American Resistance To Empire

The US/Arab Sponsorship of Syrian Terrorists Is US Foreign Policy

UN Photo/Cia Pak
Walid Al-Moualem, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s 74th session.

Although terrorism is a “global nightmare which haunts everyone”, some countries have invested in terrorism as a tool to impose their “insidious agendas” on other nations, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al-Moualem told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Mr. Al-Moualem said terrorists have plagued Syria for more than eight years, causing death, destruction and a humanitarian crisis.

“The case of Syria has been the clearest example of such foreign investment in terrorism,” he said.

“Tens of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters have been brought to Syria from more than a hundred countries, with the support and cover of States that are known to all. Even more, these same States deny us the right to defend our people against terrorists, which they consider ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘Syrian armed opposition’, as some like to call them.”

Mr. Al-Moualem called Idlib the most recent example of this situation, stating that the north-western city hosts the largest gathering of foreign terrorist fighters in the world.

Their crimes include continued rocket and mortar attacks against nearby civilian areas, using civilians as human shields, and preventing people from leaving via a humanitarian corridor established by the Government, he stated.

“Would one of your governments stand and watch if faced with a similar situation?” he asked.  “Would you ever forfeit your right and duty to defend your people and liberate your country from terrorists and foreigners?”

The Foreign Minister added that this Government has engaged in international political initiatives on Idlib, including an agreement by Russia and Turkey on the creation of de-escalation zones.

“Meanwhile, in the interim, the Turkish regime has failed to fulfill its commitments under these agreements. Instead, it has provided terrorists with all forms of support, including weapons that are more sophisticated,” he stated.

“The Turkish regime is now rushing, with the support of some Western countries, to protect Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups there just as they have done before.”

The Foreign Minister reported on his administration’s recent political efforts, such as agreement on the terms of reference for a Constitutional Committee.

In this regard, he affirmed the Government’s readiness to work with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, and “friendly countries”, though stressing that the process must be Syrian owned and led.

Mr. Al-Moualem said the Government also is making “tremendous efforts” to improve the humanitarian situation. The UN estimates that more than 11.5 million people across Syria require humanitarian assistance.

He urged “peace-loving countries that uphold international law” to counter what he called an “illegal and inhumane blockade” which has restricted access to medicine, oil for electricity, and other needed items.

Yemen–Houthis claim capture of thousands of troops in Saudi raid

Yemen: Houthis claim capture of thousands of troops in Saudi raid

Yemen’s rebels claim carrying out attack in Saudi region of Najran, but there is no immediate confirmation from Riyadh.

Yemen’s Houthi movement has said it carried out an attack near the border with the southwestern Saudi region of Najran and captured “thousands” of enemy troops including several Saudi army officers but there was no immediate confirmation from the authorities in Saudi Arabia.

A spokesman for the Yemen-based rebels said in a statement on Saturday that three “enemy military brigades had fallen” in the attack, which he said was launched 72 hours earlier in the vicinity of Najran and was supported by the group’s drone, missile and air defence units.

Houthi-run Almasirah TV quoted the spokesman as saying they captured “thousands” of enemy troops, including many officers and soldiers of the Saudi army, as well as “hundreds of armoured vehicles”.

The Houthi military spokesperson said the operation reveals to Saudi Arabia that the Yemeni fighters are capable of further penetrating into Saudi territories “in case it continues its aggression against Yemen”.

Reporting from Sanaa, Al Jazeera’s Mohammed al-Attab said the Houthis claimed to have carried out “sniper shooting and other tactics in order to further tighten their grip on the three military brigades” claimed to have been captured.

“The Houthi military spokesperson revealed that those who have been captured will be put in undisclosed areas in order to protect them from Saudi airstrikes,” he said.

“They are assuring the families of the prisoners of war that they will be kept in a secret place in order to keep them safe from any harm.”

The Houthis, who control the northern part of Yemen, have recently stepped up their drone and missile attacks across the southern border of Saudi Arabia.

The rebels claimed responsibility for a September 14 drone and missile attack on two facilities run by Saudi’s state oil company, Aramco.

The attack slashed Saudi Arabia’s crude oil output by half, accounting for about five percent of the world supply.

However, the United States, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany and the UK said Iran was behind the attacks, ratcheting up already heightened tensions in the region.

Strategically significant

Nabeel Khoury, the former deputy chief of the US mission to Yemen, told Al Jazeera the Saudi-led coalition forces have repeatedly deployed troops across their southern border, posing a constant threat to the “Houthi heartland”.

The Houthi offensive appears to be “an attempt to take the military threat off of themselves,” he said.


Yemen’s Houthis say will stop all attacks on Saudi Arabia

Khoury said the offensive may be meant to show “that they [the Houthis] are capable of inflicting harm” after the Saudi-led coalition failed to respond to a peace offer made last week.

On September 20, Houthi officials said they would halt missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia if the alliance stopped its operations in Yemen.

“Militarily they [the Houthis] have close to 100,000 battle hardened soldiers, and they have demonstrated their power elsewhere,” he added.

Yemeni government troops, supported by coalition air strikes, have in recent months been fighting Houthi forces in the Kataf region of the northern Saada province near the Saudi border.

Local sources have said the Houthis had captured scores of Yemeni forces in the battles.

Five years of fighting

The war in Yemen broke out in 2014 with an offensive by the Houthis against the Yemeni government.

September 21 marked the fifth anniversary of the Houthis’ capture of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the Western powers, intervened in the civil war in March 2015.

The conflict in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and left millions on the brink of famine, in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN said both the Houthis and the opposing coalition may be guilty of war crimes.

The latest violence could hamper the UN efforts to ease tensions and pave the way for talks in the long-impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation.

Saudis Forced To Accept American Air Defense Solution…More Patriots

[US Patriot Missiles Failed To Protect Saudi Oil Assets, Making the Case For Russian S-400 Missile Sales]

[US to deploy new Patriot missile battery, 4 Sentinel radars to Saudi Arabia]

THOSE who have been watching the Saudi massacre of Yemenis over the last five years with horror and rage can be excused our moment of schadenfreude.

This German expression is used to describe the feeling of joy over the pain of another. I experienced this as I watched the Saudi oil facility and wells in Auqab and Khurais go up in flames recently.

While the world condemned this attack, nobody seemed to have a word of sympathy for the tens of thousands of victims who have been killed and maimed as a result of inept Saudi and Emirati aerial bombardment. Our government, too, was swift to condemn the attack, although it has remained silent in the face of wanton Saudi brutality. Apart from all those civilian casualties, the Saudis have also pushed some 20 million Yemenis close to death by disease and starvation through its naval blockade of ports.

Nesrene Malik, the Guardian columnist, wrote recently: “There is a long-standing joke told in the Middle East about Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to fight its own wars. ‘Saudi Arabia will fight until the last Pakistani’, the punchline goes, in reference to the fact that Pakistanis have long supported Saudi’s military endeavours … Saudi Arabia is accustomed to buying labour that it deems too menial for its citizens, and extends that philosophy to its army…When asked what fighting in Yemen was like under the command of the Saudis, some returning Sudanese troops said the Saudi military leaders, feeling themselves too precious to advance too close to the front line, had given clumsy instructions by satellite phones to their hired troops, nudging them in the general direction of hostilities. When things were too treacherous, Saudi and coalition air forces dropped bombs from high-flying planes, inflating civilian casualties. This is how Saudis fight: as remotely as possible, and paying others to die.”

Saudis have pushed some 20m Yemenis close to death.

There has been an international chorus accusing Iran of being behind these attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Reluctant to do its own fighting, Riyadh has called on its allies to respond to the Iranians in order to protect global oil supplies. Few have made the connection between the Saudi onslaught on Yemen, and the massive damage inflicted on its oil-processing facilities.

Iran has denied any involvement in the attack, but it is hardly likely to accept responsibility. Despite the Houthi claim to have acted on their own, it is doubtful if the rebels have the technical capability to launch such a sophisticated operation. In either case, the pinpoint accuracy and range of the drones and missiles used would have given the Saudis and the Americans reason to pause.

Another connection is the direct link between America’s exit from the nuclear deal signed by Obama and the recent attacks. Not satisfied with the existing economic sanctions on Iran, Trump has turned the screw tighter, making it virtually impossible for Iran to export its oil. While Saudi Arabia and Israel have exulted in Iran’s pain, President Rouhani has proclaimed that if his country could not export oil through the Strait of Hormuz, nobody else would be allowed to either.

Meanwhile, America’s highly successful exploitation of its shale oil reserves has substantially reduced its dependence on Middle East oil. This has changed the nature of the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia. And with Israel in post-election turmoil, Netanyahu is unable to exert the kind of pressure he could a few months ago.

Many have questioned the utility of Saudi Arabia’s multibillion-dollar arms purchases, especially from the US. When the drones and the missiles hit their targets recently, there was no response from the Patriot defence system. It turns out that this was designed to intercept missiles approaching from a steep angle, and not low-flying drones.

The fact is that over the years, the Saudis have been buying high-tech weaponry at exorbitant prices, with princelings allegedly raking in massive commissions. These weapons are parked in the desert, and are then replaced by the next generation of modern weapons.

I am embarrassed that Pakistanis could be fighting for the Saudis against Yemen. When Gen Raheel Sharif was recruited by Riyadh, there was come confusion about his role. It appears to have become clearer. However, the performance of the coalition forces in Yemen does not inspire much confidence in his capability, if indeed he’s involved in the Saudi misadventure.

In chess, if you push an unsupported piece into your opponent’s territory, it is likely to have a short life. The Americans have scores of bases in the region that can be hit by Iranian missiles in case of hostilities. Similarly, the Saudis have a large number of soft targets. Once seen as assets, they are all now hostage to swift retaliation should Iran come under attack.

It’s time to talk about lifting sanctions on Iran, not escalating the situation.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2019

Once-Classified Memos Bust Joe Biden’s 2016 Ukraine Story

Joe Biden has claimed that his 2016 call for Ukraine’s prosecutor general to be fired had nothing to do with the latter’s probe of a gas firm, where the former VP’s son Hunter was employed, but rather the Ukrainian’s alleged corruption. However, a string of documents, including a court affidavit seen by The Hill, appear to imply otherwise.


According to The Hill’s John Solomon, a bunch of documents, many from the American legal team that assisted a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, in dealing with law-related issues, raises the “troubling prospect” that US officials could have “painted a false picture in Ukraine” that essentially “eased Burisma’s legal troubles and stopped prosecutors’ plans to interview” Joe Biden’s son Hunter over corruption allegations during the 2016 vote.

Apology for ‘Dissemination of False Info by US Reps and Public Figures’

The former US vice president insists that in spring 2016, he demanded that Ukraine fire its chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, for one  reason: because Biden believed that the official was inept and corrupt, not because he was looking into Burisma Holdings, which granted Biden’s son Hunter a lucrative position on the board. However, hundreds of pages of never-released memos and files obtained by Solomon appear to contradict Joe Biden’s narrative.

For instance, according to one cited official memo, Burisma’s US legal representatives met with Ukrainian authorities just days after Biden forced Shokin to be sacked and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by US representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutor. The memo, along with the legal team’s internal emails cited by Solomon, proceeded to note that Burisma’s American team had proposed introducing Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration employees for them to make amends.

Among the “troubling” questions mentioned by The Hill’s journalist is whether the Ukrainian prosecutor’s firing was indeed due to corruption and, if so, why the American legal team referred to this as “dissemination” of falsehoods. Others include Burisma’s US lawyers’ active position and decisive line of action when the prosecutor was finally replaced.

‘New Wave of Scrutiny’ After Hunter’s Appointment

Biden ended up in the public crosshairs back in December 2015, when The New York Times reported that Burisma had hired Hunter Biden for just a short stint after the former vice president was asked by President Obama to oversee US-Ukraine ties at the time. Separately, the article alerted Biden’s office to Viktor Shokin’s ongoing probe into Burisma and its founder.

Solomon remarked at this point that the newly obtained documents “detail an effort to change the narrative” after the NYT story about Hunter Biden was published. Two days after the article, Hunter Biden’s American business partner in Burisma, Devon Archer, reportedly texted a colleague asking about a means to counter the “new wave of scrutiny”, stating that he and Hunter Biden had just met for talks at the State Department.

The text reported by Solomon suggested that there was about to be a new “USAID project the embassy is announcing with us” and that it was “perfect for us to move forward now with momentum”. The journalist said he had sued the State Department for any records related to the meeting, especially in light of the crucial ethical question it raises – if Hunter Biden and his team sought the State Department’s assistance while his father held his key White House post during Obama’s presidency.

Solomon mentioned a new wave of controversy that popped up earlier this year after he disclosed that Joe Biden admitted during a 2018 recorded speech that as vice president, in March 2016, he threatened to cancel $1 billion in loans to Ukraine unless the country’s then-President Petro Poroshenko showed Shokin the door.

The investigative journalist was left without any doubt about Shokin’s office looking into Burisma after personally speaking to the former general prosecutor. Solomon cited Shokin as saying that he had been making plans to question Hunter Biden about $3 million in fees that he and his partner, Archer, had allegedly collected from Burisma through their US subsidiary. Separately, he cited documents seized by the FBI in an unrelated case confirming the payments, allegedly amounting to over $166,000.

Two Open Probes During Viktor Shokin’s Firing

Making a separate point, Solomon busted media reports stating that when Biden in 2016 forced the sacking of the prosecutor, there were no open investigations. According to the journo, a UK-based investigation of Burisma’s owner was indeed closed down in early 2015 due to the deadline for documents to be submitted not being met, but in March 2016, at least two inquiries were open – one reportedly involved taxes, while the other centred on corruption allegations.

There is perhaps even more direct evidence of a close connection between Biden’s calls for the prosecutor to be fired and the Burisma investigation: per Solomon, in a newly sworn affidavit prepared for a EU court, Shokin testified that when being sacked, he was told the reason was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma probe.

Shokin Reportedly Turned Down Poroshenko’s Calls to Halt Burisma Probe

“The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors”, Shokin reportedly testified, adding that he refused to close the Burisma investigation despite Poroshenko “asking me” several times “to consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company”.

US Legal Team in Concert with Ukraine’s Burisma?

Although Shokin apparently “has reason to hold a grudge” in light of the loss of the job, his account is said to be supported by documents from Burisma’s legal team in the US, which appeared “to be moving into Ukraine with intensity as Biden’s effort to fire Shokin picked up steam”, Solomon concluded, going on to cite Burisma’s own accounting records. The latter, he says, show that the gas company had paid tens of thousands of dollars while Hunter Biden served on the board of an American lobbying and public relations firm, Blue Star Strategies, managed by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, both of whom served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Joe Biden’s Ukraine story has seen increased scrutiny over the past week, since a whistle-blower launched a complaint about a phone call between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which POTUS requested a probe into Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in the upcoming presidential polls, as well as his and his son’s business dealings in Ukraine in 2016. The infuriated Democratic camp deemed the move as a possible unconstitutional abuse of power, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shortly launching an impeachment inquiry billed by President Trump as a fresh twist of “witch hunt garbage”. The Ukrainian president, meanwhile, noted that there was no pressure exerted on him during the July phone call, which came as a casual, “normal” happening in the countries’ bilateral communication.

Hong Kong, Kashmir, Palestine–Ruins of British empire on fire

Hong Kong, Kashmir, Palestine: Ruins of British empire on fire

The people of Hong Kong, Kashmir and Palestine have long histories of resistance to oppression.

A demonstrator stands on a British flag during an anti-Israel rally in Karachi July 21, 2006 [File: Zahid Hussein/Reuters]
A demonstrator stands on a British flag during an anti-Israel rally in Karachi July 21, 2006 [File: Zahid Hussein/Reuters]

Continued mayhem in Palestine, increasing bloodshed in Kashmir, mass protest in Hong Kong – how do we connect these dots? Are they related?

Well, of course: The sun never set on the Union Jack! In the sunset of that empire – as is inevitable for all empires – chaos and turmoil were destined to follow.

“The world is reaping the chaos the British Empire sowed,” Amy Hawkins recently wrote in Foreign Policy, “locals are still paying for the mess the British left behind in Hong Kong and Kashmir.” The author left out Palestine, chief among places around the globe, where the British empire spread discord and enmity to ease its rule and prepare the ground for disaster after its exit.

Indeed, the anticolonial uprisings in the Indian subcontinent, China, the Arab world and elsewhere did not result in freedom or democracy for the nations ruled by the British Empire.

In Kashmir, the British left a bleeding wound amid the partition of colonial India.

In Palestine, they left a European settler colony and called it “Israel” to rule in their stead and torment Palestinians.

In Hong Kong, they left a major cosmopolis that is neither truly an independent entity, nor a part of mainland China.

They picked up their Union Jack and departed, leaving behind a ruinous legacy for decades and generations to bleed. Those consequences are not just historical and buried in the past. They are still unfolding.

When the sun finally set

Ironically, today the United Kingdom is struggling to hold itself together, as the Brexit debacle tears it apart. One looks at the country and marvels at the poetic justice of wanton cruelty coming back to haunt the former empire.

The UK finds itself face to face with its imperial past, with the Irish and Scottish once again defying English nationalists and their schizophrenic belief in their own exceptionalism. How bizarre, how just, how amazing, how Homeric, is that fate!

We may, in fact, be witness to the final dissolution of the “United” Kingdom in our life-times. But there was a time when, from that very little island, they ruled the world from the Americas in the west to Asia and Australia in the east.

The terror of British imperialism – wreaking havoc on the world not just then but now as well – is the most historically obvious source that unites Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Palestine as well as the many other emblematic sites of colonial and postcolonial calamities we see around us today. But what precisely is the cause of today’s unrests?

In Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Palestine we have the rise of three nations, “baptised” by fire, as it were – three peoples, three collective memories, that have refused to settle for their colonial lot. The harsher they are brutalised, the mightier their collective will to resist power becomes.

Britain took possession of Hong Kong in 1842 after the First Opium War with China. It transformed it into a major trading and military outpost, and insisted on keeping it long after its empire collapsed. In 1997, Britain handed Hong Kong over to China, conceding to the idea of a “one country, two systems” formula that allows for a certain degree of economic autonomy for Hong Kong. But what both China and Britain had neglected to consider was the fact that a nation of almost eight million human beings throughout a long colonial and postcolonial history had accumulated a robust collective memory of its own, which was neither British nor mainland Chinese – it was distinct.

Kashmir came under British influence shortly after Hong Kong – in 1846, after the British East India Company defeated the Sikh Empire that ruled the region at that time. A century later, Kashmir was sucked into the bloody partition of India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the British departure from the subcontinent, with both post-colonial states having a mutually exclusive claim on its territory. Here, too, what India and Pakistan forget is the fact that almost 13 million Kashmiris have had a long history of countless troublesome colonial and postcolonial experiences, making Kashmir fundamentally different from either one of them.

The same is the case with Palestine, which fell under British rule in 1920 after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Before the British packed their colonial possessions and left almost three decades later, they installed a successor settler colony in the form of a Zionist garrison state. Decades of unrelenting struggle against the barbarities of the British and the Zionists have left Palestinians in possession of one of the most courageous and steadfast histories of resistance to colonial domination.

Memories of resistance

In revolting against China, India, and Israel, these three nations in Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Palestine have become three nuclei of resistance, of refusal to let go of their homelands.

They have narrated themselves into a history written by powers who have systematically tried to erase them and their collective memories. “Homeland” is not just a piece of land. It is a memorial presence of a history.

Those memories, corroborated by an entire history of resistance to imperial conquest and colonial occupation have now come back to haunt their tormentors.

China, India, and Israel have to resort to naked and brutish violence to deny the veracity of those defiant memories, now evident as facts on the ground. In doing so, these powers have picked up where the British empire left off.

They too seek to terrorise, divide and rule, but by now those they try to subdue have mastered resistance; their struggle has outlived one imperial oppressor, it can surely survive another.

In other words, no amount of imperial brutality, settler colonialism or historical revisionism can make the distinct identities, memories and histories of these people disappear.

Today people in Palestine, Kashmir, and Hong Kong see themselves as stateless nations ruled with brutish military occupation. In the postcolonial game of state formation, they have been denied their national sovereignty.

The more brutally they are repressed and denied their sovereignty, the more adamantly they will demand and exact it.

Neither China in Hong Kong, nor India in Kashmir, nor Israel in Palestine can have a day of peaceful domination until and unless the defiant nations they rule and abuse achieve and sustain their rightful place in the world.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. 


How the Houthis overturned the chessboard

How the Houthis overturned the chessboard

by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

The Yemeni Shiite group’s spectacular attack on Abqaiq raises the distinct possibility of a push to drive the House of Saud from power

A Yemeni Shiite man holds his weapon and a flag with an Arabic inscription reading ‘Disgrace is far from us,’ as he takes part in a religious procession held by Houthi rebels to mark the first day of Ashura. Photo: Hani Al-Ansi/dpa

We are the Houthis and we’re coming to town. With the spectacular attack on Abqaiq, Yemen’s Houthis have overturned the geopolitical chessboard in Southwest Asia – going as far as introducing a whole new dimension: the distinct possibility of investing in a push to drive the House of Saud out of power.

Blowback is a bitch. Houthis – Zaidi Shiites from northern Yemen – and Wahhabis have been at each other’s throats for ages. This book is absolutely essential to understand the mind-boggling complexity of Houthi tribes; as a bonus, it places the turmoil in southern Arabian lands way beyond a mere Iran-Saudi proxy war.

Still, it’s always important to consider that Arab Shiites in the Eastern province – working in Saudi oil installations – have got to be natural allies of the Houthis fighting against Riyadh.

Houthi striking capability – from drone swarms to ballistic missile attacks – has been improving remarkably for the past year or so. It’s not by accident that the UAE saw which way the geopolitical and geoeconomic winds were blowing: Abu Dhabi withdrew from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s vicious war against Yemen and now is engaged in what it describes as a  “peace-first” strategy.

Even before Abqaiq, the Houthis had already engineered quite a few attacks against Saudi oil installations as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports. In early July, Yemen’s Operations Command Center staged an exhibition in full regalia in Sana’a featuring their whole range of ballistic and winged missiles and drones.

The Saudi Ministry of Defense displays drones and parts from missiles used in the refinery attack.

The situation has now reached a point where there’s plenty of chatter across the Persian Gulf about a spectacular scenario: the Houthis investing in a mad dash across the Arabian desert to capture Mecca and Medina in conjunction with a mass Shiite uprising in the Eastern oil belt. That’s not far-fetched anymore. Stranger things have happened in the Middle East. After all, the Saudis can’t even win a bar brawl – that’s why they rely on mercenaries.

Orientalism strikes again

The US intel refrain that the Houthis are incapable of such a sophisticated attack betrays the worst strands of orientalism and white man’s burden/superiority complex.

The only missile parts shown by the Saudis so far come from a Yemeni Quds 1 cruise missile. According to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for the Sana’a-based Yemeni Armed Forces, “the Quds system proved its great ability to hit its targets and to bypass enemy interceptor systems.”

This satellite overview handout image from the US government shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq.

Houthi armed forces duly claimed responsibility for Abqaiq: “This operation is one of the largest operations carried out by our forces in the depth of Saudi Arabia, and came after an accurate intelligence operation and advance monitoring and cooperation of honorable and free men within the Kingdom.”

Notice the key concept: “cooperation” from inside Saudi Arabia – which could include the whole spectrum from Yemenis to that Eastern province Shiites.

Even more relevant is the fact that massive American hardware deployed in Saudi Arabia inside out and outside in – satellites, AWACS, Patriot missiles, drones, battleships, jet fighters – didn’t see a thing, or certainly not in time. The sighting of three “loitering” drones by a Kuwaiti bird hunter arguably heading towards Saudi Arabia is being invoked as “evidence”. Cue to the embarrassing picture of a drone swarm – wherever it came from – flying undisturbed for hours over Saudi territory.

UN officials openly admit that now everything that matters is within the 1,500 km range of the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone: oil fields in Saudi Arabia, a still-under-construction nuclear power plant in the Emirates and Dubai’s mega-airport.

My conversations with sources in Tehran over the past two years have ascertained that the Houthis’ new drones and missiles are essentially copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen itself with crucial help from Hezbollah engineers.

US intel insists that 17 drones and cruise missiles were launched in combination from southern Iran. In theory, Patriot radar would have picked that up and knocked the drones/missiles from the sky. So far, absolutely no record of this trajectory has been revealed. Military experts generally agree that the radar on the Patriot missile is good, but its success rate is “disputed” – to say the least. What’s important, once again, is that the Houthis do have advanced offensive missiles. And their pinpoint accuracy at Abqaiq was uncanny.

This satellite overview handout image shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia. Courtesy of Planet Labs Inc

For now, it appears that the winner of the US/UK-supported House of One Saudi war on the civilian Yemeni population, which started in March 2015 and generated a humanitarian crisis the UN regards as having been of biblical proportions, is certainly not the crown prince, widely known as MBS.

Listen to the general

Crude oil stabilization towers – several of them – at Abqaiq were specifically targeted, along with natural gas storage tanks. Persian Gulf energy sources have been telling me repairs and/or rebuilding could last months. Even Riyadh admitted as much.

Blindly blaming Iran, with no evidence, does not cut it. Tehran can count on swarms of top strategic thinkers. They do not need or want to blow up Southwest Asia, which is something they could do, by the way: Revolutionary Guards generals have already said many times on the record that they are ready for war.

Professor Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, who has very close relations with the Foreign Ministry, is adamant: “It didn’t come from Iran. If it did, it would be very embarrassing for the Americans, showing they are unable to detect a large number of Iranian drones and missiles. That doesn’t make sense.”

Marandi additionally stresses, “Saudi air defenses are not equipped to defend the country from Yemen but from Iran. The Yemenis have been striking against the Saudis, they are getting better and better, developing drone and missile technology for four and a half years, and this was a very soft target.”

A soft – and unprotected – target: the US PAC-2 and PAC-3 systems in place are all oriented towards the east, in the direction of Iran. Neither Washington nor Riyadh knows for sure where the drone swarm/missiles really came from.

Readers should pay close attention to this groundbreaking interview with General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. The interview, in Farsi (with English subtitles), was conducted by US-sanctioned Iranian intellectual Nader Talebzadeh and includes questions forwarded by my US analyst friends Phil Giraldi and Michael Maloof and myself.

Explaining Iranian self-sufficiency in its defense capabilities, Hajizadeh sounds like a very rational actor. The bottom line: “Our view is that neither American politicians nor our officials want a war. If an incident like the one with the drone [the RQ-4N shot down by Iran in June] happens or a misunderstanding happens, and that develops into a larger war, that’s a different matter. Therefore we are always ready for a big war.”

In response to one of my questions, on what message the Revolutionary Guards want to convey, especially to the US, Hajizadeh does not mince his words: “In addition to the US bases in various regions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Emirates and Qatar, we have targeted all naval vessels up to a distance of 2,000 kilometers and we are constantly monitoring them. They think that if they go to a distance of 400 km, they are out of our firing range. Wherever they are, it only takes one spark, we hit their vessels, their airbases, their troops.”

Get your S-400s or else

On the energy front, Tehran has been playing a very precise game under pressure – selling loads of oil by turning off the transponders of their tankers as they leave Iran and transferring the oil at sea, tanker to tanker, at night, and relabeling their cargo as originating at other producers for a price. I have been checking this for weeks with my trusted Persian Gulf traders – and they all confirm it. Iran could go on doing it forever.

Of course, the Trump administration knows it. But the fact is they are looking the other way. To state it as concisely as possible: they are caught in a trap by the absolute folly of ditching the JCPOA, and they are looking for a face-saving way out. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the administration in so many words: the US should return to the agreement it reneged on before it’s too late.

And now for the really hair-raising part.

The strike at Abqaiq shows that the entire Middle East production of over 18 million barrels of oil a day – including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – can be easily knocked out. There is zero adequate defense against these drones and missiles.

Well, there’s always Russia.

Here’s what happened at the press conference after the Ankara summit this week on Syria, uniting Presidents Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan.

Question: Will Russia provide Saudi Arabia with any help or support in restoring its infrastructure?

President Putin: As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one’s people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities.

President Hassan Rouhani: So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?

President Vladimir Putin: It is up to them to decide [laughs].

In The Transformation of War, Martin van Creveld actually predicted that the whole industrial-military-security complex would come crumbling down when it was exposed that most of its weapons are useless against fourth-generation asymmetrical opponents. There’s no question the whole Global South is watching – and will have gotten the message.

Hybrid war, reloaded

Now we are entering a whole new dimension in asymmetric hybrid war.

In the – horrendous – event that Washington would decide to attack Iran, egged on by the usual neocon suspects, the Pentagon could never hope to hit and disable all the Iranian and/or Yemeni drones. The US could expect, for sure, all-out war. And then no ships would sail through the Strait of Hormuz. We all know the consequences of that.

Which brings us to The Big Surprise. The real reason there would be no ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz is that there would be no oil in the Gulf left to pump. The oil fields, having been bombed, would be burning.

So we’re back to the realistic bottom line, which has been stressed by not only Moscow and Beijing but also Paris and Berlin: US President Donald Trump gambled big time, and he lost. Now he must find a face-saving way out. If the War Party allows it.

Trump Sending Army and Air Force Air Defense Teams To Saudi and UAE

[Zarif Says Gulf Arabs Ready To Fight Iran ‘To The Last American’ ; Gates: Saudis want to fight Iran to the last American–2010/12/01]

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to members of the press during his first joint press conference with Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 2019. (DoD/Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to members of the press during his first joint press conference with Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 2019. (DoD/Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said late Friday that small units of U.S. troops would deploy to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with air defense capabilities, likely Patriot missile batteries, to protect against Iranian threats to commerce and oil production in the region.

“It’s fair to say not thousands” would deploy, Dunford said at a Pentagon news conference, indicating the number would be in the hundreds. The presser followed a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and his national security team at which Esper and Dunford provided military “options” to counter Iran.

Esper went through a list of Iranian provocations in the region, culminating with the Sept. 14 attack with drones and cruise missiles on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities allegedly carried out by the Tehran regime or its proxies, and said a limited and defensive response was required.

Related: Saudi Arabia Says Iran Missiles, Drones Attacked Oil Sites

Esper said Trump, who earlier announced additional economic sanctions on Iran, had approved the deployment to “protect our citizens and interests in the region.”

The announcement by Esper and Dunford eased concerns that the U.S. was considering a retaliatory strike that could spark a regional war. But, Esper said, other “options” were under consideration should they become necessary.

“This is a first step” in sending a “clear message that the U.S. supports our partners in the region,” Esper said.

Dunford declined to discuss details on the defensive assets being sent to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, and said they would be worked out over the weekend with U.S. Central Command.

— Richard Sisk can be reached at

UN Afghan Aid Program In Peril After US Scrubs Mission Statement, Deleting China’s Belt and Road Project

China May Veto UN Afghan Mission Over Belt and Road Project

The 15-member Security Council must renew UNAMA’s mandate.

A US-China confrontation is threatening the fate of the UN’s mission to Afghanistan, known as UNAMA. The mission, whose mandate is due to expire on Tuesday, needs a resolution to be passed without vetoes, and the current resolution does not include provisions for China’s Belt and Road project. While threatening a veto, China has also proposed a “short draft resolution,” which would keep UNAMA temporarily running, but this stopgap measure might not get the necessary nine votes, because some members may abstain.

The UN mission, which was established in 2002, is currently helping Afghanistan prepare for the Sept. 28 elections and is advocating for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

UNAMA’s previous renewals all included encouragement for efforts like China’s Belt and Road initiative, because the project would aid trade and transportation.

But in March, the US and other council members wanted the language regarding the Belt and Road initiative removed, which triggered the stand-off with China. Currently, the mission is sustained by a temporary six-month provision.

Acting US Ambassador Jonathan Cohen accused China of holding “the resolution hostage” by “making it about Chinese national political priorities rather than the people of Afghanistan.” He referenced the initiative’s “known problems with corruption, debt distress, environmental damage, and lack of transparency.”

The Belt and Road initiative, which would link China with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, recently received pledges of support from Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Regional Economic Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA). A cooperative agreement described as “China-Afghanistan-Pakistan plus” was discussed by all three nations, and China expressed readiness to support construction of refrigeration storages, clinic centers, drinking water supply schemes and immigration reception centers at crossing points between Afghanistan and Pakistan to facilitate the movement of people and trade activities among the two countries.

Afghanistan’s Delusional President Thinks That Peace Is “Closer Than Ever”

[ Suicide Attack at Ghani Campaign Rally Kills 26, Wounds 42 ]


In a message honoring Saturday’s International Day of Peace, President Ashraf Ghani stated: “Afghanistan is closer to peace than ever, despite despicable agendas against security and stability.”

He credited the National Unity Government for its large effort over the past five years toward a “durable, dignified and just peace,” saying that the result has been a peace-focused “consensus among countries in the region, and beyond the region.”

For Ghani, celebrating the International Day of Peace signals a “fundamental human desire for harmony, dignity and prosperity,” but he added that making a durable peace requires “precision, courage and sincerity.”

“There is no doubt a real peace will be made, and will persist, when the people of Afghanistan achieve their rights without any discrimination,” Ghani said, reiterating that engagement in politics is essential: “The only way to solve decades of war is along a political path, and this requires investment in the political process, and support for the election and the government.”

He also stated that there is a need for a ceasefire first in order to achieve a “real peace.”

“We do not want to continue the war even for a minute if the Taliban wants peace,” Ghani said, because “war is not the solution.”

Nut-an-yahoo Faces Prison Term After Electoral Defeat

[ Israel’s Mossad chief prepares to become Netanyahu’s successor 

“Chief of Israeli Mossad, Yossi Cohen, is preparing to succeed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the head of the Likud party”]

Israel elections: Humbled Netanyahu ‘petrified at the prospect of prison’

Binyamin Netanyahu could face charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust

Binyamin Netanyahu could face charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trustAMIR COHEN/REUTERS 

Binyamin Netanyahu’s scramble to stay in office is largely motivated by a fear of ending up in jail, associates of Israel’s prime minister say.

“There’s one thing that petrifies Bibi,” claimed a veteran member of Israel’s ruling party Likud, who knows Mr Netanyahu well. “He keeps seeing in his mind the picture of Ehud Olmert going in to Maasiyahu prison.”

Mr Netanyahu faces similar charges to those his predecessor faced. Israel’s attorney-general announced in February that he was considering indicting Mr Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Mr Netanyahu’s lawyers will attend a pre-trial hearing on October 2. If they fail to convince the attorney-general of his innocence, as many in the legal establishment assume will happen, the next step is…

Yemeni Houthis Make Token Offer To Stop Bombing Saudi, Saudis Answer w/More Bombing

[Saudi-Led Coalition Initiates Operation on ‘Military Targets’ in Yemen – State TV]

Yemen’s Houthis say will stop all attacks on Saudi Arabia

Nearly a week after claiming drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, Yemen’s rebels say will stop targeting the kingdom.

Yemen's Houthis say will stop all attacks on Saudi Arabia
Smoke seen following a fire at an Aramco facility in the Saudi city of Abqaiq on September 14 [File: Reuters]

An official with the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen has said it will stop aiming missile and drone attacks at Saudi Arabia, warning that a continuation of the war could lead to “dangerous developments”.

The announcement was made on Friday night by Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the Houthi’s supreme political council, which controls the rebel-held areas in Yemen.

“We declare ceasing to target the Saudi Arabian territory with military drones, ballistic missiles and all other forms of weapons, and we wait for a reciprocal move from them,” Mashat said on the Houthi-run Al Masirah TV.

“We reserve the right to respond if they fail to reciprocate positively to this initiative,” he said, adding that the continuation of the Yemen war “will not benefit any side”.

The announcement by the Houthis came nearly a week after they claimed a major attack on Saudi oil facilities.

Despite the Houthis insisting they are responsible for the September 14 assault on Aramco sites that initially halved the kingdom’s production, the United States and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran.

Iran denies being involved, warning that any retaliatory strike on it by the US or Saudi Arabia will result in “an all-out war“.

‘Preserve blood of Yemenis’

“I call on all parties from different sides of the war to engage seriously in genuine negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive national reconciliation that does not exclude anyone,” said Mashat.

He added a major goal of the ceasefire was to “preserve the blood of Yemenis and achieve a general amnesty”.

The Saudi-led military coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Houthi announcement.

Mashat also called for the reopening of Sanaa’s international airport and open access to Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeidah, a crucial entry point for imports and humanitarian aid that has been at the centre of United Nations-brokered talks.

The Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis removed the internationally recognised government in Sanaa in late 2014.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people so far and left millions on the brink of famine, sparking what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Houthi rebels have repeatedly targeted key Saudi infrastructure in recent months in cross-border attacks. Earlier this week, they said they had picked out dozens of sites in the UAE as possible targets for future attacks.

Earlier on Friday, Saudi officials brought journalists to the site of the Abqaiq oil processing facility, one of the two locations hit in drone and missile attacks on September 14.

The Yemen conflict is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Patriot Missile Myth

Saudi Patriot Missile Launched To Intercept Missile Crash in own Capital Riyadh

[SEE:  Patriot Missiles Are Made in America and Fail Everywhere]

The Patriot Missile is a myth

The American public and the rest of the world have been sold the myth that the Patriot missile system is effective, and top of it’s tier. Here’s where this was proven wrong.

“The US army has announced its intent to procure a limited number of Iron Dome weapon systems,” said Colonel Patrick Seiber, spokesman for Army Futures Command, on Wednesday.

The choice to acquire the Israeli missile defence system marks a significant shift from US reliance and the global emphasis on the effectiveness of the Patriot Missile System of the same class.

Research and development of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system were partly funded by a $429 million US investment.

Missile defence remains a contentious issue in the 21st Century. While global powers develop state-of-the-art missile systems to counter stealth aircraft on battlefields shaped by raging electronic and cyber warfare, their track records for shooting down missiles leaves much to be desired.

Israel’s Iron Dome has allegedly shot down more than 1,200 projectiles since going operational in 2011, catching the attention of some countries including Saudi Arabia, and more recently the United States.

The system is unique in that not only does it feature a reliable rate of interception, but it can tell if the incoming projectile is going to miss a target, saving a $100,000 interceptor from being fired altogether.

But given that the United States is already the owner of cutting-edge missile defence systems for its forces – also widely used by most of its NATO allies – the decision to acquire the Iron Dome System to “fill a short-term need” is questionable.

Why the Patriot Missile doesn’t work

The US 2019 Missile Defense Review cited the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile defence system’s “proven combat record”.

US officials inflated its success during Operation Desert Storm significantly, however, surrounding the missile system with a mythical reputation for effectiveness.

During the 1991 Gulf War, the American public was informed that the Patriot missile had a near-perfect record, intercepting a total of 45 out of 47 Scud missiles.

This estimate was later revised down by the US army to about 50 percent. Even then, it noted “higher” confidence in only about 25 percent of the cases.

A Congressional Research Service employee commented that if the US army had consistently and accurately applied its assessment method, the number would be far lower. Reportedly, this number was one Scud missile shot down.

 Following a House Committee on Government Operations investigation, not enough evidence was found to conclude that there had been any interceptions at all.

There is little evidence to prove that the Patriot hit more than a few Scud missiles launched by Iraq during the Gulf War,” the investigations concluded.

“There are some doubts about even these engagements,” it added.

The report, which called for declassifying more information on the Patriot missile and an independent evaluation of the missile defence programme, was crushed under a lobbying campaign by the US army and Raytheon, leaving only a summary publically available.

Seeking options

More recently, however, Saudi Arabia put its Patriot defences to the test and found them severely lacking, with outright failures.

In repeated missile strikes from Houthi rebels using unsophisticated ballistic missiles, the Patriot missile failed, at times spectacularly.

Despite Saudi Arabia claiming a high success rate for the missile system, it discussed obtaining advanced S-400 missile defences from Russia following the Patriot failures.

A diplomatic source also claimed in mid-September that Saudi Arabia had purchased the Israeli Iron Dome defence system to defend itself against Houthi rebel missile attacks.

Saudi Arabia isn’t alone in pursuing better options for the sake of national security. NATO allies such as Turkey also entered into discussions to bolster their missile defences by acquiring the Russian missile system, causing significant friction with the US, triggering a trade war and leading to threats that F-35 stealth fighter deliveries to Turkey would be cut off altogether.

Incoming, Incoming

During late March 2018, Yemeni Houthi rebels launched seven ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia, which were intercepted, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The National, an English-language news outlet from the United Arab Emirates, reported that “one person died and two others were injured” by shrapnel over Riyadh.

But Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said on Twitter that in video footage of the missiles, it appeared that one defence system had ‘failed catastrophically’, while another ‘pulled a U-turn’ and exploded in Riyadh.”

This was not reported by Saudi news agencies, which continued to claim that all incoming missiles were shot down.

Lewis believes that it was “entirely possible” that it was the defence system failure, instead of the incoming missiles themselves, that caused casualties or injuries.

This raises critical questions not just about Saudi Arabia’s use of the missiles, but of the United States, which sold Saudi Arabia  — and its elected public — a false representation of the missile defence system.

A closer look

More recently, experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies closely studied two different missile attacks on Saudi Arabia from both November and December 2017.

In both cases, they found it highly unlikely that the missiles were intercepted, despite official statements.

In their study, they examined where resulting debris, including the missile airframe and warhead, fell and where the interceptors were located.

In the two cases, a clear pattern was visible. The Patriot missile itself falls in Riyadh, while the incoming missile separates, passes defences and lands near its target.

One such missile warhead landed within a few hundred metres of a terminal at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport. The second warhead, fired weeks later, nearly destroyed a car dealership.

In both cases, the report concluded that in spite of official Saudi claims, neither missile was shot down and that Saudi Arabia may not have even tried to shoot down the first missile in November.

With little evidence that Saudi Arabia shot down any missiles fired by the Houthi rebels during the Yemen conflict, and the United States’ own failed experience with Patriot missiles during the first Gulf war, a more serious question is posed: who is to say that the Patriot system even works?

While the US army’s statement announcing the acquisition of the Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system clarified that it would be a short-term solution while the US reviews its options, by purchasing an Israeli system and overlooking a US system with a questionable past, the US may be admitting to the failings of its own missile defence.


Saudis Should Talk w/Their Neighbors While They Still Can

It’s in Saudi Arabia’s interest to achieve by diplomacy what it constantly failed to achieve with its weak military

Portraits of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Illustration by Mohamad Elaasar/MEE)


As images of this week’s attacks on the Saudi Ubqaiq-Khurais oil production facilities circulated around the globe, they may have looked like an apocalypse.

While the real damage is yet to be fully assessed and understood, the attack exposed Saudi political – and above all – military vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are the culmination of both erratic regional foreign policies and mismanagement.

They are also a symbol of Saudi Arabia’s unnecessary high military spending that has often privileged the purchase of fighter jets and other advanced technology when the real threat can actually come from low-key missiles and drones produced at a fraction of what Saudi Arabia spends on its armaments.

Erratic moves

The attacks are a culmination of five years of erratic and undiplomatic moves that put the whole Arabian Peninsula including the small Gulf statelets in danger.

The biggest miscalculation that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made was to think that his new US-made jet fighters would launch devastating attacks on Yemen’s Houthi rebels, thus pre-empting an Iranian takeover of its poor, southern neighbour.

The attacks are a culmination of five years of erratic and undiplomatic moves that put the whole Arabian Peninsula including the small Gulf statelets in danger

The stated rationale behind the Saudi air strikes on Yemen was to prevent the rise to power of a Hezbollah-like militia patronised by Iran.

The second rationale was to enforce Yemen’s subservience to Riyadh at a moment when its political factions were fighting an internal battle to control the country after the vacuum created by the fall of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the new rule of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The third rationale was to protect the southern borders from Houthi penetration and asymmetric attacks.

A coalition was established to achieve these objectives but the main actors in the Yemen saga remained Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

A military vulnerability

However, nearly five years since the onslaught on Yemen began, none of these objectives have been achieved. In fact, Saudi military vulnerabilities proved to be a crippling obstacle to achieving these goals. Yemeni Houthi attacks have expanded and reached as far as the capital and major cities.


The recent attack on the oil fields was a culmination of a Houthi war of attrition that has truly succeeded in crippling Saudi oil production, with hardly any casualties, while Saudi aggression on Yemen has killed over 50,000 Yemeni civilians.

While the damage that this war has inflicted on Yemen is now well-documented, its impact on Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities and reputation is irreparable.

If the Saudi military wanted to test its capabilities in Yemen, with the war becoming a training field for its soldiers and pilots, then the whole world can now see how it is badly trained and unfit to conduct a war – even with all the US and British guidance and equipment.

The sponsors of Saudi military must certainly be disappointed if they believed a disciplined and well-trained Saudi army and air force could deliver the desired outcome.

No ‘Desert warrior’

In comparison, many partners and allies of Saudi Arabia seem to be more satisfied by the UAE’s performance in Yemen. But all military might is relative. The recent rift between the two coalition countries over south Yemen indicates that even Saudi Arabia’s closest partner in the destruction of Yemen is having second thoughts about the war.

The damage to the UAE’s reputation in Washington is probably something that Abu Dhabi wants to mitigate and repair as soon as possible. Yet both Gulf countries have committed serious atrocities in Yemen that no realpolitik can justify.

Domestically the oil field attacks have punctured the narrative about invincible Saudi Arabia in the eyes of its citizens, although expressions of dissatisfaction are muted. Whether Iran or the Houthis launched the attacks, the fact remains that Saudi oil installations remain vulnerable to missiles and drones.

Also, Mohammed bin Salman is in no position to adopt the title “Desert Warrior 2” like his cousin Khalid bin Sultan did in the 1990s. Half a million foreign troops were assembled to evict Saddam Hussein from Iraq and prevent an imminent penetration of Saudi borders.

Khalid bin Sultan assumed the title and became a military legend, despite the fake courage and military prowess that were associated with his military leadership of the international force. Everybody knew that without US boots on the ground, most of Saudi Arabia’s eastern region would have been swallowed by Saddam’s army.

While Yemen cannot be compared to Iraq in terms of its military capabilities, the Saudis are yet to score a minor victory in the ongoing war.

Trump’s mixed messages

In a fully fledged war with Iran on behalf of Mohammad bin Salman, which the international community may not be ready to embark on, it is certain that the Saudis could fight alone. Whether the international community wants a war now remains to be seen, but King Salman and his son are now pleading to enlist Trump and others in a coalition of the willing.

Saudi leaders will find out that sooner or later the US will allow them to sink into oblivion, like the many dictatorships supported but later dropped by Washington

They are even proposing to launch an investigation to establish the source of the attack, which they definitely want to lead to Iran. But let’s not forget how Saudi Arabia blocked every UN initiative to investigate its war crimes in Yemen after civilian casualties reached a horrific figure.

The Saudis also resisted and rejected any international investigation of its crime of the century that resulted in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in its own consulate in Istanbul.

So far, Trump has given mixed messages in his Twitter diplomacy toward his Gulf allies. He oscillates between insulting Saudi and Gulf leaders when he constantly reminds them that US mercenary services to their regimes come at a high price, while expressing full sympathy and support for their erratic regional policies.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with US President Donald Trump on 29 June (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with US President Donald Trump on 29 June (Reuters)

Trump conducts a transactional foreign policy in which there are no durable partnerships or special relationships. US national interests as narrowly understood by him and his advisors are the primary driving force. For sure Trump is committed to projecting US power abroad but the recipient must pay for it.

Countries like Saudi Arabia may believe that there is in fact a special partnership with the US, but they are under the illusion of their amplified importance and relevance to the US.

Saving Saudi Arabia

The Middle East in general and Saudi Arabia in particular are not that relevant to this American administration, as their main focus is beyond the region and its old rivalries and intrigues. Trump neither respects Saudi leaders nor cares about their fate.

Saudi leaders will find out that sooner or later the US will allow them to sink into oblivion, like the many dictatorships supported but later dropped by Washington.

It is in the interest of Saudi Arabia to achieve by diplomacy what it constantly failed to achieve with its weak military. Saudi Arabia should end the Yemen war as soon as possible, pay for the reconstruction of Yemen, and open dialogue with Iran to save itself. The US will not come to its rescue.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Madawi al-Rasheed
Madawi al-Rasheed is visiting professor at the Middle East Institute of the London School of Economics. She has written extensively on the Arabian Peninsula, Arab migration, globalisation, religious transnationalism and gender issues. You can follow her on Twitter: @MadawiDr

China Demolishes Trump’s Options w/$400 Billion Investment In Iran


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called violent attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure in Abqaiq and Khurais “an act of war,” as evidence suggests that Iran is the culprit. This marks the most dangerous escalation between the U.S. and Iran since the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran. However, this confrontation has major implications for the growing U.S. – China strategic rivalry.

Amidst historic U.S. – Iran tensions, Beijing is doubling-down on its strategic partnership with Tehran, ignoring U.S. efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic from global markets. Following an August visit by Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Beijing, the two countries agreed to update a 25-year program signed in 2016, to include an unprecedented $400 billion of investment in the Iranian economy – sanctions be damned.

The capital injection, which would focus on Iran’s oil and gas sector, would also be distributed across the country’s transportation and manufacturing infrastructure. In return, Chinese firms will maintain the right of the first refusal to participate in any and all petrochemical projects in Iran, including the provision of technology, systems, process ingredients and personnel required to complete such projects. According to an exclusive interview with Petroleum Economist, a senior source in Iran’s petrochemical sector had this to say about the new agreement:

Today In: Business

 The central pillar of the new deal is that China will invest $280 billion developing Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemicals sectors… there will be another $120 billion investment in upgrading Iran’s transport and manufacturing infrastructure, which again can be front-loaded into the first five-year period and added to in each subsequent period should both parties agree.

This comes at a time when Washington is exerting its so-called ‘maximum pressure’ strategy against Iran, which aims to change its international behavior by bringing oil exports down to zero.

The Trump policy is a 180 degree U-turn form the sanctions relief granted by the previous administration’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Obama brainchild intended to temporarily freeze the Iranian nuclear program, but ignored its regional power projection and growing missile arsenal. Under the agreement, Iran’s economy rebounded by over 12%  compared to when sanctions were in full force. However, Iran continued to build intermediate and short-range ballistic and cruise missiles and drones, and fund proxies from Lebanon and Syria, to Iraq, to Yemen.

The Trump Administration’s sanctions, however, have cut Iran’s economic growth down to a meager 3.7%. The country’s oil output – the lifeblood of the economy — dropped from almost 4 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2018 to barely above 2.5 mbd in March of this year, and the exports declined to a trickle.

Timeline of Iranian oil output March 2011 - March 2018 (million barrels per day)


Nowhere To Run But East

Given Iran’s precarious geopolitical and geo-economic position, it has little choice but to forge a closer relationship with China, despite the country’s reputation as a predatory lender. Russia, too, is a major Iranian partner, weapons and nuclear, rocket, and military technology supplier.

Like the other Eurasian economies involved in China’s massive Belt and Road initiative (BRI), mostly imported Chinese labor will be utilized to build factories, designed and managed by large Chinese manufacturers, with identical specifications to those in China. According to the Middle East Monitor, the agreement also confers “the right to delay the payment of these prices for two years in the Chinese national currency (Yuan).”

This presents an extremely favorable situation for the Chinese, as Beijing earns yuan from its projects across Africa and Central Asia – and therefore does not need to make oil trades in USD, diminishing the bite of sanctions. In return, Tehran gains an additional ally on the UN Security Council, and an economic lifeline with a secure oil and petrochemicals market. The deal facilitates Iran’s quest to become a regional and nuclear-armed hegemon, potentially threatening Europe and the U.S.

Debt-Diplomacy and The Changing World Oil Market

At a time when many nations are becoming more wary of Chinese investment – including companies across EuropeGreenland, and the Central Asian Republics – Iran is further embracing China and less savory actors like Russia, and Turkey.

Overall, this may not prove a financially sound endeavor by Beijing, as Chinese companies will come under U.S. sanctions – but it may end up as a shrewd geostrategic play by both parties. Profitability certainly hasn’t been China’s main motivation in many previous investment schemes, nor is it Iran’s. This case is no different. It is a geopolitical anti-American axis. China’s game here is clear: first, increase tensions between the U.S. and Iran by weakening the impact of American sanctions and increase their soft power leverage in the energy-dense Middle East. Then integrate Iran into the Belt-and-Road initiative and into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Tehran is an observer member.

Beijing’s gambit to cozy up with a terrorism-sponsoring state, however, may backfire. Iranian aggression is likely to end up in Tehran’s defeat. Regardless of how Saudi Arabia and the United States decide to proceed with retaliation for the Abqaiq-Khurais attacks, China may soon have a severe case of buyer’s remorse.

With Assistance From David Pasmanik

I am a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Founding Principal of International Market Analysis, a Washington, D.C.-based global risk advisory boutique.

Lebanon Govt. Posts Images of Captured Explosive Israeli Drones

Bou Saab releases results of Israel drone investigation

Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab said Thursday that an Israeli drone that crashed in Beirut’s southern suburbs last month was a “custom made military” drone with explosives and was not meant to gather intelligence only, Sept. 19, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

An Israeli drone that crashed in Beirut last month was not only on an intelligence flight as it was ‘loaded’ with explosives, Lebanon’s defense minister said Thursday.

‘Extremist Wahhabi Ideology’ a Bigger Threat to U.S. Than Iran–Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard: Saudi Promotion of ‘Extremist Wahhabi Ideology’ a Bigger Threat to U.S. Than Iran


Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Your World,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a candidate for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination criticized President Donald Trump’s response to an attack on an oil production facility in Saudi Arabia.

Gabbard went on to argue Saudi Arabia’s promotion of extremist Wahhabi ideology was a bigger threat to the United States than Iran.

CAVUTO: All right, so the interpretation I have is that you want to bring back that Iran deal, get — move back to that.

But it does give a signal here that you’re no fan of the Saudi leadership — and many are not, I get that — but more of a fan of the leadership in Iran.

GABBARD: No, I’m a fan of the United States of America. I’m a fan of the American people.

And as president and commander in chief, I would put their interests above all else, putting the wellbeing of the American people —

CAVUTO: Is it in our interests for Saudi Arabia — is it in our interests for Saudi Arabia to be protected or its kingdom to be protected? Or do you draw a distinction?

GABBARD: Well, let me tell you what is not in our interest, is this alliance that has been longstanding between the United States and Saudi Arabia, in spite of the fact that they are directly and indirectly supporting Al Qaeda, the terrorist group that attacked us on 9/11.

We just observed the 18th anniversary of that terrible attack on our country in 2001. They are continuing to spend billions of dollars every year propagating this extremist Wahhabi ideology that’s fueling the growth of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS and others around the world.

They are directly supporting those who pose a threat to our country and the United States, that threat that we need to defeat.

CAVUTO: Is that threat greater than Iran?

GABBARD: Yes, it is. Currently, Iran doesn’t — currently, Iran doesn’t pose a direct threat to the United States.

CAVUTO: So Saudi Arabia is more of a problem for us than Iran is?

GABBARD: We have the opportunity to make sure that we prevent Iran from continuing to move forward towards developing a nuclear weapon.

That’s where we need to be focused. If I were president right now, that’s exactly what I’d be doing, getting back into that nuclear deal, getting rid of these crippling economic sanctions, and being able to make sure we can move forward in the interest of our national security.

CAVUTO: So a President Tulsi Gabbard would see Saudi Arabia as a bigger threat to our country than Iran?

GABBARD: What I would like to see is Saudi Arabia ending their support for Al Qaeda, terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, who pose a threat to the American people.

CAVUTO: I’m sorry. That’s not what I asked. That’s not what I asked.

Be — things as they are now —


GABBARD: I know. You’re turning my words around. You’re turning my words around.

CAVUTO: No, no, no, no.

I want — I want to just be very clear that — but you — you have a higher opinion of Iran than you do Saudi Arabia, as things stand now?

GABBARD: No. No, that’s not at all what I’m saying.

CAVUTO: Then explain.

GABBARD: That’s not what I’m saying.

I’m focused on how we can best keep the American people safe, on how we can make sure that we are — we have our national security intact.

And so whatever actions that we take —

CAVUTO: And the Saudis are a bigger threat? And the Saudis are a bigger threat to that safety than Iran? I just want to be clear, Congresswoman.

GABBARD: The Saudis are directly supporting the very terrorist group that attacked us on 9/11 and that continue to pose a threat to the American people today.

CAVUTO: So if the president were to take action against Iran — with or without Saudi intelligence or help — that would be a bad move, in your eyes?

GABBARD: That would be a very bad move. It wouldn’t serve the interests of the United States. It would cost thousands more of my brothers and sisters in uniform their lives. It would cost us, as taxpayers, trillions of dollars more.

It would make the Iraq War that I served in look like a picnic, compared to the cost and the consequence and the devastation that would come about as a result of that war, what — to speak of the fact that it would be unconstitutional, given the president would do that without that authority coming from Congress.

Saudi Stupidity and Inexperience Have Isolated The Desert Troublemakers

“Not surprisingly, the Saudis are finding themselves with no ally to protect them. They cannot fight Iran alone. Stupidity and inexperience are the two guiding lights of its de facto ruler, the crown prince”

Trump and the Saudis sowed chaos. Iran is giving it back

A cursory look at the balance of power in the region will show how unequal a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on 16 September (AFP)

Shock and awe.

The words the Pentagon used when it enjoyed a monopoly on the use of force and was about to rain it down on Saddam Hussein, are coming back to haunt it, two presidents on.

US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are shocked and awed by Iran. Tehran – and not Washington – is adept at mounting displays of rapid dominance to disorientate its enemy. No greater display of shock and awe could have been mounted than the one that hit two of Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil terminals on Saturday.

Drones or missiles?

The Saudis were defenceless and the target was hit with pinpoint accuracy. Try, as the US might, to avert the attention to Iran, there is little doubt that at least some of the drones and possibly missiles used in the attack flew over Kuwait, which means that they were flying south from Iraq.

The attack was witnessed and recorded by a bird hunter on the triangular border of Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia

The attack was witnessed and recorded by a bird hunter on the triangular border of Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In three different clips sounds of low flying drones or missiles are heard  – all of whom are travelling south.

In the video which has gone viral on social media, the bird hunter refers to four to five smaller planes which were followed by what he thought were missiles. He said he was near Salmi where the three borders meet at the time of the attack on Saturday morning.

Even better, from Iran’s point of view, was the row that followed the attacks, between a justifiably irate Iraqi prime minister and Pompeo.

Initially, the Americans released satellite pictures of the oil tanks being hit from the north west – evidence that the drones and missiles came from Iraq, not eastwards from Iran. However they were soon forced to backtrack and claim the attacks came directly from Iran.

Map showing the approximate route of the drones based on information from Iraqi intelligence
Map showing the approximate route of the drones based on information from Iraqi intelligence

Adel Abdul Mahdi’s statement, which he compelled the Americans to endorse, was a masterful mixture of denial and confirmatory threat. He denied the attack had been launched from Iraqi soil – in contradiction to the intelligence briefing he had just received – and threatened anyone against using proxies on Iraq’s soil.

This was aimed at Pompeo, as much as it was anyone else.

Another Gulf war

Months before, the US had floated the idea with Abdul Mahdi that the US wanted to bomb Iraqi Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy militia, from where a drone strike against Saudi Arabia had originated.

Abdul Mahdi persuaded Pompeo to stand that attack down. The US instead allowed Israeli drones to strike Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) or al-Hashd al-Shaabi targets from Kurdish bases in Syria.

Was the US, let alone a president fighting reelection, prepared for another Gulf War ? Had not his country seen enough war this century?

After these attacks, Abdul Mahdi faced intense domestic pressure from his political allies to publicly name Israel as the aggressor. He refused for the very reason that he today denies where the retaliatory drones came from.

Had he named America’s principle ally in the region, he would have declared that a state of war existed between thousands of US troops on his soil and al-Hashd, Iraq’s best troops, which he is trying painfully to re-integrate into his national forces.

Did America really want that to happen? Was the US, let alone a president fighting reelection, prepared for another Gulf War? Had not his country seen enough war this century?

Abdul Madhi’s arguments hit home.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad, Iraq on 9 January (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad, Iraq on 9 January (Reuters)

Scrambling around for ways of delivering a “proportionate” response, Trump and Pompeo did not have an answer then and do not have one now.

‘Locked and loaded’

To date, Iran and its network of militias in Yemen and Iraq have shot down a US drone, blown holes through tankers off the Emirati ports, seized a British tanker, attacked airports, pipelines and oil terminals, and now have delivered the biggest strike against Saudi oilfields in the long and war-torn history of the Gulf.

Iran is sending Trump a clear message: “You want chaos? You want to tear up international treaties negotiated by your predecessor and slap sanctions on us? Well, we can give you chaos

Neither during the Iran-Iraq War, nor Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War, nor in the Second Iraq War, has Saudi Arabia ever had to halve its oil production, as it has done this week.

By so doing, Iran is sending Trump a clear message: “You want chaos? You want to tear up international treaties negotiated by your predecessor and slap sanctions on us? Well, we can give you chaos, and you will soon find out how vulnerable your allies are.”

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has used every international forum for months to signal Iran’s intentions to fight back. He said this in August in Stockholm: “President Trump cannot be unpredictable and expect others to be predictable. Unpredictability will lead to mutual unpredictability and unpredictability is chaos.”

Zarif was not listened to then. Maybe he will be now.

A cursory look at the balance of power in the region will show Trump how unequal a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be.

The strategic depth

It has taken Iran decades to create what it calls a “strategic depth” of battle-hardened militias by whom it has always stood, funded, armed and trained. And it is not about to abandon them now, however much they are hit by Israel.

Saudi Arabia has also funded and backed militias in the region, particularly in Syria, but is notorious for dumping its allies and talking instead to their enemies. This happened in Syria and Yemen.

Iran, which has survived decades of sanctions and war, has a high pain threshold. It has developed its own arms industry and it can defend itself.

Saudi Arabia has a very low pain threshold and can not defend itself. As Trump himself reminded it, the kingdom would not last for two weeks without American protection.

Iran’s regional network is in place and fully functioning. Its weapons are locked and loaded. It has built a strategic alliance with two of the region’s other military powers – Russia and Turkey – which appears able to survive considerable tensions in Syria.

Saudi Arabia’s regional network is crumbling. Its closest ally, the United Arab Emirates, has clearly parted company with the Saudi coalition assembled to fight the Houthis in Yemen. The UAE’s announcement that its forces were leaving Yemen took the Saudis by surprise.

Then came the fight between rival proxy militias over the southern port of Aden, which involved Saudi and Emirati planes bombing each other’s Yemeni proxies. The Emirati plan – to install southern separatists in the south and leave the north to rot – clearly does not solve Riyadh’s problem, all of which continues in the north.

Saudi-Emirati tensions

The tensions between the Saudis and the Emiratis over Yemen burst into state-controlled media.

When six Emiratis soldiers died recently, there was some evidence to believe that they had been killed in Libya, not in Yemen. The Emiratis could not admit their forces were fighting alongside Khalifa Haftar and thus breaking the international embargo.

The Saudi state run al Arabiya channel, which ironically is based in Dubai, refused to tow the official Emirati line and said merely the soldiers had been “killed”. They refused to describe them as martyrs.

This led to an extraordinary outburst from a UAE activist close to the government in Abu Dhabi, Hamed al Mazroui. Mazroui described Al Arabiya as “the whore of all media, with no competitor”. He deleted the tweet but kept up his fire on its director Abdulrahman al-Rashed.

On the ground, the Houthis understand what the Emirates are trying to do and the implicit Faustian pact the UAE is making with Iran – you keep the north, we will have the south. The Houthis exchanged prisoners with Emirati-backed militias, while they refused a prisoner exchange with forces loyal to the exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

New battlegrounds

Wider afield, Iran now has established ties with Turkey and Russia, despite the very different agendas the three regional powers pursue in Syria. Not content with the chaos it has created in its own backyard, Saudi Arabia is continuing to seek new battlegrounds and opening up new fronts.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has lost patience, as he puts it, with Turkey over its handling of the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last Octobar in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are seen during the G20 summit (Reuters)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are seen during the G20 summit (Reuters)

Accordingly, he has decided to step up his campaign against Turkey by fishing in Cypriot waters. The Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Adulaziz al Assaf said during a visit to Cyprus that Saudi Arabia supports the Greek Cypriots against Turkey’s oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean.

Running out of allies

Not surprisingly, the Saudis are finding themselves with no ally to protect them. They cannot fight Iran alone. Stupidity and inexperience are the two guiding lights of its de facto ruler, the crown prince. Who else could have promised to take the battle “into the heart of Iran” only to find himself dousing fires in the heart of Saudi Arabia?

He is alone, save for a reluctant and quixotic US president who has fewer cards to play than he has. Trump’s behaviour is not a great return for the investment of hundreds of millions of riyals that bin Salman spent on US arms contracts.

The least that could be said of previous generations of Saudi leaders was that for all their faults, they kept cautious control of their region. They knew how to balance competing interests and played host to most of them.

Mohammed Bin Salman has thrown caution to the wind and now finds himself with few cards to play. Yemen, Oman and Jordan are hostile. Qatar and Turkey have openly sided with Iran. The Emiratis pursue their own agenda.

Unlike Iran, the Saudis are not used to hardship and are profoundly ill suited to waging a regional war which they themselves promoted. Perhaps that is why a profound silence will follow the show of shock and awe that took place on Saturday.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

David Hearst
David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.

This Nuclear Attack Simulation May Show How It All Will End

VIDEO: This is how a nuclear war would play out, according to a Princeton University simulation
Nuclear Explosion (Romolo Tavani/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

More than 91 million people would be killed or injured in the initial phase of a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, according to a simulation video released by Princeton University’s Science and Global Security program. Spoiler alert: New York City’s luck runs out just after the video’s three-minute mark.

The video simulation called “Plan A” was introduced earlier this month and is based on logistical information from Stevens Institute of Technology’s Nuke Map.

Plan A states nuclear war between Russia and a U.S. coalition would begin in Europe, where the Russians would launch 300 warheads westward via missiles and bombers. NATO would answer with 180 aircraft going nuclear on the Russians. There would be 2.6 million casualties during that three-hour exchange, Princeton researchers believe.

“With Europe destroyed, NATO launches a strategic nuclear strike of 600 warheads from U.S. land and submarine-based missiles aimed at Russian nuclear forces,” the Princeton model forecasts.

Russia would fire back with nuclear arms launched from silos, mobile land vehicles and submarines. That 45-minute volley claims 3.4 million “immediate casualties,” according to Plan A.

In the next phase of the nuclear war simulation, which is called “The Countervalue Plan,” Russia and NATO double-down on each other’s 30 largest cities to inhibit each other’s ability to recover. That part of the plan does not bode well for New York City. It would bring the hypothetical war’s casualty count over the 85 million mark.

The final tally would total 91.5 million people, which includes 34.1 million immediate deaths and 57.4 million injuries, many of which would become deaths due to nuclear fallout.

Princeton researchers reported that the possibility of a nuclear holocaust is significantly higher than it was in 2016.

“The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years as the United States and Russia have abandoned long-standing nuclear arms control treaties, started to develop new kinds of nuclear weapons and expanded the circumstances in which they might use nuclear weapons,” the study notes.

CIA Prolong Afghan War By Preventing Peace Talks To Proceed w/Out American Interference

[The US (CIA) and PakistanI (ISI) have consistently used the Taliban and especially the Taliban “talks” to maintain (prolong) the Afghan War (SEE: Timeline of Afghanistan’s Peace Parade Extravaganza).  In a complex, collateral conceit, the US and Pakistani intelligence services have collaborated to prolong the Afghan war by making it unwinnable.  It gets much worse, these same intel agencies have also manipulated Afghan intelligence–National Directorate of Security–(NDS) to serve their interests, as well.  In addition, the CIA has also manipulated the spy agencies of Afghanistan’s neighbors, i.e., Indian intelligence (RAW), Tajik intel (SCNS), Turkmen intel (MNB), possibly even including Iranian intel.  Outside of S.E.Asia, the CIA is a virtual partner of every Gulf and Israeli intelligence service.

When the CIA either subsidizes or partners with these agencies, the agency then develops assets within those agencies who answer to the CIA first, before their home governments (SEE: Human Nature Is the Enemy of the State ).  It uses these assets to stage terror attacks in their home or other targeted countries.  All of these terrorists were originally trained in Pakistan’s madrassas and in the training camps in Afghanistan by CIA/ISI trainers.

After the Russo-Afghan war ended, the agency-trained “mujahideen” were available for deployment on foreign assignments in places like Bosnia, under CIA direction.  In Pakistan’s case, the ISI followed CIA lead (Serbia, Egypt) and it developed and deployed these “ultras” terrorists from Afghanistan to Kashmir, to destabilize Indian efforts there and in Afghanistan.  As a spin-off to that effort, agents from India’s RAW persuaded the Afghan NDS to work covertly w/RAW and CIA to develop their own “anti-Pakistan” Taliban (SEE: The Indian Art of Turning Jihadis Into Anti-Jihadis and the War On Pakistan), in order to return the proxy war to its home base, on Pakistani soil.  Former Afghan NDS chief Amrullah Saleh never admitted that such a counter-terror operation even existed, but he did indeed describe this process:

“Insurgency is like grass. Two ways to destroy it: You cut the upper part, and after four months, you have it back. You poison the soil where that grass is, then you eliminate it forever.”

The following post from Khaama News, given below, is an interview with Saleh, where he highlights the nature of the AfPak hybrid war engineered by the CIA proxy services.]

17 Aug 2019

The former Afghan intelligence chief and running mate of Ashraf Ghani in presidential elections reacted to the killing of the brother of Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada in an explosion in Pakistan.

Saleh said in a Twitter post “The name of the Talbn politburo is Quetta Shura. It is located in Quetta of Pakistan.”

Furthermore, Saleh said “One of their senior members was killed today in a blast as the rift is growing over the deal with the US & prospects of peace. Seemingly ultra ISI are killing the less ISI Talibn. Cheap proxies.”

An explosion in a Madrassa killed Hafiz Ahmadullah, the younger brother of Mullah Haibatullah in Quetta city of Pakistan on Friday afternoon.

The explosion took place this afternoon inside a Madrassa in Kuchlak area located in the outskirts of Quetta city.

The Pakistani police officials confirmed that the explosion killed 3 other people and wounded more than 20 others.

[Mr. Saleh describes the bloody murder of Afghan Taliban chief’s brother near Quetta as:

“ultra ISI are killing the less ISI Talibn. Cheap proxies,”

meaning that ISI is harvesting low-hanging fruit of its own Taliban resources, accrediting the bombing to other Taliban and not ISI personnel.

This is version 1 of reports on the event in Baluchistan, from Afghan intelligence.  Version 2 comes from the Pakistani controlled press source, “The News”.  Version 2 on the bombing tries to blame it upon the Taliban faction loyal to Guantanamo releasee, Mullah Rasool, who has been linked to Afghan intelligence (SEE: Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?).  The Pak version fails to convince when it is claimed that the perpetrator was a suicide-bomber.]

Saudis Incompetent In the Use of the $Billions of US Weaponry?

US Patriot Missiles Failed To Protect Saudi Oil Assets, Making the Case For Russian S-400 Missile Sales

Houthi Drones Set 2 Saudi Aramco Oil Facilities Ablaze

Saudi Refinery Fires Playing “Hell” w/Saudi Economy

Saudi Arabia has ‘a great deal of explaining to do’ on how its oil assets were attacked, says former US diplomat

  • Saudi Arabia — one of the world’s largest oil exporters — spent an estimated $67.6 billion on arms in 2018, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
  • The Middle Eastern country was just behind the U.S. and China in terms of defense spending, said Gary Grappo, former U.S. ambassador to Oman.
  • “I think the Saudi leadership has a great deal of explaining to do that a country that ranks third in terms of total defense spending … was not able to defend its most critical, and I can’t underscore that enough, its most critical oil facility from these kinds of attacks,” said Grappo.

‘No doubt’ Iran played some role in attacks on Saudi: Ex-US ambassador

Saudi Arabia has “a great deal of explaining to do” on how it could not defend its “most critical” oil facility from drone attacks at the weekend, said Gary Grappo, former U.S. ambassador to Oman.

The Kingdom spent an estimated $67.6 billion on arms in 2018, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Saudi Arabia was just behind the U.S. and China in terms of defense spending, Grappo told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.

“I think the Saudi leadership has a great deal of explaining to do that a country that ranks third in terms of total defense spending … was not able to defend its most critical, and I can’t underscore that enough, its most critical oil facility from these kinds of attacks,” said Grappo, who was previously in senior positions at the U.S. embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Baghdad, Iraq.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s largest oil exporters, and damage to its oil facilities ignited fears of supply disruption around the world.

It’s a bit alarming that these folks got through … they were exquisitely precise, they knew exactly what to hit, they hit it perfectly,
Bob McNally

Oil prices jumped after the Saturday attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil processing facility at Abqaiq and the nearby Khurais oil field. That knocked out 5.7 million barrels of daily crude oil production — which is more than half of Saudi Arabia’s global daily exports and over 5% of the world’s daily crude production.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for the attacks.

“We’re talking about drones. Now, drones are not so easily detectable but, nevertheless, they had to be able to see that this was a strong possibility given the previous attacks they’ve experienced in previous oil facility, airports and elsewhere,” said the former diplomat who is now a distinguished fellow at the University of Denver.

Attacks on Saudi were a ‘rude awakening’ for the oil market

Saturday’s attack was not the first time that the Abqaiq oil processing plant was targeted. In 2006, security guards blocked an attempted attack by al-Qaida militants on the facility.

Bob McNally, founder and president of consultancy Rapidan Energy Group, said he was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the attack. He said he had expected Riyadh to “raise defenses,” especially after al-Qaida’s previous attempt to attack its facilities.

“It’s a bit alarming that these folks got through. We looked at those photos that were released by the Trump administration — they were exquisitely precise, they knew exactly what to hit, they hit it perfectly,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.

“For all we know, they could come back. So, no grounds for complacency, in my view.”

US Patriot Missiles Failed To Protect Saudi Oil Assets, Making the Case For Russian S-400 Missile Sales

[SEE: Russia’s Middle East Power Play ; Putin proposes Russian missile defence for Saudi after oil attack ]

US defense failure… Why Washington has to blame Iran over Saudi attacks

US defense failure… Why Washington has to blame Iran over Saudi attacks

The devastating blitz on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry has led to a flurry of accusations from US officials blaming Iran. The reason for the finger-pointing is simple: Washington’s spectacular failure to protect its Saudi ally.

The Trump administration needs to scapegoat Iran for the latest military assault on Saudi Arabia because to acknowledge that the Houthi rebels mounted such an audacious assault on the oil kingdom’s heartland would be an admission of American inadequacy.

Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars in recent years purchasing US Patriot missile defense systems and supposedly cutting-edge radar technology from the Pentagon. If the Yemeni rebels can fly combat drones up to 1,000 kilometers into Saudi territory and knock out the linchpin production sites in the kingdom’s oil industry, then that should be a matter of huge embarrassment for US “protectors.”

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Maximum lies’: Iran rejects US’ claim it attacked Saudi oil facilities, warns it’s ready for war

American defense of Saudi Arabia is germane to their historical relationship. Saudi oil exports nominated in dollars for trade – the biggest on the planet – are vital for maintaining the petrodollar global market, which is in turn crucial for American economic power. In return, the US is obligated to be a protector of the Saudi monarchy, which comes with the lucrative added benefit of selling the kingdom weapons worth billions of dollars every year.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Saudi Arabia has the world’s third biggest military budget, behind the US and China. With an annual spend of around $68 billion, it is the world’s number one in terms of percentage of gross domestic product (8.8 per cent). Most of the Saudi arms are sourced from the US, with Patriot missile systems in particular being a recent big-ticket item.

Yet for all that financial largesse and the finest American military technology, the oil kingdom just witnessed a potentially crippling wave of air assaults on its vital oil industry. Saudi oil production at its mammoth refinery complex at Abqaiq, 205 miles (330 kms) east of the capital Riyadh, was down 50 per cent after it was engulfed by flames following air strikes. One of the Saudi’s biggest oilfields, at Khurais, also in the Eastern Province, was also partially closed.

There are credible reports that the damage is much more serious than the Saudi officials are conceding. These key industrial sites may take weeks to repair.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got it half right when he claimed, “Iran launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply”.

Yes, it is unprecedented. But Pompeo and other US officials have most likely got it wrong about blaming Iran.

ALSO ON RT.COMPompeo blames Iran for drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, Senator Graham urges US to strike it

Some Trump administration officials told US media that “cruise missiles” were responsible for the giant fireballs seen over the Saudi oil facilities. One was quoted anonymously as saying: “There’s no doubt that Iran is responsible for this… there’s no escaping it. There is no other candidate.”

In a hurried effort to substantiate accusations against Iran, satellite images were released which show what appears to be the aftermath of the air strike on the Abqaiq refinery complex. US officials claim the location of the explosions indicate the weapons originated not from Yemen to the south, but from either Iran or Iraq.

Even the normally dutiful New York Times expressed doubt about that claim, commenting in its report: “The satellite photographs released on Sunday did not appear as clear cut as officials suggested, with some appearing to show damage on the western side of facilities, not from the direction of Iran or Iraq.”

The accusations made by Pompeo and others are assertions in place of substantiated claims.

It is noteworthy that President Donald Trump refrained from openly blaming Iran by name, merely hinting at the possibility. If Pompeo is so adamant in fingering Iran, why didn’t Trump? Also, the president made a telling remark when he said he was “waiting for verification” from Saudi Arabia “as to who they believe was the cause of the attack.” Again, if US officials are explicitly accusing Iran then why is Trump saying he wants “verification” from the Saudis?

For its part, Iran has flatly dismissed the allegations that it had any involvement, saying that statements by Pompeo were “blind” and tantamount to setting up a conflict.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi also rejected claims that his country’s territory might have been used by pro-Iranian Shia militants to launch the air strikes.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen have issued unambiguous statements claiming responsibility for the air raids on the Saudi oil installations. They were specific that the weapons were drones, not missiles, adding with details that 10 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were deployed.

ALSO ON RT.COM Prematurely assigning blame for attack on Saudi oil facilities is irresponsible, says China

Notably too, most US media reported initially that the attacks were by drones flown from Yemen. Associated Press reported a level of sophistication in the attacks whereby drones were used first to disable the US Patriot radar systems before other UAVs proceeded to execute the air strikes. 

It therefore seems that US officials are attempting to switch the story by blaming Iran. It is reckless scapegoating because the logical consequence could elicit a military attack against Iran, in which event Tehran has warned it is ready for war.

The rationale for blaming Iran is that the Yemeni rebels (which Iran supports politically) are just not capable of using drones with such dramatic success against the Saudi oil industry. The culprit must be Iran, so the rationale goes. This is a follow-on from alleged sabotage by Iran against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf earlier this summer.

However, a timeline shows that the Houthis are more than capable of launching ever-more powerful ballistic missiles and deeper penetrating drones into Saudi territory. The rebels have been using drones from the beginning of the war which the US-backed Saudi-UAE coalition launched on the southern Arabian country in March 2015.

Over the past four years, the Houthi aerial firepower has gradually improved. Earlier, the Saudis, with American defense systems, were able to intercept drones and missiles from Yemen. But over the last year, the rebels have increased their success rate for hitting targets in the Saudi interior, including the capital Riyadh.

In May this year, Houthi drones hit Saudi Arabia’s crucial east-west pipeline. Then in August, drones and ballistic missiles were reported to have struck the Shaybah oil field near the border with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as the Dammam exporting complex in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

ALSO ON RT.COMWill France, UK, US ever pay for what they have done to Yemen?

The Yemenis claim they are taking the war to Saudi Arabia and the UAE after years of relentless air strikes on their homeland which have resulted in nearly 90,000 dead. A recent UN report censured the US, Britain and France for possible complicity in war crimes through their military support for the Saudi coalition.

There must be trepidation among the monarchs in Saudi Arabia and the UAE that the rebels from war-torn and starving Yemen are now coming after them with drones that could demolish their oil economies. What’s more, the much-vaunted American protector is not able to deliver on its strategic bargain, despite billions of dollars of Pentagon weaponry. That’s why Washington has to find an excuse by casting Iran as the villain.

Finian Cunningham is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively on international affairs.

“We Were Terrorizing Some of the Most Exploited People on Earth”

[SEE: Lethal PTSD–Collateral Damage Left In the Wake of War for Empire ;Every 80 Minutes Another US War Veteran Commits Suicide]



“We Were Terrorizing Some of the Most Exploited People on Earth”


An interview with Spenser Rapone — the “commie cadet” that got kicked out of the military for standing against US imperialism.

Rory Fanning

Spenser Rapone was accepted to West Point in 2012, graduated in 2016 — and received an “other than honorable discharge” in June. His expulsion came after a viral tweet showing him — clad in uniform, fist raised — displaying a hat reading, “COMMUNISM WILL WIN.”

“I was always told growing up that the US military protects the innocent, that we fight for freedom, truth, and justice,” Rapone tells Rory Fanning in the following interview. “It didn’t take me long to realize that my experiences did not reflect that in the slightest.”

Fanning — himself a former Army Ranger — spoke with Rapone at the Socialism 2018 conference in Chicago earlier this year. They discussed Rapone’s time in the military, the myths of American empire, and how to rebuild the antiwar movement. Their conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Can you start off by telling us about your background and why you decided to join the military?


I’m from New Castle, Pennsylvania, which is a classic Rust Belt city. I’m one of six children from, at the time, a single-income family. I did well in high school, and I might have been able to go to a state school, but I really couldn’t afford it. And I was a young male in American society, so I watched a lot of Hollywood movies, a lot of TV shows. That conditions you to think a certain way about the world, about what’s morally right and ethical. So I decided to enlist as an infantryman out of high school.

Soon after enlisting and finishing basic training, military airborne school, and ranger selection, I was deployed to Afghanistan, to Khost Province — right on the Pakistan border. I was told I was in this elite unit with elite soldiers. But the men I was surrounded by took active pleasure in killing other human beings and dehumanizing people because they have different cultures or a different religion. I was always told growing up that the US military protects the innocent, that we fight for freedom, truth, and justice. It didn’t take me long to realize that my experiences did not reflect that in the slightest.

I was deployed for most of the summer of 2011. I got back and began trying to process what I witnessed. At that time, I had some idea of what US imperialism constituted from my own experiences, but I didn’t have a political education, which is crucial to understanding these things. So I thought, like the adage goes, maybe I could “change things from the inside.” I applied to West Point, and got accepted.

From there I began to realize the issue was a structural phenomenon — that one good person can’t effect change when the system is inherently wrong. I soon found myself trying to resolve the contradiction of my future officership. I wouldn’t just be a soldier — I’d have to influence soldiers who were my subordinates. I’d have to tell them the mission we were doing was right when I had firsthand experience as a teenager in Afghanistan that what we were doing was not right. We were just persecuting and terrorizing some of the most exploited people on Earth with one of the most technologically advanced militaries in history.


You served under both Obama and Trump. Can you talk about some of the differences among active-duty soldiers under each president?


When I enlisted during the Obama era, one of the prevailing themes was “the commander in chief doesn’t understand what we’re doing.” The casual racism you see in American society is intensified in the military because of the hyper-masculine environment, especially in combat arms.

At the end of the day, the material effects of US foreign policy are largely the same [between administrations], but when Trump was elected, there was a noticeable shift. Before, soldiers would feel hesitant about saying blatantly racist or sexist things. Trump’s election emboldened them to act out in a way that wasn’t typical before.

While Trump himself may be more of a parody-fascist than a fascist, it was as if that election was releasing the forces of a new kind of fascism. Within the military ranks, that was prevalent. A lot of guys were getting excited at the prospect that we might go into North Korea or possibly Iran.


We have to talk about the picture that caused this whole situation for you. For those who haven’t seen it, Spenser is at his West Point graduation. He’s holding up a sign under his hat, and it says, “Communism will win.” But you sat on the photo for a while. You posted it with a hashtag, #VeteransforKaepernick. Can you describe why you decided to say that?


I sat on those photos — the first one of “Communism will win” inscribed in my hat,

the second one of me wearing a Che Guevara shirt underneath [my uniform] — from the time I graduated in May 2016 to September 2017.

This was for a couple reasons. First, to get through West Point despite my political beliefs — I was almost kicked out my senior year for espousing a communist political line. Second, I knew if I was authentic in my worldview, I wouldn’t be able to continue serving my full commitment. I’d have to find a way out somehow. Getting out of the military is daunting, especially as an officer.

So I took those pictures both as my own individual act of rebellion, but also so that if there was ever an opening, I could use them for some larger, political purpose.

The opening I saw was the one-year anniversary of Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality. A year prior, you had taken a picture at a Cubs game holding up a sign saying, “Vets for Kaepernick,” and I kept that idea in my back pocket. The debate on Kaepernick started up again, with Trump denouncing him and other football players expressing solidarity.

I decided that was an opening to express how I feel. I didn’t expect it to go viral like it did, but I thought maybe I could influence other soldiers. Or at the very least, I’d be able to remove myself from the army and find a way to talk about my experiences in some type of antiwar movement.

Plus, Colin Kaepernick risked his career to support a cause. He could have been comfortable for the rest of his life. But he put some skin in the game, and he suffered for it. I figured this was the least I could do if I was serious about my own beliefs.


Can you talk about the repercussions afterwards, not only from the military, but the right-wing media, your family, etc.? Thoughts like yours go through a lot of soldiers’ heads, but it’s the repercussions that keep them from acting on them.


The next morning, one of the field-grade officers said to me, “So, I hear you’re a fan of Colin Kaepernick,” and I thought, “Oh boy, here we go.” Then my chain of command pulled me aside and told me I was under investigation. They read me my rights and told me I had the right to an attorney. Then they essentially confined me to a range tower, which is a tall structure where you can oversee all the different operations happening on the rifle range.

They made me stay in there for what they told me was for my own safety. Immediately, I had friends and family members reaching out to me. The right-wing hysteria was quickly whipped up: publications like the Daily Caller and Infowars ran stories. Alex Jones challenged me to a boxing match. That didn’t faze me too much, but my family was worried, and began to get “alt-right” trolls trying to dox me and find their information.

My attorney told me that the military would win in this situation because of the way the uniform code of military justice is structured. You’re essentially guilty until proven innocent. Although it’s not illegal to be a communist in the military, there are other ways to formulate their arguments to repress you.

Eventually I was pulled out of the field and went through the different legal channels. Within that time period, Marco Rubio wrote a letter to the acting secretary of the army, Ryan McCarthy. He said I should have my commission revoked, my degree pulled — unclear how that latter demand would work — and called for a larger investigation of other troops. This launched a separate investigation back at West Point: hundreds of cadets who were even remotely associated with me were interviewed, and they were asked about their politics.

While waiting for the verdict, I was told I couldn’t say anything publicly. I had to bite my tongue and wait until I was officially reprimanded, which happened in December 2017. I was told this would initiate a show-cause board, which is where you show why you should be retained, or you show why you should leave on their terms.

I tried to submit a conditional resignation, saying I wanted to leave, and asked for a general discharge. But they said “no,” and that I could either go to a board of inquiry, which is basically an adversarial trial — one side presents their case, I present mine — or I could leave unconditionally. I didn’t want to grovel before the empire, and knew it’d be a show trial at best, so I submitted my resignation. That was accepted, and I got issued an “other than honorable” discharge.


I want to shift gears. We’re in Chicago. This is home to the largest concentration of JROTC students in any school district in the country. Ten thousand students are enrolled in the program; 55 percent are black, 40 percent are Latinx. But when you talk to these kids who are signed up, they can tell you very little about the last seventeen years of the war, much less the history of US imperialism around the world. You signed up and went to West Point, in part, for an education. What would you tell these kids who are looking for an education, looking for a way out of poverty, about the military?


First, when you’re talking to a teenager about this subject, there’s no effective argument that says, “You’re too smart for this, you could do better, etc.” That’s usually condescending. But you can explain what their material relation to violence and power will be as a soldier and the harsh reality of what that means.

Whether you’re in combat arms or not, there’s a tangible chance that you’ll be killed. But as bad as that is, there’s something very different about taking a human life yourself, let alone if you don’t understand what cause it’s serving. So, you explain that, and ask questions about how if you’re an infantryman, and you’re forced to kill another human being, whose interest is that serving and why were you so prepared to take that human life in the first place?

And even if you’re not in combat, you’re supplying the bullets, you’re supplying the food, to aid in the war effort. Whether you’re on the front lines or not, you’re still complicit in the killing of other human beings and the pursuit of US foreign policy.

If you’re able to articulate what that will do to you as a human being, and how you’ll be forced to live with that — and that’s not scare-mongering, it’s speaking to what they will actually have to execute as a soldier in the US military — that can at least plant the seed for them to grapple with these questions. Even if they decide to join, at least they’ll be armed with some degree of critical thinking. When they’re faced with those situations, they might find the courage to resist, or find a way out.


During the Vietnam War era, we had hundreds of union meetings happening within the rank and file of the military on a daily basis. We had hundreds of incidents where soldiers were fragging and killing their officers. We saw people hijack helicopters within the ranks to drop propaganda flyers over military bases. But we also had a large student movement that was providing a support network, with coffeehouses and structures to welcome soldiers who were resisting back into civilian life and treating them with the respect they deserve for resisting. We also had the Viet Cong resisting.

The Viet Cong and the Afghan resistance — that people in these countries are resisting — is the only similarity I can see between the Vietnam era and the current global “war on terror.” For example, it’s illegal to have union meetings in the military now.

It’s a big question, but how do you see soldiers organizing now? You’re proof that resistance is still possible within an all-volunteer military, but how do we create more of that?


The war resisters from Vietnam were not all draftees; a substantial portion were volunteers. The narrative that a conscription army is the only thing that will produce war resisters is flawed and ahistorical.

Yes, there were attempts to create military labor unions. It’s now in US military code that that’s illegal. In fact, in the documents about my investigation, one of the charges against me was about advocating for military labor unions.

But you asked how we get more people to resist. Part of it is how we term “antiwar,” and what that means. Initially, after the invasion of Iraq, there was a substantial antiwar movement, but five years later, with the election of Barack Obama, a lot of that dissipated.

When it comes to antiwar resistance there’s an insistence on making it anti-Trump, or at the time, anti-Bush, rather than antiwar. So, one key is articulating “antiwar” in terms of the structural phenomena we witness: how war is profitable, how it’s designed to be endless. There’s no tangible objective other than to make it endless, to continue lining the pockets of Raytheon, Boeing, and so on.

As to how to reach soldiers, you need to meet them where they are. No one likes being in the military, in the moment. But what happens is that because in the US our civic religion is patriotism, folks who at one time had nothing but hate for it — they couldn’t stand being in the field, waking up for [physical training] — when they get out, they’re placed on a pedestal as a veteran. If we reach them and can tell them that none of these people who sing your praises now really care about you outside of serving their own political interests, that’s critical. A glaring example of that is that many of the politicians who claim to be staunch patriots and support the troops want to privatize the VA.

Aside from that, reaching active-duty soldiers? No one likes to deploy; no one likes to be separated from their friends and family to go inflict violence on human beings. Even some of the true believers who claim they enjoy it or relish it — deep down, they know what they’re doing.

But it’s very daunting: how in the world are you supposed to say, “No, I’m not deploying.” That’s on us to create the structures — to have places for dissident soldiers and military personnel. To tell them that there’s more to your skills as a soldier than firing a weapon. There are many different social movements and organizations you could join, where you could actually aid people, and actually fight for freedom, for liberation, for emancipation.

Playing the denouncement game toward those soldiers isn’t politically viable, nor does it make much sense. That said, we also need to do some de-programming with soldiers — I myself had to go through it — and it’s going to take a lot of patience. But we need to find a way to bring them in, create spaces for them to name their experiences, and then use their knowledge and abilities at organizing and working on a team to support emancipatory movements and socialist politics.

Arms Control Wonks Identifies Rocket Remains In Saudi As Yemeni Quds 1


On September 14, several explosions rocked the Khurais oilfield as well as the Abqaiq refinery, one of Saudi Arabia’s most vital petrochemical installations. Several hours later, the Houthis claimed that they had targeted both facilities with ten drones as part of their “Balance of Deterrence” campaign.

What made this attack different from other recorded Houthi drone attacks was not only the unprecedented amount of material damage caused but also lingering doubt about the nature and the attribution of the attack. First, a video allegedly showing flying objects entering Kuwaiti airspace led to speculation that like a previous “Houthi” drone attack this strike might actually have originated in Iraq or even Iran. While the video remains unverified, the fact that the Kuwaiti government launched a probe into the issue lends some credence to the idea that something might have happened over Kuwait that day. Speculation about the origins of the attack was further fueled by a tweet by Mike Pompeo in which he claimed that there was no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.

Then the question arose whether drones had been used at all, or whether the attack might in fact have been a missile strike. Previous Houthi drone strikes against oil facilities tended to result in quite limited damage which could be an indication that a different weapons system was used this time. Indeed, Aramco came to the conclusion that its facilities were attacked by missiles. Even more curious, several pictures began to emerge on social media purportedly showing the wreckage of a missile in the Saudi desert. While the images appear real, neither the date the photos were taken nor their location can be verified. Social media users quickly claimed the images showed a crashed Iranian-made Soumar cruise missile. The Soumar and its updated version, the Hoveyzeh, are Iran’s attempts at reverse-engineering the Soviet-designed KH-55 cruise missile, several of which the country illegally imported from Ukraine in the early 2000s. Others claimed it was the Quds 1, a recently unveiled Houthi cruise missile often claimed to be a rebranded Soumar.

While at this point there are still more questions about the attack than answers, it might be a good idea to take a closer look at the Quds 1. Do the pictures in the desert actually show a Quds 1? And is the Quds 1 really just a smuggled Soumar?

The story of the Quds 1 begins in mid-June 2019, when a cruise missile fired by the Houthis hit the terminal of Abha Airport in Southern Saudi Arabia, wounding a total of 26 passengers. Not long afterwards, Saudi Arabia held a press conference showing images of the missile’s wreckage and claiming that the missile in question was an Iranian Ya Ali cruise missile. The Ya Ali is a much smaller missile than the Soumar and while the newest version of the Soumar has a range of up to 1350km, the Ya Ali’s range is limited to about 700km. With Abha airport being located only 110km from the Yemeni border, using a smaller, shorter-range system seemed to make sense. However, there was an inconsistency. The rounded wings and stabilizers shown in the Saudi presentation did not match the Ya Ali. Instead they were more reminiscent of the Soumar.

Only a few weeks later, in early July, the Houthis opened a large static display of their ballistic missile and drone arsenal. One of the surprises unveiled at the show was a cruise missile named Quds 1 (Jerusalem 1) which the Houthis claimed to have indigenously developed.

Noting the overall similarity in design with the Soumar, many observers claimed Iran had simply smuggled it to Yemen where the Houthis gave it a new paint job and a new name, as they had done before with the Qiam. Well, it turns out cruise missiles are a lot like wines or pictures of Joe Biden. At first they all appear to be the same but once you spend enough time on them, you realize there are quite a few differences. Differences between the Quds 1 and the Soumar include the entire booster design, the wing position, the Quds 1’s fixed wings, the shape of the nose cone, the shape of the aft fuselage, the position of the stabilizers and the shape of the engine cover and exhaust.

The differences in the shape of the aft fuselage and the position of the stabilizers make it clear that the wreckage in the desert is much more likely to be a Quds 1 than a Soumar.

There is yet another apparent difference between the Quds 1 and the Soumar/Hoveyzeh: size. A quick measurement using MK1 Eyeball reveals that the Quds 1 seems to be smaller in diameter than the Soumar.

But while MK1 Eyeball works fine, measuring is always a little more objective. So let’s go back to the Saudi presentation for a second. When describing the remnants of the alleged Ya Ali that hit Abha airport, the Saudis mentioned that among the wreckage they found a jet engine named TJ-100.

A quick search reveals that there indeed is a small turbojet engine called TJ100. The engine is produced by the Czech company PBS Aerospace which describes it as being especially suitable for applications in UAVs, one of its uses being the Spanish/Brazilian Diana target drone. Oh yeah, and you can also totally use it to convert your glider into a jet, which is pretty cool.

When comparing the engine seen on the Quds 1 and the TJ100 it seems pretty clear that whatever powers the Quds 1 is either a TJ100 or pretty much an exact copy of it. An engine displayed at an Iranian drone exhibition again shows stunning similarities with the TJ100, implying that Iran is producing a copy of the Czech engine for use in some of its drones.

Knowing the dimensions of the TJ100, one can precisely measure the diameter of the Quds 1. With 34cm it is significantly smaller than the Soumar, which retains the original KH-55’s diameter of 51,4cm.

However, the Qud 1’s use of a TJ100 is interesting for more reasons than just measurements. First, the fact that the Quds 1 uses the same engine type that was found in Abha makes it highly likely that the missile that hit Abha’s terminal was a Quds-1 simply mislabeled by Saudi Arabia. The Quds 1’s design also corresponds to the rounded wing and stabilizers found at the scene.

Second, knowing more details about the engine gives us some insights into the performance of the missile. Both the KH-55 and the Soumar use fuel efficient turbofan engines. The TJ100 however not only has much lower thrust than the original KH-55 engine but also is just your regular old turbojet. This leads to some questions about range. Both the missile’s smaller size and its more fuel-hungry engine make it seem unlikely it’s range would be anywhere close to the the Soumar’s/Hoveyzeh’s range of 1350km.

If the pictures showing the Quds 1 wreckage in Saudi Arabia are indeed connected to the recent Abqaiq attack, it would seem more likely that the attack originated from a place closer to Eastern Saudi Arabia than Northern Yemen – potentially Iraq, Iran or perhaps even from ships. But then again that is a big if at the current moment.

All of this leaves the question of just who developed and built the Quds 1. The idea that impoverished war-torn Yemen would be able to develop a cruise missile without any outside assistance seems far-fetched. Iran’s previous supply of missiles to the Houthis and the fact that the country uses TJ100 engines in its drone program do imply that the Iran could be behind the Quds 1.

However, so far we haven’t seen any trace of the Quds 1 in Iran proper. This riddle is not unique to the Quds 1. Beginning in 2018, several missile systems began to emerge in Yemen that while broadly similar to Iranian-designed systems have no exact Iranian equivalent. These missiles include the Badr-1P and the Badr-F precision-guided solid-fuel short range missiles

Is Iran secretly designing, testing and producing missile systems for exclusive use by its proxies? We might have to wait for Tehran Timmy to show up in Sanaa or the Donald to tweet another high-res satellite pic to find the answer.

“Jew-Rusalem Post” Reports That Putin Recently Blocked 2 Nut-n-Yahoo Airstrikes On Syria

Russia recently prevented Israeli airstrikes targeting Syria, and Putin warned Netanyahu against attacking Lebanon

Israeli sources called Netanyahu’s quick Russian visit – to try and convince Putin to ignore Israel’s attacks in Syria – “a failure.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The controversy between Israel and Russia regarding airstrikes of Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq continues, despite the meeting Between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was reported on Friday by Independent Arabia.

According to the report, Moscow has prevented three Israeli air strikes on three Syrian outposts recently, and even threatened that any jets attempting such a thing would be shot down, either by Russian jets or by the S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The source cited in the report claims a similar situation has happened twice – and that during August, Moscow stopped an air strike on a Syrian outpost in Qasioun, where a S-300 missile battery is placed.

Moreover, it was claimed that another air strike was planned for a week later on a Syrian outpost in the Qunaitra area and a third one on a sensitive area in Latakia. This development is what pushed Netanyahu to have his quick visit in Russia to try and convince Putin to ignore Israel’s attacks in Syria. According to the Russian source, Putin let Netanyahu know that his country will not allow any damage to be done to the Syrian regime’s army, or any of the weapons being given to it, because giving such a permission would be seen as giving Israel leniency – something that contradicts Russia’s goal of assisting the Syrian regime.

The British-Arabic news outlet reported that Netanyahu tried to present a positive message of the cooperation between the two countries and even tried to use it for his election campaign, but it didn’t work. Israeli sources who have spoken with the newspaper called the meeting “a failure.” They claimed that everything regarding the air strikes in Iraq and Syria, since they were in the public eye, embarrassed the Russians terribly in the eyes of their allies in the area – Syria, Iran and the militias that support them.

The Russian source said: “Putin has expressed his dissatisfaction from Israel’s latest actions in Lebanon,” and even emphasized to Netanyahu that he “rejects the aggression towards Lebanon’s sovereignty,” something which had never been heard from him. Putin further stated that someone is cheating him in regards to Syria and Lebanon, and that he will not let it go without a response. According to him, Netanyahu was warned not to strike such targets in the future.

The news website added that more Israeli sources have said similar things on the subject and that the visit was meant to reduce the severity of the controversy between the countries into a tactical one, rather than an ideological one.

Translated by Jerusalem Post staff.

Western Media Continues Blackout On Outrageous Trigger Event Which Handed the CIA Their Long Desired “Intelligence-Driven War”


Rescue workers climb on piles of rubble at the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 13, 2001. Beth A. Keiser | AP

A secret office operated by the CIA was destroyed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, seriously disrupting intelligence operations.

The undercover station was in 7 World Trade Center, a smaller office tower that fell several hours after the collapse of the twin towers on Sept. 11, a U.S. government official said.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the existence of the office, which was first reported in Sunday’s editions of The New York Times.

The New York station was behind the false front of another federal organization, which the Times did not identify. The station was a base of operations to spy on and recruit foreign diplomats stationed at the United Nations, while debriefing selected American business executives and others willing to talk to the CIA after returning from overseas.

The agency’s officers in New York often work undercover, posing as diplomats and business executives, among other things. They have been deeply involved in counter-terrorism efforts in the New York area, working jointly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies.

The CIA’s main New York office was unaffected by the attacks, but agents have been sharing space at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and have borrowed other federal government offices in the city.

The agency is prohibited from conducting domestic espionage operations against Americans, but it maintains stations in a number of major United States cities, where CIA case officers try to meet and recruit students and other foreigners to return to their countries and spy for the United States.

The New York station was believed to have been the largest and most important CIA domestic station outside the Washington area.

©MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

First published on November 5, 2001

Workers use cutting torches as they clear the site of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, Jan. 23, 2002. Richard Drew | AP

More Americans Questioning Official 9/11 Story As New Evidence Contradicts Official Narrative

Evidence continues to mount that the official narrative itself is the irrational narrative of September 11, and it becomes ever more clear that the media remains committed to preventing legitimate questions about that day from receiving the scrutiny they deserve.

While the events of that day did unite Americans in these ways for a time, the different trajectories of the official relative to the independent investigations into the September 11 attacks have often led to division in the years since 2001, with vicious attacks or outright dismissal being levied against the latter.

Yet, with 18 years having come and gone — and with the tireless efforts from victims’ families, first responders, scientists and engineers — the tide appears to be turning, as new evidence continues to emerge and calls for new investigations are made. However, American corporate media has remained largely silent, preferring to ignore new developments that could derail the “official story” of one of the most iconic and devastating attacks to ever occur on American soil.

For instance, in late July, commissioners for a New York-area Fire Department, which responded to the attacks and lost one of their own that day, called for a new investigation into the events of September 11. On July 24, the board of commissioners for the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District, which serves a population of around 30,000 near Queens, voted unanimously in their call for a new investigation into the attacks.

While the call for a new investigation from a NY Fire Department involved in the rescue effort would normally seem newsworthy to the media outlets who often rally Americans to “never forget,” the commissioners’ call for a new investigation was met with total silence from the mainstream media. The likely reason for the dearth of coverage on an otherwise newsworthy vote was likely due to the fact that the resolution that called for the new investigation contained the following clause:

“Whereas, the overwhelming evidence presented in said petition demonstrates beyond any doubt that pre-planted explosives and/or incendiaries — not just airplanes and the ensuing fires — caused the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings, killing the vast majority of the victims who perished that day;”

In the post-9/11 world, those who have made such claims, no matter how well-grounded their claims may be, have often been derided and attacked as “conspiracy theorists” for questioning the official claims that the three World Trade Center buildings that collapsed on September 11 did so for any reason other than being struck by planes and from the resulting fires. Yet, it is much more difficult to launch these same attacks against members of a fire department that lost a fireman on September 11 and many of whose members were involved with the rescue efforts of that day, some of whom still suffer from chronic illnesses as a result.

Another likely reason that the media monolithically avoided coverage of the vote was out of concern that it would lead more fire departments to pass similar resolutions, which would make it more difficult for such news to avoid gaining national coverage. Yet, Commissioner Christopher Gioia, who drafted and introduced the resolution, told those present at the meeting’s conclusion that getting all of the New York fire districts onboard was their plan anyway.

“We’re a tight-knit community and we never forget our fallen brothers and sisters. You better believe that when the entire fire service of New York State is on board, we will be an unstoppable force,” Gioia said. “We were the first fire district to pass this resolution. We won’t be the last,” he added.

While questioning the official conclusions of the first federal investigation into 9/11 has been treated as taboo in the American media landscape for years, it is worth noting that even those who led the commission have said that the investigation was “set up to fail” from the start and that they were repeatedly misled and lied to by federal officials in relation to the events of that day.

For instance, the chair and vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, wrote in their book Without Precedent that not only was the commission starved of funds and its powers of investigation oddly limited, but that they were obstructed and outright lied to by top Pentagon officials and officials with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). They and other commissioners have outright said that the “official” report on the attacks is incomplete, flawed and unable to answer key questions about the terror attacks.

Despite the failure of American corporate media to report these facts, local legislative bodies in New York, beginning with the fire districts that lost loved ones and friends that day, are leading the way in the search for real answers that even those that wrote the “official story” say were deliberately kept from them.

Persuasive scientific evidence continues to roll in

Not long after the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District called for a new 9/11 investigation, a groundbreaking university study added even more weight to the commissioners’ call for a new look at the evidence regarding the collapse of three buildings at the World Trade Center complex. While most Americans know full well that the twin towers collapsed on September 11, fewer are aware that a third building — World Trade Center Building 7 — also collapsed. That collapse occurred seven hours after the twin towers came down, even though WTC 7, or “Building 7,” was never struck by a plane.

It was not until nearly two months after its collapse that reports revealed that the CIA had a “secret office” in WTC 7 and that, after the building’s destruction, “a special CIA team scoured the rubble in search of secret documents and intelligence reports stored in the station, either on paper or in computers.” WTC 7 also housed offices for the Department of Defense, the Secret Service, the New York Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management and the bank Salomon Brothers.

Though the official story regarding the collapse of WTC 7 cites “uncontrolled building fires” as leading to the building’s destruction, a majority of Americans who have seen the footage of the 47-story tower come down from four different angles overwhelmingly reject the official story, based on a new poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth and released on Monday.

That poll found that 52 percent of those who saw the footage were either sure or suspected that the building’s fall was due to explosives and was a controlled demolition, with 27 percent saying they didn’t know what to make of the footage. Only 21 percent of those polled agreed with the official story that the building collapsed due to fires alone. Prior to seeing the footage, 36 percent of respondents said that they were unaware that a third building collapsed on September 11 and more than 67 percent were unable to name the building that had collapsed.

Ted Walter, Director of Strategy and Development for Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, told MintPress that the lack of awareness about WTC 7 among the general public “goes to show that the mainstream media has completely failed to inform the American people about even the most basic facts related to 9/11. On any other day in history, if a 47-story skyscraper fell into its footprint due to ‘office fires,’ everyone in the country would have heard about it.”

The fact that the media chose not to cover this, Walter asserted, shows that “the mainstream media and the political establishment live in an alternative universe and the rest of the American public is living in a different universe and responding to what they see in front of them,” as reflected by the results of the recent YouGov poll.

Another significant finding of the YouGov poll was that 48 percent of respondents supported,  while only 15 percent opposed, a new investigation into the events of September 11. This shows that not only was the Franklin Square Fire District’s recent call for a new investigation in line with American public opinion, but that viewing the footage of WTC 7’s collapse raises more questions than answers for many Americans, questions that were not adequately addressed by the official investigation of the 9/11 Commission.

The Americans who felt that the video footage of WTC 7’s collapse did not fit with the official narrative and appeared to show a controlled demolition now have more scientific evidence to fall back on after the release of a new university study found that the building came down not due to fire but from “the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.” The extensive four-year study was conducted by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alaska and used complex computer models to determine if the building really was the first steel-framed high-rise ever to have collapsed solely due to office fires.

The study, currently available as a draft, concluded that “uncontrolled building fires” did not lead the building to fall into its footprint — tumbling more than 100 feet at the rate of gravity free-fall for 2.5 seconds of its seven-second collapse — as has officially been claimed. Instead, the study — authored by Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey, Dr. Feng Xiao and Dr. Zhili Quan — found that “fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] and private engineering firms that studied the collapse,” while also concluding “that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global [i.e., comprehensive] failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.”

This “near-simultaneous failure of every column” in WTC 7 strongly suggests that explosives were involved in its collapse, which is further supported by the statements made by Barry Jennings, the then-Deputy Director of Emergency Services Department for the New York City Housing Authority. Jennings told a reporter the day of the attack that he and Michael Hess, then-Corporation Counsel for New York City, had heard and seen explosions in WTC 7 several hours prior to its collapse and later repeated those claims to filmmaker Dylan Avery. The first responders who helped rescue Jennings and Hess also claimed to have heard explosions in WTC 7. Jennings died in 2008, two days prior the release of the official NIST report blaming WTC 7’s collapse on fires. To date, no official cause of death for Jennings has been given.

Still “crazy” after all these years?

Eighteen years after the September 11 attacks, questioning the official government narrative of the events of those days still remains taboo for many, as merely asking questions or calling for a new investigation into one of the most important events in recent American history frequently results in derision and dismissal.

Yet, this 9/11 anniversary — with a new study demolishing the official narrative on WTC 7, with a new poll showing that more than half of Americans doubt the government narrative on WTC 7, and with firefighters who responded to 9/11 calling for a new investigation — is it still “crazy” to be skeptical of the official story?


Firefighters hose down the smoldering remains of 7 World Trade Center Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001, in New York. Ryan Remiorz | AP

Even in years past, when asking difficult questions about September 11 was even more “off limits,” it was often first responders, survivors and victims’ families who had asked the most questions about what had really transpired that day and who have led the search for truth for nearly two decades — not wild-eyed “conspiracy theorists,” as many have claimed.

The only reason it remains taboo to ask questions about the official narrative, whose own authors admit that it is both flawed and incomplete, is that the dominant forces in the American media and the U.S. government have successfully convinced many Americans that doing so is not only dangerous but irrational and un-American.

However, as evidence continues to mount that the official narrative itself is the irrational narrative, it becomes ever more clear that the reason for this media campaign is to prevent legitimate questions about that day from receiving the scrutiny they deserve, even smearing victims’ families and ailing first responders to do so. For too long, “Never Forget” has been nearly synonymous with “Never Question.”

Yet, failing to ask those questions — even when more Americans than ever now favor a new investigation and discount the official explanation for WTC 7’s collapse — is the ultimate injustice, not only to those who died in New York City on September 11, but those who have been killed in their names in the years that have followed.


Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

Afghan Intel Agency (NDS) Busts Kabul ISIS Cell Blamed For 29 Terror Attacks

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Thursday said it has dismantled a three-member key Daesh terror network in Kabul city which is involved of plotting deadly attacks against the country in recent years. 

“This network is one of the most dangerous terror networks of Daesh group which played an active role in at least 29 deadly attacks in Kabul city,” the NDS said in a statement on Thursday.

Among those arrested is Mohammad Sharif whose alias names are (Ajmal, Naser, and Jaffar) who in cooperation with Abdul Wahid coordinated at least 29 suicide and terrorist attacks in Kabul city, the statement said.

“The third individual is named Saber Khan who after being recruited by Daesh opened a shop in ‘Bush Bazar’ where he was providing military equipment and uniform to those plotting suicide attacks in Kabul city,” said the NDS.

According to the NDS, Saber Khan was also sheltering suicide attackers of Daesh and their transfer from Nangarhar to Kabul.

Mohammad Sharif has confessed plotting 29 deadly attacks in Kabul:

1.            Mortar attacks on the Presidential Palace on the Eid-ul-Fitr Day

2.           Prepared five suicide attackers attacked National Army compounds in Qambar Circle

3.            Firing a BM21 missile from 500-Family area of Kabul on the US embassy

4.            Transferring a suicide attacker in Shashdarak area of Kabul and launching an attack on the journalists

5.            Masterminding suicide attack on Pul-e-Mahmoud Khan

6.            Plotting suicide attack on graduates of Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim Defense University

7.            Launching mortar attack on Musala of Shaheed Mazari

8.            Plotting suicide attack on protestors in Shahr-e-Naw park

9.            Launching attack on Ustad Mohaqiq house

10.          Plotting attack on a minibus of the students in Silo road

11.          Plotting attack on employees of the ministry of Hajj and pilgrimage affairs in Baraki square

12.          No details provided

13.          Plotting attack on the camp of protesting female candidates

14.          Plotting attack on the diplomates of the ministry of foreign affairs

15.          Plotting suicide attack on Imam Zaman mosque in PD11 of Kabul

16.          Plotting suicide attack on protestors near the election commission

17.          Plotting second attack on protestors in Shahr-e-Naw park in Kabul

 Confession of Abdul Wahid, Sharif’s crime partner 

Plotting mine attack on Mufti Noman, one of the country’s scholars in Shakar Dara district of Kabul
Plotting attack on Enlightening Movement protestors in Deh Mazang Square in Kabul
Plotting attack on a car carrying Nepali nationals in Pul-e-Charkhi area of Kabul
Transferring suicide attacker on mourners of Muharram in Saki Shrine
Plotting suicide attack on Haji Ramazan
Plotting suicide attack on Iraqi embassy in Kabul
Plotting attack on foreign forces in 4th Mikrorayan
Planting mines in the airport road in front of the ministry of interior
Plotting suicide attack on Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital in Kabul
Plotting attack on a gathering of Jamiat-e-Islami in Khai Khana area of Kabul
Plotting suicide attack on police HQ in PD13 of Kabul
Launching rocket attack on Kabul airport and the US embassy

Trump Move To Undo Bolton’s Arrogant Mistakes, Considers $15 billion Credit Loan To Iran

Trump Flirts With $15 Billion Bailout for Iran, Sources Say

Trump says he hates the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. But he’s toying with a French proposal to get the Iranians to comply with it: a $15 billion line of credit to Tehran.



President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, in which the Paris government would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year.

The deal put forward by France would compensate Iran for oil sales disrupted by American sanctions. A large portion of Iran’s economy relies on cash from oil sales. Most of that money is frozen in bank accounts across the globe. The $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil. In exchange for the cash, Iran would have to come back into compliance with the nuclear accord it signed with the world’s major powers in 2015. Tehran would also have to agree not to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf or to impede maritime navigation in the area. Lastly, Tehran would have to commit to regional Middle East talks in the future.

While Trump has been skeptical of helping Iran without preconditions in public, the president has at least hinted at an openness to considering Macron’s pitch for placating the Iranian government—a move intended to help bring the Iranians to the negotiating table and to rescue the nuclear agreement that Trump and his former national security adviser John Bolton worked so hard to torpedo.

At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France last month, Trump told reporters that Iran might need a “short-term letter of credit or loan” that could “get them over a very rough patch.”

Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at that meeting. To Robert Malley, who worked on Iran policy during the Obama administration, that visit indicated that “Trump must have signaled openness to Macron’s idea, otherwise Zarif would not have flown to Biarritz at the last minute.”

“Clearly, Trump responded to Macron in a way that gave the French president a reason to invite Zarif, and Zarif a reason to come,” he said.

The French proposal would require the Trump administration to issue waivers on Iranian sanctions. That would be a major departure from the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign to exact financial punishments on the regime in Tehran. Ironically, during his time in office, President Barack Obama followed a not-dissimilar approach to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table, throttling Iran’s economy with sanctions before pledging relief for talks. The negotiations resulted in the Iran nuke deal that President Trump called “rotten”—and pulled the U.S. out of during his first term.

Trump’s flirtations with—if not outright enthusiasm toward—chummily sitting down with foreign dictators and America’s geopolitical foes are largely driven by his desire for historic photo ops and to be seen as the dealmaker-in-chief. It’s a desire so strong that it can motivate him to upturn years of his own administration’s policymaking and messaging.

And while President Trump has not agreed to anything yet, he did signal a willingness to cooperate on such a proposal at various times throughout the last month, including at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, according to four sources with knowledge of the president’s conversations about the deal.

Several sources told The Daily Beast that foreign officials are expecting Trump to either agree to cooperate on the French deal or to offer to ease some sanctions on Tehran. Meanwhile, President Trump is also considering meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

“I do believe they’d like to make a deal. If they do, that’s great. And if they don’t, that’s great too,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “But they have tremendous financial difficulty, and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher.” When asked if he would ease sanctions against Iran in order to get a meeting with Iran Trump simply said: “We’ll see what happens. I think Iran has a tremendous, tremendous potential.”

Spokespeople for the State Department, White House, and Treasury did not provide comment for this story. A spokesperson for the National Security Council simply referred The Daily Beast to Trump’s Wednesday comments on Iran. Bolton didn’t comment on Wednesday, either.

— source close to Mike Pompeo

Trump’s willingness to discuss the credit line with the French, the Iranians and also Japanese President Shinzo Abe frustrated Bolton, who had for months urged Trump not to soften his hard line against the regime in Tehran.

Bolton, who vociferously opposed the Macron proposal, departed the Trump administration on explicitly and mutually bad terms on Tuesday. On Bolton’s way out of the door, Trump and senior administration officials went out of their way to keep publicly insisting he was fired, as Bolton kept messaging various news outlets that Trump couldn’t fire him because he quit. The former national security adviser and lifelong hawk had ruffled so many feathers and made so many enemies in the building that his senior colleagues had repeatedly tried to snitch him out to Trump for allegedly leaking to the media.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bolton messaged The Daily Beast to say that allegations about him being a leaker were “flatly incorrect.

At a press briefing held shortly after Bolton’s exit on Tuesday, neither Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nor Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin showed much sympathy for Bolton’s falling star in Trumpworld. “There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s to be sure, but that’s true with a lot of people with whom I interact.”

According to those who know Pompeo well, the secretary’s public statement was a glaring understatement.

“By the end he viewed [Bolton] as an arsonist hell bent on setting fire to anyone’s agenda that didn’t align with his own—including the president’s,” said a source close to Pompeo who’s discussed Bolton with the secretary in recent weeks. Pompeo “believes him to be among the most self-centered people he’s ever worked with. A talented guy, no doubt, but not someone who was willing to subordinate his ego to the president’s foreign-policy agenda.”

Whether or not the president follows through with supporting Macron is unclear, as Trump is known to consider or temporarily back high-profile domestic or foreign policy initiatives, only to quickly backtrack or about-face.

Trump Corrects His Big Bad Bolton Mistake…Old Walrus Face Is Gone

US National Security Adviser John Bolton resigns

National Security Advisor John Bolton, one of the most prominent war hawks in Donald Trump’s administration, has handed in his resignation, the US president has announced.

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House… I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” Trump tweeted. The president said that he and others in the administration “strongly” disagreed with many of Bolton’s decisions.

Bolton gave a different account of events, however, implying on Twitter that his resignation wasn’t a completely done deal yet, or at least he had not been informed about it.

Trump made the announcement just 90 minutes before Bolton was to appear at a joint press-conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Russian trolls run Trump’s Twitter account?’ Moscow ridicules Bolton’s disinformation claimsBolton was appointed national security advisor on April 9, 2018, and proceeded to do everything to live up to his reputation as a staunch war hawk. He advocated the use of force and regime change in Syria, Venezuela, North Korea and Iran. The 70-year-old also strongly supported the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Tehran and the termination of non-proliferation agreements with Russia.

Trump recently kept Bolton sidelined from his key international meetings as he was looking for opportunities to reinvigorate dialogue with Iran and North Korea. The president had previously complained that the advisor was too eager to get the US into another war.

ALSO ON RT.COMJohn Bolton being sidelined by Trump allows the world to breathe easier

Trump and Taliban No Longer “Playing Around”, Expect Afghanistan’s 3rd and Final Escalation To Total War

[Taliban declare war as Trump calls Afghan talks dead ]

[ Failure of Peace Talks Will Amount to US Admission That Afghan War  Gained Virtually Nothing ]

[SEE:  Will Trump Have Enough Patience To Deal w/the Taliban? –Mar 27, 2017]

[SEE: Trump boasts he could end the Afghanistan war in a week ]


“We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out,” Cruz was quoted as saying by the Des Moines Register.]

Taliban: Trump will ‘soon regret’ abandoning Afghan talks

US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at The Crown Arena in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on September 9, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at The Crown Arena in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on September 9, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has declared as “dead” so-called peace talks with the Taliban, prompting the militant group to declare war against American forces in Afghanistan, a development that seems to only prolong the 18-year occupation of the country.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump said the US military was already pounding Taliban positions in Afghanistan with unprecedented fire.

“They are dead. As far as I am concerned, they are dead,” Trump said, when asked about the long-running talks with the militant group in Qatar.

The talks produced a draft agreement last week that included a substantial US military drawdown from the country after 18 years of occupation, putting in sight an end to what has become the longest war in America’s history.

However, the prospect of peace in Afghanistan collapsed on Saturday, when Trump said he had called off a secret meeting with Taliban leaders in Camp David, outside Washington to discuss the deal.

The decision, Trump said, was his response to a deadly bomb blast by the Taliban, which killed 12 people in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday, including an American soldier.

Trump put another nail in the coffin of the draft agreement, saying his military commanders had already stepped up war against the militant group to the highest levels in a decade.

“Over the last four days, we have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!” he wrote in a tweet.

‘US will regret walking away from talks’

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Tuesday that the militant group had tried dialogue as one of the two ways available to end the conflict, warning that the other option was armed conflict.

“We had two ways to end occupation in Afghanistan, one was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations,” Mujahid told AFP.

“If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it,” he added.

Trump’s comments echoed those by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said a day earlier that the talks were “dead” because the Taliban “tried to use terror to improve their negotiating position.”

He, too, noted that America’s military operations in Afghanistan were now back on full throttle.

“We’ve killed over a thousand Taliban in just the last 10 days,” he claimed.

US likely to ramp up operations against Taliban: Top general

Meanwhile, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees Washington’s military operations in Afghanistan, said the military was likely to accelerate the pace of its operations against the Taliban.

Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of CENTCOM, said during a visit to Afghanistan that the militants overplayed their hand in the negotiations by resorting to violence.

Seemingly unrepentant, the Taliban, who are today in control of more territory than at any time since 2001 when the group’s rule ended over the country, said Sunday that more American lives would be lost in Afghanistan if the peace talks stop.

McKenzie declined to comment on the Taliban statement but said US troops would not hesitate to hit back.

“We’re certainly not going to sit still and let them carry out some self-described race to victory. That’s not going to happen,” McKenzie told reporters during a stop at Bagram Airfield in northeastern Afghanistan on Monday.

Read More:

The CENTCOM chief pledged a “spectrum” of attacks against the Taliban, which will also include airstrikes and raids involving Afghan commandos.

Any increase in US military action would correspond to an acceleration of Taliban attacks, he added.

According to a United Nations report that came out on September 3, airstrikes by US-led foreign forces and Afghan aircraft in Afghanistan reached 506 between May 10 and August 8, around 57 percent increase from the same period in 2018.


Bahamas Post-Dorian Photos–2019

Photos: The Wreckage Left by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas

Rescue efforts are under way in the Bahamas as the official death toll climbed to 20 on Wednesday, after Hurricane Dorian lashed the islands for more than a day. Roads and airports are washed out, neighborhoods are smashed and flooded, and thousands of homes are damaged or destroyed. The Bahamian government and international relief organizations are working to assess the situation and reach those in need, as Dorian continues on a path northward, along the coast of the United States. Gathered here, some early images of the catastrophic damage caused by Dorian’s slow crawl across the Bahamas.

HINTS: View this page full screen.

An aerial view of damage caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island on September 4, 2019, in Great Abaco, Bahamas. 

Scott Olson / Getty

This photo provided by NASA shows the eye of Hurricane Dorian, as seen from the International Space Station on September 2, 2019. 

Nick Hague / NASA via AP

Strong winds from Hurricane Dorian blow the tops of trees and brush while whipping up water from the surface of a canal that leads to the sea, located behind the brush at top, as seen from the balcony of a hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, on September 2, 2019. 

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Julia Aylen wades through waist-deep water carrying her pet dog as she is rescued from her flooded home during Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, on September 3, 2019. 

Tim Aylen / AP

Damage at the Abaco Beach Resort, photographed in the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, on September 1, 2019 

Dante Carrer / Reuters

Hurricane-damaged vehicles and trees at the Abaco Beach Resort in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, photographed on September 1, 2019 

Dante Carrer / Reuters

People walk through the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour on September 2, 2019. 

Dante Carrer / Reuters

A storm-damaged car sits in a flooded parking lot in a facility next to the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbour, on September 4, 2019. 

Marco Bello / Reuters

An unidentified helicopter lands at the Marsh Harbour Medical Clinic in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, on September 4, 2019. 

Dante Carrer / Reuters

Widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, above Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco island, on September 4, 2019. 

Gonzalo Gaudenzi / AP

An aerial view of damage caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen on Great Abaco island on September 4, 2019. 

Scott Olson / Getty

Houses damaged by Hurricane Dorian, photographed on Great Abaco island on September 4, 2019 

Scott Olson / Getty

An aerial view of a flooded and storm-damaged house on September 4, 2019, in Great Abaco, Bahamas 

Scott Olson / Getty

Hurricane-damaged boats, trees, and houses, photographed from the air above Great Abaco island on September 4, 2019 

Scott Olson / Getty

An aerial view of damage caused by Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour, photographed on September 4, 2019, in Great Abaco, Bahamas 

Scott Olson / Getty

Some of the storm-damaged shoreline of Great Abaco, seen on September 4, 2019 

Scott Olson / Getty

An aerial view of a flooded and badly damaged building, after Hurricane Dorian passed over Great Abaco island on September 4, 2019 

Scott Olson / Getty

People wait for relief supplies to arrive at Treasure Cay Airport following Hurricane Dorian on September 4, 2019, in Great Abaco, Bahamas. 

Scott Olson / Getty

Damaged trees, containers, and buildings lie scattered in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour on September 4, 2019. 

Dante Carrer / Reuters

George Bolter (left) and his parents walk through the remains of his home, destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, in the Pine Bay neighborhood of Freeport, Bahamas, on September 4, 2019. 

Ramon Espinosa / A

A small aircraft lies upside down in floodwater on Great Abaco island on September 4, 2019. 

Scott Olson / Getty

An aerial view shows a flooded neighborhood after Hurricane Dorian passed over Grand Bahama island on September 4, 2019. 

Joe Skipper / Reuters

Sissel Mosvold embraces a volunteer who helped rescue her mother from her home, flooded by the waters of Hurricane Dorian, on the outskirts of Freeport, Bahamas, on September 4, 2019. Sissel’s 84-year-old mother was taken to a hospital in Freeport. 

Ramon Espinosa / AP

A chair is caught in a grove, blown there by Hurricane Dorian’s powerful winds, in Pine Bay, near Freeport, Bahamas, on September 4, 2019. 

Ramon Espinosa / AP

People walk through the ruins of a neighborhood scoured by Hurricane Dorian, in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco island, on September 4, 2019. 

Scott Olson / Getty

Petty Officer Second Class Jethro Hauser sits aboard a helicopter with one of the survivors evacuated during search and rescue operations following Hurricane Dorian in Treasure Cay, Bahamas, on September 4, 2019. 

Seaman Erik Villa Rodriguez / U.S. Coast Guard via Reuters

A child walks past clothes laid out to dry in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in the Arden Forest neighborhood of Freeport, Bahamas, on September 4, 2019. 

Ramon Espinosa / AP

An aerial view of damage from Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco island, photographed on September 5, 2019. 

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty

Jasmine Farrington (right) greets Martha Eyma after she was rescued and flown to Nassau from the devastated Abaco Islands on September 4, 2019, in Nassau, Bahamas. 

Jose Jimenez / Getty

How CIA, Mossad and “the Epstein Network” Are Destabilizing America and Creating An Orwellian Nightmare

Israel 8200 Epstein Feature

How the CIA, Mossad and “the Epstein Network” are Exploiting Mass Shootings to Create an Orwellian Nightmare

Following another catastrophic mass shooting or crisis event, Orwellian “solutions” are set to be foisted on a frightened American public by the very network connected, not only to Jeffrey Epstein, but to a litany of crimes and a frightening history of plans to crush internal dissent in the United States.

Following the arrest and subsequent death in prison of alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a little-known Israeli tech company began to receive increased publicity, but for all the wrong reasons. Not long after Epstein’s arrest, and his relationships and finances came under scrutiny, it was revealed that the Israeli company Carbyne911 had received substantial funding from Jeffrey Epstein as well as Epstein’s close associate and former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist and prominent Trump backer Peter Thiel.

Carbyne911, or simply Carbyne, develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services in countries around the world, including the United States, where it has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and has partnered with major U.S. tech companies like Google. It specifically markets its product as a way of mitigating mass shootings in the United States without having to change existing U.S. gun laws.

Yet, Carbyne is no ordinary tech company, as it is deeply connected to the elite Israeli military intelligence division, Unit 8200, whose “alumni” often go on to create tech companies — Carbyne among them — that frequently maintain their ties to Israeli intelligence and, according to Israeli media reports and former employees, often “blur the line” between their service to Israel’s defense/intelligence apparatus and their commercial activity. As this report will reveal, Carbyne is but one of several Israeli tech companies marketing themselves as a technological solution to mass shootings that has direct ties to Israeli intelligence agencies.

In each case, these companies’ products are built in such a way that they can easily be used to illegally surveil the governments, institutions and civilians that use them, a troubling fact given Unit 8200’s documented prowess in surveillance as a means of obtaining blackmail and Israel’s history of using tech companies to aggressively spy on the U.S. government. This is further compounded by the fact that Unit 8200-linked tech companies have previously received U.S. government contracts to place “backdoors” into the U.S.’ entire telecommunications system as well as into the popular products of major American tech companies including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, many of whose key managers and executives are now former Unit 8200 officers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it no secret that placing Unit 8200 members in top positions in multinational tech companies is a “deliberate policy” meant to ensure Israel’s role as the dominant global “cyber power”, while also combating non-violent boycott movements targeting Israel’s violations of international law and stifling the United Nations’ criticisms of Israeli government policy and military operations abroad.

As Jeffrey Epstein’s links to intelligence in both the United States and Israel — the subject of a recent four-part series exclusive to MintPress — began to be revealed in full, his financing of Carbyne came under scrutiny, particularly for the company’s deep ties to Israeli intelligence as well as to certain Americans with known connections to U.S. intelligence. Ehud Barak’s own role as both financier and chairman of Carbyne has also added to that concern, given his long history of involvement in covert intelligence operations for Israel and his long-standing ties to Israeli military intelligence.

Another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has his own company that, like Carbyne, is set to profit from the Trump administration’s proposed hi-tech solutions to mass shootings. Indeed, after the recent shooting in El Paso, Texas, President Trump — who received political donations from and has been advised by Thiel following his election — asked tech companies to “detect mass shooters before they strike,” a service already perfected by Thiel’s company Palantir, which has developed “pre-crime software” already in use throughout the country. Palantir is also a contractor for the U.S. intelligence community and also has a branch based in Israel.

Perhaps most disturbing of all, whatever technological solution is adopted by the Trump administration, it is set to use a controversial database first developed as part of a secretive U.S. government program that involved notorious Iran-Contra figures like Oliver North as a means of tracking and flagging potential American dissidents for increased surveillance and detention in the event of a vaguely defined “national emergency.”

As this report will reveal, this database — often referred to as “Main Core” — was created with the involvement of Israeli intelligence and Israel remained involved years after it was developed, and potentially to the present. It was also used by at least one former CIA official on President Reagan’s National Security Council to blackmail members of Congress, Congressional staffers and journalists, among others.

Given recent reports on the Trump administration’s plan to create a new government agency to use “advanced technology” to identify “neurobehavioral signs” of “someone headed toward a violent explosive act” using data collected by consumer electronic devices, the picture painted by the technology currently being promoted and implemented under the guise of “keeping Americans safe” is deeply Orwellian. In fact, it points directly to the genesis of a far-reaching surveillance state far more extensive than anything yet seen in American history and it is being jointly developed by individuals connected to both American and Israeli intelligence.

Demystifying Carbyne

Carbyne911, which will be referred to simply as Carbyne in this report, is an Israeli tech-startup that promises to revolutionize how calls are handled by emergency service providers, as well as by governments, corporations and educational institutions. Not long after it was founded in 2014 by veterans of Israeli military intelligence, Carbyne began to be specifically marketed as a solution to mass shootings in the United States that goes “beyond the gun debate” and improves the “intelligence that armed emergency responders receive before entering an armed shooter situation” by providing video-streaming and acoustic input from civilian smartphones and other devices connected to the Carbyne network.

Prior to Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest in July, Carbyne had been receiving high praise from U.S. and Israeli media, with Fox News hailing the company’s services as the answer to the U.S.’ “aging 911 systems” and the Jerusalem Post writing that the company’s platform offers “hi-tech protection to social workers and school principals.” Other reports claimed that Carbyne’s services result in “a 65% reduction in time-to-dispatch.”

Carbyne’s call-handling/crisis management platform has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and the company has offices not only in the U.S. but also in Mexico, Ukraine and Israel. Carbyne’s expansion to more emergency service provider networks in the U.S. is likely, given that federal legislation seeks to offer grants to upgrade 911 call centers throughout the country with the very technology of which Carbyne is the leading provider. One of the main lobby groups promoting this legislation, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), has a “strong relationship” with Carbyne, according to Carbyne’s website. In addition, Carbyne has also begun marketing its platform for non-emergency calls to governments, educational institutions and corporations.

Yet, what seemed like the inevitability of Carbyne’s widespread adoption in the U.S. hit a snag following the recent arrest and subsequent death of sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who exploited underage girls for the purpose of obtaining “blackmail” on the rich and poweful, an operation that had clear ties to intelligence. Epstein, after his first arrest and light sentence for soliciting sex from a minor in 2007, was tapped by former Israeli Prime Minister and former head of Israeli military intelligence Ehud Barak, to become a key financial backer of Carbyne.

Ehud Barak Carbyne

Ehud Barak, center, poses with Carbyne co-founders Alex Dizengof, Amir Elichai and Lital Leshem. Photo | Yossi Seliger

As a result of increased scrutiny of Epstein’s business activities and his ties to Israel, particularly to Barak, Epstein’s connection to Carbyne was revealed and extensively reported on by the independent media outlet Narativ, whose exposé on Carbyne revealed not only some of the key intelligence connections of the start-up company but also how the architecture of Carbyne’s product itself raises “serious privacy concerns.”

MintPress detailed many of Carbyne’s main intelligence connections in Part III of the investigative series “Inside the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail.” In addition to Barak — former Israeli prime minister and former head of Israeli military intelligence — serving as Carbyne’s chairman and a key financer, the company’s executive team are all former members of Israeli intelligence, including the elite military intelligence unit, Unit 8200, which is often compared to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Carbyne’s current CEO, Amir Elichai, served in Unit 8200 and tapped former Unit 8200 commander and current board member of AIPAC Pinchas Buchris to serve as the company’s director and on its board. In addition to Elichai, another Carbyne co-founder, Lital Leshem, also served in Unit 8200 and later worked for Israeli private spy company Black Cube. The only Carbyne co-founder that didn’t serve in Unit 8200 is Alex Dizengof, who previously worked for Israel’s Prime Minister’s office.

As MintPress noted in a past report detailing Israeli military intelligence’s deep ties to American tech giant Microsoft, Unit 8200 is an elite unit of the Israeli Intelligence corps that is part of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence and is involved mainly in signal intelligence (i.e., surveillance), cyberwarfare and code decryption. It is frequently described as the Israeli equivalent of the NSA and Peter Roberts, senior research fellow at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, characterized the unit in an interview with the Financial Times as “probably the foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stand[ing] on a par with the NSA in everything except scale.”

Notably, the NSA and Unit 8200 have collaborated on numerous projects, most infamously on the Stuxnet virus as well as the Duqu malware. In addition, the NSA is known to work with veterans of Unit 8200 in the private sector, such as when the NSA hired two Israeli companies, to create backdoors into all the major U.S. telecommunications systems and major tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Google. Both of those companies, Verint and Narus, have top executives with ties to Israeli intelligence and one of those companies, Verint (formerly Comverse Infosys), has a history of aggressively spying on U.S. government facilities. Unit 8200 is also known for spying on civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories for “coercion purposes” — i.e., gathering info for blackmail — and also for spying on Palestinian-Americans via an intelligence-sharing agreement with the NSA.

Unlike many other Unit 8200-linked start-ups, Carbyne also boasts several tie-ins to the Trump administration, including Palantir founder and Trump ally Peter Thiel — another investor in Carbyne. In addition, Carbyne’s board of advisers includes former Palantir employee Trae Stephens, who was a member of the Trump transition team, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Trump donor and New York real-estate developer Eliot Tawill is also on Carbyne’s board, alongside Ehud Barak and Pinchas Buchris.

Yet, privacy concerns with Carbyne go beyond the company’s ties to Israeli intelligence and U.S. intelligence contractors like Peter Thiel. For instance, Carbyne’s smartphone app extracts the following information from the phones on which it is installed:

Device location, video live-streamed from the smartphone to the call center, text messages in a two-way chat window, any data from a user’s phone if they have the Carbyne app and ESInet, and any information that comes over a data link, which Carbyne opens in case the caller’s voice link drops out.” (emphasis added)

According to Carbyne’s website, this same information can also be obtained from any smartphone, even if it does not have Carbyne’s app installed, if that phone calls a 911 call center that uses Carbyne or merely any other number connected to Carbyne’s network.

Carbyne data collection

Carbyne gathers data points from users’ phones as well as a myriad of other web-connected devices.

Carbyne is a Next-Generation 9-11 (NG911) platform and the explicit goal of NG911 is for all 911 systems nationwide to become interconnected. Thus, even if Carbyne is not used by all 911 call centers using an NG911 platform, Carbyne will ostensibly have access to the data used by all emergency service providers and devices connected to those networks. This guiding principle of NG911 also makes it likely that one platform will be favored at the federal level to foster such interconnectivity and, given that it has already been adopted by several counties and has ties to the Trump administration, Carbyne is the logical choice.

Another cause for concern is how other countries have used platforms like Carbyne, which were first marketed as emergency response tools, for the purpose of mass surveillance. Narativ noted the following in its investigation of Carbyne:

In May, Human Rights Watch revealed Chinese authorities use a platform not unlike Carbyne to illegally surveil Uyghurs. China’s Integrated Joint Operations Platform brings in a much bigger data-set and sources of video, which includes an app on people’s phones. Like Carbyne, the platform was designed to report emergencies. Chinese authorities have turned it into a tool of mass surveillance.

Human Rights Watch reverse-engineered the app. The group discovered the app automatically profiles a user under 36 “person types” including “followers of Six Lines” which is the term used to identify Uyghurs. Another term refers to “Hajj,” the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. The app monitors every aspect of a user’s life, including personal conversations [and] power usage, and tracks a user’s movement.”

Such technology is currently used by Israeli military intelligence and Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet to justify “pre-crime” detentions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. As will be noted in greater detail later in this report, Palestinians’ comments on social media are tracked by artificial intelligence algorithms that flag them for indefinite detention if they write social media posts that contain “tripwire” phrases such as “the sword of Allah.”

Carbyne’s platform has its own “pre-crime” elements, such as it’s c-Records component, which stores and analyzes information on past calls and events that pass through its network. This information “enables decision makers to accurately analyze the past and present behavior of their callers, react accordingly, and in time predict future patterns.” (emphasis added)

Concerns have recently been raised that “pre-crime” technology may soon become more widely adopted in the U.S., after President Trump stated that one of his planned solutions to mass shootings in the wake of the recent tragedy in El Paso was for big tech companies to detect potential shooters before they strike.

Israeli intelligence, Blackmail and Silicon Valley

Though many of the individuals involved in funding or managing Carbyne have proven ties to intelligence, a closer look into several of these players reveals even deeper connections to both Israeli and U.S. intelligence.

One of Carbyne’s clearest connections to Israeli intelligence is through its chairman and one of its funders, Ehud Barak. Though Barak is best known for being a former prime minister of Israel, he is also a former minister of defense and the former head of Israeli military intelligence. He oversaw Unit 8200’s operations, as well as other units of Israeli military intelligence, in all three of those positions. For most of his military and later political career, Barak has been closely associated with covert operations.

Prior to the public scrutiny of Barak’s relationship to Jeffrey Epstein, following the latter’s arrest this past July and subsequent death, Barak had come under fire for his ties to disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Indeed, it was Ehud Barak who put Weinstein in contact with the Israeli private intelligence outfit Black Cube, which employs former Mossad agents and Israeli military intelligence operatives, as Weinstein sought to intimidate the women who had accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan led Black Cube’s board until his death in 2016 and Carbyne co-founder Lital Leshem is Black Cube’s former director of marketing.

After Barak put him in contact with Black Cube’s leadership, Weinstein, according to The New Yorker, used the private spy firm to “‘target,’ or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focused on their personal or sexual histories.” In addition, The New Yorker noted that “Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally” and “also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.”

Yet, more recently, it has been Barak’s close relationship to Epstein that has raised eyebrows and opened him up to political attacks from his rivals. Epstein and Barak were first introduced by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 2002, a time when Epstein’s pedophile blackmail and sex trafficking operation was in full swing.

Barak was a frequent visitor to Epstein’s residences in New York, so often that The Daily Beast reported that numerous residents of an apartment building linked to Epstein “had seen Barak in the building multiple times over the last few years, and nearly half a dozen more described running into his security detail,” adding that “the building is majority-owned by Epstein’s younger brother, Mark, and has been tied to the financier’s alleged New York trafficking ring.” Specifically, several apartments in the building were “being used to house underage girls from South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union,” according to a former bookkeeper employed by one of Epstein’s main procurers of underage girls, Jean Luc Brunel.

Barak is also known to have spent the night at one of Epstein’s residences at least once, was photographed leaving Epstein’s residence as recently as 2016, and has admitted to visiting Epstein’s island, which has sported nicknames including “Pedo Island,” “Lolita Island” and “Orgy Island.” In 2004, Barak received $2.5 million from Leslie Wexner’s Wexner Foundation, where Epstein was a trustee as well as one of the foundation’s top donors, officially for unspecified “consulting services” and “research” on the foundation’s behalf.

In 2015, Barak formed a limited partnership company in Israel for the explicit purpose of investing in Carbyne (then known as Reporty) and invested millions of dollars in the company, quickly becoming a major shareholder and subsequently the company’s public face and the chairman of its board. At least $1 million of the money invested in this Barak-created company that was later used to invest in Carbyne came from the Southern Trust Company, which was owned by Jeffrey Epstein.

In July, Bloomberg reported that Epstein’s Southern Trust Company is identified in U.S. Virgin Islands filings as “a DNA database and data mining” company. Given Carbyne’s clear potential for data-mining and civilian profiling, Epstein’s investment in Carbyne using this specific company suggests that Carbyne’s investors have long been aware of this little advertised aspect of Carbyne’s product.

In a statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Barak asserted:

I saw the business opportunity and registered a partnership in my control in Israel. A small number of people I know invest in it…Since these are private investments, it wouldn’t be proper or right for me to expose the investors’ details.”

However, Barak later admitted that Epstein had been one of the investors.

MintPress’ recent series on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal noted in detail Epstein’s ties to CIA/Mossad intelligence assets, such as Adnan Khashoggi; CIA front companies, such as Southern Air Transport; and organized crime, through his close association with Leslie Wexner. In addition, Epstein’s long-time “girlfriend” and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, has family links to Israeli intelligence through her father, Robert Maxwell. While it appears that Epstein may have been working for more than one intelligence agency, Zev Shalev, former executive producer for CBS News and journalist at Narativrecently stated that he had independently confirmed with two unconnected sources “closely connected to the Epstein story and in a position to know” that Epstein had “worked for Israeli military intelligence.”

Notably, Epstein, who was known for his interest in obtaining blackmail through the sexual abuse of the underaged girls he exploited, also claimed to have “damaging information” on prominent figures in Silicon Valley. In a conversation last year with New York Times reporter James Stewart, Epstein claimed to have “potentially damaging or embarrassing” information on Silicon Valley’s elite and told Stewart that these top figures in the American tech industry “were hedonistic and regular users of recreational drugs.” Epstein also told Stewart that he had “witnessed prominent tech figures taking drugs and arranging for sex” and claimed to know “details about their supposed sexual proclivities.”

In the lead-up to his recent arrest, Jeffrey Epstein appeared to have been attempting to rebrand as a “tech investor,” as he had done interviews with several journalists including Stewart about technology investing in the months before he was hit with federal sex trafficking charges.

Jessica Lessin, editor-in-chief of The Informationtold Business Insider that a journalist working for The Information had interviewed Epstein a month before his recent arrest because “he was believed to be an investor in venture capital funds.” However, Lessin claimed that the interview was not “newsworthy” and said the site had no plans to publish its contents. Business Insider claimed that the way the interviews with Epstein had been arranged “suggests that someone in Silicon Valley may have been trying to help Epstein connect with reporters.”

Though it is unknown exactly which Silicon Valley figures were most connected to Epstein and which tech executives were potentially being blackmailed by Epstein, it is known that Epstein associated with several prominent tech executives, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

Last year, Epstein claimed to be advising Tesla and Elon Musk, who had been previously photographed with Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell. A few years ago, Epstein also attended a dinner hosted by LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, where Musk had allegedly introduced Epstein to Mark Zuckerberg. Google’s Sergey Brin is known to have attended a dinner hosted by Epstein at his New York residence where Donald Trump was also in attendance.

Elon Musk Ghislaine Maxwell

Elon Musk with Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell at an Oscars after-party on March 2, 2014. Kevin Mazur | VF14

These associations suggest that the person in Silicon Valley who was trying to boost Epstein’s image as a tech investor before his arrest may have been Peter Thiel, whose Founders Fund had also invested in Carbyne. Thiel was an early investor in Facebook and is still on its board, connecting him to Zuckerberg; he is also a funder of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and a former colleague of Musk’s through PayPal. In addition, Thiel has ties to Reid Hoffman and both Thiel and Hoffman are prominent backers of Facebook.

It is unknown whether Epstein’s “damaging information” and apparent blackmail on notable individuals in the American technology industry were used to advance the objectives of Carbyne, which recently partnered with tech giants Google and Cisco Systems — and, more broadly, the expansion of Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies into the American tech sector, particularly through the acquisition of Israeli tech start-ups linked to Unit 8200 by major U.S. tech companies.

The latter seems increasingly likely given that the father of Ghislaine Maxwell — one of Epstein’s chief co-conspirators in his intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation involving minors — was a Mossad operative who helped sell software that had been bugged by Israeli intelligence to government agencies and sensitive facilities around the world, including in the United States.

As will be noted later in this report, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — to whom all of Israel’s intelligence agencies answer by virtue of his position — has stated on more than one occasion that the acquisition of Israeli intelligence-linked start-ups by foreign tech giants, especially in Silicon Valley, is a current and “deliberate policy” of the state of Israel.

Carbyne’s ties to U.S. intelligence

While Epstein and Barak are the two financiers of Carbyne whose ties to intelligence are clearest, another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has ties to U.S. intelligence and a history of investing in other companies founded by former members of Unit 8200. Thiel co-founded and still owns a controlling stake in the company Palantir, which was initially funded with a $2 million investment from the CIA’s venture capital fund In-Q-Tel and quickly thereafter became a contractor for the CIA.

After the success of its contract with the CIA, Palantir became a contractor for a variety of federal agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) and the military’s Special Operations Command, among others. Last year, it won a contract to create a new battlefield intelligence system for the U.S. Army. Palantir is also in demand for its “pre-crime technology,” which has been used by several U.S. police departments. According to the Guardian, “Palantir tracks everyone from potential terrorist suspects to corporate fraudsters, child traffickers and what they refer to as ‘subversives’… it is all done using prediction.”

Thiel has gained attention in recent years for his support of President Trump and for becoming an adviser to Trump following the 2016 election, when he was “a major force in the transition,” according to Politico, and “helped fill positions in the Trump administration with former staff.” One of those former staffers was Trae Stephens, who is also on Carbyne’s board of advisers. Thiel also has business ties to Trump’s son-in-law and influential adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as to Kushner’s brother Josh. A senior Trump campaign aide told Politico in 2017 that “Thiel is immensely powerful within the administration through his connection to Jared.”

Thiel has also backed some prominent Israeli tech start-ups connected to Unit 8200, such as BillGuard, which Thiel funded along with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other investors. BillGuard was founded by Raphael Ouzan, a former officer in Unit 8200, who serves on the board of directors of Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC) alongside neoconservative American hedge fund manager Paul Singer, neoconservative political operative and adviser Dan Senor, and Terry Kassel, who works for Singer at his hedge fund, Elliott Management.

Peter Thiel Netanyahu

Peter Thiel greets Netanyahu during a 2017 meeting in Israel. Photo | Israel PM

SUNC is an organization founded by Paul Singer, who has donated heavily to both President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Since it was founded in 2012, SUNC has sought to integrate Unit 8200-connected Israeli tech start-ups into foreign companies, primarily American companies, and has helped oversee the shift of thousands of high-paying tech jobs from the U.S. to Israel.

Another Carbyne-connected individual worth noting is the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who serves on Carbyne’s board of advisers. In addition to Chertoff’s ties to DHS, Chertoff’s company, The Chertoff Group, employees several prominent former members of the U.S. intelligence community as principals, including Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and former director of the NSA; and Charles Allen, former assistant director of Central Intelligence for Collection at the CIA, who worked at the agency for over 40 years.

The Chertoff Group has a long-standing and lucrative contract with the company OSI Systems, which produces full-body scanners and markets itself as a solution to mass shootings and crisis events, not unlike Carbyne. While Chertoff’s company was advising OSI Systems, Chertoff went on a media blitz to promote the widespread use of the machines produced by OSI Systems and even called on Congress to “fund a large-scale deployment of next-generation systems.” Chertoff did not disclose his conflict of interest while publicly promoting OSI’s full-body scanners.

Some have also alleged that Chertoff’s mother, Livia Eisen, had links to Israeli intelligence. According to her 1998 obituary, cited by both researcher/author Christopher Bollyn and journalist Jonathan Cook, Eisen participated in the Mossad operation code-named “Magic Carpet” while working for Israel’s El Al Airlines. Both Bollyn and Cook have suggested that Eisen’s participation in this covert Israeli intelligence operation strongly indicates that she had ties to the Mossad.

Melding into Silicon Valley

Beyond its troubling connections to Silicon Valley oligarchs, Israeli military intelligence and the U.S.-military industrial complex, Carbyne’s recent partnerships with two specific technology companies — Google and Cisco Systems — raise even more red flags.

Carbyne announced its partnership with Cisco Systems this past April, with the latter announcing that it would begin “aligning its unified call manager with Carbyne’s call-handling platform, allowing emergency call centers to collect data from both 911 callers and nearby government-owned IoT [Internet of Things] devices.” A report on the partnership published by Government Technology magazine stated that “Carbyne’s platform will be integrated into Cisco Kinetic for Cities, an IoT data platform that shares data across community infrastructure, smart city solutions, applications and connected devices.” The report also noted that “Carbyne will also be the only 911 solution in the Cisco Marketplace.”

As part of the partnership, Carbyne’s President of North American Operations Paul Tatro told Government Technology that the Carbyne platform would combine the data it obtains from smartphones and other Carbyne-connected devices with “what’s available through nearby Cisco-connected road cameras, roadside sensors, smart streetlamps, smart parking meters or other devices.” Tatro further asserted that “Carbyne can also analyze data that’s being collected by Cisco IoT devices … and alert 911 automatically, without any person making a phone call, if there appears to be a worthy problem,” and expressed his view that soon most emergency calls will not be made by human beings but “by smart cars, telematics or other smart city devices.”

A few months after partnering with Cisco Systems, Carbyne announced its partnership with Google on July 10, just three days after Carbyne funder Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New York on federal sex trafficking charges. Carbyne’s press release of the partnership described how the company and Google would be teaming up in Mexico “to offer advanced mobile location to emergency communications centers (ECCs) throughout Mexico” following the conclusion of a successful four-week pilot program between Carbyne and Google in the Central American nation.

Netanyahu Eric Schmidt

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt meets Netanyahu at his Jerusalem office. Israel PM | YouTube

The press release also stated:

Carbyne will provide Google’s Android ELS (Emergency Location Service) in real time from emergency calls made on AndroidTM devices. Deployment for any ECC in the country won’t require any integration, with Carbyne providing numerous options for connection to their secure ELS Gateway once an ECC is approved. The Carbyne automated platform, requiring no human interaction, has the potential to save thousands of lives each year throughout Mexico.”

The reason Carybne’s partnerships with Cisco Systems and Google are significant lies in the role that Cisco and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt have played in the creation of a controversial “incubator” for Israeli tech start-ups with deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, American neoconservative donor Paul Singer, and the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA).

This company, called Team8, is an Israeli company-creation platform whose CEO and co-founder is Nadav Zafrir, former commander of Unit 8200. Two of the company’s other three co-founders are also “alumni” of Unit 8200. Among Team8’s top investors is Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who also joined Peter Thiel in funding the Unit 8200-linked BillGuard, as well as major tech companies including Cisco Systems and Microsoft.

Last year, Team8 controversially hired the former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, Retired Admiral Mike Rogers, and Zafrir stated that his interest in hiring Rogers was that Rogers would be “instrumental in helping strategize” Team8’s expansion in the United States. Jake Williams, a veteran of NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking unit, told CyberScoop:

Rogers is not being brought into this role because of his technical experience. …It’s purely because of his knowledge of classified operations and his ability to influence many in the U.S. government and private-sector contractors.”

Team8 has also been heavily promoted by Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC). SUNC prominently features Team8 and Zafrir on the cybersecurity section of its website and also sponsored a talk by Zafrir and an Israeli government economist at the World Economic Forum, often referred to as “Davos,” that was attended personally by Paul Singer.

SUNC itself has deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, with former Unit 8200 officer Raphael Ouzan serving on its board of directors. Another example of SUNC-Unit 8200 ties can be seen with Inbal Arieli, who served as SUNC’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships from 2014 to 2017 and continues to serve as a senior adviser to the organization. Arieli, a former lieutenant in Unit 8200, is the founder and head of the 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program (EISP), which was the first start-up accelerator in Israel aimed at harnessing “the vast network and entrepreneurial DNA of [Unit] 8200 alumni” and is currently one of the top company accelerators in Israel, alongside Team8. Arieli was the top executive at 8200 EISP while working at SUNC and several other top SUNC staffers are also connected to Israeli military intelligence.

Thus, Google and Cisco’s connections to Team8 suggests that their partnerships with another Israeli military intelligence-connected firm like Carbyne is a deepening of those two companies’ links to the growing bi-national security state that is uniting key players in the U.S. military-industrial complex and Israeli intelligence.

Mossad-backed Panic Buttons, coming to a school near you

Carbyne is hardly the only Israeli intelligence-linked tech company marketing itself in the United States as a solution to mass shootings. Another Israeli start-up, known as Gabriel, was founded in 2016 in response to a shooting in Tel Aviv and the Pulse Nightclub shooting in the United States, which took place just days apart.

Created by Israeli-American Yoni Sherizen and Israeli citizen Asaf Adler, Gabriel is similar to Carbyne in the sense that elements of its crisis response platform require installation on civilian smartphones as well as devices used by crisis responders. The main difference is that Gabriel also installs one or a series of physical “panic buttons,” depending on the size of the building to be secured, that also double as video and audio communication devices connected to the Gabriel network.

As with Carbyne, the ties between Gabriel and Israeli intelligence are obvious. Indeed, Gabriel’s four-person advisory board includes Ram Ben-Barak, former deputy director of the Mossad and former director-general of Israel’s intelligence ministry; Yohanan Danino, former chief of police for the state of Israel; and Kobi Mor, former director of overseas missions for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet. The only American on the advisory board is Ryan Petty, the father of a Parkland shooting victim and friend of former Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Gabriel’s only disclosed funder is U.S.-based MassChallenge, a start-up accelerator non-profit. Gabriel is funded by MassChallenge’s Israel branch, which was opened six months prior to Gabriel’s creation and is partnered with the Israeli government and the Kraft Group. The Kraft Group is managed by Robert Kraft, who is currently embroiled in a prostitution scandal and is also a close friend of President Trump.

Notably, one of MassChallenge Israel’s featured experts is Wendy Singer, the executive director of SUNC, the organization created and funded by neoconservative Trump backer Paul Singer with the explicit purpose of promoting Israel’s tech start-ups and their integration into foreign, chiefly American, businesses. As was noted in a recent MintPress report on SUNC, Wendy Singer is the sister of neoconservative political operative Dan Senor, who founded the now-defunct Foreign Policy Initiative with Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, and was previously the director of AIPAC’s Israel office for 16 years.

Gabriel’s founders have been quite upfront about the fact that the uptick in shootings in the U.S. has greatly aided their company’s growth and success. Last November, Sherizen told The Jerusalem Post that new mass shootings in the U.S. not only increased U.S. demand for his company’s product but also were opportunities to show the effectiveness of Gabriel’s approach:

Unfortunately every month there seems to be another high-profile event of this nature. After the Vegas shooting, we were able to show [that] our system would have managed to identify the location of the shooter much quicker.”

The Jerusalem Post noted that Gabriel is set to make considerable profits if concern over mass shootings continues to build in the U.S., writing:

With more than 475,000 soft targets across the US and amid increasing security fears, the potential market for Gabriel is huge. The company could gain revenues of almost $1 billion if only 10% of soft targets were to invest around $20,000 in its alert systems.”

Sherizen told the Jerusalem Post:

Our starter kit costs $10,000. Depending on the size and makeup of the community building, it would cost between $20-30,000 to fully outfit the location. We have made it very affordable. This is a game-changer for the lock-down and active shooter drills that are now a standard part of any child’s upbringing in the States.”

Much more than just a start-up

While it is certainly possible that numerous former officials and commanders of elite Israeli intelligence agencies may have no ulterior motive in advising or founding technology start-up companies, it is worth pointing out that top figures in Israel’s military intelligence agencies and the Mossad don’t see it that way.

Last March, Israeli media outlet Calcalist Tech published a report entitled “Israel Blurs the Line Between Defense Apparatus and Local Cybersecurity Hub,” which noted that “since 2012, cyber-related and intelligence projects that were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and Israel’s main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that in some cases were built for this exact purpose.” (emphasis added)

The article notes that beginning in 2012, Israel’s intelligence and military intelligence agencies began to outsource “activities that were previously managed in-house, with a focus on software and cyber technologies.” (emphasis added)

It continues:

In some cases, managers of development projects in the Israeli military and intelligence arms were encouraged to form their own companies, which then took over the project,’ an Israeli venture capitalist familiar with the matter told Calcalist Tech.”

Notably, Calcalist Tech states that the controversial company Black Cube was created this way and that Black Cube had been contracted, and is likely still contracted, by Israel’s Ministry of Defense. The private security agency Black Cube is known to have two separate divisions for corporations and governments. The firm was recently caught attempting to undermine the Iran nuclear deal — then also a top political objective of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — by attempting to obtain information on the “financial or sexual impropriety” (i.e., blackmail) of top U.S. officials involved in drafting the accord. NBC News noted last year that “Black Cube’s political work frequently intersects with Israel’s foreign policy priorities.” As previously mentioned, one of Carbyne’s co-founders — Lital Leshem, also a veteran of Unit 8200 — worked for Black Cube prior to starting Carbyne.

Black Cube | Israel Hackers

The entrance to Black Cube’s offices on the 26th floor of a Tel Aviv high rise, Feb. 8, 2019. Raphael Satter | AP

One of the main companies profiled in the Calcalist Tech report appeared to be a front for Israeli intelligence, as its registered owner was found not to exist: even high-level employees at the company had never heard of him; his registered addresses were for nonexistent locations in Israel’s capital of Tel Aviv; and the three people with that name in Tel Aviv denied any association with the business.

This company — which Calcalist Tech was unable to name after the Israeli military censor determined that doing so could negatively impact Israeli “national security” — was deliberately created to service the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence. It is also “focused on cyber technologies with expertise in research and development of advanced products and applications suitable for defense and commercial entities.” (emphases added) In addition, the company’s management consists largely of “veterans of Israeli military technology units.”

Notably, a former employee of this company told Calcalist Tech that “crossing the lines between military service and employment at the commercial outfit was ‘commonplace’ while he was working at the company.”

It’s not exactly clear why Israel’s military intelligence and other intelligence agencies decided to begin outsourcing its operations in 2012, though Calcalist Tech suggests the reasoning was related to the difference in wages between the private sector and the public sector, with pay being much higher in the former. However, it is notable that 2012 was also the year that Paul Singer — together with Netanyahu’s long-time economic adviser and former chair of the Israeli National Economic Council, Eugene Kandel — decided to create Start-Up Nation Central.

As MintPress noted earlier this year, SUNC was founded as part of a deliberate Israeli government effort to counter the nonviolent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement and to make Israel the dominant global “cyber power.” This policy is aimed at increasing Israel’s diplomatic power and specifically undermining BDS as well as the United Nations, which has repeatedly condemned Israel’s government for war crimes and violations of international law in relation to the Palestinians.

Last year, Netanyahu was asked by Fox News host Mark Levin whether the large growth seen in recent years in Israel’s technology sector, specifically tech start-ups, was part of Netanyahu’s plan. Netanyahu responded, “That’s very much my plan … It’s a very deliberate policy.” He later added that “Israel had technology because the military, especially military intelligence, produced a lot of capabilities. These incredibly gifted young men and women who come out of the military or the Mossad, they want to start their start-ups.”

Netanyahu again outlined this policy at the 2019 Cybertech Conference in Tel Aviv, where he stated that Israel’s emergence as one of the top five “cyber powers” had “required allowing this combination of military intelligence, academia and industry to converge in one place” and that this further required allowing “our graduates of our military and intelligence units to merge into companies with local partners and foreign partners.”

The direct tie-ins of SUNC to Israel’s government and the successful effort led by SUNC and other companies and organizations to place former military intelligence and intelligence operatives in strategic positions in major multinational technology companies reveal that this “deliberate policy” has had a major and undeniable impact on the global tech industry, especially in Silicon Valley.

Mossad gets its own In-Q-Tel

This “deliberate policy” of Netanyahu’s also recently resulted in the creation of a Mossad-run venture capital fund that is specifically focused on financing Israeli tech start-ups. The venture capital fund, called Libertad, was first announced by Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office and was created with the explicit purpose of “increasing the Israeli intelligence agency’s knowledge base and fostering collaboration with Israel’s vibrant startup scene” It was modeled after the CIA’s venture capital fund In-Q-Tel, which invested in several Silicon Valley companies turned government and intelligence contractors — including Google and Palantir — with a similar goal in mind.

Libertad declines to reveal the recipients of its funding, but announced last December that it had chosen five companies in the fields of robotics, energy, encryption, web intelligence, and natural language processing and text analysis. In regard to its interest in web intelligence, a Mossad employee told the Jerusalem Post that the intelligence agency was specifically interested in “innovative technologies for [the] automatic identification of personality characteristics – personality profiling – based on online behavior and activity, using methods based on statistics, machine learning, and other areas.” (emphasis added)

According to Libertad’s website, in return for its investment, now set at NIS 2 million (~$580,000) per year per company, “the Mossad will receive access to the IP [initial product] developed during R&D [Research and Development] while under contract, and a non-commercial, non-exclusive license to use it. Libertad’s contract with the company will not provide it with any additional rights.” In an interview with Calcalist Tech, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen told the paper that the Mossad’s partnership with civilian companies in Israel is “excellent” and that the agency will continue to strengthen those ties.

Israeli intelligence has a documented history in placing “backdoors” into technology products for the purpose of surveillance, with one well-known case being Israel’s repurposing of the PROMIS software, discussed in Part III of MintPress’ series on Jeffrey Epstein. Furthermore, given that U.S. intelligence, specifically the NSA, had “backdoors” placed into the products of major Silicon Valley companies (a service performed by Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies no less), Mossad may very well plan on doing the same with the technology products of companies it backs through Libertad.

Tim Shorrock, investigative journalist and author of Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, told MintPress that the Mossad’s continuation of such practices through Libertad was definitely plausible, especially given what Shorrock described as the “unusual” choice of Libertad choosing not to release the identities of the companies in which it invests.

“The Mossad is trying to hide what they are investing in,” Shorrock stated, adding that Libertad’s secrecy “raises a lot of questions” particularly given that it was modeled after the CIA’s In-Q-Tel. Shorrock noted that In-Q-Tel and other venture capital funds with ties to U.S. intelligence or the U.S. military rarely, if ever, hide the identities of the companies they finance.

However, Libertad is merely the latest and most public expression of the Mossad’s interest in Israeli tech start-ups, the lion’s share of which are created by veterans of Unit 8200 or other Israeli intelligence agencies. Indeed, former Mossad Director Tamir Pardo stated in 2017 that “everyone” in the Israeli cybertechnology sector is an “alumni” of either Israeli intelligence, like the Mossad, or Israeli military intelligence, like Unit 8200. Pardo even went as far as to say that the Mossad itself is “like a start-up.”

Pardo himself, after leaving his post as Mossad director in 2016, dove straight into the world of Israeli tech start-ups, becoming chairman of Sepio Systems, whose two CEOs are former Unit 8200 officers. Sepio Systems’ advisory board includes the former chief information security officer of the CIA, Robert Bigman; former member of the U.S. Military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Geoff Hancock; and former head of the Israel National Cyber Bureau and veteran of Israeli military intelligence, Rami Efrati. Sepio Systems’ cybersecurity software has been adopted by several banks, telecom and insurance companies, including in the U.S. and Brazil.

Pardo is not the only prominent figure in Israel’s intelligence community to compare Israeli intelligence agencies to tech start-ups. Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman described Israel’s domestic spy agency in similar terms. “The Shin Bet is like an evolving start-up, with unmatched strength,” Argaman stated in a June 2017 speech, as he extolled the agency’s use of “pre-crime” technology to detain Palestinians based on their social media activity.

Argaman, at the time, claimed that more than 2,000 Palestinians, whom he described as “potential lone-wolf terrorists,” had been arrested as a result of these “breakthrough technological advances” that use artificial-intelligence algorithms to monitor the social media accounts of Palestinians, especially younger Palestinians, for the use of “tripwire” phrases that have been used by Palestinians who later committed acts of violence. In the case of those who use such terms, “their phones are tracked to see if they meet other suspects, or leave their districts to move towards potential Israeli targets. In such cases, security forces detain the suspect,” according to a 2017 report on the practice by The Economist.

The road to fascism, paved by a corrupted PROMIS

Though Israeli intelligence’s interest in tech companies goes back several years, there is a well-documented history of Israeli intelligence using bugged software to surveil and gain “backdoor” access to government databases around the world, particularly in the United States.

As was mentioned in Part III of MintPress’ Epstein series, a sinister yet cunning plan was executed to place a backdoor for Israeli intelligence into the Prosecutor’s Management Information System (PROMIS) software, which was then being used by the U.S. Department of Justice and was the envy of government agencies, particularly intelligence agencies, around the world. This bugged version of PROMIS — born out of the collusion between Earl Brian, Ronald Reagan’s then-envoy to Iran, and Rafi Eitan, then-director of the now-defunct Israeli intelligence agency Lekem — was seeded around the world by Brian’s company Hadron as well as by Mossad-linked media mogul Robert Maxwell, father of Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell.

After this first PROMIS “backdoor” was discovered, Israel would again gain access to sensitive U.S. government communications, as well as civilian communications, thanks to the collusion between Israeli intelligence and Israeli telecom and tech companies, especially Amdocs and Comverse Infosys (now Verint), that were operating throughout the United States. Today, Unit 8200-linked start-ups appear to have taken up the torch.

While the PROMIS software is perhaps best known for offering Israeli intelligence a backdoor into as many as 80 intelligence agencies and other sensitive locations around the world for nearly a decade, it was also used for a very different purpose by prominent officials linked to Iran-Contra.

One key Iran-Contra figure — Lt. Col. Oliver North, then serving on the National Security Council — decided to use PROMIS neither for espionage nor for foreign policy. Instead, North turned PROMIS’ power against Americans, particularly perceived dissidents, a fact that remained unknown for years.

Beginning in 1982, as part of the highly classified Continuity of Government (COG) program, North used the PROMIS software at a 6,100-square-foot “command center” in the Department of Justice, as well as at a smaller operations room at the White House, to compile a list of American dissidents and “potential troublemakers” if the COG protocol was ever invoked.

According to a senior government official with a high-ranking security clearance and service in five presidential administrations who spoke to Radar in 2008, this was:

A database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.”

In 1993, Wired described North’s use of PROMIS in compiling this database as follows:

Using PROMIS, sources point out, North could have drawn up lists of anyone ever arrested for a political protest, for example, or anyone who had ever refused to pay their taxes. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon’s enemies list or Sen. Joe McCarthy’s blacklist look downright crude.”

The COG program defined this “time of panic” as “a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent, or national opposition to a US military invasion abroad,” whereby the government would suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, and incarcerate perceived dissidents and other “unfriendlies” in order to prevent the government’s (or then-serving administration’s) overthrow.

This secretive database has often been referred to as “Main Core” by government insiders and, most troubling of all, it still exists today. Journalist Christ Ketcham, citing senior government officials, reported in 2008 that, at that time, Main Core was believed to contain the names of as many as 8 million Americans. Eleven years later, it is highly likely that the number of Americans included in the Main Core database has grown considerably.

Author and investigative journalist Tim Shorrock also covered other disturbing aspects of the evolution of Main Core back in 2008 for Salon. At the time, Shorrock reported that the George W. Bush administration was believed to have used Main Core to guide its domestic surveillance activities following the September 11 attacks.

Citing “several former U.S. government officials with extensive knowledge of intelligence operations,” Shorrock further noted that Main Core — as it was 11 years ago at the time his report was published — was said to contain “a vast amount of personal data on Americans, including NSA intercepts of bank and credit card transactions and the results of surveillance efforts by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies.”

Bill Hamilton, former NSA intelligence officer and the original creator of the PROMIS software, told Shorrock at the time that he believed that “U.S. intelligence uses PROMIS as the primary software for searching the Main Core database” and had been told as much by an intelligence official in 1992 and an NSA official in 1995. Dan Murphy, former deputy director at the CIA, had told Hamilton that the NSA’s use of PROMIS was “so seriously wrong that money alone cannot cure the problem.” “I believe in retrospect that Murphy was alluding to Main Core,” Hamilton had told Shorrock.

Though most reporting on Main Core, from the time its existence was first revealed to the present, has treated the database as something used by the U.S. government and U.S. intelligence for domestic purposes, MintPress has learned that Israeli intelligence was also involved with the creation of the Main Core database. According to a former U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the U.S. intelligence community’s use of PROMIS and Main Core from the 1980s to 2000s, Israeli intelligence played a role in the U.S. government’s deployment of PROMIS as the software used for the Main Core domestic surveillance database system.

Israeli intelligence remained involved with Main Core at the time of the August 1991 death of journalist Danny Casolaro, who was investigating not only the government’s misuse of the stolen PROMIS software but also the Main Core database. This same official, who chose to remain anonymous, told MintPress that, shortly before his death, Casolaro had obtained copies of computer printouts from the PROMIS-based Main Core domestic surveillance database system from NSA whistleblower Alan Standorf, who was found murdered a few months before Casolaro’s lifeless body would be found in a West Virginia hotel room.

The source also stated that Main Core’s contents had been used for the political blackmail of members of Congress and their staff, journalists, and others by Walter Raymond, a senior CIA covert operator in psyops and disinformation who served on President Reagan’s National Security Council during and after Main Core’s creation. If used for this purpose by Raymond in the 1980s, Main Core has also likely been used by other individuals with access to the database for blackmailing purposes in the years since.

Given that Israeli intelligence was known to have placed a backdoor into the PROMIS software, before it was marketed and sold around the world by Earl Brian and Robert Maxwell, its role in the U.S. government’s decision to use PROMIS in the creation of Main Core suggests that Israeli intelligence likely advocated for the version of PROMIS containing this backdoor, thereby giving Israeli intelligence access to Main Core. Given that Reagan aides and officials colluded with Israeli “spymaster” Rafi Eitan in his efforts to create a backdoor into the software for Israeli military intelligence, the use of this version of PROMIS in the Main Core database is certainly plausible.

Furthermore, the fact that Israeli intelligence was known to be involved in Main Core nearly a decade after its creation suggests that Israeli intelligence may have played a role in certain aspects of the database, such as the criteria used to flag Americans as “unfriendly,” and — like Walter Raymond — may have used information in the database to blackmail Americans. In addition, the fact that the cooperation between U.S. and Israeli intelligence, particularly between Unit 8200 and the NSA, has only grown since 1991 further suggests that Israeli involvement in Main Core continues to the present.

While Main Core’s very existence is troubling for many reasons, the alleged involvement of a foreign intelligence service in the creation, expansion and maintenance of a database with personal details and potentially damaging information on millions of Americans targeted for detention or increased surveillance in times of crisis is chilling. It is especially so considering that the Trump administration’s latest proposals to prevent mass shootings before they occur are likely to use Main Core to flag certain Americans for increased surveillance or potentially detention, as was done by the George W. Bush administration following the September 11 attacks.

It appears that Main Core serves a dual purpose; first as a mass targeted surveillance system to crush dissent during times of “national crisis” — whether spontaneous or engineered — and, second, as a massive blackmail database used to keep every potential opponent in line during non-emergencies.

Peter Thiel’s Seeing Stone

As was mentioned earlier in this report, Palantir — the company co-founded by Peter Thiel — is set to profit handsomely from the Trump administration’s plans to use its “pre-crime” technology, which is already used by police departments throughout the country and also used to track Americans based on the company’s integrative data-mining approach. Palantir, named for the “seeing stones” in the Lord of the Rings novels, also markets software to foreign (and domestic) intelligence agencies that predicts the likelihood that an individual will commit an act of terrorism or violence.

Aside from its “pre-crime” products, Palantir has come under fire in recent years as a result of the company’s contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where it created an intelligence system known as Investigative Case Management (ICM). The IB Times described ICM as “a vast ‘ecosystem’ of data to help immigration officials in identifying targets and creating cases against them” and also “provides ICE agents with access to databases managed by other federal agencies.” ICM further gives ICE access to “targets’ personal and sensitive information, such as background on schooling, employment, family relationships, phone records, immigration history, biometrics data, criminal records as well as home and work addresses.” In other words, Palantir’s ICM is essentially a “Main Core” for immigrants.

Notably, part of Oliver North’s original intentions in “Main Core” was to track immigrants then coming from Central America as well as Americans who opposed Reagan era policy with respect to Central America. At that time, Main Core was believed to be controlled by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which is now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

VICE News reported in July that the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which is run by DHS, “serves around 300 communities in northern California and is what is known as a ‘fusion center,’ a Department of Homeland Security intelligence center that aggregates and investigates information from state, local, and federal agencies, as well as some private entities, into large databases that can be searched using software like Palantir. “ VICE further noted that this center alone used Palantir to surveil as many as 8 million Ameicans. There are many more such DHS “fusion centers” throughout the United States.

If the Trump administration moves forward with its proposal of employing technology to detect potential mass shooters before they strike, Palantir’s technology is set to be used, given that it has already been used by U.S. law enforcement and U.S. intelligence to determine which people run “the highest risk of being involved in gun violence,” according to an investigation of Palantir by The Verge. Furthermore, Palantir’s close ties to the Trump administration make the company’s role in a future nationwide “pre-crime” prevention system based on technology appear inevitable.

Peter Thiel founder of CIA-funded Palantir, listens as Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with tech leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 14, 2016. (AP/Evan Vucci)

Palantir founder Peter Thiel listens to Trump during a meeting at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 14, 2016. Evan Vucci | AP

Worse still is the apparent overlap between Palantir and Main Core. Palantir — which has obvious similarities to PROMIS — is already known to use its software to track potential terror threats, including domestic terror threats, and a category of people it refers to as “subversives.” Palantir’s tracking of these individuals “is all done using prediction.” Palantir’s close ties to the U.S. intelligence community suggest that Palantir may already have access to the Main Core database. Tim Shorrock told MintPress that Palantir’s use of Main Core is “certainly possible,” particularly in light of the company’s use of the term “subversive” to describe a category of people that its software tracks.

Palantir also has alleged ties to Israeli intelligence, as there have long been suspicions that Israeli intelligence has used Palantir as part of its AI “pre-crime” algorithms targeting Palestinians after Palantir opened a research and development (R&D) center in Israel in 2013. The current head of Palantir Israel, Hamultal Meridor, previously founded a brain-machine interface organization and was senior director of web intelligence at Verint (formerly Comverse Infosys), which has deep connections to Unit 8200, a history of espionage in the United States and was one of the two companies contracted by the NSA to insert a “backdoor” into the U.S. telecommunications system and popular products of major American tech companies.

Given the above, Peter Thiel’s 2018 decision to fund Carbyne, the Unit 8200-linked start-up that markets itself as a technological solution to mass shootings in the U.S., strongly suggests that Thiel has been anticipating for some time the now-public efforts of the Trump administration to employ “pre-crime” technology to track and target Americans who show signs of “mental illness” and “violent tendencies.”

A nightmare even Orwell could not have predicted

In early August, in the wake of the shooting at an El Paso Walmart, President Trump called on big tech companies to collaborate with the Justice Department in the creation of software that “stops mass murders before they start” by detecting potential mass shooters before they cnm act. Though Trump’s ideas were short on specifics, there is now a new proposal that would create a new government agency that will use data gathered from civilian electronic devices to identify “neurobehavioral” warning signs, thereby flagging “potential shooters” for increased surveillance and potentially detention.

This new agency, as proposed by the foundation led by former NBC Universal president and vice chairman of General Electric Robert Wright, would be known as the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) and would be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Per the proposal, recently detailed by the Washington Post, the flagship program of HARPA would be “Safe Home” (Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes), which would use “breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence,” specifically “advanced analytical tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

The program would cost an estimated $60 million over four years and would use data from “Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home” and other consumer electronic devices, as well as information provided by health-care providers to identify who may be a threat.

The Washington Post reported that President Trump has reacted “very positively” to the proposal and that he was “sold on the concept.” The Post also noted that Wright sees the president’s daughter, Ivanka, as “the most effective champion of the proposal and has previously briefed her on HARPA himself.” Ivanka has previously been cited as a driving force behind some of her father’s policy decisions, including his decision to bomb Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack in 2017.

Liz Fed — president of the Susan Wright Foundation, which is led by Robert Wright and created the proposal for HARPA and “Safe Home” — told The Post that the proposal emulated DARPA because “DARPA is a brilliant model that works. They have developed the most transformational capabilities in the world for national security…We’re not leveraging the tools and technologies available to us to improve and save lives.” Fed further asserted that DARPA’s technological approach had yet to be applied to the field of healthcare.

For anyone familiar with DARPA, such claims should immediately sound loud alarm bells, especially since DARPA is already developing its own solution to “mental health” issues in the form of a “brain-machine interface” as part of its N3 program. That program, according to reports, involves “noninvasive and ‘minutely’ invasive neural interfaces to both read and write into the brain,” help distance soldiers “from the emotional guilt of warfare” by “clouding their perception” and “to program artificial memories of fear, desire, and experiences directly into the brain.” Though N3 is intended to improve the prowess of American soldiers, it is also set to be used as a means of pursuing DARPA’s Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) project, which aims to “to develop a tiny, implanted chip in the skull to treat psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, PTSD and major depression.”

Given that HARPA’s lead scientific adviser is Dr. Geoffrey Ling, former director and founder of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO), which “merges biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security,” it seems likely that DARPA’s neurological-focused research programs, like SUBNETS and N3, would be folded into HARPA’s portfolio, making the proposed agency’s approach to mental health very questionable indeed.

Aside from the dystopian nature of both DARPA and potentially HARPA’s approach to mental health, there is grave cause for concern regarding the Trump administration’s moves to address U.S. mass shooting events by implementing pre-crime technology based on artificial intelligence, data-mining and mass surveillance, technologies already laying in wait thanks to companies like Palantir and numerous Israeli tech start-ups led by former Unit 8200 officers.

With companies like Carbyne — with its ties to both the Trump administration and to Israeli intelligence — and the Mossad-linked Gabriel also marketing themselves as “technological” solutions to mass shootings while also doubling as covert tools for mass data collection and extraction, the end result is a massive surveillance system so complete and so dystopian that even George Orwell himself could not have predicted it.

Following another catastrophic mass shooting or crisis event, aggressive efforts will likely follow to foist these “solutions” on a frightened American public by the very network connected, not only to Jeffrey Epstein, but to a litany of crimes and a frightening history of plans to crush internal dissent and would-be dissenters in the United States.

Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

Mind-reading AI may spell end to humanity as we know it

Mind-reading AI may spell end to humanity as we know it, but not because it will enslave us – Zizek

Mind-reading AI may spell end to humanity as we know it, but not because it will enslave us – Zizek

While the two technopreneurs engaged in a heated discussion over the possibility of humans being controlled by machines in the future, the senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana shared his thoughts on the issue with RT.

Our brain being connected to a machine is not a utopia

What I am studying now is the so-called phenomenon of wired brains, a possibility of our brains being connected with strong digital machines. And that is not a utopia. In the media lab at MIT, Massachusetts, they already have simple machines like that. It is like a helmet, nothing intrusive, they put it on your head.

And then something horrible happens – I saw the video – you think certain thoughts, you do not say anything, and the machine reproduces them either in writing or with artificial voice.

The primitive level machines can already read your thoughts. It is ok, if it involves your agreement but what if it is done (and it is easy to imagine that) without you knowing it?

Now, there is a serious option to read our thoughts, not just our emotional attitudes like being angry or sad but even the line of our thoughts in our mind. The next step in this “utopia” will be a computer that can read my thoughts and your thoughts that can connect us so that we can share our thoughts. If you and I are connected through the same computer, I can literally participate in your thinking directly without any external communication like word typing.

As you probably know, modern technology theorists Ray Kurzweil and Melanie Swan called it a new form of divinity.

It will no longer be a transcendent God but all of us sharing our thoughts through some AI cloud system. Millions of people will be participating together in a new form of awareness. I find this prospect pretty horrifying.

We are entering a post-human era if computers can identify & share a person’s thoughts

We as human beings are precisely what we are, free individuals as far as we can be sure that you do not know what I am thinking. I think what I think, I am free in my mind. What happens if I cannot be sure even of this?

If I think about something and computer can identify what I am thinking and then share it with others, we are really entering a post-human era. I believe that we should not be just fascinated about what it means technologically.

Do you not agree that we should worry about who will control these digital machines?

I do not have fears about the machines controlling us. We are not there yet. However, who will control this, who will use this? What remains of our freedom? Private companies, like Google or Facebook, are already developing similar technologies.

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I see it as the biggest threat to our freedom. We will literally become transparent. Let’s think about the everyday consequences of this. All flirting will be out. I meet someone and instead of all the lovely games of erotic hints she can read ‘I want to go to bed with you’ and the eroticism will disappear.

Another simple example is everyday politeness. Let’s say we know each other but we are not mega-close friends. I see you on the street and say the usual polite things like: “hello, how are you? I am glad to meet you.” But if you can read my mind this is nonsense because this is politeness and I do not mean it. Usually, I do not care how you feel.

This intrigues me very much. What is happening? How will it affect our everyday manners, our old civilization social inventions? All our cultivated interactions are based on this.

There is another thing.

What new way of suffering and torture can be developed in this way? Can you even imagine someone controlling your mind? What can they do to you? What horrible thoughts can I implant into your mind? There might be images [of] your nearest terribly tortured, and so on.

I know this is not a joke. It is a very serious thing.

Lying will become more complicated and more privileged

If we imagine this happening in a society where economic and power relations are structured the way they are now, I think, this will mean that the privileged ones will be those who will be able to conceal their minds, who will exclude themselves from this network.

Not everybody will be controlled in the same way. That’s the first problem, who will control the game and who will be excommunicated?

It is always like this. The first thought when a new spying device is developed usually is ‘how can I escape it?’ The privilege is to be outside of it. Lying will become more complicated but it will also become more privileged.

Computers are smarter on mechanical level, but lack the ability to simplify

An idea of AI beating humans in the field of intellect in fact depends on how you define being smart. If by smart you simply mean a more complex mathematical or logical operation as well as knowing more data, computers are definitely smarter. Yet, there is still hope for us.

The greatness of [the] human mind is not in knowing all the details but in picking out from the multitude of data to catch the essence and simplify it.

A book by a Soviet psychologist Aleksandr Luria titled ‘The Mind of a Mnemonist’ describes a guy with perfect memory. He remembered almost everything that he read and saw. The psychological consequences of this were horrible because he knew so much [that] he could not decide anything, the moment he wanted to take a decision, hundreds of other data popped up in his mind. He lacked the great ability of simplification.

Computers can be smarter than us on some mechanical level – and even in learning – but I do not think they can deal with the phenomenon of simplification.

Robots will not take menial jobs, they will be tasked with planning

Today’s paradox is that we are afraid of robots that could supposedly take our jobs, but those of us who work, work more than ever. Second, we still have the idea that robots will do the primitive work for us and we will just plan what they are doing. In many companies, from McDonald’s to those which do day services, it is robots that do the planning and individuals that execute it.

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In McDonald’s everything is programmed by robots and ‘stupid’ people just serve other people. It eventually depends on the social order, if we remain in the same capitalist order, in which we are, it will be even worse than today.

There is a possibility, a hope, that we will work less. Yet, many new stupid forms of amusement might fill our free time. I still believe in work and creativity. If we do not have enough things to do, even if we will feel happy just sitting, watching films and drinking, it will be a very stupid existence. It will soon get dire.

It is not technology as such, it is how we will use technology socially.

Western Humanitarian Interventionism and Moral Bankruptcy

It is high time for French diplomacy to renounce the dogma of pseudo-humanitarian interference and “Human Rightism” that has not served the interests of the countries it has targeted.

Geopolitical myopia? French President Emmanuel Macron leaves after delivering a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris.(AP)
Geopolitical myopia? French President Emmanuel Macron leaves after delivering a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris.(AP)

The issue of defending human rights and democracy, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, has been enshrined as dogma by Western countries that like to define themselves as guardians of the “free world.”

During the Cold War, this question was used as a formidable weapon to bring down the Soviet Union, as acknowledged in his memoirs by French sociologist Raymond Aron. In this ideological aspect of the global war waged by the United States and the Soviet Union, French diplomacy was not fully involved in what would become, after the collapse of communism, the West’s main weapon against all states qualified as “recalcitrant.”

Until now, the type of international relations championed by French diplomacy was based on recognition of the sovereign state as the central actor. This was the pillar on which the United Nations was created after World War II. French diplomacy did not recognise regimes but states. After all, isn’t the first role of a state to defend its interests?

Some dominant circles, probably inspired by the myth of “the End of History” so dear to the American ideologist Francis Fukuyama and understood by them as synonymous with universal triumph of liberalism, believe in the mission of the West: to convert the rest of humanity to the Western democratic model reduced to the dogma of individualism, erasing governments for the benefit of markets, unelected NGOs and perceiving media as a business venture rather than a democratic counterbalance.

We have seen the disastrous effects of this human rightist ideology, championed by France in the Middle East and North Africa during the last three decades.

All means were good to destabilise, under the pretence of defending human rights and democracy, this very sensitive and strategic region of the world, even by joining forces with the most reactionary and anti-democratic governments and movements in the region, such as political Islam represented by the Muslim Brotherhood and sponsored by Turkey and Qatar.

Despite the desolation, the terror and the bloodshed that this posture, or should I say this ideological imposture, has sown, these liberal apprentice wizards in Europe and the United States refuse to admit their mistakes and defeat. They are preparing to redouble their ferocity, always in the name of the same pretence that is contrary to the flow of history and to their own national interests.

We can see their masquerade happening in Libya, where France supports a pseudo-legitimate government in Tripoli, defended on all fronts by Islamist militias (always the Muslim Brotherhood and its sponsors) and gangs of traffickers of all kinds, all in the name of “democracy” and human rights.

These catastrophes make you wonder if this type of diplomacy is geopolitical myopia or a planned strategy to destroy any idea of ​​a development-focused state that meets the fundamental demands of its people, the only type apt to defend human rights in their entirety.

One remembers the strategy and campaign of destabilisation of the MENA region aggressively pursued by Reporters without Borders and funded by both the Quai d’Orsay and the US State Department, to promote free press in the world. The former director of this NGO is Robert Menard, who is today very close to the French extreme right, which is engaged in a veritable witch hunt against immigrants and Muslims.

If, with the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, exporting democracy has given way to exporting goods and assets and the financing of NGOs responsible for exporting democracy has almost disappeared, the risk of having this disastrous policy make a comeback is real if the Democrats win the 2020 elections in the United States.

Former French Minister of Justice Robert Badinter, who was responsible for abolishing the death penalty in France, despite the opposition of the majority of French citizens, found the right words to denounce the duplicity of France’s Human Rightist diplomacy: “When France prides itself on being the motherland of human rights, it is just a figure of speech; France is the home of the declaration of human rights. To go further than that is a matter of historical blindness.”

In a famous article published by Le Monde diplomatique (December 2000), Hubert Vedrine, former adviser to former French President Francois Mitterrand and French foreign minister during the period of co-rule between the socialists and the neo-Gaullists (1997-2002), was the one who gave perhaps the best definition of this new conception of a “Human Rightist” diplomacy, which, of course, he opposed. For his stance, Vedrine drew the fire of the self-proclaimed NGOs championing this new diplomatic and democratic morality.

“Since becoming minister of Foreign Affairs, I have been repeatedly forced to distance myself from an emerging new ‘doxa’ in international relations,” he wrote.

This new dogma, or “doxa” as he called it, was massively defended and spread by the United States and the European Union, including France, through the creation and funding of so-called democracy-exporting NGOs, and is based on the premise that “states are monsters cold, opaque and repressive; realism is cynicism and international relations are the domain of choice; the reason of state is always hateful; History no longer counts and we are in an entirely new world where we must privilege “civil society” at the national and international levels. Anything that constrains and shrinks states — markets, public opinion, media, judges, NGOs — is good.”

We have seen, with the emergence of the ill-named “Arab spring” and coloured revolutions, where this “constructive”-chaos-generating doxa can lead. In this context, Ahmed Bensaada’s excellent book “Arabesque Americaine: Le role des Etats-Unies dans les revoltes de la rue arabe” (“American Arabesque: The Role of the United States in the Arab Street Revolts”) is a must-read to understand the harmful extent of this disastrous diplomacy that reached its peak under the Sarkozy and Hollande presidencies, especially in Libya and Syria.

A doctor in physics, Bensaada is also an Algerian political scientist living in Montreal. His remarkable investigation was published in Brussels and Algiers.

The arrival at the Elysee Palace of Emmanuel Macron, a creation of the socialist Francois Hollande who escaped his creator, initially sparked hope that this moralising posture would give way to realpolitik in French diplomacy. Two years later, however, there was disillusionment. Despite a slight change in narrative, the same past practices under his two predecessors have been maintained.

It is high time for French diplomacy to renounce the dogma of pseudo-humanitarian interference and “Human Rightism” that has not served the interests of the countries it has targeted nor its own interests..

Hong Kong Protesters Blindly Ask Trump To “Liberate” Their City, Forgetting How He “Liberated” Raqqa, Syria

Rhetoric versus Reality: How the ‘most precise air campaign in history’ left Raqqa the most destroyed city in modern times

U.S. flag-waving Hong Kongers urge Trump to “liberate” city

Protesters wave US national flags as they march from Chater Garden to the US consulate in Hong Kong on September 8
Protesters wave American flags as they march to the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Vivek PrakashAFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters marching to the United States consulate Sunday sang the U.S. national anthem and called on President Trump to “liberate” the Chinese-controlled territory as police looked on, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: This is the latest in a series of weeks-long demonstrations that have plunged the Asian financial hub into the worst crisis for decades. The protests show no sign of abating, despite Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam saying on Wednesday that she was formally withdrawing a bill that would have seen citizens extradited to mainland China — a key demand of protesters.

  • Hong Kongers have enjoyed a high degree of autonomy since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997, and pro-democracy protesters are concerned there may be a crackdown by Chinese authorities.

The big picture: Protesters say the announcement of the bill’s withdrawal was “too little, too late” and that several of their key demands had not been met.

  • The Chinese government has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks, comparing demonstrators to terrorists on several occasions and accusing the U.S. and the United Kingdom of encouraging the protests.
  • The U.S. State Department updated its Hong Kong travel advisory, warning that U.S. citizens and consular employees had been the targets of a recent propaganda campaign by China “falsely accusing the United States of fomenting unrest.”


Pres. Trump Cancels Secret Camp David Meeting w/Taliban Leaders, After Latest Brutal Attack

[SEE:  Former Diplomats Prefer Slow-Motion Defeat In Afghanistan To Trump’s “Rush To Failure”

Afghanistan will never find peace until either the Afghan Taliban (reconstituted in 2003 as the ‘neo-Taliban’) are once again destroyed, or until the second Afghan Civil War is fought-out and won.  The Taliban of Mullah Omar have consistently refused to negotiate with American “puppets”, or with America while the American occupation continues.  Current negotiations w/Taliban reps in Qatar are NOT PEACE TALKS, but instead, are negotiations to remove Western forces from Afghanistan…only then, will the Taliban seriously enter ‘peace talks.’]

Trump also said he had called off negotiations with the insurgent group after Taliban leadership claimed credit for a deadly attack in Kabul.

The announcement came days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

In a series of tweets, the president condemned Taliban commanders for an attack in the Afghan capital that killed 11 civilians and a U.S. service member and questioned whether the leaders of the militant group could negotiate a “meaningful” peace agreement.

Trump said that the Taliban had admitted to the suicide car bombing “in order to build false leverage” and that he had called off negotiations with the Afghan insurgent group as a result, scuttling negotiations when the two sides appeared close to reaching a deal. It was not immediately clear if the president’s tweets would permanently stop negotiations.


“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people,” Trump tweeted.

“I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?” he asked.

“They didn’t, they only made it worse! If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway. How many more decades are they willing to fight?” Trump finished.

The White House has not provided more information about the president’s tweets in response to a request from The Hill. The details surrounding the meeting referenced by Trump were unclear.

The Trump administration has been negotiating for months with Taliban leaders from the group’s political office in Doha, Qatar, despite the group’s refusal to engage directly with the Afghan government, which it views as a U.S. puppet.

A spokesperson for the militant group took credit for a Monday bombing in Kabul that killed 12 people in an interview with The Associated Press, claiming that it gave the group a stronger bargaining position.

“[W]e understand that peace talks are going on … but they must also understand that we are not weak and if we enter into talks … we enter from a strong position,” the spokesperson said.

Five Taliban assailants were reportedly shot and killed by Afghan security forces following the attack.

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad announced earlier this week that the Trump administration had reached an agreement “in principle” to shutter several bases and withdraw 5,000 troops from the country within about five months in exchange for a peace deal with the Taliban.

Military leaders have argued for the need or a continued presence in Afghanistan, where the United States currently has roughly 14,000 troops. Trump has also faced pressure from his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who have warned against a full withdrawal from the worn-torn country.

Trump said in late August that he planned to withdraw a substantial number of troops from Afghanistan but leave a presence of 8,600 service members.

Trump was asked about the status of negotiations with the Taliban and whether he was ready to sign onto an agreement on Wednesday. The president said negotiations were continuing and that “we’re going to see what happens.

“We’re going to be talking to them.  We’re continuing to talk.  We’ve been there 19 years,” Trump told reporters Wednesday afternoon during an event announcing grants to help states fight the opioids crisis.

“We’d like to get at least a big proportion of them home,”  Trump said of U.S. service members in Afghanistan. “We also have NATO troops there.  We’d like to bring a big portion of them home.  So we’re talking to the Taliban; we’re talking to the government.  We’ll see what happens.”

Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 has unloaded its oil in Tartus, Syria

Iranian Tanker Grace1 Clearly Heads To Baniyas, Syria, Despite US Threats and Bluster

TEHRAN – Sources have said that Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 has unloaded its oil at a port in Syria, Tasnim quoted the Middle East Eye as reporting on Saturday.

Adrian Darya 1 had been at the center of a dispute between Tehran and certain Western countries. It was photographed by satellite off the Syrian port of Tartus, a U.S. space technology company said on Friday, according to the Guardian.

Maxar Technologies Inc said the image showed the tanker Adrian Darya 1 very close to Tartus on September 6. The ship appeared to have turned off its transponder in the Mediterranean west of Syria, ship-tracking data showed. The tanker, which was loaded with Iranian crude oil, sent its last signal giving its position between Cyprus and Syria sailing north last Monday afternoon.

The vessel, formerly named Grace 1, was detained by British Royal Marine commandos off Gibraltar on July 4 as it was suspected to be en route to Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said that intelligence suggested the tanker was heading to Tartus, which is a short distance from its last-known position – 45 nautical miles (83km) off the coast of Lebanon and Syria.

Washington had warned any state against assisting the ship, saying it would consider that support for Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. The U.S. Treasury blacklisted the tanker on Friday.


National Suicide/Mass-Murder Epidemic Exposes the Fraudulent “American Dream”

The Real American Carnage

Whenever a mass shooting occurs — which is to say, fairly regularly somewhere  in America these days — investigators scour for clues as to the “motive” of the gunman.

Often, as was the case in El Paso two weeks ago, the shooter espouses some sort of political ideology, whether it be homegrown white nationalism or foreign-based anti-Americanism.

On occasion, individuals with mental illness are the perpetrators.

But just as often, as was the case in the country music shooting in Las Vegas two years ago, there is no discernible motive, other than that the shooter simply is unhappy and frustrated with his lot in life.

That appears to have been the situation with this past weekend’s shooting spree in Texas by a 36-year-old man who was fired from his job and who was described by his neighbor as a loner.

In short, the shooter fit a certain profile — a young, white male with no money, no wife or girlfriend, no children, and no prospects.

However, each and every one of these shootings, regardless of the perpetrator’s motive, have two things in common: Innocent Americans are being shot while going about their daily lives and the shooter had military-style weaponry that allowed him to kill and maim dozens of Americans with a single pull of the trigger.

About 13,000 innocent Americans are slaughtered by guns every year in this country. (There also are about 26,000 suicides by guns each year).

To put that 13,000 figure into perspective, that is almost twice the number of American soldiers who have been killed in the entirety of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cumulatively over the past 15 years, 7000 American soldiers lost their lives in our Mideast wars, while 200,000 innocent Americans have been killed by gunfire right here in America. In addition to those who died, more than one million Americans have been shot and wounded in the past 15 years.

When President Trump used the term, “American Carnage,” in his Inaugural Address, it was not entirely clear what he was referring to.

However, given that more Americans are shot, killed, and maimed by guns every year on their home soil than anywhere else in the world, our American Carnage is indeed, very real.


Suicide rates are rising, especially in rural America

Rates among people in rural counties were 25 percent higher than those in major metropolitan areas.

Albanian President Claims Country Narrowly Avoided “Soros Destabilisation Plot”

[ Global Menace and Threat To Democratic Freedom Everywhere…International Subversive George Soros  ]

President Ilir Meta alleged that Albania had managed to avoid a domestic and international conspiracy to “capture the state”, led by US billionaire philanthropist George Soros, although he offered no evidence for his claim.

Albania President Ilir Meta at a press conference in Tirana on Tuesday. Photo: Gent Shkullaku/LSA

Ilir Meta told a press conference on Tuesday that there had been a domestic and international plot against Albanian democracy aimed at destabilising the country during disputed local elections at the weekend.

The Albanian president accused billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros of being responsible for what he called “a conspiracy aimed at totally capturing the state”.

Meta offered no evidence to support his claims, and no details about how the alleged plot was intended to unfold or how it was thwarted.

His comments came after the main opposition parties, including Meta’s former party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, refused to participate in the country’s local elections on Sunday.

Meta claimed that the destabilisation plot was supposed to be enacted on Sunday but failed because “Albanians didn’t fall prey to the provocations”.

The opposition had threatened to disrupt Sunday’s polls, but did not do so.

Meta’s allegations come amid heightened political tensions in Albania, where his former party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, currently led by his wife Monika Kryemadhi, has been staging protests in an attempt to oust the Socialist-led government of Prime Minister Edi Rama, which it accuses of enlisting the help of organised crime to control the country’s elections.

Meta was elected president in 2017 with the support of Rama’s Socialists.

But the Albanian parliament, controlled by Rama, has put Meta under investigation and is seeking to fire him from the position of president.

The opposition boycott of Sunday’s polls led to a contest for mayoral and local council seats in which Rama’s Socialists went almost unchallenged.

International observers from the OSCE/ODIHR monitoring mission said the near complete absence of opposition participation in the polls meant that they involved no meaningful choice and were held “with little regard for the interests of the electorate”.

The Socialists, however, claim that the turnout was high enough to confirmation the credibility of the result in the eyes of Albanians.

Rama’s party now controls central and local government, as well as being accused of already controlling or strongly influencing other institutions that should be independent.

Meta claimed at his press conference on Tuesday that the alleged conspiracy’s aim was “total state capture, in Albania but not only here”.

“I do have some words about honoured billionaire George Soros. I failed to listen carefully to [Hungarian Prime Minister] Viktor Orban in January 2000, when I was speaking with love about George Soros because, truth be told, he helped us when we were in opposition, and he [Orban] told me: ‘Be aware because he is not that democratic and often conspires against democracy,’” he said.

Meta also called for fresh parliamentary elections this year.

In recent years, Soros has become the subject of many conspiracy theories about his alleged powers of political manipulation, often circulated by those who oppose his financial support for liberal causes.

Indian “Hindutva,” Zionist “Wannabes”

[Search Results for: hindu zionists]

Both Hindutva, the Hindu nationalistic agenda, and Zionism share a common ambition to build supremacist democratic states with a single culture, a single race and a single nation UN resolution 3379 made reference to a resolution adopted three months earlier by the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union), that drew comparisons between the racist and colonial projects in South Africa and Israel.

“The racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regime in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being,” the OAU resolution 77 (XII) read.

A landmark resolution

India was one of 72 nations, mostly former colonies, that brought life to a landmark resolution that found Zionism to be a fundamentally exclusionist ideology, responsible for the demarcation of Palestinians as second-class citizens.

At the time, India was part of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, playing a trailblazing role in the isolation of Israel’s close collaborator, South Africa.

India was one of 72 nations that brought life to a landmark resolution that found Zionism to be a fundamentally exclusionist ideology

Sixteen years later, the Cold War would be over, and the world was a different place.

In 1991, Israel made the revocation of Zionism-as-racism a precondition for its participation at the Madrid Peace Conference held the same year, thus forcing the UN to hold a new vote. Resolution 3379 was repealed. India voted for its revocation, too.

The establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel followed in 1992. The liberalisation of India’s economy led to shifts in its foreign policy and a rewiring of its priorities on the global stage.

India also began pursuing closer ties with Israel, independent of their commitment to the Palestinian peace process, while New Delhi’s voting patterns on the peace process remained unchanged at the UN.

But whereas it had once considered Zionism, the ideology that underpins the establishment of the state of Israel, as a type of racism, the further alignment of India and Israel’s defence concerns, especially in lieu of the US “war on terror”, saw its solidarity with the Palestinians in the 2000s gradually dilute to one of lip service and a politics of respectability.

And then came Narendra Modi.

The rise of Hindutva

In 2014, the Hindu-nationalist politician became India’s new prime minister.

As a life-long member of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) group, that had long-held ambitions to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra, or a Hindu state, Modi has brought the process of reshaping India in the image of its majority right to the highest level of the state.

Under Modi, a country that once held Zionism to be racism, no longer has an interest in keeping up the facade of a solidarity with the Palestinian

It is the RSS which gave birth to Hindutva, the Hindu nationalistic agenda at the heart of Modi’s India. Hindutva has little to do with the practices or beliefs of Hinduism itself.

And though the RSS found its inspiration in Adolf Hiter and the “cultural nationalism” and “race pride” of Nazism, Modi and Netanyahu quickly bonded in 2014 over their zealous objective to consolidate total and absolute power over their territories.

They also recognised in each other the similarity of their ambitions to build supremacist democratic states with a single culture, a single race and a single nation.

The relationship immediately translated into technological and agricultural exchange and new partnerships. Though India has been purchasing arms from Israel for close to two decades, under Modi, India purchased 46 percent of all arms sold by Israel. Israel is now India’s largest arms supplier, with an estimated $1bn worth of military sales per year.

Pakistani activists burn a banner bearing the images of Modi, Netanyahu and Trump during a protest against the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem in Islamabad on 13 May, 2018 (AFP)
Pakistani activists burn a banner bearing the images of Modi, Netanyahu and Trump on 13 May, 2018 (AFP)

Apoorva PG, South Asia coordinator for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS), told Middle East Eye that India was now deeply “complicit in Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler colonialism, and apartheid”.

Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017, the first by a sitting Indian PM, put to rest any lingering doubts about his commitment to Israel. Netanyahu described the visit as “tearing down the final walls dividing our countries”.

Since then, the connection between Hindutva and Zionism as kindred spirits has taken on a life of its own. For one, just as criticism of Israel and Zionism is conflated with anti-Semitism, proponents of Hindutva allege Hindu-phoba in the face of critique or condemnation of its ideology.

Gandhi and Israel

At an event on 26 August, and easily one of the first of its kind, organised by the Israeli consul-general in Mumbai in conjunction with the Indo-Israel Friendship Association, two ideologues celebrated the closeness between Hindutva and Zionism.

Whereas noted Zionist historian Gadi Taub, from the Hebrew University, regaled the crowd on the failures of multiculturalism and the need for a single national identity, Subramaniam Swamy, an MP with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), invoked Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilisations” in explaining the need for Zionism and Hindutva to work against a common enemy.

Despite talk of equal citizenship, Indian Muslims and Christians cannot belong to “the Hindu race” and are under constant pressure to prove their “loyalty” to the Hindu state

“Zion is today under attack from Islamic extremists, and therefore both of us should come together to fight the Islamic terror forces,” Swamy said. 

The closest Taub ventured into India’s earlier politics – when the RSS was banned – was to say that “there is a lot to admire about [Mahatma] Gandhi and many Israelis do, but he was not a supporter of Zionism”.

That Taub would casually raise Gandhi – conveniently glazing over the fact he was killed by a Hindu nationalist from the RSS for refusing to adopt the very supremacist philosophies they had adopted from Nazism and today from Zionism – is itself an historical absurdity.

But what is fascism besides the blunting of reason?

Taub is certainly well aware that his country’s tiered citizenship has become the example Hindu nationalists wish to replicate. Just as non-Jews are scapegoated and treated as second-class citizens in Israel, and Palestinian history is appropriated and written out of text books, much of the same is underway in India.

Kashmir and Palestine

In India, despite talk of equal citizenship, Muslims and Christians cannot belong to “the Hindu race” and so they are under constant pressure to prove their “loyalty” to the Hindu state. Their history, too, is shameful and an aberration to Hindu India, culminating in changes to school text books and curriculums.

When it comes to Palestine and Kashmir, India and Israel are oppressors-in-arms

Read More »

The historical revisionism, as many have pointed out, only advances the interests of the ruling party.

Even the annexation of Kashmir in early August is part of a promise made by the RSS to unify all of Hindu civilisation that, according to Hindutva, was quashed under the boots of outsiders, ie Muslims.

As Kapil Komireddi writes in The Washington Post, Modi’s action in Kashmir was a message to all that “no one is exempt from the Hindu-power paradise he wants to build on the subcontinent. Kashmir is both a warning and a template: any state that deviates from this vision can be brought under Delhi’s thumb in the name of ‘unity’.”

And those deemed to be “imposters” can be ruled as anti-nationals or simply erased. Last week, more than 1.9 million people, mainly Muslims, were stripped of the citizenship in the north-east state of Assam. In a flash, they became stateless.

Under Modi, India – a country that once held Zionism to be racism – no longer has an interest in keeping up the facade of solidarity with the Palestinians. India is now led by a man and an organisation that fantasise of turning the country into Israel.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Illustration by Mohamad Elaasar.

Azad Essa | Reporter
Azad Essa is a senior reporter for Middle East Eye based in New York City. He worked for Al Jazeera English between 2010-2018 covering southern and central Africa for the network. He is the author of The Moslems are Coming (Harper Collins India) and Zuma’s Bastard (Two Dogs Books).

“Heartless Capitalists” Learning To Give Out of Fear of the Angry Mob

  • Breaking decades of fidelity to “shareholder capitalism,” the Business Roundtable declared corporations should serve their communities as well as their owners.

  • Skeptics dismissed that as “virtue-signaling” to mollify the anti-business left. But what if the Roundtable signaled a broader turning point, toward reordering America’s relationship with the free market itself?

  • Early 21st century discord points toward that possibility. “The Economists’ Hour,” a new book by New York Times journalist Binyamin Appelbaum, helps explain how we got here.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

The Business Roundtable made news last month. Breaking decades of fidelity to “shareholder capitalism,” it declared corporations should serve their communities as well as their owners.

Skeptics dismissed that as “virtue-signaling” to mollify the anti-business left. But what if the Roundtable signaled a broader turning point, toward reordering America’s relationship with the free market itself?

Early 21st century discord in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere points toward that possibility. And “The Economists’ Hour,” a compelling new book by New York Times journalist Binyamin Appelbaum, helps explain how we got here.

Appelbaum traces the rising influence of economists, and the values their discipline embodies, in government decision-making since World War II. Milton Friedman, along with John Maynard Keynes the most influential among them, ushered in the concept of shareholder capitalism in 1970.

Against a Cold War backdrop pitting capitalism against communism, both Democrats and Republicans embraced market forces as the way to sustain prosperity and solve social problems simultaneously. They produced mixed results.

Consumers and business owners benefited more than workers without special skills. Millions lost their livelihoods to foreign competition.

Soviet communism collapsed, and living standards rose in the developing world. Yet rising integration with the global economy didn’t halt the long-term slowdown in U.S. growth.

“The embrace of markets lifted billions of people around the world from abject poverty,” Appelbaum writes. “Nations have been tied together by the flows of goods and money and ideas, and most of the world’s 7.7 billion people live wealthier, healthier and happier lives as a consequence.”

He adds: “But the market revolution went too far. In the United States and in other developed nations, it has come at the expense of economic equality, of the health of liberal democracy and of future generations.”

In impressive detail, Appelbaum catalogs the ways that revolution reached beyond conventional economic policy. As Americans rebelled against the Vietnam draft, for example, economists advocated the superiority of an all-volunteer force. Volunteers have fought every war since.

To sustain the 1960s boom, Keynesians offered fiscal stimulus from tax cuts and spending increases. To curb inflation, Friedmanites prescribed tight monetary policy even at the cost of a brutal early-1980s recession. To boost stagnant growth, supply-siders promoted one tax cut after another.

America deregulated airlines and Wall Street in the name of enhancing choice and competing internationally. It loosened antitrust enforcement and applied cost-benefit analysis for health and safety rules. It created new marketplaces for everything from acid rain pollution to foreign currency fluctuations. It sent U.S. economists to influence choices by governments abroad.

These efforts aimed to limit distortions imposed by political choices in the belief that efficient markets produce better outcomes for society as a whole. Politicians could use government to help market casualties later.

As it happened, casualties outpaced attempts to assist, and government investments in sources of future prosperity shrank. Large swaths of society fell behind economically while the best-educated moved ahead and the most fortunate soared above everyone else.

“A few people became rich beyond the wildest dreams of Croesus,” Appelbaum observes, “but the middle class now has reason to expect that their children will lead less prosperous lives.”

The financial crisis and the Great Recession bared and exacerbated those consequences in ways that 10 years of recovery have not erased. The rise of angry populism suggests “the economists’ hour” has passed.

President Trump took office vowing to end the “carnage” in America’s industrial heartland, though his tax and tariff policies show no sign of doing so. Nor does the drive for Brexit still convulsing British politics.

Trump’s 2020 Democratic opponents promise tax, spending and regulatory interventions to lift the working class at the expense of corporations and the rich. Corporate leaders themselves, as the Roundtable made clear, recognize something has to change.

“Capitalism basically is not working for the majority of people,” as billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio puts it. “That’s just the reality.”

What could make it work for more of them? Beyond specific steps such as better safety net programs and stronger unions, Appelbaum proposes more democracy – that is, more choices by elected leaders to elevate equity for their constituents over the marketplace efficiencies that economists celebrate.

“Markets are constructed by people, for purposes chosen by people,” Appelbaum concludes. “And they can be changed and rebuilt by people.”

Trump Tries To Provoke Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Once Again

Iranian flag
The program’s goal is to get information about the finances of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which President Donald Trump has designated a terrorist group. | Vahid Reza Alaei/AP Photo via Fars News Agency

U.S. unveils unusual $15 million reward program targeting Iranian military group

The goal is to get more information about the financing for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist group.

The reward program — unusual in that it targets a foreign state entity — is the latest of many moves the U.S. has taken under President Donald Trump to pressure Iran’s Islamist regime. But it’s likely to further undermine efforts by Europeans and Trump himself to find a diplomatic opening with Tehran.

The reward program’s goal is to get more information about the financial mechanisms of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which Trump has designated a terrorist group.

Hook insisted that despite greenlighting such punitive moves, Trump still wants to negotiate a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Tehran. Trump “believes very much in bilateral diplomacy,” Hook said.

There is widespread speculation that Trump will try to get a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly later this month. But Iranian officials have rebuffed such overtures from Trump in the past.

“Anything is possible,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

Examples of what might lead to a U.S. reward under the program include information about the Revolutionary Guard’s involvement in oil sales or details about front companies that operate on the group’s behalf.

Separately on Wednesday, the Treasury Department unveiled new economic sanctions on Iran. The sanctions target an Iranian petroleum shipping network directed by the Quds Force, a special unit of the Guard.

Earlier this week, the U.S. also imposed sanctions on Iran’s space program, saying the efforts are simply advancing Iran’s ballistic-missile activity.

“There will be more sanctions coming,” Hook said Wednesday.

Iranian officials, meanwhile, have said they will further reduce their commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal by the end of this week, despite efforts by European leaders to keep the deal intact. Under the deal, the country scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

After pulling out of the nuclear deal, Trump reimposed those sanctions on Iran and then piled on numerous additional sanctions, badly hurting the Iranian economy.

In retaliation, Iranian officials have taken a few steps to back away from the 2015 deal and appear more inclined to pull out of the deal altogether.

French officials this week have been talking to Iranian and U.S. officials about coming up with a way to give Iran a line of credit worth billions of dollars to entice Tehran to fully adhere to the agreement and pave the way for more diplomacy.

But that line of credit would require some easing of U.S. sanctions. And Hook sounded dismissive of the idea in general, saying the U.S. has no plans to tamp down its “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran.

“There’s no concrete proposal that has been generated,” he added about the credit line idea. “We have to see a change in Iranian behavior, which we still haven’t seen yet.”

Global Civil Society and the Transnational state 

What Is a GONGO?

The US Pushes “Polyarchy”, A Type of Dictatorship, NOT DEMOCRACY

Civil society: technical instrument or social force for change?

The Anatomy of Globalist-Funded Sedition

How the CIA Operates Through Non-Governmental Agencies

Civil society as a metaphor for western liberalism

Transnational state 



The theory of an emergent transnational state (TNS), as coined by sociologist William I. Robinson (2001), claims that through globalization a nascent political, juridical and regulatory network is coming into existence worldwide. This notion rests upon the idea that a dominant social force, a transnational capitalist class (TCC), propels globalization through transnational corporations (TNCs) (Robinson & Harris 2000). The TCC, to promote and ensure its power, requires a concomitant political project. Such a political project would involve, for example: (i) promoting investor confidence in the global economy, (ii) setting up mechanisms and institutions for responding to economic, political, and military crises that threaten the stability necessary for global markets, and (iii) establishing a degree of macroeconomic policy uniformity across borders. 

A restructuring of the world economy in the era of global capitalism has also occurred alongside political restructuring. Emphasizing economic development through incorporation with global capital, state elites increasingly work to transfer state resources from “program oriented ministries (social services, education, labor, etc.) to central banks, treasuries and finance and economic ministries, and the foreign ministry” (Robinson 2001: 186). Over recent decades, more and more state elites have shared in this overarching project, which is ultimately in the interest of the TCC. State institutions, penetrated by transnational social forces, are changing, and, as Robinson suggests, in many ways are being incorporated into an emergent transnational network. Pushed by global capital and the policies of numerous institutions and powerful states (most importantly, the United States) such transformative processes continue to occur around the world yet are also held back by numerous divisions, inherent contradictions, and forms of resistance. 

In this way, the emergent TNS is an analytical abstraction for understanding how many national and supranational state institutions around the world are transforming through globalization, as the practices and ideologies of the state elites who operate them have become tied in a variety of ways to the promotion and accumulation of global capital. In this shift, a “loose network comprised of supranational political and economic institutions together with national state apparatuses” is being “penetrated and transformed by transnational forces” (Robinson 2007: 131). Robinson has looked in depth at how various social groups and strata and the institutions they operate through have become further incorporated into processes of global capitalism, for example, looking at how this has played out in recent history in countries such as Haiti, Nicaragua, the Philippines, South Africa, regionally in Central America, and across the Americas (Robinson 1996, 2003, 2008). As many socioeconomic processes increasingly occur as functionally integrated (to different degrees) across borders it becomes more difficult for social scientists to reduce such processes as bound to the “nation-state.” 

Even the unilateral invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the United States, for example, can be understood as a conflict through the scope of global capitalism. Fractions of the TCC aligned with the US national state benefit from the intensified incorporation of new zones into global capitalism, as do many other fractions as time has passed. But still, even with different local conditions, and as tactical and strategic differences occur, transnationally oriented elites share in many overarching interests and processes. 

While sharing in the view that global capitalism is a new epoch in the history of world capitalism, and that we should move beyond the idea of only US imperialism as behind the fundamental structure of our global system, the idea of an emergent TNS should not be confused with a vague and faceless Empire as described by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000; also Sprague 2011). Rather, the idea of a TNS as an analytical abstraction helps us to frame and study historical processes in the context of broader class and social relations. 

Other scholars have constructed theories to explain the intensification and transnational nature of networking through globalization. Manuel Castells (2009) puts forward the concept of a network society, where transnational networks of small and medium firms have come about during the era of global capitalism. Leslie Sklair (2002) conceptualizes a global system, where globalist and localist social groups conflict within national states. Saskia Sassen (2001) theorizes the concept of the global city, where large metropolises become centralized nexus points of the capitalist system. However, none of these concepts explain well the role of transnational social forces in asserting new power dynamics around the world. 

During the final decades of the twentieth century a restructuring of the world economy occurred. This occurred alongside a political restructuring, with power “redistributed in society, and also within the national state apparatus itself, toward emergent transnational nuclei of local dominant groups” (Robinson 2001: 186). With the collapse of the reciprocal agreements between capitalists and labor (the Fordist or Kensyian models), neoliberal policies throughout the late twentieth century propelled a transformation of state institutions around the world. Robinson, from a neoMarxian approach, suggests we first look at the sociological undercurrent of how such changes to state institutions have occurred through globalization. 

By rejecting Weberian conceptions of the state and drawing inspiration instead from the writings on political economy by theorists such as Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci and Nicos Poulantzas, Robinson seeks to examine state transformation as connected to ongoing processes linked to socioeconomic forces novel to the historical present. While recognizing the importance of historical processes, it is Robinson’s contention that for much of the world the dominant social forces are no longer national or international capitalists, but, rather, increasingly transnational capitalists operating through TNCs. This is especially important in considering how transnationally- and nationally-oriented social groups are operating in the current epoch. 

To better access global capital, many state elites have transformed, taking on practices and ideologies connected with this phenomenon. Robinson proposes we can consider the transformation of the state during the epoch of global capitalism in relation to how these elites and the apparatuses they operate have developed. In this manner, state elites increasingly operate not as elites bound to the nation state but as transnational elites, as purveyors of a TNS project with practices and ideologies that have become in many ways connected to transnational processes and the accumulation of global capital. This idea poses a challenge to both classical theories of imperialism and to Weberian nation-state centrism, as such a network “seeks to create and maintain the pre-conditions for the valorization and accumulation of capital in the global economy, which is not simply the sum of national economies and national class structures” (Robinson 2001: 167). 

As a tenuous multilayered project, interconnected with local, national, and regional processes, the emergent TNS is made up of three components: (i) national states, (ii) supranational political forums, and (iii) supranational economic forums. Within these three components are TNS apparatuses: various national and supranational institutions, agencies, and ministries all undergoing transformative processes in the era of global capitalism. According to Clark and Dear, “generally speaking, the term ‘state apparatus’ refers to the set of institutions and organizations through which state power is exercised” (1984: 45). In the contemporary era of globalization, Robinson argues that many state elites (operating through national states as well as supranational economic and political forums) have developed new practices and have become ideologically tied to the promotion of global capital. Some are attempting (though greatly struggling) to develop new coordinative relations:

 … an emerging network [which]… has not yet acquired a centralized institutional form… multilayered and multicentered. It links together functionally institutions that exhibit distinct gradations of “state-ness,” that have different histories and trajectories, and that are linked backward and forward to distinct sets of institutions, structures, and regions (Robinson 2004: 88). 

Still, the national state increasingly penetrated by transnational social forces, maintains practices long-associated with functions of the nation-state (police, taxation, public works, etc.), however, qualitatively new practices and ideologies have become deeply embedded. Transnational elites and technocrats believe that to develop they must insert their national states and institutions into global circuits of accumulation (Robinson 2010; Dominguez 1996). They need access to capital, and capital is in the hands of the TCC. However, state elites must still appeal to their home audiences. They still interact with a variety of national social groups as well as those groups that are transnationalizing. Because of this, even as ties with the TCC deepen, national rhetoric and national state policies occur that are in apparent contradiction with TCC interests. In this way, political leaders attempt to maintain national political legitimacy while deepening practices of a global nature. As these state elites become entangled with and dependent upon processes of global capital accumulation they increasingly transition from taking part in national or international processes to transnational processes. Observing such phenomena in Central America in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, where national states were penetrated by transnationally oriented dominant groups both from “within” and from “without,” Robinson argues: 

… From “within,” transnationalized fractions vied for, and gained control over local states, particularly over key ministries tying each country to the global economy and society… From “without,” diverse transnational actors representing an emergent TNS apparatus penetrated local states, liaised with transnationalized fractions therein, and helped design and guide local politics… (Robinson 2003: 217–218). 

Robinson suggests that in addition to national states, supranational economic and political forums make up the emergent TNS. The economic forums include the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and smaller regulatory authorities such as the Bank of International Settlement. Political forums include the G20, UN, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), as well as regional political groupings, such as the European Union, and regulatory institutions, such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Still, the activities of transnational elites are incoherent and their project unsustainable, as Robinson explains via Marx’s crisis theory. Even with today’s conjuncture of capitalist crisis, global warming, and rising inequality around the world, transnationally oriented elites have sought in different ways to stabilize the system or promote the accumulation of global capital. Robinson argues that in carrying out their strategies they have focused often on certain key sectors of state institutions, pushing them away from projects of national development and instead toward policies more transnationally geared:

 … In this way “chunks” of national states break off and become functional parts of a TNS. These ministries and branches become de-nationalized; transnational entities linked organizationally to nation-state institutions. They do not become representatives of some other nation-state, as nationstate theories suggest, but of transnational capital and the transnational state elite (Robinson 2003: 217–218). 

Others have begun to use the idea of an emergent TNS. George Liodakis writes that “the transnational dialectic of capitalist transformation is rapidly leading from the historical international system of nation-states and the traditional forms of nation-state centered class struggle to a transnational class formation, an emerging transnational state (TNS) and a rising significance of transnational class struggle and solidarity” (Liodakis 2010: 65). A group of scholars, utilizing the world systems approach, acknowledge, “it is important to theorize the transnational state and to study its emergence” (Chase-Dunn et al. 2008: 5). A number of other recent studies have in different ways pointed toward the transnationalization of state apparatuses or ways in which transnational processes converge with the state (Chimni 2004; Dent 2003; Djelic & Drahos & Braithwaite 2004; Helleiner et al. 2010; Jacobsson et al. 2003; Jayasuriya 2005; Sahlin-Andersson 2008). 

Kanishka Jayasuriya suggests that the idea of a TNS “forces us to explore how the national state has been transformed through the transnationalization of state actors and institutions. It compels us to confront the way global capitalism has rendered conventional notions of statehood” (Jayasuriya 2004: 6). While Jayasuriya recognizes that the ongoing transformation of the state is linked to novel socioeconomic forces, he describes this process as occurring through various institutional mechanisms such as “complex systems of multi-level regulation, meta-governance, and systems of soft law” (quoted in Sprague 2010: 128). He adds the transnationalization of state apparatuses is occurring in part through the rise of a global regulatory regime characterized by processes of “decentralized enforcement”, whereby supranational institutions lay down standards for member states and monitor their compliance rather than directly regulating their activities (Jayasuriya 1999: 452). 

Jerry Harris stresses looking at the TNS relative to its nascency, coming into existence slowly and waveringly, its networks lagging behind the development of TCC networks for example. By utilizing the state as a tool of transformation, many dominant transnational groups are pushing attempts at integration or to stave off global economic collapse. Harris adds that states have undergone important changes with the rise of new social forces in past historical periods as well. For example during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, he explains that capitalist classes captured Parliament and the state “in a prolonged political struggle with the landed gentry”, adding that: 

History shows that states can undergo a radical shift in purpose without a violent revolution… A similar transformative process is now taking place in countries throughout the world where differences between globalists and nationalists policies define the terrain of local political struggle (Harris 2006: 56–57). 

Scholars have also used the idea of a TNS and its apparatuses in empirical studies. William Avilés writes of the “role of an incipient transnational state in initiating, modifying and implementing Plan Colombia” (Avilés 2008: 411). He argues that theories of US imperialism cannot account for what are more nuanced transnational processes. Pointing out the transnationality of corporations active in Colombia, he observes “a commitment by actors in the USA and Colombia to a transnational order of neoliberal economics and ‘market democracies’ as well as the existence of a transnational policy network that eased the policy-making process” (Avilés 2008: 426). The goal of such a project as Plan Colombia, Avilés points out, is to bring about further integration into a global capitalist economy, even as the United States remains the most powerful state promoting this process. 

In one particularly interesting case study, Robyn Magalit Rodriguez examines national state agencies in the Philippines and their role as TNS apparatuses in promoting the exploitation and exportation of labor. She examines, for example, the facilitation by certain Philippine state institutions of transnational processes tied to the accumulation of global capital, how, “through this transnational state apparatus, research is conducted to determine broad, global demands for Philippine labor, while more focused research in particular countries examines which specific industries are experiencing shortages of labor and/or whether those particular countries offer visa categories that would allow Philippine migrants to enter for employment” (Rodriguez 2008: 796). With growing coordination between state elites, “Philippine migration officials and bureaucrats have increasingly become experts in the global field of ‘migration management,’ working as consultants to other labor-sending countries or playing host to delegation from other countries because of the Philippines’ highly developed migration bureaucracy” (Rodriguez 2010: 145), working closely with countries in their region such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China, as well as with supranational institutions and government ministries in labor receiving countries in Europe, the Persian Gulf and North America. State officials pointed out to Rodriguez how memorandums of agreements to ensure exchange of information had been developed with other countries; some officials were working for other governments to aid the development of their migration programs. She explains how supranational institutions, or forums, like the WTO and the ASEAN meanwhile facilitate and lay out standards, working toward “greater mobility of labor both regionally and globally” (Rodriguez 2010: 146).

In sum, the idea of a TNS helps us conceptualize a nascent global network of national and supranational state institutions by examining how apparatuses within this network have become interpenetrated by elites that are transnationally oriented. In this manner, even as this project is inherently contradictory and crisis-prone, through such ideas we can seek to understand how dominant state strata are engaging in shifting practices and ideologies connected to the promotion of global capital. The state, rather than disappearing or returning, is continuing to transform but in ways peculiar to the epoch of global capitalism. Importantly, as Robinson and others suggest, sustainable forms of resistance and alternative models of development must grapple with these changing conditions. 

SEE ALSO: Anti-capitalism; Capitalism; Globali zation and inequality; Governance; International Monetary Fund; Nation-state; Neoliberalism; Network society; Restructuring; Standardization; Transnational capitalist class; Transnational corporations; World Social Forum; World-systems analysis; World Trade Organization. 

Former Diplomats Prefer Slow-Motion Defeat In Afghanistan To Trump’s “Rush To Failure”

US envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad talks with Afghans after a debate at Tolo TV channel in Kabul, Afghanistan April 28, 2019. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)

This is a collaborative product of former US diplomatic officials who have worked on Afghanistan.

We strongly support a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, a limited force drawdown as part of getting peace negotiations going, and the substantial force drawdown later that peace would allow.

Equally strongly, we believe that US security and values, including support for women, require that a full troop withdrawal come only after a real peace. How our troop presence is managed will have a critical influence on the chances for successful peace negotiations, the future of the fight against the Islamic State, and the chance for Afghans to pursue representative government.

A few critical guard rails stand out in order to avoid the risk of Afghanistan becoming a new center of terrorism harboring groups dedicated to attacking the United States and to avoid betraying our own values by depriving Afghans of the chance to determine their own future.

Much of the current debate has focused on the substance of US-Taliban negotiations, which will become clearer as more details of the agreement announced September 2 are revealed, and the effects of a substantial US troop withdrawal as part of a peace settlement. The devil is in the details, however.  Understanding which details matter requires considering a few points.

First, it is not clear whether peace is possible. The Taliban have made no clear statements about the conditions they would accept for a peaceful settlement with their fellow Afghans, nor do they have a track record of working with other political forces.

Secondly, there is an outcome far worse than the status quo, namely a return to the total civil war that consumed Afghanistan as badly as the war with the Russians and something that could follow a breakdown in negotiations if we remove too much support from the Afghan state. If the State totters, those with nasty memories of life under the Taliban will fight on. That disaffected group would include Afghanistan’s minorities, which together comprise a majority of the Afghan population.

In a civil war, there would be large areas of the country in which the Islamic State (IS) presence could expand its already strong foothold. Regional and other players such as Iran, Pakistan, and Russia would all support Afghan allies, likely fueling the fighting. Under these circumstances it is likely that the Taliban would maintain their alliance with al-Qaeda. All of this could prove catastrophic for US national security as it relates to our fight against both al-Qaeda and IS, and it would underscore to potential enemies that the United States and its allies are not reliable.

This gives rise to the first essential point: a major troop withdrawal must be contingent on a final peace. The initial US drawdown should not go so far or so fast that the Taliban believe that they can achieve military victory. In that case, they will not make compromises for peace with other Afghan political forces.

The second point goes to core US values. Whether or not the United States wants or is willing to keep some forces engaged, we should not undercut the legitimate government in Afghanistan by keeping them out of negotiations. Giving way to the Taliban’s refusal to negotiate with Afghan government would let the Taliban determine with whom it will negotiate. Afghans deserve to determine their government and who will represent them in peace negotiations.

For this to happen, there is a strong argument that presidential elections planned for September should go forward. Millions of Afghans have risked, and again are prepared to risk, death to vote. It is not up to the United States to deprive them of this opportunity to determine who speaks for the Afghan state.

One widely debated alternative to elections now calls for creating an interim government instead. The argument is based on two main ideas. One is that elections may require a runoff (required by the Afghan constitution if the winner of the first round has less than a 50 percent margin). This could take months, be disputed, and delay peace negotiations. The second is that a newly elected government will not be willing to negotiate new arrangements necessary for peace with the Taliban.

However, it is vital to recall that there is no consensus among non-Taliban Afghans now on who would form such an interim government. The internal division and the record of the last forty years suggest that the struggle to decide who would be in such an interim government and what positions they would have would be long, quite possibly as long as the delay over holding an election. As for the issue of a newly elected president’s willingness to negotiate needed institutional changes, all candidates could be pressed to make a clear statement that they are open to constitution changes that might be required by a peace accord.

The Taliban have spoken vaguely of a reduction of violence but have made it clear that the war will go on against the Afghan government. And, whatever the Taliban might agree, there will still be a war with IS. Hence, while we agree strongly that negotiations are essential, it is equally essential that the Afghan state have a government able to govern and fight while negotiations take place, as well as a chance to sustain itself if negotiations fail.

The Afghan military is already paying a heavy price, but morale and willingness to fight would be seriously undermined by the lack of a central government authority. A major risk is that the Afghan military would break apart with increased doubt about what it is fighting for, and the country would return to civil war leaving space for al-Qaeda and IS to grow, whether or not the Taliban is sincere about pledges to break its long-term alliance with al-Qaeda.

The fundamental point, however, is that the United States should not be determining the answer to such an essential issue for the future of the Afghan people. That decision must be theirs.

We are not suggesting either that the United States must negotiate terms of peace or that the United States should fight on with the current level of forces until a peace agreement is reached. Nor do we believe that sunk costs in lives or money alone justify continuing the war.

We do believe that to protect our security interests we must not leave completely until peace is achieved. Further, we must not betray all those who have believed our promises or stepped forward with our encouragement to promote democracy and human rights including highly important progress in women’s rights. We must not yank so much support from our Afghan friends that they are unable to protect themselves or the chance to keep moving forward with a representative democracy.

What then are we advocating?

A major withdrawal of US forces should follow, not come in advance of real peace agreement. While some reduction of troop numbers is possible to start negotiations, counterterrorism forces and US/NATO airpower need to remain to deal with the terrorist threat of IS (and al-Qaeda) as much as the Taliban. Any troop withdrawal schedule should not go on to an automatic glide path determined by dates rather than conditions.

A fundamental mistake of the Obama administration was the constant repetition of dates for departure.  This encouraged the Taliban to fight on and undercut confidence among friendly Afghans. That this preference for dates was a serious mistake was recognized by US President Donald J. Trump’s original policy declaration of August 2017; it is still a correct approach.

Some may say that this is just a concealed way to keep the United States and its allies engaged in a major war. This is not so. In fact, our current involvement is no longer a major war for us. The Afghans are already doing almost all of the fighting and the dying. US fatalities are tragic, but the number of those killed in combat make up less than 20 percent of the US troops who died in non-combat training incidents last year. US direct military expenditures in Afghanistan are approximately 3 percent of annual US military spending, down by about 90 percent from the high point of the war. As the Afghan air force improves, something that is now happening, the costs and personnel can drop further. The lives and money being expended are serious, but the costs are ones we can sustain for negotiations to result in a sustainable peace, something that will only happen if the Taliban believe they too must make compromises.

If a peace agreement is going to succeed, we and others also need be committed to continued support for peace consolidation. This will require monitoring compliance, tamping down of those extremists opposed to peace, and supporting good governance and economic growth with international assistance. This promise of sustained US and international engagement would give space to see if the Taliban and Afghan government have significant common interests, such as avoiding civil war, maintaining international economic assistance for a very weak economy, defeating IS, and responding to widespread war fatigue among Afghans to serve as basis of successful talks, eventual agreement, and effective implementation.

It is critical that the United States make clear that full withdrawal will not occur on fixed dates but will, on the contrary, require conclusion of a real and clearly defined peace. Continued and unambiguous support for Afghan elections, should Afghans choose that course, allied with a determination to maintain residual counterterrorism forces, air support, and economic assistance, will give Afghans a chance to determine who negotiates for them without being undermined. The United States and our international partners should then vigorously support a new leadership’s serious engagement to negotiate the peace that the vast majority of Afghans desire.

Ambassador James Dobbins was the US special envoy for Afghanistan from 2001-2002 and US special representative for Afghanistan from 2013-2014. 

Ambassador Robert P. Finn was the US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2002-2003.

Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann was the US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005-2007.

Ambassador William Wood was the US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2007-2009.

Ambassador John Negroponte was US deputy secretary of state from 2007-2009 and director of national intelligence from 2005-2007.

Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne, was US deputy ambassador to Afghanistan and coordinating director for development from 2009-2011. He is also a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker was the US charge d’affairs in Afghanistan in 2002 and the US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2011-2012.

Ambassador James Cunningham was US deputy ambassador to Afghanistan in 2011 and US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2012-2014. He is also a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

Ambassador Hugo Llorens was US assistant chief of mission in Afghanistan from 2012-2013 and charge d’affairs from 2016-2017.

Saudi Airstrike On Yemeni Prison Kills Over 100 Saudi Allies

Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen rebel-run prison kill more than 100

Saudi-led airstrikes killed at least 100 detainees in Dhamar, Yemen, on Sep.1, 2019.

A Yemeni Red Crescent staffer takes part in search and recovery efforts at a detention center reduced to rubble by airstrikes in Dhamar, Yemen, on Sept. 1, 2019. More than 100 detainees have been killed and about 40 others wounded in Saudi-led airstrikes that targeted the prison run by Houthi rebels.
(Yahya Arhab / EPA/Shutterstock)

Yemeni medics said Monday that they pulled dozens of bodies from the rubble of a Houthi rebel-run detention center that was hit a day earlier by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, killing more than 100 people and wounding dozens.

The attack was one of the deadliest in more than four years of war in Yemen that have claimed tens of thousands of lives, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi-led coalition, which has fought the Iran-backed Houthis since 2015, has faced international criticism for airstrikes that have hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties, killing thousands of civilians.

By late Monday, Yemen’s Red Crescent said 88 bodies had been pulled from the ruins of the detention center in the southwestern province of Dhamar. Bashir Dawrani, a spokesman for Yemeni Red Crescent in Dhamar, said 53 bodies were recovered Sunday and 35 on Monday before search efforts halted for the night.

About 170 detainees were at the facility when the airstrikes hit Sunday. The International Committee for the Red Cross said that 40 wounded were being treated for injuries while the rest were presumed dead, and that it would probably take days to recover all the bodies. The complex of buildings was part of the local community college before the Houthis turned it into a detention center, one of dozens in areas under their control.

Security officials said the detainees were captured forces loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognized government as well as civilians who had been arrested for criticizing the Houthis in recent years. The officials spoke anonymously because they weren’t authorized to talk to reporters.

Abdul-Qader Murtaza, a Houthi leader, said Sunday that both the Red Cross and the Saudi-led coalition knew there were detainees being held at the site.

The Red Cross, which inspects detention centers as part of its global mission, said Sunday that it previously visited detainees there.

Col. Turki Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said in a televised news conference Monday that it had bombed a “legitimate military target,” and blamed the Houthis for using the former college as a detention center for forcibly disappeared Yemenis.

He said the Red Cross never told the coalition that detainees were at the site, which he said was not on a U.N.-coordinated no-strike list. The U.N. provides the coalition with coordinates for locations such as hospitals, schools and official prisons to ensure they are not hit by airstrikes.

“The only known prison [in the area] is located 10 kilometers [6 miles] north of the targeted site,” he said.

Former detainee Mansour Zelai said that the Houthis were repairing weapons in and near the detention center. Several other detainees said the same via posts to social media, and said the center had come under airstrikes before.

Rights groups have also previously documented that the Houthis use civilian detainees as human shields by placing them in detention centers next to army barracks, under constant threat of airstrikes.

Residents said the center also held their imprisoned family members, arrested for being critical of the Houthis.

The Abductees’ Mothers Union, an association of female relatives of detainees jailed by the Houthis, said “dozens of abductees and people who were disappeared by force” elsewhere in Yemen had been brought to the center from other areas under rebel control.

The mothers’ group said some detainees had died of torture in the center and called for an international investigation into Sunday’s airstrikes and abuses against the detainees.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Yemen confirmed Sunday that 52 detainees were among the dead.

Dawrani, the Red Crescent spokesman, said the wounded had been taken to hospitals in Dhamar and the Yemeni capital, Sana. Dhamar is about 45 miles south of Sana.

Yemeni officials said dozens of families, mainly from Houthi-controlled areas, had arrived in Dhamar to identify bodies or visit wounded relatives. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

The Houthis also said Monday that they had met with Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, in the capital of neighboring Oman to discuss a long-awaited implementation of a peace deal between the warring sides, which was brokered last year in Stockholm.

Elsewhere in Yemen, security officials said clashes flared up for several hours Monday in oil-rich Shabwa province. The fighting took place between forces loyal to the Saudi-backed government and southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.

Heavy fighting in recent weeks between the two sides — a subplot within a broader narrative in which they are ostensibly allies in the Saudi-led coalition — has added another layer to the complex civil war in the Arab world’s most impoverished country.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said government forces had blocked the southern separatists from taking control of the town of Azzan, a former stronghold of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch.

A joint Saudi-Emirati committee met with the combatants and reached a cease-fire later in the day, the officials said.

The CIA’s “Civilian Army” In Afghanistan

NED, the Legal Window of the CIA

The CIA’s “Army”

A Threat to Human Rights and an Obstacle to Peace in Afghanistan

Astri Suhrke1 and Antonio De Lauri2
Chr. Michelsen Institute

August 21, 2019


Afghan paramilitary forces working with the United States Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) have long been a staple in the US war on terrorism in Afghanistan and the
border region with Pakistan. The problems associated with these militias take on new
significance given the recent momentum in talks between the US government and the
Taliban about the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. Whose interests do the
militias represent? How can they be integrated into a peace agreement – if at all? Will
their use value for the US in future counterterrorist operations outweigh the case for
closing them down in the service of human rights and a sustainable peace? The militias
are at least nominally controlled by their CIA paymaster, but to what extent will the
operations of the CIA be monitored and streamlined with overall US policy towards

The CIA-supported militias are a particularly troublesome version of the
regionally based militias in Afghanistan that have developed over the years around local
strongmen with external support. The present units originate in the 2001 invasion,
when US military forces and the CIA organized Afghan militias to fight Islamist militants.
Almost two decades later, the CIA is still running local militias in operations against the
Taliban and other Islamist militants. Throughout, the militias reportedly have
committed serious human rights abuses, including numerous extrajudicial killings of
civilians. CIA sponsorship ensures that their operations are clouded in secrecy. There is
virtually no public oversight of their activities or accountability for grave human rights

1 Astri Suhrke is Researcher Emerita at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway.
2 Antonio De Lauri is Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, where he
coordinates the research group Humanitarianism, Aid and Border.


This paper pulls together publicly available information about the CIA’s “Afghan
army,” charts the problems it represents for creating a sustainable peace settlement in
Afghanistan, and examines possible measures for addressing these problems.

The Development of Afghan Militias and the CIA’s Army.

During the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, the CIA played an important role in
American efforts to assist various Afghan rebels, who invoked the duty of holy warriors
(mujahedin) to fight against the Soviet forces and the Afghan communist government.
The rapid collapse of the government forces following Soviet military withdrawal in
1989 brought the mujahedin to power in 1992. Soon, however, the mujahedin began to
fight among themselves, leading to the rise of the faction calling itself taliban (students).
At this point, the CIA, which had scaled down its presence in the country when the
mujahedin took power, reengaged. Claiming that the Taliban in the 1990s was
supporting international terrorism by allowing the militant Islamist movement alQaeda (the Cell) to operate from Afghanistan, the agency clandestinely supported rival
Afghan mujahedin factions that were fighting the Taliban. When al-Qaeda attacked the
US mainland in 2001, the CIA thus already had a long history and well-established
infrastructure in Afghanistan. This enabled the Agency to rapidly spring into action after
September 11. Operatives equipped with cell phones and large bundles of dollar bills
entered the country on a mission to mobilize Afghan militias.

In accounts by US military historians, the use of Afghan militias in 2001 to
rapidly defeat the Taliban regime and scatter Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda fighters is a
major success story.3 Although bin Laden himself evaded capture, US Special Forces and
CIA operatives paid local Afghans to form militias to work with the US-led coalition.
They found ready recruits among ex-militia leaders and other strongmen who had
opposed the Taliban, switched sides, or returned from exile in Pakistan and Iran. Many
had latent networks of supporters that were easily mobilized. The militias also enabled
the US to run search and destroy operations in the eastern and southeastern part of the
country in 2002-2003 with only few American boots on the ground.

Yet in the next phase of the US-led international operation – the move from
invasion to stabilization and so-called “nation-building” – the well-paid and wellequipped militias formed a complex, de-centralized structure of military power that
posed serious problems. By 2003, the militias were slated for demobilization as part of
the “nation-building” transformation, its members to be disarmed and either returned
to civilian life or reintegrated in a new, regular Afghan national army. The large United
Nations (UN) program launched for this purpose had limited success, however. One
reason was the unwieldy structure of the international operation. The leadership was
divided among the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), NATO (itself running a manyheaded operation in the country), the US military command (CentCom), and the
numerous governments represented in Kabul that participated in the international

3 Wright, Donald P. et al. (2009, June). “A Different Kind of War”. Kansas: Combat Studies
Institute Press. Retrieved from:

operation by contributing soldiers, money or technical assistance. As a result, getting
consensus on most policies was time-consuming and difficult. In this case, the US
military did not fully support the demobilization program, claiming the militias were
necessary in the continuing war against the Taliban. Another main hurdle was the
opposition of many militia leaders themselves, who in a worst-case scenario could turn
their forces against the international operation. This nightmare scenario haunted
Western diplomats and UN officials who had a mandate to promote peace and stability
in the war-torn country and made them reluctant to pressure the militia leaders. Finally,
as in any disarmament program of this kind, the opportunities for cheating by falsifying
numbers and hiding the best weapons were numerous.4 The program’s very modest
results demonstrated that once established, militias are very hard to build down. In
Afghanistan, they barely got a chance (like old soldiers) to “fade away” during the middecade stabilization years before the international operation once again changed
After 2006, when the Taliban clearly was reviving and the insurgency against the
foreign military presence intensified, the US government formally reversed its policy
towards militias: local militias should no longer be disbanded, but supported as a key
component in a new counterinsurgency strategy. US Special Forces initially organized
these militias at the local level, presenting them in public as village defense units. Some
central government figures, including President Hamid Karzai, were at first reluctant to
endorse this practice as policy, fearing an erosion of centralized control and sovereignty
by the Afghan government. Yet the government’s heavy military and economic
dependence on the US gave it limited room for opposing US initiatives, particularly
those advanced by the US military command in Afghanistan. Many Afghans also stood to
gain economically and politically from the build-up of new military units. Placing the
units under the Ministry of Interior gained the support of officials in that ministry.
Appearing under various names, the program was eventually called the Afghan Local
Police (ALP) with units in many parts of the country.5
Some militias were not placed under the Ministry of Interior, however, but were
run separately by US Special Forces and CIA operatives. While the Special Forces
command (later the Joint Special Operations Command, JSOC) and the CIA apparently
developed a rivalry in controlling the Afghan militias, the competition was muted by the
Pentagon’s practice of lending active duty members of the Special Forces to the CIA
through its so-called Omega Program.6 The CIA itself has few paramilitary officers. The
Agency’s Special Activities Division was reported in 2017 to number only in the

4 Sedra, Mark. (2006). “Security sector reform in Afghanistan: The slide towards
expediency.” International Peacekeeping, 13:1, 94 – 110.
5 Lefèvre, Mathieu. (2010, May 27). “Local Defence in Afghanistan. A Review of
Government-Backed Initiatives.” Kabul: Afghan Analysts Network. Retrieved from:; Goodhand, Jonathan and
Hakimi, Aziz. (2013, December 13). Counterinsurgency, Local Militias, and Statebuilding
in Afghanistan. U.S. Institute of Peace, Peaceworks.
6 Clark, Kate. (2017, October 26). “CIA-proxy militias, CIA-drones in Afghanistan: ‘Hunt
and kill’ déjà vu”. Retrieved from:

hundreds, and it has a global field of mission.7 Rostering Special Forces from the
military as its own enabled the CIA to vastly expand its covert missions. By 2010, Bob
Woodward claimed in a much-cited passage from his book on the Obama administration
that the CIA had an army of 3,000 Afghans, called Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams,
institutionalized with the acronym CTPT.8 As discussed in more depth below, they were
paid and trained by the CIA and the Special Forces and protected by the ring of secrecy
surrounding their sponsoring agents. As such, they were distinct from the militias
established under the formal Afghan Local Police program. Yet the formal, public
program to employ militias as a fighting force also served to facilitate and legitimize the
proliferation of militias that formed the CIA’s army.
The CIA’s army was not designed for classic counterinsurgency operations and
definitely not for “winning-hearts-and-minds.” Their mission was to hunt and kill
“terrorists.” This became clearer after the major withdrawal of US and Coalition forces
in 2014. Initial speculation that withdrawal would spell reduced support for the Afghan
militias proved wrong. The CIA and its Afghan army instead became more important as
a means to pursue the war covertly, with attendant low political visibility in the US.
In 2015, the CIA helped its Afghan counterpart, the National Directorate of
Security (NDS), to establish new Afghan paramilitary units to fight militants allegedly
aligned with the Islamic State who reportedly were active in the northeastern part of
the country.9 The new NDS unit added significantly to the total number of irregular
forces supported by the CIA.10 Two years later, in 2017, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo
publicly announced that a policy change to use the militias more intensely was under
way. The CIA would expand its operations in Afghanistan, targeting Taliban as well as
al-Qaeda. Small teams of CIA-rostered officers would spread out alongside Afghan units

7 Mazzetti,Mark; Kulish, Nicholas; Drew, Christopher; Kovaleski, Serge F.; Naylor, Sean
D.; and Ismay, John. (2015, June 6). “Seal Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and
Blurred Lines.” The New York Times. Retrieved from:
8 Woodward, Bob. (2010). “Obama’s Wars: The Inside Story.” New York: Simon and
Schuster, p. 8. The information was separately confirmed by the US National Public
man-cia-army-conducts-operations-in-pakistan. At the time, their main operations
appeared to be against targets across the border in Pakistan.
9 “NDS forms a unit of special forces to counter expansion of Islamic State in
Afghanistan,” by a Zariza correspondent, 2 July 2015.
10 Raghavan, Sudarsan. (2015, December 3). “CIA runs shadow war with Afghan militia
implicated in civilian killings.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from:

in a campaign the Director promised would be “aggressive,” “unforgiving,” and
The CIA’s Army: Who Are They and How Do They Operate?
Little is publicly known about the CIA’s Afghan army. Nevertheless, investigative
journalists, concerned analysts and human rights activists have pieced together the
covert program’s basic outlines. The “army” has two types of components. One is a set of
older units whose relations with the CIA go back to the offensive operations carried out
during and immediately after the 2001 invasion. They work closely with the agency. The
most well-known and powerful of these is the Khost Protection Force (KPF), which
operates out of the CIA’s Camp Chapman in the northeastern province of Khost.12
Importantly, the KPF is an illegal armed group in the sense that its existence has no
basis in Afghan law and no formal place in the state security apparatus or its budget, as
the UN has emphasized.13
A second type of unit is the formally designated Special Forces of the Afghan
intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS). It has four main units,
numbered from 01, and each has a regional area of operation: NDS-01 operates in the
Central Region, NDS-02 in the Eastern Region, NDS-03 in the Southern Region, and NDS04 in the North.14 This is the only transparent and publicly known part of their
organization. The NDS Special Forces exist in a regulative twilight zone. The NDS is
heavily funded by the CIA, and its Special Forces have a close working relationship with
CIA operatives – according to most reports, they are trained and paid directly by the
CIA. As a result, information about their size, operations, funding and command
structure is not publicly disclosed.15 In the temperate language of the UN mission in
Afghanistan (UNAMA), the operations of NDS Special Forces, like those of the Khost
Protection Force, “appear to be coordinated with international military actors, that is,
outside the normal Governmental chain of command.”
16 In UNAMA reports, the term
“military actors” commonly refers to the CIA, as distinct from the term “US military
forces.” Afghan institutional control over the NDS Special Forces also appears to be
tenuous. The UN mission concluded in 2018 that “these forces appear to operate outside

11 Gibbons-Neff, Thomas; Schmitt, Eric; and Goldman, Adam. (2017, October 22). “A
Newly Assertive C.I.A. Expands Its Taliban Hunt in Afghanistan.” The New York Times.
Retrieved from:
12 Its equivalent in the south is the Kandahar Strike Force, which appears to have been
less active in recent years. Another “first generation” unit in the CIAs army, called
“Afghan Security Guards,” is based in Paktika in the northeast and seems to have folded
into the local ALP. See Clark 2017.
13 UNAMA 2019, p. 37.
14 UNAMA 2019, p. 41 (note 158).
15 Clark 2017, and
16 UNAMA, Afghanistan. (2019, February). “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.
Annual Report 2018.” p. 42. Kabul, Afghanistan. Retrieved from:

of the regular NDS chain of command, resulting in a lack of clear oversight and
There is no public disclosure of the size of the CIA-supported units, but they
probably have more than doubled since the 3,000 estimate used by Woodward in 2010.
One well-informed analyst maintained in 2017 that NDS-02 alone had 1,200 men.18
Among the older units, the Khost Protection Force was said to have 4,000 members in
2015.19 Three years later, in 2018, estimates of the KPF size were “anywhere from 3,000
to over 10,000.”20 Other than that, all we know is that the CIA-sponsored forces are
uniformed and well-equipped, sometimes work with American English-speaking men
during raids, use English phrases, and have also been able to call in air strikes, likely by
the American military, which executes most of these strikes.21 The paramilitary forces
are also very well paid, which may be a principal reason why highly skilled and capable
Afghans would want to join the units.22
The secrecy of the CIA program greatly compounds the difficulties of
ascertaining facts about civilian casualties and related violence involving progovernment forces in Afghanistan. These problems notwithstanding, the UN, human
rights organizations and investigative analysts have documented a pattern of abuse and
possible war crimes of the kind that are emblematic of paramilitary forces operating
with impunity, unconstrained by political or judicial accountability.
The paramilitary units are mainly used in night operations against residential
areas harboring suspected militants, so-called “search operations.” The operations
typically lead to high civilian casualties (see Figure 1). UNAMA, which has reported on
civilian casualties in Afghanistan annually since 2009, now singles out the operations of
paramilitaries associated with CIA as a matter of grave concern. The UN mission report
in 2019 cited “continuing reports of the Khost Protection Force carrying out human
rights abuses, intentionally killing civilians, illegally detaining individuals, and
intentionally damaging and burning civilian property during search operations and

17 UNAMA, Afghanistan. (2018, February). “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.
Annual Report 2017.” p. 53. Kabul, Afghanistan. Retrieved from:
18 Clark 2017.
19 Raghavan, 2015.
20 Mashal, Mujib. (2018, Deceber 31). “CIA’s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and
Anger.” The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://w
21 The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. (2019, February 8). “CIA-backed Afghan unit
accused of atrocities is able to call in air strikes.” Retrieved from:
22 CIA reportedly pays KPF members a monthly salary equivalent to that received by an
Afghan general.

night raids.”23 The UN used similar language to describe the CIA-supported Special
Forces of the Afghan intelligence agency, the NDS, in both its 2017 and 2018 reports.24
FIGURE 1: Examples of abuses by KPF or NDS Special Forces in some documented
incidents in 2018
During a joint NDS and US (air support) operation, at least 20 men reportedly were
dragged from their homes at night by NDS forces and summarily executed (Band-e Timor,
Maiwand, Kandahar, 31 January).25
Night raid on a family compound. One adult taken outside for questioning, inside his 2
brothers and sister in law were shot and killed and the house was torched. A 3 year-old girl
was inside, she was later found burnt to death (Nader Shah Koht, Khost, in March).26
Night raid on family compound. The family patriarch witnessed two of his sons being
hooded, taken into an adjoining room and executed (Khogyani district, Nangarhar).27
Night raid on family compound. Four male members of a family taken aside and executed
(Bati Kot district, Nangarhar).28
Night raid on residential compound. Firefight erupted, 15 civilians killed, including 5 boys
aged 10-14 (Sheerzad district, Nangarhar).29
“First, they attacked us with bombs. Then they entered the living room and started to
shoot around,” said Jamal Khan. “They didn’t care about who they were killing. They killed
my uncle and his 9-year-old son. His wife and his other child were injured.” (Testimony by
villagers on raid in Nangarhar, 23 October).30
Night raid on family compound of a prominent local family. The patriarch, a member of
the provincial peace council, and 5 younger men in his family were shot and killed one by
one (Zurmat district, Paktya, 30 December).31

23 UNAMA, 2019, p. 36.
24 UNAMA, 2018, pp. 53-54; UNAMA, 2019, pp.41-44.
25 Human Rights Watch. (2018, February 21). “Afghanistan: Alleged Summary
Executions by Special Forces”. Retrieved from:
26 Mashal, 2018.
27 Mashal, 2018.
28 Mashal, 2018.
29 UNAMA, 2019, p.41.
30 The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2019.
31 Clark, Kate. (2019, Jannuary 21). “Khost Protection Force Accused of Fresh Killings:
Six men shot dead in Zurmat”. Afghan Analysts Network. Retrieved from:

Relative to the total number of civilian casualties recorded – around 11,000
killed and injured in 2018 – those caused by the CIA’s army are small. Even so, the UN
singles out the rise in casualties from covert pro-government forces as a matter of “deep
32 In 2018, the civilian toll from what the UN categorizes as “search
operations” was 353 (dead and injured); this was a stunning 185 percent increase over
the previous year. These numbers are likely even higher, as the UN mission includes
only data on incidents that it can document with reasonable certainty and thus tends to
err on the conservative side in the number of civilian deaths. Most of the search
operations are executed by the CIA-sponsored militias and paramilitaries. According to
UN figures for 2018, the NDS Special Forces and the Khost Protection Force caused
almost as many civilian deaths as the total number attributed to all Afghan national
security forces in that year, that is, the Afghan Local Police, the Afghan National Police,
the Army and the Air Force.33 Moreover, the paramilitaries were much more likely than
the regular Afghan forces to kill civilians rather than to injure them. The high ratio of
deaths to injuries, the UN report concludes, suggests a pattern of intentional killing and
excessive use of force.
The sharp increase in civilian deaths from search operations reflects Mike
Pompeo’s promise in 2017 that the agency would launch an “aggressive,” “unforgiving,”
and “relentless” campaign. The increase was also in line with the general escalation of
violence in 2018, as all parties appeared to intensify their efforts to gain advantages on
the ground that could translate into political bargaining power during negotiations over
a peace settlement.
Lack of Accountability
As the UN mission reports repeatedly note, the CIA-sponsored program and
activities of its Afghan army are shielded from public oversight and accountability.
Afghan authorities appear to be uninformed or unwilling to divulge anything about the
program’s structure, funding or operations. It is telling that UN officials investigating
reports of abuse and intentional killings of civilians by NDS Special Forces were unable
to obtain any information from Afghan officials, including in the NDS itself.34
In legal terms, the CIA has long enjoyed a privileged position in Afghanistan by
being outside the jurisdiction of Afghan laws and decrees that regulate the operations of
international military forces. For instance, prior to 2014, Afghan restrictions on some
Coalition practices that disproportionately harmed Afghan civilians, notably night raids,
did not apply to the CIA and its operatives because these do not constitute a military
force. The 2014 Bilateral Security Agreement that governs military relations between
the US and Afghanistan maintains this distinction. The Agreement explicitly forbids US
forces from entering Afghan homes except when necessary for immediate self-defense,
forbids US forces to arrest or detain Afghans, and to operate detention facilities in
Afghanistan. Again, the restrictions do not apply to the CIA because, in formal terms, the

32 UNAMA, 2019.
33 UNAMA, 2019.
34 The NDS has a Human Rights Chief, who met repeatedly with UNAMA in 2017, but
was unable to provide any information about NDS Special Forces-related incidents for
investigation and accountability purposes. UNAMA, 2018, p. 53.

agency does not have military forces. Extending the provision to the Agency would
signal that it was carrying out such activities in Afghanistan and thus conflict with its
principal function of undertaking covert missions.
The Afghan government, being heavily dependent on US support, has accepted
the US position. At the time, President Karzai faced critics at home who favored an
expansive CIA role in the country, including the Afghan intelligence community and
local beneficiaries of CIA largesse. There was also a broader consideration. From a
short-term tactical perspective it could be argued that exempting the CIA from the
constraint that applied to the regular forces was an advantage; its “army” could wage a
truly “aggressive,” “unforgiving,” and “relentless” campaign against the Taliban and
other militants. For both the Afghan and US governments these considerations came to
outweigh the recognized costs – grave human rights violations, potential breaches of
international law and alienation of the Afghan people whose support in fact was
necessary to stabilize the government.
In the US, only the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have an oversight
function relative to the CIA. Their ability to gain information from the agency is limited,
as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence experienced when investigating alleged
CIA use of torture in 2001-06 worldwide, including its “rendition program” with allies in
the Middle East and Europe. Congressional willingness to release findings to the public
is also constrained. For example, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released
in 2014 only a summary report of the CIA use of torture, and even this was heavily
In Afghanistan, the UN, human rights organizations, journalists, or families of
victims of abuse or killings have no access to CIA representatives. Unlike in the US
military, there is no spokesperson or liaison office to contact when missions go astray,
when individuals are executed, innocent civilians are killed and property destroyed.
Identifying alleged perpetrators can be difficult. When US military Special Forces
participate in an operation and are rostered as CIA officers, US military spokesmen can
plausibly deny involvement by the military. To the casual observer these Americans are
indistinguishable in the field. To local Afghans they are all “foreigners with beards on
motorcycles.” The identity of their Afghan teams is not always clear to the villagers
either; a principal piece of evidence is a unit’s usual territorial operational space.
Despite numerous reports that CIA-sponsored paramilitaries have committed
serious human rights abuses and possible war crimes, very few cases have been
investigated and even fewer prosecuted. The exceptional cases reflect a system of
politicized justice based on proximity to centers of political power rather than the rule
of law.
Two cases that have been reported illustrate the system. One occurred in 2009,
when a Kandahar-based strike force linked to the CIA killed a local police chief for
having had the temerity to arrest one of its members. The killing of a highly placed
official in what appeared as a semi-public execution was difficult for the Afghan
government to ignore, and 38 members of the strike force were convicted of murder.
The second reported case took place in 2015, when a Khost Protection Force unit killed
a young boy who was related to a local leader and former mujahedin commander. The

family was able to use its political connections to secure an investigation, and a court
convicted two of the KPF soldiers involved to 10 years in prison.
Compensation for civilian deaths caused by the KPF can also be obtained if
villages complain to local authorities who have lines of communication to the force or if
they stage protests, for example by blocking roads.35 More commonly, it seems, villagers
lodge protests with the local authorities that are most accessible to them at the district
or provincial level. Sometimes investigations are promised, but usually nothing further
happens. A member of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said in 2018
that in 13 years of working in the eastern region, she could recall no case of being able
to access the paramilitary forces operating in the region to question them about reports
of abuse.36
The CIA’s Army and Peace Talks
Recent progress in efforts to negotiate a peace agreement in Afghanistan brings
the future of the militias into policy focus. The direct talks between the US government
and Taliban on US troop withdrawals that started in Qatar in July 2018 had raised some
hope that this time a negotiated end to the war might be in sight. After six rounds, the
two sides by May 2019 had hammered out a “draft framework” that promised reduction
and eventual withdrawal of US forces and a commitment by the Taliban not to permit
international “terrorist” groups to operate from Afghanistan. Renewed talks in Doha in
July, and another round in early August, confirmed progress on these basic points as
well as a cease-fire, although a consistent and inclusive intra-Afghan negotiation has
still not taken place.
The current momentum in the talks reflects the US government’s concerns over
reducing its military presence in Afghanistan as the presidential election campaign in
the US is heating up.37 President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to
withdraw militarily from a conflict where no victory is in sight. November 2020 is a key
deadline in this calculus. Another deadline is more immediate and driven by politics in
Since direct talks between the US and Taliban started, the government in Kabul
has been consumed by fears that the US would negotiate a separate peace with the
Taliban, withdraw its remaining 14,000 forces, and leave the government to its fate.
Possibly worse, in the eyes of President Ashraf Ghani, the US might replace his
government (with which the Taliban refuses to negotiate) with an interim Afghan
administration. The caretaker government would then negotiate a comprehensive peace
agreement covering the political and social order in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

35 Raghavan, 2015.
36 Masal, 2018.
37 Lamothe, Dan, et al. (2019, August 1). “U.S. Preparing to withdraw thousands of
troops from Afghanistan in initial deal with Taliban.” Washington Post. Retrieved from:…

Against this background, the upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan scheduled
for September 28, 2019 have acquired much significance. Ghani’s domestic opponents
call for a delay of elections and the formation of a caretaker government; this would
give time and flexibility for talks on a comprehensive peace agreement, and possibly
include themselves. Most of the 18 candidates running for president take this position,
including the principal contenders.38 Ghani, for his part, maintains that elections must
be held on time to give the new government legitimacy to negotiate a peace agreement,
and is campaigning vigorously for a reelection that at least would strengthen his
bargaining power vis-à-vis the US. Washington so far has chosen an intermediate
position on the election-peace-talks sequencing issue, holding out September 1, 2019 as
the target for reaching a bilateral framework agreement with the Taliban.
While the political maneuverings around the peace process intensify, formal
talks on the substantive issues of a comprehensive peace agreement have yet to start.
This might include the legal framework for political, social, economic and other human
rights, possible constitutional revisions, provisions for accessing political power,
possible power-sharing formulas, the structure of the post-war armed forces, and the
future role of foreign military forces.
If an Afghan agreement were modeled on the peace accords promoted by the UN
since the early 1990s, the CIA’s army would have to be disbanded. Almost all internal
war settlements during the past three decades have provided for partial demobilization
and restructuring of the armed forces of the belligerents – including paramilitary forces
and militias. The 2001 Bonn Agreement for Afghanistan likewise opened for security
sector reform. The 2003 UN program for disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration (DDR) discussed above covered some 80,000 armed fighters in military
organizations that mostly were structured like militias.
The case for including a similar program in a forthcoming peace agreement is
compelling. Militias that operate outside the control of the central state and the chain of
command of its armed forces will undermine the process of state formation and the
prospects for a sustainable peace, as the experience of the massive international
operation during the past 18 years demonstrates. The continued de facto fragmentation
of military power was a main reason for the modest progress after 2001 to rebuild and
strengthen the central Afghan state. Foreign-financed militias have been the scourge of
Afghan history in the modern era as well as earlier centuries. Shielded from
accountability by powerful foreign protectors and freed from the need to secure local
support, they can run a prolonged, under-the-radar, dirty war, as the record of the CIA’s
army shows.
While the case is compelling, a realistic policy must recognize the difficulties if
they are to be managed. For a start, the parties concerned must agree on a basic legal
framework for dealing with all the Afghan military forces. Achieving such agreement
will be more difficult now than it was in 2001; the Bonn peace agreement was

38 Ghubar, Gulabuddin. (2019, June 29). “Presidential Candidates Suggested Election
Delay to UN: Hakimi”. Tolo News. Retrieved from:

essentially a victory statement by the forces fighting the Taliban. This time around, hard
trade-offs and compromises between deeply antagonistic adversaries will likely be
necessary. Implementation poses a separate set of issues. Efforts to disarm and
integrate militias after 2001 were short-lived, as noted, reflecting the pressures of
renewed war and vested interests in a fragmented military power, as well as the
demanding and long-term task of building a regular national army. This time around,
two decades of CIA support for local militias and paramilitaries has left a deeply
problematic legacy.
Even if the US agrees to withdraw its regular forces from Afghanistan,
Washington may well be interested in keeping “intelligence assets” for counter-terrorist
purposes. 39 Such presence would require some local infrastructure of support. To this
end, the Agency could easily maintain some of its local units, and – given Afghanistan’s
forbidding geography and complex social environment – probably mount operations on
a fairly significant scale. The chief US negotiator with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, has
recently mentioned the militias as one of several items to be included in a general peace
agreement.40 Pompeo, the previous CIA-director and present Secretary of State, has not.
If violence continues at some level after the agreement is signed, militias will be
in much demand in the political market place. The well-trained and well-equipped CIA
militias would be particularly valuable. Whatever their allegiance to the CIA in the past,
Afghan history is famously replete with tales of rapidly shifting allegiances and a
pragmatic approach to alliances.
The CIA paramilitaries constitute a formidable set of actors in their own right.
Given their highly paid and somewhat privileged status, they are unlikely to welcome a
drastic reduction in pay that would accompany integration into the regular armed
forces or demobilization. If cut loose by the CIA, they may be reborn as private armies
or “security guards” in the service of powerful individuals, or operate autonomously to
prey on civilians and commercial sources.41 Either possibility is in line with patterns of
collective violence in modern Afghan history.
Given the nature of the CIA’s army, a DDR program should be a priority item in a
comprehensive peace agreement and be vigorously implemented. The army’s continued
existence would call into question the sustainability of an eventual peace settlement
forged by the Afghans and their international supporters.

39 See comments by General/Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, in Landler, Mark; Cooper,
Helene; and Schmitt, Eric. (2019, January 28). “Taliban Talks Raise Question of What
U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Could Mean,” The New York Times.
40 Gannon, Kathy. (2019, July 6). “U.S. Envoy Hails Latest Talks with Taliban as the Best
Ever.” AP. Cited in
41 Some NDS Special Forces are already reported to “provide security” for particular
politicians. Tolo News.

While Waiting for a Peace Agreement
Efforts to end impunity for serious human rights violations and possible war
crimes allegedly committed by the militias and paramilitaries are important in
themselves. They are also likely to strengthen rather than weaken the prospects for a
peace settlement acceptable to the US and the Afghan governments. As military experts
on counterinsurgency have long recognized, tactical victories gained by unrestrained
and unaccountable use of force against civilians will undermine the overall strategic
objective of winning the support of the population.
Ending impunity means addressing the accountability issue in both its legal and
moral dimensions. Legal accountability requires US and Afghan authorities to urgently
investigate and prosecute alleged human rights abuse and war crimes involving the
militias. Reports by the UN and the Afghan and international human rights communities
have documented compelling evidence of such abuse and possible war crimes. The
Afghan government can investigate and take further legal action under Afghan laws
against members of the illegal armed groups, notably the CIA-sponsored Khost
Protection Force. Afghan military authorities or special commissions can investigate
and take further action against the paramilitaries with formal institutional links to the
Afghan government, notably the NDS Special Forces. To strengthen institutional
oversight and accountability, UNAMA reports recommend that the CIA-supported NDS
Special Forces be integrated into the regular Afghan army and made subject to its
regulations. UNAMA also routinely recommends that the illegal armed groups be
Absent a political agreement for a durable cease-fire or peace, structural reforms
of the CIA’s army, including disbanding the illegal armed groups, are not likely to find
much support in US or Afghan government circles. A consistent judicial offensive
against impunity would be a shade easier.
Steps to end impunity conform to broadly accepted norms and could invoke
precedents. As discussed above, even CIA-supported illegal armed groups were not
always protected from the legal consequences of their actions. Egregious attacks on a
high-profile civilian (a Kandahar police chief) and a victim whose family was politically
well-connected (the family of young Khost boy) brought prosecutions and convictions.
In addition, at least one widely reported case of grave abuse committed by US Special
Forces (or CIA operatives) and their Afghan partners against civilians has been
investigated by ad hoc Afghan commissions and a mixed US-Afghan commission.42
Nevertheless, a more vigorous campaign against impunity would require a great deal of
active US engagement – certainly much more than US civilian and military authorities
have demonstrated to date.43

42 Up to 17 male villagers in Wardak province were detained at a US camp in Wardak in
the period October 2012-February 2013 and disappeared. Only two bodies were found.
43 Suhrke, Astri. (2015, January 29). “From Principle to Practice: US Military Strategy
and Protection of Civilians in Afghanistan.” International Peacekeeping, vol. 21 no. 5 pp.

More fundamentally, efforts to end the impunity of the CIA’s army require a focus
on the CIA itself. As the enabling agent of the militias and the paramilitaries, the Agency
ultimately bears responsibility for their actions – at least in a moral-political sense if not
in strictly legal terms.44 That responsibility, in short, is to ensure that its Afghan Army
acts in line with Afghan law and relevant international humanitarian and human rights
laws. Responsibility also rests with the US government and wider American public,
which permit the CIA to operate armed groups that have no legal standing in the
country where they operate, to support the paramilitary forces of its local intelligence
partner, and to run operations shielded from transparency and public accountability.
The above analysis suggests some central policy steps that would help address the
problematic nature of the CIA’s Afghan army:
• Include a comprehensive DDR as a priority item for peace negotiations. DDR
provisions in a final agreement should disband the CIA-supported militias,
disband or regularize the paramilitaries connected to the NDS, and have enabling
clauses for strict monitoring of implementation.
• Re-invest in efforts to end impunity for human rights violations attributed to the
militias and paramilitaries supported by the CIA. Such steps are obligated by
international law and are in line with the elemental rule that short-term tactical
victories by aggressive use of force against civilians will undermine the overall
strategic objective of winning the support of the population.
• Increase political pressure on the US Congress to hold the CIA and its Afghan
army accountable under relevant bodies of law. This means closer Congressional
oversight over CIA-supported operations in Afghanistan, improved flow of
information to the public, and preparations for eventual legal action.
• Increase political pressure on the Afghan government to investigate and hold the
militias and the paramilitaries accountable under relevant bodies of law.

44 Neta Crawford has persuasively argued the case in relation to civilian casualties from
air strikes. When the institutional structure of an armed unit and methods of warfare
carry a high risk of “collateral damage” – e.g. air strikes against enemy soldiers
operating in populated areas – causing civilian causalities carries a moral responsibility
even if the killings were unintentional and cannot be prosecuted under existing laws
allowing for “military necessity” and related norms. Crawford, Neta C. (2013).
Accountability for Killing: Moral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America’s Post9/11 Wars. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Israel Bombs Another Middle Eastern Neighbor, Yet Again…with absolute impunity

THE ANGRY ARAB: Israel Bombs the Middle East, Yet Again

As`ad AbuKhalil, Special to Consortium NewsAs`ad, analyzes the calculations behind the recent attacks, which the Western press covered with the usual lack of realism. 


There are two realities about Israel in the world: one projected by Western media, and the other suffered by its victims.

The first has no connection to any reality, but is constructed to present a favorable image of Israel, no matter what.   In that portrayal, Israel is consistently presented as the victim; Arabs and Iran the aggressors.  The racist connotations of such distinctions are not concealed.  This presentation of Israel as a victim, however, is getting harder to perpetuate. It was far easier when Israel was a new (occupation) state surrounded by weak yet entrenched Arab states.  Even then, Israel would refer to Arab armies as a danger to its very existence when in reality the Zionist forces in Palestine — as early as 1948 – were better equipped and organized than all Arab armies. At the end of the 1948 war, Zionist forces were three-times the size of the “Arab invasion” of Palestine. 

In the second (actual) reality of victims’ experience, Israel operates according to the dictum that Arabs only understand the language of force. (This was apparent in deliberations that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, through the advice of Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami).

Israel is an occupation state that thrives by means of intimidation and massacres.  In my own lifetime, Israel has attacked Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine. It also downed a Libyan civilian airliner in 1973. On top of this, Israel’s bombings and assassinations in faraway lands, from Iran to Europe, (even in Kuala Lumpur) go uncounted.

UNRWA building shelled by Israeli army, Jan. 15, 2009. (ISM Palestine, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

This image of the actual record of Israel remains hidden from U.S. public view. The nervousness exhibited by the Zionist establishment in D.C. (manifested through the worried pronouncements of congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and many others) is the result of a new rhetoric about Israel expressed by U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

It is often said that U.S. diplomats in the Middle East, just as British diplomats during the Mandate period, tend to quickly develop sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians once they serve in the region (although very few risk their careers by challenging the political conventions of D.C.).

Zionists Fight Expertise

Through the powerful Israel lobby, Zionists in the U.S. have fought Middle East expertise (in the government and in the academe) precisely because knowledge about the Middle East rarely leads to pro-Israel conclusions.  The Zionist lobby operates on the perpetuation of ignorance about the Middle East in American popular and political culture.  Any in-depth TV or newspaper coverage of the Middle East are routinely attacked by Zionist organizations.  Most U.S. media have given up even trying to inform their public about the Middle East because the political price remains high.

In the last week alone, Israel has attacked targets in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon and yet the U.S. coverage has portrayed these bombing campaigns as a matter of Middle East routine.

Liz Sly of The Washington Post— one of the worst to ever cover the region classified the recent Israeli bombing as part of the effort to contain “Iranian influence in the region,” while Ben Hubbard of The New York Times describes a civilian neighborhood as housing “Iran-backed militia” supporters).

Benjamin Netanyahu on TV this week. (YouTube)

Not only has the U.S. media covered up the extent of these bombing campaigns, the scant reporting fails to point out how Israel has been attacking the same native forces that fought and defeated ISIS (from Lebanon to Iraq). For Israel, ISIS has been useful in undermining the military power of Hashd militias in Iraq and Hizbullah in Syria and Lebanon. Now, one wonders if Israel is trying to rejuvenate the power of ISIS in the hope of distracting its enemies and diverting their resources and attention.

The calculus of Israel in those recent attacks all over the region are not clear: but Israel never needs a reason or an excuse to bomb or to invade or to establish its military supremacy.  To be sure, Israel has an ally in D.C. The Trump administration, like all that preceded it, will indulge any and all acts of aggression by Israel.  Just as Israel invested heavily in the Lebanese civil war (in which it armed the right-wing death squads of the Phalanges and the Lebanese Forces), Israel encourages the prolongation of conflicts and wars in the region. It has invested in the Syrian war and had links with various Jihadigroups, and many of their members sought medical treatment in Israel.

Pressuring Its Foes

As Israeli expectations for prolonged wars in Syria and Iraq seem to have been dashed, and as Israeli allies in Yemen appear to be failing, Israel may be hoping for an intensification of pressure on all of its foes in the region. The total support of Arab Gulf despots, who in the past were too afraid to publicize their links with Israel, gives Israel a freer hand in its aggression.

One should also take into consideration the electoral factor: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a tough election and immense legal problems: his ability to win will determine whether he serves time in prison or not. This fight by Netanyahu is more personal than political.  And when there is a tough election in Israel, the people of Palestine and Lebanon often pay a price.  In the 1990s, the war between Labor and Likud was fought in the territory of South Lebanon where Labor and Likud leaders wanted to prove their toughness. The Qana massacre of 1996 (where Israel bombed a UN facility that sheltered 800 civilians and killed 110 people and injured 118) bore the mark of Shimon Peres who, as a prime minister, was trying to prove his toughness vis-à-vis Arabs in an election season. The Israeli war on Gaza in 2009 ended just three weeks before the 2009 Israeli election.

Netanyahu and Trump in Israel, 2017. (State of Israel via Flickr)

Similarly, Netanyahu is facing a tough challenge from former Israeli generals running against him in the “Blue and White” political alliance.  Those former generals are promising a major war on Gaza and have accused Netanyahu of softness toward Hamas.  Furthermore, the young people in Israel — unlike their counterparts in the U.S. — are more militant and conservative than their elders.

Israelis, and Netanyahu, need to impress those voters in order to win a decisive victory.  Netanyahu, in the context of Israeli politics, and regardless of the many acts of aggression and attacks he has ordered, is faulted for not leading a major war against Israel’s enemies during his long term as prime minister. Netanyahu may thus wish to crown his political career with a major offensive or war.

There are risks for Israel in all of this. Its foes today are far better organized and armed than ever before. The axis of resistance to Israel extends from Lebanon to Yemen. Some of the Hashd militias in Iraq —`Asa’ib Ahl-Haq, An-Nujaba`, kata`ib Hizbullah — are allied with Hizbullah and may consider a battle by one party a battle for all.  The foes of Israel in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq are now battle-tested and their arsenal is now more sophisticated and potent.

Netanyahu seems interested in escalation but he must know that decisive military victory against Arabs — which was a cornerstone of Israeli military doctrine for many decades — is now more elusive than ever.  If Netanyahu is trying to gain political advantage from a limited military engagement, his foes may not be as patient and restrained as they have been in the last few years.  In the event of a flareup, the U.S. must also be concerned about the vulnerability of its forces in Syria and Iraq (not to mention those in Lebanon who are deployed under the pretext of training and assistance to the Lebanese Army). If Netanyahu wins an election through brutality in the Middle East, it may lead the Israeli army to another humiliating defeat—worse even than the July 2006 war in Lebanon.


As’ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the “Historical Dictionary of Lebanon” (1998), “Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), and “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” (2004). He tweets as @asadabukhalil