By now, it’s undeniable: America’s frustration with political elites is upending party loyalty. And now, this phenomenon is taking on global proportions.
According to a recent poll, nearly half of Bernie Sanders’s supporters will not vote for Hillary Clinton, while 22 percent are backing Donald Trump. “I’m a registered Democrat,” one respondent explained, “but I cannot bring myself to vote for another establishment politician like Hillary.”
Based on media coverage, it’s easy to label this distaste purely domestic. However, from the U.K.’s “Brexit” referendum to political movements in France, Italy, and the republic of Georgia, voters have been rising up against an out-of-touch, technocratic elite.
In each of these cases, political insiders have responded with doomsday predictions. Voting against the establishment, they argue, will lead to a swift collapse of our most precious institutions. The anti-establishment movement is not devoid of risk, but when the status quo is failing, it must be challenged. Embracing these protest movements as opportunities to enact reform is the only way our institutions can endure.
However distinct they may be, the Western world’s growing anti-establishment movements carry a remarkably consistent message. Namely, that our political institutions too often favor a small class of privileged elites, at the expense of average citizens.
For Americans, this view is most evident in Trump’s unlikely rise to the GOP nomination. His signature proposals, after all, reject the establishment belief in increased trade and immigration as unalloyed economic goods.
Similarly, Sanders’s electoral success was based mainly on his willingness to admit the inadequacies of our current economic model.
Both campaigns tapped into the scathing anger of a U.S. middle class that hasn’t seen family income growth in 20 years.
Look overseas, however, and you’ll see the same complaints being lodged by citizens throughout Europe. The U.K.’s decision to exit the European Union last month was the most pronounced expression of anti-establishment discontent to date.
The so-called Brexit vote reflected festering economic frustrations. According to two leading labor economists, anti-EU sentiment reigned in areas that have recently lacked wage growth.
As Nigel Farage, former leader of the U.K. Independence Party, put it, “Brexit” supporters, “rejected the multinationals, they rejected the merchant banks, they rejected big politics and they said actually, we want our country back, we want our fishing waters back, we want our borders back.”
In the end, more than 53 percent of Britons voted to leave the EU. And they did so despite global pleas from everybody from President Obama, to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, to Prime Minister David Cameron that doing so would wreck the political establishment.
In France, meanwhile, the steady rise of Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, reflects the same growing impatience with the political status quo. Capitalizing on an unemployment rate that’s hovered above 9 percent since the ’80s, Le Pen has long campaigned on a message of stricter immigration laws and Euroskepticism. She has emerged in recent weeks as the leader in France’s 2017 presidential polls.
Italy’s anti-establishment party, the Five Star Movement, is also making enormous gains. Started by comedian Beppe Grillo, the party opposes both globalization and EU membership. According to three new polls [July 6], M5S is now Italy’s most popular political party.
And in the distant Caucuses, the republic of Georgia, where nearly 70 percent of the population claims unemployment, famous opera singer Paata Burchuladze has embarked on a campaign to be the country’s next prime minister. With an endorsement from United States, the newly-established State for the People party aims to “completely change the paradigm of the relations between the people and the state.” As he sees it, Georgia’s political class, specifically the Georgian Dream party, has failed to serve the interests of average people.
He’s tapped into something powerful by challenging leadership that has been accused of imprisoning political foes and attempting to free political prisoners involved in terror acts.
While the policy proposals of each of these movements may vary significantly, the grievances animating these campaigns are broadly similar. Voters are making a deliberate decision to reject an elite ruling class in favor of political outsiders more attuned to the concerns of ordinary citizens.
Far from a threat to the neo-liberal order, these insurgencies may be the key to retaining the integrity of our political systems.
Yuri Vanetik is a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute and serves on the national board of Gen Next and the Gen Next Foundation.
1,000s Turkish forces surround NATO’s Incirlik air base for ‘inspection’ amid rumors of coup attempt
Hurriyet reported earlier that Adana police had been tipped off about a new coup attempt, and forces were immediately alerted. The entrance to the base was closed off.
Security forces armed with rifles and armored TOMA vehicles used by Turkish riot police could be seen at the site in photos taken by witnesses.
Turkey’s minister for EU Affairs downplayed the situation in a Twitter post, saying a “security inspection” was carried out.
“We did the general security check. There is nothing wrong,” he tweeted from Adana.
Some supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have reportedly flocked to the cordon surrounding the base. The scene, however, did not appear as massive and tense as the recent Adana protests demanding for the base to be shut down.
On Thursday, a huge rally marched towards the NATO base, as people with loudspeakers chanted anti-American and anti-Israel slogans. The demonstrators claim that the US had a hand in the failed July 15 coup attempt in which 270 people died. Tens of thousands people, including members of the military, police, judiciary, media, and civil service, have been arrested in connection with the coup, which Turkish officials say was organized by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan’s former ally, who is now his most hated rival.
In the wake of the coup attempt, several military officials at the Incirlik Air Base, including its commander, General Bekir Ercan Van, were arrested on treason charges by Turkish authorities, which claimed that one of the rogue F-16 planes taking part in the rebellion to overthrow Erdogan’s government had been refueled there.
The general had even reportedly attempted to seek asylum in the US, but his plea was apparently rejected.
Incirlic Air Base is used by both the Turkish and US militaries and is vital to the US-led anti-terror bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq. It also serves as one of six NATO storage sites for US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The exact number of nuclear bombs kept at the base is unknown, although, according to various estimates, it may store up to 90 warheads.
The US-led coalition’s airstrikes had to be halted for several days when power was cut at the base. US military personnel stationed there had to switch to an internal power supply.
The “inspection” at the base comes as the Turkish government announced a sweeping military reform on Saturday. In an interview with TV broadcaster A-Haber, Erdogan unveiled plans to scrap all military academies and replace them with a new national defense university.
The commanders of the different branches of the Turkish armed forces are to be put under the defense minister’s chain of command. In addition, Erdogan wants the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and military chief of staff to report directly to him, which would require a new constitutional amendment to be passed by the parliament.
It also comes on the eve of a visit from a top US military official, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, who is scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Sunday. Diplomatic sources quoted by Hurriyet claim Dunford will go visit both Ankara and Incirlik.
ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban on Saturday claimed their representatives recently visited China to discuss a joint stance against the invasion in Afghanistan and the region.
The Taliban delegation traveled from its Qatar-based political office to China this month, weeks after the group refused to take part in the peace process under a quartet of which Beijing is also a member.
The Express Tribune has learnt that China wants to play an ‘active role’ in the peace negotiations if all sides “agree to this role” as it enjoys good relations with both Afghanistan and Taliban.
“I can confirm that our delegation had visited China to discuss matters between both countries. They discussed the invasion in the region and to adopt a joint stance against the malicious policies of the invading countries,” the Taliban leader said.
“Policies of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) about the region and the world also came under discussion,” a Taliban official told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
The official did not make any comment on the possibility of peace talks between the group and the Afghan government. But sources familiar with the visit said both sides “explored prospects” for a political dialogue as Beijing could be an ‘honest broker’ to start the peace process.
Taliban did not share information as to who held talks in China; however, a dissident group says the head of the Taliban political office, Sher Abbas Stanekzai, led the delegation.
Qari Hamza, spokesman for ‘Fidaye Mahaz’ group says the Taliban leaders visited China from July 18 to July 22. “The Taliban leaders held talks with the intelligence officials of China, the US and and foreign countries and reached a deal with them,” Hamza said in a statement sent to The Express Tribune.
Taliban leaders have previously visited China on several occasions while Chinese officials have also met members of the group in Qatar. China had also hosted Taliban officials of the govt-backed High Peace Council in Urumqi earlier last year.
In November last year, China’s special envoy for Afghanistan Deng Xijun told The Express Tribune in Islamabad that China has offered to host a meeting between Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives should the two sides so desire, but refused to ‘mediate’ peace negotiations between them.
Taliban leaders traveled to China weeks after Beijing delivered military equipment to Afghanistan for the first time. The Taliban spokesperson refused to comment on Chinese arms delivery when The Express Tribune sought his reaction on the matter.
After 9/11, a new imperative took hold in law enforcement agencies across the country: it wasn’t enough to arrest and prosecute terrorists after an attack — the attack itself had to be prevented.
In pop culture, this mindset is often presented as an example of hubristic overreach by governments or people with authoritarian leanings. In Captain America: Winter Soldier, for instance, Nick Fury tells Cap about a new initiative to prevent attacks before they occur.
“The satellites can read a terrorist’s DNA before he steps outside his spider hole,” says Fury. “We’re gonna neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen.”
“I thought the punishment usually came after the crime,” responds Cap.
“We can’t afford to wait that long,” says Fury.
In the movie, the program to kill millions of people based on an algorithm in the hopes of saving billions turns out to be a terrible idea. It’s just one of dozens of fictional examples of how the illusion of perfect security distorts society by introducing impossible standards of safety at the expense of personal and social freedom.
Probably the most famous example of punishment before the crime is Minority Report, the Phillip K Dick story-turned-movie (and one-season-and-done season television series. In that universe, people are arrested for “pre-crime,” that is, crime that the government has determined they are about to commit but haven’t yet carried out. The turn comes — spoiler alert — when an agent tasked with enforcing pre-crime arrests becomes the target of the system – wrongly, at least from his point of view.
The obvious lesson here is that although the promise of total safety can be alluring, the unintended consequences can be far reaching and disastrous.
Enter Hillary Clinton. (It should go without saying that Donald Trump is worse on this issue than Clinton, though this article will focus on her recent comments.)
On Thursday, Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for President. In her speech, she made the following promises.
“I’ve laid out my strategy for defeating ISIS,” she said. “We will strike their sanctuaries from the air and support local forces taking them out on the ground.” Nothing controversial there.
Then, she stepped into the future. “We will surge our intelligence so we detect and prevent attacks before they happen,” she said.
Again, this philosophy, called “prevent” in law enforcement circles, isn’t new or unique to Clinton. It became a major FBI priority after 9/11, and was the theoretical foundation of some of the worst NYPD abuses that targeted Muslims all over the East Coast.
In the Obama administration, the catchphrase “Countering Violent Extremism” has become ubiquitous, and shares a lot with the “prevent” approach to policing. In a recent article in Psychology Today, J Wesley Boyd offered a harsh critique of CVE, drawing parallels between the administration’s current approach and COINTELPRO, considered a period of large-scale abuse by the FBI in the 1960s and early ‘70s.
“Currently, the FBI, in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and other government agencies, is again launching programs that are at best doomed — and at worst designed — to disrupt the Muslim communities in cities where they are launched,” Boyd writes.
“Under the umbrella term Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) the programs include attempts, with no basis in evidence, to predict who might some day become violent due to a passionate investment in a cause,” Boyd continues. “In the absence of evidence, the agencies are now asking people close to young Muslims to report to law enforcement, including local and federal enforcement agencies, on kids who they just think (note, without any knowledge of what the actual signs are) might be on a path towards extremism.”
Boyd’s critique of CVE can be equally applied to Clinton’s proposal of promising to “surge our intelligence” under the pretext of preventing future attacks. Determining who will engage in political violence is notoriously difficult, and relying on indicators like political speech and presumed thought patterns is both unconstitutional and unreliable.
A better approach involves attempts to minimize violence throughout society, whether based on political beliefs, misogyny, racism, or any other structure of oppression. Specifically focusing on Muslim youth, and the violence a small percentage may or may not commit, is both morally repugnant and tactically counterproductive. Similarly, it is tragedy that Muslims are talked about in mainstream discourse primarily as “the best” people to report threats before they happen, as though Islam is little more than a counterterrorism tool. Even well-intentioned attempts to frame Islam as a religion of peace often fall into a bigoted framework that accepts violence committed by Muslims as a unique and existential threat to the United States.
With her most recent comments, Clinton has shown that she will continue to focus intelligence and law enforcement resources disproportionately on Muslims, while offering a nominally inclusive broader message. That is a mistake, both morally and tactically.
No one, not the FBI or the CIA or the NSA, have a crystal ball they can look in to determine who will engage in political violence. Neither do psychologists. “We do not read minds, and we know that none of us can predict the future,” concludes Boyd.
Captain America knew it. Hillary Clinton should know it too.
Photos via Getty Images / The White House, Getty Images / Alex Wong, Getty Images / Justin Sullivan
Ms. Sarandon, a supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, told a liberal news outlets this week that Mrs. Clinton’s track record portends a much worse future than anything Mr. Trump might catalyze as commander in chief.
“I believe in a way she is more dangerous,” the actress told The Young Turks on Thursday. “They’re both talking to Henry Kissinger, apparently. … She did not learn from Iraq, and she is an interventionist, and she has done horrible things — and very callously. I don’t know if she is overcompensating or what her trip is. That scares me. I think we’ll be in Iran in two seconds.”
The former “Thelma and Louise” star said voters are being “fed” a message that Mr. Trump is “so dangerous” when his promises on illegal immigration amount to a wall being built.
“I don’t know what his policy is. I do know what her policies are, I do know who she is taking money from. I do know that she is not transparent, and I do know that nobody calls her on it,” the Oscar-winning actress continued.
The activist also appeared on MSNBC on Thursday and predicted Mrs. Clinton would be indicted by the Department of Justice for the secret email server she operated out of her New York home as President Obama’s top diplomat.
The State Department’s inspector general released a report last week saying the Democrat front-runner violated policies on storing official records and did not cooperate with its investigation.
Mrs. Clinton maintains that she did nothing illegal.
Neeraj Chauhan | TNN
The conversations, as in the case of the Lashkar bosses who scripted the carnage in Mumbai in 2008 from a safe house in Karachi, make it clear that the terror strike on Pathankot was micro-managed from Pakistan.
The four fidayeen of JeM, identified as Nasir Hussain from Punjab, Abu Bakar from Gujranwala and Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum from Sindh, were in regular touch with their handlers in Pakistan during the 80-hour attack.
Sources told TOI that the documents also include Kashif Jaan’s conversations with other Pakistan-based JeM office-bearers apart from other exchanges over a period of time. NIA officials are analysing the documents.
The investigations reveal that apart from chats on WhatsApp and other platforms, Jaan was using a Facebook account connected to the same mobile number which the attackers called from Pathankot after abducting Punjab police SP Salwinder Singh.
The terrorists had also called another number in Pakistan connected to a Facebook account of ‘Mulla Daadullah’. These accounts, operated by Jaan, were accessed before and around the time of the attack using IP addresses of telecom firms based in Pakistan (Telenor and Pakistan TeleCommunications Company Ltd, Islamabad).
These Facebook pages also contained jihadi material and videos and comments condemning arrest of Jaish cadres in Pakistan by authorities there. The terrorists had also called numbers connected to Al-Rahmat Trust – JeM’s financial arm – for which technical details were sought from the US.
The NIA had approached the US to provide details of these accounts and chats, which have been shared in full, said sources. TOI is not reporting the mobile numbers used by terrorists in India and Pakistan as these are a matter of investigation.
The proof shared by the US through MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) will strengthen India’s case ahead of home minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Islamabad next week for the Saarc interior ministers’ and home ministers’ conference. It can also help in India renewing its plea that the UNSC sanction Masood Azar as a terrorist.
Militants of Nusra Front, Syria’s Qaeda branch. File photo
The head of Al-Nusra Front in Syria said his militant group was breaking ties with Al-Qaeda and changing its name.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the Nusra Front’s announcement could simply be a rebranding exercise and the United States would judge it by its actions, goals and ideology.
Kirby also said the Russian and Syrian humanitarian exercise around Aleppo on Thursday appeared to actually be an attempt to force the evacuation of civilians and the surrender of militant groups.
[This is the ultimate price for putting the entire world online. The world’s dominant culture is pushing the rest of the world to join the cyber-revolution, where everybody has their own i-pod, their own Internet hook-up, even their own email address. This path may lead to ultimate disaster, even before the first AI has the opportunity to tamper with the deep defects apparent in human society, whatever the cost in human lives. Using these tools, mankind has accelerated and altered his own fate, as if networking and computing has accelerated the flow of history itself. The technology which we have created to serve us will one day either force the human race to evolve, or it will become the instrument of our destruction, as a civilization.]
Moore’s Law is about to hit a wall.
Scientists have predicted that unless radical improvements are made in the way we design computers, by 2040, computer chips will need more electricity than what our global energy production can deliver.
The projection could mean that our ability to keep pace with Moore’s Law – the idea that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years – is about to slide out of our grasp.
The prediction about computer chips outpacing electricity demand was originally contained in a report released late last year by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), but it’s hit the spotlight now, due to the group issuing its final roadmap assessment on the outlook for the semiconductor industry.
The basic idea is, that as computer chips become ever more powerful thanks to their greater transistor counts, they’ll need to suck more power in order to function (unless efficiency improves).
Semiconductor manufacturers can counter this power draw by clever engineering, but the SIA says there’s a limit to how far this goes in current methods.
“Industry’s ability to follow Moore’s Law has led to smaller transistors but greater power density and associated thermal management issues,” the 2015 report explains.
“More transistors per chip mean more interconnects – leading-edge microprocessors can have several kilometres of total interconnect length. But as interconnects shrink they become more inefficient.”
In the long run, the SIA calculates that, at the rate things are going using today’s approaches to chip engineering, “computing will not be sustainable by 2040, when the energy required for computing will exceed the estimated world’s energy production”.
You can see the problem graphed in the image below, with the power draw of today’s mainstream systems – the benchmark line, represented in orange – eclipsing the world’s projected energy production sometime between 2035 and 2040.
These days, chip engineers stack ever-smaller transistors in three dimensions in order to improve performance and keep pace with Moore’s Law, but the SIA says that approach won’t work forever, given how much energy will be lost in future, progressively denser chips.
“Conventional approaches are running into physical limits. Reducing the ‘energy cost’ of managing data on-chip requires coordinated research in new materials, devices, and architectures,” the SIA states.
“This new technology and architecture needs to be several orders of magnitude more energy efficient than best current estimates for mainstream digital semiconductor technology if energy consumption is to be prevented from following an explosive growth curve.”
The challenge then is well and truly on for today’s computer engineers and scientist, with the SIA’s new roadmap report also advising that, beyond 2020, it will become economically unviable to improve chip performance by traditional scaling methods, such as shrinking transistors.
It’s a huge ask, but the next leaps in computing efficiency and research might need to come then from areas not strictly related to transistor counts – and hopefully the spirit, if not the specifics, of Moore’s Law continues in the coming decades.
“That wall really started to crumble in 2005, and since that time we’ve been getting more transistors but they’re really not all that much better,” computer engineer Thomas Conte from Georgia Tech told Rachel Courtland at IEEE Spectrum.
“This isn’t saying this is the end of Moore’s Law. It’s stepping back and saying what really matters here – and what really matters here is computing.”
The Israeli prime minister’s crude attempts to conflate ISIS with Hamas should not be allowed to conceal an important truth: Israel aids the forces of “militant Islam” when it is considered opportune to do so.
The most egregious example of such aid in recent times has been Israel’s support for Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s franchise in Syria, as witnessed by UN peacekeeping forces stationed in the occupied Golan Heights.
Israel’s collusion with al-Qaida has been virtually ignored by the American media, with a few exceptions. For example, The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Israel has been treating wounded al-Nusra fighters and then sending them back into the Golan to battle Hizballah and the Syrian army.
Other media outlets have danced around the issue.
The Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a frequent conduit for information from official sources, mentioned, in passing, last month that “Jordan and Israel have developed secret contacts with members of the Jabhat al-Nusra group along their borders.” But he failed to elaborate.
In a video report released by Vice News in December — in which Israeli soldiers are shown transferring wounded Syrian opposition fighters to an Israeli hospital — the narrator acknowledges that the fighters could be affiliated with al-Nusra.
Israeli media has been slightly more open about Israel’s embrace of al-Qaida. The news website Ynet has posted footage of Israeli army medics treating wounded Syrian opposition fighters, noting, “It is likely that most if not all of these nationals are rebels from the rival jihadist Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups.”
This raises questions about the legality of sending members of one of the world’s most notorious and active armed extremist groups back into battle, especially since this particular group has been the primary target of a global war for more than a decade led by Israel’s greatest benefactor, the United States. (To be fair, though, the US is no stranger to backing al-Qaida and ISIS to undermine its adversaries.)
A US Defense Department spokesperson declined to comment for The Electronic Intifada about Israel’s apparent alliance with al-Qaida. The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
As Israel’s neighbors absorbed millions of displaced Syrians fleeing a war that, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has killed more than 220,000 people, the Israeli government has painted its medical care for those wounded in Syria as altruistic. But only a third of the 1,500 treated by Israel have been women and children, according to the March report in The Wall Street Journal.
The rest have been fighters who Israeli officials admit are not screened and likely belong to al-Nusra.
Once it became undeniable, Israel confessed it was treating fighters, but claimed that they were moderates.
But after al-Nusra captured and ejected UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights last August, there was no longer any doubt that al-Nusra was the dominant force among opposition fighters in the area.
Since then, Ynet has resorted to whitewashing al-Nusra’s connections to al-Qaida. Citing unnamed Israeli officials, the publication claims that al-Nusra’s members are “simply local residents who joined the organization to benefit from the logistical and financial support it offers them.”
Retired Brigadier General Michael Herzog, a former chief of staff for Israel’s defense minister, told The Wall Street Journal that “Nusra is a unique version of al-Qaida. They manage to cooperate with non-Islamist and non-jihadi organizations in one coalition … They are totally focused on the war in Syria and aren’t focused on us. But when Hizballah and Iran and others are pushing south, they are very much focused on us.”
Israeli soldiers have also been seen providing Syrian opposition fighters dominated by al-Nusra with material aid.
Dozens of interactions between Israel and opposition fighters, as far back as 2012, have been documented by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the peacekeeping mission responsible for monitoring the 1974 ceasefire line between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights.
The UN has good reason to observe these interactions closely.
In August last year, al-Nusra detained 43 UN peacekeepers and seized their equipment, prompting the UN to evacuate many of its soldiers to the Israeli-occupied side of the ceasefire line.
Quarterly UNDOF reports since the pullback reveal an ongoing pattern of Israeli coordination with those armed groups.
According to the December 2014 report, UNDOF observed two Israeli soldiers “opening the technical fence gate and letting two individuals pass from the [Syrian] to the [Israeli] side” on 27 October. Unlike most fighters seen entering the Israeli side, these individuals were not wounded and the purpose of their visit remains a mystery.
UNDOF “sporadically observed armed members of the opposition interacting” with the Israeli military across the ceasefire line, the report states.
The next UNDOF report, released in March, notes that UN forces witnessed Israeli soldiers delivering material aid to armed Syrian opposition groups.
“During the evening of 20 January, in the area north of observation post 54, UNDOF observed two trucks crossing from the [Syrian] side to the [Israeli] side, where they were received by IDF [Israeli military] personnel,” the report states. “The trucks were loaded with sacks before returning to the [Syrian] side.”
The coordination between Israel and armed opposition groups continued into May, according to the June UNDOF report.
Israel appears determined to keep the nature of these interactions as low key as possible, something Sidqi Maqt, a Druze resident of the Golan Heights, understands better than most.
In February, Maqt was arrested by Israeli intelligence for posting photos and videos to his Facebook page of Israeli army interactions with armed opposition groups. Maqt paid particular attention to documenting encounters he believed demonstrated the Israeli army’s alliance with al-Nusra.
Released in 2012 after serving 37 years in prison for engaging in armed resistance against Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, Maqt is once again behind bars. He has been charged with “espionage, assisting an enemy during wartime and contact with a foreign agent,” according to Al Jazeera.
On top of providing al-Nusra with material aid and punishing those who expose it, Israel has launched airstrikes almost exclusively against forces fighting al-Nusra.
On 18 January, for example, an Israeli air strike on a convoy near Quneitra killed six members of Hizballah and a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Days later, rockets landed in the Golan Heights, according to UNDOF. The Israeli army retaliated by shelling a location it said was the source of the fire.
A Syrian army official, however, told the UN that “terrorists” had fired the rockets and that the Syrian army planned to target their positions. The UN relayed this message to the Israeli army, which responded with airstrikes against two Syrian army artillery positions.
While Assad’s policies, including the bombardments that have devastated cities and towns forcing millions to flee their homes, have contributed to the chaos and vacuum that has enabled extremist groups to flourish in some areas, Israel’s actions on behalf of those groups grant credence to his claim.
Cheering on ISIS
Amos Yadlin, a retired Israeli general, has offered a candid explanation for Israel’s partnership with al-Nusra.
“There is no doubt that Hizballah and Iran are the major threat to Israel, much more than the radical Sunni Islamists, who are also an enemy,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “Those Sunni elements who control some two-thirds to 90 percent of the border on the Golan aren’t attacking Israel. This gives you some basis to think that they understand who is their real enemy — maybe it isn’t Israel,” he reasoned.
Hizballah, which is aligned with Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has been fighting al-Nusra in the Golan Heights with Iranian support. Given Hizballah’s growing capacity and proven willingness to defend against Israeli aggression, Israel appears to favor al-Qaida on its northern front and to view the destruction of Syria as an opportunity to incapacitate Hizballah in southern Lebanon by draining its resources in Syria.
This does not mean Israel wants Assad to fall. On the contrary, Israel prefers a region fractured into small sectarian enclaves that are too busy fighting one another to unite against it. It is for this reason that Yair Golan, the Israeli army’s deputy chief of staff, recently celebrated the conditions on Israel’s northern border as “better than ever.”
The Jerusalem Post’s security correspondent, Yossi Melman, has echoed Golan, depicting Syria’s descent into chaos and fragmentation as a strategic boost for Israel.
Gilad Sharon, son of late Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, has gone even further by arguing that an ISIS takeover in Syria would offer an opening for Israel to acquire the Golan Heights permanently.
In the event of an ISIS takeover, Sharon wrote last month, “There would be no international pressure for Israel to give back the Golan Heights either — and that’s a very good thing. The Golan will remain an important part of Israel forever.” He added that Israel could rely on the West’s so-called anti-ISIS coalition to defeat a victorious ISIS next door, allowing Israel to bask in its newly annexed territory without lifting a finger.
Israel would not necessarily “welcome the presence of the Islamic State lunatics on our border,” Sharon wrote, “but it’s certainly no worse, and may even be better, than the presence there of Hizballah, which is the Lebanese proxy of the Iranian regime.”
Speaking at the Herzliya conference, a key event in Israel’s political calendar, this month, Bennett called on Israel to invoke the threat of ISIS expansion to compel governments around the world to legitimize its annexation of the Golan Heights.
“Who do they want us to give the Golan to? To Assad? Today, it’s clear that if we listened to the world we would give up the Golan and ISIS would be swimming in the Sea of Galilee. Enough with the hypocrisy,” said Bennett, agitating for expanding the number of Israeli settlers in the Golan from 20,000 to 100,000 in the next five years.
Support for al-Qaida in Syria, then, serves at least two purposes from Israel’s perspective: sapping the strength of the foe it fears most — Hizballah — and solidifying its occupation of the Golan Heights.
In addition to sowing chaos and bloodshed, Israel’s machiavellian schemes — as its decades of meddling in Lebanon show — have a poor record of achieving their goals.
One of these dudes is al-Jolani, or al-Golani, the mouthpiece of al-Nusra terrorist group. Both of them have been sold to the world by Western and Arab press. AlJazeera is in love with the little Jolani on the left, probably the only Islamist terrorist leader still unable to grow a beard.
FLASH!!! We now have a 3rd al-Golani, picture released today by Al khaleej news in UAE….I guess he can grow a beard.
[Al Golani is a creation of the intelligence agencies (SEE: The layers of fiction surrounding Al Nusra chief Abu Mohammed Al Jolani). He is credited with leading one of the currents generated by the break-up of Al-Qaida In Iraq, the same terrorist outfit which has been holding Lebanese soldiers hostage, after beheading 4 of them. Nusra is fighting a holding action on the Leb. Army, giving ISIS time to lay in supplies the mountains of the east, preparing for an anticipated major assault upon Lebanon from Qalamoun in Syria. Lebanon is expected to join a US anti-ISIS coalition, while it fights al-Nusra without proper weapons.
Truth be told, Lebanon is expected to fold-up and play dead in the face of a sustained assault by the offspring of al-Q In Iraq. Both ISIS and al-Nusra are “al-CIA-da.”]
[Now that bombers target al-Nusra, the same as its parent, ISIS, the CIA’s boy is getting scared enough to publicly make this attempt to say that “WE ARE NO LONGER TERRORISTS”…bullshit! Al-Nusra is the bastard offspring of Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS), who are the bastard “BAIRN” of Al-Qaeda. Nobody believed this al-Jolani pissant when he claimed to break with ISIS…nobody believes his lies now. He cannot disavow his previous oathes of loyalty to the remnants of Al-Qaeda, where he claimed to take orders from bin Laden’s “Number 2,” Ayman al-Zawahiri.]
The leader of Syria’s Nusra Front says his group is changing name, and claims it will have no more ties with Al Qaeda.
In a video aired on the Syrian opposition station Orient TV and Al-Jazeera Thursday, Mohammed al-Golani said the delinking from the terror network aimed to remove “pretexts” by the U.S. and Russia to strike rebel groups while saying they are targeting Nusra.
Nusra has been Al Qaeda branch in Syria and one of the most powerful armed groups fighting the government.
Al-Golani said his group will be renamed the Levant Conquest Front and will “have no relation to outside groups.” The video was the Syrian militant’s first appearance showing his face.
“Nothing screams a concern for middle America as much as a panel discussion on the important topic of whether or not transgender men can get abortions.”
Although the Democratic National Convention still has almost two full days to go, it has already managed to descend into a complete and utter farce.
From anti-Trump hysteria to hypocritical, brain-dead celebrities, to the embrace of extreme radical left-wing ideology, the 2016 DNC illustrates just how far removed from the concerns of normal, everyday folks the Democratic P:arty has become.
Nothing screams a concern for middle America as much as a panel discussion on the important topic of whether or not transgender men can get abortions.
Indeed, nothing screams a concern for middle America as much as a panel discussion on the important topic of whether or not transgender men can get abortions. That’s exactly what occurred at the DNC in an event hosted by The Atlantic entitled “Young Women Rising: America’s Next Top Voter?”
When the panel was questioned about reproductive rights and men who identify as women — because evidently safe, legal access to abortion is a pressing issue for “women” who don’t have uteruses — actress Amber Tamblyn chimed in happily.
“I wouldn’t know any statistics on that but I would say that goes again with the same notion of community, and fighting for everyone together,” Tamblyn said. “That for me as a heterosexual white woman to talk about reproductive rights and sit on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood, I have to not just talk about my people. I have to talk about everybody,” she said.
“The fact that I don’t know [if men who identify as women are having their reproductive rights infringed upon], the fact that I don’t have an answer should tell you a lot about what I need to learn,” Tamblyn continued.
Indeed, the DNC has so far been a glaring reminder of the Democratic Party’s somewhat bizarre belief that entertainment celebrities are somehow uniquely qualified to discuss the important sociopolitical issues of the day.
“Hillary knows that access and opportunity are the American promise. Not transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and systemic racism,” said living embodiment of everything wrong with modern feminism, Lena Dunham.
Dunham appeared with America Ferrara, a B-list TV actress who, as the daughter of Hispanic immigrants who named her after this country, is an obvious darling of the Left.
Dunham and Ferrara’s performance made clear the Democrats have no serious intent on debating the GOP or Trump’s ideas, but will instead cry big bad hateful wolf. “According to Donald Trump, I’m probably a rapist,” Ferrara said.
The most galling statement, however, came from Dunham. “I am a pro-choice, feminist, sexual assault survivor with a chronic reproductive illness … His rhetoric about women takes us back to a time when we were meant to be beautiful and silent,” Dunham claimed. “Meanwhile, 22 years ago, Hillary Clinton declared that women’s rights are human rights,” she continued.
In addition to putting a premium on celebrities spewing asinine nonsense, the DNC made sure to pander aggressively to every possible interest group on their progressive planet — other than white males, obviously.
Indeed, the DNC’s social justice stage props have included everything from an 11-year-old girl and her illegal-alien mother, to the mothers of young black men killed by police, to a disabled woman in a wheelchair, and even a dwarf. On Thursday the DNC — which has decided to do away with single-sex bathrooms because apparently the desire for privacy and comfort is a form of bigotry — will feature the first transgender person to address a national convention.
The Democrats’ politically correct pandering has become so palpable it reaches the level of parody.
SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France — Adel Kermiche nursed his obsession with jihad in this quiet French town alongside the Seine River, and his twice-thwarted attempt to join Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremists in Syria ended with an attack on an elderly priest celebrating Mass in its sturdy stone church.
New details emerged Wednesday about the 19-year-old, one of two assailants who took five hostages Tuesday at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, slitting the throat of the 85-year-old priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, before being shot to death by police.
The attack was claimed by ISIS, which released a video Wednesday allegedly showing Kermiche and his accomplice clasping hands and pledging allegiance to the group.
In it, Kermiche identifies himself by the nom de guerre Abul Jaleel al-Hanafi, and says his compatriot, who has not been identified by French authorities, is called Ibn Omar. Wearing a camouflage jacket and speaking in broken Arabic, Kermiche recites: “We pledge allegiance and obedience to Emir of the faithful Abu Bakr al-Baghdady in hardship and in ease.”
Social media pictures appear to show Kermiche as a youngster growing up in Northern France, but sometime in 2015, he was suddenly radicalized, CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer reported.
At the time of Tuesday’s attack, Kermiche was awaiting trial. He was living with his parents and wearing an electronic tag.
“We tried to bring him to his senses,” his classmate Redwan said.
“But he would quote the Koran to us, saying France is the land of the unbelievers, and we should go to Syria and fight,” he continued.
Those who knew him in this Normandy town where he grew up said Kermiche appeared to think of little else other than trying to join the extremist group in Syria after the January 2015 attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.
“He said it wasn’t possible to live peacefully in France. He spoke with words that did not belong to him. He was mesmerized, like in a sect,” his mother said in an interview last year after her son was detained and returned to France after trying to make it to Syria.
She said the family, who had flagged him to authorities, did not know where to turn.
“Luckily he was caught in time twice,” she told the Tribunal de Geneve newspaper. “If he had made it to Syria, I would have had to write him off.”
Initially Kermiche was jailed, but a judge later ordered him released — over prosecutor objections — and placed him under limited house arrest with an electronic surveillance bracelet.
He was not the first person to leave this corner of Normandy headed for Syria, nor the most notorious.
Maxime Hauchard, a Muslim convert who appeared in a November 2014 ISIS video slitting the throat of a Syrian soldier, grew up in a village just a few miles away, and was among a microcell of four or five local jihadi recruits.
By the time Kermiche’s obsession with joining ISIS began, Hauchard had already been in Syria for nearly 18 months, according to police. His most recent propaganda appearance, in a Twitter post after the November attacks in Paris, was a threat against next month’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Kermiche never made it that far. After being freed and placed under house arrest, wearing a surveillance bracelet, he was allowed out for four hours each day. During that time, the tracking device was deactivated and he was permitted to go anywhere in the region as long as he returned home by the appointed hour, according to a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
A neighbor, who gave only his first name, Redwan, was at work when he learned about Tuesday’s attack at the church.
“I knew it was him. I was sure,” the 18-year-old said, adding that Kermiche told friends that he had been promised women and the chance to “save his brothers” in Syria.
“We tried to bring him to his senses, but every time we did it he was bringing in a verse from the Quran. He was inventing things,” the young man said.
A family acquaintance defended the efforts of Kermiche’s parents even as this Normandy town tried to absorb the shock of Tuesday’s slaying.
“The parents did everything to avoid this. They gave them everything in material terms, in terms of love,” said Annie Geslin, who worked with Kermiche’s mother in a family association.
“They did not succeed in getting their son to return to a, how to say it, a normal behavior,” she added.
The Kermiche family home was empty Wednesday, and Geslin said the parents were right to leave, given the tumult.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis, visiting Krakow, Poland, for World Youth Day celebrations, decried the attack and slaying of the priest as an act of “war.”
“I am not speaking of a war of religions,” he said. Religions don’t want war. The others want war.”
President Francois Hollande presided over a defense council and Cabinet meeting in Paris after speaking with Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish leaders, who sent a message of unity and solidarity.
The archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, called on Catholics to “overcome hatred that comes in their hearts” and not to allow ISIS “to set children of the same family upon each other.”
The rector of the main Paris mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, said France’s Muslims must push for better training of Muslim clerics and urged that reforming French Muslim institutions be put on the agenda. He did not elaborate.
With the attack threat for the country ranked extremely high, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said France was working to protect 56 upcoming summer events and may consider cancelling some.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 4,000 members of the Sentinel military force were being deployed in Paris, while 6,000 had been sent to patrol in the provinces. They were being bolstered by tens of thousands of police and reservists.
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
The Clinton administration today confronts three important and interrelated questions generated by the end of the Cold War: First, what should be the scope of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance? Second, what should be the role of Germany within post-Cold War Europe? And third, what should be Europe and NATO’s relationship with Russia?
It is essential to answer all three if America’s prolonged commitment to Europe is to be crowned with historic success. The failure to respond decisively to the first question could create uncertainties regarding the second and automatically conjures up troubling prospects regarding the third. Hence, the response must be comprehensive.
It is axiomatic that the security of America and Europe are linked. The Europeans almost unanimously want to preserve the Euro-Atlantic alliance. But that means both sides must define what today constitutes “Europe” and what is the security perimeter of the Euro-Atlantic alliance. It also calls for shaping a closer relationship between Europe and Russia — one that facilitates the consolidation of a truly democratic and benign Russia.
This agenda is as daunting in its sweep as the one that America faced in the late 1940s. And it is pertinent to recall that the formation of NATO was not just a response to the Soviet threat; it was also motivated by the recognition that an enduring Euro-Atlantic security framework was needed for the assimilation of a recovering Germany into the European system. Today, in the wake of the reunification of Germany and the liberation of Central Europe, the ongoing expansion of Europe — favored by a powerful Germany — necessitates addressing head-on the issue of expanding NATO. That expansion in some cases should precede the enlargement of Europe; in others, it might have to follow it.
As the European Union reaches out for new members, so will Europe’s security organ, the Western European Union. The WEU has already created a special category of associated partners, comprised of several Central European states. Their formal membership in the EU will create additional economic bonds and shared political interests inseparable from the security dimension. With most of the European Union’s members also participating in NATO, neutrality by the alliance in the face of an attack on a WEU member will become inconceivable. As a practical matter, the issue of formally widening the alliance can thus no longer be avoided.
Failure to address this issue will compound the disintegrative trends in the Euro-Atlantic alliance that the Bosnian tragedy has made so evident. The disgraceful indecisiveness of the policies of both the Bush and Clinton administrations has helped create divisive coalitions within NATO, pitting Britain and France, backed from the outside by Russia, against America and Germany. Bosnia as a regional conflict thus represents an immediate challenge to the political cohesion of the alliance. The absence of a longer-range design for Europe can deprive the alliance of its historical raison d’être.
AN UNCLEAR POLICY
It is not carping criticism to point out that, so far, the Clinton administration has projected neither a strategic vision nor a clear sense of direction on a matter of such salience to Europe’s future as enlarging NATO. To be sure, the president has stated (and his spokesmen have been repeating it like a sacred mantra) that the issue is no longer “whether” NATO will be expanded “but when and how.” The task of presidential leadership, however, is not just to define questions but also to provide answers. “When and how” is precisely what begs for answers.
The ambiguity in U.S. policy was intensified by the conflicting emphases of the president’s principal advisers. President Clinton himself stated that NATO expansion “will not depend upon the appearance of a new threat in Europe.” In contrast, his deputy secretary of state publicly affirmed, “Another factor, of course, that will determine the expansion of NATO is the overall security environment in Europe.” His vice president has gone the furthest in assuring the Central Europeans that “the security of the states that lie between Western Europe and Russia affects the security of America.” The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff was even blunter, stating that “any threat to the East European countries . . . would be considered a threat to the United States.” The vice president also indicated that NATO will be expanded in stages, arguing that this “will be of benefit even to those countries who are not in the first group to join,” but the deputy secretary of state argued that Russia’s and Poland’s prospects of being admitted to NATO are the same.
There has been particularly widespread confusion regarding the role of NATO’s Partnership for Peace — an ambiguous voluntary association of participating states — in an enlarging alliance. The president’s own comments have contributed to that confusion: “Twenty-one nations have now joined that partnership since we began it, and they are already moving to fulfill the dream of a unified and peaceful Europe.” Is that to mean that Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan are in the same category as the Czech Republic or Hungary? Is the partnership meant to provide equal security to all? Is it a promise of NATO membership to all or to none? If all are eligible, then, as a practical matter, none are admissible.
A German commentator on this issue aptly quoted Frederick the Great’s axiom: “He who wants to defend everything defends nothing, and he who wants to be everyone’s friend has no friends in the end.  “Senator Richard Lugar was undoubtedly right when he noted that “the Partnership for Peace must begin with the honest premise of strategic differentiation. All countries are not equal in the West’s strategic calculus” (italics in original). Such strategic differentiation has been slow in coming and the State Department has even actively lobbied against congressional efforts to provide it.
Fortunately, by late 1994, the Clinton administration had begun to fashion a more consistent and forward-looking policy on NATO expansion. Its proposal to initiate an alliance-wide debate regarding the “when and how” of NATO expansion was a positive step, one that could over time generate the needed comprehensive approach. It came none too soon, since failure to resolve the persisting ambiguity in current U.S. policy was intensifying Central European anxieties and causing divisive debates within key allied governments, notably Germany. The surfacing disagreements between German Defense Minister Volker Rühe, who advocates bolder movement on NATO expansion, and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, who urges greater caution, signal a potentially disruptive split within the already weakened German government at a time when strategic leadership by America and Germany is especially needed.
Continued U.S. waffling could also consolidate Russian opposition to any expansion of NATO so that any eventual move to widen the alliance will unavoidably be seen as conveying a hostile message to Moscow. In the meantime, because of that ambiguity, Russian leaders with whom a clear-headed Western plan for NATO’s expansion could be constructively discussed are being locked into an increasingly negative posture by the rising crescendo of highly vocal Russian opposition. There is little to be gained and a great deal to be risked by more delay in explicitly answering the question of “when and how.”
GERMANY AND RUSSIA
The need for such an answer is dictated, above all, by the changing circumstances of both Germany and Russia. NATO was formed in large measure as a response to the challenges posed to a stable European order by the disproportionate power of these two states. Over the last 40 years, NATO created a secure framework for both a constructive role for Germany in a unifying Europe and the protection of Western Europe from the Soviet Union. Today the challenge is to find a formula that consolidates Germany in a wider Europe and facilitates a cooperative relationship with the new Russia — while eliminating any potentially disruptive geopolitical vacuum between the wider Europe and the new Russia.
It must be recognized that both Germany and Russia are in the midst of sensitive and complex national redefinitions. It is no reflection on Germany — a model citizen of the democratic European community — to note that a reunited Germany has the choice of either continuing to become an increasingly European Germany or seeking a German Europe. The former is much likelier within the framework of an expanded European Union and especially a more rapidly expanding NATO, with America deeply engaged in the shaping of that expansion. The latter is more likely if NATO atrophies while an insecure Central Europe, left to its own devices, again becomes a hunting ground for its powerful western and eastern neighbors.
That is why the next phase in the construction of Europe will have to involve the deliberate promotion of close German-Polish political cooperation. Today’s Western Europe would not be a reality without prior German-French reconciliation. The post-Cold War Europe will not become a real “Europe” without a deep and wide-ranging reconciliation between Germany and Poland. Security must be a major aspect of any real cooperation between them. It will make a decisive difference to Europe’s future whether such security cooperation — already pursued by them within the WEU — is undertaken within or without the Euro-Atlantic alliance (that is, with or without America’s involvement).
The ongoing redefinition of Russia poses potentially starker choices. Germany’s democracy is not at issue, but Russia’s democracy is tenuous at best. Moreover, Germany’s commitment to the West is enduring; the only issue is how integrated or unilateral Germany’s role within the new Europe will be. Russia’s relationship to the West — indeed, its very inclination to define itself as part of the West — is uncertain. Fundamentally, the political struggle within Russia is over whether Russia will be a national and increasingly European state or a distinctively Eurasian and once again an imperial state.
That debate is sharpening. The void left by communist ideology has not yet been filled. Among the several contending schools of political thought, the “Westernists” or “Europeanists” are certainly not gaining ground. Some, like Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, who used to lead this camp, seem to be defecting. Increasingly, the most articulate and politically appealing leaders seem to be those who argue that Russia is destined to exercise geopolitical sway over Eurasia, that it is the embodiment of a distinctive Eurasian identity, and that its special political status must be asserted directly in Eurasia and indirectly in Central Europe. The Russian debate and the growing appeal of the “Eurasianists” signal the historical urgency of defining more precisely a stable political and territorial relationship between Europe, including its Euro-Atlantic security system, and post-Soviet Russia.
The requisite definition need not now address — let alone reject — the question of whether Russia eventually might become an integral part of NATO. Rühe, the German defense minister, is probably correct in stating that Russia’s participation would so dilute the alliance as to render it meaningless — but there is no current need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on this sensitive issue. It is not even clear whether the Russians wish to be part of NATO. But if excluded and rejected, they will be resentful, and their own political self-definition will become more anti-European and anti-Western.
Prudence therefore dictates that the issue of Russia’s association be kept open, depending on how fast, deep, and wide the expansion of the European Union will be and whether the Euro- Atlantic security system matches that expansion. The question of Russia’s participation will have to be faced only when a wider NATO has actually reached the frontiers of Russia — and only if by then Russia satisfies the basic criteria for membership. Neither is likely soon.
In the meantime, the United States should take the lead in what will doubtless be a prolonged discussion in the alliance regarding the criteria that any new members must satisfy; the timing and stages of any expansion, its special modalities, the most constructive way to respond to legitimate Russian concerns, and the best ways to address some unavoidable complications resulting from expansion. In doing so, President Clinton will also have to take into account the growing domestic and foreign interest in this issue and the manifest need for American leadership.
A PROGRAM FOR ACTION
The criteria for NATO membership should be generic: they should define the essential political standards any new member must satisfy to qualify for the alliance’s security umbrella. The alliance is, after all, a community of like-minded democratic states that share a common political culture, are contiguous to one another by land and sea, and are convinced that a threat to the security of one would adversely affect the security of the others. French Defense Minister François Léotard put it well: “The possibility that the new democracies will join the Atlantic alliance must not be viewed on the basis of solely military considerations, but should also be viewed globally, combining the various political, military, economic, and even cultural dimensions of their integration with the West.” 
Some opponents of NATO expansion have lately taken refuge in defining capricious preconditions for entry, demanding, for example, that the armed forces of any would-be member first be fully upgraded to NATO standards. Since no Central European nation could afford this, the demand is an obvious exclusionary tactic. In any case, a distinction should be made between political criteria that qualify a state for admission into an allied community and operational and logistical standards for effective military integration once within the community. The former need to be satisfied before admission; the latter can be pursued over a number of years both before and after admission.
There appears to be a broad consensus that the basic criteria for membership include a stable democratic system based on a functioning market economy; the absence of entangling territorial or ethnic disputes; an evident respect for the rights of national minorities; preferably, geographical contiguity to the alliance; constitutionally grounded civilian control over the military; and transparency in defense budgets and policy. As a practical matter, interoperability in logistics, communications, command and control, and weaponry would be desirable, but these could be pursued after formal admission.
The explicit articulation of such basic criteria for NATO expansion would prejudge neither the timing nor the scope of the alliance’s future expansion. It would, however, clarify the existing situation, making it more obvious which states might qualify and roughly by when. The criteria would also serve as a spur for desirable internal reforms among would-be members. These criteria would strengthen the emerging consensus that in the foreseeable future only four Central European countries — the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia — are likely to be considered seriously. It would leave open the possibility for others, including theoretically Russia itself.
The first step, which should be taken at the earliest opportunity this year, would be for the alliance to declare formally its criteria for expansion and to indicate which countries at this stage appear to meet them. This would terminate the counterproductive debates with Moscow over whether NATO should or should not expand. The longer this is delayed, the more vociferous Moscow’s objections are likely to be.
This step would not be tantamount to admission, but it would set the formal process of admission in motion. During that process, some further differentiation may become necessary: instead of four Central European countries, the first cut might include only Poland and the Czech Republic. Slovakia, for internal reasons, may qualify later, and that could have the effect (for geographical reasons) of somewhat complicating Hungary’s admission, unless NATO is willing to leapfrog spatially. An unintended benefit of a step-by-step expansion would be the implicit message that NATO does not intend to be an exclusive club with slightly increased but closed membership, that a new line is not being drawn after the first admissions, but that the alliance’s expansion is a staged and long-term process of enlarging the democratic community. Others can aspire to it and thus have an incentive to meet its standards.
Even the initially limited expansion of NATO would take several years. Unanimity on expansion in the alliance will not be easy to achieve. Negotiations between allies — even with strong American leadership and energetic German support — are likely to be tedious, with some states blackmailing the alliance on this issue to obtain satisfaction for their parochial concerns (the example of Greece on Macedonia springs to mind). The new members will also have to satisfy the alliance that they will address over time a large number of post-admission issues pertaining to logistics, operations, command and control, as well as weapons standardization — all of which will take time and money to resolve.
Nonetheless, it is certainly possible, given effective and focused leadership, to complete the political phase of the admissions process by the years 1996-98, at least for Poland and the Czech Republic and perhaps for Hungary and Slovakia as well — and in any case for all four by the end of the decade.
MEETING RUSSIA’S CONCERNS
In expanding NATO, one should note that neither the alliance nor its prospective new members are facing any imminent threat. Talk of a “new Yalta” or of a Russian military threat is not justified, either by actual circumstances or even by worst-case scenarios for the near future. The expansion of NATO should, therefore, not be driven by whipping up anti-Russian hysteria that could eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy. NATO’s expansion should not be seen as directed against any particular state, but as part of a historically constructive process of shaping a secure, stable, and more truly European Europe.
Since any foreseeable expansion of the alliance is likely to be Pacific, the specific military dispositions arising from enlarged membership need not involve the forward deployment of NATO troops — especially American and German forces — on the territory of the new Central European members. Periodic joint maneuvers, coordinated planning, prepositioning of equipment, and joint command exercises would be sufficient to give substance to the guarantees inherent in NATO’s Article Five, while the formula of “no forward deployment” of NATO forces in Central Europe would underline the nonantagonistic character of the expansion. This should mitigate some of Russia’s legitimate concerns.
There are other steps that should be taken to reassure Russia, to propitiate its sense of status, and –most important — to engage it in a transoceanic and transcontinental security system. However, not all of Russia’s concerns are legitimate — and the alliance should not shrink from making that known.
Just five years ago, the alliance had to overcome Russian objections to the inclusion of the reunited Germany in NATO. Wisely, the Bush administration spurned those who favored acquiescence to the Kremlin. Faced with U.S. determination to include the united Germany in NATO, with or without Russia’s assent, Moscow wisely assented. The present circumstances call for a similar display of constructive firmness. The Kremlin must be made to understand that bluster and threats will be neither productive nor effective and may even accelerate the process of expansion. Russia has the right neither to veto NATO expansion nor to impose limited sovereignty on the Central European states.
At the same time, Russia should be approached on a two-track basis: the independent decision of the alliance to enlarge its membership should be accompanied by a simultaneous invitation to Russia to help create a new transcontinental system of collective security, one that goes beyond the expansion of NATO proper. Such a two-track strategy for enhancing European peace in the post-Cold War era would satisfy, both substantively and symbolically, the common Russian insistence on a wider all-European security system.
The proposal to Russia of a new joint structure should have two components: first, a formal treaty of global security cooperation between NATO and the Russian Federation; and second, a new mechanism for special security consultations within the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The treaty would underscore that the expansion of NATO is not directed against Russia while leaving open the question of Russia’s eventual membership. It would recognize the Russian quest for status and could provide for joint consultations regarding peacekeeping operations. Implicit in the proposed treaty would be an incipient Atlantic-Eurasian framework of security cooperation.
Similarly, the initiative to upgrade the CSCE through more effective mechanisms for security consultations would be designed to meet some of Russia’s aspirations. The West cannot accept the Russian effort to dilute NATO and make the CSCE the central organ of European security — for the obvious reason that a highly diverse, unwieldy, and unstructured conference that operates on the principle of unanimity could become the guarantor of European security only when there is no longer any insecurity in Europe. But NATO and Russia can together explore ways of injecting into the CSCE procedures that would permit prompt joint reactions by NATO and Russia to regional threats to peace, perhaps through a special consultative mechanism involving the major players: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Ukraine.
The two-track strategy — combining the expansion of NATO with new transcontinental security architecture embracing Russia — would represent a productive response to Russia’s concerns. In fact, some Russian leaders have privately indicated that they would not be averse to the proposed arrangement — though their freedom of choice is narrowing as Russian nationalists, feeding on continued American ambiguity, become more vocal. It is a felicitous coincidence that the plan outlined here would constructively exploit some earlier Russian ideas — notably President Boris Yeltsin’s late 1993 suggestion of a special relationship between Russia and NATO. A Russia whose goal is neither to render NATO impotent nor again to dominate Central Europe would have good reason to favor this approach.
BALTIC AND UKRAINIAN COMPLICATIONS
Admittedly, the expansion of NATO, even if accompanied by a positive resolution of Russia’s concerns, will create new problems. The most important of these will be the status and security of the Baltic states and Ukraine. The fiercely independent Baltic states want to be an integral part of Europe. Ukraine currently defines itself as “neutral”; it has resisted Russian pressures to integrate itself into the Moscow-dominated security treaty of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and it is the only former Soviet republic to have created a large national army.
Russia has grudgingly accepted the independence of the Baltic republics and has formally acquiesced to the independence of Ukraine — but there is a widespread consensus among the Russian political elite that eventually, in some fashion, Ukraine will and indeed should be reintegrated under the Kremlin. That aspiration makes it important that the proposed treaty between NATO and the Russian Federation not be confused with the acceptance by the West of any equivalence between NATO and the CIS. The treaty, therefore, should be with Russia directly. Russian officials would like to establish NATO/CIS parity because it would aid Moscow’s efforts to reintegrate the former Soviet Union. In January 1993, Secretary of State Warren Christopher was uncharacteristically forceful but quite right when he warned that “Russia must avoid any attempt to reconstitute the U.S.S.R.”
The Baltic and Ukrainian issues pose rather different political and psychological complications. The Baltic reaction to NATO expansion is quite predictable: the Balts will step up their efforts to become the next members. Their eventual membership will have to be addressed in the wider Scandinavian context. In any case, the Baltic states already enjoy a status in many ways similar to that of Finland during the recent past: formally neutral but aware of the West’s enormous sympathy, to the point that any aggression against them — especially if resisted — would surely precipitate a serious international crisis. By the turn of the century, the Baltic states will probably follow Sweden and perhaps Finland in joining the WEU. That will make them also the implicit beneficiaries of the NATO umbrella. Until then, delay regarding NATO membership is justified, unless for some reason Russia adopts an overtly threatening posture toward the Baltic states.
The Ukrainian problem is more delicate and unpredictable. If Russia accepts the two-track approach as outlined above, Ukraine may be less likely to press for immediate formal membership, especially if in the meantime its relations with Russia become more stable. If Russia’s reaction to NATO expansion is altogether hostile, Ukraine will be faced with a divisive choice. Some Ukrainians will urge Kiev to press more vigorously for NATO membership, especially if their own relations with Russia should also worsen. Others will advocate accommodation with Moscow.
The problem of Ukraine cannot be deferred. Ukraine is just too big, too important, and its existence too sensitive a matter to both Russia and the West. As NATO expands and seeks to establish a special security relationship with Russia, it will have to consider Ukraine’s new relationship to NATO. In doing so, the alliance has to be conscious of Russia’s special sensitivity on the Ukrainian question, but also of the West’s broader interest in consolidating geopolitical pluralism in the territory of the former Soviet Union. Ukraine’s secure independence is clearly the most decisive and substantive expression of that post-Soviet pluralism. That is why the allies unanimously agree that Ukraine’s long-term survival is in NATO’s interest.
Russia has to face the Ukrainian issue as well. For the Kremlin, keeping open the option of the eventual reabsorption of Ukraine is a central strategic objective. Accordingly, Moscow recognizes that it would not be in Russia’s interest to intensify Ukrainian insecurity or precipitate conditions in which the eastward expansion of NATO prompts Ukraine to seek early admission into the alliance. That consideration should serve as a powerful incentive to Russia to explore the possibility of joint arrangements with the West that, in Moscow’s estimate, might reduce the likelihood of dramatic changes in the geostrategic landscape of the “near abroad.”
The overarching NATO-Russian Federation treaty should therefore include a special annex containing a joint, formal, and very explicit commitment by both parties to Ukraine’s independence and security. At this stage, such a commitment need neither foreclose nor promise any future relationship between Ukraine and NATO, nor any special and truly voluntary cooperation between Russia and Ukraine. It would provide assurance to Ukraine that its political status is respected, enduring, and in the interest of both NATO and the Russian Federation — irrespective of the innermost fantasies of the Russian signatories.
The NATO-Russian Federation guarantees for Ukraine would be derived from the joint interest of the two parties in a nonantagonistic process of meshing transatlantic and Eurasian security. If that interest exists or can be nurtured through constructive discussions undertaken by a strategically focused U.S. leadership, such an agreement with Moscow is attainable.
At some point in the future — but probably only some years after 2000 — both the European Union and NATO will have to reassess the nature of their relationships with Russia and Ukraine. Assuming that by then the European Union and its security arm, the WEU, will have expanded to encompass several Central European states (perhaps including also the Baltics), it will be natural and timely for the EU to consider more comprehensive ties with its new neighbors to the east. The same will be true of NATO, especially if in the meantime a democratically consolidated and economically reformed Ukraine has successfully enlarged the scope of its participation in the Partnership for Peace and satisfied the criteria for full membership.
It is surely in Russia’s interest to become more closely tied to Europe, notwithstanding the complications inherent in Russia’s Eurasian geography and identity. It is surely in the long-range interest of Ukraine gradually to redefine itself as a Central European state. The proposed arrangement would provide the needed historical pause and the requisite sense of security for Russia and Ukraine to work out a stable balance between close economic cooperation and separate political coexistence — while also moving closer to Europe as Europe moves toward them.
Of course, a major disruption in European-Russian or Russian-Ukrainian relations cannot be ruled out. The Russian obsession with big-power status, the growing desire to reconstitute a bloc of at least satellite states within the territory of the former Soviet Union, and the effort to limit the sovereignty of the Central European states could produce a crisis with the West. In such a case, an enlarged NATO would have no choice but to become again a defensive alliance against an external threat.
The resulting disruption in the construction of a wider transcontinental security system would be damaging, especially to Russia itself. Several decades ago, the Soviet Union spurned participation in the Marshall Plan and chose instead to go it alone — until it collapsed from historical fatigue. Threatened by the new Muslim states to the south and facing a possible future conflict in the east, today’s Russia is in no position to engage also in a conflict with the West. Moscow can perhaps delay somewhat the enlargement of NATO, but it can neither halt Europe’s growth nor prevent the concomitant extension of the Euro-Atlantic security umbrella over the wider Europe. It can merely isolate itself again. The Kremlin leaders should realize this.  The two-track plan outlined here could help them avoid the basic error made by their Soviet predecessors.
American public opinion, especially given the Republican landslide in the November 1994 congressional elections, would support such a program. Despite the ill-considered negative lobbying by the powerful officials on the seventh floor of the State Department, the Congress, even prior to the recent elections, approved the so-called Brown amendment. (Only 22 senators — 21 of them Democrats — voted against it, while 74 supported it.) This law stipulates that henceforth four Central European states are to benefit from the special cooperative privileges in logistics and weapons acquisition otherwise reserved for NATO members. Earlier in 1994, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a resolution favoring the eventual inclusion in the alliance of several Central European states. The 1994 elections reinforced congressional support for early NATO expansion.
The expansion of NATO will bring new responsibilities, and some will argue against it. The proposed expansion is a serious step that should be undertaken with a full appreciation of its additional burdens and even risks. But America’s crucial relationship with the larger Europe must be addressed. The Partnership for Peace has already enlarged the scope of the alliance’s obligations by stating that each “active participant” in the partnership would be entitled to consultations with NATO if it felt threatened. Partnership for Peace members are thus de facto covered by Article Four, which provides for consultations regarding out-of-area threats. Under Article Five, formal membership in the alliance would guarantee protection against an attack, entailing a major new obligation to which some will doubtless object.
Critics will probably evoke the worst-case scenario in arguing against any new obligations — namely, the risk of U.S. entanglement in a conflict in Central Europe. Although the probability of any such conflict is low, it is fair to counter: could NATO really remain passive if some new form of aggression occurred? Would America and Europe not feel threatened by an invasion of Central Europe? Would there not be massive pressures for a strong reaction? Last but not least, would any such attack be more or less likely if it was known in advance that NATO would be obligated to respond? Paradoxically, the worst-case scenario raises questions that actually reinforce the case for NATO expansion as a form of deterrence — even though the approach advocated here should be pursued not as a hostile initiative but as a part of a larger architectural effort designed eventually to span Eurasia.
At the other extreme, exploiting the approaching 50th anniversary of Yalta, some will argue that the failure to expand the alliance foreshadows Yalta II — a de facto recognition of a special Russian sphere of power within the territory of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe. Continued hesitation and ambiguity regarding America’s longer-range vision of Europe’s security will fuel these charges. Even though, given the current state of Russia and the new realities in Central Europe, a new Yalta is not even possible, nothing less than a display of presidential leadership will rebuff the growing temptation to engage in demagogy on the sensitive issues of relations with Russia and Europe’s future.
A number of European states would support forthwith such an American initiative. Others will hesitate or initially oppose it altogether. Germany will be sympathetic, and that is critical. France has been ambivalent, but its desire to retain a commanding position in the EU is enhancing its stake in expanding the current Franco-German liaison into a wider Franco-German-Polish axis, thereby widening the scope of European security cooperation. Britain has its own special reasons for favoring a wider, rather than a deeper, Europe — and it is simply a fact of life that a wider Europe cannot be two-thirds safe and one-third insecure. It will take time and effort to translate these inchoate European attitudes into affirmative unanimity. It can happen over the next several years — but only if America leads.
U.S. leadership, to be resonant, must also provide a longer-range vision of Europe’s future, thereby defining the American-European connection by tomorrow’s shared goals, not yesterday’s fears. In scope, today’s “Europe” still evokes Charlemagne’s: essentially a Western Europe. That Europe had to be an American protectorate, with European unity forged beneath NATO’s umbrella by France and a truncated Germany. But in the post — Cold War era, the territorial reach of the emerging Europe is more reminiscent of the Petrine Europe of the Holy Roman Empire. By 2010, that Europe may also include some southern European states (such as Romania, Bulgaria, and others), which will doubtless insist on admission in the footsteps of their Central European neighbors. Most important, a united and powerful Germany can be more firmly anchored within this larger Europe if the European security system fully coincides with America’s.
The progression from Charlemagne’s Europe of 1990 through the Petrine Europe of 2010 will set the stage — perhaps by 2020 — for seeking Charles de Gaulle’s vision of a Europe stretching “to the Urals.” At this time, no one can say what precise shape such a Europe might take. Nor can one define what America’s relationship with it might be. But one way or another, both America and Russia will have to be engaged in truly cooperative relationships with the European Union to make a Europe to the Urals feasible. The evocation of such a vision — of a plan for Europe — is a powerful incentive to shape a future that will truly benefit the current as well as the next generation of Americans and Europeans.
 Lothar Ruehl, Die Welt, June 10, 1994.
 Le Figaro, September 30, 1994.
 Intelligent Russian foreign policy thinkers do. For example, Dmitri Trenin makes the case that “Russia must learn that our country’s true objective lies not in suppressing NATO membership for Central Europe, but rather in the stable demilitarization of our relations with the West . . . Consequently, there is no use spending all our energy opposing NATO expansion. Instead of this, we should chart a course toward convergence and close interaction between NATO and the Russian Federation.” Warning against Russia’s “self-isolation,” he goes on to argue that the motives of the Central European countries and of Germany in favoring the expansion of NATO are “understandable” and that “internal stability in Central Europe, like the inclusion of Germany in international security institutions, is in the interests of the Russian Federation” (“Will NATO Expand Eastward — and What Should Russia’s Policy Be in this Regard?” Novoye Vremya, No. 43, October 1994). The paradox of the current debate is that the Westerners who argue against the expansion of the alliance out of fear of Russian nationalists actually strengthen the hand of the nationalists against moderates like Trenin.
Grand Theft Convention.
No, that’s not a new video game. But it is what we just saw Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump do to the Democrats and Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats and Hillary Clinton are helping him do it!
During about an hour-long news conference earlier Wednesday, Trump was asked repeatedly about allegations that the Russian government is behind the hacked and leaked Democratic National Committee’s emails that embarrassed the party on the eve of their national convention in Philadelphia. Trump quickly pivoted to also discussing Clinton’s private email-server controversy and the 30,000-plus emails the former Secretary of State had deleted from her private server under questionable explanations and circumstances.
Then came the money quote, or the bait, when he said: “Russia, if you’re listening,I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing; I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
That comment was sure to grab headlines all on its own, but then the Clinton campaign incredibly took the bait and had a top policy advisor respond with this statement: “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.”
Yep, the Clinton team actually said that. Instead of ignoring Trump’s already deft stealing of the headlines away from their convention, the campaign hyped the distraction even further. Sure, they meant to make Trump out to be some kind of dangerous traitor. And Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller has indeed issued a series of Twitter statements insisting Trump did not literally ask Russia to commit espionage. But the real result is that the words “Hillary Clinton,” “emails,” “hacking,” “espionage,” and “national security” are back in the headlines again.
Instead of ignoring the story or simply scoffing at the obvious distracting attack, the Clinton campaign has fallen into the same kind of trap all those Republican candidates Trump defeated in the primaries fell for: misdirection. Most of the news media seems to have fallen for it, too, as the tone of most of the stories covering Trump’s comments seem to indicate this could be the serious gaffe everyone was expecting Trump to make in this election.
Trump’s ability to steal headlines with outrageous comments and survive the process is well-documented, but no one seems to have come up with an antidote for it. And, as for trying to make Russia into some kind of villain here and thus tainting Trump for any connection to that country or it’s leader Vladimir Putin, ask Mitt Romney how much the voters care about Russia. He found out the answer the hard way in 2012, didn’t he?
And guess what no one is talking about right now? All those “historic” stories about Clinton being the first woman to win a major party nomination are off the news sites now. Major lead-up stories to President Obama’s big speech at the convention on Wednesday night are almost non-existent now. And no one is talking about Clinton running mate Tim Kaine’s speech tonight at all.
A lot of Clinton supporters and even some more objective observers might think that Trump’s theft of the attention isn’t all that great for his campaign. But those people are making a mistake that plagues so many people who follow elections. They forget that emotions are more powerful than facts in politics and the best persuaders play on our emotions. So speaking of those emotions, are you personally scared of Russia at all right now? You and Mitt Romney already knew the answer was “no.”
And in the emotions game, you can’t win without getting our attention first. Is Hillary Clinton or her campaign capable or even willing to do the things that could garner a similar amount of attention? So far, all we know is her team is capable of helping Trump shine more of a light on himself. No wonder he’s ahead in the polls despite being massively outspent on advertising by Hillary Clinton.
So again, what we’re witnessing here is a presidential candidate stealing the other party’s thunder just when it needs your attention the most.
Grand Theft Convention isn’t a game, it’s the real thing. And Trump just won it.
Commentary by Jake Novak, supervising producer of “Power Lunch.”
Discussing the growing danger of a new military conflict between the West and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, veteran Danish journalist O.K. Jensen scolded EU officials and NATO generals for biting off more than they could chew and encroaching on Russia’s sphere of influence.
“The responsibility for Kiev’s loss of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine lies squarely on the EU and star generals of NATO,” Jensen wrote, in a punchy op-ed for the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.
“They should have stayed away from Ukraine, but greed got the best of them,” he added.Unfortunately, the journalist recalled, “there are few of us left who remember the roar of heavy bombers flying low over Copenhagen during the Second World War, and the bombings of the sugar factory, the Shell building the French school in Frederiksberg.”
“The sound of heavy bombers returned again when the Soviets invaded Hungary [in 1956],” Jensen added, and in 1962, “when the Russians and the Americans danced their deadly dance over the blockade against Cuba.”
“But now, the memory of war seems so distant that we happily send Danish soldiers to the east to challenge the Russians. And what did they do to us to prompt such a response?”
Looking back through recent European history, the commentator suggested that Napoleon, and Hitler, with his idea of a ‘Neue Europa’, both have something in common with the EU: the drive for power.”All three of them were and continue to be obsessed with one idea: to subjugate as many countries as possible. And the Russians? They gave Ukraine its independence when the communist regime collapsed.”
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the journalist recalled, “an informal agreement was reached…between NATO and the Russians that the alliance would not move too close to the sphere of Russian interests. And what did they end up doing? Cheating the Russians. NATO marched into the Baltic states, Poland, and [the rest of] Eastern Europe. Both the EU and NATO then set their longing eyes on Ukraine, Russia’s breadbasket.”
“EU commissioners saw a new opportunity – a Ukraine under EU control,” while “Crimea and the Black Sea were [imagined] as NATO waters” by the generals.
“Ukraine has been and will always be in Russia’s sphere of interest,” Jensen emphasized. Therefore, Moscow’s moves in and around the country, amounted to nothing more than a “stop sign for the EU,” he added.
Now, the journalist warned, “NATO generals and the EU are beginning a new war dance. Their battle cry is the Russian occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Beware brave Europeans! Fear the Russian Ivan, who thirsts for Poland and the Baltic states. Danish soldiers who survived Afghanistan will now be sent to the Baltic to stand by their musketeer oath.”
At the same time, the bloc’s leaders, unfortunately, “are too proud to admit guilt for their mistakes or respond to criticism…Brexit? – The numbskulled British are to blame. Migration crisis? Let others sort it out. Ukraine? It’s all Russia’s fault.'”The same war drums now being pounded against Russia were pounded in the run-up to the Iraq War, where weapons of mass destruction were never found, the journalist added. “The dance of war began, the heads of the totem pole laughed, our boys went to die, and in the end it turned out to be one big political lie.”
“Gaddafi had to hang too,” Jensen noted, “and we, the missionaries of democracy, were at the front of the column with our prayer books and warplanes. Together with the Russians we agreed to a no-fly zone, saying that Libyan planes were not allowed to fly. And then NATO fooled the Russians again, continuing its bombings until nothing was left of Gaddafi’s army. And what did we get out of this? The opening of Pandora’s Box and the release of all its demons.”
Essentially, the journalist noted, “just as the British prime ministers of yesterday once comforted Queen Victoria with the phrase ‘Her Majesty’s Government will send a gunboat’, so too do we, in the name of democracy, bomb Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, with the result that Europe is now buried in mass migration from Muslim countries. They are making European nations totter like the Eastern Roman Empire did before it was conquered by the Ottomans, with the city of Constantinople becoming the Turkish city of Istanbul.”
Ultimately, Jensen asked: “Does Europe want to end up like Constantinople, with the Russians on one side and the Muslims at the door? Hardly; it’s only necessary to look after ourselves and to stop the military buildup on the Russian border, and stop depending on the EU and the Americans. And then we will not be embroiled in any new contrived wars.”
The Afghan army has began a purge of the Nangarhar province after a twin bombing in Kabul.
The nation was rocked by twin suicide blasts – one of the deadliest attacks in the last decade – on 23 July which ripped through the Afghan capital, killing as many as 81 people and injuring 230 others.
According to Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesman for Nangarhar’s governor, senior commander Saad al-Emarati was among the dead. Given the title “the emir of the eastern province of Wilayat Khorasan” (Afghanistan and Pakistan) by IS (Daesh), al-Emirati was an establishing member of the terrorist group in the war-torn nation.
He is said to have launched several attacks against the Taliban and the government. IS fighters are dispersed in pockets around the country, concentrated in the southern and eastern provinces, and have been condemned by the Taliban for their brutal treatment of locals.
The military operation was intended to destroy training camps. Speaking after the assault, US military spokesman Brigadier General Charles Cleveland said: “We think that Daesh is under pressure. Their terrain gets restricted, you see them trying to conduct more external operations and attacks.”
The overnight raid in Kot, was lead by Afghan special forces commander General Basmullah Wazari who was assisted by foreign air support. The Afghan interior ministry say they have killed 654 Daesh and Taliban fighters, including several senior commanders, in Nangarhar since May.
A former Taliban commander, al-Emarati switched allegiance after founder Mullah Omar died in 2013. He officially pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in January 2015 in a video release two weeks before the “Khorasan” branch was established.
An IS commander using the name Abu Omar Khorasani said the Kabul bombings were in retaliation to the support offered by some members of the community to the regime in Syria. Some of Afghanistan’s Hazara minority have gone through Shiite-governed Iran to fight for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Only the Sheeple Are Sane
This post is about an issue that is by now a bit dated (though the topic as such certainly isn’t), but we have only just become aware of it and it seemed to us worth rescuing it from the memory hole. In late 2013, the then newest issue of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short) defined a new mental illness, the so-called “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD.
As TheMindUnleashed.org informs us, the definition of this new mental illness essentially amounts to declaring any non-conformity and questioning of authority as a form of insanity. According to the manual, ODD is defined as:
[…] an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.
Every time a new issue of the DSM appears, the number of mental disorders grows – and this growth is exponential. A century ago there were essentially 7 disorders, 80 years ago there were 59, 50 years ago there were 130, and by 2010 there were 374 (77 of which were “found” in just seven years).
As MindUnleashed notes:
“Are we becoming sicker? Is it getting harder to be mentally healthy? Authors of the DSM-IV say that it’s because they’re better able to identify these illnesses today. Critics charge that it’s because they have too much time on their hands.
New mental illnesses identified by the DSM-IV include arrogance, narcissism, above-average creativity, cynicism, and antisocial behavior. In the past, these were called “personality traits,” but now they’re diseases. And there are treatments available.”
Edward Abbey on what happens when no-one ever stirs things up
There is an obvious danger involved with such loose definitions such as the one employed in identifying the alleged illness of “ODD”. A chilling example was provided by the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s. In a 1959 speech, Nikita Khrushchev made the following remark:
“Can there be diseases, nervous diseases among certain people in the communist society? Evidently there can be. If that is so, then there also will be offenses which are characteristic of people with abnormal minds. To those who might start calling for opposition to communism on this ‘basis,’ we say that now, too, there are people who fight against communism, but clearly the mental state of such people is not normal.”
Obviously, questioning the best socio-economic system ever devised had to be a sign of insanity, and after Khrushchev’s speech Soviet psychiatrists immediately went to work to discover and institutionalize all those mentally ill “communism deniers”.
The road to what followed had already been paved in 1951, when in a joint session of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences and the Board of the All-Union Neurological and Psychiatric Association, several leading neurologists and psychiatrists were accused of pursuing an “anti-Marxist and reactionary” deviation from the teachings of Pavlov. The session took place on Stalin’s behest so as to “free Soviet psychiatry of Western influences”.
The psychiatrist who wrote the policy report associated with this purge was Andrei Snezhnevsky, who invented (err, “discovered”) a new mental illness, which he termed “sluggish schizophrenia”. After Khrushchev’s 1959 speech, the term was widely adopted and the illness was diagnosed throughout the Eastern Bloc. The symptoms of the alleged “illness” were such that even the slightest change in behavior patterns could henceforth be interpreted as a sign of mental derangement. Political dissent was for instance considered to by a symptom of “sluggish schizophrenia with delusions of reform”.
Snezhnevsky personally signed a decision declaring several prominent dissidents legally insane – among them also neurophysiologist Vladimir Bukovsky, who was the first to expose and criticize the abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union and spent altogether 12 years in prisons, forced labor camps and locked up in psychiatric hospitals for his efforts.
Snezhnevsky’s theories became the only ones acceptable in Soviet psychiatry, and it was obviously held to be quite dangerous to oppose them. Ironically, in 1970, one year before Vladimir Bukovsky managed to smuggle out 150 pages that documented the silencing of political dissenters with the aid of psychiatry in the Soviet Union, the American Psychiatric Association named Snezhnevsky a “distinguished fellow” for his “outstanding contribution to psychiatry and related sciences” at its annual meeting in San Francisco.
Soviet psychiatrist Andrei Snezhnevsky, hero of socialist labor, owner of two Orders of Lenin as well as four Orders of the Red Star and USSR state prize. Photo credit: tapemark.narod.ru
Money and the Invention of new Categories of Disease
There is a basic problem with psychiatry and psychology: they are largely thymological, as opposed to natural sciences. If you break your arm and visit 10 different medical doctors, you will get the same diagnosis from every single one of them – they will all tell you that your arm is broken. A standardized treatment exists for dealing with a broken arm.
Make a list of psychological problems you are experiencing and visit ten different psychiatrists, and chances are very good that you will receive 10 different diagnoses coupled with 10 different proposals for treatment (including prescriptions for very powerful psychotropic drugs). Genuine severe mental disorders may be connected with chemical imbalances in the brain to some extent (no conclusive proof for this actually exists), but by and large there is little that can be objectively “measured”. The psychologist or psychiatrist must largely rely on the same ability that also characterizes the work of the historian – i.e., what Mises called “understanding”. They can only judge behavior.
So why have so many former “personality traits” been transformed into symptoms of mental illness? One major reason is money. Here are a few data points that shed light on the monetary side of the psychiatry business; the data are by now slightly dated, but they suffice to get the point across. As of 2010:
Global sales of anti-depressants, stimulants, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic drugs had reached more than $76 billion per year.
Globally, 54 million people were taking anti-depressants that are known to cause addiction, and often violent and homicidal behavior.
In the US, 20% of all women were taking mental health medication in 2010. Essentially every fourth female is prozac’d into quietude.
20 million children worldwide had been diagnosed with mental disorders and were prescribed stimulants and/or powerful anti-depressants.
In 2002, more than 100 million prescriptions were written for anti-depressants alone (cost: $19.5 billion nominal)
In France, one in seven prescriptions is for a psychotropic drug and more than 50% of the employed were taking such drugs (as of 2010, 1.8 million people).
Between 1986 and 2004, combined spending on anti-psychotic drugs and anti-depressants jumped from $500 million to $20 billion.
In the US, the mental health budget, adjusted for inflation, has soared from $33 billion in 1994 to $ 80 billion in 2010 (similar increases have occurred elsewhere).
(data via Stefan Molyneux)
Stefan Molyneux whom we got the above data from also reports that according to the US National Institute of Mental Health (in 2010) “26% of Americans suffer from mental illness” and “nearly 58 million Americans will suffer from an episode of mental illness in any given year”. There you have it – we’re literally surrounded by lunatics. As Molyneux rightly points out: if there is a disease for which we have effective cures, then application of this cure should reduce the prevalence of the disease.
For instance, a number of infectious diseases have been nearly, or completely exterminated by effective vaccines. We should therefore expect that with the arrival of psychiatric medications that allegedly “correct chemical imbalances in the brain”, there should be a decline in the number of mentally ill people. The first such medications were introduced in the mid 1950s. So what happened? In 1955, there were 355,000 adults confined to mental hospitals all over the US on account of being diagnosed as mentally ill by psychiatrists. After 50 years of medical treatment with anti-psychotic drugs, that number has risen to more than 4 million patients (as of 2007). Some success!
While the prescription of psychiatric medications to children soared from the mid 1980s to today, so did the number of youth receiving disability payments from the government for mental disability. It rose from 16,200 in 1986 to 561,569 in 2007 (a 35 fold increase). It appears that all those meds prescribed to “ODD” and “ADHD” children have had the exact opposite effect from that advertised.
Number of Americans disabled by mental illness since Prozac was introduced.
Again, there exists no convincing proof as of yet for any chemical, biological or genetic causes of mental illness. The categorizations found in the DSM are arrived at by “peer consensus”, not by any objective measurements. And yet, drugs that alter chemical balances in the brain are prescribed as treatment. The greater the number of new diseases manufactured by said consensus, the more treatments can be prescribed. As Dr. Thomas Dorman, internist and member of the Royal College of Physicians of the UK, and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, put it:
“In short, the whole business of creating psychiatric categories of ‘disease,’ formalizing them with consensus, and subsequently ascribing diagnostic codes to them, which in turn leads to their use for insurance billing, is nothing but an extended racket furnishing psychiatry a pseudo-scientific aura. The perpetrators are, of course, feeding at the public trough.”
It is not too difficult to see the enormous monetary incentives that are driving this business of declaring as many people as possible to be mentally ill. There no longer is such a thing as a harmless “eccentric”. Any deviation from the norms laid out by the psychiatric profession mean one is in need of treatment. Only the sheeple are sane.
Stefan Molyneux’s podcast on mental illness from which we have taken most of the statistics presented above can be seen here:
Stefan Molyneux on mental illness.
Freethinkers Medicated Into Silence by Good Serfs
However, there may be another reason why anti-authoritarianism specifically has made it onto the list of behaviors held to be symptomatic of mental illness. Psychologist Dr. Bruce Levine has laid the problem out in an article entitled “Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill”. A few pertinent excerpts follow below. First Dr. Levine explains why there seem so few anti-authoritarians in the US. The reason in his opinion is that many have been medicated into silence:
“Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.
Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psycho-pathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.”
But why does this happen, apart from the monetary incentives discussed above? Why are psychiatrists so eager to medicate anti-authoritarians into a stupor? In Dr. Levine’s opinion, the reason is that the career of most psychiatrists involves an extraordinary degree of compliance with authorities, to the point where they are not even aware anymore of how obedient they have become. When confronted with patients who aren’t exhibiting a similar degree of obedient behavior, they immediately suspect that there is something to diagnose and treat:
“The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Having steered the higher-education terrain for a decade of my life, I know that degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one.
I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.
“I see before me words you should not have written…”, by Raymond Pettibone, the cover artist of punk band “Black Flag”.
In connection with ODD diagnoses, Dr. Levine not unreasonably asks “Do we really want to diagnose and medicate everyone with “deficits in rule-governed behavior”?”. As he points out, many of the people who have enriched humanity with revolutionary new scientific concepts, inventions or works of art, would have been diagnosed as mentally ill anti-authoritarians in today’s day and age and may well have been medicated into a such a daze that their creations would never have seen the light of day. He cites Albert Einstein as a pertinent example:
“Albert Einstein, as a youth, would have likely received an ADHD diagnosis, and maybe an ODD one as well. Albert didn’t pay attention to his teachers, failed his college entrance examinations twice, and had difficulty holding jobs. However, Einstein biographer Ronald Clark (Einstein: The Life and Times) asserts that Albert’s problems did not stem from attention deficits but rather from his hatred of authoritarian, Prussian discipline in his schools.
Einstein said, “The teachers in the elementary school appeared to me like sergeants and in the Gymnasium the teachers were like lieutenants.” At age 13, Einstein read Kant’s difficult Critique of Pure Reason—because Albert was interested in it. Clark also tells us Einstein refused to prepare himself for his college admissions as a rebellion against his father’s “unbearable” path of a “practical profession.” After he did enter college, one professor told Einstein, “You have one fault; one can’t tell you anything.” The very characteristics of Einstein that upset authorities so much were exactly the ones that allowed him to excel.”
It is probably a good bet that a Haldol-addled Einstein wouldn’t have excelled at much. Well, he even looked crazy: theoretical physicist and reputed anti-authoritarian Albert Einstein, who invented a few unimportant little formulas like E=mc2. Rumor has it he also invented gravity, which we have been struggling against ever since.
Photo credit: Getty Images
As Dr. Levine points out, once they are diagnosed as mentally ill, anti-authoritarians are especially likely to become victims of a vicious cycle:
“Many anti-authoritarians who earlier in their lives were diagnosed with mental illness tell me that once they were labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis, they got caught in a dilemma. Authoritarians, by definition, demand unquestioning obedience, and so any resistance to their diagnosis and treatment created enormous anxiety for authoritarian mental health professionals; and professionals, feeling out of control, labeled them “noncompliant with treatment,” increased the severity of their diagnosis, and jacked up their medications.”
Dr. Levine then concludes that the direction in which the system has evolved is indeed reminiscent of a “Sovietization”; just as the ruling classes once employed an authoritarian religious establishment to enforce compliance with the status quo, they can nowadays rely on psychiatry to do the job:
“What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society.
So authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”
Evidently the system provides ample scope for both intentional and unintentional abuse.
In order to prevent misunderstandings, we should point out that we don’t want to assert here that there exists no such thing as mental illness, or that psychiatry is completely useless in diagnosing it or providing effective treatment. The same holds for psychotropic medication: there certainly exist medications that can be helpful in alleviating symptoms of severe mental conditions and allow people to lead fairly normal lives that would otherwise be out of reach for them (i.e., we don’t fully agree with Stefan Molyneux’s conclusions; this is simply based on the fact that we personally know of two cases in which appropriate medication helped people exhibiting severe symptoms associated with schizophrenia).
However, it is important to realize that the sciences dealing with the human mind are thymological in nature and cannot make claims based on objectively measurable physical quantities. And yet, the field has turned into a “growth industry” in every respect; the number of behaviors regarded as “abnormal”, as well as the number of medications prescribed for treating such behaviors has grown exponentially. This is a dangerous development and the fact that almost every quirky personality trait is suddenly deemed a sign of disease is certainly giving one pause (it is dangerous in several respects: consider for instance the great number of mass murderers who were prescribed psychotropic drugs. Correlation is not always causation of course, but still…)
The psychopathologizing of anti-authoritarian behavior is yet another step on what looks like an increasingly slippery slope and it strikes us as especially harmful. As Dr. Levine inter alia points out: “It has been my experience that many anti-authoritarians labeled with psychiatric diagnoses usually don’t reject all authorities, simply those they’ve assessed to be illegitimate ones.”
In other words, the term “anti-authoritarian” does not necessarily stand for a blanket rejection of all authorities, but rather a healthy questioning of the legitimacy of existing authorities. This seems all the more necessary today, when governments in the name of providing all-encompassing security (a task at which they are predictably failing) are seeing fit to let individual liberty die a death of a thousand cuts.
The Syrian army and allies managed on Tuesday to control Castello highway in Aleppo northern countryside, blocking the sole supply route from Turkey to the terrorist groups in the area.
The Syrian forces also advanced in Lairamoun town, controlling almost all its territories.
The Syrian army, in a precise operation, liberated 14 kidnapped who were held in al-Nusra Front terrorists’ confinement in Saida town in the countryside of Daraa, SANA reported.
The 14 kidnapped persons were set free in a qualitative operation carried out by the army, adding that all the librated persons are in a good health condition, according to the Syrian news agency.
[It is about time that this bus driver, who considers himself a “Mullah”, was eliminated. He ruled much of Khyber, while instilling in young minds his warped ideas of “shariah”. He led the Lashkar-i-Islam in pitched battles against rogue TTP Taliban factions who opposed the Army. From reports leaked from Pakistan’s Tribal Region, we know that Mangal responded to the will of the Army, whenever push time came, making him one of the “good Taliban.” Reportedly, he accommodated Haqqani units in Khyber, whenever Pakistan ran its N. Waziristan operation, allowing most of them to remain beyond the reach of the Afghan authorities, safe within Pakistan. Between the recent drone-killing of Afghan Talib chief, Mansour and this killing of Mangal Bagh, it is becoming apparent that the Pentagon is attacking Pakistani control of these militant chess pieces.]
YEREVAN, JULY 25, ARMENPRESS. Pakistan’s Taliban leader Mangal Bagh has been killed on July 24. This has been confirmed by the U.S.
Pakistani President’s Security Advisor Hanaif Atmar confirmed the news, according to RIA Novosti.
“One of the leaders has been killed. He is Mangal Bagh, who was Pakistan’s Talibans’ leader. He has been killed by UAV strikes. The U.S has confirmed this”, Atmar said.
A woman places a candle at a memorial in front of the Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping center in Munich, on July 24, 2016. Photographer: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images
Germany was put on edge after an unprecedented series of four attacks in the last week left many dead and wounded, placing pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to stem the violence.
The latest incident occurred late Sunday at a music festival in the Bavarian town of Ansbach, near Nuremberg, when a 27-year-old man identified as a Syrian refugee blew himself up near the entrance to the event, injuring 12 others.
The bombing followed a shooting spree at a shopping center in Munich on Friday, in which an 18-year-old man shot dead nine people before killing himself. The attacker, identified as an Iranian-German who was born and raised in Germany, had no apparent connection with a terror organization, police said. In another assault on Sunday, a machete-wielding 21-year-old male, also identified as Syrian refugee, killed a pregnant woman in a town south of Stuttgart. Last Monday, an ax assault by an Afghan asylum seeker allegedly inspired by Islamic State wounded two train passengers near Wuerzburg.
Stephan Mayer, a lawmaker in Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc, urged calm and warned against hasty judgments, particularly over the chancellor’s refugee policy, which triggered public anxiety after more than a million migrants made their way to Germany in 2015.
“There is a rising nervousness among our public,” Mayer, who sits on parliament’s internal affairs committee, told BBC Radio on Monday. “You have to differentiate — the events of Friday have nothing to do with our refugee policy. It is completely wrong to blame Angela Merkel and her refugee policy for this incident.”
Germany has largely avoided large scale terrorist attacks on its soil, in contrast with the assaults that killed hundreds in Paris, Brussels and Nice over the last year. While the spate of violence in Germany is smaller in scale, the incidents could revive pressure on Merkel over her migration policy as she struggles to confront a range of crises buffeting Europe.
Merkel convened an emergency meeting of her security cabinet on Saturday to address the violence and reassure the public. Anxieties over the influx of asylum seekers, the vast majority arriving through Bavaria, had subsided as numbers dwindled, the result of border closings along the Balkan route and a European Union accord with Turkey.
“We will find what exactly was behind this,” Merkel told reporters in the Chancellery on Saturday. “The state and its security forces will continue to do everything to protect the security and freedom of everybody in Germany.”
From the lone wolf shooting at an Orlando nightclub to the three terror attacks in France, Europe and the U.S. have been engulfed by waves of violence carried out by Islamic State sympathizers at a time when there is a populist backlash against immigrants and the political establishment, be it bureaucrats in the European Union or lawmakers in Washington. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday for “extreme vetting” for people entering the U.S. from countries hit by terror attacks, including European nations.
It remains unclear whether the suicide bomber in Bavaria has any links to terror organizations. The man, who had come to Germany two years ago and whose asylum application had been rejected, was known to police and had previously tried to kill himself, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said at a news conference in the early hours of Monday.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned against broad judgments against refugees. He said authorities had investigated 59 allegations of migrants tied to terror groups, most of which have turned up empty. He plans to make a statement at 3 p.m. local time in Berlin.
“I understand that these events are seen by many in a particular context, but they should each be carefully investigated and assessed,” de Maiziere told Funke media group in an interview. “We should not hold refugees under a general suspicion, even if there are investigations in individual cases.”
India as world’s only last remaining racist state- Dalit Voice
WHY DALITS HATE HINDUISM?
Dalits- India’s “Untouchables”
Indian Congress In Uproar Over Basic Human Rights for India’s Untouchable “Dalits”
The Uncertain Fate of the Dalit (Untouchable) Caste in India
Blood-curdling story of Dalit struggle for self-determination
DALIT VOICE: Casteism and Killing Social Justice ]
Typical Dalit Job–The sewer divers of Mumbai
Data from Gujarat show such atrocities impossibly make up 163% of the total number of crimes.
Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar lead the country in the number of cases registered of crimes against the Scheduled Castes, official data pertaining to 2013, 2014 and 2015 show.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) counts these States among those deserving special attention.
While U.P. has witnessed a political war of words over an expelled BJP leader’s insulting remarks on BSP leader Mayawati, it is Rajasthan that leads in number of crimes against Dalits.
Fifty-two to 65 per cent of all crimes in Rajasthan have a Dalit as the victim. This is despite the fact that the State’s SC (Dalit) population is just 17.8 per cent of its total population. With six per cent of India’s Dalit population, the State accounts for up to 17 per cent of the crimes against them across India.
With 20 per cent of India’s Dalit population, U.P. accounts for 17 per cent of the crimes against them. The numbers — ranging from 7078 to 8946 from 2013 to 2015 — are high, but so is the population of Dalits in the State.
Bihar too has a poor track record, with 6721 to 7893 cases of atrocities in the same period, contributing 16-17 per cent of the all India crimes against Dalits with just eight per cent of the country’s SC population. While Dalits form 15.9 per cent of the State’s population, 40-47 per cent of all crimes registered there are against Dalits.
Gujarat corrects figures
Gujarat on its part has shared corrected figures of crimes against Dalits with the NCSC after an abnormal increase in the figures pertaining to crimes against Dalits in the State.
“The anamoly and sudden increase in respect to Gujarat and Chhattisgarh are abnormal and are being highlighted so that these States can provide actual data in case there was a mistake in reporting,” said the agenda note for the NCSC review meeting with the States last week.
Gujarat’s numbers of crimes against Dalits had jumped to 6655 in 2015 from 1130 in 2014, which made NCSC officials suspicious. There was also a statistical impossibility in the data — the crimes against Dalits were 163 per cent of the total number of crimes reported.
“Gujarat officials corrected the data in the meeting, and these are like previous years,” an official present at the meet said. “Chhattisgarh officials have done the same.”
Gujarat’s officials, sources said, were worried that “inflated” data would further damage the State’s record on Dalit atrocities when at a time it is in the eye of storm over the Una incident of public beating of Dalits and the subsequent suicide attempts by Dalits in the state.
In an attempt at damage control, the Gujarat government has also released figures claiming crimes against Dalits in the State have “gone down” under the BJP. The corrected figure for 2015 in this data set is 1052, which is lower than figure for 2014.
The data also claim that while there were on an average 1669 crimes against Dalits per year in the State from 1991 to 2000, the number declined to 1098 between 2011 and 2015.
So far as the atrocities reported to the NCSC by Dalits who feel the authorities are not giving them justice are concerned, U.P. accounts for the highest number at 2024 cases and Tamil Nadu comes next at 999 cases.
“This could mean both laxity of the authorities and greater consciousness of rights among Dalits,” an NCSC official said. (With inputs from Nistula Hebbar)
Not a week after the horrendous attack that occurred in the French city of Nice, the French Air Force, a member of the anti-ISIS coalition, escalated its bombing of ISIS-held territory.
The retaliatory bombing campaign resulted in a high civilian casualty count in the densely populated Manbij. Lower estimates put the civilian victim numbers at a 100+ while higher estimates provided by local sources put the number at 300, most of whom were women and children.
While civilian losses are not foreign to urban wars, the French Air Force is not foreign to attacks seemingly vengeful in nature. Following the horrific ISIS-claimed attacks in Paris, the French Air Force bombed a school in Iraq’s Nineveh massacring 36 children, local sources said.
On a separate note, the French Foreign Minister recently expressed worries about the Syrian Army sieging the civilian population of east Aleppo where a jihadist faction under the umbrella of the western-backed Free Syrian Army gruesomely beheaded a child today, accusing him of collaborating with the Syrian government.
Below are pictures of the horrific scene in Manbij:
The civilian death toll from the US bombing of the towns of Toukhan Al-Kubra and Manbij in Syria’s Aleppo this week is likely to be far higher than the 140 reported fatalities, US analysts told Sputnik.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Martin Sieff – The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces said in a statement on Wednesday it had called on the US-led international coalition against the Daesh to immediately suspend airstrikes in Syria in the wake of the attacks.
“My opinion is that the number of civilian casualties is far more than the US is willing to state if the recent announcement of US drone casualties is any indicator, advocacy group KnowDrones.com Coordinator Nick Mottern stated on Thursday.
Mottern noted that the attacks with their high civilian death tolls, including children, occurred after it had been announced that the US armed forces were relaxing their attack guidelines and that this might mean more civilian casualties.
According to some reports, US aircraft misidentified fleeing civilian families for Daesh forces and attacked them.
“The bombing that resulted in these deaths is done in support of forces seeking to drive Daesh out of Manbij,” Ohio State University Professor Emeritus of International Law Professor John Quigley acknowledged.
Although the total number of people killed in the attacks had yet to be conclusively established, it was already clear that there had been a been a substantial death toll in the two towns, Quigley pointed out.
“Extreme care must be taken under humanitarian law in such situations” by air forces tasked with such operations, he cautioned.
To date the United States has said only that it is investigating whether civilians were killing in the bombing. All participants in the hostilities in Syria must assess in advance of bombing what civilians may be affected and must desist from bombing where civilian casualties are likely.
Photographs taken in Toukhan Al-Kubra after the air strike revealed the dead bodies of children, no more than three years old, lying under rubble.
The US Department of Defense will investigate recent reports that US-led coalition airstrikes killed civilians near the Syrian city of Manbij, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
[The fact that the group known as ISIS has so much money behind them that they operate by buying-out local militant armies (like the TTP Taliban in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda In Iraq, and the remnants of Iraq’s Army and Republican Guard, in Libya, in Indonesia, in Bangladesh), this is concrete proof that ISIS cannot possibly be operating on oil-smuggling, kidnapping and bank-robbing. The armies of ISIS can only be funded with billions of dollars, coming from the Arab monarchies. NO ONE ELSE could fund such an enormous militant payroll besides the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Emirates or Qatar.]
A high-ranking Afghan security official has confirmed that Daesh was behind the deadly Kabul attack that claimed over 60 lives and wounded more than 200 on Saturday.
According to the official the attack was organized by a Daesh member by the name of Abu Ali who is a resident of Achin district in Nangarhar.
Daesh also claimed responsibility on social media for the attack. The message posted in English and in Arabic said “two Daesh fighters detonated their explosive belts amid a Shiite gathering in the Dehmazang area in Kabul, Afghanistan.”
According to Afghan officials, there had been three bombers in total but security forces were able to kill the third bomber before he could detonate his explosives.
Minutes after the attack, President Ashraf Ghani denounced the deadly bombing and said it was an act of terrorism; however social media users blasted government for the incident.
A few minutes after the attack, Ghani’s deputy spokesman wrote in a Facebook message that the president was shocked over the attack, but the post draw strong reaction from social media users with many blaming a security lapse by government forces for the incident.
“Why don’t you (government) act instead of offer verbal sympathy,” one user said.
Saturday’s attack was the first of its kind at a peaceful demonstration. The suicide bombers joined thousands of Afghans before detonating their explosives in a crowded spot at the Dehmazang Circle.
Demonstrators had gathered from early Saturday at the rally in protest over government’s planned route of the 500kV power line project through Salang to Kabul.
[SEE: Is Pakistan Heading Toward a Coup? ; Pakistan party chief held for seeking martial law ; China/Pakistan Joint Patrols Along China-POK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) Border ; Obama administration taken aback by Pakistan permitting Hafiz Saeed’s anti-India rally ]
Frustrated with the slow progress on a sprawling, $46bn infrastructure project stretching from China to south Asia, Beijing is seeking to give Pakistan’s army a lead role.
Its desire to enlist Pakistan’s military is a sign of the challenges facing a crucial plank of President Xi Jinping’s signature One Road One Belt initiative. It was designed to increase China’s influence along the Silk Road and help the country export some of its excess industrial capacity.
Mr Xi made Pakistan an early stop on that road last year with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $46bn bundle of road, railway, electricity, oil and gas projects that marked the largest foreign investment in the nuclear-armed south Asian state.
But progress has stalled as the two sides work out how to turn the proposals into concrete projects, said Victor Gao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official, with some blaming Pakistan’s competing ministries.
“On the Pakistan side there is uncertainty about which entity wants to take leadership or ownership of the corridor projects,” he said. “There is a big debate internally [in Pakistan] over whether the government should take ownership or the military should take ownership. This is what is holding the whole thing up.”
The Pakistan military, which has detachments of civil, mechanical and electrical engineers, has had decades of experience with large infrastructure projects and analysts say the army is well placed to supervise the corridor.
But some politicians warn that military involvement will expand the army’s footprint on civilian matters and give the armed forces an even greater say in policymaking.
Security along the route, which traverses many volatile regions, is also a factor. “Because this project runs from Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar, the CPEC’s route is very long and high-risk,” said Huang Rihan at the Center for China and Globalisation.
A 15,000-strong army-led security force has already been deployed to protect Chinese personnel assigned to the project.
Ultimately the new Silk Road will connect China’s western region, including the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang province, to the Chinese-funded Pakistani port city of Gwadar and significantly reduce the travel time between China and the Middle East.
But progress by Pakistani ministries charged with carrying out the projects has stalled because of infighting. There are also concerns that the project bypasses Pakistan’s poorer regions and will mainly benefit the financial and industrial heartlands, notably Punjab, home province of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister.
“Pakistani politicians have squabbled over the route for the CPEC and this may have made people nervous in Beijing,” said a Pakistan government official. “Pakistan is a noisy place politically while the Chinese are not used to harsh disagreements, especially over such a vital project.”
Others attributed the hold-up to the long-term nature of the CPEC. “These projects will take many years to be completed, beyond the tenure of any one government,” said a foreign ministry official in Islamabad. “China wants to make certain that these projects will be completed as per plan”.
China is focused on securing a route to the Indian Ocean that would reduce dependence on the choke point of the Strait of Malacca between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Zaffar Hilaly, a former senior Pakistani diplomat and now commentator on national and security affairs, said: “The Chinese consider the Pakistan army a central player [for the country]. They see the army’s involvement with this project as a guarantee of its success.”
Pakistan’s armed forces have established close ties with Beijing as primary customers of China’s defence hardware, raising concerns in Delhi and Washington over a Sino-Pakistani military axis.
US-backed fighters blow up, this morning, a tunnel packed with tons of high explosives under a governmental facility in the divided northern city of Aleppo.
The enormous explosion, filmed in camera from different angles, occurred around 7 a.m. this morning, leveling to the ground almost half the Traffic Department building, located in the government-held districts of the city, and seriously damaging the other half.
Three members of the security forces have been killed, 10 others missed under the rubble, according to initial reports
An informed source told Al Masdar News that the facility, run by the Ministry of Interior, provides accommodation for tens of its members.
“Luckily enough, the blast didn’t hit the accommodation sector. Most of the employees hadn’t arrived at the building when the explosion occurred”, the source added.
Anti-government militants have been using tunnels to sneak into Army bases and government-held facilities once ground invasion fails.
The deadly blast was coincided with heavy mortar shelling fired by Fateh Halab Operation Room around the municipal palace and Saadallah al-Jabiri square. 2 civilians were killed, 16 others wounded in the attack.
An Indian Air Force plane, traveling from the southern Indian city of Chennai to the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, went missing early Friday. According to local reports, 29 people were on board the Antonov AN-32 plane.
The plane reportedly took off from Tambaram, a suburb in Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, at 8:30 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. EDT Thursday). The aircraft, which was en route to the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands — a union territory of India situated in the Bay of Bengal — was reportedly on courier duty.
Authorities said that the plane, with six crew members on board, was scheduled to land in Port Blair at 11:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. EDT), local news network NDTV reported.
A massive search operation is reportedly being conducted by the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, and the coast guard.
The Indian Air force has more than 100 AN-32s in service, and the aircraft can fly for up to four hours without refueling.
[Map snapshot focuses on the only common border between China’s Xinjiang, between the red pins. Left section is common border between POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and China. Right hand pins delineate area of POK given to China by Pakistan, known as, Trans Karakoram Tract. ]
The People’s Daily described the region as the “China-Pakistan border”, however Xinjiang borders only Pakistan-occupied Kashmir which is seen by India as an integral part of Indian territory.
A frontier defence regiment of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the western Xinjiang region and a border police force from Pakistan carried out the joint patrols along the China-PoK border, according to photographs posted online in the English-language website of the official People’s Daily.
The People’s Daily described the region as the “China-Pakistan border”, however Xinjiang borders only Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) which is seen by India as an integral part of Indian territory.
A MORE AUDACIOUS CHINA
China usually refers to the region as “Pakistan-administered Kashmir” – and calls Jammu and Kashmir “Indian-administered Kashmir” – but the People’s Daily curiously referred only to “Pakistan”.
The move to hold joint patrols in the sensitive PoK region has not previously acknowledged by China or Chinese media.
Analysts said it underlines China’s intent to further deepen its footprint in PoK.
CHINA IGNORES INDIA’S PROTESTS
China has gone forward with an ambitious $46 billion corridor from Xinjiang through PoK to the Gwadar port in Pakistan, despite India’s protests. China has said the projects were “purely commercial” and “without prejudice” to the Kashmir issue which was “for India and Pakistan to solve”.
Beijing holding joint patrols with Pakistan, however, on land that Delhi sees as Indian territory is likely to cause further strains in relations with India.
NEW DELHI — Almost 45 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured in 11 days of clashes between civilian protesters and Indian security forces in Kashmir.
Protesters in several districts of the Kashmir valley have defied a government curfew to throw stones at police and paramilitary forces. In response, the forces have used bullets, pellet guns and tear gas, leading to most of the deaths and injuries.
The police have come under heavy criticism from rights groups for the use of pellet guns to control the crowds. Children as young as five are among the 600 people left who’ve been left with pellet-scarred faces.
Doctors at the main hospital in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, have performed 135 eye surgeries in a week. Many of those patients, doctors say, will lose their sight.
“The security forces are using pellets and bullets with an aim to kill, not contain the protests,” Khurram Parvez, a Kashmir-based human rights activist, tells CBS News. “They beat up women and children. They use violence and fear as a weapon to engage with people with whom they should talk.”
The protests erupted on July 9 after the killing of 22-year-old Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, a militant group fighting for largely-Muslim Kashmir’s independence from India. Huge crowds attended Wani’s funeral. Even before his death he had become something of a poster boy for the new era of militancy in Kashmir.
Kashmir remains the primary focus of animosity between majority-Hindu India and its neighbor, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. There has been an armed insurgency along the disputed border for most of the past three decades, with rebels in India-administered Kashmir demanding either independence or a merger with Pakistan.
The unrest in the picturesque Himalayan valley, now in its 12th day, has become a renewed flashpoint between the two nuclear powered states.
Pakistan is observing a “Black Day” Wednesday to honor those killed in the violence, and its leaders have accused India of “atrocities, human rights violations and a killing spree of innocent people in Kashmir.”
Indian officials, on the other hand, say Pakistan “extols” the “virtues” of terrorists and uses terrorism as a state policy toward the “misguided end” of coveting the territory of others.
Burhan Wani, the slain rebel, used social media platforms to connect with people, posting pictures with arms, and video messages threatening the Indian army.
“Mark my words; Burhan’s ability to recruit into militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media,” wrote Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, soon after Wani’s killing.
Police are now worried that Abdullah’s prediction will pan out.
Kashmir saw similar protests in 2008 and 2010, when more than 100 civilians — mostly teenagers and young men — were killed by police during summers of unrest. Several reports have said Wani joined the separatists after facing harassment and torture by security forces during the 2010 protests.
Security experts believe this year’s clashes may give rise to a new generation of angry young men in the region who are happy to step into Wani’s shoes.
“Violence is the only means by which the Indian government has engaged with the people of Kashmir,” said Parvez, the rights activist. “They need to engage people politically.”
Filed by CBS News’ Arshad Zargar in New Delhi
Rand Paul Destroys Hillary Clinton Over Benghazi-Gate During Capitol Hill Press Conference
Videos have emerged online that appear to show Syrian rebels taunting and then beheading a boy they say is a captured Palestinian pro-government fighter. One video shows five men posing with the frightened child, who could be as young as 10, in the back of a truck. One of the men grips him by the hair. The same man is later filmed apparently cutting the boy’s head off.
The incident is reported to have taken place in Handarat, north of Aleppo, where there has been heavy fighting. The area is the location of the unofficial Palestinian refugee camp of Ein El Tal, which was home to some 7,000 people before they were displaced by armed groups in 2013. Pro-government forces have been attempting to capture Handarat in recent weeks, as part of an offensive that has seen the last remaining road out of rebel-held eastern half of Aleppo cut, trapping an estimated 300,000 people living there.
The footage of the boy, who some on social media identified as “Abdullah Issa”, first appeared online on Tuesday morning. The men in the first video say he is a fighter from Liwa al-Quds (the Jerusalem Brigade), a Palestinian pro-government militia operating in the Aleppo area.
Enab Baladi, a pro-opposition news website, said the boy was captured in Handarat by members of a local rebel group, the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement. It quoted Yasser Ibrahim Youssef, a member of the group’s political bureau, as saying on Facebook that an independent judicial commission had been appointed to investigate the incident. Anyone proven to have been involved in any violations would be referred to military justice, he added.
A legal adviser for the Western-backed Free Syrian Army was also cited by Enab Baladi as saying it would hold to account those responsible for such a violation.
A report published by the human rights group Amnesty International earlier this month detailed a series of violations allegedly committed by Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement fighters, including abductions and torture. The group is reported to have benefited from financial and military support from the US, UK, France, Turkey, Qatar and other Gulf Arab states in the past.
Turkish jet strafing street
Will Greek authorities extradite the 8 Turkish soldiers?
[Introduction to Ocalan and the Kurds omitted for clarity…read on site.–ed.]
Today Greece finds itself in a case where it has to choose between adhering to Turkey’s demand for the extradition of the eight asylum seekers and following international law regarding the application for political asylum.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised him on the telephone that the detainees will be extradited to Turkey within 15 to 20 days. Government Spokesperson Olga Gerovasili said that in the asylum application, the Greek judicial authorities will take into serious consideration the fact that the eight military men were trying to overthrow a democratically elected government.
On the same wavelength, Alternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas stated that this is a special case where the detainees are suspected of treason and using violence to overthrow the government against the will of the people.
In Turkey, the signs the day after the coup attempt were ominous. The Turkish president, indirectly, has promised revenge. The punishment of the perpetrators will be decisive and harsh, he stated, adding that he is considering reinstating the death penalty. Erdogan has often displayed authoritarian beliefs and practices. Given the lynchings, torture and abuse of army personnel participating in the coup attempt, the fate of the eight men if they are extradited to Turkey is almost determined.
Yet, no one knows what the next day in Turkey will be like. Especially regarding relations between Turkey and the European Union, or its neighboring Greece. Erdogan came up much stronger after the failed coup, exerting his power by firing thousands of army, police and judicial officials only two days after the event.
Athens has to be very careful in handling this difficult situation. The eight Turkish soldiers claim they had orders to fly and collect wounded soldiers when they received fire from the police. They were forced to flee because they would be accused of participating in the coup attempt, they said.
Despite their claims that their lives and the lives of their families are in peril, the asylum seekers must prove that they did not actively participate in the coup and they were just following orders to salvage wounded soldiers.
Whatever the case, hard logic suggests that human rights protection would be set aside and the eight asylum seekers are likely to be “sacrificed” in order to maintain the good relations between the two governments.
Like in the case of Ocalan, one might say.
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — After inflicting heavy losses on weakened Afghan security forces a year ago, the Taliban under new leadership have been surprisingly slow to ramp up attacks at the midpoint of the traditional fighting season, senior American military officers said Sunday.
In an Associated Press interview, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he is cautiously encouraged by a relative slackening of the Taliban’s aggressive tactics.
Citing “a lower level of violence from the Taliban than we have seen in the past,” Dunford was quick to say that while he believes Afghan forces have seized battlefield momentum, there are no assurances that the balance won’t shift again.
“We’ve seen peaks and valleys with the Taliban before, but certainly on the ground right now the Afghan forces have the momentum,” he said, speaking aboard an Air Force C-17 transport plane en route from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to Stuttgart, Germany. Dunford spent three days in Afghanistan speaking with U.S. and Afghan commanders, troops and officials. On Sunday he met with President Ashraf Ghani and other senior members of Ghani’s government in Kabul.
Dunford commanded all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan from February 2013 to August 2014.
In separate interviews in Afghanistan over the weekend, other senior U.S. officers highlighted an unexpected easing of Taliban military pressure in the days since Ramadan, the period of traditional Muslim fasting, ended in early July. One called it a “tactical pause,” another said it points to a weakening of the Taliban, but none claimed it means an early end to the long war.
Private analysts interviewed Sunday expressed skepticism about the war’s progress.
Anthony Cordesman, an Afghanistan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said there are many forces at work against the country in addition to a resilient Taliban, even if the militants may have become more fragmented.
“Poverty is rising, governance is extremely weak and virtually absent in many districts,” Cordesman said in an email exchange. “Power brokers and ex-warlords are stronger. No progress has been made in fighting corruption in one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Narcotics is becoming more important in the economy, and there is a major brain drain.”
He said President Barack Obama’s recent decision to commit U.S. troops longer and more directly “really does matter” on the military front. “But, Afghanistan desperately needs unified and more effective leadership and governance, more economic aid and reform, and less corruption or all the weakening of the Taliban can do is to make this an endless war of attrition.”
Dunford said he found Afghan commanders and officials heartened by Obama’s decisions to keep 8,400 U.S. troops in the country when he leaves office, more than previously planned, and to authorize more aggressive use of U.S. forces in support of Afghan offensive actions.
“It’s a psychological turning point” for the Afghan government and its security forces, he said, while adding: “I’m not sure it’s a turning point on the ground” for actual war fortunes.
Col. Michael Marti, director of the U.S.-led coalition’s intelligence center in Kabul, said Sunday he attributes the absence of an expected summer surge in Taliban violence to after-effects of the U.S. killing in May of the group’s leader, Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansour.
“Their overall operational tempo appears to be decreased a little bit,” Marti said, adding that the Taliban’s leadership transition means they are “building a new team” under their new leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, an extremist cleric.
Cordesman said the new Taliban leader lacks charisma and credibility, and he and other key Taliban figures “seem even less interested in real peace negotiations.”
Marti said it is too early to declare the slackening of Taliban attacks a trend. However, Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in an AP interview on Saturday that he views the Taliban as seriously off the rails.
“This is not the cohesive, homogenous movement that it’s been known as in the past,” Nicholson said. “They’re not on a war-winning trajectory.”
As events of the past 15 years have shown, the Taliban do not need overall military victory in order to remain a threat to the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.
“All they have to do is wait out the eventual end of outside funding for Afghan security forces, at which point the government would collapse,” said Stephen Biddle, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.
“This may not yield a literal Taliban military triumph even then, but the resulting chaos would be almost as bad for us — and for Afghans,” Biddle said in an email exchange Sunday.
“The only real alternative to this scenario is a negotiated settlement in the meantime, and a fractured Taliban leadership could actually make that harder rather than easier,” Biddle said. “So I don’t disagree with Gen. Nicholson’s assessment of the state of the Taliban, but I’m not sure it implies grounds for great optimism on the war’s prognosis.”
The death toll from the Nice attacks on the 14th of July, 2016 is rising. Latest reports suggest 84 deaths and possibly one hundred more injured. There have been reports of gunfire and the driver of the truck which drove into the crowd near the beach in Nice is reported to have been shot dead. Once again (as with the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan attacks) there is no-one to stand trial and truthfully answer the questions that need to be asked – who and why?
view original for video HERE
At this point, there is not much that can be verified about the attack. One cannot exclude the possibility that it may have simply been the action of an insane individual. Atrocities of that type are rare but have happened in the past. But there is, however, the strong suggestion and indeed likelihood that this atrocity is a terrorist attack by ‘Islamists’. So, what does all this mean?
French domestic intelligence (DGSI) chief Patrick Calvar warned on the 26th of June 2016 that an ‘Islamist’ attack on French children would be the trigger for a civil war. He said France was currently on the brink of that civil war. Calvar also predicted that ISIS (Da’esh) would use trucks as weapons. It is not unusual in the never-ending war on terror to hear accurate predictions by intelligence officials before attacks, with the same officials seemingly powerless to prevent them.
This ‘uncanny coincidence’could be the defining event of our time.
French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls is on record stating that the state of emergency in France would be permanent. There has been increasing pressure on the Hollande regime in France to change course in the Middle East. Attempts to reconcile with Russia and lift the sanctions have been blocked by Hollande and Valls, who are puppets of the Jewish Lobby. The Zionists want to continue the war on Syria, Iran and Russia. The Zionists have full control over US/NATO policy. Therefore, the ‘war on terror’, which was created as a pretext to further Zionist geopolitical interests, must be continued.
I believe this is the trigger for a civil war French intelligence warned us about. The questions is whether the war will become high intensity or continue on a relatively low-intensity trajectory. There have been police ‘whistleblowers’ in France who have warned of huge caches of arms in major cities, capable of arming hundreds of thousands of men. However, one must be cautious in referring to such ‘whistleblowers’ as they have proven to be highly unreliable and may be spreading disinformation.
In any case, the public’s belief that we are in a ‘state of war’ and that all military interventions abroad are therefore necessary will be enough to make citizens look to the state for protection – an oligarchic state which is currently pursuing a brutal class war against workers.
As 90 percent or more of intelligence operations today involve media disinformation, we cannot possibly assume that any of the reports we are hearing are accurate. However, it is hard to see how a psyop could have been carried out in the Promenade des Anglais which is so central in Nice. What we can say for sure is that the attack serves the two constants of the war on terror dialectic. The narrative would read as follows:
1. Make the state of emergency permanent, empowering the oligarchic state and further demoralising citizens by dividing the working class along religious and racial lines. This is part of NATO’s ‘strategy of tension’ in accordance with the longstanding intelligence operation Gladio. Citizens must turn to the anti-social state for ‘security’, thus precluding social revolt.
2. Justify an all out attack on Syria to finish the job of destroying Arab civilisation, in accordance with Zionism’s geopolitical interests. Only the willfully ignorant could possibly believe that ISIS is an enemy of France when the French have never had better relations with the country which openly backs them – Saudi Arabia. The intelligence reports, declassified documents and admissions of the highest officials of the French and American governments all confirm that ISIS is Israel’s Arab legion.
Will Bribery Scandal End ICC’s Reign of Abusive Judicial Power?
By Lawrence Freeman, Political-Economic Analyst for Africa
A potentially devastating scandal involving the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Silvia Alejandra Fernandez Gurmendi, was brought to light in the July 3rd edition of London Evening Post. According to the article entitled, “ICC President in corruption scandal over Bashir,” Judge de Gurmendi received into her personal bank accounts “unexplained funds mounting to over $17 million that was allegedly used to bribe witnesses that enabled the ICC to indict” Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. The article goes on to allege that Judge Gurmendi received deposits wired over ten years from off shore financial companies; Barting Holding Ltd, Atlantic Corporation, Genesis International Holdings and Napex International, in amounts from $150,000 to $250,000 into her personal accounts at Banco Poplar in the Virgin Islands, First Caribbean Bank in the Bahamas, and the Congregation B’nai Israel.
Judge Gurmendi is alleged to have used these illicit funds to “recruit, coach and fake evidence and witnesses to testify against President Bashir.” Mekki Elmograbi, a writer from Sudan, asserts in his April 2012 three part series, “The Octopus Lawyer” that Dafuris were taken to Israel for “training sessions” in preparation for their testimony at the ICC.
However, this President of the ICC is not simply a judge of the court. Gurmendi actually devoted a portion of her career beginning in 1995 to drafting rules and procedures for creation of the Rome Statue in 1998, which established the ICC in 2002 Soon after, she joined the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) working with Luis Moreno Ocampo in securing trumped up indictments against President Al-Bashir. The alleged bribery of Judge Gurmendi overlaps her tenure the OTP with Ocampo.
President Omar al-Bashir
George Soros, a notorious billionaire international financier/speculator and advocate for drug legalization, whose various Open Society organizations fund a global network of NGOs, and his collaborator Lord Malloch-Brown, former Minister of State for Africa in the Foreign Office were instrumental in bringing the ICC into existence. Both Judge Gurmendi and prosecutor Ocampo have associated with various Soros created institutions including the Coalition for International Criminal Court, and the Open Society Justice Initiative.
The ICC has been rightly accused by African leaders as a racist, unjust and some say imperialist for its focus on Africa. In its fourteen year existence, out of nine investigations conducted by the ICC, all but one has been against individuals from African nations, including two sitting Presidents. The African Union (AU), led by Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia has been threatening to leave the ICC en mass for its targeting of Africa. In the words of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta: “The ICC has been reduced into a painfully farcical pantomime, a travesty that adds insult to the injury of victims. It stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers.” A thorough and honest investigation of the allegations centering on the bribery scandal of Judge Gurmendi could have consequences concerning the legitimacy of the indictment of President Bashir, and force the AU to finally put the ICC out of its pernicious existence by African nations withdrawing their membership.
It is ironic that President Bashir, accused of responsibility for genocide, even though no evidence was provided to support the wildly inflated claim of the deaths of 300,000-400,000 people in Darfur, has been indicted and persecuted for years. Meanwhile Tony Blair, who was completely exposed in the recently released Chilcot Commission Report to have lied, and without cause launched a pre-emptive military invasion against Iraq that led to the deaths of millions; has not been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.
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With suspicions growing that the commanders of the vessels could have been behind a coup plot against the Turkish government and are now seeking asylum at Greek ports.
The ships were on duty in either the Aegean or the Black Seas on Friday before the coup to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took place. However, they have failed to return to port, though in theory radar and satellite tracking technology should be able to determine their locations, according to a report in the Times newspaper.
It is believed that the ships could be heading towards Greek ports. Eight Turkish military officers have already sought asylum in Greece after landing in the country on Saturday, where they were subsequently arrested.
The fate of the commander of the Turkish Navy Admiral Veysel Kosele, who has not been heard from since the attempted coup took place, is still unknown. It is also unclear if he took any part in the action against the president or whether he is being held against his will.
According to reports within the Turkish media, Admiral Kosele was tricked onto his ship by those supporting the coup who told him that a terrorist attack was taking place.
Two helicopters and 25 Special Forces troops are also missing since the failed coup, according to a report by the Hurriyet newspaper. It was reported that they were heading for a raid to target Erdogan in Marmaris, where he was enjoying a vacation.
“Two helicopters took off on the night linking July 17 to July 18. It could not be determined where the helicopters flying toward a forested area in Marmaris took off from. But its aim [to raid Erdogan] has been determined. The helicopters landed at an unknown location for a while and then went missing,” the Hurriyet stated on Monday.
The EU and NATO both said they do not know anything about the missing vessels or planes, the chief spokesperson for the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, told journalists on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Greek Defense Ministry says it is unaware of any Turkish ships that have tried to enter its ports following the attempted coup.
“We are looking out for every ship. We had information from talks that took place that at one point they wanted to enter Greece’s territorial waters. However, this did not happen,” a source told RIA Novosti.
The most senior military figure to be arrested since the coup, General Akin Ozturk, the former air force chief, has already appeared in court. He has denied being the mastermind behind the plot.
Meanwhile, a purge of various Turkish government institutions has been taking place following the failed coup d’etat. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says 7,543 people have so far been detained, including 6,038 soldiers. A court also remanded 26 generals and admirals in custody on Monday.
A senior security official told Reuters that 8,000 police officers, including in the capital, Ankara, and the biggest city, Istanbul, had been removed from duty.
About 1,500 Finance Ministry officials had been suspended, a ministry official said, and CNN Turk said 30 governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants had been dismissed. Annual leave was suspended for more than 3 million civil servants, while close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors have been suspended.
Fethullahist terrorist organization in the coup attempt (feto) troops belonging to instant information, they create their phone WhatsApp left the group. 1st Army Commander Gen. Umit Dundar members of the organization who share a couple of times for the hostage, the AK Party is the way to get information on “Migration, fever free,” he shares.
Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (feto) members of the military coup attempt to communicate and to share momentary developments during WhatsApp was determined to create the group. “Dormitory at the Magistrates Us” was one of the group called Major Murat Çelebioğlu manager. Feton member of the group of soldiers, and the other soldiers involved in the coup attempt also add Çelebioğlu, public announcements, said that out of this group.
Including Major Osman Akkaya, a member of the group that found the “OK” while Çelebioğlu’nun response to the statement, Çelebioğlu “Important developments here if you let Ankara ‘or I’ll pass,” he shares. 5th Armoured Brigade Deputy Commander Colonel Space Hawk, Major Murat Burns, Major Murat Karakas as many names Çelebioğlu add to the group during negotiations, first as “E5 and the TEM Istanbul coming out of the traffic will be released, traffic entering the Istanbul will be blocked and will be rejected” he instructed.
Colonel Ahmet Zeki Gereh when asked immediately to take all necessary measures in this regard. Some soldiers also emerged in interviews that help to support the coup was asked about it.
“The situation is positive, negative?”
Instant information on the progress in the negotiations is shared Murat Major Burns’s “The situation is positive, negative?” She pointed sharing. Talks where the information that interrupted the flow of traffic in the Bosphorus Bridge, the team of TRT ‘had stated that the right way. Major Çelebioğlu, Istanbul Police is informed of the deputy director of the Directorate and the major part of the “admit that” information sharing, while on leave came to Istanbul involved in here coup 5th Armoured Brigade Deputy Commander Colonel Space Hawk, ” police friends to kiss the eyes of the message,” he said.
The Group 1 Army Commander Gen. Umit Dundar “receiving” instruction is given, Dundar continuous search for the commander of the Military High School information that was shared. on it by Colonel Space Hawk “Mürsel phone to come” was sharing. Some locations in the share of the group, Mehmet Tunc Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality will help the group said.
“1. Take the Army Commander”
Gen. Umit Dundar share for the hostage several times reiterated that Ataturk was also informed about the situation at the airport and a bridge. Information regarding the development of Ankara requested the group also made ” The AKP provincial organization of the road” on sharing Colonel Falcon, “Migration, fever free” has ordered. Meanwhile, for stroke correspondence from the group made the field of armored elements of all orders were given.
The truck attack in Nice followed a jihadist strategy that has been circulating on the internet for a long time. The aim is to use simple means to kill as many people as possible. One way is by using a motor vehicle.
No bombs? No problem. Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, former spokesman of the terrorist group “Islamic State” (IS) reminded jihadists in a September 2014 video message that they had many other options to kill people.
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever …, smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him,” al-Adnani said in the video.
Al-Adnani was born Taha Subhi Falaha in the Syrian Idlib region in 1977 or 1978. His orders aren’t just a sign of personal radicalization. They’re consciously picking up the strategy of “individual” terrorism that has been making the rounds online since about 2005.
Terror cell in Afghanistan
The attack in Nice shows how relevant this strategy still is. The call on individuals to wreak havoc in this way was first issued by al-Adnani’s fellow countryman Mustafa bin Abd al-Qadir Setmariam Nasar. Probably born in 1958, the Syrian terrorist with the war name Abu Musab al-Suri fought against the Red Army alongside the mujahideen in Afghanistan.
That’s where he met Osama bin Laden. Back in Europe, al-Suri (“the Syrian”) helped build up the continent’s jihadist network. He’s suspected of playing a major part in the founding of the Spanish al Qaeda branch – the group that blew up several commuter trains in Madrid in 2003.
Al-Suri is also said to have had connections to the terrorists who attacked the London subway in 2005. That year, he was arrested in Pakistan and later extradited to Syria. His trail runs cold in the prisons of the Assad regime.
After the publication online in 2004/ 2005, al-Suri’s “Call to Global Islamic Resistance” became the jihadist field manual. In it, he accuses the “American-Jewish crusaders” of purposefully destroying the Islamic world. He said they were doing it by spreading their “culture of decay,” which according to al-Suri included adultery, nakedness and mixing of genders.
‘War without borders’
As a response to the alleged decay of society, al-Suri recommends a “war without borders.” He says there are many different targets: politicians, military officials, airports, harbors, train stations, bridges, highway interchanges, subways and tourist destinations.
Military bases and computer centers can also be attacked, as can “soft” targets such as media companies and their representatives. Other locations of interest are places where Jews and/or famous Jewish personalities meet, as well as Jewish institutions. Places of worship or synagogues are not included.
“Resistance” must be sustained with full force. “The mass murder of civilians is the kind of attack that can destabilize states and governments. This is done by attacking crowds to cause a maximum loss of human lives.”
It is easy, maintains al-Suri, as there are many such targets. “For example, sports arenas, annual social events, major international exhibitions, busy market squares, skyscrapers and buildings with many people.”
It is exactly the plan that jihadists have followed in Africa and Asia, in the attack on the editorial team of the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo and in the Bataclan killing. Two jihadists followed the same plan back in 2013 when they ran down British solider Lee Rigby on the street and then used knives and a cleaver to stab him to death.
‘The management of savagery’
Around the time of Abu Suri’s writings, another text was published on the web: “The Management of Savagery” (“Idarat at-Tawahush”). The apparent author is an unidentified Egyptian who goes by the name of Abu Bakr Naji. He was one of the pioneers of al Qaeda and he also advocates the maximum use of violence.
“If we are not violent in our jihad and if softness seizes us, that will be a major factor in the loss of the element of strength, which is one of the pillars of the Umma of the Message. The Umma which possesses strength is the Umma which is able to protect the positions it has won and it is the Umma which boldly faces horrors and has the firmness of mountains. These are the good qualities which we have lost in this age.”
According to Bakr Naji, violence is an essential tool of the struggle. He is not referring to activities like the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in September 2001. Instead, he recommends taking “smaller” actions. Above all, they must achieve one goal: to instill fear and horror in the hearts of the “crusaders.”
Ankara (AFP) – A Turkish F-16 fighter jet on Friday shot down a Sikorsky helicopter hijacked by coup plotters seeking to oust the government, a presidential source said.
Seventeen police officers were also killed earlier at the military’s special forces headquarters in the capital Ankara, state-run Anadolu news agency reported, without giving further details.
Quite surprisingly a Turkish Air Force F-16C Block 50 could be tracked on Flightradar24.
In the morning on Jul. 16, when it was already enough clear that the military coup in Turkey had failed, at least one Turkish Air Force F-16 was circling to the west of Ankara.
We don’t know whether the TuAF F-16C Block 50 was flown by a loyalist or a “rebel” pilot supporting the takeover because, since the beginning of the revolt, reports have been contradictory as to whether the Air Force supported the coup or remained loyal to Erdogan, that had landed at Istanbul Ataturk international airport overnight.
— David Cenciotti (@cencio4) 15 July 2016
Turkish Government Gulfstream has left the holding pattern and is now heading to Istanbul IST pic.twitter.com/sCCZsdalLT
— David Cenciotti (@cencio4) 16 July 2016
Here it is. Ground personnel taking care of Erdogan’s plane. pic.twitter.com/EYd7NXVJx0
— David Cenciotti (@cencio4) 16 July 2016
For sure, a certain number of aircraft supported the coup: Turkish Air Force F-16s performed ultra low-level passes, at rooftop altitude, with full afterburners over Turkey’s capital Ankara during the opening hours of the takeover. These were reportedly refuelled mid-air by TuAF KC-135s launched from Incirlik airbase.
However, some F-16s remained loyal to the Government as seems to be confirmed by the fact that a Turkish Black Hawk helicopter carrying some Turkish high-ranking officers supporting the defiant military was shot down by a Viper.
Anyway, what’s really interesting is that the presence of the Turkish F-16 and its route, altitude and speed (with GS varying from 180 to 570 kts) could be monitored online thanks to Flightradar24.com via MLAT.
The aircraft, serial number 94-0086, could be first spotted around 07.45 UTC and tracked until around 09.00 UTC when it egressed the area towards the southeast (in the direction of Incirlik).
Here below is a video recording of the mission flown by the Turkish F-16.
Image and video via Flightradar24
[At the same time, this same scenario was unfolding in Armenia (SEE:
In Yerevan, armed men seized the police building, has died). In an extreme case of jumping to conclusions, or conspiracy theories, we can also see the simultaneous commission of the same violent pattern of anti-police agitation playing-out in the American homeland cop-killings. How many countries have fallen to this formula so far? Even America is vulnerable to its own agencies. Such is the nature of the treasonous, Unconstitutional actors driving these operations (SEE: When Limited Warfare Strategy Seems Like Treason).]
[Following a time-tested method for creating false news, first perfected in Central America, under State Dept. supervisor Otto Reich, using the euphemistic title of Office of Public Diplomacy, false or corrupted media sources launch the false news of an ongoing, big terrorist attack, in order to get the rumor-mill cranking, before actual small-scale terrorist attacks can be carried-out, either by properly trained “lone wolfs”, or by small numbers of military personnel. The smaller blood-letting serves to validate the bigger story, which originated on the rumor-mill. This confirms in blood that the “terror attack” is real (SEE: Warfare of the Whisper ).
The purpose of this entire exercise is to generate police and military violence, specifically, “Islamist witch-hunts”, whereas the original Central American/CIA diplomacy was after communists). Look at Turkey to see what happens in a successful “public diplomacy” terrorist attack…which can be either of the “false flag” variety, committed by the home team, or real attacks by international terrorists, guided by foreign military or intelligence agencies.
The objectives remain secret, but they can be revealed by what comes next.]
What happens in Turkey matters. It is a G20 economy in a sensitive part of the world, sharing borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria. Turkey is an asset to its Nato partners when it is able to exercise a leadership role. It can be a liability when its own problems – like the tension with its Kurdish population – spill over those frontiers. And it can be a millstone around the world’s neck when it decides, as it did on Friday, to self-harm.
The coup attempt that night was, by any account, a cack-handed affair. It was an attempt to grab the reins of a complex society with the almost quaintly antediluvian tactics of seizing the state television station and rolling some tanks on to the streets. It is as if the plotters had never heard of social media, while the Turkish president himself to addressed his supporters via FaceTime, urging them out on the streets. Crowds played chicken with the putschists, betting they would return to their barracks rather than have the streets run red with blood. Even then, at least 180 people – civilians, police and coup makers – died.
Indeed, the question is less why the coup failed than why it was ever carried out. If it had an air of amateur desperation, it is because its perpetrators probably assumed that this was their last chance to stop the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from getting the military completely under its control. At the beginning of August, the military high council will meet, as it does every year, to consider who gets promoted, retired or pushed aside. In the last few days, the pro-government press has been more than hinting that a spring cleaning of the ranks is long overdue.
Indeed, many would argue that Turkey was already in the throes of a slow motion coup d’état, not by the military but by Erdoğan himself. For the last three years, he has been moving, and methodically, to take over the nodes of power.
The pressures on the media have been well documented, as the country slides in international ratings by organisations such as Freedom House, from partly free to not free at all. Opposition newspapers have been taken over by court-appointed administrators. Dissident television stations have had the plug pulled from satellites; digital platforms are no longer seen in people’s homes. Erdoğan curses the very social media which this weekend helped to save his skin.
Increasingly, the government has put the judiciary under its thumb. It is now a brave judge who rules in a way he knows will give official offence. So while the Turkish parliament congratulated itself on a long night’s defence of democracy, many wonder why its members connived in the decline of the rule of law.
And still Erdoğan craves greater authority. Last May, he discarded one prime minister in favour of another more sympathetic to his plans to change the parliamentary system into a strong executive presidency. When the coup plotters stand trial, they may suffer the additional indignation of seeing their attempts to put Erdoğan in his place backfire, by providing a mandate for such increased powers. The president has already promised a purge of those still connected to the exiled dissident cleric Fethullah Gülen – Erdoğanspeak for anyone who opposes his will.
To the outside world, this spectacle should cause dismay. Turkish ambitions to project power, to assist in the fight against Islamic State, to help forge a settlement in Syria will be much harder to realise if the government is at war with its own military and the army at war with itself. A Turkey that governs through consensus is the more valuable ally. The Turkish economy, too, will be more buoyant if relieved of the weight of political risk.
The lesson of the failed coup is that Turkey needs a leader who can bring different sides of a divided society together – or at the very least, one who is willing to try.
Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania – Turks Gathered in Pennsylvania in the US on Saturday to protest a coup attempt led by an expatriate Turley cleric living in self-imposed exile in the state.
Approximately 100 Turkish nationals from neighboring states converged on Fethullah Gulen’s Saylorsburg residence.
Some came from as far away as Washington DC to demand of Gulen’s extraditio to Turkey where he is wanted for charges related to multiple attempts to forcibly remove the elected Turkish government.
The latest attempt took place late Friday when a clique within the army tried to mount a military coup – raising anxiety from What many Turks had hoped was a by-gone era of periodic coups by the country’s historically powerful military.
“Obama, make him go!” And “The nation is here, where are the Traitors?” The crowd in Pennsylvania chanted while calling through a megaphone to passing vehicles, “Your neighbor is a terrorist.”
Victory Transparent who Nejit Traveled from Connecticut to join the protest Gul told the Anadolu Agency that he wants to face the charges in Turkey.
“What we want is this guy to be turned over by the US government to the Turkish government so that he can go back and stand trial for what he did to Turkey,” he said.
Moses Kalsavl who came from the neighboring state of New Jersey to Gulen’s massive complex and echoed transparent, adding that the reclusive cleric is “killing Turkish people, he’s killing Muslim people.”
Hasan Strong, a protest organizer from Delaware, said not even the demonstration would be enough to shame Gulan into returning to feeling home country to face charges, but the protest was nonetheless Significant for raising awareness.
“There needs to come about an agreement between the US government and the Turkish government on this,” Strong said in reference to Ankara’s extraditio’s demands. “It is simply not enough to say we are allies and not act upon it.
“They [US officials] are always talking about strategic alliance” with Turkey, Hasan said. “As far as I can see, there must be a strategic situation that prevents them from giving him back.”
Strong is hopeful the situation could change Following the coup attempt.
“Turkey should play all its cards to get him back,” he said.
Gulen’s followers have opened numerous schools in the US and he is believed to hold financial assets worth billions of dollars.
Protesters also voiced support for the reinstatements of capital punishment t in Turkey.
The death penalty was Abolished in 2004 but for at least a decade before that Turkey did not execute any of prisoners.
Gul’s neighbors, Penny and Lester, who did not give their last names are, they say they are surprised the US government is not helping Turkey’s bid in its extraditio.
“Why are not they sending him back?” Lester, 74, asked rhetorically when he learned of the accusations of Gulan plotting and orchestrating a coup attempt.
Some 2,839 military personnel involved in the coup attempt have been arrested and 20 pro-coup soldiers, including senior officers, were killed during the their campaign to overthrow the government.
The government said the coup bid was organized by followers of Gulen, who is Accused of pursuing a long-running asymmetric campaign against the government through supporters within the Turkish state, Particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Pakistan’s past policies of extending support to the Taliban during and after the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan are still haunting it as Islamabad authorities have to reject the accusations of support and sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban and its leaders again and again before the world. Lately, Pakistan has been caught in the crossfire due to the alleged disclosure of certain letters by Rahmatullah Nabil, former head of the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security, alleging Islamabad of having links with militant groups that carry out attacks inside Afghanistan.
Nabil, who resigned last December after strongly criticising Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s overtures toward Pakistan on social media, has said that he leaked the documents because he wanted the public to be aware of the situation. These unverified letters contain an exchange of information and specific messages allegedly communicated between Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan. The text consists of an order from the ISI officials for making payments to militants, arranging safe houses and transportation of Taliban leaders in Pakistan. Other documents contained similar information, like a letter from the ISI to its offices in Nowshera directing them to move all Haqqani network militants to the towns of Miran Shah, Tochi and Mir Ali in army convoys, as well as tighten the security for them and their families. During his press conference, Nabil told a group of journalists in Kabul that he had released the letters to provide concrete evidence of Pakistan’s collusion with the Taliban and the associated Haqqani group, which has been blamed for a series of kidnappings and high profile suicide bombings in the capital.
Although the authenticity of the documents has not been verified, yetthe information gives hints about certain happenings that prove Pakistan’s alleged support to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. Pakistan had lost its credibility when the most notorious terrorist of the world, Osama bin Laden, was found living safely with his family members in a compound located in Abbottabad. There are other such examples like the killing of Mullah Omar and Mullah Akhtar Mansour that further strengthen the idea that these militants enjoyed safe sanctuaries, and were being provided shelter by the establishment in Pakistan. The presence of the Quetta Shura is another shameful example that negates Islamabad’s claims that it has no links with the Afghan Taliban.
New evidence surfacing from Afghanistan is not surprising, but without doubt it would further worsen Islamabad’s relations with Kabul and the US. By extending support to the Afghan Taliban in the past, Pakistan has put itself into a great trouble. It was like playing with fire. It is a difficult situation for Pakistan and its civil and military leadership, and they have to prove through action that it is no more in collusion with the Taliban. Instead of allowing the US to strike these terrorists inside Pakistan’s territory, Islamabad itself should eliminate them. Alternatively, Pakistan has to use its influence on the Taliban who are ready to quit violence and become a part of the peace process. *
The former Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief, Rahmatullah Nabil has released classified documents about the support of Pakistan to the Afghan militant groups, specifically the notorious Haqqani terrorist network.
The six documents released by Nabil include formal letters by Pakistani military and the military intelligence of the country, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
Nabil says the Haqqani network not only remained intact from Zarb-e-Azb operations but the Pakistani military shifted the network’s fighters, families, weapons and other equipment to safe places.
He said the Afghan and American intelligence agencies were undoubtedly aware of the move and National Directorate of Security has hundreds of classified documents of the Pakistani military regarding its support to Afghan militants.
A summary of the six letters released by Nabil is as following:
According to Nabil, the first classified document he has shared is regarding the relocation of Haqqani terrorist network commanders to Miranshah in North Waziristan as Inam Rabbani belonging to MI-422 in Peshawar formally informs Gen. Khalid the head of MI-22 regarding the move amid Zarb-e-Azb operations.
The second document is regarding the current condition of the Haqqani terrorist network as CTC in Islamabad sent a formal letter to CTC in Nowshera asking regarding the personnel and commanders of the network based in Nowshera, Mardan and Swabi.
The letter states that the central office of ISI has instructed the 945 and 935 departments to bring the Haqqani network militants to Miranshah, Tochi and Mir Ali under the escort of the military.
ISI has also instructed the relevant authorities to ensure the security of the families of the Haqqani network commanders until they reach Miranshah.
The second document is regarding the current condition of the Haqqani terrorist network as CTC in Islamabad sent a formal letter to CTC in Nowshera asking regarding the personnel and commanders of the network based in Nowshera, Mardan and Swabi.
The third document is regarding a formal letter by MI in Islamabad to MI-422 regarding the arrangement of accommodation for two Taliban commanders identified as Hafiz Gulbahar and Mawlavi Hamdullah who were displaced due to operations and had shifted to Hayatabad in Peshawar.
The fourth document is regarding an attack on military airport in Hamid Karzai International Airpot in Kabul.
The letter states that ISI has hailed the individuals involved in the successful attack on the airport and instructs to offer 2.5 million Pakistani ruppees for each of the individuals involved in the attack.
The individuals involved in the attack have been identified as Haji Khalil Haqqani, Haji Hakim Woloswal, Qari Zahir Shah and Mawlavi Hakim.
The fifth document is regarding a formal letter issued by SI 945 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa instructing the Haqqani terrorist network to kidnap or assassinate the Shi’ite leaders in Herat, Kabul and Farah province of Afghanistan.
The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has ordered the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to launch a major offensive against the loyalists of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in eastern Nangarhar province.
President Ghani was speaking to the Afghan forces during a visit to Nangarhar province on Friady and said the main purpose of the operation would be to eliminate the loyalists of the terror group from Nangarhar.
He said the main focus of the annual Shafaq military operation, which is currently being conducted across the country, would be Nangarhar province from next week.
Qestioning the presence and participation of the loyalists of the terror group with the Afghan people, President Ghani ordered the 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army to completely root out the terrorists from Nangarhar.
President Ghani further added that the difficult days in the country have gone but he cautioned that the enemies of Afghanistan are still plotting destructive activities.
He also visited the residents of Kot district and hailed for their resistance and fight against the loyalists of ISIS terrorist group.
The remarks by President Ghani comes as ISIS loyalists have been attempting to expand foothold in the country, an attempt that has forced the Afghan and US forces to step up strikes against them.
The US forces are regularly conducting drone strikes against the loyalists of the terror group in the restive parts of Nangarhar besides the Afghan forces conduct air and ground raids.
Bosphorus Bridge, scene of Army coup plotters’ surrender
Erdogan blames Fethullah Gulen, a 75-year-old recluse living in Poconos community of 1,100
- Erdogan said those behind the coup were linked to Pennsylvania
- He was referencing his ally turned political rival Fethullah Gulen
- Tension reportedly began after Turkish government shut down network of schools started by Gulen’s followers, known as Hizmet
- Hizmet has deep roots in Turkey’s military and political establishment
- President repeatedly accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow government
- Coup was reportedly led by Colonel Muharrem Kose, who was recently kicked out of the army over his links to Gulen
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, blamed an Islamic scholar in Pennsylvania for the coup attempt after he made a triumphant return to Istanbul announcing the military uprising had failed.
Explosions and gunfire erupted in Istanbul and Ankara, but Erdogan said the coup was orchestrated 5,000 miles away in a reference to his political rival Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in voluntary exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.
Gulen, 75, initially swung his millions-strong support behind of Erdogan, who rose from the mayor of Istanbul to prime minister before he became the president in 2014.
But the two fell out over a massive corruption scandal in 2013 that cost the country $100billion in a campaign thought to be initiated by Gulen’s followers against Erdogan’s closest allies.
President Recep Erdogan (left) said the coup was orchestrated 5,000 miles away in a reference to his political rival Fethullah Gulen (right), who has lived in voluntary exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since the late 1990s
Erdogan (center) has long accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow the officially secular government from a gated 26-acre compound in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains
The coup was reportedly led by Colonel Muharrem Kose, who had recently been kicked out of the army from over his links to Gulen (pictured, Turkish military stand guard near Taksim Square in Istanbul)
Trained as an imam, Gulen gained notice in Turkey some 50 years ago, promoting a philosophy that blended a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.
Supporters known as the loosely organized group Hizmet, meaning ‘service’, started 1,000 schools in more than 100 countries, including about 150 taxpayer-funded charter schools throughout the US.
In Turkey, they have run universities, hospitals, charities, a bank and a large media empire with newspapers and radio and TV stations.
Critics, however, are skeptical of the group’s widespread control and allegations have been made accusing Hizmet of trying to indoctrinate students into Gulen’s movement.
Gulen backed the rise of Erdogan’s AK Party until the government closed down a network of Hizmet’s private schools, according to the BBC.
In 2013, Turkey’s corruption scandal, thought to have been instigated by Gulen’s followers, served a harsh blow to Erdogan’s administration when three ministers resigned after their sons were implicated.
Fethullah Gulen, is a recluse Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, about 75 miles north of Philadelphia, but his influence extends around the world, with supporters firmly rooted in Turkey’s political and military establishment
Erdogan has repeatedly accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow the officially secular government from a gated 26-acre compound in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, which has a population of about 1,100.
The president, who was on vacation in the resort town of Marmaris when the coup began, issued a statement to CNN tonight referring to a ‘parallel structure’ behind the coup, a reference to Gulen’s followers.
Hours later, he touched down at Ataturk airport in a move that signaled the waning momentum of the military forces, reportedly led by Colonel Muharrem Kose.
Kose had recently been kicked out of the army from his position as head of the military’s legal advisory department, over his links to Gulen. He was killed during the clashes with Erdogan’s supporters, sources report.
Addressing the media in Istanbul tonight, Erdogan said those behind the coup were ‘being told what to do from Pennsylvania’ and warned they would pay a ‘heavy price for their treason’.
Tanks and armored personnel carriers tried to seize strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara but were faced down by unarmed civilians (pictured, Erdogan’s supporters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square)
A man poses with the flag of Turkey in front of a car crushed by a military tank as people gather in Kizilay Square to protest the military coup in the capital city of Ankara
Turkey’s parliamentary building was bombed as this picture shows the devastation from the explosive
Erdogan, pictured, was in the holiday resort of Marmaris when the coup began. He referred to a ‘parallel structure’ behind the coup, a reference to Gulen’s followers
Protesters blocked the tanks from seizing the airport, which allowed President Erdogan to make his triumphant return to Istanbul in a move that signaled the military’s waning momentum
Lawyer Robert Amsterdam, whose firm represents the Republic of Turkey, named Gulen and said there were ‘indications of direct involvement’.
In a statement on his website, Amsterdam wrote: ‘According to Turkish intelligence sources I have spoken with, there are indications of direct involvement by the powerful fugitive cleric Fethullah Gülen…
‘We have attempted repeatedly to warn the US government of the threat posed by this organization, however, at the same time, the Gülenists have been waging their own campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the elected Turkish government.
‘The fact that now there are signs that Gülen is working closely with certain members of military leadership against the elected civilian government is indeed a very alarming sign.’
Y. Alp Aslandogan, the president of The Alliance for Shared Values, a non-profit group affiliated with Gulen, said: ‘We categorically deny such accusations and find them to be highly irresponsible.”
July 15, 2016News media reported about developments in Turkey today regarding actions of Turkish ArmedForces.For more than 40 years, Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet participants have advocated for, and demonstrated their commitment to, peace and democracy. We have consistently denounced military interventions in domestic politics.These are core values of Hizmet participants.We condemn any military intervention in domestic politics of Turkey.Events on the ground are moving quickly and it would be irresponsible for us to speculate on them. We remain concerned about the safety and security of Turkish citizens and those in Turkey right now.Comments by pro-Erdogan circles about the movement are highly irresponsible. http://www.afsv.org.
Lawyer Robert Amsterdam, whose firm represents the Republic of Turkey, named Gulen and said there were ‘indications of direct involvement’ (pictured, people attempting to stop a tank in Ankara)
‘We remain concerned about the safety and security of Turkish citizens and those in Turkey right now. Comments by pro-Erdogan circles about the movement are highly irresponsible.’
Amsterdam also accused Gulen of ‘unlawful conduct’ last month, but a lawsuit against the cleric was thrown out by a federal judge, who said the allegations that he organized authorities in Turkey against a rival group did not belong in the US courts.
Some of the US schools started by Hizmet have been investigated by the FBI amid allegations of financial mismanagement and visa fraud.
One of the most explosive claims is that the schools are importing Turkish teachers to identify impressionable students and indoctrinate them into Gulen’s movement.
In May, a complaint filed with Texas education officials accused a network of charter schools associated with the Gulen movement of abusing a visa program to import large numbers of Turkish teachers and violating state and federal laws by paying them more than American teachers.
During the coup on Friday, Turkish military killed at least 60 people – 17 of those police officers – in the army’s bid to overthrow the Islamic government that lasted about five hours.
Elsewhere troops opened fire on civilians attempting to cross the river Bosporus in Istanbul in protest to the military coup, while a bomb hit the parliament building according to the state’s press agency as the security situation in the country becomes more perilous.
Erdogan urged his supporters to ignore the curfew and take back control of the country.
Tanks and armored personnel carriers tried to seize strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara but were faced down by unarmed civilians, some of whom were pictured laying in front of the tracked wheels.
Turkey’s army says it seized power in the country as warplanes flew over the capital and tanks blocked roads in Istanbul. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his government is still in control and will resist.
The army said in an e-mailed statement that it took power to restore freedom and democracy. It said all international agreements will be honored.
The coup effort won’t be permitted to succeed, Yildirim told NTV television. He said army units have besieged “some institutions,” and he said police — traditionally closer to his government than the army — have been ordered to use arms if necessary. He said the elected government remains in power.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the country is now under military control.
Since 1960, the NATO member has experienced at least three takeovers by the secular-minded army. But since the Islamist-rooted Ak Party government came to power in 2002, the political influence of the military has been trimmed.
Turkey’s lira plunged the most in two months, dropping 3.8 percent to 2.9901 per dollar
The U.S. government on Friday released a once-classified chapter from a congressional report on the 9/11 attacks that addresses Saudi connections to some of the hijackers.
Under wraps for 13 years, the report contains numerous redactions but states some hijackers “were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government.”
[LINK IN RED BELOW]
The documents were posted Friday by the House intelligence committee.
With its excessive data access on your phone system and request to have full access permission over your Google account, the new augmented reality game made some users suspicious. As the brain behind Pokémon Go, John Hanke, has previously received funds from a CIA-linked company, some “trainers” are nervous over safety whilst playing the game
Now that you are trying to catch that Charmender right on your sofa, you may not feel concerned about your privacy as you are solely throwing a PokéBall on your smartphone screen. But when your virtual privacy is the case, you may be a little nervous, as the Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game which is ‘breaking the internet’ nowadays, has some links to the Central Intelligence Agency.
For skeptics, this may have come as a baseless conspiracy theory, but it is in fact quite simple: John Hanke, meaningfully nicknamed as the “mastermind” behind the game that “needs” full access to every single detail of your Google account, is the man who previously received funding from the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel to develop what later became Google Earth.
Just for the record, In-Q-Tel states its mission as “IQT identifies, adapts, and delivers innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and broader U.S. Intelligence Community” on its own website.
In the beginning of the 2000s, In-Q-Tel invested in Keyhole Inc., the company for which Hanke received CIA funds.
Again meaningfully, the name “Keyhole” was homage to the Key Hole spy satellites first launched by the American National Reconnaissance Office that used electro-optical digital imaging and created a real-time optical observation capability.
Keyhole was a software development company specializing in geospatial data visualization applications. In-Q-Tel, which funded the company, receives the majority of its funds from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which means that your privacy may be at the hands of two intelligence agencies.
On the other hand, Niantic, Inc., the company that co-produced Pokémon Go with the Pokémon Company, was initially founded by Hanke as an internal startup at Google before it became an independent company in 2015. The company is best known for its augmented reality games including Ingress, which was released at the end of 2013 and also took the internet by storm. An interesting point about the two games is that they both require access to your camera even though the “Augmented Reality (AR)” switch can be turned off. When people in general tend to favor playing games in AR mode and the location is a definite must to play the game, the picture becomes clearer, at least for a conspiracy theory that has some ground.
With the claim that Pokémon Go is a massive surveillance operation that employs spies without paying them a cent and even charging them via in-app purchases, internet users including Adam Reeve, a blogger and a principal architect at RedOwl Analytics, got suspicious and started digging a little bit deeper on the requirements to be able to play the game.
As the game needs “full account access” to your Google account which may contain your contacts’ numbers, emails, your photos and videos on Google Drive, and also wants you to grant it access to nearly everything in your phone system especially on Android, Reeve labeled it a “huge security risk” and said that Pokémon Go can basically do the following:
Read all your emails
Send emails as you
Access all your Google Drive documents (including deleting them)
Look at your search history and your Maps navigation history
Access any private photos you may store in Google Photos
And a whole lot more, as the architect said in his blog post.
However, Niantic later issued a statement that says the company “erroneously” requested permission to full access of personal information. An update to fix the giant “mistake” is yet to be released.
A Reddit user also put forth other reasons why the AR game might be useful for intelligence agencies and governments to spy on your private life.
“Obviously, intelligence agencies have gained a lot of information from Google Maps and Street View, but this data was collected with driving cars,” he wrote on the post, touching on the chances that services provided by Google, the company that usually comes under antitrust charges -the latest one being from the European Union on Thursday, may be used or at least be useful for intelligence agencies or espionage.
Saying that the camera used for playing the game could easily be a handy tool for spying as the device is connected to the internet, he said “Imagine all these photos going back to some database, with the augmented Pokémon removed. All these photos are probably GPS tagged, as well as having the phone’s x/y/z orientation of the game angle in the phone.”
As the game needs to use the internal gyroscope of the phone, this claim seems to have some ground too as pictures taken with your phone during gameplay would need to be adjusted in order to be displayed normally.
In a world where we literally hand out all of our personal information via social media, escaping the prying eyes of the “Big Brother” of a Orwellian dystopia may be hard. But maybe, turning off the AR switch and using a blank Google account could be a good idea.
Wanted: Information that brings to justice…
[Will the US choose, at some point, to give the chief of the LeT the “Mullah Mansour treatment”? ]
In this taken on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, Hafiz Saeed talks to The Associated Press in Lahore, Pakistan. Roaming freely in Pakistan, despite a $10 million bounty on his head, one of India’s most wanted men, Saeed warns of demonstrations countrywide to force Pakistan to sever all ties with the United States if it cannot convince Washington to intervene in the decades old Kashmir dispute.(AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) – The United States has put a $10 million bounty on his head, labeling him a terrorist. He is one of the most wanted men in India. Yet, Hafiz Saeed walks free in his home country of Pakistan, denouncing Washington and New Delhi in public speeches.
Now the man identified by the U.S. as a founding member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group is weighing in on the flare-up of violence in Kashmir, the mountainous region divided between Pakistani and Indian control, where dozens have died in clashes with protesters after Indian security forces killed a top rebel leader.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Saeed accused the U.S. of giving India a free hand to crush the anti-India protests in its Himalayan territory, warning that will only lead to an escalation of violence.
“America is supporting this oppression by India by saying it is an internal matter,” the 66-year-old Saeed said in the interview, which took place Wednesday at his two-story home behind a steel barrier separating it from the narrow streets of the eastern city of Lahore.
“This has given India encouragement, and because of this, the killings and violence” will continue, he said.
Washington has said it will not intervene. But U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau, speaking to reporters Thursday, disagreed with the suggestion by Saeed and others that the U.S. is aloof and therefore partly responsible for the crackdown. She said the U.S. has had discussions with both India and Pakistan about the violence in Kashmir.
“We are very concerned about the deaths of the protesters,” Trudeau said. “That’s of grave concern to us. We continue to be in touch with the government of India. We’ve been in discussions with the government of Pakistan as well.”
Saeed said he will lead nationwide demonstrations in Pakistan to force its government to sever ties with the U.S. if it cannot convince Washington to intervene in the decades-old Kashmir dispute. The two countries, which also possess nuclear weapons, have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir.
Militants demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. At least 31 people have been killed in Kashmir in street protests after Indian troops last week killed Burhan Wani, a charismatic Kashmiri insurgent.
India declared the death of the 22-year-old Wani to be a major victory over the insurgency. But his killing has galvanized young Indian Kashmiris to stage daily protests. It has also sparked massive demonstrations in Pakistan and forced Pakistan’s government and military to make daily statements in support of demonstrating Kashmiris.
“When India martyred him, then the common Kashmiri joined the movement,” said Saeed, who has been a key figure in the often-brutal insurgency in Indian-ruled Kashmir.
On Pakistan’s side of the disputed border, residents say Saeed is the only force who can “liberate” the territory from Indian rule. One resident, Muhammad Ishaq of the capital of Muzaffarabad, said Lashkar-e-Taiba is more of a threat to India than any other group, including Wani’s organization, which is called the Hezbul Mujahedeen.
Human Rights organizations have accused Indian soldiers of widespread abuse, including forced detentions, rape and torture. India, meanwhile, has repeatedly assailed Pakistan for sending fighters over the border to incite violence.
The United States identifies Saeed as a founding member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a U.S.-declared terrorist group that is widely believed to have been a creation of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service, known by its acronym ISI, to wage a proxy war against India. It is considered one of the largest and most effective of the insurgent groups fighting in Indian-ruled Kashmir.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is often referred to as an al-Qaida affiliated group whose name means Army of the Pure and it belongs to the Salafist movement, an ultra-conservative branch of Islam. It has plotted to blow up sites in Australia, recruited from existing terrorist groups in Europe and has been a source of inspiration for radicalized Muslims in the West, according to intelligence officials in the U.K. and France.
It is suspected of carrying out the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, that targeted a Jewish Center, the main railway station and a five-star hotel frequented by foreigners. The attack killed 166 people.
The only person arrested in the Mumbai attack was Ajmal Amir Kasab, a Pakistani national who testified he was trained at a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Muridke, outside Lahore. He also said Saeed was among the inspirational speakers who would visit the training camp. Kasab was hanged in India in 2012 for his part in the attacks.
The $10 million bounty on Saeed was imposed by the U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program. India has issued an Interpol Red Corner Notice for his capture, accusing him of offenses including masterminding the Mumbai attack.
The Indian government has long demanded that Pakistan arrest Saeed, but when he has been detained, his incarceration has been brief, and Pakistani courts, including its Supreme Court, have cleared him of terrorism charges.
“Many times I have been arrested on the order of America and India … (but) the Lahore high court freed me and also my organization, saying we were innocent of terrorism charges and did not participate in any terrorist activities,” Saeed said.
Pakistan outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba after Washington declared it a terrorist group. However, its charity wing Jamaat-ud-Dawa still operates, even though both the U.S. and the United Nations also declared it a terrorist organization, describing it as a radical Islamist group.
Jean Louis Bruguiere, a former French magistrate who had spent more than two decades investigating terrorism and is credited with hundreds of arrests and convictions, has said he found evidence of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s network in East Asia, Australia, the United States and Europe.
Saeed said he has written to the State Department, complaining about the $10 million bounty. He denies any connection to Lashkar-e-Taiba, despite having given interviews as its chief at its headquarters in Muridke before it was outlawed.
Security remains a concern for Saeed, and the interview only took place after a series of phone calls that increased in frequency as a reporter was driven to his home that was guarded by several men with long beards, although only one displayed a weapon.
Inside, the heavyset, wispy-bearded Saeed sat amid other men in a small room stuffed with couches. Most of his entourage chatted together in small groups, while others were on their mobile phones throughout the interview.
Saeed dismisses the allegations against him as “India propaganda.” He traced the troubled history of Kashmir and blamed the U.S. and India for the violence but denied his own role or that of Pakistan in the insurgency.
Saeed also expressed concern about the growing influence of the Islamic State group in Pakistan, where several arrests have been made both in eastern Punjab province and in the southern port of Karachi.
“I am highly worried about Daesh … with their particular focus on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. He said the group was trying to divide the Muslim world.
Chinese Coast Guard officials blocked a group of Filipino fisherman from entering the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea after an international court ruled this week that Beijing does not have valid claims to the disputed region rich in seafood and gas reserves.
The Filipino fisherman were traveling with a news team from ABS-CBN, a Filipino television network. They were first followed by a Chinese fishing vessel that tried to block them from entering the area around Scarborough Shoal. The Chinese Coast Guard at one point showed up and ordered the Filipino fishermen to leave the area, according to media reports Thursday.
An international tribunal in The Hague blasted Tuesday China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea in an unprecedented case brought by the Philippines. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have also rejected China’s claims that it enjoys historic rights over most of the South China Sea.
“It will certainly intensify conflict and even confrontation,” Cui Tankui, China’s ambassador to the United States, said in a speech in Washington.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said the ruling was not legally binding and insisted China’s claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea can be traced to “ancient times.” The tribunal’s decision “is invalid and has no binding force,” the government said in a statement. “China does not accept or recognize it.”
The United States urged China to accept the decision. “The world is watching to see if China is really the global power it professes itself to be and the responsible power that it professes itself to be,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby.
The Philippines and the United States are eager to limit China’s ambitions in the South China Sea while avoiding military conflict. The Scarborough Shoal is considered an important strategic zone because of its proximity to the coast of the Philippines, a U.S. ally.
“In the aftermath of the court decision, China likely will test the U.S.’ readiness to uphold the rules, creating military provocations that could escalate into war,” Kori Schake, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in California, wrote in a Thursday op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza warned Filipino fishermen Wednesday to remain cautious when fishing along the Scarborough Shoal. He urged local governments to take action to protect the fishermen who depend on the Scarborough Shoal for their livelihood, according to local media reports.
“It is important that the local government should reach out to the local fishermen. There has to be a clearguide, safeguards for their protection,” Jardeleza said.
Prince Turki Al Faisal, at the Paris Rally to Free Iran: The Muslim World Supports You both in Heart and Soul
Speaking before the massive gathering of over 100,000 Iranian dissidents who had rallied on Saturday in Paris calling for the downfall of Iran’s theocratic government, Chairman of the Board of the King Faisal Center for Research And Islamic Studies Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal cited forgotten truths as to what Persian history of regimes truly looked like.
“In the pre-Islamic world, the Persian Sassanian Empire extended from Turkey and Egypt in the west to the Indian subcontinent in the east; it was a cultural and political force rivaling that of ancient China, India, or Rome. The Sassanians were envied by the Romans for their advanced military technology, Sassanian artists and musicians were welcomed by the royal courts of ancient China, and the Sassanian government was widely praised for its humane and effective style of rule. The Persians of the ancient world could even lay claim to one of the world’s first monotheistic religions: Zoroastrianism, a faith based on the teachings of Zoroaster, who lived over 3,000 years ago,” Prince Al Faisal said.
Speaking of the heritage shared by Persians and the rest of the Muslim world, Prince Al Faisal said that “Al-Ghazali, the theologian, scholar and mystic often referred to as one of the most important Muslims after the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) companions, was from a city near Mashhad.”
Iran’s regime now chiefly is led by clerics, otherwise known by ‘mullahs,’ and has once to many proven that it stands afar from a modern day democracy. However, mullahs had only risen to power after 1979 Revolution, which overthrew the U.S.-supported Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
Prince AlFaisal traced back further in time revealing that “Iran’s 1905 Constitutional Revolution laid bare the corruption of the crumbling Qajar dynasty: in the early 20th century,”
“Persia was vulnerable to Soviet expansion and colonial British influence, caught between larger powers. Reza Shah Pahlavi, who came to power in the aftermath of a 1921 coup, was able to rescue Iranian pride of place from a geopolitical morass. His modernization programs – Western-style university education, better health care, the development of railways and infrastructure – helped the nation to join the developed nations of its era as a peer.”
“The Shah’s regime represented a step forward for Iran in many ways, but at the same time, the Pahlavi’s secular and authoritarian rule was perceived as alienating by some in Iran’s more religious and secular,” he added.
Describing the toppling over of Pahlavi “The Iranian Revolution of 1979, which installed the powerful yet polarizing Khomeini as Supreme Leader, was a new and vastly different articulation of Iranian identity,” Prince Al Faisal said.
“In Saudi Arabia in particular, despite words of welcome of a constitutionally Islamic government in Iran by the Saudi leadership of 1979, Khomeini in his first year in power not only supported sectarian separatists in the Saudi Eastern Province, but also denounced all Muslim monarchies as un-Islamic,” the Prince added.
“Khomeini combined the Persian imperial ambition of the Shah with the more recent Shi’ite authority of his intellectual ancestors in Qom. This was an Iranian empire like no one had ever seen: insular, combative, and eschewing cultural exchange in favor of a claim to so-called universal truth rooted in self-interest and maintenance of the new revolutionary elite.”
The new mullah regime had become to be known as a widely bigoted ruling entity, even against Iranians themselves, “despite this isolationist and interventionist foreign policy, the first and foremost victims of Khomeinism have been the Iranian people themselves – not only the political activists opposed to his all-encompassing, authoritarian and totalitarian ideology; but also to the ethnic and religious minorities of Kurds, Arabs, Azaris, Turkmans, Baloch, Sunnis, Ismailis, Bahais, Christians, and Jews of Iran against the clerical Twelver religio-political elite of the Revolution,” Prince Al Faisal said.
Towards the end of his speech, Prince Al Faisal lauded the exertions spent by the 100,000 who had gathered in hopes of freeing their homeland from an oppressive regime. The Prince also asserted that the whole of the Muslim world stands to support their cause both in heart and soul.
“And you, Maryam Rajavi, your endeavor to rid your people of the Khomeinist cancer is an historic epic that, like the Shanameh, will remain inscribed the annals of History,” the Prince addressed Rajavi, wife of the Iranian activist and MEK leader Massoud Rajavi.
If finalized, the arrangement could dramatically alter America’s role in the Arab country’s five-year civil war.
The document published by The Washington Post calls for joint bombing operations, a command-and-control headquarters and other synchronized efforts. U.S. and Russian officials with expertise in intelligence, targeting and air operations will “work together to defeat” the extremist groups, the eight-page paper states.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was to discuss the proposal in Russia’s capital later Thursday, declined to comment.
“I’m going to Moscow, meeting with President (Vladimir) Putin tonight,” Kerry told reporters in Paris. “We’ll have plenty of time to talk about it and I’ll give you all a sense of where we are.”
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said only that joint U.S.-Russian efforts were key to fighting terrorism in the region.
Such a partnership would undercut months of U.S. criticism of Russia’s military intervention in Syria. And it would put the U.S. alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief international backer, despite years of American demands for Assad to leave power.
Russia would be getting what it has wanted since intervening in Syria in late September: An international alliance of sorts. Washington previously rebuffed Moscow’s requests for military cooperation, accusing the Russians of using anti-terrorism objectives as a pretext for protecting Assad’s position. The U.S. also says Syria’s military and Russia’s air force have repeatedly violated truces with moderate rebel groups backed by the U.S. or its allies.
U.S. officials said no agreement with Moscow has yet been reached. Prospects for such a deal are unclear.
“We’re not going to comment on details of documents that have not been approved or agreed to,” said a senior State Department official, who wasn’t authorized to speak on the matter and demanded anonymity.
The proposed, U.S.-Russian “Joint Implementation Group” would be headquartered near Amman, Jordan. At its most basic level, the former Cold War foes would share intelligence and targeting information. But they “should coordinate procedures to permit integrated operations,” if the U.S. and Russia decide such operations are in their interests.
Russia would confine air strikes to vetted targets and not let Syrian forces bomb “designated areas.” Some exceptions apply.
The military partnership is part of what U.S. officials are terming a final offer to Moscow. In exchange, the U.S. wants the Russians to pressure Assad into ending a bombing campaign against moderate militant groups and civilian populations, and allowing unfettered aid to besieged, rebel-held areas. Washington also wants Russia’s help in forcing Assad to start a political transition that would ultimately end his family’s four-decade hold over the country.
Russia supports the vague idea of “transition,” but has never publicly spoken of Assad having to resign.
The proposal would address one of the most persistent problems with efforts to enforce a ceasefire in Syria: the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s Syria affiliate. The group is engaged in a variety of local alliances with other rebel groups the U.S. and its Arab allies want shielded by the so-called cessation of hostilities. And Nusra’s fighters are often embedded with such groups on the battlefield or move between various fighting formations.
For that reason, the U.S. has almost entirely avoided bombing Nusra targets in recent months. Russia hasn’t hesitated. But in taking out Nusra forces, the U.S. says Russia also has killed hundreds of moderate, anti-Assad fighters and civilians — undermining chances for peaceful diplomacy.
Captain Abdelsalam Abdurrazek, a spokesman for Nur al-Din Zenki, a CIA-vetted rebel entity fighting near Aleppo, decried the U.S. for offering “to support an ally of the Syrian regime and an enemy of the Syrian people.” He said his group would continue fighting alongside Nusra.
Thursday’s talks in Moscow are scheduled fewer than three weeks before an August ultimatum by President Barack Obama’s administration for diplomatic progress. All signs augur poorly for a breakthrough in a war that has killed as many as a half-million people since 2011, contributed to a global migration crisis and spawned IS’ international expansion.
Fighting rages near Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Assad has reasserted control over several areas of the country he had once lost. Humanitarian aid deliveries are sporadic and grossly insufficient. And counterterrorism campaigns against the IS and al-Qaida show no end in sight, meaning any peace would only be partial.
Two months ago, Kerry said the transition had to start on Aug. 1, or Syria and its backers are “asking for a very different track.” But any Plan B has remained undefined beyond vague hints of a military intervention involving Saudi troops. The White House and Pentagon have resisted a greater U.S. role.
Much of Washington is wary about working too closely with Russia. The U.S. doesn’t want to be seen as entrenching Assad, whom American officials have referred to as a “butcher” and “mass murderer.” Russia’s bombers also have attacked anti-Assad rebel groups that have received weapons, training and other forms of support from the U.S. and allies such as Saudi Arabia — whose foreign minister Kerry met in Washington earlier this week.
And a dissent cable signed by 51 State Department officials last month showed a sizeable part of America’s diplomatic establishment believing a U.S. military response against Assad’s forces was necessary, given Moscow’s increased leverage as a result of its intervention.
Opposition to the administration’s newest Syria plan is shared by a significant number of officials at the State Department, Pentagon and U.S. intelligence community, according to several American officials.
But beyond reaching out to Russia, the administration has few other options right now. Suggestions of U.S. force don’t carry much weight, given the various, unfulfilled threats throughout the war — from Obama’s declaration five years ago that Assad’s days were “numbered” to his vow of a military response if chemical weapons were used, only to back down in 2013.
Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed to this story.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.
* * * * * * * *
These terms of reference describe organization, functions, and procedures for
the Joint Implementation Group (JIG.)
The purpose of the JIG is to enable expanded coordination between the United
States and the Russian Federation beyond the established safety of flight
procedures. The participants, through the JIG, are to work together to defeat
Jabhat al Nusra and Daesh within the context of strengthening the Cessation of
Hostilities (CoH) and supporting the political transition process outlined in
UNSCR 2254. The United States and the Russian Federation, hereafter referred
to as “the participants”, intend to act in accordance with these terms of
reference. Unless otherwise stated, the participants will conduct their efforts
through the JIG.
The participants are to implement the provisions of the “Approach for Practical
Russian-American Efforts against Daesh and Jabhat al Nusra and Strengthening
the Cessation of Hostilities.”
The participants are to conduct all efforts consistent with the intent to take all
reasonable measures to eliminate non-combatant casualties.
The participants also commit to all efforts, including operations subject to
cooperation or otherwise addressed by these terms of reference, occurring in
compliance with international humanitarian law and the terms of the CoH.
1. JIG Location, Organization and Composition
a. Location. The JIG is to be located in the vicinity of Amman, Jordan.
Participants intend to negotiate their own support requirements with the host
b. Organization. The participants intend to maintain separate, national
headquarters in which they will install systems to exchange information with their
respective headquarters responsible for tactical actions against Nusra and
Daesh. The participants, through the JIG, intend to establish a coordination
center at which they are to exchange intelligence and operational information.
d. Composition. Participants intend to staff the JIG in numbers sufficient to
accomplish the JIG’s functions. The participants intend to match, as practicable,
the ranks of their counterparts.
i. Staffing. The participants intend to staff the JIG with subject matter
experts and professionals with expertise in intelligence, targeting and air
operations. Intelligence expertise includes knowledge of the disposition,
operations, and tactics of the relevant armed actors in Syria. Targeting
expertise requires familiarity with national procedures to choose, confirm
and prosecute deliberate targets.
ii. Language and Translation. The participants intend to provide
information to the JIG in their native language. Participants are
responsible for translating material received. Participants intend to staff
the JIG with a sufficient number of bilingual personnel familiar with military
intelligence and operational terminology, in order to enable the real-time
translation of conversations and documents.
iii. Senior National Representative. The participants intend to provide
the JIG with senior national representatives — Colonels (0-6) or civilian
employees of the equivalent ranks – with the authority to transmit, on
behalf of their respective operational commanders, their participants’
national decisions or positions.
iv. Intelligence Personnel. The participants intend to staff the JIG with
intelligence personnel who can exchange information and resolve
differences between how the participants represent information -grid
reference systems, place names and other such technical
details. Intelligence personnel are to include subject matter experts Nusra
and Daesh in Syria. The participants, through the JIG, should develop
mutually acceptable formats for information to be exchanged.
v. Operations Representatives. The participants intend to staff the JIG
with operations representatives with expertise in national procedures for
strike planning, targeting, weaponeering, operational law and other
functions. Operations representatives are to resolve differences in how
the parties present information. The participants, through the JIG should
develop mutually acceptable formats for how information is exchanged.
vi. Support Personnel. The participants may staff the JIG with
personnel, as required, to manage logistics, force protection,
communications and other requirements.
2. JIG Role in Military Operations. The participants, through the JIG, should
enable coordination between the participants for military operations against
Nusra. Participants, through the JIG, may work to maximize independent, but
synchronized, efforts against Daesh in Syria. Coordination should begin with
information exchange on both Nusra and Daesh. If national authorities determine
that integrated operations against deliberate targets is in the interest of both
participants, the participants should coordinate procedures to permit integrated
a. Nusra Targeting. The participants will commit to supporting deliberate
targeting of Nusra. Once senior representatives to the JIG decide that
information exchange has produced commonly understood information,
the participants, through the JIG, intend to begin coordinating the targeting
of Nusra. The participants are to develop target packages for Nusra
targets under their national targeting processes. The participants, through
the JIG, should coordinate on targets that have been developed. Once a
decision has been reached on targets, the participants should coordinate
the participants’ proposals on how these targets are to be addressed.
Initial efforts against mutually-decided-upon targets will be deconflicted by
geography or time. With the exception of imminent threats to the
participants where prior agreement on a target is infeasible, the
participants will only take action against Nusra targets that are agreed to
in advance, pursuant to procedures developed by the JIG and deconflicted
through existing channels.
i. Targeting. The participants are to select and prioritize targets, as
outlined in previous paragraph, at their respective operational
headquarters. The participants are to manage the exchange of
information between targeting organizations.
ii. Actionable Targets. The participants are to coordinate
agreement on Nusra targets that have been deemed “actionable”
through the participants’ respective national processes. National
headquarters are to provide information on actionable targets in a
format to be developed and decided upon by the participants.
Actionable targets are those that have been “vetted” – targets for
which participants have accurate supporting intelligence. The
participants may commit additional Intelligence, Surveillance and
Reconnaissance resources to support vetting of potential targets
consistent with their respective national priorities. The participants
anticipate “validating” actionable targets under their respective
national processes to ensure they meet the appropriate
commander’s guidance, and may be targeted consistent with
international humanitarian law and applicable rules of engagement.
iii. Target Development. Only those targets that both participants
agree are actionable will be further developed for strikes. The
participants are to facilitate precision targeting by exchanging
mensurated target locations. Actionable targets, as decided
mutually by the participants, are to receive the same treatment as
do other national targets – there is no presumption of priority simply
because the participants mutually decided that a target is
b. Daesh Targeting: The participants may communicate targeting
information for targets that permit independent, but synchronized,
operations against Daesh in Syria. The participants are to select and
prioritize targets at their respective operational headquarters. The
participants are to manage the exchange of information between targeting
organizations. Any decision to jointly validate and execute a Daesh target
should be made pursuant to procedures developed by the JIG and
deconflicted through existing channels. [Both participants reserve the right
to conduct unilateral strikes against Daesh targets outside of designated
c. Operational Deconfliction and Coordination. The JIG is a liaison
body; it is to expose portions of a participant’s targeting and airstrike
planning functions to the other participant. The United States and Russia
should inform one another through the JIG of final plans for operations
against a mutually selected target no later than the day before
execution. The JIG is to communicate assessments of national actions
against Nusra and to the participants. The JIG may communicate
assessments of national actions against Daesh in Syria to the participants.
i. Timelines. The JIG is to operate on timelines that permit the
participants to incorporate information developed by the JIG into
their normal, national procedures.
ii. Strike Details. The participants commit to developing a format
for the information about intended operations to be exchanged,
including the general time of the strike, the intended method of
target attack, general force composition, routing of the strike and
precise details of the target being struck. The participants commit to
ensuring that the intended actions are deconflicted by time and/or
geography. The participants commit to coordinating to ensure strike
packages are not targeted by air defenses of either party or by
those of the regime.
iii. Battle Damage Assessment. Each participant intends to
collect BDA on JIG-coordinated targets it strikes; participants may
choose to expose the details of the BDA they collect. Either
participant may collect BDA on targets the other participant strikes.
iv. Collateral Damage. The participants intend to facilitate the
consideration of any allegations that mutually-decided-upon strikes
caused unacceptable collateral damage or loss of life, and explore
additional measures to avoid such strikes in the future.
v. Coordination of Integrated Operations. At some point,
national authorities may authorize the participants to coordinate on
integrated operations. Should such a decision be taken, the
participants intend to host a conference of national representatives
to develop procedures for integrated operations.
d. Emergent Circumstances.
i. Imminent Threats. The participants can target imminent threats
to their respective personnel if prior agreement on a target is
infeasible. In addition, participants can target imminent threats
against their respective nationals by named senior Shura council
members of Nusra and active external plotters, as agreed by the
United States and Russia.
ii. Other Circumstances. The Syrian military can employ military
action, including air activities, against the Nusra Front outside of
designated areas if Nusra acquires territory there. Russia can use
airpower in defense of Syrian government forces in the event of
attack by Nusra from within a designated area, if agreed in advance
with the United States. All actions should be consistent with the
terms of the cessation of hostilities.
iii. Cessation of Hostilities Violations. The participants may
report information that could corroborate allegations of COH
violations to the Geneva Cell.
3. JIG Role in Monitoring the Grounding of Syrian Air Activities. The
participants intend to collect and report information on regime air activities in
support of monitoring the grounding of Syrian aircraft in designated areas.
a. Information to be Collected. The JIG is to be provided advance
notice of regime air operations that are permitted as exemptions to the
grounding of Syrian military aircraft. The JIG is to maintain a current
Syrian air order of battle; changes to the disposition of regime aircraft are
to be reported daily. The participants should develop measures to help
confirm the Syrian military’s compliance with the grounding. The JIG is to
report regime violations to the participants.
b. Prohibited Activities and Exemptions. The regime is prohibited from
flying in designated areas; designated areas include areas of most
concentrated Nusra presence, areas of significant Nusra presence, and
areas where the opposition is dominant, with some possible Nusra
presence. Exempted circumstances are:
• Humanitarian Assistance
• Personnel recovery
c. Advance Notice of Regime Air Operations. The Russian Federation is to
provide the JIG advance notice of all regime air operations. For exempted
missions, the JIG is to be provided the general time of the Syrian mission,
general force composition and details of the routing of the package no later than
the day prior to execution. Routing for operations in areas under Daesh control
from areas under regime control is to be provided to the JIG in advance of such
operations taking place, no later than the day prior to execution
Approach for Practical Russian-American Cooperation against Daesh and
Jabhat al Nusra and Strengthening the Cessation of Hostilities
The following is designed to allow Russia and the U.S. to intensify joint and
mutual efforts to bring about the destruction of Nusra and Daesh in the context of
a strengthened COH with all COH parties adhering to COH terms.
To this end, Russia and the U.S. reconfirm their commitment to intensifying
support and assistance to regional allies to help them prevent the flow of fighters,
weapons, or financial support to UN designated terrorist groups across the
Delineation of territories controlled by Daesh, Nusra, and moderate opposition
forces remains a key priority. Nusra shall enjoy no safe haven anywhere within
Russia and the United States will also work in parallel to bring about the political
transition process as outlined in UNSCR 2254.
1) Russia and the United States will intensify their efforts to ensure full
compliance with the COH, including the suspension of all offensive ground
and air operations against signatories to the COH and civilians in Syria.
2) In the context of a strengthened COH, which will have been restored
with the target of reaching the level that had been achieved in late February
and maintained for a period of at least 7 days, the United States and Russia
will establish a Joint Implementation Group (JIG) comprised of subject matter
experts on Syria and professionals with expertise on targeting. The JIG is to
be established NLT [DATE] and located at [LOCATION].
3) The JIG is to take on the following tasks, in sequence:
a) Complete, to the extent possible, no later than five days after formation of
the JIG, a common map of territories with high concentrations of Nusra
formations, to include areas where Nusra formations are in close proximity to
opposition formations, for precise target development.
b) Share intelligence and develop actionable targets for military action against
Nusra, including, but not limited to, leadership targets, training camps, logistical
depots, supply lines, and headquarters.
c) Designate a set of targets for airstrikes by the Russian Aerospace Forces
and/or U.S. military forces related to Jabhat al-Nusra operations in designated
areas. Designated areas include areas of most concentrated Nusrah Front
presence, areas of significant Nusrah Front presence, and areas where the
opposition is dominant, with some possible Nusrah Front presence. Even prior to
the establishment of the JIG, technical experts from the U.S. and Russia will plot
the geo-coordinates of these designated areas.
d) Devise mechanisms to monitor and enforce the Syrian military’s cessation
of military air activity over the designated areas described in paragraph c, with
appropriate non-combat exceptions to be decided.
d) Decide on a date, shortly after the initial set of targets is agreed, to
simultaneously: 1) begin Russian and/or U.S. strikes against agreed Nusra
targets, and 2) stop all Syrian military air activities – fixed and rotary wing – in
agreed designated areas, with appropriate exceptions for non-combat purposes.
e) If Syrian military activity in conflict with paragraph 3.d or airstrikes in conflict
with paragraph 5 occur, either participant may pull out of the JIG.
4) The process of target development through the JIG and airstrikes
against Nusra targets by Russian Aerospace Forces and/or U.S. military
forces will be ongoing and continuous. The JIG is to exchange information on
the effects of targeting Nusra and the developing situation on the ground.
5) With the exception of imminent threats to the United States or Russia
where prior agreement on a target is infeasible, Russia and the United States
will only take action against Nusra targets that are agreed to in advance and
pursuant to appropriate procedures through existing de-confliction channels.
6) The JIG will also work to maximize independent but synchronized
efforts against Daesh.
7) All efforts outlined above will be conducted in a manner consistent with
the Laws of Armed Conflict and full implementation of the cessation of
8) Compliance with the CoH will be required for this understanding to
remain in effect.
9) Modalities for the mechanism described above will be further developed
in bilateral negotiations to be concluded as soon as possible given the
urgency expressed by both Russia and the U.S.
10) The steps outlined above are intended as steps toward a more
comprehensive understanding between the U.S. and Russia, with a target
date ofJuly 31, 2016, on three inter-related issues designed to produce a
durable end of the conflict and the defeat of Daesh and Nusrah:
a) military and intelligence cooperation between Russia and the U.S. to defeat
Daesh and Nusrah;
b) translation of the CoH into a durable, nationwide ceasefire, phased with
steps on the political transition, inclusive of provisions on the disposition and
separation of forces, control of heavy weapons, regulation of the flow of weapons
into Syria , independent monitoring and verification, and enforcement; and
c) a framework on political transition in Syria consistent with UNSCR 2254, to
include provisions on how and when a transitional government with full executive
authority formed on the basis of mutual consent will be established, security and
intelligence institutions will be reformed, and constitutional and electoral
processes will be conducted.
By Lawrence J. Korb, Eric Goepe
There is no Russian resurgence. Washington is playing on your Cold War fears to get you to pay for something the U.S. does not need and can’t afford.
In one of the key justifications for the new $600 billion defense spending request, the Department of Defense has fallen back on a tried-and-true Cold War boogeyman: the threat of Russian aggression against allies in Europe. While there is no ignoring the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, to interpret these events as some kind of Russian “resurgence” is to grossly inflate the danger Russia poses to NATO and the United States.
Ukraine and Georgia were targeted precisely because they fell outside of U.S. security guarantees, lacked significant strategic importance to the west, and, most importantly from the Russian viewpoint, were making overt moves toward NATO membership. Russia has long opposed the expansion of NATO into its traditional sphere of influence. The reasons are rooted in a history of aggression from Western Europe, as memories of the devastation meted out by Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler still linger.
While Russia suffered little for its war against Georgia, the annexation of Crimea proved to be an incredibly damaging move. Though Crimea has been a historic lynchpin of Russian grand strategy for centuries, its open use of military force and political manipulation there in the midst of the Ukrainian Revolution drew an immediate response in the form of sanctions from the West. Russia is paying a massive economic and diplomatic cost for its aggression against Ukraine, from its ejection from the G8 to the cratering of its currency.
It is important to keep all this in mind when looking at the assumptions underlying the Pentagon’s budget request. President Barack Obama wants to quadruple the budget for the European Reassurance Initiative, or ERI, from $789 million to $3.4 billion. What’s the ERI? It’s a U.S. program started in 2014 in response to the Crimean annexation to bolster the ability of NATO to deal with destabilizing actions. In other words: Obama just asked Congress to fund the biggest military buildup by NATO in Eastern Europe since the Cold War.
But what will this program accomplish? It’s meant to deter further Russian aggression, but fails to identify where that aggression might reasonably fall. A NATO buildup of this magnitude also neglects to take into account just how provocative such a move would be; by concentrating troops on Russia’s border, we are playing into Putin’s long-standing criticisms of NATO encirclement.
Claims that any NATO member is at risk of Russian invasion is a flawed reading of recent history. No matter what one might think of Putin, the idea that he would risk a war with NATO is ridiculous on its face. That is a no-win scenario, and Putin’s past behavior all points to interventions where there is a very minimal risk of western involvement.
The Russian Federation of today is not the Soviet Union of the 1980s, despite the fervent wishes of those looking to restart the Cold War. Moscow’s military spending has increased in real terms and as a percentage of GDP in the last several years. Current estimates figure it between $70 billion and 85 billion (which matches about 15 percent of the U.S. defense budget). But Russia’s economy is in recession. The Russian military no longer has the ability to mobilize the combined forces of the USSR and Warsaw Pact as it once did. Nearly all of its former client states, with the exception of Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, are now NATO members. No amount of spending or technological development by Russia is going to change the fact NATO countries represent over 900 million people who spend nearly a trillion dollars per annum on defense.
The Defense Department is inflating the threat Russia poses, which allows the Obama administration, senior military leaders, and supporters in Congress to justifying maintaining the historic highs in defense spending, which in real terms in now more than the U.S. spent during the Cold War. Meanwhile, the U.S. debt continues to grow ever-staggering heights while critical investment opportunities are ignored. The U.S. budget, despite the $4 trillion price tag this year, is finite. Billions that go to support placing more equipment in Eastern Europe and putting an armored brigade on rotation are billions that cannot be spent retraining U.S. workers or rebuilding America’s failing infrastructure.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, shortly after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, eloquently stated, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” Voters and their representatives have a choice to make: continue down the road of reckless spending to counter phantom threats, or acknowledge that to truly secure the future of this country, we must tend to our own house and strengthen its foundations.
Enjoying himself a little too much, Bush threatened to spoil the entire somber mood of the occasion as he held hands with Michelle Obama, who in turn held the hand of her husband, the incumbent president, forming a chain of hands that included other senior White House officials. To his right, Bush held hands with his wife Laura, followed by Joe Biden and his spouse.
As everyone tried to keep still and project a sense of togetherness and collective loss, Bush could not contain himself and did a little dance, and even tried to induce others to join in. Michelle Obama was the first victim, and Barack also felt the effects of a sort of wavy motion that had begun.
The tune that made the former president so giddy was an organ and choir version of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, but if the sound had been off, one might have thought Bush was doing a campfire number.
The former president was also ostensibly the only official on stage wearing a royal blue suit as he stood in a sea of black.
The black-and-white banner of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front group for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, is prevalent at an anti-US rally in Lahore in December 2011. AP photo.
The Honorable Zalmay Khalilzad
FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN AND U.N.;
COUNSELOR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS: SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, NONPROLIFERATION, AND TRADE
JULY 12, 2016
PAKISTAN: FRIEND OR FOE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM?
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to offer my assessment and advice on the issue of Pakistan’s support for terrorist and extremist forces. Pakistani proxies pose a severe threat to coalition and Afghan forces and civilians. Indeed, Pakistani policy is the principal cause of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. More broadly, Pakistan’s use of extremist and terrorist proxies – including to threaten India — is a significant contributor to the global menace of Islamic extremism. It must be confronted if we are to succeed in defeating terrorism and extremism around the world.
Background Since the overthrow of the Taliban regime after 9/11, Pakistan has been playing a perfidious and dangerous double game. It has portrayed itself as a U.S. partner, yet supports the Taliban and the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network. Since 2005, the Taliban and Haqqani network have regrouped in Pakistan and waged a devastating insurgency against U.S. and Afghan forces.
Poor governance by the Afghan government is a factor in Kabul’s inability to defeat the insurgents. But the Taliban’s resilience can be attributed above all to the strategic decision of the Pakistani military and intelligence services to provide sanctuary and support to these groups.
Pakistan’s Goals Pakistan views the Taliban as an effective proxy to ensure Pakistani dominance over Afghanistan. Islamabad also believes that continuing the war in Afghanistan will lead to a U.S. withdrawal, which would change the balance of power against the current government and in favor of its proxies. Ultimately, Pakistan seeks the overthrow of the current government in Afghanistan because it is not compliant.
Declaratory Policy vs. Actual Policy Pakistan understands that its double-game is risky, but it believes that the risk is manageable. Pakistani leaders reason that they can continue to receive U.S. assistance and avoid international isolation even if they support the Taliban and Haqqani network. They have seen little evidence that Washington will force it to choose between U.S. support and its alliance with the Taliban.
Every country has a gap between its declaratory policy and its actual policy. In the case of Pakistan, the gap is huge. Until recently, Pakistani leaders even denied that there were Taliban in their country! Pakistan believes that they can outmaneuver and outwait us. They are adept at offering tactical gestures that make it appear they are being helpful, which they calculate will make it more difficult for the U.S. to take a hardline stance. I have first-hand experience in this regard. As I document in my recently published memoir—The Envoy– the President asked me in 2005 to visit Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf and raise the issue of the Taliban sanctuaries. When I asked Gen. Musharraf why Pakistan was sponsoring the Taliban, he denied that there were any Taliban in Pakistan. He refused to acknowledge that the leadership of the Taliban were residing in Quetta or contend with the fact that its ruling Council bore the name of the capital of Baluchistan. Musharraf instead insisted that I provide him with the names and phone numbers of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Years later, when he was no longer his country’s leader, he boasted to the world of his country’s support for the extremist group.
Recommendations The May 21 killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a U.S. drone strike has created a golden hour to confront Pakistan. Washington can force Islamabad to make a choice: U.S. aid and international support or a continued relationship with the Haqqani network and irreconcilable Taliban? Catalyzing a decisive effect on Pakistani policy, however, will require the U.S. to escalate pressure on Islamabad. Otherwise the opportunity will dissipate. For Islamabad to break with the Haqqani network and the Taliban, the Pakistani leadership needs to see that continued support for the insurgency will come at a high price. Escalating drone strikes against Haqqani and irreconcilable Taliban leaders would deliver that message, but drone strikes alone will not be enough without corresponding political and financial pressure. On the financial side, Pakistan has been an enormous beneficiary of international support — specifically from Coalition support funds, bilateral assistance, and multilateral assistance from the IMF and World Bank. In addition to cutting off this assistance, Washington should warn Pakistan that it will face escalating
financial sanctions—like those once imposed on Iran—unless it facilitates reconciliation talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. As an initial step, the U.S. can impose financial and travel restrictions on senior Pakistani officials known to be complicit in the insurgency, and freeze funds in U.S. banks belonging to Pakistani entities—both military and corporate—involved in financing the Taliban. Politically, Pakistan cannot be a member in good standing of the international community so long as its agencies or military services aggress against Afghanistan. Pakistan is currently designated by the United States as a “major non-NATO ally.” This status is wholly inappropriate. Pakistan’s current policy and conduct would better merit its inclusion on the State Department’s list of state-sponsors of terrorism. The U.N. Security Council is an appropriate venue in which to raise Pakistan’s aggression against Afghanistan. To help secure international support for a U.S.-Afghan-sponsored resolution condemning Pakistan, the U.S. should declassify and broadcast information indicating Pakistani support for the insurgency and its narcotics trafficking.
Action at the Security Council would also provide the United States to ask China, one of Pakistan’s staunchest allies, whether it wants to be saddled with another North Korea – a rogue, isolated state surviving on Beijing’s dole. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your consideration on this issue. I look forward to your questions.
[truth in testimony form]
***Any changes to the witness list will be reflected above.