American Resistance To Empire

Obama’s Jihad In Syria Pushing Patriotic Military Minds Towards Thoughts of Mutiny

US investigative reporter Seymour Hersh dropped a seasonal bombshell in the London Review of Books when he wrote that the Pentagon had indirectly shared intelligence with the Syrian military via the German, Russian and Israeli agencies.

Hersh began by arguing that senior US officers took such action because they were fed up with the Obama administration’s insistence on the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the existence of “moderate” armed groups capable of doing the job. (I take issue with his including of Israel in the group of intermediaries as Israel has been backing Al Qaeda’s Jabhat Al Nusra against the Syrian army in the Kuneitra-Golan area).

President Barack Obama announced on August 18, 2011, that Assad had to go and took steps to support the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), established under Turkey’s patronage, on July 29 by seven or eight defecting middle-ranking Syrian army officers without troops.

At that time, the Syrian regular army was engaged in intermittent clashes with armed groups formed by local gang leaders whose aim was to oust the government. Since many of these groups were largely armed (and later paid) by expatriate Syrian businessmen, they had a reputation of being “moderate”, that is, not identified as Sunni fundamentalist.

Other groups, supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and militant salafists, were not seen as a taqfiri threat, that is, also “moderate”.

Some claimed identification with the FSA to secure US and Turkish largesse. (It is significant that the expatriate opposition “Syrian National Council” (SNC), modelled on the Iraqi National Council that partnered the US during the Bush era, was set up in August 2011, again by Ankara).

However, the FSA did not topple Assad and intermittent battles became a war for the existence of Syria.

Hersh reminds us that during the summer of 2013, a “highly classified document” drafted by the US Defence Intelligence Agency and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed by General Martin Dempsey who had served in Iraq during 2003-04, predicted that if Assad were to fall, there would be chaos in Syria that could be exploited by taqfiri groups determined to seize territory.

The result would be a situation similar to that in Libya, where Western airpower helped rebels topple the Qadhafi regime without ensuring a line of succession.

By the summer of 2013, the US Central Intelligence Agency, Turkey and allied regional powers had, for some time, been transferring arms to alleged “moderates” who were selling them or defecting to Al Nusra, which had entered the conflict in early 2012, and Daesh, which joined in 2013.

The Obama administration was repeatedly warned by Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, about what Hersh called “the dire” consequences of toppling Assad.

“The jihadists were in control of the opposition,” Flynn told Hersh.

“If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic. We understood Isis’s [Daesh’s] long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State [Daesh] inside Syria.”

Flynn said the administration “did not want to hear the truth”.

Hersh’s article appeared after Dempsey’s retirement, in September; he, like former army chief, General Eric Shinseki, warned an administration against a wrong-headed policy.

At the time, Shinseki warned the George W. Bush administration against invading and occupying Iraq without deploying the hundreds of thousands of boots-on-the-ground needed to provide security for a country of Iraq’s size and population.

He also retired at a key moment in the Iraq debacle: June 11, 2003. In November 2006, when it was clear that Iraq adventure was a disaster.

Central Command head General John Abizaid testified before Congress that Shinseki had been correct.

Too little, too late.

Unfortunately, Dempsey was succeeded by General Joseph Dunford who claimed that the greatest threat to the US comes from Russia and dismissed Russia’s intervention in Syria as “not fighting [Daesh]”.

He commanded Marines in the invasion of Iraq, served 22 months there [as Al Qaeda took root in the country] and should know better than to cite Russia as the main “existential threat” to the US.

He is, clearly, the Obama administration’s choice for the top job as he plays ball with its side.

Ever since August 18, 2011, when he called on Assad to step aside, Obama has failed to spell out how control over Syria was to be exercised.

The FSA has always been “non-existent” as a force, consisting of thousands of troops with command-and-control, and the SNC (and its successor the Syrian National Coalition) have no support inside Syria.

Obama has no intention of sending troops and administrators to occupy and rule Syria, as Bush did Iraq, providing the breeding ground for Al Qaeda and Daesh.

The Obama administration has also ignored or soft pedalled connections between immoderate fundamentalist Ahrar Al Sham and Nusra, in Idlib province, as well as between groups claiming to be FSA and Daesh, notably in the southern Damascus suburbs of Yarmouk and Hajar Al Aswad.

It is interesting to note that Hersh’s article was not picked up by the New York Times or Washington Post, the two most read newspapers in the White House.

Democracy Now carried an interview with Hersh and Russia Today an in-depth article, while United Press International and other outlets had reports on the article.

Presumably Hersh’s accusations against the Obama administration did get through to Obama himself.

The problem with Hersh, for US policymakers, is that he normally turns out to be right and they wrong.

The First Cracks Appear In Pakistani Peace Ploy

[Kabul Hosting US/China Sponsored Afghan Peace Talk Meeting Which Excludes India]

Pakistan contradicts Afghanistan on venue of next talks on Taliban

daily star LEB

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani official said on Wednesday that talks on how to restart a tentative peace dialogue with Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents would be held in Islamabad next month, contradicting an Afghan statement that they would be in Kabul.

The confusion over the venue highlighted the fraught, multi-country process to coax the Taliban to the bargaining table and end more than 14 years of war since the U.S.-backed intervention to break the hard-line Islamist movement’s grip in Afghanistan.

“Between Jan. 10 and Jan. 15, the first meeting will take place in Islamabad, not in Kabul,” Sartaj Aziz, senior adviser on foreign affairs to Pakistan’s prime minister, told a press conference.

He said the meeting, involving officials from the United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, had been decided on this month when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Islamabad at the Heart of Asia conference.

On Tuesday, an official in Ghani’s office said the talks would be held next week in Kabul, following the weekend visit of powerful Pakistani military chief, General Raheel Sharif.

The reason for the contradictory statements was not immediately clear and Afghan officials could not be reached. Neither side has said Taliban representatives themselves would attend.

Diplomats have been working to revive the nascent peace process, which broke down in July following an initial round, after which news was leaked of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar more than two years earlier.

The United States and China, which is planning to invest billions in Pakistan, have both pushed for peace talks.

However, some Afghan officials have opposed Pakistan hosting the talks, accusing their nuclear-armed neighbor of harboring Taliban leaders and sponsoring the insurgency for its own regional strategy.

Pakistan rejects the accusation and says it has also suffered heavily from terrorism. On Tuesday, at least 23 people were killed and 75 wounded when a suicide bomber attacked a government office in northwestern Pakistan.

The Taliban, which has grown in strength this year following the withdrawal of most foreign troops, has so far ruled out taking part in any talks as long as foreign troops remain in Afghanistan.

But the movement has splintered into rival factions since the 2013 death of Mullah Omar was announced, with many rejecting the authority of the new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour.


Exposure To Guerilla Warfare Increases Risk of PTSD

Guerilla Tactics Tied to Greater PTSD Risk for Vets

psyche central

Guerilla Warfare Linked to Greater Risk for PTSD in VeteransVeterans who have faced guerilla warfare tactics, such as suicide attacks and roadside bombs, are at greater risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than those who fought in more conventional warfare, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The findings are published in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

The study identified three distinct phases of the Iraq War, based on previous reports. The researchers analyzed whether veterans who fought during the insurgency phase — a time in which more guerilla-style tactics were used — were more likely to develop PTSD than those who deployed during the initial invasion phase of the war, or the more recent surge phase.

The study involved 738 men and women who served in Iraq. The researchers found that among the men (about half of the group), the insurgency-phase veterans were more than twice as likely to have a diagnosis of PTSD, compared with those who served in either of the other two phases.

The results remained strong even after the researchers adjusted for a range of other demographic and deployment-related risk factors.

The findings did not apply to the women in the study, although the reasons for this are unclear. Referring to other studies, the researchers say there may be a somewhat different mix of factors that contribute to PTSD in female service members and veterans.

The team, led by Dr. Jonathan Green, is with the Behavioral Science Division of the National Center for PTSD, based at the VA Boston Healthcare System, and with Boston University School of Medicine. In the study, they write that overall the findings suggest that specific enemy combat tactics may be undervalued in understanding what drives PTSD.

“Assessment of the nature of combat may be useful in research and in clinical settings,” the stated.

The researchers also asserted that the comparatively high rates of PTSD among Vietnam War veterans may be explained, at least in part, by taking into account the type of enemy tactics those troops experienced. The researchers compare that war, on the whole, to the insurgency phase of the Iraq conflict.

Prior research aimed at comparing PTSD rates between different wars didn’t allow researchers to control for shifting generational norms and differing social and political climates. Because of this, the researchers chose to focus their analysis only on the Iraq War.

Still, they acknowledge there are other factors not included in the study that could affect PTSD rates, such as the intensity of combat or social or political factors that changed even during the course of the Iraq War.

Source: Veterans Affairs Research Communications
Soldier in combat photo by shutterstock.

Russia accuses U.S. of protecting ISIS

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. (Maxim Shipenkov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. (Maxim Shipenkov/Pool Photo via AP)

The Russian Defense Ministry is accusing the Pentagon of fighting the Islamic State in ‘word only’ after the U.S. military refused to share targeting and intelligence information with Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Pentagon spokeswoman Michelle Baldanza recently said the U.S. would not “cooperate with Russia on Syria until they change their strategy of supporting Assad and instead focus on ISIL.”

That posture drew the ire of the Russian military.

“The hackneyed thesis has once again confirmed that the Pentagon will fight against IS in word only, instead of taking real action,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

“The statement by the US Defense Department spokesperson Michelle Baldanza about the [U.S.’s] refusal from any cooperation in the fight against Islamic State is a broken record, and it’s high time to change it.”

The Russian Defense Ministry went on to say the new routes run through the north-western regions of Iraq, which “are in the focus of constant attention of the United States…We publicly told our American colleagues that it is necessary not to discuss the IS activities in Iraq, but to take real action to block the terrorists’ sources of income in the region,” Konashenkov said.

On December 25, Sergey Rudskoy told journalists that Russian intelligence found almost 12,000 tank/delivery trucks on the Turkish-Iraqi border near Zakho, where the ‘eastern’ oil smuggling route used by the Islamic State terrorist group runs.

“As of the time the imagery was shot, there were 11,775 tank and delivery trucks on both sides of the Turkish-Iraqi border in the vicinity of Zakho, with 4,530 of them in Turkey and 7,250 in Iraq,” he added. “It is worth mentioning that oil extracted both in Iraq and in Syria is smuggled via the checkpoint there,” he added.

In short, Russia is accusing the United States and Turkey of allowing oil to continue to be smuggled into Turkey from ISIS controlled areas in Syria and Iraq. In not providing targeting information for these transport routes, Russia is accusing the US of protecting the ISIS revenue stream from Russian airstrikes.

Timeline of Afghanistan’s Peace Parade Extravaganza

Sep 22, 2015–Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour ‘open to talks’ – BBC …

Jul 29, 2015–

July 24, 2015–China to Host Next Afghan-Taliban Talks…to…taliban…talks/2876960.html

Jul 12, 2015–Hamid Karzai seen as increasing threat to Afghanistan’s … › World › Afghanistan

Jul 7, 2015–Afghan delegation travels to Pakistan for first known talks … › World › Afghanistan

May 25, 2015–Taliban and Afghan Peace Officials Have Secret Talks in ……/taliban-and-afghan-peace-offici…The New York Times

May 2, 2015–Taliban and Afghan officials hold ‘reconciliation’ talks in Qatar › World › Afghanistan

May 1, 2015–Afghan delegation heads to Qatar for talks with the Taliban … › World › Afghanistan

01 May 2015–Pakistan Condemns Afghan Taliban; Ghani: Let Taliban Be Part of Peace Talks

Pakistan Condemns Afghan Taliban; Ghani: Let Taliban Be Part of Peace Talks; India Rejects U.S. Religious Freedom Report

Feb 23, 2015–Afghanistan reported close to direct peace talks with Taliban ……/la-fg-afghanistan-peace-talks-tali…

Feb 12, 2015–Quest For Afghan Stability: China and Pakistan Join Hands

Dec. 28, 2014–combat mission in Afghanistan is ending

June 15 2014–Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in North Waziristan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border

June 1, 2014–US-Taliban prisoner exchange will help peace: Afghan official

May 31, 2014–GOP blasts Obama for Taliban negotiation | TheHill…/207835-republicans-blast-obama-for-negotiating-…

Apr 17, 2014–Taliban negotiator under house arrest in UAE, says … – Dawn    Agha Jan Mutassim

Mar 26, 2014–Pakistan holds peace talks with Taliban:
–The Pakistani government opened its first direct talks with the Pakistan Taliban today

Feb 28, 2014–Pakistan: Informal Afghan Peace Talks Are ‘A Good Start’…afghan-peace…/1861531.html

Nov 30, 2013–Karzai-Sharif Talks: In Pursuit of a Common Ground on …

November 28, 2013–Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, four-star rank army general, retires as Pak. Army Chief of Staff

General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani retires on November 28

Nov 23, 2013–Afghan high peace council receive special Taliban message by Baradar

Nov 2, 2013–US drone kills leader of Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah

30 October 2013–Afghan Peace Team to Visit Taliban Commander

Oct 30, 2013–Afghan officials to visit Pakistan for talks with former Taliban leader

Sept 21, 2013–Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process

July 23, 2013–Taliban Political Office in Qatar

July 9, 2013–Taliban close Qatar office to protest flag fracas

June 21, 2013–Afghan Negotiators Boycott Talks With Taliban
–The Afghan government says the Taliban is not interested in peace but in taking control of the country

June 19, 2013–Karzai withdrawal from Afghan peace talks leaves tough road ahead

Jun 19, 2013–US to hold landmark peace talks with the Taliban

Jun 18, 2013–Taliban Agrees to Join Peace Talks with U.S.

Jun 16, 2013–‘The Americans have been Dishonest Negotiators’

‘The Americans have been Dishonest Negotiators’ says Afghan Militants’ Representative

May 1, 2013–Afghanistan peace negotiator killed in bombing

March 18, 2013–Karzai Opponents In Talks With Taliban

Afghan negotiator welcomes release of Taliban
–Afghan peace negotiators have welcomed the release of eight Taliban prisoners who had been held in Pakista

Jan 1, 2013–Top Afghan negotiator optimistic over peace process
–Mohammad Masoon Stanekzai A senior Afghan high peace council official said he was cautiously optimistic

Nov 16, 2012–Pakistan may release senior Taliban leader Mullah Baradar

Oct 4, 2012–Peace Talks With the Taliban

01 September 2012–Talks with [Pakistan] govt suspended: TTP leader
–“Senior militant commander, Maulvi Faqir, has said that his group has called off talks with the government which was ‘playing tricks’…
–‘The government contacted me and some other TTP leaders through intermediaries.'”

May 13, 2012–Afghan peace negotiator Arsala Rahmani shot dead

Apr 06, 2012–Govt. peace negotiator killed in Kunar bombing
Maulvi Mohammad Hashim Munib

Dec 18, 2011–Afghanistan Taliban ready to open political headquarters ……/taliban-ready-to-open-political-he…
National Post

Nov 1, 2011–Turkey wants Afghan-Pakistan summit to reduce mistrust

Sep 21, 2011–Top Afghan Peace Negotiator Killed
Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani

Aug 12, 2011–Afghanistan peace talks go quiet
Peace negotiations between Taliban and US stall as Taliban negotiator goes missing.

10 Aug 2011–Secret peace talks between US and Taliban collapse over leaks
–” the identity of the Taliban’s chief negotiator were deliberately leaked by ‘paranoid’ Afghan government figures… held in Germany and Qatar earlier this year between Tayeb Agha, Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s former private secretary, and senior officials from the US State Department and Central Intelligence Agency.”

May 25, 2011–Lashing Out, Karzai Says U.S. Is Talking to the Taliban

Jan 16, 2011–New Leaders for the Taliban

Nov 22, 2010–Taliban Leader in Peace Talks Was an Impostor

Sep 5, 2010–Karzai established HPC

Apr 2, 2010–Col. Imam: An Alternative View of the Afghan Campaign

–“Earlier in 2010 Brig. Tarar broke silence giving rare interviews to local Pakistani, Western (New York Times) and Russian (Russian TV) media. The main cause of these interviews seem to be part of a Taliban attempt to deal with the new American strategy, that moves to convince the ‘people of Afghanistan’ to withdraw from the fight, lay down their arms and accept NATO’s terms.”

March 26, 2010–Col. Imam and former ISI official Khalid Khwaja were kidnapped on their way to North Waziristan by a previously unknown militant group calling themselves the Asian Tigers

Who killed the ex-ISI official?

Mar. 10, 2010–Mustafa Zahir Shah (SEE: Pakistan, US agree on new Afghan set-up).],-us-agree-on-new-afghan-set-up
–“Islamabad has agreed to untangle the complicated jihadist network fabricated by General Ziaul Haq in 1979…Pakistan has already started delivering and brick-by-brick demolition of Jehadi infrastructure has already set in motion…The arrests of top Taliban commanders from Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar two weeks ago to Abu Yehya Gadan over the weekend is a testament to Islamabad’s sincere commitment with this new approach.”

Feb. 12, 2010–Marja offensive launched

Feb. 6, 2010–Baradar arrested in Karachi by Pakistan and CIA

January 25, 2010–Pakistan’s former spymaster: U.S. must talk to Mullah Omar

June 21, 2009–Operation Rah-e-Nijat South Waziristan area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas

How Does Putin Plan To Help Afghan Govt. Fight Taliban and Taliban Fight Daesh?

[It remains to be seen just how Putin will strike a balance between helping Afghan govt. to fight Taliban and helping Taliban to fight Daesh.  Afghanistan is slated to become center-ring of the “terror war” circus.  The fireworks will be going off in every direction in the new year.]

Moscow to Supply Arms, Ammunition to Kabul

afghan spirit

Russia will deliver to Afghanistan in January a batch of small arms for police officers, Russian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Director of the 2nd Asia Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Zamir Kabulov said.

According to him, arms supplies from Russia are a significant factor contributing to normalizing the situation in Afghanistan.

“At present, Russian agencies consider a number of corresponding requests from the Afghan side,” the presidential envoy told Russian media on Tuesday.

“In particular, the issue of the supply of 10,000 AK-47 (assault rifles) with rounds to them through the Russian Interior Ministry has been practically decided. The batch is expected to be supplied in January 2016,” the official said.

“Negotiations are currently underway on the commercial supplies of Russian helicopter equipment to Afghanistan,” he added.

“Russia has been consistently pursuing the policy of providing comprehensive assistance to Afghanistan in the establishment of a peaceful, independent, stable and self-sufficient state, free from terrorism and drugs,” Kabulov said.

“We support the national reconciliation line of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We are ready to flexibly approach the issues related to the possible weakening of the sanctions regime according to the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1988 against the Taliban, if it is not contrary to the national interests of Afghanistan.”

Last week, Kabulov said that Moscow was dramatically changing its position on the Taliban in Afghanistan. From now on, they are not an enemy for Russia any more. Moreover, they even become Moscow’s partners in a sense. “The interests of the Taliban in the fight against Daesh in Afghanistan are in line with Russian objectives,” the Russian presidential special envoy said.

Kabul Hosting US/China Sponsored Afghan Peace Talk Meeting Which Excludes India

[It seems that the US and China have not only forced Afghan President Ghani to stoically embrace all of the Pakistani Taliban who have been flushed into Afghanistan by the Pak Army’s concept of an anti-Taliban “operation,” but also to accept overall Pakistani domination.  The exclusion of India from this attempt by superpowers to dictate terms for a regional peace on the subcontinent confirms that Pakistan has received its every wish, none more desired than the exclusion of India from Afghanistan.  Abandonmen of the TAPI “pipe dream” should be one of the early manifestations of this new superpower paradigm. 

The great unknown variable in this new power configuration will be Russian and Iranian reactions to this double-crossing of their Northern Alliance allies.  Will they confine their responses to border reinforcements, needed to counter the anticipated influx of persecuted Taliban, or should we expect a more sinister response from them?  That will probably be determined by the ongoing US/Russian proxy war in Syria.]

Kabul To Host Key Meeting On Peace Talks

The Afghan Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced that Kabul will host a key meeting on peace talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan, United States and China next week.

Foreign Ministery Deputy Spokesperson Khairullah Azad said the decision to hold the meeting was taken during the recent visit of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif to Kabul.

“It was decided that a meeting among Afghan, Pakistani, American and Chinese officials should be held in the first few days of January in order to map out the way forward for the peace talks [between the Afghan government and the Taliban],” he said.

About goals of the meeting, he said: “The talks will involve those militants that are interested in peace talks; while other [militant] groups will be fought jointly.”

A member of the High Peace Council (HPC), Haji Din Mohammad, who attended the first round of the peace talks, said the meeting will determine the mechanisms of the talks.

“The mechanisms of the peace talks will be fixed in the meeting and it will be decided what steps should be taken,” he said.

“The meeting will talk about ways of building trust between the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban – also [trust] between Pakistan’s government and Pakistani Taliban.”

This comes after a close source to President Ashraf Ghani told TOLOnews that the president drew three redlines regarding peace talks with the Taliban during his meeting on Sunday with Sharif.

In this meeting, Ghani reportedly laid down the law and said discussions need to be clear on three points – the protection of democratic institutions; Pakistan needs to give its honest cooperation regarding peace and that the Taliban should join the talks from the position of a group and not as a parallel government or Islamic Emirate, the source said Monday.

Referring to this, Din Mohammad said: “Afghan government cannot wait for an agreement among Taliban’s different groups in order to come to Afghanistan and talk about peace. Reports reveal that rifts among Taliban have increased, therefore the president said that Kabul is ready to talk with those who are ready for peace.”

Meanwhile, Pakistani officials have said that Ghani and Sharif have agreed to both fight the war on terror, to resume peace talks and to exchange intelligence information.

Russian Diplomat Gives Stark Reassessment of Taliban and Taliban Opposition

Russian diplomat notes rivalry of Taliban, Islamic State in Afghanistan

tass russian news

The Islamic State is trying to “swallow” other extremist groups, redistribute sources of income, including drug trafficking

Afghan Taliban fightersAfghan Taliban fighters © AP Photo

MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. The relations between the Taliban movement and the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization can be described as rivalry, Russian special presidential envoy on Afghanistan, Foreign Ministry’s second Asian department director Zamir Kabulov told TASS on Tuesday.

“The rapid growth of this group [IS] that appeared in Afghanistan in summer of 2014, its intention to ‘swallow’ other extremist groups, draw militants of all kinds into its ranks, in particular Taliban fighters themselves, redistribute sources of income, including such lucrative sources as drug trafficking – all these factors are very worrying for the Taliban leadership,” Kabulov said.

“The Taliban movement has been strengthening its positions across Afghanistan lately, including in the north of the country,” he continued. “They demonstrate intentions to establish full and stable control over separate regions and make attempts to seize administrative centers,” he added reminding that the Taliban took control over the provincial center, Kunduz, for several days in September for the first time since 2001.

“ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – former name of IS], in turn, demonstrates a hostile position toward Taliban leaders,” Kabulov said. “In April 2015 IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made accusations against Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Several days later media reported that IS and Taliban proclaimed jihad against each other. In spring-summer of 2015 two groups clashed in different Afghan provinces several times,” he added.

After reports about Mullah Omar’s death at the end of July followed by new leader Akhtar Mansour’s death at the beginning of December, the confrontation has flared up, the diplomat said adding that among contributing factors were the disagreements that arose inside the Taliban movement. Some Taliban fighters led by Mullah Mohammad Rasool set up the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate in November 2015 and launched an armed offensive against Mansour’s supporters, relying on help from IS units.

“There are now clashes between different Taliban groups and between Taliban fighters and ISIL,” Kabulov concluded.

Militants’ activity on Afghan border with CIS states causes alarm

According to Zamir Kabulov, extremists have intensified their activity in the northern areas of Afghanistan close to the borders with member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which causes growing alarm.

“Extremists are active virtually in all areas of Afghanistan but their activity in the north, close to the borders with our CIS Central Asian partners, cause our greatest concern,” Director of the Second Asia Department at Russia’s Foreign Ministry Zamir Kabulov said.

The Russian president’s special envoy said it was especially alarming that “militants are gaining foothold on territories and in populated areas bordering on Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.”

“By now, Taliban militants have allied with other extremist organizations to establish two strongholds amassing large groups of gunmen – one in the north-east (the provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar and Kunduz) and the other in the north-west (the provinces of Jowzjan, Faryab and Badghis),” Kabulov said.

“The number of extremists in north Afghanistan totals about 15,000. There are fears that the militants will try to break into the north, the territory of Central Asian states from Afghanistan. We’re especially concerned over the Turkmen direction where the militants have come close to the border,” he added.

“As of now, the situation in Afghanistan is characterized as extremely tense and unstable and there can be seen no prospects for its radical improvement,” the high-placed diplomat said.

According to Afghan experts, “there are areas in 27 out of 34 provinces in the country with the high and extremely high security threat. Large forces of armed opposition militants are engaging ever more frequently in direct fighting with government troops and seizing whole districts and intensifying terrorist attacks in large administrative centers, including Kabul, using home-made explosive devices and suicide bombers,” the Russian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan said.

Literally several days ago, the center of Kabul was subjected to a rocket attack and at least two rockets fell in the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital, Kabulov said.

A day before that, a suicide bomber on a motorbike attacked a joint patrol of US and Afghan servicemen near the Bagram airfield, killing six US soldiers and wounding another three. At present, large-scale combat operations are continuing between the Afghan government troops and militants in the province of Helmand. According to local authorities, today militants are controlling up to 20% of the territory of this strategically important province, the Russian diplomat said.

“The situation in Afghanistan is further aggravated by the growing influence of militants from the Islamic State terrorist organization whose emissaries appeared there over a year ago,” Kabulov said.

“It is not a secret that the IS is nurturing plans to create the Islamic Caliphate on the territory of Afghanistan, Central Asian and some other states in the region,” the Russian president’s special envoy said.

Troops Still Waiting For Orders To Launch Helmand Operation


Embattled Afghan security forces in the southern province of Helmand said Sunday they are still waiting for orders from the central government to launch military operations in various parts of the province.

The security forces have warned that more areas in the province could collapse to the Taliban unless a quick and decisive action is taken to eliminate the Taliban.

TOLOnews correspondents Wali Arian and Abdullah Hamim who are embedded with troops in the volatile province report from the battlefield that security forces have raised their concerns about the deteriorating situation and lack of orders.

Forces on the ground have said that the Taliban even poses a threat to Lashkargah – the capital of the province.

“The situation is critical here. Taliban operate in many villages around here. Last night Taliban attacked our base,” an Afghan National Army soldier on the frontline told TOLOnews.

“We are still waiting the order for war – right now there is no problem in terms of military hardware, we have heavy weapons. But we are waiting orders,” another soldier said.

Meanwhile, security forces in Nad-e-Ali district have also said that they too are awaiting orders to launch a decisive operation against Taliban in the area.

“There is three to four kilometer distance to the center of the province and there is no other security belt except this,” an officer of the Afghan border police said.

“So far we have not received the order to launch an operation. The order for an operation is related to the high level officials and does not belong to us; we have to obey orders. We joined the army to serve and defend and move ahead and not slide backwards,” another soldier said.

Helmand province, once a Taliban stronghold in the south, has been under frequent attack by the Taliban over the past fourteen years – reportedly because of it being a good income provider as it is the key poppy growing area in the country.

Syria Kills Replacement Leader for Jaish al-Islam, After Killing Previous Supremo Aloush Yesterday

Essam al-Boudani, yang juga dikenal sebagai Abu Hamam

Jeish al-Islam: Not 24 Hours Substitute Zahran Allouch Also Killed


Islam-Institute, DAMASCUSSyrian forces hunted down and raided the headquarters of Jeish al-Islam, and the troops had killed a number of terrorists were expected to the latest leader of the terror group were also among the dead.

FNA reported on Saturday (27/12) yesterday that Essam al-Boudani, Zahran substitute Aallouch who died less than 24 hours after being elected were among those killed in the terror group’s headquarters in Douma, south of Damascus, the Syrian army incursion.

“The hideout commanders Jeish al-Islam that the new, Essam al-Boudani, also known as Abu Hamam, in Hajjariyeh, Douma besieged by the Syrian army,” a military source said on Saturday afternoon, “the Syrian forces received information from source- as intelligence sources about the hiding place of al-Boudani this morning, “he added.

“A number of the new commander of the guard were also killed or injured in the attack, the terrorist group’s head office has been completely destroyed,” he explained. The source said that the fate of al-Boudani itself until now could not be confirmed completely.

On Friday last, supreme commander Jeish al Islam, Zahran Allouch, a man known for kesadisannya in announcing the ethnic cleansing in Syria, was killed in an air strike Syrian forces in East Ghouta, Damascus.

Previous rumors that Zahran Allouch killed in Russian air attacks, but later confirmed that the Air Force turns Syrian army is the party that has carried out the attack that killed the commander Zahran Allouch and several other terrorist forces are.

A few hours after the death of Zahran Allouch, officials Jeish al-Islam held an emergency meeting to elect a new leader. Among the 12 deputy commander and aide-aide Zahran Allouch, elected as leader Jeish al-Islam is Essam al-Boudani. But not until 24 hours after the election of Essam al-Boudani, it seems he must surrender to death at the hands of Syrian forces. (AL / ARN)

The American Strategy of Planned Incompetence In Iraq and Afghanistan

[Obama staged both the Afghan and the Iraq withdrawals in such a rushed manner as to guarantee that the inadequately trained national armies could not survive the immediate future without American reinforcements and air support.  His ploy to complete a promised “Afghan withdrawal of American forces in 2014” ensured that the Taliban would have time to “re-incubate” before he left office.  The same goes for Iraq, we hobbled Iraq, disbanded its real army, and nearly completed training a new army of rejects, just in time for the new army of ISIS to reenter Iraq and prove the Army’s incompetence and cowardice.  We destroyed two national armies, in order to replace them with armies of toy soldiers, while we rebuilt a truly modern force to challenge them, a real guerilla army in Syria and Iraq.  We did for ISIS what we could have done for Iraq to begin with.  Why not merge the tragedies of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, using ISIS as an instrument of agitation? 

ISIS is the American terrorist spearhead and Central Asia the soft underbelly.

Taliban have already crossed the Amu Darya River that separates Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, overpowering the Turkmen border guards (SEE: The militants ‘Taliban’ locked up on the island of TurkmenistanMilitants recaptured the village border with Turkmenistan ; Turkmen gas – under US control ).]

“Nabil cited the example of the violent southern province of Helmand where hi-tech surveillance balloons used by U.S.-led forces were removed as foreign bases shut.
‘There were 65 spy balloons in Helmand that could detect if someone was carrying a weapon on the back of a motorbike.'”
Afghan spy chief laments intelligence vacuum as foreign troops leaveDec 17, 2014

Helmand provincial council members on Thursday said that the lack of security balloons, after foreign troop’s withdrawal in the province, has led to the increase in Taliban activity in the province.

During the time of foreign troops presence, Sangin province alone is reported to have had at least 65 security balloons, said officials. But following foreign troops withdrawal late 2014, these balloons were removed, they added.

Sources told TOLOnews however that security forces have neutralized a large part of the activities of the Taliban in Helmand and other parts of the country but Afghan intelligence agencies still need detection devices and other facilities to monitor the insurgent group’s activities.

Despite hundreds of foreign troops still being in the province, Helmand has witnessed large scale Taliban attacks in recent weeks. However, the group was reportedly kept under control while balloons were in the air.

But officials say the situation in Helmand at the moment is serious. They claim the Taliban has made gains on districts in the province.

Before the attack on Sangin district, the Taliban is believed to have carried out an attack on Camp Bastion in Shorab district.

“We have always complained about a lack of cooperation between Afghan securities forces in Helmand. In the past we had enough facilities beside balloons to fight Taliban in Helmand – facilities no longer in place,” said Bashir Ahmad Shaker the head of Helmand’s provincial council security committee.

In the early years up to 855 large and small bases of foreign troops in Afghanistan were engaged in activities against terrorists and in other intelligence activities but with the handover of security responsibility to Afghans a large part of their facilities were transferred out of the country, officials said.

“We have advanced in Sangin district and we have broken the Taliban siege. And Taliban operational head in Helmand Mullah Nasir along with 50 other Taliban were killed,” MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Thursday.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Defense talked about the advancement of Afghan forces in Helmand especially in Sangin district and said there was good coordination among the security institutions.

“At the moment we have our operations against the terrorists in seven provinces and we have lots of advancement in Helmand and we are trying to not harm civilians,” said Dawlat Waziri MoD spokesman.

Taliban have played an active roldein Helmand for a number of years – especially as it is a key opium producing hub.

Male Syrian Migrants Should Be Defending Their Homes Against ISIS

Milos Zeman says children, the old and sick deserve compassion but young single men fleeing Middle East should stay behind and take up arms

Milos Zeman’s Christmas message was criticised by the Czech prime minister
Milos Zeman’s Christmas message was criticised by the Czech prime minister Photograph: isifa/Getty Images  Agence France-Presse in Prague

The Czech president, Milos Zeman, has called the movement of refugees into Europe “an organised invasion” and declared that young men from Syria and Iraq should stay in their countries to “take up arms” against Isis.

“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organised invasion and not a spontaneous movement of refugees,” said Zeman in his Christmas message to the Czech Republic.

Compassion was “possible” for refugees who were old or sick, and for children, he said but not for young men who should be back home fighting against jihadists.

“A large majority of the illegal migrants are young men in good health and single. I wonder why these men are not taking up arms to go fight for the freedom of their countries against the Islamic State,” said Zeman, who was elected Czech president in early 2013.

Fleeing their war-torn countries only served to strengthen Isis, he said.

The 71-year-old evoked a comparison to the situation of Czechs who left their country when it was under Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945.



sons of malcolm

A few comments by myself: Syria has faced and continues to face, as it says in this meme from Malcolm X Movement, the COMBINED forces of global imperialism and its regional allies and connected supremacist death squads since early 2011. As we know from many sources not least Gen Wesley Clark’s admission that Syria was on the imperialist target list, and that the Brits had a similar plan to destroy Syria way back in 1957. So for nearly five years this massive barrage has been visited upon the Syrian people, who their leadership and regional and global allies have fought back this onslaught.

They did so with the help of the Iranians, Hizbullah and most recently the Russian airstrikes which has been in THIS phase of the Syrian Resistance THE crucial strategic ingredient, as the Resistance was being forced back by the incessant influx of death squads coming in especially from the Syrian-Turkish border. The Syrian-Russian partnership in this Syrian defensive war of liberation has in the past month or so reversed the trajectory of the liberation war, has terrified the Turks and their Nato backers, has taken considerable territory away from the death squads and has got imperialism clamouring to cut their losses, losses which are taking place day by day.

Compounded by the ‘refugee crisis’ which is resulting in ‘Europe’ tearing itself apart, imperialism has to some considerable extent negotiate a short to mid term defeat in Syria by the latest UNSC resolution. Important to note that Putin/Lavrov and the Russians changed the USA text on the resolution which called for the removal of President Assad.

The UNSC resolution states that it seeks a nationwide ceasefire, considers leading imperialist and regional death squads of Daesh and Nusra to be outside this process (and thus, game for incineration by Syrian-Russian forces, before the ceasefire), states that other terrorist groups can be added to this (so our side will be pushing for the death squads Ahrar al-Sham, ‘Jaish Islam’, and others to be included in that list), but most importantly perhaps DOES NOT state anything about removing Assad, but wants a unity government with those in the opposition who are not outside the pale. Now, OF COURSE this will be fought over between our side (Syria, Iran, Russia, China etc), but lets be very clear: it is a historic admission of defeat and a massive climbdown from the very leading global forces who sought to do to Syria what they did to Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Somalia and Libya (2011).

The order of the day right now is to ensure that Syria and Russia go full steam ahead, and then some more, to wipe out the as many of the death squads as possible. As the saying goes: nothing is won on the negotiating table that is not won on the battlefield. And that’s the order of the day.

Once again, make no mistake, imperialism will be looking to play all manner of dirty games here in on, that is part of the very nature of imperialism. Indeed, western capitalism and colonialism or imperialism is in its central feature a global war of terrorism, exploitation and genocide. However, we can and must win short term and mid term strategic victories in battles in the wider historic and inter-generational war of liberation to totally wipe out imperialism.

Imperialism has green-lighted Turkey to shoot down the Russian jet, but that backfired as Syria and Putin matched that dirty move by putting in place the S-400 missile shelf in Syria, and Putin recently said to the Turkish govt: ‘now try it on with us in Syria!’. Imperialism has sent in Turkish troops against Iraq in Mosul, but that will only spur on the anti-imperialist forces in Iraq to move against this invasion. Imperialism has tried to muscle in on Syrian airspace, but as Lavrov said just today, the imperialists must take the Russian lead on this.

In a more critical reflection of things in the last five years, we contemplate with sadness and tears that we lost the Jamhariya in Libya, which was the shelf of not only Africa but the entire world. We see the tragic events in Tunisia, Egypt but especially Yemen: there is much to do to sort out the devastating horror that the Arab Sting opened up and was designed to open up considering the lack of united popular anti-imperialist patriotic forces in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere. Don’t play with power, lest you get the horror story that the people impacted by the Sting have had to contend with.

Much to do, a million challenges confront us, but the Syrians and the Russians have seized the time and have done the very best they could considering their own capacities which are not limitless as well as contending with the upping of the imperialist war against Russia and China.

All our forward fronts of our global struggle is under direct attack, Syria was the epicentre and remains so of our global resistance. But thank God and all glories to our martyrs, their families and our leaderships that we are seeing the day that we are clearly pushing back on this murderous and imperialist supremacist war of destruction.

Let’s remember and honour and love those that stood by in a steadfast and rock-like manner, and humiliation and dishonour to those who wavered and sniped at us and our leaderships.

All further victories to the Russians! To the Iranians! To Hizbullah! To the Chinese!

But most of all, to the glorious and heroic Syrian people and their armed forces, paramilitary forces and leadership!

– Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

Southern Damascus Sees Negotiated Exit of Thousands of Terrorist Scum

[Deal to evacuate Syrian Islamist fighters is halted – Hezbollah TV



BEIRUT, Dec 26 (Reuters) – A U.N.-sponsored deal to give safe passage to more than 2,000 Islamic State fighters and other hardline insurgents holed up in rebel-held south Damascus neighbourhoods has been suspended, Lebanese Hezbollah’s TV station said on Saturday.

It said the deal fell through after a top rebel commander, Zahran Alloush, was killed in an air strike on Friday. The convoy carrying the fighters had been due to pass through territory he controlled en route to their ultimate destination of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State in northern Syria.

The TV report said coaches that had arrived on Friday to pick up the fighters and at least 1,500 family members had turned back. (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)]


[Buses to ship out 2,000 besieged Syrian Islamist fighters – Hezbollah TV]

Syria conflict: Rebels ‘to leave Yarmouk refugee camp’


A UN-brokered deal could see thousands of Syrian rebels and their families leave areas in and around the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.

The deal, which is still at a delicate stage, involves agreement between rebel fighters and the government.

It could see a number of militants from Islamic State (IS) given safe passage to their stronghold of Raqqa.

The aim is to make Yarmouk safe again so that the 18,000 people believed to be trapped there can receive aid.

In April, IS militants infiltrated the camp and briefly seized large parts of it.

Yarmouk is divided into areas controlled by IS, the rival al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and pro- and anti-government Palestinian militants.

Government forces maintain checkpoints around the area preventing civilians from leaving.

The proposed deal could see fighters begin to withdraw from Yarmouk, and the neighbouring districts of Hajar al-Aswad and al-Qadam, as soon as Friday.

It is not clear exactly which groups are involved, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that wounded IS militants and members of their families would be among those leaving.

Earlier this year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described Yarmouk as the “deepest circle of Hell”. So the deal, if it goes through, should benefit all those involved.

Once Yarmouk is made safe the UN will be able to get aid to the refugees freely; the Syrian government will have a latent threat removed from its doorstep; the wounded and exhausted rebels will be able to fight another day; and the IS fighters will have safe passage to Raqqa.

Similar deals have been made elsewhere in Syria when it has been in all the combatants’ interest. It is a model the UN has hoped to build on. As peace efforts resume in the New Year, it could provide one small bright spot in the surrounding darkness.

The UK-based monitoring group, which uses a network of sources on the ground, said a number of buses had already arrived in al-Qadam to take them to IS-held territory elsewhere in Syria.

Earlier this month, pro-government media reported a deal between the government, IS and the rival jihadist group al-Nusra Front to allow members of both safe passage out of Yarmouk and Hajar al-Aswad to Raqqa and the northern province of Idlib under a UN guarantee.

The city of Raqqa is the de facto capital of the caliphate whose creation IS proclaimed last year, while Idlib is largely controlled by a rebel alliance that includes al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

Yarmouk was first built for Palestinians fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Before the Syrian civil war began in 2011, it had more than 150,000 refugees living there.

Those trapped in the camp for the past two years, including 3,500 children, have no access to regular food supplies, clean water or healthcare.

Russian intel spots 12,000 oil tankers and trucks on Turkey-Iraq border

Russian intel spots 12,000 oil tankers & trucks on Turkey-Iraq border – General Staff



Russian intelligence has spotted up to 12,000 tankers and trucks on the Turkish-Iraqi border, the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces has reported.

“The [aerial] imagery was made in the vicinity of Zakho (a city in Iraqi Kurdistan), there were 11,775 tankers and trucks on both sides of the Turkish-Iraqi border,” Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy told journalists on Friday.

“It must be noted that oil from both Iraq and Syria come through this [Zakho] checkpoint,” General Rudskoy said.

Heavy-duty trucks loaded with oil continue to cross the Turkish-Syrian border as well, Rudskoy said. At the same time, the number of tankers on the northern and western routes used for transporting oil from Syria is declining, the general added.

READ MORE: Russia has ‘more proof’ ISIS oil routed through Turkey, Erdogan says he’ll resign if it’s true

“According to satellite data, the number of oil tankers moving through the ‘northern route’ towards the refinery in the [Turkish] city of Batman has considerably diminished,” Rudskoy said, adding that the number of tankers using the ‘western route,’ between the Turkish cities of Reyhanli [on the Syrian border] and the city of Iskenderun, has decreased to 265 vehicles.

The Russian Air Force in Syria has destroyed about 2,000 tankers used by the Islamists for oil transportation. In the last week, Russian warplanes eliminated 17 convoys of oil tankers and a number of installations used by terrorists for oil extraction and processing.

The Russian Air Force’s effective strikes in Syria have forced the terrorists to look for new routes for crude oil transportation. Today, tankers loaded with oil in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province, under Islamic State control, are moving towards the Iraqi border in the direction of Zakho and Mosul.

“However, despite a considerable diversion, the finishing point of the trafficking route remains Turkey,” Rudskoy said.

Taliban Life After Omar


Afghan War’s new direction after Omar

Asia Times

While he may actually have died two years ago, Mullah Omar did not actually die’ until the news of his death was leaked to the world media.  That the news was deliberately leaked to the media is quite evident from the fact that his death was initially kept secret for more than two full years.


The emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan is likely to give a new direction to the Afghan war

Obviously, it was kept hidden only to be leaked at some ‘proper time.’ For more than two years, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was the de facto head of the Afghan Taliban. Therefore, his appointment, within just 24 hours of the announcement of Omar’s death, did not come as a surprise.

Some important questions that must certainly be asked here are: how could Pakistan be not aware of Mullah Omar’s death? Why was his death announced at this particular juncture? What did Pakistan and Afghanistan want to achieve out of his death? Which direction Afghan war is now heading to?

To understand the entire phenomenon and to get answers to these critical questions, we must, to begin with, delve deep into the changing dynamics of Pakistan-Taliban relations. A lot is regularly written and spoken about Pakistan’s “double-game” in the so-called “war on terror.”

Notwithstanding the history of Pakistan-Taliban (good) relations, the argument that Pakistan was, and still is, collaborating with the Afghan Taliban against the U.S. acutely fails to grasp the very nature of their mutual relation and the change it has undergone over the years. Neither is it 1990s when Afghanistan was left on its own, nor does Pakistan want to see Afghan Taliban as the only ruling force in Afghanistan. Afghan Taliban, too, are aware of Pakistan’s policy: hence, Omar’s (or issued in his name) instruction to his commanders: nobody is to be trusted, not even Pakistan.

As a matter of fact, the story of Mullah Omar’s death should suffice to explain a lot of the mystery surrounding Pakistan-Taliban relations. Quite contrary to the prevailing perceptions, Mullah Omar’s death — possibly in a Pakistani hospital — is not a reflection of Pakistan’s perpetually good relations with the Taliban; rather, it offers us an x-ray to look deep and clear into the fractures it has suffered.

To demystify this enigma, we must understand the context against which this ‘death’ took place. There is no doubt that Mullah Omar was of supreme importance for the Afghan Taliban. His symbolic influence was far beyond the Taliban so that even the former leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, had sworn allegiance to him. Last year, his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, renewed his allegiance to Mullah Omar as a sign of his opposition to the leader of the ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Not only is it a reflection of Mullah Omar’s importance as Taliban’s leader, but also signifies the immense increase in their popularity as a powerful militant force. And they are becoming stronger with each day passing. The extent of their politico-military strength can be assessed from the fact that even after 14 long years of warfare, Taliban’s major demands are till unchanged.

During the recently held (days before Omar’s death was made public) round of dialogue in Pakistan, it became evident for all parties concerned, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, that the Taliban were not ready to compromise on any of their major demands that include not only full de-militarization of the country but also replacement of the current constitution with (their own made) a new one.

It is quite evident that the Taliban are strong on political ground because they are as strong as ever on military ground. A look at Taliban’s territorial gains in this year’s “summer offensive” would suffice to highlight their strength. Not only have they captured a number of towns by moving out of rural areas, but also forced Afghan military to withdraw from areas it had previously taken hold of after the U.S./NATO forces’ withdrawal.

An important question that arises here is: what were the contributing factors to the Taliban’s military strength? It is a matter of common sense that no war, especially a protracted guerrilla war, can be fought without enough supply of human raw material. For Afghan Taliban, the most important supply of human raw material came from Pakistani areas of North and South Waziristan agencies.

A lot of militant groups, including the notorious Haqqani group, which were previously using North Waziristan as their territorial sanctuary, were forced to withdraw from Pakistan due to Pakistan military’s Zarb-i-Azab operation, and consequently they joined hands with the Afghan Taliban.

The Pakistani military’s pressure on the various militant groups, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, al-Qaeda, Jundallah and the Haqqani network, forced a strong outflow of militants from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

It must be remembered that Mullah Omar was as much a supreme leader for Pakistan Taliban as he was for the Afghan Taliban. Leader of Haqqani network is now Afghan Taliban’s second in command after Mullah Akhtar Mansoor — reflecting a situation that can well be called the making of ‘great-alliance.’

The second important factor that contributed to the Taliban’s military gains was the crucial support they started to receive from Iran. Many Afghan intelligence officials have, in recent days, been found pointing out the funding the Taliban are currently receiving from Iran.

To quote one such official, “At the beginning, Iran was supporting [the] Taliban financially. But now they are training and equipping them, too.”

Afghan security officials have claimed that Iran is hosting Taliban militants at training camps in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad, and Zahedan, and in the province of Kerman. If true, it means that the level of cooperation between the two has moved to a whole new level.

The only factor that has made this co-operation a reality, forcing the erstwhile enemies into an alliance, is the emergence of a common enemy in Afghanistan: the ISIS.

Iran understands that the ISIS is, in effect, an arm of power projection of its regional rivals, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, both of whom have been primary instigators of the war in Syria and of the attempt to break the alliance of Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah.

Therefore, from the Iranian perspective, the Taliban’s war against ISIS in Afghanistan is essentially a new theater in the larger war against the ISIS and its backers. For the Taliban, this marriage of convenience becomes a good substitute support base and a territorial sanctuary that they now have lost in Pakistan.

It is precisely due to these factors that the Taliban continue to remain a strong force in Afghanistan. Leaking the news of Mullah Omar’s death by Afghanistan and Pakistan (both state’s intelligence agencies are working in collaboration now due to the recently signed agreement) was, therefore, a very calculated move to strike at the heart of Afghan Taliban’s unity. The impact of the death of the leader of the Taliban on this group in the form of subsequent weakening and fragmentation was a forgone conclusion, at least in Pakistan and Afghanistan’s calculation.

To an extent, they have certainly achieved this objective. Not only are the Taliban internally divided on the question of new leadership, but are also forming new groups. Some of them, such as Fidai Mahaz”, have even re-branded themselves as the ISIS, making life for the Afghan Taliban even more difficult after Omar’s death.

By stirring rogue elements within Taliban, and by breaking their unity, what both Pakistan and Afghanistan wanted to achieve was forcing the Taliban into ‘submission’ in the form of compromise on some of their demands.

The primary reason for Pakistan to do what was considered to be unthinkable until a few years ago is its desperate need for peaceful environment to fully reap benefits out of Pak-China Economic Corridor. With terrorist organizations fully bounded in the country, Pakistan could never hope to fully exploit the umpteen economic benefits—hence: large-scale military and intelligence operations against all types of militant outfits.

Pakistan’s grand plans notwithstanding, the emergence of the ISIS in Afghanistan and the threat it poses to both Afghanistan and Pakistan seem to be working as an anti-dote to Pakistan’s political tactics against the Taliban.

Almost simultaneous with the revelation about Mullah Omar’s death, a report was released noting that a document related to the ISIS had been leaked (found inside Pakistan areas) showing the group pinning its hope on forming an army of Afghan and Pakistani militants, which under the present circumstances, can provide  the ISIS with a unique opportunity.

This document, which has been dubbed “A Brief History of ISIS”, the original copy of which is in Urdu, can be described as the formal entry of the ISIS in Afghanistan-Pakistan. Not only does it vow to wage ‘jihad’, but also make an ‘undisputable’ claim to the ‘throne’ of ‘Islamic Caliphate.’

The emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan is, therefore, most likely to give an altogether new direction to the Afghan war. On the one hand, the ISIS’s expansion in the north of Afghanistan appears to be quite consistent with the U.S.’ Eurasian strategy that aims at destabilizing the Russian and Chinese borders. On the other hand, the presence of ISIS sympathizers on Pak-Afghan border region tends to force both states into an uneasy relationship, having mostly mutually conflicting interests.

With Mullah Omar dead, the Taliban’s unity considerably damaged, and the ISIS having clear presence, there is hardly any direction, at least at the moment, that the Afghan war would move to.

With Pakistan and Afghanistan wanting to establish ‘peace’ (on their separate and mutually conflicting terms), with the Taliban fighting the Taliban and the ISIS, with the U.S. aspiring to keep the region as much unstable as may serve its own interest, and with the ISIS ready to take over the entire Levant, Afghanistan is increasingly moving towards becoming what T.S. Eliot would have called The Wasteland.

Given this, we should not feel overwhelmingly surprised when the U.N refugee agency reports 65 percent increase just in 2014 in applications for out-migration from Afghanistan to industrial countries.

“Much more than lack of economic opportunities, it is the fear of loss of life that is forcing us out of our homeland”, said a 24-year-old Afghan street vendor.

Salman Rafi Sheikh is a freelance journalist and research analyst of international relations and Pakistan affairs. His area of interest is South and West Asian politics, the foreign policies of major powers, and Pakistani politics.

Asia’s Bleeding Heart and the Knives of Pakistan


indian panorama

That’s what Pakistan’s broken pledges have reduced Afghanistan to.
Pakistan has never been keen on a political solution. The closest it came to a political partner was the fundamentalist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. What’s at stake isn’t just military gains but also the future of Ghani’s government. He is bound to face a backlash when Pakistan reneges on its pledges. The opposition is wary of Ghani putting all his eggs in Pakistan’s basket again”, says the author – Mohammad Taqi

The Heart of Asia Conference (HOAC) in Islamabad last week was bookended by two devastating attacks in Kandahar and Kabul. As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was being honoured with a 21-gun salute in Islamabad, the Taliban were in the midst of a 20-hour-long assault on Kandahar airport that killed at least 54. And before the ink dried on the HOAC pledges, the Taliban penetrated the relatively secure diplomatic enclave in Kabul in a brazen attack on the Spanish embassy in which eight people died. The Afghan High Peace Council called it a slap in the face of the peace process. The Taliban is clearly sticking to the fight-talk-fight strategy even in winter. That the Taliban chose a key peace conference to shed blood is the jihadist group’s way of painting the Afghan government as weak and it’s the harbinger of yet another bloody spring and summer.

The HOAC has been underway since 2011, but has not been able to evolve into a tangible mechanism to deliver peace. Ghani’s speech alluded to this shortcoming and called for verifiable mechanisms to counter the jihadist threat. He was careful in choosing his words in Islamabad, but not when giving interviews to the German and French media earlier, when he clearly said, “Pakistan was in a state of undeclared war against Afghanistan” and “a major trust deficit” exists between the two. Whether one conference can bridge that mistrust seems unlikely, Ghani’s optimism notwithstanding.

Afghan officials attribute the HOAC’s “success” to several factors: One, Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif acknowledging Afghanistan’s sovereignty, its central government and constitution; two, the US and China acting as guarantors for the peace negotiations with the “reconcilable” Taliban and opposing the irreconcilable ones; three, the commitment to a high-level meeting in early 2016 to draw a region-wide counter-terrorism and security strategy.

To Afghan officials, the litmus test of Pakistan’s seriousness and sincerity would be whether it’s willing to restrain the Taliban from conducting largescale attacks. Kandahar and Kabul appear to have already betrayed the newfound Afghan trust in the capacity, if not the will, of the Pakistani security establishment. The chief of the Afghan National Security Directorate (NDS), General Rahmatullah Nabil, took to Facebook to post a scathing critique of not just Pakistan but also Ghani, chiding the latter for letting “the 5,000-year-old Afghan history kneel before a 60-year-old Pakistan”. Nabil followed this with a resignation. Needless to say, Ghani accepted it promptly. This led to the media asking if he was fired at Pakistan’s behest. A visibly upset Ghani formally denied the charge but the die has been cast.

The Afghan media then reported Ghani conceded way too much in Islamabad. A leaked report was cited that Pakistan has apparently demanded that Ghani act against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, restrain “anti-Pakistan rhetoric and individuals”, accept the Durand Line as the formal border, limit Indian influence, and deny support to Baloch separatists and Pashtun nationalists. This litany of Pakistani demands means we are back at square one in the bilateral relationship. Islamabad’s demands have put the onus of securing peace wholly on Kabul.

That fits well with the pattern of Pakistan’s peace pledges to Afghanistan, which start before the first snow and melt away with the first thaw, making way for the Taliban’s attacks. Pakistan has never been keen on a political solution. The closest it came to a political partner was the fundamentalist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. What’s at stake isn’t just military gains but also the future of Ghani’s government. He is bound to face a backlash when Pakistan reneges on its pledges. The opposition is wary of Ghani putting all his eggs in Pakistan’s basket again. His attempt in May to have the NDS surreptitiously sign an MoU with the ISI had backfired badly.

The difference now is that Ghani has almost no political capital to squander. The November protests in Kabul, after the Islamic State’s massacre of Hazaras, showed Ghani is on thin ice. This is not lost on Pakistan and the Pakistan-backed Taliban, who would love to plunge Kabul into political chaos at a time of their choosing. International guarantors can certainly play a major role. But they and the principles of non-interference were hallmarks of the May 1988 Pak-Afghan Geneva Accords. Yet, Afghanistan has been the bleeding heart of Asia since.

Syria May Be Ready To Join Geneva Peace Talks

Syria ready to join Geneva peace talks

herald sun

Syrian government officials have stated Damascus is ready to take part in the Geneva peace talks.  Syria ready to join Geneva peace talks

Syria is ready to take part in peace talks in Geneva and hopes that the dialogue will help it form a national unity government, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem has said.

The UN Security Council last Friday unanimously approved a resolution endorsing an international road map for a Syrian peace process, a rare show of unity among major powers on a conflict that has claimed more than a quarter of a million lives.

The UN plans to convene peace talks in Geneva towards the end of January.

Moualem said Syria was “ready to participate in the Syrian-Syrian dialogue in Geneva without any foreign interference”.

“This government will compose a constitutional committee to look for a new constitution with a new law of election so the parliamentary election will be held within the period of 18 months, more or less.”

A close adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said Damascus is ready to join the UN-sponsored peace talks with its position bolstered by both Russian backing and the West’s retreat from a hardline anti-Assad approach.

Bouthaina Shaaban on Wednesday said her government approved of UN resolutions passed last week endorsing an international road map for a Syria peace process, a rare display of unity among global powers on a conflict that has killed more than 250,000 people.

The resolutions gave UN blessing to a plan negotiated earlier in Vienna that calls for a ceasefire, talks between the Syrian government and opposition, and a roughly two-year timeline to create a unity government and hold elections.

Shaaban said Damascus perceived a softening of the West’s stance on Assad driven by a spillover of Islamic State militant attacks into its own communities – most recently in Paris on November 13 when shootings and suicide bombings killed 130 people.

Islamic State is the strongest insurgent force in Syria and Assad has said that ousting him would clear the way for Islamist militants to take over the country and endanger the wider world.

Western powers have demanded that Assad quit power as part of any peace settlement. Damascus has rejected such calls.

“It was not easy for the West to retreat. This is the first time that the West’s word has been defeated over Syria … The Russian strategy in getting these (diplomatic) understandings is successful and clever and will bear fruit,” Shaaban said.

“The Russian intervention has had great importance in the Syrian crisis.”

Three months of Russian air strikes twinned with army ground offensives backed by Iranian forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have shored up Assad in his western Syrian heartland.

But the obstacles to ending the war remain daunting, with no side in the conflict able to secure a clear military victory.

Despite their agreement at the United Nations, the major powers are bitterly divided on who may represent the opposition as well as on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia ready to supply weapons to Afghanistan

Russia ready to supply weapons to Afghanistan

Xinhua net

MOSCOW, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) — Russia is ready to supply arms to Afghanistan, Russian special presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said Wednesday.

“We are ready to deliver weapons, but we will do it carefully and mainly on a commercial basis,” Interfax news agency quoted Kabulov as saying.

Earlier media reports said that Afghanistan had turned to Russia with a request for arms supply.

Critical of the “inefficient” mission done by NATO in Afghanistan, Kabulov ruled out the possibility of Russia conducting military operations there similar to the airstrikes in Syria.

“Afghanistan is not Syria and our air force is not going to operate there,” he said.

Russia has been launching strikes against Daesh (Islamic State in Arabic) and other terrorist groups in Syria at the request of the war-torn country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, thus providing support to the government troops.

Kabulov went on noting that information exchange channels have already been established with Taliban militants in Afghanistan in order to fight against Daesh.

“The Taliban interests objectively coincide with ours without stimulation (over joint anti-terror fight),” said Kabulov.

But he declined to say whether Moscow had plans to regard the Taliban as an ally in fighting Daesh.

The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group, has been waging an insurgency in Afghanistan since its regime was toppled in late 2001.

Both the Taliban and Daesh, which has emerged in Afghanistan earlier this year, are recognized as terrorist groups and banned worldwide.

US Immigration Set To Begin National Round-Ups of Central American Illegals

[Are we about to see the “FEMA CAMPS” used for the first time?]

Immigration Officials To Launch Large-Scale Deportation Raids




It’s a response to the surge of undocumented immigrants fleeing violence in Central America.


WASHINGTON, Dec 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has begun preparing for a series of raids that would target for deportation hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Citing people familiar with the operation, the Post said the nationwide campaign to deport the illegal immigrants by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could start as soon as early January.

It would be the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America, the newspaper said.

More than 100,000 families with both adults and children have made the journey across the southwest border since last year, the Post reported.

The operation would target only adults and children who have already been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge, the newspaper said.

The Post said the operation has not been given final approval by DHS. The number of people targeted is expected to be in the hundreds and possibly greater, the newspaper said.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

Experts say that the violence that was a key factor in driving people to flee Central America last year has surged again, The Post reported.

The pressure for deportations has mounted because of a recent court decision that ordered DHS to begin releasing families housed in detention centers, according to the Post.

Immigration advocates expressed concern about the plan.

“It would be an outrage if the administration subjected Central American families to even more aggressive enforcement tactics,” Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the Post. (Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Leslie Adler)

The War To End Terror Has Multiplied Terrorism 65 Times


Between 2007 and 2011, almost half the world’s terror attacks took place in Iraq and Afghanistan — two countries under active occupation by the United States.

Kit O’Connell

(MINTPRESS) Washington, D.C. — An analysis of terror attacks since 2002 suggests U.S. efforts to combat terrorism — i.e., the “War on Terror” — have led to a dramatic increase in death and suffering from terrorism.

Published this year on Sept. 11, Paul Gottinger, a staff reporter for Reader Supported News, analyzed incidents of terrorism from George Bush declaring the war on terror in the aftermath of 9/11 through the present, and found a staggering 6,500 percent increase in terrorism. Gottinger, who used data provided by the State Department in his analysis, found that casualties have increased by 4,500 percent.

Countries occupied by or being bombed the U.S. military seem to fare worst of all:

“[F]rom 2007 to 2011 almost half of all the world’s terror took place in Iraq or Afghanistan – two countries being occupied by the US at the time.

Countries experiencing US military interventions continue to be subjected to high numbers of terror attacks, according to the data. In 2014, 74 percent of all terror-related casualties occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Syria. Of these five, only Nigeria did not experience either US air strikes or a military occupation in that year.”

Further illustrating the devastating impact of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Gottinger’s report showed that terror attacks in that country jumped from 208 in 2002 to 11,000 by 2005.

In a Dec. 10 appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz suggested the Middle East was more stable before the war on terror began.

“Now, what has been a mistake — and we’ve seen a consistent mistake in foreign policy — is far too often, we’ve seen Democrats and a lot of establishment Republicans in Washington get involved in toppling Middle Eastern governments. And it ends up benefiting the bad guys. It ends up handing them over to radical Islamic terrorists,” Cruz said.

The following week, Ben Swann, a journalist and outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy, agreed with this assessment, and outlined some of the other ways the war on terror destabilized Iraq:

“Before the 2003 U.S. invasion, do you know how many suicide attacks there were in Iraq? None. In the country’s history there had never been one. But since the 2003 invasion, there have been 1,892.

In Iraq, prior to the start of the Iraq war, there were reportedly just over 1.5 million Christians living in that country. And yet shortly after the war started, more than one million of them fled to Syria. That didn’t work out well. Today fewer than half a million Christians remain and yet are being exterminated by groups like ISIS.”

Millions have died in Iraq and throughout the Middle East as a result of modern U.S. imperialism. Current estimates suggest that at least 1.3 million died in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

“These figures dwarf the roughly 3,000 people who tragically died in the September 11, 2001 attacks,” Gottinger wrote.

This article (The War on Terror Has Created 6500% More Terrorism) originally appeared on and was used with permission. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email

Military to Military

Military to Military

london review of books

Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war

Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped.

The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups. By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria. The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama’s Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, ‘that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey.’ The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’

‘Our policy of arming the opposition to Assad was unsuccessful and actually having a negative impact,’ the former JCS adviser said. ‘The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The administration’s policy was contradictory. They wanted Assad to go but the opposition was dominated by extremists. So who was going to replace him? To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State.

Germany, Israel and Russia were in contact with the Syrian army, and able to exercise some influence over Assad’s decisions – it was through them that US intelligence would be shared. Each had its reasons for co-operating with Assad: Germany feared what might happen among its own population of six million Muslims if Islamic State expanded; Israel was concerned with border security; Russia had an alliance of very long standing with Syria, and was worried by the threat to its only naval base on the Mediterranean, at Tartus. ‘We weren’t intent on deviating from Obama’s stated policies,’ the adviser said. ‘But sharing our assessments via the military-to-military relationships with other countries could prove productive. It was clear that Assad needed better tactical intelligence and operational advice. The JCS concluded that if those needs were met, the overall fight against Islamist terrorism would be enhanced. Obama didn’t know, but Obama doesn’t know what the JCS does in every circumstance and that’s true of all presidents.’

Once the flow of US intelligence began, Germany, Israel and Russia started passing on information about the whereabouts and intent of radical jihadist groups to the Syrian army; in return, Syria provided information about its own capabilities and intentions. There was no direct contact between the US and the Syrian military; instead, the adviser said, ‘we provided the information – including long-range analyses on Syria’s future put together by contractors or one of our war colleges – and these countries could do with it what they chose, including sharing it with Assad. We were saying to the Germans and the others: “Here’s some information that’s pretty interesting and our interest is mutual.” End of conversation. The JCS could conclude that something beneficial would arise from it – but it was a military to military thing, and not some sort of a sinister Joint Chiefs’ plot to go around Obama and support Assad. It was a lot cleverer than that. If Assad remains in power, it will not be because we did it. It’s because he was smart enough to use the intelligence and sound tactical advice we provided to others.’


The public history of relations between the US and Syria over the past few decades has been one of enmity. Assad condemned the 9/11 attacks, but opposed the Iraq War. George W. Bush repeatedly linked Syria to the three members of his ‘axis of evil’ – Iraq, Iran and North Korea – throughout his presidency. State Department cables made public by WikiLeaks show that the Bush administration tried to destabilise Syria and that these efforts continued into the Obama years. In December 2006, William Roebuck, then in charge of the US embassy in Damascus, filed an analysis of the ‘vulnerabilities’ of the Assad government and listed methods ‘that will improve the likelihood’ of opportunities for destabilisation. He recommended that Washington work with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to increase sectarian tension and focus on publicising ‘Syrian efforts against extremist groups’ – dissident Kurds and radical Sunni factions – ‘in a way that suggests weakness, signs of instability, and uncontrolled blowback’; and that the ‘isolation of Syria’ should be encouraged through US support of the National Salvation Front, led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president whose government-in-exile in Riyadh was sponsored by the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood. Another 2006 cable showed that the embassy had spent $5 million financing dissidents who ran as independent candidates for the People’s Assembly; the payments were kept up even after it became clear that Syrian intelligence knew what was going on. A 2010 cable warned that funding for a London-based television network run by a Syrian opposition group would be viewed by the Syrian government ‘as a covert and hostile gesture toward the regime’.

But there is also a parallel history of shadowy co-operation between Syria and the US during the same period. The two countries collaborated against al-Qaida, their common enemy. A longtime consultant to America’s intelligence community said that, after 9/11, ‘Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us. That quiet co-operation continued among some elements, even after the [Bush administration’s] decision to vilify him.’ In 2002 Assad authorised Syrian intelligence to turn over hundreds of internal files on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany. Later that year, Syrian intelligence foiled an attack by al-Qaida on the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and Assad agreed to provide the CIA with the name of a vital al-Qaida informant. In violation of this agreement, the CIA contacted the informant directly; he rejected the approach, and broke off relations with his Syrian handlers. Assad also secretly turned over to the US relatives of Saddam Hussein who had sought refuge in Syria, and – like America’s allies in Jordan, Egypt, Thailand and elsewhere – tortured suspected terrorists for the CIA in a Damascus prison.

It was this history of co-operation that made it seem possible in 2013 that Damascus would agree to the new indirect intelligence-sharing arrangement with the US. The Joint Chiefs let it be known that in return the US would require four things: Assad must restrain Hizbullah from attacking Israel; he must renew the stalled negotiations with Israel to reach a settlement on the Golan Heights; he must agree to accept Russian and other outside military advisers; and he must commit to holding open elections after the war with a wide range of factions included. ‘We had positive feedback from the Israelis, who were willing to entertain the idea, but they needed to know what the reaction would be from Iran and Syria,’ the JCS adviser told me. ‘The Syrians told us that Assad would not make a decision unilaterally – he needed to have support from his military and Alawite allies. Assad’s worry was that Israel would say yes and then not uphold its end of the bargain.’ A senior adviser to the Kremlin on Middle East affairs told me that in late 2012, after suffering a series of battlefield setbacks and military defections, Assad had approached Israel via a contact in Moscow and offered to reopen the talks on the Golan Heights. The Israelis had rejected the offer. ‘They said, “Assad is finished,”’ the Russian official told me. ‘“He’s close to the end.”’ He said the Turks had told Moscow the same thing. By mid-2013, however, the Syrians believed the worst was behind them, and wanted assurances that the Americans and others were serious about their offers of help.

In the early stages of the talks, the adviser said, the Joint Chiefs tried to establish what Assad needed as a sign of their good intentions. The answer was sent through one of Assad’s friends: ‘Bring him the head of Prince Bandar.’ The Joint Chiefs did not oblige. Bandar bin Sultan had served Saudi Arabia for decades in intelligence and national security affairs, and spent more than twenty years as ambassador in Washington. In recent years, he has been known as an advocate for Assad’s removal from office by any means. Reportedly in poor health, he resigned last year as director of the Saudi National Security Council, but Saudi Arabia continues to be a major provider of funds to the Syrian opposition, estimated by US intelligence last year at $700 million.

In July 2013, the Joint Chiefs found a more direct way of demonstrating to Assad how serious they were about helping him. By then the CIA-sponsored secret flow of arms from Libya to the Syrian opposition, via Turkey, had been underway for more than a year (it started sometime after Gaddafi’s death on 20 October 2011).[*] The operation was largely run out of a covert CIA annex in Benghazi, with State Department acquiescence. On 11 September 2012 the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed during an anti-American demonstration that led to the burning down of the US consulate in Benghazi; reporters for the Washington Post found copies of the ambassador’s schedule in the building’s ruins. It showed that on 10 September Stevens had met with the chief of the CIA’s annex operation. The next day, shortly before he died, he met a representative from Al-Marfa Shipping and Maritime Services, a Tripoli-based company which, the JCS adviser said, was known by the Joint Staff to be handling the weapons shipments.

By the late summer of 2013, the DIA’s assessment had been circulated widely, but although many in the American intelligence community were aware that the Syrian opposition was dominated by extremists the CIA-sponsored weapons kept coming, presenting a continuing problem for Assad’s army. Gaddafi’s stockpile had created an international arms bazaar, though prices were high. ‘There was no way to stop the arms shipments that had been authorised by the president,’ the JCS adviser said. ‘The solution involved an appeal to the pocketbook. The CIA was approached by a representative from the Joint Chiefs with a suggestion: there were far less costly weapons available in Turkish arsenals that could reach the Syrian rebels within days, and without a boat ride.’ But it wasn’t only the CIA that benefited. ‘We worked with Turks we trusted who were not loyal to Erdoğan,’ the adviser said, ‘and got them to ship the jihadists in Syria all the obsolete weapons in the arsenal, including M1 carbines that hadn’t been seen since the Korean War and lots of Soviet arms. It was a message Assad could understand: “We have the power to diminish a presidential policy in its tracks.”’

The flow of US intelligence to the Syrian army, and the downgrading of the quality of the arms being supplied to the rebels, came at a critical juncture. The Syrian army had suffered heavy losses in the spring of 2013 in fighting against Jabhat al-Nusra and other extremist groups as it failed to hold the provincial capital of Raqqa. Sporadic Syrian army and air-force raids continued in the area for months, with little success, until it was decided to withdraw from Raqqa and other hard to defend, lightly populated areas in the north and west and focus instead on consolidating the government’s hold on Damascus and the heavily populated areas linking the capital to Latakia in the north-east. But as the army gained in strength with the Joint Chiefs’ support, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey escalated their financing and arming of Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State, which by the end of 2013 had made enormous gains on both sides of the Syria/Iraq border. The remaining non-fundamentalist rebels found themselves fighting – and losing – pitched battles against the extremists. In January 2014, IS took complete control of Raqqa and the tribal areas around it from al-Nusra and established the city as its base. Assad still controlled 80 per cent of the Syrian population, but he had lost a vast amount of territory.

CIA efforts to train the moderate rebel forces were also failing badly. ‘The CIA’s training camp was in Jordan and was controlled by a Syrian tribal group,’ the JCS adviser said. There was a suspicion that some of those who signed up for training were actually Syrian army regulars minus their uniforms. This had happened before, at the height of the Iraqi war, when hundreds of Shia militia members showed up at American training camps for new uniforms, weapons and a few days of training, and then disappeared into the desert. A separate training programme, set up by the Pentagon in Turkey, fared no better. The Pentagon acknowledged in September that only ‘four or five’ of its recruits were still battling Islamic State; a few days later 70 of them defected to Jabhat al-Nusra immediately after crossing the border into Syria.

In January 2014, despairing at the lack of progress, John Brennan, the director of the CIA, summoned American and Sunni Arab intelligence chiefs from throughout the Middle East to a secret meeting in Washington, with the aim of persuading Saudi Arabia to stop supporting extremist fighters in Syria. ‘The Saudis told us they were happy to listen,’ the JCS adviser said, ‘so everyone sat around in Washington to hear Brennan tell them that they had to get on board with the so-called moderates. His message was that if everyone in the region stopped supporting al-Nusra and Isis their ammunition and weapons would dry up, and the moderates would win out.’ Brennan’s message was ignored by the Saudis, the adviser said, who ‘went back home and increased their efforts with the extremists and asked us for more technical support. And we say OK, and so it turns out that we end up reinforcing the extremists.’

But the Saudis were far from the only problem: American intelligence had accumulated intercept and human intelligence demonstrating that the Erdoğan government had been supporting Jabhat al-Nusra for years, and was now doing the same for Islamic State. ‘We can handle the Saudis,’ the adviser said. ‘We can handle the Muslim Brotherhood. You can argue that the whole balance in the Middle East is based on a form of mutually assured destruction between Israel and the rest of the Middle East, and Turkey can disrupt the balance – which is Erdoğan’s dream. We told him we wanted him to shut down the pipeline of foreign jihadists flowing into Turkey. But he is dreaming big – of restoring the Ottoman Empire – and he did not realise the extent to which he could be successful in this.’


One of the constants in US affairs since the fall of the Soviet Union has been a military-to-military relationship with Russia. After 1991 the US spent billions of dollars to help Russia secure its nuclear weapons complex, including a highly secret joint operation to remove weapons-grade uranium from unsecured storage depots in Kazakhstan. Joint programmes to monitor the security of weapons-grade materials continued for the next two decades. During the American war on Afghanistan, Russia provided overflight rights for US cargo carriers and tankers, as well as access for the flow of weapons, ammunition, food and water the US war machine needed daily. Russia’s military provided intelligence on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and helped the US negotiate rights to use an airbase in Kyrgyzstan. The Joint Chiefs have been in communication with their Russian counterparts throughout the Syrian war, and the ties between the two militaries start at the top. In August, a few weeks before his retirement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Dempsey made a farewell visit to the headquarters of the Irish Defence Forces in Dublin and told his audience there that he had made a point while in office to keep in touch with the chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov. ‘I’ve actually suggested to him that we not end our careers as we began them,’ Dempsey said – one a tank commander in West Germany, the other in the east.

When it comes to tackling Islamic State, Russia and the US have much to offer each other. Many in the IS leadership and rank and file fought for more than a decade against Russia in the two Chechen wars that began in 1994, and the Putin government is heavily invested in combating Islamist terrorism. ‘Russia knows the Isis leadership,’ the JCS adviser said, ‘and has insights into its operational techniques, and has much intelligence to share.’ In return, he said, ‘we’ve got excellent trainers with years of experience in training foreign fighters – experience that Russia does not have.’ The adviser would not discuss what American intelligence is also believed to have: an ability to obtain targeting data, often by paying huge sums of cash, from sources within rebel militias.

A former White House adviser on Russian affairs told me that before 9/11 Putin ‘used to say to us: “We have the same nightmares about different places.” He was referring to his problems with the caliphate in Chechnya and our early issues with al-Qaida. These days, after the Metrojet bombing over Sinai and the massacres in Paris and elsewhere, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we actually have the same nightmares about the same places.’

Yet the Obama administration continues to condemn Russia for its support of Assad. A retired senior diplomat who served at the US embassy in Moscow expressed sympathy for Obama’s dilemma as the leader of the Western coalition opposed to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine: ‘Ukraine is a serious issue and Obama has been handling it firmly with sanctions. But our policy vis-à-vis Russia is too often unfocused. But it’s not about us in Syria. It’s about making sure Bashar does not lose. The reality is that Putin does not want to see the chaos in Syria spread to Jordan or Lebanon, as it has to Iraq, and he does not want to see Syria end up in the hands of Isis. The most counterproductive thing Obama has done, and it has hurt our efforts to end the fighting a lot, was to say: “Assad must go as a premise for negotiation.”’ He also echoed a view held by some in the Pentagon when he alluded to a collateral factor behind Russia’s decision to launch airstrikes in support of the Syrian army on 30 September: Putin’s desire to prevent Assad from suffering the same fate as Gaddafi. He had been told that Putin had watched a video of Gaddafi’s savage death three times, a video that shows him being sodomised with a bayonet. The JCS adviser also told me of a US intelligence assessment which concluded that Putin had been appalled by Gaddafi’s fate: ‘Putin blamed himself for letting Gaddafi go, for not playing a strong role behind the scenes’ at the UN when the Western coalition was lobbying to be allowed to undertake the airstrikes that destroyed the regime. ‘Putin believed that unless he got engaged Bashar would suffer the same fate – mutilated – and he’d see the destruction of his allies in Syria.’

In a speech on 22 November, Obama declared that the ‘principal targets’ of the Russian airstrikes ‘have been the moderate opposition’. It’s a line that the administration – along with most of the mainstream American media – has rarely strayed from. The Russians insist that they are targeting all rebel groups that threaten Syria’s stability – including Islamic State. The Kremlin adviser on the Middle East explained in an interview that the first round of Russian airstrikes was aimed at bolstering security around a Russian airbase in Latakia, an Alawite stronghold. The strategic goal, he said, has been to establish a jihadist-free corridor from Damascus to Latakia and the Russian naval base at Tartus and then to shift the focus of bombing gradually to the south and east, with a greater concentration of bombing missions over IS-held territory. Russian strikes on IS targets in and near Raqqa were reported as early as the beginning of October; in November there were further strikes on IS positions near the historic city of Palmyra and in Idlib province, a bitterly contested stronghold on the Turkish border.

Russian incursions into Turkish airspace began soon after Putin authorised the bombings, and the Russian air force deployed electronic jamming systems that interfered with Turkish radar. The message being sent to the Turkish air force, the JCS adviser said, was: ‘We’re going to fly our fighter planes where we want and when we want and jam your radar. Do not fuck with us. Putin was letting the Turks know what they were up against.’ Russia’s aggression led to Turkish complaints and Russian denials, along with more aggressive border patrolling by the Turkish air force. There were no significant incidents until 24 November, when two Turkish F-16 fighters, apparently acting under more aggressive rules of engagement, shot down a Russian Su-24M jet that had crossed into Turkish airspace for no more than 17 seconds. In the days after the fighter was shot down, Obama expressed support for Erdoğan, and after they met in private on 1 December he told a press conference that his administration remained ‘very much committed to Turkey’s security and its sovereignty’. He said that as long as Russia remained allied with Assad, ‘a lot of Russian resources are still going to be targeted at opposition groups … that we support … So I don’t think we should be under any illusions that somehow Russia starts hitting only Isil targets. That’s not happening now. It was never happening. It’s not going to be happening in the next several weeks.’

The Kremlin adviser on the Middle East, like the Joint Chiefs and the DIA, dismisses the ‘moderates’ who have Obama’s support, seeing them as extremist Islamist groups that fight alongside Jabhat al-Nusra and IS (‘There’s no need to play with words and split terrorists into moderate and not moderate,’ Putin said in a speech on 22 October). The American generals see them as exhausted militias that have been forced to make an accommodation with Jabhat al-Nusra or IS in order to survive. At the end of 2014, Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German journalist who was allowed to spend ten days touring IS-held territory in Iraq and Syria, told CNN that the IS leadership ‘are all laughing about the Free Syrian Army. They don’t take them for serious. They say: “The best arms sellers we have are the FSA. If they get a good weapon, they sell it to us.” They didn’t take them for serious. They take for serious Assad. They take for serious, of course, the bombs. But they fear nothing, and FSA doesn’t play a role.’


Putin’s bombing campaign provoked a series of anti-Russia articles in the American press. On 25 October, the New York Times reported, citing Obama administration officials, that Russian submarines and spy ships were ‘aggressively’ operating near the undersea cables that carry much of the world’s internet traffic – although, as the article went on to acknowledge, there was ‘no evidence yet’ of any Russian attempt actually to interfere with that traffic. Ten days earlier the Times published a summary of Russian intrusions into its former Soviet satellite republics, and described the Russian bombing in Syria as being ‘in some respects a return to the ambitious military moves of the Soviet past’. The report did not note that the Assad administration had invited Russia to intervene, nor did it mention the US bombing raids inside Syria that had been underway since the previous September, without Syria’s approval. An October op-ed in the same paper by Michael McFaul, Obama’s ambassador to Russia between 2012 and 2014, declared that the Russian air campaign was attacking ‘everyone except the Islamic State’. The anti-Russia stories did not abate after the Metrojet disaster, for which Islamic State claimed credit. Few in the US government and media questioned why IS would target a Russian airliner, along with its 224 passengers and crew, if Moscow’s air force was attacking only the Syrian ‘moderates’.

Economic sanctions, meanwhile, are still in effect against Russia for what a large number of Americans consider Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine, as are US Treasury Department sanctions against Syria and against those Americans who do business there. The New York Times, in a report on sanctions in late November, revived an old and groundless assertion, saying that the Treasury’s actions ‘emphasise an argument that the administration has increasingly been making about Mr Assad as it seeks to press Russia to abandon its backing for him: that although he professes to be at war with Islamist terrorists, he has a symbiotic relationship with the Islamic State that has allowed it to thrive while he has clung to power.’


The four core elements of Obama’s Syria policy remain intact today: an insistence that Assad must go; that no anti-IS coalition with Russia is possible; that Turkey is a steadfast ally in the war against terrorism; and that there really are significant moderate opposition forces for the US to support. The Paris attacks on 13 November that killed 130 people did not change the White House’s public stance, although many European leaders, including François Hollande, advocated greater co-operation with Russia and agreed to co-ordinate more closely with its air force; there was also talk of the need to be more flexible about the timing of Assad’s exit from power. On 24 November, Hollande flew to Washington to discuss how France and the US could collaborate more closely in the fight against Islamic State. At a joint press conference at the White House, Obama said he and Hollande had agreed that ‘Russia’s strikes against the moderate opposition only bolster the Assad regime, whose brutality has helped to fuel the rise’ of IS. Hollande didn’t go that far but he said that the diplomatic process in Vienna would ‘lead to Bashar al-Assad’s departure … a government of unity is required.’ The press conference failed to deal with the far more urgent impasse between the two men on the matter of Erdoğan. Obama defended Turkey’s right to defend its borders; Hollande said it was ‘a matter of urgency’ for Turkey to take action against terrorists. The JCS adviser told me that one of Hollande’s main goals in flying to Washington had been to try to persuade Obama to join the EU in a mutual declaration of war against Islamic State. Obama said no. The Europeans had pointedly not gone to Nato, to which Turkey belongs, for such a declaration. ‘Turkey is the problem,’ the JCS adviser said.

Assad, naturally, doesn’t accept that a group of foreign leaders should be deciding on his future. Imad Moustapha, now Syria’s ambassador to China, was dean of the IT faculty at the University of Damascus, and a close aide of Assad’s, when he was appointed in 2004 as the Syrian ambassador to the US, a post he held for seven years. Moustapha is known still to be close to Assad, and can be trusted to reflect what he thinks. He told me that for Assad to surrender power would mean capitulating to ‘armed terrorist groups’ and that ministers in a national unity government – such as was being proposed by the Europeans – would be seen to be beholden to the foreign powers that appointed them. These powers could remind the new president ‘that they could easily replace him as they did before to the predecessor … Assad owes it to his people: he could not leave because the historic enemies of Syria are demanding his departure.’


Moustapha also brought up China, an ally of Assad that has allegedly committed more than $30 billion to postwar reconstruction in Syria. China, too, is worried about Islamic State. ‘China regards the Syrian crisis from three perspectives,’ he said: international law and legitimacy; global strategic positioning; and the activities of jihadist Uighurs, from Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Xinjiang borders eight nations – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – and, in China’s view, serves as a funnel for terrorism around the world and within China. Many Uighur fighters now in Syria are known to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – an often violent separatist organisation that seeks to establish an Islamist Uighur state in Xinjiang. ‘The fact that they have been aided by Turkish intelligence to move from China into Syria through Turkey has caused a tremendous amount of tension between the Chinese and Turkish intelligence,’ Moustapha said. ‘China is concerned that the Turkish role of supporting the Uighur fighters in Syria may be extended in the future to support Turkey’s agenda in Xinjiang. We are already providing the Chinese intelligence service with information regarding these terrorists and the routes they crossed from on travelling into Syria.’

Moustapha’s concerns were echoed by a Washington foreign affairs analyst who has closely followed the passage of jihadists through Turkey and into Syria. The analyst, whose views are routinely sought by senior government officials, told me that ‘Erdoğan has been bringing Uighurs into Syria by special transport while his government has been agitating in favour of their struggle in China. Uighur and Burmese Muslim terrorists who escape into Thailand somehow get Turkish passports and are then flown to Turkey for transit into Syria.’ He added that there was also what amounted to another ‘rat line’ that was funnelling Uighurs – estimates range from a few hundred to many thousands over the years – from China into Kazakhstan for eventual relay to Turkey, and then to IS territory in Syria. ‘US intelligence,’ he said, ‘is not getting good information about these activities because those insiders who are unhappy with the policy are not talking to them.’ He also said it was ‘not clear’ that the officials responsible for Syrian policy in the State Department and White House ‘get it’. IHS-Jane’s Defence Weekly estimated in October that as many as five thousand Uighur would-be fighters have arrived in Turkey since 2013, with perhaps two thousand moving on to Syria. Moustapha said he has information that ‘up to 860 Uighur fighters are currently in Syria.’

China’s growing concern about the Uighur problem and its link to Syria and Islamic State have preoccupied Christina Lin, a scholar who dealt with Chinese issues a decade ago while serving in the Pentagon under Donald Rumsfeld. ‘I grew up in Taiwan and came to the Pentagon as a critic of China,’ Lin told me. ‘I used to demonise the Chinese as ideologues, and they are not perfect. But over the years as I see them opening up and evolving, I have begun to change my perspective. I see China as a potential partner for various global challenges especially in the Middle East. There are many places – Syria for one – where the United States and China must co-operate in regional security and counterterrorism.’ A few weeks earlier, she said, China and India, Cold War enemies that ‘hated each other more than China and the United States hated each other, conducted a series of joint counterterrorism exercises. And today China and Russia both want to co-operate on terrorism issues with the United States.’ As China sees it, Lin suggests, Uighur militants who have made their way to Syria are being trained by Islamic State in survival techniques intended to aid them on covert return trips to the Chinese mainland, for future terrorist attacks there. ‘If Assad fails,’ Lin wrote in a paper published in September, ‘jihadi fighters from Russia’s Chechnya, China’s Xinjiang and India’s Kashmir will then turn their eyes towards the home front to continue jihad, supported by a new and well-sourced Syrian operating base in the heart of the Middle East.’


General Dempsey and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff kept their dissent out of bureaucratic channels, and survived in office. General Michael Flynn did not. ‘Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria,’ said Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel who served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the DIA. ‘He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out. He wouldn’t shut up.’ Flynn told me his problems went beyond Syria. ‘I was shaking things up at the DIA – and not just moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It was radical reform. I felt that the civilian leadership did not want to hear the truth. I suffered for it, but I’m OK with that.’ In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, Flynn was blunt about Russia’s entry into the Syrian war: ‘We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad; they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real.’

Few in the US Congress share this view. One exception is Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii and member of the House Armed Services Committee who, as a major in the Army National Guard, served two tours in the Middle East. In an interview on CNN in October she said: ‘The US and the CIA should stop this illegal and counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad and should stay focused on fighting against … the Islamic extremist groups.’

‘Does it not concern you,’ the interviewer asked, ‘that Assad’s regime has been brutal, killing at least 200,000 and maybe 300,000 of his own people?’

‘The things that are being said about Assad right now,’ Gabbard responded, ‘are the same that were said about Gaddafi, they are the same things that were said about Saddam Hussein by those who were advocating for the US to … overthrow those regimes … If it happens here in Syria … we will end up in a situation with far greater suffering, with far greater persecution of religious minorities and Christians in Syria, and our enemy will be far stronger.’

‘So what you are saying,’ the interviewer asked, ‘is that the Russian military involvement in the air and on-the-ground Iranian involvement – they are actually doing the US a favour?’

‘They are working toward defeating our common enemy,’ Gabbard replied.

Gabbard later told me that many of her colleagues in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have thanked her privately for speaking out. ‘There are a lot of people in the general public, and even in the Congress, who need to have things clearly explained to them,’ Gabbard said. ‘But it’s hard when there’s so much deception about what is going on. The truth is not out.’ It’s unusual for a politician to challenge her party’s foreign policy directly and on the record. For someone on the inside, with access to the most secret intelligence, speaking openly and critically can be a career-ender. Informed dissent can be transmitted by means of a trust relationship between a reporter and those on the inside, but it almost invariably includes no signature. The dissent exists, however. The longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command could not hide his contempt when I asked him for his view of the US’s Syria policy. ‘The solution in Syria is right before our nose,’ he said. ‘Our primary threat is Isis and all of us – the United States, Russia and China – need to work together. Bashar will remain in office and, after the country is stabilised there will be an election. There is no other option.’

The military’s indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey’s retirement in September. His replacement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in July, two months before assuming office. ‘If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,’ Dunford said. ‘If you look at their behaviour, it’s nothing short of alarming.’ In October, as chairman, Dunford dismissed the Russian bombing efforts in Syria, telling the same committee that Russia ‘is not fighting’ IS. He added that America must ‘work with Turkish partners to secure the northern border of Syria’ and ‘do all we can to enable vetted Syrian opposition forces’ – i.e. the ‘moderates’ – to fight the extremists.

Obama now has a more compliant Pentagon. There will be no more indirect challenges from the military leadership to his policy of disdain for Assad and support for Erdoğan. Dempsey and his associates remain mystified by Obama’s continued public defence of Erdoğan, given the American intelligence community’s strong case against him – and the evidence that Obama, in private, accepts that case. ‘We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria,’ the president told Erdoğan’s intelligence chief at a tense meeting at the White House (as I reported in the LRB of 17 April 2014). The Joint Chiefs and the DIA were constantly telling Washington’s leadership of the jihadist threat in Syria, and of Turkey’s support for it. The message was never listened to. Why not?

[*] Seymour Hersh wrote about this in the LRB of 17 April 2014.

Riddles in the Syrian road map

Riddles in the Syria road map

The Hindu

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The good news is that world powers are finally pushing for a political resolution in Syria. But ambitious timelines, a vagueness about the future of the Assad regime and disagreements over which groups constitute the opposition mean a single unified state remains a distant dream

After nearly five years of war that killed more than 2,50,000 people and displaced millions, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has finally come to an agreement on an international road map for a peace process in Syria. Resolution 2254, adopted unanimously by the Security Council last week, calls for a ceasefire between the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the rebels within a month and the establishment of a “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian” government in Damascus within six months. It has also set an 18-month deadline for free and fair elections and a new Constitution that would decide the future of Syria.

Given the nature of the Syrian civil war and the multiple agendas of the various players involved in the conflict — either directly or through their proxies — it is not tough to see that the timelines set by the UN are overtly ambitious. But, at the same time, the agreement signals a strong desire of the major powers to find common ground on Syria and push for a political settlement, irrespective of their divergent interests.

Evolving positions

Syria is the first conflict where both the United States and Russia are militarily involved since the end of the Cold War. Both countries have different approaches towards the Assad regime. If the U.S. was among the first group of nations that imposed sanctions on the government and called for the removal of Mr. Assad, Russia remained a strong pillar of support for Damascus. But over the years, Washington’s Syria policy has evolved from one of idealistic intransigence to that of pragmatic flexibility, narrowing the gap with the Russian position.

In the early stages of the Syrian conflict, the Barack Obama administration miscalculated the strength of the regime. Its expectation was that the Assad government was on the verge of collapse — either to be toppled by rebels or to be imploded. This analysis was the main reason behind Washington’s refusal to accept Russian plans for transition in Syria. Former Finnish President and 2008 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, who had held back-room negotiations with the major powers on Syria, recently said Moscow had proposed a three-point agenda in early 2012 that included Mr. Assad’s resignation. But Britain, France and the U.S. rejected the proposal. What followed was a humanitarian catastrophe. Mr. Assad stayed on, while the Islamic State (IS) rose from the ruins of a protracted civil war, endangering millions of people.

During the course of the war, Mr. Obama came under enormous pressure from Washington’s allies in West Asia, mainly Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to bomb Damascus to take Mr. Assad out of power. The allies knew that only the U.S. could do it as the Russians are directly backing Mr. Assad. But Mr. Obama has never been convinced that removing Mr. Assad forcibly from power would produce any positive outcome. He was rather wary of the possibility of a post-Assad Syria plunging into chaos, like Iraq and Libya did after their dictators were toppled, which would help the IS consolidate its position further. America’s efforts to build a rebel group that could fight both the regime and the jihadists also faltered, being overrun by the Islamist militants. Besides, the refugee crisis in the West forced the U.S. and its European allies to accelerate efforts to find a solution to the conflict. Left with only limited options, the U.S. toned down its approach towards Mr. Assad. The administration still wants him to go, but it will not say when and how he should go.

Message from Moscow

As for the Russians, Syria is a strategic asset in West Asia. Russia’s only naval base outside the former Soviet region is in the Syrian coastal city of Tartus. Russia also sees Syria as an outpost of its power from where it could influence West Asian politics. From the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Russia’s primary goal was to safeguard its interests, and helping the Assad regime stay was a means to do that. Russia has actually played a pivotal role in the conflict so far. It persuaded Mr. Assad to destroy his chemical weapons stockpile, a move that provided Mr. Obama a face-saving excuse for not bombing Damascus in 2013. It also sent fighter bombers to Syria in September, marking the first major intervention outside the Soviet region since the 1979-89 Afghan war, to attack Mr. Assad’s rebels when the regime was losing battles. Russia’s stakes are high. But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bet is not on Mr. Assad, but on the state Baathists have built in Syria. That is why Mr. Putin said the only solution to the Syrian crisis is “restoring the statehood”.

Moscow seems to have realised that with Mr. Assad at the helm, after all the bloodshed the war has triggered, it is practically impossible to reach sustainable peace in Syria. But it does not just abandon Mr. Assad either — which is not, historically, a Russian approach towards its allies. Moscow wants a structural transition that would not only offer a face-saving exit to Mr. Assad but also leave the Syrian state intact. That is exactly what the UN resolution is calling for. For example, look at how the most contentious issue — the future of Mr. Assad — has been addressed in the resolution. There is not a single reference to Mr. Assad in the 1,656-word text. It does not call for his resignation, nor does it say whether he is eligible to contest polls. This is closer to the Russian position that it is up to the Syrians to decide Mr. Assad’s fate. But the resolution categorically states that “all Syrians, including members of the diaspora” — the refugees and the displaced — should be eligible to vote in the elections which will be administered by the UN. The American calculation is that if the diaspora votes, that would lower Mr. Assad’s odds of winning.

Challenges on the ground

While the UN resolution is indeed a welcome step towards peace, its implementation remains a difficult task. Even if the resolution is implemented in its letter and spirit, it will not encompass the whole of Syria. The talks will happen between the regime, which controls the Mediterranean strip of Syria, and the rebels in the south and west. Large swathes of the country are under the control of the IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, where the war will go on. So a single unified Syrian state remains a distant dream. But what is more worrisome is that even the practical side of the UN proposal is complicated and challenging. The first step of the plan is to get both the government and the rebels to sign a ceasefire. Russia and Iran will have to put pressure on the Assad regime while the Saudis and the Turks should use their leverage on the rebels. The problem is that Saudi Arabia and Iran are rivals in West Asian geopolitics and share a deep mistrust on core strategic issues. The relations between Moscow and Ankara reached rock bottom after the latter shot down a Russian warplane over the Syrian border last month.

More important, there is still no clarity about who is a moderate rebel and who is a terrorist among the Syrian opposition. Before the UN meet, Saudi Arabia and Turkey had asked Jordan to prepare a list of terrorists and non-terror rebels. There is a consensus that the IS should be excluded and a near-consensus on Jabhat al-Nusra. But there is no consensus on at least two controversial armed groups — the Saudi-sponsored Jaysh al-Islam, a coalition of 12 Islamist and Salafist groups, and the Turkish- and Qatari-backed Ahrar al-Sham. Mr. Assad’s regional enemies want both these groups as part of the opposition table, while Damascus, Moscow and Tehran call them terrorists. Ahrar al-Sham, a group of more than 25,000 fighters, is particularly viewed with suspicion by many. The group has military ties with al-Nusra and it is also accused of widespread human rights violations. They also want Sharia to be established in any post-Assad set-up in Syria, which is a direct challenge to what world leaders want to rebuild Syria into — an inclusive democratic state. Both these groups were part of the rebel summit held in Riyadh last month — meaning, the Saudis will not blacklist them as terrorists. It is yet to be seen how Damascus would respond if these groups are made part of the rebel negotiation team.

Nationalising rebellion

Another potential spoiler is the “Assad-must-go” obsession of the Saudi-Qatar axis. At the Riyadh conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had said Mr. Assad had two choices: “either to leave through negotiations or be forcibly removed from power”. After the UN plan was adopted, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blasted the peace proposal saying it “lacks realistic perspective”, while adding that the “Syria crisis can only be solved if Bashar al-Assad leaves power”. What is more important than removing Mr. Assad — which can be done through a democratic process — is nationalising the rebellion: disarming the militia groups and restoring the state’s monopoly over weapons. Only then can a stronger Syrian state fight the war against jihadists as well as rebuild shattered lives. If that does not happen first, the entire transition process will be in jeopardy. Whether Mr. Assad’s regional enemies let that happen is the question.

Saudi Arabia’s Phony War on Terror

Saudi Arabia’s Phony War on Terror

project syndicate

BERLIN – Containing the scourge of Islamist terror will be impossible without containing the ideology that drives it: Wahhabism, a messianic, jihad-extolling form of Sunni fundamentalism whose international expansion has been bankrolled by oil-rich sheikhdoms, especially Saudi Arabia. That is why the newly announced Saudi-led anti-terror coalition, the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism, should be viewed with profound skepticism.

Wahhabism promotes, among other things, the subjugation of women and the death of “infidels.” It is – to quote US President Barack Obama’s description of what motivated a married couple of Pakistani origin to carry out the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California – a “perverted interpretation of Islam,” and the ideological mother of jihadist terrorism. Its offspring include Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and the Islamic State, all of which blend hostility toward non-Sunnis and anti-modern romanticism into nihilistic rage.

Saudi Arabia has been bankrolling Islamist terrorism since the oil-price boom of the 1970s dramatically boosted the country’s wealth. According to a 2013 European Parliament report, some of the $10 billion invested by Saudi Arabia for “its Wahhabi agenda” in South and Southeast Asia was “diverted” to terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Western leaders have recognized the Saudi role for many years. In a 2009 diplomatic cable, then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton identified Saudi Arabia as “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Thanks largely to the West’s interest in Saudi oil, however, the Kingdom has faced no international sanctions.

Now, with the growth of terrorist movements like the Islamic State, priorities are changing. As German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said in a recent interview, “We must make it clear to the Saudis that the time of looking the other way is over.”

This shift has spurred the Kingdom to announce a “crackdown” on individuals and groups that fund terror. But, according to a recent US State Department report, some Saudi-based charities and individual donors continue to fund Sunni militants.

From this perspective, Saudi Arabia’s surprise announcement of a 34-country anti-terror alliance, with a joint operations center based in Riyadh, is a logical step, aimed at blunting growing Western criticism, while boosting Sunni influence in the Middle East. But, of course, the alliance is a sham – as a closer look at its membership makes clear.

Tellingly, the alliance includes all of the world’s main sponsors of extremist and terrorist groups, from Qatar to Pakistan. It is as if a drug cartel claimed to be spearheading a counternarcotics campaign. Listed as members of the alliance are also all of the jihadist citadels other than Afghanistan, including war-torn Libya and Yemen, both of which are not currently governed by a single authority.

Moreover, despite being touted as an “Islamic” alliance, with members coming from “all over the Islamic world,” the group includes predominantly Christian Uganda and Gabon, but not Oman (a fellow Gulf sheikdom), Algeria (Africa’s largest country), and Indonesia (the world’s most populous Muslim country).

The failure to include Indonesia, which has almost twice as many Muslims as the entire Middle East, is striking not only because of its size: Whereas most countries in the alliance are ruled by despots or autocrats, Indonesia is a robust democracy. Autocratic rule in Islamic countries tends to strengthen jihadist forces. But when democracy takes root, as in tolerant and secular Indonesia, the clash between moderates and extremists can be better managed.

Saudi Arabia’s dysfunctional approach is reflected in the fact that some alliance members – including Pakistan, Malaysia, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority – immediately declared that they had never actually joined. The Kingdom seemed to think that it could make that decision on behalf of the major recipients of its aid.

Add to that the unsurprising exclusion of Shia-governed Iran and Iraq, along with Alawite-ruled Syria, and it is clear that Saudi Arabia has merely crafted another predominantly Sunni grouping to advance its sectarian and strategic objectives. This aligns with the more hardline policy approach that has taken root since King Salman ascended the throne in January 2015.

At home, Salman’s reign so far has meant a marked increase in the number of sentences of death by decapitation, often carried out in public – a method emulated by the Islamic State. Abroad, it has meant a clear preference for violent solutions in Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

A smaller Saudi-led Arab coalition has been bombing Yemen since March, with the goal of pushing back the Shia Houthi rebels who captured Sana’a, the capital, after driving the Saudi-backed government from power. Saudi warplanes have bombed homes, markets, hospitals, and refugee camps in Yemen, leading critics to accuse the Kingdom of deliberately terrorizing civilians to turn public opinion against the Houthis.

Saudi Arabia’s solutions have often controverted the objectives of its American allies. For example, the Kingdom and its Arab partners have quietly slipped out of the US-led air war in Syria, leaving the campaign largely in American hands.

But beyond Saudi Arabia’s strategic manipulations lies the fundamental problem with which we started: the Kingdom’s official ideology forms the heart of the terrorist creed. A devoted foe of Islamist terrorism does not promote violent jihadism. Nor does it arrest and charge with “terrorism” domestic critics of its medieval interpretation of Islam. Saudi Arabia does both.

This speaks to the main shortcoming of today’s militarized approach to fighting terrorism. Unless the expansion of dangerous ideologies like Wahhabism is stopped, the global war on terror, now almost a generation old, will never be won. No matter how many bombs the US and its allies drop, the Saudi-financed madrassas will continue to indoctrinate tomorrow’s jihadists.

264 Armed Groups Pose Threat To TAPI In Five Afghan Provinces

Sources said Monday that at least 264 armed groups, including the Taliban, pose a serious threat to the implementation of the vital TAPI gas pipeline project.

Sources told TOLOnews that more than 3,300 armed men – in groups – are active in Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces. The pipeline is expected to pass through all five provinces.

Sources said these groups pose a serious challenge to implementing the TAPI project and that already they have made the roads insecure.

Meanwhile security institutions said Monday that they hope to deploy 7,000 soldiers to safeguard TAPI gas pipeline in those provinces and that they will also call on locals and tribal elders to support and help.

According to TOLOnews’ findings 3,373 armed men from 264 illegally armed groups are active along the pipeline’s proposed route.

The findings are as follows:

30 groups – 436 armed men – along Herat highway
145 groups – -2,036 armed men – along Farah highway
16 groups – 222 armed men – along Nimroz highway
4 groups – 100 armed men – along Helmand highway and
69 groups – 939 armed men – on Kandahar highway

“There are serious problems in this regard but the government can provide the security of TAPI project with the help of the people’s support and especially that of tribal elders,” said Khalil Ahmad Shahidzada Herat province representative in parliament.

“There are different groups creating insecurity on the routes but we believe that the people’s cooperation can implement the project and the people support the project’s implementation,” said Farid Bakhtor Farah provincial council head.

However, the Ministry of Defense said that despite insecurity, the Afghan forces are ready to provide security for the TAPI project.

“Not only security of TAPI pipeline but security of all parts of the country is the duty of Afghan forces and we are going to do that,” said Dawlat Waziri MoD spokesman.

These comments comes after Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces tribal elders met with President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday and declared their support for the TAPI project after the president called on them to cooperate in this regard.

Pakistan Resurrects Rigged Afghan Peace Talks, Once Again

[The so-called “Afghan peace talks” so far, have been organized subterfuge, intended to confuse the people who were paying attention by shifting the locus of the talks back and forth between negotiating sides, like some great shell game played with walnuts and a pea…only the pea was “peace” and the shells were Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States.  First, it was claimed, that the Taliban of Mullah Omar were abandoning his dogmatic refusal to negotiate with occupiers, in order to strike a peace deal with the Pentagon/State Dept.  When no one took the effort seriously, Afghan President Karzai allegedly opened his own negotiations with the still non-negotiating Taliban, establishing his High Peace Council of nationally esteemed negotiators, only to have his negotiators murdered one-by-one.  Pakistan partnered with China to open a third attempt at Taliban peace negotiations, after flushing-out its own Pakistani Taliban into Afghanistan.  Out of this effort has blossomed the Heart of Asia Conference and the breaking of ground for the multi-nation TAPI pipeline project.  Some have conjectured that TAPI and IPI (Iran, Pakistan, India) pipelines could serve as “The Peace Pipeline,” if pursued with that intention by all sides.  If Pakistan is now serious about eliminating the Taliban militancy it will become apparent in the coming months, just as pipelines reach the boundaries of the Afghan frontier.  Without buying an acceptable ceasefire with the Afghan Taliban and the crushing of ISIS recruiter wars before that deadline, neither peace nor pipelines will come to pass in Afghanistan.]

Talks between Afghan govt, Taliban to start next month

the news pak
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

ISLAMABAD: Talks between Afghan administration and Taliban would start afresh next month as behind-the-scene contacts are proving highly useful and positive signals are coming from both sides. The reconciliation process for intra-Afghan dialogue would get big boost towards the end of the month or early January when quadruple consultations will get underway. For the purpose Pakistan, China, United States and Afghanistan’s designated top representatives would put their heads together in Islamabad or any other capital.

Highly placed diplomatic sources told The News here Sunday that Pakistan would appoint National Security Adviser (NSA) to the Prime Minister Lieutenant General (R) Nasser Khan Janjua for the consultations while former Afghan diplomat Muhammad Hanif Athmar, who is NSA to the Afghan president, would be designated from Kabul.

An eminent Chinese diplomat Deng Xijun who is special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan would take part on behalf of China while recently appointed US representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson would be representing the United States in the deliberations. The sources said that stalled process of reconciliation would start in the light of the slated deliberations.

The dialogue was derailed in July last when the second round of the talks between Taliban and Afghan government was about to take place in Murree near Islamabad. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani gave his nod for resumption of talks early this month when he was here to co-chair the Heart of Asia Conference.

The sources hinted that Taliban leadership is also willing to join negotiations and for the purpose quiet diplomacy of the four counties is at work and yielding positive results. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif is likely to pay visit to Kabul during this week and he will have meeting with Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah and other high ups in Kabul.

The one-day trip of the COAS is being scheduled by the two sides. The General had an exclusive meeting with Ashraf Ghani here in Islamabad early this month and he was invited for a visit to Kabul by the president. The president appreciated the efforts and approach of General Raheel with regard to peace efforts for Afghanistan. The sources said that the high echelon meeting of Friday last under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had evolved strategy to deal with the upcoming situation with regard to Afghanistan. The meeting was also attended by the COAS and other senior leaders and officials.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had earlier told the Afghan president that Pakistan would be willing to play role for facilitating reconciliation in Afghanistan provided it is asked for the same.

Pakistan believes that peace and stability in Afghanistan would help in maintaining peace in Pakistan and in broader perspective in the whole region. The Afghan president and participants of the Heart of Asia Istanbul process welcomed Pakistan’s offer and in the light of the discussions Pakistan has been actively following the path for bringing the Taliban on the dialogue table, the sources added.

Pentagon Deploys “ISIS” At Will, Relocating Franchise To Nangarhar Conflict Zone

[According to the Mansour Taliban faction website, Shahamat, SecDef Carter was visiting Base Fenty, at Jalalabad Airport to inaugurate a new ISIS offensive, claiming that FM radio “Voice of the Caliphate” was broadcast from an intelligence building there.  Voice of the Caliphate is broadcasting recruitment calls and paying a high salary, per usual (SEE: What was US Secretary of Defense looking for in Nangarhar?).]

Daesh takes to airwaves; illegal media activity needs to be halted

kabul times

Daesh takes to airwaves; illegal media activity needs to be halted

The so-called Islamic State militants have launched a radio station in eastern Nangarhar province, aiming to recruit the country’s youth. The “Voice of the Caliphate” radio station broadcasts propaganda messages and recruitment calls to young Afghans to join the ranks of the militant group and take up arms against the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The broadcasts are adding to concerns about the situation in Nangarhar, where a top U.S. general said last week that IS allies in Afghanistan are trying to establish a regional base.
Nangarhar officials saying that the FM station’s strong signal reaches the provincial capital, Jalalabad – strategically located near the Khyber Pass on a major trade and transport route linking Afghanistan and Pakistan – and nearby districts in the country’s volatile east.
Official of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology told media, they are trying to track down the radio station – allegedly established by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group — that is spreading antigovernment propaganda in eastern Nangarhar Province. It’s not clear when the broadcasts began, but the ministry said that it found about the station “around two weeks ago.”
Meanwhile Nangarhar’s provincial government claims that the “Voice of the Caliphate” is being broadcasted from neighboring Pakistan and even the radio station’s technical capabilities were also provided by a neighboring country or, alternatively, that it is being broadcast via small, portable transmitters.
NAI, supporting open media in Afghanistan issued a statement shortly after reports emerged regarding the launch of the radio station by ISIS loyalists, warning that the launch of the radio station could have a serious negative impact on security situation of the country.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in his visit from Nangarhar on Friday told his Afghan counterpart that the United States is “with you,” committed to supporting Afghan security forces and building their capabilities for years to come.
Carter made a one-day visit to Afghanistan to assess the fragile security situation, amid reports of increased violence and a growing campaign by Islamic State loyalists to gain a foothold in the eastern part of the country.
Carter’s visit occurs as his top commander there, Gen. John Campbell, voiced concerns that foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq are joining with Afghans who have declared loyalty to Islamic State terrorists in the east, near the Pakistan border.
Carter said the Islamic State is “trying to create little nests where they feel there is an opportunity.” The United States is trying to make sure it won’t gain a foothold, particularly in nearby Nangahar province, he said.
There are about 600 U.S. troops at Fenty, one of the key bases where American troops will remain beyond 2016. Other bases have been shut down across the country as the number of U.S. and coalition forces has dropped in recent years. Overall, there are about 14,000 U.S. and coalition troops in the country.
The so called IS radio station is covering widespread propaganda against the Afghan people and government. The launch of media outlets aimed at spreading terror and hatred are against the enforced laws of Afghanistan, the government should use all technical and intelligence facilities in halting the operations of such illegal media outlets.
Launching of such media outlets will have a serious negative impact on freedom of speech in Afghanistan besides creating a gap of mistrust between the people and the government.

Taliban Own Helmand Province

Afghan Official Warns Helmand Province May Fall to Taliban

military dot com

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand at an outpost in Helmand province, Dec. 20, 2015. (Reuters/Abdul Malik)

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand at an outpost in Helmand province, Dec. 20, 2015. (Reuters/Abdul Malik)

KABUL — Afghanistan’s Helmand province could fall to the Taliban after months of heavy fighting, with 90 members of the security forces killed over the past two days, the deputy governor of the volatile southern province warned on Sunday.

Mohammad Jan Rasulyar said unless President Ashraf Ghani took urgent action, the province, a center of opium production and a Taliban heartland that British and American troops struggled to control for years, would be lost.

“Your Excellency, Helmand is standing on the brink and there is a serious need for you to come,” he wrote on Facebook.

The highly unusual public plea from a serving official painted a picture strikingly similiar to the situation that led up to the fall of the northern city of Kunduz in late September, when Taliban fighters seized and held on to for several days before government troops regained control.

If Helmand were to fall, it would deliver a blow to government claims that Afghan security forces, fighting largely alone since international troops ended combat operations last year, are controlling the insurgency, in spite of setbacks such as the fall of Kunduz.

Army spokesman Mohammad Rasool Zazai said he had no comment on the post, but said Helmand would never collapse, while police chief Abul Rahman Sarjang said: “We have strong forces in Helmand. In some places, we leave areas for tactical reasons, but all forces are working together well and very soon we will have major achievements to report.”

Ghani’s government, backed by billions of dollars in international aid and training assistance from thousands of NATO troops still stationed in Afghanistan, is pushing to re-open talks with the Taliban

Over the past six months, Helmand has been the scene of battles between insurgents and security forces that have complained of being abandoned by the U.S.-backed government.


“We don’t provide food and ammunition to our forces on time, do not evacuate our wounded and martyred soldiers from the battle field, and foreign forces only watch the situation from their bases and don’t provide support,” Rasulyar wrote.

Since Thursday, there had been 90 casualties near Gereshk, a junction on Highway 1 near the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, and in Sangin district to the north, a level of losses which was “an everyday issue”, Rasulyar added.

He said Sangin was “on the verge of collapse” with 44 casualties overnight.

The Taliban, which has not let a bloody internal leadership battle interrupt its campaign in Helmand, posted statements on its website detailing attacks on checkpoints as well as other operations including a suicide attack against the Gereshk police chief.

With army and police units badly weakened by desertions and lack of supplies, the Taliban has seized the districts of Musa Qalah and Now Zad in the north of the province and has threatened Lashkar Gah.

Government forces said they had recaptured the district of Khanishin on Friday, but by Sunday, the Taliban said it had won back the center.

Underlining the gravity of the situation, U.S. Special Forces have been reported to have taken part in fighting in Helmand in recent weeks. NATO headquarters in Kabul has not confirmed the reports.

A Pentagon report to Congress last week highlighted major shortcomings with Afghan security forces, despite billions of dollars of foreign aid and training.

Iraq Lodges Official Security Council Complaint Against Illegal Turkish Incursion

[Turkey to withdraw more troops from Iraq, citing ‘miscommunication’]

At UN, Turkey accuses Iraq of undermining Islamic State fight

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Turkey accused Iraq on Friday of undermining the global fight against Islamic State militants by taking its complaint about the deployment of Turkish troops in northern Iraq to the United Nations Security Council.

The 15-member council met on the issue on Friday at the request of Iraq and Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari who asked the body to adopt a resolution demanding Turkey withdraw its troops immediately.

Jaafari signaled the request for council action was a last resort. “Iraq has spared no effort to exhaust all diplomatic channels and bilateral negotiations with Turkey, in order to withdraw its forces that are unauthorized in Iraq,” he said.

Turkey deployed around 150 troops in the Bashiqa area earlier this month with the stated aim of training an Iraqi militia to fight Islamic State. Turkey withdrew some troops this week, moving them to another base inside Iraq’s Kurdistan region, but Baghdad said they should pull out completely.

Turkey’s UN Ambassador Halit Cevik said the deployment had been taken out of context and that additional troops had been sent to the camp to provide force protection due to increasing threats.

He said Ankara believed it had taken sufficient measures to de-escalate the situation, so efforts could be re-focused in combating Islamic State militants, who have seized swaths of Iraq and Syria. Islamic State is also known as Daesh.

“From the outset, we tried to resolve this matter through bilateral channels. Because taking this issue to various international platforms would serve no other purpose than to undermine the solidarity of the international community against Daesh,” Cevik told the Security Council.

He said Turkey has never had and will never have any interest in violating Iraq’s sovereignty.

ISIS In Afghanistan Another ISI Project?

[TTP rejects ISIS leader’s claim to be ‘caliph’]

‘ISIS in Afghanistan are the project of our neighbour Pakistan’

the Australian

  • The Times

A US special operations soldier on duty in Afghanistan.

A letter to a dead man lay among the rocks. Pulled from the body of an Islamic State fighter by Afghan troops as they searched corpses sprawled on a rock-strewn hillside in eastern Afghanistan, it issued instructions for distributing captured weaponry.

“Sheik Idriss”, the recipient, was addressed in Urdu, Pakistan’s official language. “When you have weapons from war booty then contact Issa Pakistani,” it read. “He wants to buy those arms including Kalashnikovs. I hope that you will co-operate with him.”

The Afghan troops smiled at the details. The language in which the letter was written, the nationality of Sheikh Idriss and the mysterious Issa all pointed towards their old enemy: Pakistan.

Yet it was the identity of the ­author that stirred their particular interest.

It was signed by Hafiz Saeed Khan, the Pakistani governor of Wilayat Khurasan, Islamic State’s emergent branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a man renowned for such wanton cruelty that his terror tactics have shocked even the Taliban. There was no doubting who the Afghan soldiers saw as their greater enemy.

“Hafiz Saeed may receive some sort of internet instruction from Baghdadi in Iraq,” said Brigadier Mohammed Naseem Sangin, referring to the Islamic State leader. He tapped the letter in his hand as sporadic mortar and machinegun fire echoed across the valleys and foothills of a lonely battlefield.

“But this letter, with its instructions from Pakistanis to Pakistanis, backs what we suspect: the Daesh (Islamic State) here in Afghanistan are the project of our neighbour over the border.”

The true origins of Wilayat Khurasan are the subject of contention in Afghanistan, amid a bloody internal struggle within the Taliban leadership.

An increasing body of evidence suggests that Hafiz Saeed Khan and his men are indeed the metastasis of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s organisation in Syria and Iraq, rather than merely being breakaway Taliban opportunists in search of new funding.

“If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” said a European diplomat in Kabul. “ISIL (Islamic State) are here. We don’t know exactly which way the Daesh phenomena will develop in Afghanistan, but we’ve seen no evidence that they are part of a Pakistani plot. On the contrary, both Afghanistan and Pakistan are at risk from them and should collaborate to tackle this threat.”

Rather than collaborate, Afghan troops on the front line in Nangarhar province, the focus of Islamic State operations, regard them as just the latest creation sent to destabilise their country by Pakistan. “Occasionally you get the odd Afghan with them, a disaffected local Taliban whose group have run out of power or money,” said Brigadier Sangin, the commander of a brigade of Afghan National Army troops whose men are bearing the brunt of the fighting in Abdel Khel. But most of the Daesh we kill here, and 95 per cent of their commanders, are Pakistanis.”

Hafiz Saeed Khan was publicly anointed as Wilayat Khurasan’s leader in January by Muhammad al-Adnani, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s personal spokesman in Syria and Iraq. He was one of six mid-ranking commanders in the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP, to give their oath of allegiance to Baghdadi, forming an Islamic State affiliate that was overwhelmingly drawn from Pakistan’s tribal agencies.

The only Afghan with a senior leadership position in Wilayat Khurasan was Abdul Rauf Khadem, a former Guantanamo Bay inmate originally from the Kajaki district in Helmand. He was reportedly the first to give his oath of loyalty to Baghdadi and is believed to have travelled for consultations with the group in Iraq in October last year. However, his appointment as Hafiz Saeed’s deputy was short-lived — he was killed by a US drone strike in February and replaced with a Pakistani.

Other than its relish for brutality, Wilayat Khurasan is in other respects dissimilar to its parent group in the Middle East.

Brigadier Sangin observed that his men had yet to find a dead foreign fighter — other than Pakistanis — among more than 200 Islamic State fighters they had killed in Achin over the past four months. He claimed that intercepted radio chatter between the militants was in Urdu or Pashtu, never Arabic.

Moreover, Afghan troops fighting around Abdel Khel have not yet experienced a single suicide attack, the hallmark of ISIS tactics in Iraq and Syria.

Whoever his ultimate paymasters might be, Sheikh Idriss never got the chance to obey Hafiz Saeed’s orders on war booty. Shot dead with 15 of his men in a failed night attack on the ridgeline held by Afghan troops in Abdel Khel, Achin district, a fortnight ago, he met the dawn with sightless eyes, leaving Brigadier Sangin and his soldiers to savour their war spoils instead.

“We revenged ourselves well on Hafiz Saeed’s men,” the Brigadier smiled. “Sixteen dead; we took away their weapons and their bodies too.”

The Times

Fazlullah’s New “Faux Islamic State” Gang Gets New FM “Radio Mullah” Station

Daesh expands Afghan footprint with terror campaign

gulf news

Daesh is exporting its particular brand of cruelty as the group seeks to enlarge its footprint in Afghanistan

Image Credit: AP
Internally displaced girls hold babies after their family left their village in Behsood district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan.
JALALABAD, Afghanistan: Rahman Wali’s younger brother was one of 10 Afghan men forced by Daesh militants to kneel over bombs buried in the soil in a lush green valley in eastern Nangarhar province. The extremists then detonated the bombs, turning the pastoral countryside into a scene of horror.

The August killings were recorded on camera and posted on social media like so many Daesh atrocities across the Mideast – reflecting how the Daesh is exporting its particular brand of cruelty as the group seeks to enlarge its footprint in Afghanistan.

It was through the macabre video that 44-year-old Wali learned the fate of his brother, Rahman Gul, an imam in their remote Shinwar district bordering Pakistan. Gul had been kidnapped weeks earlier, together with his wife and six children who were quickly set free.

After his brother’s death, Wali and his family fled to the provincial capital of Jalalabad, seeking refuge in a makeshift camp with thousands of others who left their homes in the valleys hugging the border to escape what is turning out to be an increasingly vicious war for control of the region between the Taliban and fighters of Afghanistan’s Daesh affiliate.

Reports of a Daesh presence in Afghanistan first emerged early this year in southern Helmand province, where recruiters believed to have links to the Daesh leadership in Syria were killed by a U.S. drone strike in February.

In the summer, extremists pledging allegiance to Daesh also surfaced in Nangarhar, where they challenged the Taliban in border clashes.

After see-sawing between the two groups, four districts – Achin, Nazyan, Bati Kot and Spin Gar – fell under Daesh control, according to Gen. John F. Campbell, the US commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Campbell told The Associated Press in an interview this week that Daesh loyalists in Afghanistan are now trying to consolidate links to the mothership – the so-called “caliphate” proclaimed on territory Daesh seized in Syria and Iraq after its blitz there in the summer of 2014.

For the present, Daesh ambitions for Afghanistan seem focused on setting up what it calls “Khorasan Province,” taking the name of an ancient province of the Persian Empire that included territories in today’s Afghanistan, Iran and some Central Asian states. It parallels names for affiliates elsewhere, such as the Daesh branch in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which is known as “Sinai Province.”

“I think ISIL is really trying to establish a base in Nangarhar … and establish Jalalabad as the base of the Khorasan Province,” Campbell said, using an alternative acronym for Daesh.

Several residents who fled the four Nangarhar districts say Daesh’s “reign of terror” there includes extortions, evictions, arbitrary imprisonment and forced marriage for young women. Beheadings and killings with “buried bombs” – such as the gruesome slaying of Wali’s brother – are filmed and posted on social media to instill fear, they said. Some spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals for relatives back in the districts.

Mimicking Daesh’s media outreach in Syria and Iraq, the Afghan branch also set up a radio station in Nangarhar, “Radio Caliphate,” broadcasting at least one hour a day to attract young Afghan men disenchanted by dim job prospects in a war-torn country with an overall 24 percent unemployment rate. The joblessness is even higher among youths targeted in the Daesh recruitment drive.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government forces, busy fighting the Taliban elsewhere, left the two militant groups to battle it out.

And battle they did. Hundreds of Taliban fighters – disillusioned with the 14-year war to overthrow the Kabul government – switched allegiance to Daesh.

Though estimates say that Daesh fighters number a few thousand nationwide, they are still far outnumbered by the Taliban, who have anywhere between 20,000 to 30,000 in their ranks, according to Afghan political analyst Waheed Muzhdah, who worked in the Taliban foreign ministry during their 1996-2001 rule.

Still, many admit the Daesh Afghan branch could pose a serious threat to the unstable nation.

In a report released this week, the Pentagon referred to the “Daesh of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province” as an “emergent competitor to other violent extremist groups that have traditionally operated in Afghanistan.”

“This may result in increased violence among the various extremist groups in 2016,” the Dec. 16 report said.

Campbell said some foreign Daesh fighters have joined the Afghans from Iraq and Syria. Former residents said they spotted gunmen from Pakistan and Uzbekistan, as well as Arabic speakers flush with money and apparently better armed than the Taliban.

Nangarhar is attractive to Daesh for its mix of insurgent groups, some of which are based across the border in Pakistan, and criminal gangs involved in lucrative drugs and minerals smuggling.

Alarm bells rang when students at the prestigious Nangarhar University staged a pro-Daesh demonstration on campus in August, sparking arrests by the Afghan intelligence agency and a crackdown on universities nationwide.

Governor Salim Kunduzi put Daesh’s battleground strength in Nangarhar at around 400 fighters. The province’s mountainous terrain provides perfect ground for an insurgency, and militants can easily resupply from Pakistan, he said. The province can also serve as a staging ground for a push north, along the eastern border and eventually on to Kabul, just 125 kilometers (77.5 miles) to the west, he added.
Both Campbell and Kunduzi agree Daesh may see Jalalabad as its base for expansion in Afghanistan.

“I do not think Daesh will focus only on the east,” Kunduzi said, using the Arabic language acronym for the Daesh group.

Nangarhar’s chief refugee official, Ghulam Haidar Faqirzai, said that at least 25,200 families – or more than 170,000 people – have been displaced across the province, either directly by Daesh or by perceived threats from the group. As the winter sets in, needs of the displaced are intensifying, he warned.

In a camp on Jalalabad’s eastern outskirts, 70-year-old Yaqub, who like many Afghan men uses only one name, said he left his village in Maamand Valley in Achin district six months ago, after “fighters of the black flag” – the Daesh’s banner – dragged him and his son into prison where they were beaten and tortured. He said he still does not know why.

“They covered my head with a black bag so I couldn’t breathe while they beat me for a whole day, and every day they said they were going to kill me,” he said.

Yaqub and his son were released after the family paid their captors 200,000 Pakistani rupees, or almost $2,000 – a fortune in Afghanistan, where the average annual income is around $700.

“Anything is better than going back there,” said Yaqub.

It Costs Iran One Buck To Fill A Barrel With Oil

Iranian oil workers work at the Tehran's oil refinery south of the capital.
Iranian oil workers work at the Tehran’s oil refinery south of the capital.


Iran’s push for big investment in its oil industry comes amid crude prices sliding to new record lows but officials are confident the low cost of production in the country will supersede any drawback. 

The collapse of oil prices has driven many US shale and other high-cost producers out of business and forced companies to put their development plans on hold.

Nevertheless, it is business as usual in Iran where production costs in some central oil fields wallow at $1-$1.5 a barrel.

“Currently, the cheapest crude oil in terms of recovery costs is produced and supplied in Iran’s central regions where production is possible at $1-$1.5 a barrel,” CEO of Iranian Central Oil Fields Company Salbali Karimi said.

The country’s oil reserves, the world’s fourth largest estimated about 150 billion barrels, are mainly based in the Zagros belt and the Persian Gulf.

An aerial view of an anticline in the Zagros Mountains. About a third of these anticlines contain hydrocarbons.

With crude prices on a tailspin, officials have taken new measures since last year to cut costs further and make production more efficient, Karimi said.

“With the implementation of the existing plans, we expect oil and gas production costs to reach a minimum,” he said.

Each barrel of conventional crude oil in the Persian Gulf costs Iran between five and 10 dollars to recover versus $40-$80 for the shale oil.

Iran is “the world’s cheapest country” for oil production, head of investment at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Ali Kardor said in October.

“The finished cost of each oil barrel produced in Iran is about $5. This price tag doesn’t exceed $10 with the costliest of processes,” he said.

Zagros Mountains in Iran’s Lorestan province

Iran needs $250 billion of investment in its oil industry between 2016 and 2025, including $176 billion in its upstream sector and another $77 billion in downstream spending, Kardor said then.

The country plans to boost oil production to 5.7 million barrels a day and gas output to 1.4 billion cubic meters a day by 2021.

Last month, Iran hosted leading energy companies from around the world at a conference in Tehran to unveil its new framework for oil and gas contracts and present $30 billion worth of projects to investors.

As many as 250 representatives of companies from 33 countries attended the event.

Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2254 (2015), Syrian Road Map for Peace–(full text)

united nations

Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2254 (2015), Endorsing Road Map for Peace Process in Syria, Setting Timetable for Talks


The full text of resolution 2254 (2015) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2170 (2014), 2175 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2235 (2015), and 2249 (2015) and Presidential Statements of 3 August 2011 (S/PRST/2011/16), 21 March 2012 (S/PRST/2012/6), 5 April 2012 (S/PRST/2012/10), 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15), 24 April 2015 (S/PRST/2015/10) and 17 August 2015 (S/PRST/2015/15),

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Expressing its gravest concern at the continued suffering of the Syrian people, the dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation, the ongoing conflict and its persistent and brutal violence, the negative impact of terrorism and violent extremist ideology in support of terrorism, the destabilizing effect of the crisis on the region and beyond, including the resulting increase in terrorists drawn to the fighting in Syria, the physical destruction in the country, and increasing sectarianism, and underscoring that the situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution,

Recalling its demand that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians, including members of ethnic, religious and confessional communities, and stresses that, in this regard, the primary responsibility to protect its population lies with the Syrian authorities,

Reiterating that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 as endorsed by resolution 2118 (2013), including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions,

Encouraging, in this regard, the diplomatic efforts of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to help bring an end to the conflict in Syria,

Commending the commitment of the ISSG, as set forth in the Joint Statement on the outcome of the multilateral talks on Syria in Vienna of 30 October 2015 and the Statement of the ISSG of 14 November 2015 (hereinafter the “Vienna Statements”), to ensure a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué in its entirety, and emphasizing the urgency for all parties in Syria to work diligently and constructively towards this goal,

Urging all parties to the UN-facilitated political process to adhere to the principles identified by the ISSG, including commitments to Syria’s unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, to ensuring continuity of governmental institutions, to protecting the rights of all Syrians, regardless of ethnicity or religious denomination, and to ensuring humanitarian access throughout the country,

Encouraging the meaningful participation of women in the UN-facilitated political process for Syria,

Bearing in mind the goal to bring together the broadest possible spectrum of the opposition, chosen by Syrians, who will decide their negotiation representatives and define their negotiation positions so as to enable the political process to begin, taking note of the meetings in Moscow and Cairo and other initiatives to this end, and noting in particular the usefulness of the meeting in Riyadh on 9-11 December 2015, whose outcomes contribute to the preparation of negotiations under UN auspices on a political settlement of the conflict, in accordance with the Geneva Communique and the “Vienna Statements”, and looking forward to the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria finalizing efforts to this end,

“1.   Reconfirms its endorsement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, endorses the “Vienna Statements” in pursuit of the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué, as the basis for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition in order to end the conflict in Syria, and stresses that the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria;

“2.   Requests the Secretary-General, through his good offices and the efforts of his Special Envoy for Syria, to convene representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to engage in formal negotiations on a political transition process on an urgent basis, with a target of early January 2016 for the initiation of talks, pursuant to the Geneva Communiqué, consistent with the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement, with a view to a lasting political settlement of the crisis;

“3.   Acknowledges the role of the ISSG as the central platform to facilitate the United Nations’ efforts to achieve a lasting political settlement in Syria;

“4.   Expresses its support, in this regard, for a Syrian-led political process that is facilitated by the United Nations and, within a target of six months, establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, and further expresses its support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement;

“5.   Acknowledges the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process, pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, and that both initiatives should move ahead expeditiously, and in this regard expresses its support for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, which the ISSG has committed to support and assist in implementing, to come into effect as soon as the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition have begun initial steps towards a political transition under UN auspices, on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement, and to do so on an urgent basis;

“6.   Requests the Secretary-General to lead the effort, through the office of his Special Envoy and in consultation with relevant parties, to determine the modalities and requirements of a ceasefire as well as continue planning for the support of ceasefire implementation, and urges Member States, in particular members of the ISSG, to support and accelerate all efforts to achieve a ceasefire, including through pressing all relevant parties to agree and adhere to such a ceasefire;

“7.   Emphasizes the need for a ceasefire monitoring, verification and reporting mechanism, requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on options for such a mechanism that it can support, as soon as possible and no later than one month after the adoption of this resolution, and encourages Member States, including members of the Security Council, to provide assistance, including through expertise and in-kind contributions, to support such a mechanism;

“8.   Reiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the ISSG and determined by the Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the ISSG of 14 November 2015, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement;

“9.   Welcomes the effort that was conducted by the government of Jordan to help develop a common understanding within the ISSG of individuals and groups for possible determination as terrorists and will consider expeditiously the recommendation of the ISSG for the purpose of determining terrorist groups;

“10. Emphasizes the need for all parties in Syria to take confidence building measures to contribute to the viability of a political process and a lasting ceasefire, and calls on all states to use their influence with the government of Syria and the Syrian opposition to advance the peace process, confidence building measures and steps towards a ceasefire;

“11. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council, as soon as possible and no later than one month after the adoption of this resolution, on options for further confidence building measures;

“12. Calls on the parties to immediately allow humanitarian agencies rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Syria by most direct routes, allow immediate, humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need, in particular in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, release any arbitrarily detained persons, particularly women and children, calls on ISSG states to use their influence immediately to these ends, and demands the full implementation of resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014) and any other applicable resolutions;

“13. Demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment, welcomes the commitment by the ISSG to press the parties in this regard, and further demands that all parties immediately comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law as applicable;

“14. Underscores the critical need to build conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their home areas and the rehabilitation of affected areas, in accordance with international law, including applicable provisions of the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and taking into account the interests of those countries hosting refugees, urges Member States to provide assistance in this regard, looks forward to the London Conference on Syria in February 2016, hosted by the United Kingdom, Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Nations, as an important contribution to this endeavour, and further expresses its support to the post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation of Syria;

“15. Requests that the Secretary-General report back to the Security Council on the implementation of this resolution, including on progress of the UN-facilitated political process, within 60 days;

“16. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Targeting the masterminds

Targeting the masterminds

kashmir images

Apparently for the first time, Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani recently conceded that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan head Maulana Fazlullah was hiding in Afghanistan.

During the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad, he said that around 40 military actions had been undertaken against the Pakistani Taliban led by Fazlullah in eastern Afghanistan and promised to do more to kill or capture them.

Ashraf Ghani’s confession angered General Rahmatullah Nabeel, the long-time chief of the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS), to such an extent that he took to Facebook to criticise his democratically elected president. In fact, this was one of the reasons – along with President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Pakistan to attend the Afghanistan-focused Heart of Asia conference and his renewed efforts to befriend Islamabad – that led to the NDS chief’s resignation. Did Rahmatullah Nabeel’s anger stem from the fact that the NDS had developed contacts with Fazlullah and other Pakistani militants and harboured them in a tit-for-tat response against Pakistan for harbouring the leaders of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network?

We may not know the full answer to such questions because intelligence agencies operate discreetly and normally leave no trail to find out the truth. Also, with the departure of the NDS chief appointed five years ago by the then president Hamid Karzai, and President Ashraf Ghani now free to name a replacement of his choice, it is possible that his efforts to improve relations with Pakistan will move ahead more purposefully and Islamabad too would be able to sincerely facilitate the much-needed peace talks between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban. Such a possibility would benefit both countries as the militants are presently able to exploit the situation to their advantage by using the soil of one country to attack the other.

Though it was an open secret that Fazlullah and his men had found sanctuaries in Afghanistan since the summer of 2009 when they escaped the operation by Pakistan’s security forces in Swat and the rest of the Malakand division and parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), the Afghan government until now was in a state of denial. The admission by the Afghan president that the TTP head is present in his country is significant for the people of Pakistan, particularly the families of the 147 persons who were killed at the Army Public School in Peshawar by Afghanistan-based Pakistani Taliban on December 16, 2014.

The bereaved families have been asking the Pakistan government to help them seek justice by tracking down and punishing the masterminds of the carnage. They must have been relieved somewhat that four facilitators of the APS attack have already been hanged after being convicted by the military courts, while two others have also been awarded the death sentence and one more given life imprisonment. However, they are also aware that the three masterminds of the attack are still at large and based in Afghanistan – and no doubt plotting their next assault in Pakistan.

It is no longer a secret as to who the masterminds of the APS attack were. The capture of the facilitators – Hazrat Ali who was named by the army as the financier, Maulvi Abdul Salam and Mujeebur Rahman who harboured the six terrorists in their houses in Jamrud on the way to Peshawar, and Sabeel who transported them to the APS – must have enabled the authorities to fill in the blanks and confirm the identity of the masterminds.

As the TTP had claimed responsibility for the APS attack, it could not have happened without Fazlullah’s consent and orders. This makes him one of the masterminds of not only the attack on the APS but also numerous others. Aurangzeb, who now calls himself as Khalifa Umar Mansoor, from Adezai village in Peshawar district near Darra Adamkhel was the real mastermind as he claimed responsibility for the attack. He got picture photograph taken with the six suicide bombers before they embarked on the mission, and threatened further assaults. In fact, he followed it up by organising the daring attack on the Pakistan Air Force base in Badaber. Another mastermind was stated to be one Asif aka Haji Kamran, who was believed to be the operational commander for the APS attack.

Pakistan’s military authorities identified the attackers as members of the little known Towheed al-Jihad group, which was stated to have been originally formed by late TTP commander Tariq Afridi, who hailed from Darra Adamkhel and also had an influence on militants in the Khyber and Orakzai tribal agencies. However, the group owed allegiance at the top to the TTP, which over the years has been using different front organisations to claim responsibility for some of the attacks and confuse the intelligence agencies keeping track of them.

It certainly would be challenging to locate and eliminate the masterminds of the attack. The cooperation of the Afghan government and the residual US-led Nato forces still deployed in Afghanistan are needed to accomplish this task. The former is claiming to have almost 400,000 soldiers and cops. Though they are over-occupied in fighting the resurgent Taliban, some could be spared to go after the Pakistani militants in the Kunar, Nangarhar, Nuristan and Khost provinces. Since many Pakistani militants have joined the Islamic State, or Daesh, it would also be in Afghanistan’s interest to act against them and at the same time oblige Pakistan. The US through its airpower, particularly the drones, has been targeting Daesh and other militants, but it needs to do more to target the TTP fighters threatening Pakistan.

If requested, Pakistan should provide intelligence to the Afghan government to hunt down the masterminds of the APS assault and others busy planning new cross-border attacks. The memorandum of understanding between the NDS and the ISI fell by the wayside due to the deep distrust between Islamabad and Kabul. It can be revived if the recent breakthrough in their relations is sustained to overcome the mistrust. For this to materialise, Pakistan would have to – in the words of President Ashraf Ghani – earn Afghanistan’s trust.

The most practical way to make this happen would be to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiations table and push them to make peace with the Afghan government.

The writer is resident editor of The News in Peshawar. Email:© The News International

Human Stampede

[Ignore the Indian perspective given in the opening of the following post and you find an excellent description of the effects of social media upon the ability of humans to communicate.]

All the world’s in a moral panic

The Hindu

Nitin Pai

As the argumentative Indian makes way for the outraged Indian, public discourse threatens to spiral into uncharted territory. It is time we switched off from breaking news and instant analysis.

The outpouring of outrage that has characterised public discourse over the past few years shows no signs of abating.

A few years ago, many were outraged, first against corruption, and then against those who were not supporting the movement that had sprung up in protest. Over the last few weeks, we saw outrage being directed at actor Anupam Kher and his fellows for directing outrage against those expressing outrage against outrageous acts of violence against people who had said things that were considered outrageous. Then, in Bengaluru, a community-organised, traditionally non-partisan literary festival became the locus of a controversy where many were outraged that some writers had threatened to pull out of the event. This was due to their outrage over the remarks of one of the organisers who had criticised those who had returned their awards in outrage against the government that they saw as silent in the face of violent outrage against intellectuals whose views the killers considered outrageous.

Earlier, we used to react to events. Then we began reacting to the media’s portrayal of events. Now, with social media, we react to reactions to events, and reactions to reactions to reactions to events, and so on.

First we had news. Then it became a news cycle, then an outrage cycle, and now we have nested, recursive outrage cycles. There are cycles within cycles. Public discourse is fast spiralling into unknown territory. It is now mostly a grotesque drama of screaming anchors, shouting talking heads, hyperventilating reporters, partisan commentators, opportunistic cheerleaders and online hordes of the self-righteous, all venting outrage against their respective devils of the day. To not stone the devil is to invite association with him.

Dysfunctional democracy

This is dangerous to public policy and, at a deeper level, to our democratic republic: policy disagreements turn permanent and ever greater, the credibility of knowledge is forever in doubt, and the legitimacy of political authority is contested. For decades, India has been walking the tightrope between being a deliberative democracy and a confrontational one. If the current trend breaches the middle class and permeates the masses, the country risks falling off the tightrope, ending up as a dysfunctional democracy.

Yatha raja, tatha praja [like ruler, like ruled]. In a democracy, it is yatha praja, tatha raja too. Those who govern us are cut from the same cloth as the rest of us. It might not be a mere coincidence that there is increasing dysfunction in Parliament, where, too, outrage — not debate — is the currency of political contestation.

We are in the throes of a new form of what sociologists call “moral panics”. The term originated in the late 1960s, when sociologist and criminologist Stanley Cohen identified a social phenomenon of exaggerated responses to events, egged by the then emergent mass media, championed by “moral entrepreneurs”, leading to disproportionate changes to laws. In his own words, “Moral panics are expressions of disapproval, condemnation, or criticism, that arise every now and then to phenomenon, which could be defined as deviant… The media are carriers of moral panics, which they either initiate themselves, or they carry the message of other groups… The moral part is the condemnation and social disapproval, and the panic is the element of hysteria and over reaction. Which subsequently can be applied to all sorts of waves of phenomenon. It is largely created by the media: no media — no moral panic.”

Folk devils

Cohen coined the term “folk devil” to describe certain individuals or groups that are presumed to be a threat to society. Folk devils are painted — by the media — as entirely negative in character, with no redeeming features. They are then hysterically vilified by the public, and sought to be severely penalised. From youth gangs in the late-1960s, to concerns over inner-city crimes, to drug epidemics and so on, scholars have diagnosed many social phenomena as moral panics. Importantly, moral panics can be based on reality, and they can highlight desirable issues: what characterises them is exaggeration and volatility. In other words, society moving from outrage to outrage.

Diversity adds further fuel to the fire. Cohen notes that “as long as there is not one single set of moral values across a whole society, there will always be these episodes of moral panic”. Ergo, in India, with its immense diversity along ethnic, geographic, religious, class and caste lines, we are especially vulnerable. The question of whether women should be free to wear jeans, for instance, is likely to cause separate moral panics in conservative, liberal, local and national circles.

Effect of social media

We are yet to see academic studies of how the advent of social media changes the course of moral panics. Societies are already getting deeply networked with the penetration of mobile phones and the Internet. Twitter, to take one example, has lowered the quality of public discourse where blogs had once elevated it. WhatsApp forwards are personalised gonzo journalism, far more pernicious because people might believe such personal messages more than they would believe in a tabloid known and consumed for its sensationalism. Santosh Desai, advertising professional and columnist, argues that “[there] is a growing constituency for expressing feelings that one should not have but one does, and upon finding that there are many more who feel similarly, these politically incorrect sentiments get crystallised into a larger movement”.

Moral panics in radically networked societies are likely to be intense, personal and, of course, transient. It is unclear how they will affect public policy: politicians and bureaucrats can overreact to what they see as popular demand, or contrarily, tend to ignore what they see as a temporary fad among the digitally connected population. Either way, there are risks. Politicians and parties need to keep their ear to the ground as well as have a finger on the pulse to function effectively. If they lose it, or are confused, the results are unpredictable.

Unfortunately, we know little about how to manage and defuse ordinary moral panics, less these social media-driven recursive ones. We have to grope our way out of the darkness. The stakes, especially for us in India, are high: it is not only about sustaining the conditions for economic growth and transformation. It is also about preserving our constitutional values: As Mr. Desai warns, albeit in another context, there is a risk of how “using the instrument of democracy, fear and divisiveness are likely to triumph over ideals and inclusiveness”.

How to calm down

So, what can we do to calm down? Everyone in India who consumes news must engage in introspection and self-reflection. This, however, is too much to ask before a deep national crisis, which, let us hope, does not visit us. However, leaders of civil society, the media and public intellectuals do have a responsibility to challenge certitudes instead of reinforcing the passionate intensities.

At the risk of preaching my own preferences, dear reader, you can take the first step by stopping watching television. All television. Stop believing what you receive on WhatsApp and forwarded emails. Limit your exposure to social media, except during emergencies. Instead, embrace proven wireless technology with nearly infinite battery life: newspapers and magazines. Cold print is still more conducive to reflection than television or your Twitter app.

That said, I do plan to tweet this article, share it on Facebook, forward it on WhatsApp and email. And someone, somewhere is bound to express outrage over it.

(Nitin Pai is director of the Takshashila Institution, an independent think tank and school of public policy.)

DARPA On Your Mind–9/1/2004

DARPA On Your Mind

DARPA On Your Mind


“One might well wonder what “things” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has in mind to do “at great distances,” and what else might thereby be made possible. The epigraph that opens this article comes at the end of a discussion, headed Enhanced Human Performance, in a Defense Department paper in which the authors declare, “The goal is to exploit the life sciences to make the individual warfighter stronger, more alert, more endurant, and better able to heal.” DARPA’s Continuous Assisted Performance (CAP) program, the document continues, “is investigating ways to prevent fatigue and enable soldiers to stay awake, alert, and effective for up to seven days straight without suffering any deleterious mental or physical effects and without using any of the current generation of stimulants.” Experiments are cited in which a monkey has been trained to manipulate a computer mouse or a telerobotic arm “simply by thinking about it.”

These remarkable objectives would be easier to dismiss if the agency could not boast such an impressive track record. Its overall mission is to bring discoveries from fundamental research to bear on the mission requirements of today’s warfighters, to accelerate the pace of applicable discoveries.
Among DARPA’s accomplishments in its continuous effort to “fill the gap” between basic research and military use are the Saturn rocket, ground radar, the Stealth Fighter, and the Predator missile. DARPA-developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have been used in Afghanistan and elsewhere. And then, of course, there is the one innovation that might prove to be the most socially trans-forming of them all: the Internet.”
by Jonathan D. Moreno
Applied science may once again play a
decisive role in changing the face of armed
conflict, and the rest of human affairs, by
shifting the battlefield to our very brains.
The national-security establishment—and
particularly the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—
supports research at the intersection of neuro-
science and national security that could u
ltimately enable authorities to do things like
enhance (or muddle, or erase) memory,
monitor crowds for individuals whose brain
patterns correlate with aggressive behaviors,
or control weapons from afar merely with
thoughts. What are the dangers of such infor-
mation falling into “the wrong hands,” and
are there any “right hands” for this kind
of knowledge? Is any extension of human
abilities justified by the need for government
to protect its society?
The long-term Defense implications of finding
ways to turn
thoughts into acts
, if it [sic] can
be developed, are enormous: Imagine U.S.
warfighters that only need use the power of
their thoughts to do things at great distances
(emphasis in original).
—Strategic Plan, Defense Advanced Research
A few years ago on a bucolic drive
 from Charlottesville, Virginia, to
Washington, DC, my cell phone

rang. Like any good citizen, I pulled over

before I took the call.
“Dr. Moreno?” a female voice said.
“Yes?” I said.
“I need to talk to you about a matter—
actually, it’s…a national security matter.”
“Uh, yes?”
“I read your book. I have been the
victim of a government experiment, and
I need to talk to you.”
As I have done many times, I tried
to assure the caller that I am not a physician
or a lawyer, only a bioethics professor who
wrote a book about human experiments and
national security. I expressed my sympathy
but told her I was unable to give her relief.
Nonetheless, like others who have called or
e-mailed me in the past six years, she was
sure I could somehow help her. Mercifully,
I lost the cell signal and the call.
I believe that people who think they
have been victimized by government mind–
control experiments are misguided, yet I am
also impressed that there are thousands of
such persons. I have worked for two presiden-
tial advisory commissions and have heard

many of these people provide perfectly lucid

testimony about scenarios I find fantastic.
Some of them are courageous and resolute in
the struggle they perceive as having been foist-
ed on them; others are distraught and terrified
of what horrors the next day may bring.
Despite the vast distance between their
worldviews and mine, I have long been
impressed at the irreducible kernel of truth
behind these people’s bizarre obsessions: The
scientific community, in fact, has had a great
deal of interest in “mind control,” particu-
larly those scientists in the United States and
elsewhere who have been supported by the
national security establishment. The history
of this activity has been rich and rather odd,
an offbeat slice of our cultural history. But
the future is far more suggestive; it adds fuel
to the fire that inflames those fearful minds
most of us find hard to understand.
One might well wonder what “things”
the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) has in mind to do “at
great distances,” and what else might thereby
be made possible. The epigraph that opens
this article comes at the end of a discussion,
headed Enhanced Human Performance, in
a Defense Department paper in which the
authors declare, “The goal is to exploit the
life sciences to make the individual warfighter
stronger, more alert, more endurant, and
better able to heal.” DARPA’s Continuous
Assisted Performance (CAP) program, the
document continues, “is investigating ways
to prevent fatigue and enable soldiers to stay
awake, alert, and effective for up to seven days
straight without suffering any deleterious
mental or physical effects and without using
any of the current generation of stimulants.”
Experiments are cited in which a monkey
has been trained to manipulate a computer
mouse or a telerobotic arm “simply by
thinking about it.”
These remarkable objectives would
be easier to dismiss if the agency could not
boast such an impressive track record. Its
overall mission is to bring discoveries from
fundamental research to bear on the mission
requirements of today’s warfighters, to
accelerate the pace of applicable discoveries.
Among DARPA’s accomplishments in its
continuous effort to “fill the gap” between
basic research and military use are the Saturn
rocket, ground radar, the Stealth Fighter,
and the Predator missile. DARPA-developed
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have been used
in Afghanistan and elsewhere. And then,
of course, there is the one innovation that
might prove to be the most socially trans-
forming of them all: the Internet.
These mechanical and electronic inno-
vations required extraordinary resources,
foresight, intelligence, and patience. Unlike
other areas of government, decades of
development are acceptable in the DARPA
framework. Today the agency is turning its
considerable ingenuity and generous funding
($3 billion in fiscal year 2005) to the poten-
tialities of biology, including, as we have
seen, the enhancing of human performance.
The onrush of discoveries about the
brain and the concomitant technological
advancements suggest at least a few areas
of interest. Two of these—improving
intellectual endurance and achieving mental
control at a distance—are mentioned in
DARPA’s Strategic Plan. Others, such as
memory enhancement and distant brain
scanning (by means of a device that could
detect telltale blood flow in certain neural
systems from a distance), also suggest inter-
esting possibilities at the intersection of neu-
roscience and national security. In addition,
they present formidable ethical questions
that our society has barely articulated, let
alone carefully addressed. Are there places
that science just should not go when it
comes to what Woody Allen once called
his second favorite organ?
Longtime Minneapolis residents tell stories
about the woozy, skinny young men seen
about town during World War II. They were
conscientious objectors involved in sleep-
and nutrition-deprivation experiments.
Problems of endurance and alertness are
endemic to soldiers on the march. Infantry
troops often subsist for a year at a time on
four hours of sleep a night and modest
rations. Any advantage that can be achieved
in sheer concentration and physical stamina
has long been prized, and biological innova-
tions have been applied to this goal. As early
as 1883, Bavarian soldiers on maneuvers
were given cocaine to see if the drug would
help overcome fatigue.
Paradoxically, some of the most infa-
examples of drug experiments by the
military have had as their purpose the induc-
ing of confusion and panic, rather than clarity
and cogency. Notoriously, American officials
suspected the North Koreans and “Red”
Chinese of using hallucinogens to “brainwash”
POWs during the Korean conflict. During
the 1950s, interest in determining the psy-
chological effects of psychotropic drugs was
rampant, especially in the CIA and the U.S.
Army. One of the CIA’s activities under the
code name MKULTRA was the dosing of
unsuspecting individuals with LSD, including
army anthrax expert Frank Olson, who fell
to his death from a New York City hotel in
1953 under circumstances that have led some
to conclude that the drugging was part of
an assassination. That same year, a New York
City tennis pro named Harold Blaur died
following a mescaline overdose in an invol-
untary experiment at New York State’s
Institute. Blaur, who had been
admitted to the institute following a diagnosis
of clinical depression, was an unwitting
subject under a secret contract between the
state and the Army Chemical Corps. In
the 1960s, thousands of soldiers were given
LSD in tests to which their consent was
questionnable. Many at least seem to have
known they were going to be exposed to
an hallucinogen, but not where or how.
These incidents, it should be noted,
came in the wake of the trial of Nazi doctors
in Nuremberg, Germany, after World War II,
and the famous code written by the judges.
The first line of the Nuremberg Code is,
“The voluntary consent of the human subject
is absolutely essential.” Less than two months
after Harold Blaur’s death, the secretary of
defense issued a top-secret memorandum
that made the code the Pentagon’s policy
for atomic, biological, and chemical warfare
experiments. Yet the U.S. government funded
a number of both covert and unclassified
possible. But would individuals then be
overloaded with memories, storing vast
quantities of detail that would normally be
ignored because we have evolved to filter
out or delete useless bits of information?
Such an innovation could literally be
maddening, let alone counterevolutionary,
unless the effects were short-lived. And who
would want to volunteer for the first trial?
The artificial-intelligence approach
would be more straightforward: engineer
a direct connection between your brain and
your Palm Pilot. Information could be
not only uploaded to the brain but also
downloaded to your Palm. DARPA’s now-
cancelled LifeLog program was a step away:
The idea was to create a database with every
communication an individual has written,
all pictures taken of them, and every bit
of information about them. Then use the
Global Positioning System to track all their
movements and sensors to record what they
say, see, and hear and add that to the data-
base. The unfolding events in a potential
terrorist’s life could be reconstructed in all
their dimensionality. But so could yours or
mine, and a civil-liberties outcry after DARPA
disclosed the project led to its demise.
Learning about the mechanism of
remembering also involves learning about
the mechanism of forgetting. In the film,
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
ex-lovers undergo a high-tech brain erasing
procedure to forget about the pain of
breakup. In a literally touching moment in
Star Trek
, Mr. Spock engages in a Vulcan
mind-meld with Captain Kirk, without his
consent, to help him forget a tragic love
affair. Less romantically, undercover agents
would benefit from the ability to lose their
memories upon capture. Neuropsychologists
have already found that deliberate memory
loss among victims of parental abuse is both
a demonstrable mechanism (they are not
“lying” when they say they don’t recall)
and a very effective method of defense.
But mucking around with memory
raises significant questions about personal
identity. As far back as David Hume in
the eighteenth century, philosophers have
noted that our idea of ourselves is intimately
bound up with our remembered experiences,
including previous ideas about ourselves that
have entered the stream of consciousness.
Anyone who believes that there are certain
boundaries that should not be crossed must
be concerned about the modification of the
ability to remember and to forget.
Uri Geller gained fame decades ago for
his ostensible ability to bend spoons using
only mental energy. Then magicians did
the same thing. Although Geller still has
his advocates, agencies like DARPA seem
reluctant to throw in their strategic lot with
mentalists. Instead, in its effort to help
warfighters “do things at great distances,”
DARPA initiated its brain-machine Interfaces
The idea was to create a database
with every communication an
individual has written, all pictures
taken of them, and every bit of
information about them.
The Dana Forum on Brain Science
Program, which has shown that a monkey
can control a robot arm using only neural
impulses. In a 2002 report to Congress,
DARPA insisted that these are not merely
the impulses that normally control the
monkey’s arm, but the very thoughts about
arm movement themselves, transmitted to
a robot limb in another room. Similarly, in
recent work at Duke University, scientists
have shown that monkeys can be trained
to engage in complicated movements, with
neural processes alone, by means of devices
that involve both reaching for and grasping
an object. At the 2003 meeting of the
Society for Neuroscience, researchers from
Duke noted that they had proved the same
principle in humans undergoing neuro-
surgery (who could cooperate because brain
surgery anesthesia is local, not general) and
that they could safely identify the cells that
initiate actions. Ultimately it should be
possible for paralyzed people to control
limbs through computer implants.
Once this can be done, those same
impulses, digitized by a computer, can be
sent as encrypted messages over the Internet
to do things at any distance the electrons
will travel, including maneuvering aircraft,
inspecting a target, releasing weapons, and
so forth, at very close range. A soldier could
stay at a safe distance while controlling a
drone; an operator far from the battlefield
could do the same thing. Clearly we’ve
come a long way from arguing whether
Uri Geller actually bent that spoon.
General Patton is said to have lost his
command after World War II when he told
a journalist he regretted a world in which
distant aircraft could determine the course
of combat. But in fact the opportunity
provided by ground warfare to engage in
heroic acts at close range has never carried
much weight in comparison with tactical
advantage. Is any kind of tactical advantage
acceptable, or at any point are some advan-
tages so profound as to be unfair? (Probably
not.) Defenders of these development efforts
will surely observe that they are likely to
alleviate one of the most vexing problems
of modern war, the unintended effects of
lethal weapons on unarmed civilians.
Since the 1970s, reports have circulated
about Soviet and Chinese interest in “psy-
chotronic” weapons intended to influence
psychological and physiological processes at
a distance, perhaps through electromagnetic
radiation. Those who suspect innovative
national security agencies like DARPA of
malicious intentions believe it will continue
to probe all the possibilities presented by
neuroscientific advances, including mind
control. As evidence, human rights advo-
cates claim that references to mind control
or psychotronic weapons, including
summaries of information about Russian
and Chinese efforts, remain classified.
Those who suspect innovative nation-
al security agencies like DARPA of
malicious intentions believe it will
continue to probe all the possibilities
presented by neuroscientific
advances, including mind control.
According to U.S. experts, although
psychotronic warfare has been seized upon
by those who believe a security agency is
controlling or disrupting their brains, its goal
as information warfare would be to attack
communications systems, thus causing a
catastrophic infrastructure failure. Jamming
transmissions by Saddam Hussein’s radar
installations in the run-up to the Iraq war
was an elementary example of such tactics.
Similar principles might be applied to the
mental energy of the warfighters themselves,
perhaps by “pulse-wave weapons,” which
would disrupt motor signals from the
central cortex. Once again, though, reports
about Russian possession of such weapons
are highly disputed—as are claims that such
technical capabilities exist.
Perhaps more within reach are devel-
opments in functional magnetic resonance
imaging (fMRI) technology. The advent of
fMRI has been a boon to neuroscientists
interested in correlating blood flow with just
about every imaginable human experience.
If the basic mechanism could be improved
to detect blood flow at some distance from
the target brain—something like the MRI
systems within which surgery can be
conducted—it would be possible to install
surveillance systems in sensitive public spaces
like airports. Individuals with increased
blood flow in neural systems associated with
aggressive behaviors could be singled out
and stopped for questioning. Whether this
approach would provide a security benefit
or not might be beside the point for author-
ities anxious to appear to be doing all they
can to protect the public, as air travelers
have noticed in the past few years.
In the largest sense, what seems to be at
hazard are our most basic ideas about person-
identity and liberty. What sorts of ground
rules can be set for science and for states?
Are there regions of forbidden knowledge?
Or, because the prospects appear too attrac-
tive for governments to ignore (and too
important to concede to their adversaries),
how should democratic societies
themselves to manage these immensely pow-
capabilities? We seem to be left with
the ironic conclusion that the more tools the
neurosciences present for national security
purposes, the less secure each of us will be.
Discussions about ethics require the
oxygen of transparency, precisely the item
in short supply in national security matters.
Yet the failure to engage in some prospective
analysis of moral issues during the course of
technological innovations can have vexing
consequences for future generations. Aware
of the experience of the atomic physicists,
for example, geneticists resolved early on
to open themselves up to public scrutiny.
If the basic mechanism could be
improved to detect blood flow at
some distance from the target
brain—something like the MRI
systems within which surgery can
be conducted—it would be possible
to install surveillance systems in
sensitive public spaces like airports.
The Dana Forum on Brain Science
The U.S. government’s main funding
program for genetics research has from the
beginning set aside substantial funds to
sponsor projects on ethics. The vigorous
public discourse on ethics in genetics is
partly owed to that program.
Two complementary options are
available to stimulate a similar public debate
about the pursuit of these novel technologies
that may be applied to national security
objectives. One option is to create a funded
research program in which proposals can
be submitted for examining the kinds of
problems raised in this paper. Even if the
detailed mechanisms cannot be shared, the
issues at stake are clear enough and should
be debated in scholarly journals and on
op-ed pages. A second option is to create
an “ethical, legal and social implications”
advisory panel within agencies like DARPA,
composed of individuals with a range of
expertise and who have appropriate security
clearances but are not employees of the
federal government.
Whatever the means used for harness-
ing the knowledge that is forthcoming
to acceptable public ends, our society will
need to understand and debate the security
options made possible by the new neuro-
science. If only a small fraction of these
war fighting innovations bear fruit, applied
science will once again have played a
decisive role in changing the face of armed
conflict. In this case, science will have shifted
the battlefield to our very brains.
Chase, A.
Harvard and the Unabomber.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003.
2. Shachtman, N. “
February 17, 2004

AIDS – South Africa`s MKUltra ?

AIDS – South Africa`s MKUltra ?

african perspective

by PD Lawton

According to recent media headlines South Africans  are now asking to be supplied by  their government with ARVs to prevent HIV. That  tragic state of affairs is the result of a pharmaceutical-media propaganda campaign, a New World Order success for  depopulation and the profits of Big Pharma. The public`s fear of contracting AIDS is now at such an extreme level that they are demanding the State provide precautionary antiretroviral to be given to `at risk` sectors of society.

Who benefits from HIV ?

HIV status is a public relations program run for the benefit of the pharmaceutical industrial complex. HIV has yet to be proven to cause AIDS. HIV is a concept and AIDS in Africa is an umbrella name for a multitude of already existing diseases, some of which have been exacerbated by either environmental conditions or vaccines. In the case of South Africa it has reached the level of a national psyop and indirectly resulted in the resignation of a former  president, Thabo Mbeki  and his replacement by a candidate who is managing single-handedly to bring discredit to the ANC government, Jacob Zuma.

The largest HIV lobby group Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), funded by  US pharmaceutical companies, has been the effective tool  in what is part of a colour revolution in South Africa. This colour revolution is to over-throw the ANC government and derail the country`s membership of the BRICS nations.The BRICS is Africa`s only alternative to IMF/World Bank debt-inducing policy and is the political intention of creating a new paradigm of development and prosperity for the continent. Through public pressure organized by TAC, who are responsible for the red T shirt campaign promoting the idea of HIV status as `Proud to be HIV Positive`, the ANC were brought under pressure to sign agreements with pharmaceuticals such as Glaxo Smithkline and Pfizer to supply AZT to the public. Former President Thabo Mbeki had been insistent  that his government was being targeted by  subversive forces through the AIDS lobby due to the stance his government was taking in re-negotiating unfavourable terms with the WTO and the first steps that would later lead to the country`s joining of the BRICS in 2010. He went as far as to point at the CIA [1]

He maintained his view that HIV had not been proven to be the cause of AIDS under advice from scientists including  Dr Peter Duesberg and South African advocate, Anthony Brink who published a book in 1999 – `Debating AZT`. Due to Brink`s research Mbeki`s government and chief health advisor,  Prof Sam Mhlongo condemned the use of AZT.Prof Mhlongo stated that AZT was in his opinion a highly toxic drug and that there were multiple reasons for the epidemic of sickness in South Africa but that the main cause was poverty-related malnutrition. Prof Mhlongo later died in a car crash which was likely an assassination. Prof Mhlongo and the ANC under Thabo Mbeki openly accused drug companies of obscuring the facts as to the link between HIV and AIDS. Prof Mhlongo said :

The drug companies found that other parts of Africa do not have the logistics or capital, no chance of making massive profits. South Africa has the infrastructure to enable them to make the massive profits that they do. All the drug companies are here. South Africa is the epicentre for drug companies to supply the rest of Africa. So if you dismiss the question of HIV causes AIDS, then the drug companies will loose out.” [2]

In 2007, Anthony Brink  filed an indictment with the ICC against TAC leader, Zackie Achmat for the genocide of thousands of South Africans from ARV poisoning. Included in the Pariculars of the Charge :

“Achmat directs Treatment Action Campaign (‘TAC’), a professional lobby group that he founded in South Africa to shill on behalf of the multinational pharmaceutical industry by promoting the patented chemicals that it markets as so-called antiretroviral drugs (‘ARVs’) for the treatment of AIDS. Although the TAC has criticized the pharmaceutical industry on the pricing of ARVs (thereby burnishing their commercial reputation brightly), and makes a show of being financially independent from it (but collaborates with organizations openly funded by it), to all practical effect the TAC functions in South Africa as its marketing agent.” [3]

Today, the tenders for producing antiretrovirals in South Africa are worth well over R5.9 billion for competing pharmaceutical companies, 70% of which are South African based. [4] With millions of dollars pouring into the country from the USA,UK and Europe in the form of grants to support ARV treatment, HIV counselling, community and social awareness, educational programs and medical training and research, a single virus has now become one of the strongest economic growth sectors with tens of thousands of citizens employed in its ranks. An industry in itself, the AIDS Industry,  clearly proving that institutions like UNAIDS have little to do with science or health and everything to do with political advocacy; in the case of South Africa, a soft-power tool to manipulate the government of Africa`s mining giant.

The vested interests in South Africa are enormous. There are all these people who are doing research in relation to Wellcome and Glaxo. And they have research grants via the MRC, the Medical Research Council, and if they`re wrong- and in my view they are wrong- if they`re proved to be wrong then the research funding will stop and their careers are at stake and the `orthodox` view is extremely worried about the `non-orthodox ` view – that is the question that we are putting forward about the existence of HIV.” Prof Sam Mhlongo [5]

The higher the figures, the higher the funding

6.3 million South Africans were recorded as having HIV/AIDS in 2013 according to WHO statistics , with 200 000 deaths per year attributed to the disease. That is the highest rate world-wide. A national survey in 2014 found an astronomical increase of people testing positive for HIV, 400 000 new cases, up from 2012.  As of 2014 statistics there are now 6.8 million South Africans who are HIV positive. That is approaching one fifth of the population. In KwaZulu Natal which is an eastern province, nearly half the population (40%) have AIDS.

The HSRC (Human Sciences Research Council of SA) national survey results showing the dramatic increase in affected people has resulted in the implementation of a World Health Organization program to administer precautionary antiretroviral treatment to sectors in society considered most at risk. The WHO guidelines recommend that ” Oral PrEP…should be offered as an additional prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV infection as part of combination HIV prevention approaches.”[6] This is the largest ever roll out program of ARVs ever under taken.

UNAIDS reported that one of the highest risk sectors of society are adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 24, with 7000 new HIV cases each week, a 30% increase in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for empowering women,  organizations such as DREAMS will be working with this age group to ensure they have access to the new combination pre-exposure prophylaxis ARVs. DREAMS stands for `determined, resilient, AIDS-free, mentored and safe women`. It is a public-private partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.[7] Their mantra is that focussing on adolescent girls is key to ending AIDS. Or is it sterility?

The WHO is also  funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, both  infamous proponents of eugenics and depopulation.

Given the scale of AIDS in South Africa and the fact that antiretrovirals are mind and mood altering are we looking at South Africa`s version of MKUltra?  Project MKUltra was/is a covert CIA mind control program using drugs like LSD and other techniques to control the behaviour of individuals by manipulating mental states and altering brain function.


Apart from the highest AIDS rate,  South Africa holds another global record and that is for violent homicides. It is one of the most violent countries in the world and since 1994 rape and homicide have spiralled. [8] With an increase of 4.6 % in the last year, 49 South Africans are murdered each day in what are often horrifically violent homicides. 17 805 murders each year for a population of 54 million is a world record breaker. An example of what homicide in South Africa means can be seen on the Afrikaner Genocide Museum ( which is documenting the slow, controlled eradication of a White race of people  that has been African for the last 600 years. We can only hope that such torture is conducted by men who have been mentally debilitated. The country`s  child homicide rate was reported by the WHO in 2013 as more than double the global average. What the WHO did not report were the numbers of children murdered with knives, knobkerries (batons), machetes and by sexual abuse.[9]

In 2008, a paper was published by a leading South African psychiatrist, Prof. Matshepo Matoane after she had conducted extensive research into AIDS and psychiatric behavioural traits of patients on medication, that revealed the increase in violent tendencies of patients who were on a combination of drugs for TB and AIDS. The study revealed that the combination of these two medical treatments changed the patients natural behaviour making them violent and sadistic. Her warning to the government of the real danger was based on the fact that 40% of the military force are on the AIDS/TB medical combination. Prof Matoane gave her report in 2008 in an address to the South African military academy in Cape Town. Except for one source there was a total media blackout. [10]

TB is on the increase world-wide but yet again South Africa scores 3rd highest for rate of TB with an estimated 490 000 cases. 63% of whom are on AVRs. Silicosis induced TB is common among the mining work force due to silica dust exposure.  TB is a disease in partnership with poverty.History and logic declare that to true.

Big Drug Lords and little drug lords

Developed by Merck , Efavirenz is an antiretroviral known by its brand names  Sustiva, Stocrin and Efavir. Efavirenz is a psychoactive drug that has been proven to have the same effect on the mind as LSD.[11]The side effects taken under normal conditions are insomnia, depression, anxiety, confusion with more extreme psychiatric side-effects being aggression and psychosis.  Using ARVs as hallucinogens is common practice in South Africa where it is the street drug known as Nyope or Whoonga. A mix of tobacco, marijuana and ground up ARV with a dash of rat poison gives a huge high and is also one of the most  addictive of substances. Drug addicts in KwaZulu Natal on Whoonga are a major part of the spiralling crime and gang culture associated with extremely violent robberies involving rape, torture and murder all committed to get a daily supply of ARVs.  With 73% of South Africans under the age of 35 unemployed (source: COSATU,2011) it is not surprising that the official CDA statistics for heavy drug users is 15%. South African society is being undermined by the level of crime and much of this crime is AIDS drugs related.


The mining labour force of South Africa is among the cheapest world-wide and has continued to be since 1994.The platinum, gold, diamond and coal mines are some of the deepest. Inadequate health measures can almost guarantee that a miner will after 10 years in such conditions develop  some form of lung disease either related to asbestos or silicosis induced TB. AIDS has been an umbrella condition for mining corporations. To this day the extremely high rate of AIDS among miners is attributed to sexual promiscuity with   references common in the media such as this  :”AIDS is a particular problem in the mining industry because many employees are migrant workers living in hostels often hundreds of miles from their families.”[12]

A case is currently in the South African courts against 32 mining companies .Thousands of former miners are suing for what they estimate are 780 000 cases of occupational lung disease. If the case goes forward it will be the single largest class action suit in the history of the country.[13]

Dr Nancy Turner Banks has written extensively on the vested interests of corporations in promoting a new disease called  AIDS in her award winning book `AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire`. The  convenience of a disease that is contracted by sexual promiscuity as oppose to working conditions is undeniable. By the time, if ever, this deception is realized by the majority South Africa`s mine labour will have been replaced by a fully automated robotic technology.

A stranger case then for KwaZulu Natal where 1 in 3 people have AIDS because the province`s economy apart from coal is agricultural with a staggering 70% of people unemployed. However the main agriculture is sugarcane and one company has a monopoly over it, Huletts-Tongaat. Anglo American is the main share holder. Much of the cane harvesting is still done by hand and the one guaranteed condition that is prevalent among cane croppers is malnutrition due to the wages. Rio Tinto operates KwaZulu Natal`s coal mining. Two of the main investors in Rio Tinto are The Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who also fund the majority of the region`s clinics and hospitals which are where a person will be screened and treated for HIV. The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies has its headquarters in KwaZulu Natal. It is one of the three largest sources of employment in the region where 70% of people are unemployed. Its primary aim is to combat HIV. The Africa Centre for Health and Population studies is funded by The Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. [14] You cannot get your head around the scale of this psyop.

The Tentacles of Empire

Since 2002 Anglo American, South Africa`s largest private company and employer have issued free ARVs to their 135 000 staff. Miners in Botswana working for  Debswana also receive free ARVs,  as do their families. Debswana is a joint venture 50% owned by the Botswanan government and DeBeers (now Anglo American.) Debswana is the largest employer in the country which has the 2nd highest rate of HIV globally.

Other companies in South Africa that issue free ARVs are AngloGold, a subsidiary of DeBeers, DaimlerChrysler and London listed drinks group – South African Breweries.


Whatever you perceive AIDS to be the stark reality of South Africa is that if you are  jobless; you will be unable to afford basic nutrition. At least 50% of South Africans live below the poverty line. The highest percent of poverty in any ethnic group is among the Afrikaners, one third of whom now live destitute in squatter camps.[16]

15% of children are born underweight, 5% of whom are so underweight they are diagnosed wasted at birth. 21.4 % of pre-school children have anaemia as do 50% of pregnant mothers. 13.2% of children have abnormally low calcium levels and vitamin B deficiency is endemic among the lower income majority who also live on the only grain that is deficient without nixtamalization in vitamin B, maize. Low levels of vitamin B have been proven to contribute to immune deficiency. [15] In a logical world : you are what you eat and health is a direct consequence of nutrition.

AZT was first produced as a treatment for cancer. It is a chemotherapy drug and therefore like all chemotherapy practices it damages your immune system. The following is a quote from AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire by Dr Nancy Banks:

Chemoantibiotics (anti[against], bio[life]), liberally given to both humans and domesticated animals,destroy the normal gut flora that aid in digestion and assimilation of our food and make it impossible to utilize the nutrition that is taken in. Many antibiotics and environmental toxins also damage a cellular organelle known as the mitochondria. It is in the mitochondria that our energy is produced in the form of a molecule of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). These fascinating organelles that at one time were ancient bacteria have their own DNA separate from nuclear DNA. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited through the maternal germline. Because of the intentional industrial attack of these organelles with drugs and toxins, not only is permanent genetic damage being passed on to future generations but this practice is also creating a significant rise in current chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer`s, cancer and acquired immune deficiency.”

Upto 80% of SA`s maize harvest is genetically modified.The staple diet of the nation is maize ground into maizemeal and cooked as a porridge. South Africa is the only country in the world that has a GM staple diet and has had for the past 3 decades.

Maizemeal is South Africa`s most affordable meal. It is cheap, traditional and filling. It is the only substance that the very poor can afford given that food prices in South Africa are no different to food prices in Britain and Europe.

40% of the genetically modified maize grown in South Africa is a Monsanto special – RoundUp Ready NK603 which is  banned in Russia and proven in France to result in cancerous growths i.e immune suppression. Contrary to mainstream media coverage,  the Seralini Study conducted in France has not been discredited.[17]

You do not need a man in a white coat to conduct research into the link between genetically modified food and damaged immune systems. It is a logical conclusion.

Mozambique neighbours South Africa with a high amount of interaction and trade between the two countries. 11.5% of Mozambican adults between the ages of 15 -49 years are HIV positive giving a total figure of 1.6 million cases of HIV as oppose to 6.3 million in neighbouring South Africa. Is this because Mozambicans are less promiscuous? Or is it because they have a staple diet of rice and a lack of Anglo American enterprises?

Positive or negative – a definitive science ?

Screening tests for HIV antibodies in South Africa are done primarily through  mobile clinics. This quick and cheap  method of detecting the presence of antibodies instead of the virus is not permitted in Germany due to its unreliability.


One of Prof Sam  Mhlongo`s many questions about HIV was why it affected Black Africans  more than any other race. If he were still alive today he would now have his answer. HIV is not a disease or a virus. It is a gene expression of a gene commonly carried by Africans. If Prof Mhlongo had the opportunity of  reading  German virologist, Christl Meyer`s research and the extensive research of Dr Nancy Turner Banks, he would have welcomed to learn that it is not surprising pregnant women in South Africa have a high chance of testing positive because their condition naturally creates antibodies. He would also have his worst fears confirmed about ARVs and administering them to 92% of HIV pregnant women in South Africa. As Christl Meyer answered to the question: So it sounds to me like this is some kind of genocide against Africa, against pregnant women who are producing the next generation and against homosexuals. Would you agree with this?

“I agree that this is a genocide.”[18]



House of Numbers by Brent Leung



[2]ANC Aids Denial – South Africa by Journeyman Pictures



Click to access PCB31_presentation_SouthAfricaInvestment_en.pdf















Imaginary Saudi-Led 34 State Islamist Military Alliance Begins To Dissolve

Role of Saudi-led ‘military alliance’ put to question as some members reject participation



© Faisal Al Nasser
The international community has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s initiative to create a coalition against terrorism. However, its “military and ideological” role has been met with confusion even among members, some of whom didn’t know they were included.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced the creation of an ‘Islamic military alliance’ with a mission to fight terrorism. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the coalition of 34 Muslim states would fight the scourge in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

The coalition members are to share intelligence, train, equip and possibly even provide forces to fight against militants such as Islamic State and al Qaeda, said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

“Nothing is off the table,” he stated regarding the possibility of deploying boots on the ground.

Pakistan got to know of its participation via news

A day after Riyadh announced the formation of the coalition, some of its members said that have been caught off guard and never agreed to take part in the alliance.

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry © Aamir Qureshi

Pakistan, one of the coalition members announced by Saudi Arabia, has denied its participation. Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry told journalists that he got to know of the coalition through news reports, adding that Pakistan was not consulted about it, Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday. He added that Islamabad was seeking details about the misunderstanding.

Malaysia denies taking part

Malaysia, another Muslim country which was put by Riyadh in the list of the 34 participants, also denied taking part in the military alliance. Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told journalists that Kuala Lumpur will not join Riyadh, however it will continue to be part of the international fight against terrorism, the Rakyat Post reported.

Malaysia's Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein © Olivia Harris

Indonesia skeptical about ‘military alliance’

Indonesia, a country with the world’s largest Muslim population, said that it was approached by Saudi Arabia concerning anti-terrorism cooperation, however it needs details before considering to join a ‘military alliance.’
Armanatha Nasir, Foreign Ministry spokesman said it is “important for Indonesia to first have details before deciding to support” any military actions, he said.

However, Indonesian Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said later, as quoted by Reuters: “We don’t want to join a military alliance.”

 Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir © AP Archive

US wants to know more

The US, which is leading its own bombing campaign in Syria targeting IS militants, has welcomed the initiative. However, Washington seemed rather puzzled in terms of how the coalition’s operations would work.

“We look forward to learning more about what Saudi Arabia has in mind in terms of this coalition,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter © Carlos Barria

Russia expects details

Russia said that it expects a more detailed account from Riyadh of its initiative. “We expect to receive more detailed information from the initiators of this process as well as we would want to know more about what was discussed in Paris yesterday,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying on Wednesday.

Foreign ministers from the US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey met in Paris on Monday to discuss the Syrian crisis ahead of the talks in New York on Friday that would include Russia.

Russia has been conducting its own airstrikes targeting IS and other terrorist groups in Syria since September 30. The strikes were launched at the formal request of Damascus. The Russian-led operation also involves coordinating its efforts with regional governments, including those of Syria, Iran and Iraq, which is known as the RSII coalition.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov © Sergey Karpukhin

Turkey welcomes Riyadh-led military coalition

Ankara, the only NATO state in the alliance, has agreed to take part in the Saudi-led initiative.

“The best response to those striving to associate terrorism and Islam is for nations of Islam to present a unified voice against terrorism,” said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu © Umit Bektas

However Turkish role in the fight against IS has been put to question. Russia’s Defense Ministry has recently claimed that Ankara is the main consumer of oil smuggled by IS from Syria and Iraq, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family are involved in the criminal business.

READ MORE: Russia says Turkey’s Erdogan & family involved in illegal ISIS oil trade

Meanwhile, Turkish MP Eren Erdem has told RT that IS terrorists in Syria received all necessary materials to produce deadly sarin gas via Turkey.

Washington has been urging Ankara to secure its Syrian border, which has been partially in the control of IS on the Syrian side. However Turkey has expressed skepticism, saying that it would be extremely difficult.

Iran, Iraq, Syria not invited by Saudi to the block

Despite Riyadh’s initiative to possibly involve the alliance’s ground troops in the fight against IS, Iraq and Syria have not been invited to the bloc.

Iraq said it was confused by the role of the alliance in the fight against terrorism in the region.

“This makes it very confusing for us. Who will be the one leading the fight against terrorism in the region?” asked Nasser Nouri, spokesman for Iraq’s defense ministry, as quoted by the Wall Street journal on Tuesday. “Will it be the larger international coalition, and if so, what will be the point of having this new alliance.”

US Refuses To Bomb Caliphate Media Centers In ISIS Communities, Fearing “Civilian” Casualties

US refuses to bomb Islamic State’s ‘media centers’ over possible civilian casualties



An Islamic State fighter uses a mobile to film his fellow fighters taking part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. © Stringer
US intelligence services have mapped Islamic State’s media installations producing terrorist propaganda for the internet, yet none of them have been bombed out for fear of collateral damage and the need for intelligence to monitor the jihadists’ operations.

The terrorists’ media centers, which edit and compile video and written material for propaganda over the web are located in residential areas in Iraq, Libya and Syria. The whereabouts of such installations are well known and thoroughly mapped out after a months-long clandestine intelligence program, The Washington Times reports, citing anonymous sources.

 Embedded image permalink

To would be ISIS recruits. Welcome to the meat grinder…

US-led coalition pounds -stronghold of Raqqa with leaflets

Coalition Warplanes Drop leaflet over the city of Raqqa

Obviously, if we know where they’re producing the propaganda, we should be doing everything we can to destroy their facilities,” William McCants, a Brookings Institution scholar and former State Department senior adviser for countering violent extremism, told The Washington Times.

But the Obama administration has not rushed to target these facilities with airstrikes or Hellfire missiles fired from drones. The explanation offered is not hard to plumb: innocent civilians in neighboring buildings might die as a result of an airstrike. Yet The Washington Times also mentions another declared reason for keeping the terrorists’ “propaganda bullhorn” in operation.

The White House expects US intelligence to keep Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) public relations operations under scrutiny “to learn how the Islamic State and its media enterprises operate,” The Washington Times said.

So ISIS’s “digital warriors” continue to disseminate radical Islam around the world, recruiting new jihadists and radicalizing young Muslims. In the meantime, America’s counter-terrorist media efforts have little to show.

The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications inside the State Department created in 2011 has 69 employees busy disseminating anti-Islamic State messages in multiple languages.

A State Department official told The Times that the majority of those employees are focused on “crafting messaging that exposes ‘weakness’ and ‘lies’ in Islamic State propaganda.

The same official revealed that with an annual budget of $5.5 million the center is “grossly underfunded,” claiming the critics of the interagency misunderstand the importance of the unit’s operations in the long-term perspective of fighting Islamic extremism.

In early December, The Washington Times reported that the US State Department might scale back its direct involvement in online Islamic State defamation campaigns after outside experts “cast new doubt on the US government’s ability to serve as a credible voice against the terrorist group’s propaganda.”

While US social media companies are in defensive posture, simply blocking extremist content and deleting jihadi links from their area of responsibility, the Islamists assume the offensive, learning to wage media campaigns, producing influential HD-quality video with special effects and making into page professionally designed multilingual agitprop.

The jihadists are mastering the art of trolling, too. The latest extremist video issued a month ago boasts the terror acts staged in Paris and promises the US the same approach, noting parenthetically about American war veterans that returned from “victorious” campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, suffering from the PTSD and committing suicides by thousands.

ISIS “editing suites” producing extremist videos are scattered about the Middle East countries and beyond, be it in Northern Africa or the North Caucasus.

UK-based counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation reported in October that there at least 35 media centers producing Jihadist propaganda material from “all corners of the Islamic State ‘caliphate.’”

As The Washington Post reported in late November, one such media center was spotted near the Syrian city of Aleppo. A two-story building in a residential neighborhood was reportedly stuffed with high-end equipment, used Internet access through a Turkish wireless service and served as an “editorial office” for Islamic State’s Dabiq magazine and al-Furqan media channel.

But the Pentagon declined to comment on The Post’s findings.

The Quilliam Foundation notes that Islamic State’s “exceptionally sophisticated” information operation campaign is based on “quantity and quality” principles.

Given this scale and dedication, negative measures like censorship are bound to fail,” the report concluded.

Yemeni Armed Forces Warn of Saudi Bombing Escalation During One-Sided “Ceasefire”

Armed Forces spokesman warns of the danger of military escalation of the forces of aggression and blatant violation of the cease-fire


Gen. Luqman  Brigadier General Ghalib Luqman, official spokesman of the Armed Forces
SANA’A, (Saba) –
He warned the official spokesman of the Armed Forces Brigadier General Ghalib honor Luqman, of the seriousness of what the coalition forces and their mercenaries aggression on the ground, it is a flagrant violation of the cease-fire called by the United Nations yesterday. Brigadier-General Lukman, in a statement to the state news agency Saba that unjust war waged by states led by Saudi Arabia alliance aggression I still ongoing and did not stop, but on the contrary there is a significant escalation by them during the past two days. “

“The forces of aggression has intensified its air, sea and land bombardment of hundreds of communities and vital installations in the last 48 hours.”

He noted that the front sleepless instigated saw the intensity of the fires is unsurpassed by Saudi forces of aggression with continuing attempts to crawl backing Aviation F-16 and Apache, with the approach of warships hostile from the west coast of the Republic of Yemen and intense shelling on the coast of the province of Hodeidah, especially on the city beard .. pointing out Attempts to creep forces of aggression and their mercenaries in front of Marib are no other users of all arms in heavy shelling on the diamond area stop.

He said Brigadier General Lokman this escalation by the forces of aggression, despite the start of negotiations, Switzerland, the definitive guide to arrogance and arrogance of the leaders of aggression and lack of respect for the call of the United Nations cease-fire.

He stressed that the escalation based suspicious and dangerous military moves by the Saudi side does not represent the behavior of a simple violations can be overlooked, but rather a war fact continuing even tougher than ever before in desperate attempts to occupy any part of the territory of the Republic of Yemen .. stressing that the army and people’s committees in front of this escalation dangerous and internecine war being waged on our people Yemeni peaceful and patient and steadfast in the face of aggression will be forced Wen to defend and react strongly to the attacks blatant obvious cease-fire breaches.

He held the official spokesman of the Armed Forces states alliance aggression and the United Nations Committee on the monitoring of the ceasefire responsible for what is happening on the ground of violation and destruction and killing of the Yemeni people and the consequent reactions of nature by the army and the popular committees against such violations.



Maulvi Umar, a Taliban spokesman, speaks during a press conference in Khar, the main town of Pakistan tribal region Bajur, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008. Umar is warning Pakistan's government to end a military crackdown against insurgents or face suicide bombings and other attacks. (AP Photo/Anwarullah Khan)

Maulvi Umar, a Taliban spokesman, speaks during a press conference in Khar, the main town of Pakistan tribal region Bajur, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008. Umar is warning Pakistan’s government to end a military crackdown against insurgents or face suicide bombings and other attacks. (AP Photo/Anwarullah Khan)

His name is Maulvi Umar]

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar[THIS IS BARADAR (“Mullah Brother”),

as he was being led into a meeting with HPC (High Peace Council) representatives In Islamabad.–Sep 11, 2013]

 Maulvi Umar, a Taliban spokesman, speaks during a press conference in Khar, the main town of Pakistan tribal region Bajur, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008. Umar is warning Pakistan's government to end a military crackdown against insurgents or face suicide bombings and other attacks. (AP Photo/Anwarullah Khan)
by Anwarullah Khan, AP
Maulvi Umar, a Taliban spokesman, speaks during a press conference in Khar, the main town of Pakistan tribal region Bajur, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008. Umar is warning Pakistan’s government to end a military crackdown against insurgents or face suicide bombings and other attacks. (AP Photo/Anwarullah Khan)
KHAR, Pakistan — A Taliban spokesman on Tuesday warned Pakistan’s government to end a military crackdown against insurgents in a restive northwestern mountain valley or face suicide bombings.

Maulvi Umar said the government has run out of time and must stop the current military operation in the Swat Valley, where the army says bloody clashes this week have left 125 dead.

“Our ultimatum has ended. Now they have made a strike and it is our turn to strike whether it will be tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or whenever,” Umar told a news conference in a village mosque in Bajur tribal region bordering Afghanistan guarded by more than 100 heavily armed militants.

Umar is spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella organization of militant groups led by Baitullah Mehsud, the country’s top Taliban leader.

Umar spoke jointly with Maulana Faqir Mohammed, a cleric who is suspected by Pakistani intelligence of ties with al-Qaida No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

In comments apparently intended to reflect public enthusiasm for the Taliban’s armed struggle, Mohammed claimed they have received requests from a large number of women to be trained for suicide attacks.

The violence has erupted in Swat despite a peace agreement between a pro-Taliban cleric, Mullah Fazlullah, and the provincial government reached in May.

Under the pact, militants agreed to recognize the government’s authority and halt attacks in return for the release of prisoners and government concessions on implementation of Islamic law.

Umar accused the government of violating the accord. He threatened suicide bombings and other attacks targeting the government and senior officials.

A provincial government spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the militant threat.

Authorities say more than 60 girls schools have been set on fire in recent weeks and security forces attacked. On Saturday, nine police and paramilitary troops were killed in a bombing on a bridge.

Many observers say the lull in hostilities that followed the May peace deal has allowed militants who were targeted in a major military offensive late last year to regroup.

The army said Tuesday that since the latest security operation began July 30, 11 troops, 20 civilians and 94 militants have died. It was not possible to confirm that toll independently.

Meanwhile in Bajur, a clash between security forces and militants left one paramilitary soldier dead Tuesday.

The shootout broke out after troops resisted militants who were trying to occupy a security post in Arrang, a village east of the region’s main town of Khar, said Fazal Rabi, a local senior security official.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Indian Congress In Uproar Over Basic Human Rights for India’s Untouchable “Dalits”

[Blood-curdling story of Dalit struggle for self-determination ; Dalit: The Black Untouchables of India book by V.T. Rajshekar ]

Heated exchanges in Lok Sabha over Dalits

The Hindu


Mallikarjun Kharge,leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha with Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia briefing the media at the Parliament premises on Tuesday. Congress raised the issue of atrocities against Dalits in Punjab, in the Lok Sabha. Photo: Sandeep Saxena
The Hindu

Mallikarjun Kharge,leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha with Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia briefing the media at the Parliament premises on Tuesday. Congress raised the issue of atrocities against Dalits in Punjab, in the Lok Sabha. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Lok Sabha on Tuesday witnessed heated exchanges as Congress members alleged “atrocities” on dalits in Punjab, evoking a sharp response from the government as well as the state’s ruling party Shiromani Akali Dal which accused the opposition of “misleading” the House.

The House saw a walkout by Congress, Trinamool Congress and RJD over the issue.

The SAD-BJP government of Punjab came under attack from Jyotiraditya Scindia of Congress who cited crime figures to allege that a case of atrocity against Dalits was taking place every 18 minutes and three Dalit women were raped every day.

He then referred to the chopping of limbs of two Dalit youths in Punjab recently and another incident in which a woman was allegedly run over by a bus whose owner, he alleged, was close to the ruling Badal family in the state.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu accused Congress of misusing Parliament to “defame” the state dispensations.

Reacting strongly to his, Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, leader of SAD and daughter-in-law of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, accused Congress of trying to destabilise the state government and stall development by raking up all kinds of issues in Parliament.

She alleged that Congress leaders were supporting demand for Khalistan.

Regarding the hand-chopping incident, Ms. Kaur accused Congress of politicising the issue of a “gang war”. She said in this “gang war”, limbs of a Jat Sikh were also chopped off but the opposition party was not talking about it as Jat Sikhs were not its “vote bank.”

She said most of the accused have been arrested and others named in the case would also be nabbed soon.

Hitting back at Congress, she cited figures of “atrocities” against Dalits when Congress was in power.

Earlier, while many BJP members protested against the decision to allow Mr. Scindia to raise the issue in the Zero Hour after his party’s hour-long protests in the Well, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said 300 members were suffering from “dictatorship of a few.”

The Speaker, who had earlier cautioned members against raising state issues, disallowed him and expunged his comments against the family.

When Ms. Kaur, wanted to reply, the Speaker told her that it would put the reference to her family on record.

Batting for her right to reply, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said people had already heard Mr. Scindia on TV and Ms. Kaur should be allowed to respond.

As members of Congress, TMC and RJD walked out, she alleged that some Congress leaders in Punjab were supporting the demand for Khalistan. “You are taking no action against them. You are trying to destabilise the state,” she said.

Mr. Naidu accused Congress of “misusing the forum of Parliament to defame and destabilise a democratically-elected government” and questioned its practice of first protesting in the House and then staging a walkout after raising an issue.

“It cannot be a one-way traffic. You first abuse, then walk out,” he said, adding that Congress members were “abusing” the prime minister.

To Congress demands for dismissing government in Punjab over the hand-chopping incident, Mr. Naidu wondered whether governments in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh should also be dismissed over the murder of M.M. Kalburgi and Dadri lynching, respectively.

With BJP members on their feet when Mr. Scindia spoke, Ms. Mahajan said “rights” of everybody were being affected, a reference to daily protests by Congress members.

She said she would meet with leaders of all parties to find a way out.

Amid the uproar, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge too wanted to speak but was disallowed.

Saudis “Losing It” As Yemeni Rebels Undermine the Kingdom of Sand

[ Saudi tribal force tasked with protecting Yemen border ; Yemeni Ballistic Missile Eliminates 150 Saudi Troops and Blackwater Mercenaries—Dead Include Top Saudi Commander, UAE Sultan ]

Saudi Arabia mobilises counter-insurgency units on Yemen border

ahram online

Saudi Arabia on Monday mobilised counter-insurgency units on its border with Yemen, official media said, after rebel strikes into the kingdom killed more than 80 people this year.

The decision to activate the four interior ministry regiments “specialising in guerrilla warfare” comes on the eve of a possible ceasefire and United Nations-brokered peace talks in Switzerland Tuesday.

“This is to support the military forces in combat when the situation demands that,” the Saudi Press Agency said, suggesting that the units would be a type of paramilitary force.

“They were also given powers of security forces in seizing, arresting, searching, chasing and shooting according to the legal procedures,” it said.

More than 80 people, most of them soldiers and border guards, have been killed in shelling and cross-border skirmishes since March, when a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes against Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies in Yemen.

The Huthis, whose stronghold is in northern Yemen, are experienced guerrilla fighters, having fought six wars with their country’s government between 2004 and 2010.

Backed by Iran, they over-ran much of Yemen before the coalition intervened to support local forces on behalf of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The coalition on Monday announced the death of a special forces commander in Yemen, Saudi Colonel Abdullah al-Sahyan, killed in action in Yemen’s southwest.

He is one of the most senior Saudi officers to die in the war.

The United Nations says more than 5,800 people have been killed in Yemen since March, about half of them civilians.

Yemeni Ballistic Missile Eliminates 150 Saudi Troops and Blackwater Mercenaries—Dead Include Top Saudi Commander, UAE Sultan

Troops, including commander of Saudi forces, killed in Yemen

150 Saudi-Led Troops killed in Ballistic Missile attack in Yemen

At least 150 Saudi-led troops and mercenaries were killed in a blastic missile attack on a Saudi military installation in the western countryside of Bab-el-Mandeb

The Yemeni army, backed by popular committees loyal to the Ansarullah movement, targeted a Saudi military headquarters in Ta’izz with a Tochka ballistic missile on Sunday night.

Among the 150 dead forces there were at least 42 mercenaries hired to work for the US security film, Blackwater that were killed in the attack.

United Arab Emirates’ state news agency also added that among the killed people there was Sultan Mohammed Ali al-Kitbi, who was killed in Yemen’s southwestern province of Ta’izz.

Saudi-owned al-Arabiya al-Hadath channel also showed photographs of Abdullah al-Sahian, the slain top Saudi officer.

The Houthi fighters also announced in their own media that the two had been killed in a rocket attack on the Red Sea coast.

In the latest Saudi attacks on Yemen, nearly 20 civilians were killed across the embattled country on Sunday.

The clashes come as a seven-day ceasefire is to start on Monday at midnight in Yemen, on the eve of UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland between Ansarullah and representative of Yemen’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Two previous ceasefires, in May and July, were followed by accusations of violations by both sides.

Yemen has been under Saudi military strikes on a daily basis since March 26. The military campaign is meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and return Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, to power.

More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured since the strikes began. The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure.

Yemen is the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation and an estimated 80 percent of its population of 26 million need aid.

Pakistani Terrorists Bomb Parachinar Market, Killing At Least 15

[SEE: The actual story of Parachinar Pakistan ; Parachinar: Pakistan’s Gaza Strip remains under siege by Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba ]

People gather at the blast site in Parachinar, Kurram Agency on December 13, 2015. PHOTO: TWITTER

People gather at the blast site in Parachinar, Kurram Agency on December 13, 2015. PHOTO: TWITTER

At least 15 killed, 30 injured in Parachinar blast

express tribune

People gather at the blast site in Parachinar, Kurram Agency on December 13, 2015. PHOTO: TWITTER


PESHAWAR: At least 15 people were killed and 30 others injured as a powerful blast rocked Tal Adda area of Parachinar in Kurram Agency on Sunday.

The explosion occurred at the Eidgah market in Parachinar, the capital of Kurr.


Eyewitnesses said they saw at least 11 bodies being taken towards an imambaragah in the area. Locals said more fatalities are expected as dozens are critically injured.

Rescue teams have reached the scene of crime. Meanwhile, security forces have cordoned off the area and a search operation is underway.


“At least 10 have died and more than 30 were injured,” said a senior police official who requested anonymity.  ”A bomb disposal squad has reached the spot and are trying to ascertain the nature of the the blast,” he added.

Further, Amjad Ali Khan, the political administrator of the Kurram district, confirmed the incident and the toll.

The bodies and the injured were shifted to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Parachinar, where eight out of the 11 dead were identified as Nazar Hussain, Hashmat Hussain, Muhib Hussain, Syed Shaheen Shah, Johar Hussain, Arif Hussain, Ashiq Hussain and Shaukat Ali.

A doctor at the hospital told AFP most of the injured were in “critical condition” and said the death toll could increase.


No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the region is known for sectarian clashes. Pakistan has been battling a home-grown insurgency since 2004 that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and security forces personnel.

Overall levels of violence have decreased this year following a nationwide military-led offensive Zarb-e-Azb against extremists across the country, blocking their sources of movement, communication and funding.

There has also been a crackdown on extremist groups that target religious minorities. In July, Malik Ishaq, the leader of an anti-minority group behind some of the worst sectarian atrocities in Pakistan, was killed in a shoot-out with police, along with 13 other extremists.

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

Pak Ready To Enlist Taliban for TAPI Security, If Haqqanis In Charge

[SEE:  Inauguration of TAPI project : PM to visit Turkmenistan today; Pakistan is giving Taliban leadership to Haqqanis: India’s Ambassador to Kabul ]

Pakistan may talk to Afghan Taliban for TAPI’s security: Khwaja Asif

frontier post

Pakistan may talk to Afghan Taliban for TAPI's security: Khwaja Asif

Last Updated On 12 December,2015 11:39 am TAPI gas pipelines project is very important for all stakeholders, Khwaja Asif said. ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – Defense Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif has said that Pakistan would use its influence on Afghan Taliban for the security of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the BBC Urdu reported on Friday. During his interview, the minister said that TAPI project is very important for all stakeholders especially in reducing the energy crisis in Pakistan. “Therefore, we would try our best to have this project completed on time,” he said. While responding the question as if Pakistan would use its influence on Afghan militant groups, especially the Taliban, for the security of TAPI pipeline project, he said: “Of course, we would use it. For our interests, we would take any positive step.” The construction work on TAPI gas pipeline is scheduled to begin on December 13. Earlier today, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, to participate in the inauguration ceremony of the project which would be attended by Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ALSO READ: PM arrives in Turkmenistan to attend inauguration of TAPI gas project The $10 billion project, as the proposed 1,735-kilometer (1,140-mile) pipeline is known, is intended to carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas annually through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar and end up in the India-Pakistan border town of Fazilka. The construction of the pipeline is expected to complete by the end of December 2018 and will last for 30 years. The pipeline will run more than 700 km across Afghanistan on its way to Pakistan and India which would be filled with gas from Turkmenistan‘s mammoth Galkynysh field, the world‘s second-largest reservoir of natural gas.\r\n

ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – Defense Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif has said that Pakistan would use its influence on Afghan Taliban for the security of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the BBC Urdu reported on Friday. During his interview, the minister said that TAPI project is very important for all stakeholders especially in reducing the energy crisis in Pakistan. “Therefore, we would try our best to have this project completed on time,” he said. While responding the question as if Pakistan would use its influence on Afghan militant groups, especially the Taliban, for the security of TAPI pipeline project, he said: “Of course, we would use it. For our interests, we would take any positive step.” The construction work on TAPI gas pipeline is scheduled to begin on December 13. Earlier today, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, to participate in the inauguration ceremony of the project which would be attended by Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ALSO READ: PM arrives in Turkmenistan to attend inauguration of TAPI gas project The $10 billion project, as the proposed 1,735-kilometer (1,140-mile) pipeline is known, is intended to carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas annually through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar and end up in the India-Pakistan border town of Fazilka. The construction of the pipeline is expected to complete by the end of December 2018 and will last for 30 years. The pipeline will run more than 700 km across Afghanistan on its way to Pakistan and India which would be filled with gas from Turkmenistan‘s mammoth Galkynysh field, the world‘s second-largest reservoir of natural gas.\r\n

CIA Kills Sajna, Leader of Anti-Hakeemullah Mehsud Taliban Faction

Khan Sayed, also known as Sajna, led a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban. Credit European Pressphoto Agency


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An American drone strike on Wednesday killed a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan, near the border with the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, according to Pakistani intelligence officials in the tribal belt.

The commander, Khan Sayed, also known as Sajna, led a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban.

The drone strike occurred in the Damma region in Khost Province, near Shahadianu Patala, a Pakistani town in North Waziristan, the Pakistani intelligence officials said. They said the strike had killed 12 other militants and wounded 20.

Another Pakistani intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, also reported that the commander had been killed in the strike.

The Pakistani officials’ claims have not yet been independently confirmed, partly because of the remoteness of the site and the restrictions on journalists’ access to the area. There was also no immediate comment from American officials, who do not typically comment publicly on drone strikes.

According to local elders, Taliban commanders were meeting to resolve the growing differences among the various Taliban offshoots when the drone strike took place.

“Sajna was a leading figure of the Pakistan Taliban,” said a senior Peshawar-based Pakistani military official who agreed to discuss the commander, a founding member of Tehrik-e-Taliban, the umbrella organization known as the Pakistani Taliban that was formed in 2007 and has been carrying out a bloody insurgency in Pakistan. “Both Pakistani security forces and Americans were after him for long time,” the military official added.

If the commander’s death is confirmed, “it would certainly be a big blow to the Taliban, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said another Pakistani Taliban commander who gave an interview by phone on the condition that his name not be used.

In 2014, Sajna publicly rejected the Pakistani Taliban’s leader, Maulana Fazlullah, and said his faction would continue to fight on its own. The feud erupted after an American drone strike killed Mr. Fazlullah’s predecessor, Hakimullah Mehsud. Sajna said in a statement that he was leaving because “the present leadership has lost its path.”

The number of American drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal area has sharply declined in recent months. The Pakistani military has also recently developed its own drone, which is being used for both aerial surveillance and missile attacks.

Shootout At The OPEC Corral

[SEE:  Oil heads for $36 a barrel amid world glut fears ; This One Suit Could Take Down Oklahoma’s Oil And Gas Industry ]

, research analyst


OPEC’s greatest competitor is now OPEC.

The real reason OPEC oil production levels will remain high.

What the market is transitioning into.

Is a real free market oil industry emerging?

There are a lot of variables behind the reason the price of oil has plunged, as producers ramp up production in an attempt to maintain market share.

When Saudi Arabia and OPEC decided to boost production in response to the serious threat of U.S. shale oil, that was the primary impetus behind pushing prices down, in order to put extreme pressure on the quickly-growing shale competitors before they were too big to be dealt with.

As time as passed though, and U.S. producers have been forced to lower production levels and reduce exploration and development spending, a scenario has emerged that has gravitated to OPEC itself.

With Iran about to be released from sanctions, it has aggressively and publicly stated it will take steps to gain back market share it has lost, and will do what’s best for the country, which was a reference to ignoring anything Saudi Arabia had to say about it.

This is one of the reasons the latest OPEC meeting was meaningless, as it was already known by those that really follow the industry and understand what’s going on, that there was no chance of an agreement being reached on production cuts. It’s doubtful it was even a serious part of the conversation, if it was brought up at all.

source: MuslimMirror

OPEC against OPEC

It has been spun by some in the financial media that OPEC has decided to go the free market route and let the chips fall where they may. That shouldn’t be taken seriously. If there was a chance of OPEC retaining its former monopoly and control of the oil market it would do so. With the introduction of U.S. shale, those days are forever over.

The reason it has “allowed” market forces to determine prices, beyond the questionable market share reason, is in order to save face and maintain the perception OPEC is the force to be reckoned with it used to be.

Not only is that not true, but the new market realities are causing further fracturing within OPEC itself; more than it has been in the past.

OPEC is no longer competing primarily against non-OPEC producers, it is increasingly competing against member states. It’s why its weaker members’ calls for production cuts go unheeded, and are not even taken into consideration by the larger producers.

To some degree this has always been the case, but it has been taken much further now, with no real attempt to hide the fact there is no way the cartel can reach an agreement on production cuts. For that reason it decided to not mention a production cap at all. I believe that’s because this is so obvious it would look foolish to even pretend there was a flexible cap in place, as there has been in the past.

The most obvious tear in OPEC relations is between the smaller and larger producers, with the smaller producers like Algeria and Venezuela pressing hard for production cuts in order to support the price of oil. This is disregarded with a wave of the hand because they really have little or no influence on the cartel. They don’t have the ability to raise production to levels that would sway the major producers, so are for the most part, ignored.

Libya, and to a lesser extent, Indonesia, will also have an impact on the market in 2016, with Libya looking to recover from its unrest and generate revenue. Indonesia, a smaller player, is once again a part of OPEC, and room will have to be made for its production as well. Taken together, it presents a picture which defies the ability and desire of the member states to agree to a production cap for the organization.

Where the major issue lies is with Saudi Arabia and Iran, with Iraq, at least on the actual issue of oil output, being a major rival, and whose production does have an influence on the market.

Saudi Arabia and Iran

One thing a not of investors are looking at in regard to oil is the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Not only is this in reference to oil production, but also to the wars in Syria and Yemen.

First concerning oil. Iran has openly and defiantly told Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC it has no intention of keeping production levels where they want them. It will fight for market share, and it’s making inroads with China, where it has already secured deals for over 500,000 barrels per day, starting in 2016. It will without a doubt win more business going forward.

This isn’t only connected to the market, but has direct implications in the wars mentioned above, with Iran supporting and backing the Houthi against troops led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Iran also has interests in Syria and Iraq. There can be no doubt Iran’s desire to quickly ramp up production once nuclear-related sanctions are removed, can be traced in part to underwriting some of the military operations is supports.

At the market level, it means winning back its market share, which at minimum should add up to 1 million barrel per day to global oil supply. I don’t see anything that will change that on the production side.

Beyond the obvious increase in oil output and supply, is the fact OPEC may be as weak as it has ever been since it was formed in 1960.

To underscore the reality, Nigerian oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said at the last OPEC meeting they “spent two minutes on that issue,” adding, “You can’t stop a sovereign country from coming back to the market. So, debating it is irrelevant.”

That’s a polite way of saying the topic was too hot to handle, and the so-called decision to leave no cap on production levels was a foregone conclusion before the meeting ever started.

Where the oil market is headed

Taking into account the internal conflicts of OPEC, there is no chance there will be some type of agreement to lower production anytime soon. Those believing or hoping for that to happen are going to be disappointed, and oil producers making decisions based upon that faulty conclusion will experience more pain in 2016, and probably 2017 as well.

The working assumption is the current price of oil isn’t sustainable, and yet there is nothing visible in the market to be optimistic about in regard to competitors agreeing to lower production. It’s simply not going to happen in the near future.

That means there will be a long-term period of time where supply is going to easily exceed demand, even while oil demand increases some. With no one ready to cut back on production for the purpose of supporting the price of oil, it means competitors will continue to crank out oil at high levels. For that reason the price of oil will remain subdued and continue to fall.

Wherever this all ends, the market will no longer be what it was when U.S. shale oil became a major global producer, and OPEC responded by fighting to keep production levels high; to not primarily maintain market share as most think, but to buy time to adjust to the new market where it will be impossible to retain the market share it enjoyed in the past.

That means it’ll have to find ways to cut its budget and lower future spending.


The idea the reason for production levels being kept high was in order to allow the market to determine the results, is a misguided conclusion. While it is happening at this time, it wasn’t the impetus being the decision.

New competition from U.S. shale producers was the initial catalyst, followed by other competitors, especially within OPEC, continuing to keep output high.

My belief is all of OPEC is struggling to keep budgets they had in the past from shrinking too fast. The larger producers, specifically Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, have to try to slow the pace in order to keep their people from getting disgruntled, which can quickly lead to unrest in the region.

To do this they must battle one another for market share and longevity in order to finance domestic projects and fulfill promises, but to also wage wars and strengthen defenses against their regional enemies; including against themselves.

Russia, the U.S. and other competitors remain in play, but the addition of oil from sources outside traditional channels has revealed the weakness of OPEC, causing more competition between member states than ever before,

Under these conditions, the idea of oil producers coming together to agree on production cuts is close to zero. The price of oil will remain low, while OPEC, for all practical purposes, has ceased to exist as a group of cooperative states.


“You’re talking about an inexhaustible supply of terrorists, and that these terrorists continue to receive recruits daily and receiving any kind of support whether financial, weapons and human resources…”


Full text of the interview with Bashar al-Assad


Damascus, December 11, 2015

Full text of the exclusive interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by EFE in Damascus:

Question: Thank you, Mr. President for your hospitality and for giving to the news agency Efe this opportunity to understand what the situation in his country. On November 14, the world powers, including Russia and Iran in Vienna agreed a timetable to reach a political solution to the crisis in Syria. According to that timetable, the negotiations between his government and the so-called moderate opposition should start on 1 January. Are you ready to start these negotiations?

Answer: You are welcome to Syria Sean. Since the conflict began in Syria we have taken the approach of dialogue with all parties involved in the Syrian conflict and we have tried and responded positively to every initiative that has been presented in different countries around the world, regardless of their actual intention and credibility of persons or officers who have initiated these proposals. So we are now ready to begin negotiations with the opposition. But it depends on the definition of opposition. Opposition, for everyone does not mean armed groups. There is a difference between armed groups and terrorists on the one hand, and opposition on the other. Opposition is a political term, not a military term. So talk about the concept is different in practice, because so far we have seen that other countries, including Saudi Arabia, USA and other Western nations have wanted terrorist groups to join the negotiations. They want the government of Syria to negotiate with terrorists, something not think anyone could accept in any country.

Question: Would you be willing to negotiate and dialogue with opposition groups currently meeting in Riyadh?

Answer: It is the same because there is a mix of political and armed opposition groups. Let me be realistic about armed groups in Syria. We have spoken with some groups, not organizations, for a reason that was to achieve a situation in which they give up their weapons and join the government or decided to return to his normal life with government amnesty. This is the only way to deal with the armed groups in Syria. When you want to change your approach, give up their weapons, we will be ready, but treat them as if they were a political entity is something we reject outright. This first. As for what they call political opposition: you, like Spanish, when looking at the opposition in your country, go evident that the opposition is a Spanish opposition and have bases and Spanish are Spanish citizens. It can not be opposition while attached to a foreign country, no matter what. So, again, it depends on the type of groups meeting in Saudi Arabia. People forming the opposition in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, in France, in the UK, in the US So, in principle, we are ready, but in the end if you want to achieve something, to have a successful and fruitful dialogue, it is necessary to deal with a real, national and patriotic opposition that has its roots in Syria and only relates to the Syrians and not with any other state or government in the world.

Question: The Syrian delegation will attend the conference in New York in the event that actually take place in the coming weeks?

Answer: It is not yet confirmed. The recent Russian statement said they preferred it to be, I think, in Vienna. This first. Second, they said that it is not appropriate before defining what the terrorist groups and which are not, which is very realistic and logical. For us in Syria, all carrying weapons is a terrorist, so without defining that term, without reaching a definition makes no sense to meet in New York or anywhere else.

Question: In your opinion, what can you do to end Dáesh?

Answer: This is a very complicated matter, not by ISIS, because ISIS is an organization. There is something more dangerous with what to deal with, which are the reasons. First, ideology, something that has been instilled in the minds of people or society in the Arab world for decades, through institutions and Wahhabi Saudi money has been paid to support this dark and hateful ideology . If this ideology is not addressed, it is a mere waste of time to say we’re going to deal with Dáesh, al-Nusra or any other organization belonging to Al Qaeda. You Daesh-Al Qaeda, al-Nusra-Al Qaeda and many other organizations with the same ideology. Therefore, this is something that should be addressed in the long term: how to prevent these institutions and the Saudi Wahhabi money reach Muslim institutions around the world to turn them into extremists and to spread terrorism worldwide. This is the first. Then we need to talk about the short term and to address the current situation, with Dáesh in Syria and Iraq, mainly. Of course, the fight against terrorism is another obvious answer to that question, but we are talking about an ideology and an organization that has unlimited ability to recruit terrorists around the world. In Syria, we have over 100 nationalities who struggle with extremists and terrorists, Al Qaeda and Al-Nusra and others. The first step we must take in order to solve this problem is to stop the flow of terrorists, especially through Turkey to Syria and Iraq, and of course we have to stop the flow of money, Saudi money, Wahhabi money and Qatari money terrorists across Turkey, as well as weapons and other logistical support. That’s how we can start, and then if you want to talk about the other aspects that could be a political, economic, cultural issue, … has many aspects, but, for now, we must begin with stopping the flow, and at the same time combat terrorism from within Syria with Syrian Army and who wants to support the Army of Syria.

Question: Who buys crude Dáesh? Which countries are behind Dáesh?

Answer: The Russians published last week television pictures and videos of trucks carrying oil to cross the borders between Syria and Turkey. Of course, the Turks deny; It is very easy to deny, but let’s think about the reality: Most of the Syrian oil is in the northern part of Syria. If you want to export to Iraq, that’s impossible, because all parts of Iraq are fighting ISIS. Syria is the same. Lebanon is far away. Jordan, in the south, is also far. Therefore, the only lifeline for ISIS Turkey. Those trucks transporting crude from Syria to Turkey and Turkey selling it cheap to the world … I do not think anyone can doubt this undoubted reality.

Question: What countries are behind Dáesh?

Answer: There are several states, mainly Saudi Arabia, because both this country and this organization practice decapitation, follow the Wahhabi ideology and reject anyone who is not like them: not only those who are not Muslims, but also Muslims they are not like them. A Muslim may belong to the same religious group but if not like them, is rejected. So Saudi Arabia is the main sponsor of such organizations. Of course, there are also individuals and different people who share the same ideology or

same belief and these people send money privately. But the matter does not depend solely on who sent the money but who facilitates the arrival of funds to these organizations. How could organizations considered terrorists around the world, as ISIS or al-Nusra, have hundreds of millions and have all these recruits, almost an almost complete as that of any other state and army have financial sources, if they have direct support, as is the case in Turkey, in particular. So Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, are the most responsible for the atrocities of ISIS.

Q: Yesterday saw the mortars fell near Damascus. It seems that this fight is far from over. When do you think the war will end in Syria?

Answer: If you want to talk about the Syrian conflict as a conflict isolated with the same situation, the same Syrian troops and allies of Syria and the terrorists themselves on the other side, we could finish it in a few months. It’s not very complicated in any way, either military or political. But if you’re talking about an inexhaustible supply of terrorists, and that these terrorists continue to receive recruits daily and receiving any kind of support whether financial, weapons and human resources, because all that will extend the war for a long time. Of course, this will have a high price. But in the end, we are making progress. I’m not saying that we are not progressing. Militarily the situation is much better than before, but again, the price is very high. That’s why I said earlier that if you want to end the war quickly-and most of the world is now saying they want to see an end to this crisis, then put pressure on the countries that you know: Turkey, Saudi Arabia , Qatar, and then, without doubt, this conflict will end in less than a year.

Question: Is there some kind of military coordination between the Syrian army and the incursions of the US-led coalition?

Answer: Not at all, there is no coordination. No connection in this sector and I mean the military. That is why this coalition continues for more than a year ago ISIS bombing, while ISIS continues to expand, because you can not fight terrorists from the air. You have to deal with them on the ground, so when the Russians began their participation in the war against terrorism, achievements of Russian and Syrian armies in a couple of weeks

They were much higher than those of the Alliance for over a year. In fact, they actually achieved nothing and we can say rather that were supporting ISIS, perhaps indirectly, since ISIS was expanding and getting more recruits. Therefore, we can not say that actually achieved something.

Question: What do you think of the role of Obama in this crisis?

Answer: Let’s talk about the US administration, because Obama, after all, is part of the Administration. You have lobbyists in the United States and from the start these terrorists were guaranteed political coverage. At first they called “peaceful demonstrators”. Then, when they discovered that they were terrorists were called “moderate terrorists”. In the end they had to admit it was ISIS or Al-Nusra, but after all are not objective, do not dare to say that they were wrong. They dare not say that Qatar at first, and then Saudi Arabia, they had been deceived. This is first. While second, until the United States does not take seriously the fight against terrorists, we can not expect the rest of the West do, because they are the allies of the United States, and so far the role of the Americans in this situation is being destroy ISIS or extremism or terrorism, and Obama said. He said he wants to contain terrorism and not destroy it. What does that mean? It means allowing to move in some places and not others. It is as if the matter were limited to define limits the harmful effect of ISIS. Therefore, we do not believe that Americans are being honest with the fight against terrorism.

Question: And what about the French President, Francois Hollande? He has spoken to destroy ISIS. Do you think the French will cooperate with your government?

Answer: Look what he did after the recent shootings in Paris last month. The French planes began to attack with heavy shelling ISIS. They said they wanted to fight and Holland said “we will be at war against terrorism.” What does that mean? It means that before the incident in Paris, were not at war against terrorism. Why did the same before these incidents? This means that this intense bombardment is only to dissipate the anger of French public opinion and not to fight terrorism. If you want to fight against terrorism, do not expect shootings to occur. The fight against terrorism is a principle and not a temporary situation in which you feel angry and thus decide to attack the terrorists. You must have values ​​and principles to fight, and this fight must be sustainable. Therefore, this is another proof that the French are not serious in the fight against terrorism.

Question: What do you think about the EU in general? Is the EU position in this conflict? Could Europe do more?

Answer: Absolutely, definitely. They have the ability, but it is not just a question of ability but of will. The question we have always done-not only during the crisis but before, and perhaps over more than ten years, especially after the war in Iraq is, “There are still political Europe, or just a US satellite? So far, we see no independent political position. There are certain exceptions, we put them all in the bag, and the proof is the relationship between Europe and Russia, when US pressure on Europe to do something against their interests, in order to impose an embargo on Russian This is not realistic, it is not logical So of course you can;.. of course we have the same interest in fighting terrorism than we do. What happened in Paris recently and what happened in Madrid in 2004 and in New York in 2001, then in London, and recently in California, is a proof that the interest of all lies in combating terrorism, but who has the will and who has the vision? That is the question to which now I have an answer. But right now I am not optimistic that there is that will.

Question: What has asked President Putin in exchange for military help from Russia?

Answer: not asked for anything in return and that for one simple reason: because this is not a trade. In fact, the normal relationship between two countries is a relationship based on common interests. The question is what is the common interest of Syria and Russia? Does Russia have more interest in terrorism in Syria? In the collapse of the Syrian state? In anarchy? No, they do not. So let’s say that in return Russia wants is stability in Syria, Iraq and the whole region. We are not far from Russia, and let me go much further, saying that we are not far from Europe. Then the action of Russia in Syria constitutes an act in defense of Europe directly, and again, the recent terrorist events in Europe are proof that what is happening here will affect them positively or negatively.

Question: President Putin asked at some point to give up his position?

Answer: First, the question is: what is the relationship between the president remains in power or give up his position during the conflict? That is the first question that must be done. This customizing the problem is just a disguised way of saying that there is no problem with terrorism and countries that are not involved from abroad sending money and weapons to armed to create chaos and anarchy spread. Actually, they want to demonstrate that the matter is a president who wants to stay in power and a people that are being killed because fighting for freedom, and this president is oppressing and killing these people and why these people rebels . “This is a very romantic image that serves as a love story teens While the reality is completely different The question is whether my ouster is part of the solution in Syria;… part of a political solution and when say a political solution, it does not mean a western or external solution. It should be a Syrian solution completely. When the Syrian people do not want me to be your president, then I must leave that day, not the next day. This, to me It is a question of principle. If I think I can help my country, especially in a crisis, and if the Syrian people still support me, and to be more specific, say the majority of the Syrian people support me, then of course I have to stay. That’s obvious.

Question: As a hypothesis, you accept the possibility of leaving Syria in the future and leave for a friendly country, if this is the condition for reaching an agreement.

Answer: You mean I leave office?

Question: Leave office and leave Syria.

Answer: No, I never thought about leaving Syria under any circumstances and in any situation. It’s something I’ve never been in my mind as “plan B” or “plan C”, as they say the Americans. Not really. But again, the same answer: it depends on the Syrian population; Do they support me or not? If I have your support, it means that I am not the problem, because if I were the problem as a person, the Syrian people would be against me. Where is the logic in that the people or the majority of people support me when I am the reason for the conflict? This is a part. On the other hand, if I have a problem with the Syrians or the most Syrians, and I have the countries of the region and the world against me; and most of the West, the United States, its allies and the strongest and richest world countries against me, and I am against the Syrian people, then how I can be to remain president ?. That is not logical. I’m still here after five years – or almost five years of war, because I have the support of most Syrians.

Question: Is it true that the Russians build another military base in Syria?

Answer: No, that’s not true, and two days ago they themselves denied. If there was something, they would have announced, and we had announced at the same time.

Question: Are the Iranians planning to build its own military base here?

Answer: No. They never thought about it and never raised or discussed the issue.

Question: Is it possible to include the president Erdogan in the solution to the crisis?

Answer: In principle, we have no problem with it, if you’re willing to give up the criminal attitude that has been adopted since the beginning of the crisis, supporting the terrorists with all possible ways. At the end of the day, we are ready to welcome any help or positive engagement that comes from anywhere. This is in principle. But A case can we hope that Erdogan change its position? No, for one reason, which is that Erdogan is a believer in the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, so they can not act against their ideology. He is a pragmatic man thinking about the interests of his country. He is working against the interests of his country in favor of their ideology, whether it realistic or not. So we do not expect Erdogan to change.

Q: US Secretary of State, Kerry announced travel to Moscow to meet with Putin. Are not you afraid that you are preparing some sort of agreement between the US and Moscow, Ukraine in exchange for Syria?

Answer: No, because nearly five years have passed, and we have always been listening to that argument, or say that idea by Western officials. This aims to create a kind of gap between Syria and Russia. The Russians are pragmatists, but at the same time are adopting a policy based on moral values ​​and principles, not just in interest, and how good your position is that there is no conflict or contradiction between their values ​​and interests. This is first. While secondly, whether there is any agreement, for example, the Russians know very well that you can not implement any solution, if not based on an agreement between the Syrians themselves and, therefore, neither Russia nor the United States nor any country in the world can sign an agreement within this framework. We as Syrians are the ones who can establish an agreement between Syrians, and are the ones who can make a dialogue between Syrians. That’s what the Russians know very well. And that’s why we do not make such mistakes, thanks to the values ​​they have.

Question: Returning to Turkey, how do you see the demolition of the Russian aircraft? Was it an accident or deliberate?

Answer: Since the start of Russian military involvement in Syria with regard to the fight against terrorist organizations, the situation on the ground has changed in a positive way, and Erdogan, that frustrate their ambitions, and if Syria fails Erdogan constitute its political purpose. It’s like holding the condolences of his political future and ambitions of making Turkey the epicenter of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region and that governments appoint Brotherhood, with his followers worldwide. He believes that the last bastion of his dream is Syria. If Syria fails, as it failed in Egypt and elsewhere, you will think that this is the end of his career. Therefore, their reaction was a foolish reaction, which reflects his thinking and his gut instinct about Russian participation. This is the first aspect of the issue of demolition of the Russian fighter. The second is that he thought NATO would help, and would push NATO into conflict with Russia and the result would further complicate the situation on the ground in Syria, and perhaps realize his dream of establishing a zone air exclusion where I can send terrorists to use them as a kind of state against legitimate state here in Syria. That was his ambition, his thinking and his plan in Syria.

Question: Mr. President, the United States considered responsible for the civil war and terrorist boom in Syria. His enemies blamed for the deaths of 250,000 people since the war began. He is also accused of bombing civilians. How he defends himself against such accusations?

Answer: Now the whole war in Syria since the beginning of the conflict revolved around who would attract more Syrians on their part. That was the war from the beginning. How one can kill people to gain their support? This is impossible. At the same time, there is a good war; all wars are bad. So whenever there is war, there are things you should avoid, but you can not. In every war there and there will be civilian casualties and innocent victims. This is the tragic and dangerous aspects of any war. That’s why we have to end the war. But to say that the government attacked civilians, does not make sense, what is gained by attacking civilians? Currently, the reality is that if you want to go out there in Syria, was surprised to see that most of the families of the armed groups do not live with them, live under the umbrella of the government, and receiving support from the Government, which It is another proof that we do not work against the civilians and kill them, otherwise they would not have sought help from the Government. Therefore, these allegations are unfounded.

Question: Mr. President, we want to send a message to Syrian refugees who have fled the country, many of them to Europe and even to Spain. What is your message to them?

Answer: Most of the refugees are in contact with their families in Syria, so we are still in contact with them. Most of these refugees are supporters of the government but went by the situation created by the terrorists, direct threats and killings, and because terrorists destroyed infrastructure, and the embargo imposed by the West on Syria, where basic needs are not asequibles.Así are, really, I do not need to send a message, for they will return when the situation mejore.A most of them loves their country, love this country. In fact, the message I would like to send, is aimed at European governments, because they are the ones who brought the terrorists, they are the ones who caused this situation, they helped the terrorists, and they created a direct impact on embargo benefit of terrorists and urged immigrants to leave Syria and go elsewhere. Therefore, if you are working for the good of the Syrian people, as you said, the first thing to do is to lift the embargo. The second thing to do is stop the flow of terrorists. So I think the message should be directed to Western governments that helped his departure to live in their countries.

Question: Do you forgive terrorists if they give up their weapons?

Answer: Of course, this is already happening in Syria. What we call “reconciliation” is the only real political solution that gave fruitful results and create a positive reality in different places in Syria. The essence of reconciliation is based on the terrorists give up their weapons and the government grant them amnesty or pardon. Of course, in my opinion, I think this is the only good way to solve the problem.

Question: If I were to March 2011, would you make different decisions?

Answer: In the day, there is always something you wanted to do better. That’s natural, because there are many details, but if we talk about the pillars of our policy, because they are based on two things. First, the invitation to dialogue from the first day. Although at first we thought it was not political, we said we were ready for political dialogue, ready to change the Constitution, to change many laws, and we did, we did in 2012, a year after the conflict began. At the same time, from the beginning we said we were going to fight terrorism and terrorists. Do not change any of these things, or not to adopt the dialogue and the fight against terrorism. Anything else is not a pillar. If you refer to daily practice, of course there are many mistakes made in practice, either by me or by the other institutions and others responsible. That’s obvious. Right now I have no example in the head, but perhaps one of the things we would not do is rely on numerous officials, Western, regional or Arab, as the Turks or others; or believe they really wanted to help Syria at some point. This is the only thing I would not do again.

Question: How do you explain to your children what is happening in Syria? Would you like to follow in his footsteps?

Answer: You mean to follow my steps in politics?

Question: Yes.

Answer: I think that politics is not a job you do, and it’s not a book to read, and not a specialty that studies in college. So you can not teach children to be political; It can be taught as they prepare for a job. In fact, politics is everything in life; It is the sum of the economy, society and culture, is all that is lived daily. So, depending on the path they take their children in this regard. For me, the most important thing is to help them help their country, but how? They are political in the future or work in any other job. This is not a very important issue for me, but not try to influence them; it is they who have to choose their path. I have to explain as much as you can the reality of our country, so that they can understand it well and decide which path they want to follow.

Question: Thank you, Mr. President for the interview and for your time.

Answer: Thanks for coming to Syria


Jose Antonio Vera and Jose Manuel Sanz

Syria and world war

Freedom Rider: Syria and world war

intrepid report

black agenda report

NUKE ISIS—save the bullets–(updated)

[SEE: Simulating the End of the World Is Preferable To Ending the World]

Pentagon Blasts ‘Carpet Bomb’ Proposal That Would Lead to ‘Apocalyptic War’



01:27 11.12.2015

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday rejected Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz’s recent call to use nuclear weapons against Daesh, also known as ISIS/The Islamic State.

Cruz, speaking a Tea Party rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last week, suggested that the United States should nuke Daesh-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria.

“We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out,” Cruz was quoted as saying by the Des Moines Register.

On Wednesday, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, US Air Force General Paul Selva was pressed for his take on Cruz’s proposal. Selva appeared to agree with Senator Claire McCaskill’s concerns about civilian casualties in such an attack.

Additionally, the general said using nuclear weapons would feed Daesh’s narrative of an “apocalyptic war with the West.” Such calls for nuclear strikes run counter to America’s national security interest, he continued, and the US military does not now, and will not in the future, engage in carpet bombings.Wednesday marked the second time in as many days the Pentagon faulted a GOP presidential candidate’s policy suggestions. On Tuesday, the Pentagon criticized Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States, warning it played into Daesh’s recruitment message of a war between the United States and Islam as a whole.

While Trump has been leading the polls, many consider Cruz to be a more viable GOP candidate for the White House.

Why ISIS Exists—The Double Game

Why ISIS Exists: The Double Game


By Joe Giambrone, Political Film Blog.

1Pete Souza

The western press laments the near impossibility of defeating an organization that didn’t even exist a couple of short years ago. Brand ISIS, the unconquerable, may actually become a truism if the people of the western nations continue to listen to the lies and propaganda of their own governments.

You’ve been told a lot of things about the war in Syria, and clearly most of it is finely crafted war propaganda, which seeks to obscure the forest by showing you an endless series of trees. The trees are gunshots, explosions, and dead bodies. The forest is elusive, vast, covers several continents, and we are only ever given small samples of the terrain. The section of the forest that receives some of the latest scrutiny is not necessarily the crucial part of the story. Beneath the entire forest lies an aquifer, a vast ocean of water that feeds the trees invisibly, silently, yet persistently. Without this water supply there would be no forest to speak of.

But here is where the metaphor breaks. Unlike an underground reservoir, which is impossible to eradicate, the money and weapons transfers to fundamentalist militants can be stopped. The problem is that western so-called “leaders” have done absolutely nothing to stop them. In fact they rarely mention these sources of terrorist arms, training and funding at all, in public anyway. When acknowledged these become theater, hand wringing, vague excuses rather than concrete action. At other times intelligence services themselves willingly hand over sophisticated weapons to terrorists, such as TOW anti-tank missiles and surface to air “MANPADS” capable of bringing down commercial airliners. The nations most responsible for creating the extremist armies on the ground—Turkey and the Persian Gulf tyrannies—are close allies and even “friends” to US and European political masters.

Establishing the Grand Fraud

So what in the hell is really going on? Well, war of course. This is what modern war looks like. In particular this latest proxy war targets the multi-cultural, yet authoritarian regime of Syria’s Bashar Al Assad. NATO dislikes Assad because he is an ally of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Oil and gas pipeline routes also factor in. Western powers and Gulf States that don’t like Assad have, like a pack of wild jackals, been ripping at Syria since 2011. The primary supporter of ISIS and the Al Nusrah Front is Turkey, which by any objective measure should be considered a state sponsor of international terrorism and isolated immediately.

Sometimes we are even provided short glimpses of the reality, by our own so-called leaders. Vice President of the United States Joe Biden said: “[Erdogan…the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc.]…poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said: “I know major Arab allies who fund them [ISIS].”

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said: “It’s unbelievable and unacceptable that more than 60 nations comprising this coalition that have the most modern aircraft and weapons at their disposal have been conducting their campaign in Iraq for 14 months and IS still remains in the country.”


Former Defense Intelligence Agency head Michael Flynn said: “I think it was a decision, a willful decision.”

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said: “The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria…The West, the Gulf Countries, and Turkey support the opposition.”

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan said: “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the [Olympic] games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us.”

The U.S. State Department said, “Riyadh has taken only limited action to disrupt fundraising for the UN 1267-listed Taliban and LeT-groups that are also aligned with al-Qa’ida and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan…Al-Qa’ida and other groups continue to exploit Kuwait both as a source of funds and as a key transit point…UAE’s role as a growing global financial center, coupled with weak regulatory oversight, makes it vulnerable to abuse by terrorist financiers and facilitation networks…[Qatar has] been hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals.”

No concrete steps are taken against these state supporters of terrorism. Far from it, they are intimate partners with the United States and form a coalition of the willing to use proxy terrorists to destroy Syria. ISIS has been a main component of this effort for years. It was not until they attacked targets in Europe (Paris), that Western leaders finally decided that they needed to appear to do things differently.

What this coalition does and what it clearly does not do are the telltale signs for understanding these current events. These will require more scrutiny.

The US has manufactured terrorist armies before, notably in Afghanistan, beginning in 1979. And when their Mujahadeen brigades defeated the Soviets, in the late 1980s, many champagne bottles were popped over at the Langley CIA headquarters. Such a wonderful victory for them, Zbigniew Brzezinski was quite proud of his handiwork. Coincidentally, Brzezinski emerged recently to shriek at the Russians, “to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets.” Those “assets” have been the subject of much obfuscation and deceit over these past four years, despite seas of bloodshed. In Syria today, just who is an “American asset,” and who is not?

The most jaw-dropping and damning revelation of the entire Syria fiasco to date is hosted right on the website. It’s received zero mention by the “free” US corporate press, and here it is: “President Obama spoke by phone today from California with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, at the Prime Minister’s request, about developments in Syria and Egypt. The President and Prime Minister discussed the danger of foreign extremists in Syria and agreed on the importance of supporting a unified and inclusive Syrian opposition. The President and Prime Minister expressed concern about the situation in Egypt and a shared commitment to supporting a democratic and inclusive way forward. The two leaders agreed to have their teams continue to coordinate closely to promote our shared interests. The President gave his best wishes to the Prime Minister and the Turkish people on the beginning of their Ramazan holiday.”

That is exhibit A for the treason trial. I’m quite shocked that I’ve been nearly alone in referencing this outrageously criminal admission concerning US policy in Turkey and Syria. You now have been informed of whom the White House considers an “asset.” The Russians know it too, all too well.

Exhibit B for the prosecution would likely be Barack Obama’s tinkering with the Arms Export Control Act, reported on September 15th of 2013: “The president, citing his authority under the Arms Export Control Act, announced today that he would waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40A…The prohibitions contained in this section apply with respect to a country if the Secretary of State determines that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

This action can only be described as Orwellian hypocrisy, as the weapons Obama ships to Syrian insurgents meet the stated criteria. The United States is clearly supporting “international terrorism,” with glee. US arms and ammunition have gone to Jihadists all over Syria and Iraq through many pathways. They have murdered many civilians there, and they continue to do so daily. Further, attacking the government of Syria by arming a proxy army is the “Supreme International Crime,” a Crime Against the Peace, a blatant breach of the UN Charter, but it’s happening.


The entire world knows that Syria’s radical terrorists are supported by outside states, and yet no sanctions are ever proposed by our “democratic” leaders against those states. When Russia did things in Ukraine that Washington disapproved of immediate trade sanctions attacked its economy and certain named individuals. No such actions are even entertained against Turkish, Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti, Jordanian or other supporters of the ISIS terror state. This is clearly because the US, and Barack Obama specifically, consider these terrorists “American assets.” It is the Brzezinski plan for regime change, and it has always been the Brzezinski plan.

They know exactly what they’re doing. Obama’s own Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told them in 2012 that their actions would lead to an Islamic Caliphate. “ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create a grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”

It’s not ignorance, and it’s not a mistake. It has been the deliberate policy of the United States and its partners to tolerate―and to even support―a terror Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Redirections, Red Lines & Rat Lines

The most important investigative article of the post 9/11 era is arguably Seymour Hersh’s March 2007 expose in The New Yorker: “The Redirection.” Just what was being redirected?

Short answer: everything. The so-called “war on terror” flipped 180 degrees as the US partnered with Sunni extremists to redirect the fight and target Shi’ite Muslims: specifically Assad’s Syria, Maliki’s Shi’ite Iraqi regime, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the big one: Iran. “[The Saudi] message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at―Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

As Americans went back to sleep, the American empire partnered up with the sponsors of the 9/11 attacks: Saudis and their Wahabbi friends, who can always be counted on to supply money and fanatical fighters. The formula that brought down the Soviets in the 1980s was to be “New American Century” Plan A.

“This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them,” Seymour Hersh writes in “The Redirection.”

By the time Syria exploded into chaos in 2011, Obama was in charge, and the strategy had steadily evolved. So had the clampdown on dissenting voices. Seymour Hersh was exiled to the London Review of Books, where his damning revelations would not be broadcast to the American public. In “The Red Line and the Rat Line” Hersh helped expose what was going on in Syria: “A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdogan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria.”

In 2011 Obama destroyed Libya by acting as “Al Qaeda’s Air Force” in violation of the Constitution and the UN Charter. He then set his dogs to work moving weapons and fighters from Libya across to the next target on the hit list: Syria.

By June 20, of 2013: “[Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)]…stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s’ pre-9/11 effort.” (Hersh)

Meaning that the White House was lying throughout that period as to the Syrian rebels’ chemical weapons capabilities. When a staged sarin attack killed numerous civilians in Ghoutta, on August 21 of 2013, Obama was quick to jump at the chance for military action and a new war. That was the “red line” cassus belli that his own administration had floated the previous year. But the actual perpetrators turned out to be Al Nusrah Front working with chemical suppliers in Turkey, aided by Turkish intelligence.

That the Jihadis were the Ghoutta chemical attack perpetrators was confirmed in a Turkish indictment as well as by rebel fighters on the ground near Damascus.

The actions of the White House over this issue betray its hypocrisy, yet again. When Assad was the perpetrator, all the military might of the NATO bloc was to come down on Syria to punish it for its “red line” use of chemical weapons. When the actual perpetrators are Al Nusrah terrorists, working closely with Erdogan’s Turkey, as well as Pentagon and CIA trainees, and ISIS too, there is only a deafening silence. Inaction reveals much when it comes to this Syrian charade. The sarin issue was kicked from history, and the actual deaths of those 500 or so children and civilians remain as meaningless to those in Washington as do any other deaths in their ongoing Middle East blood frenzy.

As for the Benghazi-Gate fiasco, and the death of the US ambassador, the obvious reason for the White House cover-up was disclosed in Seymour Hersh’s piece: “The [Benghazi] consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’”

Clearly the illegal foreign support to the insurgency in Syria is the reason ISIS exists. It did not spring from nowhere. It did not magically take over parts of two countries overnight. The fact that it is a genocidal, fanatical monstrosity is one of those distasteful qualities that western leaders tend to distance themselves from, but not enough to actually eradicate the quite useful proxy group.

The Fake “War” on ISIS

As we bob from fraud to fraud in this age of manufactured terror and covert everything, we must remain significantly more vigilant than our predecessors in order to comprehend the schizophrenic nature of US foreign policy today.

As for ISIS we bomb them occasionally but an excuse lingers that bombing is not sufficient. We are told that we will need to take over Syria, with large infantry armies that is if the Jihadists can’t do it successfully on their own. Unfortunately, for people like Zbigniew Brzezinski, John McCain, Bandar bin Sultan, and Barack Obama, the Russians saw the writing on the wall and stepped in to bomb back the terrorist militias. With a legitimate invitation from the government of Syria the Russian air campaign has been quite successful so far.

Back in September of 2014 the NY Times claimed that Barack Obama’s Administration was “Struggling to Starve ISIS of Oil Revenue.” Over a year later Obama had still not bombed the long lines of tanker trucks illegally selling the black market oil to the neighboring countries: that coalition again, with Turkey being the main recipient. Neither did the Times even bother mentioning the obvious US option of bombing the tanker trucks, oil wells and refineries under ISIS control.


Echoing what Nuri al-Maliki had said, Vladimir Putin wielded the big monkey wrench at this last G20 summit, on November 15th: “Channels of finance for terrorist activity must be cut off…This financing, as we found out, comes from 40 countries, including some in the G20.”

Gloves off, Russian President Putin had already accused Washington of backing terrorism across the Middle East. Not stopping there, Putin literally handed Obama Russian satellite photos of 1,000 ISIS oil tanker trucks stretching for “dozens of kilometers.”

The very next day, November 16, “U.S. Warplanes Strike ISIS Oil Trucks in Syria.” For some reason only 116 trucks out of the “1,000” were hit by the US mission. Then the effort mysteriously stopped as soon as the headlines had gone to print. With the policy firmly established in the media, the reality on the ground became irrelevant again.

Russia took up the slack on the 18th destroying “500 fuel tank trucks” controlled by ISIS and used to fund their insurgency. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov phrased it: “[T]he analysis of those [US-led] airstrikes during over a year lead to conclusion that they were hitting selectively, I would say, sparingly and on most occasions didn’t touch those IS units, which were capable of seriously challenging the Syrian army.”

In addition to avoiding the illegal oil trade occurring right beneath USAF fighter/bombers for over a year, there is also the matter of approximately 60 ISIS training camps. No training camps have been bombed to date, despite continually churning out “1,000” radical Islamic fighters per month. We can make some educated guesses as to why that is.

Foreign intelligence and special forces (British and Qatari), and potentially US personnel, have operated inside Syria since at least February of 2012. The CIA admits to spending $1Bn per year training Syrian insurgents and boasts that it has “trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years.” If US personnel aren’t actually inside the territory of Syria, their pets surely are.

We know that ISIS, Al Nusrah, al Sham and Free Syrian Army (FSA) are all allies and work closely together. The FSA Colonel Abdel Jabbar al Olkaidi has plainly told us so. Olkaidi was the direct link to US Ambassador Robert Ford, and so there is no longer any plausible deniability on the subject. There is no legitimacy left for US claims of a “moderate” opposition that somehow exists separate from the genocidal terror armies of head-chopping extremists.


I would be remiss if I ignored mentioning the oil and gas supplies of the Middle East. The routes into Europe are hotly contested. With the Ukrainian gas pipelines coming from Russia, western leaders want alternatives in order to weaken the bear. Other proposed energy routes to the south include Syrian territory, that same territory ISIS now claims as its “Caliphate.”

It also needs to be mentioned that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has admitted: 760 German citizens have joined ISIS and 200 of them have returned home to Germany. Earlier this year it was reported that 100,000 fake Turkish passports had gone to ISIS fighters.

Turkey remains the headquarters and logistical center of ISIS. The west, NATO, and their Gulf tyranny partners, have opened Pandora’s Box. It still hangs wide open.


Joe Giambrone is an American author, freelance writer and filmmaker. Non-fiction works appear at International Policy Digest,WhoWhatWhyForeign Policy JournalCounterpunch,Globalresearch OpedNews, High Times and other online outlets. His science fiction thriller Transfixion and his Hollywood satire Hell of a Deal are available through Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and Createspace.


Simulating the End of the World Is Preferable To Ending the World


Judgment Day–Dec 06 2007

Intervening (in Syria) Like It’s The End of the World?–May 16, 2014

Fools Meddling With History Might Actually Be Bringing About Prophecied Events–September 9, 2013

U.S. seeks to avoid IS prophecy


The Hindu
Kurdish fighters with the YPG, or People's Protection Units, in the town of Hasaka, Syria. Kurdish militias have been the only viable partners so far in the battle against the Islamic State.

Kurdish fighters with the YPG, or People’s Protection Units, in the town of Hasaka, Syria. Kurdish militias have been the only viable partners so far in the battle against the Islamic State.



The jihadist group wants America and its allies to be dragged into a ground war.

As the debate on how best to contain the Islamic State continues to rage in Western capitals, the militants themselves have made one point patently clear: They want the U.S. and its allies to be dragged into a ground war.

In fact, when the U.S. first invaded Iraq, one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the move was the man who founded the terrorist cell that would one day become the IS, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He excitedly called the Americans’ 2003 intervention “the Blessed Invasion”.

His reaction — ignored by some, and dismissed as rhetoric by others — points to one of the core beliefs motivating the terrorist group now holding large stretches of Iraq and Syria: the group bases its ideology on prophetic texts stating that Islam will be victorious after an apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the region.

Should that invasion happen, the IS would not only be able to declare its prophecy fulfilled, but could also turn the occurrence into a new recruiting drive at the very moment when the terror group appears to be losing volunteers.

It is partly that theory that President Barack Obama referred to in his speech on Sunday, when he said the U.S. should pursue a “sustainable victory” that involves airstrikes and supports local forces battling the IS rather than sending a new generation of American soldiers into a ground offensive.

“I have said it repeatedly: Because of these prophecies, going in on the ground would be the worst trap to fall into. They want troops on the ground. Because they have already envisioned it,” said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor of Middle East Studies at Sciences Po in Paris, and the author of Apocalypse in Islam, one of the main scholarly texts exploring the scripture that the militants base their ideology on.

The IS’s propaganda is rife with references to apocalyptic prophecy about the last great battle that sets the stage for the end times.

The specific scripture they are referring to describes a battle in Dabiq as well as al-Amaq, small towns that still exist in northern Syria. The countdown to the apocalypse begins once the “Romans” — a term that militants have now conveniently expanded to include Americans and their allies — set foot in Dabiq.

Last year, when IS militants beheaded American hostage Peter Kassig, a former U.S. Army Ranger, they made sure to do it in Dabiq.

“Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” the executioner announced.

Dabiq is now the name of the IS’s monthly online magazine. Meanwhile, Amaq is the name the militants have chosen for their semi-official news agency.

How to undo IS is a matter of intense debate. As the U.S. prepares for a general election, Republican contenders are pushing for a ground invasion, with Sen. Ted Cruz vowing to “carpet-bomb them into oblivion”.

Regardless of a ground intervention’s potential to succeed, some veteran analysts caution that the act of invasion would play handily into the group’s prophetic vision.

“To break the dynamic, you have to debunk the prophecy,” Filiu said. “You need to do so via a military defeat, like taking over Raqqa. But it needs to be by local forces — by Sunni Arabs.”

That so far has been the approach of the Obama administration, which has armed as well as provided air support to a number of militias in northern Iraq and Syria, hoping to give a local veneer to the tip of the sword. — New York Times News Service

Taliban -vs- Anti-Taliban War Heats-Up In Herat In Western Afghanistan

[SEE: ISIS, Taliban announced Jihad against each other]

Over 50 killed as clashes intensify among top Taliban leaders in Herat



Taliban clashesOver 50 Taliban insurgents have died and as much others have sustained injuries as clashes have intensified among the supporters of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and dissident Taliban leader MULLAH Rasool.

According to local government officials the incident took place in Zer Koh area of Shindand district and clashes still continue between the two sides.

Provincial governor spokesman Ehsanullah Hayat said clashes erupted early on Monday morning but intensified on Tuesday.

Hayat confirmed over 50 militants have been killed so far and around 50 others have been wounded.

Another security official said scores of militants from the neighbouring provinces have poured into Shindand to support militants engaged in the ongoing fight.

According to reports Raz Mohammad Nangialy is leading the war in favor of Mullah Rasool while Mullah Abdul Samad is fighting in favour of Mullah Mansoor’.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the ongoing clash so far.

Herat is among the relatively peaceful provinces in Western Afghanistan however the anti-government armed militant groups have recently increased their ins urgency activities in a number of its districts, specifically those located in remote parts of it.

Mullah Mansoor assumed charge of the Taliban group in July this year following the announcement of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death.

His controversial appointment as new Taliban supreme leader led to widening rift among the Taliban leaders who are often entering into deadly clash.

In the latest incident, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was reportedly wounded after a gun battle among Taliban fighters in Pakistan with reports even suggesting Mullah Mansoor has died.


US May End-Up Unhappy If It Forces Russia’s Hand In Syria

Chart of SU-24M Flight Path Released by Russian Ministry of Defense.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Chart of SU-24M Flight Path Released by Russian Ministry of Defense. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Considering the remarkable success of the Russian intervention in Syria, at least so far, it should not have come as a surprise that the AngloZionist Empire would strike back. The only question was how and when. We now know the answer to that question.

On November 24th the Turkish Airforce did something absolutely unprecedented in recent history: it deliberately shot down another country’s military aircraft even though it was absolutely obvious that this aircraft presented no threat whatsoever to Turkey or the Turkish people. The Russian Internet is full of more or less official leaks about how this was done. According to these versions, the Turks maintained 12 F-16 on patrol along the border ready to attack, they were guided by AWACS aircraft and “covered” by USAF F-15s in case of an immediate Russian counter-attack. Maybe. Maybe not. But this hardly matters because what is absolutely undeniable is that the USA and NATO immediatley took “ownership” of this attack by giving their full support to Turkey. NATO went as far as to declare that it would send aircraft and ships to protect Turkey as if it had been Russia which had attacked Turkey. As for the USA, not only did it fully back Turkey, it now also categorically denies that there is any evidence that Turkey is purchasing Daesh oil. Finally, as was to be expected, the USA is now sending The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group into the eastern Mediterranean, officially to strike Daesh but, in reality, to back Turkey and threaten Russia. Even the Germans are now sending their own aircraft, but with the specific orders not to share any info with the Russians.

So what is really going on here?

Simple: the Empire correctly identified the weakness of the Russian force in Syria, and it decided to use Turkey to provide itself an element of plausible deniability. This attack is probably only the first step of a much larger campaign to “push back” Russia from the Turkish border. The next step, apparently, includes the dispatching of western forces into Syria, initially only as ‘advisors’, but eventually as special forces and forward air controllers. The US and Turkish Air Forces will play the primary role here, with assorted Germans and UK aircraft providing enough diversity to speak of an “international coalition”. As for the French, stuck between their Russian counterparts and their NATO “allies”, they will remain as irrelevant as ever: Hollande caved in, again (what else?). Eventually, NATO will create a de-facto safe heaven for its “moderate terrorists” in northern Syria and use it as a base to direct an attack on Raqqa. Since any such intervention will be completely illegal, the argument of the need to defend the Turkmen minority will be used, R2P and all. The creation of a NATO-protected safe heaven for “moderate terrorists” could provide the first step for breaking up Syria into several smaller statelets.

If that is really the plan, then the shooting down of the SU-24 sends a powerful message to Russia: we are ready to risk a war to push you back – are you ready to go to war? The painful answer will be No, Russia is not prepared to wage a war against the entire Empire over Syria, simply because she does not have the capabilities to do so.

As I have already mentioned many times now, Syria is beyond the Russian power projection capability (roughly 1000km), especially if that power projection has to be executed through hostile territory (which Turkey most definitely is). So far, the Russians have succeeded, brilliantly, in organizing and supporting their small force in Syria, but this in no way indicates a Russian capability to support a major air operation over Syria or, even less so, a ground operation. The fact is that the Russian intervention in Syria was always a risky and difficult one, and it did not take the Empire much time to capitalize on this. I get a lot of flak from flag-wavers and “hurrah patriots” for saying this, but the fact is that Russia cannot ‘protect’ Syria from the US, NATO or even CENCTOM. At least not in purely military terms. This does not mean that Russia does not have retaliatory options. Russia has already engaged in the following:

Economic sanctions: Russia has declared a number of sanctions against Turkey, including the freezing of the Turkish Stream project. Furthermore, Russian tourism in Turkey – a huge source of revenue – is most likely to dwindle down to a tiny fraction of what it used to be: Russians will not be banned from going to Turkey, but no tours or packages will be offered by Russian travel agencies. Some Turkish goods will be banned in Russia, and Turks will not be invited to bid for various types of contracts. All in all, these sanctions will hurt Turkey, but not in a major way.

Political sanctions: here Russia will use one of her most terrifying weapons: the truth. The Russian military presented a devastating series of photos and videos shot by Russian air and space assets proving that Turkey does, indeed, purchase oil from Daesh. What was especially shocking about this evidence is that it showed the truly immense scale of the smuggling: one photo showed 1,722 oil trucks in in Deir Ez-Zor region while another one showed 8,500 oil tankers are used by Daesh to transport up 200,000 barrels of oil. What these figures mean is that not only is this smuggling organized at the level of the Turkish state, but it is also absolutely obvious that the USA knows everything about it.

Predictably, the western media made no mention of the actual evidence, it only spoke of “images the Russians claim to show”, but the damage is still done, especially in the long term. Now everybody with a modicum of intelligence knows that Erdogan is a lying crook. More importantly, it has now become undeniable that Turkey is not only an ally, but a patron and sponsor of Daesh. Finally, in the light of this evidence, it also becomes rather obvious why Turkey decided to shoot down the Russian SU-24: because the Russians were bombing the Daesh to Turkey smuggling routes.

The final blow to the prestige and credibility of Erdogan and Turkey came from Vladimir Putin himself who, in his annual address to the Parliament said:

We know who are stuffing pockets in Turkey and letting terrorists prosper from the sale of oil they stole in Syria. The terrorists are using these receipts to recruit mercenaries, buy weapons and plan inhuman terrorist attacks against Russian citizens and against people in France, Lebanon, Mali and other states. We remember that the militants who operated in the North Caucasus in the 1990s and 2000s found refuge and received moral and material assistance in Turkey. We still find them there.

Meanwhile, the Turkish people are kind, hardworking and talented. We have many good and reliable friends in Turkey. Allow me to emphasize that they should know that we do not equate them with the certain part of the current ruling establishment that is directly responsible for the deaths of our servicemen in Syria.

We will never forget their collusion with terrorists. We have always deemed betrayal the worst and most shameful thing to do, and that will never change. I would like them to remember this – those in Turkey who shot our pilots in the back, those hypocrites who tried to justify their actions and cover up for terrorists.

I don’t even understand why they did it. Any issues they might have had, any problems, any disagreements we knew nothing about could have been settled in a different way. Plus, we were ready to cooperate with Turkey on all the most sensitive issues it had; we were willing to go further, where its allies refused to go. Allah only knows, I suppose, why they did it. And probably, Allah has decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by taking their mind and reason.

But, if they expected a nervous or hysterical reaction from us, if they wanted to see us become a danger to ourselves as much as to the world, they won’t get it. They won’t get any response meant for show or even for immediate political gain. They won’t get it.

Our actions will always be guided primarily by responsibility – to ourselves, to our country, to our people. We are not going to rattle the sabre. But, if someone thinks they can commit a heinous war crime, kill our people and get away with it, suffering nothing but a ban on tomato imports, or a few restrictions in construction or other industries, they’re delusional. We’ll remind them of what they did, more than once. They’ll regret it. We know what to do.

Of course, in a society thoroughly habituated to lying, dishonesty and hypocrisy, these are “only” words, and they shall be ignored. But in the Middle-East and the rest of the world, these are powerful words which the Turks will have a very hard time “washing off” from their reputation.

Military measures: these are limited, of course, but not irrelevant. First, Russia has now admitted that S-400 are now in Syria (I suspect they were there all along). Second, Russia has began building a 2nd air base, this time in Shaayrat, in central Syria. If this base is indeed built, then bringing in a few Russian AWACS and/or MiG-31s would make sense. Third, Russia will now use more modern SU-34s equipped with advanced air-to-air missiles in northern Syria and Russian strike aircraft will now be escorted by dedicated SU-30SM fighters. This combination of measures will make it much harder for the Turks to repeat such an attack, but I personally doubt that they have any such intentions, at least not in the immediate future.


In order to fully understand what is happening now we need to look at the bigger picture. The first major consequence of the shooting down of the Russian SU-24 is that NATO has now become an impunity alliance. Now that the precedent has been set by Turkey’s act of war against Russia, because that is what this shooting down undeniably was, any NATO member can now do the same thing while feeling protected by the alliance. If tomorrow, say, the Latvians decide to strafe a Russian Navy ship in the Baltic Sea or if the Poles shoot down a Russian aircraft over Kaliningrad, they will immediately get the ‘protection’ of NATO just like Turkey now did: the USA will fully endorse the Latvian/Polish version of the events, the Secretary General of NATO will offer to dispatch more forces to Latvia/Poland to “protect” these countries from any “threat” from “the east” and the world’s corporate media will turn a blind eye to any evidence of Latvian/Polish aggression. This is an extremely dangerous development as it gives a strong incentive to any small country to deal with its inferiority complex by showing its “courage” and “determination” to challenge Russia even if, of course, this is done by hiding behind NATO’s back.

NATO is also deliberately escalating its war on Russia by admitting Montenegro into the Alliance and by re-starting talks about admitting Georgia. In a purely military sense, the incorporation of Montenegro into NATO makes no difference whatsoever, but in political terms this is yet another way for the West to thumb its nose at Russia and say “see, we will even incorporate your historical allies into our Empire and there is nothing you can do about it”. As for Georgia, the main purpose behind the discussion of its incorporation into NATO is to vindicate the “Saakashvili line”, i.e. to reward aggression towards Russia. Here again, there is nothing Russia can do.

We thus are facing an extremely dangerous situation:

  • The Russian forces in Syria are comparatively weak and isolated
  • Turkey can, and will, continue its provocations under the cover of NATO
  • The West is now preparing an (illegal) intervention inside Syria
  • The western intervention will be made against Syria and Russia
  • NATO politicians now have an easy way to score “patriotic” points by provoking Russia

If we strip all the NATO verbiage about “defending our members” what is happening now is that the Empire has now apparently decided that going down the road to war is safe because Russia will not dare to “start” a war. In other words, this is a game of chicken in which one side dares the other to do something about it. This is exactly what Putin was referring to when he said:

If they expected a nervous or hysterical reaction from us, if they wanted to see us become a danger to ourselves as much as to the world, they won’t get it. They won’t get any response meant for show or even for immediate political gain. They won’t get it. Our actions will always be guided primarily by responsibility – to ourselves, to our country, to our people

What the imperial deep state is missing is the fact that Russia might not have a choice but to confront the Empire. Yes, the Russians do not want war, but the problem here is that, considering the absolutely reckless arrogance and imperial hubris of the western elites, every Russian effort to avoid war is interpreted by the western deep state as a sign of weakness. In other words, by acting responsibly the Russians are now providing an incentive for the West to act even more irresponsibly. This is a very, very, dangerous dynamic which the Kremlin will have to deal with. Putin, apparently, does have something in mind, at least this is how I understand his warning:

But, if someone thinks they can commit a heinous war crime, kill our people and get away with it, suffering nothing but a ban on tomato imports, or a few restrictions in construction or other industries, they’re delusional. We’ll remind them of what they did, more than once. They’ll regret it. We know what to do.

I have no idea as to what he might be referring to, but I am confident that this is not some empty bluster: this was not a threat to Russia’s enemies, but a promise to the Russian people. I sure hope that there is a plan because right now we are on a collision course leading to war. In conclusion, here is a short quote by Putin western leaders might want to ponder:

Gulf Allies Funding Widespread Terrorism, While Feigning An Anti-Terrorist Fight

Sunni tribesmen training
Sunni tribesmen take part in military training, as they prepare to fight against militants of the Islamic State, on the outskirt of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, Nov. 16, 2014. Reuters/Ali al-Mashhadani

In the days following November’s brutal attacks in Paris at the hands of Islamic State group militants, Riyadh’s skyscrapers blazed blue, white and red in a public display of solidarity with France. The message from the Saudi capital was clear: “We support you, people of France, against terrorism.”

Leaders from across the Gulf were quick to condemn the assaults. The UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, sent a telegram to French President Francois Hollande, pledging his support “to face terrorism and eliminate it.” The leaders of Dubai, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi followed suit.


The Gulf states are key members of the U.S.-led coalition against the group known as ISIS. Bahrain and UAE were among the first countries to take part in anti-ISIS airstrikes and, in his first visit to Washington in September, the Saudi King told President Obama that the Kingdom would play a major role in Syria. But that alliance is under threat as wealthy donors across the Gulf are lining the pockets of the terrorists their leaders have professed to fight.

The battle for Ramadi, in Iraq’s western Anbar province, is illustrative of this duplicity. The city’s Sunni officials, in a series of interviews conducted over a period of five months, told International Business Times that Sunni tribal leaders, funded by Gulf businessmen, helped ISIS take over the provincial capital in May. Seven months later, ISIS controls an area stretching from the Syrian border, east of Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul, to the outskirts of Baghdad.

U.S. military advisors are training local Sunni forces to recapture the strategic city, but those efforts have so far failed to expel the group, which is one of the best equipped and wealthiest in the region. The tribal leaders provide ISIS with intelligence, cash and weapons that help it to stave off U.S.-backed Iraqi military forces and ensure the group retains the upper hand in battle. Many leaders have formally pledged allegiance to the militant group.

RTR45WEC Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud sits before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Royal Palace in Jeddah September 11, 2014. The United States signed up Arab allies to a “coordinated military campaign” against Islamic State fighters, a major step in building regional support for President Barack Obama’s plan to strike both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier. After talks in Saudi Arabia’s summer capital Jeddah, Kerry won backing from 10 Arab countries.  Reuters/Brendan Smialowski  A combination of money and willful blindness has ensured that Sunni businessmen in the Gulf, who are funding ISIS through Sunni tribesmen intermediaries, go almost unchallenged, Eissa al-Issawi, Head of Fallujah local council, told IBT.

Lucrative trading ties with the terrorist group mean that few are willing to stand against them. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s former national security advisor under former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, said a number of the government offices in Anbar province’s other cities — Haditha, Hit and Fallujah — deal directly with ISIS and transfer money to the militants.

Tribal leaders in the region take up to $1,000 from civilians who want to leave ISIS-controlled territory and hand it back to the group, Sheikh Naim al-Gaoud, a tribal leader in Hit, said. Sunni tribal leaders not only give weapons to ISIS, but also send money donated by prominent Iraqi Sunni businessmen such as Khamis al-Khanjar and Imad Mohammadi, who have previously given financial support to anti-government demonstrators.

It’s a testament to the strength and wealth of the ISIS network not only in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East, that the group is able to draw on such wide support. Analysts say it underscores the direct connection between ISIS strongholds that are fueled by a robust local system of taxation, extortion, oil production and sales, and also through Gulf businessmen and charities. Despite U.S. efforts to blacklist ISIS financiers, those funds are connected to the global banking system because Gulf states are not enforcing the laws that are supposed to crack down on citizens financing terror groups — and the U.S. has so far not convinced them to do otherwise.

Historical Ties with the Gulf

Gulf businessmen have a long history of funding the tribes in Anbar, as well as Sunni militant groups around the world, by sending them donations through intermediaries, usually charities, in support of a religious ideology that mirrors their own. Citizens of Saudi, along with Qatar, stand accused of financing militant groups in Syria such as Jabhat al-Nusra, an al Qaeda offshoot.

Saudi Arabia has begun to criminalize financiers of terrorism, while others, especially Qatar and Kuwait, have a long way to go, analysts say. Gulf countries have arrested financiers of ISIS, but those arrests have rarely led to prosecutions and trials.

“All of the Gulf states have good laws on the books by now,” said Lori Plotkin Boghardt, an expert on ISIS financing from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank in Washington. “But each makes decisions about whether they should jail extremist financiers because they’re a terrorist threat, or whether it’s more savvy to allow extremist financing because it helps certain foreign policy objectives like defeating Assad, or because it’s politically expedient not to crack down on certain citizens funding these jihadi groups.”

RTR4D4KH A rocket believed to have been launched by Islamic State forces flies from the east to the west side of the Syrian town of Kobani during fighting on November 6, 2014.  REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Qatar and Kuwait remain problematic jurisdictions in regard to terrorist financing and although Saudi Arabia has made some strides in cracking down domestically, “radical deep pocket donors in Saudi Arabia still wishing to transfer money to Syria often do so through Kuwait,” Matthew Levitt, an expert on ISIS financing from the Washington Institute on Near East Policy, said in his briefing to the House Armed Services Committee last year.

“Most of the Gulf states have put new laws in place or revised old laws or taken new measures to crack down on terrorist financing.  But it’s a matter of implementation,” said Plotkin Boghardt. “Actual implementation of these laws falls along a continuum in the Gulf.”

Kuwait did not criminalize terrorist financing until 2013, after ISIS had already made plans to seize territory in Syria. The new law allows for immediate freezing of terrorist assets and created a Financial Intelligence Unit — an office established in government bureaucracies across the globe as an epicenter for reports and investigations of terrorist financing — similar to the law Qatar passed in 2010. But both countries have not fully implemented the law .

The State Department recently reported that Doha’s general enforcement and implementation of its money laundering and terrorist financing law was “lacking” and marked by “significant gaps.” Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in his first interview last year, denied claims that people in his country were supporting terrorists.

Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called on the world to combat terrorism Monday. Above, U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Salman at their meeting during the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.  Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Kuwait has yet to bring any terrorist financiers to trial. In a report published in April, the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, the intergovernmental body developing and promoting policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, Kuwait was still working on correcting its previous ratings. In its 2011 report it was “partially compliant” and “noncompliant” on a total of 38 recommendations.

Saudi Arabia has arrested hundreds of alleged ISIS supporters, but most that go to trial have no financial ties to the group, and ISIS continues to enjoy popular support among a large swath of the Gulf’s population who follow Wahhabism, a brand of puritanical Islam that ISIS also has its roots in.

“It’s very hard to convince Sunnis in the Gulf [ISIS] is a bad thing,” said Tom Sanderson, an expert on terrorism financing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington.

Failed U.S. Efforts To Pressure Gulf Allies

The U.S. has fared little better at convincing its Gulf State allies to crack down on individuals who fund terror. A leaked State Department document from 2009 published on WikiLeaks shows that the U.S. has struggled to persuade Gulf States to crack down on financiers.

“While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) takes seriously the threat of terrorism within Saudi Arabia, it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority,” the document said. “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. Continued senior-level USG engagement is needed to build on initial efforts and encourage the Saudi government to take more steps to stem the flow of funds from Saudi Arabia-based sources to terrorists and extremists worldwide.”

The document also said that Kuwait was more concerned with addressing financiers of terrorism domestically than internationally and that Qatar “has adopted a largely passive approach to cooperating with the U.S. against terrorist financing.”

Robert Jordan, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the beginning of the Iraq War, told IBT that when he was stationed in Riyadh, the Saudis had “little way of oversight” in tracking al Qaeda financiers. “They decided to handle [tracking terrorists’ finances] through the Ministry of Interior, but they didn’t have anyone in it that knew much about it. It was not very successful,” he said.

RTR42MDO Ali Hatem Suleiman, head of the Dulaimi tribe that dominates the Sunni heartland Anbar province, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Arbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, August 15, 2014. Suleiman, one of Iraq’s most powerful Sunni tribal leaders, said on Friday he was ready to work with the new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, provided he protected the rights of the minority sect, which was marginalized by his predecessor. Picture taken August 15, 2014.  Reuters/Stringer The Saudis eventually shut down a large charity known for funneling money to terrorists, Al Haramain, and stopped collecting money in mosques — but even those two small steps took years to accomplish. At one point, Jordan said, the then secretary of treasury, Paul O’Neil, arrived in Riyadh with a list of names of al Qaeda financiers that the U.S. wanted Saudi officials to arrest and take to trial. But American officials stationed in Saudi persuaded O’Neil not to present the list to officials in fear that the list would lead to wrongful convictions.

“I said, ‘Are you sure you have the right name on these lists? You better think twice because you can’t falsely accuse these people,’” Jordan said of his conversation with O’Neil. “There could have been 30,000 Abdullah Muhammad’s. It is almost impossible to match up a particular name with an ID card and someone on the ground.” The list was never revisited during Jordan’s time in office, he said.

Few Gulf countries are actively working to cut ISIS off from the global banking system, despite their membership in the Counter ISIL Finance Group, an international coalition lead by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Italy that focuses on targeting ISIS oil revenues. Those countries are also members of the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force, which sets standards for combating money laundering.

Non-Existent Paper Trail

U.S. efforts to cut off ISIS’ finances have been limited by the challenges of tracking the group’s financial movements. A senior U.S. treasury official told IBT that the group’s paper trail is almost non-existent, just as the transactions of al Qaeda, the group it grew out of, are.

The U.S. has sought to make ISIS funds useless outside of the area it controls, sanctioning individuals involved in transactions with the U.S. This year, the treasury sanctioned 30 individuals connected to ISIS and its finances, and froze their assets; last week, the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control, the department that monitors illegal transactions, blacklisted a Syrian-Russian businessman for providing money to fund ISIS oil operations.

But a department spokesman told IBT that the group’s success at extracting wealth from the territories it controls — through taxes, looting and kidnapping for ransom — makes it difficult to cut off funding from the outside.

In Iraq, the Treasury said it has worked closely with authorities to ensure that 90 bank branches within ISIS-controlled territory are cut off from Iraqi and international financial systems. But, there are some reports from the ground that suggest civilians are being forced to travel outside ISIS territory to access banks and bring the cash back into ISIS land.

The U.S. is also working to stop the ISIS militants in Iraq from acquiring American tender — there are a number of exchange houses within Iraq that permit the group access to several million dollars. But the U.S. has yet to target ISIS the same way in Syria and a porous border between the two countries allows for easy transfers of weapons and cash.

U.S. officials say their efforts won’t stop the group from getting richer until their Gulf allies, and Turkey, do more to stop the flow of cash, oil and weapons into ISIS-held territory.

“We need the Turks to be doing a lot more. There’s pretty much a consensus that a lot of money and other things are moving across the Turkish border,” Levitt said. “International banks are not allowing their banks in ISIS-controlled areas to send or receive money, [but] the fact that you don’t see massive inflation suggests money is moving in and out.”

Michael Kaplan contributed to this report. Laith al-Ameery reported from Baghdad.

DAESH, TALIBAN Declare Jihad Upon Each Other

“When the matter of peace talks between government and Taliban comes into discussion some intelligence agencies make new groups to keep the war ongoing in Afghanistan.”

ISIS, Taliban announced Jihad against each other


By Khaama Press

ISIS (2)Mashaal Radio has published a report stating that Daesh and Taliban group have announced Jihad against each other.

Nabi Jan Mullahkhil, police chief of southern Helmand province has told Mashaal Radio during an interview that he has received documents in which both the terrorist groups have announced Jihad against each other.

Mashaal Radio which is related to Azadi Radio quotes Mullahkhil as saying when the matter of peace talks between government and Taliban comes into discussion some intelligence agencies make new groups to keep the war ongoing in Afghanistan.

Reports of minor clashes between the fighters of Taliban group and the newly emerged Daesh have published in the past.

Both groups oppose each other.

Abdu Bakar Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS has called Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar “a fool and illiterate warlord”.

Al-Baghdadi has said that Mullah Omar does not deserve a spiritual or political credibility. While on the other hand Taliban fighters have been ordered by their leaders not to let Daesh flag raise in Afghanistan.

Russia To Build Gwadar To Lahore LNG Pipeline

Pak-Russia gas pipeline: Is another strategic alliance in the offing in South Asia?




Pakistan and Russia signed a government-to-government deal on Friday to construct a pipeline to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Karachi to Lahore. Moscow will lend Islamabad $2 billion for the project. Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to visit Pakistan within the next four months to perform the groundbreaking of the pipeline project, for which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had handed over the framework to the Russian president in Ufa earlier this year. Moscow had then sought some time to get a nod from its competent forum. A senior government official said that Pakistan had formally invited Putin to visit Pakistan for the groundbreaking. Russian energy minister has also assured Islamabad of Putin’s visit, he added. During the previous government, the Russian president was to visit Pakistan to sign the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline financing deal but Islamabad only wanted to sign some memorandums of understanding (MoUs), which upset Russia. “Moscow wanted concrete agreements,” the official said. “Putin postponed his scheduled visit to Pakistan after this.” While Pakistan and Russia have signed a defence cooperation deal earlier, this is first energy deal between the two countries after 30 years which shows the shift in Pakistan’s policy to attract investment to overcome its energy crisis. It is helpful to remember though, that states do not get directly involved in the economic affairs of another country without some sort of geopolitical interest at work. In Russia’s case, these interests are clearly built around promoting stability in Afghanistan, and choking extremist activity within Pakistan. President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned of violence and militant activity in Afghanistan spilling over into Central Asia and potentially into Russia as well. Pakistan has a special role to play in promoting stability in the region, and a closer relationship with Russia should help further align our interests around the maintenance of stability in Afghanistan and the elimination of extremist threats from our midst. It is also important to bear in mind that infrastructure investments, particularly in the energy sector, will not yield any benefit if they are not accompanied by domestic reforms, particularly in the pricing regime for natural gas and other fuels. The case of the LNG import terminal, which is continuing to function under ad hoc supplies, is a case in point. Imported gas will be a non-starter in Pakistan so long as it faces a large price difference with domestic gas. For the pipeline that the Russians are offering to build to be a real opportunity, the mistakes of the LNG terminal must be avoided. A lot of homework will be necessary before gas flows can materialise, including price reforms, and the government ought to focus on these right away. A proper model for importing the gas, from third-party access rules to pipeline capacity, and sharing of costs will need to be developed. The project should also seek to eventually take input from the Iranian gas supposed to be piped through the IP pipeline.