ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

[BEFORE–my error–ed] Big Kabul Blast, Motorcycle-Born Suicide-Bomber Stopped In Kabul City

2 would-be suicide bombers

blown up in Kabul

 

By Nasir ahmad sadiqi

KABUL (Pajhwok): Two would-be suicide bombers detonated their explosives before reaching to their target after chased by police in the capital Kabul on Tuesday.

Kabul police spokesman, Abdul Basir Mujahid told Pajhwok Afghan news that the suicide bombers who were riding a motorcycle exploded themselves in Haji Chaman road of 11th police district around 3:30pm today [big blast at 8:24 am–].

He said the bomber, after being positively identified by police, lost confidence and detonated his explosives. There were no other casualties.

Powerful Tanker-Truck-Bomb Hits Kabul…80 confirmed dead

ScreenShot_20170531065516

ROSHAN TO LAUNCH 4G SERVICES IN AFGHANISTAN

May 9, 2017 (Kabul, Afghanistan)

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), is a major shareholder of Roshan and promotes private initiatives and building economically sound enterprises in the developing world. Also owned in part by Monaco Telecom International (MTI) and Telia

[Most news reports are focusing upon the bomb’s proximity to the German Embassy in Kabul, but judging from the casualty figures, the Germans were not the target.  Pajhwok Press initially reported that there were unnamed “foreign compounds” in the immediate vicinity, but then went behind a pay-wall.  Ariana TV News produced the following report, focusing upon the Roshan Telecommunications facility, which suffered the brunt of the blast.  Aga Khan facilities and Ismaili Shia have suffered many attacks in the past.]

At Least 80 Killed, 350 Wounded as Huge

Bomb Blast Hits Kabul

At least 80 people were killed and 350 others wounded as a huge blast hits Kabul city on Wednesday.

The blast occurred around 8:24 am local time and the sound was heard all over around the city.

The attack was occurred near Zambaq square in police district 10 of Kabul where many foreign embassies and government offices reside.

According to the ministry of interior, at least 64 civilians were killed and 320 others including children and women were wounded in the blast while the ministry of public health officials say the death tolls has raised to 80 death and 350 wounded.

Two hours after the deadly blast ambulances were seen rushing to the site of the incident.

Security officials said that the explosive materials were placed inside a water tanker in the area.

Ariana News correspondent at the site of the incident says that initial reports indicate the target of the blast was a telecommunication company in the area.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban have denied any involvement in the attack.

There has been no ward yet from so-called Islamic State.

Saudi Disinformation Attempts To Implicate Qatar w/Fake News From Fake “Bin Laden Raid”

A recent report by Al Arabiya News indicates that Osama bin Laden had documents relating to ties between al-Qaeda and Qatar.

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In reaction to reports about alleged support by the Qatari government to terrorist groups in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Monday said that one of the key reasons for the ongoing conflict in the country was because insurgent groups were getting support from regional countries.

This comes after the Afghan government announced that unless the Taliban ends its insurgency, government will have the group’s political office closed in Doha, Qatar.

However, months later, the Taliban continues to wage war and their Doha office is still open for business.

According to a recent report published by Al Arabiya News, Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad documents, that were seized by U.S forces during the raid on his residence in Pakistan, revealed Qatar’s relations with al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden had praised the relations with Qatar and called for the relations to be preserved. Al Arabiya News stated that bin Laden said all channels were working against them, except Qatar, due to their common interests. He added that this channel was an important platform for al-Qaeda in the region.

According to the report, Qatar has been providing financial support to terrorist groups in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq for several years.

Although the ministry of foreign affairs did not name any particular country, it said that support of terrorism by some countries was one of the key reasons behind the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan government believes that the war will not end in the country until the regional and ultra-regional countries end their support of terrorism,” said MoFA spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mustaghni.

Three months ago, during a meeting with the Qatari foreign minister in Germany, President Ashraf Ghani called for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar to be closed if the group continued its attacks in the country. But government has done nothing to follow this up.

“Unfortunately the Taliban continues its political activities in their office in Qatar and they establish their contacts from the same office with regional and ultra-regional countries and there is no obstruction to prevent them,” said Mohammad Natiqi, former Afghan envoy to Libya.

“Until now, Afghanistan has not outlined an effective policy alongside its major ally the U.S; some countries will continue their support of the Taliban,” said MP Ali Alizada.

“During his visit to the Middle East, U.S Defense Secretary James Mattis, warned Qatari officials about their country’s continued support to the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic movements that are linked to extremist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS (Daesh),” the Al Arabiya reports read.

US To Attempt High Stakes ICBM Interception Tomorrow…Vandenberg ABM To Shoot-Down “Scud” Facsimile from Kwajalein

Vandenberg to launch first test of ICBM intercept on Tuesday

 

 

Preparing for North Korea’s growing threat, the Pentagon is planning a missile defense test next week that will target an intercontinental-range missile for the first time.

 

  • By ROBERT BURNS AP National Security Writer

Preparing for North Korea’s growing threat, the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test launch Tuesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland, officials said Friday.

The American interceptor has a spotty track record, succeeding in nine of 17 attempts against missiles of less-then-intercontinental range since 1999. The most recent test, in June 2014, was a success, but that followed three straight failures. The system has evolved from the multibillion-dollar effort triggered by President Ronald Reagan’s 1983 push for a “Star Wars” solution to ballistic missile threats during the Cold War — when the Soviet Union was the only major worry.

North Korea is now the focus of U.S. efforts because its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to field a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American territory. He has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, but Pentagon officials believe he is speeding in that direction.

Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said this week that “left unchecked,” Kim will eventually succeed.

The Pentagon has a variety of missile defense systems, but the one designed with a potential North Korean ICBM in mind is perhaps the most technologically challenging. Critics say it also is the least reliable.

The basic defensive idea is to fire a rocket into space upon warning of a hostile missile launch. The rocket releases a 5-foot-long device called a “kill vehicle” that uses internal guidance systems to steer into the path of the oncoming missile’s warhead, destroying it by force of impact. Officially known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the Pentagon likens it to hitting a bullet with a bullet.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency is responsible for developing and testing the system.

An interceptor is to be launched from an underground silo at Vandenberg and soar toward the target, which will be fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. If all goes as planned, the “kill vehicle” will slam into the ICBM-like target’s mock warhead high over the Pacific Ocean.

The target will be a custom-made missile meant to simulate an ICBM, meaning it will fly faster than missiles used in previous intercept tests, according to Christopher Johnson, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency. The target is not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM.

“We conduct increasingly complex test scenarios as the program matures and advances,” Johnson said Friday. “Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process.”

Officials say this is not a make-or-break test.

While it wasn’t scheduled with the expectation of an imminent North Korean missile threat, the military will closely watch whether it shows progress toward the stated goal of being able to reliably shoot down a small number of ICBMs targeting the United States. The Pentagon is thirsting for a success story amid growing fears about North Korea’s escalating capability.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going to say if it fails,” said Philip Coyle, senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. He headed the Pentagon’s office of operational test and evaluation from 1994 to 2001 and has closely studied the missile defense system.

“These tests are scripted for success, and what’s been astonishing to me is that so many of them have failed,” Coyle said.

The interceptor system has been in place since 2004, but it has never been used in combat or fully tested. There currently are 32 interceptors in silos at Fort Greely in Alaska and four at Vandenberg, north of Los Angeles. The Pentagon says it will have eight more, for a total of 44, by the end of this year.

In its 2018 budget presented to Congress this week, the Pentagon proposed spending $7.9 billion on missile defense, including $1.5 billion for the ground-based midcourse defense program. Other elements of that effort include the Patriot designed to shoot down short-range ballistic missiles and the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which the U.S. has installed in South Korea as defense against medium-range North Korean missiles.

The Trump administration has yet to announce its intentions on missile defense.

President Donald Trump recently ordered the Pentagon to undertake a ballistic missile defense review. Some experts argue the current strategy for shooting down ICBM-range missiles, focused on the silo-based interceptors, is overly expensive and inadequate. They say a more fruitful approach would be to destroy or disable such missiles before they can be launched, possibly by cyberattack.

After Trump Scares Merkel, she says Europe ‘must take our fate into our own hands’

Germany Is Quietly Building a European Army Under Its Command

Donald Trump BATTERS Brussels with order to STOP EU Army plans or lose US Nato support

Post-summit, Merkel says Europe ‘must take our fate into our own hands’

Nighttime Helicopters spotted landing in Taliban areas, Once Again

[This is not the first time that secret helicopters have been spotted landing in Taliban camps (Russia Reports More Incidents of Outside Helicopters Rescuing Besieged TalibanDec 29, 2016).  This is just the latest example of outside powers, ones with night-flying capabilities, swooping in to administer unknown aid to besieged Taliban.  There would be no Taliban today if it had not been for the original Taliban covert rescue episode at Kunduz, and the fall of Mazar e-Sharif.]

[Since Nov. 2001, the Taliban and al-Qaeda have been rescued from imminent eradication by intervening airlifts, ascribed to many agencies, US, Brit, Pak.  See St. Dept. spokesman in above video admitting to the preservation of the militants trapped in Kunduz.  This airlift was chronicled by investigative writer Seymour Hersh in The Getaway.]

[SEE:  Chinese Press Reports NATO Incursion In N. Waziristan, Helicopters Take Pakistan Taliban Leaders To Afghanistan ; Gen. Beg Claims US Helicopter Flew Hakeemullah to Safety ;  Afghan president: Unknown helicopters transfer rebels to Northern Afghanistan  ]

Ghazni: Helicopters spotted landing in Taliban areas

[ representative image]

How Saudi Arabia played Donald Trump– Fareed Zakaria

How Saudi Arabia played Donald Trump

This week’s bombing in Manchester, England, was another gruesome reminder that the threat from radical Islamist terrorism is ongoing. And President Trump’s journey to the Middle East illustrated yet again how the country central to the spread of this terrorism, Saudi Arabia, has managed to evade and deflect any responsibility for it. In fact, Trump has given Saudi Arabia a free pass and a free hand in the region.

The facts are well-known. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has spread its narrow, puritanical and intolerant version of Islam — originally practiced almost nowhere else — across the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden was Saudi, as were 15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists.

And we know, via a leaked email from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in recent years the Saudi government, along with Qatar, has been “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [the Islamic State] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” Saudi nationals make up the second-largest group of foreign fighters in the Islamic State and, by some accounts, the largest in the terrorist group’s Iraqi operations. The kingdom is in a tacit alliance with al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The Islamic State draws its beliefs from Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi version of Islam. As the former imam of the kingdom’s Grand Mosque said last year, the Islamic State “exploited our own principles, that can be found in our books. . . . We follow the same thought but apply it in a refined way.” Until the Islamic State could write its own textbooks for its schools, it adopted the Saudi curriculum as its own.

Saudi money is now transforming European Islam. Leaked German intelligence reports show that charities “closely connected with government offices” of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are funding mosques, schools and imams to disseminate a fundamentalist, intolerant version of Islam throughout Germany.

In Kosovo, the New York Times’ Carlotta Gall describes the process by which a 500-year-old tradition of moderate Islam is being destroyed. “From their bases, the Saudi-trained imams propagated Wahhabism’s tenets: the supremacy of Shariah law as well as ideas of violent jihad and takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims considered heretics for not following its interpretation of Islam. . . . Charitable assistance often had conditions attached. Families were given monthly stipends on the condition that they attended sermons in the mosque and that women and girls wore the veil.”

Saudi Arabia’s government has begun to slow many of its most egregious practices. It is now being run, de facto, by a young, intelligent reformer, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who appears to be refreshingly pragmatic, in the style of Dubai’s visionary leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. But so far the Saudi reforms have mostly translated into better economic policy for the kingdom, not a break with its powerful religious establishment.

Trump’s speech on Islam was nuanced and showed empathy for the Muslim victims of jihadist terrorism (who make up as much as 95 percent of the total, by one estimate). He seemed to zero in on the problem when he said, “No discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists . . . safe harbor, financial backing and the social standing needed for recruitment.”

But Trump was talking not of his host, Saudi Arabia, but rather of Iran. Now, to be clear, Iran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East and supports some very bad actors. But it is wildly inaccurate to describe it as the source of jihadist terror. According to an analysis of the Global Terrorism Database by Leif Wenar of King’s College London, more than 94 percent of deaths caused by Islamic terrorism since 2001 were perpetrated by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadists. Iran is fighting those groups, not fueling them. Almost every terrorist attack in the West has had some connection to Saudi Arabia. Virtually none has been linked to Iran.

Trump has adopted the Saudi line on terrorism, which deflects any blame from the kingdom and redirects it toward Iran. The Saudis showered Trump’s inexperienced negotiators with attention, arms deals and donations to a World Bank fund that Ivanka Trump is championing. (Candidate Trump wrote in a Facebook post in 2016, “Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!”) In short, the Saudis played Trump. (Jamie Tarabay makes the same point.)

The United States has now signed up for Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy — a relentless series of battles against Shiites and their allies throughout the Middle East. That will enmesh Washington in a never-ending sectarian struggle, fuel regional instability and complicate its ties with countries such as Iraq that want good relations with both sides. But most important, it will do nothing to address the direct and ongoing threat to Americans — jihadist terrorism. I thought that Trump’s foreign policy was going to put America first, not Saudi Arabia.

Trump Faces the Fury of a Scorned Ruling Class

Trump Faces the Fury of a Scorned Ruling Class

cetusnews.com

The ‘threat’ that has elites quaking is his serious attempt to curb federal power and cut spending.

By George Melloan

A lobbyist friend who visited Capitol Hill recently came away horrified. “I now am ready to believe that the partisanship is so unhinged that it’s a threat to the Republic,” she writes in an email.

This Washington hysteria comes at a time of full employment, booming stocks, relative peace and technological marvels like an electronic robot named Alexa who fetches and plays for you songs of your choice. What’s the fuss about?

We all know the answer: Donald Trump. The Washington body politic has been invaded by an alien presence and, true to the laws of nature, that body is feverishly trying to expel it. These particular laws of nature demand rejection of anything that threatens the livelihoods and prestige of the permanent governing class.

The “threat” that has Washington quaking is the first serious effort in a long time to curb federal regulatory power, wasteful spending, and a propensity to run up mountainous budget deficits and debt. That’s presumably what the voters wanted when they elected Donald Trump. Democrats—accurately regarded as the party of government—seem to fear that Mr. Trump might actually, against all odds, pull it off.

The Washington Post, the New York Times and other apostles of the Democratic Party have apparently set out to prove that despite their shaky business models they can still ignite an anti-Trump bonfire. A recent headline in the Post. asserted that “Trump’s scandals stoke fear for the 2018 midterms among Republicans nationwide.”

What scandals would those be? There was of course the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Democrat Hillary Clinton went on TV to claim that Mr. Comey cost her the election. Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey. Did Democrats praise the president? No, they want him impeached. Devious logic, but devious is a good descriptor of much of what goes on in this fight.

Mr. Comey retaliated by leaking a “big scoop” to the Times—notes taken when Mr. Trump allegedly asked him to back off on the investigation of national security adviser Mike Flynn. But let’s recall the circumstances of this “investigation.” The Obama administration—possibly the FBI—tapped a phone conversation between Mr. Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Then Mr. Obama’s minions used the raw data to “unmask” Mr. Flynn and get the retired general fired for not giving a full account of the discussion. Given that sorry record of political involvement, was Mr. Trump so wrong if he asked Mr. Comey to go easy?

Then there was the Post’s “shocking” revelation that the president gave classified information to Russia’s foreign minister. The president is commander in chief of the U.S. military and conducts foreign policy. The intelligence agencies work for him, and he is responsible for using what they provide to further U.S. interests. Is it so unlikely that a friendly tip to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about an ISIS tactic was calculated to earn trust? A more interesting question is who walked out of the room and illegally handed the Post this “scoop.”

Russians aren’t popular in the U.S., for many good reasons. That has its uses for Trump baiters. Democratic claims that Mr. Trump conspired with the Russians to swing the November election led the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor, former FBI chief Robert Mueller, to investigate. But is this claim even slightly plausible? So far all we have are anonymous officials who claim that intelligence agencies know of individuals with connections to the Russian government who supplied WikiLeaks with hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta’s accounts. But these officials are still unwilling to go on the record.

The Washington community knows how to fight back when it feels threatened. Leakers are having a ball, even if it has taken a lot of journalistic imagination to turn the most notorious leaks into “scandals.” Almost everyone in town has a stake in fending off the Trump threat: government workers and the businesses that serve them, public unions, lobbyists and their clients, owners of posh hotels and restaurants that cater to well-heeled visitors seeking government favors, journalists whose prestige derives from the power center they cover, academics who show politicians how to mismanage the economy, real-estate agents feeding on the boom—to name a few. It’s a good living, and few take kindly to a brash outsider who proclaims it is his mission to drain the swamp.

Mr. Trump is on the attack and Washington is fighting back. Is the Republic in danger? Another question is how much danger will it be in if Mr. Trump loses?

Mr. Melloan is a former deputy editor of the Journal editorial page and author of “When the New Deal Came to Town,” (Simon & Schuster, 2016).”

Zbig Is Gone…but the war he engineered in Afghanistan keeps going, and going, and going

[Former US national security adviser Brzezinski dies at 89]

 

3,425 likes

9h

 

 

Terrorists On Mindinao In Philippines Inflate Size Using Social Media

Westmincom: Maute militants isolated

Westmincom said the Maute group managed to make itself seem more formidable through social media. File photo
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Islamic State-inspired Maute militants have been isolated into pockets as government forces took control of a majority of areas previously occupied by the terrorists in Marawi City.
Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said ground forces have determined the number of the Maute militants and their locations.
Petinglay said that, according to ground assessment, fewer than 50 Maute militants infiltrated Marawi but managed to project strength through social media.
“This time, we have clearer picture of what happened compared to the first day [na] hindi natin totally grasp or plot the locations of the other militants… Where they did atrocities in a group of three or five and you thought they are too many. They burned and hid and fired and hid,” Petinglay said.
“They tried to paint the scenario that they have seized major areas in Marawi utilizing videos and photos spread on the social media,” she added.
Many of the initial reports from Marawi City on Tuesday were from residents posting photos and videos on social media. However, by Tuesday night, media was able to reach Mayor Majul Gadamra as well as provincial and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao officials for updates.

‘Propaganda’

Petinglay claimed the Maute group initially succeeded in its propaganda propaganda campaign, with many social media users unwittingly reposted the visual materials showing the militants on the streets brandishing their guns and black flags.
“Because of that those who repost the unverified source of videos and photos unknowingly helped fan out the propaganda of the Maute terrorists,” Petinglay said.
But the military said they now have a clearer picture what is happening and where on the third day of operations.
Petinglay said troops are now concentrating on particular areas where the militants are holed up. She said residents who decided to stay behind have been reporting on the positions of the terrorists.
Aside from regular troops, elite operators from the Special Operations Command have been deployed to deal with the Maute militants in close-quarter combat.
She added operations are now easier since residents have evacuated areas where the militants are.
“During the first day, one of the challenges to us was the troops could not just penetrate the place where you believe they are there because there were civilians and the possible collateral damage,” Petinglay said.

‘Maute isolated’

The military also assured the public that the Maute militants are isolated and will not be able to slip out with residents who have been streaming out of the city.
She said all routes going out from Marawi have been secured and evacuees are being carefully checked for militants pretending to be civilians.
Casualties on the government side are five soldiers killed and 32 others wounded. Security forces have said they have killed 13 Maute militants and an undetermined number of wounded.
Petinglay said ground forces believe the Maute group has not managed to smuggle Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon out of the city.
Hapilon, said to be the recognized Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s leader in Philippines, was the main target of police and military operations on Tuesday that has triggered the fighting in the capital of Lanao del Sur.
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in Mindanao in response to the clashes.

Manchester bomber linked to terrorist group which UK allegedly backed

Blowback? Manchester bomber linked to terrorist group which UK allegedly backed

cetusnews.com

Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi and his father, Ramadan, had long-standing links to a violent jihadist group which may have had British backing for the 2011 Libyan war and a 1996 attempt to kill then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The controversy centers on the role of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was both an anti-Gaddafi and Al-Qaeda subsidiary in the North African state.

Many of the fighters which formed the group in the mid-90s were veterans of the Afghan-Soviet war from the 1980s. They went on to fight the Gaddafi regime in Libya itself.

The war saw the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime and the eventual murder of the leader himself after he was captured by opposition fighters. Since NATO’s intervention, Libya has been in chaos.

It has descended into a protracted civil war, is a major contributor to the international refugee crisis, has its own branch of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), and two opposing governments.

The elder Abedi was reportedly one of the LIFG fighters who fled Gaddafi’s response to the rebels, settling in London and, later, in Manchester.

The area of Manchester in which Salman Abedi grew up was home to a number of other LIFG members, including former senior commanders including Abd al-Baset Azzouz, who left Manchester to go to Libya and run a 200-300-strong militant network for Osama Bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Azzouz is reported to be an expert bomb-maker.

In 2002, former MI6 agent and whistleblower David Shayler accused the British spy agency of colluding with the jihadist group in a failed 1996 effort to kill Gaddafi, an allegation the British government strenuously denies.

Theresa May was Home Secretary at the time. Did she approve this? MI5 reports to her https://t.co/H2aRNyelQlpic.twitter.com/rNiofCHV2X

— Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) May 25, 2017Allegations have also emerged that in 2011, the UK may have relaxed restrictions on LIFG fighters based in the UK and helped them return to Libya to fight Gaddafi.

The UK was at that time engaged in fighting Gaddafi as part of a US-led NATO coalition. Former fighters interviewed by the Middle East Eye said that the UK actively supported the return of anti-Gaddafi dissidents, including those with Al-Qaeda links, to the North African state.

One fighter who spoke to the Middle East Eye said he had been interviewed by an MI5 agent who asked if he was “willing to go into battle?

While I took time to find an answer he turned and told me the British government have no problem with people fighting against Gaddafi,” the fighter said.

Others reported that when the war in Libya began, they looked into how to get fake documents, because their passports had been removed as part of restrictive control orders placed on them by the UK government.

One said that within days, the authorities had returned their passports, after which they headed straight to Libya to take on Gaddafi.

At the time of the war, current UK Prime Minister Theresa May was Home Secretary, with oversight of MI5 operations. It is not clear if she was aware of the decision to relax restrictions of jihadists and return their travel documents.

The Art of HYPOCRISY

The Art of HYPOCRISY

“…[A]s the world hurtles toward the abyss of nuclear war, it is worth examining our faith.”

The Carl Vinson carrier strike group is poised to unleash hell. President Trump has promised that if China cannot reign in North Korea, the United States will handle the “problem.” In past weeks, the U.S. sent 59 cruise missiles into a Syrian airbase, closing it down for about six hours. Our forces also dropped the MOAB, aka the “mother of all bombs,” on a mountainside in Afghanistan. Cable news media fawned over the “beauty” of our firepower. In recent years, our military has conducted drone strikes throughout the Middle East, and has waged prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet as a nation, we cling to the belief that we have the moral high ground and the United States is a shining paragon of virtue and morality.

In short, we have refined hypocrisy to an art form. Our nationalism blinds us to history, our ignorance compels us to blind faith, and our faith binds us to destruction. Our leaders reflect these beliefs, and our commander-in-chief exemplifies the nation’s staggering propensity for self-righteousness. We reap the consequences of our collective hypocrisy globally and nationally every day, and as the world hurtles toward the abyss of nuclear war, it is worth examining our faith.

MORAL HIGH GROUND?
In April, the Iraq Body Count project (IBC) reported civilian deaths from violence are 173,686–193,965 from the second Iraq war. A National Geographic article published in October 2016 puts the number of deaths considerably higher, at almost a half-million.

Airwars reports that this March alone, 1,200 civilian casualties occurred in Syria as a result of coalition air strikes.

The U.S. is the only nation in the world to deploy nuclear weapons in war. Conservative estimates place the cumulative death toll in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at 225,000. The narrative is that these bombs were necessary to end World War II, and save American lives. This may be true, but the fact remains that those bombs resulted in nearly a quarter-million civilian deaths.

The U.S. also boasts more people in prison, by far, than any other nation on the planet.

According to the CIA, 56 countries have lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. Some of these countries include Bosnia, Cuba and Latvia.

Today, 46 million Americans live in poverty; the poverty rate in the United States is the highest in the developed world.

Do these statistics sound like a nation that has the moral high ground?

NUCLEAR STANDOFF
President Trump has discovered that his ratings go up when bombs fall, a fact that gives Americans a good reason to pack a bug-out bag and stockpile seeds and dried food. North Korea has nuclear weapons, and its fearless leader seems almost as anxious to play with his toys as ours does. Unlike Jack Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, who took the world to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis and who were each careful and calculating, we now have Donald Trump and Kim-Jong-Un, two man-babies playing a game of chicken with nuclear warheads.

Whether it’s Iran, Syria or North Korea, what gives the United States the right to make a preemptive strike, including a nuclear one? The argument can be made that it’s in our national best interest. That is not a moral argument, however, and selling such an action to the American people always involves moral superiority. The enemy is “evil.”

If war breaks out in North Korea, hundreds of thousands of civilians will die. North Korean artillery will shell Seoul, and there is no way for coalition forces to stop the ensuing slaughter.

If we start wars that result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of women and children, how can we still claim to be virtuous?

GOD MUST BE AN AMERICAN
Without the evangelical vote, Donald J. Trump could not have won the Electoral College. Christian fundamentalists, who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, largely supported him because he stated that he’s pro-life. Many were single-issue voters who ignored his statements on other issues, and who also decided to overlook his public statements and lifestyle choices.

Many of the same people who voted for Trump because he claims to be anti-abortion don’t seem to mind rushing to war and killing innocents. They also overlook the bodies of immigrant children washing up on shores both foreign and domestic.

The pro-war, pro-gun, anti-safety-net group defines itself as “pro-life.” Yet they voted for a narcissist billionaire who wants to cut programs for the poor. How is this possible? After all, Jesus said, “If you wish to be complete, sell all of your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasures in heaven; then come follow me.”

The same folks who howl about government intrusion are perfectly willing to insert the government into our bedrooms and women’s wombs. Protestors carrying signs and bibles shout that All Lives Matter, yet somehow the Black Lives Matter movement is wrong.

We have collectively become so inured to hypocrisy that we no longer even recognize it. Unless we take the time to examine our beliefs and our actions as a nation, we can no longer call America the leader of the free world.

We must lead by example. We must show, rather than tell; act rather than pontificate.
____________________

Smith is the author of numerous thrillers, including the Wrath trilogy and Tears of Abraham. He lives with his wife, children and dog in Riverside.

China protests U.S. warship entering South China Sea

China protests U.S. warship entering South China Sea

BEIJING, May 25 (Xinhua) — China on Thursday voiced strong protest against a U.S. Navy warship passing close to the Meiji Reef in the South China Sea.

“The USS Dewey illegally entered the waters near the island on early Thursday without permission of the Chinese government,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang at a press briefing. “Such moves have undermined China’s sovereignty and security, and were very likely to cause unexpected air and sea accidents.”

The Chinese navy identified the U.S. warship, warned and expelled it, Lu said.

“China has indisputable sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters. China always respects and maintains the freedom of navigation and overflight of various countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law,” Lu said. “However, we firmly oppose any country damaging China’s sovereignty and security in the name of navigation and overflight freedom.”

Lu said the situation in the South China Sea has improved and shown positive development momentum, adding that the U.S. acts have severely disrupted negotiations between all parties concerned.

“China is resolute in its determination to maintain sovereignty, security and maritime interests,” he said, urging the U.S. side to correct its mistakes, stop provocation and not harm regional peace and stability as well as China-U.S. cooperation.

Also on Thursday, Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, said that guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed into the waters close to the reefs off China’s Nansha Islands without permission from China, and Chinese missile frigates Liuzhou and Luzhou “warned and expelled” the U.S. ship after identifying it.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and waters surrounding them, Ren said.

“The U.S. acts, aimed at showing off military power and pushing regional militarization, could have easily caused sea and air accidents,” Ren said, adding the Chinese military had lodged solemn representations over the incident to the U.S. side.

The South China Sea situation is developing toward a stable and positive trend under efforts from China and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, according to Ren.

“The wrong acts of the U.S. have damaged this trend, doing no good for peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he said. Currently China-U.S. relations are at a key period of development. It accords with the common benefits of the two countries and needs joint efforts from both sides to create healthy and stable China-U.S. relations.

“We urge the U.S. side to take concrete measures and correct the mistakes to contribute ‘positive energy’ to the development of bilateral relations,” Ren said.

“Any wrong actions by the U.S. military will do nothing but spur the Chinese military to strengthen capabilities to safeguard national sovereignty and security,” he said.

Putin–95% Of World Terrorist Attacks Are Made By The CIA

Putin: 95% Of World Terrorist Attacks Are Made By The CIA

 

Vladimir Putin yesterday  said that “95% of the world’s terrorist attacks are orchestrated by the CIA,” and the St. Petersburg metro bombing must be investigated “with this in mind.“

Putin said:  “If the CIA have Russian blood on their hands, they will forever regret stirring the Russian bear from its peaceful slumber.”

When questioned by a top aide as to whether the 95% figure was accurate, Putin sighed heavily and fixed the assembled group with his trademark stare before explaining that in regards to how the world is run, all is not how it seems.

Putin affirms that the CIA is a rogue element of the Deep State, and “an expression of the will of world oligarchy and their vision for a New World Order.“

He claimes that CIA exists today as part of America – but it is certainly not American. “The CIA does not work on behalf of the American people or act in their interests.”

Asked if he thought the St Petersburg bomb was the beginning of a CIA plot to oust him from power, as has been suggested in the media, Putin answered, “It will take more than a bag of tricks in a subway to make me blink.“

Putin also told: “mankind has been manipulated to become “unconscious” through the use of programming by media and politics.

Self-Blinded US Intel Officials Blame Only Pakistan For India/Pakistan Covert War

[SEE: Pak-India Corridor Competion—Victory Goes To Side Which Overcomes Terrorist Roadblocks ; India-Pakistani Competition Translates Into Competing Economic/Transit Corridors ;  LIFE OR DEATH ECONOMIC CORRIDORS FOR PAKISTAN AND INDIA?Modi’s Admission of Guilt In Balochistan and Gilgat ; Pakistan Names Afghan Generals As “Master Handlers” of NDS Agents Captured In Balochistan ; TTP Spokesman Confesses the Expected…Pak. Taliban Work For India, Afghanistan ; The Indian Art of Turning Jihadis Into Anti-Jihadis and the War On Pakistan]el

Pakistan ‘Using Insurgents To Pressurize Afghan Govt’

The U.S’s Senate Armed Services Committee was told that Pakistan is posing a serious threat to Afghanistan’s long term stability.

 

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The U.S Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats has accused Pakistan of using Afghan insurgents as tools to put pressure on the Kabul government in a bid to halt India’s rising influence in Afghanistan.   [This statement is true, but it completely ignores India’s use of the same practices (sponsoring elements of the TTP) to squeeze Pakistan in the international court of opinion. ]

He said that the insurgent groups operating in Pakistan are posing serious threats to Afghanistan’s long term stability and they threaten the interests of the United States.

He said that Pakistan is seriously concerned about its isolation on an international level, adding that for this purpose, Pakistan has turned to China.

He also said that China is working to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean with the help of Pakistan.

In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Coats along with Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart, director of the defense intelligence agency, shared their intelligence findings with the committee.

The two officials also stated Pakistan had failed to suppress insurgency.

“Pakistan is concerned about international isolation and sees its position through the presence of India’s rising international status including India’s expanded foreign outreach and deepening ties to the United States. Pakistan will likely turn to China  to offset its  isolation, empowering a relationship that will help Beijing to project influence in the Indian Ocean.

“In addition, Islamabad has failed to curb militants and terrorists in Pakistan.  [This statement is patently false, since most of the Pakistani Talliban (TTP) have been forced out of FATA, into Afghanistan.] These groups will present a sustained threat to the U.S’s interests in the region and to continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan,” said Coats.

He warned that there is possibility that the situation in the country could deteriorate next year.

“The political and security situations in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018 even with a modest increase in military assistance by the United States and its partners.  Meanwhile we assess that the Taliban is likely to continue to make gains especially in rural areas.

“Afghan security forces’ performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, combat casualties, desertions, poor  logistic support and weak leadership,” added Coats.

When asked about Russia’s support to the Taliban, Stewart said that Moscow and the Taliban have been in contact, but he said that there was no physical evidence that Russia has supplied the Taliban with money or weapons.

“We have seen indications that they offered some level of support, but I have not seen real physical evidence of weapons or money being transferred,” said Stewart.

The findings of the U.S intelligence officers shows that Afghanistan will continue to struggle in its efforts for foreign aid, in combating insurgency and in reaching a peace deal with the Taliban.

Pentagon Admits Losing $1 Billion of Weapons In Iraq, In Addition To the Trillions of Dollars Missing

[SEE: Pentagon Claims That It Has “Lost” Over $18 Trillion, Which Probably Paid Foreign Army Payrolls]

Audit Report

09-14-2016
Equipping and Training Iraq and Afghan Security Forces
The Army Did Not Implement Effective Controls To Maintain Visibility and Accountability of Iraq Train and Equip Fund Equipment (Project No. D2016-D000JB-0104.000)
DODIG-2016-134
Click the following link to view the redacted version of this report:  http://www.dodig.mil/FOIA/err/DODIG-2016-134.pdf

View printable version
Objective

We determined whether the Army had effective controls for processing and transferring Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) equipment to the Government of Iraq. This is the third in a series of audits on property accountability in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

ITEF, created by the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, assists the Government of Iraq to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Examples of ITEF equipment provided to the Government of Iraq include body armor, navigation sets, magazine pouches, ambulances, and cargo trucks.

Findings

Army commands documented procedures for processing and transferring ITEF equipment to the Government of Iraq. However, the 1st TSC did not have effective controls to maintain complete visibility and accountability of ITEF equipment in Kuwait and Iraq prior to transfer to the Government of Iraq. Equipment visibility provides users with equipment location, movement, and status. Army Regulation 735-5 states that all property acquired by the Army will be continuously accounted for from the time of acquisition until the ultimate consumption or disposal of the property. However, the 1st TSC could not provide complete data for the quantity and dollar value of equipment on hand, including rolling stock and ammunition. Rolling stock refers to vehicles. Examples include Mine Clearance Systems, ambulances, and wrecker trucks. The 1st TSC did not have effective controls because it did not use centralized systems to maintain visibility and accountability of ITEF equipment. Instead, the 1st TSC relied on multiple spreadsheets developed by different commands in both Kuwait and Iraq to provide it with visibility and accountability of equipment and did not consistently account for equipment in Iraq.

As a result, the 1st TSC did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location of ITEF equipment on hand in Kuwait and Iraq. Accurate, up-to-date records of equipment on hand in Kuwait and Iraq are critical for filling equipment requests. The process to contact multiple commands and reference multiple spreadsheets to determine equipment quantities and location could delay the fulfillment of a request or delay the development of future requests. In addition, not having accurate records of equipment on hand could result in duplicate equipment requests. Further, the use of manually populated spreadsheets increased the risk for human-error when inputting and updating equipment data.

Recommendation

We recommend that the Commander, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, use automated systems to account for and provide complete visibility of Iraq Train and Equip Fund equipment.

Management Actions Taken

During the audit we informed the Deputy Commanders, 1st TSC and Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command–Operation Inherent Resolve; the Commander, 336th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion; and officials from the Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve of the lack of centralized visibility and accountability systems for ITEF equipment.

The Deputy Commander, 1st TSC, agreed with our findings and immediately initiated steps to implement corrective actions. As a short-term solution, 1st TSC developed a centralized equipment visibility tracker. The tracker, located on a shared drive, allowed the 1st TSC and commands associated with the ITEF program to have a centralized system to track ITEF equipment on hand at multiple locations and make changes to the tracker when ITEF equipment was processed through their locations. As a long‑term solution, 1st TSC is working towards using Army visibility and accountability systems to further increase its visibility and accountability of ITEF equipment. The Deputy Commander, 1st TSC, anticipates full use of the systems in late 2016. The management actions taken addressed the concerns we identified; therefore, we are not making any additional recommendations.

US/Russia May Actually Be Avoiding Accidental Conflict In Syria

 
U.S. and Russian forces operating in Syria have increased the use of the deconfliction hotline — a communication line opened to avoid midair collisions and reduce the potential for miscalculation by forces operating in Syria, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

As American-backed Kurdish forces have advanced, with the aid of U.S. airpower, to within a couple kilometers of Raqqa, the self-declared capital of the Islamic State group, the airspace around the area has become “tight,” Harrigian explained.

“What we are trying to do is drive down ambiguity,” Harrigian said.

On May 18, several phone calls between Russian and U.S. military officials were made regarding the movement of Syrian-backed militias moving toward the an-Tanf border crossing, near where U.S. forces are training partner forces in the fight against ISIS.

Despite Russian attempts to halt the advance, the convoy continued onward to within 55 kilometers of what Harrigan described as a deconfliction zone for the an-Tanf region. U.S. aircraft  conducted a show of force, fired warning shots, then destroyed an armored vehicle and a “technical” — a modified pickup truck with a mounted machine gun, Harrigian explained.

The U.S. has made its intentions clear to the Russians regarding an-Tanf, and deconfliction is now working well, said Capt. Jeff Davis. Pro-regime militias have since halted their advance toward An-Tanf, but there is still one group inside the deconfliction zone. Over the weekend there was another show of force by U.S. aircraft.

“They have gotten the memo,” Davis said.

U.S. forces are watching the movements of Syrian-backed militias in the an-Tanf region around the clock. “Over time they will recognize it is not in their best interest to move toward us,” Harrigian said.

He declined to provide further details on whether other acknowledged deconfliction zones between the U.S. and Russia exist in Syria. However, as the operations there become more complex with the steady collapse of ISIS, the need to be lear about intentions and operations is ever more important.

The deconfliction areas should not be confused with de-escalation zones, Harrigian explained, which are no-fly zones established during the Astana talks in Kazakhstan. The U.S. is not party to that agreement and does not recognize any zones that impede its ability to go after its enemies in Syria, he said.

“Wherever the enemy is at, wherever they present themselves, we are going to go after them,” Harrigian said.

To ease potential mishaps and miscalculation as the battlefield in Syria becomes more dynamic, the deconfliction line has expanded beyond just calls between a Russian and U.S. colonel. In a few rare cases, there have been calls at the two and three-star level, Harrigian said. But with Syrian and Russian forces pushing east  while anti-ISIS shaping operations were beginning in Raqqa, the need to be more clear about maneuvering forces and intentions required a higher level of contact and detail, Harrigian said.

The Russians have been receptive to U.S. operations in the region, he said, adding, “In most situations we have a common enemy.”

It can take several phone calls to make intentions clear, but the U.S. has freedom of movement to go after its enemies in Syria, to include ISIS and al-Qaida affiliates.

In only one case have Russian aircraft conducted an unprofessional intercept of a U.S. aircraft, according to Harrigan. The incident involved a U.S. KC-10 air refueling tanker and a Russian Su-35 or Su-30 fighter aircraft. U.S. military officials called out the Russians on their unprofessional action, and the Russians apologized for the incident, Harrigian said.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have made steady gains since the capture of the Tabqa dam in early May. Just a stone’s throw away from Raqqa, Kurdish militants are close to seizing the Baath dam, which “is the last vehicle-accessible crossing point of the Euphrates River near Raqqa,” according to officials at U.S. Central Command. With the pending liberation of Raqqa on the horizon, deconfliction and transparency of intentions in the congested airspace will be important for both U.S. and Russian forces operating in the region.

Young Couple Abducted From Chinese Language Center In Quetta, Balochistan

QUETTA – Two Chinese nationals, a man and a woman, were kidnapped from the Jinnah Town area of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, on Wednesday afternoon, news agencies reported.

According to police, unknown abductors had forced the two foreigners into a vehicle at gunpoint and driven away.

“A Chinese couple was kidnapped from the neighbourhood of Jinnah town in Quetta today. The couple was running a Chinese language centre,” Acting Deputy Inspector General Police Aitzaz Goraya told AFP.

“When they left the language centre for lunch, they were dragged into a vehicle without number plates by three unknown men,” he said. The men then began firing weapons in the air to scare off onlookers.

One Chinese woman managed to escape and ran back to the centre, while a passer-by received a gunshot wound.

A passer-by Muhammad Zahir told AFP: “I was walking on the road when I saw three men forcing a Chinese woman in a white car and she was refusing and crying, I stopped to observe the situation but they had forced the woman in the car by then and were pushing the man.

“So I rushed to them and asked what they were doing. One of them said we are from the crime branch of the police and we are taking them for investigation and I told them that they should not misbehave with people, then the driver came out and shot me in my foot,” the 35-year-old said.

Goraya said, “We collected evidence from the spot and efforts are underway to recover the Chinese nationals unhurt.”

Chinese state media confirmed the kidnappings, while deputy chief of mission in Islamabad Lijian Zhao said the embassy was working toward their release.

Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri suspended the concerned Deputy Superintendent of Police, the SHO of Jinnah Town and SHO Gwalmandi over their alleged negligence in connection with the kidnapping of the Chinese nationals.

The chief minister also directed the Inspector General of Police to prepare a standard operating procedure with regard to the security of foreign nationals residing in Balochistan.

No group has claimed the responsibility of kidnapping foreign nationals so far.

US Drone Strike In Khost Kills 3 TTP/ISIS Taliban, While Pak Army Hangs 2 More, Same Group

[Bear with me while I try to unravel a poorly reported pair of events which confirm US/Pak Army joint efforts to mop-up the TTP remnants in Eastern Afghanistan.  From the primary report we learn that 3 [TTP] militants were killed overnight in a drone strike somewhere in Khost Province, as confirmed by Taliban spokesman Abdullah Waziristani.   Googling Waziristani, we learn that he is spokesman for the Majlis-e-Askari group, one of four Pak-Taliban (TTP) factions which joined “Islamic State of Khorasan” (ISK) in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.  One of those groups is commanded by Umar Mansoor, mastermind of Peshawar school attack. 

Meanwhile, we learn from another report that 2 other members of the Umar Mansoor group were hanged today in Pakistan. 

Umar was allegedly killed [July 9, 2016] by US drone in Nangarhar.

This series of events continues the precedent of US and Pak Army forces combining efforts to eliminate the remnant of the TTP hiding-out in Eastern Afghanistan.  This represents a marked shift from the hands-off policies of Obama, which began with the US/Pak capture of main TTP spokesman from the remnants of Hakeemullah Mehsud’s Waziristani Taliban (SEE: TTP Spokesman Sells-Out Former Mehsud Comrades For Drone Assassination In Paktika).]

US drone strike on Afghan border kills 3 Pakistani Taliban

 

A Pakistani government official says a suspected U.S. drone strike has targeted a compound in Afghanistan, killing three local Taliban militants.

Kamran Afridi, an official in the Pakistani border town of Miran Shah, says the strike took place Wednesday just across the Afghan border in the village of Gurowek in Khost province.

A Taliban commander who identified himself as Abdullah Waziristani confirmed the attack, saying the targeted compound belonged to a local Taliban commander. There was no immediate confirmation from inside Khost province.

*****

“A spokesman for the Majlis-e-Askari, a little known Taliban group, claimed responsibility for the [10/27/2015] attack.  The group’s spokesman Abdullah Waziristani...”–https://www.dawn.com/news/1215867/seven-fc-men-die-in-cross-border-attack

“Irfan U Din further said that ISK militants are nowadays offering hitherto unknown amount of money to senior commanders of Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan to join them…Although majority of the Pakistani Taliban factions stationed inside Afghanistan have rejected to join ISK however, four relatively smaller group (Abdullah Islam Group,Majlis-e-Askari, Umar Mansur Group and Tawhid Wal Jihad) all affiliated with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have recently joined ISK in Afghanistan”, says Irfan.”–FRC Biannual Security Report for Afghanistan 2016

Umar Mansoor mastermind of Peshawar school attack: TTP

“Umar Mansoor has on Monday [09 February,2016] been injured and his son died in a United States (US) drone strike in the Nangarhaar province of Afghanistan.”

 

Umar was allegedly killed [July 9, 2016] by US drone in Nangarhar

 

Pakistan hangs 2 terrorists involved in Peshawar school massacre

“Pakistan Army said Atta Ullah and Taj Muhammad were active members of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)…’These terrorists were involved in committing heinous offences relating to terrorism, including attack on Army Public School Peshawar, killing of innocent civilians, attacking Armed Forces of Pakistan and Law Enforcement Agencies,’ army said.”

Mindanao under martial law

Mindanao under martial law

Duterte cuts Russia trip short to oversee siege of Marawi

By Ben Rosario and Genalyn Kabiling

Moscow, Russia — President Duterte, on a working visit here, placed the whole of Mindanao under martial law last night to suppress lawless violence and rebellion, following the deadly siege of the Maute terror group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

The President has decided to cut short his visit to Russia and rush back to the country to oversee the security situation, Palace officials announced last night in a press conference in Moscow.

“As of 10 p.m., Manila time, he has already declared martial for the entire island of Mindanao,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in the televised press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel where Duterte is billeted.

duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte confers with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Special Assistant to the President, Christopher Bong Go, as he declared martial law in Mindanao amidst attacks perpetrated by the Isis-backed Maute Group.

“This is possible under the grounds of existence of rebellion because of what is happening in Mindanao based on Article VII Section 18 of the Constitution. This is good for 60 days,” he added.

Abella, in a later statement, said the martial law in Mindanao was necessary “to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety.”

Duterte is expected to return to Manila to today to attend to the terrorist threat of the ISIS-influenced Maute rebels who laid siege on Marawi.

The President previously issued repeated warnings that he would declare martial law in Mindanao if the lawlessness escalates in the region.

Yesterday afternoon’s attack on Marawi City by the Maute gunmen has reportedly wounded at least eight troopers, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported. Separate reports said three on the side of the government have been killed.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana joined the press conference.

“Joint elements of the army and the police were trying to serve a warrant of arrest on Isnilon Hapilon in Barangay Basak Malutut when they were met with gunfire?” Lorenzana revealed.

Lorenzana denied there was a failure of intelligence noting that the Maute threat has been there all along.

Lorenzana admitted that there has been “lack of appreciation of the intelligence information gathered by the military and police.”

Meanwhile, Duterte has assured the nation that government troops could effectively address the security situation in in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

The President, however, has appealed to the public to remain calm yet vigilant following reports troops clashed with members of the Maute group in Marawi.

“Let us be clear that first and foremost, the President’s priority is the nation’s interest,” Abella said. “He has full confidence in AFP/ PNP’s management of the situation; and we ask that the residents take all precaution, cooperate with authorities, and stay calm,” he added.

Cayetano said he has spoken with his Russian counterpart to explain the tense security situation gripping the country.

“They (Russian officials) understand that the presence of the President is essential to the Philippines but I will be staying behind,” said Cayetano.

He also assured that all agreements will be completed between Philippines and Russia

Duterte was expected to return to the Philippines at about 3 am (Philippine time) today.

The Chief Executive was supposed to meet Putin tomorrow and Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev today.

Situation in Marawi

It is pitch black in the city with the electricity cut and residents have been advised by AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año to stay indoors.

Lorenzana advised the same, noting that Maute snipers were a threat to civilians who may be mistaken for security forces.

Last night, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra went on television to seek for military reinforcement.

Based on sketchy reports, Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said the clashes started at about 2 p.m. at Barangay Basak Malulut, Marawi City.

Herrera said the military received a report from the community that they saw a group of armed men believed to be the core group of the Maute Group.

He said that Hapilon, whom the AFP said was seriously wounded during airstrikes in Butig, Lanao del Sur, on January 26, 2017, is part of the group seen in Marawi City.

“According to the community there, they saw about 15 armed in Barangay Basak Malulut, said to be the core group of the Maute Group,” Herrera said.

“So we immediately launched a surgical operation to neutralize the group who plan to conduct terrorist attacks in Marawi City.”

“Initially, what they saw were 15 members of the armed group. Allegedly Isnilon Hapilon is also there. So our operation is centered on a high-value target,” he added.

Herrera, however, said that they have yet to get details from their men on the ground if the enemy sustained any casualties, stressing that the firefight is ongoing as of press time.

Herrera also said that they have yet to verify reports that members of the Maute Group occupied and raised an “ISIS” flag at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center during their attack.

“We have not received any report regarding that,” Herrera said.  (With reports from Francis T. Wakefield)

[Editor–Here is the missing visual evidence of the ISIS infestation.

In pictures: ISIS takes control of its first city in the Philippines]

 

 

ISIS Really A Global Guerilla/Terrorist Marketing Corporation?

Busted: ISIS Really a Guerrilla Marketing Company

Source: The Daily Bell

ISIS wants to poison our water supply, but the joke’s on them! The U.S. government already beat them to the punch.

The extremist group has reportedly poisoned prisoners by spiking their food and water with compounds used in pesticides that are easy to obtain

Security forces now fear the terror network may hatch a twisted plot to contaminate Western food supplies with formulas that quickly dissolve in liquid.

Oh, you mean like by spraying Roundup and other herbicides on thousands upon thousands of acres of agricultural land? Or maybe by intentionally adding fluoride to the water supply even though drinking it has proven ineffective in promoting dental health, but quite effective in causing tons of health issues and making people more moldable to authority?

Sorry ISIS the United States government is way ahead of you in poisoning the citizens. True, ISIS is experimenting with immediate killers like thallium sulfate, but that’s nothing a reverse osmosis filter can’t handle.

In fact, ISIS may have just inadvertently saved millions of people by spurring them to purchase state of the art water filtration systems. In attempting to protect themselves from terrorism, Americans may inadvertently protect themselves from the U.S. government.

That’s it, the truth is out! ISIS is really the guerilla marketing campaign to sell Americans on protecting themselves from our government. Busted. The old reverse psychology trick.

But in reality, this might not be far from the truth. It’s just that ISIS is really a marketing company designed to sell us fear.

The CIA and U.S. military were caught spending over half a billion dollars in Iraq to make propaganda videos which would then be disseminated through various forms of media. Some of these videos were specifically made to resemble videos by Arab news outlets and surely passed for such on many occasions.

Also widely believed, is that the CIA created the supposed ISIS beheading videos which made their rounds a couple years ago. And seeing as there is plenty of evidence that the CIA created ISIS itself, this is not hard to believe.

Take it With a Grain of Thallium Sulfate

We don’t want to make light of serious issues, but any news about what ISIS is doing raises red flags. We know ISIS is a creation of the CIA (whether you think they created it deliberately or accidentally).

We also know that the main point of various terrorist organizations (including those funded by the U.S. government) is to spread fear. Surely many terrorists would be perfectly happy killing millions of Americans, but that is a very unlikely scenario.

Still, as always we need to be alert to potential real risks in order to thwart them, while not falling into the trap of being so fearful that we change the course of our lives and thus deliver the terrorists in and outside of our government their victory.

Trump Proves His Own Ignorance In His Fawning Address in Israel

By Stephen Lendman
5-23-17

It made disturbing listening and reading from the transcript. He “reaffirm(ed) the unshakable bond between the United States and Israel” – unshakably partnered in high crimes of war and against humanity he failed to explain.

Sounding like Netanyahu, he said “(t)he ties of the Jewish people to this holy land are ancient and eternal.”

“Israel is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people” – at the expense of millions of brutalized Palestinians and harm done to regional states.

“My administration will always stand with Israel,” he blustered. “Through your hardships, you have created one of the most abundant lands in the world.”

It’s been unaccountable throughout its sordid history because of US-led Western support, getting away with slow-motion genocide for decades.

Trump: “While evil forces seeks to kill innocents of all faiths, your nation has responded with compassion, charity, and generosity.”

Fact: Its agenda is polar opposite. Its Machiavellian alliance with America is the greatest threat to world peace.

Trump: “We must build a coalition of partners who share the aim of stamping out extremism and violence, and providing our children with a peaceful and hopeful future.”

It “requires the world to fully recognize the vital role of the state of Israel.”

Fact: America and Israel are the world’s leading perpetrators of state terror, promoting extremism and violence to serve their interests.

Reinventing history, Trump turned truth on its head, claiming “Israelis have experienced firsthand the hatred and terror of radical violence.”

“Israelis are murdered by terrorists wielding knifes and bombs. Hamas and Hezbollah launch rockets into Israeli communities where schoolchildren have to be trained to hear the sirens and run to bomb shelters.”

“ISIS targets Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues, and storefronts. And Iran’s leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction.”

Fact: Israelis mass murder Palestinians, not the other way around. Hamas and Hezbollah never preemptively attacked Israel, only responded defensively to its aggression.

Iran never called for Israel’s destruction. The Big Lie has been around for a long time, one of many ways the Islamic Republic is vilified.

Former Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Dan Meridor admitted former Iranian President Ahmadinijad never said Israel should be “wipe(d) off the face of the face off the map” – actually saying its regime would collapse on its own.

Yet the false claim persists, Trump in his Israeli address disgracefully repeating it.

Saying “let us pray for…peace, and for a more hopeful future across the Middle East” belies the US/Israeli axis, waging endless wars, wanting sovereign Syrian and Iranian independence destroyed, their governments ousted, pro-Western rule replacing them.

Trump: “ All decent people want to live in peace, and all humanity is threatened by the evils of terrorism.”

Fact: Peace is unattainable as long as America, Israel and their rogue allies wage endless wars. State terrorism is the evil Trump ignored.

Trump: “As I have repeatedly said, I am personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians reach that mutual commitment comprehensive peace agreement, and I had a great meeting this morning with President Mahmoud Abbas and I can tell you that he is ready to reach a peace deal.”

Fact: The only so-called “peace agreement” acceptable to Washington and Israel is unconditional Palestinian surrender, continued subjugation under occupation harshness.

Trump: “The United States is firmly committed to keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and halting their support of terrorists and militias that are causing so much suffering and chaos throughout the Middle East.”

Fact: Iran’s nuclear program has no military component – not now or earlier, likely never given its abhorrence of these weapons, wanting the region free from them.

Fact: Iran is a victim of terrorism, not a sponsor or perpetrator like Washington and Israel.

As long as both countries pursue imperial objectives, endless wars will rage. Peace, stability and security will remain unattainable.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

This Is What Evil Trump Has Aligned America With–Bloody repression resumes in Bahrain

Deadly attacks in Duraz following the sentencing of Sheikh Isa Qasim

Two days after President Trump said US relation with Bahrain was set to improve, the government in Bahrain is escalating violations against its Shia population throughout the besieged village of Duraz.

Early this morning national security forces, including Special forces, entered Duraz and opened fire on peaceful sit-in in support of Sheikh Issa Qassim. One protester has been killed and more than 100 injured, mostly with bird shot pellets. At least 50 protesters have been arrested following the raid of Sheikh Qasim’s house. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) was able to obtain information from the ground via internet communication platforms in the morning of the attacks; few hours later, the internet was shutdown in Duraz.

If the violations continue, denied by the Bahraini government and ignored by the international community, another cycle of violence and crackdown will undoubtedly take place in a region with hundreds of new victims, embittered by the repeated denial of their rights as human beings and Bahrainis” said Sheikh DR Maytham Al Salman, BCHR Senior Advisor, “Bahrain’s overwhelming use of military force against its own civilian population and peaceful protesters is nothing but collective punishment”.

Based on a video recorded with mobile phones by residents in Duraz and shared with BCHR, army vehicles have been spotted entering Duraz. Residents partaking into a month-long open sit-in were attacked by government forces with tear gas and shotgun pellets.

These violations are being committed with total impunity, they are generating a perception in Duraz that simply being from Duraz and from Shia background is enough to be targeted” said BCHR.

The US and the British government, which are allies of Bahrain and have the greatest leverage, have minimized and actively ignored UN concerns and reporting on the situation. Since June 2016, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng expressed concern at the decision taken by the Interior Ministry of Bahrain to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qasim and on the impact this decision can have in increasing tensions among the different constituencies in the country, but his call has been disregarded by the international community.

BCHR call on the Bahraini Government and its allies, to fully support unhindered and immediate access to the region for independent organizations, media, and human rights groups, and to lift restrictions on freedom of movement imposed on the population of Duraz.

BCHR believes that the government should immediately issue clear public orders to the security forces and all other security agencies deployed in Duraz to withdraw and cease abuses of civilians, including the massive arrests, raids and use of disproportionate force against civilians. The Bahraini authorities should also immediately establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations of abuses in Duraz.

These unwarranted attacks against residents peacefully gathering in front of the house of the Shia Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qasim follow his Sunday’s trial outcome, when he was sentenced to one year in prison with suspended sentence and to pay fine of 100 thousand dinars. The Ministry of Interior issued a statement earlier on twitter, claiming the attacks were meant to “preserve law and order” and later tweeted that the police had arrested a number people in Duraz wanted by the government and hiding in the village of Duraz.

The village of Duraz has been under siege for almost a year now, following the revocation of citizenship of the highest Shia cleric in Bahrain, Sheikh Isa Qasim, in June 2016.

Residents in his village have staged open-ended sit-ins in front of his house since he was stripped of his nationality, launching a year-long series of restrictions of free movement for the app. 20.000 people living there. Moreover, internet shutdowns have become the norm from 7pm til 1am, which impacted negatively the village’s businesses. Arrests and summons for interrogation have been used against participants in the sit-ins since the start of the siege, with sentences being issued against Shia clerics and other people partaking in peaceful gathering in Duraz.

Does Donald Trump Want Out?

Donald Trump to America: Please impeach me

This president is all but shouting ‘get me out of here.’ We should help.

 

 

Donald Trump is doing an excellent impression of a president who desperately wishes to be impeached. Congress should grant that wish, or figure out an even quicker way to bring this tragicomedy to its inevitable end. If there aren’t enough smoking guns quite yet, just wait a day or two. They’re coming at us faster than rounds from a Kalashnikov on full auto.

Could Trump’s signals be any more clear? He’s not even having fun. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” Trump said at the Coast Guard Academy commencement. That was just a few hours before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation, and a day before Trump tweeted that “this is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

Suffice it to say the job is only going to get less fun.

Given all we know about Trump himself — the disturbing real time glimpses into his mind via Twitter; his Tourette-like tendency to blurt out exactly what most presidents would know they shouldn’t; his relentless ignorance of policy, government and our nation’s founding principles — we shouldn’t be shocked by recent developments.

No one but a person hunting for an escape hatch would admit in a national TV interview that he was thinking about the “made-up” Russia story when he fired FBI Director James Comey; would ask Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s contacts with Russia, possibly violating his oath of office; and would ask Comey to pledge loyalty to him, even though FBI directors have 10-year terms precisely so they can operate independently of presidents.

Only a president eyeing the door would summon the ghost of Richard Nixon by firing Comey and then tweeting: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Only someone intent on getting ousted would fire Comey over Russia and then the very next day meet with top Russian officials in the Oval Office under a painting of George Washington, let their photographer in while barring the U.S. press, share with them highly classified information about ISIS, describe Comey to them as a “nut job,” and confide that firing him took the pressure off. (Each part of that sentence beggars belief.)

The latest tough stuff, from Trump’s perspective, is the foreign tour he’s on. “Mr. Trump, a confirmed homebody, has expressed dread about the trip,” The New York Times reported before he left Friday.

And who can blame him? The itinerary started with Saudi Arabia, a hotbed of, you know, the kind of people he’s trying to keep out of the USA, followed by Israel, reportedly the source of the top-secret Islamic State of Iraq and Syrian intelligence that Trump spilled to the Russians. Trump will be in Rome to see Pope Francis, who has indicated that Trump is not one of his favorites. The president has never had much nice to say about NATO, its member nations or their leaders, but he’ll be in Brussels to meet with them, too.

Not fun! No wonder Trump decamps nearly every weekend to his own golf clubs and resorts and luxury digs. Why does he hate Washington? Has he ever even laid eyes on Camp David?

The president needs an exit strategy that makes him look like a winner. He doesn’t deserve one; in fact, he may well turn out to deserve impeachment. But that would make him a loser and he’d fight it to the end, and the end would be a long time coming.

What would entice him to leave soon? Trump is not going to turn into a world-class philanthropist (a course I once envisioned for Mitt Romney). And Trump won’t become head of a university (been there, done that, and it wasn’t pretty). Nor can I see him growing a beard (Al Gore), promoting Viagra (Bob Dole) or taking up painting (George W. Bush). And I’d be shocked if Trump decided to devote his post-presidency to, say, fighting gerrymandering or poverty (Barack Obama).

Only one suitable option comes to mind: Somebody sell this man a TV network. He seemed to be musing about Trump TV before a comet struck Earth and he won the presidency. It’s been done — think Gore and Current TV. Trump TV would, of course, be much more yuge and would never, not ever, dare to morph into Al-Jazeera America or anything with a name like that.

Trump could brag about its large size and amazingly great American greatness. He could hire as many beautiful women as he wanted, present whatever content he wanted, star in as many shows as he wanted, and do it all right from Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower. He’d never have to leave home.

Tom Nichols, a Russian expert and professor at the Naval War College, says it’s dangerous that a “raw feed” of Trump’s thoughts, emotions and reactions to stress is available to foreign intelligence analysts worldwide on Twitter. For better or worse, all of that is also available to we, the people. And to me the message, amplified by countless interviews, news conferences and leaks from panicked associates, is clear: “Get me out of here.”

Jill Lawrence is the commentary editor of USA TODAY and author of The Art of the Political Deal: How Congress Beat the Odds and Broke Through Gridlock. Follow her on Twitter: @JillDLawrence

Major Terror Attack In Manchester, England…Bomb Kills 22+ At American Singer’s Concert

Suicide bomber kills at least 22, including children, at Ariana Grande concert in Britain

 

By Michael Holden and Andrew Yates | MANCHESTER, England

MANCHESTER, England At least 22 people, including some children, were killed and 59 were wounded when a suicide bomber struck as thousands of fans streamed out of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in the English city of Manchester on Monday.

Prime Minister Theresa May called an emergency meeting with intelligence chiefs on the deadliest militant assault in Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.

Witnesses related the horror of the blast which prompted a stampede just as the concert ended at Europe’s largest indoor arena.

“We ran and people were screaming around us and pushing on the stairs to go outside and people were falling down, girls were crying, and we saw these women being treated by paramedics having open wounds on their legs … it was just chaos,” said Sebastian Diaz, 19.

“It was literally just a minute after it ended, the lights came on and the bomb went off,” Diaz said.

U.S. President Donald Trump described the attack as the work of “evil losers”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it “will only strengthen our resolve to…work together with our British friends against those who plan and carry out such inhumane deeds.”

Police said the attacker detonated the explosives shortly after 10:33 pm at Manchester Arena, which has the capacity to hold 21,000 people. Children were among the dead, police said.

“We believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man,” Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters. “The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.

He declined to answer questions on the bomber’s identity.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said more police had been ordered onto the streets of the British capital. London’s Victoria coach station was briefly closed after discovery of a suspect package.

A source with knowledge of the situation said the bomber’s explosives were packed with metal and bolts. At least 19 of those wounded were in a critical condition, the source said.

A video posted on Twitter showed fans, many of them young, screaming and running from the venue. Dozens of parents frantically searched for their children, posting photos and pleading for information on social media.

“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” concert-goer Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters.

“It was a huge explosion – you could feel it in your chest.”

Ariana Grande, 23, whose concerts attract a very large proportion of young women and girls, said on Twitter: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.” May, who faces an election in two-and-a-half weeks, said her thoughts were with the victims and their families. She and Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, agreed to suspend campaigning ahead of the June 8 election.

“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” May said in a statement.

SUICIDE BOMBER?

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but U.S. officials drew parallels to the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives.

High profile attacks, including in Paris, Nice, Brussels, St Petersburg, Berlin and London, have shocked Europeans who are already anxious over security challenges from mass immigration, open borders and pockets of Islamist radicalism.

“It clearly bears the hallmark of Daesh (Islamic State),” said former French intelligence agent Claude Moniquet, now a Brussels-based security consultant, “because Ariana Grande is a young singer who attracts a very young audience, teenagers.

“So very clearly the aim was to do as much harm as possible, to shock British society as much as possible.”

Islamic State supporters took to social media to celebrate the blast and some encouraged similar attacks elsewhere. [L8N1IP096]

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe”, meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

British counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism.

In March, a British-born convert to Islam ploughed a car into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing four people before stabbing to death a police officer who was on the grounds of parliament. The man was shot dead at the scene.

In 2015, Pakistani student Abid Naseer was convicted in a U.S. court of conspiring with al Qaeda to blow up the Arndale shopping center in the center of Manchester in April 2009.

PARENTS’ ANGUISH

Desperate parents and friends used social media to search for loved ones who attended Monday’s concert while the wounded were being treated at six hospitals across Manchester.

“Everyone pls share this, my little sister Emma was at the Ari concert tonight in #Manchester and she isn’t answering her phone, pls help me,” said one message posted alongside a picture of a blonde girl with flowers in her hair.

Paula Robinson, 48, from West Dalton about 40 miles east of Manchester, said she was at the train station next to the arena with her husband when she felt the explosion and saw dozens of teenage girls screaming and running away from arena.

“We ran out,” Robinson told Reuters. “It was literally seconds after the explosion. I got the teens to run with me.”

Robinson took dozens of teenage girls to the nearby Holiday Inn Express hotel and tweeted out her phone number to worried parents, telling them to meet her there. She said her phone had not stopped ringing since her tweet.

“Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children,” she said. “There were lots of lots children at Holiday Inn.”

For a graphic showing where the blast hit, click: tmsnrt.rs/2rbQAay

(Additional Reporting by Alistair Smout, Kate Holton, David Milliken, Elizabeth Piper, Paul Sandle and Costas Pitas in LONDON, Mark Hosenball in LOS ANGELES, John Walcott in WASHINGTON, D.C., Leela de Kretser in NEW YORK, Mostafa Hashem in CAIRO, and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

 

779 Sunni Inmates At Gitmo, Only 3 Shiite (Iranian) Prisoners Ever Held There

Iranian detainees at Guantanamo Bay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The United States Department of Defense acknowledges holding 3 Iranian captives in Guantanamo.[1] A total of 779 captives have been held in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba since the camps opened on January 11, 2002 The camp population peaked in 2004 at approximately 660. Only nineteen new captives, all “high value detainees” have been transferred there since the United States Supreme Court‘s ruling in Rasul v. Bush. As of July 2012 the camp population stands at approximately 168.

Iranian captives acknowledged by the DoD

4 Sunni Muslim Groups Responsible for 66% of All 17,958 Terror Killings in 2013

 

By Patrick Goodenough


Smoke billows from a burning car moments after Islamist terrorists carried out a suicide bombing attack targeting the convoy of an Egyptian government minister in Cairo in September 2013. (AP Photo/Ahmed Soliman, File)

(CNSNews.com) – The number of people killed by terrorists worldwide in 2013 rose by 60 percent compared to the previous year – from 11,133 to 17,958 – with four Sunni Muslim extremist groups responsible for two-thirds of all fatalities, according to a comprehensive annual study.Eighty-two percent of fatalities occurred in just five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria, although the number of countries that experienced more than 50 terror-related deaths also rose – to 24, compared with 15 the previous year.

Among the many findings in the new Global Terrorism Index, a project of the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace, is one that calls into question claims that poverty is a key driver of terrorism.

“One of the most important findings in this report is that there is not a strong statistical link between poverty and terrorism,” it says. “Many people who join terrorist groups in wealthy countries are well educated and come from middle class families.”

“Other measures which didn’t correlate include life expectancy, mean years of schooling and economic factors such as GDP growth.”

Socio-economic, governance and attitudinal variables that showed the most significant correlation with terrorism were political stability, intergroup cohesion and legitimacy of the state.

The report also found that “religion” as a driving ideology for terrorism has jumped significantly in the last five years, and accounts for most of the terror activity in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

As a driver for terrorist groups, religion far outstrips “politics,” which tends to dominate attacks in the Western Hemisphere and is responsible for about half of them in Europe; and “national separatist” ideology, which accounts for the vast majority of attacks in Russia and former Soviet Union areas, and about half of attacks in Europe and about one-third in the Asia-Pacific.

“Over the last decade the increase in terrorism has been linked to radical Islamic groups whose violent theologies have been broadly taught,” said Steve Killelea, executive chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace.

“To counteract these influences, moderate forms of Sunni theologies need to be championed by Sunni Muslim nations,” he said. “Given the theological nature of the problem it is difficult for outside actors to be influential.”

Four Sunni groups were responsible for 66 percent of all terror fatalities in 2013. In order of deadliness, they were the Taliban in Afghanistan and its Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) affiliate in neighboring Pakistan; al-Qaeda and its various affiliates; ISIS and its al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) precursor; and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Religion as a driving ideology for terrorism has dramatically increased since 2000, when nationalist separatist movements were more prominent. Political and national separatist movements are still significant in 2013 but have seen little change in activity over the period.

As expected, Iraq tops the new Global Terrorism Index (GTI), accounting for by far the largest number of terrorist deaths in the period under review – and that was even before the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s surge in the country, which has escalated since last January.

Iraq recorded a 162 percent rise in fatalities, to 6,362, with ISIS responsible for 77 percent of the attacks that were claimed by any particular group.

Next up was Afghanistan, which recorded a 13 percent rise in terror fatalities in 2013, to 3,111. Of those, 75 percent were attributed to the Taliban, which killed almost 2,350 people in 2013.

In Pakistan, number three on the GTI, 2,345 people were killed in terror attacks in 2013, an increase of 37 percent. Many of the attacks were not claimed, but the TTP took responsibility for 49 percent of those that were claimed, accounting for almost 25 percent of fatalities.

Nigeria at number four saw 1,826 people killed. Seven groups claimed responsibility, but the vast majority of attacks were carried out by Boko Haram, which the report says is “one of the most deadly terrorist groups in the world with an average of close to eight deaths per terrorist attack.”

The descent of Africa’s most populous country has been especially marked over recent years. As a result of Boko Haram’s deadly campaign, Nigeria climbed to fourth place in this year’s GTI from seventh place in last year’s report and 12th the year before.

Syria is fifth on the new GTI, with 1,078 people killed in terror attack over the period in review, a jump from around 600 deaths the previous year. (The report differentiates between fatalities in terror attacks and “conventional warfare” deaths in the brutal civil war, but says the number of terror attacks may be underreported due to the conflict.)

Half of the terror attacks in Syria in 2013 were not claimed, but the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front was responsible for more than 40 percent.

Rounding out the top 10 on the GTI were Somalia, India, the Philippines, Yemen and Thailand.

The index is calculated based on the number of terror attacks, the number of deaths, the number of injuries and the level of property damage. The indicators are used to create a weighted five-year average that takes into account the lasting effects of terrorism.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

European Parliament identifies Wahabi and Salafi roots of global terrorism


European Parliament identifies Wahabi and Salafi roots of global terrorism

 

 

It is not merely the faith or oil that flows out of Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich Arab state and its neighbours are busy financing Wahabi and Salafi militants across the globe.A recent report by the European Parliament reveals how Wahabi and Salafi groups based out of the Middle East are involved in the “support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world.” The report, released in June 2013, was commissioned by European Parliament’s Directorate General for External Policies. The report warns about the Wahabi/Salafi organisations and claims that “no country in the Muslim world is safe from their operations … as they always aim to terrorise their opponents and arouse the admiration of their supporters.”

The nexus between Arab charities promoting Wahabi and Salafi traditions and the extremist Islamic movements has emerged as one of the major threats to people and governments across the globe. From Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Indonesia in the East, a network of charities is funding militancy and mayhem to coerce Muslims of diverse traditions to conform to the Salafi and Wahabi traditions. The same networks have been equally destructive as they branch out of Muslim countries and attack targets in Europe and North America.

Despite the overt threats emerging from the oil-rich Arab states, governments across the globe continue to ignore the security imperative and instead are busy exploiting the oil-, and at time times, blood-soaked riches.

The European Parliament’s report though is a rare exception to the rule where in the past the western governments have let the oil executives influence their foreign offices. From the United States to Great Britain, western states have gone to great lengths to ignore the Arab charities financing the radical groups, some of whom have even targeted the West with deadly consequences.

While the recent report by the European Parliament documents the financial details connecting the Arab charities with extremists elsewhere, it is certainly not the first exposition of its kind. A 2006 report by the US Department of State titled, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report – Money Laundering and Financial Crimes, reported that “Saudi donors and unregulated charities have been a major source of financing to extremist and terrorist groups over the past 25 years.” One of the WikiLeaks documents, a cable from the US Consulate in Lahore also stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

The European Parliament’s report estimates that Saudi Arabia alone has spent over $10 billion to promote Wahabism through Saudi charitable foundations. The tiny, but very rich, state of Qatar is the new entrant to the game supporting militant franchises from Libya to Syria.

The linkage between Saudi-based charitable organisations and militants began in the late 70s in Pakistan. A network of charitable organisations was setup in Pakistan to provide the front for channeling billions of dollars to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Since then the militant networks have spread globally, emerging as a major threat to international security. Charlie Wilson’s War, a book by George Crile that was made into a movie, details the Saudi-militancy nexus as well as Ahmed Rashid’s Taliban.

While ordinary citizens in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries have suffered the deadly consequences of militancy supported by the Wahabi and Salafi charitable organisations, the Saudi government had remained largely dormant. This changed in 2003 when militants attacked targets in Riyadh. Since then, the Saudi government has kept a close watch on the domestic affairs of charities, making it illegal to sponsor militancy, but the government has done precious little to curtail activities by Saudi charities abroad. In fact, evidence, as per the European Parliament’s report, suggests that Saudi and Qatar-based charities have been actively financing militants in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Mali, and Indonesia.

Pakistan has suffered tremendously over the past three decades from domestic and foreign inspired militancy. The Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and the US-backed Afghan militancy forced Pakistan into a civil war that has continued to date. The faltering Pakistani economy did not help. Successive governments have rushed to Saudi monarchs asking for loans and free oil in times of need. However, Saudi money comes bundled with Saudi propaganda and a license to convert Pakistanis to a more ‘puritan’, read Wahabi, version of Islam.

In late the 70s, Iranians also intensified their influence in Pakistan. While hardline Sunnis were being radicalised by the Wahabi influences from Saudi Arabia, Iranian influence on Pakistani Shias was also increasing. And whereas Pakistan did not need any further radicalization of its people, the Saudi-Iranian tussle spilled into the streets of Pakistan with devastating consequences for religious minorities and liberal streams of Sunni Islam.

At the same time, the economic collapse in Pakistan forced many to find jobs abroad. Millions of Pakistanis left for the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. While the remittances kept their families and the Pakistani government afloat, the migrant workers returned to Pakistan after being radicalised during their stay in Saudi. They became the brand ambassadors for the Saudi-inspired Wahabi flavours of Islam, thus expediting the pace of radicalisation in Pakistan.

Pakistan was equally vulnerable to foreign influences after the devastating earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2010 and 2011. The European Parliament’s report revealed that these disasters provided Saudi and other Arab charities to channel millions of dollars in aid, of which an unknown amount was used to fund militant organisations who have broadened their reach in Pakistan resulting in over 45,000 violent deaths in the past few years alone.

Pakistanis have a very strong spiritual link with Saudi Arabia. However, they are suffering for the unbound devotion to the oil-rich state, which has done a poor job of curbing the financial support for militancy in Pakistan. Seeing the plight of violence stricken Pakistanis, one hopes that Saudi charities could be more charitable.


Author Image

Murtaza Haider is a Toronto-based academic and the director of Regionomics.com.

He tweets @regionomics

Sunni Terrorism is Killing Internationally but America Blames Iran: Christians and Hezbollah

Sunni Terrorism is Killing Internationally but America Blames Iran: Christians and Hezbollah

 

Boutros Hussein, Chika Mori, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

https://i1.wp.com/moderntokyotimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/800px-Bilateral_Nuclear_Talks_-_Ernest_Moniz-John_Kerry-Mohammad_Javad_Zarif-Ali_Akbar_Salehi-3.jpg

President Donald Trump of America was elected based on promises over the internal economy and re-energizing the nation state by focusing on equal trade agreements that envisage greater protection for American workers. Sadly, it seems that in the realm of geopolitics, terrorism, and military issues, that the usual easy slogans are back in favor in order to appease Israel and Saudi Arabia respectively. Therefore, if events spiral out of control in the Ukraine, it appears that promises with solving the relationship with the Russian Federation may also be missed.

James Mattis, the US Defense Secretary, is citing Iran with being the “biggest state sponsor of terrorism.” Yet mentioning Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, in relation to Iran being involved in terrorism is not only false, it denies the stable role of Iran in helping to defeat ISIS (Islamic State – IS) in Iraq and Syria. This, amazingly, includes Iran assisting America by stealth in Iraq because without Iran’s resolve – and the role of Shia militias – then the central government of Baghdad was threatened with being overrun by ISIS prior to the counterattack.

Equally, religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, are threatened by the genocidal and enslaving tendencies of Sunni Islamists in this country based on endless atrocities by ISIS. Similarly, in Syria, the Shia force of Hezbollah is helping to protect Syrians of all faiths, irrespective if Christian, Druze, or Muslim. Likewise, the main Christian politician in Lebanon, Michel Aoun, is known to have good relations with Hezbollah.

Indeed, Sunni Islamic terrorism is responsible for September 11 in America just like the same ideology is spreading its barbaric tendencies in Europe. Maybe Mattis isn’t aware of the difference of geopolitics and international terrorism? After all, the terrorists of Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Al-Nusra, Boko Haram, ISIS, the Taliban, and a plethora of others, follow the same Sunni Islamic intrigues in line with the political ambitions of the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. In other words, Africans, Asians, Europeans, and North Americans, are threatened solely by Sunni Islamic terrorism in countless nations. Also, in parts of some European cities, the reality of Sunni Islamization based on Gulf petrodollars and the policies of naïve politically correct liberals in Europe is altering the demographic and religious landscape.

ISIS to the anti-Shia state institutionalism of Saudi Arabia and other nations including Bahrain are fermenting sectarianism based on the endless persecution of Shia Muslims. Given this reality, the growth of Al-Qaeda (AQAP in Yemen) in Yemen and the growing tentacles of ISIS in this nation are based on the Sunni Muslim coalition under the leadership of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the Shia in Yemen – and all forces opposed to the Saudi Arabia led coalition – face the triple forces of Sunni Islamic aggression, Western military arms boosting Saudi Arabia, and the wrath of bloodthirsty Sunni Islamist groups including AQAP and ISIS.

Mattis said, “We have seen their [Iran’s] misconduct, their misbehavior, from Lebanon and Syria to Bahrain and to Yemen and it’s got to be addressed at some point.”

Yet, this statement by Mattis seems more aimed at appeasing Israel and Saudi Arabia, rather than caring about the religious mosaic of the region and finding a space in order for Christians to survive throughout the Middle East. For example, in Syria, it is government forces and allies including Hezbollah that are enabling the Christians to survive the genocidal tendencies of ISIS and other Sunni Islamist sectarian terrorist forces. Likewise, Hezbollah and Christians in the Aoun camp in Lebanon – and at a local level based on the initiatives of Shia mosques and Christian churches – seek to maintain the religious mosaic of this nation.

His Eminence, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, an extremely powerful religious cleric in the movement of Hezbollah knows full well the real danger to the entire region. Nasrallah said, “I want to ask the Christians before the Muslims: You are seeing what is taking place in Syria. I am not causing sectarian evocations. Let no one say that Sayyed is doing so. Not at all! Where are your churches? Where are your patriarchs? Where are your nuns? Where are your crosses? Where are the statues of Mary (pbuh)? Where are your sanctities? Where are all of these? What has the world done for them? What did the world do for them previously in Iraq? Aren’t these groups causing all of this in all the regions?”

Nasrallah is confirming that Christians and Christian churches survive openly in Lebanon and in Syria under government controlled areas. Indeed, Syrian soldiers of all faiths, be they Muslim or Christian, are on the frontline against ISIS and various al-Qaeda affiliates. Whereas, in Iraq, the demise of the Christian population is based on the intrigues of major Western powers and the role of Sunni Islamists in major Gulf nations that are spreading Sunni Islamic sectarianism. Similarly, not one single Christian church is tolerated in Saudi Arabia. Also, in major Western nations, the problem is Sunni Islamist educational indoctrination that is being tolerated via Takfiri Sunni mosques and Sunni Islamist educational facilities that are creating states within a state.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times, it was stated, “It is ironic that Hezbollah (Hizbullah) in Lebanon under His Eminence, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, is more concerned about the plight of Christians and other religious minorities, rather than the so-called democratic West. Indeed, it is abundantly clear that America, France, and the United Kingdom are fully behind the emptying of Christians throughout the Middle East based on their close ties with feudal Gulf monarchies. Therefore, while Saudi Arabia bans the Christian faith it is also clear that Western meddling in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, is leading to a catastrophe for the Christian populations of these nations. Indeed, it is even hard to say nations about Iraq and Libya because Gulf and Western destabilization policies have led to failed states. Syria, thankfully, is fighting tenaciously in order to preserve the religious mosaic and to prevent another failed state.”

Mattis is clearly delusional at best but at worse his words are based on enormous manipulation of language. Yes, Iran and Hezbollah are anti-Israel but this is a different issue that is outside the scope of international terrorism. In other words, if America opposes Iran despite this nation helping America in the past in Afghanistan via the Northern Alliance after September 11 and the role of this nation in modern day Iraq, then Mattis should focus on the geopolitical reality of this and the role of Gulf petrodollars.

International terrorism is mainly killing in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Sometimes, the same international terrorist butchers in Berlin, Brussels, London, Madrid, New York, Nice, Paris, and other Western cities. Yet this international terrorism is Sunni Islamist and just like the nation state of Saudi Arabia, this hatred is aimed at all non-Muslims, the Shia, and moderate variants of Sunni Islam that are now equally being deemed to be apostates. Therefore, Mattis is disingenuous and is misleading the people of America by focusing on limited and endless geopolitical games that are emboldening the sword of Sunni Islamism.

 

Trump’s “Bizarro” Speech To the Ruler of Wahhabia

Bizarro–“The opposite of the real world. Good is evil, round is square, hello is goodbye.”

Transcript of Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia

“I want to thank King Salman for his extraordinary words, and the magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting today’s summit. I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.
You also hosted me in the treasured home of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom who united your great people. Working alongside another beloved leader — American President Franklin Roosevelt — King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries. King Salman: your father would be so proud to see that you are continuing his legacy — and just as he opened the first chapter in our partnership, today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens.
Let me now also extend my deep and heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of the distinguished heads of state who made this journey here today. You greatly honor us with your presence, and I send the warmest regards from my country to yours. I know that our time together will bring many blessings to both your people and mine.
I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith.
In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.
Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity—in this region, and in the world.
Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.
And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect. To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce.
For Americans, this is an exciting time. A new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over 3 trillion dollars of new value, lifted the burdens on American industry, and made record investments in our military that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies — many of whom are here today.
Now, there is even more blessed news I am pleased to share with you. My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation. Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.
This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase — and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.
We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond.
Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology — located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World.
This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.
I have had the pleasure of welcoming several of the leaders present today to the White House, and I look forward to working with all of you.
America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values — to pursue a better future for us all.
Here at this summit we will discuss many interests we share together. But above all we must be united in pursuing the one goal that transcends every other consideration. That goal is to meet history’s great test—to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.
Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred. And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples.
With God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East — and maybe, even all over the world.
But this future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it.
Few nations have been spared its violent reach.
America has suffered repeated barbaric attacks — from the atrocities of September 11th to the devastation of the Boston Bombing, to the horrible killings in San Bernardino and Orlando.
The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims.
But, in sheer numbers, the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence.
Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.
We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions. No description of the suffering and depravity can begin to capture its full measure.
The true toll of ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.
The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures. It should increasingly become one of the great global centers of commerce and opportunity.
This region should not be a place from which refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock.
Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. In addition to ancient wonders, this country is also home to modern ones—including soaring achievements in architecture.
Egypt was a thriving center of learning and achievement thousands of years before other parts of the world. The wonders of Giza, Luxor and Alexandria are proud monuments to that ancient heritage.
All over the world, people dream of walking through the ruins of Petra in Jordan. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and is a land of natural beauty. And the United Arab Emirates has reached incredible heights with glass and steel, and turned earth and water into spectacular works of art.
The entire region is at the center of the key shipping lanes of the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Straits of Hormuz. The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.
But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence. There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.
Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith.
Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.
If we do not act against this organized terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism’s devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered.
If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.
This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.
This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.
This is a battle between Good and Evil.
When we see the scenes of destruction in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims — we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy.
But we can only overcome this evil if the forces of good are united and strong — and if everyone in this room does their fair share and fulfills their part of the burden.
Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land.
America is prepared to stand with you — in pursuit of shared interests and common security.
But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.
It is a choice between two futures — and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.
A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.
For our part, America is committed to adjusting our strategies to meet evolving threats and new facts. We will discard those strategies that have not worked—and will apply new approaches informed by experience and judgment. We are adopting a Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.
Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination.
Our partnerships will advance security through stability, not through radical disruption. We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes — not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms — not sudden intervention.
We must seek partners, not perfection—and to make allies of all who share our goals.
Above all, America seeks peace — not war.
Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion.
The first task in this joint effort is for your nations to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil.
Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.
Many are already making significant contributions to regional security: Jordanian pilots are crucial partners against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and a regional coalition have taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen. The Lebanese Army is hunting ISIS operatives who try to infiltrate their territory. Emirati troops are supporting our Afghan partners. In Mosul, American troops are supporting Kurds, Sunnis and Shias fighting together for their homeland. Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner. Our longstanding partnership with Kuwait and Bahrain continue to enhance security in the region. And courageous Afghan soldiers are making tremendous sacrifices in the fight against the Taliban, and others, in the fight for their country.
As we deny terrorist organizations control of territory and populations, we must also strip them of their access to funds. We must cut off the financial channels that let ISIS sell oil, let extremists pay their fighters, and help terrorists smuggle their reinforcements.
I am proud to announce that the nations here today will be signing an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism, called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center — co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, and joined by every member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is another historic step in a day that will be long remembered.
I also applaud the Gulf Cooperation Council for blocking funders from using their countries as a financial base for terror, and designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization last year. Saudi Arabia also joined us this week in placing sanctions on one of the most senior leaders of Hezbollah.
Of course, there is still much work to do.
That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.
Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory — piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED.
And political leaders must speak out to affirm the same idea: heroes don’t kill innocents; they save them. Many nations here today have taken important steps to raise up that message. Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030 is an important and encouraging statement of tolerance, respect, empowering women, and economic development.
The United Arab Emirates has also engaged in the battle for hearts and souls—and with the U.S., launched a center to counter the online spread of hate. Bahrain too is working to undermine recruitment and radicalism.
I also applaud Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees. The surge of migrants and refugees leaving the Middle East depletes the human capital needed to build stable societies and economies. Instead of depriving this region of so much human potential, Middle Eastern countries can give young people hope for a brighter future in their home nations and regions.
That means promoting the aspirations and dreams of all citizens who seek a better life — including women, children, and followers of all faiths. Numerous Arab and Islamic scholars have eloquently argued that protecting equality strengthens Arab and Muslim communities.
For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.
In that spirit, after concluding my visit in Riyadh, I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican — visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic Faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible — including peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them.
But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.
From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.
It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.
Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime — launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.
Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region. The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.
Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.
The decisions we make will affect countless lives.
King Salman, I thank you for the creation of this great moment in history, and for your massive investment in America, its industry and its jobs. I also thank you for investing in the future of this part of the world.
This fertile region has all the ingredients for extraordinary success — a rich history and culture, a young and vibrant people, a thriving spirit of enterprise. But you can only unlock this future if the citizens of the Middle East are freed from extremism, terror and violence.
We in this room are the leaders of our peoples. They look to us for answers, and for action. And when we look back at their faces, behind every pair of eyes is a soul that yearns for justice.
Today, billions of faces are now looking at us, waiting for us to act on the great question of our time.
Will we be indifferent in the presence of evil? Will we protect our citizens from its violent ideology?
Will we let its venom spread through our societies? Will we let it destroy the most holy sites on earth? If we do not confront this deadly terror, we know what the future will bring—more suffering and despair. But if we act—if we leave this magnificent room unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens the world—then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have.
The birthplace of civilization is waiting to begin a new renaissance. Just imagine what tomorrow could bring.
Glorious wonders of science, art, medicine and commerce to inspire humankind. Great cities built on the ruins of shattered towns. New jobs and industries that will lift up millions of people. Parents who no longer worry for their children, families who no longer mourn for their loved ones, and the faithful who finally worship without fear.
These are the blessings of prosperity and peace. These are the desires that burn with a righteous flame in every human heart. And these are the just demands of our beloved peoples.
I ask you to join me, to join together, to work together, and to FIGHT together— BECAUSE UNITED, WE WILL NOT FAIL.
Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless Your Countries. And God Bless the United States of America.”

Saudi Nuclear Ambitions, Trump’s Ambiguity

[Could nukes for Saudi Arabia be covered under a $100 billion arms deal (Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Ambitions and Proliferation Risks)?]

SPECIAL: Jared Kushner Working for Israel to Enable Saudi Arabian Nuclear Attack Against Iran

Robert David STEELE Vivas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROBERT STEELE: I have learned from a person I trust that Jared Kushner is being used by Israel to rapidly enable Saudi Arabian nuclear attack capability against Iran. In his recent call to the Lockheed CEO asking for a 12% discount (it should have been 50%) on Lockheed’s missile defense system, Kushner was overheard discussing the arming of the Saudis with nuclear missiles with what sounded like an Israeli intelligence officer.

My source tells me that the Israeli’s believe they can incite a limited nuclear war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and that the nuclearization of Saudi Arabia will discourage Russia from deepening its support of Syria while also serving as a threat against Iran. I am reminded of the treason of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who gave Pakistan the nuclear bomb (and indirectly, with Saudi funding and Israel assistance, also to North Korea). And we should not forget that the CIA gave Iran the plans for a modern nuclear bomb is a covert operation that was as stupid as any I have ever seen. It is very likely that Kushner is acting with the explicit approval of President Donald Trump, and that there is also a high risk of a limited US nuclear attack on North Korea in the near future. I am very concerned by the increased possibility that our legitimately-elected President is losing his mind to an active psychotronics (mind-control) against him by the Deep State. It is clear to me that both the Vice President and the Chief of Staff are traitors who actively represent the Deep State, and our President is not being properly protected by the Secret Service or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If he appoints Joe Lieberman as Director of the FBI, he will be signing his death warrant and assuring four more years of Deep State control of the USA.

Saudi Kingfish Forgets Bandar, Blames Syrian Destruction On Syrians

[SEE:  Bandar bin Sultan’s Blueprint for Civil War]

Saudi king tells Donald Trump Syrians ‘brought destruction to their own country’

 

‘Syria too used to be one of the most advanced countries,’ King Salman tells President

The king of Saudi Arabia, a major backer of rebel forces in Syria, appeared to lament the destruction caused by the civil war while meeting with Donald Trump in Riyadh.

“Syria too used to be one of the most advanced countries,” King Salman told Mr Trump, according to a White House press pool report.

“We used to get our professors from Syria,” the King continued. “They served our kingdom. Unfortunately, they too brought destruction to their own country. You can destroy a country in mere seconds, but it takes a lot of effort.”

The Saudi Arabian capital is the US leader’s first stop on his nine-day, five-country tour abroad.

The civil war in Syria has been underway for more than six years, fought between Bashar al-Assad’s forces, anti-government rebels, Isis and Islamist groups linked with al-Qaeda.

Trump, Now Saudi Toadie, Sees Hezbollah as “ISIS”, Evidently

[Trump wimps-out under Saudi pressure and allows the royal camel jockies to mandate America’s legal moves to destroy all of the branches of ISIS, even the “Islamic State in Saudi Arabia’’.  Instead, he joins the self-proclaimed desert royals in targeting Hezbollah, for coming to the aid of their Syrian allies when the International Arab/American “Jihad” descended upon them (US, Saudi Arabia issue joint terrorist designation ).]

 

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia, touted by President Trump as a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State, has helped block a Trump administration proposal to impose sanctions against a Saudi branch of the terrorist group, documents show.

The plan to add the Islamic State’s Saudi affiliate to a UN list of terrorist groups was quietly killed two weeks ago in a bureaucratic maneuver at the Security Council, records show. US officials familiar with the move said the Saudis objected to the public acknowledgment of a separate Saudi offshoot of the group in the kingdom.

‘‘They don’t want to admit they have an issue in their backyard,’’ said a US official familiar with the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.The news of the maneuver comes as Saudi Arabia hosts Trump in Riyadh in his first visit to a foreign capital since becoming president.

US and Saudi officials are expected to use the visit to underscore close cooperation between the two countries in battling Islamist extremist groups. Riyadh has contributed money, arms, and fighter jets to the international coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria.

The terrorist group in 2014 declared the existence of a separate Saudi province, or wilayat, with its own cadre of Saudi operatives seeking to overthrow the monarchy. The group has since claimed responsibility for several attacks inside the country, including a suicide bombing at a mosque in 2015 that killed 15 people.

The Trump administration’s proposal to add the ‘‘Islamic State in Saudi Arabia’’ to a list of UN-sanctioned terrorist groups was formally blocked on May 5 by Senegal and Egypt, two members of the UN Security Council.

Egyptian diplomats explained to their US counterparts that they acted at the behest of Saudi Arabia, according to US officials and internal e-mails. It was the second time in a year that Saudi officials intervened to prevent the local affiliate from being added to the UN terrorist list.

A senior Saudi official acknowledged his government’s opposition to the plan. He said formal recognition of a Saudi branch of the Islamic State would have been both unfair to Saudi Arabia and an exaggeration of the local cell’s significance.

Acceding to the US proposal could have resulted in ‘‘reputational risks’’ for the kingdom, possibly including losses in tourist revenue and higher insurance premiums, the official said.

Saudi Arabia is one of several countries that have opposed US efforts to add local branches of the Islamic State to the UN terrorist list. Russian diplomats earlier this month quashed a US proposal to sanction Islamic State chapters in Libya, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

Trump Enters the Saudi Trap, Smiling

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.timesofisrael.com/uploads/2017/05/Trump-US-Saudi-Arabia_Horo2-e1495307789854-635x357.jpg

Trump to take more measured tone on Islam in major speech today

 

“Many of these leaders have expressed growing concern about terrorism, the spread of radicalization and Iran’s role in funding both.”—Trump

**************

The majority of the terrorist acts and terrorist organizations involved in the war of terror have been, and still are, Sunni.  ISIS, al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in all of its manifestations, are Sunni Takfiri terrorists, strictly following the Wahhabi teachings.  To blame Iran for the spread of this patently evil enterprise is an outright lie, which can only be accepted by the most brainwashed cattle and worshipers of Zionism.  It was Saudi money and Saudi volunteers for all of these terrorist groups from the beginning, setting-up the smugglers’ “rat lines” from Syria into Iraq, which originally sent terrorists into Iraq to kill Shia and Americans.  Now that the Iraq conflict has been exported, the “rat lines” have been reversed, sending the terror from Iraq into Syria and beyond (Baghdad-Damascus Highway), just as the Libyan fiasco became a transport corridor bearing weapons and Islamist lunatics from Africa into Syria.

Trump is there to turn reality upon its head, if we allow him to add new layers of lie-based wars onto the old conflicts, which he promised to end.—COMMENT

RAT LINES OF WWIII

[click on image for large view]

Pentagon Planning World’s Biggest Game of “Chicken” At Intersection of Jordan, Iraq and Syria

Eastern Syria under spotlight with main players racing for more gains

Source: Xinhua

by Hummam Sheikh Ali

DAMASCUS, May 19 (Xinhua) — The Syrian army is shifting its focus toward securing the triangle of the Jordanian and Iraqi borders in southern Syria as such areas are crucial for the army to cut off the rebel supply lines and secure border areas against the Islamic State (IS) group and other rebel groups, some of which are supported by the Western powers.

But the process is not that easy, as the United States and the British army have bases near the Tanf area on the borders with Iraq.

Washington seems to want the eastern part of Syria to be an area under its sway, and doesn’t want the Syrian army to advance in that area, analysts said.

A day earlier, U.S. warplanes struck Syrian pro-regime forces as they were advancing near the Tanf area.

Reports said the strike came to protect British and American soldiers in the country’s southeast.

On Friday, the Syrian army confirmed the U.S. strike, saying the U.S. attempt will not terrorize the army from continuing to fight the terrorist groups.

In a statement, the army said the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition attacked one of the military positions near the Tanf area in the Syrian desert near the Iraqi borders on Thursday afternoon, leaving a number of “martyrs and some material losses.”

The army described the attack as a “flagrant aggression,” adding that it exposes the “false allegations of the coalition about fighting terrorism.”

The statement said the U.S. claims that they have warned the forces from advancing before firing are completely rejected.

“The Syrian army is fighting terrorist groups on its ground, and no force has the right to determine the fronts on which the army fight the terrorist groups,” the statement said.

It added that “those who claim to be fighting terrorist groups, should not fire at the Syrian army because it’s the legitimate force fighting the terrorist groups, but should direct their fire against the terrorist groups.”

The statement stressed that the Syrian army will continue the war on the terrorist groups and the U.S. attack will not terrorize the army from continuing the battles on terrorism.

The military statement is a message to the U.S. and its allies that the Syrian army will not agree to the line of influence the U.S. is trying to draw in Syria.

Pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV cited an unnamed senior security Syrian official as saying that there is a Syrian-Iranian-Russian consensus about the need to advance to fight the IS militants in the Syrian Desert, toward the Syrian-Iraqi borders.

The source said that U.S. drones were spotted in the sky, watching the movements of the Syrian army near Tanf, adding that the U.S. asked the Russians to convince the Syrian army to stay 15 km away from the “illegitimate” U.S. bases in Tanf.

The strike was also read by analysts as a message to both the Syrian and Iraqi governments.

On Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with visiting Iraq’s national security advisor, Faleh al-Fayad, with the two sides vowing to boost cooperation in anti-terrorism war, according to state news agency SANA.

During the meeting, al-Fayad conveyed a message from Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, which included “Iraq’s keenness to continue coordinating the efforts with Syria to fight the IS on the Iraqi-Syrian borders,” the report said.

Al-Fayad also said eliminating the terrorist group demands “honest” intentions by all concerned countries as terrorism threatens the whole world.

For his part, Assad said that the achievements made by military forces of the two countries in the war against IS constitutes an important step to restore peace and stability to both sides.

For the U.S., the cooperation between the Iranian-backed Assad forces and Iraq’s Hashed al-Shabi paramilitary forces doesn’t serve the interests of Washington even though both groups are fighting the IS militants in Iraq and Syria.

The Hashed al-Shabi is widely-perceived to be backed by Iran, as the Iraqi government is also a Shiite-led one, so Washington doesn’t want a Shiite, Iranian influence to cross borders between Iraq and Syria, that’s why the borders between Iraq and Syria are becoming the focus of the U.S. influence in Syria.

The U.S.-led anti-terror coalition has been backing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in a military operation to defeat IS in Syria’s northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS.

The SDF is advancing, but Raqqa is not going to be the last battle against IS, as Deir al-Zour province is expected to witness the final battle against IS, as the terror group controls large swathes of territories in that province on the Syrian-Iraqi borders.

Additionally, all the IS commanders and their families fleeing Raqqa are heading toward Deir al-Zour.

So despite the fact that the U.S. wants its influence area to be in that part of the country, the Syrian army is also working toward securing Deir al-Zour and the areas on the Iraqi-Syrian borders, out of its “legitimate” right in the country, particularly that the central part of Deir al-Zour is still under the government control but besieged by IS.

Maher Ihsan, a Syrian political analyst, told Xinhua that the triangle of the Syrian-Iraqi and Jordanian borders in southern Syria will be the focus of active military operations, which will expose the U.S. hidden agendas, as Washington is also working with the Jordanians near Syria’s southern province of Daraa to create a buffer zone.

He said that the Tanf in particular is so important for the Syrian army, which has reached 40 km from that area, as the army wants to control that border crossing to prevent the advance of the rebels in that area.

He noted that the U.S. wants to protect around 4,000 rebels it had trained and stationed in Tanf, as the U.S. and British troops are also backing them in that crossing.

The aim of the U.S. is to have those troops advancing from Tanf toward the IS-held city of Bukamal in the countryside of Deir al-Zour, before moving on toward the city itself, he added.

Trump, Hypocrite-In-Chief, Visits the Homeland of Wahhabi “Takfiri” Terrorism To Pick A Fight w/Iran

Trump to Muslims on first foreign trip: Drive out terrorists

 

 

WASHINGTON >> President Donald Trump will use his first visit to the Middle East to call for unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world, casting the challenge as a “battle between good and evil” and urging Arab leaders to “drive out the terrorists from your places of worship,” according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press.

Abandoning some of the harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric of his presidential campaign, the draft of the speech, slated to be delivered in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, envisions new partnerships with America’s traditional allies in the Middle East. It notably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights — topics Arab leaders often view as U.S. moralizing — in favor of the more limited goals of peace and stability.

“We are not here to lecture — to tell other peoples how to live, what to do or who to be. We are here instead to offer partnership in building a better future for us all,” the document said.

Trump left Washington Friday afternoon for Riyadh, the first stop on his maiden trip overseas trip as president. The marathon trip will also take him to Israel, the Vatican, Belgium and Italy. The trip is a key test of the president’s diplomatic skills and a chance to add substance to a foreign policy he has described broadly as “America First.”

Two different sources provided the AP with copies of the draft of his remarks, billed as a marquee speech of the trip. One version, obtained late Thursday, included edits with comments from an administration official, indicating it was still a work in progress.

The White House confirmed the draft was authentic, but cautioned the president had not yet signed off on the final product.

“The president has not seen this draft,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said. “This is one of five drafts that have been written by various people. He continues to take input and is writing a final version.”

Trump’s campaign was marked by his anti-Islamic rhetoric and his administration has twice tried to impose a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries. “I think Islam hates us,” he said at one point.

The draft of the speech includes no mention of “radical Islamic terrorism” — a phrase that candidate Trump regularly criticized opponent Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama for shying away from. His speech calls terrorism a widespread problem plaguing everyone who loves peace.

He positions himself as an “emissary for the American people, to deliver a message of friendship and hope,” according to the draft.

“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations. This is a battle between those who seek to obliterate human life and those who seek to protect it,” the text reads. “This is a battle between good and evil.”

Trump may seem an unlikely messenger to deliver an olive branch to the Muslim world.

Only a week after taking office, he signed an executive order to ban immigrants from seven countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen — from entering the United States, a decision that sparked widespread protests at the nation’s airports and demonstrations outside the White House. That ban was blocked in federal court, prompting the administration to sign a second one.

The second version, which dropped Iraq from the list, is also blocked in court, though Trump has said the measure is needed for the nation’s security. As a campaigner, he called for a “total and complete shutdown” of the entry of Muslims to the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” insisting that a sizable segment of the Muslim population has “great hatred toward Americans.”

His Saudi speech is aimed at the nations represented at an Arab and Muslim leaders’ summit.

Trump intends to condemn Syria’s President Bashar Assad for committing “unspeakable crimes against humanity” and Iran for contributing to spiraling violence in Syria.

“All nations of conscience in the Middle East must work together to roll back Iran’s destabilizing influence, restore a more stable balance of power in the region, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and responsible government they deserve,” the draft reads.

Iran and Syria were not invited to the summit, and they are not part of a regional military alliance that Saudi Arabia is establishing to fight terrorism. The kingdom backs efforts to topple the Syrian government, which counts Iran and Russia as its closest allies.

White House officials have said they consider Trump’s visit, and his keynote address, a counterweight to President Obama’s debut speech to the Muslim world in 2009 in Cairo.

Obama called for understanding and acknowledged some of America’s missteps in the region. That speech was denounced by many Republicans and criticized by a number of the United States’ Middle East allies, including Israel, as being a sort of apology. Obama aides have continued to defend it.

Administration officials believe Trump’s decision to begin his trip in Saudi Arabia sends a powerful message to the kingdom: the strained ties that marked U.S.-Saudi relations under Obama are over.

Unlike the Obama administration, which distanced itself from authoritarian leaders and took a moral stance against the human rights violations that in many cases fueled resentment and extremism, Trump is focusing on deal-making. Only in the case of Iran does his speech advocate for the “longest-suffering” people who are subject “to their leaders’ reckless attempts to dominate their neighbors.”

By contrast, Trump hails America’s friendship with Saudi Arabia, which “stretches back many decades, and covers numerous dimensions.” It is a markedly different message from his campaign tweet that said “Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays.”

Pentagon Pushes Putin To Carve-Up Syria, In Order To Avoid War w/US

US pitches plan to Russia to avoid armed conflict in Syria

 

For Republicans, Venezuela Either Humanitarian Crisis Or “National Security Issue”

[Trump warns the world that he plans some kind of “humanitarian” intervention in Venezuela (Maduro to Trump: ‘Get your dirty hands off Venezuela!’),

“We will be working with Colombia and other countries on the Venezuelan problem.  It is a very, very horrible problem.  And from a humanitarian standpoint, it is like nothing we’ve seen in quite a long time.”–Remarks by President Trump and President Santos of Colombia in Joint Press Conference

even though is it all about CITGO and Russia.]

Treasury Secretary: Russia’s Citgo deal a “national security issue”

 

 

By Graham Kates

WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has acknowledged for the first time that federal officials will scrutinize a deal that could lead state-owned Russian energy giant Rosneft to taking a large stake in U.S. oil company Citgo.

Senator Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, on Thursday asked Mnuchin about the deal, which CBS News first reported on in March, during the Treasury Secretary’s testimony before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. In November, Rosneft issued a loan to to Venezuela’s PDVSA, which owns Citgo. PDSVA is financially troubled, and if it goes under Rosneft could end up with a 49.9 percent stake in Citgo.

Menendez noted that additional transactions could give the Russian company majority control over Citgo, which operates three pipelines and three refineries in the U.S.

“This is an issue that I am aware of not just from your letter, but from other people who have raised the concern,” Mnuchin said. He added that any transaction involving Rosneft and Citgo would be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an inter-agency panel that assesses deals for their potential impact on national security.

Mnuchin said he would be willing to provide more details about the review to senators in a classified setting.

Menendez was among a bipartisan group of senators who on May 3 proposed a wide-ranging bill aimed at the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

The bill’s other sponsors include Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland.; Marco Rubio, R-Florida; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.; John McCain, R-Arizona; Bill Nelson, D-Florida; Tim Kaine. D-Virgina; and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland.

The bill was submitted five days after Mnuchin missed a deadline to respond to a letter sent by six senators, including some who are sponsors of the bill, calling for the Treasury to investigate PDVSA’s deal with Rosneft. PDVSA CEO Igor Sechin is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies.

Just over 50 percent of Rosneft is owned by Rosneftegaz, a Russian state agency run by Sechin. A 19.5 percent stake in the company was purchased in December by a consortium of investors that include Anglo-Swiss commodities producer and trader Glencore, sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, and anonymous investors based in the Cayman Islands.

A former British spy’s 35-page dossier about alleged communications between Trump associates and a Russian official includes claims that in July 2016, Sechin met with energy industry investor Carter Page, who at the time was a foreign policy adviser to the Trump presidential campaign. Page and Russian officials have denied the meeting occurred.

The deal “could have significant national security implications for critical energy infrastructure in the United States,” the senators wrote in their April 10 letter to Mnuchin.


Got news tips about the petroleum industry, international finance or public corruption? Email this reporter at KatesG@cbsnews.com, or via his encrypted address, grahamkates@protonmail.com

Jordanian-Iraqi Summit Focuses on Border Security and Pipelines

Jordanian-Iraqi Summit Focuses on Border Security

Amman– Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Iraqi President Fouad Masoum discussed on Thursday the means to secure border crossings and the establishment of the oil pipeline between the two countries.

During an official meeting at Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, the two leaders touched on historic ties between their countries, developments in Iraq as well as current regional developments.

The meeting was followed by extended talks attended by senior officials from Jordan and Iraq, where discussions focused on the importance of boosting cooperation and coordination, mainly in the political, economic and security fields and activating work of the joint committees on boosting economic cooperation.

King Abdullah noted that both countries have a united stance on the fight against terrorism. He also reiterated Jordan’s keenness on the unity, stability and prosperity of Iraq.

The two leaders underlined the importance of securing border crossings as well as the international highway between the two countries and speeding up the construction of the oil pipeline between the Iraqi city of Basra and the port city of Aqaba.

The Iraqi president, for his part, revealed that work was underway to reopen the international highway with Jordan.

Discussions also tackled progress achieved in the fight against ISIS terrorist group, in addition to efforts aimed at consolidating national reconciliation with the participation of all components of the Iraqi society.

Also on Thursday, King Abdullah received President of Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, who arrived in Jordan to participate in the World Economic Forum that will be held at the Dead Sea.

Talks during the meeting focused on means to boost bilateral cooperation mainly on the economic and investment levels.

King Abdullah reaffirmed Jordan’s continued support to efforts that aim at enhancing Iraq’s security and achieving political reconciliation.

Venezuela Rioting Prompts Govt. To Dispatch 2,000 Troops To State Hit By Looting, Protests

By Anggy Polanco | SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela

Venezuela said it was sending 2,000 soldiers on Wednesday to a border state that is a hotspot of anti-government radicalism after looting that killed a 15-year-old in the latest unrest roiling the nation.

Most shops and businesses in San Cristobal, capital of Tachira state on the Colombian border, were closed and guarded by soldiers on Wednesday, though looting continued in some poorer sectors, residents said.

People made off with items including coffee, diapers, and cooking oil in the OPEC nation where a brutal economic crisis has made basic foods and medicine disappear from shelves.

Barricades of trash, car tires, and sand littered the streets, as daily life broke down in the city that was also a hotspot during the 2014 wave of unrest against leftist President Nicolas Maduro.

Hundreds of thousands of people have come onto the streets across Venezuela since early April to demand elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign aid and autonomy for the opposition-led legislature.

Maduro’s government accuses them of seeking a violent coup and says many of the protesters are no more than “terrorists.” State oil company PDVSA also blamed roadblocks for pockets of gasoline shortages in the country on Wednesday.

In Tachira, teenager Jose Francisco Guerrero was shot dead during the spate of looting, his relatives said.

“My mom sent my brother yesterday to buy flour for dinner and a little while later, we received a call saying he’d been injured by a bullet,” said his sister Maria Contreras, waiting for his body to be brought to a San Cristobal morgue.

The state prosecutor’s office confirmed his death, which pushed the death toll in six weeks of unrest to at least 43, equal to that of the 2014 protests.

Workers walk next to empty shelves in a supermarket after it was looted in San Cristobal, Venezuela May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

’21ST CENTURY JEWS’

With international pressure against Venezuela’s government mounting, the United Nations Security Council turned its attention to the country’s crisis for the first time on Wednesday.

“The intent of this briefing was to make sure everyone is aware of the situation … we’re not looking for Security Council action,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters after the session.

“The international community needs to say, ‘Respect the human rights of your people or this is going to go in the direction we’ve seen so many others go’ … We have been down this road with Syria, with North Korea, with South Sudan, with Burundi, with Burma.”

Venezuela’s U.N. envoy Rafael Ramirez in turn accused the United States of seeking to topple the Maduro government.

“The U.S. meddling stimulates the action of violent groups in Venezuela,” he said, showing photos of vandalism and violence he said was caused by opposition supporters.

Venezuelans living abroad, many of whom fled the country’s economic chaos, have in recent weeks accosted visiting state officials and their family members.

Maduro on Tuesday likened that harassment to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust under the Nazis.

“We are the new Jews of the 21st century that Hitler pursued,” Maduro said during the cabinet meeting. “We don’t carry the yellow star of David … we carry red hearts that are filled with desire to fight for human dignity. And we are going to defeat them, these 21st century Nazis.”

Venezuela’s main Jewish group, the Confederation of Israeli Associations in Venezuela, responded with a statement expressing its “absolute rejection” of “banal” comparisons with the Holocaust that killed six million Jews.

Social media has for weeks buzzed with videos of Venezuelan emigres in countries from Australia to the United States shouting insults at public officials and in some cases family members in public places.

Maduro’s critics say it is outrageous for officials to spend money on foreign travel when people are struggling to obtain food and children are dying for lack of basic medicines.

But some opposition sympathizers say such mob-like harassment is the wrong way to confront the government.

As night fell on Wednesday, thousands of opposition supporters poured onto the streets of different cities for rallies and vigils in honor of the fatalities during protests.

Many carried flags and candles.

“We’ve been in the street for more than 40 days because this government has broken every law, every human right, and we cannot bear it anymore,” said one demonstrator, Eugenia, who asked that her last name not be used.

“This rally is important because we have to retake the streets, we have been scared for too long,” she added, referring to the rampant violent crime that normally stops people from going out after dark.

For a graphic on Venezuela’s economic woes click here

(Reporting by Anggy Polanco, additional reporting by Eyanir Chinea, Brian Ellsworth, Girish Gupta, Euridice Bandres and Andrew Cawthorne in Caracas, Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations in New York; Writing by Girish Gupta and Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Andrew Hay)

 

Trump’s Trip Is “Green Light” For UAE’s Colombian-Led Blackwater “Foreign Legion”/Mercenary Army To Attack Iran

Hezbollah Slams Western/Israeli Plot To Export Sunni Terrorism
Most World Terrorism Is By Sunni Terrorists, 4 Years Running

Sunni Terrorism is Killing Internationally but America Blames Iran: Christians and Hezbollah
Washington In Bed With Countless Sunni Terrorist Outfits In Insane Crusade To Dominate the World

[SAUDI/SUNNI SUPERSTATE…how it all began—

THE LOCATION CHOSEN FOR THIS SUNNI SUPERSTATE IS THE SAME SITE CHOSEN BY ISIS FOR THEIR DESERT “CALIPHATE”.]

Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi hired Erik Prince to build a fighting force. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Gulf is raising a bigger army. But for what?–May 25, 2011  

“The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom. Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times. The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year. …… The Colombians, along with South African and other foreign troops, are trained by retired American soldiers and veterans of the German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, according to the former employees and American officials……..”

Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder–MAY 14, 2011
Saudi Arabia Forging a New Sunni State?Aug 26, 2011
Gulf Cooperation Council Loses Unanimity Over Saudi Efforts To DominateJun 10, 2012

[Blackwater founder Eric Prince is the intermediary between the American President and the Gulf royals.  His linking of the manpower of poverty-stricken Colombia with the “Arab NATO” reflects the will of the sitting American President, no matter which one.  Trump/Prince’s actions indicate an imminent sabotaging of the Colombian peace treaty, in order to bring the US military into play in Colombia and Venezuela.]

Is Trump’s secret meeting with Colombian ex-presidents meant to undercut peace deal?–April 20, 2017 (Trump holds secret meeting w/Colombia’s former presidents, who lead anti-peace treaty advocates.)

[Yesterday, the White House released the following statement—

“Now, we are doing a very big effort, because of the peace process, to have a new strategy — carrot and stick.  Stick, by forced eradication….

[Naming the humanitarian problem of Venezuela as another issue in the statement..]

“We will be working with Colombia and other countries on the Venezuelan problem.  It is a very, very horrible problem.  And from a humanitarian standpoint, it is like nothing we’ve seen in quite a long time.”–Remarks by President Trump and President Santos of Colombia in Joint Press Conference

[No mention was made of the covert Colombian/US effort to supply mercenaries for the Middle Eastern slaughter of Shiites.]

 

This is the aim of Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia – and it isn’t good for Shia communities

 

 

The Sunni Saudis and the Gulf kings possess immense wealth, the only religion that Trump really respects, and they want to destroy Shia Iran, Syria, the Hezbollah and the Houthis – which is a simple ‘anti-terrorist’ story for the Americans

Donald Trump sets off on Friday to create the fantasy of an Arab Nato. There will be dictators aplenty to greet him in Riyadh, corrupt autocrats and thugs and torturers and head choppers. There will be at least one zombie president – the comatose, undead Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria who neither speaks nor, apparently, hears any more – and, of course, one totally insane president, Donald Trump. The aim, however, is simple: to prepare the Sunni Muslims of the Middle East for war against the Shia Muslims. With help from Israel, of course.

Even for those used to the insanity of Arab leadership – not to mention those Westerners who have still to grasp that the US President is himself completely off his rocker – the Arab-Muslim (Sunni) summit in Saudi Arabia is almost beyond comprehension. From Pakistan and Jordan and Turkey and Egypt and Morocco and 42 other minareted capitals, they are to come so that the effete and ambitious Saudis can lead their Islamic crusade against “terrorism” and Shiism. The fact that most of the Middle East’s “terrorism” – Isis and al-Qaeda, aka the Nusrah Front – have their fountainhead in the very nation to which Trump is travelling, must and will be ignored. Never before in Middle Eastern history has such a “kumidia alakhta” – quite literally “comedy of errors” in Arabic – been staged.

On top of all this, they have to listen to Trump’s ravings on peace and Islamic “extremism”, surely the most preposterous speech to be uttered by a US president since he is going to have to pretend that Iran is extremist – when it is Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Isis clones who are destroying Islam’s reputation throughout the world. All this while he is fostering war.

For Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (henceforth MbS) wants to lead his Sunni tribes – plus Iraq if possible, which is why Shia Prime Minister Abadi has been invited from Baghdad – against the serpent of “terrorist” Shia Iran, the dark (Shia) “terrorist” Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad, the “terrorist” Shia Lebanese Hezbollah and the aggressive “terrorist” Shia Houthis of Yemen. As for the Gulf states’ own Shia minorities and other recalcitrants, well, off with their heads.

After all, that’s what the Saudis did to the prominent Saudi Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr last year: they cut his head from his body, Isis-style, in a classic bit of Wahhabi decapitation, along with 47 other “terrorists”. And any powerful Shias in neighbouring Gulf countries will be cut down, too – which is what happened to Bahrain’s Shia majority when the Saudi army moved in to occupy the island in 2011 at the “request” of its Sunni ruler.

And you can see why America’s disgraceful President, a man who truly falls into the regional pantheon of raving loonies – he surely ranks among the Gaddafis and Ahmadinejads of the Middle East – goes along with this. The fact that Isis – Trump’s mortal enemy and the strategic adversary of his defence chiefs – is a creature of the same Salafist cult as Saudi Arabia, is neither here nor there. The Sunni Saudis and the Gulf kings and princes possess immense wealth, the only religion that Trump really respects, and they want to destroy Shia Iran and Syria and the Hezbollah and the Houthis – which is a simple “anti-terrorist” story for the Americans – and this means that Trump can give MbS and his chums $100bn (£77bn) of US missiles, planes, ships and ammo for the war-to-come. America will be happy. And Israel will be happy.

I guess Crown Prince Jared Kushner thinks he can handle this end of the Arab-Nato alliance, though the Israelis themselves will be perfectly happy to watch the Sunnis and Shia fight each other, just as they did during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war when the US supported Sunni Saddam – albeit that his army was mostly Shia – and the Israelis furnished US missiles to the Shia Iranians. Already, the Israelis have distinguished themselves by bombing the Syrian army, the Hezbollah and the Iranians in the Syrian war – while leaving Isis untouched and giving medical assistance to al-Qaeda (Nusrah) on Golan.

Much has been made (rightly) of MbS’s threat to ensure that the battle is “in Iran and not in Saudi Arabia”. But, typically, few bothered to listen to Iran’s ferocious reply to the Saudi threat. It came promptly from the Iranian defence minister, Hossein Dehghan. “We warn them [the Saudis] against doing anything ignorant,” he said, “but if they do something ignorant, we will leave nowhere untouched apart from Mecca and Medina.” In other words, it’s time to start building air raid shelters in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dhahran, Aramco headquarters and all those other locations dear to American hearts.

Indeed, it’s difficult not to recall an almost identical Sunni hubris – almost four decades ago – to that of MbS today. The latter boasts of his country’s wealth and his intention to diversify, enrich and broaden its economic base. In 1980, Saddam was determined to do the same. He used Iraq’s oil wealth to cover the country in super-highways, modern technology, state-of-the-art healthcare and hospitals and modern communications. Then he kicked off his “lightning war” with Iran. It impoverished his oil-rich nation, humiliated him in the eyes of his fellow Arabs – who had to cough up the cash for his disastrous eight-year adventure – led to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, sanctions and the ultimate Anglo-US invasion of 2003 and, for Saddam, the hangman’s noose.

Yet this leaves out the Syrian dimension. Sharmine Narwani, a former senior associate of St Antony’s College – and an antidote for all those sickened by the mountebank think-tank “experts” of Washington – pointed out this week that US support for Kurdish forces fighting under the dishonest label of “Syrian Democratic Forces” are, by advancing on Raqqa, helping to cut Syria off from Iraq. And that Kurdish forces are now reported as “retaking” Christian or Muslim Arab towns in the Nineveh province of Iraq, which were never Kurdish in the first place. Kurds now regard Qamishleh, and Hassakeh province in Syria as part of “Kurdistan”, although they represent a minority in many of these areas. Thus US support for these Kurdish groups – to the fury of Sultan Erdogan and the few Turkish generals still loyal to him – is helping to both divide Syria and divide Iraq.

This cannot and will not last. Not just because the Kurds are born to be betrayed – and will be betrayed by the Americans even if the present maniac-in-charge is impeached, just as they were betrayed to Saddam in the days of Kissinger – but because Turkey’s importance (with or without its own demented leader) will always outweigh Kurdish claims to statehood. Both are Sunnis, and therefore “safe” allies until one of them – inevitably the Kurds – must be abandoned.

Meanwhile, you can forget justice, civil rights, sickness and death. Cholera has quite a grip on Yemen now, courtesy of the criminal bombing attacks of the Saudis – ably assisted by their American allies long before Trump took over – and scarcely any of the Muslim leaders whom Trump meets in Riyadh do not have torturers at work back home to ensure that some of their citizens wish they had never been born. It will be a relief for the fruitcake president to leave Israel for the Vatican, albeit given only a brief visitation to – and short shrift by – a real peacemaker.

That only leaves one nation out of the loop of this glorious charivari: Russia. But be sure Vladimir Putin comprehends all too well what is going on in Riyadh. He will watch the Arab Nato fall apart. His foreign minister Lavrov understands Syria and Iran better than the feckless Tillerson. And his security officers are deep inside Syria. Besides, if he needs any more intelligence information, he has only to ask Trump.

US Airstrikes On Syrian Militia From Within Southern Syria…An Act of War

 

 

By Phil Stewart and Suleiman Al-Khalidi | WASHINGTON/AMMAN

The U.S. military carried out an air strike on Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government that posed a threat to U.S. and U.S.-backed Syrian fighters in the country’s south, U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday.

The militia, who numbered in the dozens and drove a tank and a small number of construction vehicles, ignored warning shots from U.S. aircraft and, according to a U.S.-led coalition statement, even “apparent Russian attempts to dissuade” their advance.

One of the U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, speculated that the group might have been trying to establish a position near the garrison in Syria used by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces around the town of At Tanf.

“They were potentially probing to see how close they could get to At Tanf,” the official said.

A member of the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel forces told Reuters the convoy comprised Syrian and Iranian-backed militias and was headed toward the Tanf base when they clashed with some rebel forces.

The militia were struck after they had advanced to about 17 miles (27 km) from the base.

“We notified the coalition that we were being attacked by the Syrian army and Iranians in this point, and the coalition came and destroyed the advancing convoy,” said Muzahem al Saloum of the Maghawir al Thwra group.

Since they appeared defensive in nature, Thursday’s strikes did not suggest a shift in the U.S. military’s focus in Syria, which has been on battling Islamic State militants.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said America’s role in Syria’s conflict was unchanged.

“No. We are not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war. But we will defend our troops,” Mattis said, when asked about the strikes.

UNDER PRESSURE

But the latest move showed that the area around the Tanf garrison in southern Syria could be under pressure.

Tanf is part of a region known as the Badia, which consists of vast, sparsely populated desert territory that stretches all the way to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders and was declared a military priority by Syria’s foreign minister earlier in May.

Two months of U.S.-backed rebel advances against Islamic State militants have allowed them to secure swaths of territory in the Badia, alarming the Syrian government and its allies.

But rebel sources had warned last week that the Syrian army and Iranian-backed militia moved hundreds of troops with tanks to the town of Sabaa Biyar, which is in the Badia, and is near the strategic Damascus-Baghdad highway.

That highway was once a major weapons supply route for Iranian weapons into Syria.

A Western intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strike sent a strong message to Iranian-backed militias that have been spearheading the advance that they would not be allowed to reach the Iraq border from Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition did not signal it would cede ground around Tanf.

“Coalition forces have been operating in the At Tanf area for many months training and advising vetted partner forces engaged in the fight against ISIS,” according to a statement by the U.S.-led coalition, using an acronym for Islamic State.

U.S. officials said an agreement existed with Russia on a so-called “deconfliction” area around Tanf garrison, meant to avoid an accidental clash of forces.

The statement by the U.S.-led coalition acknowledged a zone but did not offer any details about it, other than to say it was still active.

“The agreed upon deconfliction zone agreement remains in effect,” the statement said.

A commander in the alliance fighting in support of Assad called the strike a “warning raid,” adding it was not aimed at causing casualties but instead stopping the advance.

Still, the strikes would be the first against fighters aligned with Syria’s government since the United States launched cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base in April.

The April strikes were ordered in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on Damascus, and were described as a one-off measure to deter any future chemical weapons use.

(Additional reporting by Ellen Francis in Beirut; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang)

 

Trump Must Raise His Bet In Afghanistan To 50,000 Troops, To Call Taliban Surge

[The executive decision to fight the terror war with private contractors, instead of using actual troops has artificially inflated the cost of the war, since mercenaries work for hundreds or thousands of dollars a day as opposed to normal troops. This economic incentive has served as a bleeding wound in staffing the military, since a large percentage of officers and tech specialists retire early to become contractors, to get inflated pay for the same work.
The decision to hide the actual casualty figures of the war from the public through privatization enables the govt to cite false statistics about dead and wounded “soldiers”, since no one tallies all of the mercenary casualty figures.]

Trump Has to Decide: 50,000 Troops to Afghanistan?

 

A new classified intelligence brief says the Ghani government can survive if the U.S. recommits.

Looks like they could use some help.   Photographer: AREF KARIMI/AFP/Getty Images

A new Afghanistan war strategy approved last month by President Donald Trump’s top military and national security advisers would require at least 50,000 U.S. forces to stop the advance of the Taliban and save the government in Kabul, according to a classified U.S. intelligence community assessment.

U.S. intelligence and national security officials familiar with the assessment tell me that it was drafted in April, and that it provided estimates of necessary troop strengths for various strategic options. But it found that if an ambitious war plan approved by the National Security Council’s principals committee got a green light from the president — a big if — more than 50,000 U.S. troops would be needed.

That proposed strategy, which I wrote about earlier this month, would place the U.S. on a new war footing and in a deeper partnership with the Afghan government in its current campaign against the Taliban. It would also remove arbitrary timelines for withdrawal set by President Barack Obama.

The new estimate from the intelligence community envisions significantly more U.S. forces in Afghanistan than the current levels of around 8,400 U.S. troops currently fighting there. It is also more than the modest troop increase for Afghanistan of around 5,000 that was reported last week.

One reason the new war strategy would require more troops is that it envisions using U.S. forces in a support role that until now has relied on outside contractors. Using contractors for functions like vehicle maintenance and other logistical aid have meant that U.S. forces deployed to Syria and Iraq have largely focused on war fighting and training locals. This has kept the total number of U.S. troops artificially low, while increasing the overall cost of the U.S. presence.

Spokesmen for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Council declined to comment for this column. But other U.S. officials familiar with the internal deliberations tell me Trump has signaled he is in no mood to escalate America’s longest war. Indeed, he has complained to close aides in the last month about how great powers throughout history — from Alexander’s Macedonians to the British Empire — have failed to pacify the country.

Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster takes a very different view. For the last five weeks he has lobbied the national security cabinet and the president with a slide presentation on Afghanistan that features photos from Kabul in the 1970s when it resembled a modern capital. That was before the Soviet coup of 1979, before the rise of the Mujahideen in the 1980s that drove the Soviets out, and before the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s and early 2000s that provided a safe haven to al Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks.

According to U.S. officials familiar with McMaster’s presentation, the message was simple: Afghanistan is not necessarily destined to be a safe haven for terrorists or a wasteland run by warlords. What’s more, McMaster has argued strongly that the counter-terrorism mission against the Taliban and other Islamic insurgents is contingent on the government of President Ashraf Ghani surviving.

On this last point, there are no guarantees. While the Taliban has not been able to control territory in major population centers, it has expanded its reach and influence since the end of U.S. combat operations in the country in 2015. One national security official described the current strategy inherited from Obama as “losing slowly.” This official said the Taliban will overrun the government eventually if more outside resources are not deployed.

Last week, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the current war between Ghani’s government and the Taliban was a “stalemate.” He added: “That stalemate will deteriorate in the favor of the belligerents. So we have to do something very different than what we’ve been doing in the past.”

Jack Keane, a retired four-star Army general who is an ally of McMaster’s, told me that a strategy to support Ghani’s government is not only the best plan, but it also has a good chance of succeeding. “In survey after survey, for every year we have been doing this, the polling reflects overwhelmingly that 70 to 80 percent of the Afghan people reject the Taliban,” he said. “Supporting a government that is attempting to meet the needs of its people, despite their inefficiencies and despite the level of corruption that is there, still makes the most sense.”

In the abstract, Keane is right. And yet Trump has avoided making a commitment to heavy military involvement recommended by the NSC principals committee. Initially, McMaster had hoped to brief the president on a final strategy and get a decision in the first week of May. The hope was that the president would be able to present the plan at the NATO summit in Brussels on May 25, so the allies would be asked to contribute to a cohesive strategy. White House officials now tell me they don’t expect there will be time on the president’s schedule this week for Afghanistan.

Obviously Trump is a busy man. Between the president’s first foreign trip, the latest allegations that he inappropriately shared classified intelligence with Russia’s foreign minister and the aftermath of his chaotic firing of FBI director James Comey, the White House has to attend to many urgent matters. But with the spring fighting season getting into full swing in Afghanistan, the government in Kabul does not have the luxury of time.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Eli Lake at elake1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net

Trump’s Homeland Sec. Chief, Milwaukee Co. Sheriff, Who Wants To Send 1 Million Americans To Guantanamo Bay Prison

Donald Trump was scheduled to meet Monday with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., a Trump supporter and surrogate during the campaign who is now reportedly being considered to head the Department of Homeland Security. Clarke is known for his extreme views on policing—including his conviction that there is a war on cops but no police brutality—and for his attacks on Black Lives Matter. One of his most out-there positions: suspend the constitutional rights of up to a million people, and hold them indefinitely at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Clarke’s extremist approach to homeland security is no secret. In his upcoming memoir, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, he advocates treating American citizens suspected of terrorism as “enemy combatants,” questioning them without an attorney, and holding them indefinitely, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Their cases would be handled by a military tribunal rather than a traditional court.

But a year ago, Clarke went further and called for rounding up Americans who sympathize with terrorists and shipping them to an offshore prison. During a December 2015 segment of his show, The People’s Sheriff, on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze radio network, Clarke suggested that any person who posts pro-terrorist sentiments on social media be arrested, deprived of the constitutional protection against unlawful imprisonment (known as habeas corpus), and sent to Guantanamo Bay indefinitely. He estimated the number of people who could be imprisoned under his proposal could reach 1 million. Presumably, this would include American citizens. (The Democratic research group American Bridge caught Clarke proposing this idea.)

“I suggest that our commander in chief ought to utilize Article I, Section 9 and take all of these individuals that are suspected, these ones on the internet spewing jihadi rhetoric…to scoop them up, charge them with treason and, under habeas corpus, detain them indefinitely at Gitmo,” Clarke said.

Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution allows the president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus only “when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” Clarke added that locking up suspected terrorists in American prisons and jails would turn those facilities into “terrorist recruitment camps.” That’s why these people would have to be packed off to Guantanamo.

“We have no idea how many people out there have pledged allegiance or are supporting ISIS, giving aid and comfort, but I would suggest hundreds of thousands, I would suggest maybe a million,” Clarke said. “It’s just a guess. And then you take the known terrorists that are here, and you think we’re going to arrest all these people and put them in jails and then sentence them to prison? It’s idiotic. [Take them to] Gitmo and hold them indefinitely under a suspension of habeas corpus. We’re at war. This is a time of war. Bold and aggressive action is needed.”

Clarke is prone to exaggerations and extreme talk. Last year, for example, he predicted on Twitter that “before long, Black Lies [sic] Matter will join forces with ISIS to being [sic] down our legal constituted republic. You heard it first here.”

It’s unclear what kind of comment or act would land an American citizen indefinitely in Guantanamo under Clarke’s plan. In the radio segment, he said he was not suggesting indefinite detention for “some innocuous statement, I’m not going to go that far.” He pointed to the woman out in San Bernardino” as an example, referring to the female shooter in the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, who pledged allegiance to ISIS on Facebook shortly before murdering 14 people. “That’s beyond the pale,” he said. But he also said anyone who has “pledged allegiance or are supporting ISIS, giving aid and comfort” would qualify. He did not say how tweets and Facebook posts would be policed or how 1 million people would be arrested and incarcerated in a prison that has up to now held fewer than 800 prisoners.

Listen to Clarke’s comments here:

Listen to the full episode here:

CPEC master plan revealed

Exclusive: CPEC master plan revealed

Details from original documents laying out the CPEC long term plan are publicly disclosed for the first time.

  • Plan eyes agriculture
  • Large surveillance system for cities
  • Visa-free entry for Chinese nationals

The floodgates are about to open. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Beijing over the weekend to participate in the One Belt, One Road summit, and the top item on his agenda is to finalise the Long Term Plan (LTP) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corri­dor. [See next tab for details on how the plan was made].

Dawn has acquired exclusive access to the original document, and for the first time its details are being publicly disclosed here. The plan lays out in detail what Chinese intentions and priorities are in Pakistan for the next decade and a half, details that have not been discussed in public thus far.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the One Belt One Road summit in Beijing. — APPPrime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the One Belt One Road summit in Beijing. — APP

Two versions of the Long Term Plan are with the government. The full version is the one that was drawn up by the China Development Bank and the National Development Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China. It is 231 pages long.Two versions of the Long Term Plan are with the government. The full version is the one that was drawn up by the China Development Bank and the National Development Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China. It is 231 pages long.

The shortened version is dated February 2017. It contains only broad brushstroke descriptions of the various “areas of cooperation” and none of the details. It was drawn up for circulation to the provincial governments to obtain their assent. It is 30 pages long. The only provincial government that received the full version of the plan is the Punjab government.
The shortened version is dated February 2017. It contains only broad brushstroke descriptions of the various “areas of cooperation” and none of the details. It was drawn up for circulation to the provincial governments to obtain their assent. It is 30 pages long. The only provincial government that received the full version of the plan is the Punjab government.

For instance, thousands of acres of agricultural land will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up “demonstration projects” in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology. A full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24 hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order. A national fibreoptic backbone will be built for the country not only for internet traffic, but also terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the “dissemination of Chinese culture”.

The plan envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan’s economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture. Its scope has no precedent in Pakistan’s history in terms of how far it opens up the domestic economy to participation by foreign enterprises. In some areas the plan seeks to build on a market presence already established by Chinese enterprises, eg Haier in household appliances, ChinaMobile and Huawei in telecommunications and China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) in mining and minerals.

In other cases, such as textiles and garments, cement and building materials, fertiliser and agricultural technologies (among others) it calls for building the infrastructure and a supporting policy environment to facilitate fresh entry. A key element in this is the creation of industrial parks, or special economic zones, which “must meet specified conditions, including availability of water…perfect infrastructure, sufficient supply of energy and the capacity of self service power”, according to the plan.

But the main thrust of the plan actually lies in agriculture, contrary to the image of CPEC as a massive industrial and transport undertaking, involving power plants and highways. The plan acquires its greatest specificity, and lays out the largest number of projects and plans for their facilitation, in agriculture.

The plan states at the outset that the corridor “spans Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and whole Pakistan in spatial range”. It’s main aim is to connect South Xinjiang with Pakistan. It is divided into a “core area” and what they call the “radiation zones”, those territories that will feel the knock on effects of the work being done in the core area. The core area includes “Kashgar, Tumshuq, Atushi and Akto of Kizilsu Kirghiz of Xinjiang” from China, and “most of Islamabad’s Capital territory, Punjab, and Sindh, and some areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, and Balochistan” from Pakistan. It has “one belt, three passages, and two axes and five functional zones”, where the belt is “the strip area formed by important arterial traffic in China and Pakistan”.

Header photo courtesy Reuters.

Agriculture

For agriculture, the plan outlines an engagement that runs from one end of the supply chain all the way to the other. From provision of seeds and other inputs, like fertiliser, credit and pesticides, Chinese enterprises will also operate their own farms, processing facilities for fruits and vegetables and grain. Logistics companies will operate a large storage and transportation system for agrarian produce.

It identifies opportunities for entry by Chinese enterprises in the myriad dysfunctions that afflict Pakistan’s agriculture sector. For instance, “due to lack of cold-chain logistics and processing facilities, 50% of agricultural products go bad during harvesting and transport”, it notes.

A full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24 hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order.

Enterprises entering agriculture will be offered extraordinary levels of assistance from the Chinese government. They are encouraged to “[m]ake the most of the free capital and loans” from various ministries of the Chinese government as well as the China Development Bank. The plan also offers to maintain a mechanism that will “help Chinese agricultural enterprises to contact the senior representatives of the Government of Pakistan and China”.

The government of China will “actively strive to utilize the national special funds as the discount interest for the loans of agricultural foreign investment”. In the longer term the financial risk will be spread out, through “new types of financing such as consortium loans, joint private equity and joint debt issuance, raise funds via multiple channels and decentralise financing risks”.

— Reuters photo— Reuters photo

The plan proposes to harness the work of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps to bring mechanization as well as scientific technique in livestock breeding, development of hybrid varieties and precision irrigation to Pakistan. It sees its main opportunity as helping the Kashgar Prefecture, a territory within the larger Xinjiang Autonomous Zone, which suffers from a poverty incidence of 50 per cent, and large distances that make it difficult to connect to larger markets in order to promote development. The prefecture’s total output in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery amounted to just over $5 billion in 2012, and its population was less than 4 million in 2010, hardly a market with windfall gains for Pakistan.

However, for the Chinese, this is the main driving force behind investing in Pakistan’s agriculture, in addition to the many profitable opportunities that can open up for their enterprises from operating in the local market. The plan makes some reference to export of agriculture goods from the ports, but the bulk of its emphasis is focused on the opportunities for the Kashgar Prefecture and Xinjiang Production Corps, coupled with the opportunities for profitable engagement in the domestic market.

The plan discusses those engagements in considerable detail. Ten key areas for engagement are identified along with seventeen specific projects. They include the construction of one NPK fertilizer plant as a starting point “with an annual output of 800,000 tons”. Enterprises will be inducted to lease farm implements, like tractors, “efficient plant protection machinery, efficient energy saving pump equipment, precision fertilization drip irrigation equipment” and planting and harvesting machinery.

The plan shows great interest in the textiles industry in particular, but the interest is focused largely on yarn and coarse cloth.

Meat processing plants in Sukkur are planned with annual output of 200,000 tons per year, and two demonstration plants processing 200,000 tons of milk per year. In crops, demonstration projects of more than 6,500 acres will be set up for high yield seeds and irrigation, mostly in Punjab. In transport and storage, the plan aims to build “a nationwide logistics network, and enlarge the warehousing and distribution network between major cities of Pakistan” with a focus on grains, vegetables and fruits. Storage bases will be built first in Islamabad and Gwadar in the first phase, then Karachi, Lahore and another in Gwadar in the second phase, and between 2026-2030, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar will each see another storage base.

Asadabad, Islamabad, Lahore and Gwadar will see a vegetable processing plant, with annual output of 20,000 tons, fruit juice and jam plant of 10,000 tons and grain processing of 1 million tons. A cotton processing plant is also planned initially, with output of 100,000 tons per year.

“We will impart advanced planting and breeding techniques to peasant households or farmers by means of land acquisition by the government, renting to China-invested enterprises and building planting and breeding bases” it says about the plan to source superior seeds.

In each field, Chinese enterprises will play the lead role. “China-invested enterprises will establish factories to produce fertilizers, pesticides, vaccines and feedstuffs” it says about the production of agricultural materials.

“China-invested enterprises will, in the form of joint ventures, shareholding or acquisition, cooperate with local enterprises of Pakistan to build a three-level warehousing system (purchase & storage warehouse, transit warehouse and port warehouse)” it says about warehousing.

One of the most intriguing chapters in the plan speaks of a long belt of coastal enjoyment industry that includes yacht wharfs, cruise homeports, nightlife, city parks, public squares, theaters, golf courses and spas, hot spring hotels and water sports.

Then it talks about trade. “We will actively embark on cultivating surrounding countries in order to improve import and export potential of Pakistani agricultural products and accelerate the trade of agricultural products. In the early stages, we will gradually create a favorable industry image and reputation for Pakistan by relying on domestic demand.”

In places the plan appears to be addressing investors in China. It says Chinese enterprises should seek “coordinated cooperation with Pakistani enterprises” and “maintain orderly competition and mutual coordination.” It advises them to make an effort “seeking for powerful strategic partners for bundling interest in Pakistan.”

As security measures, enterprises will be advised “to respect the religions and customs of the local people, treat people as equals and live in harmony”. They will also be advised to “increase local employment and contribute to local society by means of subcontracting and consortiums.” In the final sentence of the chapter on agriculture, the plan says the government of China will “[s]trengthen the safety cooperation with key countries, regions and international organizations, jointly prevent and crack down on terrorist acts that endanger the safety of Chinese overseas enterprises and their staff.”

Industry

For industry, the plan trifurcates the country into three zones: western and northwestern, central and southern. Each zone is marked to receive specific industries in designated industrial parks, of which only a few are actually mentioned. The western and northwestern zone, covering most of Balochistan and KP province, is marked for mineral extraction, with potential in chrome ore, “gold reserves hold a considerable potential, but are still at the exploration stage”, and diamonds. One big mineral product that the plan discusses is marble. Already, China is Pakistan’s largest buyer of processed marble, at almost 80,000 tons per year. The plan looks to set up 12 marble and granite processing sites in locations ranging from Gilgit and Kohistan in the north, to Khuzdar in the south.

The central zone is marked for textiles, household appliances and cement. Four separate locations are pointed out for future cement clusters: Daudkhel, Khushab, Esakhel and Mianwali. The case of cement is interesting, because the plan notes that Pakistan is surplus in cement capacity, then goes on to say that “in the future, there is a larger space of cooperation for China to invest in the cement process transformation”.

“There is a plan to build a pilot safe city in Peshawar, which faces a fairly severe security situation in northwestern Pakistan”.

For the southern zone, the plan recommends that “Pakistan develop petrochemical, iron and steel, harbor industry, engineering machinery, trade processing and auto and auto parts (assembly)” due to the proximity of Karachi and its ports. This is the only part in the report where the auto industry is mentioned in any substantive way, which is a little surprising because the industry is one of the fastest growing in the country. The silence could be due to lack of interest on the part of the Chinese to acquire stakes, or to diplomatic prudence since the sector is, at the moment, entirely dominated by Japanese companies (Toyota, Honda and Suzuki).

One of the CPEC transport routes. — AFPOne of the CPEC transport routes. — AFP

Gwadar, also in the southern zone, “is positioned as the direct hinterland connecting Balochistan and Afghanistan.” As a CPEC entreport, the plan recommends that it be built into “a base of heavy and chemical industries, such as iron and steel/petrochemical”. It notes that “some Chinese enterprises have started investment and construction in Gwadar” taking advantage of its “superior geographical position and cheap shipping costs to import crude oil from the Middle East, iron ore and coking coal resources from South Africa and New Zealand” for onward supply to the local market “as well as South Asia and Middle East after processing at port.”

The plan shows great interest in the textiles industry in particular, but the interest is focused largely on yarn and coarse cloth. The reason, as the plan lays out, is that in Xinjiang the textile industry has already attained higher levels of productivity. Therefore, “China can make the most of the Pakistani market in cheap raw materials to develop the textiles & garments industry and help soak up surplus labor forces in Kashgar”. The ensuing strategy is described cryptically as the principle of “introducing foreign capital and establishing domestic connections as a crossover of West and East”.

Preferential policies will be necessary to attract enterprises to come to the newly built industrial parks envisioned under the plan. The areas where such preferences need to be extended are listed in the plan as “land, tax, logistics and services” as well as land price, “enterprise income tax, tariff reduction and exemption and sales tax rate.”

Chinese troops march as they take part in Pakistan Day military parade. ─ AFPChinese troops march as they take part in Pakistan Day military parade. ─ AFP

Fibreoptics and surveillance

One of the oldest priorities for the Chinese government since talks on CPEC began is fibreoptic connectivity between China and Pakistan. An MoU for such a link was signed in July 2013, at a time when CPEC appeared to be little more than a road link between Kashgar and Gwadar. But the plan reveals that the link goes far beyond a simple fibreoptic set up.

China has various reasons for wanting a terrestrial fibreoptic link with Pakistan, including its own limited number of submarine landing stations and international gateway exchanges which can serve as a bottleneck to future growth of internet traffic. This is especially true for the western provinces. “Moreover, China’s telecom services to Africa need to be transferred in Europe, so there is certain hidden danger of the overall security” says the plan. Pakistan has four submarine cables to handle its internet traffic, but only one landing station, which raises security risks as well.

— AFP photo— AFP photo

So the plan envisages a terrestrial cable across the Khunjerab pass to Islamabad, and a submarine landing station in Gwadar, linked to Sukkur. From there, the backbone will link the two in Islamabad, as well as all major cities in Pakistan.

The expanded bandwidth that will open up will enable terrestrial broadcast of digital HD television, called Digital Television Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcasting (DTMB). This is envisioned as more than just a technological contribution. It is a “cultural transmission carrier. The future cooperation between Chinese and Pakistani media will be beneficial to disseminating Chinese culture in Pakistan, further enhancing mutual understanding between the two peoples and the traditional friendship between the two countries.” The plan says nothing about how the system will be used to control the content of broadcast media, nor does it say anything more about “the future cooperation between Chinese and Pakistani media”.

Judging from their conversations with the government, it appears that the Pakistanis are pushing the Chinese to begin work on the Gwadar International Airport, whereas the Chinese are pushing for early completion of the Eastbay Expressway.

It also seeks to create an electronic monitoring and control system for the border in Khunjerab, as well as run a “safe cities” project. The safe city project will deploy explosive detectors and scanners to “cover major roads, case-prone areas and crowded places…in urban areas to conduct real-time monitoring and 24 hour video recording.” Signals gathered from the surveillance system will be transmitted to a command centre, but the plan says nothing about who will staff the command centre, what sort of signs they will look for, and who will provide the response.

“There is a plan to build a pilot safe city in Peshawar, which faces a fairly severe security situation in northwestern Pakistan” the plan says, following which the program will be extended to major cities such as Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, hinting that the feeds will be shared eventually, and perhaps even recorded.

Tourism and recreation

One of the most intriguing chapters in the plan is the one that talks about the development of a “coastal tourism” industry. It speaks of a long belt of coastal enjoyment industry that includes yacht wharfs, cruise homeports, nightlife, city parks, public squares, theaters, golf courses and spas, hot spring hotels and water sports. The belt will run from Keti Bunder to Jiwani, the last habitation before the Iranian border. Then, somewhat disappointingly, it adds that “more work needs to be done” before this vision can be realized.

The plans are laid out in surprising detail. For instance, Gwadar will feature international cruise clubs that “provide marine tourists private rooms that would feel as though they were ‘living in the ocean’”. And just as the feeling sinks in, it goes on to say that “[f]or the development of coastal vacation products, Islamic culture, historical culture, folk culture and marine culture shall all be integrated.” Apparently more work needs to be done here too.

— AFP photo— AFP photo

For Ormara, the plan recommends building “unique recreational activities” that would also encourage “the natural, exciting, participatory, sultry, and tempting characteristics” to come through. For Keti Bunder it recommends wildlife sanctuaries, an aquarium and a botanical garden. For Sonmiani, on the eastern edge of Karachi, “projects like a coastal beach, extended greenway, coastal villa, car camp, SPA, beach playground and a seafood street can be developed.”

It is an expansive vision that the plan lays out, and towards the end, it asks for the following: “Make the visa-free tourism possible with China to provide more convenient policy support for Chinese tourists to Pakistan.” There is no mention of a reciprocal arrangement for Pakistani nationals visiting China.

Finance and risk

In any plan, the question of financial resources is always crucial. The long term plan drawn up by the China Development Bank is at its sharpest when discussing Pakistan’s financial sector, government debt market, depth of commercial banking and the overall health of the financial system. It is at its most unsentimental when drawing up the risks faced by long term investments in Pakistan’s economy.

The chief risk the plan identifies is politics and security. “There are various factors affecting Pakistani politics, such as competing parties, religion, tribes, terrorists, and Western intervention” the authors write. “The security situation is the worst in recent years”. The next big risk, surprisingly, is inflation, which the plan says has averaged 11.6 per cent over the past 6 years. “A high inflation rate means a rise of project-related costs and a decline in profits.”

Efforts will be made, says the plan, to furnish “free and low interest loans to Pakistan” once the costs of the corridor begin to come in. But this is no free ride, it emphasizes. “Pakistan’s federal and involved local governments should also bear part of the responsibility for financing through issuing sovereign guarantee bonds, meanwhile protecting and improving the proportion and scale of the government funds invested in corridor construction in the financial budget.”

Illustration by Sana Nasir/HeraldIllustration by Sana Nasir/Herald

It asks for financial guarantees “to provide credit enhancement support for the financing of major infrastructure projects, enhance the financing capacity, and protect the interests of creditors.” Relying on the assessments of the IMF, World Bank and the ADB, it notes that Pakistan’s economy cannot absorb FDI much above $2 billion per year without giving rise to stresses in its economy. “It is recommended that China’s maximum annual direct investment in Pakistan should be around US$1 billion.” Likewise, it concludes that Pakistan’s ceiling for preferential loans should be $1 billion, and for non preferential loans no more than $1.5 billion per year.

It advises its own enterprises to take precautions to protect their own investments. “International business cooperation with Pakistan should be conducted mainly with the government as a support, the banks as intermediary agents and enterprises as the mainstay.” Nor is the growing engagement some sort of brotherly involvement. “The cooperation with Pakistan in the monetary and financial areas aims to serve China’s diplomatic strategy.”

The other big risk the plan refers to is exchange rate risk, after noting the severe weakness in Pakistan’s ability to earn foreign exchange. To mitigate this, the plan proposes tripling the size of the swap mechanism between the RMB and the Pakistani rupee to 30 billion Yuan, diversifying power purchase payments beyond the dollar into RMB and rupee basket, tapping the Hong Kong market for RMB bonds, and diversifying enterprise loans from a wide array of sources. The growing role of the RMB in Pakistan’s economy is a clearly stated objective of the measures proposed.

Conclusion

It is not clear how much of the plan will be earnestly followed up and how much is there simply to evince interest from the Pakistani side. In the areas of interest contained in the plan, it appears access to the full supply chain of the agrarian economy is a top priority for the Chinese. After that the capacity of the textile spinning sector to serve the raw material needs of Xinjiang, and the garment and value added sector to absorb Chinese technology is another priority.

Next is the growing domestic market, particularly in cement and household appliances, which receive detailed treatment in the plan. And lastly, through greater financial integration, the plan seeks to advance the internationalization of the RMB, as well as diversify the risks faced by Chinese enterprises entering Pakistan.

In some areas the plan seeks to build on a market presence already established by Chinese enterprises, eg Haier in household appliances, ChinaMobile and Huawei in telecommunications and China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) in mining and minerals.

Gwadar receives passing mention as an economic prospect, mainly for its capacity to serve as a port of exit for minerals from Balochistan and Afghanistan, and as an entreport for wider trade in the greater Indian Ocean zone from South Africa to New Zealand. There is no mention of China’s external trade being routed through Gwadar. Judging from their conversations with the government, it appears that the Pakistanis are pushing the Chinese to begin work on the Gwadar International Airport, whereas the Chinese are pushing for early completion of the Eastbay Expressway.

But the entry of Chinese firms will not be limited to the CPEC framework alone, as the recent acquisition of the Pakistan Stock Exchange, and the impending acquisition of K Electric demonstrate. In fact, CPEC is only the opening of the door. What comes through once that door has been opened is difficult to forecast.

https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=1zn2dOPJIUi_oBCFV6KXYkOYa6ZJD4d2T_Y_8VOywx0A&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650

Addendum: Apropos a story titled “CPEC master plan revealed” appearing in Dawn on May 15, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal has said that CPEC’s Long Term Plan is not a project document, rather it “delineates the aspirations of both sides”.

“It is a live document and both sides [China and Pakistan] have an understanding to modify it as per the need besides reviewing it periodically,” Mr Iqbal claimed on Monday.


To read more about how the plan came together click HERE.

The Jewish Sectarian War Within the Trump Administration

 

Israel wants White House to explain U.S. official’s Western Wall comment

 

Israel’s Channel 2 reported that during a planning meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials, the Israelis were told that Trump’s visit to the Western Wall was private, Israel did not have jurisdiction in the area and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not welcome to accompany Trump there…

“The statement that the Western Wall is in an area in the West Bank was received with shock,” said the official in Netanyahu’s office.”

 

 

 

As a candidate he was shunned by most of the Jewish community, yet Trump has surrounded himself with a small but loyal group of Jewish supporters, donors and confidants.

For those celebrating and for those protesting, here are a few Jewish moments to look for on Inauguration Day.

Who will be there for Trump?

Jewish supporters and friends are expected to fill the front rows reserved for special guests on the steps of Capitol Hill. Clearly, the numbers won’t match those of a Democratic president, but given Trump’s rocky relations with the Jewish community, it will be an impressive show of support. They’ll include, of course, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who will stand alongside the incoming first family; top appointees for senior administration positions, including Steve Mnuchin, David Friedman, Jason Greenblatt and Jewish donors and backers. RNC finance chair Lew Eisenberg will be there, as will mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who spent almost every evening this week alongside Trump at receptions and dinners. Adelson’s Vegas neighbor Steve Wynn, who’s among the major funders of the inauguration committee, will also be present.

Who will not?

Absent from the inauguration will be at least five Jewish Democratic members of Congress who decided to boycott the ceremony. “I decided I didn’t want to be associated with the inauguration of someone who has been so contemptuous of civil liberties,” said New York’s Jerry Nadler, who will not attend the event. He will be joined by Steve Cohen, John Yarmuth, Jan Schakowsky and freshman Jamie Raskin. But other Jewish lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, will be there to watch Trump take the oath of office.

Will Trump mention Israel?

Traditionally, inauguration speeches don’t tend to go into specifics of policy and diplomacy. But Trump is anything but traditional, so a shout-out could be possible. The issue of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. embassy to the city has taken on a life of its own. With settler leaders sitting in the audience, and a warm welcome video from the mayor of Jerusalem, a quick mention of the holy city could be just what Trump needs to get his Jewish supporters rallying.

How will Ivanka and Jared spend their first Shabbat in Washington?

Never before has there been such a high-profile Jewish member of the first family, and an inauguration day that ends just before Shabbat begins will reveal much about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s life as observant Jews in Washington: Will they be served kosher food at the congressional lunch and inaugural balls? Where will the couple go for their first Shabbat service in D.C.? Will they walk to the inaugural balls or make use of the rabbinic pass they were reportedly granted and ride a car there?

Who are the new Jewish political elites?

There is no better opportunity to visualize the shift in Jewish political power than during Trump’s inauguration ceremony and surrounding festivities. If Trump campaign events are any indication, expect way more yarmulke-wearing Jewish participants and hardly any of the familiar Jewish organizational figures that had once dominated Jewish politics. The new Jewish political elites ready to take on their role did not rise through the ranks of Jewish organizations and federations, and are rarely affiliated with these institutions. But they will win front0row seats and coveted inaugural ball tickets that once would have gone to establishment leaders.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter, @nathanguttman

Microsoft Issues Emergency Windows XP and Windows 8 Patches To Counter ‘WannaCrypt” and Mend Reputation

Microsoft issues first Windows XP patch in 3 years to stymie ‘WannaCrypt’. 

Delivers fixes for XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 as ransomware crisis puts company in a tight PR spot

Microsoft®Update Catalog
Probably last chance to get security update for XP and 8.

The Syrian “War” Is Really A Saudi/US “Turn-Key” Aggression Operation…NOT A CIVIL WAR, Or A Revolution

 

 

 

Though many trace the beginning of the ongoing conflict in Syria back to the Arab Spring protests of 2011, the seeds of war were sown as early as 2001, when the U.S. decided to declare Syria an enemy. The events that followed would send the country into a violent downward spiral.

President Bush gives his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2002. Bush fleshed out his vision for the war on terrorism beyond Afghanistan, to a dozen countries that he said harbor terrorists and "an axis of evil" of three more that seek weapons of mass destruction, including Syria. (AP/J.Scott Applewhite)

President Bush gives his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2002. Bush fleshed out his vision for the war on terrorism beyond Afghanistan, to a dozen countries that he said harbor terrorists and “an axis of evil” of three more that seek weapons of mass destruction, including Syria. (AP/J.Scott Applewhite)

SYRIA (Opinion)– The fingerprints of U.S. imperialism can be found all over the manufactured insurrection in Syria, in keeping with the ultimate goal of destabilization and eventual “regime change”  through fomenting a sectarian civil war.  Former NATO commander Wesley Clark has gone on record as stating that Syria was on a list of targeted nations to be toppled by the U.S. as early as 2001. In 2002, former Secretary of State John Bolton gave a speech titled “Beyond the Axis of Evil” that listed Syria as a handful of nations that could expect to be targeted.

Fast forward to 2011, when an uprising was manufactured in the Syrian city of Dara’a, and Syrians desperate for economic change joined the calls for “freedom.” Mainstream media outlets have largely described the uprisings as being part of a “protest movement” made up of demonstrators who demand the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But in reality, the main organizers and leaders of this so-called protest movement have been revealed to be U.S.-backed insurgents and foreign militants who have been armed, trained and funded by U.S. and NATO proxies for the purpose of destabilizing Syria though sectarianism.

CIA-backed Muslim Brotherhood assets were already in place to snipe at both police and protesters the day the first demonstrations broke out. Since then, the CIA has funneled hundreds of billions of dollars, as well as staggering amounts of arms, to jihadist recruits, many of whom have poured into Syria from surrounding countries.



The narrative most commonly put forth in mainstream media portrays the Syrian conflict as a popular uprising. However, a closer examination of the events that occurred in Dara’a in March 2011 – commonly described as the beginning of the conflict – reveals substantial and compelling evidence that not only contradicts the mainstream media’s portrayal but also strongly suggests the involvement, both financially and militarily, of outside influences and actuators.

Dore Gold and Anwar Eshki shake hands at a CFR event, as Elliott Abrams looks on.

Dore Gold and Anwar Eshki shake hands at a CFR event, as Elliott Abrams looks on.

The evidence of such involvement has piled up in the years since the conflict started. In 2012, Saudi General Anwar Al-Eshki admitted in a BBC interview that his government had financed Salafist Muslim Brotherhood elements and had sent weapons to the Al-Omari Mosque, some of which were later discovered and seized by Syrian security forces. These Salafist elements went on to form the backbone of the “Free Syrian Army,” a guerrilla force that has the stated goal of bringing down Assad and his government.

The Salafists have done much to terrorize the civilian population of Syria. In Karak, a village near Dara’a, villagers were forced to join anti-government protests and remove photos of Assad from their homes. Those who refused were killed.

“People want to go out and peacefully ask for certain changes, but Muslim Salafi groups are sneaking in with their goal, which is not to make changes for the betterment of Syria but to take over the country with their agenda,” one Syrian Christian leader told the International Christian Concern.

The following timeline portrays Syria’s descent into “civil war” as part of U.S.- and NATO-backed efforts to destabilize the country and achieve their ultimate goal of regime change.

 

Before the “revolution,” the U.S. makes an enemy out of Syria

2001:

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a classified plot is revealed to U.S. Army General Wesley Clark. He is informed that the U.S. plans to attack and destroy the governments of seven countries for the purpose of intimidating terrorists: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya Somalia, Sudan and Iran.

 

2002:

U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton declares Syria a member of the “axis of evil” and warns that the U.S. will take action against countries in the axis.

 

2005:

The U.S. State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy organizes and implements the “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon – a movement directly aimed at undermining Syrian-Iranian influence in Lebanon in favor of Western-backed proxies.

Ziad Abdel Nour, an associate of Bush administration policymakers and president of the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon, admitted the following when asked about the future of Syria:

“Both the Syrian and Lebanese regimes will be changed – whether they like it or not – whether it’s going to be a military coup or something else…and we are working on it. We know already exactly who’s going to be the replacements. We’re working on it with the Bush administration.”

Lebanese activists stand near a banner that reads in Arabic:" towards whom is directed the weapon"?, during a sit-in organized by various groups as they demand the government to take action against the widespread of uncontrolled weapons in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. A Western-backed alliance in Lebanon's government, the March 14 coalition, named after a demonstration to demand Syria leave Lebanon, accused the militant group Hezbollah and its allies on Wednesday of trying to take the country back to the days before the 2005 "Cedar Revolution." (AP/Hussein Malla)

Lebanese activists stand near a banner that reads in Arabic:” towards whom is directed the weapon”?, during a sit-in organized by various groups as they demand the government to take action against the widespread of uncontrolled weapons in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. A Western-backed alliance in Lebanon’s government, the March 14 coalition, named after a demonstration to demand Syria leave Lebanon, accused the militant group Hezbollah and its allies on Wednesday of trying to take the country back to the days before the 2005 “Cedar Revolution.” (AP/Hussein Malla)

2007:

Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker reveals that the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Syrian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, are assembling, arming, training and funding sectarian extremists, many of whom have direct ties to al-Qaeda. Their goal is to exploit the sectarian divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Hersh’s report indicated that the extremists would be strategically located so that they would be able to cross into Syria.

 

2009:

The Brookings Institution publishes a report titled “Which Path to Persia?” that details a “new American strategy for Iran.” In the report, the institute states the importance of neutralizing Syrian influence before any attack on Iran can be carried out.

 

2009:

Top British officials tell former French Minister for Foreign Affairs Roland Dumas that they were “preparing something in Syria.” He claimed they were organizing an “invasion of rebels” in a 2013 interview with French TV station LCP.

The “revolution” begins – armed rebels masquerade as “protesters.”

 

Jan. 17, 2011:

Prior to the anti-government insurgency, and in response to popular pressure, the Syrian government “increased the heating oil allowance for public workers by 72 percent to the equivalent of $33 a month.”

 

Late January 2011:

A page is created on Facebook called The Syrian Revolution 2011. It announced that “Day of Rage” protests would be held on Feb. 4 and 5.

 

Feb. 4-5, 2011:

The “Day of Rage” protests that were called for on Facebook fizzle and are largely uneventful.

 

Feb. 9, 2011:

The government lifts its ban on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. The bans had been in place since 2007.

 

Feb. 13, 2011:

The government, through its newly-established National Social Aid Fund, starts offering transfer payments to help Syria’s 420,000 poorest families.

 

Feb. 15, 2011:

The Syrian government “reduced duties on a range of basic foodstuffs, including rice, tea, powdered milk, coffee and bananas. It also lowered taxes on vegetable oil, margarine, unroasted coffee, and sugar.”

 

March 20, 2011:

A courthouse is torched in Dara’a.

“Protesters then forced their way through security barriers and headed toward the Baath Party headquarters and other government symbols. In addition to the party headquarters, protesters burned the town’s main courthouse and a branch of the SyriaTel phone company, which is owned by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of the president.”

The governor’s office and another SyriaTel office are also set alight:

“A front-page story in the government-run Teshreen daily on Tuesday, Dara’a cleric Sheik Ahmad al-Sayasina was quoted as saying, “There were elements from outside Dara’a determined to burn and destroy public property … These unknown assailants want to harm the reputation of the sons of Hauran.” The cleric reportedly said, “The people of Dara’a affirm that recent events are not part of their tradition or custom.” “

March – May 2011:

“There were signs from the very start that armed groups were involved,” journalist and author Robert Fisk recalls after seeing a tape from “the very early days of the ‘rising’ showing men with pistols and Kalashnikovs in a Daraa demonstration.”

He recalls another event in May 2011, when “an Al Jazeera crew filmed armed men shooting at Syrian troops a few hundred meters from the northern border with Lebanon, but the channel declined to air the footage.”

“Even U.S. officials, who were hostile to the Syrian government and might be expected to challenge Damascus’s view that it was embroiled in a fight with armed rebels, acknowledged that the demonstrations weren’t peaceful and that some protesters were armed.

https://players.brightcove.net/624246174001/2d3d4a83-ba40-464e-9bfb-2804b076bf67_default/index.html?videoId=4799229433001

 

March 23, 2011:

After sending a delegation to Dara’a to investigate events, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sacks the city’s unpopular governor, Faysal Kalthum, and orders the release of the fifteen teenagers who were detained for writing graffiti that featured anti-government slogans.

According to at least two dissident websites, protesters had given the Syrian government until the morning of March 25 to meet a list of demands that were relayed to the president by his delegation. The demands included lifting a 48-year-old emergency law and releasing all political prisoners. If the demands were not met, they said March 25 would become the “Friday of the Martyrs” throughout the country.

Weapons that were stored in the Al-Omari mosque in Dara’a are seized. Anwar Al-Eshki, a former major general of the Saudi military and president of the Center for Strategic Studies in Saudi Arabia, gives an interview in which he reveals information about the first days of the Syrian crisis and confirms his connections with “protesters.”

https://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=e7236a5ed0ac
March 25, 2011:

From a letter published by Father Frans van der Lugt (later murdered by extremists in April 2014):

“From the start, the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start, I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

A large pro-Assad rally is held in Damascus on March 25 as well.

 

March 2011:

Wikileaks reveals that “protesters,” allegedly 500 of them, will receive payment to take up arms.”

 

Early April, 2011:

Massive demonstrations are held in support of Assad and to reject extremists.

An estimated 2 million Syrians marched in Damascus, Syia in support of President Bashar al-Assad on March 29th, 2011.

An estimated 2 million Syrians marched in Damascus, Syia in support of President Bashar al-Assad on March 29th, 2011.

 

April 10, 2011:

Nine Syrian soldiers are ambushed on a bus and fatally shot.

Syrian soldiers and police officers are assassinated throughout April. Opposition forces claimed they were executed for desertion from the Syrian army, although video footage from their funerals refutes this claim.

 

Assad supporters rally against opposition, political reform arrives

June 15, 2011:

A 2.3-km-long Syrian flag is unfurled by thousands of Assad supporters in Damascus.

 

June 20, 2011:

Assad announces a national dialogue to begin a process of constitutional reform. One of the major demands is for an end to the constitutional privileges afforded to the Ba’ath party.

 

November 2011:

Assad supporters hold more marches, most notably in the cities of Homs and Dara’a. Both cities are described by some as the “capital” and “birthplace,” respectively, of the so-called “revolution.”

 

Feb. 26, 2012:

A constitutional referendum is held, asking the electorate whether they would approve of new changes that were proposed for Syria’s Constitution. Eighty-nine percent of the electorate voted in favor of the changes, which included significant reforms to the presidential election process. The changes removed the institutionalized dominance of the Ba’ath party, as well as allowed for elections to be contested between multiple candidates.

 

May 7, 2012:

Syria’s parliamentary elections are held according to the new constitution to determine the composition of the 250-seat People’s Council. The elections see a 51-percent participation rate among the electorate. The National Progressive Front, a political alliance of Syrian parties that includes the Ba’ath party, wins 168 seats. An opposition coalition of political parties called the Popular Front for Change and Liberation contests the NPF, but wins just five seats.

CIA confirmed providing arms to anti-Assad rebels, presidential election follows

 

June 21, 2012:

It is reported that the CIA is secretly providing arms to Syrian rebels through the Turkish border.

A well-equipped Syrian rebel using a US-made BGM-71 TOW on the Syrian Arab Army. (Photo YouTube Screenshot)

A well-equipped Syrian rebel using a US-made BGM-71 TOW against the Syrian Arab Army. (YouTube Screenshot)

 

August 2012:

According to a Department of Defense document released by Judicial Watch, the West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the opposition, while China, Russia and Iran support Assad’s regime. The document also confirms that Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (also known as al-Qaeda) are responsible for driving much of the ongoing insurgency in Syria.

Click to access Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf

 

June 4, 2013:

Data provided to NATO indicates that 70 percent of Syrians are in support of the Assad-led government.

 

June 3, 2014:

The first multi-candidate presidential election in Syria is held. It is contested between three candidates: the incumbent President Assad, Hassan Al Nour and Maher Al Hajjar. Assad wins with 88.7 percent of the vote.

 

Sarah Abed  Sarah Abed,  MENA independent, investigative, political commentator and writer.
More articles by Sarah Abed

The Pentagon Wants To Build Better Russian Machine Guns In America

Here’s Why U.S. Special Forces Want Russian Machine Guns

 

 

 

 

Why would U.S. special forces want to manufacture Russian machine guns?

Just watch any video of a conflict such as Iraq and Syria, and the answer becomes clear. Many of the combatants are using Russian or Soviet weapons, or local copies thereof, from rifles to rocket launchers to heavy machine guns mounted on pickups. Which means that when U.S. special forces provide some of these groups with weapons, they have to scrounge through the global arms market to buy Russian hardware as well as spare parts.

So U.S. Special Forces Command, which oversees America’s various commando units, has an idea: instead of buying Russian weapons, why not build their own? That’s why USSOCOM is asking U.S. companies to come up with a plan to manufacture Russian and other foreign weapons.

The goal is to “develop an innovative domestic capability to produce fully functioning facsimiles of foreign-made weapons that are equal to or better than what is currently being produced internationally,” according to the USSOCOM Small Business Innovation Research proposal.

More specifically, USSOCOM wants American companies to explore whether it is feasible to “reverse engineer or reengineer and domestically produce the following foreign-like weapons: 7.62×54R belt fed light machine gun that resembles a PKM (Pulemyot Kalashnikova Modernizirovany), and a 12.7×108mm heavy machine gun that resembles a Russian-designed NSV (Nikitin, Sokolov, Volkov).”

Applicants for the research project must produce “five fully functional prototypes, to include firing of live ammunition, of a foreign-like weapon that resembles the form, fit, and function of a Russian-designed NSV 12.7×108mm heavy machine gun.”

However, USSOCOM won’t make the process easy by providing assistance such as technical drawings. Interested companies will have to make their own drawings of foreign weapons, acquire the appropriate parts and raw materials, and create a manufacturing capability.

Companies will also have to “address the manufacture of spare parts to support fielded weapons.” In addition, they must be prepared to start up and shut down production as needed, as well as provide varying quantities of weapons.

USSOCOM also emphasizes that foreign weapons must be strictly made in America. Manufacturers “will employ only domestic labor, acquire domestically produced material and parts, and ensure weapon manufacture and assembly in domestic facilities.”

Though USSOCOM is starting with a pair of Russian machine guns, the research proposal speaks of foreign-made weapons in general. “Developing a domestic production capability for foreign-like weapons addresses these issues while being cost effective as well as strengthens the nation’s military-industrial complex, ensures a reliable and secure supply chain, and reduces acquisition lead times.”

One wonders whether there could be a copyright issue with producing Russian weapons in America without a license, though Russian and Chinese spies haven’t been reticent about helping themselves to U.S. technology. Either way, it seems like a sensible and economical idea to produce foreign weapons in America, rather than having to procure them from unreliable or unsavory international arms merchants.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Image: PK machine gun. Wikimedia Commons/Creative [email protected]

Obama Couldn’t “Win” In Afghanistan With 100,000 Soldiers…Can Trump Go Higher

.”In 2010, the Obama administration had 100,000 pairs of boots on the ground.”

 

FILE - In this April 17, 2017, file photo, a U.S. soldier patrols in Asad Khil village near the site of a U.S. bombing in the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. As the administration of President Donald Trump weighs sending more troops to Afghanistan, the 16-year war grinds on in bloody stalemate. Afghan soldiers are suffering what Pentagon auditors call “shockingly high” battlefield casualties, and prospects are narrowing for a negotiated peace settlement with the Taliban. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)
A US soldier patrols in Asad Khil village near the site of a US bombing in the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan.

 

 

Even in the face of a looming constitutional crisis over Russian interference in an American election, it is easy to lose sight of all the other things that matter. For instance, four times per year, a team of auditors files a report to the American people and their leaders about the progress of the country’s longest war. Few people read through all the hundreds of pages, much less parse the details they contain. The forever war in Afghanistan long ago became a forgotten fiasco.

There’s no excuse for this willful blindness. Indeed, the continued calamity that these reports meticulously document is made possible only through public inattention. As the Trump administration mulls an escalation of the war, Americans should read through the report cards of where things stand.

And a president inordinately obsessed with “winning” should consider what that means in Afghanistan, if it’s possible, and what’s it’s likely to cost.

To read the 35 reports, issued quarterly since 2008 by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, is to appreciate the vast scale of the failure. US taxpayers have allocated more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars to the fight in Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks, including $71 billion for reconstruction and security. Adjusted for inflation, that’s more reconstruction money than the United States spent on the Marshall Plan after World War II.

The return on that investment? Staggeringly poor. “Afghanistan lacks the capacity — financial, technical, managerial, or otherwise — to maintain, support, and execute much of what has been built or established during more than 14 years of international assistance,” the SIGAR report concludes.

The decades of war that have ravished the region and its people is both a cause and effect. Right now, the war is going badly for the Afghan government. It controls only 63 percent of the country’s districts. The Taliban insurgency, aided by Pakistan’s geostrategic complicity, is growing its ranks and seizing more ground.

One economic success, such as it is, has been the creation of the world’s largest opium crop — despite $8.5 billion spent on counternarcotics efforts. The value of the drug trade, which employs 12 percent of the population and provides 60 percent of Taliban revenue, is worth $1.56 billion — meaning the global heroin habit supplies the equivalent of about 7.4 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP.

Corruption is at the root of much of this woe. US officials — stunningly — didn’t fully appreciate its corrosive effects until 2008, when efforts to eradicate it were put on par with those against the poppy. And it was just about as successful.

Desertion and corruption are rife in the security forces. More than 1,300 army personnel, including a few generals, were fired for corruption just last year. Members of the security forces have been caught selling supplies to the Taliban, extorting their own men, and inflating the number of people under their command and keeping the extra paychecks. Last year, “Afghans paid more in bribes than the government is expected to generate in revenue from taxes, customs tariffs and other sources of income,” SIGAR found.

“The ultimate point of failure for our efforts . . . wasn’t an insurgency. It was the weight of endemic corruption,” Ambassador Ryan Crocker concluded.

Whatever its root cause — or the secondary cause, for that matter — the human suffering has struggled for description. There have been 111,000 Afghans killed since 2001, and more than 116,000 injured, including 31,000 civilians. Millions have been displaced, fueling the global refugee crisis.

Since the 9/11 attacks, 2,396 US soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and more than 20,000 have been wounded. That’s a bill that will not fully come due for generations: “The single largest accrued liability of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the cost of providing medical care and disability benefits to war veterans,” researchers from Harvard concluded.

A new surge of forces is a familiar tactic in a conflict plagued by failed strategy.

In 2010, the Obama administration had 100,000 pairs of boots on the ground and tried to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table through aggressive bombardment and increased fighting. It didn’t work.

Today, there are about 8,400 US soldiers and Marines deployed — along with 25,000 contractors and others. There are 4,900 NATO troops there too, though their official combat operations ended in 2014.

That’s a “few thousand” short of what’s needed to break the stalemate, the top US commander in the country recently told the Senate. “Breaking a stalemate” sounds an awful lot like “unwinnable.” That’s something to keep in mind for a president who has rarely spoken about Afghanistan.

Trump’s fickle definition of “winning” may be just what the war in Afghanistan needs. He’ll have the perfect chance to articulate it at a NATO summit in Brussels on May 25. More than 1,130 people from NATO nations have died in the fighting.

Americans and our alliance partners deserve a full accounting of what soldiers will risk their lives to achieve, what their tax dollars will buy, and what the metrics for success are.

Those who’ve lost their lives in the conduct of America’s longest war deserve from us vigilant attention to this conflict, the details of which we’ve ignored for too long. Whatever fresh firefight erupts in Washington tomorrow, remember that there are still many Americans in actual gun battles.

A Vietnam Strategy For Afghanistan

A Vietnam Strategy For Afghanistan

 

 

Photo of Lawrence Sellin

Lawrence Sellin, Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve

According to Bloomberg, the Trump Administration’s soon-to-be-unveiled Afghanistan strategy

would tie the U.S. to the success of President Ashraf Ghani’s ambitious plan to build up an inclusive government and regain territory from the Taliban. While the strategy envisions eventually forging a peace deal with the Taliban, in the meantime it would increase the pace of strikes — to encourage the Taliban to negotiate.

The new strategy, according to these officials, is not cheap. There would be a baseline of at least $23 billion a year to support a variety of initiatives in Afghanistan, not only subsidizing Afghan police and military forces but also funding anti-corruption programs and other priorities.

Like Afghanistan, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam was predicated on a single proposition:

 The American ground forces in Vietnam would be reduced through the policy of Vietnamization and the war turned over to an improved ARVN [Army of the Republic of Vietnam] and government capable of defending its territory and its people.

As we know, that never happened.

We have been trying to do the same thing in Afghanistan for over 15 years, longer than we failed to do in Vietnam. As recently as Autumn 2009, the U.S. government announced that after eight years and $27 billion, the results of the Afghan Army and Police training program were so bad that it was declared a failure.

For anyone interested in the cost-ineffectiveness of our investments in Afghanistan, the reports of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) make for depressing reading; billions of dollars have been disbursed, but no one knows what that money has bought and there remains no clear way to track the spending.

The website despair.com defines “incompetence” as “When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there’s no end to what you can’t do.”

Similar to the proposed Trump Administration policy, President Richard Nixon’s Vietnam strategy included bombing as a means to encourage North Vietnam to negotiate. Yet, it was clear 50 years ago that “withdrawing American forces unilaterally while attempting to negotiate mutual withdrawal of forces was not a strong negotiating position for the United States.”

The Trump Administration, unlike the Nixon Administration in Vietnam, may propose programs to make the Afghan government more competent, effective and corruption free, but that may not be enough.

As in Vietnam, the U.S. in Afghanistan does not now control the pace of the war.

Similar to the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the Vietnam War, the free flow of insurgents and supplies, particularly from Pakistan, will doom any U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to have a Vietnam ending.

There are also limits to the utility of strengthening the Afghan central government and fighting a top-down, conventional-based war in a tribal, bottom-up insurgency.

Perhaps, a personal anecdote would be illustrative.

In 2004, I was senior officer at a joint U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and German Bundeswehr camp and an advisor to the Afghan Army Central Corps, the country’s first.

At every Afghan battalion (“kandak”) formation that I attended, when the order to “fall out” was given, the approximately 600 soldiers congregated according to their Pashtun, Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara ethnic groups.

It is possible that, unlike Vietnam, a combination of military action and negotiation could work in Afghanistan, as long as the Trump Administration, which will now own the war, does not run out of time and public support.

In the end, it is less about absolute troop levels than how an agreed-upon strategy is being executed. More precisely, is there a realistic probability that the expected results will fulfill that strategy within a reasonable time frame?

I wrote that about Afghanistan 7 years ago when there were 100,000 troops there. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Vietnam-era Secretary of State Henry Kissinger just visited the White House.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa.

Real Terrorists Cannot Be Deradicalized, Except By Their Personal Conviction

[Guantanamo and The Saudi Rehabilitation Program Behind AQAP–(Intentional, or Major Fowl-UP? ) ; The Saudi Terrorist “Rehabilitation” Scam—Munasha ; Al-Qaeda In Arabian Peninsula Formed By Saudi Guantanamo/”Rehabilitation” Graduates ; Saudi Arabia, silently waging war on the world ]

‘De-radicalizing the jihadists doesn’t work’

After six Somali refugees were convicted of plotting to board planes and join ISIS in Syria, a U.S. federal judge in Minnesota decided to enroll one of them in an experimental terrorist rehabilitation program.

The program was developed in Europe and operates on the principles of the “countering violent extremism” or CVE, which is also part of the global, United Nations-supported Strong Cities Network.

Rather than going to prison, Abdullahi Mohamed Yusuf, 21, was sentenced in November to a 20-year supervised release. He was granted time served and sent to live in a halfway house. He receives counseling, reports to a probation officer and wears an ankle monitor but is otherwise free to come and go.

Abdullahi Mohamed Yusuf same to U.S. as a child refugee from Somalia but tried to leave and fight for ISIS.

But less than six months from the time he was released, Yusuf has already hit a road block.

He was returned to federal custody last week for allegedly failing a polygraph test and watching a documentary about ISIS in Europe.

According to a report by a U.S. probation officer, Yusuf failed a polygraph while under questioning, then admitted to watching CNN’s “ISIS: Behind the Mask,” a film about a Belgian ISIS soldier that was on TV April 18 at his halfway house, the Star-Tribune reported.

The terms of his 20-year supervised release include a provision that Yusuf not “possess, view, access, or otherwise use material that reflects extremist or terroristic views or as deemed to be inappropriate by the U.S. Probation Office.”

It’s all part of a “unique approach to supervising federal terrorism cases,” the Star-Tribune reports. This approach was approved by federal Judge Michael Davis and the U.S. District Court’s Probation and Pretrial Services department, which chose the Minnesota case to introduce the country’s first terrorism “disengagement and deradicalization” program.

In essence, they would try to “deradicalize” the young jihadist.

The program is based on evaluations and training from German researcher Daniel Koehler, who concluded that Yusuf had “a medium to low risk of future offending and a comparatively advanced stage of disengagement,” according to court filings.

Almost everyone in Minnesota law enforcement is not on board with the controversial program, sources tell WND. And groups that try to educate police on the religious underpinnings of jihad are typically closed out of the discussion.

Even citizens find it hard to get the ear of their local sheriff or police chief, says Debra Anderson, the ACT for America chapter leader for Minnesota.

“It’s CVE at the highest level down to the local level and even though the grassroots activists are trying to train our law enforcement it’s almost impossible to even get these guys to have a meeting with you,” Anderson told WND. “I get doors shut in my face every day.”

Philip Haney, who spent more than a dozen years screening for jihadists at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before retiring in 2015, told WND that Minnesota is not the first to experiment with the idea that terrorists can be rehabilitated.

He says it’s been tried many times, in many places, including the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.

The concept, that religiously motivated terrorists can be reformed, finds its roots in the “countering violent extremism” movement – an approach that began in Europe and was brought to the U.S. by the Obama administration.

“Rehabilitation is part of CVE. In fact, the idea that terrorists can be rehabilitated is woven into the overall CVE concept,” said Haney, co-author of the book “See Something Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad.”

“But the bottom line is these programs have been demonstrable failures,” he said. “They started with Saudi Arabia rehabbing Gitmo prisoners, and it’s actually achieved the opposite results.”

According to data released in March, the intelligence community has confirmed a total of 121 former Gitmo detainees have re-entered the battlefield. Another 87 former detainees are suspected of rejoining the ranks of their brother terrorists. The total of 208 confirmed and suspected terrorists makes up 30 percent of all those released from Gitmo.

Sweden and Denmark have also engaged in a concerted effort to rehab their jihadists.

“They’re trying it out in Denmark now, but there’s no real quantifiable way of demonstrating the program is effective because they universally overlook the real source of what they call ‘radicalization,’ and no program will ever work if you overlook the source of what is causing this violent behavior,” Haney said.

Such attempts completely ignore the original source of inspiration for Islamic violence – the Islamic texts, which include the Quran and hadiths – the reported words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad, Haney said.

Rehab in Denmark

Morten Storm, a former Danish al-Qaida member, told Newsweek he dismisses the experiment on its face.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” he says. “It means disregarding the life and dignity of the people the jihadists have been terrorizing – simply because the jihadists happen to be Danish. And deradicalizing the jihadists doesn’t work, because they’re religiously motivated. Yes, some may enroll [in the program], but then they’ll go back to the front lines.”

Danish leaders, like Obama’s former U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harp, are striving to pin the causes of terrorism on something other than Islam. Harp famously said it was a lack of jobs in the Middle East that led young men to become terrorists.

But what about here in the U.S. or Europe, where jobs are plentiful and education is often free?

“One school of thought is that the jihadists feel excluded, versus the reality that assimilation into a non-Muslim society is counter to the teachings of Islam, so we’re blaming the host nation for not being inclusive enough and enabling the [Muslim] migrants to be a part of our country when in reality they don’t want to assimilate and be a part of it,” Haney said.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently blamed “Islamophobia” for “fueling the rise in global terrorism.”

Strong Cities Network

On Sept. 29, 2015, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the launch of the Strong Cities Network at United Nations headquarters in New York.

“At that point, CVE went global, it morphed into this Strong Cities Network, part of a much bigger agenda to enable, or refuse to acknowledge, the threat that we face from Islamic terrorism,” Haney said. “The White House all but admitted it didn’t work and yet they tripled the budget for CVE as part of this attempt to provide alternative narratives that transform how we think about terrorism. The focus of law enforcement went from ‘Islamic terrorism’ to ‘violent extremism in all its forms.’”

The U.S. State Department even launched a Twitter campaign in February 2016 to try to deny the Islamic role in terrorism. It was a bust. The year 2016 was the most Islamically violent year in decades with terrorist attacks launched across Europe and the U.S., from Orlando to Paris, Normandy, Nice, Bavaria and Berlin.

And Minneapolis, with its large Somali refugee community admittedly struggling with ISIS and al-Shabab “recruitment problems,” was one of three cities the Obama administration chose in 2014 for CVE pilot programs, along with Boston and Los Angeles.

Minneapolis and L.A. would go the extra step and join the global Strong Cities Network, or SCN.

Minneapolis was one of four initial U.S. cities to sign up for SCN, along with New York, Denver and Atlanta.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

Jordanian Prince Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, came to New York to help roll out the SCN in September 2015 at the U.N., standing beside Loretta Lynch and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Since then, six more U.S. cities have joined the global policing network – Aurora, Colorado; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Los Angeles; San Diego; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Louisville, Kentucky.

See list of Strong Cities Network member cities worldwide.

So the CVE and Strong Cities Network are inexorably linked, both tracing their U.S. points of origin into the heart of the Obama administration and its effort to take the heat off of Islam and place it onto “right wing” terrorists.

Draining the swamp?

All of this was done without consulting Congress, or with any apparent consideration of states’ rights, or the Constitution itself, says Haney.

Part of the U.N.’s focus is to cultivate global governance through cities, bypassing nation-states. This was made evident in the New Urban Agenda adopted by the Obama administration and more than 100 other world leaders at the Habitat III Conference last year in Ecuador.

As for the Trump administration, it has shown little awareness of the power of these programs, nor has it signaled any sense of urgency in reversing them, Haney said.

“I don’t think they really are aware of how much is really being done [through the U.N.], I think Trump is on a steep learning curve, and he’s touching some of these issues and I give him credit for it,” he said. “The question is whether he has the political courage to go forward, because if he’s going to drain the swamp these are the kinds of programs that need to be drained. They put our sovereignty subject to an outside international body.”

Ignoring history

Most of the government attempts at deprogramming jihadists focus on poverty or some other “subjective” cause that deflects attention from the central issue, Haney said. They also ignore the broad sweep of history.

“Islam is not a subjective ideology, but they’re using subjective terms to try to define a religion that is objectively very well defined … poverty, colonialism, lack of inclusiveness, it has all existed well before modern times,” Haney said. “The ideology existed before the times we live in. We saw it in their crossing the Straights of Gibraltar in 711 A.D. [into Spain]. And we saw it in 732 A.D. exactly 100 years after Muhammad died, when they were invading France, only to be driven out by Charles Martel.”

Another incursion was made in 1683 at the Gates of Vienna, only to be repelled by the Polish King John Sobieski.

The West has been in a 1,300-year, on-and-off war with Islam. It seems the war is back on, but few in the West are aware.

Anderson said the Obama policy of playing nice with terrorists has had a severe impact on her state, which is home to so many Somali Muslims.

“They have fundamentally transformed counter-terrorism from a law-enforcement-based approach, which treated them as criminals with all the rights of normal defendants and that in itself was the subject of great debate, but Obama took it a step further and transformed the U.S. system from a law-based approach to a civil-rights and civil-liberties approach. So they’ve basically paralyzed our law-enforcement system,” Anderson said.

Gov. Dayton tells detractors: ‘find another state’

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, speaking openly at a community forum in St. Cloud in October 2015, told residents that anyone who cannot accept living alongside Somali immigrants “should find another state.” Less than a year later, in September 2016, a Somali refugee went on a stabbing spree at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, injuring 10 people.

“We have a governor who doesn’t listen to us and our mayor in Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, signed us up for Strong Cities Network, so we have it bad here,” Anderson said. “We’re just a sinking state.”

“On the one hand the grassroots is getting it, we’ve circumvented the hostile media, and we’ve traveled around and what I’m learning is the surrounding states are recognizing Minnesota is ground-zero for jihadi training,” Anderson said.

Waleed Idrus al-Maneesey is a radical imam who heads up the Al-Farooq mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, attended by at least six known terrorists and terrorist supporters.

Dar al-Farooq in Bloomington is one mosque that draws suspicion. It operates under the guidance of imam Walid Idrus al-Maneesey, who is also a member of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, the organization responsible for issuing fatwas in North America.

The mosque supports the Islamic University of Minnesota, which turned out its first graduating class recently with intense training in Shariah law, the Quran and Islamic jurisprudence. At least six Somali terrorism suspects have been known to attend al-Maneesey’s mosque.

And now the Minneapolis police are tolerating an Islamic Shariah cop who patrols the Cedar Riverside neighborhoods looking for violations of Islamic dress and food laws, as well as social interaction deemed inappropriate between the sexes. He has recruited 10 others to work under him and police have not arrested any of them.

Another example of Minneapolis police backing off of Somali Muslim criminal activity occurred last June in the Linden Hills community on Lake Calhoun. For three straight days a gang of Somali thugs terrorized the neighborhood, riding vehicles over lawns, shouting threats of rape and pretending to shoot people on the beach. One neighbor’s dog was beaten. Not a single arrest was made and the police chronically showed up “too late” to catch the thugs when they were called by residents.

“They are more interested in protecting their civil rights and civil liberties than protecting the local population,” Anderson said.

“What the average citizen does not know is they no longer have reliable law enforcement,” she added. “They don’t know that. Linden Hills is a perfect example of that.

“So this is a country gradually surrendering to Islamic sharia law. We are, already, incrementally surrendering. Former Obama-appointed U.S. attorney for Minnesota, Andrew Luger, several times made public statements that showed his bias toward Muslims and against non-Muslims in Minnesota. After the Somali arrests, and after the Brussels, Belgium, terrorist attack he said ‘we’re here to protect you, our Muslim friends, from Islamophobia.’”

Turkish News Agency Reports Trilateral US/Pak/Afghan Anti-ISIS Effort

Pakistan, Afghanistan, US to jointly act against Daesh

 

 

Trilateral meeting stresses upon need to defeat militant group through complementary efforts

 

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan 

Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States on Friday agreed to act against Daesh militant group through joint efforts in their respective areas of operations.

The trilateral meeting of top military officials was held at Pakistan army headquarters in garrison city of Rawalpindi, according to a statement issued by Pakistani army on Friday.

The meeting — seen as crucial following the Friday’s suicide attack in southwestern Pakistan claimed by Daesh and escalating border tensions between Islamabad and Kabul — “stressed upon the need to defeat Daesh through complementary efforts in respective areas of operations”.

Though, Pakistan officially does not recognize Daesh as a major threat to its security but the claims of responsibility for two major suicide attacks in the last few months have rung alarms for the security agencies.

The meeting was attended by Afghanistan’s director general military operations (DGMO) Major General Habib Hesari, Pakistan’s DGMO, Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza and the U.S. Resolute Support Mission’s Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Christopher Haas.

The trilateral meeting was followed by a bilateral meeting between Pakistan and Afghanistan to discuss the ongoing border tensions between the two neighbors, in addition to find measures for improving military-to-military coordination and cooperation, the statement added.

Pakistan last week closed down its southwestern Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan following a deadly border clash that left over a dozen people, mostly civilians, from both sides dead.

“Both sides agreed to enhance frequency of bilateral interaction at multiple tiers through different command and staff channels to foster an environment of mutual respect, trust, cordiality and cooperation”, it added.

Hekmatyar Returns To Kabul…Not the Same City He Left Bombed To Ruins

The Hizb-e-Islami leader arrived back in Kabul on Thursday after an absence of 20 years. His arrival comes after he signed a peace deal with government last year.

 

The Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s convoy arrived in Kabul on Thursday morning loaded with dozens of visibly heavily armed men, many of whom were flying the group’s flag, along with the Afghan national flag.

The convoy drove the almost 200 kilometers from Nangarhar to Kabul reportedly transporting Hekmatyar.

It left Nangarhar at around 7:30 in morning and arrived in Kabul through the Pul-e-Charkhi area in the east of the city.

The convoy made its way to Hekmatyar’s residence in Kabul’s Darulaman area at around 12:30pm.

The vehicles in the convoy, many of which were luxury SUVs, were loaded with armed men – many sporting PK machine guns, RPGs, Kalashnikovs and other firearms along with countless rounds of visible ammunition.

Many of these men chanted pro-Hekmatyar slogans, with some calling out: “Long live Hekmatyar” and “Long live Hizb-e-Islami leader”.

Dozens of Kabul residents meanwhile gathered along the route in the city to watch Hekmatyar’s convoy driving through the city, a city he left and last saw in ruins during the civil war almost two decades ago.

But some residents took to social media on Thursday and complained about the closure of key roads in Kabul ahead of and during his arrival.

Hekmatyar first appeared among his supporters in Laghman province last weekend where he held his first public speech in 20 years.

The Hizb-e-Islami leader returned to Kabul on Thursday ahead of a meeting and ceremony with President Ashraf Ghani.

He is also expected to address a mass rally on Friday at the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul.

Kandahar Chief Goes Forward w/His Taliban “Safe Zone”

[SEE: Did the Divided Afghan Govt Just Blow-Up In Kandahar?–Or Is It Open War w/Pakistan’s ISI? ; Afghans push for Taliban ‘safe zone’ to outflank Pakistan]

Raziq said at least 10 key members of the Taliban are living at the ‘safe zone’ which has been established for those fighters who quit violence and embrace peace

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A ‘safe zone’ has been established in the country’s south for those Taliban who have and will lay down their arms and join the peace process, Kandahar Police Chief Gen. Abdul Raziq said.

Raziq said the safe zone will help the Taliban from Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces to live without worrying about their security after they quit violence and join peace.

He added that a number of Taliban members, especially their commanders who have laid down their arms, as well as 10 Taliban commanders who have returned from Pakistan and have embraced a normal life, are living at the safe zone.

The Kandahar police chief said they will continue their efforts to provide job opportunities for those Taliban members who have joined the peace process.

“We have provided the environment for those Taliban who do not want to live under the control of Punjabis [Pakistan’s Punjab] and for those who return to their country and start a peaceful life in their districts and provinces, regardless of their status. We have established a safe zone for them and they can live there with their people,” Raziq said.

He stated that the safe zone is established for the Taliban fighters in the country’s south and the precondition for living at the zone is to cut off their ties with those Taliban who are still fighting against government forces.

“Those Taliban who are in Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul [provinces] and have ties with smugglers and armed groups, should remove their relations with them and embrace a peaceful life. So far 10 key Taliban members have come here [at the safe zone] and have started a normal life,” he added.

Meanwhile, member of Kandahar Provincial Council Attaullah Atta said the move by Kandahar police will benefit the people and will encourage the Taliban to choose a peaceful life.

“It is good for the people if Taliban [fighters] quit violence and join peace. It is a big hope for the people. Job opportunities will be provided to them [Taliban],” Atta said.

Kandahar military officials said they are hopeful that the safe zone will encourage Taliban commanders to join the peace process.

This comes after heavy clashes are ongoing between Afghan security forces and the Taliban in different parts of the country – including Kunduz and Baghlan provinces in the country’s north.

 

Abu Zubaydah To Testify About Conditions At Guantanamo

Zayn al Abdeen Mohammed al Hussein, known as Abu Zubaydah, poses for the International Committee of the Red Cross at Guantánamo. A watermark on the image says the prison staff approved its release in 2012. His lawyer Mark Denbeaux released the photo in May 2017.