syrian government proposed by Saudi Arabia, according to Randa Kassis, leader of the Movement for a Pluralistic Society.
Saudi Arabia is trying to impose on Syria its own plan for the transitional government, Randa Kassis, leader of the Movement for a Pluralistic Society, said Thursday.According to her, currently there are four lists of potential candidates to the Syrian opposition delegation for talks with the Syrian government.
“There are four lists, including one proposed by Russia, one proposed by Egypt, one by Saudi Arabia, and one by the US. Saudi Arabia did not submit its proposals, but it gave the names of the people it wants to be in the new government, including representatives of both the current authorities and opposition,” Kassis said at a press conference hosted by Rossiya Segodnya information agency in Moscow.
“Of course, Saudi Arabia is a significant player, but the Syrian people cannot let any other country – like Saudi Arabia – impose on us the entire cabinet,” she underscored.
A meeting between the Syrian government and an opposition delegation should be organized in a “neutral place,” Kassis added.
Participants of the international meeting on Syria in Vienna on Saturday agreed that the next round of talks between the government and opposition should take place before January 1, 2016. Within the next few months, the Syrian government and opposition should agree on the national unity government, and within 18 months the country should hold elections in accordance with a new constitution. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said in Vienna that participants of the talks would help the Syrian opposition form a delegation for further talks with the government.Syria has been engulfed in an armed conflict since March 2011. According to the UN, over 220,000 people have been killed. Government forces have been fighting against various militant groups, including the Islamic State (ISIL) terrorist group and al-Nusra Front.
[SEE: Imperialists prepare for war in Mali ; SOCOM Manufactured French Invasion of Mali, Training the Man Behind the Coup ; France Makes First Move On Africa’s Resources, Sends Bombers and Troops To Mali Under Cover of “Humanitarian Intervention”]
Two gunmen took 170 hostages during an attack on the Hotel Radisson in the Malian capital, Bamako, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the hotel group.
“The attack is ongoing,” United Nations spokesman Olivier Salgado said by phone from the capital. “What we know is that the attackers are in the hotel and have automatic weapons.”
UN forces and Malian government troops are at the scene, he said. The French and U.S. embassies confirmed that the attack was under way.
Mali was plunged into violence after a military coup in March 2012 left a power vacuum that allowed Islamist militants to join with separatists and seize northern areas of the country. While French and UN forces pushed the militants out of most of those strongholds in 2013, the government is struggling to regain authority there.
A man who murdered two soldiers and wounded three people in what Bosnia’s prime minister said was an “attack on the state” blew himself up as police were about to enter his home, authorities have said.
The attacker, armed with an automatic rifle, killed two soldiers in a betting shop then shot at a passing bus. Fragments of the broken glass injured the driver and two passengers.
A witness who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution said the man walked into the shop, separated the two soldiers from others and shot them. He wore a band around his head with some Arabic letters.
The gunman fled to his home nearby and an explosion could be heard before police entered the house.
“The suspect killed himself using an explosive device,” said police spokesman Irfan Nefic.
The attack happened in the Sarajevo suburb of Rajlovac, opposite the gate of an army barracks.
Authorities refused to say whether the attack was an act of terrorism before the investigation was over but after an emergency session of his cabinet, Bosnia’s prime minister Denis Zvizdic said it was “an attack on the state”.
The Bosnian army issued a statement saying two of its soldiers were killed and one – a passenger on the bus – was injured. The security level has been stepped up at military locations throughout the country.
Bosnian Muslims traditionally practise a moderate form of Islam, preached by the country’s official Islamic Community, but some have embraced radical teachings from foreign fighters who came to help Muslims during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
Authorities said that 94 Bosnians have gone to fight in Syria. Their records show 56 of them have returned, while 26 died there.
Local security officials in southern Zabul said on Thursday that the Khak-e-Afghan district has become a Daesh stronghold and that Afghan forces retreated from the area eight years ago.
Security sources added that in this time no military operation has ever been launched to retake the district and that Afghan forces have never battled Daesh in the area.
The statement comes after officials in Kabul have maintained that military operations were carried out – specifically to rescue 31 passengers taken hostage by Daesh eight months ago.
This latest development follows on the heels of the beheading of seven Zabul residents by Daesh militants a few days ago. Among the victims were three women.
The barbaric act meanwhile sparked countrywide outrage which resulted in tens of thousands of people taking to the streets of various cities around the country in protest over the incident.
Meanwhile, Zabul provincial council officials criticized government over not being able to take action against Daesh militants and not monitoring border regions with Pakistan. They said the open border enables Daesh and Taliban militants to come and go freely between the two countries.
Located along the Kabul-Kandahar highway, Zabul has always been a dangerous area for travelers.
Residents in Khak-e-Afghan district say they are tired of Daesh in their area and many families have fled their homes in the past few days due to Daesh activity.
Residents claim Daesh militants commit all manner of brutality and suppression against them and that many of them have had their homes seized by Daesh militants.
A resident said: “They (Daesh) have seized homes by force and have said they bought the properties.”
Eight months have passed since Daesh started its activities in the district, there are some rumors that nearly 800 families associated with Daesh live in Khak-e-Afghan district, said officials.
Attaullah Haqparast, a member of the Zabul provincial council said: “Uzbek and Chechen along with Arab militants are fighting (in the area). They are supported by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI and receive resources through Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani said: “During this period the place of holding hostages was changed 56 times. In order to keep them from the security forces and from military operation rescue attempts. As a result of these operations we managed to free 19 of the 31 hostages on one occasion and a further eight during another operation.”
Zabul police chief Ghulan Jailani Farahi said: “Until now we have not fought Daesh face-to-face and they have never come out to fight with us directly.”
Zabul security officials have confirmed that Taliban and Daesh fighters have fought each other on a number of occasions in Khak-e-Afghan district and neighboring areas in recent months.
Metrojet Flight 9268 was downed by ‘foreign explosives’ in Egypt on October 31 – leaving all 224 people onboard dead.
As France attempts to come to terms with six horrific attacks on Paris last Friday which left 129 dead, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to work with the French military in Syria during a phone called with his French counterpart, Francois Hollande.
Mr Hollande had earlier called for Russia and the US – as well as fellow EU countries – to join a coalition to destroy ISIS after the terror group admitted responsibility for the attack on the French capital.
Tonight France launched further airstrikes on the ISIS-stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, with ten planes taking part, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister confirmed.
Sergei Shoigu also told a briefing conducted for President Putin on Tuesday bombers hit Islamic State positions in Raqqa and Der-ez-Zor.
Mr Shoigu said the cruise missiles which hit the Aleppo and Idlib positions were fired from Tu-160 and Tu-95 warplanes.
Earlier US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said ISIS is losing territory because of the American-led military operations in Iraq and Syria.
“They are feeling it today. They felt it yesterday. They felt it in the past weeks. We gained more territory. Dash has less territory.
“There is a clear strategy in place. Step-by-step I’m confident momentum will pick up.”
France’s call for military support from other EU countries has invoked an article of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty which has never been used before and which requires states to provide “aid and assistance by all the means in their power” to a member which is “the victim of armed aggression on its territory”.
Early this morning Vladimir Putin vowed to “find” and “punish” those responsible for the plane crash on the doomed Russian airliner last month after officials confirmed it was “a terrorist act”.
He has now offered a £33million reward for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for the bombing.
In retaliation of the announcement he has ramped up attacks on ISIS, with sea-launched cruise missiles and long-range bombers fired, according to a US official.
It comes as Egyptian authorities detained two employees of Sharm al-Sheikh airport in connection with the downing of the passenger jet, killing all 224 people on board.
Security officials said: “Seventeen people are being held, two of them are suspected of helping whoever planted the bomb on the plane at Sharm al-Sheikh airport.”
Russia’s shift in tone follows assertions by British and American officials that terrorism was likely the cause of the plane crash, which exploded shortly after it took off from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
At least seven explosions were heard at the scene of a police standoff with suspects in last week’s deadly Paris attacks. Police say the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, is believed to be holed up in the area. (Nov. 18) AP
French police stormed an apartment Wednesday in the northern Paris suburb of Saint Denis where at least two suspected terrorists, including a female suicide bomber, linked to last week’s attacks have been killed. The raid is still unfolding.
One person may still be holed up in the apartment.
French media said police are targeting the suspected mastermind of the attacks that killed at least 129 people. But it was not clear if Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, a Belgian national, was the person in the apartment in Saint Denis.
Periodic gunfire and explosions could be heard in the area, which is in a northern part of Paris, about 5-6 miles from the city center, and close to the Stade de France stadium, where three suicide bombers blew themselves up Friday.
At least three policemen have been injured during the operation, which began in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Five people have been arrested, three of those were in the apartment and another two were nearby.
The suicide bomber blew herself up as police attempted to enter the apartment.
Residents have been evacuated and placed in shelters in the town hall, French journalist Djamel Mazi said on Twitter. Schools and shops in the area have been closed and residents are being urged to remain indoors.
At least one civilian passerby may have been killed. No hostages were being held.
Europe remains on high alert after Friday’s attacks that have left more than 400 people wounded, with dozens still in the hospital in intensive care.
On Tuesday night, German authorities cancelled an exhibition game between Germany and the Netherlands amid a bomb scare.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, in charge of overseeing foreign arms sales, said in a statement that deal with the Saudis has been approved. The US Congress still has 30 days to block the deal, but is unlikely to do so.
The agency said that the sale would keep the Royal Saudi Air Force from running out of weapons, as well as provide sufficient weapons stocks for military action in Yemen and Syria.
“This acquisition will help sustain strong military-to-military relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, improve [the ability of Saudi forces to work] with the United States, and enable Saudi Arabia to meet regional threats and safeguard the world’s largest oil reserves,” the statement said.
The $1.29 billion deal consists of 22,000 smart and general purpose bombs, which include 1,000 GBU-10 Paveway II laser guided bombs, as well as over 5,000 Joint Direct Attack Munitions kits, which convert older bombs into precision-guided weapons via GPS.
Both Boeing (BA.N) and Raytheon (RTN.N) are leading producers of the weapons. However, a competition will determine which contractors will get the deal, according to the Pentagon agency.
The sale comes after President Barack Obama promised in May to work with Gulf Arab States on increased security cooperation, particularly “on fast-tracking arms transfers… counter terrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity and ballistic missile defense.”
Gulf States have shown increased interest in US weaponry following the nuclear agreement reached with Iran in July.
In October, the US government approved an $11 billion sale to Saudi Arabia for up to four Lockheed Martin Corp.’s warships, along with weapons, training and logistics support. In September, Washington approved a $5.4 billion sale of 600 advanced Patriot missiles to Riyadh.
The Saudis have been leading a coalition of countries that since late March has been bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen in an attempt to put ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back into power. According to the latest UN estimates, at least 2,355 civilians have been killed since the start of the conflict. The majority of them are said to have died in Saudi airstrikes.
As the analysts begin to consider the attacks on Paris this weekend, many questions are being raised. Among them, what exactly did Daesh have to gain. The terrorist group is renowned for its surgical strikes in which it gains something big and to everyone’s great surprise. Revenge is emotional, not strategic and they didn’t gain anything by these attacks. In fact, they have caused little real damage but achieved a maximum level of fear in many countries who will now try to hit them back even harder. They raise the probability of greater American involvement in Syria and they are a complete public relations disaster, something Daesh is not known for.
This morning it is being reported (by unnamed sources in the USA) that further attacks on the US, Iran and others will happen in the next few days. Daesh doesn’t talk about such things, they simply act. They like big splashy fiascos. They don’t step outside their comfort zone in the Middle East. Inviting attacks against themselves by a broad and infuriated coalition at a time when they are suffering major losses at the hands of Russia just doesn’t make any sense. Daesh has shown itself to be more clever than this
In the hours following the downing of the Russian passenger aircraft over the Sinai peninsula, an obscure group who claimed to be connected to Daesh, took responsibility for downing it. They provided a video of it just before it crashed, however, they were poorly funded and equipped with only shoulder mounted weapons incapable of hitting something at 30,000 feet. Analysts concluded that they probably shot at it as it approached the ground and that something else had caused it to fall from the sky. The Egyptian army killed all of them within a couple of days. The video is mysteriously gone from the internet. Again, Daesh had nothing to gain except further attacks on their infrastructure by Russia, who certainly wasn’t going to be scared off by the loss of a single aircraft.
A day after the plane crash, America and England floated the theory of a bomb, (according to unnamed sources in London). This theory holds that it was smuggled into the planes luggage compartment and that it used a barometric detonator that automatically triggers at a certain altitude. While Daesh would be shooting itself in the foot by carrying out such an attack, America has a long standing reputation for lashing out at those who don’t do what it wants and using false flag, black-ops to do so. The Americans are angry at Egypt, which has now seen its multi-billion dollar tourist industry virtually collapse overnight. They are embarrassed by and furious with Russia for stealing their thunder in Syria and for actually getting the job done.
The West’s narrative is that a bomb brought down the plane, and that this is retribution by Daesh for Russia’s involvement in the war. It is difficult to imagine how they knew exactly how the attack was carried out before the black boxes or the aircraft are even looked at. Their great information vacuum cleaner hasn’t warned them of a single attack anywhere else so far. Oh ya, I forgot, unnamed sources. American media is saying that the Paris attacks and the downed jet liner show what happens if America isn’t allowed to lead the wars around the world. Daesh, if in fact they are the culprits, has gained nothing.
These are both surgical strikes that, as far as we know, Daesh doesn’t have the assets, the resources, the infrastructure or the interest in carrying out across the globe. Please excuse me for being blunt, Russia and France, I mean no disrespect, but relatively speaking, even the great number who have died in each of these events sounds more like a bad Friday afternoon in Kabul, Karachi or Baghdad.
It also results in the world being more determined than ever to wipe out Daesh This can only benefit the American Military Industrial Complex… no one else since Russia is already engaged. Paris is currently considering asking NATO to help them to retaliate. What a surprise, but there is another agenda in play at this same time which benefits from these two attacks and the months of speculation that they will bring in the mass-media. With the release of the TPP document, all 6000 pages of it, the governments who say that they are ready to sign, are all suffering a severe backlash from their electorates. The people have been skeptical about this legislation because of its lack of transparency from the beginning.
The Americans tried to pass these same laws about 10 years ago through open negotiations and everybody in Europe rejected them. They would have ruined European economies, environmental protections, privacy laws, and weakened their governments’ independence to enact laws in the public interest. They would have allowed American corporations to extend patent controls and to sue governments directly for legislation that negatively impacts their bottom line.
For years now, the tobacco companies have been suing countries all over the world for attempting to reduce smoking without much success. The TPP would let them win and claim billions of dollars in damages to their reputations, trademarks and of course their bottom line. Coke, Exxon, Monsanto and BP are in exactly the same situation. They each have much blood on their hands and lawsuits against them by many foreign countries as well as the International Trade Commission. They have left a path of environmental devastation and political upheaval in their wake. The TPP would solve all of this and they would be compensated for their losses by the very governments that are currently trying to stand up for their own national interests.
As the American analysts begin to tackle this brick of legislation, there is the consensus that any jobs remaining in the US, besides Walmart and McDonald’s, are history. They will be moved out of the country in a heartbeat. The real economy in the US will be devastated, the stock market will soar and the 1% would be in the best position globally that they have ever been. Every piece of legislation that the American public has objected to, which reduces their rights or that contravenes the constitution in the last 20 years, has passed quietly through congress during a week when yet another mass shooting has occurred. If not, they are passed the night before congress leaves for one of its infamous 3 month vacations. Christmas is coming and so is the TPP. With nice juicy wars and terrorists to talk about, global media has stopped talking about the TPP now, paving the way for a quiet signing ceremony whilst no one is watching.
The downing of the Russian flight didn’t do any damage to Russia’s standing on the Syrian issue, in fact it garnered them the support of Europe, most notably Germany. The attacks on Paris will have exactly the opposite effect; particularly should the Elysée choose NATO as its partner. Russia would be the most obvious strategic choice but choosing NATO would bolster America’s perceived authority to take over again in the Middle East. America would claim that the downing of the plane represents Russia’s short sightedness and that the attacks on Europe are payback for Russia’s folly. Moscow becomes the bad guy and Washington the saviour. The world press would cover the war to the exclusion of all else while the TPP quietly becomes the next big, red-white & blue missile aimed straight up your ***.
Gord Cowie, The Recalcitrant Hippy can be reached at email@example.com
[MAINTAINING A LONG TRADITION OF KILLING OUR ALLIES, IN ORDER TO SUBJUGATE OUR ALLIES…GLADIO. You don’t need to look to a foreign, or Western-created group of terrorists to explain the Paris attacks. This was a typical, intelligence agency commando attack.]
Blood Stains at Delhaize supermarket in Aalst, Belgium.
“A Volkswagon GTI was parked outside the supermarket and three armed men with hoods over their heads came out of the car. The tallest of the three produced a pump-action shotgun, opened fire at point blank range and finished off in cold blood two shoppers instantly. Upon reaching the checkout counter he began to fire randomly at anything that moved. ‘I saw three masked men coming out at the rear. A man said to his child ‘Drop down! There they are! … One bystander who tried to flee was shot at, seven or eight bullets through his car and a shot grazing behind the ear.’ Total panic reigned. ‘One woman whose face was covered in blood, was screaming something about her child. I don’t know exactly what.'”—NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe
By Stephen Lendman
Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all. Collective self-defense is called for – perhaps in the wake of the Paris incident all-out war on humanity, risking global escalation if confrontation is provoked with Russia or China.
Unleashing US-led NATO’s killing machine could become the war to end all wars, risking world peace and humanity’s survival.
Republican presidential aspirant Marco Rubio called for “invok(ing) (NATO’s) Article 5,” requiring all 28 Alliance nations to defend a member under (alleged) attack.
Will the almost certain Western and perhaps Israeli-instigated Friday Paris false flag launch possible WW III? Put nothing past America’s lunatic fringe complicit with fascists running Israel and other rogue partners.
On ABC’s Sunday morning program, Rubio lied, calling what happened in Paris “an act of war and an attack on one of our NATO allies, and we should invoke Article 5 of the NATO agreement, and bring everyone together to put together a coalition to confront this challenge.”
His rant followed French President Francois Hollande calling the incident “an act of war,” automatically blaming ISIS despite no evidence proving it.
Fellow presidential aspirant Jeb Bush on CNN Sunday urged “conven(ing) the North Atlantic Council to discuss” invoking Article 5, adding:
“If that’s what the French want, then, our longest and strongest and most loyal ally over our entire history, we should certainly consider it.”
The only previous time Article 5 was invoked was after the 9/11 attacks. Bush irresponsibly called the Paris incident “a threat to western civilization, and we should consider it that way.”
Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes called what happened “an act of war,” a clear indication of what’s coming. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said member states are ready to assist France.
“We stand strong and united in the fight against terrorism,” he blustered, a near declaration of all-out war.
Former NATO commander, retired Admiral James Stavridis, wrote a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) controlled Foreign Policy op-ed, calling the Paris attacks “an act of war…waged by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, by Daesh, against France…”
“The Islamic State is an apocalyptic organization overdue for eradication,” he ranted – ignoring his full knowledge of it being a US creation, used as proxy foot soldiers.
Netanyahu took full advantage of the Paris incident, saying “(t)he time has come for countries to condemn terrorism against us to the same degree that they condemn terrorism everywhere else in the world.”
“The terrorists who attack us have the same murderous intent as those in Paris” – ignoring his all-out terror war on Palestine and possible complicity with almost certain state-sponsored terrorism against Parisian civilians.
Fascist Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon blustered: “This must be a time of reckoning,” suggesting the worst to come against Palestinian civilians, defenseless against Israel’s rampaging killing machine.
New York Times editors headlined “What Will Come After Paris,” saying Friday Paris attacks “along with twin bombings in Beirut on the day before and the downing of a Russian jetliner over the Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, show a new phase in the Islamic State’s war against the West, a readiness to strike far beyond areas it controls in Iraq, Syria, and increasingly, Libya.”
“The challenge for threatened countries is huge,” Times editors barely stopping short of urging greater US-led war on humanity than already – never explaining ISIS is a US creation, used to wage war on Syria, Iraq and other targeted countries, heading for Russia if not stopped.
“France must take measures to protect its citizens, as must the United States” and other countries, Times editors blustered, ignoring what’s most important to explain to readers.
US-led horrors post-9/11 are well documented. Will escalated war on humanity follow Paris last Friday? Is the unthinkable possible: WW III?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. – See more at: http://www.rense.com/general96/lunaticswashart5.html#sthash.P82NsaQu.dpuf
By Khaama Press.
Outraged with a series of deadly attacks in capital Kabul the Afghan religious clerics declared Jihad against Pakistan by gathering in the scene of truck bombing in Shah Shaheed area where at least 15 people were killed and near 400 others were wounded last week.
The religious clerics condemned the deadly attack and blamed certain elements in Pakistan for being involved behind the attacks.
A member of the religious clerics council Mawlavi Ahmad Gul called on all parties involved in the ongoing violence and war in the country to let the Afghan people live in peace.
He said the Afghan people are Muslims and insisted that Jihad is eligible against Pakistan’s military intelligence – Inter Service Intelligence and Punjabi military, insisting the country’s army and intelligence is directly involved in the ongoing violence and savagery in Afghanistan.
This comes as the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said Wednesday that specific elements within the Pakistani army was behind the deadly attacks in capital Kabul, apparently gesturing towards the country’s military intelligence – Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
NDS spokesman Haseeb Sediqi told reporters that the attacks were carried out by the elements of the Pakistani army with the help of their mercenaries – Haqqani terrorist network.
The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on United States and the West not to support Pakistan’s military intelligence – Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), blaming it for sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan.
Speaking among the gathering of Afghans youths to celebrate the International Youth Day, the former Afghan President said politicians and military leaders of the United States, United Kingdom and other countries admitted in the past that Pakistan’s military intelligence is the founder and sponsor of terrorism.
Karzai further added that the US and Western leaders must stop supporting the sponsors of terrorism if they agree with the fact that ISI is supporting terrorism in the region.
A prominent Afghan military official Gen. Abdul Raziq has said the Taliban group is plotting and coordinating attacks in Afghanistan with direct support of Pakistan.
He was speaking to reporters following the capture of Nawzad district from the Taliban militants in southern Helmand province.
Gen. Raziq is the provincial police chief of southern Kandahar province and leads the fight against the Taliban militants in the neighboring Helmand province.
He said Punjabi militants and mercenaries of Pakistan are fighting in southern Afghanistan and the reason behind prolonged violence in Helmand is due to low number of the security forces deployed by the security institutions.
Courtesy: GEO News, Pakistan
Kabul, July 7, 2015 – The first round of talks between Afghan government and the Taliban delegations ended on July 7, 2015 in Pakistan with the promise of resumption after Eid al Fitr. It was the first serious encounter between the two sides in a long time. Previous talks between the Taliban and different groups of Afghans in Dubai, China, Qatar and Norway did not result in any agreement.
On the threshold of the second round, it was announced in Kabul and confirmed by Pakistan and the Taliban that the spiritual leader of the Taliban, Mulla Omar is dead. He was reportedly dead more than two years ago and the Taliban were representing a dead man and it was he who endorsed the first round. More hilarious yet, President Ashraf Ghani on the occasion of Eid al Fitr, thanked the dead man for his cooperation to send a delegation to the talks.
Alas, the news brought chaos to the scene and before a successor was chosen, Pakistan reportedly at the request of the Taliban, postponed the second round indefinitely.
Given the make-up and nature of the protagonists in this or any other negotiations, it is hard to believe that these talks will result in any substantial agreement that would be beneficial to the people of Afghanistan.
The Afghan Government
The government in Afghanistan, despite its claim of legitimacy, lacks the credibility of a truly elected body. Due to a serious stalemate in determining the winner of the polls and fear of a civil war, the US intervened to save the situation and persuaded the two sides to have Ashraf Ghani with 2.2-million rigged votes be the president and Dr. Abdullah, despite 800,000.00(1) rigged ballots, became the so called CEO—unconstitutionally created on the spur of the moment. Since the formation of this two headed being, Afghanistan has been a scene of serious disagreements over the formation of cabinet and other institutions. Several nominees for different portfolios failed to get the approval of the parliament until the president literally installed a candidate without the approval of the parliament as the defense minister. In appointing the rest of the cabinet, in obvious violation of the constitution several ministers with dual nationality are put in place. Most of the governors, deputy ministers and ambassadors are yet to be appointed.
The president and CEO, who is practically a prime minister, do not see eye to eye on most of the issues and the CEO and the vice presidents are bypassed in a lot of decisions such as an important security agreement with Pakistan, which they mostly oppose. (2).
Ethnically, aside from the president and first vice-CEO, vice presidents are mostly non-Pashtoon and they all have serious reservations about the sincerity of the Taliban intentions. During the reign of the Taliban, most non-Pashtoon ethnic groups suffered massacres, scorched earth policies and mass deportations or existential threats in the hands of the Taliban. Restoring the Taliban back to power is not in their best interest.
The Taliban, too, are not a homogenous group and there are at least two groups, the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network, but they are all influenced or controlled by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) so any disagreement would not be detrimental to the process. But who really are they?
Who are the Taliban?
The Taliban are an extremist religious group of overwhelmingly ethnic Pashtoons. They preach a brand of Islam that prior to their onslaught in Afghanistan in 1996 was alien to most Afghans. They are mostly trained and educated in Pakistan and the average Talib has lived almost all of his life in Pakistan, speaks Urdu, and feels more at home in Quetta or Peshawar than in Kabul or elsewhere in Afghanistan. Culturally he is as unfamiliar with Afghanistan as is any Pakistani. He has no sense of belonging to Afghanistan or feeling or affinity to Afghans.
During their reign in the 1990’s, they behaved more as occupiers than as compatriots to other Afghans. Even at times of no hostility they treated Afghans as enemies and there was no feeling of compatriotism towards others.
They are mostly orphans or youth of poor backgrounds who were taught in Madrassas run by Saudi Arabia. They were brought up with orthodox Deobandi thinking—ideologically equivalent to Saudi brand of Wahabism that considers Shi’ites heretics. As to the motive for their creation, former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf once summed it very succinctly: “ISI cultivated Taliban to counter Indian action against Pakistan.”(3) They were organized under the tutelage of retired general Nasirullah Baber, interior minister under prime minister Benazir Bhutto. “The Taliban emerged as a powerful movement in late 1994 when Pakistan chose the Taliban to guard a convoy trying to open a trade route from Pakistan to Central Asia. With Pakistan providing weapons, military training, and financial support, the Taliban gained control over several Afghan cities and successfully captured Kabul in September 1996”(4). From there it was a smooth ride as Pakistan tried to pave the way with money and weapon as well as logistics for Taliban to gradually capture most of Afghanistan. Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia were the three countries that recognized the Taliban government. They ruled Afghanistan until 2001 in a reign of terror unforeseen in the region. When driven out of Afghanistan by the US led coalition forces in 2001, they went back to where they had come from—to the open arms of Pakistan to be sheltered, organized, equipped, trained and expanded for posterity. During the last 14 years, they unleashed a campaign of terror that has cost the Afghans and coalition forces thousands of lives. Ironically, they carried out two suicide bombings in Kabul, in the same day that they were meeting in Islamabad to discuss peace.
Can they talk freely?
Since the Taliban are a creation of Pakistan, they cannot negotiate on their own not only because they lack the knowledge or the experience of a governing body but also because Pakistan cannot afford to let a rag tag group of religious zealot, who know nothing but fighting, ruin what it has cultivated with huge investment in prestige, hope and finance during the last two decades. Because of support and propping up of the Taliban, Pakistan risked its relations with one of its closest allies, namely the US. At times Pakistan even sends ISI agents as part of the Taliban negotiating team. “In May, Afghan diplomatic sources said, a three member government delegation led by Defense Minister Stanikzai met with Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhond, who represented the Quetta Shura, former Taliban diplomat Mullah Muhammad Jalil, and an Inter-Services Intelligence official.” (5) Even now while the talks are hailed as being between Afghan government and the Taliban, there was another delegation, namely of Pakistan officially present in the gathering. One wonders about the role of a third delegation. “Pakistani foreign secretary Mr. Aizaz Choudri and some officials of the foreign office and the ISI constituted the Pak delegation.” (6)
The Taliban are like the home grown terror groups such as LeT, JeM, LeJ, etc. which are the strategic assets of Pakistan and it considers them to be helpful in its existential problem facing its powerful rival India. Four years ago, Admiral Mike Mullen, the then chief of staff of the US army said: “the Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.” (7)
Any deal that the Taliban negotiate with the Afghan government should be in line with the Pakistani position and at least:
1- It should not be in any shape or form supportive of or in the interests of India.
2- It should accommodate Pakistan’s interests fully both politically and economically even at the expense of Afghanistan’s own interests. Vital to Pakistan are Afghan transit route through Pakistan and also its own route to Central Asia.
3- It should at any cost safeguard the so called strategic depth that rightly or wrongly is perceived to be vital to Pakistan’s security.
4- It should minimize the role of the former Northern Alliance in the Afghan government. Pakistan has had a rocky relationship with that front and considers it to be pro-India and anti-Pakistan.
5- It should protect the sanctity of the Durand line as the inviolable border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
All this in effect makes Afghanistan a de facto fifth province of Pakistan. This has long been a hegemonic dream of some Pakistanis to have a “common destiny” with Afghanistan. This process had practically started during the reign of the Taliban with among other things, the gradual replacement of Afghani with Pakistani Rupee as the currency and the introduction of Pakistani telephone codes for reaching Afghan cities. Therefore, it would be very naïve to think that the Taliban can and will negotiate as an independent group with the interests of solely Afghanistan in mind.
Taliban’s own agenda
Taliban’s demands are practically the same as they have been since they were ousted from power in 2001. “…the Taliban have laid down several demands, including a new Sharia-based constitution to be written by an unelected council of Islamist groups, and the withdrawal of all remaining US military personnel in Afghanistan” (8). They want to reverse all the gains that Afghanistan has made in the last 14 years such as improvement on women rights, universal education, free press and electronic media and voting rights to name a few. They want a total and complete control of the government and armed forces by the Pashtoons and marginalization of other ethnic groups especially the Hazaras. Most notably they want a restoration of Sharia as they perceive it and the annulment of the Jaafari code of justice for Shi’ites. In short they want to take Afghanistan back to the stone-age condition that they once took during their reign in the late 1990’s. It is their belief and they won’t stop until they achieve it or die in the process.
Of the protagonists, the US is by far the most negative player in the scene. The US went and toppled the Taliban regime for all the right reasons and is being instrumental in trying to undone what little it achieved with enormous cost to lives and its coffers. The US toppled the Taliban regime because of its support of terrorism not of acts of terrorism. In fact the US was on the verge of recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan before 9/11 spoiled the plan. The Taliban engaged in terrorism against the US after their demise from power. Now, the US, contrary to its stated belief, deals with the terrorists. It puts individuals on the terror list and later in a change of heart takes off their names. It pursues a mass murderer of its own making, Osama bin Laden, with so much cost to life and material until kills him in cold blood in Pakistan. Yet, for one accused American army deserter releases five mass murderers from jail. Worse yet, it takes part as an observer and approves a meeting with the representative of these murderers and indeed terrorist negotiators. Not only that, it welcomes the talks calling them “an important step toward advancing prospects for a credible peace.” (9)
One wonders why were the Nazi leaders put on trial in Nuremberg if it was not for the crimes they committed against humanity. Why were the Khmer Rouge leaders put on trial? Why were Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic or Charles Taylor of Liberia put on trial in the Hague? What is the difference between Mulla Omar and Karadzic or Pol Pot? They are all mass murderers that should be tried for genocide or crimes against humanity. There is no good mass murderer or bad mass murderer, there is just mass murderer. These people have no place at the negotiating or conference table. Their right place is in the International Criminal Court (ICC). The US should have put pressure on its ally Pakistan to hand over Mulla Omar and the Haqqani leaders to be put on trial in the ICC as it did in the case of the government of Yugoslavia to hand over Karadzic and Mladic the accused Bosnian war criminals.
When the US voices its support of negotiations with the Taliban, it begs to question who the US was fighting against during its longest war? What was all the hoopla about fighting terrorism? Al Qaeda was not in Afghanistan, nor were the Taliban. They were both stationed and nurtured in Pakistan. Fourteen years of war, billions of dollars of tax payers’ money and thousands of lives both American and other NATO allies as well as Afghans were wasted for what? How can the US justify the peace with the same killers that it was supposedly fighting in the war on terror? What has changed since 2001? The Taliban are the same, they are still equal opportunity killers and murderers. In fact one of their main demands is the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan that includes Americans. They were killing and maiming in Kabul as the US and other delegations were talking in Islamabad.
As long as the negotiations are held with the Taliban, wherever they are held, the outcome will not be acceptable to the majority of Afghans who suffered under the horrendous crimes of these people. The US may force a peace with the killers of innocent Afghans down their throat with involvement of Pakistan as the sponsor of these killers but it would certainly not be “credible” or moral, not by a long shot. Besides, dealing with the Taliban would be a betrayal of the blood of those Americans shed in fighting them. In fact Karadzic and Mladic were not directly involved in the war against the US but Mulla Omar and the Haqqani network had been in direct confrontation with the US and have killed and maimed thousands of American servicemen and women. They are sworn enemies of the US.
The crimes these people have committed against innocent civilians are classic examples of genocide as we know it. Tens of thousands of people especially Hazaras were slaughtered just because of their ethnic and religious identity. Just being a Hazara was a crime by itself. Thousands of hectares of vineyards and orchards were destroyed as part of the scorched earth policy against Tajiks in the Shomali valley north of Kabul. The UNESCO-listed ancient statues of Bhudda in Bamyan, one of the greatest treasures of humanity not just Afghanistan, were destroyed. Can the US, the UN, China, Pakistan, Afghan government or for that matter any right minded person justify talking peace with these people and expect a decent result?
1- These figures were mentioned to the author by a member of the electoral commission who remains anonymous for safety reasons.
2- Memorandum of Capitulation by the same pen at WWW.Hazara.net
3-The Guardian, February 13, 2015.
4-Maley, William. Fundamentalism Reborn: Afghanistan and the Taliban. New York: New York University Press, 1998.
5- Why Afghan Taliban are ready to talk?, VOA, July 9, 2015.
6-Starting Afghan Talks, The Nation, July 11, 2015.
7-Praveen Swami, Afghan peace talks fail over Taliban demands, The Indian Express, June 6, 2015.
9- Reuters, July 7, 2015.
With Open Gates: The forced collective Suicide of European Nations –
With the death toll in the Paris terror attacks still rising, French President Hollande is condemning an “act of war” by the Islamic State, but the underlying reality is that France’s rich friends in the Persian Gulf are key accomplices in the mayhem, writes Daniel Lazare.
By Daniel Lazare
In the wake of the latest terrorist outrage in Paris, the big question is not which specific group is responsible for the attack, but who’s responsible for the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the first place. The answer that has grown increasingly clear in recent years is that it’s Western leaders who have used growing portions of the Muslim world as a playground for their military games and are now crying crocodile tears over the consequences.
This pattern had its beginnings in the 1980s in Afghanistan, where the Central Intelligence Agency and the Saudi royal family virtually invented modern jihadism in an effort to subject the Soviets to a Vietnam-style war in their own backyard. It was the case, too, in Iraq, which the United States and Great Britain invaded in 2003, triggering a vicious civil warfare between Shi‘ites and Sunnis.
Today, it’s the case in Yemen where the U.S. and France are helping Saudi Arabia in its massive air war against Houthi Shi‘ites. And it’s the case in Syria, the scene of the most destructive war game of them all, where Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states are channeling money and arms to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh), and similar forces with the full knowledge of the U.S.
Western leaders encourage this violence yet decry it in virtually the same breath. In April 2008, a Treasury official testified in a congressional hearing that “Saudi Arabia today remains the location from which more money is going to … Sunni terror groups and the Taliban than from any other place in the world.” [See Rachel Ehrenfeld, “Their Oil Is Thicker Than Our Blood,” in in Sarah N. Stern, ed., Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 127.]
In December 2009, Hillary Clinton noted in a confidential diplomatic memo that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” In October 2014, Joe Biden told students at Harvard’s Kennedy School that “the Saudis, the emirates, etc. … were so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war … [that] they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.”
Just last month, a New York Times editorial complained that Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis were continuing to funnel donations not only to Al Qaeda but to Islamic State as well.
Yet despite countless promises to shut down such funding, the spigots have remained wide open. The U.S. has not only acquiesced in such activities, moreover, but has actively participated in them. In June 2012, the Times wrote that the C.I.A. was working with the Muslim Brotherhood to channel Turkish, Saudi and Qatari-supplied arms to anti-Assad rebels.
Two months later, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that Al Qaeda, Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood dominated the Syrian rebel movement, that their goal was to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” where Islamic State’s caliphate is now located, and that this is “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition” – i.e. the West, Gulf states, and Turkey – “want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”
More recently, the Obama administration made no objection when the Saudis supplied Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, with high-tech TOW missiles in support of its offensive in Syria’s northern Idlib province. It did not complain when the Saudis vowed to step up aid to such groups in response to Russia’s intervention in support of the besieged Assad regime.
Two weeks ago, the Times’s Ben Hubbard noted that 50 American Special Operations troops injected into northern Syria have been assigned to work with Arab rebels who had previously collaborated with Al Nusra and – although Hubbard didn’t say so – would undoubtedly do so again as soon as the Americans had gone.
While vowing eternal enmity against Al Qaeda, the U.S. and its Gulf allies thus work hand-in-glove with the same forces in pursuit of other goals. Yet now leaders from Washington to Riyadh are beside themselves with grief that the same groups are biting the hand that feeds them.
This is a pattern that has grown all too familiar in recent years. “Terrorism” is a well-nigh meaningless word that obscures and confuses more than it illuminates. The 9/11 attacks led to a “global war on terror” and, simultaneously, to a vast cover-up concerning those who were actually responsible for the deed.
As a curtain of silence descended around the U.S.-Saudi role in Afghanistan, where the Osama bin Laden network originated, the Bush administration spirited 140 Saudis, including some two dozen members of the Bin Laden family, out of the country after no more than cursory questioning by the F.B.I.
When Saudi regent Abdullah bin Abdulaziz – he would not formally assume the throne for another three years – visited George W. Bush’s Texas ranch in April 2002, the President barely mentioned the World Trade Center and cut short a reporter who insisted on bringing it up:
“Yes, I – the crown prince has been very strong in condemning those who committed the murder of U.S. citizens. We’re constantly working with him and his government on intelligence sharing and cutting off money … the government has been acting, and I appreciate that very much.”
What Bush said was a lie. Just a month earlier, former FBI assistant director Robert Kallstrom had complained that the Saudis were dragging their feet with regard to the investigation: “It doesn’t look like they’re doing much, and frankly it’s nothing new.”
In April 2003, Philip Zelikow, the 9/11 commission’s neocon executive director, fired an investigator, Dana Leseman, when she proved too vigorous in probing the Saudi connection. [See Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation (New York: Twelve, 2008), pp. 110-13.]
Strangest of all is what has happened to a 28-page chapter in an earlier joint congressional report dealing with the question of the Saudi complicity. While the report as a whole was heavily redacted, the chapter itself wound up entirely suppressed. Although Obama promised 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser shortly after taking office to see to it that it was made public, it remains under wraps.
Rather than identifying those responsible, Washington preferred that the American people remain in the dark. Instead of identifying the actual culprits, the Bush administration, backed up by the Democrats and the press, preferred to blame it all on vague and formless “evildoers” from another realm. The same thing happened following the Charlie Hebdo massacre last January. Amid thousands of “Je Suis Charlie” signs and mass demonstrations — featuring Benjamin Netanyahu, Nicolas Sarkozy and the Saudi ambassador — persistent reports of Saudi donations flowing to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group that trained gunman Chérif Kouachi and apparently sponsored the assault, were ignored.
Reports that Riyadh has since collaborated with AQAP in its war against Shi‘ite Houthis have met the same fate. As Saudi jets spread death and destruction across Yemen, Al Qaeda has gained control of the eastern city of Mukalla, an oil center and sea port with a population of 300,000, and has also taken control of portions of Aden as well, accumulating in the process an arsenal consisting of dozens of 55 armored vehicles and 22 tanks plus anti-aircraft missiles and other weaponry as well.
No Alarm Bells
One would think that this would set off alarm bells in Washington, yet the result has been a collective shrug. The Obama administration continues to back Saudi Arabia in its assault on the Middle East’s poorest nation, providing it with technical back-up and naval support, while France, eager to supplant the U.S. as the kingdom’s chief weapons supplier, backs it as well.
French President Francois Hollande thus backs the kingdom that backs the forces that backed those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He also backs a kingdom that allows donations to flow to ISIS, which he now identifies as responsible for the latest atrocities.
Hollande prefers to beat his breast and issue ringing calls for “compassion and solidarity” rather than actually doing something about the relationships that generate such attacks in the first place.
At its most basic level, this is a problem of oil, money and an American empire that stands paralyzed before the disaster it has created in the Middle East. When Obama issued his famous August 2011 call for regime change in Damascus – “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside” – it seemed to be a no-brainer.
The insurgency was growing, the Ba’athists were hanging on by a thread, and it seemed only a matter of time before Assad met the same fate as Muammar Gaddafi. “We came, we saw, he died,” Hillary Clinton would crow a few months later about Gaddafi, and so it seemed that Assad would soon meet his end at hands of a rebel mob, too.
But Assad proved more durable, mainly because he had the backing of a mass party that, despite corruption and ossification, still enjoyed a significant measure of popular support. The longer he has been able to stay in power, therefore, the more the U.S. has found itself caught up in an increasingly sectarian war by gulf-funded Sunni extremists.
Faced with a choice between Assad on one hand and ISIS and Al Qaeda on the other, Obama has dithered and delayed, refusing to commit himself wholeheartedly to the rebel cause but failing to object when his closest friends channel funds to groups that the U.S. officially regards as anathema.
Instead of defeating ISIS, this policy of neither-nor has allowed it fester and grow. The group is richer than ever, its troops travel about in shiny new Toyota pickups, and its technical prowess is also on the upswing. Two weeks ago, it apparently brought down a Russian airliner in the Sinai. On Thursday, it sent a pair of suicide bombers into a Shi‘ite neighborhood in Beirut, killing 43 people and wounding more than two hundred.
Now, according to French authorities, ISIS has sent a team of at least eight militants to shoot up various sites in Paris. In an apparent reference to Western bombing raids against ISIS targets in Syria, one gunman reportedly shouted during the assault on the Bataclan music hall, “What you are doing in Syria, you are going to pay for it now.”
This is a horror show made in Washington, Riyadh and the Élysée.
The Rising Right
What is to be done? The events are a godsend for Marine Le Pen, who will undoubtedly use them to fuel the mass xenophobia that generates votes for the National Front. It is a boon as well for countless politicians in Eastern Europe, from Hungary’s Viktor Orban to Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico, who also benefits from growing anti-immigrant fervor.
In Poland, where President Andrzej Duda has denounced European Union refugee quotas and 25,000 ultra-right demonstrators recently paraded through Warsaw calling for “Poland for the Poles,” nationalists are also rubbing their hands with glee.
For weeks, right-wing websites and news outlets have been warning that ISIS was using the refugee wave to infiltrate fighters into the EU, and now they will be able to point to the Bataclan massacre and say that they were right.
It’s an argument that ordinary people will likely find compelling, which is why pointing out the role of Western governments in the debacle is vital. After raining down destruction on one Muslim nation after another, Western leaders can hardly be surprised when violence overflows into their own backyard.
Sealing off the borders à la Donald Trump or Nigel Farage may strike some voters as logical, but the more the U.S. and its allies impose “regime change” and mass terror on the Middle East, the greater will be the number of refugees seeking to escape. No matter how many barriers the EU puts up, growing numbers will find ways around them.
The same goes for the violence. No matter how hard the West tries to seal itself off against the disorders that it itself is creating, it will find that a cordon sanitaire is impossible to maintain. Saudi Arabia has quadrupled its arms purchases in recent years while the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council is now the third biggest military spender in the world.
This is wonderful news for arms manufacturers not to mention politicians desperate for an uptick in GDP, but somewhat less so for masses of ordinary people in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Paris who are now at the receiving end of all that weaponry and violence. The more the Western alliance and its Gulf “allies” insist on spreading chaos in the Middle East, the more xenophobia and right-wing reaction will be the upshot in Europe and the United States.
Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).
Gulf countries say the attack is against Islamic values [but NOT against Wahhabi “values”–ed.].
[The Salafists would consider all of the victims to be dead “kafiir,” infidels.]
Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body condemned on Saturday a coordinated assault by gunmen and bombers across Paris as contrary to Islamic values.
“Terrorists are not sanctioned by Islam and these acts are contrary to values of mercy it brought to the world,” said a statement by the Council of Senior Scholars carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
Also Read: Shaikh Khalifa condemns Paris attacks
The statement by the council, the only body in the country authorised to issue fatwas or Islamic legal opinions, said that eliminating terrorism worldwide would require a “concerted effort” from a “unified moral stance”.
The Qatari foreign ministry condemned the “armed attacks and bombings” in a statement cited by official agency QNA, saying they “contradict with all moral and humanitarian principles and values”.
There were also condemnations from Bahrain and Kuwait, and from Abdellatif Zayani, the head of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which also includes Oman.
“I wanted to express our condolences to the government and people of France for the heinous terrorist attacks that took place yesterday which are in violation and contravention of all ethics, morals and religions,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said.
The Saudi foreign minister made his remarks in Vienna where he is attending international talks aimed at finding a solution to end the four year war in Syria, where Daesh holds swathes of territory.
KABUL (Pajhwok): Taliban’s breakaway faction on Friday denied the killing of Mullah Mansoor Dadullah during clashes in the Khak-i-Afghan district of southern Zabul province.
A day earlier, Zabul’s deputy police chief, Ghulam Jilani Farahi, said the dreaded insurgent commander had been killed by Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor Akhtar’s supporters in the Kulrghan area of the district.
But a spokesman for the splinter group, Qari Hamza, told Pajhwok Afghan News opponents had spread propaganda about Dadullah’s death to hide the heavy casualties they had suffered during clashes.
“According to my information, Mansoor Dadullah is very much alive and kicking,” he remarked, claiming Mullah Mansoor’s loyalists had suffered many casualties during clashes in the restive province.
Qari Hamza vehemently denied his faction’s involvement in the beheading of seven civilians from the Hazara community, including four women and a child, in Khak-i-Afghan district on November 8.
The decapitations have triggered a wave of angry protests in Kabul and several other provinces, with a large of demonstrators trying to storm the heavily-fortified Presidential Palace in the capital.
Before the fighting erupted in Zabul, the group’s spokesman said, they held all hostages. But the fighters vacated several areas in the wake of attacks from supporters of Akhtar Mohammad.
Qari Hamza accused the rival outfit of killing the civilians to defame the breakaway faction. The slayings have prompted civil society, residents and rights groups to denounce all Taliban factions and the Islamic State.
Earlier in the year, Mansoor Dadullah refused to swear allegiance to the new Taliban leader and joined forces with a number of Uzbek rebels in Khak-i-Afghan.
Dadullah is a brother of former Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah. A month ago, Mullah Rassoul, a Taliban commander, created the splinter new group and named Dadullah as its deputy leader.
Published at Baghdad Invest
Saddam Hussein created the Fedayeen Saddam in 1994 as a paramilitary Praetorian unit. The Fedayeen were initially charged with protecting the regime from a repeat of the revolts that followed Saddam’s eviction from Kuwait by acting as a pre-emptive counter-insurgency force. Over time this internal security mission became increasingly about enforcing the Islamic law. Saddam had begun Islamizing his regime in the late 1980s, and intensified this in the early 1990s, attempting to create a synthesis of Ba’athism and Salafism to buttress his legitimacy. Saddam had begun Islamizing his foreign policy as early as 1982-83, making alliances with all manner of Islamist terrorists, thousands of whom came to Iraq for training in the 1990s, where they attended camps run by the Fedayeen. In the Fedayeen—connected to the global Islamist terrorist movement, combining elements of Ba’athism with an increasingly-stern Salafism—is a microcosm of the Saddam regime’s mutation into the Islamic State (ISIS).
In March 1991, after Saddam’s annexation of Kuwait had been reversed, two intifadas broke out inside Iraq—in the Kurdish north and the Shi’a south—and they would shape Saddam’s security calculations ever-afterward. Saddam would now see internal dissent, far more than any external actor, as the chief threat to his regime. To counter-act this threat, Saddam created paramilitaries—the Fedayeen Saddam (Saddam’s Men of Sacrifice), al-Jaysh al-Quds (the Army of Jerusalem), and the Ba’ath Party militia—of which the Fedayeen was primus inter pares that “swore loyalty not to Iraq but to its president“.
Saddam had always been distrustful of the official military, seeing it as the likeliest source of a coup. After Saddam executed a number of senior Generals, blaming them for the failure in Kuwait, despite the fact the senior Generals opposed the Kuwait invasion, trust between Saddam and the senior military leaders broke down entirely. The professional military complained that the Fedayeen starved them of scarce resources; this was not an accident. Saddam sought to check the power of the senior Generals with the militias, specifically the Fedayeen, which operated outside the usual lines of command, answerable to Saddam’s oldest son, the psychopathic Uday. The Fedayeen’s recruits were selected far more for their fanatical loyalty to the dictator rather than their military skill.
“Uday’s Fedayeen … were staffed by people who were not senior regime members and had little access to intelligence or important operations,” Joel Rayburn, a former intelligence officer and adviser to Gen. David Petraeus who wrote a history of Iraq, told me. “[Izzat ad-Douri] and his people were … powerful inside the regime and plugged into the inner circle,” Rayburn said, while the Fedayeen were the opposite. “Basically Uday had to create a force by recruiting from the leftovers, including Shi’a from Baghdad,” Rayburn added.
Still, the Fedayeen did what was needed: distributed throughout Iraq, especially the Shi’a south, they formed a pre-emptive counter-insurgency force, using espionage, intimidation, and violence in best KGB fashion to liquidate those who even might pose a threat to the regime, notably Shi’a clerics who were gaining too much popularity, such as Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq as-Sadr, the spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shi’ites. ISIS has rather notably mobilized the same tactics of infiltration and pre-emptive assassination in the areas it conquers.
To evade the sanctions, Saddam set up a grey economy run by Douri, his deputy, which smuggled oil and other goods across Iraq’s borders, funding a patronage network of security services (including Saddam’s Praetorians like the Fedayeen), tribes, and criminal elements to hold the regime in place. Douri took the chance for personal enrichment and also set up a Freemason-style parallel network based on his Sufi Naqshbandi Order, which would be formally activated as an insurgent group, Jaysh Rijal at-Ṭariqa an-Naqshabandiya (JRTN), after Saddam was sent to the gallows and Douri took the leadership of the Ba’ath Party. It was this sub-State structure in toto, overwhelmingly Sunni Arab, melded with foreign-led Salafi-jihadists, that resisted the new order after Saddam’s overthrow, and it was this structure that spawned ISIS.
Douri also led the Faith Campaign, which formally began in June 1993, intensifying the internal Islamization process Saddam started no later than 1989. The State indoctrination added Salafism to the cult of the leader and the sensibilities of pan-Arabism, effectively creating a religious movement—”Ba’athist-Salafism”—under Saddam’s leadership. Alongside the Ba’athist-Salafists, the Faith Campaign empowered longstanding “pure” Salafist opponents of the regime. (Douri’s Sufism, ironically, was regarded as heretical by both.)
The “pure” Salafis were one of the trapdoors in the Faith Campaign, with some going on to launch terrorism against the regime, as were men like Grand Ayatollah Sadr, since the Campaign allowed Shi’a clerics more religious freedom, which ended up highlighting the potential power of Shi’a opposition.
The security services were deeply affected by the Faith Campaign. Sent for mandatory religious instruction and to infiltrate the mosques, many Ba’athists in the military and intelligence agencies took to the faith, some choosing Salafism over Saddam, not least as a source of comfort and a means of atonement for the atrocities they had committed. After the regime collapsed, the “former regime elements” (FREs) who formed the core of the insurgency were already religious fanatics in many cases and joined ISIS’s predecessors out of ideological sympathy. This was noticeably true of the Fedayeen Saddam, and became more true over time.
Alex Mello, the lead Iraq security analyst at energy advisory service Horizon Client Access, points out, “Despite its die-hard Saddamist affiliation the Fedayeen increasingly Islamized as the insurgency went on, a process undoubtedly accelerated after Saddam’s capture in December 2003.”
Douri thus laid the physical and ideological basis for ISIS.
By the time the Fedayeen were created in October 1994, Saddam had already begun his mosque-building campaign and subsidizing religious teachers and imams, making them their communities’ leaders, both policies laying the groundwork for the religiously-inspired post-Saddam insurgency. Gambling and public consumption of alcohol had already been banned, and zakat (the Islamic poor tax) and the shari’a punishment for theft (amputation) had already been imposed. In August 1994, the regime made prostitution a capital crime.
A good example of the Fedayeen acting as a mutaween (religious police)—and not-incidentally foreshadowing ISIS—was the beheading of women accused of prostitution, with swords, in front of their own homes, before an assembled crowd, with their “heads … left on the front doorsteps … as a deterrent.” Human rights groups say at least 200 women were beheaded in this way in the Saddam regime’s final two years.
The Fedayeen produced gruesome propaganda videos showing barbarous acts—from eating live wolves to lurid forms of murder for “spies”—intended to further recruitment and to intimidate enemies. Military exploits by masked Fedayeen were also videoed and distributed. A focus was put on inculcating the “spirit” of the Fedayeen—believed by many senior Saddamists to be the “spirit” the regime needed to recover—in children, with camps set up where children were given guns and military training (again, on disseminated video). While corruption overtook the Saddam regime in the 1990s—even, in the compliment of vice to virtue, corruption within the regime’s organized, sanctions-busting criminality—the reaction to corruption (financial and moral) in the Fedayeen was ferocious:
Punishments … included having one’s hands amputated for theft, being tossed off a tower for sodomy, being whipped a hundred times for sexual harassment, having one’s tongue cut out for lying, and being stoned for various other infractions. … [M]ilitary failure also became punishable as a criminal offense.
There is more than an echo of ISIS in this.
When Saddam fell in April 2003, there were up to 95,000 FREs—soldiers, militiamen, and intelligence officers and agents—still under arms, including 30,000 Fedayeen Saddam. When Saddam’s Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, wrote to Saddam during the invasion that regime suicide bombers in civilian clothes should target the Americans to sow distrust and pre-emptively destabilize the occupation, it was almost certainly Fedayeen that Sabri had in mind for the job. The Fedayeen, often fighting in civilian garb, were almost the only force that did any fighting as the Coalition drove up to Baghdad.
The reason the Fedayeen were the main force resisting the invasion was because to the very last Saddam believed he would survive and the real threat was that a limited Coalition attack would spark a rebellion—again, internal dissent was seen as the primary challenge, not external attack. And let it be said, while the Fedayeen crumpled in the face of Anglo-American armed units, the Fedayeen succeeded against terrorized civilians. There was no Iraqi revolt during the invasion. As a man in Najaf explained, “How can I make an intifada? If I go outside the Fedayeen will kill me.”
To the extent Saddam saw an external foe during the invasion it was Iran, which he thought might capitalize on a Shi’ite revolt. Consequently, the networks of Fedayeen and other militias in their safe-houses throughout the Shi’a south, where they had been positioned since the mid-1990s to head-off a rebellion, were strengthened—accidentally laying the groundwork for a decentralized insurgency—and the main force of the regular army was placed along the border with Iran.
As part of maintaining internal security, the Fedayeen had used terrorism, including on at least one occasion a suicide bombing against the Kurds. But the Fedayeen’s terrorism was not confined within Iraq’s borders. Internal Iraqi documents show that an operation called “Blessed July” was planned for the summer of 1999 with fifty Fedayeen militiamen sent to bomb Iraqi opposition targets in the Kurdistan area, Iran, and London. What was targeted and if any of them were hit is unknown. The Fedayeen—referred to as “martyrs” throughout the documents—were reminded to use “death capsules” if captured in Europe.
Even when the Fedayeen technically were within Iraq’s borders, their contribution to terrorism was global. 4,000 foreign Salafi-jihadists were defending the Saddam during the invasion—just in Baghdad—and they were organized by the Fedayeen Saddam, and fought on well after the Republican Guards and other conventional units had called it quits. Not all of the foreign holy warriors in Iraq had arrived in the months before March 2003 when it was obvious an invasion was coming. Training camps in Iraq, most notoriously Salman Pak but Lake Tharthar, Samarra, Ramadi, and at least one near Baghdad that was so sophisticated it rivalled the training facilities of the American Marines, graduated at least 8,000 terrorists between 1998 and 2002. Whether al-Qaeda or the Taliban sent men to be trained at these camps is simply unknown, though al-Qaeda did have training camps on Iraqi soil before the Saddam regime fell, in Kurdistan.
The Qaeda affiliate, Ansar al-Islam, which ran these camps from early 2000 was essentially a joint enterprise of the Saddam regime and al-Qaeda. Led by loyalists of Abu Musab az-Zarqawi, who had been granted seed money by Osama bin Laden in late 1999 for his terrorist organization in Taliban Afghanistan, Ansar had senior commanders who were Iraqi intelligence officers and was pretty openly supplied with money and weapons by Saddam. Zarqawi took direct leadership of Ansar in late 2002—he had been in Baghdad in May 2002 and then moved through the Levant setting up the networks that brought the foreign fighters into the New Iraq—and there is no doubt about the Fedayeen-Qaeda/Zarqawi connection in the aftermath of the regime. Ansar was deeply tied to the Fedayeen.
As mentioned above, there was some distance between the Fedayeen and Douri’s networks while the regime lasted and this continued afterward. But Douri and Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, the masterminds of the Iraqi insurgency who had fled to Syria, were hardly scrupulous in their distribution of resources to those who could frustrate the Americans. The Douri/Younis network concentrated patronage on a core of professionals from the old regime, with the skills and local knowledge around which an insurgency could be (and was) built. Many of the FRE-dominated Ba’athist-Salafist insurgent units that Douri most heavily supported had important Fedayeen contingents and Douri had no qualms in helping the foreign-led Salafi-jihadists, a number of whom were brought into Iraq by Douri through connections he made during the Faith Campaign, with assassinations and sabotage. The Douri-linked FREs brought Ansar back into Iraq from Iran—where Ansar had fled during the invasion and been sheltered by the mullahs—and Douri put his stolen car business at the disposal of Zarqawi’s car bombers. In short, both the Fedayeen and Douri were supporting Ansar.
Two Ba’athist-Salafist insurgent groups with notable Fedayeen contingents were Jaysh al-Muhammad, probably the strongest insurgent unit in the immediate aftermath of the regime and one most directly controlled by Douri and Younis, and Jaysh al-Mujahideen (JAM). Interestingly, ISIS’s “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was a member of JAM by 2006, though it is possible he was really a member of ISIS’s predecessor and had infiltrated JAM. There is also a report from Amatzia Baram, who has done much work on the Saddam regime’s Islamization and the way this mutated into ISIS, that al-Baghdadi actually “served” with the Fedayeen, though when and in what capacity is not specified.
The Fedayeen also provide a microcosm of the way the Assad regime has weaponized Salafi-jihadism and helped ISIS grow since before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. After failing to repel the American invasion, “many ‘[Fedayeen] Saddam’ members fled to Syria, where they constituted the nucleus for the establishment of ISIS,” writes Baram. In March 2007, the U.S. apprehended a former Fedayeen leader “involved in setting up training camps in Syria for Iraqi and foreign fighters” in Mosul. Also notable, when ISIS decided in late 2011 to exploit the networks Assad had allowed them operate on Syrian soil to inject themselves into the uprising, one of the men in the advanced party that ISIS sent into Syria to set up Jabhat an-Nusra was Maysar Ali Musa al-Jabouri (a.k.a. Abu Mariyah al-Qahtani). Al-Qahtani is a former Fedayeen and had been active for ISIS’s predecessor in Mosul, where the Assad-supervised ratlines provided particularly strong support to the Iraqi insurgency. The exploitation of the Syria-based ISIS networks would go both ways: Assad (and Iran) would encourage ISIS’s growth to discredit and destroy the Syrian uprising.
The early, foreign-led leadership of ISIS has been picked off over the years, especially following the 2007 Surge and notably with the mass-cull of April-June 2010. With the flow of foreign fighters drying up in the 2007 to 2011 period, the replacements were Iraqis, and they were the most competent at counterintelligence and operational security: the FREs.
While none of the named top commanders of ISIS have yet been demonstrated to have Fedayeen background, the Fedayeen likely form an important part of ISIS’s “mid to upper-tier commanders,” Mello says. The Fedayeen’s role in logistics and facilitation within ISIS goes back to the early days of the insurgency. “Several insurgent cell leaders in Fallujah in 2004 were former Fedayeen accepted into Salafist groups on the condition they repudiated Saddam,” Mello continues. And the Fedayeen linked up with ISIS’s predecessors for terrorist attacks on the Coalition by drawing on “connections going back to their pre-invasion relationship with Zarqawi’s Tawhid wal-Jihad. Notably the leader of Zarqawi’s ‘Umar Brigade’ cell formed in 2005 tasked with attacks against Badr and other Shi’ite groups was a former Fedayeen.”
The Fedayeen did not have access to the intellectual capital and logistics capacity, such as the personal connections, that the senior military and intelligence officers did, so it makes sense that they would not rise to the apex of ISIS, but they would be the prime candidates when ISIS was repairing its mid- and upper-mid-level structure.
The Fedayeen helped imbue ISIS with the spirit of fanaticism and cruelty from the beginning, and by now, with all of the former Iraqi insurgent groups—and their Fedayeen contingents—subordinated to ISIS, their role must be relatively enhanced. The Fedayeen were a key part of Saddam’s Islamization program, internally and externally, linking the regime with Islamist terrorists around the world, and in the aftermath provided connections with al-Qaeda and its offshoots for the Salafized regime remnants. The Fedayeen was a crucial glue that helped bind the disparate elements of the Iraqi insurgency together as it transformed into ISIS.
First day state of emergency in France. The country is waking up Saturday morning in fright after the series of terrorist attacks in Paris Friday night.
On Thursday, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, the IDF spokesperson in a joint press conference with Egyptian military officials in Cairo tried to insinuate the idea of potential Saudi-Israeli co-operation in striking Houthi Shiite rebels – a close ally of Saudi Arabia’s arch-enemy, Iran–, albeit Mr. Lerner did not explicitly specify whether the Israeli F16 pilots themselves would take part in combat or just military assistance and experts is what Israel can offer.
“We have common enemy in Yemen and we shall face Iran’s increasing interference in that country but unfortunately the Saudis are utterly hapless to rout rebels’ encroachment, thus to break the status quo we made sincere proposals to our Saudi partners,” the Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA) cited the Israeli official as saying.
The security of Bab-el-Mandeb waterway is of essential importance for Israeli national interest, added Lt. Col. Lerner, and we won’t let Iranians or their Yemeni stalwarts to seize the southern port city of Aden, hence our Air Force can dispatch fighter jets to pound the Houthi rebels and subsequently Iran would loosen its grip, but due to considerable geographical distance between Israel and Yemen we must use Saudi air bases to refuel.
Meanwhile , tens of thousands of indignant Yemenis took to the streets of Sana’a’, the capital city of Yemen, in protest to the ongoing Saudi siege and atrocious war crimes committed by Saudi regime. The Yemeni demonstrators held placards reading “No to colonial plots, No to blockade and No to war”. Chanting anti-Saudi slogans, participants held banners condemning the so-called Saudi-led coalition targeting the Yemeni civilians.
The protesters called for the option of ‘resistance’ as the sole strategy to face the Saudi-Israeli aggression declaring their support for Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and his decisions of resorting to decisive defensive measures—probably using long-rang Squad missiles.
Yemeni demonstrators slammed UN and other international organizations for failing to condemn the Saudi war against their country which resulted in killing of civilians, among them children, women and the elderly and the deliberate destruction of the civilian infrastructure. Moreover, the Yemenis called on International community to protect Yemenis from Saudi crimes and bring an immediate end to Saudi aggression and their al-Qaeda affiliated militias.
At least 60 people were killed in four coordinated shooting and bomb attacks in central Paris late Friday while up to 100 others were taken hostage at a heavy metal concert, French authorities said.
A man armed with a Kalashnikov fatally shot a number of people and wounded seven others at a packed restaurant and there were also a pair of explosions in another restaurant near the Stade de France, where the French soccer team was playing Germany.
Authorities suspect the attack near the stadium was the work of a suicide bomber.
Two other gunmen fired at least 20 shots in the Bataclan theater, where the US band the Eagles of Death Metal were playing, killing a number and holding up to 100 concertgoers hostage.
And there were reports of yet another shooting the Les Halles shopping mall.
A US law enforcement official said the attacks bore all the signs of a terrorist operation.
“Typically when there are coordinated attacks — in this case three — it has all the hallmarks of it being a terrorist attack,” the source said.
Police and ambulances were on the scene outside the Cambodge Cambodian restaurant in the 10th arrondissement or district where one of the atrocities occurred.
Dozens of shots were fired, according to witnesses, who described the grisly scene as a “nightmare,” with multiple bodies lying in the street, the Liberation newspaper reports.
Reports said that French President Hollande was in the stadium at the time of the attacks but was hustled away by his security team.
Hollande later called an emergency cabinet.
The game continued for some time before authorities asked fans.
The city was in a state of panic as authorities were frantically trying to determine if some of the attackers were still on the loose.
Friday morning, Germany’s national team returned to its hotel in western Paris after being evacuated following a bomb threat, The Telegraph reported.
The Hotel Molitor said an anonymous person called in the threat at 9:50 a.m. and the German team and other guests were quickly evacuated.
Russia and Syria’s War on Terror
The Pentagon points out that it regards the flights near the Chinese manmade islands as fully legitimate because from a US point of view, the airspace over the islands is a part of international airspace. The US military spokesman added that the B-52s did not get within 12 miles of the islands.
“We conduct B-52 flights in international airspace in that part of the world all the time,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news briefing. “There was one B-52 flight…there was an effort made by Chinese ground controllers to reach out to that aircraft and that aircraft continued its mission unabated. Nothing changed.”
The Chinese military contacted the bombers, urging them to “get away from our islands,” according to a US official who spoke to The Hill.
The overflight took place overnight on November 8-9, another Pentagon spokesman Bill Urban specified, saying there were two bombers conducting a “routine mission”.
The incident comes around two weeks after a serious incident involving the US destroyer USS Lassen, which sailed close to the artificial islands. China was extremely critical of the US Navy’s actions.
“These actions of the US warship are a threat to the sovereignty and security of China, and safety of people living on the islands; they damage peace and stability in the region. In this regard, the Chinese side expresses extreme dissatisfaction and strongly protests,” a statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry website read.
Ashton Carter, the US Secretary of Defense, said the US will sail and fly wherever it is allowed within international law.
“We will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said on Saturday in California at the Reagan National Defense Forum, the Hill reports.
“It’s important to remember that America’s rebalance and this regional security architecture has never aimed to hold any nation back or push any country down,” he added.
The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain called on Carter to clarify publicly the legal intent behind such operations.
“Given the sensitive political dynamics and detailed legal implications of our actions, it is vital that there be no misunderstanding about our objectives in either the Asia-Pacific region or within the international community,” McCain wrote.
China is building several artificial islands in the disputed area, which is a part of the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea, to host radar stations, airstrips and other facilities. Beijing claims the military aspect of its reclamation program is minimal and that the islands’ purpose is mostly civilian.
China believes the islands to be its sovereign territory, and strictly considers the 12-mile zone around the islands to be exclusively its territorial waters.
At least 37 people were killed and 181 others wounded Thursday as twin bombings rocked the Beirut southern suburb of Bourj al-Barajneh, a Hizbullah stronghold.
NNA said the attack was carried out by two suicide bombers who blew up their explosive vests in the Ain al-Sikkeh street.
The Internal Security Forces said two men on foot set off suicide vests in front of a shopping center.
The Lebanese Red Cross said 37 people had been killed and 181 wounded in the blasts, which happened around 6:00 pm according to witnesses.
An AFP photographer saw extensive damage to buildings around the site of the blast and bodies inside some of the nearby shops.
There was blood on the streets, and security forces were trying to cordon off the scene and keep people from gathering.
The blast is the first to target Beirut’s southern suburbs since June 2014, when a suicide car bomb killed a General Security officer who had tried to stop the bomber.
But prior to that, a string of attacks targeted Hizbullah strongholds throughout the country.
Between July 2013 and February 2014, there were nine attacks on Hizbullah bastions, most claimed by jihadist extremists.
The groups claimed the attacks were in revenge for Hizbullah’s decision to send thousands of fighters into neighboring Syria to support President Bashar Assad’s forces against an Islamist-dominated uprising.
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Like its corporate media cousins, the New York Times uses the global refugee crisis to spread propaganda on behalf of the U.S. government, which created the crisis in the first place. The Times scrupulously omits the facts of U.S. complicity in destroying the displaced people’s homelands, while pretending to empathize with the refugee’s plight. It is journalism in service of Power, not Truth.
“Instead of facts we get a gruesome tale of brutality without context.”
The New York Times is called the newspaper of record for good reason. It chronicles what the powerful and well-connected think and do and it is able to because it colludes with them on a regular basis. The Times can boast of some good reporting, but it generally falls short when asked to take on the task of scrutinizing United States foreign policy.
It isn’t difficult to tell what justifications the Obama administration, or any other for that matter, wants to use for taking actions around the world. A quick perusal of the Times usually reveals what presidents and secretaries of state want to have revealed. If president George W. Bush makes the case for invading Iraq, so do the pages of the Times. If the Obama administration wants to look hawkish in an election season Times reporters are called upon for the selective leaking of news about a kill list. This back and forth between solid reporting and genuflection is confusing but discernment is crucial.
There are refugees all over the world but their circumstances weren’t deemed worthy of mention by American corporate media until people began knocking on Europe’s door. Millions from the Middle East and Africa are poised to risk life and limb to cross the Mediterranean from Libya or Syria, and in so doing they make white nations and their citizens very nervous.
“If the Obama administration wants to look hawkish in an election season Times reporters are called upon for the selective leaking of news about a kill list.”
The New York Times has embarked on an effort to put its resources behind covering the refugee crisis. It is a subject worthy of investigation but if the reporting omits America’s responsibility for creating the misery the work is fraudulent.
As part of series called “The Displaced” the New York Times magazine featured the stories of three children from Ukraine, Syria and South Sudan. People in all three of these nations are displaced, maimed or dead because of American machinations. Instead of explaining these facts to its readers, America’s role is either omitted or falsified. Readers are left with worthless misinformation despite their intention to be well informed.
The New York Times explanation for Ukraine’s troubles always followed the White House line. The story of a boy living in the ruins of his home is described with these words. “Hastily formed separatist militias, goaded and armed by Moscow, rose up in a rebellion against a new, pro-Western government in Kiev.” The new pro-western government would never have taken power in 2014 if the United States had not been an accomplice against the former elected president. As for being goaded by Moscow, the people of Donetsk and Lugansk have close ties to Russia and didn’t want to be part of the American backed regime. That regime is also responsible for the death toll and is the biggest obstacle to peace in the region.
“Selective omission perpetrates false narratives about Russia and about the United States, too.”
The selective omission perpetrates false narratives about Russia and about the United States, too. Of course it would be difficult for the Times to suddenly confess to its role in the government’s propaganda war. It is hard to stop lying after one starts.
Nine million Syrians have been displaced since the United States and its allies attempted regime change in 2011. These people seek refuge within Syria and in neighboring nations like Jordan and Turkey. Their catastrophe can be laid directly at the United States. Yet there is no mention of this fact at all. Instead there is a rehash of the discredited official narrative.
“The protest movement started in Syria in 2011, with the uprising of citizens opposing President Bashar al-Assad’s oppressive government. By the following year, occupied with the uprising elsewhere, Assad’s security forces started withdrawing from rural pockets of Hasaka, the province where Hana’s family lived, and parts of the area quickly felt unsafe: Roaming armed gangs, whose loyalties were not always clear, were extorting farmers, like Hana’s father, for the right to farm their own land. Hana’s family began to hear about clashes between the Sunni Arab opposition and the government.”
The Sunni opposition and armed gangs did not appear out of thin air. They were acting under the direction of the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The young girl in the Times story would be living safely in her home were it not for their intervention.
“South Sudan has oil and the United States has made sure that it is anything but independent.”
American evil doing in Sudan gets less attention but has been going on far longer than interventions in Ukraine or Syria. Along with Israel, the United States thwarted Sudan’s effort to remain whole. The break-up of the nation into two countries, Sudan and South Sudan was the result of years of American and Israeli plotting. South Sudan has oil and the United States has made sure that it is anything but independent. A power struggle and yet another disastrous intervention by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has produced a predictable trail of death. Museveni is America’s hit man in the region and the boy whose tragic story is told is one of millions of his victims. Instead of facts we get a gruesome tale of brutality without context. The falsehoods are particularly dangerous to African people because they are made to look like brutes when they have co-conspirators in Washington and Jerusalem.
There are countless ways in which Americans are fed lies and are then encouraged to support aggression and atrocities. Displaced persons deserve to have their stories told. They should not be used to make American criminality easier to commit but that is what the New York Times has done. Of course, that is what the corporate media have always done. Reporting events accurately ought to be their goal. But instead keeping powerful people happy is what they do best.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
By Alan Hart
My headline takes me back 35 years to the day when I had a remarkably frank conversation in Tel Aviv with then retired Major-General Shlomo Gazit, the very best and the brightest of Israel’s directors of military intelligence.
I put to him my conclusion that “It’s all nonsense.” I meant and said that contrary to the assertions spewed out by its leaders, Israel’s existence had never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab and other Muslim military force and was never likely to be. Through a sad smile, Shlomo replied: “The trouble with us Israelis is that we’ve become the victims of our own propaganda.”
In reality the problem is much bigger than that because most Jews everywhere are victims of Zionism’s propaganda.
On most days of most weeks of most months the Israeli who makes the most outrageous and ridiculous propaganda statements about threats to Israel’s existence is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. But leaving aside his assertion that the mufti of Jerusalem was more responsible for the Nazi holocaust than Adolf Hitler, the most outrageous and ridiculous Zionist statement of recent years was not made by him. It was made by Dr Ben Chouake. Who’s he?
…Jews everywhere who support Israel right or wrong and/or remain silent in the face of its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians are complicit by default in Zionism’s oppression.
This gentleman is the president of NORAC, a political action committee which works to strengthen Israel’s relationship with America. It is also the agency which distributes much of the money raised by the Zionist lobby in all of its manifestations to fund the election campaigns of those seeking election to Congress and who are prepared to put Zionism’s interests before those of their own country.
Last year in a statement to the National Journal Chouake asserted that with nuclear weapons “Iran wants to do to the Jews in 12 minutes what Hitler did in 12 years”.
That statement has no relationship whatsoever with reality.
Even if Iran did possess a few nuclear bombs the notion that it would launch a first strike on Israel is crazy in the extreme. If it did Iran would be destroyed in a counter-strike. Its leaders know that, and, unlike some of their counterparts in Israel, they are not mad.
More to the point is that the intelligence services and other security agencies of all the major powers know that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and does not want to possess them. And over the last few years there have been indications that most of Israel’s security chiefs and top military people know this, too.
The question arising is this.
Why, really, does Zionism put so much propaganda effort into making Jews everywhere believe not only that they are victims today but will remain so for ever?
The answer is obvious.
It’s the only way Zionism can prevent most Jews everywhere from stopping for a split second to consider the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel.
…political and diplomatic efforts to get a credible peace process going… will never succeed unless, first of all, the mental disorder of Israeli and other Jewish paranoia is treated.
This truth, which includes the fact that Israel was created mainly by Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing and is today continuing the ethnic cleansing process slowly and by stealth, is not to be considered, even for a split second, because of the conclusion it invites (I say demands): that Israel is the oppressor not the victim.
In my view it follows that all Jews everywhere who support Israel right or wrong and/or remain silent in the face of its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians are complicit by default in Zionism’s oppression.
The upshot of Zionism’s brainwashing propaganda is not only that most Israeli and very many other Jews regard themselves as victims, more to the point is that they are beyond reason on the matter of justice for the Palestinians.
To put it another way, they are suffering from paranoia.
My Chambers Dictionary describes this condition as follows.
A form of mental disorder characterised by constant delusions, especially of grandeur, pride, persecution, intense (especially irrational) fear or suspicion.
That being so, it seems to me that political and diplomatic efforts to get a credible peace process going – one with a real chance of bringing the Israel-Palestine conflict to an end on the basis of an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians and security for all – will never succeed unless, first of all, the mental disorder of Israeli and other Jewish paranoia is treated.
The treatment for paranoia is psychotherapy and from the website Psych Central I learned the following.
As with most personality disorders, psychotherapy is the treatment of choice. Individuals with paranoid personality disorder, however, rarely present themselves for treatment. It should not be surprising, then, that there has been little outcome research to suggest which types of treatment are most effective with this disorder.
It is likely that a therapy which emphasises a simple supportive, client-cantered approach will be most effective. Rapport-building with a person who has this disorder will be much more difficult than usual because of the paranoia associated with the disorder. Early termination (of the treatment by the client) therefore is common. As the therapy progresses, the patient will likely begin to trust the clinician more and more. The client then will likely begin disclosing some of his or her more bizarre paranoid ideation. [The term “ideation” is new to me. My Chambers Dictionary tells me it means “the power of the mind for forming ideas and images.”]
The therapist must be careful to balance being objective in therapy and with regards to these thoughts, and of raising the suspicions of the client that he or she is not trusted. It is a difficult balance to maintain, even after a good working rapport has been established.
During times when the patient is acting upon his paranoid beliefs, the therapist’s loyalties and trust may be called into question. Care must be used not to challenge the client too firmly or risk the individual leaving therapy permanently. Control issues should be dealt with in much a similar manner, with great care. Since the paranoid beliefs are delusion and not based in reality, arguing them from a rational point of view is useless. Challenging the beliefs is also likely to result in more frustration on both the part of the therapist and client, too.
All clinicians and mental health personnel who come into contact with the individual who suffers from paranoid personality disorder should be more keenly aware of being straightforward with this individual.
Long-term prognosis for this disorder is not good. Individuals who suffer from this disorder often remain afflicted with prominent symptoms of it throughout their lifetime.
In my view the question of how to treat Israeli and other Jewish paranoia is one that should be urgently addressed by the world’s most eminent and universally respected psychiatrists. I also believe that in private world leaders should urge them to do so.
As I have previously written and said on public platforms, the consequences of not treating this mental disorder are predictable. They will most likely include a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which almost certainly will speed up the transformation of the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism, setting the stage for, at some point, another great turning against the Jews.
Could this be what sickenly, self-righteous Zionism really wants in order to have in its own deluded mind never-ending justification for its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians?
In the bombing campaign in Syria against the Islamic State group, the United States has been more or less left on its own; at the same time, international attempts to end the conflict may be moving forward.
As President Barack Obama steps up the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria by adding more bombers to the U.S. fleet working out of Turkey, the role of America’s onetime active Middle Eastern and European allies has been reduced to holding the Pentagon’s coat while it wages the fight. Russia, however, continues to attack Islamic State targets.
In spite of the threat to their regimes by the Islamic State, the last air attack mounted on it by Bahrain was in February, United Arab Emirates in March, Jordan in August and Saudi Arabia in September. Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and the UAE are concentrating their military efforts on defeating the Shiite Muslim Houthis in Yemen.
The United States should be asking itself if it should care more about these regimes’ security against the Islamists than the countries do themselves.
Meanwhile, Russia has been quietly circulating a peace proposal to end the war. The conflict will be addressed once more in Vienna with talks this Saturday. Russia’s plan unfolds over 18 months and includes reforms in Syria such as a new constitution with elections. The Russian proposal contains some big snags, however.
One is that it does not address the long-term role of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia continues to support him as the country’s leader; Mr. Obama says he has to go. Another question is the role of Syria’s so-called moderates, backed by the United States. Given the disarray among them and their ineptitude on the battlefield, it isn’t clear who they are, much less who will represent them in negotiations.
The most positive development at this stage is that the parties will continue to talk. Only an active and serious negotiation can put a halt to the fighting and dying in Syria.
This video from LiveLeak purports to be an Apache attack helicopter following a huge ISIS convoy of white pickup trucks crossing from Iraq to Syria … and – instead of attacking – more or less “escorting” it across the border:
“This airfield had been surrounded by ISIS [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist group] for two years,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, said in a daily briefing. “Intelligence on the locations of the terrorist fire positions and support points around Kweires was provided by the Syrian opposition and cleared by the communication center in Baghdad.”
Lifting the siege on the airbase in Aleppo provinces has been one of the biggest victories for Damascus since Russia started providing air support for Syrian government forces.
The opposition also provided data to help target a big weapons depot of the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, near the village Mheen in the Homs province, Konashenkov revealed.
Russia has been calling on moderate opposition forces in Syria to strike a truce with the government and fight together with it against the common terrorist threat.
Konashenkov reported that over the past two days Russian airplanes have conducted 85 combat sorties and attacked 277 targets in Syria. The airstrikes were conducted in the provinces Aleppo, Damascus, Latakia, Hama, Homs and Idlib, he said.
The general said intelligence from the opposition also helped the Russian air force to deliver a series of strikes around the city of Hama and prevented a planned offensive operation of the enemy.
Chronicle of a war foretold
After five years of the Syrian war, we can recognise ″four″ conflicting parties on the ground – Assad, IS, the rebels and the Kurds. Each one of these conflicting parties has regional and international backers, who ironically do not agree with each other about whom they are fighting for or against.
The Syrian regime is backed by Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Iraqi militias. IS is backed by a flood of global jihadists from all over the world. The rebels are backed by the Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan and the US. The Kurds are supported by the US.
Despite consistent media references to ″the Syrian conflict, crisis or war″, this surely begs the question, ″What makes this war so Syrian?″ It is in fact a war being waged on Syrian territory, in which more than 50% of Syria′s population have been displaced, over 220 thousand killed, and many more injured or imprisoned. According to Amnesty International, more than 12.8 million Syrian people are in ″urgent need of humanitarian assistance″. Besides this humanitarian catastrophe, most of the country of Syria and its infrastructure have been destroyed.
In March 2011, when people engaged in peaceful protests against the regime, regime forces confronted them with brutality and killed hundreds of civilians in the first few weeks, igniting the beginning of an increasingly bloody death toll. The initial activists were neither ideological nor religious, but rather common people standing up for their rights against political oppression, economic hardship, human rights violations, unemployment, poverty and corruption.
As the Syrian intelligence apparatus, police and the army notoriously became involved in the crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, a series of defections followed to form the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) to confront the regime′s brutality. The FSA began to take all those who were willing to fight against regime forces under their command. What had begun as an uprising had now become civil war.
The magnetism of war
Prompted by ideological mobilisation in 2012, jihadists from around the world started travelling to Syria to join the rebels. Assad encouraged this activity by releasing jihadists from jail to vilify rebel groups, especially after the regime had lost control of the northern borders.
In the same year in January, al-Qaida formed a branch in Syria called the Nusra Front to fight against the regime. Around that time, Kurdish groups took up arms to defect from Assad′s rule in a search for autonomy. This year marked the beginning of the proxy war in Syria.
Iran, Assad′s strongest ally, intervened to help Assad. Since the end of 2012, Iran has been flying in troops and supplies to Syria on an almost daily basis. Iran has also provided Assad with significant logistical, technical, financial and military support.
It is estimated that by December 2013, Iran was fielding approximately 10,000 operatives in Syria, including thousands of Iranian paramilitary Basij fighters, Arabic-speaking Shia volunteers and Iraqi combatants. In mid 2012, the Lebanese Hezbollah joined the war against the rebels in Syria. Hezbollah took an active role in battlefields such as Al-Qusair (19 May – 5 July 2013) between rebels and troops loyal to the Assad regime.
In return, Gulf states – namely Saudi Arabia and Qatar – were sending money and weapons to rebel groups, mainly through Turkey and Jordan. Saudi Arabia supports Salafist insurgent groups such as ″The Army of Islam″ under the command of Zahran Aloush.
Unlike Saudi Arabia, Qatar has exerted enormous efforts to support the Muslim Brotherhood and more radical rebels with al-Qaida ties. In order to counterbalance the Saudi influence in Syria, Qatar along with Turkey backed the ultra-conservative Ahrar Al-Sham (10,000 -12,000 fighters) under the command of Hassan Aboud. Paradoxically, the Gulf States have offered no resettlement places to Syrian refugees.
This division between Sunni-majority powers supporting the opposition on the one hand and Shia powers supporting the Assad regime on the other serves to emphasise the sectarian dimension of the conflict.
Allegedly horrified by Assad′s atrocities against his own people in 2013, the US authorised the CIA to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight against Assad, thus entering the war on the ground. Controversial figures provided by the Congressional Research Service reveal that Saudi Arabia bought more than $90 billion worth of arms from the US between 2010 and 2015, at a time when the US was urging Gulf States to stop supporting extremists in Syria.
In the same year, Assad used chemical weapons against civilians in rebel-held areas. The OPCW reported to the UN that ″chlorine has been used repeatedly and systematically as a weapon″ in Syria. In September 2013, Obama remarked, ″It is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime′s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.″
A response to the Assad regime dropped off the agenda when Russia, Assad′s long-standing ally, proposed that he surrender control over his chemical weapons to the international community for eventual dismantling. A move that aptly demonstrated the extent of the power struggle between Russia – Assad′s ally – and the US – in opposition to the Assad regime.
In February 2014, IS took control of large areas in Iraq and Syria, attracting foreign fighters from all over the world and ironically becoming al-Qaida′s enemy. Indeed, IS isn′t fighting Assad, but the Kurds and other rebel groups. By 2014, as many as 10,000 and 12,000 foreign jihadists were estimated to be in Syria, more than 3,000 of them originating from Western countries. Consequently, thousands of foreign fighters flood into Syria for jihad every year, accompanied by constant appeals from mainly non-Syrian, Sunni clergymen to support the Syrian rebels.
Move against IS
In September 2014, a coalition under the leadership of the US launched airstrikes against IS on Syrian soil. Once again, the CIA became involved in sponsoring the training of Syrian fighters, specifically intended to take on IS.
While the US and other Western countries made it very clear that they oppose IS more than Assad, Turkey started bombing Kurdish groups, although the Kurds have been fighting against IS since its formation. Owing to existing tensions between Turkey and the US as to who is the primary enemy in Syria, Turkey has not bombed IS to date.
While Assad has been losing ground to IS and the rebels, Russia has intervened on his behalf to bomb IS. On the ground, Russia has been bombing anti-Assad rebels, including those backed by the US.
While Syrians are not much heard outside the refugee camps, Americans, Europeans, Russians, Turks, Iranians, and Arabs are holding meetings to agree and disagree and coalesce and collide to solve the ″Syrian conflict″. According to the US Department of Defence, coalition airstrikes alone conducted in Syria reached 2,680 in 2015, of which 2,540 were by the US and 140 by the rest of the coalition (Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE). The fact remains that almost no single Syrian citizen has been left unaffected by the crisis, leaving Syria in a bloody war with no prospects of reconciliation in sight. What′s so Syrian about the Syrian war? Perhaps it is just the humanitarian catastrophe.
© Qantara.de 2015
The reponse by Tel-Aviv and Riyadh to the US-Iran negotiations can be found in the extension of Saudi financing of the war against Gaza in 2008 – the alliance between a colonial state and an obscurantist monarchy. While the Near East is preparing for a ten-year change in the rules of the game, Thierry Meyssan reveals here the contents of the secret negotiations between Tel-Aviv and Riyadh.
No-one in the Middle East seems to be aware that the secret agreements which should be signed on the 30th June 2015 by Washington and Teheran – on the fringe of the multilateral agreements concerning nuclear power – will probably set the rules of the game for the next ten years.
These agreements arrive at a moment when the United States have become the world’s first producers of petrol, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia. Consequently they do not need Middle-Eastern petrol for themselves, and are only interested in it as a means of maintaining the world market in dollars.
Besides this, Washington has begun to reposition the troops it has stationed in Western Europe and the Middle East to the Far East. This does not mean that it is abandoning these regions, but that it wishes to find another way of ensuring their security.
According to our information, for the last 17 months (in other words, since the announcement of the negotiations between Washington and Teheran, which have in fact been proceeding for the last 27 months), Tel-Aviv has been engaged in secret negotiations with Saudi Arabia. Extremely high-level delegations have met five times – in India, Italy and the Czech Republic.
The cooperation between Tel-Aviv and Riyadh is part of the US plan to create a « Common Arab Defence Force », under the auspices of the Arab League, but under Israeli command. This « Force » is already effective in Yemen, where Israeli pilots fly Saudi bombers within the framework of an Arab Coalition whose headquarters have been installed by the Israelis in Somaliland, a non-recognised state situated on the other side of the the Bab el-Mandeb straits .
However, Riyadh does not intend to officialise this cooperation as long as Tel-Aviv refuses the Arab Peace Initiative, presented to the Arab League in 2002 by Prince Abdullah before he became king .
Israël and Saudi Arabia have reached agreement on several objectives.
On the political level :
To « democratise » the Gulf States, in other words, to associate the people in the management of their countries, while affirming the intangibility of the the monarchy and the Wahhabite way of life ; To change the political system in Iran (and no longer wage war on Iran) ;
To create an independent Kurdistan in such a way as to weaken Iran, Turkey (despite the fact that it is a long-standing ally of Israël), and Iraq (but not Syria, which is already seriously weakened).
On the economic level :
To exploit the Rub’al-Khali oil-fields and organise a federation between Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and perhaps Oman and the United Arab Emirates ;
To exploit the Ogaden oil-fields, under Ethiopian control, secure the Yemeni port of Aden, and build a bridge linking Djibouti and Yemen.
In other words, while Tel-Aviv and Riyadh are making the best of a bad deal, and accepting that two thirds of Iraq, Syria, and half of Lebanon will be controlled by Iran, they intend :
To ensure that Iran gives up on the exportation of its revolution ;
To control the rest of the region by excluding Turkey, which took over from Saudi Arabia in the supervision of international terrorism, and has just lost in Syria.
The international recognition of a Palestinian state, in conformity with the Oslo agreements and according to the Arab Peace Initiative, will be the affair of only a few moths once the US-Iran agreements have been signed.
The Palestinian Unity Government, which has never really functioned, suddenly resigned. It seems certain that Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah will be largely supported by its people as soon as the Palestinian state enters the United Nations.
Hamas, which since 2008 has represented the Resistance, has suddenly discredited itself by officialising its membership of the Muslim Brotherhood (while the Brotherhood has attempted several coups d’etat in Saudi Arabia) and also by taking arms against the only state in the region which is effectively pro-Palestinian, the Syrian Arab Republic. Consequently, in order to clean up its image, it has decided to act with greater discretion and only support non-violent actions.
The recognition of the Palestinian state will put an end to the right of return of the Palestinians who were chased off their land, but will open a new status for them. The United States and Saudi Arabia will invest massively to develop the economy of the new state.
Already, several candidates are readying themselves to replace Mahmoud Abbas (who is 80 years old, and whose mandate expired in 2009). Among them is Mohammed Dahlan, the ex-head of security who is suspected of organising the poisoning of Yasser Arafat, and was obliged to leave the country in 2007. After having worked for the United Arab Emirates, he then obtained Montenegrin nationality – like the ex-Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra – and also Serbian nationality. He returned to Palestine in February with the help of his old adversaries from Hamas. Having become a billionaire, he bought combattants and election voices hand over fist. A more serious candidate could be Marouane Barghouti, who is presently purging five life sentences in an Israëli prison, and who could be freed within the framework of the peace agreement. He is in fact the only uncorrupted Palestinian personnality to have so far escaped the Mossad killers.
In this context, the journey to Russia by Prince Mohamad bin Salman, son of King Salman of Saudi Arabia, caused general consternation and a Press campaign suggesting that he hoped to negotiate the end of Russian aid to Syria. The visit came a week after the trip by the Director of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Iyad bin Amin Madani. He was accompanied by several ministers and about thirty businessmen. The Saudi delegation participated in the Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg, where the Prince was received by President Vladimir Putin.
Since its creation, the Wahhabite kingdom has maintained privileged relations with the United States, and considered the Soviet Union, and then Russia, as adversaries. It seems that this is changing.
The considerable importance of the economic agreements and cooperation, which have been signed, initiate a new form of politics. Saudi Arabia has bought 19 nuclear power plants, agreed to participate in the Russian programme for space research, and also negotiated petrol agreements whose details have not yet been published.
To avoid any ambiguity about this reconciliation, President Putin said that Russia will make no modification to its support for Syria, and would assist any political solution which conforms to the wishes of the Syrian people. In previous statements, he has indicated that this implies the maintenance of President el-Assad until the end of the seven-year mandate for which he has been democratically elected.
The losers in this redistribution
Everything indicates that once the US-Iran agreements have been signed , the losers will be :
The Palestinian people, who will be deprived of their inalienable right of return, for which three generations have been fighting ;
Turkey, which may pay a high price for its hegemonic dream, its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and its defeat in Syria  ;
France, which, for the last four years has been struggling to re-establish its colonial interests in the region, and now finds itself, finally, as a simple supplier for Israël and Saudi Arabia .
 “The Arab Peace Initiative on Recognition of Israel in Return for Israeli-Palestinian Peace”, Voltaire Network, 28 March 2002.
 “What will become of the Near East after the agreement between Washington and Teheran ?”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 23 May 2015.
The days of the « Arab Spring » are almost over. As of now, the White House and the Kremlin are redesigning the contours of the « Greater Middle East ». However, their agreement, which was concluded before the Russian military intervention in Syria, could still be modified by the changes in the balance of power. There is no proof that Moscow will accept the stabilisation of Syria or ignore the partition of Turkey and Saudi Arabia which are soon to begin. In any event, the coming upheaval will modify the status quo which has been in place for the last five years. Most of the powers implicated are therefore scrambling to change sides before the other players.
Whatever its home country, the Press is currently too occupied with analysing the position of its own State in the Near East conflict to take any note of the ongoing global negotiations between the White House and the Kremlin . As a result, it is misinterpreting certain secondary events. In order to clarify the current diplomatic agitation, we have to revisit the USA-Russian agreement of last September.
The public part of this agreement was formulated by Russia in a document distributed on the 29th September at the UN Security Council . It indicates that in order to re-establish peace and stability in North Africa and the Near East, it is essential – and sufficient –
(1) to apply the resolutions of the Security Council – which notably implies the retreat of Israël to its 1967 borders – and
(2) to combat terrorist ideology – in other words, to fight the Muslim Brotherhood, created by the United Kingdom and supported by Turkey, and the Wahhabism propagated by Saudi Arabia.
It had originally been planned that Russia should call for the adoption of a resolution to this end during the Security Council meeting of the 30th September. However, the United States opposed this initiative less than one hour beforehand . Sergey Lavrov therefore presided over the talks without mentioning his project. This major event can only be interpreted as a tactical disagreement which must not block a strategic agreement.
On the 20th October, at the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin received his Syrian counterpart, Bachar el-Assad, in the presence of his Ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs, the General Secretary of the Russian Council for National Security and the head of the secret services. The meeting concerned the application of the Russia-US plan, including the agreement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30th June 2012 . President el-Assad pointed out that he was following the instructions of this Communiqué, and in particular, that he had integrated into his government the opposition parties who had requested participation, as required by the description in the Communiqué of a Transitional Governing Body.
Having verified that they both had the same understanding of the Geneva Communiqué, Russia and the United States decided to bring the dissident states into line, meaning France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Since they understood that the French position was not based on any realistic interests, and could only be explained by a colonial fantasy and the corruption of the French government by Turkish and Saudi money , the White House and the Kremlin decided to act only upon the source of the problem, in other words, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. On the 23rd October, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov therefore received their Turkish and Saudi counterparts in Vienna. No final text was published. However, it seems that Russia threatened the two guests without the United States coming to their defence.
Frightened by the idea of a possible agreement between Russia and the United Sates against Turkey and Saudi Arabia, France convened a « working dînner » (rather than a « diplomatic summit ») in Paris. Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, the United Kingdom and Turkey « evoked » (rather than « decided») the fate of Syria. The format of this meeting corresponded to the meeting of the « Core Group » of the « Friends of Syria », with the exception of Egypt, who had already secretly joined with Syria. The fact of having been obliged to invite the United States polluted the atmosphere of the meeting, and once again, no final text was published.
Finally, on the 30th October, the United States and Russia gathered a wider learned assembly which included all the participants of the two previous meetings, plus Egypt, China, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Oman, the European Union and the United Nations. While the Press revelled in the presence of Iran, which had been refused participation in any discussion on settlement since the beginning of the conflict, it said nothing about the return of al-Sissi’s Egypt, which had originally been excluded by France, but which is now entering the international stage thanks to the discovery of its new petrol reserves. The Press also said nothing about the persistent absence of the major regional power, Israël. This last point can only be explained in the case that the Hebrew state had previously obtained a guarantee that it would be able to realise one of its war objectives, the creation of a colonial state in Northern Syria.
The participants were all required to sign a final declaration which only Russia and Iran saw fit to publish . There’s a good reason for this oversight – it signals the defeat of the US hawks. Indeed, in point 8 of the text, it is stated that the « political process » – (and not the « transition phase ») will be led by the Syrians, owned by the Syrians, and that the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria. This weighty formulation invalidates Feltman’s document, which, for more than three years, had constituted the objective of several US hawks, the Frençh, the Turks and the Saudis – in other words, the total and unconditional capitulation of the Syrian Arab Republic .
The US project continues, despite the agreement with Russia
The next logical step should therefore be the reigning in of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and France, which should be feasible while the original US objectives are pursued.
As for Turkey, whatever the result of the general elections of the 1st November, and especially in the case of a victory for the AKP – the Justice and Development Party , the civil war will probably continue and spread  until the country is split in two, followed by the fusion of Turkish Kurdistan, Iraqi Kurdistan and a Syrian Arab territory occupied by the Syrian Kurds and the United States. Already, the YPG (People’s Protection Units) and the United States are working together to conquer an Arab territory in Northern Syria. The YPG, who, until last month, was receiving its weapons and pay from Damascus, has now turned against the Syrian Arab Republic. Its militia are invading the conquered villages, expelling teachers, and enforcing the ’Kurdisation’ of schools. Kurdish, which had previously been spoken and taught in schools, has now become the unique and obligatory language. The militia of the Syrian Arab Republic, particularly the Assyrians, are now reduced to the weaponised defence of their schools against their Kurdish compatriots .
As for King Salman of Saudi Arabia, he will have to swallow his defeat in Yemen – a neighbour which, officially, he had invaded in support of its absent President, but in reality, in order to exploit, with Israel, the petrol of the « Empty Quarter » . One after the other, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have left the Coalition, the former after having suffered heavy losses amongst their officers, and the latter more discretely, leaving the military operations entirely in the hands of the Israelis. The Houthis, pushed northward by the bombing, have made several incursions into Saudi Arabia where they destroyed military air bases and equipment. The Saudi soldiers, almost all of whom are foreigners fighting under the Saudi flag, have deserted en masse, obliging the King to issue a statutory order against desertion. In order to avoid a military disaster, Saudi Arabia therefore solicited the help of new allies. In exchange for money, Senegal sent 6,000 men, and Sudan 2,000. Mauritania is hesitating to send a contingent. It’s rumoured that the King has also contacted the private army Academi (ex-Blackwater/Xe) which is currently recruiting mercenaries in Columbia. This fiasco is directly imputable to Prince Mohammed ben Salmane, who lays claim to the initiative for this war. In this way, he is weakening the authority of his father, King Salman, and causing discontent among the two clans which are excluded from power, those of ex-King Abdallah and Prince Bandar. Logically, the conflict should lead to a sharing of the inheritance between the three clans, and consequently the separation of the Kingdom into three different States.
It is only after these new conflicts that peace can come to the region, except for the Arab part which is colonised by the new Kurdistan, destined to become the focal point for the expression of regional antagonism in place of Palestine.
But even if it is already written, the future remains uncertain. The reversal of the balance of power between Washington and Moscow  will have modified their agreement./
The rats are leaving the ship
While bad losers announce without blinking that the military intervention in Syria is not producing the results hoped for by Moscow, the fleeing jihadists are gathering in Iraq and Turkey. The US Chief of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, admitted during a Senate hearing on the 27th October that the war was evolving in favour of the Syrian Arab Republic . And NATO Supreme Commander General Philip Breedlove declared during a Pentagon Press conference on the 30th October, that it is an understatement to say that the situation is evolving from day to day and is now threatening the security of Europe .
We are obliged to note that the alliance between the partisans of chaos and the partisans of recolonisation will not only lose in Syria, but that the Atlantic Alliance itself can no longer pretend to excercise global domination. As a result, a sudden storm of agitation is blowing through the chancelleries, many of whom are now declaring that it is time to reach a peaceful solution – which suggests that until now, they thought differently.
The primary consequences of the forthcoming « U-turns » concerning Syria will be the consecration of the international rôle of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Federation of Russia – two actors that the Western Press were presenting, only four months ago, as being totally isolated and in danger of suffering terrible economic difficulties. These two powers are now major military forces – regional for Iran and global for Russia. The second consequence will be President el-Assad remaining in power – the man whom, for the last five years, everyone has been clamouring that « he had to go. »
In this context, war propaganda continues unchecked, with the affirmation that either the Russian or Syrian bombing is killing civilians. These charges are upheld by the central organisation of terrorist groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, by way of their Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Or else it is claimed that Russia is anxious to negociate rapidly because its intervention is costing a lot of money – as if they had somehow overlooked budget issues during the long preparation phase. Never short of a bright idea, the Director of the CIA, John Brennan, pretends that Russia is preparing to drop President el-Assad, even though President Putin himself had mocked this attempt at auto-persuasion a few days earlier, at the Valdai International Discussion Club.
In France, the revolt is gaining the political class. The four principal right-wing leaders, Dominique de Villepin, François Fillon, Alain Juppé and Nicolas Sarkozy have each declared that it is absurd to alienate Russia and refuse to admit defeat in Syria. However, Alain Juppé, who played a central rôle at the beginning of the war, particularly by signing a secret treaty with Turkey, persists in conserving the objective of overthrowing the Syrian Arab Republic later on. On the left, several leaders are planning trips to Damascus for the near future.
The panic at these evident changes is, in fact, general. Nicolas Sarkozy rushed to President Putin’s side, as did German Vice-Chancellor Sigmard Gabriel . He pleaded the case for closing the book on the disputes and bitterness of the past, and renewing dialogue with Russia. It’s about time.
Keep in mind :
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of the 30th October 2015 modifies the Geneva Communiqué of the 30th June 2012. There will be no « transition phase » in Syria because the Syrian Arab Republic has won the war, but there will be a « political process » which will be determined by the people’s vote.
The war in Syria should end within the next few months, except for the North, where the United States and Israël are attempting to create an independent colonial state dominated by the Kurds.
New wars are in preparation – first of all around a pseudo-Kurdistan imposed on colonised non-Kurdish populations, then in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in order to divide these large states into several smaller states, in conformity with the 2001 plan for the « remodelling of the Wider Middle East ». Washington will not hesitate to destroy her own disobedient allies, while Moscow wants to finish with the Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabism.
The opposition in France, and all of the ruling class in Germany, have taken note of the rise of Russian and Iranian power and the coming fall of Turkey and Saudi Arabia. As a result, they are seeking to modify their politics.
 “Moscow and Washington work together to restructure international relations”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 5 October 2015.
 “Russian proposal of a debate at the Security Council dealing with terrorism”, Voltaire Network, 1 October 2015.
 “Lavrov to chair Security Council’s meeting on fighting terrorism”, Tass, September 30, 2015.
 “Why does France want to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic ?”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 12 October 2015.
 “Joint Statement on the outcome of the multilateral talks on Syria”, Voltaire Network, 30 October 2015.
 “The United States and Israël begin the colonisation of Northern Syria”, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 2 November 2015.
 “The secret projects of Israël and Saudi Arabia”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley. “Why is the West So Silent About The Yemeni War?”, by Martha Mundy, Counterpunch, Voltaire Network, 27 June and 4 October 2015.
 “The Russian army asserts its superiority in conventional warfare”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 19 October 2015.
 “Dunford Tells Senate Now is Time to Reinforce Iraqi Success Against ISIL”, Jim Garamone, DoD News, October 27, 2015.
 “Department of Defense Press Briefing by General Breedlove in the Pentagon Briefing Room”, October 30, 2015.
 “Germany seeks to extract itself from the Syrian conflict”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 30 October 2015.
In recent years, Turkey and Qatar have found much common ground on a host of foreign policy issues. Both Ankara and Doha have sponsored a variety of Sunni Islamist groups, seen as conduits for their geopolitical influence in the fluid Middle East. However, both countries have experienced setbacks from their engagement in some of the region’s conflicts, most notably in Syria.
Last month, the Turkish and Qatari representatives left the Vienna talks on Syria maintaining their conviction that Bashar al-Assad must relinquish power as a precondition for peace. Although Turkey’s shared border with Syria and Qatar’s deep pockets provide the two nations much potential to prolong insurgencies against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies, it appears unrealistic to imagine Ankara and Doha achieving their objective of toppling the Syrian regime through their current strategies, especially in light of Russia’s military intervention in the country.
Throughout the 2000s, both Turkey and Qatar pursued efforts to expand strategic clout at a time when Washington’s relative power was declining in the aftermath of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Since taking power in 2002, the AK Party’s leader ramped up Turkey’s role and image on the Arab street through the ideological lure of the party’s brand of “democratic Islamism,” as well as through trade and investment opportunities that the Turks offered the Arabs.
However, the Syrian crisis and 2011’s other Arab uprisings and “revolutions” elicited reactions from Turkey and Qatar that severely damaged their reputations. By sponsoring Sunni Islamist causes in Egypt, Gaza, Libya, Syria and Tunisia, Ankara and Doha came under harsh condemnation from other powers in the region. Many quickly accused Turkey and Qatar of stoking sectarian unrest and promoting extremism.
In Egypt, both states opposed the rise of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013. In Libya, Ankara and Doha both supported the Islamist-dominated “Libya Dawn Coalition”. Both Turkey and Qatar prevented Hamas from becoming internationally isolated through their shared support for the Palestinian group, which the U.S. State Department and EU designate a “terrorist organization”. Qatar’s willingness to break political ranks with its fellow Arab states was underscored in August, when Doha strongly distanced itself from an Arab League resolution condemning Turkey’s bombing of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq. Qatar expressed its “full solidarity” with Turkey as it seeks “to protect its borders and preservation of its security and stability.”
Yet it is in Syria where both countries have invested the most in their common cause. Despite their efforts to topple Assad, the regime’s resilience has highlighted the limitations of Turkey and Qatar’s means to project power beyond their borders. In 2011, the Turks and Qataris bet on Assad following the fate of Mubarak, Ben Ali and Qaddafi, and sought to be on the “right side of history.” Their miscalculations about the regime’s future were rooted in a misread of domestic issues within Syria and the dynamics of the regional forces that would ultimately come to have a profound impact on the course of events.
Unquestionably, the regime’s resilience is partially due to its brutality, but it is imperative to note that Assad has a wide network of support in Syria from groups who share common fears of the takfiris’ agenda. Given that the two most powerful factions fighting the Syrian regime are ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra—both takfiri groups—many Syrians see the secular Ba’athist regime as the only realistic bulwark against Islamist extremism in Syria. Many analysts have largely attributed the strength of hardline jihadist forces not only in Syria, but also in Libya, to Ankara and Doha’s sponsorship of Islamist networks across the region, associating Turkey and Qatar’s influence with sectarianism and extremism.
Ankara and Doha also underestimated the extent to which Assad’s foreign backers would come to his side. Indeed, Ankara and Doha’s roles in the conflict have been dwarfed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah’s military intervention against the regime’s enemies. Despite the efforts of Ankara and Doha to topple Assad, the SAA remains by the far most powerful force on the ground and the regime is not about to disappear. Syria’s most important strategic ally in the Middle East is Iran, which has a played a pivotal role as a military, political and economic supporter of the Assad regime throughout this conflict. That Washington and Moscow invited Tehran to join last month’s Vienna talks on Syria marked a reversal in U.S. foreign policy, given that Washington previously refused to talk directly to Iranian officials about the Syrian crisis. In the larger picture, Iran’s participation in the talks underscored not only Tehran’s important role in the Syrian conflict but that yet another ally of Assad was brought to the negotiating table.
It is important to note that despite the ideological dimensions of Turkey and Qatar’s role as sponsors of the anti-Assad rebellion, the geopolitics of natural gas have factored into Ankara and Doha’s alignment vis-à-vis Syria. In 2009, Assad rejected a Qatari offer to run a pipeline from the Gulf emirate’s North Field (which is contiguous with the South Pars field, owned by Iran) to Turkey and beyond via Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria. As a strategic ally of Moscow, Damascus’ refusal to sign the Qatari proposal was said to be driven in part by Syria’s interest in protecting Russia’s position as the EU’s number top natural gas supplier (which has tended to be overlooked as a factor in the analyses of Russia’s role in the Syrian crisis).
To the ire of officials in Doha, in 2010 Assad began negotiations for the alternative $10 billion “Islamic pipeline” with Tehran, with the objective of transiting natural gas to Syria’s Mediterranean coast via Iran and Iraq. Sixteen months after the Syrian crisis erupted, Assad signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iran. Syria has often been written off from a geostrategic perspective because it does not have much oil and gas compared to other Middle Eastern states. However, the country’s potential as a regional energy corridor has itself been a significant factor influencing the ongoing Syrian conflict—one that has received little attention in Western reporting about the conflict.
Turkey, Qatar and the Sunni Arab World:
Since Saudi Arabia’s King Salman inherited the throne in January, Riyadh has softened its opposition to Sunni Islamist groups. In contrast to his predecessor, King Abdullah, who aggressively countered these groups both domestically and regionally, King Salman has sought to pursue a strategy of uniting the Sunni world against Iranian influence in the region, which he views as a graver threat than grassroots Sunni Islamist movements which represent social justice causes and embrace democratic institutions. In practice, this has entailed deeper collaboration with Turkey and Qatar in Syria, as well as diplomatic overtures to Muslim Brotherhood branches in Egypt, Gaza and Yemen.
The territorial defeats that the SAA endured earlier this year are believed to be largely attributable to Riyadh, Ankara and Doha’s stepped-up support for the “Army of Conquest” (a coalition of militias dominated by Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham fighters). By pursuing deeper cooperation with Turkey and Qatar in Syria, Saudi Arabia has created a degree of tension with its two strategic allies: the UAE and Egypt, which both staunchly oppose nearly all forms of political Islam in the region. Although Egypt, Jordan and the UAE have not openly sided with Assad, their reactions to Moscow’s military campaign in Syria are indicative of their view of Russia as an important player in the regional struggle against terrorism, as well as the greater Middle East’s shifting geopolitical order, despite their Sunni Arab identities and alliances with Washington.
Although the full implications of Moscow’s strikes against Assad’s enemies in Syria have yet to be realized, Russia’s military campaign has enabled the SAA to reconquer territory in the provinces of Homs, Hama and Aleppo. As Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar remain committed to their position that any transition in Syria cannot include Assad, and all three governments have condemned Moscow’s backing of the Assad regime, it remains to be seen what Riyadh, Ankara and Doha may do to change facts on the ground in Syria.
Last year Ankara and Doha signed an agreement permitting the joint deployment of troops in either country. The return of Turkish troops to the Gulf emirate 100 years after Ottoman forces withdrew from modern-day Qatar is a symbolic development. It is a huge leap, however, to imagine that the next logical step in their evolving military cooperation is a joint force in Syria. In fact, last month Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah ruled out the possibility of deploying Qatari forces to Syria, instead vowing to continue financially sponsoring groups fighting the Ba’athist regime. Similarly, with Riyadh bogged down in Yemen, it is hard to imagine that Saudi Arabia will be committing ground forces to Syria.
On the surface, Turkish and Qatari officials have gone to great lengths to express support for the other. In December the Emir of Qatar visited the presidential palace in Ankara. Speaking next to the Qatari monarch, Erdoğan asserted that “together with Qatar, we [the Turks] always side with oppressed people around the world.”
It is worth asking, however, if shared geopolitical interests in Arab civil wars and a common ideology are enough to serve as the basis for a long-term strategic alliance between Turkey and Qatar. Analysts have questioned the extent to which such a development is even possible, given that the two nations lack substantial economic ties. In fact, aside from Bahrain, Qatar is Turkey’s smallest trade partner in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Last year, Turkey and the UAE’s bilateral trade volume was ten times greater than Turkey and Qatar’s total trade.
In spite of this, both nations appear determined to strengthen their military ties, seeing more upside potential. Turkey and Qatar’s common cause on the battlefields of Syria and elsewhere have brought Ankara and Doha closer than ever. On paper, at least, Doha and Ankara have the potential to contribute to Syria’s outcome, given that Turkey has a powerful military and a lengthy border with Syria, while Qatar has the deep pockets to sponsor the training and arming of rebel groups.
In practice, however, Turkey and Qatar’s strategy of regime change in Syria has obviously failed, while the two governments’ support for Assad’s Islamist enemies has also complicated their ties with their own strategic allies, trade partners and neighbors. Despite these costs and recent developments resulting from Moscow and Tehran’s deepening military involvement in Syria, Turkey and Qatar remain firmly committed to their political objective of toppling Assad.
Last month in Vienna, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu reiterated Ankara’s position that “peace is not possible with Bashar al-Assad,” and his Qatari counterpart emphasized Doha’s continued commitment to financially supporting Syrians who seek to “liberate their country”. Given their common stakes, we should expect Ankara and Doha to continue devoting resources to their growing political relationship. However, it is doubtful that their combined efforts will have any kind of meaningful effect on the ground in Syria. Russia and Iran’s stepped-up military role in Syria comes at the expense of Ankara and Doha’s relevance in the conflict.
It would serve the Turks and Qataris well to swallow their pride, reconsider their strategy for Syria and adopt a more realistic approach to a jointly executed foreign policy. Rather than devoting such substantial resources to arming jihadist militias in Syria, the region could benefit a great deal from Ankara and Doha channeling their resources toward humanitarian efforts aimed at meeting the basic needs of the conflict’s innocent victims, while working with the international community to pursue a diplomatic settlement to the conflict and enhancing their own soft power in the process.
Giorgio Cafiero is the Co-Founder of Gulf State Analytics. Daniel Wagner is the CEO of Country Risk Solutions.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Christiaan Triebert
The Russian president said his priority was to protect citizens living abroad, regardless of where they were.
That could include action to safeguard Russians living in the North African state of Libya, which has been ravaged by violent Islamic extremism since the fall of dictator Colonel Gaddafi.
Speaking at the fifth World Congress of Compatriots in Moscow, Mr Putin said: “People who are not in Russia due to various reasons should be firmly sure: we will always protect your interests.
“Moreover, in difficult and crisis situations, such as in Libya, Syria or Yemen.”
Russia has been providing humanitarian aid to Yemen since the outbreak of the civil war in March.
A Russian cargo plane delivering humanitarian aid to Yemen
The Arab state has suffered from internal conflict between Saudi-backed separatists and forces loyal to the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi based in the south, and Iran-backed Houthi forces and those loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Russia is allied to Iran as the main backers of President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict in Syria.
Aid arriving in Yemen included fresh drinking water
The United Nations (UN) estimates around 5,000 people have been killed in the conflict since March, more than half of them civilians.
It comes as Russia revealed it has pounded a staggering 263 ISIS targets in Syria over the last two days as Putin steps up his bid to wipe out the terror group.
Moscow’s jets carried out 81 strikes on targets belonging to ISIS and other militants across Syria, according to the Russian defence ministry.
People take part in a demonstration in support of the Libyan army in Benghazi
Russian bombers “destroyed a large fortified location of Islamic State militants,” including an air-defence gun and a tank, a defence spokesman said.
A spokesman said the bombers “destroyed a large fortified location” of sick fanatics including an air-defence gun and a tank.
Solemn groundbreaking ceremony of the huge Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline will take place on December 13, 2015.
Afghanistan’s Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has been invited to participate at the ceremony by his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during a phone conversation.
The president of Afghanistan expressed confidence that the implementation of this large-scale, Turkmenistan-initiated project will have a crucial importance for the whole region, Turkmenistan-4 TV channel reported.
The implementation of TAPI project was a key subject of discussions during the meeting of the Turkmen-Afghan intergovernmental commission on trade-economic cooperation took place in Ashgabat.
The participants of the meeting noted that the implementation of TAPI project will be additional stimulus for the expanding of the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan both in energy and transport and communications spheres.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a decree Nov. 7 ordering to design and construct the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline’s section that is to run through Turkmenistan.
These works were entrusted to two state concerns – Turkmengaz and Turkmennebitgazgurlushyk.
The document also stipulates to start TAPI’s construction in December 2015 and hand over facilities fully ready for commissioning in December 2018.
The main document for the TAPI – the Ashgabat Interstate Agreement – was signed in 2010 by the party states to start the realization of the project.
The length of the pipe can reach 1,735 kilometers.
The pipeline is to run from Galkynysh – the largest gas field in Turkmenistan – the through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar, and finally reach the Fazilka township located near the India-Pakistan border. (Cihan/Trend az)
If you haven’t heard the news already, a memo was leaked last week to The Daily Mail in which Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had made it known to U.S. officials in 2002 that he would support a military intervention within a Iraq. This however occurred a full year before it had been discussed or voted upon within the United Kingdom by other Members of Parliament.
While not surprising that Blair would support his neo-imperialist comrades in the U.S., it’s still shocking as to how eager states and their leaders can be to engage within warfare.
A simple retort to this might be that human nature is the cause of war, as if all of us are at the edge of our seats ready to take another’s life. However, if you think about it closely, citizens of modern democracies have very little say as to whether or not their nation goes to war.
To think that the citizens of a state have a say in what decisions are made internationally is to misunderstand the power structures of federal action. Has any war that your country has ever gone to been put to a vote, or even been discussed in a meaningful, public setting?
Even if national interests are truly at stake, with citizens willing to consider supporting involvement, there is no way for them to get accurate information to make objective decisions. For it is those who wield the material or military power of a nation that control the ideas of the nation, and who set the agenda for which the public bases their opinions off of.
This sort of agenda setting rises from the perverse incentives given to political leaders who decide to enter into international or territorial conflicts. Going back to our thoughts on human nature, because humans are rationally self-interested, it is usually in our best interest to avoid any sort of physical conflict. However, when trying to understand the actions of states, this same sort of rationality cannot be applied to it or its actors.
When addressing international strife, those in charge never personally bear the risks of entering into violent conflict with other nations, but can call upon the citizens of the nation to fight for them. Philosopher Michael Huemer synthesizes this point with a short analogy:
“In deciding to invade Iraq in 2003, for example, President Bush did not need to weigh the risk that he would be killed in the conflict. Thus, the main prudential argument that leads us to expect individuals to choose peaceful coexistence with other individuals does not apply to states.”
This sort of moral hazard leads us to believe that when a new issue is being presented as of national interest, there might be a backstory that is unknown to the public, hidden by those who might have a greater purpose in that interest being defended or accomplished.
As the Syrian Civil War continues to rage on, with the total count of refugees hitting four million as of last month, we must take a look at what war, especially war with foreign intervention, has done in actually bringing long term peace to regional conflicts.
I wholeheartedly believe that war can be avoided, but not under the current organization of our societies, where the acquisition of resources and extension of hegemony trumps the value of any single life that might stand in the way.
Boko Haram : The Example of Imperialist Terrorism in Africa
About The Author:
President Obama’s immigration plan was dealt a potentially fatal blow, leaving 4 million undocumented immigrants in legal limbo.
A federal appeals court dealt a potentially fatal blow Monday to President Obama’s immigration plan, leaving more than 4 million undocumented immigrants in legal limbo and setting up a possible Supreme Court battle at the sunset of his administration.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld a challenge to the deferred deportation program brought by Texas and 25 other states with Republican governors, who argued that Obama lacked the authority to protect about one-third of the nation’s undocumented immigrants by executive fiat.
The authority that the administration claimed, the court said in a 2-1 ruling, would allow it “to grant lawful presence and work authorization to any illegal alien in the United States.”
The White House said in a statement that it strongly disagreed with the court and that the departments of Justice and Homeland Security will review the ruling to determine the “next steps” in the case.
“The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws,” the statement read. “This lawsuit is preventing people who have been part of our communities for years from working on the books, contributing to our economy by paying taxes on that work, and being held accountable.”
The decision had been anticipated by the administration and immigration rights groups, who have hung their hopes on the Supreme Court rather than the conservative appeals court with jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. But the four-month wait for a ruling, since oral arguments were held before the three-judge panel, could mean that the justices won’t get the case during their current term — and won’t decide it before Obama leaves office.
Under that scenario, the 4.3 million undocumented immigrants deemed eligible for the program would be at the mercy of the next president — either a Democrat who favors giving them temporary protection from deportation, or a Republican who most likely would have campaigned against it.
That makes the panel’s decision a major blow to Obama, who has hoped to overhaul the nation’s immigration system before leaving office even if Congress won’t go along. And it’s a crushing defeat for millions of immigrant families who hope to win protections that would make them eligible for three-year work permits and a host of health care, disability and retirement benefits.
“The most directly impacted are the five million U.S. citizen children whose parents would be eligible for temporary relief from deportation,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We now call on the Department of Justice to seek Supreme Court review immediately, where we are more likely to obtain justice for our communities.”
Greisa Martinez, advocacy coordinator of United We Dream, a youth-led immigration advocacy group said, “This ruling means that millions of immigrants, including my mother, will continue to live in fear, unable to work legally, and be at risk of being deported until this matter is resolved. But today’s ruling only strengthens our resolve as a movement and we know that we are on the right side of history.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed the ruling. “Today, the 5th Circuit asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else,” he said. “Throughout this process, the Obama administration has aggressively disregarded the constitutional limits on executive power, and Texas, leading a charge of 26 states, has secured an important victory to put a halt to the president’s lawlessness.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., a longtime critic of Obama’s immigration policy, also celebrated the ruling. “Today’s decision from the federal appeals court is a victory for the Constitution and the American people. President Obama’s decision to ignore the limits placed on his power and act unilaterally to rewrite our nation’s immigration laws is an affront to the Constitution.”
Obama unveiled the program last November as an extension of his 2012 policy delaying the threat of deportation for about 770,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. The new plan would broaden that program and add protections for adults with children who are U.S. citizens.
Federal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen temporarily blocked the program in February, ruling that the states were likely to win their argument that Obama lacked executive authority to carry out the plan without congressional action, or at the least a formal period for public comment. In May, the appeals court panel refused to let the program continue while it considered the appeal.
In his ruling Monday night, Circuit Court Judge Jerry Smith said Obama’s program “would allow illegal aliens to receive the benefits of lawful presence solely on account of their children’s immigration status, without complying with any of the requirements … that Congress has deliberately imposed.” He was joined by Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod.
Their ruling said the program “would dramatically increase the number of aliens eligible for work authorization, thereby undermining Congress’s stated goal of closely guarding access to work authorization and preserving jobs for those lawfully in the country.”
Judge Carolyn Dineen King dissented, arguing that the deferred action program was an “exercise of prosecutorial discretion” beyond the reach of federal court judges. She also criticized her court for stalling well beyond its normal 60-day period of review.
“I have a firm and definite conviction that a mistake has been made,” she said. “That mistake has been exacerbated by the extended delay that has occurred in deciding this ‘expedited’ appeal. There is no justification for that delay.”
The administration had argued that it was merely formalizing an existing policy of targeting the most dangerous undocumented immigrants and making millions of others a lower priority.
“The policies are a quintessential exercise of prosecutorial discretion, an executive function that is not subject to judicial review,” it argued in court papers. “And they are an exercise of authority that Congress expressly granted to the (homeland security) secretary to establish policies for enforcement of the immigration laws, a uniquely federal domain into which states may not intrude.”
The states opposed to the program argued that it would confer legality, if not citizenship, upon millions of immigrants who came to the country unlawfully — forcing Texas and others to issue driver’s licenses and incur other costs.
The program “would be one of the largest changes in immigration policy in our nation’s history,” they told the appeals court. “Once this program goes into effect, it will be practically impossible to unwind all of its derivative consequences.”
Obama’s Administration has been telling us whole lot of nothing regarding our war, not war with ISIS…and from the little bit we could gather we were bombing ISIS…but, were we? Really?
A pro-Putin member of Russia’s parliament accused the Obama administration of essentially spending a year bombing the Syrian desert as opposed to Islamic State group targets, ranting on Twitter that American-trained “moderate rebels” had all run off to join terrorist organizations.
“(Senator John) McCain accused us of striking out at US-trained insurgents… However, since they have either run away or joined al-Qaeda, hitting them is a mission impossible,” Alexei Pushkov tweeted, according to Sputnik News.
Pushkov evinced similar thoughts during an interview with France’s Europe 1 Radio, in which the Russian MP said, “The U.S.-led coalition spent a whole year pretending they were striking ISIL targets but where are the results of these strikes?”
Pushkov is the head of foreign affairs committee in the Russian Duma, the lower house of the country’s parliament, according to National Interest.
His questioning may not be that far off of the mark. According to figures compiled by the Council for Foreign Relations in a recent piece for Newsweek, American intervention in the crisis in the Middle East is hardly substantial.
The CFR calculated that 43 bombs per day were being dropped against the Islamic State group during the current campaign. If you think that’s substantial, consider the Iraq war, where 1,093 bombs a day were dropped in 2003.
And even that pales in comparison to the first Gulf War. During that period, coalition forces dropped 6,163 bombs per day on the enemy.
Even when American forces have Islamic State group terrorists in their sights, they aren’t necessarily allowed to fire, thanks to Obama administration engagement rules that handcuff American forces.
“There were times I had groups of ISIS fighters in my sights, but couldn’t get clearance to engage,” one F-18 pilot told reporters in May.
“They probably killed innocent people and spread evil because of my inability to kill them. It was frustrating.”
McCain has also complained that 75 percent of pilots returned to base without firing a weapon during the fight against the Islamic State group, according to Fox News.
Sounds like, sadly, Pushkov is far from wrong.
How frustrating! It’s one thing to DECEIVE us and bomb…NOTHING! And…it’s a whole other Monster when you deceive us and bomb nothing…WHILE wasting resources and money spent on the FAKE TARGET bombs! …and then our Soldiers have the enemy in sights and at the ready to dispose of wicked men…and they have to STAND DOWN?? Going on to be forced to live with the guilt of imagining how many more people those wicked men will torture, murder, and ruin because they couldn’t stop them.
Who else is sick of being pushed around by leadership that refuses to be Leaders?
[An open split has occurred in the Afghan Taliban leadership, with a new faction openly emerging, swearing allegience to Mullah Mohammad Rasool, a.k.a., Mullah Zakir, calling itself the “High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate,” a.k.a., Mullah Dadullah faction. The “High Council” is based in Zabul, in southwest Afghanistan, near the Iranian border. The High Council has risen in opposition to self-proclaimed Taliban chief, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor. According to Rasool’s deputy Mullah Mansour Dadullah (brother of Taliban legend Mullah Dadullah Akhund), Mansoor led the conspiracy which killed real Taliban chief, Mullah Omar in 2007.
In 2007, Dadullah was killed, after first creating the Pakistani Taliban. Dadullah was replaced as chief Taliban strategist by his younger half-brother Mansour, who was the target of British plot by MI6 agent Michael Semple, to create a sub-Taliban movement. Their cover was blown by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was forced by the US to expel agents Semple and Marvyn Patterson. According to the Dadullah Front website article posted below, Michael Semple is the paymaster for the Mullah Mansour faction.
According to this Washington Post puff piece, A new Taliban breakaway group claims support for peace and women’s rights, this grouping of Taliban is ready to play the fake negotiations ploy. This is the Mullah Dadullah faction, heirs to perhaps the most deadly Taliban fighter of all time, Mullah Dadullah Akhund. The group is led by Mullah Muhammad Rasool, a.k.a., Mullah Zakir (released from Guantanamo in 2007).]
“Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander. He is considered to be one of the most radical Taliban commanders and is closely allied with al Qaeda.
Before the fanfare for the new Taliban faction had even ended, they came under attack from the CIA/ISI Taliban of Mullah Mansour (SEE: The Anatomy of A Psywar). According to the following Taliban-disputed post from Qatar mouthpiece, Al Jazeera, the new Taliban has joined with the new “Afghan ISIS” who are actually the repackaged remnants of the Pakistani Taliban–TTP, led by mad-dog cleric Fazlullah, a.k.a., “Radio Mullah,” along with the remnants of the IMU, Islamic Militants of Uzbekistan).]
At least 50 dead in violent clashes in country’s south as group split over appointment of new leader stokes tension.
Violent clashes between two rival Taliban groups in southern Afghanistan have resulted in the death of at least 50 fighters from both sides, a police chief told Al Jazeera.
“Civilians have left the area due to heavy clashes between the two groups,” he said.
“The fight took place in the Arghandab district of Zabul province. Most of the area is under the Taliban control. We’ve been asking for military assistance for very long now.”
Anwar Ishaqzai, governor of southern Zabul province, said the Taliban splinter group – known as the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate – has joined up with fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group.
“The Taliban faction under Mullah Rasool was backed by the ISIL and Uzbek fighters in the fight,” he said.
“About 40 Taliban from Rasool’s group and 10 from Mansoor’s have been killed in the fight.”
ISIL claim denied
However, Abdul Manan Niazi, spokesperson for the breakaway faction, denied the ISIL association.
“We will never join them. Their ideologies are different; they come from a different background and a different history,” he told Al Jazeera.
“These are all false accusations. We can never ask for their support to fight our enemies or to re-establish Islamic rule.”
ISIL, which controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria, started building a presence in Zabul earlier this year.
Mullah Mansoor’s followers initiated the fight, Niazi accused.
“Since the announcement of our new leader, we’ve been highlighting that we are not in favour of fighting with each other,” he said. “This fight was initiated by them.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a Taliban commander led by Mullah Mansoor in Zabul province told Al Jazeera that his side would continue to fight those who are against their “supreme” leader.
“Anyone who does not acknowledge Mullah Mansoor is our enemy,” he said.
“The faction group is formed by foreigners and our enemies; this won’t stop us. Nothing can stop us from continuing our jihad.”
The split into two groups followed the appointment of the main new leader, Mullah Mansoor.
The Taliban Supreme Council, or Shura Council, said it had not been consulted, and, late last week, the breakaway group elected its own leader, Mullah Mohammad Rasool Akhund.
The rift has raised speculation over the group’s unity and future.
Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were postponed after the announcement of Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death earlier this year .
However, according to Tolonews, an Afghan news channel, Niazi said on Sunday that the group is ready for peace talks if foreign forces leave Afghanistan.
Last month, United States President Barack Obama announced that the US would extend its military role in the country and keep the current force of 9,800 troops through most of 2016, amid a surge in Taliban attacks.
Under the new plan, the number of US troops would fall to 5,500, starting in 2017.
Source: Al Jazeera
“Four top Taliban military commanders, including the one-legged Mulla Dadullah, were trapped in Kunduz after losing Mazar-i-Sharif and had to surrender to Uzbek warlord Abdul Rasheed Dostum. The other three were Noorullah Noori, who headed the council of governors of all the northern provinces, Mulla Mohammad Fazil and Mirza Nasiri. The Taliban defence minister Mulla Ubaidullah, interior minister Mulla Abdul Razzaq and intelligence chief Qari Ahmadullah were able to avoid capture by Northern Alliance troops or anti-Taliban tribal groups and reach Kandahar.” Taliban command structure crumbles–The News: Jang, Dec. 3, 2001
A message for some faith selling advisors in the Islamic Emirate
Dear muslim countrymen and the defenders of the Islamic fronts
Asalam u Alikum WRWB
Brothers, By reading this message of the Fedayeen Front of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan a curtain would be unveiled which has been hidden from people to date, a few men with vested interest had been trying to conceal this from mujahideen but with the grace of Allah these hypocrites working only for own interests were unmasked and we would like you to know about the details:
The Faith selling advisors in the Islamic Emirate with the financial assistance of crusaders were able to hijack the home of the mujahideen and fedayeen under the white flag appeasing them and also trying to attain objectives being laid down for them.
The Fedayeen Front of the Islamic Movement has tried time and again to reform and release these men from them and divert their attention from dollars and power to the duty (Jihad) but on every occasion we were greeted with a negative response. The Mujahideen has the right to know these facts and issue their own verdict.
A warning was issued through media to the Faith sellers mainly Ishaaqzais and not the Islamic Emirate who were responsible for creation of the Qatar office and giving birth to the Qatari militias. The bloodshed of the mujahideen, ulema and religious scholars could not be tolerated and we cannot be silent spectators.
With sorrow and grief We have to inform you about the unfolding situation that our warnings were ignored and we did not see any change time and again after requests. They carried on with their agenda of killing fellow mujahideen on directives of their bosses in CIA and MI6 thus compelling us to inform you about their secret relationship with crusaders. Assassinations of ulema and mujahideen with confidence and responsibility of authenticity till the day of judgment.
The Faith selling advisors in the Islamic Emirate and their colleagues like former defense minister Muallah Obaidullah,Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar former deputy to the Ameer ul Momineen, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor who now claims to be the current deputy to the Ameer, Mullah Gul Agha also known as Hidayatullah and Mullah Naanai and Mulla Abdul Salam Sani known as Hamdullah based on their foreign relations has been divided into two main branches drawing salaries of upto 50000 USD for the branch head and 10000 USD each for members. These are being paid by CIA through their great agent Mansoor and with the help of Michael Sample to Naanai financed by MI6 providing 20000 USD for each member in Qatar and also luxurious cars. We would now let the nation make the judgment based on the information provided.
2. The Shahadat of the star of Jihad and hero Mullah Dadullah!
In the year 2006 he developed differences with the Faith selling advisors in the Islamic Emirate when he found out that letters were being exchanged through messengers between Mullah Obaidullah and agents based in KAF (Kandahar Airfield). He managed to obtain a copy of one of the letters, warning them to sever ties with CIA resulting in verbal clash between him and Dadullah which lead to his assassination with the assistance of traitors namely Mullah Abdullah,Mullah Deen Mohammad and Mullah Naseem who were assigned to get rid of Dadullah posing as his protection squad coordinating and sharing his movement details with CIA and MI6 . The relation between them and the agencies started in 2004. Ina Lela he wa Ina elaihe rajeuoon.
3. Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor alias Nazeer while travelling with his spouse to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi had series of meetings with CIA men in end of June 2013 after which he was gifted with a Rolex watch worth around 50000 USD custom made for spying purposes identifying his location to the bosses. And two weeks back he had another travel plan which he executed meeting Qatari officials and CIA men also asking Tayyab to come from Germany alongside Royal members of UAE and Qatari hosts. The details of the meetings and decisions would be released at the right time.
4. The head of the military commission of the Islamic Emirate was forced to resign and then arrested in day light with the help and assistance of a dozen men and four vehicles. His whereabouts unknown to date. It merits to be mentioned that the Faith selling advisors in the Islamic Emarat have always been blaming the spy agency of Kabul for their coward acts and killings of fellows regarded as adversaries and some other western intelligence services. They offer condolence message and also put another fellow on trial choosing the divide and rule approach to carry on their hidden agenda. The news which has spread that Mullah Abdul Qaym Zakir has been apprehended by some agency of any state is completely false and he is spending uncertain times with his own fellows now his captors. We have all the evidence regarding the circumstances in which Abdul Qayum Zakir’s disappearance and if desired by public we can share them as well.
5. The head of The Fedayeen Front of the Islamic Emirate Alhaaj Mualavi Najeebullah Umer Khitaab visiting Quetta on 08/06/2014 on a secret visit for treatment was targeted in the similar way by the Ishaaqzai’s Emirates killing squad. He was travelling along with five men in a car. Armed men from several directions cardoned off the area while others came in cars and bikes trying to assassinate the head of the Front. After a brief fire fight only one fellow got injured while a great Mujahid and brother of Maulavi Najeebullah Umer Khitaab Hafiz Taimur Shah embraced martyrdom. The killing squad head for the Faith selling advisors in the Islamic Emirate Gulalai was shot dead by our men along with seven other killers and one sustaining serious injury showing a clear picture that Allah was with us.
Before this the killers would blame the head of police in Kandahar Abdul Razaq for these kind of actions and would get away with the crime, had they succeeded in this coward act they would have done the same, but with the grace of Allah the unfolding situation on that particular day not only exposed them but also proved who was right!
6. Recently they issued a press release in which Ameer ul Momineen has thanked the secular government of Qatar for the exchange deal of the prisoners. With great confidence and based on evidence we claim that no statement has been issued by the Amir ul Momineen in the past four years and in these years all statements issued from the address of the Amir ul Momineen were forged by them including the order making Mansoor the deputy . These four year statements do not reflect the image and personality of the Amir ul Momineen as he was a determined and devoted muslim believing in a single stance in which he gave up the Emirate for the principles he believed in.
Oh Great Nation!
In which court, what law and legal system it allows that those getting 10,20, and 50 thousand dollars should have a lavish lifestyle and killing Afghans in uniform getting 1,2 or 3 hundred dollars also targetting those who are fighting a defensive Jihad against crusaders. The funeral prayers of those in uniform and getting nominal pays are termed unislamic while they are given titles of Deputies to Amir ul Momineen and members of the ruling council.
The way Amir ul Momineen believes and has a single stance on issues pertaining to Jihad we are determined to follow that principle and for us there is no difference between these killers and vested interests and those in uniform inside Afghanistan.
We are inviting the the Faith selling advisors in the Islamic Emirate once again to offer Toba and Astaghfaar and sever ties with western intelligence agencies and stop killing fellows under different pretexts and join hands with us and rest of Mujahideen bringing unity in our ranks.
The Fedayeen Front of the Islamic Movement is calling upon all its fighters in the front to form unity in their ranks and work like brothers sidelining linguistic, regional and factional differences and deal with crusaders and their allies with an iron fist. Inshallah very soon truth would prevail over false and these invaders would soon see the faith of the soviets.
Long live Islam and heroes
Long live great Afghans
Success and life for Islamic fighters
The head of the Fedayeen Front of the Islamic Movement and a raising star of Afghanistan
“Alhaaj Maulavi Najeebullah” (Umer Khitaab) Hafaza hu Allah
July 10, 2014 ·
MOSCOW, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — Russia on Tuesday confirmed that it had established contacts with moderate Syrian opposition to better coordinate anti-terrorism operations and facilitate Syrian reconciliation process.
Contacts and coordination groups were established with “patriotic forces” in Syrian aimed at synergizing efforts to fight terrorists, Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Russian General Staff Main Operations Directorate, said on Tuesday.
“In the framework of a broader international coalition on the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, we have established contacts with opposition leaders and field commanders of several opposition units,” Kartapolov said.
“Despite their four-year standoff with government forces, these patriotic forces put ideas of Syria’s integrity and sovereignty as a terrorism-free state ahead of their political ambitions,” an online official statement quoted Kartapolov as saying.
Using cooridates provided by the Syrian opposition, Russia jets bombed 24 targets in Syria Tuesday, he said.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov later confirmed the “fruitful nature” of such contacts, saying such links are “timely and beneficial for both the anti-terrorism fight and the progress of Syria’s political process.”
According to Kartapolov, joint drills on flight safety were also carried out Tuesday between Russian and U.S. air forces in Syria.
“During the drills in a specially designated zone, the crews of Russian and (the U.S.-led) international coalition planes maneuvered to a safe distance of 3 nautical miles from each other, established radio contacts on a designated frequency, and exchanged messages about parameters of their flights in Russian and English,” the general explained.
Kartapolov added that pilots of the two countries also exercised the notification, organization, interaction of flight missions as well as information exchange between operation centers.
The Syrian crisis and the international anti-terror fight seem to be at a crossroads as more major countries and regional players were involved in last week’s bilateral and multilateral meetings held in Austria’s Vienna.
Failing to find a common ground on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad though, all parties at the meeting agreed all the terrorist groups in Syria should be defeated and a diplomatic process be initiated to find a solution for Syrian crisis.
Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged all interested sides to discuss and confirm the list of terrorist organizations.
The ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that it is agreed during the Vienna meeting that relevant consultations and contacts would be held between experts to reach consensus on who we should consider terrorists in Syria.
“Russia has been sticking to the position that it is up to the Syrian people to decide on the fate of Syria’s president,” the spokeswoman said, warning regime change in Syria could become a global-scale disaster.
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov noted that Russia is planning to host a third meeting next week between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition to discuss ways of reaching a settlement in the war-torn country.
“There are no problems with the government, which has been talking about it for a long time. Currently, we are in contact with representatives of different opposition organizations persuading them to come to Moscow,” Bogdanov told journalists.
He added that the plan was part of Moscow’s efforts to pave the way for initiating a political settlement following the Vienna meeting.
Moscow hosted two rounds of intra-Syrian talks in January and April. Since Sept. 30, Russia has been conducting precision airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria at the request of Syrian President Assad.
Russian General Kartapolov concluded on Tuesday that since the beginning of the Russian airstrike mission, 2,084 terrorist military infrastructures were targeted during 1,631 sorties made by the Russian air forces in Syria.
The most basic rule of psychological warfare is that anything you say can be used against you, and with devastating effect. When a prominent imam in Saudi Arabia, the self-proclaimed Defender of the Faith for Sunni Islam as well as the owner of Mecca, describes Paradise as a celestial version of the Mustang Ranch, he makes his entire religion about as credible as Scientology.
If Muslims find the depiction of their Paradise as a whorehouse and Allah as a Mack Daddy offensive, their problem is with Saudi Sheikh Yahya Al-Jana’, because these are his words and not ours. Here is the YouTube video with translation by MEMRI, and also a transcript.
Here is the first screenshot, which reminds me of an ad I saw in Las Vegas a few years ago.
The next screenshot brings to mind “The World Famous Mustang Ranch Pleasure Menu,” which I am not going to link because it is decidedly NSFW. If you want to compare it to the good sheikh’s sermon, just Google the indicated phrase to find it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what Sheikh Yahya Al-Jana’s all-knowing and all-powerful deity offers his followers:
The good sheikh seems to have one, or more precisely two, things on his mind. When Beavis or Butthead can summarize your learned theological sermon in three words (five, if you count the stupid laugh), your religion has a real credibility problem.
Remember, by the way, that the purpose of this article is not primarily to entertain the reader. Ridicule can be an overwhelming psychological warfare weapon that can reduce the enemy’s credibility to nothing with a single decisive blow, and, as shown by the next image, Sheikh Yahya Al-Jana’ has left himself and Wahhabi Islam wide open. Tell me again: is this a religious sermon or a pitch for the Mustang Ranch?
This is even more hilarious, by the way, if you watch the video and listen to him say all this with a straight face. Who needs to pay to see a Las Vegas stand-up comedy act when you can get this kind of stuff for free? Listen to comedian Steven Wright, listen to Sheikh Yahya Al-Jana’, and see who makes you laugh harder.
The transcript continues, “Allah said that the dwellers of Paradise are busy. What keeps them busy? They will be busy tearing hymens.” The Mustang Ranch admittedly can’t do that because the women are definitely not virgins, but, with that sole exception, it differs little from Sheikh Yahya Al-Jana’s depiction of the Islamic Paradise.
Now that we are done laughing, let’s get to the bottom line. Sheikh Yahya Al-Jana’s own words should break the back of militant “Islam” by reducing its afterlife to the status of a common house of prostitution in which its deity is the chief pimp. Even if the ideology’s own followers are so deluded that they cannot recognize this as the farce it is, the ideology cannot survive in an infidel-majority society. Remember, though, Colonel Paul Linebarger’s admonition in his book on psychological warfare. “To be effective, leaflets must scatter. Bundles of paper which fall intact make little impact on the enemy [or prospective audience] unless they hit him on the head.” This material does little good if it stays at American Thinker, so take it to your blog, your local paper, and your social networks.
William A. Levinson is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.
The formal interrogation of one of India’s most wanted criminals, which is expected to take place Saturday after his deportation from Indonesia on Friday, could expose a connection between the underworld and police, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) source told BenarNews.
After 27 years on the run, Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, who is known in India as Chhota Rajan or Little Rajan, was arrested by Indonesian police in Bali on Oct. 25.
Nikalje, 55, is accused of some 80 crimes ranging from murder to extortion to smuggling and drug trafficking in India. Nikalje fled to Dubai in 1988.
He is also an alleged former lieutenant of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, but he fell out with Ibrahim after the 1993 Mumbai bombings that killed 257 people in Nikalje’s hometown.
In October 2003, the United States Justice Department designated Ibrahim a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” because of his alleged financial support for al-Qaeda and aid to terrorist groups in India.
He is also accused of providing logistical support during the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai that left at least 150 dead, and is India’s most wanted fugitive.
Indian intelligence officials believe Ibrahim is in hiding in Karachi, Pakistan, shielded by that country’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
While on the run Nikalje traveled through Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Australia, “using three fake passports,” until his arrest in Bali, according to Indian intelligence sources.
His subsequent deportation to New Delhi was a “result of coordination between the security forces of Australia, India and Indonesia,” the CBI said in a statement Friday, describing it as a major success for the country.
“The Indonesian police were tipped off by their Australian counterparts about a wanted criminal who had boarded a flight from Sydney to Bali under the name of Mohan Kumar. We were in touch with security agencies from both countries to help confirm the man’s identity,” an official with India’s Home Ministry told BenarNews.
Nikalje arrived in India early Friday after departing Bali on Thursday aboard an Indian Air Force plane. He was driven to the barricaded CBI headquarters amid unprecedented security, owing to an alleged threat to his life by Ibrahim’s criminal syndicate, the D-Company.
In Bali, Nikalje told reporters he did not want to be taken to Mumbai because “many police officials are working for Dawood (Ibrahim)” and that his life would be in danger.
Ibrahim’s hitmen allegedly have tried to kill Nikalje at least twice. The most dramatic attempt on his life occurred in 2000. After being shot at, Nikalje jumped from the second floor of his Bangkok hotel, breaking his back in the fall. He later allegedly bribed hospital staff in order to evade arrest by Thai police.
A CBI source told BenarNews that Nikalje was being kept in a cell within the agency’s heavily guarded headquarters in the capital’s Lodhi Road area, adding that although officials had started quizzing him, his formal interrogation would begin Saturday.
“He has revealed the names of about 20 Mumbai police officials, who, he says, are hand-in-glove with Dawood (Ibrahim), and some of them even on his payrolls. He has also spoken of many properties in the Middle East that Dawood has invested in,” the source, who requested anonymity, told BenarNews.
“The CBI will be investigating all his claims thoroughly,” the source added.
Nikalje’s claims questioned
Bibhu Prasad Routray, former deputy director of the National Security Council Secretariat, said all claims made by the accused gangster should be treated with skepticism.
“He should not be taken very seriously. It is a well known fact that all the underworld has some kind of nexus with the police,” Routray told BenarNews, referring to Nikalje’s claims.
“It is highly likely he is making such sensational claims to extract some sort of leverage, hoping he can be let off easy if he provides India with leads on Dawood,” he said. “There’s a good chance he has no information about Dawood.”
Y.P. Singh, a former Indian Police Services officer from Mumbai, questioned Nikalje’s statements to reporters.
“[Nikalje] is not speaking the full truth,” Singh said. “Dawood Ibrahim indeed might have connections with the Mumbai police, because no gangster can flourish until they get permission from the local police. But by the same reckoning, Chhota Rajan and his gang members can have intimate connections with the police.”
Iran and Saudi Arabia clashed repeatedly last week inside the diplomatic talks on Syria, with Iran accusing Saudis of terrorism. Their tension threatened to end the new negotiations just as they began in Vienna on Friday.
Inside the nine-hour meeting, according to two Western officials briefed on it, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir got into a heated argument, during which Zarif blamed Saudi Arabian nationals for the 9/11 attacks. The comments startled the participants, who included Secretary of State John Kerry, and the room went quiet after Zarif’s remark.
Zarif confirmed to me that he made the remark and pointed out that he was not blaming the Saudi government for the 9/11 attacks, just Saudi nationals. Fifteen of the 19 attackers were Saudi citizens.
Western officials who were briefed on the meeting said the anecdote showed the difficulty of getting Iran and Saudi Arabia to discuss anything civilly, much less come to an agreement on Syria, where both sides have proxy forces in the fight. But the meeting Friday did yield a nine-point joint statement outlining shared goals for a resolution of the Syria crisis.
Al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, traveled to Bahrain the next day and spoke forcefully against the Iranian involvement in Syria, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Manama Dialogue. He set two red lines for any Saudi agreement for a way forward in Syria: that there must be a date and means for the departure of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and that all foreign forces, especially Iranian troops, must leave Syria at the beginning of a political process. Iran has hundreds of fighters in Syria and supports thousands of Hezbollah soldiers.
“It is up to the Iranians whether they want to have relations with us based on good neighborliness, or if they want to have relations that are filled with tension,” he said. “That is on Iran.”
On Monday, Iran threatened to withdraw from the talks because of Al-Jubeir’s comments. Iran’s state-run news agency quoted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as saying: “An inexperienced young man in a regional country will not reach anywhere by rudeness in front of elders.” The comments were widely interpreted to be referring to Al-Jubeir.
In Bahrain on Saturday, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told me that he was cautiously optimistic that the Vienna talks that Kerry spearheaded could bear some fruit. But he said the Saudi position as described by al-Jubeir, requiring Iranian forces to leave Syria at the beginning of the process, would not work.
“Of course, that is not realistically achievable, so therefore everything that comes after as being conditioned on that is slightly hypothetical,” he said. “Nobody walked out, and that in itself is a remarkable achievement. Both for the Iranians and the Saudis it is not easy to have that kind of direct discussion.”
Hammond said the two sides are still “far, far apart on the key question,” which is when Assad will go. Iran and Russia want Assad to be able to stand in new elections while the U.S., European and Arab states don’t believe Assad can be any part of a new political process because, as Hammond said, “he has too much blood on his hands.”
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in Bahrain that eventually Russia will realize its intervention in Syria was a mistake, and the Kremlin will abandon its support for Assad. Most officials and experts at the conference were skeptical of that assessment. Regardless, Russia has signed on to what’s known as the Geneva Communique, which calls for a transition governing body to take over in Syria until credible elections can be held.
Iran has never agreed to the Geneva terms. Notably, the joint statement coming out of Vienna makes no mention of the transitional governing body. It simply states that the U.N. will convene a political process leading to a new constitution and new elections. If that language stands, Iran will have scored a major concession that opens the door for Assad’s continued rule. The U.S., in its effort to bring Iran to the table, may be putting the solution to the Syria war further from reach.
To contact the author of this story:
Josh Rogin at email@example.com
Global reserves could almost double by 2050 despite booming consumption, oil major says
The world is no longer at risk of running out of oil or gas, with existing technology capable of unlocking so much that global reserves would almost double by 2050 despite booming consumption, BP has said.
When taking into account all accessible forms of energy, including nuclear, wind and solar, there are enough resources to meet 20 times what the world will need over that period, David Eyton, BP Group head of technology said.
“Energy resources are plentiful. Concerns over running out of oil and gas have disappeared,” Mr Eyton said at the launch of BP’s inaugural Technology Outlook.
Oil and gas companies have invested heavily in squeezing the maximum from existing reservoirs by using chemicals, super computers and robotics. The halving of oil prices since last June has further dampened their appetite to explore for new resources, with more than $200bn-worth of projects scrapped in recent months.
By applying these technologies, the global proved fossil fuel resources could increase from 2.9 trillion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) to 4.8 trillion boe by 2050, nearly double the projected 2.5 trillion boe required to meet global demand until 2050, BP said.
With new exploration and technology, the resources could leap to a staggering 7.5 trillion boe, Mr Eyton said.
“We are probably nearing the point where potential from additional recovery from discovered reservoir exceeds the potential for exploration.”
- By Sam Webb
A huge bomb was found hidden in plastic casks on the side of the road in the village of Kantyshev
Deadly: The hidden plastic casks with explosives inside CEN
Russian special forces have prevented an ISIS terror attack in the south of Russia after uncovering a huge bomb hidden in plastic casks on the side of the road.
The terror attack was scheduled to take place in the village of Kantyshevo in south-western Russia’s Republic of Ingushetia.
Russian security services said the bomb contained 3.5 tonnes of explosives.
Members of the crew that worked on the operation stated that all the terrorists that were behind the planting of the bomb have been killed. They named the terrorist leaders as Aslan Byutukaev and Beslan Mahauri, both ISIS militants.
They said they had been following the activities of the two men since they discovered they had joined ISIS in summer 2015, and were unwittingly lead to their location by one of the two wives of Beslan, who had been furious when she found he had married a second woman, although a Muslim is allowed up to 4 wives under Islamic marital law.
Security service insiders said the woman’s efforts to find out what he was up to with her love rival, and where the pair were, had led them to his location, and the bomb.
The plastic casks were found buried on the side road, in total amounting to 70 separate items with the capacity of 100 litres each.
According to the security services Byutukaev and Mahauri got financial support for their illicit actions in the region directly from ISIS.
In order to prevent the possible attack, Russian special services had to blow up the casks.
THE HAGUE Chemical weapons experts have determined that mustard gas was used in a Syrian town where Islamic State insurgents were battling another group, according to a report by an international watchdog seen by Reuters.
A confidential Oct. 29 report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a summary of which was shown to Reuters, concluded “with the utmost confidence that at least two people were exposed to sulphur mustard” in the town of Marea, north of Aleppo, on Aug. 21.
“It is very likely that the effects of sulphur mustard resulted in the death of a baby,” it said.
The findings provide the first official confirmation of use of sulphur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas, in Syria since it agreed to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, which included sulphur mustard.
The report did not mention Islamic State, as the fact-finding mission was not mandated to assign blame, but diplomatic sources said the chemical had been used in the clashes between Islamic State and another rebel group taking place in the town at the time.
“It raises the major question of where the sulphur mustard came from,” one source said. “Either they (IS) gained the ability to make it themselves, or it may have come from an undeclared stockpile overtaken by IS. Both are worrying options.”
Syria is supposed to have completely surrendered the toxic chemicals 18 months ago. Their use violates U.N. Security Council resolutions and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.
The findings were part of three reports released to members of the OPCW last week. They add to a growing body of evidence that the Islamic State group has obtained, and is using, chemical weapons in both Iraq and Syria.
Kurdish authorities said earlier this month that Islamic State fighters fired mortar rounds containing mustard agent at Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq during clashes in August. They said blood samples taken from around 35 fighters who were exposed in the attack southwest of the regional capital of Erbil showed “signatures” of mustard gas.
A team of OPCW experts has been sent to Iraq to confirm the findings and is expected to obtain its own samples later this month, one diplomat said.
As the air group of the Russian Air and Space Forces is bombing facilities of Islamic State ever more intensively, the information war against Moscow is developing more heavily. The Western media are still stating that, as a result of activities by Russian Air and Space Forces, civilians of Syria are being killed. Today Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met the United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, and called for the organization not to use unapproved data on the Russian operation in Syria.
As Maria Zakharova, Representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, explained: “Almost on a daily basis we hear repetitive statements of our American colleagues, who say that Russia is allegedly attacking the wrong targets in Syria. A few days ago it was mentioned by the U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, who stressed that Russia was attacking opponents of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad rather than ISIS targets. However, we register the absence of precise information which the State Department could present during regular briefings. You recently saw that official representatives of the U.S. State Department avoided answering, i.e. they simply couldn’t answer the question about what hospitals and civil facilities were mentioned by American officials who accused Russia of destroying civil infrastructure.”
According to Zakharova, it’s like a vicious circle: “At first, American officials say that Russia is attacking ‘the wrong targets and striking civilian infrastructure’, then their statements are quoted by the media. And then our specific questions, in particular, the State Department spokesman spoke about it at the briefing, confirming the alleged information that the US had concerning the targets which were attacked by the Russian aerospace forces, answered that this information is taken from public sources, in particular from the media.
At first, information is thrown to the media with reference to unknown sources in Pentagon, the State Department, and other structures; then it is confirmed by statements by the Ambassador, State Department officials; then it is published by the media; and then American officials refer to journalist materials.”
Zakharova calls the tactics “pure information propaganda”: “The closure between officials and the media disorients society, while we are being blamed without any facts or data. Until now, we have not received official information from Washington. Everything begins and ends in the public sphere, at briefings and press conferences.”
The Representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry notes that Moscow has many times asked the U.S. to present data on the so-called moderate Syrian opposition: “The US blames us for working on these targets all the time, destroying their infrastructure and killing representatives of the opposition. We requested information on the moderate opposition, but no one responded to us. It seems the information is kept secret intentionally to have grounds for criticizing us and accusing us of attacking representatives of the opposition. The beginning of practical contacts between the Russian military and representatives of the Syrian opposition will ruin the usual American theory that Russia is attacking the armed opposition rather than ISIS. Our Western partners didn’t want to present the necessary data to us, but we managed to find them ourselves, building necessary contacts. And that’s how we will work.”
Zakharova says that the important point is the establishment of direct contacts between the Russian Defense Ministry and representatives of several armed groups in Syria which hold positions of non-acceptance of terrorism and extremism. It allowed to proceed to the practical coordination of activities with them, including in delivering strikes on terrorists. “After the terrorist groups were driven out of a number of important areas, the return of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons to their homes became possible, which is confirmed by the UN sources, United Nations sources. At the same time, terrorist groups still retain significant potential, being able to regularly replenish their needs in manpower and weaponry. Militants stubbornly oppose government forces, in some areas they are moving to a counteroffensive, making changes to tactics in order to minimize their losses as a result of strikes of the aerospace forces of Russia,” Zakharova states.
Speaking about the prospects of a political process between the Syrian government and the opposition, she said: “During the preparation for the next meeting of the ‘Group of Syria’s support’ in Vienna, in contact with leading international and regional players, we intend to work towards development of a common and unambiguous understanding of which of the existing armed groups in Syria are terrorist, as well as to clarify the situation regarding a joint delegation from the Syrian opposition for talks with the authorities of Syria, as was described in the Geneva communiqué of June 30, 2012.”