ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

New Chief of Space and Missile Defense Commits Suicide Before Starting New, Highly Demanding Job

major-general-john-rossi[Two-star general committed suicide days before he was to take charge of US space and missile defense]

“The unit’s mission was to plan and conduct system diagnostic monitoring, vulnerability assessments, data integrity studies and quality control of U.S. military satellite communications in support of U.S. Central Command.”–PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado

Army Activates New Battalion for Space, Missile Defense Operations

executivegov

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command has held an activation ceremony for the organization’s 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade.

Army said Thursday Lt. Col. Bryan Shrank, 1st Space Battalion commander, has entrusted Maj. John Bierce to care for and lead the unit as the first company commander and Sgt. 1st Class Wade Parker formally assumed the role of company first sergeant.

“There was no question Maj. Jack Bierce and 1st Sgt. Wade Parker are the absolute right team to stand up this organization, and I know they will do an amazing job,” said Shrank.

U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command conducts space and missile defense operations in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s missions on strategic deterrence, integrated missile defense and space operations.

Islamist Terrorists Attack Syrian Army Convoy Bound for Aleppo, Heavy Casualties

Islamist rebels hit Syrian Army convoy bound for Aleppo, dozens killed

ARA NEWS

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Syria rebel fighters are seen during battles outside Aleppo. File photo: Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

ARA News

Aleppo – Islamist factions ambushed a Syrian Army convoy south of Aleppo city on Saturday. The raid aimed to prevent regime reinforcements from reaching the ongoing clashes in western Aleppo.

Militants from Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) hit the army convoy with mortars and heavy machine guns. JFS is an Al-Qaeda splinter group, which was previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra.

“The attack took place on the Khanasir-Ithria road. The convoy, which was coming from Hama city to Aleppo, consisted of at least 6 army vehicles. [They were] loaded with weapons and carrying dozens of soldiers,” media activist Abduljabbar al-Hamwi told ARA News.

The rebels’ bombardment led to the destruction of four vehicles, while two others were hijacked. At least 24 Syrian Army soldiers were killed and ten others were taken as hostages.

“None of the convoy’s vehicles was able to make it to Aleppo. Our operation was successful and we won’t allow any more military reinforcements to reach […] Aleppo,” Ahrar al-Sham spokesman Anass al-Omar told ARA News.

Al-Omar remains confident that the battle for Aleppo is turning in favor of Syria’s Islamist forces. “Despite all the Russian and Iranian support, Assad won’t be able to win in Aleppo,” he said.

Breaking Siege of Eastern Aleppo 

Syrian Islamist factions -as previously mentioned- have launched an offensive to break the siege of eastern Aleppo. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham initiated the campaign by attacking several regime-held districts in western Aleppo.

Abu Saeed al-Halabi, a Dutch member of JFS, told ARA News that the new offensive aims to “free the thousands of Muslims besieged in the eastern part of Aleppo.”

Al-Halabi credited the Army of Conquest, also known as Jaish al-Fatah, with laying the groundwork for the offensive, marshaling Syria’s often disparate Islamists. “[They,] JFS and other factions prepared this assault in great detail and synchronized their forces in an unprecedented manner,” he told ARA News.

Al-Halabi added that Jabhat Fateh al-Sham would commit the bulk of its jihadists to this one operation “[We] will commit most of our resources and inghimasi [suicide] fighters,” he said.

“Both [Sunni] mujahidin and Shia militias have gathered thousands of their fighters for a battle which could decide the outcome of this conflict,” al-Halabi stated. “[Our triumph] will likely secure the remaining part of Aleppo city from Shia forces. This will bury the myth of a political solution in Syria.”

Speaking for his fellow jihadists, al-Halabi, said that all of the recent battles in Syria, Iraq and Yemen were linked. “These battles should be seen in the light of the US-Russian-Iranian alliance’s plan to strip the Sunnis from power in the Middle East,” he said.

According to al-Halabi, the Islamist’s campaign is incredibly important “as it could tip Syria’s power balance.” The JFS member told ARA News that Aleppo “could be the mother of all battles.”

Reporting by: Jamil Mukarram | Source: ARA News

US/Afghan Airstrike For India Kills 19 LeT Terrorists In Kunar Province

Airstrike kill 19 Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in East of Afghanistan

Khaama

By Ghanizada

https://i2.wp.com/www.khaama.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Lashkar-e-Taiba-militants-killed-in-Afghanistan.jpgAt least 19 militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group were killed in an airstrike in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the airstrike was carried out in Dangam district and at least 8 militants of the terrorist group were also wounded.

According to a statement by MoI, A BM-1 rocket launcher and a Dshk heavy machine gun belonging to the terrorist group were also destroyed in the raid.

MoI further added that a major operation is underway in Dangam district to clear the area from the presence of terrorist groups.

This comes as local officials in neighboring Nuristan province said in mid-2014 that the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba is attempting to establish bases in eastern parts of the country.

The officials further added that over 100 Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were deployed in Nuristan province in an attempt to set up training camps in Kamdish district.

Lashkar-e-Taiba also known as Army of the Righteous, is one of the largest and most proficient of the Kashmir-focused militant groups.

The group was also accused of coordinating and carrying out attack on Indian consulate in western Herat province of Afghanistan in 2014.

Americans Have No Desire for More Interventionism

Americans Have No Desire for More Interventionism

american conservative

A new poll co-sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for the National Interest finds very little appetite for increased interventionism and even less confidence in U.S. foreign policy:

Only 25 per cent of Americans would like the next president to expand the role of the US military overseas, according to a poll that underlines the cautious mood of voters about foreign policy.

In the poll, only 14 per cent of respondents said US foreign policy had made the country more secure since 9/11, when it launched the more than 15 years of military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

These findings are consistent with other surveys that find scant support for an expanded U.S. role overseas. The public understandably doesn’t share the enthusiasm of foreign policy elites for U.S. “leadership” defined by endless war, multiplying commitments in more and more countries, and no obvious benefit to the United States. What I find worrisome is that there is still any constituency for an even more activist foreign policy after a decade and a half of serial failure.

There is very little support for deploying U.S. forces in Syria and Yemen, and substantial opposition to the former:

Among the respondents, 51 per cent said the US should not deploy ground troops to Syria, and 10 per cent said US troops should help Saudi Arabia in its military campaign in Yemen.

Americans clearly aren’t interested in deeper involvement in either of these wars. Unfortunately, Clinton is likely to be the next president, and she is committed to an expanded role in one and probably favors continuing U.S. support for the other.

Another interesting finding is that there is overwhelming backing for the idea that the president needs Congressional authorization before taking military action:

Eighty per cent per cent said the president should need Congressional approval for military action abroad.

It is encouraging that there is broad support for Congress’ constitutional role in deciding on whether the U.S. should go to war. This finding raises the obvious question: if 80% think this should happen, why are their representatives content to abdicate their role and why isn’t there more pressure on them to hold the executive accountable for unauthorized, illegal wars?

The good news from all this is that the constituency among voters for perpetual war is extremely small, as I would hope it would be. The bad news is that foreign policy elites in Washington are determined to ignore this.

Overcoming the Sheep’s Amnesia with Properly Directed Anger

Amnesia and anger: one is the problem, the other the cure.

fabius-maximus

Summary: There is no need for complex solutions to produce political reform in America. We have the machinery. We know our peril as the Republic dies. We need only find the spark within ourselves that will produce action. I recommend anger. We have much to get angry about. Here we look at our leaders’ lies. They lie because we let them. We believe their lies, learn the truth, then forget the story. It’s a FAILure to learn or even react. Anger can short-circuit this process. Anger is contagious, like all flames. Read this and pass it on.

“Anger is easy. Anger at the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, is difficult.”
— Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, book IV, chapter 5 (slightly paraphrased)

“Telemachus, now is the time to be angry.”
— Odysseus, when the time came to deal with the Suitors. From the movie The Odyssey (1997)

A hand for our leaders

Let’s give our leaders a hand.

We have been emasculated. Our political leaders — of both parties — flagrantly cuckold us, flaunting their allegiance to the 1% without even attempting to conceal it. We react to this ugly truth in a commonplace fashion, with the dreamtime (to use Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s concept). We pretend not to see. We pretend not to care. We tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter. We pretend amnesia, as if we don’t remember. Just as a cuckold fears his spouse will leave him for her more attractive new friend, we fear that our leaders will betray us.

Just as spouses drift away from each other once their trust is broken, we less often work the political machinery of the Republic — not even voting. We have less confidence in its institution and leaders. In both cases the response makes the fear more likely to happen.

Trust

Demanding truth is the first step to rebuilding trust.

There is another way to respond. We can get angry and hold our leaders to account. Let’s start with something easy: let’s punish them when they lie to us. We have not done so for generations, so now they lie to us frequently. Why not? Look at this list of lies, documented in last month’s Why do we believe, when the government lies to us so often?  Notice that all of our wars for 50 years have been justified by lies. That’s quite a record, one of which we should be ashamed.
Charlie Brown falls for the Football scam, again

  • Eisenhower lies about the U-2 (1960).
  • The Tonkin Gulf Incident (1964).
  • Our 1st war in Afghanistan (1979+).
  • Libyan hit teams in America (1981).
  • Iran’s nukes (1984-now).
  • The shooting of Iran Air Flight 655 (1988).
  • Iraq’s atrocities in Kuwait (1990).
  • President Clinton lied, a lot (e.g, 1998).
  • Our 2nd war in Afghanistan (2001).
  • Saddam’s link to Al Qaeda (2002).
  • Saddam’s WMD’s (2002).

It’s sad that we’re so gullible, believing lies from liars — again and again. It’s bad that we don’t respond when we learn that they lied to us. Now for the worse news: many American still believe these lies. We’re like the marks of highly skilled con men who refuse to press charges; we find self-deceit less painful than admitting we were fooled.

It need not be like this. This cannot continue, if we wish the Republic to survive.  Let’s break the cycle at the vulnerable step.  Let’s get angry and punish leaders who lie to us. We can vote out elected officials, demand that political appointees get fired and that civil servants get punished.

It’s the easy first step to rebuilding our confidence in the Republic’s machinery. We hold elections every two years. Let’s start with 2016. America has many good people. Let’s put some of them in office. Vote “no” on liars.

Danger: Angry American

For More Information

See all posts about anger, about our amnesia, about propaganda, and about reforming America and the steps to political change.

Posts explaining why our leaders lie to us so frequently:

  1. Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations.
  2. The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions.
  3. Why do we believe, when the government lies to us so often? When we change, the government also will change.

A few posts about anger as a political tool to reform America:

  1. Now is the time for America to get angry.
  2. In “Network”, Howard Beale asks us to get mad and do something. He’s still waiting.
  3. A simple thing you can do to start the reform of America: get angry.
  4. How can we arouse a passion to reform America in the hearts of our neighbors?.
  5. Should we risk using anger to arouse America?.

Truth in society

US Looking For Good Excuse To Illegally Move More Troops Into Syria

U.S. commanders in the Middle East are trying to determine whether 300 U.S. troops on the ground inside Syria will be enough to oust the Islamic State group from its self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa.

It’s not a question of combat power. The U.S. has plenty of local allies willing to fight ISIS there. The challenge is convincing those groups to fight the militants rather than each other.

“The biggest problem with Raqqa will be managing the coalition,” said J. Matthew McInnis, a Middle East security expert with the American Enterprise Institute. “If you get an extra six hundred or an extra one thousand troops, that doesn’t dramatically change the situation from a military standpoint, but it does from a political standpoint. You gain a certain amount of ability to manage the situation when you have a little bit larger number troops there.”

U.S. officials say the invasion of Raqqa will begin within weeks. They feel a sense of “urgency” because new intelligence suggests ISIS leaders in Raqqa are planning external attacks in the U.S. and Europe.

This will draw the U.S. military deeper than ever into the multi-sided Syrian civil war, a battlefield far more complex than the one in Iraq, which for years has been the main focus of the U.S. effort to defeat ISIS. The invasion of Raqqa will put the teams of U.S. special operations troops into a unique role managing the movements of rival allied factions that often have fought each other during the five-year-old conflict.

Small teams of American troops will attach to various allied elements, which could include the Turkish military, Syrian Kurdish militias, Sunni Arab tribal fighters and others linked to the so-called Syrian Defense Force, according to defense officials familiar with the planning.

Those teams of elite American troops will provide vital communication links between the groups as well as to the U.S.-led coalition’s centralized command and control system overseeing the operation.

“The U.S. can play a very pivotal role in negotiating this, and then the U.S. troops would help them deconflict it on the ground,” said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“I don’t know who else can play that role.”

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend is the seventh American general since 2003 to assume command of war operations in Iraq. (Daniel Woolfolk/Staff)

TURKEY vs. THE KURDS

The main fissure in the U.S. alliance is between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.

The U.S. military believes that the only rebel faction capable of fighting ISIS in Raqqa is the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, a network of militias dominated by the Syrian Kurds. Syrian Kurdish fighters have proven to be an effective ally for fighting ISIS with the help of U.S. air strikes in other parts of Syria.

Yet Turkey — a NATO ally — fiercely opposes U.S. support for the Kurds, fearing that a strengthened Kurdish force will consolidate power and form its own autonomous region along Turkey’s southern border. For decades Turkey has mounted counter-insurgency operations targeting its own restive Kurdish minority.

This tension erupted in combat recently. On Oct. 20, the two sides exchanged indirect fire, prompting the Turkish military to launch air strikes against Kurdish forces. Turkey said its attacks killed 160 to 200 Kurdish fighters.

The U.S. also depends on Turkey for use of Incirlik Air Base, a hub for U.S. air operations near Turkey’s southern border. A power struggle has played out in public view as the top American general overseeing operations against ISIS vowed to march on Raqqa with Kurdish forces regardless of Turkey’s opposition.

“Turkey doesn’t want to see us operating with the SDF anywhere, particularly in Raqqa,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend acknowledged in a press briefing last week. But, he added, “we think there’s an imperative to get isolation in place around Raqqa because our intelligence feeds tell us that there is significant external attack planning going on” there.

“I think we need to go pretty soon,” Townsend said. “And I think that we’ll go with the forces that can go on the timeline that we need.”

Soon afterward, Turkish President Recep Erdoğan called President Obama and vowed to send Turkish troops to Raqqa. But it was unclear how much the Turkish military will coordinate with the American-led coalition, an ambiguity that has made the White House uncomfortable.

“We’re mindful of how complicated this space is,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday. “It’s important that [Turkey’s military] actions are well coordinated to prevent any sort of unintended consequence or unintended escalation among competing interests in that region of the world.”

The next day, Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said its military will not participate in the U.S. operation to invade Raqqa if Syrian Kurdish fighters are included. Turkey, he said, would support the fight, “however, if groups we classify as terrorist organizations like the PYD and YPG are included in the operation, we will not be there.” Those acronyms refer to the Syrian Kurdish militias backed by the U.S.

The U.S. and Turkey may resolve the matter in a way that makes the battlefield even more complicated, said McInnis. “The best case scenario for the U.S.,” he said, “is to move toward some zones of operation, that we try to stay out of each other’s way.

“Having additional U.S. troops in Syria would help manage the balance of power and manage the situation with Turkey.”

MORE U.S. TROOPS IN SYRIA

Townsend said the invasion of Raqqa will involve far fewer U.S. troops than operations in Iraq, where about 5,000 American personnel are currently deployed, many supporting the invasion of Mosul that began Oct. 17.

“We’re also trying to keep a footprint that is very light there to avoid worsening any of the complicating, pre-existing conditions,” Townsend said.

Yet Anthony Cordesman, a defense exerts with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Raqqa operation’s success will ultimately depend on whether the U.S. and its allies can muster enough combat power on the ground.

“If we do not have a decisive ground component, it is not enough to deal with a problem like Raqqa,” Cordesman told Military Times recently.

He suggested that the U.S. military could quietly surge hundreds of additional U.S. special operations troops into Syria without a public announcement by categorizing them as “temporary duty” personnel, a status officially known as “TDY.”

“TDY,” Cordesman said, “is the magic acronym.”

The size of the American force may also have an important psychological impact on the fight for Raqqa’s city center, said Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat who now lives in Washington and advocates for Syrian rebels groups.

“The more Americans are involved, the more it will send a message that this is a serious fight,” he said. “If people in Raqqa see that the American are coming, you are encouraging them to make revolution against [ISIS] inside the city.”

In November 2015, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller speculated about the possibility of having to deploy combat forces to Syria and the Islamic State’s self proclaimed capital in Raqqa. For now, it’s unclear how or even if the U.S. military presence in Syria will expand. (Marine Corps video)

Taliban Reject Reports of Secret Meetings w/Kabul Government

Taliban to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Reject Secret Meetings with Qabul Government

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

London- Mullah Zabihullah, the official spokesman of the “Afghan Taliban” and the second man in the movement said that security measures forced leader of the Afghan Taliban, Haibatullah not to reveal his whereabouts. “We are ordered by God’s will to take all necessary measures to secure his safety,” he said, adding that “the Emir of the Afghanistan Imara did not disappear, he is present among his people and at the frontlines. He is fine.”

Zabihullah replied to questions sent by Asharq Al-Awsat to his electronic email. The number-two man in the Taliban movement denied reports that quoted Western sources in London as saying that the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government have restarted secret talks in Qatar last week.

“There were no such meetings. We reject any secret negotiations with representatives of the government of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. There is no truth to such reports,” he said.

Zabihullah revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat the presence of relations and new networks with Iran. “The movement is trying to benefit from all legitimate means to reach a regional agreement as part of the war against the American invasion; therefore, the Imara holds ongoing networks with a large number of regional and neighboring states.”

He said 18 months ago, the movement had received Drone planes, which help film suicidal operations.

However, he refused to reveal the side providing such advanced equipment, but asserted that the “movement is expecting to soon receive more advanced weapons.”

Commenting on reports saying that Taliban had appointed a representative in Iran, Zabihullah said: “We heard these reports, but they are untrue.”

Asharaq Al-Awsat asked about the visit of Afghanistan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah and earlier the visit of Ghani to Saudi Arabia to hold talks with the Saudi leadership for reaching peace, and whether the Taliban had similar networks with the Kingdom. The spokesperson said Saudi Arabia has a central position among Muslims.

“Our religious shrines are there, and therefore this state has a big responsibility towards the Muslim world and their issues. We seek to have a lasting and good relationship with the government and people of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Duterte Delivers–Fishermen Allowed Back To Scarborough Shoal (Panatag)

[Scarborough Shoal/Huangyan Island Flashpoint For China/Philippine Confrontation]

Duterte delivers: Back to Panatag!

philstar

  (The Philippine Star)

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has done it! Filipinos are again able to fish at Panatag (Scarborough) shoal less than a week after the President promised them access to that traditional fishing ground off Zambales.

Official details were still hard to come by until yesterday, but out at sea Chinese Coast Guard vessels that used to block Filipino fishermen were conveniently nowhere, a fact that could happen only upon instructions coming all the way from the top.

News reports on TV carry video clips of Filipino fishermen hauling their catch from Panatag. They said they had not been bothered by Chinese patrol boats. The lagoon inside the triangular-shaped enclosure of reefs and rocks is open as shelter in bad weather.

We can imagine experts on both sides of the South China Sea busy drafting careful statements explaining the lifting of the Chinese blockade without compromising their respective legal position on Panatag’s ownership and control.

Manila will not ask Beijing in writing for access, as that may recognize Chinese sovereign control over the shoal that is within the 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines. If it is Filipino territory, why ask Chinese permission to enter it?

Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio of the Supreme Court even raised the possibility of the President being impeached if he yielded Philippine sovereignty over Panatag.

Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Duterte agreed with this view. In Beijing, it was reported, Duterte declined to sign a statement (a trap?) that China was “allowing” Filipino fishermen back to Panatag.

On the other hand, China also will not issue a statement that can be interpreted as recognizing Philippine sovereignty. Neither will it impliedly accept the recent ruling of the arbitral tribunal in The Hague that Panatag does not belong to any nation and that China’s barring Filipinos is illegal.

Why US insists on arbitral ruling?

IN WASHINGTON, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the US was still assessing reports that Chinese boats have left Panatag, and that Filipinos have resumed fishing there. He was quoted by the AP as saying:

“We hope it is certainly not a temporary measure. We would like it to be a sign that China and the Philippines are moving toward an agreement on fishing access at Scarborough (Panatag) that would be in accordance with the July 12 arbitral decision.”

Toner did not have to add “in accordance with the July 12 arbitral decision” referring to the ruling that China’s “nine-dash-line” basis for claiming vast areas in the South China Sea violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Philippines, which filed and won the arbitration case on most points, is itself not citing the ruling in its discussions on Panatag.

Forcing into focus the UNCLOS-based ruling could sabotage the emerging Phl-China rapprochement since Beijing has steadfastly refused to accept the arbitration decision that struck down as illegal several of its actions in disputed SCS areas.

The US need not suggest negative implications to the presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in Panatag as long as they do not interfere with the fishing of Filipinos nor confront Philippine Coast Guard elements that may be there.

In fact, the convivial presence in Panatag of fishing boats and patrol craft of both China and the Philippines would be a testament to their newly found live-and-let-live arrangement.

The two neighbors should ignore attempts of outsiders to prolong the quarrel over the rich fishing ground that should remain open as it was before 2012 when the Chinese Coast Guard started to block Filipinos from the waters that they have fished for generations.

Authorities have reported that there are enough fisheries and aquatic resources for everybody, except that some Chinese harvest even protected endangered species. The beneficiaries of Panatag must agree to stop this malpractice.

China wants US-bashing as proof?

WHEN CHINA and the Philippines issue statements, they do not have to mention the arbitral ruling if such omission would help cool the simmering situation and restore normal fishing and neighborly contact.

But if the two nations want to oblige kibitzers who demand to see a piece of paper on the normalization, they can prepare an understanding on the joint management of Panatag resources touching on safety and security, ecosystem conservation, mutual assistance, and the like.

China and the Philippines can also consider inviting Vietnam, which was mentioned in the arbitral award as among traditional fisher-nations at the shoal that the tribunal said no nation owns.

Reopening of Panatag for common use was negotiated during the Oct. 18-21 state visit of Duterte that restored the status quo ante 2012.

As we said in Postscript last Oct. 18, restoring access to Panatag is “success enough” for Duterte’s first major diplomatic venture. He achieved this on top of a $24-billion package of Chinese investments and soft loans – and goodwill on which to build upgraded relations.

One thing that still puzzles many Filipinos, more than 90 percent of whom regard the US highly, is why Duterte has to make friends with China while tearing away rather roughly his country’s long-standing amicable ties with America.

Indeed, in the tradition of politics being addition, why make enemies when one can make friends? The Philippines can keep both the US and China close to its heart.

Duterte’s reference to historical hurts and his sad experience with US immigration officers are not enough reason, we think, to rip away the fabric of friendship woven over decades of collaboration in war and peace.

The reason that keeps suggesting itself is that Beijing may have made Manila’s breaking away from Washington a condition for entertaining Duterte’s bid to make friends and benefit from such relationship. If true, it is sad.

Russian Jets Pound Southern Aleppo, But Leave the East Untouched

[SEE: Russian jets hammer jihadist rebels in southern Aleppo]

Putin rejects Russian military request to resume airstrikes in east Aleppo

Russia-Today

President Vladimir Putin has denied the Russian military’s request to order a resumption of airstrikes in eastern Aleppo, his press secretary said. The military had asked permission to resume airstrikes due to the increased activity of militants.

The Russian president considers it inappropriate at the present time to resume airstrikes in Aleppo,” Dmitry Peskov told the press.

However, Peskov added that “in case of extreme necessity to prevent provocative actions on the part of terrorist groups, the Russian side reserves the right to use all means at its disposal to provide an appropriate level of support to the Syrian armed forces.”

Russia will make a decision on further action in accordance with the events on the ground in Aleppo, the spokesman added.

The Russian president believes that the humanitarian pause should continue “to allow the withdrawal of the wounded and the militants who wish to leave the city. And, which is also significant, to allow our American partners to fulfill the obligations to separate the so-called ‘moderate’ opposition and the terrorists, which they took upon themselves,” Peskov said.

Earlier on Friday, Lt. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, head of operations in the Russian General Staff, said: “Due to the fact that there are still deaths among civilians and that the militants have resumed military activities against government forces, we’ve addressed Russia’s commander-in-chief, asking permission for the resumption of airstrikes targeting illegal armed groups in eastern Aleppo,”

Earlier on Friday, militants “used the moratorium of Russian and Syrian combat flights” and attempted to break into eastern Aleppo, the General Staff representative said.

“The attack was carried out by three groups [of militants]… with support of 20 tanks and 15 APCs. All this was accompanied by heavy fire from rocket launchers and artillery,” he said.

The offensive was repelled, with the terrorists losing six tanks and five armored personnel carriers, Rudskoy said.

During the last three days, the terrorists have shelled western Aleppo on 62 occasions, killing 43 people and injuring 76 more, Rudskoy said.

On Thursday, a school in the Hay al-Andalus district of the city came under fire, with 12 civilians, including three school children, losing their lives and 14 others receiving injuries.

Russian air forces in Syria have not carried out combat flights in eastern Aleppo for 10 days in order to facilitate humanitarian access to the city.

Russia’s center for reconciliation in Syria is currently in talks “with representatives of the public authorities of eastern Aleppo and several armed groups on the evacuation of the civilian population and withdrawal of militants from areas under their control,” Rudskoy said.

Iraqi Shiite Forces Launch Operation to Cut Western Mosul Off from Syria

by AFP

Iraqi-forces-30-Oct-2016

Iraqi paramilitary forces launched an operation Saturday to cut the Daesh group’s supply lines between its Mosul bastion and neighboring Syria, opening a new front in the nearly two-week-old offensive.

Forces from the Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary umbrella organization dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias, have largely been on the sidelines since the launch of the operation to retake Mosul.

But on Saturday they began a push on the town of Tal Afar on the western approach to the city, the only side where ground forces, which have advanced from the north, east and south, are not yet deployed.

“The operation aims to cut supplies between Mosul and Raqa and tighten the siege of (Daesh) in Mosul and liberate Tal Afar,” Hashed spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi told AFP, referring to Daesh’s main stronghold in Syria.

Assadi said the operation was launched from the Sin al-Dhaban area south of Mosul and aimed to retake the towns of Hatra and Tal Abta as well as Tal Afar.

The drive toward Tal Afar could bring the fighting perilously close to the ancient city of Hatra, a UNESCO world heritage site that has already been vandalized by Daesh.

Though it was not mentioned by name, the operation may also pass near the ruins of Nimrud, another archaeological site that has previously been attacked by Daesh.

The involvement of Shiite militias in the Mosul operation has been a source of contention, although some of the Hashed’s top commanders insist they do not plan to enter the largely Sunni city.

– Advancing in Al-Shura –

Iraqi Kurds and Sunni Arab politicians have opposed their involvement, as has Turkey, which has a military presence east of Mosul despite repeated demands by Baghdad for the forces to be withdrawn.

Relations between the Hashed and the U.S-led coalition fighting Daesh are also tense, but the paramilitaries enjoy widespread support among members of Iraq’s Shiite majority.

Tal Afar was a Shiite-majority town of mostly ethnic Turkmens before the Sunni extremists of Daesh overran it in 2014, and its recapture is a main goal of Shiite militia forces.

As the Hashed push on Tal Afar got under way, Iraq’s federal police advanced into Al-Shura, an area south of Mosul with a long history as a militant bastion that has been the target of fighting for more than a week.

“Federal police units raised the Iraqi flag” on a local government building in the area, federal police commander Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat said in a statement.

Police are now “chasing terrorists fleeing towards the north” of the Al-Shura area, Jawdat said.

The offensive operations came despite an assertion from the U.S-led coalition on Friday that Iraqi forces were temporarily halting their advance on Mosul for a period expected to last “a couple days.”

“They are pausing and repositioning, refitting and doing some back clearing,” coalition spokesman Colonel John Dorrian told Pentagon reporters via videoconference.

An Iraqi military statement, apparently issued in response to Dorrian’s remarks on the halt, said that “military operations are continuing” and proceeding on schedule.

– Rising displacement –

More than 17,500 people have fled their homes toward government-held areas since the Mosul operation began, the International Organization for Migration said on Saturday.

Numbers are expected to soar as Iraqi forces close in.

Civilians are suffering even more in jihadist-held territory, with the United Nations saying that there are credible reports of Daesh carrying out mass executions and seizing tens of thousands of people for use as human shields.

Daesh’s “depraved, cowardly strategy is to attempt to use the presence of civilians to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations”, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.

The jihadists are “effectively using tens of thousands of women, men and children as human shields”, he said.

The UN cited reports indicating Daesh has forcibly taken civilians into Mosul, killing those who resist or who were previously members of Iraqi security forces.

It said more than 250 people were executed in just two days earlier this week.

The jihadists have also launched a series of diversionary attacks since the operation began, including one in the city of Kirkuk that sparked multiple days of fighting and left dozens dead.

Officials said on Saturday that another such diversion, this time in the Ramadi area, west of Baghdad, had been foiled and 11 people arrested.

China Firm Bags Island Building Contract w/Philippines

China firm bags land reclamation contract with Philippines

peoples-china-en

 The photo shows “Tian Jing Hao” from CCCC Dredging, Inc, Asia’s first and the world’s third most powerful self-propelled cutter suction dredger. [File Photo]

 

China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), a State-owned infrastructure group, recently signed a contract with the Philippines’ Mega Harbour Port and Development Inc. to conduct a 208-hectare land reclamation project in Davao’s harbour. The reclamation is expected to finished by the end of 2019, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Oct. 24.

CCCC Dredging will undertake the project in Davao, which is located on Mindanao Island in the southern part of the country. By moving sediment from the seafloor to a reef, four islands will be built along the 8-kilometer coastline of Davao Bay. The artificial islands will be used for government offices, businesses, residences, ports and industrial land.

Established in March 2015, CCCC Dredging is the largest dredging company in China in terms of capacity and installed power. The company previously carried out a large-scale cooperation with the parent company of Mega Harbour Port and Development Inc., construction company R-II Builders.

Zhou Jingbo, chairman of CCCC Dredging, remarked that the project will elevate cooperation between China and the Philippines’ port construction companies to a new height. Zhou expects the project to become a model for future cooperation between the two nations.

Pakistan Sacks Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed Over Dawn Story

[SEE:  Pak. Press (Dawn) Defended By Indian Press, Against Assault By Pak Army Dictatorship ]pervaiz-rashid

Information Minister Parvaiz Rasheed has resigned from his position as Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, DawnNews reported Saturday.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office said: “Evidence available so far pints to a lapse on part of the information minister, who has been directed to step down from the office to enable holding of an independent and detailed inquiry.”

The development comes after the publication of Dawn’s story “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military”, which reported details of a high level civil-military meeting discussing the issue of Pakistan’s banned outfits.

The report of the high-profile security meeting has forced the government to initiate an inquiry to identify the person responsible for its leak.

Sources also said Rasheed’s portfolio was taken away after a preliminary inquiry was launched by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. They added that the premier has ordered a formal inquiry as to whether Rasheed was involved in the leak from the meeting.

Speaking to DawnNews, PM spokesperson Musadiq Malik said, ” A committee has been formed for the investigation of Dawn’s story and investigations have entered the final phase.”

“Pervaiz Rasheed was responsible for the Information Department and he is temporarily suspended from his post until investigations conclude,” Malik added.

“The committee was formed because no conclusive evidence has come forth. The details are with the committee Ch Nisar was heading,” he said, adding that a press conference will be held by the interior minister tomorrow (Sunday).

“The investigation report will only come when the investigation is over. The investigation is being done with all sobriety, all responsible will be punished.”

A statement issued today by the PM House contains details of the inquiry committee: “An inquiry committee including senior officers of ISI, MI and IB is being formed by the government to apportion the blame, identify interests and motives and expose all those responsible for this episode of stern action in the national interest.”

The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said earlier this week that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Ch Nisar and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif called on the army chief to brief him on the progress of the investigation and recommendations related to the story. The meeting was also attended by DG ISI General Rizwan Akhtar.

The story, the backlash

The Prime Minister’s Office had rejected the story, but the military maintained the story had been “leaked” and demanded a probe into the matter as it viewed the leak as a breach of national security.

Journalist Cyril Almeida’s name was also placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) after the publication of the story but his name was later removed by the Interior Ministry as a “goodwill gesture”.

Read more: ECL misstep

In an Editor’s note, Dawn clarified its position and stated on the record that the story “was verified, cross-checked and fact-checked.”

Earlier this month, participants of a corps commander meeting expressed serious concern over what they said was “feeding of false and fabricated story of an important security meeting held at PM House and viewed it as breach of national security.

Media reports also stated Saturday that Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has left for Dubai with his family. However, Musadiq Malik said Asif’s departure was not connected to the probe into the story.

In a tweet, Asif said he is in Dubai to attend a wedding and will return on Sunday.

The prime minister’s Principal Information Officer Rao Tehseen has been suspended from his post and made an officer on special duty (OSD), DawnNews reported.

Earlier he had been barred from leaving the federal capital for the past eight days by the interior ministry. Tehseen will remain suspended till the completion of inquiry into the matter.

PTI celebrates, PPP offers solution

PTI chief Imran Khan congratulated the nation after Rasheed resigned.

“Mubarak to nation! One darbari sacked, the other flees & the rest start trembling as they look over their shoulders! NS’s darbar disappearing,” he tweeted.

“If they [government officials] are involved in the leak, they should be tried under the Army Act,” said PTI leader Mehmood-ur-Rasheed.

Adviser to the Chief Minister on Information Moula Bux Chandio urged the government to accept the demands of accountability and four demands of Bilawal Bhutto to avert the crisis.

“If government accepts demands of the nation and Bilawal Bhutto, the government can get out of the crisis,” the PPP leader said

“Government by scapegoating the Information Minister has accepted that the democratic government was responsible for the information leak,” he added.

Details of Syria pact widen rift between Kerry, Pentagon

[Left unpublished for unknown reason…sorry…]

Details of Syria pact widen rift between Kerry, Pentagon
myajc

By Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger – The New York Times

Russia SyriaKEVIN LAMARQUE / The New York Times  Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a joint news conference, in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 9, 2016. The agreement that Kerry announced with Russia regarding Syria has widened a divide between Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via The New York Times)

 

WASHINGTON — The agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry announced with Russia to reduce the killing in Syria has widened an increasingly public divide between Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who has deep reservations about the plan for U.S. and Russian forces to jointly target terror groups.

Carter was among the administration officials who pushed against the agreement on a conference call with the White House last week as Kerry, joining the argument from a secure facility in Geneva, grew increasingly frustrated. Although President Barack Obama ultimately approved the effort after hours of debate, Pentagon officials remain unconvinced.

On Tuesday at the Pentagon, officials would not even agree that if a cessation of violence in Syria held for seven days — the initial part of the deal — the Defense Department would put in place its part of the agreement on the eighth day: An extraordinary collaboration between the United States and Russia that calls for the U.S. military to share information with Moscow on Islamic State targets in Syria.

“I’m not saying yes or no,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told reporters on a video conference call. “It would be premature to say that we’re going to jump right into it.”

White House officials were also dubious. “I think we’d have some reasons to be skeptical that the Russians are able or are willing to implement the arrangement consistent with the way it’s been described,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Monday at a briefing. He added, darkly, “But we’ll see.”

In Kerry’s view, the administration has needed to do everything it can to restrain the forces of President Bashar Assad of Syria from continuing to bomb civilians. Once the Russians entered the war, that meant making the deal with President Vladimir Putin — one in which the Russians would pressure Assad to stay out of the skies.

For Kerry, the search for a reduction in violence in Syria, and ultimately a political agreement that will ease Assad out of office, is a matter of legacy and reputation. His first major project as secretary of state, reviving Mideast peace talks, collapsed before his first year in office was complete. His next major effort, the Iran nuclear deal, was far more successful, and he ultimately found a way to convince the Iranians to ship most of their nuclear material out of the country and dismantle key facilities.

But the Syria deal, as Kerry himself conceded at the State Department on Monday, is far more complex — in part because there are so many other players, beyond Washington and Moscow, with stakes in the outcome. In private, he has conceded to aides and friends that he believes it will not work. But he has said he is determined to try, so that he, and Obama, do not leave office having failed to alleviate a civil war that has taken roughly half a million lives.

The first full day of the cease-fire passed Tuesday with no notable violations, but an atmosphere of deep mistrust prevailed in Syria’s war-ravaged areas, residents and monitoring groups reported. The skepticism was fed partly by what appeared to be delays in expediting United Nations aid deliveries to the northern city of Aleppo and other combat zones where civilians have long been deprived of food and medicine. Relief for these areas is an important component of the cease-fire agreement.

The divide between Kerry and Carter reflects the inherent conflict in Obama’s Syria policy. The president has come under increased criticism politically for his refusal to intervene more forcefully in the 5-year-old civil war, which the U.N. says has killed more than 400,000 people, displaced more than 6 million people and led to a refugee crisis in Europe. But keeping large numbers of U.S. ground forces out of Syria has also created space for Russia to assume a greater role there, both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.

The result is that at a time when the United States and Russia are at their most combative posture since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military is suddenly being told that it may, in a week, have to start sharing intelligence with one of its biggest adversaries to jointly target Islamic State and al-Nusra forces in Syria.

“I remain skeptical about anything to do with the Russians,” Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who recently stepped down as NATO’s supreme allied commander, said Monday. “There are a lot of concerns about putting out there where our folks are.”

In an email, Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said: “As Secretary Carter has said, Secretary Kerry has worked tirelessly to try and ease the suffering of the Syrian people and bring about a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian civil war. If fully implemented, this arrangement could advance those important goals.

The Defense Department, he added, “will carry out its responsibilities, but it’s really up to Russia and the regime to comply with the terms and finally start doing the right thing in Syria.”

Chief among Pentagon concerns is whether sharing targeting information with Russia could reveal how the U.S. uses intelligence to conduct airstrikes, not just in Syria but in other places, which Moscow could then use for its own advantage in the growing confrontations undersea and in the air around the Baltics and Europe.

But to Kerry’s inner team of advisers, the Pentagon approach was reflexive Cold War-era thinking. For all the other tensions with Russia, they believed that the Russians themselves did not want to get mired in Syria, and would cooperate up to a point.

“From a Pentagon perspective, the U.S. military is the one that, around the world, is on the receiving end of Russia’s military misbehavior,” said Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration. “There is just generally a lack of trust.”

It is a measure of the sensitivity of the agreement — for Washington, for Moscow and for an array of other countries and opposition groups — that the State Department has not released a text of the agreement with the Russians, or even a fact sheet summarizing it.

Taliban overruns military base in Uruzgan

Taliban overruns military base in Uruzgan

Long war journal

taliban-khushdeer-base-uruzganThe Taliban flag flies over the “Khushdeer” base in Chora district, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan. Image from Voice of Jihad.

The Taliban took control of a military base in the embattled southern province of Uruzgan, where the group has recently laid siege to the capital of Tarin Kot.

The jihadist group claimed it took control of the “strategic military base in Khushdeer” and two others in Chora district after Afghan troops were surrounded and then subsequently “fled towards the district center.”

In a statement released on its website, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban showed a picture of the base with the Taliban’s flag flying over it.

On Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid then released a video of an interview of fighters from the base (video is below). Like the recent ambush in Helmand’s capital, the Taliban fighters clearly are not concerned about either an Afghan Army counterattack or airstrikes. The interview takes place in broad daylight, hours after the base was overrun (the Taliban claimed the Afghan troops fled during the nighttime).

Uruzgan has been hotly contested for more than a year. Of the province’s six districts, one, Char Chino, is under Taliban control, and the remaining five are heavily contested. The Taliban seized Char Chino in June 2016 after Afghan forces conducted a tactical retreat.

The Taliban considers Uruzgan to be a strategic province, and has previously said that it controls all areas of the province except for the district centers.

In a Voice of Jihad interview in April 2016 with Mullah Aminullah Yousuf, the Taliban’s shadow governor for Uruzgan, he described the province as “the linking point for many provinces” and a traditional “strong fortress of mujahideen.” [See LWJ report, Taliban seizes a district in Uruzgan.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

Pakistan’s Terrorists Are Smarter Than Its Government

Pakistan’s Terrorists Are Smarter Than Its Government

ForeignPolicyLogo

Once Again, US Forces Relocate Endangered Terrorists–this time in Mosul

[Whenever the key actors in the popular psyop are in real danger from US or foreign forces, NATO helicopters, or black helicopters arrive in the nick of time to evacuate the endangered terrorist assets to new staging areas–(Afghan president: Unknown helicopters transfer rebels to Northern Afghanistan ; Gen. Beg Claims US Helicopter Flew Hakeemullah to Safety ; Chinese Press Reports NATO Incursion In N. Waziristan, Helicopters Take Pakistan Taliban Leaders To Afghanistan)]

US ‘Relocated’ ISIS Terrorists Out Of Iraq, Into Syria To Fight Assad

zero hedge

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Vaughan Famularo via TheDuran.com,

As the Iraqi military with US support closes in on Mosul it is becoming clear that the US plan is to transfer the ISIS troops defending the city to Syria as part of the regime change plan there.

The Russian news media RIA Novosti, has revealed that US and Saudi leaders have decided to allow the safe passage of 9000 ISIS terrorists to vacate Mosul in Iraq and, relocate into Syria.

The surprising information was leaked by an anonymous diplomatic source. It was also claimed that this decision was conditional on the terrorists agreeing to fight Syrian and Russian troops in Palmyra and Deir Ezzor.

In the past two weeks we have witnessed the chaotic musing within the US Political and diplomatic corps once their impotence was exposed in Syria due to the collapse of the ceasefire and, the resumption of hostilities in Aleppo.

The bedlam and frustration exhibited by Western leaders has been apparent to all with wild claims of possible shooting down of Russian jets in Syria and, the continued ache and longing for the implementation of their, No Fly Zone.

Despite the turbulent political rumblings and threats, Russia and the government of Syria have steadfastly worked to free eastern Aleppo from the remaining terrorists who are now surrounded there.

The decision to allow ISIS to flee safely into Syria once again reveals to the world the gloved hand that shepherds and steers these terrorists.

The bombing of Syrian Army soldiers in Deir Ezzor by US and coalition Jets now appear purposed and calculated rather than an accident claimed by the US.

To add to the controversy, what was generally unreported in the media was a further attack a few days later that destroyed the last two surviving bridges spanning the Euphrates River.

Their destruction, will isolate the Syrian forces stationed at Deir Ezzor and, make life more difficult for the Syrian people who are already wearing the burden of six years at war.

As the ISIS terrorists leave Mosul and travel into Syria their objectives are the recently freed city of Palmyra, and the brave city of Deir Ezzor. Whether their safe passage from Mosul includes US and Saudi cover into Syria remains a mystery.

Regardless their location in eastern Syria allows their masters the tactical advantage of mobilising these proxy forces at the time of their choosing in their ultimate goal of deposing Syrian President Assad.

Obama Unleashes “Intervention Teams” to Wage War on “Ideologies”

A year after the dictator-dominated United Nations declared war on “ideologies” such as “anti-Muslim bigotry” and opposition to mass immigration, the White House cooked up a fresh version of the Obama administration’s national plot to supposedly prevent people from adopting unapproved ideologies. The controversial scheme aims to deploy “community-based” teams of “mental health” workers, teachers, law enforcers, social service employees, “faith leaders,” and others to supposedly stop the spread of ideologies that Obama claims can be dangerous or violent.

Analysts and critics of the White House plan, though, warned that Obama’s supposed attack on “violent ideologies” was in reality a thinly veiled assault on conservatives and political opponents of his agenda to “fundamentally transform” the United States. Indeed, almost from the start of his term, the Obama administration was remarkably candid in targeting conservatives, libertarians, patriots, veterans, pro-life activists, nationalists, and others as “extremists” and even potential terrorists. Various Obama bureaucracies disgorged a steady stream of propaganda painting hundreds of millions of mainstream Americans as the enemy merely for their religious or political views.

News about the new 18-page plan was first reported by Reuters on October 19. It represents the first time the administration’s “policy for preventing violent extremism” has been updated, the establishment-controlled media organ reported. “The policy aims to prevent conversions to all violent ideologies,” Reuters reporter Julia Edwards added, citing the document, which still does not appear to have been released publicly. It was not immediately clear what constitutional or statutory authority the White House imagines it possesses to police people’s ideologies, or to hijack local governments to interfere in people’s personal beliefs.

According to Reuters, the White House “strategy” will be to unleash so-called “intervention teams” led by “mental health professionals,” faith-based groups, educators, and others “as a resource for people who find themselves in such circumstances.” These draconian “intervention teams” will then work to “divert a person” away from supposedly violent ideologies before they actually commit any violent acts or even any crimes. It is sort of like “pre-crime,” just more Orwellian and totalitarian.

If targets of Obama’s “community-based intervention teams” do not abandon the prohibited ideology through “mental health” and other interventions, “law enforcement” will be brought in to use more coercive measures. And if a person is believed to “pose a threat” or be “capable of committing a crime,” law-enforcement action will be taken, the policy states. In other words, “law-enforcement” action begins before a crime has even been committed — even before a target plots or conspires to commit a crime, which is of course already a crime in and of itself. Literally everyone is “capable” of committing a crime. The implications of the developments should be triggering alarm bells nationwide.

The increasingly politicized and lawless Justice Department and “Homeland Security” Department also have a big role to play in the new plan, according to media reports. Among other schemes, they will be super-charging their ideological propaganda campaigns, using taxpayer funding to illegally promote Obama’s ideology under the guise of countering ideologies Obama and the establishment disagree with and paint as violent.

The two bureaucracies will “enhance their social media campaigns to counter people being drawn to violence,” Reuters claimed matter-of-factly, without adding any details on how federal propaganda efforts — prohibited under federal law — would prevent anyone from being drawn to unapproved ideologies. The scheme may be related to a new “behavioral science” program Obama unleashed that aims to “nudge” and manipulate Americans to support everything from the man-made global-warming ideology and vaccines to Big Government and globalism.

As The New American reported last year, in the interest of defeating allegedly extreme ideologies with “better ideas,” Obama touted some of his administration’s policies at a UN summit announcing a global jihad against ideologies such as what the UN described as “anti-Muslim bigotry” in a press release. Among other schemes, he pointed to “efforts to discredit ISIL’s propaganda, especially online,” an apparent reference to his recently unveiled “Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications,” a federal propaganda machine led by Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamist Rashad Hussain.

Under the new policy, federal prosecutors working for the increasingly radical DOJ will also put together “after-school programs” to shape children’s ideologies. Other recently unveiled Obama “extremism” plans also call for conscripting school teachers to seek out students with unapproved ideologies and report them to Big Brother for further scrutiny. The warning signs the FBI told teachers to look for included non-approval of homosexuality, Islam, and more. The leaked FBI document also decried what it referred to as “violent propaganda,” suggesting an increasingly unhinged federal government now literally equates speech with violence.

In other words, it appears that the federal government is now officially and openly waging all-out war on the God-given freedoms protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These include free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and more — some of the most fundamental liberties; indeed, freedoms that the government was actually created to protect.

Unsurprisingly, Reuters and the administration both implied that the latest scheme was aimed at groups like the Islamic State, or ISIS. Yet, in reality, official Pentagon documents confirm that Obama knew al-Qaeda was leading the revolution in Syria, supported it with weapons and money anyway, and outlined as a deliberate policy goal the establishment of an Islamist “principality” in eastern Syria — an Islamic State today known better as ISIS or Daesh. Meanwhile, the administration has been importing Muslims into the United States as fast as politically possible, and both ISIS and the U.S. government acknowledge that ISIS terrorists are among them.

Thrown in among the myriad reported Islamic terror attacks purporting to justify the new White House scheme — San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; and New York and New Jersey in 2015 and 2016 — was the brutal terrorist attack on Christians in South Carolina. In that case, a drug-abusing National Socialist (Nazi) named Dylan Roof reportedly massacred church-goers in Charleston. Incredibly, the Obama administration and the radical left have tried to paint the anti-Christian socialist-minded collectivist druggie as a conservative right-wing activist.

Also unsurprisingly, Reuters dutifully played its role as propagandist for the establishment, outlining only establishment-approved “criticism” of the extremist White House plan. Instead of pointing out that the scheme is unconstitutional, dangerous, Orwellian, and ridiculous, for instance, Reuters quoted an alleged “expert” who complained only that the ideology program would be too focused on Islamists. Of course, with Muslim Brotherhood operatives across the Obama “security apparatus,” there is little risk of that happening.

Instead, the real targets appear to be conservatives, Christians, libertarians, pro-life activists, and others who disagree with Obama’s extreme ideology of fundamentally transforming America. Indeed, numerous federal documents confirm that to be the case. In 2013, for example, after Homeland Security was busted demonizing veterans and conservatives as potential terrorists, leaked documents showed the Obama Pentagon brainwashing U.S. troops to believe that Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and Orthodox Jews were “religious extremists” like Islamic terror groups al-Qaeda and Hamas.

More recently, Obama’s new “terror czar” openly announced a partnership with the ultra-left-wing “hate group” known as the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition to bilking donors for hundreds of millions of dollars to enrich its leadership, that organization demonizes Christians and conservatives while praising cop-killing terrorists such as Bill Ayers, who bombed multiple U.S. targets and plotted with foreign dictatorships to intern and execute millions of anti-communist Americans.

As the establishment’s credibility increasingly implodes — just six percent of Americans really trust the establishment media today — even mainstream voices and some of the most powerful figures in media have been exposing the Obama extremism for what it is. Talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh, for example, blasted the latest White House “ideology” program as a poorly disguised assault on conservatives and other people who disagree with Obama.

“What are violent ideologies and who gets to determine that? Who gets to define what is a violent ideology?” asked Limbaugh, whose weekly audience is estimated at almost 15 million listeners. “We know what this is…. Now, you might think, ‘Wait a minute, Rush, some of that, San Bernardino, that’s Islamic extremism.’ Yeah, but Obama’s not worried about that. ‘Orlando, that’s the guy that blew up the gay bar, again, another Islamic —’ No, no. Obama doesn’t care about that.”

“We know that the Department of Homeland Security in Obama’s first term released internal documents warning of the dangers posed by violent right-wing groups,” the talk-radio giant continued, highlighting a widely ridiculed official document from Obama’s “Homeland Security” bureaucracy telling local police that veterans, conservatives, constitutionalists, and other mainstream Americans are the nation’s top terror threat. “So you say, ‘Well, yeah, but Obama’s leaving.’ It doesn’t matter. The left runs everything in Washington no matter who the president is, and this work will continue.”

Concluding, Limbaugh pointed out that the real target of Obama’s extreme plan is basically everyone to the right of Obama and his radical allies. “I think that there’s no question that an ongoing effort to stamp out or intimidate anybody who happens to lean in any direction to the right is going to be undertaken, and I just wanted to mention this here at the top while everybody’s attention is focused,” he explained.

Indeed, there is no need to speculate on what is going on here. Obama’s actions and words have already made his agenda perfectly clear. In essence, the massive might of the federal government is being aimed squarely at voices that dissent from the increasingly dangerous extremism emanating from Washington, D.C. Americans of goodwill from across the political spectrum should unite to demand an immediate end to Obama’s unconstitutional ideological warfare.

 

Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU

The Redirection–Seymour M. Hersh

The Redirection

the-new-yorker

Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

A STRATEGIC SHIFT

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran. Its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made defiant pronouncements about the destruction of Israel and his country’s right to pursue its nuclear program, and last week its supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on state television that “realities in the region show that the arrogant front, headed by the U.S. and its allies, will be the principal loser in the region.”

After the revolution of 1979 brought a religious government to power, the United States broke with Iran and cultivated closer relations with the leaders of Sunni Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. That calculation became more complex after the September 11th attacks, especially with regard to the Saudis. Al Qaeda is Sunni, and many of its operatives came from extremist religious circles inside Saudi Arabia. Before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, Administration officials, influenced by neoconservative ideologues, assumed that a Shiite government there could provide a pro-American balance to Sunni extremists, since Iraq’s Shiite majority had been oppressed under Saddam Hussein. They ignored warnings from the intelligence community about the ties between Iraqi Shiite leaders and Iran, where some had lived in exile for years. Now, to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee told me that he had heard about the new strategy, but felt that he and his colleagues had not been adequately briefed. “We haven’t got any of this,” he said. “We ask for anything going on, and they say there’s nothing. And when we ask specific questions they say, ‘We’re going to get back to you.’ It’s so frustrating.”

The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”)

The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.

The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.”

“It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.”

Martin Indyk, a senior State Department official in the Clinton Administration who also served as Ambassador to Israel, said that “the Middle East is heading into a serious Sunni-Shiite Cold War.” Indyk, who is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, added that, in his opinion, it was not clear whether the White House was fully aware of the strategic implications of its new policy. “The White House is not just doubling the bet in Iraq,” he said. “It’s doubling the bet across the region. This could get very complicated. Everything is upside down.”

The Administration’s new policy for containing Iran seems to complicate its strategy for winning the war in Iraq. Patrick Clawson, an expert on Iran and the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued, however, that closer ties between the United States and moderate or even radical Sunnis could put “fear” into the government of Prime Minister Maliki and “make him worry that the Sunnis could actually win” the civil war there. Clawson said that this might give Maliki an incentive to coöperate with the United States in suppressing radical Shiite militias, such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

Even so, for the moment, the U.S. remains dependent on the coöperation of Iraqi Shiite leaders. The Mahdi Army may be openly hostile to American interests, but other Shiite militias are counted as U.S. allies. Both Moqtada al-Sadr and the White House back Maliki. A memorandum written late last year by Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser, suggested that the Administration try to separate Maliki from his more radical Shiite allies by building his base among moderate Sunnis and Kurds, but so far the trends have been in the opposite direction. As the Iraqi Army continues to founder in its confrontations with insurgents, the power of the Shiite militias has steadily increased.

Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that “there is nothing coincidental or ironic” about the new strategy with regard to Iraq. “The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when—if you look at the actual casualty numbers—the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude,” Leverett said. “This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”

President George W. Bush, in a speech on January 10th, partially spelled out this approach. “These two regimes”—Iran and Syria—“are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq,” Bush said. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

In the following weeks, there was a wave of allegations from the Administration about Iranian involvement in the Iraq war. On February 11th, reporters were shown sophisticated explosive devices, captured in Iraq, that the Administration claimed had come from Iran. The Administration’s message was, in essence, that the bleak situation in Iraq was the result not of its own failures of planning and execution but of Iran’s interference.

The U.S. military also has arrested and interrogated hundreds of Iranians in Iraq. “The word went out last August for the military to snatch as many Iranians in Iraq as they can,” a former senior intelligence official said. “They had five hundred locked up at one time. We’re working these guys and getting information from them. The White House goal is to build a case that the Iranians have been fomenting the insurgency and they’ve been doing it all along—that Iran is, in fact, supporting the killing of Americans.” The Pentagon consultant confirmed that hundreds of Iranians have been captured by American forces in recent months. But he told me that that total includes many Iranian humanitarian and aid workers who “get scooped up and released in a short time,” after they have been interrogated.

“We are not planning for a war with Iran,” Robert Gates, the new Defense Secretary, announced on February 2nd, and yet the atmosphere of confrontation has deepened. According to current and former American intelligence and military officials, secret operations in Lebanon have been accompanied by clandestine operations targeting Iran. American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq.

At Rice’s Senate appearance in January, Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, of Delaware, pointedly asked her whether the U.S. planned to cross the Iranian or the Syrian border in the course of a pursuit. “Obviously, the President isn’t going to rule anything out to protect our troops, but the plan is to take down these networks in Iraq,” Rice said, adding, “I do think that everyone will understand that—the American people and I assume the Congress expect the President to do what is necessary to protect our forces.”

The ambiguity of Rice’s reply prompted a response from Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, who has been critical of the Administration:

Some of us remember 1970, Madam Secretary. And that was Cambodia. And when our government lied to the American people and said, “We didn’t cross the border going into Cambodia,” in fact we did.

I happen to know something about that, as do some on this committee. So, Madam Secretary, when you set in motion the kind of policy that the President is talking about here, it’s very, very dangerous.

The Administration’s concern about Iran’s role in Iraq is coupled with its long-standing alarm over Iran’s nuclear program. On Fox News on January 14th, Cheney warned of the possibility, in a few years, “of a nuclear-armed Iran, astride the world’s supply of oil, able to affect adversely the global economy, prepared to use terrorist organizations and/or their nuclear weapons to threaten their neighbors and others around the world.” He also said, “If you go and talk with the Gulf states or if you talk with the Saudis or if you talk with the Israelis or the Jordanians, the entire region is worried. . . . The threat Iran represents is growing.”

The Administration is now examining a wave of new intelligence on Iran’s weapons programs. Current and former American officials told me that the intelligence, which came from Israeli agents operating in Iran, includes a claim that Iran has developed a three-stage solid-fuelled intercontinental missile capable of delivering several small warheads—each with limited accuracy—inside Europe. The validity of this human intelligence is still being debated.

A similar argument about an imminent threat posed by weapons of mass destruction—and questions about the intelligence used to make that case—formed the prelude to the invasion of Iraq. Many in Congress have greeted the claims about Iran with wariness; in the Senate on February 14th, Hillary Clinton said, “We have all learned lessons from the conflict in Iraq, and we have to apply those lessons to any allegations that are being raised about Iran. Because, Mr. President, what we are hearing has too familiar a ring and we must be on guard that we never again make decisions on the basis of intelligence that turns out to be faulty.”

Still, the Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran, a process that began last year, at the direction of the President. In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.

In the past month, I was told by an Air Force adviser on targeting and the Pentagon consultant on terrorism, the Iran planning group has been handed a new assignment: to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq. Previously, the focus had been on the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities and possible regime change.

Two carrier strike groups—the Eisenhower and the Stennis—are now in the Arabian Sea. One plan is for them to be relieved early in the spring, but there is worry within the military that they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive, according to several sources. (Among other concerns, war games have shown that the carriers could be vulnerable to swarming tactics involving large numbers of small boats, a technique that the Iranians have practiced in the past; carriers have limited maneuverability in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, off Iran’s southern coast.) The former senior intelligence official said that the current contingency plans allow for an attack order this spring. He added, however, that senior officers on the Joint Chiefs were counting on the White House’s not being “foolish enough to do this in the face of Iraq, and the problems it would give the Republicans in 2008.”

PRINCE BANDAR’S GAME

The Administration’s effort to diminish Iranian authority in the Middle East has relied heavily on Saudi Arabia and on Prince Bandar, the Saudi national-security adviser. Bandar served as the Ambassador to the United States for twenty-two years, until 2005, and has maintained a friendship with President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. In his new post, he continues to meet privately with them. Senior White House officials have made several visits to Saudi Arabia recently, some of them not disclosed.

Last November, Cheney flew to Saudi Arabia for a surprise meeting with King Abdullah and Bandar. The Times reported that the King warned Cheney that Saudi Arabia would back its fellow-Sunnis in Iraq if the United States were to withdraw. A European intelligence official told me that the meeting also focussed on more general Saudi fears about “the rise of the Shiites.” In response, “The Saudis are starting to use their leverage—money.”

In a royal family rife with competition, Bandar has, over the years, built a power base that relies largely on his close relationship with the U.S., which is crucial to the Saudis. Bandar was succeeded as Ambassador by Prince Turki al-Faisal; Turki resigned after eighteen months and was replaced by Adel A. al-Jubeir, a bureaucrat who has worked with Bandar. A former Saudi diplomat told me that during Turki’s tenure he became aware of private meetings involving Bandar and senior White House officials, including Cheney and Abrams. “I assume Turki was not happy with that,” the Saudi said. But, he added, “I don’t think that Bandar is going off on his own.” Although Turki dislikes Bandar, the Saudi said, he shared his goal of challenging the spread of Shiite power in the Middle East.

The split between Shiites and Sunnis goes back to a bitter divide, in the seventh century, over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad. Sunnis dominated the medieval caliphate and the Ottoman Empire, and Shiites, traditionally, have been regarded more as outsiders. Worldwide, ninety per cent of Muslims are Sunni, but Shiites are a majority in Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain, and are the largest Muslim group in Lebanon. Their concentration in a volatile, oil-rich region has led to concern in the West and among Sunnis about the emergence of a “Shiite crescent”—especially given Iran’s increased geopolitical weight.

“The Saudis still see the world through the days of the Ottoman Empire, when Sunni Muslims ruled the roost and the Shiites were the lowest class,” Frederic Hof, a retired military officer who is an expert on the Middle East, told me. If Bandar was seen as bringing about a shift in U.S. policy in favor of the Sunnis, he added, it would greatly enhance his standing within the royal family.

The Saudis are driven by their fear that Iran could tilt the balance of power not only in the region but within their own country. Saudi Arabia has a significant Shiite minority in its Eastern Province, a region of major oil fields; sectarian tensions are high in the province. The royal family believes that Iranian operatives, working with local Shiites, have been behind many terrorist attacks inside the kingdom, according to Vali Nasr. “Today, the only army capable of containing Iran”—the Iraqi Army—“has been destroyed by the United States. You’re now dealing with an Iran that could be nuclear-capable and has a standing army of four hundred and fifty thousand soldiers.” (Saudi Arabia has seventy-five thousand troops in its standing army.)

Nasr went on, “The Saudis have considerable financial means, and have deep relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis”—Sunni extremists who view Shiites as apostates. “The last time Iran was a threat, the Saudis were able to mobilize the worst kinds of Islamic radicals. Once you get them out of the box, you can’t put them back.”

The Saudi royal family has been, by turns, both a sponsor and a target of Sunni extremists, who object to the corruption and decadence among the family’s myriad princes. The princes are gambling that they will not be overthrown as long as they continue to support religious schools and charities linked to the extremists. The Administration’s new strategy is heavily dependent on this bargain.

Nasr compared the current situation to the period in which Al Qaeda first emerged. In the nineteen-eighties and the early nineties, the Saudi government offered to subsidize the covert American C.I.A. proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Hundreds of young Saudis were sent into the border areas of Pakistan, where they set up religious schools, training bases, and recruiting facilities. Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis. Among them, of course, were Osama bin Laden and his associates, who founded Al Qaeda, in 1988.

This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

The Saudi said that, in his country’s view, it was taking a political risk by joining the U.S. in challenging Iran: Bandar is already seen in the Arab world as being too close to the Bush Administration. “We have two nightmares,” the former diplomat told me. “For Iran to acquire the bomb and for the United States to attack Iran. I’d rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed.”

In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.

Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)

The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah. The Saudi government is also at odds with the Syrians over the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, in Beirut in 2005, for which it believes the Assad government was responsible. Hariri, a billionaire Sunni, was closely associated with the Saudi regime and with Prince Bandar. (A U.N. inquiry strongly suggested that the Syrians were involved, but offered no direct evidence; there are plans for another investigation, by an international tribunal.)

Patrick Clawson, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, depicted the Saudis’ coöperation with the White House as a significant breakthrough. “The Saudis understand that if they want the Administration to make a more generous political offer to the Palestinians they have to persuade the Arab states to make a more generous offer to the Israelis,” Clawson told me. The new diplomatic approach, he added, “shows a real degree of effort and sophistication as well as a deftness of touch not always associated with this Administration. Who’s running the greater risk—we or the Saudis? At a time when America’s standing in the Middle East is extremely low, the Saudis are actually embracing us. We should count our blessings.”

The Pentagon consultant had a different view. He said that the Administration had turned to Bandar as a “fallback,” because it had realized that the failing war in Iraq could leave the Middle East “up for grabs.”

JIHADIS IN LEBANON

The focus of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, after Iran, is Lebanon, where the Saudis have been deeply involved in efforts by the Administration to support the Lebanese government. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is struggling to stay in power against a persistent opposition led by Hezbollah, the Shiite organization, and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah has an extensive infrastructure, an estimated two to three thousand active fighters, and thousands of additional members.

Hezbollah has been on the State Department’s terrorist list since 1997. The organization has been implicated in the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that killed two hundred and forty-one military men. It has also been accused of complicity in the kidnapping of Americans, including the C.I.A. station chief in Lebanon, who died in captivity, and a Marine colonel serving on a U.N. peacekeeping mission, who was killed. (Nasrallah has denied that the group was involved in these incidents.) Nasrallah is seen by many as a staunch terrorist, who has said that he regards Israel as a state that has no right to exist. Many in the Arab world, however, especially Shiites, view him as a resistance leader who withstood Israel in last summer’s thirty-three-day war, and Siniora as a weak politician who relies on America’s support but was unable to persuade President Bush to call for an end to the Israeli bombing of Lebanon. (Photographs of Siniora kissing Condoleezza Rice on the cheek when she visited during the war were prominently displayed during street protests in Beirut.)

The Bush Administration has publicly pledged the Siniora government a billion dollars in aid since last summer. A donors’ conference in Paris, in January, which the U.S. helped organize, yielded pledges of almost eight billion more, including a promise of more than a billion from the Saudis. The American pledge includes more than two hundred million dollars in military aid, and forty million dollars for internal security.

The United States has also given clandestine support to the Siniora government, according to the former senior intelligence official and the U.S. government consultant. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”

American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda.

During a conversation with me, the former Saudi diplomat accused Nasrallah of attempting “to hijack the state,” but he also objected to the Lebanese and Saudi sponsorship of Sunni jihadists in Lebanon. “Salafis are sick and hateful, and I’m very much against the idea of flirting with them,” he said. “They hate the Shiites, but they hate Americans more. If you try to outsmart them, they will outsmart us. It will be ugly.”

Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.

The largest of the groups, Asbat al-Ansar, is situated in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. Asbat al-Ansar has received arms and supplies from Lebanese internal-security forces and militias associated with the Siniora government.

In 2005, according to a report by the U.S.-based International Crisis Group, Saad Hariri, the Sunni majority leader of the Lebanese parliament and the son of the slain former Prime Minister—Saad inherited more than four billion dollars after his father’s assassination—paid forty-eight thousand dollars in bail for four members of an Islamic militant group from Dinniyeh. The men had been arrested while trying to establish an Islamic mini-state in northern Lebanon. The Crisis Group noted that many of the militants “had trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.”

According to the Crisis Group report, Saad Hariri later used his parliamentary majority to obtain amnesty for twenty-two of the Dinniyeh Islamists, as well as for seven militants suspected of plotting to bomb the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut, the previous year. (He also arranged a pardon for Samir Geagea, a Maronite Christian militia leader, who had been convicted of four political murders, including the assassination, in 1987, of Prime Minister Rashid Karami.) Hariri described his actions to reporters as humanitarian.

In an interview in Beirut, a senior official in the Siniora government acknowledged that there were Sunni jihadists operating inside Lebanon. “We have a liberal attitude that allows Al Qaeda types to have a presence here,” he said. He related this to concerns that Iran or Syria might decide to turn Lebanon into a “theatre of conflict.”

The official said that his government was in a no-win situation. Without a political settlement with Hezbollah, he said, Lebanon could “slide into a conflict,” in which Hezbollah fought openly with Sunni forces, with potentially horrific consequences. But if Hezbollah agreed to a settlement yet still maintained a separate army, allied with Iran and Syria, “Lebanon could become a target. In both cases, we become a target.”

The Bush Administration has portrayed its support of the Siniora government as an example of the President’s belief in democracy, and his desire to prevent other powers from interfering in Lebanon. When Hezbollah led street demonstrations in Beirut in December, John Bolton, who was then the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., called them “part of the Iran-Syria-inspired coup.”

Leslie H. Gelb, a past president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the Administration’s policy was less pro democracy than “pro American national security. The fact is that it would be terribly dangerous if Hezbollah ran Lebanon.” The fall of the Siniora government would be seen, Gelb said, “as a signal in the Middle East of the decline of the United States and the ascendancy of the terrorism threat. And so any change in the distribution of political power in Lebanon has to be opposed by the United States—and we’re justified in helping any non-Shiite parties resist that change. We should say this publicly, instead of talking about democracy.”

Martin Indyk, of the Saban Center, said, however, that the United States “does not have enough pull to stop the moderates in Lebanon from dealing with the extremists.” He added, “The President sees the region as divided between moderates and extremists, but our regional friends see it as divided between Sunnis and Shia. The Sunnis that we view as extremists are regarded by our Sunni allies simply as Sunnis.”

In January, after an outburst of street violence in Beirut involving supporters of both the Siniora government and Hezbollah, Prince Bandar flew to Tehran to discuss the political impasse in Lebanon and to meet with Ali Larijani, the Iranians’ negotiator on nuclear issues. According to a Middle Eastern ambassador, Bandar’s mission—which the ambassador said was endorsed by the White House—also aimed “to create problems between the Iranians and Syria.” There had been tensions between the two countries about Syrian talks with Israel, and the Saudis’ goal was to encourage a breach. However, the ambassador said, “It did not work. Syria and Iran are not going to betray each other. Bandar’s approach is very unlikely to succeed.”

Walid Jumblatt, who is the leader of the Druze minority in Lebanon and a strong Siniora supporter, has attacked Nasrallah as an agent of Syria, and has repeatedly told foreign journalists that Hezbollah is under the direct control of the religious leadership in Iran. In a conversation with me last December, he depicted Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, as a “serial killer.” Nasrallah, he said, was “morally guilty” of the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the murder, last November, of Pierre Gemayel, a member of the Siniora Cabinet, because of his support for the Syrians.

Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week, killing between six thousand and twenty thousand people. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”

There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.”

THE SHEIKH

On a warm, clear night early last December, in a bombed-out suburb a few miles south of downtown Beirut, I got a preview of how the Administration’s new strategy might play out in Lebanon. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, who has been in hiding, had agreed to an interview. Security arrangements for the meeting were secretive and elaborate. I was driven, in the back seat of a darkened car, to a damaged underground garage somewhere in Beirut, searched with a handheld scanner, placed in a second car to be driven to yet another bomb-scarred underground garage, and transferred again. Last summer, it was reported that Israel was trying to kill Nasrallah, but the extraordinary precautions were not due only to that threat. Nasrallah’s aides told me that they believe he is a prime target of fellow-Arabs, primarily Jordanian intelligence operatives, as well as Sunni jihadists who they believe are affiliated with Al Qaeda. (The government consultant and a retired four-star general said that Jordanian intelligence, with support from the U.S. and Israel, had been trying to infiltrate Shiite groups, to work against Hezbollah. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has warned that a Shiite government in Iraq that was close to Iran would lead to the emergence of a Shiite crescent.) This is something of an ironic turn: Nasrallah’s battle with Israel last summer turned him—a Shiite—into the most popular and influential figure among Sunnis and Shiites throughout the region. In recent months, however, he has increasingly been seen by many Sunnis not as a symbol of Arab unity but as a participant in a sectarian war.

Nasrallah, dressed, as usual, in religious garb, was waiting for me in an unremarkable apartment. One of his advisers said that he was not likely to remain there overnight; he has been on the move since his decision, last July, to order the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid set off the thirty-three-day war. Nasrallah has since said publicly—and repeated to me—that he misjudged the Israeli response. “We just wanted to capture prisoners for exchange purposes,” he told me. “We never wanted to drag the region into war.”

Nasrallah accused the Bush Administration of working with Israel to deliberately instigate fitna, an Arabic word that is used to mean “insurrection and fragmentation within Islam.” “In my opinion, there is a huge campaign through the media throughout the world to put each side up against the other,” he said. “I believe that all this is being run by American and Israeli intelligence.” (He did not provide any specific evidence for this.) He said that the U.S. war in Iraq had increased sectarian tensions, but argued that Hezbollah had tried to prevent them from spreading into Lebanon. (Sunni-Shiite confrontations increased, along with violence, in the weeks after we talked.)

Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was “the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war—there is a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.”

He went on, “I can say that President Bush is lying when he says he does not want Iraq to be partitioned. All the facts occurring now on the ground make you swear he is dragging Iraq to partition. And a day will come when he will say, ‘I cannot do anything, since the Iraqis want the partition of their country and I honor the wishes of the people of Iraq.’ “

Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.” Nasrallah told me that he suspected that one aim of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer was “the destruction of Shiite areas and the displacement of Shiites from Lebanon. The idea was to have the Shiites of Lebanon and Syria flee to southern Iraq,” which is dominated by Shiites. “I am not sure, but I smell this,” he told me.

Partition would leave Israel surrounded by “small tranquil states,” he said. “I can assure you that the Saudi kingdom will also be divided, and the issue will reach to North African states. There will be small ethnic and confessional states,” he said. “In other words, Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in a region that has been partitioned into ethnic and confessional states that are in agreement with each other. This is the new Middle East.”

In fact, the Bush Administration has adamantly resisted talk of partitioning Iraq, and its public stances suggest that the White House sees a future Lebanon that is intact, with a weak, disarmed Hezbollah playing, at most, a minor political role. There is also no evidence to support Nasrallah’s belief that the Israelis were seeking to drive the Shiites into southern Iraq. Nevertheless, Nasrallah’s vision of a larger sectarian conflict in which the United States is implicated suggests a possible consequence of the White House’s new strategy.

In the interview, Nasrallah made mollifying gestures and promises that would likely be met with skepticism by his opponents. “If the United States says that discussions with the likes of us can be useful and influential in determining American policy in the region, we have no objection to talks or meetings,” he said. “But, if their aim through this meeting is to impose their policy on us, it will be a waste of time.” He said that the Hezbollah militia, unless attacked, would operate only within the borders of Lebanon, and pledged to disarm it when the Lebanese Army was able to stand up. Nasrallah said that he had no interest in initiating another war with Israel. However, he added that he was anticipating, and preparing for, another Israeli attack, later this year.

Nasrallah further insisted that the street demonstrations in Beirut would continue until the Siniora government fell or met his coalition’s political demands. “Practically speaking, this government cannot rule,” he told me. “It might issue orders, but the majority of the Lebanese people will not abide and will not recognize the legitimacy of this government. Siniora remains in office because of international support, but this does not mean that Siniora can rule Lebanon.”

President Bush’s repeated praise of the Siniora government, Nasrallah said, “is the best service to the Lebanese opposition he can give, because it weakens their position vis-à-vis the Lebanese people and the Arab and Islamic populations. They are betting on us getting tired. We did not get tired during the war, so how could we get tired in a demonstration?”

There is sharp division inside and outside the Bush Administration about how best to deal with Nasrallah, and whether he could, in fact, be a partner in a political settlement. The outgoing director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, in a farewell briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee, in January, said that Hezbollah “lies at the center of Iran’s terrorist strategy. . . . It could decide to conduct attacks against U.S. interests in the event it feels its survival or that of Iran is threatened. . . . Lebanese Hezbollah sees itself as Tehran’s partner.”

In 2002, Richard Armitage, then the Deputy Secretary of State, called Hezbollah “the A-team” of terrorists. In a recent interview, however, Armitage acknowledged that the issue has become somewhat more complicated. Nasrallah, Armitage told me, has emerged as “a political force of some note, with a political role to play inside Lebanon if he chooses to do so.” In terms of public relations and political gamesmanship, Armitage said, Nasrallah “is the smartest man in the Middle East.” But, he added, Nasrallah “has got to make it clear that he wants to play an appropriate role as the loyal opposition. For me, there’s still a blood debt to pay”—a reference to the murdered colonel and the Marine barracks bombing.

Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites.

“The most important story in the Middle East is the growth of Nasrallah from a street guy to a leader—from a terrorist to a statesman,” Baer added. “The dog that didn’t bark this summer”—during the war with Israel—“is Shiite terrorism.” Baer was referring to fears that Nasrallah, in addition to firing rockets into Israel and kidnapping its soldiers, might set in motion a wave of terror attacks on Israeli and American targets around the world. “He could have pulled the trigger, but he did not,” Baer said.

Most members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities acknowledge Hezbollah’s ongoing ties to Iran. But there is disagreement about the extent to which Nasrallah would put aside Hezbollah’s interests in favor of Iran’s. A former C.I.A. officer who also served in Lebanon called Nasrallah “a Lebanese phenomenon,” adding, “Yes, he’s aided by Iran and Syria, but Hezbollah’s gone beyond that.” He told me that there was a period in the late eighties and early nineties when the C.I.A. station in Beirut was able to clandestinely monitor Nasrallah’s conversations. He described Nasrallah as “a gang leader who was able to make deals with the other gangs. He had contacts with everybody.”

TELLING CONGRESS

The Bush Administration’s reliance on clandestine operations that have not been reported to Congress and its dealings with intermediaries with questionable agendas have recalled, for some in Washington, an earlier chapter in history. Two decades ago, the Reagan Administration attempted to fund the Nicaraguan contras illegally, with the help of secret arms sales to Iran. Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings.

Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office”—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said.

I was subsequently told by the two government consultants and the former senior intelligence official that the echoes of Iran-Contra were a factor in Negroponte’s decision to resign from the National Intelligence directorship and accept a sub-Cabinet position of Deputy Secretary of State. (Negroponte declined to comment.)

The former senior intelligence official also told me that Negroponte did not want a repeat of his experience in the Reagan Administration, when he served as Ambassador to Honduras. “Negroponte said, ‘No way. I’m not going down that road again, with the N.S.C. running operations off the books, with no finding.’ “ (In the case of covert C.I.A. operations, the President must issue a written finding and inform Congress.) Negroponte stayed on as Deputy Secretary of State, he added, because “he believes he can influence the government in a positive way.”

The government consultant said that Negroponte shared the White House’s policy goals but “wanted to do it by the book.” The Pentagon consultant also told me that “there was a sense at the senior-ranks level that he wasn’t fully on board with the more adventurous clandestine initiatives.” It was also true, he said, that Negroponte “had problems with this Rube Goldberg policy contraption for fixing the Middle East.”

The Pentagon consultant added that one difficulty, in terms of oversight, was accounting for covert funds. “There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” he said. The budgetary chaos in Iraq, where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.

“This goes back to Iran-Contra,” a former National Security Council aide told me. “And much of what they’re doing is to keep the agency out of it.” He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, “The C.I.A. is asking, ‘What’s going on?’ They’re concerned, because they think it’s amateur hour.”

The issue of oversight is beginning to get more attention from Congress. Last November, the Congressional Research Service issued a report for Congress on what it depicted as the Administration’s blurring of the line between C.I.A. activities and strictly military ones, which do not have the same reporting requirements. And the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Senator Jay Rockefeller, has scheduled a hearing for March 8th on Defense Department intelligence activities.

Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, a Democrat who is a member of the Intelligence Committee, told me, “The Bush Administration has frequently failed to meet its legal obligation to keep the Intelligence Committee fully and currently informed. Time and again, the answer has been ‘Trust us.’ “ Wyden said, “It is hard for me to trust the Administration.”

The Geniuses Who Brought Us the Iraq War–the biggest war criminals

The objective is not only to defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda and its offshoots militarily, but to create order in war torn Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, as well as to counter Iran and Russia in the region.

[Gen. Wesley Clark gave us clear warning in 2007, that we were about to decimate 7 nations in the Middle East, but back then, nobody wanted to hear, nobody cared to know.  Now that we know that our govt has zero intentions of ever ending the multiple wars, the Pentagon’s reference to fighting a perpetual war, or persistent warfare, becomes readily apparent.  Since no sane individual is willing to enter into a state of never-ending war, it might give peace a chance today.]

“We’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”Democracy Now 2 March 2007

[Simultaneously with Gen. Clark’s warning in 2007 came another warning about US and Western foreign policy in the Middle East, from New Yorker writer, Seymour M. Hersh  The Redirection was a work of precognition, as Hersh sounded a dire warning about the pre-Obama strategy of joining with the militant Islamists, even al-Qaeda, using them as military proxies.]

“Our regional friends see it as divided between Sunnis and Shia. The Sunnis that we view as extremists are regarded by our Sunni allies simply as Sunnis.”–The Redirection

The Geniuses Who Brought You the Iraq War Are at It Again

the nation

Washington’s bipartisan foreign-policy elite are pushing for renewed influence in the next administration.

The “Blob”—the epithet Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes used to scorn Washington’s inbred, vainglorious, bipartisan foreign-policy elite—is striking back. In a series of foreign policy reports designed to influence the incoming administration, Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post reveals, the Blob will publicly criticize Obama’s “reluctance” to exercise America’s military prowess and call for a more “muscular,” “interventionist,” assertive policy, from the South China Sea to the Russian border, but particularly in the Middle East. They are pumping for more war.

The names are familiar—former secretary of state Madeline Albright and former Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley lead the Atlantic Council task force. Former Bill Clinton NSC adviser Brian Katulis and former Bush deputy secretary of defense Rudy deLeon are senior fellows at the Center for American Progress. The inescapable Martin Indyk heads a Brookings group of former top officials from Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations. These are the apostles of American exceptionalism, from the neoconservatives who promoted the invasion of Iraq to the “indispensable nation” liberal interventionists who championed regime change in Libya. Virtually without exception, all supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the most catastrophic foreign policy debacle since Vietnam. Virtually without exception, none were held accountable for that folly.

The reports—and the Blob—share two conclusions. They censure Obama for excessive timidity. “There’s a widespread perception that not being active enough or recognizing the limits of American power has costs,” the Post quotes Philip Gordon, a senior foreign-policy adviser to Obama until 2015. “So the normal swing is to be more interventionist.” And all favor ramping up US military activity—on the Russian borders, in the South China Sea, and particularly in the Middle East, promoting no-fly and safe zones in Syria, more special forces, more aggressive use of air power, more military aid, and a more integrated security partnership. The objective is not only to defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda and its offshoots militarily, but to create order in war torn Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, as well as to counter Iran and Russia in the region.

The Obama years demonstrate the dangers of “restraint”? Say what? The Obama administration is currently fighting wars in five countries and bombing seven. It toppled Gadhafi in Libya and left the country in chaos. Its regime change campaign in Syria ended in a brutal civil war. It backs the Saudi ravaging of Yemen. It helped spark a street coup in Ukraine, and moved military forces to the Russian border, reviving a new Cold War. It has bolstered US naval forces in the South China Sea as part of containing China. US Special Forces were active in more than 100 countries last year. Obama has signed off on more weapons sales and transfers than Bush. None of this has worked out very well, but neither did George W. Bush’s “damn the torpedoes” policy. If Obama represents excessive restraint, may the gods save us from what comes next.

For the Blob, caution comes not in objective ut in strategy. Only the most unhinged call for putting “boots on the ground.” This leads to a disconnect. They limit the military strategy—to drones, air power, advisers, intelligence cooperation, military aid, training—without trimming the objectives. It is hard to see this as anything other than a demented recipe for endless wars without victory.

Horror Photos Reveal Extent of Saudi War Crimes In Yemen

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18 year old Saida Ahmad Baghili

Horror photos reveal millions starving in Yemen amid fears an entire generation could be crippled by hunger

the-sun

A third of children under five years old are suffering from acute malnutrition.

 

GRAPHIC pictures have exposed the true horror of war-torn Yemen where millions of people are starving, with many children dying of hunger.

A staggering 10,000 people have been killed during the 18-month war, with more than 14 million going hungry and at least half of them starving.

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Babies have been left disfigured because their mums were too weak to breastfeed
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, lies on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital where she receives treatment for severe acute malnutrition in the Red Sea port city of Houdieda, Yemen

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Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, lies on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital where she receives treatment for severe acute malnutrition in the Red Sea port city of Houdieda, Yemen

The UN World Food Programme said Yemen now has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world because of a blockade and bombing by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition.

Muhannad Hadi, head of WFP in the Middle East, said: “Hunger is increasing every day and people have exhausted all their survival strategies.

“Millions of people cannot survive without external assistance.”

The war has also left 21 million people dependent on food and medical aid, the Times report.

A third of children under five years old are suffering from acute malnutrition – forced to eat grass and drink seawater because of a shortage of aid.

Some of the worst affected are babies who were left disfigured because their mums were too weak to breastfeed.

They had to rely on sugar water instead.

The health service now faces huge financial strain as ministers admit it had “run out of funds”.

A third of children under five years old are suffering from acute malnutrition

AP:Associated Press
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A third of children under five years old are suffering from acute malnutrition
The UN's children agency UNICEF estimates that three million people are in need of immediate food supplies in Yemen,

Getty Images
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The UN’s children agency UNICEF estimates that three million people are in need of immediate food supplies in Yemen
A man lies in a hospital bed after he was injured in a Saudi-led airstrike on Saturday that hit a funeral hall packed with thousands of mourners, in Sanaa, Yemen

AP:Associated Press
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A man lies in a hospital bed after he was injured in a Saudi-led airstrike on Saturday that hit a funeral hall packed with thousands of mourners, in Sanaa, Yemen
A forensic expert investigates the scene at the air-stricken community hall

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A forensic expert investigates the scene at the air-stricken community hall

“An entire generation could be crippled by hunger,” Torben Due, WFP director in Yemen, said.

Before the war Yemen relied on imports for 90 per cent of its food, medicine and fuel but now the country is now receiving 30 per cent of what it needs.

Photographs have been released showing teenagers dying of hunger  in the Red Sea city of Hodeida.

Emaciated teen Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, is bedridden and unable to eat.

She suffered malnutrition five years ago after food and medical supplies were cut off to the area.

“Her father couldn’t [afford to] send her anywhere,” her aunt, Saida Ali Baghili, said.

“Before the aid we were surviving on anything edible like green leaves, grass.”

It's thought 1.5 million children suffer from malnutrition

Getty Images
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It’s thought 1.5 million children suffer from malnutrition

As well as an alleged blockade, Saudi Arabia has barred d all commercial flights into and out of Sana’a, Yemen’s capital.

People are dying because they are not allowed to travel abroad,” said George Khoury, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen.

But Saudi Arabia has denied claims of a blockade on Yemen.

Officials say restrictions are only in place to stop the Houthi rebels from getting hold of weapons.

Major General Ahmed Asir, coalition spokesman said: “No, there is no blockade.

“Control is different from blockade, which means that nobody can enter or leave the country.”

Brit. “Humanitarian Chief,” Blind To Western War Crimes, Slams Russia For Aleppo

Humanitarian Chief, Russian Diplomat Spar at UN

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The U.N. humanitarian chief accused Russia and Syria on Wednesday of using bombing and starvation tactics in eastern Aleppo to push people to surrender or to death, triggering an unusual verbal attack on a U.N. official from the Russian ambassador.

The verbal fireworks exploded after Undersecretary-General Stephen O’Brien briefed the U.N. Security Council on what he called “the apocalyptic horror” in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, where 400 people have been killed and nearly 2,000 injured in less than a month, many of them children.

He blamed Syria for besieging the city and at the same time carrying out a bombing campaign with its Russian allies in a deliberate campaign to “make life intolerable, make death likely.”

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said it was “outrageous” that O’Brien spoke as if the bombings in eastern Aleppo are going on now when they have stopped for seven days, and for creating “the impression that chemical weapons have been used” in the rebel-held part of the city.

He demanded the evidence and accused O’Brien of failing to mention that government-held western Aleppo “has been hostage to the terrorists of al-Nusra,” the al-Qaida-linked extremist group.

Churkin told O’Brien that these and other omissions “make your statement unfair and dishonest.”

The council was supposed to go into closed consultations after O’Brien’s briefing. Instead Churkin, the current council president, allowed members to speak in the open session, which put a spotlight on the deep divisions that have made the U.N.’s most powerful body impotent in taking action to end the more than five-year Syrian conflict.

Referring directly to Russia without naming it, O’Brien called on “all council members who have operational military assets in Syria to take concrete steps to halt the aerial bombardment of civilian areas.”

He also read from leaflets dropped on eastern Aleppo by Syrian and Russian aircraft which he said make their intention “chillingly clear.”

“This is your last hope … Save yourselves,” the leaflets read. “If you do not leave these areas urgently you will be annihilated. … They left you alone to face your doom and nobody will give you any help.”

O’Brien demanded that all parties end “these medieval tactics” and grant humanitarian access to Aleppo and the hundreds of thousands of people trapped in 17 other besieged areas around the country.

The U.S., Britain and France strongly defended O’Brien and joined the attack on Russia.

“Does Russia believe that all the children who are being killed in eastern Aleppo are themselves al-Qaida members?” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power asked.

And she told Churkin: “You don’t get congratulations and get credit for not committing war crimes for a day, or a week. That’s not how the international system is structured, and nor should it ever be.”

At the end of the meeting, O’Brien was given the floor to respond.

“As an international civil servant I do not retract, qualify or disclaim any fact or part of my earlier statement,” he said.

Addressing the Russian ambassador, he added, “I am prompted to state the age-old truth: Don’t shoot the messenger. Stand up for the beleaguered people of Syria and … stop the war now.”

Spain Offers to Refuel Russian Naval Strike Group

Spain Offers to Refuel Russian Naval Strike Group

maritime executive

kuzThe Kuznetsov with a Royal Navy escort (UK MoD photo, undated)

By MarEx 

Spain faces criticism from its EU neighbors and from NATO over its willingness to allow a Russian naval strike group to refuel at the North African port of Ceuta, a Spanish-controlled enclave on the coast of Morocco.

The Russian battle group, led by the jump-ramp carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, will be escorted through the Strait of Gibraltar by the Spanish frigate Almirante Juan de Borbon and the logistics vessel Cantabria. If all proceeds as planned, its auxiliaries will then refuel and resupply at Ceuta on Wednesday morning, Spanish media report.

The Russian fleet is bound for waters off Syria, where it is expected to take part in an operation against rebel positions in the besieged city of Aleppo.

Russian and Syrian government bombing campaigns in and around Aleppo have generated a large number of civilian casualties, and the Council of the European Union issued a statement October 17 suggesting that the Russian strikes in Aleppo may be war crimes.

“Since the beginning of the offensive by the regime and its allies, notably Russia, the intensity and scale of the aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo is clearly disproportionate,” the council wrote. “The deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure, as well as the use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs, and chemical weapons . . . may amount to war crimes.”

As one of the EU’s 28 member states, Spain is party to the council.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that while it was up to Spain to choose whether to let the ships resupply, “we are concerned, and I have expressed that very clearly, about the potential use of this battle group to increase Russia’s ability and to be a platform for air strikes against Syria.”

“This is something I have conveyed very clearly before and I repeat those concerns today. I believe that all NATO allies are aware this battle group can be used to conduct air strikes against Aleppo and Syria,” he said.

Ceuta has long been a refueling stop for Russian naval vessels, much to the consternation of Spain’s NATO allies. Spain asserts that the port is technically not under the NATO umbrella, so its activities there do not violate treaty obligations.

However, on Tuesday, Spain’s Foreign Office appeared to be reconsidering its position on hosting the Kuznetsov’s fleet auxiliaries. “The latest stopovers requested are being revised at this time according to the information we are receiving from our allies and the Russian authorities,” the ministry said in response to an inquiry from The Spain Report.

Hindutva Press Asks the Question–Was Quetta Police Acad. Attack A “False Flag” Attack?

The Pakistani media says that the recent terrorist attack in Quetta that killed around 60 people and injured over 100 at a police academy indicates a trend that connects terror attacks after Pathankot. The trend referred to is of terrorists surprising their victims, firing indiscriminately and blowing themselves up. While the aim may be to draw similarities between India and Pakistan to surmise ‘Pakistan too is victim of terror’, what is new about this terror modus operandi?

But, by referring to the similarities between the attacks in India and Pakistan, Pakistan’s Daily Times appears to have stumbled upon the trend by design or default; the trend and modus operandi are the same because these terrorists have been radicalised, armed, equipped and trained by the same agency — Pakistan’s ISI, which not only radicalises these men but perhaps pumps opiates in them before they set out to commit ghastly and bizarre acts.

A Pakistani soldier stands guard outside the Police Training Center after an attack on the center in Quetta. Reuters

A Pakistani soldier stands guard outside the Police Training Center after an attack on the center in Quetta. ReutersA Pakistani soldier stands guard outside the Police Training Center after an attack on the center in Quetta. Reuters

Imran Khan’s latest accusation is that India is trying to implode Pakistan from within.

But why does India have to waste effort on this when Pakistan’s generals have made, and continue to make fine progress for Pakistan’s self-destruction. Remember [an article that Daily Times wants you to forget–ed.] Nasir Abbas Mirza’s write up ‘A Monstrous Experiment’ of 11 May, 2009 in Daily Times saying:

“There are thousands of madrasas spread all over Pakistan’s urban centres that are producing millions of neo-drones… Take a little boy and incarcerate him in a remote madrasa. Indoctrinate him with a distorted version of a religion and tell him that he does not belong to this world. Teach him about the fanciful world that awaits him in the heaven, and that in order to attain that he has to destroy everything that stands in his way, including his own body… At full steam ahead in Pakistan, this is a monstrous experiment in brainwashing and it is on a par with, if not worse than, Nazi Germany’s eugenics. They did it in the name of science; here, it is being done in the name of God and religion. On a very large scale, this is a hugely successful experiment in which nurture triumphs and nature takes a beating”

Michel Chossudovsky, professor at University of Ottawa, wrote in his article ‘The Destabilisation of Pakistan‘ in 2007 that Washington had been planning a scenario of disintegration and civil war in Pakistan for more than five years, US intelligence using Pakistan’s ISI as a go-between, had supported Al-Qaeda and its various affiliated organisations and ‘Talibanisation’ was the direct result of US-led covert operations. He went on to say that the US course consisted of fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan, dictated by US war plans in relation to both Afghanistan and Iran.

But while Chossudovsky’s analysis may not be entirely relevant today, there is little chance Imran Khan would have read this either. However, the fact remains that the Pakistani generals have put Pakistan in the eye of the strategic geopolitical competition by opening the floodgates for China; in direct path of the hybrid Great Game between Nato and China with the Indian Ocean Rim fast becoming the centre of gravity for future conflict.

There is no doubt that Pakistan is finding itself in the uncomfortable position of diplomatic isolation, both at the regional and global level despite total patronage by China. Adam Szubin, US acting undersecretary on Countering the Financing of Terrorism recently stated, “We continue to urge our partners in Pakistan to go after all terrorist networks operating in their country. We stand ready to help them. But there should be no doubt that while we remain committed to working with Pakistan to confront ongoing terrorist financing and operations, the US will not hesitate to act alone, when necessary, to disrupt and destroy these networks”, adding, “The problem is that there are forces within the Pakistani government — specifically in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI — that refuse to take similar steps against all the terrorist groups active in Pakistan, tolerating some groups — or even worse.”

Although Szubin’s remarks were delivered while was speaking at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Washington DC, his statement would have come as rude shock to Pakistan, rattled as it already is by the diplomatic offensive by Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the terrorist attack at Uri.

The deft moves to deflect from the unenviable position that Pakistan found itself in followed predictable moves. Posters appeared in Gujranwala, Pakistan’s Punjab with the Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT) owning responsibility for the terrorist attack on the army base at Uri despite the evidence pointing at the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). These posters exhorted people to gather in Nawab Chowk of Gujranwala on 25 October to participate in the funeral in absentia of Muhammad Anas, alias Abu Siraqa, one of the four attackers killed in Uri on 18 September. The poster, also circulated on WhatsApp, stated that Hafiz Saeed, LeT chief would deliver a special address on the occasion.

Now why should the LeT own up to responsibility of the Uri terror attack at this stage?

That Pakistan wants to portray that the LeT is out of control is obvious. But the fact remains that both LeT and JeM are covert arms of the generals and Hafiz Saeed and Azhar Masood are accorded protection and special status by the Pakistani army. Otherwise, how would Hafiz Saeed address the funeral in absentia in Gujranwala on 25 October? Photographs of a meeting in Pakistan following India’s surgical strikes in the wake of the terror attack in Uri showed high-profile Pakistani ISI officials sitting along with Hafiz Saeed, Sirajuddin Haqqani and Abdullah Gul, son of former ISI chief Hamid Gul under whom LeT flourished.

In an earlier photograph, Abdullah Gul is seen with HuM’s Syed Salahuddin and Pakistani NSA Naseer Khan Janjua. Abdullah Gul provides legitimacy and funds to terror organisations like LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and JuD, and is joined in these activities by Ijaz ul-Haq, former federal minister in Pakistan and son of former military dictator Zia ul-Haq under whom Talibanisation of the Pakistani army started being shaped.

The Islamic State and Pakistan Taliban have claimed responsibility for the Quetta attack while Pakistan has blamed the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). US intelligence acknowledges that IS in Afghanistan-Pakistan consists of disgruntled elements of both the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban. Obviously they have been clubbed together and mixed with other terrorist groups, regulars from Mujahid battalions and ISI operatives. Pakistan has the handle on both Talibans through Sirajuddin Haqqani and has been employing Pakistan-based LeT, JeM, LeJ, Haqqanis to create mayhem in Afghanistan, lately targeting Hazaras to widen the sectarian divide.

Voice of America had earlier reported Afghanistan officially telling Pakistan Hafiz Saeed, former LeT chief is directing ISIS operations in Afghanistan. The ISI’s internal thinking reflected the accusations the R&AW had orchestrated the Mumbai, Pathankot and Uri terror attacks in India. So why not use LeJ to target the police academy at Quetta to lift pressure from diplomatic isolation? Is there any reason the Pakistani authorities are about how many of the 60-odd killed and over 100 injured are Shias and Balochis? Get the picture?

Of course, as always, the White House condemned the Quetta and said the US would support Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.

Case closed.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

Eight Torkham Border Policemen Killed in Taliban Attack

At least eight border policemen were killed in a Taliban attack on a police check post in Torkham on Monday night, a source told TOLOnews.

The attack took place at about 8pm local time after insurgents stormed the Khaibar check post in Torkham and shot dead eight border police, according to the source.

The Taliban seized all the equipment at the check post. However, reinforcements were able to re-take control of the check post after a few hours, the source said.

Security officials have not yet commented on the attack.

American Spy Plane Carrying French DGSE (their “cia”) Crashes At Malta Airport

 

[Five killed in a spy-plane leased to American “private contractor” company, CAE (formerly Canadian Aviation Electronics).  All reports state that all five of the dead were French occupants of the Swearingen SA227-AT Expediter, Aircraft N577MX, taking-off from Malta, but only three are described as DGSE, France’s CIA.]

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Frenchmen killed in Luqa crash were members of DGSE – France’s equivalent of the CIA – reports

malta independent

The three ‘defence officials’ who perished in this morning’s plane crash along with two civilian contractors were members of the DGSE – France’s equivalent of the CIA and MI5.

The DGSE, which stands for General Directorate for External Security, is France’s external intelligence agency and falls under the French Ministry of Defence.

The Maltese government this afternoon said in a statement that the five Frenchmen who died in the fiery crash were “customs officials.” But the French government later gave a conflicting report and said three were “defence officials” and the other two were civilian contractors, which means paramilitary personnel employed by a private security company.

The French customs agency later denied that any of its officials were involved in the crash.

In the meantime several major French news establishments are reporting that the men belonged to the DGSE. These include Le Monde, Le Parisien and Le Figaro.

Western special forces and intelligence agencies have been working against ISIS in Libya for several months. Such operations usually come with a high level of deniability and are rarely officially acknowledged. Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela this afternoon denied that foreign military personnel were based out of Malta.

(List) 60 Killed In Terrorist Attack On Police Academy In Quetta

Militants attacked a Police Training Centre in Quetta, Pakistan late on Monday night. The overnight attack has left 60 cadets besides three militants dead, and 118 people injured, making it one of the deadliest strikes in the country this year, reported PTI.

The attack on the Balochistan Police College, 20 km from the province capital, began at around 11.10 pm last night, triggering an operation by Pakistani security forces who rescued hundreds of cadets from the academy.

Attackers reportedly entered the hostels of the training center from the front gate and opened fire, possibly also taking some police personnel hostage and injuring 118 cadets.

“44 shaheed 118 inj #QuettaAttack (sic),” Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister of Balochistan province tweeted Bugti had earlier told reporters that the attack had been carried out by three terrorists, cycling back on an earlier estimate by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) of “five to six terrorists”.

While two of the militants had blown themselves up, one was killed in an exchange of fire with security forces, he said. He had put the casualties of policemen at 20. “Security forces including the Frontier Corps and Pakistan Army light brigade have cleared 95 per cent of the college area,” he had said, adding that there were around 700 police cadets and recruits in the college hostel when the attack took place.

The three terrorists were believed to be from the Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban, Frontier Corps IG, Major General Sher Afghan said. He told reporters that the militants were communicating with handlers in Afghanistan and taking instructions from them.

Security forces had “cleared the college in four hours”, he said.

Policeman who was guarding the only entry point of the college was among those gunned down. Bugti said the injured people, mostly police cadets and security personnel, had been shifted to the Civil hospital, Bolan Medical College hospital and Military hospital in Quetta. “The condition of some is critical,” he said. He said there was a Frontier Corps official and captain among the injured.

Meanwhile, 200 of the 600 cadets, present in the centre’s hostel, have been rescued. Five or six terrorists attacked the training centre’s hostel in Sariab Road at around 11.30 pm, according to reports by the Dawn. The Police Training College is located at sarib Road in Quetta, Pakistan.

Chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps Major General Sher Afgan told reporters that the attackers appeared to be in contact with handlers in Afghanistan. He said the attacker belonged to the banned Lashker-e-Jhangvi group, an Islamic militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda. He said that many of the trainees were killed when the gunmen detonated explosive vests.

The Chairman of Tehreek-e-Insaf and former captain Pakistan’s cricket team Imran Khan, condemned the attack and called it “cowardly”.

An emergency has been declared in all government hospitals of the provincial capital, with the injured shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta and the Bolan Medical Complex.

A statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the Pakistan Army and Frontier Constabulary troops arrived at the site along with extra contingents of security forces. A cordon was established and there was an exchange of gunfire. Explosions were heard inside the center.

An emergency has been declared in all government hospitals of the provincial capital, with the injured shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta and the Bolan Medical Complex. Militants have conducted attacks against security forces and national installations in Balochistan, which has been plagued by an insurgency and growing sectarian killings for more than a decade.

The attack came a day after separatist gunmen for the Baloch Liberation Army on a motorcycle shot dead two coast guards and a civilian in coastal town of Jiwani near the Gwadar port in the same province.

In August, a suicide bombing at the Civil hospital in Quetta killed 73 people, most of them lawyers. A splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as well as the IS claimed responsibility for carrying out the attack.

–Agencies

Quetta Police Training College Attack: Complete list of martyred personnel | thenewstribe.com

Quetta Police Training College Attack: Complete list of martyred personnel

news tribe

QUETTA: Quetta Police Training College, located at Sariab road in Provincial capital of Balochistan targeted on Monday night by terrorists, law enforcement agencies cleared the area after hours long operation.

Below is the list of Martyred security personnel:

1. Capt Rooh Ullah
Recruits/Constables
1. 7923 Asif Murad (turbat)
2. 7928 Zubair Ahmed  (turbat)
3. 7948 Asif Hussain (turbat)
4. Muhammad Noor (panjgur)
5. 7952 Shah Khalid (Loralai)
6. 7951 M. Yousaf (Pashin)
7. 7888 Janib Ali (panjgur)
8. Murad (turbat)
9. Sartaj (turbat)
10. 7935 Mehmood (turbat)
11. Amir (Qilla Abdullah)
12. 7969 Waseem Jawad (turbat)
13. 7952 Liaqat Ali
14. 7974 Amin
15. 7966 M. Abbas (Qilla abdulah)
16. 7962 Shahbaz (Quetta)
17. 7964 Gulzar (turbat)
18. 7961 Abdul Hakim (turbat)
19. 7970 M. Yousaf (turbat)
20. 7971 Shakeel (gwdr)
21. 7926 Abdul Qadir (pasni)
22. 7965 M. Tayab (qillah Abdullah)
23. 7941 Salar Ahmed (dera bugti)
24. Abdul Wahid 7940 (Panjgr)
25. Dilawar 7956 (Qta)
26. Shuaib 7929 (Turbat)
27. Haider Ali 7968 (dera bugti)
28. Majid Ali 7937 (panjgur)
29. Shahid Hussain 7930 (turbat)
30. Sharad ud din 7953 (Qillah Abdullah)
31. Tariq 7939 (turbat)
32. Majid Ali 7979 (turbat)
33. Naveed Ahmed 7960 (panjgur)
34. Shahid Hussain 7957 (panjgur)
35.  AMIN Ullah 7972 (panjgur)
36. Mrhboob 7950 (panjgur)
37. Ismail 7931 (turbat)
38. Zahir Ahmed 7983 (panjgur)
39. Muhammad Hayat 7986 (harnai)
40. Ab Jabbar 7987 (Sibi)
41. Naseeb Ullah 7980 (Qilla Abdullah)
42. 7983 Muhammad Nasim (qilla abdullah)
43. 7958 Liaqat Ali (panjgur)
44. 7944 Chakar Ali (turbat)
45. 7967 Imdad (Qilla Abdullah)
46. Shuaib7929 Turbat
47. 7940 Ferdoos (turbat)
48. 7943 Ijaz (Khuzdar)
49. 7945 Ashfaq Ahmed (panjgur)
50. 7967 Sartaj Gani 7967 (turbat)
51. 7955 Abrar Ahmed (loralai)
52. Asif Hayat7990 Turbat
53. Mohib Ullah7963 (Mustung).
7 x unidentified dead bodies.

 

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Terrorists Storm Quetta Police Academy, Heavy Casualties, Hostages

quetta-police-acadThe Quetta police training centre has been attacked Credit: Twitter  

29 security personnel martyred, three terrorists killed in attack on police training centre in Quetta

geo-tv

 

QUETTA: At least 29 security personnel have been martyred after terrorist stormed the Police Training College located on Sariab road here on Monday.

Talking to the media Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti while confirming the death toll feared that it may climb up in next few hours.

He said that the affected compound have been cleared by security forces who fought valiantly against the terrorists.

Bugti said that 700 police recruits were present at the time of the attack.

At least 106 people including police recruits and several Frontier Corps (FC) personnel have also been injured in the terrorist attack.

According to sources, three terrorists have been killed and 250 police recruits freed after the attack.

Unknown assailants stormed the hostel of the police training centre and opened fire on recruits. There were reports of sporadic gunfire by the assailants.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), five to six terrorists had stormed the police training centre.

Those injured in the attack have been brought to the Civil Hospital Quetta and CMH, hospital sources said. They included recruits, who attempted to flee the centre as terrorists waged the attack. Eight of the wounded were said to be in critical condition.

Earlier, Chief Minister Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri said terrorists had attacked the training centre located in the suburbs of Quetta. He said there were prior intelligence reports of an attack and security was put on high alert.”I am myself monitoring the situation. Our forces have entered into the centre and soon these terrorists will be eliminated,” Zehri said.

Due to high security across the provincial capital, these terrorists opted for the police college in a suburban area, he added.

A recruit who witnessed the entire situation said nearly four militants barged into the training centre around 9:30 PM and opened indiscriminate fire. “Then, they entered into the barracks,” he said.

A loud explosion also occurred in the vicinity that echoed to far-flung areas, our correspondent said, resulting in panic for a brief period. Sources said the attackers also lobbed three crackers which resulted in a fire breaking out inside the centre.

Heavy contingents of police and Frontier Corps reached the spot and surrounded the vicinity. Pakistan Army, FC troops, as well as police commandos, have entered into the hostel, where the operation continues.

Meanwhile, an emergency has been imposed in the hospitals across the provincial capital.

—This is a developing story and will be updated as further details are available.

France Bulldozes Its First “Jungle” At Calais

[This guy knew in 1973 exactly where Europe was heading, see THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS.]

camp-of-the-saints

The Camp of the Saints is a 1973 French novel by Jean Raspail. The novel depicts a setting wherein Third World mass immigration to France and the West leads to the destruction of Western civilization. Wikipedia

Demolition of The Jungle finally begins

daily mail

Bulldozers move in to tear down Calais’ notorious tent city despite protests from migrants

  • French authorities bringing in bulldozers to clear a third of the notorious Jungle camp in Calais
  • Refugees and migrants living in the camp have spent the past week clearing up their belongings
  • Desperate migrants were seen trying to carry their wood shacks to safety and loading them on to waiting trucks 
  • Rumours swirled bulldozers were going to turn up in middle of the night and demolish the makeshift camp
  • Many were initially hesitant to leave the camp and say they are worried how they will be treated when they leave
  • See our full news coverage on the migration crisis at www.dailymail.co.uk/migrantcrisis


Spy vs Spy War In Pakistan

[Pakistan has lost three intelligence officers in terrorist attacks in the last two days ( ISI officer) Special Branch official killed in Charsadda attack ; (intelligence) Two Coast Guard personnel killed in Gwadar .  Sounds like an intelligence war to me.  We all should know by now which intelligence agency is lord over Pakistan’s ISI…that would be CIA (US Treasury Official Implies That Our Spies Might Help Their Spies Do Some Terrorist House Cleaning).]

Gunmen kill Pakistani intelligence officer, IS claim attack

times of india

AFP

 

IS had claimed the attack that killed 3 Pakistani paramilitary personnel in Quetta earlier this month (AP photo)
IS had claimed the attack that killed 3 Pakistani paramilitary personnel in Quetta earlier this month (AP photo)

PESHAWAR: Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead an intelligence officer in northwest Pakistan on Monday, police said, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Akbar Ali, an intelligence sub-inspector, was on his way to work and waiting at a bus stop near his home in Charsadda district when the gunmen opened fire, Suhail Khalid, district police chief, told AFP.

“Akbar Ali was hit by four bullets from the front and was killed on the spot,” he said, adding that the attackers used a 9mm pistol and fled the scene.

 

Akbar Ali, an intelligence sub-inspector, was on his way to work and waiting at a bus stop near his home in Charsadda district when the gunmen opened fire, Suhail Khalid, district police chief, told AFP.”Akbar Ali was hit by four bullets from the front and was killed on the spot,” he said, adding that the attackers used a 9mm pistol and fled the scene.

The attack was later claimed by the Islamic State group in a short statement posted on Amaq, its affiliated news agency.

“Islamic State fighters have killed a Pakistan intelligence agent in the Sardaryab region… of Pakistan,” it said, referring to the local area.

Pakistan’s military last month admitted for the first time that the Islamic State group had a presence in the country but said it had detained hundreds of its militants and prevented them from carrying out major attacks.

The army’s spokesman said its forces had foiled planned attacks by IS on embassies and Islamabad airport, but denied the group was behind an August attack on a hospital that killed 73, as it had claimed.

IS, which has struggled for traction in Pakistan in the face of competition from well-established groups, gained its first toehold in January 2015 when six Pakistani Taliban leaders switched their allegiance from Al-Qaeda.

An attack on a bus in Karachi in May 2015 that killed 46 people was the first major incident officially claimed by IS in Pakistan.

Pakistan has been battling an Islamist insurgency since shortly after it decided to ally with the US following its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Violence has declined in recent years following a series of military offensives in the northwest border areas as well as concerted efforts to block the militants’ sources of funding.

But the remnants of militant groups are still able to carry out periodic bloody attacks, particularly in the northwest

US Treasury Official Implies That Our Spies Might Help Their Spies Do Some Terrorist House Cleaning

“Adam Szubin serves as the Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. In this role, Mr. Szubin leads the policy, enforcement, regulatory, and intelligence functions of the Treasury Department aimed at identifying and disrupting the lines of financial support to international terrorist organizations, proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics traffickers, and other actors posing a threat to our national security or foreign policy. He is also responsible for overseeing the Treasury Department’s efforts to combat money laundering and financial crimes.”Combating Terrorist Financing

 

US TREAS

Remarks of Acting Under Secretary Adam Szubin on Countering the Financing of Terrorism at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

“The problem is that there are forces within the Pakistani government – specifically in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI – that refuse to take similar steps against all the terrorist groups active in Pakistan, tolerating some groups – or even worse.   
This is a distinction we cannot stand for.
We continue to urge our partners in Pakistan to go after all terrorist networks operating in their country.  We stand ready to help them.  But there should be no doubt that while we remain committed to working with Pakistan to confront ongoing terrorist financing and operations, the U.S. will not hesitate to act alone, when necessary, to disrupt and destroy these networks.”

US warns Pakistan, says ‘we will act alone on terror’

times-of-india

US said that Pakistan may be tolerating some terrorist groups.
US said that Pakistan may be tolerating some terrorist groups.

WASHINGTON: In a blunt message, the US has warned Pakistan+ that it will not hesitate to act alone, when necessary, to disrupt and destroy terror networks+ as the country’s powerful spy agency ISI+ was not acting against all terror groups operating on its soil.

“The problem is that there are forces within the Pakistani government — specifically in Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence or ISI — that refuse to take similar steps against all the terrorist groups active in Pakistan, tolerating some groups — or even worse,” Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary on Countering the Financing of Terrorism, told a Washington audience.

“We continue to urge our partners in Pakistan to go after all terrorist networks operating in their country. We stand ready to help them. But there should be no doubt that while we remain committed to working with Pakistan to confront ongoing terrorist financing and operations, the US will not hesitate to act alone, when necessary, to disrupt and destroy these networks,” Szubin warned.

In his remarks at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Szubin said at the same time, Pakistan has been — and remains — a critical counter-terrorism partner in many respects.

“Of course, Pakistanis are themselves often the victims of brutal terrorist attacks on schools+ , markets, and mosques, and the list unfortunately goes on. And in the face of such violence, Pakistan has in some ways pushed back,” Szubin said.

“Pakistan has achieved success in its ongoing operations against traditional terrorist safe havens in northwest Pakistan. It has officially designated ISIL as a terrorist organization. And it has gone after the funding and operational capabilities of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP,” he said.

But the ISI problem of supporting terrorist groups continues, he said.

“This is a distinction we cannot stand for,” Szubin asserted.

The US has been saying that Pakistan has not yet placed adequate pressure on the Haqqani Network of militants to prevent them from plotting deadly cross-border attacks in war- torn Afghanistan.

Afghan authorities allege leaders of the Haqqani group, which is fighting alongside the Taliban, are directing high- profile attacks, particularly in the capital, Kabul, from their sanctuaries on Pakistani soil, with the covert support of the country’s intelligence operatives.

There is not adequate pressure being put on the Haqqanis” by the Pakistan government, The commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson had said last month.

“The Haqqanis operationally have been able to continue to conduct operations inside Afghanistan. They constitute the primary threat to Americans, to coalition members and to Afghans, especially in and around Kabul,” he said.

Pakistani authorities routinely deny the presence of any sanctuaries and insist counter-terrorism military operations have targeted and uprooted all militant infrastructures on their side of the border.

Pak. Frontier Constabulary Officer Slaps Reporter For Getting In His Face

 

FC guard booked for slapping female reporter in Karachi

express tribune

The reporter and the guard got into a rift when the guard allegedly misbehaved with the cameraman first. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

The reporter and the guard got into a rift when the guard allegedly misbehaved with the cameraman first. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

KARACHI: A case was registered on Thursday against a Frontier Constabulary (FC) official after he slapped a female reporter of a local news channel at a Nadra office in Karachi’s Liaquatabad.

A video which went viral on social media showed an FC guard on duty slap a female reporter of channel K-21 while she was doing a live programme. The reporter was discussing the problems people face at the Nadra office.

The reporter and the guard got into a rift after the guard allegedly misbehaved with the cameraman and then slapped her when she insisted on filming him. The FC guard also fired 18 bullets in the air after the mob tried to beat him up for slapping the reporter.

Police confirmed a case had been registered against the FC guard for “conducting aerial firing” and “assaulting” the reporter after the video went viral.

Meanwhile, police officials said Nadra officials have also submitted an application against the TV channel reporter for creating “hindrances in official work”.

Chaudhry Nisar orders inquiry

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan took notice of the incident, and ordered inquiry.

In a statement, the interior minister said misbehaving with the media representatives cannot be tolerated.

 

North Korea Still Can’t Get It Up…Second Case of Missile Dysfunction This Week

rocket-spiral
YOUTUBE

North Korea missile fails after launch, again -US, South Korea

times of malta

You need Javascript and either Adobe Flash or Html5 to view this video.

North Korea test-fired a missile that failed immediately after launch today, the US and South Korean militaries said, hours after the two countries agreed to step up efforts to counter the North’s nuclear and missile threats.

The missile, believed to be an intermediate-range Musudan, was launched from the western city of Kusong, from where the isolated state had attempted and failed to launch the same type of missile on Saturday, the U.S. Strategic Command and South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The launch comes after the United States and South Korea agreed in Washington on Wednesday to bolster military and diplomatic efforts to counter the North’s nuclear and missile programs, which it is pursuing in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

After a meeting with South Korea’s Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said such launches threatened the stability of the Korean peninsula and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

“We strongly condemn last night’s attempt, that even in failing, violated several U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he said at a news conference.

“This latest provocation only strengthens our resolve to work together with our (South Korean) allies to maintain stability on the peninsula.”

The failed missile launch was the eighth attempt in seven months by the North to launch a weapon with a design range of 3,000 km (1,800 miles) that can be fired from road mobile launchers, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said.

Han said North Korea was conducting its missile launches for “political purposes” and was showing its limitations through the failures.

 

U.S. PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

News of the North’s latest ballistic missile launch came during the third and final U.S. presidential debate, in which Republican candidate Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, exchanged sharply contrasting views on U.S. alliances in Asia.

Trump said U.S. defense treaties around the world, including with South Korea, had to be renegotiated because “we’re being ripped off by everybody in the world.”

Clinton said Trump wanted to tear up alliances that keep nuclear proliferation in check, relationships that she believed make the world and the United States safer.

Japan condemned the North Korean launch and said it would make a formal protest through its embassy in Beijing.

North Korea has been pursuing its nuclear and missile programs at an unprecedented pace this year.

In June, it launched a Musudan missile that flew about 400 km (250 miles), more than half the distance to Japan, a flight that was considered a success by officials and experts in South Korea and the United States.

North Korea said on Thursday that it would continue to launch satellites despite its rival South’s objections, in a statement by its space agency carried by official media.

Pyongyang says it has a sovereign right to pursue a space program by launching rockets carrying satellites, most recently in February, although Washington and Seoul worry that such launches are long-range missile tests in disguise.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking before the failed missile launch, said the United States would do “whatever is necessary” to defend itself, South Korea and other allies against North Korea.

Kerry and Carter reaffirmed that any attack by North Korea would be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons “met with an effective and overwhelming response,” a joint statement said.

As part of the military effort, Kerry said the United States would deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system to South Korea “as soon as possible.”

China strongly opposes deployment of the U.S. system, saying it would impinge on its own strategic deterrence.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, also speaking in Washington on Wednesday, said North Korea was nearing the “final stage of nuclear weaponisation” and the allies would mobilize “all tools in the toolkit” to defend themselves.

A U.S. aerospace expert, John Schilling, said this week in a report on the 38 North project that despite the missile launch failures, the pace of testing could enable the North to put the Musudan missile into operational service some time next year.

the Western heart beat[s] for all except those the US Empire drowns in blood.

Our sieges and theirs

A Syrian man carries a child as they evacuate an area following a reported airstrike on April 22, 2016 in Syria’s second city Aleppo. Sanctions, imposed by rich countries, such as the US and those of the European Union, on poor countries, such as Syria, are a modern form of siege, and have been called sanctions of mass destruction, in recognition of their devastating character

A Syrian man carries a child as they evacuate an area following a reported airstrike on April 22, 2016 in Syria’s second city Aleppo. Sanctions, imposed by rich countries, such as the US and those of the European Union, on poor countries, such as Syria, are a modern form of siege, and have been called sanctions of mass destruction, in recognition of their devastating character

 

Stephen Gowans Correspondent

“IN Syria almost everybody is under siege to a greater or lesser degree,” observes the Independent’s Patrick Cockburn. Most people, however, think the only siege in Syria is the one imposed on (East) Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces. But siege as a form of warfare is hardly uniquely embraced by the Syrian Arab Army and Russian military.

On the contrary, the United States and its allies have been practising siege warfare in the Levant and beyond for years, and continue to do so. It’s just that US-led siege warfare has been concealed behind anodyne, even heroic, labels, while the siege warfare of countries Washington is hostile to, is abominated by Western state officials crying crocodile tears.

Here’s how the deception works

Sieges of cities controlled by Islamic State, carried out by US forces and their allies, are called rescue operations, or campaigns to liberate or retake cities — never sieges. Other sieges — the ones carried out by Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Al Nusra, which, herein, I’ll call Al-Qaeda for convenience — are ignored altogether (which might suggest something about the relationship of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate to the United States.) And a particularly injurious form of siege — economic sanctions — is presented as a separate category altogether and not siege warfare at all.

But sanctions, imposed by rich countries, such as the United States and those of the European Union, on poor countries, such as Syria, are a modern form of siege, and have been called sanctions of mass destruction, in recognition of their devastating character.

In the Levant, the sieges which are identified as such by Western state officials, and in train, by the Western mass media, are sieges of cities controlled by Al-Qaeda, carried out by Syrian forces and their allies. These sieges — which cause hunger, kill civilians, and destroy buildings — are denounced in the West as ferocious attacks on innocents which amount to war crimes. “Russia’s bombardment backing the siege of Aleppo by Syrian government forces,” notes the Wall Street Journal, “has created a humanitarian crisis.” A UN Security Council resolution — vetoed by Russia — has called for an end to Russian bombing of Aleppo. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has mused openly about war crimes indictments against Syria and Russia.

Yet US campaigns to drive Islamic State out of Manbij, Kobani, Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit, and now Mosul, have also caused hunger, killed civilians, and destroyed buildings. Unlike the Syrian military’s siege of East Aleppo, these campaigns have been celebrated as great and necessary military victories, but have, themselves, created vast humanitarian crises.

Cockburn observes that the “recapture” of “cities like Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit … would scarcely have happened without the coalition air umbrella overhead.” That is, the cities liberated by Iraqi forces and their US patron were bombed into submission, even though civilians were trapped inside. Iraqi ground forces only moved in after these cities were left in ruins by coalition airstrikes and Iraqi artillery bombardment, as mopping up forces.

Rania Khalek, writing in the Intercept, points out that “US-backed ground forces laid siege to Manbij, a city in northern Syria not far from Aleppo that is home to tens of thousands of civilians. US airstrikes pounded the city over the summer, killing up to 125 civilians in a single attack. The US replicated this strategy to drive ISIS out of Kobane, Ramadi and Fallujah, leaving behind flattened neighborhoods.”

To recover Ramadi from Islamic State, Iraqi forces surrounded and cordoned off the city. In addition, the US-led coalition bombarded Ramadi with airstrikes and artillery fire. The bombardment left 70 percent of Ramadi’s buildings in ruins. The city was recovered, but “the great majority of its 400 000 people” were left homeless.

Iraqi forces also besieged the city of Fallujah, preventing most food, medicine and fuel from entering it. Militias “prevented civilians from leaving Islamic State territory while resisting calls to allow humanitarian aid to reach the city”. This was done “to strangle Islamic State” with the result that civilians were also “strangled”. Inside the city, tens of thousands endured famine and sickness due to lack of medicine. Civilians reportedly survived on grass and plants. Many civilians “died under buildings that collapsed under” artillery bombardment and coalition air strikes.

The current campaign to recover Mosul is based on the same siege strategy US forces and their Iraqi client used to liberate Ramadi and Fallujah. US and allied warplanes have been bombarding the city for months.

Iraqi forces, aided by US Special Forces, are moving to cordon it off. “Some aid groups estimate that as many as a million people could be displaced by fighting to recapture the city, creating a daunting humanitarian task that the United Nations and other organisations say they are not yet ready to deal with.”

Writer and journalist Jonathan Cook commented on the utter hypocrisy of Westerners who condemn the Syrian/Russian campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Islamist fighters while celebrating the Iraqi/US campaign to do the same in Mosul. Targeting the British newspaper, The Guardian, beloved by progressives, Cook contrasted two reports which appeared in the newspaper to illustrate the Western heart beating for all except those the US Empire drowns in blood.

Report one: The Guardian provides supportive coverage of the beginning of a full-throttle assault by Iraqi forces, backed by the US and UK, on Mosul to win it back from the jihadists of ISIS – an assault that will inevitably lead to massive casualties and humanitarian suffering among the civilian population.

Report two: The Guardian provides supportive coverage of the US and UK for considering increased sanctions against Syria and Russia. On what grounds? Because Syrian forces, backed by Russia, have been waging a full-throttle assault on Aleppo to win it back from the jihadists of ISIS and Al-Qaeda – an assault that has led to massive casualties and humanitarian suffering among the civilian population.

Central to Western propaganda is the elision of the Islamist character of the Al-Qaeda militants who tyrannise East Aleppo. This is accomplished by labelling them “rebels”, while the “rebels” who tyrannise the cities the United States and its allies besiege are called “Islamic State”, ISIL” or “ISIS” fighters.

The aim is to conjure the impression that US-led sieges are directed at Islamic terrorists, and therefore are justifiable, despite the humanitarian crises they precipitate, while the Syrian-led campaign in East Aleppo is directed at rebels, presumably moderates, or secular democrats, and therefore is illegitimate. This is part of a broader US propaganda campaign to create two classes of Islamist militants —good Islamists, and bad ones.

The first class, the good Islamists, comprises Al-Qaeda and fighters cooperating with it, including US-backed groups, whose operations are limited to fighting secularists in Damascus, and therefore are useful to the US foreign policy goal of overthrowing Syria’s Arab nationalist government. These Islamist fighters are sanitised as “rebels”.

The second class, the bad Islamists, comprises Islamic State. Islamic State has ambitions which make it far less acceptable to Washington as an instrument to be used in pursuit of US foreign policy goals. The organisation’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aspires to lead a caliphate which effaces the Sykes-Picot borders, and is therefore a threat, not only to the Arab nationalists in Damascus—an enemy the organisation shares in common with Washington — but also to the US client states of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which Islamic State attacks. The US objective in connection with Islamic State is to push the organisation out of Iraq (and out of areas in Syria that can be brought under the control of US-backed fighters) and into the remainder of Syria, where they can wear down Arab nationalist forces.

Syria’s “moderates”—the “rebels”— if there are any in the sense of secular pro-democrats, are few in number. Certainly, their ranks are so limited that arming them, in the view of US President Barack Obama, would make little difference. The US president told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that his administration had “difficulty finding, training and arming a sufficient cadre of secular Syrian rebels: ‘There’s not as much capacity as you would hope,’” Obama confessed. [18] Obama’s assessment was underscored when “a US general admitted that it had just four such ‘moderate’ fighters in Syria after spending $500 million on training them” [19] Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk dismissed the idea of the “moderates” as little more than a fantasy. “I doubt if there are 700 active ‘moderate’ foot soldiers in Syria,” he wrote. And “I am being very generous, for the figure may be nearer 70.”

Elizabeth O’Bagy, who has made numerous trips to Syria to interview insurgent commanders for the Institute for the Study of War, told the New York Times’ Ben Hubbard that my “sense is that there are no seculars” Anti-government fighters interviewed by the Wall Street Journal found the Western concept of the secular Syrian rebel to be incomprehen- sible.

To be clear: Syrian and Russian forces are waging a campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Islamists, whose only difference from Islamic State is that they’re not a threat to the US client states, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

It’s “primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo”, US Department of Defence spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren said on April 25, referring to Al-Qaeda. Other militant Islamist organisations, including US-backed groups, are also in Aleppo, intertwined with, embedded with, sharing weapons with, cooperating with, and acting as auxiliaries of Al-Qaeda.

Author and journalist Stephen Kinzer, writing in the Boston Globe, reminds us that:

“For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: ‘Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.’ Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.”

The Invisible Sieges

While sieges imposed by US-led forces are hidden by not calling them sieges, sieges imposed by Washington’s Al-Qaeda ally are simply ignored.

“Only three years ago,” notes Fisk, the same Islamist fighters who are under siege today in East Aleppo, “were besieging the surrounded Syrian army western enclave of Aleppo and firing shells and mortars into the sector where hundreds of thousands of civilians lived under regime control”. Fisk observes acidly that the “first siege didn’t elicit many tears from the satellite channel lads and lassies” while the “second siege comes with oceans of tears”.

To the ignored Al-Qaeda-orchestrated siege of West Aleppo can be added “the untold story of the three-and-a-half-year siege of two small Shia Muslim villages in northern Syria”, Nubl and Zahra. Those sieges, carried out by Al-Qaeda against villages which remained loyal to Syria’s Arab nationalist government, left at least 500 civilians dead, 100 of them children, through famine and artillery bombardment. The “world paid no heed to the suffering of these people”, preferring to remain “largely fixed on those civilians suffering under siege by (Syrian) government forces elsewhere”.

And then there’s the largely untold story of the 13-year-long siege imposed on a whole country, Syria, by the United States and European Union. That siege, initiated by Washington in 2003, with the Syria Accountability Act, and then followed by EU sanctions, blocks Western exports of almost all products to Syria and isolates the country financially.

This massive, wide-scale siege plunged Syria’s economy into crisis even before the 2011 eruption of upheavals in the Arab world — demonstrating that Washington’s efforts to force Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down began long before the Arab Spring. The roots of US hostility to Assad’s government are found in the danger of its becoming “a focus of Arab nationalistic struggle against an American regional presence and interests” – another way of saying that the Arab nationalist goals of unity, independence and socialism, which guide the Syrian state, are an anathema to the US demand—expressed in the 2015 US National Security Strategy — that all countries fall in behind US global “leadership”.

Under US siege warfare, unemployment shot up, factories closed, food prices skyrocketed and fuel prices doubled. “Syrian officials” were forced “to stop providing education, health care and other essential services in some parts of the country.” Indeed, so comprehensive was the siege, that by 2011 US “officials acknowledged that the country was already under so many sanctions that the United States held little leverage.”

Western siege warfare on Syria has blocked “access to blood safety equipment, medicines, medical devices, food, fuel, water pumps, spare parts for power plants, and more”, leading Patrick Cockburn to compare the regime change campaign to “UN sanctions on Iraq between 1990 and 2003”. The siege of Iraq — at a time when the country was led by secular Arab nationalists who troubled Washington as much, if not more, than the secular Arab nationalists in Syria vex Washington today — led to the deaths, though disease and hunger, of 500,000 children, according to the United Nations. Political scientists John Meuller and Karl Meuller called the siege a campaign of economic warfare amounting to “sanctions of mass destruction”, more devastating than all the weapons of mass destruction used in history. When the West’s siege warfare on Arab nationalist Iraq ended in 2003 it was immediately resumed on Arab nationalist Syria, with the same devastating consequences.

According to a leaked UN internal report, the “US and EU economic sanctions on Syria are causing huge suffering among ordinary Syrians and preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid”. [37] Cockburn notes that “Aid agencies cited in the report say they cannot procure basic medicines or medical equipment for hospitals because sanctions are preventing foreign commercial companies and banks having anything to do with Syria”. [38] “In effect” concludes the veteran British journalists, “the US and EU sanctions are imposing an economic siege on Syria as a whole which may be killing more Syrians than die of illness and malnutrition in the sieges which EU and US leaders have described as war crimes.” [39]

Meanwhile, a US Navy-backed blockade of Yemen’s ports —in other words, a siege— has left much of the country, the poorest in the Arab world, “on the brink of famine”. Last year, a United Nations expert estimated “that 850 000 children in the country of 26 million” faced “acute malnutrition” as a result of the US-backed siege. The blockade amounts to “the deliberate starvation of civilians”, the UN expert said, which constitutes a war crime. “Twenty million Yemenis, nearly 80 percent of the population, are in urgent need of food, water and medical aid,” wrote British journalist Julian Borger last year. The siege, also backed by Britain, has created “a humanitarian disaster”.

That Washington protests so vehemently about the humanitarian consequences of Syria’s campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Al Qaeda, while US forces and their allies kill civilians through airstrikes, artillery bombardments and siege-related famine and disease in campaigns to capture territory from Islamic State, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Syria’s secular Arab nationalists, invites the obvious question: Why the double standard? Why does the Western heart beat for the civilians harmed in the campaign to liberate East Aleppo but not for the civilians harmed by Western campaigns to bring territory under the control of the United States and its proxies?

The answer, in short, is that Al Qaeda is a US asset in Washington’s campaign to overthrow the Arab nationalists in Damascus, and therefore Washington objects to military operations which threaten its ally. On the other hand, Washington sparks one humanitarian crisis after another in pursuit of its foreign policy goal of coercing submission to its global leadership. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham’s value to Washington resides in its implacable opposition to the secularism of Syria’s ruling Arab nationalist Ba’ath Party, and its willingness to accept the Sykes-Picot boundaries drawn up by Britain and France after WWI. Thus, the Syrian al-Qaeda outfit limits its operations to working toward the overthrow of secularists in Damascus. Washington is unwilling to accept radical Islamists seizing control of the Syrian state, but is willing to work with Al-Qaeda to eliminate a common enemy.

Washington plays a similar game with Islamic State, by calibrating its military campaign against the bad Islamists, in order to prevent them from threatening Iraq and Saudi Arabia while at the same time using them as a tool to weaken Syria’s Arab nationalist state. US airstrikes have been concentrated in Iraq, reports the Wall Street Journal. The air war focusses on Islamic State targets in Iraq, explains the newspaper, because “in Syria, US strikes against the Islamic State would inadvertently help the regime of President Bashar al-Assad militarily.” Likewise, France has “refrained from bombing the group in Syria for fear of bolstering” the Syrian government. The British, too, have focused their air war overwhelmingly on Islamic State targets in Iraq, conducting less than 10 percent of their airstrikes on the Islamist organisation’s positions in Syria.

The New York Times reports that “United States-led airstrikes in Syria … largely (focus) on areas far outside government control, to avoid … aiding a leader whose ouster President Obama has called for.” Hence, US-coalition “airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria” have been so limited as to make them “little more than a symbolic gesture”. Fisk sums up the phony war against Islamic State in Syria with a sarcastic quip: “And so we went to war against Isis in Syria—unless, of course, Isis was attacking Assad’s regime, in which case we did nothing at all.”

Consistent with the US approach of employing Al-Qaeda as a cat’s paw against Syria’s secular Arab nationalists, any military operation which sets back Al-Qaeda’s campaign to overthrow the Assad government is a blow against a US foreign policy objective. Those who implore the United States to join Russia in a coalition to destroy Islamist militancy in the Muslim world miss the point. Washington only abhors jihadists when they threaten the United States and its satellites; otherwise, the US state embraces militant Islam as a useful tool to be used against secular governments which refuse to submit to the international dictatorship of the United States.

Owing to the harm they inevitably inflict on non-combatants, it is easy to condemn military campaigns to liberate cities occupied by enemy forces. But it is much more difficult to suggest a realistic alternative to using force to extirpate enemies from urban redoubts. Compromise and negotiation? For the United States, compromise means Arab nationalists stepping down and yielding power to US puppets — not compromise, but the fulfilment of US objectives. Washington isn’t interested in compromise. It has declared that it can and will lead the world, which means it is determined to set the rules. But even if there were a willingness in Washington for compromise, why should the United States have a role to play in deciding Syria’s political future? We can’t be true democrats, unless we fight for democracy in international relations. And we can’t have democracy in international relations if the United States and its allies intervene in other countries, enlisting jihadists to carry out their dirty work, in order to have a say in a political transition, once their mujahedeen allies have created a catastrophe.

What’s more, even had Damascus and its Russian ally concluded that the humanitarian consequences of attempting to drive Al-Qaeda out of East Aleppo were too daunting to warrant a siege campaign, the day of siege would only be delayed. Were Syria’s secular Arab nationalists to yield power under a US negotiated political settlement, the United States, acting through its new Syrian client, would arrange the siege of the city to crush its former Islamist allies, who could not be allowed to challenge the new US marionette in Damascus. Only this time, the siege would be called a rescue operation, the label “rebel” would be dropped in favor of “radical Islamist terrorist,” the ensuing humanitarian crisis would be duly noted then passed over with little comment, and hosannas would be sung to the US military leaders who slayed the Islamist dragon.

On October 19, a Swiss journalist confronted Assad on civilian deaths in East Aleppo. “But it’s true that innocent civilians are dying in Aleppo,” the journalist said. Assad replied: “The “whole hysteria in the West about Aleppo (is) not because Aleppo is under siege…Aleppo has been under siege for the last four years by terrorists, and we (never) heard a question (from) Western journalists about what’s happening in Aleppo (then) and we (never) heard a single statement by Western officials regarding the children of Aleppo. Now they are asking about Aleppo…because the terrorists are in bad shape.” The Syrian Army is advancing “and the Western countries—mainly, the United States and its allies (the) UK and France” feel “they are losing the last cards of terrorism in Syria”.

Stephen Gowans is a Canadian writer and political activist resident in Ottawa. This article is reproduced from <http://gowans&gt; wordpress .com

What Washington Really Wants in Syria

What Washington Really Wants in Syria

new-atlas

New Eastern Outlook

When the United States announced that it would be abandoning “peace talks” with Russia regarding the ongoing conflict in Syria, many had already dismissed them as disingenuous.

The Washington Post in an article titled, “U.S. abandons efforts to work with Russia on Syria,” would claim:

U.S.-Russia relations fell to a new post-Cold War low Monday as the Obama administration abandoned efforts to cooperate with Russia on ending the Syrian civil war and forming a common front against terrorists there, and Moscow suspended a landmark nuclear agreement.

The Washington Post would also admit however, in regards to Russian allegations that the US categorically failed to separate militants it has been backing in the 5 year long conflict and universally-designated foreign terrorist organisations, that:

Russia’s version of the sequence of events mandated by the deal is “explicitly not true,” a senior administration official said. “Separation was not step one,” but was supposed to occur after seven days without major violence. The Russians, the official said, have “constantly tried to move the goal posts.”

This admission made by US policymakers, politicians and the Western media all but admits that the US has never prioritised confronting terrorism in Syria and has been using the presence of terrorist organisations merely as a pretext for more direct Western military intervention. In fact, by acknowledging that Western-backed militant groups are indistinguishable and inseparable from designated terrorist organisations including Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, Jabhat Al-Nusra, the US is all but admitting it is intentionally arming and equipping the terrorists themselves.

This explains the apparently inexhaustible resources terrorist organisations like Al-Nusra possess and why they have risen to prominence above so-called “moderate rebels” the US and its allies have repeatedly claimed they were funding hundreds of billions of dollars throughout the conflict.

It appears that the answer to the question as to how Al-Nusra could rise to prominence in Syria despite “moderates” receiving hundreds of billions in aid from the US and its allies is that there were never any moderates to begin with, and that the US and its allies were arming and funding terrorist organisations, including Al-Nusra, since the conflict began.

It also appears to be no coincidence that this scenario now openly unfolding in Syria fulfils warnings published by Western journalists as early as 2007 (Seymour Hersh, The Redirection) in which it was revealed that the US was already at that time providing material support to extremist organisations “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” toward the end goal of overthrowing the governments of both Iran and Syria.

While the US now claims Russia has sabotaged US efforts to bring an end to hostilities in Syria, Washington is also illogically attempting to argue that the failure of its feigned “peace talks” has also somehow prevented the US from targeting terrorists organisations in Syria, the alleged pretext of America’s presence in Syria to begin with.

Despite strained relations with Russia, the US is still cooperating with Moscow regarding the use of Syrian airspace to avoid unintentional confrontations. While the cessation of hostilities may have collapsed, is there really any excuse as to why separating designated terrorist organisations from militant groups the US and its allies are providing billions in weapons and equipment to is still not an absolute and urgent priority?

The answer is, no — there is no excuse. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say, it is simply an excuse for the US to continue funnelling men and materiel into Syria Washington knows with absolute certainty will end up in the ranks of Al Qaeda, whom the US admittedly intended to use as early as 2007 to overthrow the Syrian government with.

What Washington Really Wants in Syria 

Beginning in 2001, the United States has systematically destroyed the nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, while either directly or indirectly laying waste to the nations of Sudan and Somalia. The nation of Iran was also subjected to multiple attempted provocations and US-driven subversion since 2001.

While the United States has created narratives for the public to serve as apparently “unique” and independent justifications for each and every one of these conflicts, often predicated on averting a “humanitarian disaster” or pursuing “terrorists” and even preventing “weapons of mass destruction” from being used against the West and its allies, America’s serial blitzkrieg across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia are part of a singular, admitted agenda.

US Army General Wesley Clark, in a 2007 Flora TV talk titled, “A Time to Lead,” would reveal this singular agenda by relating a conversation he had as far back as 1991 with then US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, Paul Wolfowitz, by stating (our emphasis):

I said Mr. Secretary you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm. And he said, well yeah, he said but but not really, he said because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and we didn’t. And this was just after the Shia uprising in March of 91′ which we had provoked and then we kept our troops on the side lines and didn’t intervene. And he said, but one thing we did learn, he said, we learned that we can use our military in the region in the Middle East and the Soviets wont stop us. He said, and we have got about five or ten years to clean up those all Soviet client regimes; Syria, Iran, Iraq, – before the next great super power comes on to challenge us. 

And indeed, even from 1991 onward, the goal of US intervention across the planet has been to establish deeply-entrenched global hegemony before another rising world power could balance American geopolitical domination.

Fast forward to today, with the US on the brink of war with Russia in Syria, and with China in the South China Sea, the United States has run out of time and finds the leading edge of its hegemonic ambitions chaffing against a reemerging Russia and a rising China.

So while Washington has concocted an array of excuses as to why it is involved in Syria’s conflict, running the full gambit from  fearing “weapons of mass destruction” to fighting terrorists to addressing humanitarian concerns, the reality of America’s involvement in Syria boils down to the pursuit of the latest and most desperate leg of its rush to dominance before emerging world powers reintroduced balance and limits to Western hegemony.

It is therefore incumbent upon the world to reject Washington’s various excuses for intervening in Syria, expose the truth driving its involvement in (and responsibility for) the conflict, confront Washington regarding its state sponsorship of terrorist organisations it itself has designated as such and bring the Syrian conflict as well as America’s latest “growth spurt” to an abrupt end.

Global peace and stability depends on bringing this decades-long global power-grab to an end, in an atmosphere of conflict and confrontation many fear may even lead to a direct confrontation between nuclear-armed states.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

America’s war without an end

Image Credit: Niño Jose Heredia/Gulf News

America’s war without an end

The US needs to answer some painful questions as its military operation in Afghanistan drags on, 15 years since it started

 

gulf news

By Fawaz Turki, Special to Gulf News

 

On October 7, 2001, American and British forces began air strikes in Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden, blamed for the 9/11 attacks. This was followed by an invasion of the country by the United States, supported by troops from Nato and other allies, under Operation Enduring Freedom. Though in May, 2011, American Navy SEALs helicoptered into Pakistan and finally killed the Al Qaida leader, the war in Afghanistan drags on, becoming the longest in American history.

A coalition from the so-called developed world, spearheaded by the leader of the free world, that waged war against a nation from the developing world, but was unable to finish what it had started 15 years ago, has a lot of explaining to do.

Last week, Taliban fighters, who effectively control one third of Afghanistan, penetrated Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. Though they had not raised their flag over the strategic southern city and were later pushed back, the psychological damage was done. Ironically, the Taliban ground assault came two days after General John W. Nicholson, the US and Nato military commander in Afghanistan, flew from Kabul to Lashkar Gah and promised worried local leaders that his forces would make sure the city would not collapse. Abdullah Habibi, the Afghan Defence Minister, who accompanied Nicholson, promised the group that his forces would “defend Lashkar Gah with our blood”.

Maybe. Maybe not. Later in the week, Taliban members disguised as police officers, brazenly attacked a Shiite shrine packed with hundreds of worshipers in the heart of Kabul. And so it goes.

Fifteen years and counting.

Fifteen years and counting more than $850 billion (Dh3.12 trillion) of taxpayer money spent by the US, of which, $110 billion has gone towards “reconstruction”, even as 2,300 Americans and well over 91,000 Afghans were killed in a war against a group of insurgents that had shown no hostile ambitions against the West.

Yet, America remains there, 15 years on, engaged in bloody conflict in the most violent corner of one of the world’s most violent nations.

Why? Does America, as a superpower, like other superpowers before it in history, have a reservoir of unused turbulent energy that it needs to sublimate by launching wars? Much in the manner the Europeans had done when they launched the first war of the 20th century, thereby putting an end to that era between the 1870s and the 1910s — between, say, Waterloo and the Somme — an era characterised by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity and literary innovation. It was an era that was outwardly serene, but menacingly ripe beneath the surface with anarchic compulsions.

To follow on Sigmund Freud’s poetic essay, Civilization and Its Discontents, does a superpower, by virtue of it being a superpower, bring with it the need to unleash the terrors of history on the world, terrors that spawn in the individual, as in the collective consciousness, a death wish? Do Americans need, just need, to go to war against a perceived enemy, any perceived enemy, whether they find him or her in the Philippines, in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, in Iraq or elsewhere?

“Does America, as a superpower, like other superpowers before it, have a reservoir of unused turbulent energy that it needs to sublimate by launching wars?””

-Fawaz Turki

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Do people from such a polity need constantly to combat the tensions that civilised manners — today we call these political correctness — impose on unfulfilled human instincts? And do citizens, socialised in a superpower — as Frenchmen, Germans, Englishmen and other Europeans had felt during their heydays, on the eve of the two devastating World Wars — feel an inescapable drive towards a supremacist assertion of identity?

These are questions that, along with Freud, cultural critics, all the way from T.S. Eliot in Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948) to George Steiner in In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1971) have considered cardinal to any contemporary theory of what we call culture.

Fifteen years ago, Americans went to fight a war in a country known as one of the world’s poorest, a country resistant to change, scornful of outsiders who wanted to win over its people’s “hearts and minds” by force of arms rather than by force of friendship.

So what is to be done now? Let Washington take its cue from the late Senator George D. Aiken of Vermont who, in 1966, at the height of yet another costly war that the US was waging against “peasants in black pajamas” in Vietnam, called on the White House to simply “declare victory and get out”.

Come to think of it, that’s precisely what the New York Times, resorting to less folksy language, appears to advocate these days. “The Afghan government remains weak, corrupt and roiled by internal rivalries”, an editorial in the Grey Lady, a publication whose influence at times surpasses that of the White House, said on September 17. “The casualty rate for Afghan troops is unsustainable. The economy is in a shambles. Resurgent Taliban forces are gaining ground in rural areas …”

In short, the US needs to answer some painful questions. “One such question”, the editorial added, “is whether the Afghan Taliban — an insurgency that has never had aspirations to operate outside the region — is an enemy Washington should continue to fight. American forces started battling the Taliban in 2001 because the group provided safe haven to Al Qaida, which was based there when it planned the September 11, 2001, attacks on America. While Al Qaida has largely been defeated, the Taliban has proved to be extraordinarily resilient”.

Great advice. Fellows, declare victory and get the devil out.

 

Fawaz Turki is a journalist, lecturer and author based in Washington. He is the author of The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile.

West needs to exaggerate Russian aggression to fortify a fragile alliance

Sir, Using one eye, Ivo Daalder argues that Russian president Vladimir Putin “needs the antagonism of the west to protect his standing at home”, and therefore acts as the unprovoked aggressor in order both to generate that antagonism and to expand the boundaries of Russia’s territorial control; the west’s response must be to strengthen the western alliance’s military forces around Russia (“The best answer to Russian aggression is containment”, October 17).

Using two eyes, he might see another side to the story, which starts from questioning his statement that “the core of our strength is western unity”. In fact, western unity is fragile. As Mr Putin needs the antagonism of the west to protect his standing at home, so the west needs the antagonism of Russia (helped by China) to glue the fractious alliance together. Western actions of the kind endorsed by Mr Daalder help to provoke the needed antagonism.

In this light one can understand the western exaggeration of the Russian government’s role in the civil war in Ukraine. Eight retired US intelligence analysts wrote a letter to German chancellor Angela Merkel in August 2014 warning her that the intelligence supporting the accusation of a major Russian invasion of Ukraine “seems to be of the same dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the US-led attack on Iraq”.

Western voters and taxpayers should be wary of the incentives for western governments to exaggerate Russia as the unprovoked aggressor and themselves as innocent defenders. The exaggeration serves to fortify the fragile western alliance, and also satisfies the arms industry, for which weapons systems against threatening states are much more profitable than those against terrorists. If the aim is genuinely to curb Russian aggression, western states and Nato have to be less aggressive towards Russia.

 

  Robert H Wade

Professor of Political Economy,

Dept of International Development,

London School of Economics, UK

Assad Threatens To Shoot-Down Erdogan’s Jets, If He Repeats Allepo Assault

Army General Command:

Erdogan regime perpetrates a massacre that killed more than 150 innocent civilians in Aleppo northern countryside

Sana

1-42

 

Damascus, SANA-General Command of the army and armed forces said on Thursday that warplanes of Erdogan regime perpetrated on Wednesday a massacre that killed more than 150 innocent civilians through targeting  the villages and towns of Hasajk, al-Wariyah, Hassiya, Ghoul Srouj, Sad al-Shahba, Ehris and Um Housh in Aleppo northern countryside.

The army’s command affirmed that this flagrant aggression which targeted innocent citizens is considered as a dangerous development that could escalate the situation.

It warned that any attempt to repeat the violation of the Syrian airspace by the Turkish warplanes will be responded and downed with all available means.

Fedayeen Attack Upon Kirkuk Attempted Diversion From Mosul

[In an attempted diversion from the ongoing Mosul offensive, several dozen ISIS terrorists, organized in Fedayeen cells attacked Kirkuk today.

It is unlikely that this was a sleeper cell; it is more likely that this was a typical “Fedayeen” attack, like those experienced periodically by Pakistan.  If Pakistan and India cannot prevent such sneak attacks with all of their power, then they must be unpreventable.  Remember that the original Fedayeen worked for Saddam Hussein.  Many of his original fighters joined al-Qaeda In Iraq, which became Islamic State.

This form of terrorism is called guerrilla warfare, whenever we do it:

“A burst from a Tommy-gun swept the [unsuspecting enemy] card players and drinkers at the bar. German drinking songs turned to shouts of horror. Those who weren’t killed or wounded tried to make for the doors or windows. They were mown down before they had gone a yard.”–Chronicling the birth of guerrilla warfare in World War II  ]

Footage of civilians in Kirkuk alongside security forces hunting down ISIS militants.
Footage of civilians in Kirkuk alongside security forces hunting down ISIS militants.

The surprise and deadly ISIS attack on the city of Kirkuk today is a dangerous indicator of what could happen in Mosul even after it is liberated by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Kirkuk has been under Kurdish Peshmerga control for more than two years and ISIS positions are many miles away from the city. Yet a group of around 30 fully armed militants managed to stage a terrifying attack on several government, police and security buildings in Kirkuk.

At a power station in Dubis they killed ten engineers and workers. They detonated car bombs and suicide vests.

As of writing this article, clashes between security forces and some of the militants are still going on.

Looking at what happened in Kirkuk today, it is not hard to imagine a similar scenario in Mosul a few months or years after has ISIS been driven out. In Mosul an ISIS comeback would be even easier as the militants know the lay of the land and enjoy a degree of support.

In Kirkuk the militants who attacked today did not have any hope of staying there long, or taking control of the city or building a foothold. They had only come with a message: that ISIS was still strong and far from degraded or defeated. They knew they were going to be killed as they indeed were.

But in Mosul they could come back and stay.

In Kirkuk there was an immediate response to the attack. Security and police as well as anti-terrorism forces were quick in deploying to every corner of the city and hunting down the militants wherever they found them. Within minutes hundreds of civilians also took up arms and started looking for militants who were believed to be roaming around parts of the city.

But in Mosul this might not be the case and we saw how a small number of militants completely overran the city in June 2014. They had a welcoming hand in some of the Mosul residents and no resistance from the rest.

The Iraqi army can retake Mosul from ISIS with help from Peshmerga forces and coalition air power, but they could as easily lose it back as they have done a few times since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

Each time it was a small number of militants who took Mosul from the Iraqi police and army. Once it was the al-Qaeda, once Ansar al-Sunnah and once ISIS. And the Iraqi government actions have only made this scenario easier by arresting Sunni men on charges of Baathism or membership in terrorist groups.

And even now as the Iraqi army is struggling to take a few villages outside Mosul, the government in Baghdad has already issued an arrest warrant for Nineveh’s former governor.

It was exactly these kinds of actions against Sunni leaders and population that made ISIS a welcoming sight in Mosul.

Therefore, Kirkuk should be a wakeup call to Iraq and its coalition partners that unless they have a solid plan for the city’s administration and security, Mosul will always be vulnerable and ISIS could always come back.

Video footage coming out of Kirkuk today of many Kurdish civilians turning the streets into a battlefield against ISIS shows how important it is when a local population is against an extremist group. This sense of love for one’s city and opposition to militant groups should also be built in Mosul.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.

 

 

“Mosul is an Iraqi war conducted by Iraqis for Iraqis and for the defense of Iraq’s territory.”

‘Mosul offensive going faster than planned’

The Hindu

Reuters
 Nearing enemy line: Iraqi soldiers in the Qayyarah area, 60 km south of Mosul, on Wednesday.PHOTO: AFP  Nearing enemy line: Iraqi soldiers in the Qayyarah area, 60 km south of Mosul, on Wednesday.

The offensive to seize back Mosul from Islamic State (IS) is going faster than planned, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Thursday, as Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched a new military operation to clear villages on the city’s outskirts.

Howitzer and mortar fire started at dawn, hitting a group of villages held by IS about 10-20 km (6-12 miles) from Mosul, while helicopters flew overhead, according to Reuters reporters at two front line locations north and east of Mosul.

To the sound of machine gun fire and explosions, dozens of black Humvees of the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), mounted with machine guns, headed towards Bartella, an abandoned Christian village just east of Mosul.

Hours later, the head of Iraq’s Special Forces, Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, told reporters at a command centre near the front line that troops had surrounded Bartella and entered the centre of the village. Two soldiers were hurt and none killed, and they had killed at least 15 militants, he said.

Prime Minister Abadi, addressing anti- IS coalition allies meeting in Paris by a video link, said: “The forces are pushing towards the town more quickly than we thought and more quickly than we had programmed.”

A U.S.-led coalition that includes France, Italy, Britain, Canada and other Western nations is providing air and ground support to the forces that are closing in on the city in an operation that began on Monday.

A united front, says Abadi

Mosul is the last big stronghold held by Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and around five times the size of any other city the group has held. The push to capture it is expected to become the biggest battle fought in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The United Nations says Mosul could require the biggest humanitarian relief operation in the world, with worst-case scenario forecasts of up to a million people being uprooted by the battle.

Some 1.5 million residents are still believed to be inside the city, and Islamic State fighters have a history of using civilians as human shields.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said controls were being put in place to check jihadists were not trying to insert themselves among those fleeing Mosul.

On the northern front, Kurdish forces known as peshmerga shot down a small drone that had flown over from the Islamic State lines. It was not clear if the drone, 1 or 2 m wide, was carrying explosives or being used for reconnaissance.

“There have been times when they dropped explosives,” said Halgurd Hasan, one of the Kurdish fighters deployed in a position overlooking the plain north of Mosul.

Ali Awni, a Kurdish officer, kept a handheld radio receiver open on a frequency used by Islamic State. “They are giving targets for their mortars,” he said.

“Liberating Mosul is important for the security of Kurdistan,” Awni added. “We will have to fight them in the mind as well, to defeat their ideology.”

So far, advancing Kurdish troops have moved through villages outside the city, finding abandoned houses rigged with explosives and underground bunkers. In some cases, Islamic State fighters appear to have fled without putting up a fight.

“We did not face resistance from Daesh. They are retreating to Mosul and to Syria. They gave no resistance,” peshmerga soldier Ahmed Midhat Abdullah told Reuters in the village of Nawaran, north of Mosul, where a Kurdish column of armoured vehicles was advancing in the dusty desert terrain.

“The objectives are to clear a number of nearby villages and secure control of strategic areas to further restrict ISIL’s movements,” the Kurdish general military command said in a statement announcing the launch of Thursday’s operations.

The area around Mosul is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse parts of Iraq, and Western countries backing the assault are concerned that communities feel safe as the government forces advance, to avoid revenge attacks or ethnic and sectarian bloodletting as fighters are driven out.

Western allies have sought to limit the role of Shia militia fighters known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, which human rights groups say have carried out killings and kidnappings of Sunnis in other areas freed from Islamic State.

Mr. Abadi said the Mosul advance demonstrated that Iraqis from all groups could fight in common cause, noting that it was the first time in 25 years that troops from the Baghdad government had entered territory controlled by the Kurdish region to fight alongside the peshmerga.

“Our war today in Mosul is an Iraqi war conducted by Iraqis for Iraqis and for the defence of Iraq’s territory,” he said.

“Full Iraqi unity is shining through and more than ever showing the unity to vanquish terrorism,” said Mr. Abadi.

Islamic State published a video showing masked fighters walking in single file up a street at night under the cover of trees, while an unidentified man, apparently their commander, pledged to defeat the United States in Iraq.

U.S. President Barack Obama hopes to bolster his legacy by seizing back as much territory as he can from Islamic State before he leaves office in January.

Islamic State “will be defeated in Mosul”, Mr. Obama said on Tuesday, expecting the fight to be difficult.

Iraqi officials and residents of Mosul say Islamic State is preventing people from leaving the city, in effect using them as shields to complicate air strikes and the ground progress of attacking forces. — Reuters

Clinton Reveals Secret Missile Response Time In Last Debate

Clinton’s debate reference to nuclear response rekindles judgement criticisms

foxnews

Chris Wallace praised for moderating final debate

 

Hillary Clinton’s latest mishandling of sensitive information may have occurred before an audience of 70 million.

Speaking at the presidential debate Wednesday night, Clinton noted that it takes four minutes from the time the president makes the call to use nuclear weapons to their actual launch. The remark came amid questions about the fitness of Clinton and GOP candidate Donald Trump to hold the nation’s nuclear codes, but critics, including former intelligence operatives, told Fox News that level of detail about nuclear response times is “protected information.”

“The bottom line on nuclear weapons is that when the president gives the order, it must be followed,” Clinton said. “There’s about four minutes between the order being given and the people responsible for launching nuclear weapons to do so.”

“Whether the four minutes is accurate or not, anything having to do with response capability is generally classified,” Dan Maguire, a former strategic planner with Africom, and with 46 years combined service, told Fox News. “She has a tendency to use previous access and her position as secretary (of state) to give an appearance of knowledge to show she has the answers, rather than protect the information.”

The reference to a four-minute timeline between the order and the launch was seen by former intelligence officers and military operatives as a possible violation of operational security, known as OPSEC.

A former Navy SEAL officer said the statement appears to be a “direct violation of US national security protocols and governing law. Our country has no greater secrets than those that protect our strategic nuclear deterrence capability.”

Clinton, who was investigated by the FBI for a year for “careless” handling of sensitive and even top secret emails on her private server, went on to say that 10 people who have had the responsibility of carrying out such a presidential order are backing her.

A senior official in the Clinton campaign rejected claims the former secretary of state revealed any secret information, and provided Fox News with multiple published reports detailing the response time. In one Bloomberg News article, Bruce Blair, a former Minuteman missile-launch officer and research scholar at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, spelled out the step-by-step procedure that follows an order from the president. The procedures include conferring with military and civilian advisers in Washington and around the world including the head of all U.S. strategic nuclear forces at Strategic Command in Omaha.

That meeting can be as deliberative and lengthy as the president wants, but if the decision is prompted by the knowledge that a hostile nation has launched nuclear weapons at the U.S., it could last a matter of seconds, according to Blair.

“About five minutes may elapse from the president’s decision until intercontinental ballistic missiles blast out of their silos, and about fifteen minutes until submarine missiles shoot out of their tubes,” the news article stated. “Once fired, the missiles and their warheads cannot be called back.”

Intelligence experts, including the former Navy SEAL and a former senior intelligence official told Fox News that the mere fact the response time has been reported in academic documents does not authorize government officials who hold a security clearance, or had previous access to classified information, to discuss it publicly.

Clinton’s statement “now validates with specificity something of great sensitivity that has long been speculated by our adversaries and others in the national arena, including academics and think tanks, ” the former SEAL officer said.

At a Pentagon press conference with South Korean defense minister Han Min-Koo, Defense Secretary Ash Carter avoided the issue when asked about this by CNN’s Barbara Starr.

“I’m sorry but I’m not gonna answer your first part because it is cast in terms of the ongoing presidential campaign,”  Carter said. “I’ve said repeatedly I’m not going to not answer questions in that context.”

Two senior defense officials reached by Fox News highly doubt Clinton was read into any nuclear response plans as secretary of state and think the “four-minute” comment was an estimation on her part, not a classified number she revealed.

“While the excuse has been given that there has been previous ‘talk’ in the media and in academia regarding the 4 minute response time, it was just that – talk – it was informed speculation or assumption – it was not confirmed or stated by any official U.S. government official or stated as policy,” Tony Shaffer, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Operations at the London Center for Policy Research, told Fox News.

“There is uncertainty  – for a reason – maintained by the Department of Defense- so that adversaries do not know what our capability is or what to expect – that has been blown here by Ms. Clinton – she provided direct confirmation,” Shaffer added.

 

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Chinese Engineers’ Bodies Recovered From Quetta Lead and Zinc Mine

Chinese engineers’ bodies recovered from Pakistan mine

anadolu agency turk state

Rescuers retrieve bodies of 2 Chinese engineers killed trying to save colleague trapped in mine

Chinese engineers' bodies recovered from Pakistan mine

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan

Rescue teams have retrieved the bodies of two Chinese engineers who were trapped in a mine a month ago while attempting to rescue a Pakistani co-worker in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, local media reported Thursday.

The rescue team will continue to search for the body of the Pakistani worker, who was trapped while working in a lead and zinc mine, local English daily Dawn reported, quoting a company official.

The bodies of the Chinese engineers were taken to the southern port city Karachi, where their families have already arrived to collect them.

The large Balochistan district is rich in copper, zinc and natural gas and has had a long history of mine accidents, mainly because of weak infrastructure and safety standards.

ISIS Slithering Out of Mosul, To Regroup In Raqqa, Syria, w/No Apparent US Interference

[France’s Francois Hollande Warns ISIS Jihadis Escaping Mosul Battle Fleeing to Raqqa]

Iraqi forces steamrolling into Mosul faster than expected

times of israel

Islamic State fighters seen fleeing to Raqqa as troops move toward Iraqi city in battle that was predicted to take months

Iraqi forces hold a position near the village of Tall al-Tibah, some 30 kilometers south of Mosul, on October 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

Iraqi forces hold a position near the village of Tall al-Tibah, some 30 kilometers south of Mosul, on October 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

PARIS — Iraqi forces are “advancing faster than expected” in a major offensive to recapture Mosul from Islamic State jihadists, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday.

“We are advancing faster than we had expected and planned,” Abadi said, speaking on a video conference link to an international meeting co-hosted by France and Iraq on the future of Mosul following the start of the offensive this week.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had warned Tuesday that the battle to retake Iraq’s second-biggest city could take “months.”

French President Francois Hollande told Thursday’s meeting that the jihadists were already fleeing to Raqqa, their stronghold in neighboring Syria.

“We can’t afford mistakes in the pursuit of the terrorists who are already leaving Mosul for Raqqa,” Hollande said, adding: “We cannot allow those who were in Mosul to evaporate.”

Iraqi villagers walk past a fire from oil that has been set ablaze in the Qayyarah area, some 60 kilometers south of Mosul, on October 19, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL)

Iraqi villagers walk past a fire from oil that has been set ablaze in the Qayyarah area, some 60 kilometers south of Mosul, on October 19, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL)

The French president added: “Everything must be done to protect civilians who are exposed in combat zones and used as human shields” by IS fighters.

The long-awaited offensive on Mosul was launched on Monday, with some 30,000 troops involved in Iraq’s largest military operation since the pullout of US troops in 2011.

Abadi told the meeting: “Our war in Mosul is an Iraqi war for the Iraqis, for the defense of Iraqi territory.”

Representatives from around 20 countries including the United States, Turkey, Iran, Gulf states and EU member states are attending the Paris meeting co-chaired by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

General view of delegates attending an international meeting co-hosted by France and Iraq on the future of Mosul following the start of the offensive this week, on October 20, 2016 at the French Foreign ministry in Paris.( AFP PHOTO / POOL / ERIC FEFERBERG)

General view of delegates attending an international meeting co-hosted by France and Iraq on the future of Mosul following the start of the offensive this week, on October 20, 2016 at the French Foreign ministry in Paris.( AFP PHOTO / POOL / ERIC FEFERBERG)

Thursday’s talks come ahead of a meeting in Paris next Tuesday of the coalition’s defense ministers to assess progress in the Mosul offensive.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will be among 13 ministers at the talks, an aide to Le Drian said.

Mosul, held by the jihadists since June 2014, was where IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria that month.

“The battle for Mosul is decisive because it is hitting Daesh in the heart of its sanctuary where it wanted to build its caliphate,” said Hollande, using an alternative name for IS.

The city’s loss is widely predicted to deal a death blow to the group’s ambitions as a land-holding force in Iraq.

It’s Time for the United States to Let Afghanistan Go

[Does Obama Have A Mission In Afghanistan?]

It’s Time for the United States to Let Afghanistan Go

cato

Recently a group of former U.S. officials and experts issued a proposal for an “enduring partnership” with Afghanistan, calling the nation “a key front in a generational conflict against violent extremists across the greater Middle East.” The group, which included Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, both former commanders of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, argued that in addition to preventing Afghanistan from again becoming a sanctuary for terrorist organizations, a long-term American presence is critical to ensure stability in the region and as a base of operations to conduct operations against other adversaries in the war on terror.

It is understandable that officials whose professional careers are so closely connected with the current U.S. strategy would find it difficult to admit failure, but the truth is there is no good reason to stay in Afghanistan.

The central argument for staying in Afghanistan — to prevent it from becoming a terrorist sanctuary — is weak for several reasons. This argument hinges on the fear that withdrawal would lead to the Taliban retaking control of Afghanistan. But although the Taliban did provide al Qaeda safe haven back in 2001, it is highly unlikely they would do so again. The Taliban suffered grievously for their decision to host bin Laden, provoking the American invasion and enduring fifteen years of bloody insurgency against coalition forces. Recall that the Taliban themselves had no designs to threaten or attack the United States. It is hard to see why they would risk another invasion by letting al Qaeda or another terrorist group set up shop in Afghanistan.

Beyond this, the push for an indefinite U.S. military presence in Afghanistan ignores the fact that this kind of presence throughout the Middle East has been a key motivation for al Qaeda and related groups since the 1990s. The War on Terror has not only failed to eliminate terrorism, it has also poured fuel on the fire as the extended American presence and military action in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere helped spawn dozens of new terrorist groups and thousands of jihadists, most prominently the Islamic State.

In Afghanistan terrorism was almost unknown before 2001, but between 2002 and 2015 over 9,000 terrorist attacks took place in Afghanistan alone, the majority of them after President Obama’s surge began in 2009. It is hard to imagine a strategy that would have done a better job at fomenting terrorism than the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.

Moreover, the notion that preventing terrorists from hiding in Afghanistan is either necessary or sufficient to prevent attacks on the American homeland is misguided. It is not necessary because despite the escalation of terrorism in the Middle East, terrorism remains the province of an extremely small number of people and organizations, all of which have very limited capacity for attacking the United States directly. Even the Islamic State, which temporarily enjoys access to significant resources, has no better way to attack the United States than to encourage lone wolves who live here to act on their own. Thus, despite fears there have been relatively few terrorist attacks in the United States since Sept. 11.

Finally, it makes little sense to frame the fight against terrorism in the context of a land war. Al Qaeda’s metastasis into regional franchises and the Islamic State’s ability to inspire even minor long distance attacks make clear that preventing terrorism is not simply a matter of controlling territory.

In the absence of a counter-terrorism rationale, there are no other sufficiently compelling reasons to keep American forces in Afghanistan. The argument that the United States could use a rebuilt and friendly Afghanistan as a forward base for fighting other terrorists in the region also falls apart upon inspection. More American military intervention in the greater Middle East won’t stop terrorism, but it will ensure that Americans keep dying for little return, at great cost, for years to come.

What about regional stability and the moral obligation to help Afghanistan rebuild? There is no question that the United States bears some responsibility for the state of affairs in Afghanistan. But after 15 years and $800 billion the evidence clearly suggests that there is not much the United States can do to improve things.

Even after heroic efforts by the United States and its coalition partners, the security situation in Afghanistan remains appalling. The United Nations estimates that Afghanistan is suffering 10,000 civilian casualties per year (3,000 of them deaths), and the Afghan security forces are losing 5,000 per year to the fighting. Afghanistan is a country of just 30 million people. Those casualties are the equivalent of the United States suffering 84,000 deaths each year.

Meanwhile neither the economy nor the political situation in Afghanistan gives a great deal of hope for the near future. Though nation building is a noble goal, it is difficult to justify when there is little prospect of success and when the resources it requires could be put to more productive use elsewhere.

a-trevor-thrall  A. Trevor Thrall is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and associate professor at George Mason University.

More Disinformation From The Guardian On Taliban “Peace Talks”

[Here is another case where the British press purposely releases untrue NEWS about Taliban participation in fraudulent Afghan peace talks.  The Taliban have consistently insisted that there will be NO TALKS while Afghanistan is still under American occupation.  Whenever the Guardian or Reuters puts-out one of these pieces of disinformation, it is automatically picked-up and reprinted in hundreds of lesser news sources in perhaps one-hundred different countries.  Here it is in Russian…in Turkish, on both sides of Afghan contest, in India, even in Pakistan, which, above all other nations, knows that the report is patently false.  I am absolutely certain that the intelligence agencies of every major world power knows that the real Afghan Taliban are not meeting anyone in Qatar or Dubai, yet everybody plays along with Obama’s great scam.  I am somewhat shocked that Putin allows Sputnik press to go along with the charade. 

If anyone can make sense of this, I would appreciate a little input on this.]

No secret talks with Afghan govt in Doha: Taliban

Pajhwok1

KABUL (Pajhwok): Having stepped up attacks in recent weeks, the Taliban on Wednesday denied resuming clandestine peace negotiations with Afghan government representatives in Qatar.

A day earlier, a British newspaper reported Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund, brother of Mullah Omar, was among participants of secret the meetings held in September and October.

The two rounds of talks are the first known negotiations to have taken place since a Pakistan-brokered process entirely broke down following the death in a US drone strike of Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

Mohammad Yaqoob, Mullah Omar’s son, may join the Doha group. Pakistan, which brokered peace talks last year, stayed away from the meetings, a Quetta Shura leader told the Guardian.

One senior US diplomat also participated in the meetings in Qatar, where the Taliban have been active on the diplomatic front over the years. The US embassy in Kabul refused commenting on the renewed peace push.

Attended by Akhund and Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai, the Afghan spymaster, the first meeting in early September “went positively and was held in a trouble-free atmosphere”.

Fierce fighting between government and insurgent forces in Kunduz, Helmand and several other provinces notwithstanding, a second meeting was held in early October.

“We reject the Guardian report regarding the resumption of talks between the Islamic Emirate and the Afghan government,” a spokesman for the insurgent movement said.

In a statement, Zabihullah Mujahid said: “Our representatives have neither met Masoom Stanekzai nor any other government official. Our stance on peace talks remains unchanged. Our policy on this is very clear…”

Turkish Jets Bomb Obama’s “Moderate” Syrian Rebels In 18 Locations

Turkey shelled SDF positions Wednesday night. Photo: Jaish al-Thuwar/Twitter
Turkey shelled SDF positions Wednesday night. Photo: Jaish al-Thuwar/Twitter

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkish forces struck 18 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) targets Wednesday night.

Turkish jets and artillery are still firing on Syrian SDF and Kurdish positions, AP reported Thursday morning, citing a Syrian Kurdish leader who said no more than 10 fighters had been killed in the attacks.

Turkish press had reported that the military claimed to have killed between 160 and 200 fighters.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) reported on Twitter that Turkish planes had carried out at least 14 airstrikes, bombing positions of the Jaish al-Thuwar, a member of the SDF, near the border of Efrin, the western-most canton of the Rojava, the self-autonomous region of northern Syria.

The reports were corroborated by pro-Turkish media on Thursday morning. Yeni Safak reported that Turkey had targeted 18 “PYD/PKK” positions as part of its Euphrates Shield operation in northwestern Syria.

The PYD is the Democratic Union Party. Turkey claims the PYD is aligned with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it has named as a terrorist organization.

The pro-Turkish outlet reported that the attack took place in Ma’arat Umm Hawsh, a Kurdish village in the northern Aleppo region where the Euphrates Shield operation is taking place.

According to the Turkish military, the incident took place between 9:11 pm an 11:59 pm local time.

CNN Turk has reported that the Turkish military claimed to have killed 160 to 200 “militants” in the operation.

On Wednesday night the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights conflict monitor received a statement from the forces being targeted who alleged that, “Turkey is backing IS [Islamic State/ISIS] by targeting our areas with artillery in corporation with rebels factions.”

“We asked these rebel factions to stop targeting these areas but we did not receive any response as our forces managed to not target any of these factions, but in case the bombardment did not stop under the name of “al-Furat Shield” [Euphrates Shield], our forces will fire back on any front or military area,” the statement added.

Turkey is backing a group of militiamen fighting under the flag of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in northwestern Syria. It launched its current Euphrates Shield campaign on August 24 to clear the border of ISIS militants and prevent the YPG from marching westward of the Euphrates River. Since then these FSA proxies have clashed with YPG fighters who are fighting under the flag of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Philippine Anti-US Protests In Support of Pres. Duterte’s Anticipated Break w/Imperialist Power

[ ‘It’s time to say goodbye’: Rodrigo Duterte dismisses US to embrace ; China  Rodrigo Duterte says he’d consider holding joint military exercises with China, Russia ]

A fireman trains his hose on protesters as they force their way towards the US embassy in Manila on Wednesday.
A fireman trains his hose on protesters as they force their way towards the US embassy in Manila on Wednesday. Photo: AP

[Pro-US Manilla police violently dispersed anti-US protesters.]

“The violent dispersal at the US embassy happened as the rally ended and groups prepared to leave. There was no justification for it. Even as the president avowed an independent foreign policy,

PH police forces still act as running dogs of the US,” Reyes said.

Scores hurt in violent rally dispersal
NO QUALMS A police van plows into a group of demonstrators in front of the US embassy on Roxas in Manila. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

Scores hurt in violent rally dispersal

SCORES were injured when policemen threw teargas and rammed into a group protesting the continued presence of American troops in the Philippines in front of the US Embassy in Manila Wednesday.

The rallyists, who included students and members of indigenous groups, were about to leave after throwing paint at the logo of the embassy, when they were violently dispersed.

A police car rammed into the group several times. At least three persons were injured when they were run over by the vehicle.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes took to social media to condemn the violent dispersal.

“The violent dispersal at the US embassy happened as the rally ended and groups prepared to leave. There was no justification for it. Even as the president avowed an independent foreign policy, PH police forces still act as running dogs of the US,” Reyes said.

At least 53 demonstrators and 10 policemen were injured in the scuffle.

Lawmen arrested several of the protesters and hauled them to the nearest police station.

Ephrim Cortez, the group’s lawyer, said those taken into police custody will be released but will face charges.

Russian Hacker Arrest In Praque Unrelated To Alleged Dem. Party Hack

czech-police Hacker is in custody

Rapid intervention experts quest.

Policemen investigation department of the Criminal Police and Investigation of the Police Presidium again successfully collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The aim of the police was this time a Russian citizen suspected of hacking attacks on targets in the United States. On the search was called Interpol issued. RED NOTICE.

With the rapid flow of information, the man was detained for 12 hours after receiving the first operational information. In the Czech Republic moved luxury car accompanied by his girlfriend. For the actual arrest took place in a hotel in the city center. Searched police crackdown was so surprised that no resistance. Immediately after the arrest of a man showed collapse and the state police had to take immediately provide first aid and was eventually hospitalized. The Municipal Court in Prague decided on the man’s custody. The hacker’s extradition to the US will now decide judicial authorities.

October 18, 2016
pore. David Schön
Spokesperson – Police Presidium

Hacker Allegedly Responsible for Massive 2012 LinkedIn Breach Arrested

m-motherboard
Written by Joseph Cox

On Wednesday, LinkedIn claimed a Russian hacker recently arrested in Prague was linked to a 2012 breach of the company, that affected over 100 million user accounts.

Czech police, in cooperation with the FBI, announced it had arrested the unnamed, alleged hacker in Prague on Tuesday. This came after Interpol issued a Red Notice against the individual, meaning that he is wanted for extradition to the United States.

“Following the 2012 breach of LinkedIn member information, we have remained actively involved with the FBI’s case to pursue those responsible,” a LinkedIn spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. “We are thankful for the hardwork and dedication of the FBI in its efforts to locate and capture the parties believed to be responsible for this criminal activity.”

According to Czech police, the man was detained in a hotel in Prague city center. He had driven a luxury car into the city, and was accompanied by his girlfriend. The man did not resist the arrest, but he did collapse, and had to be taken to hospital.

Motherboard previously reported that in 2012 hackers stole over 117 million user email addresses and passwords from LinkedIn. The data only surfaced this summer, along with a slew of other breaches encompassing tens and millions of customer details from Silicon Valley companies, including Myspace and Tumblr.

The hacker known as ‘Peace’ was the main person selling this data. Motherboard spoke to someone behind Peace’s online chat account approximately 12 hours ago.

Another person connected to the LinkedIn breach was the hacker, turned eventual scammer, Tessa88. Tessa allegedly was part of the same cybercriminal group that Peace was, which researchers believed originally hacked LinkedIn and other companies.

When Motherboard tried to send Tessa a message on Wednesday it would not deliver, instead returning an error message.

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai contributed reporting to this article.

Saudi Head-Choppers Kill Royal Prince Found Guilty of Murder–(updated)

Royal prince executed for murder

pulse-ng

[WRONG SAUDI ROYAL PICTURED PREVIOUSLY…HIS LAWYER INFORMED ME OF MY ERROR.–editor]

prince-turki-bin-saud-bin-turki-bin-saud-al-kabeer3
SOURCE

[HERE IS THE CORRECT ROYAL, Prince Turki bin Saud bin Turki bin Saud Al-Kabeer]

 

[HERE IS A YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THE MURDER, IN ARABIC…THE PHOTO BELOW IS FROM THE VIDEO, SHOWING HIM AT THE TIME OF THE ALTERCATION.]

prince-turki-bin-saud-bin-turki-bin-saud-al-kabeer

A prince from the Saudi royal family was executed on Tuesday for murdering a man during a brawl in the capital Riyadh, the Interior Ministry announced.

The execution of Prince Turki Saud-al-Kabir is an extremely rare case of a member of the conservative kingdom’s ruling family being put to death.

The Interior Ministry stated that “in announcing this, we want to affirm to all that the Kingdom’s government is determined to establish security.

“It will bring about justice and implement God’s law against all those who attack the innocent.”

Meanwhile, local media reported that the killing for which the prince was executed took place in 2012.

The media indicated that Prince Turki’s death sentence was upheld by the Appeal Court and the High Court.

Another royal prince welcomed the news, in the first public reaction from a member of the ruling family.

Prince Khaled Al Saud said “this is God’s law, and the way of our blessed kingdom. May God have mercy on the killer and his victim.”

A report says the execution brings to 128 the number of persons put to death so far in the country this year.

Saudi Arabia, which applies strict interpretation of Islamic law, is among the top executioners in the world, according to international rights groups.

On Jan. 2, authorities beheaded 47 people, including a prominent Shiite cleric, on terrorism-related charges, leading to furious protests from regional rival Iran and criticisms from rights groups.

Saudi Arabia imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, armed robbery, banditry, rape, drug-trafficking and witchcraft.

The Abject Failure of American Military Leadership and America’s Unwinnable Wars

[There is absolutely no reason why the most powerful military force in history cannot win even one little fight in fifteen years.  Now that Russia has shown the hypocrisy of American warfighting policy in Syria, the world is remembering what war is all about.  The US Military has an extreme allergy to bad publicity with public embarrassment being the final straw.  Syria is heating-up into potential world war just for that reason.  The entire Joint Chiefs should be sacked as a perfect example to all the uniformed prima donas waiting to fill their highly-polished shoes (SEE: Obama Doctrine–Do Just Enough To Lose Our Wars SlowlyUS/Taliban Stalement–Year 15 Jarhead General Either Just Declared War On Russia Or He Challenged Putin To A FistfightWhy the Lone Superpower Cannot Win Its Wars–No Plans For Victory, No Profit In Peace ).]

Our generals failed in Afghanistan

fp_icon

011214-D-2842B-002 The Joint Chiefs of Staff photographed in the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gold Room, more commonly known as The Tank, in the Pentagon on December 14, 2001.  From left to right are:  U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James L. Jones Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern E. Clark.  DoD photo by Mamie Burke.  (Released)

011214-D-2842B-002
The Joint Chiefs of Staff photographed in the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gold Room, more commonly known as The Tank, in the Pentagon on December 14, 2001. From left to right are: U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James L. Jones Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern E. Clark. DoD photo by Mamie Burke. (Released)

By Thomas E. Ricks

By Jason Dempsey
Best Defense guest contributor

 

The ascent of David Petraeus and the Army’s rediscovery of counterinsurgency doctrine led many to believe that the military had dramatically adapted itself for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately the transformation was only skin deep. Petraeus was a myth, and the intellectual father of the Army only in the eyes of the national media. The institutional inertia of the military bureaucracy never caught up with the press releases. The result was a never-ending series of public pronouncements by senior leaders about the importance of counterinsurgency, accompanied by a continuation of Cold War-era personnel and rotation policies that explicitly short-changed the effort.

Upon taking command in Afghanistan in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal made the rounds of his subordinate units and asked each of us, “What would you do differently if you had to stay until we won?” At the time I was in charge of operations for a brigade in the middle of tough fight in eastern Afghanistan. It was absolutely the right question, but in retrospect it was also a trick question. The answer was to get the right people into the fight, keep them there long enough to develop an understanding of the environment, and hold them accountable for progress, but that was not something the military was interested in doing. Instead, we stuck with a policy that rotated leaders through the country like tourists.

Taking the lessons of unit cohesion from Vietnam, the military has followed a policy in Afghanistan where entire units rotate in and out of country every seven, nine, or 12 months. This model, more than the policy of individual rotation in Vietnam, ensures both tactical proficiency and unit cohesion at the soldier level. But it also is completely ill-suited for a counterinsurgency campaign. It makes sense to limit the time soldiers spend conducting tactical operations, but leaders attempting to establish the kind of relationships and understanding necessary to be effective in counterinsurgency must be kept in place much longer. By changing out entire units so frequently, our policy has guaranteed that military leaders rotating through Afghanistan have never had more than a superficial understanding of the political environment they are trying to shape.

The shortcomings of this rotation policy in counterinsurgency have been further reinforced by an institutional culture and personnel management system that places a low priority on the advisory mission. From the beginning of our efforts in Afghanistan the advisory mission was promoted publicly but given a low priority in execution.

The premier example of this mismatch between what military leadership said we were doing, and what the bureaucracy was actually prioritizing, can be found in the story of the AfPak hands program. The program was launched by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, and lauded as the key to shaping Afghanistan by creating a cohort of expert officers from across the services that would have the language skills and experience to build the kind of long-term relationships needed to build an effective Afghan security apparatus. While a priority for the Chairman, the effort was never embraced by the services.

Despite the fanfare and stated importance of the program, mismanagement and mis-utilization were rampant as this specialized cadre encountered personnel systems unable to support non-traditional career paths. Caught between career managers that saw the program as a deviation from what officers “should” be doing – leading tactical units – and a deployment system that often led to random staff assignments instead of partnered roles with Afghan leaders, the program quickly became known as an assignment to be “survived” if not avoided altogether.

A leaked briefing from the Army G-1, the service’s head personnel officer, to the Chief of Staff of the Army in 2014 confirmed that the AfPak Hands program had become a dead end for military careers. Officers who had participated in the program were being promoted at a fraction of the rate of those who had not. There are only two explanations for this outcome: Either the Army was sending sub-par officers to serve in the program, or officers were being punished for deviating from the traditional career track. Whichever it was, both explanations reveal that the effort to train and advise the Afghans was simply not a priority for the Army.

Similar challenges faced those who served on Security Force Advise and Assist Teams. These teams, like the AfPak Hands program, were always ad hoc and widely considered assignments to avoid, as they did not align with traditional career paths. And in the end, the rigidity of the military’s 1950’s-era personnel system simply overwhelmed any desires to prioritize the counterinsurgency mission. Centrally managed and organized around rigid career development templates, this personnel system does a magnificent job of sustaining a peacetime military that is prepared to fight and win tactical battles at the onset of a conventional war, but is not built to go beyond placing square pegs in square holes.

Preserving the conventional warfighting capabilities produced under that system for a future war is a valid concern. But after 15 years of conflict with little success to show for our efforts it is past time to ask our military leaders, “What war are we waiting for?”

Warren Buffett famously observed that if you’ve been playing poker for half an hour and don’t know who the patsy at the table is, then you are the patsy. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 15 years. Afghans know how to manage the American officers passing through their country. American officers rotating through Afghanistan on short-term deployments can never fully understand the network of relationships behind the formal chain of command. I saw this firsthand in 2012 after working to relieve a clearly incompetent border police commander. After several months of cajoling his chain of command the officer was relieved. I had been told of his family connections, but felt his incompetence was surely enough to keep him out of uniform. Of course, I was wrong. By the time I returned in 2014, two generations of advisors had passed through the border police headquarters and he had reassumed command.

When we have not been oblivious to this dynamic we have reacted with indignation. After all, don’t the Afghans care about winning the war?

A common joke in large hierarchical bureaucracies like the American military is that things aren’t going well because “higher headquarters can’t plan, and subordinate units can’t execute.” This describes the current view of military leaders in that larger strategic failings are out of the military’s lane, while any faults in execution must surely fall on the shoulders of the Afghans. Left unexamined is how our approach to the war was both ill-suited for the task at hand and ultimately constrained our strategic options.

In discussing what the Afghans need to be ready to fight the Taliban, a senior Pentagon official recently said, “The local forces need air support, intelligence and help with logistics.” Yet, unaddressed by this official, and largely unasked by anyone, is why the Afghan military needs these capabilities when the Taliban have been able to achieve such success without them?

This would be a good first question for the next president to ask as he or she faces a steady stream of senior military officers asking for “more men, more money, and more time,” because the answer reveals the superficiality of the military’s approach to Afghanistan.

Our current exit strategy entails the creation of a massive security force designed for a nation with neither the effective bureaucracies nor functioning civil society that are required to sustain and control such a force. Of course, it will take decades to secure Afghanistan with this model. And even then there is no guarantee of success. So long as the military pays only lip-service to counterinsurgency the president will be hearing the same refrain of “more men, more money, and more time” for years to come.

Jason Dempsey retired from the Army in 2015, last serving as special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 as the operations officer to an infantry brigade and again in 2012-2013 as a combat advisor to the Afghan Border Police. He returned again briefly in 2014 to assess the advisory mission. He is the author of Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relations. He currently serves as an adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for New American Security and Director of the Military and Veterans Initiative at Columbia University.

Photo credit: Mamie Burke/U.S. Department of Defense

Al-Qaeda Fighters In East-Aleppo Are Officially Now All “Moderates”

Al-Qaeda Fighters In East-Aleppo (Defined) Down To Three!

moon of alabama

The pro-jihadist “west” is doing its best to define the number of civilians in east-Aleppo up and the number of al-Qaeda fighters in the city down. If the current numbering trend continues there will be a no al-Qaeda fighters left in east-Aleppo even as none have left. They will be redefined into “moderate rebels” who are entitled to the failed ceasefire they had never accepted in the first place.

The terrorists in east-Aleppo are encircled and besieged. The Syrian army nibbles away piece after piece of their territorial hold while the Syrian and Russian air force attack any recognized concentrations of forces or material. It is only a question of time until they are completely defeated.

Most of the fighters in the besieged area are associated with al-Qaeda. They are several thousand strong. Only few civilians remain. The eastern parts once housed some 300,000 people. About 10% of those, likely less, are still there. That are the realistic numbers. The spin differs.

When in 2013 the sectarian rebels had enclosed and completely besieged (map) the government held parts of Aleppo every win of theirs was called a liberation.


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They since killed many of the people they “liberated”. Others fled. But the tide has turned. This animated map shows the development from September 2015 to 2016. The now besieged “rebel” held areas in east-Aleppo are shrinking every day. This is today’s situation. Much of the northern parts of the besieged area, including the Palestinian camp Handarat, are back in government hands.


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Sooner or later the Syrian army will try to split the “rebel” held part along the east-west road from the airport to the inner (old) city.

The number game is played in front of the United Nations and in the “western media”. The first marks from an October 5 post here:

It is primarily al-Qaeda that holds Aleppo,” said (vid) the spokesperson of the U.S. led ‘Operation Inherent Resolve’, Colonel Warren. That was back in April and al-Qaeda (aka Jabat al-Nusra) has since strengthen its capacities in the city. The French Syria (military intelligence) expert Fabrice Balanche tells Le Figaro (translated from French):

[Al-Qaeda’s] grip on Aleppo’s east has only increased since the spring of 2016, when it sent 700 reinforcement fighters while moderate brigades fighters began to leave the area before the final exit was closed. The provisional opening of a breach of the siege of Aleppo in August 2016 (Battle of Ramousseh) has further increased its prestige and influence on the rebels.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria De Mistura told (vid, 27:43) the UN Security Council:

We have seen information from other sources that tell us more than half of the fighters present in eastern Aleppo are al-Nusra. We have also seen reports alleging the intentional placement of firing positions close to social infrastructure, inside and aside civilian quarters.

A few days after that speech De Mistura held a press conference in which he offered to escort al-Qaeda fighters out of the besieged area. He alos sharply revised the number of al-Qaeda fighters down to less than 10% of all fighters. From his October 6 press conference:

We have done a much more updated analysis of the al-Nusra reality in eastern Aleppo. I know I was quoted, and is correct, I did refer to a figure which was close to 50%, you must have heard it, I think it was in the context of the Security Council. Well based on a more accurate estimates, which are also more up to date, and which are never completely perfect but are in my opinion, quite reliable, we are talking now about a presence in eastern Aleppo of at maximum 900 people, 900 people. The previous figure probably was also based on the out of date figure, that about 1500 al-Nusra fighters had left Idlib and other locations in order to join the al- Ramousseh battle which you remember took place some time ago when they attempted to re-take al-Ramousseh road. But they, according to our information, did withdraw, once this counter-offensive did not succeed and failed. So this amends, and please take it now as the line, which can always be amended by facts and figures, and more effective analysis, but that amends the so-called 50% thing. 900 al-Nusra fighters in eastern Aleppo.The total number is, the question is of the fighters in general, including the so-called main stream fighters or the AOGs in eastern Aleppo, the maximum figure that is being considered as such is 8000 people, 8000.

So we went from “it is primarily al-Qaeda that holds Aleppo” to some 10% of all fighters there within a few month without any al-Qaeda fighter leaving. This while the siege was partially breached by the “rebels” in August and additional al-Qaeda fighters reportedly used the opening to entered the city.

One gets the feeling that Samantha Power herself, the “wailing banshee” and U.S. Ambassador to the UN, dictated those “more accurate estimates” to De Mistura.

But even those numbers are still too high some “diplomatic sources” now tell Reuters:

The number of Islamist rebels in eastern Aleppo who are not protected by any ceasefire deal, and can therefore be legitimately targeted, is far smaller than an estimate given by the United Nations, diplomatic sources have told Reuters.

Several sources independently told Reuters that de Mistura’s figure for JFS fighters was far too high, and the real number was no more than 200, perhaps below 100. One Western diplomat said it possibly had no more than a “symbolic” presence.

Next week we will be down to one or three “symbolic” al-Qaeda fighters in east-Aleppo. When De Mistura finally escorts them out he will need a few helpers to push the wheelchairs of those few, old and disabled people. That then will have “liberated” east-Aleppo from all Jihadi-fighters and only upright, secular and democratic rebels will remain. They will fall under the ceasefire (the one the U.S. and these “rebels” never accepted or immediately broke). They do not deserve to be targeted by Russia and the Syrian government – no matter what they do. That, at least, is what John Kerry and the “western” media will tell the people. It will of course be complete bullshit and no serious analysts will fall for it. But those do not get quoted in the media.

While the number of Jihadis and rebels gets defined down the number of civilians in the now besieged area goes up. The eastern besieged parts of the built-up city originally had some 300-400,000 inhabitants while the government held western parts held nearly 2,000,000. That is, at first sight of the above maps, irritating. But if one studies the satellite pictures underlying the maps in detail one will notice that at least half of the now besieged parts are open country and factory areas. The built-up share is much smaller than in the western parts. Current UN estimates for the western parts vary between 1.3 and 1.5 million. That is consistent with Syrian government claims. The UN has several relief missions and offices in the western parts and those estimates seem therefore reliable.

But for the eastern part the UN has given the abstruse estimates of 250,000-275,000. It has not given any sources for that number. It also has no offices and no missions in the eastern part. It is implausible that only very few people left an area that is ruled by various competing Jihadi groups, has had little electricity and water and has been fought over for years. Until very recently passages to west-Aleppo were open to civilians. The rebels only now blockade them.

An independent estimates of the real population in east-Aleppo comes from Martin Chulov, a journalist for The Guardian who has visited the area ten times since it was occupied by rebels from out of town. After his last visit he estimated the actual number of inhabitants to be down to 40,000:

Those who remain in eastern Aleppo, roughly 40,000 from a prewar population …

Just last week Chulov reconfirmed his observation:

I returned to the city for the last time. Finding residents in the east was difficult. Those who had stayed this long had no plans to leave. Umm Abdu, a wedding dress seamstress turned nurse was one of them.

Umm Abdu has left Aleppo, and few of the others I met along the way have stayed behind.

The Syrian government estimates are consistent with Chulov’s observations:

EHSANI2 @EHSANI22
According to well informed senior sources in #Damascus , number of civilians in #Aleppo does not exceed 60k according to their best estimate
11:02 AM – 14 Oct 2016EHSANI2 ‏@EHSANI22
@MoonofA @TPAtticus @CamilleOtrakji “range” of Syrian government estimate of civilians in E.Aleppo is 40k-60k…60k is high of the range
11:48 AM – 14 Oct 2016

In other siege areas where the rebels gave up to the Syrian government the numbers of people coming out of them were much smaller than the original inhabitants. The numbers were also smaller than all prior estimates. Daraya, near Damascus, originally had some 80,000 inhabitants. The numbers of besieged people in Daraya the UN had given were variously between several ten-thousands and down to 8,000. When the evacuation of Daraya started the Syrian army estimated that 800-1,200 fighters and 4,000 civilians would come out. In the end the numbers of leaving fighters was some 600-700 and less than 2,000 civilians turned up to leave. The area was searched and all had left.

Based on the Daraya numbers and those of other sieges in Syria there are probably no more than 4-5,000 fighters and some 3-5 civilians per fighter, i.e. their immediate families, in east-Aleppo. The real total could easily be as low as 20,000.

But even then the al-Qaeda fighters will be still be the majority of the “rebels” in the city. It is implausible that their total number is now less than the number which were earlier announced to enter as reinforcement. The official spinmasters talking to Reuters obviously want the numbers to be very, very low to keep the al-Qaeda fighters unharmed and in place for future operations.

I am confident that neither the Syrian nor the Russian military will be a sucker for such bullshit. That role is reserved for “western” journalist and the the usual lobbyist-“analysts” who are employed by Qatar, the U.S. and other Jihadi sponsors.

Theo Patnos, who was held hostage by al-Qaeda in Syria for nearly two years, was interviewed by Vanity Fair (watch the video at that link). Asked what the presidential candidates know about Syria he responds:

They don’t know a thing about Syria. Neither do the journalists, by the way. They’re doing their best, but they don’t know. They’re guessing. They speak with great authority but they really know very little. I don’t criticize them for being incompetent, but I criticize them for not having the up-close knowledge. They’re speaking of a planet they’ve never visited but they speak as though they do know and it’s a little confusing for me.

NATO Conniving To Escalate the Situation In Donbass

[Foreign Mercenaries Arrive to Donbass from NATO States – LPR Militia]

“Several hundred mercenaries from the United States, Canada, the Baltic countries and Poland have arrived in the area, armed with small arms and equipment,” the Doni news agency.

NATO Military Instructors Were Onboard Helicopter Shot Down in Donbass

south front analysis

Military instructors from the NATO were onboard a combat helicopter, shot down by the DPR soldiers on October 13, the DPR Operational Command reported.

Photo: AFP 2016 / Yuriy Dyachyshyn

Military instructors from NATO countries were onboard a combat helicopter, shot down by servicemen of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on October 13, deputy commander of the Operational Command of the republic, Eduard Basurin, said on Friday.

“According to preliminary information, foreign mercenaries – instructors from the NATO, were in the downed helicopter. The area of the incidence [with the helicopter] is cordoned off for several days, cellular communication is disabled,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted the words of the representative of the DPR Defense Ministry.

According to head of the DPR Alexander Zakharchenko, UAVs attempted to attack the territory of the republic under the cover of the military helicopter, which was put out of action, but managed to land on the territory of Donbass, occupied by the Kiev Forces. DPR soldiers shot the enemy’s helicopter down, while it was attacking their positions. According to the DPR intelligence, the incapacitated helicopter landed near Krasngotovka.

The use of combat aircraft and drones, with the exception of UAVs of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), is prohibited along the entire contact line by the Minsk Agreements.

The last time, Kiev used aircraft in Donbass on January 18, 2015. On that day, several the Su-25 fighter jets were noticed in the sky near Gorlovka.

John Kerry’s Lies for the American Empire

Aleppo the worst humanitarian disaster since WWII? Not so fast, Mr. Kerry

Russia-Today

American helicopters protect infantry battalions crossing rice fields 17 August 1967 in an unlocated place during the Vietnam war ©
The propaganda offensive unleashed against Russia by Washington and its allies has moved beyond satire and entered the realm of farce.

At the conclusion of their most recent meeting in London over the ongoing conflict in Syria, specifically the operation being carried out by Syrian government forces and Russia in Aleppo, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to the press in words that will not be treated kindly in the court of history.

“We are outraged by what is happening in Aleppo, which is in year 2016, beginning of the 21st century, horrendous step back in time to a kind of barbarianism, a use of force that is an insult to all of the values that the United Nations and most countries believe should guide our actions,” Kerry said.

It should be borne in mind that John Kerry speaks for a country which since the beginning of the 21st century has been responsible for a military mission in Afghanistan, where today the Taliban has never been stronger and in which ISIS now has a foothold, and for turning Iraq and Libya into failed states, unleashing an ocean of death, misery, human suffering, and chaos in the process.

It is more than enough to expose the moral high ground upon which the US and its allies have occupied over Syria as a dung heap of hypocrisy and double standards.

As for the barbarism against which John Kerry declaims, it has engulfed Syria and its people courtesy of the destabilization of the region wrought by Washington during the aforementioned wars and military interventions, producing a refugee crisis of staggering scale and triggering the proliferation of terrorism in Syria, throughout the wider region, and across the world. Indeed it is interesting to note the hypocrisy when Salafi-jihadists unleash indiscriminate violence in Europe or the US they are described as terrorists, but when they do likewise in Syria they are described as rebels.

John Kerry, it is clear, would prefer us to start the clock in 2016 when it comes to the current crisis and chaos in Syria. He wants to wipe Washington’s slate clean of the utter shambles and perfidy of its presence in a region it has long viewed as a giant chessboard, upon which its people are regarded as nothing more than pawns in their game. But do so and we insult the memory of the countless men, women, and children who have perished in the inferno begun by the US and its international and regional proxies in service not to human rights or democracy, as they claim, but hegemony and domination.

In his statement in London, John Kerry went on to opine, “It’s [Aleppo] a humanitarian disaster that is the largest humanitarian disaster since World War Two.”

The claim that the military operation to liberate Aleppo from those responsible for reducing it to a living hell for its citizens is “the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War” is simply ludicrous. Here we need to remind Mr. Kerry of the destruction of North Korea in a US bombing campaign so devastating that not one building was left intact. Then there is the destruction, decimation, and disaster visited on the people of Vietnam in a brutal imperialist war in which US atrocities were a daily occurrence – a war in which John Kerry served but later denounced.

Perhaps the Secretary of State also forgot about Cambodia, where after a mass bombing campaign conducted against the country and its people by the United States in the 1970s the Khmer Rouge emerged to carry out their project of Year Zero. There is also the claim that the US and its UK ally provided covert support for these fanatical killers and torturers upon the liberation of Cambodia by the Vietnamese in 1979 to contend with.

Space prohibits us from adding further examples to this litany of US foreign policy disasters and military operations since the Second World War – the various coups, proxy wars, and covert operations around the world engaged in by Washington – but even without those included it stands as a withering indictment of John Kerry’s attempt to tar Russia with the brush of war crimes.

It is more than enough, however, to expose the moral high ground upon which the US and its allies have occupied over Syria as a dung heap of hypocrisy and double standards.

The only question that matters when it comes to the conflict in Aleppo, and Syria in general, is who is responsible for prolonging it and who is serious when it comes to ending it?

The Syrian people, supported by Russia, are engaged in a struggle for the survival of their country as a secular non-sectarian state in which minority communities that have existed in al-Sham (the ancient name for the Levant and Syria) for millennia are not threatened with genocide and extinction. At the point at Russia’s involvement in the conflict began in 2015, the country was in serious danger of being tipped over the cliff.

Despite the inordinate courage and tenacity of the Syrian Army and its allies, resistance to the country’s invasion by hordes of fanatical Islamist jihadists, supported by US regional allies, was beginning to crack. In fact it is no exercise in hyperbole to state that Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other countries were circling Syria like vultures over a wounded animal, waiting to descend.

It is worth remembering also that the presence of Russian military forces in Syria is in full accordance with international law – as per Chapter VII, Article 51 of the UN Charter. Unlike the US, UK, and other international actors in the conflict, Russia joined the conflict at the request of the country’s legitimate government. Furthermore, it is a government that enjoys the support of a people who well understand the difference between reform and ruin.

But let us return to John Kerry, who concluded his statement in London by saying, “And it could stop tomorrow morning, tonight if Russia and the Assad regime were to behave according to any norm or any standard of decency, but they’ve chosen not to. Instead we see what can only be described as crimes against humanity taking place on a daily basis.”

Here, again, the US Secretary of State is guilty of dissembling and distortion. The conflict to liberate Aleppo could end tomorrow if the US placed serious pressure on its regional allies to stop supporting terrorism in Aleppo as well as in Syria as a whole. It will end when Washington and London stop the charade of maintaining there exists an army of ‘moderate rebels’ in Aleppo and across Syria, distinct in ideology and method from ISIS, Nusra Front, and Al-Qaeda. The Syrian people are way beyond the stage of being able to afford to make any distinction between moderate head-chopping fanatics and their extremist counterparts.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry give a joint press conference after a meeting on the situation in Syria at Lancaster House in London October 16, 2016. © JUSTIN TALLIS

The truth is that John Kerry and his British counterpart Boris Johnson – whose call for public protests to be staged outside the Russian embassy in London recently was more in tune with the legacy of Benito Mussolini than his political inspiration Winston Churchill – are engaged in a determined effort to demonize Russia and Syria not in order to see an end to the suffering of the people of eastern Aleppo, as they assert, but in response to a military operation that moves ever closer to liberating them.

UK bank to close RT accounts

UK bank to close RT accounts, ‘long live freedom of speech!’ – editor-in-chief

Russia-Today

The UK bank servicing RT has given notice that it will close the broadcaster’s accounts, without explanation. The UK government has denied any involvement in the bank’s decision.

“They closed our accounts in Britain. All of them. ‘Decision not to be discussed’. Long live freedom of speech!” RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on her Twitter account.

She added that RT’s assets were not frozen and can still be withdrawn from the accounts.

The National Westminster Bank has informed RT UK that it will no longer have the broadcaster among its clients. The bank provided no explanation for the decision.

“We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities,” NatWest said in a letter to RT’s London office.

The bank said that the entire Royal Bank of Scotland Group, of which NatWest is part, would refuse to service RT.

The letter said the decision was final and that it is “not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it.”

The RT press office pointed out that NatWest is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which counts the UK government as a significant shareholder.

“This decision is incomprehensible, and without warning. It is however, not at odds with the countless measures that have been undertaken in the UK and Europe over the last few years to ostracize, shout down, or downright impede the work of RT. RT UK will continue its operations uninterrupted,” RT press office stated.

READ MORE: ‘The British establishment doesn’t want people to ‘question more” (Op-Ed)

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s office has denied any involvement in NatWest’s decision.

“It’s a matter for the bank and it’s for them to decide who they offer services to based on their own risk appetite,” May’s spokeswoman told reporters, as cited by Reuters.

“We have no idea why it happened, because neither yesterday nor the day before yesterday, nor a month ago, nothing special happened to us, nobody threatened us in any way. Hypothetically, this may have something to do with new British and American sanctions against Russia, which may be announced soon. It may not. Our legal department is dealing with the issue now,” Margarita Simonyan told RBK business news website.

READ MORE: Spanish bank blocks payment to RT over EU sanctions against non-related media chief

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its “deep concern” over the bank’s move and said that it would ask British authorities “to clarify the situation.”

The bank’s move creates “formidable obstacles for the normal work of the [RT] channel in the UK,” the ministry said, adding that it raises suspicions that it was “an action aimed at eliminating a media outlet, which was unfavorable for the British establishment but popular among the British public.”

“If so, then it is a gross violation of the basic principles of free speech and free press by… ‘the oldest democracy in the world’,” the ministry statement added.

The bank’s move concerning RT UK is unprecedented, cynical pressure on the media, Sergey Zheleznyak, member of the Russian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

“We will demand explanations from the British authorities for this situation. We will help RT staff to protect their rights. We will request that international organizations like the Council of Europe and the UN, as well as international human rights and media professionals communities state their positions on this issue,” he said.

“I sincerely hope that there’s no political motive for this, because we know that the British government isn’t happy with RT in Britain,” publisher Marcus Papadopoulos told RT.

“RT has a lot of viewers in Britain. Many British people now tune in to RT to receive information on major topics around the world, including in Britain. And many British people believe that the alternative accounts that RT puts forward and covers are more truthful than what they’re hearing from, for example, Sky News.

“If no bank in Britain would allow RT to be a customer, then that could spell the end of RT broadcasting in Britain, which would be a catastrophic event for freedom of speech in Britain,” he added.

“It seems more than a coincidence that this has taken place at a time when the anti-Russian propaganda has been ramped up to unprecedented levels,” writer John Wight told RT. “This reflects the extent to which the West is losing the information war. RT plays a key role in challenging the narrative of the West and Western media when it comes to events in Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East.”

The British government indeed considers RT to be a major security threat, according to a report it gave to the parliament in September. The cabinet’s plan to counter it, as stated to MPs, is to encourage “greater alignment between policy and communications divisions” of NATO structures as well as pumping more money into BBC World Service.

Erdogan and the Saudis are already making threats against Iranian militias in Mosul

[Both Erdogan and the Saudis are making threats against Iranian militias in Mosul, which they consider a Sunni city (SEE:  Saudi Arabia urges Iraq not to let Shia militias into Mosul).]

mosulTHE HINDU

[CNN reports that 90,000 Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdish Troops involved in Mosul offensive.]

President Barzani hails historic coordination between Kurdish and Iraqi forces

rudaw kurd logo

President Masoud Barzani speaking on the Khazir frontline. Photo: Rudaw video
President Masoud Barzani speaking on the Khazir frontline. Photo: Rudaw video

 

KHAZIR FRONT — Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region, who has been overseeing the Peshmerga forces participation in today’s offensive, made an address from the Khazir frontline Monday afternoon. He hailed the historic coordination between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces, paid tribute to those who have been killed in the offensive, and pledged continued coordination with the Iraqi central government in Baghdad, including finding a political solution to the governance of Mosul after its liberation.
The full text of his address follows:Today is a historical day. It has been a long time since there were so many meetings between the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to liberate Mosul.We met with Prime Minister Abadi during our visit to Baghdad and we decided to begin the operation. And today at 6am we began the liberation process and it is successful so far. We have liberated 200 square kilometres so far. This is the first step in the liberation as a joint military offensive between Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army.

I would like to thank the international coalition for all the support they have provided. I would like to extend my appreciation and congratulations to the Peshmerga and all the Iraqi forces for their heroic mission.

This is the first time the blood of the Peshmerga and the Iraqi forces are mixed. We hope it’s a good start to create a bright future for both sides.

We hope Mosul will be liberated through this offensive, but that does not mean it’s the end of terror. It’s also a sign that Baghdad and Erbil should coordinate with the support of coalition forces.

We assure the Mosul citizens that they will be safe and they will return to their normal life. We hope there will be no revenge between powers or anyone.

In the end, I would like to express my condolences to all martyrs and wounded forces. I pray the injured recover quickly.

Barzani added the following statements in reply to reporters’ questions:

“This is the first time the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces have coordinated to fight an enemy in one place.”

“The roles of the Iraqi forces and our forces was well planned – where we will be and where they will be during and after the operation. I do not think there will be any disputes between us and the central government over disputed areas.”

“We agreed to launch a joint committee to deal with any political issues that may arise after the Mosul operation.”

“There is good coordination between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces. The achievements of today were proof of this.”

“We believe there should be an understanding between Baghdad and Ankara,” he said in answer to a question regarding the involvement of Turkish troops in the Mosul battle.

“The coordination between Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga will continue and we expect the process be a long one. It is just the beginning of the operation. We are ready for any kind of coordination.”

“Iraqi forces went to Ramadi without the Peshmerga forces. The role of both Iraqi and Peshmerga forces are clear and we are ready to provide any kind of support that is required from us.”

“I cannot say how long the operation will take, but we are ready for as long as it takes.”

When asked about the trenches built from Tal Afar, in the north, to Khanaqin, in the southern reaches of the Kurdistan Region, Barzani answered, “We have built trenches to keep ISIS militants at bay.”

“1.8 million internally displaced persons are settled in the Kurdistan Region and we expect more to flee to the Kurdistan Region. This is beyond the capacity of the Kurdistan Regional Government. We have discussed this with the United Nations and we have raised our concerns, so more support should be provided.”

“We will not let Mosul be another Aleppo,” Barzani added.

“I want to point out one thing – no forces in the world could have obtained a victory with the kind of weapons we are fighting with.”

UNESCO Adopts Resolution Denying Jewish Ownership of Jerusalem

Historical revisionism: UNESCO adopts PLO’s Islamist resolution denying Jewish, Christian ties to Jerusalem

un-watch

sudan

Sudan’s delegate to the 200th UNESCO Executive Board session in Paris this week.
Sudan co-sponsored the text and was one of only 24 out of 58 member states who supported it.

GENEVA, Oct. 13, 2016 — UN Watch condemned UNESCO’s “historical revisionism” after the agency’s 5iran8-member Executive Board adopted an inflammatory and one-sided Palestinian-drafted resolutionsubmitted by the Islamic states, which erases Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem and casts doubt on the connection between Judaism and the ancient city’s Temple Mount and Western Wall. The vote was 24 in favor (including Iran and Sudan), 6 against (including USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands), 26 abstaining, and 2 absent.

At the same time, UN Watch said the inflammatory text’s failure to obtain a majority was a moral victory. The amount of countries abstaining increased by seven from the 17 who supported a similar text in April, with France, India, Argentina, Spain, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Guinea and Togo shifting their votes from yes to abstain.

The resolution was drafted by the Palestinians but officially submitted by Sudan’s genocidal regime together with human rights abusers Algeria, Egypt, Lebomananon, Morocco, Oman, and Qatar.

Notable features of the text:

  • The resolution “decries,” “condemns,” “deplores” and “deprecates” a long list of alleged Israeli infringements of Palestinian rights. The text calls Israel “the Occupying Power.”
  • The text omits any mention of the hundreds of violent Palestinian attacks against Jews in Jerusalem, organized Palestinian attempts to terrorize Jews visiting Jewish holy sites in the city, or incitement to such attacks by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas
  • The decision “strongly condemns” the alleged “escalating Israeli aggressions and illegal measures” against “the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their Holy Site Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif”
  • The text “firmly deplores” the “continuous storming of Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces,” and calls on Israel to stop “provocative abuses”malaysia
  • The resolution refers to the Temple Mount only with the Islamic and Arabic names of “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
  • The Western Wall is described using scare quotes as “Western Wall Plaza”, to denote disbelief (Arts.16, 18); other Israeli sites are described as the “so called Liba” and “so called Kedem Center.” (Art. 16)
  • The resolution describes the sacred Jewish sites of the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem and Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs (revered as the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) as “two Palestinian sites.” The text “deeply regrets” Israel’s refusal to remove these sites from its national heritage list.
  • The resolution removes the April text’s wild conspiracy charge that Israel was “planting Jewish fake graves” (Art. 14 of April 2016 resolution)  in Muslim cemeteries.
  • A major story today is the decision of France to abstain. With UNESCO based in Paris, the French government’s strategy has traditionally been to distinguish itself as a leading figure in the Arab-led anti-Israel bloc. In 2011, France aggressively lobbied against the U.S. and Israel for UNESCO to admit “Palestine” as a member, a catastrophic decision that crippled UNESCO’s finances as Washington cut funding. In 2012, French voting was more anti-Israel than even the regimes of Syria, Russia and Venezuela. It would seem, however, that the outrage generated from its April support for such a rabid text prompted French leaders to express regret, influencing today’s policy virage.

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Vote Breakdown

24 countries voted in favor: Algeria,  Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Vietnam.

6 voted againstUSA, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia.

26 abstained: France, India, Argentina, Spain, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Guinea, Togo, Albania, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Paraguay, South Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine.

2 were absent: Serbia, Turkmenistan

To Avoid International ‎Pariahdom, Pakistan Parts Its Iron Curtain On Press Freedom

International isolation looms as Pakistan continues to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ non-state actors

the nation pakistan

Pakistan’s national interest lies in the complete elimination of nefarious elements, without any discrimination; the civil and military brass should at least have the decency to admit that Pakistan still isn’t 100 per cent sure which non-state actor is good or bad

International isolation looms as Pakistan continues to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ non-state actors

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is a co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the chief or amir of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah

In an address to the leaders of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa that collectively make up BRICS, including India, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Tragically the mothership of terrorism is a country in India’s neighbourhood.”

Now we all know that the very ‘mothership of terrorism’ being referred was Pakistan. I wonder why Modi avoided mentioning Pakistan’s name; perhaps a possible fear of China, the president of whom was sitting right next to the Indian prime minister.

Whatever the reason might be, Modi’s statement shows just how committed New Delhi is when it comes to isolating Pakistan globally. From cancelling the Saarc summit to boycotting Pakistani artistes, the Modi regime is hell-bent on weakening Pakistan at every international forum.

Now let us reflect on the ever-changing political landscape of Pakistan.

Pakistan is trying it’s best to convince foreign diplomats, especially those in the United States, that it has adopted a ‘non-discriminatory’ approach towards nefarious elements, which aim to destabilise the country.

But Islamabad’s attempts to convince its allies have met with sharp criticism, both at home and abroad.

Days ago, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) took a jibe at the government and demanded action against non-state actors; the very non-state actors New Delhi alleges Islamabad of sponsoring.

The lawmaker, Rana Muhammad Afzal, recalled a trip to France where, he said, foreign delegates brought up the name of Hafiz Saeed time and again. He also questioned whether Hafiz Saeed was good or bad for the Kashmir cause.

A recent report by an English daily staffer has also revealed the confusion that persists among the civil and military quarters over how to deal with non-state actors. According to the report, the civilian government claims the army interferes whenever the former takes action against certain groups.

Instead of clarifying its stance on non-state actors, however, the federal government placed the name of the reporter of the story, Cyril Almeida, on Exit Control List.

Pakistan’s civil and military brass claims the story was a ‘threat to national security’. Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar even defended the ban on the Dawn staffer and branded the report the “narrative of our enemies”.

The point of discussion is not Almeida’s reporting of the story, whose name has since been removed from ECL. The decision to ban him reflects the immaturity on part of the federal government, and Almeida’s story was never, as both the civil and military brass claim, a ‘threat to national security’.

The current political scenario calls for Pakistan to clearly define its policies to its allies; not just define but act on them as well. Pakistan has to realise that what really is in its national interest is the complete elimination of nefarious elements, without any discrimination; the civil and military brass should at least have the decency to admit that Pakistan still isn’t 100 per cent sure which non-state actor is good or bad.

The United States is time and again asking Islamabad to ‘do more’ against terrorism. China, although claims to be a strategic ally of Pakistan, yet it has expressed its concerns over the course the latter has taken.

Their demands are simple: take indiscriminate action against nefarious elements or face isolation; the latter appears to looming over the country as it walks a line between appeasing the civilian and the security establishment.

When and if isolated, the impact would be drastic, and Pakistan would never want that.

Manik Aftab is a member of staff. He can be reached at manikaftab820@gmail.com