The U.S. government has a history of inserting propaganda into popular culture, sometimes overtly and sometimes behind the scenes. Comics historian Jeet Heer has dug up a particularly interesting example: Roy Crane’s strip Buz Sawyer. Crane not only coordinated his storylines with Washington during World War II and the Cold War, but he sometimes allowed officials to dictate the details of his plots.
In 1952, for example—just a year before a CIA-assisted coup in Iran—Crane set a story in that country. As part of the process of producing it,
Roy Cranea State Department official named Eugene V. Brown sent Crane a ten-page memo, explaining in precise detail the plot points the government wanted for Buz Sawyer, along with what purpose those points served. These included finding a way to “stress [the] importance of Private Enterprise” and to portray “the manner in which Communism attempts to discredit development and improvement programs of the West.” Crane, meanwhile, should do his best to steer clear of certain delicate topics. “It would be best to avoid any reference to OIL in discussing Iran.” Because winning hearts and minds was key, Brown wanted a story showing “a strong bond of friendship” between Buz and an Iranian pilot named Sandhu, the purpose of which was to “provide entry of Buz into local situation on common level with indigenous forces.” (Crane followed this direction, although he used the name Ali instead of Sandhu.) Other plot points were designed to provide “further evidence of machinations of Communism” and “display American individual’s ingenuity in coping with operations.” Six months after the strip appeared, Crane praised Brown’s contribution in a letter to Dean Acheson, Truman’s secretary of state and one of the key architects of the cold war…
As Heer notes, the “millions of Americans who read Buz Sawyer in 1952 would have gotten a very distorted image of Iran. They would have seen a country where Americans were chiefly helping to avert a famine, where the major threat of disorder came from Soviet spies, where Americans were good-hearted aid officials, where control of the oil supply wasn’t a factor, and where the U.S. government had no conflict with the democratically elected government.” Such storylines weren’t good for the cartoonist’s craft either, Heer argues: “As Crane became more concerned with tailoring his strips to a political message, they lost the spark that had once made them special.”
To read Heer’s whole article, go here. To read about the government’s efforts to influence radio programs during World War II, go here. For a more recent story of this sort—the messages that the Clinton-era Office of National Drug Control Policy inserted into prime-time TV shows—go here.
[Anyone who can’t see by now that the real “Sunni Caliphate” will be “Greater Saudi Arabia” has not been paying attention to Saudi aggression in the region. This has been Obama’s goal from the beginning, to hand control over the problematic Middle East to his Saudi patrons.
(This seems to confirm the normally scoffed-at conspiracy theory, that it has been the Saudis, NOT THE JEWS, who have controlled this so-called “war on terror” from the beginning.)
War-mongering king Salman has been arrogantly open about his intentions to cleanse the Middle East of Shiites and other religious apostates (this would include Christians, obviously), even whike he pretends to be fighting against the Caliphate of ISIS. The Saudi royals and their Gulf subordinates have been creating their own Sunni Caliphate, right before our eyes. The fact that the world’s only hope for humanitarianism, the United Nations, would allow a tribal Arab king to murder thousands of Shia Houthis while conducting its religious ethnic-cleansing operation on the rest of them is proof that human compassion is just another commodity that can be bought and sold like anything else.]
“We will destroy the Houthis if they do not come to reason [i.e., convert to Sunni Islam–ed.].”–Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir
[Such is the human condition, when laid bare before us.
Blanketed by its wealth and protected by political alliances, Saudi Arabia has covertly run and promoted a new movement in the Middle East: religious eugenics, under the false pretense of opposing the rise of Iran. From Syria to Bahrain and Yemen the evidence is overwhelming.
Earlier this August, the Red Cross added its voice to those of other humanitarian and rights groups in its condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, lifting the lid on Riyadh’s little house of horrors in southern Arabia.
In no uncertain terms Peter Maurer, the head of the international Red Cross told reporters he had seldom witnessed such degree of devastation. He said: “Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years … The images I have from Sanaa and Aden remind of what I have seen in Syria.”
He stressed “the firepower with which this war is fought on the ground and in the air is causing more suffering than in other societies, which are stronger and where infrastructures are better off and people are wealthier and have reserves and can escape.”
A country in ruins, Yemen is also a nation in permanent mourning, as every day its people are relentlessly slain – casualties of a violent and murderous colonial war – the latest victims of Riyadh’s expansionist military campaign in the Middle East.
According to official UNICEF tallies, “close to 2,800 people have been killed and almost 13,000 people injured (including 279 children killed and 402 injured, respectively). An estimated 1 million people have been internally displaced (an increase of 122 percent since the crisis began), and some 400,000 people have sought protection in neighboring countries.”
While such figures are horrifying, they fall short of the truth. Agencies on the ground have already said that well over 500 children have been killed in Saudi-led air raids, most specifically in northern Yemen, where the war has been most devastating and aggressive. On average, children account for a quarter of all deaths and casualties.
For those who have managed to find shelter, living conditions are catastrophic. With no water, no electricity, little food and no access to health facilities ten million children are at risk of disease and starvation – again, North Yemen has suffered the brunt of this crisis.
Never in its history has Yemen experienced such a degree of pain and utter despair. But while wars are generally ugly affairs since they require their fill of blood before the canons finally fall silent, Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen is far from ordinary.
But not only that, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy in the Middle East is betraying a disturbing and rather ominous covert agenda, one which resonates with ethnic engineering and religious eugenics.
And if so far few have connected the dots, their hands tied by Riyadh’s overbearing and overarching control on media outlets and the grand political narrative, it is high time we learn to recognize Al Saud’s campaign for what it really is: a concerted effort to cleanse the region of all religious minorities, beginning with Shia Islam, its self-appointed nemesis.
To put it in simple terms – under Saudi Arabia’ suffocating grip, religious minorities are dying a slow and painful death.
From Syria to Bahrain, the kingdom’s eugenics campaign threatens the region’s religious and ethnic patrimonies, in a fashion reminiscent of Nazi Germany, when Jews and Gypsies were labeled undesirables.
In an interview this April, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir lifted the veil on Riyadh’s determination to carry through its agenda, no matter the price, no matter the impact. He asserted: “This campaign is having a huge impact in Yemen and it is not over yet. For us failure is not an option. We will destroy the Houthis if they do not come to reason.”
If subtitles were running they would read – the Houthis will be destroyed because they represent a religious challenge to Wahhabism’s hegemony in the region. The Houthis, and the majority of all northerners in Yemen are Zaidis, a branch of Shia Islam.
Is it then a surprise that while South Yemen has benefited from humanitarian aid, North Yemen has witnessed a spike in violence, its seaports targeted to prevent food and medicine to be ferried in? Riyadh is quite simply profiling aid to carry out its religious cleansing, punishing millions for their rejection of Riyadh’s religion.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute theocracy, and as such its very raison d’ être is rooted within its violent and reactionary interpretation of Islam: Wahhabism, the ideology which inspired the likes of Al Qaeda and Islamic State. One of the main tenets of Wahhabism actually calls for the destruction of all religious sects, Islamic or otherwise. For Wahhabis there can be no greater glory than to massacre “apostates.”
And while Riyadh’s neo-eugenics movement has taken on different forms, operating under various denominations depending on the countries it has targeted, the underlying current has been the destruction of religious pluralism.
Let me ask you this: Is there a real difference between Manama’s campaign to strip Shia Bahrainis from their nationality because the House of Al Khalifa seeks to eliminate all political and religious competition, and Islamic State’s murderous rampage against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria? And though Bahrain’s campaign might appear more “elegant” in that it is more covert and pernicious, the intent remains the same.
From the language used to the policies it has carried out in the Middle East, Riyadh has pushed the sectarian card, christening the resistance movement against its eugenics movement, the so-called Shia crescent threat.
The real threat here lies with Riyadh’s twisted crusade and sickening sectarian agenda.
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. Her writings have been published in world-renowned publications such as Foreign Policy Journal, Mintpress News, the Guardian, Your Middle East, Middle East Monitor, Middle East Eye, Open Democracy, Eurasia Review and many more. A regular pundit on RT, she has also contributed her analyses to Etejah TV, IRIB radio, Press TV and NewsMax TV. Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies and consultant for Anderson Consulting, her research and work on Yemen were used by the UN Security Council in relation to Yemen looted funds in 2015.
[The US Navy might as well dream-up its own missions, to justify their place in the war of terror, the Army has been doing it since the beginning of this global disaster. The Army, Marines and CIA have been training terrorists and posing as terrorists in order to justify their fight against terror, why shouldn’t the Navy do the same in its shift to the Pacific? Compounding tensions in the shallow S. China Sea to keep Congress from cancelling the LCS program is merely par for the course. (SEE: What Price Freedom? Questions Surround LCS-1 ; US Navy’s First Littoral Combat Ship Enters Dry Dock for Repairs)]
The speed, maneuverability and shallow draft of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship makes the platform well suited for the South China Sea, Pentagon leaders said while releasing a new Asia-Pacific maritime strategy document.
“The LCS is ideally suited for a role in the South China Sea. It is fast, light and flexible and it has a fifteen foot draft so it can go places other vessels cannot go. We plan to have four LCS ships in Singapore on a rotational basis by 2018,” David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, told reporters on Friday.
The service has long planned to rotate the ships through Singapore as part of the Pentagon’s shift to the Pacific. However, the increasing LCS fleet size underscores the potential value of the platform in the South China Sea region, where there are many shallow ports inaccessible to larger-draft ships.
The Navy is preparing to receive four more of its shallow-water Littoral Combat Ships between now and February, effectively doubling its current fleet and paving the way for more deployments.
On Aug. 11, the Navy formally accepted delivery of LCS 6, the USS Jackson, during a ceremony at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.
Following this delivery, the service is preparing to accept delivery of LCS 5, the USS Milwaukee, in October of this year and the USS Montgomery, LCS 8, in December of this year, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Chris Johnson recently said.
On the heels of these deliveries, the Navy plans to receive the USS Detroit, LCS 7, in February of next year, he added.
“By early next year, the Navy will be operating eight littoral combat ships and we’ll be accepting four more by the end of 2016. The Navy will continue to accept ships at that rate for the next several years making the LCS class the second largest surface combatant class in the fleet and the key to our ability to operate in shallow, coastal waterways around the world,” Johnson recently told Military.com.
Shear explained that stepping up LCS missions in the South China Sea is part of a broader strategic effort to maintain presence and patrol the area in light of China’s recent efforts to build artificial land structures in the contested Spratly Islands.
China’s island building, referred to by Pentagon officials as land reclamation, has been ongoing effort to further fortify their territorial claims in the region. Pentagon officials have said the China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres of area over the last 18 months, more than all other claimants in the region combined.
“Our approach to the South China Sea has been robust. We have engaged China repeatedly at the highest levels to implement a permanent halt to reclamation. We of course have a very strong and persistent military presence designed to maintain peace and stability,” he said.
The Spratly Islands includes an area of more than 750 reefs, small islands and atolls in the South China Sea off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. Highly disputed for centuries, the area is rich in oil and natural gas. Countries claiming rights to territory in the Spratly Islands include China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, and Brunei.
The South China Sea includes strategically vital waterways, important to international trade. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has criticized China’s artificial island-building and said the U.S. would not be deterred by China’s moves.
“China has said it has stopped reclamation but it is not clear to us if they have stopped or are just finishing up. There is the potential for militarization of these features. We call for a permanent halt to all of these activities. The U.S. does not recognize the sovereignty claims of these artificial islands,” Shear said.
Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, negotiated in the 1980s and updated in the 1990s, an island is defined as a “naturally formed area of land above the water at high tide.” Also, article 60 of the U.N. Convention says “artificial islands are not entitled to territorial seas.”
Shear added that the U.S. would continue to step up its military presence in the area and work closely with allies in the region. He cited the deployment of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and two new missile-defense capable destroyers to Japan. Furthermore, the Navy’s new high-tech DDG 1000 Zumalt-class destroyer is slated for the Pacific.
“US forces currently present in the South China Sea conduct a variety of presence operations. We are in the South China Sea on a regular basis,” Shear said.
Shear also added the Navy’s new P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane will also continue to help military efforts in the Pacific. “We have a vested interest in ensuring that territorial claims are resolved peacefully,” he explained.
An official ceremony marking the opening of the Strategic Communications Center known as NATO Center of Excellence was held in Riga today. Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand, and the US Senator John McCain were present at the event.
The Centre is meant to coordinate the NATO activities, and prepare informational and psychological operations of the Alliance.
The main objective of the Centre, as it was declared, is combating the so-called Russian propaganda.
Such NATO information offices are also present in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The capital city of Latvia Riga is to host a special conference on the strategic communications during the next two days. Representatives of the NATO countries, as well as Ukraine and Georgia plan to discuss the role of social media during the conflicts. Influence of the Mass Media on the society in the period of critical situations will be also discussed by the experts.
NATO worries over the fact that more than a quarter of Latvian residents have Russian roots and speak Russian, that leads to support of the Russian Mass Media they consider to be propagandistic
Washington has had to dismiss statements from the Turkish Foreign Ministry three times in the past two weeks pertaining to developments concerning Syria and the coalition efforts against ISIL.
On Thursday, a day after Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Elissa Smith said that the United States launched air raids against ISIL from the İncirlik airbase in southern Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu caused controversy when he proclaimed to the press that, “The US has yet to hit Daesh [ISIL] through Turkey,” adding that only “reconnaissance flights” started from the base.
Later in the day, both the US Central Command and the Turkish Military confirmed that the strikes took place. Çavuşoğlu’s aide claimed the prior statement was a “misunderstanding.” He added, “Mr. Minister had wanted to say that there were no Turkish jets [hitting ISIL targets].”
The safe zone that never was
Thursday’s back and forth between Ankara and Washington served only as a mirror for Wednesday.
Another controversy erupted when foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu claimed that both sides had agreed that a safe zone was to be created in Syria. “The control and protection of this region cleared of (ISIL) will be conducted by Syrian opposition forces and the necessary air defence and support for this … will be provided by the United States and Turkey.”
The response from Washington came with Mark Toner from the US State Department emphasizing “We’ve been pretty clear from the podium and elsewhere saying there’s no zone, no safe haven—we’re not talking about that here. What we’re talking about is a sustained effort to drive ISIL out of the region.”
The PYD and YPG
Another point of difference between Turkey and the United States regarding tackling ISIL has been the role of Syrian Kurdish Groups such as The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed structure, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), with Ankara against the principle of supporting the groups.
The state-run Anatolia News Agency was on the forefront saying that Turkey and the US agreed not to allow the PYD to enter any area cleared off from ISIL. When asked if the US will allow a potential attack from Turkey against the PYD and the YPG, Toner answered back “No, no, our understanding with Turkey is that they will not attack, and we would not agree to that.”
“A Turkish officer entered the allied headquarters in the air war against ISIS and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately,” the source said. “We were outraged.”
REUTERS/Umit BektasA woman after having her nails painted with the colors of the flag of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), during a gathering celebrating Newroz, which marks the arrival of spring and the new year, in the border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, on March 17.
A senior US official has accused Turkey of pulling a bait-and-switch by using a recent anti-Islamic State agreement with the US as a “hook” to attack the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“It’s clear that ISIL was a hook,” the senior military official told The Journal, referring to the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh).
“Turkey wanted to move against the PKK, but it needed a hook.”
On Tuesday, an American military source told Fox News that US military leaders were “outraged” when Turkey began its bombing campaign, giving US special forces stationed in northern Iraq virtually no warning before Turkish jets started striking the mountains.
“A Turkish officer entered the allied headquarters in the air war against ISIS and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately,” the source said. “We were outraged.”
The confrontation highlights the tension growing between the US and Turkey, which became a reluctant ally in the fight against ISIS after years of turning a blind eye to the militants’ illicit activity on its southern border during the Syrian civil war.
Ankara officially joined the coalition fight against ISIS on July 24, striking ISIS (and the PKK) on the same day. It also recently began allowing the US to use the Incirlik airbase in Turkey to carry out strikes against ISIS.
But Turkey has conducted 300 strikes against the PKK and three against ISIS since July 24, according to data compiled by IRIN news. All three ISIS strikes occurred on the first day of the campaign.
Nearly 400 Kurdish militants have been killed, IRIN reports, compared with nine ISIS militants.
When asked about Turkey’s commitment to fighting ISIS, a senior defense official said “there are still question marks out there. Our folks are very eager to put it to the test.”
And if Turkey keeps going after the PKK while trying not to provoke ISIS, “it will leave the US without a Syria strategy,” geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer told Business Insider by email.
“Access to Incirlik airbase matters, but the additional bombing it enables will only help contain ISIS, not roll it back,” Bremmer added. “And it will leave Washington without the improved relations with Ankara that the Obama administration is hoping for.”
The ongoing bombing campaign against PKK strongholds in northern Iraq came as a surprise, but it probably shouldn’t have: Turkey has long seen the PKK — a designated terrorist organization that waged a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey — as more of an existential threat than ISIS, which refrained from launching attacks inside Turkey even as its militants lived and operated along the border.
“The PKK is a bigger threat to us, as it is active within the country,” a Turkish official told The Wall Street Journal. “They stage attacks on our security forces on a daily basis, in many cities. ISIS is more active in Syria, and is therefore less urgent now.”
Moreover, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bombing campaign — capitalizing on the nationalist, anti-Kurd sentiment that has been steadily growing inside Turkey — could help him regain his AKP party’s absolute majority in parliament now that coalition talks have failed and snap elections are likely.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, also a member of the AKP, said on Thursday he would prefer an election to be held “as soon as possible”, Reuters reported.
“The AKP needed the Kurdish angle to sell the war to ultranationalists inside Turkey,” whose main priority is to curb Kurdish territorial gains along its southern border, Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider last month.
But Erdogan’s gamble has come at a price: Nearly 40 Turkish police officers and military officials have been attacked and killed by PKK militants since the war began, and that number is increasing every day.
Erdogan has also complicated his party’s relationship with Washington further: While the White House was relieved when Turkey announced it would allow the US to launch airstrikes against ISIS from Incirlik airbase in its southeast, the PKK is a politically contentious target.
The militia was working with US-backed Kurdish fighters to repel ISIS from northern Iraq and is also closely linked to the Kurdish YPG militia, which, backed by US airstrikes, has proved to be the most effective force fighting ISIS on the ground in northern Syria.
Now the US is reportedly embracing an all-out partnership with the YPG to make up for the failures of its $500 million Syrian train-and-equip program — a move that is sure to anger Ankara and inflame tensions even further.
“To fully embrace a Kurdish force would complicate an already fragile strategy, two [US] defense officials concluded,” Nancy Youseff of The Daily Beast reports.
“The Turks … would not welcome an emboldened Kurdish force on its southern border. Neither would many of America’s Arab allies, who are also threatened by Kurdish sovereignty movements.”
I cover conflicts, frontiers and upheavals mired in history.
In Turkey, an ISIS suicide bomb kills 30 and wounds many more in the Kurdish area town of Suruc. The Kurdish insurgent terrorists, the PKK, then start killing Turkish policemen and soldiers while ISIS attacks a Turkish military border post. Peace demonstrations ensue in some cities which police put down with the, by now, familiar methods of severity against civilians. Ankara and Washington reach an agreement allowing the US to use its bases inside Turkey against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Erdogan’s spokesmen announce that Turkey’s air force has conducted raids against both PKK and ISIS targets across the border. Turkish authorities arrest some 900 people nationwide, mostly Kurds, for allegedly belonging to terror networks. Turkish tanks shell Kurdish villages in Syrian borderlands near Kobani. Meanwhile, news leaks that the US has solid evidence of Turkish collusion with ISIS in months past. Let us pause here and dispel some of the fog.
First, let us remember that Turkey conducted a national election on June 7 and still hasn’t formed a government. All these decisions in a time of crisis are being taken by somebody. Someone’s running the country. We’ll get to the full implications later but initiatives are being taken, orders given. The air raids for instance. Worth a little scrutiny. For example, you have to wonder, since the Turkish air force knew of PKK targets in Iraq, so quickly and easily neutralized, why didn’t it act before? And why attack Syrian Kurds near Kobani who, after all, are busy fighting off ISIS? Especially if you’ve declared ISIS the enemy because it has killed 30 people in a suicide bomb inside Turkey.
On the ISIS front, it’s worth viewing the video put out by Ankara of the air strikes against several sites by F-16s using laser-guided munitions. All the targets seem to have one thing in common: they’re each at a safe distance from residential complexes in ISIS territory. They’re set apart in open fields. They betray no marks of military activity. Now, humanitarian though this might seem – which itself begs the question – you still have to wonder. Does ISIS keep strategic targets clear of population centers? And, if so, why were such targets still so manifestly available. The US has waged its air war against ISIS since last September. They left a few for the Turks? The skeptic might ask if these were meaningful targets at all.
I remember during the Iraq war that Ankara would announce with fanfare various bombing sorties to hit PKK camps nestled in the Zagros mountains in retaliation against one or other PKK atrocity inside Turkey. Nobody ever knew what really happened. How many fighters or civilians killed to what effect? The PKK never slowed down. Barzani grumbled about territorial integrity. The White House mumbled about Turkey’s right to self-defense. I queried Kurds from Iraqi Kurdistan, from both Suleymaniah and Erbil, during those years about any publicly mooted information about those recurrent air strikes. While they expressed outrage at territorial violation by Turks, nobody knew any facts. In other words, it all seemed like theater for public consumption in Turkey.
Let’s keep firmly in mind the overarching attribute of Turkey’s AKP leaders throughout the last decade: they’re invariably long on demagogy and short on solutions. The goal always is to stay in power, mute criticism, corrupt all necessary institutions, suppress dissent, play the populist card. And play it so unscrupulously that the country polarizes step by step. Protestors are terrorists. Critical journalists are atheists. Gulenists serve a foreign power. Kurdish politicians are fronting for the PKK. The mayor of Ankara, a top Erdoganista, sued a journalist for accusing him of – wait for it – being Armenian!
Much of the time nobody knows what’s really going on after any eruption of internal conflict first gets reported – they only get exposed to propaganda and polemics. The media gets muzzled and social media suspended. It happened after two gas cylinder bombs exploded at a HDP Kurdish party rally ahead of the elections killing two and wounding over 100.
It has happened after the Suruc horror by ISIS. Erdogan’s main objective, to befog with theater when he can’t hide the reality, hasn’t wavered. Hence the display of signing the Incirlik Airbase deal with the White House. Hence the bombing runs against ISIS. These add up to a manifest U-turn as he and his party have publicly abetted ISIS in myriad snide ways, even giving cover to its foremost vociferous advocate in Turkey, the noisy and sinister Halis Bayancuk whom they’ve just re-arrested. Previously arrested in 2014, he was released by the authorities while the prosecutor and judge who had moved against him were demoted. The government then defended him publicly as a victim of the ‘deep state’ conspiracy, one of Erdogan’s favorite polemical bogeys.
Meanwhile, as many domestic commentators now say, Turkey is hovering on the brink. Similarly, others are pointing out that the country now faces total crisis not accidentally but in line with Erdogan’s plan to monopolize power, become the indispensible figure amid chaos. In the old days, when fractured elections led to paralysis and conflict, the military would step in and tidy up the mess, acting as last-chance custodians of the Republic. These days their role resides, democratically, with the President. Alas, the ‘honest-broker’ is also a dishonest protagonist in the fray, namely Erdogan himself. The office of the Presidency requires him to stand above politics. He hasn’t – even though the country voted away his party’s parliamentary majority for that reason, as a rebuttal of his ambition to make the Presidency paramount. He planned to re-enact the Putin/Medvedev tango, Turkish-style, moving between the position of PM and President to avoid term limits.
As I wrote here after the election produced no winner six weeks ago, Turkey has never fared well with coalitions. In this case, the coalition didn’t even materialize. While the various parties continue to negotiate on forming a government, they’ve left Erdogan in charge by default. What I warned then, is coming to pass (even quicker than expected) when I said, “and here’s the most scary part: as things deteriorate it will be up to the President to impose order by one means or another” and “a fundamental player in the equation (Erdogan) has no interest but to let things get very bad indeed”.
And so here we are. For Erdogan it’s even better that there’s no government. He rules by diktat. To do so, he needs crises. He’s busy creating them. Stoking the Kurdish conflict simply polarizes the country further, catalyzes civil war Assad-style. He will call a sudden election when things are bad enough. There’s some chance he might have miscued though. After all, he has no coalition to blame. Instead of seeing him as the indispensable strongman, the country might hold him responsible for all the chaos. If there is still a country by then.
When the methods of Information War in Fourth Generation Warfare are used in Total War, it results in a war upon the psyche, a war upon cognition, a war upon our very conception and understanding of reality. This will be an increasing feature of our relationship with reality.
As global conflict increases qualitatively and quantitatively, it is important to understand the new methods of warfare in which the conflict in Ukraine serves as an excellent case study. Understanding these methods, in combination with a syncretic approach to various competing schools and across several otherwise or previously unrelated fields, has been the key to our ability to accurately forecast any number of events and dynamics in the situation in Ukraine.
The struggle between the Atlanticist and Eurasianist spheres not only acquires forms in the traditional areas of diplomacy, trade, intelligence, and military strength – but also in the increasingly dominating realm of synthetic, manufactured hyper-reality. These are important elements of fourth generation warfare (4GW) in the realm of information war and also what is termed ‘hybrid warfare’ – a feature of 4GW which blurs the lines between civilian and military groups, and allows power groups to dissemble the reality of their role in support. This creates the element of plausible deniability, that power groups are not involved when in fact they are.
Following the various media reports and statements from the various official spokespeople of the groups involved in the Ukrainian conflict, it is problematic to take these at face value and equate statements about their role or position as being the actual role or position.
In a manner similar to ISIS or Al Qaeda – which are largely US-Saudi-Israeli joint projects, it is typical to hear statements from the Pravy Sektor that they oppose NATO, imperialism (whether US or Russian), and propose instead other elements of platform which confuse the discourse and disguise their actual supporters. Of course, like with ISIS and the like, most all of the commanders and all of the rank and file supporters and fighters completely believe they are opposed to the very power groups which support them. It only requires one or two decision makers at the very top to align the actual activities with US control or influence.
Naturally like ISIS, Pravy Sektor and similar are also developed to be self-sustaining projects to a large extent, can subsist for long periods of time using the standard methods of apparent self-funding, including organized crime or the seizure of businesses and enterprises. They can also, as we have written previously, be used and swayed by other actors not including the US, and in certain moments may act – willingly or unwillingly – against the US’s actual interests (not just stated interests). This may occur for reasons which are complex but imaginable.
US and Russian approaches to the conflict in Ukraine are based in discernible desired positions, but the strategies change in various stages based upon real-world changes and results, push-back, and the actions of the other players. Thus, strategies are employed in relation to changes, and tactics evolve in real-time. This is why many contingency plans are built into general planning. Indeed, the various and even contradictory contingencies themselves should be considered ‘the plan’.
The US exerts degrees of control and influence upon several distinct power groups in Ukraine, such as various volunteer battalions, the government itself, mainstreamed opposition to that government, and Pravy Sektor related groups up to and including Yarosh himself. These wane and wax in relation either to the US’s need or to the US’s ability to exert its power. These are not unidirectional; US attempts to exert influence or control do not necessarily result in a success in that endeavor: the targets of influence and control may be compelled to act – either in an instance or in a general pivot – contrary to the needs of the US for reasons of their own survival, and/or as a result of Russian successes to exert influence and control.
Difficulties in assessing the situation then arise from this: an established method in 4GW as it works through media and new-media (information war) is to dissemble actual reality, and to manufacture a new reality. The US can exert fluctuating degrees of influence and control over its proxies.
It is difficult to use language to describe reality because words have definitions which often exclude that which they are contrasted with. Reality on the other hand is fluid and real situations can be simultaneously described by more than one word, even if such words when counterpoised to each other may seem to have opposite meanings. Reality can morph into conditions that are better described by some words, only to shift at any time later into a condition which is better described otherwise. Thus, without special care, a syllogistic or axiomatic approach will usually fail.
“From the syncretic work we have produced on this subject, drawing from numerous schools such as Baudrillard’s post-structuralism and Kuhn’s theory of the structure of scientific revolutions […] we have attempted to explain both some features of the information war and how the present schema or paradigm is constructed, and how that construct contains certain features which can be manipulated and exploited through the use of simulacrum and hyper-reality.”
“More to the point, we have based much of our understanding on the premise that societies composed of managers and the managed must create a paradigm which has exploitable features for the purpose of social control. The Ukraine civil war is the first war in history in which both actual sides (US and Russia) struggle for supremacy using similarly derived theories of new media and their connection to 4GW. While the use of proxies has long been a feature of war, that both sides use proxies in the sense of 4GW doctrines, and that the ‘stories’ being told extend from new media, is a new phenomenon.”
“There are some problems, however, for both the US and Russian information and reality managers. Being able to create hyper-reality does not, in the first place, require having a solid footing in the actual reality. In many ways, ‘actual reality’ may be an ever-elusive thing which can never fully be grasped. We are, as human beings, a species which is already born into a reality comprised of the previous generation’s interwoven combination of actual reality and hyper-reality.”
“Our society, a social construct, is an outgrowth of our genetic potential. The creation of various primitive forms of hyper-reality is as natural to humanity as the bird constructing its nest. But just as the invention of the train or automobile changed forever our relationship with distance, and even the relative size of the earth, the invention of new media has changed our relationship with actual reality and the kinds of reality and hyper-reality we construct. “
“It is not difficult, then, for even the agent of social control, working at the think tank, to lose sight of reality itself. What was that individual’s origin point? Everyone working today on these projects was already born into a world of machines, production of the means of creation and destruction, automated wars, electricity, and mass media.”
“From an analytic point of view, this creates a conundrum. Analysis, discourse, map-drawing etc. are themselves a form of hyper-reality creation. Analysis is done in the mind of the analyst, and is drawn from, at best primary sources, but are generally not the primary source itself. It must go through the medium of language and contrived/presented imagery (photos, etc.) before it gets to the analyst. Additionally, even when the analyst is the witness percipient, their interpretations and written or spoken analysis reflect their prior biases, beliefs, prejudices, and thought processes; which in short can be described as defective by way of their subjectivity.”
“Thus from the analyst: all words, language; things signifying and signified; which pertain to actual reality, are themselves indistinguishable from hyper-reality. Analysis based on interpreting actual reality and analysis based in interpreting the simulacrum are both, in many ways, hyper-real presentations. The map is not the terrain.”
“To problematize ‘objective’ reporting and analysis, is really to lay-out the problems with the concept of objectivity, which leaves us with only a remaining intersubjective agreement . Therefore we can see the power of new-media (which is based on the echoing of information through many subjects, peer to peer), and the transformation of the simulacrum from being a distinct hyper-reality unto itself, into a totalizing entity which subsumes, devours, and overtakes reality into itself. It becomes, then, within the liberal, emotional state, of the Popperian ‘critical rationalist’ paradigm, most appropriate and ‘reasonable’ to uphold the hyper-reality as the actual reality . “
In conclusion, we might imagine a ‘nuclear war’ of information. The fall-out also contaminates information managers and builders. In an increasing way, even the reality and information managers themselves are suffering from the ‘radiation poisoning’ of information war; they can no longer distinguish between the reality they are creating, or that was created by their opponent, from the reality which they began to work from. It increasingly becomes one and the same.
If this is true for them, who have access to much more real information than we do, then it is even more true for us; we who have all along been working largely with information which by definition is manufactured and itself is a social construct.
Understanding the world then becomes increasingly difficult and creates very real epistemic problems.
Liberalism and its sub-ideology of pragmatism is steeped in anti-intellectualism and a misuse of Ockham’s razor or lex parsimoniae (law of parsimony). It is wrongly used as an arbiter between two theories, in which the simplest theory is viewed as more accurate even when not accounting for all the information, as opposed to a heuristic technique in the development of a model.
It is an attractive idea that the complexities of war and strategy can be explained away as being the product of random accidents; that the divergence between stated aims and actual results are a product of blunder and incompetence and not intrigue and dissemblance.
Analyzing the motives of conscious actors is not like observing other phenomena in a few important ways; conscious actors may have a strong motivation to conceal their real aims or methods, whereas basic physical, chemical, or biological processes can be observed empirically and claims made about these are falsifiable.
Rather, we must look at circumstantial and other non-physical evidence; known theories, past practice, the body of scholarly work on the subject, and instead approach the questions from a prosecutorial perspective.
To understand one epistemic dilemma in the use of Ockham’s Razor to describe phenomena, let us look at these well known quotes about this heuristic tool.
“Entities should not be multiplied without necessity.” (William of Ockham)
“Nature operates in the shortest way possible.” (Aristotle)
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” (Albert Einstein)
Warfare does not generally operate on the basis of ‘nature’ in the sense that Aristotle describes – as there are consciously acting players being observed who do not want to be accurately observed, nor upon the economy of modeling that Ockham proposes.
In warfare, most entities should be multiplied and made as complex as possible for a number of reasons. One radar tower may cover an entire area, but many radar towers for a single area are preferable because then radar coverage is not lost when the opponent successfully neutralizes one of them.
Likewise in strategy: a simple strategy may at first seem preferable in terms of viability and execution, but in the context of a conscious opponent, the complexity of a strategy will aid tremendously in keeping it from being understood and unraveled. In that sense, as with the radar example, more layers are better.
The science of economy and efficiency takes on entirely different applications in the context of a struggle between strategic players. One aspect of victory in a war is production, but not only physical production of soldiers and hardware, but in the production of complex strategy, relying on more virtual resources, theories, etc. The side which can afford more inefficiencies has a strategic advantage in any number of scenarios.
We must not approach reality at face value, but as a consciously created illusion itself which is constructed specifically with the aim of pursuing a long-term strategic objective, one that includes both the accidental and intentional creation of a false, distorted, manufactured hyper-reality built upon layers of both real and hyper-real foundations.
Joaquin Flores is a Mexican-American expat based in Belgrade. He is a full-time analyst and director at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a public geostrategic think-tank and consultancy firm, as well as the co-editor ofFort Russ news service, and President of the Berlin based Independent Journalist Association for Peace. His expertise encompasses Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and he has a strong proficiency in Middle East affairs. Flores is particularly adept at analyzing ideology and the role of mass psychology, as well as the methods of the information war in the context of 4GW and New Media. He is a political scientist educated at California State University. In the US, he worked for a number of years as a labor union organizer, chief negotiator, and strategist for a major trade union federation.
[After Turkey drew its Mare-Jarablus line, and brainwashed ISIS-affiliated Turkish-Kurdish boys were used to bomb Kurds in Suruç, and Turkish forces began to bomb ISIS positions in Syria, Obama knew that Erdogan had begun to soften. This is the moment O has been waiting for, implicating the CIA in the Suruç attack.]
Turkey was already preparing to carve-out a piece of Northern Syria, before the Suruç bombing. The alleged ISIS attack facilitated that move.
Turkey to consider any incursion west of Euphrates River in northern Syria by PKK affiliate Democratic Union Party as violation of ‘red line’ set by governmentTurkey will consider any incursion west of the Euphrates River in northern Syria along the Turkish border by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as well as any attack north of Idlib by Syrian regime forces, as violation of a “red line.” The government made the decision at a National Security Council (MGK) meeting on June 29, media reports say.The MGK released a statement saying that “developments in Syria were comprehensively discussed, possible threats were evaluated, and possible additional security measures were stressed,” following the meeting.The Turkish government aims to convey a strong message to both the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and the PYD. Any move by these groups west of the Euphrates River, where the city of Jarablus is located, was declared a red line by Turkey because the river has become a natural border between ISIS and its nemesis PYD in northern Syria after Tal Abyad was captured by the Kurdish militia from ISIS on June 15.
The PYD is considered by Turkey to be the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Both ISIS and the PKK are recognised as terrorist groups by Turkey.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin stated that, “It is not healthy to interpret the necessary measures which aim to ensure our border security as ‘Turkey is entering a war’,” speaking on Tuesday at a press conference in Ankara.
Kalin also emphasised that Turkey has never used the terminology of a “buffer zone,” but spoke about a need to establish a no-fly zone and a safe zone in the area for civilians. Turkey’s stance on this issue remains unchanged and these possible moves are continuing to be discussed with its allies, he added.
The Turkish government has been alarmed by both ISIS’ moves near the Syrian towns of Azaz and Mare and the enlargement of northern Kurdish enclaves under the control of the PYD along its long border line with Syria.
ISIS reportedly recently attacked an area between Azaz and Mare, which are situated in northwestern Syria, which controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). This move by ISIS came after it lost Tal Abyad to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the militant wing of the PYD, which was able to join the Kobane and Jazira “cantons,” along the Turkish border by capturing the district.
ISIS already controls a zone between Jarablus and Mare, also along the Turkish border.
In the worst case scenario for Turkey, as it becomes further threatened by ISIS between Azaz and Mare, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) could ask for assistance from the YPG in order to protect the areas of northwestern Syria they hold. This might then allow the Kurdish group to extend its reach to Afrin, another isolated Kurdish “canton” declared by the PYD in the far west of Syria.
The PYD needs to overrun Jarablus and pass west of the Euphrates to reach the Azaz-Mare region if this scenario is to be realised. Then, the PYD might take full control of the Turkish-Syrian border, leading to fears in Turkey that it might end up neighbouring a hostile Kurdish state which could use its control of the border to undermine Turkey’s internal security.
These are reasons, Turkey has laid down a red line regarding advances by either ISIS or the PYD west of the Euphrates. According to the Turkish daily Milliyet, if the PYD undertakes any operation past this point the Turkish Armed Forces will carry out a cross border operation without providing notice.
If ISIS captures the area it will able to take control of the Oncupinar border crossing with Turkey, and could get closer to reaching another border crossing at Cilvegozu. Therefore, Turkey would virtually lose control of its border to two hostile militant groups.
In addition, the fighting involved in capturing the crossings as well as any ethnic cleansing or massacres by the two groups could lead to a new wave of refugees from Syria to Turkey, another concern which is also behind Turkey’s decision to issue the second red line regarding any attack by the Assad regime attack north of Idlib, the Milliyet report said.
It is feared that if the Syrian regime launches an attack north of Idlib there will be another huge flow of refugees into Turkey, which already hosts more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees who fled the violence in their country after the escalation of the civil war there.
Turkey and the US-led anti-ISIS coalition forces appear to have differences in terms of priorities in northern Syria, despite mostly sharing the same interests. Turkey is concerned by the PYD’s activities in northern Syria along the Turkish border as much as it is concerned with the actions of ISIS and the Assad regime.
However, the US-led coalition is highly supportive of the PYD’s activities against ISIS, which has been heavily bombarded by the coalition in coordination with attacks by the PYD.
US State Department Spokesman John Kirby at Washington’s daily press briefing on June 30 reacted to Turkish demands by saying that, “The Defense Department has made it clear that they don’t believe there’s a need for that at this time, and that the use of coalition military assets in trying to effect a zone like that would entail an awful lot in terms of logistics, time, resources, and effort.”
When asked about the difference between a buffer zone and a safe haven Kirby stated that, “In military terms, I’m not sure that there’s technical definitions for either one. I think it depends on the context in which you’re using it. I don’t know that there’s much – it depends on how you define it and how you want that area defended and protected.”
However, he also said, “They would have to decide how they would both make the decision, defend the decision, and implement it. That’s a national decision that they would have to speak to.”
A screen grab from leaked footage showing the filming of ISIL execution videos being taken in a studio
Leaked footage obtained from a staffer of US Senator John McCain shows the making of an ISIL “execution” video similar to the videos portraying the beheading of James Foley and other victims.
In the three-and-a-half minute video, ISIL executioner Jihadi John (aka Mohammed Emwazi) can be seen standing in front of a green screen, beside a kneeling hostage wearing an orange jumpsuit and a green screen hood in a fully equipped studio in the presence of a production crew, the Leaksource website recently reported.
The desert style set and wind machine effects, share similarities to the beheading videos ISIL released of Steven Sotloff, David Haines, and Alan Henning.
The following is an example showing the similarities between the leaked footage and Foley’s alleged beheading.
According to the report, the video was obtained in Ukraine from the cellphone of a member of McCain’s staff by the Hactivist group, CyberBerkut.
“Dear Senator McCain! We recommend you next time in foreign travel, and especially on the territory of Ukraine, not to take confidential documents.
On one of the devices of your colleagues, we found a lot of interesting things. Something we decided to put: this video should become the property of the international community!” the group is quoted as saying in the report.
MacCain’s ironic response to the claims can be seen below.
According to British forensic experts, Foley’s execution was probably staged with the use of “camera trickery and slick post-production techniques.”
A terrorism expert stated that the videos of Japanese hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa was probably taken in an indoor studio.
The ISIL video purporting to show the execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya is also fake, said Hollywood horror film director Mary Lambert.
“In the opening shot all the figures might be animated. They never had more than six men on the beach… The close-ups of jihadists on the beach are most likely green screen… The sea turning red is obviously FX,” she said.
Al-Jazeera — in Arabic — encourages terrorist attacks in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula by the Muslim Brotherhood, and preaches the destruction of Israel, non-stop.
Recently Al-Jazeera has been broadcasting a “documentary” series glorifying Hamas and the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, its military-terrorist wing. The entire series is devoted to idealizing Islamist terrorism and encouraging mass-casualty terrorist attacks against Jews, in the name of radical Islamist ideology.
One of the stars is the Palestinian arch-terrorist, Abd al-Karim al-Hanini, who was released from prison in Israel and found safe haven in Qatar.
No one has even tried to prevent Qatar’s participation in a global anti-terrorism forum.
The EU and the U.S. have recently been holding meetings in Brussels and Ankara with Turkey and Qatar, two of the major funders of terror groups, to form an “anti-terrorism task force” — while the very Islamists they support have been spiritedly spreading out. Turkey and Qatar have even agreed to help fight ISIS, apparently on the condition that the Turkish-trained forces also try to unseat Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated AKP Party, has been a supporter of terrorists, such as Hamas and ISIS.
Turkish President (then Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, meeting with Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal (center) and Ismail Haniyeh on June 18, 2013, in Ankara, Turkey. (Image source: Turkey Prime Minister’s Press Office)
Meanwhile, Qatar’s TV channel, Al-Jazeera, regularly incites terrorism against Egyptian President el-Sisi’s pro-Western regime. El-Sisi’s heroic pro-Western stance is apparently unreciprocated: the U.S. State Department just hosted an official meeting for his arch-enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood, father of Hamas, while Al Jazeera — in Arabic — encourages terrorist attacks in Egypt and Sinai Peninsula by the Muslim Brotherhood, and preaches the destruction of Israel, non-stop.
It was Al-Jazeera that created the “Arab Spring” by twisting a story about a Tunisian fruit-seller, who set himself on fire because he could not get a work permit, into a story of Tunisian oppression. The station ran the story again and again, whipping up Tunisians to overthrow their secular leaders and bring in Islamist leaders. To the Tunisians’ credit, like the Egyptians, after a few years of Islamist rule, they also threw the Islamist leaders out.
Recently, Al-Jazeera has been broadcasting a “documentary” series glorifying Hamas and the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, its military-terrorist wing. The entire series is devoted to idealizing Islamist terrorism and encouraging mass-casualty terrorist attacks against Jews, in the name of radical Islamist ideology.
One of the stars of the series is the Palestinian arch-terrorist, Abd al-Karim al-Hanini, who was released from prison in Israel and found a safe haven in Qatar. He explains how to construct explosives from agricultural substances, such as chemical fertilizer and sulfur; how to fill an empty gas balloon with the explosives, and how to detonate the bomb mechanically, electronically or with a suicide-bomber (shaheed), in order to kill as many Israelis as possible.
Al-Hanini boasts about his terrorist activities killing Israeli civilians and soldiers, and details tactics that mujahideen will use in their jihadi “inner struggles,” and presumably also their outer ones. These tactics can be used as blueprints by future terrorists. The series can easily be viewed by all intelligence agencies in the world, but so far no one has tried to prevent it from being broadcast — or has even criticized Qatar for broadcasting it.
No one has even tried to prevent Qatar’s participation in a global anti-terrorism forum.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.
[We have armed every nation in the Middle East “to the teeth,” yet now we fight to keep them from murdering each other with those very same weapons. We have intentionally ramped-up local antagonisms, in order to create the desire for more weapons. Every Middle Eastern nation spends most of its money and everything that it can borrow to purchase every weapon that they can get, because that is what American leaders want. American militarists and Empire Builders have pushed through every political barrier, in order to entangle American interests in this morass, so that later we could play at “world policeman.” Why would American leaders have acted so maliciously towards future victims of their policies?
Why do they purposely create the circumstances which will compel future military interventions? If the goal is simply the introduction of American forces, then why not just move those forces in, instead of trying to arm every side and then send in American forces to keep the killing below an “acceptable” threshold as justification for impending aggression? Answering certain questions exposes the aggression in American humanitarianism. Human lives mean nothing to an unrestrained military aggressor, except when they prove to be an embarassment or reveal America’s true nature.]
Throughout the 13-plus years of the war on terrorism, one line of effort that everyone in Washington agrees on is the necessity to counter the ideology put forth by terrorist groups. Unfortunately, everyone also agrees that U.S. government agencies have done a terrible job at achieving this. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) recently derided the State Department’s counter-ideology efforts as “laughable” compared with the propaganda of the Islamic State. Whether termed “strategic communications,” “counter-messaging,” or “countering violent extremism,” there is a rare Washington consensus that this essential task is also the one that the United States has been the worst at accomplishing. But it’s not just about building a less-pathetic State Department Twitter feed. By extension, “success” mandates changing how terrorist groups think and communicate, and influencing individuals deemed susceptible to terrorists’ messaging.
Focusing on terrorists’ ideology is attractive because it requires altering the brains of enemies and neutral third parties, while, more importantly, requiring no change in America’s own thinking. Yet in the past six months there has been a little noticed, but significant, shift in America’s own counterterrorism ideology.
The language senior officials and policymakers are increasingly using to characterize terrorist threats — and to describe the projected length of the war on terrorism — has diversified and metastasized. The enemy, once identified as simply al Qaeda and affiliated groups, now includes amorphous concepts like “Islamic extremism” or “violent extremists.” Meanwhile, any shared understanding of when the war might end has basically vanished from public discourse. Where there was once an aspiration in Washington to wind down the era of “perpetual war,” there is now an agreement that America faces a “multigenerational” threat.
With little awareness of the consequences of this shift in discourse, U.S. counterterrorism ideology has become far more nebulous, less concrete, and gradually more open-ended. The war on terrorism is going poorly: The number, estimated strength, lethality (within countries they operate in, not against Americans), and social media influence of jihadi terrorist groups is growing. Yet, the same tough-sounding clichés and wholly implausible objectives are repeated over and over, with no indication of any strategic learning or policy adjustments. If this virulent and extremist — virulent in that it’s poisonous and harmful and that repeatedly espousing it ensures continued strategic failure, and extremist in that it proclaims the most extreme objectives that will never be achieved — U.S. counterterrorism ideology goes unchecked, it will further delude government officials and U.S. citizens into the false belief that the current courses of action are normal and acceptable and require no modification.
This latest ideological change is most conspicuous in descriptions of who the United States is at war with. The enemy has always been overly classified and somewhat hidden, but at least there was once a recognized list of discrete groups. Now, the adversary is an undefined and contested category of groups or people allegedly connected with the act of terrorism. If the U.S. government were as imprecise with its bombs as with its descriptions of its terrorist enemies, it would be a war crime. This matters: If you cannot name your opponents, you certainly cannot know them, much less measure progress in defeating them.
Consider the nebulous jumble of abstract enemies that officials have pronounced. In February, President Barack Obama said, “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam” and said that the international community must “eradicate this scourge of violent extremism.” Similarly, when attempting to describe the enemy, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, claimed that the United States is in a fight “against the group that has perverted Islam.” In February, National Security Advisor Susan Rice contextualized the U.S. mission as “to cut off violent extremism at the knees.” Earlier that month, she attempted to describe the undefined enemy: “As al Qaeda core has been decimated, we have seen the diffusion of the threat to al Qaeda affiliates, ISIL, local militia[s], and homegrown violent extremists.” Eric Holder, then the attorney general, claimed, also in February, that the United States is simply “combating the threat of violent extremism.” Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command, said the enemy is “ISIL and other violent extremist groups.”
Some policymakers have been even vaguer. When asked to define the enemy, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “I call them the enemy of Islam.” Let’s set aside the fact that Kerry is now presuming to interpret what is legitimate faith for 1 billion Muslims. Just who is this enemy precisely?
Meanwhile, the Republican presidential candidates are outdoing one another in blurring the enemy and exponentially expanding the number of individuals whom the United States must defeat. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) coined the Taken doctrine: “On our strategy on global jihadists and terrorists, I refer them to the movie Taken … Liam Neeson. He had a line, and this is what our strategy should be: ‘We will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you.’” Less theatrically, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) merely pledged, “We will stand up and defeat radical Islamic terrorism.” Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, “We are in the early years of a struggle with violent Islamic extremists that will last many decades.” Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), while touting his alleged willingness to name the enemy, called them “radical Islam” and “haters of mankind.” Again, it’s fine, though meaningless, to talk tough, but whom are these threats being made against?
The other threatening recent shift in U.S. counterterrorism ideology relates to the end state in the war on terrorism and when this might come about. Although Obama once claimed that this war, “like all wars, must end,” officials and policymakers no longer pretend that the war on terrorism will ever end; nor do they offer any narrative for how this war would end. Rather, they are attempting to normalize the war on terrorism as something all Americans should accept and get used to. As Defense Secretary Ashton Carter admitted, “We need to be thinking about terrorism more generally as a more enduring part of our national security mission.”
This shift was crystallized in a remarkable recent observation by CIA Director John Brennan. Three years ago, Brennan, then Obama’s closest counterterrorism advisor, pledged, “We’re not going to rest until al Qaeda the organization is destroyed and is eliminated from areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, and other areas. We’re determined to do that.” Yet, last month, when asked at Harvard University when the war on terrorism will end, he responded philosophically: “It’s a long war, unfortunately. But it’s been a war that has been in existence for millennia.… So this is going to be something, I think, that we’re always going to have to be vigilant about.” In other words, defeating terrorism is eschatological and eternal.
Similarly, Obama and his senior aides have come to repeatedly reframe the war in decades. The new National Security Strategy describes it as “a generational struggle in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war and 2011 Arab uprisings, which will redefine the region as well as relationships among communities and between citizens and their governments.” Meanwhile, Dempsey, the most senior uniformed military official, warned of Islamic terrorism: “I think this threat is probably a 30-year issue.”
Likewise, on Capitol Hill, this view has become standardized. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said it is a “multigenerational struggle” with “no cheap way to win this fight.” Similarly, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called it “a generational fight for civilization against brutal enemies.” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) went even further than Brennan, noting, “We’ve been fighting this radical Islamist ideology for 1,400 years.” In other words, long before the United States was even established. Forget who the enemy is; who is this “we”?
What is most disheartening about this radicalized counterterrorism discourse is that these same officials and policymakers still pretend that these diffuse terrorist threats will be “destroyed,” “defeated,” or “eliminated.” This quite simply will not happen because the United States and its partners keep applying the same strategies and policies while foolishly hoping for a different result. Officials claim that terrorists’ ideology is their “center of gravity,” a term the Pentagon defines as: “The source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act.” Yet, again, because nothing has succeeded at countering that ideology, we are supposed to become accustomed to an endless war against a nondescript concept.
The only ideology that the United States can influence or control is its own. Instead, Washington has busied itself conflating local militancy with threats to the homeland, refusing to identify the enemy, proclaiming tough-sounding and implausible strategic objectives, and demonstrating no meaningful learning or adjustments over 13 years. The lack of precision employed when defining America’s adversaries in the war on terrorism and the absence of any end state (combined with those unachievable objectives) comprise a dangerous and extremist set of beliefs for U.S. officials and policymakers to hold. If the war on terrorism is really all about ideology and ideas, then the United States should spend as much time analyzing its own ideology as it does its enemies’. The emerging counterterrorism ideology that Washington is expressing is hazardous, illusory, and sadly unchallenged.
[A funny thing happened on the way to this article’s posting yesterday…NOT REALLY…I was cyber-attacked while on the Russia Today site obtaining this post. My new computer (courtesy of my computer guru) seized-up and became inoperable. After the second try at a “hard boot,” I managed to get things working well enough to post the post. The rest of the day, was marked by several more seizures, before retiring. Today, the computer will not boot-up, period. My daughter guru managed to get it functioning somewhat after a complete restart and wipe of the computer. It is trying to recompile itself now, standing at 15%, after an hour at it. Whoever planted the virus or trojan, wanted to disable my computer completely and they did that…but this is not the first time that this has happened, nor is it the same computer…computer #3 for this scenario. Two older XPs could not be recovered. This latest one is Vista 8.1.
Considering the article subject, UK TROOPS, then I can only assume that this latest breech of my right to occupy Internet space was by the British Government, or by their CIA masters.
British Prime Minister David Cameron poses with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (R).(Reuters / Eric Vidal)
UK military personnel have arrived in Ukraine and are beginning their training mission there, Britain’s Ministry of Defence has announced. Meanwhile the US will send nearly 300 paratroopers to start training the country’s national guard next month.
The deployment of foreign troops has started amid a barely holding cease-fire in the country’s east.
With the aim of helping Kiev’s army to fight anti-government forces, according to the UK MoD, its training mission is now operating in Ukraine, with the numbers of involved personnel “depending on the schedule.”
“The first elements of the training package began in March…we have got troops out there training,” a ministry spokeswoman told AP. According to the BBC, 35 personnel are now in the country’s south, deployed as part of a two-month mission.
Last month, British ministers announced that up to 75 troops at a time would be involved in a six-month-long mission, training Kiev’s military “to strengthen the defensive capability of the Ukrainian armed forces and build the resilience that they need.”
The UK also announced plans to send a “gift” of non-lethal equipment to support president Poroshenko’s forces, but has ruled out any lethal aid supplies to the country.
Russia has expressed its concerns over the military training missions, saying such actions do not support the conflict settlement in eastern Ukraine.
“[The move] certainly does not contribute neither to strengthening of trust, nor to de-escalation of tensions in the conflict,” Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Russian president, said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.
US training mission to begin ‘late April’
The US also plans to launch military training mission in Ukraine soon. American vice-president Joe Biden has spoken to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko over the phone and informed him about the start of such a mission in the near future, the Ukrainian presidential press service announced. According to the statement, Biden informed Poroshenko of President Obama’s decision to train 780 Ukrainian military by US specialists.
Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez confirmed on Thursday that US soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vincenza, Italy, will travel to western Ukraine sometime in late April.
“This assistance is part of our ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine’s defense and internal security operations,” Lainez said as quoted by the Hill. An exact date for the US training mission initially announced last year has not yet been finalized.
After a final review of the mission, it now includes 290 American military trainers, according to Lainez. The training will take place in the western town of Yavoriv, near the Polish border.
The training will include six Ukrainian national guard units, “with a focus on internal security and territorial defense,” Lainez added, according to AFP.
Last week Washington announced an additional $75 million worth of non-lethal military aid which includes armored and unarmored Humvees, Raven drones, anti-mortar radars and night vision goggles.
Top NATO commander General Philip Breedlove has raised hackles in Germany with his public statements about the Ukraine crisis.
US President Obama supports Chancellor Merkel’s efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. But hawks in Washington seem determined to torpedo Berlin’s approach. And NATO’s top commander in Europe hasn’t been helping either.
It was quiet in eastern Ukraine last Wednesday. Indeed, it was another quiet day in an extended stretch of relative calm. The battles between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists had largely stopped and heavy weaponry was being withdrawn. The Minsk cease-fire wasn’t holding perfectly, but it was holding.
On that same day, General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine — with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” having been sent to the Donbass. “What is clear,” Breedlove said, “is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day.”German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn’t understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn’t the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove’s numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America’s NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.
The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove’s comments as “dangerous propaganda.” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove’s comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.
The ‘Super Hawk’
But Breedlove hasn’t been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.
Indeed, US President Barack Obama seems almost isolated. He has thrown his support behind Merkel’s diplomatic efforts for the time being, but he has also done little to quiet those who would seek to increase tensions with Russia and deliver weapons to Ukraine. Sources in Washington say that Breedlove’s bellicose comments are first cleared with the White House and the Pentagon. The general, they say, has the role of the “super hawk,” whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America’s more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.
A mixture of political argumentation and military propaganda is necessary. But for months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove’s leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements. To be sure, neither Berlin’s Russia experts nor BND intelligence analysts doubt that Moscow is supporting the pro-Russian separatists. The BND even has proof of such support.But it is the tone of Breedlove’s announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO — and by extension, the entire West — in danger of losing its credibility.
There are plenty of examples. Just over three weeks ago, during the cease-fire talks in Minsk, the Ukrainian military warned that the Russians — even as the diplomatic marathon was ongoing — had moved 50 tanks and dozens of rockets across the border into Luhansk. Just one day earlier, US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges had announced “direct Russian military intervention.”
Senior officials in Berlin immediately asked the BND for an assessment, but the intelligence agency’s satellite images showed just a few armored vehicles. Even those American intelligence officials who supply the BND with daily situation reports were much more reserved about the incident than Hodges was in his public statements. One intelligence agent says it “remains a riddle until today” how the general reached his conclusions.
Much More Cautious
“The German intelligence services generally appraise the threat level much more cautiously than the Americans do,” an international military expert in Kiev confirmed.
At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was “incredibly concerning.” But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.
The experts contradicted Breedlove’s view in almost every respect. There weren’t 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.
Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements. On Nov. 18, 2014, he told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that there were “regular Russian army units in eastern Ukraine.” One day later, he told the website of the German newsmagazine Stern that they weren’t fighting units, but “mostly trainers and advisors.”
He initially said there were “between 250 and 300” of them, and then “between 300 and 500.” For a time, NATO was even saying there were 1,000 of them.
The fact that NATO has no intelligence agency of its own plays into Breedlove’s hands. The alliance relies on intelligence gathered by agents from the US, Britain, Germany and other member states. As such, SACEUR has a wide range of information to choose from.
On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that “we have seen columns of Russian equipment — primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops — entering into Ukraine.” It was, he noted, “the same thing that OSCE is reporting.” But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.
Breedlove sees no reason to revise his approach. “I stand by all the public statements I have made during the Ukraine crisis,” he wrote to SPIEGEL in response to a request for a statement accompanied by a list of his controversial claims. He wrote that it was to be expected that assessments of NATO’s intelligence center, which receives information from all 33 alliance members in addition to partner states, doesn’t always match assessments made by individual nations. “It is normal that not everyone agrees with the assessments that I provide,” he wrote.
He says that NATO’s strategy is to “release clear, accurate and timely information regarding ongoing events.” He also wrote that: “As an alliance based on the fundamental values of freedom and democracy, our response to propaganda cannot be more propaganda. It can only be the truth.”
The German government, meanwhile, is doing what it can to influence Breedlove. Sources in Berlin say that conversations to this end have taken place in recent weeks. But there are many at NATO headquarters in Brussels who are likewise concerned about Breedlove’s statements. On Tuesday of last week, Breedlove’s public appearances were an official item on the agenda of the North Atlantic Council’s weekly lunch meeting. Several ambassadors present criticized Breedlove and expressed their incredulity at some of the commander’s statements.
The government in Berlin is concerned that Breedlove’s statements could harm the West’s credibility. The West can’t counter Russian propaganda with its own propaganda, “rather it must use arguments that are worthy of a constitutional state.” Berlin sources also say that it has become conspicuous that Breedlove’s controversial statements are often made just as a step forward has been made in the difficult negotiations aimed at a political resolution. Berlin sources say that Germany should be able to depend on its allies to support its efforts at peace.
Pressure on Obama
German foreign policy experts are united in their view of Breedlove as a hawk. “I would prefer that Breedlove’s comments on political questions be intelligent and reserved,” says Social Democrat parliamentarian Niels Annen, for example. “Instead, NATO in the past has always announced a new Russian offensive just as, from our point of view, the time had come for cautious optimism.” Annen, who has long specialized in foreign policy, has also been frequently dissatisfied with the information provided by NATO headquarters. “We parliamentarians were often confused by information regarding alleged troop movements that were inconsistent with the information we had,” he says.
The pressure on Obama from the Republicans, but also from his own political camp, is intense. Should the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine not hold, it will likely be difficult to continue refusing Kiev’s requests for shipments of so-called “defensive weapons.” And that would represent a dramatic escalation of the crisis. Moscow has already begun issuing threats in anticipation of such deliveries. “Any weapons deliveries to Kiev will escalate the tensions and would unhinge European security,” Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s national security council, told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on Wednesday.
Although President Obama has decided for the time being to give European diplomacy a chance, hawks like Breedlove or Victoria Nuland are doing what they can to pave the way for weapons deliveries. “We can fight against the Europeans, fight against them rhetorically,” Nuland said during a private meeting of American officials on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of February.
In reporting on the meeting later, the German tabloid Bild reported that Nuland referred to the chancellor’s early February trip to Moscow for talks with Putin as “Merkel’s Moscow stuff.” No wonder, then, that people in Berlin have the impression that important power brokers in Washington are working against the Europeans. Berlin officials have noticed that, following the visit of American politicians or military leaders in Kiev, Ukrainian officials are much more bellicose and optimistic about the Ukrainian military’s ability to win the conflict on the battlefield. “We then have to laboriously bring the Ukrainians back onto the course of negotiations,” said one Berlin official.Nuland Diplomacy
Nuland, who is seen as a possible secretary of state should the Republicans win back the White House in next year’s presidential election, is an important voice in US policy concerning Ukraine and Russia. She has never sought to hide her emotional bond to Russia, even saying “I love Russia.” Her grandparents immigrated to the US from Bessarabia, which belonged to the Russian empire at the time. Nuland speaks Russian fluently.
She is also very direct. She can be very keen and entertaining, but has been known to take on an undiplomatic tone — and has not always been wrong to do so. Mykola Asarov, who was prime minister under toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, recalls that Nuland basically blackmailed Yanukovych in order to prevent greater bloodshed in Kiev during the Maidan protests. “No violence against the protesters or you’ll fall,” Nuland told him according to Asarov. She also, he said, threatened tough economic and political sanctions against both Ukraine and the country’s leaders. According to Asarov, Nuland said that, were violence used against the protesters on Maidan Square, information about the money he and his cronies had taken out of the country would be made public.
Nuland has also been open — at least internally — about her contempt for European weakness and is famous for having said “Fuck the EU” during the initial days of the Ukraine crisis in February of 2014. Her husband, the neo-conservative Robert Kagan, is, after all, the originator of the idea that Americans are from Mars and Europeans, unwilling as they are to realize that true security depends on military power, are from Venus.
When it comes to the goal of delivering weapons to Ukraine, Nuland and Breedlove work hand-in-hand. On the first day of the Munich Security Conference, the two gathered the US delegation behind closed doors to discuss their strategy for breaking Europe’s resistance to arming Ukraine.
On the seventh floor of the Bayerischer Hof hotel in the heart of Munich, it was Nuland who began coaching. “While talking to the Europeans this weekend, you need to make the case that Russia is putting in more and more offensive stuff while we want to help the Ukrainians defend against these systems,” Nuland said. “It is defensive in nature although some of it has lethality.”
Breedlove complemented that with the military details, saying that moderate weapons aid was inevitable — otherwise neither sanctions nor diplomatic pressure would have any effect. “If we can increase the cost for Russia on the battlefield, the other tools will become more effective,” he said. “That’s what we should do here.”
In Berlin, top politicians have always considered a common position vis-a-vis Russia as a necessary prerequisite for success in peace efforts. For the time being, that common front is still holding, but the dispute is a fundamental one — and hinges on the question of whether diplomacy can be successful without the threat of military action. Additionally, the trans-Atlantic partners also have differing goals. Whereas the aim of the Franco-German initiative is to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, it is Russia that concerns hawks within the US administration. They want to drive back Moscow’s influence in the region and destabilize Putin’s power. For them, the dream outcome would be regime change in Moscow.
A massive troop training range is located in Yavoriv in western Ukraine near the Polish border. During Soviet times, it served as the westernmost military district in the Soviet Union. Since 1998, though, it has been used for joint exercises by Ukrainian forces together with the United States and NATO. Yavoriv is also the site where US soldiers want to train members of the Ukrainian National Guard for their future battle against the separatists. According to the Pentagon’s plans, American officers would train the Ukrainians on how to use American artillery-locating radar devices. At least that’s what US Army in Europe commander Lt. Gen. Hodges announced in January.
The training was actually supposed to start at the beginning of March. Before it began, however, President Obama temporarily put it on hold in order to give the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk a chance. Still, the hawks remain confident that they will soon come a step closer to their goal. On Tuesday, Hodges said during an appearance in Berlin that he expects the training will still begin at some point this month.
By Matthias Gebauer, Christiane Hoffmann, Marc Hujer, Gordon Repinski, Matthias Schepp, Christoph Schult, Holger Stark and Klaus Wiegrefe
“It began as a pledge by the first Bush Administration to Gorbachev that in return for German unification and liberation of the “captive nations” there would be “not an inch” of NATO expansion. It ended up its opposite, and for no plausible reason of American security whatsoever. In fact, NATO went on to draft nearly the entire former “Warsaw Pact”, expanding its membership by 12 nations. So doing, it encroached thousands of kilometers from its old Cold War boundaries to the very doorstep of Russia.”
“Bill Clinton used NATO enlargement to advertise his assertiveness in foreign policy and America’s status as the “world’s indispensable nation.” Clinton bragged about proposing NATO enlargement at his first NATO summit in 1994, saying it “should enlarge steadily, deliberately, openly.” He never explained why.”
“Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”–George Kennan, father of the “containment” doctrine and Truman’s aggressive anti-Soviet policy,
U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia’s Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)
NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.
Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia’s Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.
Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).
Estonia also showed off its own howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.
The parade is an obvious snub at Estonia’s eastern neighbor Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. The Estonian government is among several vocally accusing Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.
Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving the differences through dialogue.
NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian aggression. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.
Russia sees it as yet another proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that had been enlarging towards Russia’s border and compromised its national security.
The Estonian government defended its right to hold whatever military maneuvers it wants in its territory.
“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said in a speech in capital, Tallinn.
Historically Narva was a point of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.
The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered. Narva took turns between being governed by the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic, occupying German troops and the Red Army until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.
It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.
The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now by Russia to saw dissent. Commenting on the issue in an interview with Washington Post, President Ilves said seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”
[Egypt is bravely stepping into the international fray, between Qatar (fronting for the CIA) and the rest of the world, challenging the over-endowed Pissant State’s self-appointed right to support of the Islamist terrorists of N. Africa (SEE: Qatar’s Puppets Outgun Saudi Egyptian Puppet In Libya ; The spread of Islamic State.) Qatar has been fronting for Obama, whenever it has lent obvious support to both streams of Muslim Brotherhood-supported Islamists, either political or terrorist, all over Africa and the Middle East.
Egypt is daring to use its military in Libya against Islamists fighting against the Arab League-supported alliance of retired general Khalifa Haftar.
The curious part here is that Haftar is widely understood to be the CIA’s new “Man” in Libya. It is amazing that al-Sisi would trust such a man, but then, he must play a two-sided game to survive in such a spy-dominated scenario.
The Cairo-Doha dispute goes much deeper than the anti-Egyptian media blitz being orchestrated by Qatar, writes Salah Nasrawi.
The day a Cairo court ordered two Al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood to be released on bail, the Qatar-owned network aired secretly taped recordings of conversations between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his aides in which he purportedly expressed contempt for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf rulers.
The message could not have been missed: Doha does not seem to be interested in patching up differences with Cairo, and Al-Jazeera will continue its hostile coverage of Egypt, one of the main issues behind soured relations between the two countries.
Furthermore, the leaks, first aired by pro-Muslim Brotherhood television, seemed designed to drive a wedge between Egypt and the Gulf countries which are the main aid providers to Egypt.
Relations between Cairo and Doha deteriorated after the 2013 ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi whose Muslim Brotherhood group was backed by Qatar.
Al-Jazeera has since been broadcasting anti-Al-Sisi propaganda, labelling his takeover a “military coup.”
But what has appeared to be a row over negative television coverage may in fact hide a deeper conflict over a host of domestic and regional issues, in particular Qatar’s support for Islamists whom Egypt considers to be a threat to its security.
Efforts to reconcile Cairo and Doha have stalled as Qatar’s sponsorship of what has been termed the “Political Islam project” has been too much for Egypt to ignore and leave the ball in Qatar’s court.
In November, Al-Sisi tactically gave the nod to an overture by the late Saudi King Abdullah to reach out to Qatar after the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) rapprochement with its troublesome member state.
Egypt has shown pragmatism by not staying aloof from its allies in the Gulf – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – which are also its main financial backers.
But Egypt, familiar with the region’s chessboard, has seemed to be holding back and playing a waiting game. It has shown no sign of starting to mend fences with Qatar until the Gulf emirate changes what Cairo interprets as its hostile policies.
Egypt’s dispute with Qatar goes beyond Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the platform for anti-Al-Sisi propaganda which Al-Jazeera and other Qatar-owned media outlets have been giving to the group.
Cairo’s grievances against Doha include its role in building a broader Egyptian opposition movement to Al-Sisi and targeting its ailing economy by withdrawing loans and deposits provided to the ousted Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
The two countries have also been locked in a political standoff over a series of regional disputes in Gaza, Libya, Syria and Sudan, conflicts that Egypt considers as having a direct impact on its stability.
Egypt believes that the Palestinian Hamas movement, backed and funded by Qatar, shares a large part of the blame for militant attacks in Sinai. Cairo says that militants from Hamas-run Gaza have been helping jihadist groups in Sinai, such as Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis, which is linked to the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.
The terror group is responsible for attacks against Egyptian security forces in the Peninsula and it may be seeking targets in Egypt’s mainland.
Another major point of contention with Qatar is Libya. Egypt feels there is a danger to its security from its western neighbour where Islamist extremists and Muslim Brotherhood-backed militias supported by Qatar are fighting a government that is recognised by Egypt and the international community.
On Sunday, a Libyan terror group affiliated to IS said it had beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were working in Libya. Many Egyptians were angered by Al-Jazeera for hosting Al-Sisi’s opponents who have exploited the tragedy to blame the government for the massacre and not its perpetrators.
There is also Sudan, Egypt’s southern backyard, which is ruled by Islamists who have close ties with Qatar. Though Cairo and Khartoum continue to maintain working relations, Egypt remains wary of Sudan’s close ties with the Gulf state.
In November the Khartoum government signed a military cooperation pact with Doha that Egypt fears will be used to advance the Qatari agenda.
Egypt also has stakes in Syria where Qatar has influence over some of the Islamist extremist groups which are fighting to topple the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. Egypt fears both the rise of Islamists in Iraq and Syria and the influx of jihadists to join the insurgency in Sinai.
Another case in point is Turkey whose ties with Egypt have been strained since the ouster of Morsi. Cairo accuses Ankara of forming an alliance with Doha in a bid to destabilise Egypt through support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
All this indicates that a breakthrough in ties with Qatar will have to come on Egyptian terms. In the words of Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, “what is required is for Qatar’s policies to be supportive of Egypt and its national security and to avoid anything that leads to destabilising Egypt.”
The problem is that no one can be certain that Qatar is prepared to make the required changes in its foreign policy that Egypt takes to be a source of instability.
Touted as backing the Islamists, Qatar’s current strategy poses a serious threat to Al-Sisi’s drive to stifle the Muslim Brotherhood.
In broader terms, in its high-stakes regional game Qatar is challenging Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation and one of the region’s powerhouses.
There is an increasing understanding in Egypt that Qatar is trying to use its huge hydrocarbon-generated wealth and international connections to undermine Egypt’s efforts to restore its role as a major regional player, weakened by the turmoil after the 25 January Revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
But even if the mood in Cairo looks to be calm and diplomatic relations with Doha remain normal, Egypt seems to have options on the table.
Last month, Egypt returned a US$2 billion Qatari deposit to Doha after negotiations to convert the money into bonds failed. It plans to return a further $500 million, the rest of the billions extended to Egypt after Mubarak’s fall, as a sign of refusing to be intimidated by Qatari money.
Al-Sisi had refused to use his authority to pardon the Al-Jazeera journalists and gave the law due process to decide their fate, something which denied Qatar the opportunity to claim that it had exercised pressure on Egypt to secure their release.
An Egyptian court, meanwhile, is continuing the trial of the deposed former president and another 10 men on charges of espionage and leaking secret documents, including military and security files, to Qatar while in office.
Though no details about the documents have been made public by prosecutors, questions have been raised as to whether they included the recordings used by Al-Jazeera.
[With this latest news about new US air bases in Eastern Europe, who can still have any doubts that this is why the Pentagon and State Dept have intentionally engineered the Ukrainian civil war in the first place, in order to reignite the “COLD WAR” and to give them back their Russian “BAD GUYS”? By embroiling Russia in a hot war, they have reintroduced the idea of a “RUSSIAN THREAT” and renewed hope that the US MILITARY will be our SAVIORS, as they kill their way towards “WORLD PEACE.” Through careful maneuvering, the CIA’s psywarriors have managed to so inflame Ukraine’s social tensions, as to ignite outright civil war. Their next trick will be causing open hostilities between Ukraine and Russia.]
A Portuguese Air Force fighter F-16 patrols over Baltics air space, from the Zokniai air base near Siauliai November 20, 2014.Ints Kalnins/Reuters
NATO has ranked Russia as its greatest threat, according to defence experts, as the alliance announced its plans to staff six new European bases in what its secretary general Jens Stoltenberg is calling “the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War”.
The plan will see NATO’s rapid reaction units grow to 30,000 soldiers from 13,000, and six stations will be set up in the alliance’s easternmost member states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, all of whom either border Russia or share the Black Sea with annexed Crimea.
According to general Charles Wald, former-deputy commander of U.S. European Command, the move marks the “continuum of a wake-up call that is the threat of Russia in Ukraine”.
“It is a much bigger deal than it appears on paper,” Wald says. “The question for Europe is: is Putin creeping further and further west? Is this a precursor to Russia moving into Moldova? Nagorno Karabakh has been bubbling up and the Georgia issue is still unresolved.”
“NATO has essentially set these bases in its frontline states,” Wald says, referring to the countries’ proximity to Russian territory.
“What they will do is they will have the infrastructure to guide NATO’s forces to where they will have to go, supply them with equipment, intelligence apparatus and whatever they will need for supply chains, in the case of an attack on NATO territory.”
According to Ward, Poland and the Baltic states are the NATO member states “most nervous” of potential pro-Russian violence breaking out on their territories, as it has in Ukraine. The rapid response strategy is intended to prevent a spillover of pro-Russian violence into NATO and possibly deter violence from spreading in Ukraine.
“It is a little different with Ukraine because they are not part of NATO, but they are part of Europe and they are under attack,” Ward explains.
“The Ukrainians are never going to beat the Russians but they can at least fight them off their territory. Our belief is that we need to help the Ukrainians make it a bad trade off for Russia to continue expanding west,” Wald adds.
Yesterday NATO members Poland and Lithuania also agreed to form a joint military battalion with Ukraine, in a bid to further strengthen the military partnership between the West and Kiev.
According to Michael Clarke director general of the Royal United Services Institute which studies global defence and security, the move symbolises the return of Russia as NATO’s biggest security threat.
“The spearhead force is all part of NATO’s infrastructure plan,” Clarke says. “We are not adding any new units or putting any new spending into this, but rather we are reallocating existing units to be ready in eastern Europe from other parts of the world such as Belize,”
“They are there as skeleton staff at this point, but the point is that if they were activated it would enable reinforcements to arrive and act much more quickly as part of the NATO reinforcement plan,” Clarke says.
“NATO ranks Russia as its highest threat,” Clarke adds, but explains that for obvious reasons the governments of some NATO members are more immediately concerned by Russia’s actions than others.
“At this point in time the strategy is to show that NATO is a collective alliance, which shares risks, but if anything kicks off the facilities will be more than capable of dealing with the threat,” adding that Poland and the Baltic countries are among those most worried about a Russian advance.
“It is in the UK’s interest to reinvigorate NATO. Russia is a more fundamental danger, as opposed the Middle East.”
“If you press UK policy makers they will also probably admit that Russia poses the most serious security threat globally, but because it is below the level of open conflict in Ukraine, they are more reluctant to say that,” Clarke says.
According to Clarke’s colleague at RUSI, former Royal Navy officer Michael Codner, security has taken a back seat to the UK government’s agenda as the upcoming election has brought other issues such as the economy, healthcare and the threat of homegrown terrorism.
“It should be a top level issue, but it has been swept under the rug” Codner says.
Charles Wald echoes Clarke and Codner’s words but believes that the UK’s influence in NATO operations is crucial.
“Poland and the Baltic states are the most nervous about Russia, but the UK is the major player in Europe if anything goes down in NATO,” he says.
“They are being cautious with involvement, because they have their own economic issues but with regard to the moral initiative to act, if the US does something the UK will be right behind it.”
The announcement of the new spearhead force has not been received warmly by Russia, with Alexander Lukashevich a spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Defence holding a special press briefing where he warned NATO’s latest move would “inform Russia’s subsequent military planning”.
“This plan is in and of itself very disturbing, because it is about raising NATO capabilities on our borders.”
“The so called plan to reinforce the eastern flank of NATO is nothing other than an increase in the battle readiness of the alliance,” Lukashevich added.
In a speech today Jens Stoltenberg played down speculation NATO’s eastern reinforcement signified concern that Russia will mount a western advance, but highlighted the move did come as a result of the “sharply escalated’ violence in eastern Ukraine, caused by “Russian-backed separatists”.
NATO has ranked Russia as its greatest threat, according to defence experts, as the alliance announced its plans to staff six new European bases in what its secretary general Jens Stoltenberg is calling “the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War”.
The plan will see NATO’s rapid reaction units grow to 30,000 soldiers from 13,000, and six stations will be set up in the alliance’s easternmost member states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, all of whom either border Russia or share the Black Sea with annexed Crimea.
According to general Charles Wald, former-deputy commander of U.S. European Command, the move marks the “continuum of a wake-up call that is the threat of Russia in Ukraine”.
[From the selection of news headlines given below, it is apparent that Obama’s war against Putin has taken a new, even riskier path. Instead of continuing to simply threaten, bribe and browbeat the EU allies into closing ranks behind his scheme to isolate Putin, he intends to attempt to charge Putin with “WAR CRIMES” in the UN Security Council, branding him a “ROGUE,” Russia an “AGGRESSOR STATE” and the Novo-Russians (Eastern Ukrainian) as “TERRORISTS,” terms which Obama himself has already been branded with hundreds of times on the battlefield of the free Internet.
Thanks to Obama a battle for a “Free Europe” will be settled upon the “Ukrainian battlefield,” by “Good Guys,” who are really “Bad Guys” of the worst sort, expecting us to believe and support them, as they turn Europe into a new tinderbox, for no good reason. When it all boils down, there is no reason for the division and animosity between Ukraine and Russia, except for the pain left over from mistakes that are now past and the universal Ukrainians unwillingness to pay the real cost of keeping their homes warm in the wintertime.]
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution “On the Statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the United Nations, European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, GUAM Parliamentary Assembly and international parliaments on
recognizing the Russian Federation the aggressor state”
( Information Department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat )
The people’s deputies adopted the Statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the United Nations, European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, GUAM Parliamentary Assembly and international parliaments on recognizing the Russian Federation the aggressor state.
As usual, Hollywood is actively assisting the latest fraud to be perpetuated upon the American people, a false revival of the anti-communist “malaria” from the Reagan era, which normally prevails in the brainwashed sheep. Hollywood has been providing entertainment and audio/visual support to the various fascist administrations who have followed the path of world aggression since at least, WWII.
Their latest task is to vilify Putin and everything Russian, in support of the drive towards WWIII.
THE AMERICANS The Americans Centers on Russian sleepers operating in the United States in the 1980s.
Allegiance Series Trailer – New TV Series 2015
A rookie CIA analyst doesn’t know that members of his family are part of a Russian sleeper cell.
Notice that ISIS are sworn enemies of Syria, Hizbu’llah, and Iran. This in itself gives a most obvious clue as to the identity of the group’s benefactors.
A prevalent liberal cliché is the “blowback” theory – the theory that ISIS terror attacks, and indeed the group’s very existence, are somehow in retaliation to US/Western/”Israeli” foreign policy actions.
This is a disingenuous theory that is disseminated in order to keep the empire’s citizens on side. Crucially, it distracts from a key truth.
Western and “Israeli” intelligence has historically effected deep infiltration of ‘jihadist’ terror cells throughout the Arab world and the West; these groups are used literally as foot-soldiers (see Afghanistan throughout the 1980s) to achieve Western and “Israeli” military and strategic objectives. The “blowback” theory distracts from this key fact.
ISIS aren’t retaliating against Western foreign policy; they are Western foreign policy. These very people were mobilized against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya’s bogus ‘revolution’ of 2011, as with Syria in the same year.
In moving across the Syrian-Iraqi border, ISIS – Zionism’s foot-soldiers – underwent a magical media transformation into the ‘bad guys’. The ‘war against ISIS’ is a con, a total scam. It is a pretext for a war against the resistance axis: chiefly Syria, Hizbu’llah, Iran, and the Palestinian resistance. It is a pretext to kick the ‘Yinon plan’ – the plan to balkanise the Arab world to ensure “Israeli” hegemony – into high gear
The WMD lies of 2003 never went away; they simply got re-packaged for the liberal crowd in the post-Bush era.
The Zionist Plan for the Middle East, also known as the Yinon Plan, is an Israeli strategic plan to ensure Israeli regional superiority. It insists and stipulates that Israel must reconfigure its geo-political environment through the balkanization of the surrounding Arab states into smaller and weaker states.
“Greater Israel” consists in an area extending from the Nile Valley to the Euphrates.
When viewed in the current context, the war on Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing war on Syria, not to mention the process of regime change in Egypt, must be understood in relation to the Zionist Plan for the Middle East. The latter consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of an Israeli expansionist project. (READ HERE)
“Arguably, the most dangerous of the eleven Saudi Gitmo veterans currently on the run—Saeed al-Shehri and Mohammed al-Harbi—were cooperative, non-confrontational, and even charming during their interactions with ARB panel members in Guantanamo Bay. One cannot but appreciate the irony of Mohammed al-Harbi—now thought to be in the midst of planning imminent terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia and in Yemen—making a “heartfelt” offer “to work for American authorities once he was back in Saudi Arabia.”356
356 “Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the Case of al Harbi, Mohamed Atiq Awayd.” Administrative Review Board (ARB) Round 2. U.S. Department of Defense; Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy
How a group freed from Guantanamo returned to terror
By Peter Taylor BBC News
The failed Detroit airliner bomb attack on Christmas Day awakened the world to the threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a group that until then was hardly a household name.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young Nigerian who allegedly came within an ace of killing almost 300 passengers and crew with a bomb hidden in his underwear, said he had been trained and sent by its leaders.
US President Barack Obama’s embarrassment and anger at the potentially catastrophic failure of intelligence which allowed Mr Abdulmutallab to board the plane has been compounded by the revelation that two of AQAP’s founders, Said al-Shihri and Mohammed al-Awfi, were both former Guantanamo detainees.
Several AQAP foot soldiers are also former Guantanamo prisoners.
This only confirms the fears of critics vehemently opposed to Mr Obama’s promise to close the prison camp by the end of this month.
In total, 120 Saudi detainees have been repatriated from Guantanamo.
Mr Obama’s dilemma is dramatically illustrated by a BBC investigation into what happened to the 14 detainees of Batch 10, who were flown home to Saudi Arabia just over two years ago.
FIND OUT MORE…
Peter Taylor’s film for Newsnight will be broadcast on Wednesday 13 January 2010 at 10.30pm on BBC Two
Peter Taylor’s new three part series Generation Jihad is coming soon to BBC Two
The Saudi government’s aim was to put them through its controversial de-radicalisation or Care programme, with a view to rehabilitating its “beneficiaries” in society.
Of the 120 Saudi returnees, 111 of them have gone through the Care programme – the other nine returned to the Kingdom before the scheme was set up.
The government claims a 90% success rate and says that only 10 of the former Guantanamo detainees absconded, crossing the border into Yemen.
But Batch 10 certainly does not fit this picture.
When the Saudi 747 jet carrying them landed in Riyadh, its passengers were greeted by the authorities not as heroes but as “victims” who had been brainwashed and misled by a deviant ideology.
All went through the Care programme, but five later escaped to Yemen.
There two of them, al-Shihri and al-Awfi, helped set up AQAP and then took part in the organisation’s launch video.
The video was released on 22 January 2009, the day after Mr Obama announced that Guantanamo was to be closed down by 22 January 2010 – a deadline which will not be met.
In the video al-Awfi savagely attacked the Saudi rehabilitation programme, perhaps an indication of the increasing threat it poses to al-Qaeda.
It is no coincidence that last October an al-Qaeda suicide bomber, with explosives concealed in his rectum, tried to assassinate the eponymous founder of the centre, Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the Saudi deputy interior minister.
He survived. The bomber did not.
The attack was a sign of the technical sophistication of al-Qaeda’s Yemeni franchise, mirrored by the explosives hidden in Abdulmutallab’s underpants on Christmas Day.
Mohammed al-Awfi’s is an extraordinary story. He went through the rehabilitation programme like the others from Batch 10, but then fled to Yemen where he starred in the al-Qaeda launch video.
Astonishingly al-Awfi later re-crossed the border into Saudi Arabia and gave himself up.
Peter Taylor pictured in Riyadh, where he met Mohammed al-Awfi
I have never understood why he did so.
The Saudis told me it was because he had received a phone call from his wife telling him to return to look after her and the children.
The explanation caused me to raise a quizzical eyebrow. I was told it is not unknown for the Saudis to use families as bait.
Al-Awfi is now living in luxury accommodation in Riyadh’s top security prison where he is being drained of every scrap of intelligence.
He has all the comforts of home, a well furnished flat and regular visits by a grateful and relieved family.
After long negotiations with the Ministry of the Interior, I was finally allowed to meet him for an interview.
Surprisingly for a former jihadi who had breathed such fire in the al-Qaeda video, he was gentle and unthreatening, with pristine white robes, and a red and white checked Saudi keffiyeh.
His story and the reasons for his change of heart are well rehearsed.
Eighteen months earlier the interior ministry had video-taped the return of Batch 10.
In it one of the first returnees to be seen boarding the plane is al-Awfi.
He is dishevelled and appears to be in pain, the result, he told me, of being tortured by the Americans at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan six years earlier.
Al-Awfi claimed his US interrogators had done terrible things to him. He alleges they sat him on a chair, made a hole in the seat, and then “pulled out the testicles from underneath which they then hit with a metal rod”.
“They’d then tie up your penis and make you drink salty water in order to make you urinate without being able to do so, until they make you scream,” he added.
I spoke to other former detainees who allege they had been subjected to electric shock treatment at Bagram and Kandahar.
When I asked al-Awfi why the rehabilitation programme had not worked for him, he said it was because the memories of what he had suffered at the hands of Americans were far more powerful than any corrective inducements he had received in the Care programme.
I asked him about his participation in the video.
Now securely in Saudi hands and surrounded by Saudi minders, he told me he had been forced into it.
“The al-Qaeda leadership there put pressure on me to appear,” he said.
“I came and found a photocopied paper with a full text of what they wanted me to say. I even disagreed, but they said I had to recite all these things for political reasons.”
He says the recording took six hours and lasted until 0200 in the morning.
I then asked al-Awfi why he had decided to return after making the video.
“I saw the truth,” he said. “I saw that the path was a deviant path away from the sayings of the Prophet. Thanks to God Almighty’s generosity, I realised that and I made a final decision to return to Saudi Arabia.”
I personally suspect there was much more to it than that though.
But al-Awfi is alive, unlike another former detainee from Batch 10, Youssef Al-Shihri, who also joined al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Last October he crossed the border from Yemen into Saudi Arabia disguised in a burqa, with six others from Yemen to carry out a bomb attack.
The cell was intercepted by the Saudi security forces. Al-Shihri and another member of the cell were shot dead in the ensuing gun battle. Three loaded explosive belts were found in their car.
Two others returnees from Batch 10 – Murtadha Ali Saeed Magram and Turki Meshawi Zayid al-Assiri – are still at large in Yemen and on the Saudi wanted list.
And what of Said al-Shihri who was on the same flight as al-Awfi and who later appeared with him in the al-Qaeda video?
Al-Shihri now represents the biggest threat of all as he is believed to be second in command – the deputy leader – of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
In the video he declared “our imprisonment has only increased our persistence”.
What happened in the skies above Detroit on Christmas Day is an indication of that.
DEVELOPING AN INTEGRATED STRATEGIC COUNTERTERRORISM COMMUNICATIONS INITIATIVE AND ESTABLISHING A TEMPORARY ORGANIZATION TO SUPPORT CERTAIN GOVERNMENT-WIDE COMMUNICATIONS ACTIVITIES DIRECTED ABROAD
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 2656 of title 22, United States Code, and section 3161 of title 5, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. The United States is committed to actively countering the actions and ideologies of al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and adherents, other terrorist organizations, and violent extremists overseas that threaten the interests and national security of the United States. These efforts take many forms, but all contain a communications element and some use of communications strategies directed to audiences outside the United States to counter the ideology and activities of such organizations. These communications strategies focus not only on the violent actions and human costs of terrorism, but also on narratives that can positively influence those who may be susceptible to radicalization and recruitment by terrorist organizations.
The purpose of this Executive Order is to reinforce, integrate, and complement public communications efforts across the executive branch that are (1) focused on countering the actions and ideology of al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and adherents, and other international terrorist organizations and violent extremists overseas, and (2) directed to audiences outside the United States. This collaborative work among executive departments and agencies (agencies) brings together expertise, capabilities, and resources to realize efficiencies and better coordination of U.S. Government communications investments to combat terrorism and extremism.
Sec. 2. Assigned Responsibilities to the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.
(a) Under the direction of the Secretary of State (Secretary), the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (Center) that has been established in the Department of State by the Secretary shall coordinate, orient, and inform Government-wide public communications activities directed at audiences abroad and targeted against violent extremists and terrorist organizations, especially al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents, with the goal of using communication tools to reduce radicalization by terrorists and extremist violence and terrorism that threaten the interests and national security of the United States. Consistent with section 404o of title 50, United States Code, the Center shall coordinate its analysis, evaluation, and planning functions with the National Counterterrorism Center. The Center shall also coordinate these functions with other agencies, as appropriate.
Executive branch efforts undertaken through the Center shall draw on all agencies with relevant information or capabilities, to prepare, plan for, and conduct these communications efforts.
(b) To achieve these objectives, the Center’s functions shall include:
(i) monitoring and evaluating narratives (overarching communication themes that reflect a community’s identity, experiences, aspirations, and concerns) and events abroad that are relevant to the development of a U.S. strategic counterterrorism narrative designed to counter violent extremism and terrorism that threaten the interests and national security of the United States;
(ii) developing and promulgating for use throughout the executive branch the U.S. strategic counterterrorism narratives and public communications strategies to counter the messaging of violent extremists and terrorist organizations, especially al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents;
(iii) identifying current and emerging trends in extremist communications and communications by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents in order to coordinate and provide thematic guidance to U.S. Government communicators on how best to proactively promote the U.S. strategic counterterrorism narrative and policies and to respond to and rebut extremist messaging and narratives when communicating to audiences outside the United States, as informed by a wide variety of Government and non-government sources, including nongovernmental organizations, academic sources, and finished intelligence created by the intelligence community;
(iv) facilitating the use of a wide range of communications technologies, including digital tools, by sharing expertise among agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and extending best practices;
(v) identifying and requesting relevant information from agencies, including intelligence reporting, data, and analysis; and
(vi) identifying shortfalls in U.S. capabilities in any areas relevant to the Center’s mission and recommending necessary enhancements or changes.
(c) The Secretary shall establish a Steering Committee composed of senior representatives of agencies relevant to the Center’s mission to provide advice to the Secretary on the operations and strategic orientation of the Center and to ensure adequate support for the Center. The Steering Committee shall meet not less than every 6 months. The Steering Committee shall be chaired by the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. The Coordinator for Counterterrorism of the Department of State shall serve as Vice Chair. The Coordinator of the Center shall serve as Executive Secretary. The Steering Committee shall include one senior representative designated by the head of each of the following agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Counterterrorism Center of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Broadcast Board of Governors, and the Agency for International Development. Other agencies may be invited to participate in the Steering Committee at the discretion of the Chair.
Sec. 3. Establishment of a Temporary Organization.
(a) There is established within the Department of State, in accordance with section 3161 of title 5, United States Code, a temporary organization to be known as the Counterterrorism Communications Support Office (CCSO).
(b) The purpose of the CCSO shall be to perform the specific project of supporting agencies in Government-wide public communications activities targeted against violent extremism and terrorist organizations, especially al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents, to audiences abroad by using communication tools designed to counter violent extremism and terrorism that threaten the interests and national security of the United States.
(c) In carrying out its purpose set forth in subsection (b) of this section, the CCSO shall:
(i) support agencies in their implementation of whole-of-government public communications activities directed at audiences abroad, including by providing baseline research on characteristics of these audiences, by developing expertise and studies on aspirations, narratives, information strategies and tactics of violent extremists and terrorist organizations overseas, by designing and developing sustained campaigns on specific areas of interest to audiences abroad, and by developing expertise on implementing highly focused social media campaigns; and
(ii) perform such other functions related to the specific project set forth in subsection (b) of this section as the Secretary may assign.
(d) The CCSO shall be headed by a Director selected by the Secretary, with the advice of the Steering Committee. Its staff may include, as determined by the Secretary: (1) personnel with relevant expertise detailed on a non-reimbursable basis from other agencies; (2) senior and other technical advisers; and (3) such other personnel as the Secretary may direct to support the CCSO. To accomplish this mission, the heads of agencies participating on the Steering Committee shall provide to the CCSO, on a non-reimbursable basis, assistance, services, and other support including but not limited to logistical and administrative support and details of personnel. Non-reimbursable details shall be based on reasonable requests from the Secretary in light of the need for specific expertise, and after consultation with the relevant agency, to the extent permitted by law.
(e) The CCSO shall terminate at the end of the maximum period permitted by section 3161(a)(1) of title 5, United States Code, unless sooner terminated by the Secretary consistent with section 3161(a)(2) of such title.
Sec. 4. General Provisions.
(a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) authority granted by law to an agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
The warrant marks an escalation in the battle between Erdogan and Gülen whose movement has millions of followers worldwide. Photograph: Stringer/Turkey/Reuters
A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former ally of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has since become a fierce critic.
In his request for the warrant, Istanbul public prosecutor Hasan Yilmaz accused Gülen of leading a criminal organisation. According to Turkish media reports, the charges include operating an armed terror group, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. Yilmaz said that “sufficient tangible evidence showing that Gülen committed a crime was collected during the investigation”.
Turkish authorities are now able to apply to Washington for extradition of the elderly cleric, though such a request is likely to put strained relations with Turkey’s Nato ally under further pressure.
Following a string of orchestrated raids on media outlets with ties to the cleric last Sunday, the warrant marks another escalation in the battle between Erdoğan and Gülen, whose movement, also known as Hizmet, has millions of followers worldwide.
Erdoğan has accused his foe of establishing a “parallel structure” within the state by placing his followers in institutions such as the judiciary and the police, and of exerting strong influence through his media empire. Gülen denies any intent to overthrow Erdoğan or the Turkish government.
The European Union has strongly condemned the raids, which Erdoğan defended as a necessary response to “dirty operations” against the Turkish government.
Speaking at the opening of an extension to an oil refinery near Istanbul, Erdoğan told his EU critics to mind their own business: “We have no concern about what the EU might say, whether the EU accepts us as members or not, we have no such concern. Please keep your wisdom to yourself,” he said.
EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn described the police operation as “not really an invitation to move further forward” with Turkey. The US State Department has also expressed concern, urging Turkish authorities “to ensure their actions do not violate [the] core values [media freedom, due process, and judicial independence]”.
On Friday, a Turkish court also kept a media executive and three other people detained during Sunday’s raids in custody pending trial, all of them on charges of being members of a terrorist group.
Hidayet Karaca is the head of the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, a media organisation known to have close ties to the Gülen movement. Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper also linked to Gülen, was released pending trial, but forbidden from travelling abroad before the completion of the criminal investigation.
Human rights groups criticised the court’s decision. “Human Rights Watch is concerned at today’s court decision to place journalist and Samanyolu broadcasting group head, Hidayet Karaca, in pre-trial detention,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, HRW’s senior Turkey researcher. “Pre-trial detention should be the exception, and keeping journalists in custody on dubious terrorism charges without clear justification harms media freedom and is likely to further dent Turkey’s international reputation.”
The power and influence of the elderly cleric and his far-reaching network have long been a defining issue of Turkish politics. The domination of Erdoğan’s AKP in Turkey was aided by his alliance with Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1998. Those who dared to speak up and criticise the Gülen movement were swiftly punished, often through dubious court cases and on fabricated charges.
The relationship between the two turned sour after a corruption scandal in December last year that implicated the government, Erdoğan’s closest associates and his family. Maintaining that the sleaze allegations were unfounded and part of a coup attempt led by Gülen, Erdoğan purged the police of thousands of officers, transferred prosecutors linked to the investigation and tightened control over the judiciary. Prosecutors dropped the corruption charges this year.
Erdoğan said that both the operations and the purges of state institutions would continue, and added that the judiciary and some others, including the state scientific agency Tubitak, must yet be “cleansed of all traitors”.
[In case anyone hasn’t noticed, or hasn’t been paying attention, Google’s infamous “secret algorithm” has been squeezing most blogs out of search results. Even blogs which are treasure troves of information on the Imperial war on humanity, such as No Sunglasses, can no longer be found by “stumbling-upon” them in concerted searches on specific topics, using Google searches. Prior to Google’s previous reworking of its search algorithm, called “Panda” (SEE: Getting Squeezed-Out of Google Searches With the Panda Logarithm), which devastated the Alexa Ratings Index for this website and others like it,
Dec. 3, 2014
This site lost over 100,000 points in the Alexa system, because readership is down that much, 400+ daily visitors difference. Before, “therearenosunglasses” nearly always came up in most web searches, pertaining to the American dictatorship or resistance to it. Now, after the new algorithm rework, we are faced with Google’s next generation search barricade, called “Hummingbird” (SEE: Hummingbird Unleashed), which has flat-lined most of us. The proof of Hummingbird censorship has been summed-up in this article from aangirfan, “TRUTH BLOGS UNDER ATTACK.” It is impossible at this stage of the game to determine whether this can all be written-off to more of the same govt/corporate censorship of truth-tellers (a.k.a., “conspiracy theorists”), or it can be partially explained by the move to hand-held computers and the tendency to turn everything into another “APP” (SEE: Lets talk about Hummingbird—Parts 1 and 2)]
In late October MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow asked retired Army Lt. Col. John Nagl to give viewers a deeper understanding of the fight between the Islamic State (ISIS) and Kurdish fighters around Kobane. Widely credited with “writing the book” on successful counterinsurgency (COIN) operations, Mr. Nagl said, “we’ve got 1,500 guys on the ground, but they’re not as far forward as they need to be to make a real, immediate impact on the battlefield.” He and a number of COIN experts argue that along with 15,000 U.S. ground troops, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Syrian rebel soldiers can defeat ISIS. Before making any decisions, American leaders should first consider this: despite what is often claimed by a host of advocates, the COIN theories upon which these recommendations are based were in fact demonstrable failures in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We must not sacrifice any more American lives and harm American interests any further by acting on theories that are likely to fail again.
It has been taken as an “obvious truth” by many Americans and major media outlets that the counterinsurgency strategy brought to Iraq by former general David Petraeus in 2007 turned a near-certain defeat into an historic victory. There were two key fundamentals from which many believe victory sprang. The first was that American troops needed to leave U.S. bases and “live in the neighborhoods” with Iraqi citizens, the second that a surge of troops would give Baghdad “breathing space” to form an inclusive government. Instead of leading to success, however, these twin pillars may have contributed to the failure.
In a study published earlier this year by the National Defense University, authors Sterling Jensen and former Iraqi general Najim al-Jabouri wrote this of the Americans’ effectiveness in Anbar province cities: “[t]he surge did not have a role in the Anbar Awakening. Surge troops that came to Anbar in 2007 were not seen as useful… In fact, U.S. troops in general were not seen as useful even before the surge…”
But the authors’ possibly most pointed finding was that the causal factor behind the eventual drop in violence had little to do with either the increase in U.S. troops or the new strategy: “If not for al Qaeda’s murder and intimidation campaign on Sunnis, and its tactic of creating a sectarian war, the Anbar Awakening—a fundamental factor in the success of the 2007 surge—most probably would not have occurred, and it would have been difficult for the United States in 2006 to convince Sunnis to partner with them in a fight against al Qaeda…”
The Sunni-initiated Anbar Awakening, followed by the Petraeus-led “Sons of Iraq” program, resulted in a dramatic drop in violence. The breathing space purchased with considerable American blood was intended to facilitate the development of Iraqi democracy. Kelley Vlahos, contributing editor for The American Conservative, recently wrote, “in hindsight, the only meaningful space created was for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki” to use America to rid him of political enemies, not the least of which were many Iraqi Sunni leaders and groups.
Maliki’s oppressive rule, which alienated much of the Sunni population in the Western part of the country, was a key factor in the rise of ISIS; his penchant to dismiss Sunni officers and pack the senior ranks of the Iraqi Security Force (ISF) with inexperienced political patrons played a major role in the disintegration of the ISF when the Islamic State began its offensive.
I served in Iraq as a military trainer in 2009, and have twice deployed to Afghanistan (2005, 2010-11). Between my 2009 Iraq deployment and the last Afghanistan deployment—at the height of that surge—I traveled over 14,000 miles throughout both countries, going on mounted and dismounted patrols, with U.S., allied, Iraqi, and Afghan troops, and led a team to train an Iraqi border battalion. I can conclusively state that outside the wire, the counterinsurgency theories were an unqualified failure at the strategic level. The populations were never protected in either country. The insurgent forces were never fully defeated in either country—and are stronger now than they have been at any time since 9/11. The Afghan and Iraqi governments remain the third and seventh most corrupt governments in the world, and do not have the support of their people. The armed forces for both countries, despite the decade-long effort and tens of billions of dollars that the U.S. spent training them, are virtually incapable of conducting even basic security.
As the president’s national security team continues to develop a new strategy to deal with ISIS—and now also searches for a new secretary of defense—it is more important than ever to make a no-holds-barred analysis of the past decade of combat experience before settling on a new strategy. No matter how many U.S. boots might be placed on the ground in Iraq or Syria in this current environment, they would not be able to accomplish the president’s previously stated objectives. All the additional causalities we would suffer would be in vain.
We must not send any more Americans into the morass of Iraq and Syria with as little concern as one might show shoveling coal into a furnace. They deserve better than to be asked to risk their lives to conduct a no-win tactical mission.
The opinion expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or U.S. Army.
Daniel L. Davis is a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army stationed in the Washington, D.C. area. He has been deployed into combat zones four times, winning the Bronze Star Medal for Valor in Desert Storm.
“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
The U.S. and Turkey are close to an agreement on a joint military action against the Islamic State militant group in northern Syria, according to a published report.
The Wall Street Journal, citing officials from both countries, reported that the proposed deal would allow the U.S. and its coalition partners access to Turkish air bases to use as launch points for air strikes. The agreement would also provide for a protected zone along part of the Syria-Turkey border that would be off limits to Syrian government aircraft and provide protection for moderate Syrian rebels and refugees fleeing the country’s bloody, three-year-long civil war.
Turkey has already agreed to allow 2,000 moderate Syrian rebels to be trained on its own soil, and has sent members of its special forces to northern Iraq to train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
The Journal reported that Turkey had proposed a far more extensive no-fly zone over northern Syria, only to be rebuffed by the Obama administration, which said that the proposal would constitute an act of war by the U.S. against the Damascus government of Bashar al-Assad.
U.S. officials told the paper that talks between the two nations were still in a preliminary stage, and a final deal may not be agreed upon for weeks
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Vice President Joe Biden in Turkey last week for discussions about the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State, better known as ISIS. The Al Qaeda-inspired terror group’s months-long offensive in northern Syria has helped push between 1.5 million and 1.8 million refugees into Turkey, with millions more arrivals possible.
NATO officials told the Journal that Turkey could justify opening its bases to coalition jets under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which provides a right to collective self-defense. Technically, the ongoing strikes in Syria are being carried out in support of operations in Iraq based on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ’s Article 51 letter invoking collective self-defense.–[editor–SEE following citation]
“Absent a legally cognizable connection to a state, the non-state actor that threatens or actually undertook the attack lacks the legal characteristics in international law even to launch an “armed attack” within its legal meaning. All of this is irrespective of the extent of the actual attack or its real-world consequences. (Cf. 9/11.)”–LAWFARE.BLOG
[editor–in this context, Obama’s/NATO’s contention that he can justify attacks on ISIS within Syria, without Syria’s permission, ONLY if ISIS is officially backed by a STATE SPONSOR, and that Sponsor MUST BE IDENTIFIED. So, unless Obama is willing to admit that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (among others) are the sponsors of ISIS, he cannot invoke UN Article 51, under the “self-defense” clause. If this principle of international law is upheld, then Obama has already committed multiple “acts of war…against the Damascus government of Bashar al-Assad.]
News of the progress in talks between the U.S. and Turkey comes after Syrian activists said the U.S.-led coalition targeted ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in northeastern Syria with as many as 30 airstrikes Sunday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes also targeted the Division 17 air base, which the ISIS seized earlier this year from Iraqi government forces.
The U.S. military did not confirm the airstrikes to the Associated Press.
The monitoring group, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria, reported at least 30 coalition strikes in all. The Local Coordination Committees, an activist collective, also confirmed the airstrikes. Neither group had casualty figures.
“An intricate and determined programme of ethnic cleansing at all levels of society and with all forms of suppression continues until this day against the Palestinian people inside Israel and within the Occupied Palestinian Territories: the construction of illegal Jewish settlements and their exclusive network of roads and highways that connects them, the building of the prison Wall robbing more Palestinians of their land and cutting off communities from their farms and groves, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of olive trees, the forced evictions, the destruction of essential civilian infrastructure such as water supply and sanitation, the segregationist ‘legal’ system that favours Jews over Palestinians, the arbitrary arrests and detentions of civilians and their elected leaders and, to crown it all, the flagrant and consistent Israeli violations of International Law and all UN Resolutions.”
[(SEE: What about the Jewish Nakba? )Why don’t they ask for their own “right of return” for Jews to Iran and Arab countries? The link is here and in the title below, if you need to read such garbage.]
[A TV and VCR with a drawing of an IS taped over top of the set’s controls? Pretty damning stuff, huh?–ed.]
Photo by BGNES
Everything around the anti-terrorist operation conducted in Bulgaria this week is helping radical Islam to rise to popularity, a former security official says.
Nikolay Radulov, a former Chief Secretary at the Interior Ministry, believes the operation shows lack of understanding of this phenomenon.
“Radical Islamists seek publicity, this is why they release photos, footage. From this point of view they have achieved their goal. For some reason the prosecution and DANS [State Agency for National Security] are helping them promote it,” Radulov told private national channel NOVA TV.
He asserted there were no “sleeping cells” of Islamic State (IS), since that would be a conspiring terror organization and would neither appear on the Internet nor promote itself on Facebook.
Services are trying to make themselves stand out at a time when the budget is being drafted, and also when “various people” are reportedly eyeing the position of DANS head Vladimir Pisanchev, Radulov claimed, adding this might be another explanation as to why the operation was conducted amid media fuss.
In his words, Imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed “gained much more popularity with this operation than the one he had had until now.”
With such activities the security forces run the risk of creating “martyrs”.
Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance, Sheikh Saleh al-Sheikh. (Photo courtesy of alyaum.com)
Saudi authorities have seized copies of the Quran with printing errors, showcasing misinterpretation in the content related to other religions and sects, Saudi media reported on Wednesday.
Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance, Sheikh Saleh al-Sheikh told al-Watan newspaper that those copies were printed outside the kingdomand were being distributed in mosques by well-wishers.
“We have noticed that some copies came from outside printers, from some Arab and Islamic countries. Some of those copies were not carefully produced and were commercially brought into [the kingdom] and distributed by well-wishers in some mosques without knowing and they think that every copy is flawless,” al-Sheikh was quoted as saying.
He said some verses had “errors” some religions and sects and highlighted the need for spreading awareness and stressing that “not every copy ot the Islamic holy book is safe.”
He said some of the copies were found near Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
U.S. President Barack Obama.(AFP Photo / Ethan Miller)
President Barack Obama has secretly signed an order that expands the United States’ direct combat role in Afghanistan throughout 2015, the New York Times reported.
Signed over the last few weeks, the secret order permits American forces to continue to battle the Taliban and other militants that pose a threat to either the Afghan government or US personnel. According to the Times, US jets, bombers, and drones will be able to aid ground troops – be they Afghan or US forces – in whatever mission they undertake.
Under the order, ground troops could join Afghan troops on missions, and airstrikes could be carried out in their support.
If true, this marks a significant expansion of America’s role in Afghanistan in 2015. Previously, President Obama said US forces would not be involved in combat operations once the new year begins. He did say troops would continue training Afghan forces and track down remaining Al-Qaeda members.
Obama signed the secret order after tense debates within the administration. The military reportedly argued that it would allow the US to keep the pressure on the Taliban and other groups should details emerge that they are planning to attack American troops. Civilian aides, meanwhile, said the role of combat troops should be limited to counter-terror missions against Al-Qaeda.
The Times said an administration official painted the secret order’s authorization as a win for the military, but another said the US would not carry out “offensive missions” against the Taliban in 2015.
“We will no longer target belligerents solely because they are members of the Taliban,” the official said. “To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe.”
The change in direction came as the administration faces pointed criticism from those who say the US withdrew from Iraq too quickly, allowing the so-called Islamic State to make rapid gains in a country whose military proved to be easily intimidated and defeated.
Meanwhile, new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has a much softer position on the US presence in his country compared to his predecessor Hamid Karzai. Ghani reportedly asked the US to keep battling the Taliban into 2015. He also removed restrictions against US airstrikes and joint raids that were implemented by Karzai.
It appears that the number of troops that will be operating in Afghanistan next year will remain unchanged from previous plans. There will be 9,800 soldiers left throughout next year, and that number will be cut in half by the end of the year.
By the end of 2016, the remaining troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan, ending the US military presence in the country.
Some people dismiss claims that outside powers have manipulated the Arab political landscape, creating division and new movements, but the record suggests there may be merit to the allegations, writes Galal Nassar
As they marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, Palestinians were torn by discord, aggravated by Israeli measures aimed at voiding the Palestinian cause of its substance, such as expanding settlement construction, confiscating Palestinian property, Judaicising Jerusalem and, most recently, recurrent acts defiling Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The spike in tensions accompanies an outburst of angry and sustained recriminations between Fatah and Hamas, the two major factions of the Palestinian resistance, in the aftermath of bomb attacks that targeted the homes of Fatah officials in Gaza.
The worsening polarisation hampers the measures intended to enable the Palestinian Authority to reassert its control over Gaza (which may well have been the purpose of the attacks) after years of Hamas control. This, in turn, jeopardises the creation of a national unity government, reconstruction of Gaza, implementation of the Cairo Agreement, and a return to the provisions of the Gaza Crossings Agreement, the lifting of the blockade and resumption of negotiations with the Israeli occupation.
Hamas, since it was founded, has always played a curious role in the Palestinian resistance. This is in view of its birth as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (it is a member of the International Muslim Brotherhood, as stipulated in Article 2 of its charter), its conflicting affiliations, its ideological and organisational frame of reference, and its ulterior motives and aims.
Yet, however we might judge that movement, this does not diminish the Palestinian resistance, the struggle and sacrifices that the Palestinian people have endured over the decades, or the place that their cause has in the hearts and minds of every Arab.
In November 1994 I had an exclusive interview with Richard Hrair Dekmejian, political science professor at the University of Southern California and author of Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab world. A Syrian of Armenian origin, he acquired US nationality at a young age.
The interview appeared in Al-Ahram Weekly and was translated into Arabic by the late Saadeddin Wahba and published in his weekly column in Al-Ahram daily. Dekmejian, who had served as a political advisor to President Ronald Reagan, discussed the part Washington played in supporting and funding the idea of creating the Hamas movement in Gaza.
Why would Washington work to create an Islamic, fundamentalist entity to fight its ally, Israel, I asked?
He said that Washington and Tel Aviv wanted to pull the rug out from beneath Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Most of the members of these two organisations hailed from the political left and sometimes used a lexicon that did not connect with the general Palestinian public.
The Reagan administration believed that by setting up or supporting the creation of an Islamist movement that used religious rhetoric and language that resonated with large segments of the Palestinian street, it could create a schism and erode the popularity of the PLO and Fatah. The division could be exploited in any negotiating process and manipulate Palestinian and Arab emotions towards the realisation of certain ends.
Washington acted on this advice. The CIA, setting into motion the customary devices it uses in its covert operations, channelled $3 million through an intermediary to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his aides, although of course Yassin was unaware of the provenance of the funds. (Neither Yassin, who was alive when the Dekmejian interview appeared in Al-Ahram, or any other Hamas leader ever denied or commented on the claims.)
Since that time, Hamas and its decisions have been subject to the pressures and conditions of its sources of funding and political support. These have been manipulated in such a way as to keep the movement in a permanent state of political and ideological collision with Fatah and the PLO and, subsequently, the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah officials.
Israel and Washington have constantly used that clash to cause negotiations to breakdown, to weaken Palestinian ranks and to facilitate the processes of settlement expansion, land confiscation and the Judaicisation of the occupied territories.
In addition to the these links, Hamas is organisationally linked to the International Muslim Brotherhood, which is also one of the movement’s most important sources of funding. Hamas is thus bound to Muslim Brotherhood policies and agendas, which do not necessarily mesh with the aims and aspirations of the Palestinian people.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s actions and decisions are informed by its particular calculations of power balances and what best promotes its own interests, rather than by what is best for the Palestinian cause. The conflicting pull of Hamas’s affiliations was manifested in Hamas’s attitudes toward recent events in Egypt and the effect of these on Egyptian-brokered inter-Palestinian reconciliation, for example.
That the behaviour of Hamas is controlled from abroad because its leaders are subject to pressures from their (US, Qatari, Turkish) sources of funding, support and protection has rendered people in Gaza — and Palestinians in general — pawns to interests that often have no relationship to the interests of the resistance against a brutal occupying power.
This has led to actions that have often been counterproductive to the needs of the Palestinian cause and the welfare of the people who suffer under occupation and are struggling to win their freedom.
Hamas is no different from the other paramilitary movements that use religion and claim a monopoly on the truth in the name of Islam, and that have come to dominate the stage in the Arab nation and, in the process, hijacked, destroyed and distorted the humanitarian and democratic calling of the Arab Spring.
The scheme to establish and support Hamas is echoed in the creation of Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS), Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, some Salafist fronts, Hizbullah, the Houthis and other such groups and movements. The model for this may well have been the creation of the Muslim Brotherhood, fostered by the British embassy in Cairo as an instrument to drive a wedge into the Egyptian nationalist movement and to beat back other political forces.
With regard to Washington’s role in the creation and promotion of militant Islamist movements and other Islamist movements that have been thirsting for political power, I would like to call the reader’s attention to the testimony of some retired US intelligence officials cited in The Atlantic Monthly following 11 September 2001.
According to that testimony, the CIA and other US intelligence agencies at the time failed to detect the threat because they had lost the initiative after many of their agents were withdrawn from the field.
The agencies had built up a structure for collecting intelligence, assessing positions and controlling events from afar using “moles” who had been planted many years before among those movements. They grew their beards, prayed and thoroughly blended into the environment of those groups.
The former intelligence officials added that the agencies at the time had stopped creating new organisations that they could control from afar in order to promote US interests in the Middle East. But after disaster struck at the World Trade Centre, officials recommended reviving these “pre-emptive” policies.
I have little doubt that attempts to undermine the spirit and goals of the Arab Spring, the drives to promote the empowerment of the so-called “political Islamic current” and its political, intellectual and journalistic advocates and pundits, and the emergence of new regional roles for Hamas, IS and their sisters are manifestations of the faithful implementation of those former intelligence officials’ recommendations.
I wonder to what extent the Arab political and intellectual elites are aware of that game and its players. The evidence is that in order to formulate counterstrategies and measures to rescue our region from its tragic plights, and perhaps worse to come, we need to summon at least a modicum of conspiracy theorising in our analyses, and to drop the sarcasm while doing so, as the situation does not permit it.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is accusing Russia of wanting to occupy Ukraine “militarily and politically,” as both Kyiv and Moscow mass troops close to their mutual border.
Yatsenyuk warned Friday that Russia’s actions could lead to a wider military conflict in Europe. He told an interim Cabinet meeting that Moscow “wants to start World War III.”
U.S. President Barack Obama also criticized what he called Russia’s “further meddling” in eastern Ukraine, where armed, pro-Russian separatists have occupied government buildings.
Speaking in Seoul, Obama said he would talk to “key European leaders” later Friday about implementing wider sanctions in the event Russia further escalates the situation.
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin must decide whether he wants to see his country’s already fragile economy weakened further because he failed to act diplomatically in Ukraine.
His comments echoed that of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said Thursday that Moscow is making “an expensive mistake” by failing to restrain the separatists.
Underscoring the threat to Moscow’s economy, credit agency Standard and Poor’s cut Russia’s credit rating to BBB- . The agency said it is concerned about increased capital outflows from Russia, and said the rating could be cut further if sanctions are tightened.
Both Obama and Kerry have accused Russia of failing to uphold the four-party deal it signed last week calling for all parties in Ukraine to lay down their weapons and vacate public buildings. Kerry said Moscow has not taken “a single step” to de-escalate tensions since the deal was signed in Geneva.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday blamed the West for raising tensions, saying the Pro-Russian militants would only lay down their weapons if the Ukrainian government first clears out its own protesters in the capital.
Lavrov also denounced Kyiv’s security operation to clear the pro-Russian militants, calling it a “bloody crime.” Ukrainian officials on Thursday said the crackdown killed up to five people.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is vowing the operation will continue. On his Facebook page, Avakov said “terrorists should be on guard 24 hours a day,” but that civilians have nothing to fear.
The flurry of diplomatic exchanges come amid rising tensions along the Ukraine-Russian border, where a huge Russian military force is gathered. A Ukrainian diplomat at the United Nations told VOA that Moscow has doubled its military presence on the border to about 80,000 troops.
[Another Taliban leader killed for the second time (SEE: 56 killed in shelling by fighter aircraft, helicopters ). The continual repetition of this demonstrated pattern of the alleged re-killing of famous militants, either confirms the total and complete unreliability of those Pak spies who identify drone victims for the Western press, or else it confirms consistent Pentagon lying about the alleged “successes” of its drone murder program. The Pentagon never really knows for sure “who” it kills in these strikes, or whether any militants were killed at all in the isolated mountains, even though nearly every publicized strike is linked with a known militant name. The sheer number of the drone murders -vs- the limited number of known militant names in Pakistan, necessitates the re-running of the names of the alleged victims.]
Saturday, 01 February 2014 A Saudi newspaper denied on Saturday a story published by a British newspaper on funding ” Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ” , what is known for short as ” Daash ” , describing it as a ” false allegations”.
The official Saudi news agency quoted , the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Mohammed bin Nawaf of what he considered as ” false allegations by The Independent newspaper on his country,” which appeared in an article titled ” Middle Eastern regimes fighting al-Qaeda now.”
The agency said that , “The Saudi ambassador said in a letter published in the same newspaper , this week that the false claims made in the article about Kingdom of Saudi Arabia funding the so-called organization of the state of Iraq and the Levant Islamic and described it as false , adding that the Saudi Embassy totally rejects such accusations and consider them as misleading”.
The Saudi ambassador noted in his letter , that ” his country’s position towards the violent extremism file is supposed to be clear ,” but he considered ” the allegations made in the article as an opportunity to clarify the position of his country , and confirm it again.
The ambassador added that ” Saudi Arabia is continuing in its efforts to show its support for the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian opposition and want the same thing from the world .”
He added that Saudi Arabia ” has repeatedly stressed that it is tirelessly providing support for the forces of moderation which is the most effective way to retard the growth of the extremism forces inside Syria.”
The British writer , Robert Fisk had published an article in the ” Independent newspaper ” , in the fifth of last month , in which he accused Saudi Arabia of funding ” Daash organization ” , which is fighting in Syria, both of the Free Syrian Army and the regime of Bashar al-Assad together .
It is worth mentioning that battles are taking place between the police forces and tribesmen loyal to the government against al ” Daash ” in Anbar province
The false claims made in the article “Now it’s Middle Eastern regimes fighting al-Qa’ida” (6 January) about the Kingdom financing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are of the utmost seriousness. The Embassy refutes such implications and finds them an inaccurate and misleading account of the situation.
We would assume our attitude towards violent extremism is clear. In the light of the article, however, we would like to take this opportunity to again clarify our position and the imprecision of this accusation.
Saudi Arabia continues to show its support for the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Opposition. Global hesitation to do the same, we believe, is acting as a large barrier in movement towards peace. It is only too easy to assign blame for indecisiveness and hesitation in the support of the Syrian Opposition to fear of indirectly enabling the involvement of al-Qaeda within Syria.
In reality, it is this lack of international involvement that is paving the way for terrorist-affiliated networks to breed within Syria. Saudi Arabia has unremittingly emphasised that provision of support to forces of moderation is the most effective manner in which to stunt the growth of forces of extremism within Syria.
The Kingdom continues through the Friends of Syria group to urge the international community to be more courageous in displaying their support for the coalition and the Free Syrian Army, who are in desperate need of international assistance.
This is “Arab unity” as we have never seen it before. But watch out
And so, for the first time in recent history, it seems that the “war against terror” – and specifically against al-Qa’ida – is being fought by Middle East regimes rather than their foreign investors.
Sure, American drones still smash into al-Qa’ida operatives, wedding parties and innocent homes in Pakistan. But it’s General al-Sisi of Egypt, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran – even powerless President Michel Sleiman of Lebanon – who are now fighting “terrorists”.
It shows how powerful the bad guys have become that mutually antagonistic dictators and satraps can gang together against America’s enemy. This is “Arab unity” as we have never seen it before. The Ottoman Empire lives again. But watch out.
You need to put on a tin hat to avoid the ironies crashing out of the sky. John Kerry – now the most outrageously funny Secretary of State in US history, he who promised an “unbelievably small” airstrike against Syria – says America supports the secular rebels against Assad, who are fighting the Islamist rebels who are fighting against Assad even though the US still wants the overthrow of – you guessed it – Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile private Saudi money is still pouring into Syria to help the al-Qa’ida-associated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) – against whom Bashar and the secular Free Syrian Army are now fighting – while the Saudis also contribute billions to Sisi’s army in Egypt which is fighting identical al-Qa’ida-linked “terror” in Sinai and now, it appears, in Cairo itself. And if you are confused by all this, try Lebanon.
Last week, the authorities claimed to have arrested Majid bin Mohamed al-Majid, one of the “most wanted” al-Qa’ida men in Saudi Arabia. All they had to do to confirm this extraordinary detention was to use DNA to check the man’s identity. This came only weeks after Lebanese Shias blamed Saudi “terrorists” for blowing up the Iranian embassy in Beirut, an attack followed by the assassination of a prominent Sunni politician and then – last week – by a further attack on Shias in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital. No sooner had Sunni ex-minister Mohammed Chatah been car-bombed to death, than the Americans promised more money to the Lebanese army. How, then, could the Lebanese avoid being drawn into the “anti-terrorist” war after arresting Majid? Miraculously – and there have been a lot of miracles in the Middle East region, as we all know – the Lebanese not only confirmed that they had indeed got the right man, but that he had regrettably died of organ failure while in their custody. Phew!
Majid al-Majid was the alleged leader of the group that claimed responsibility for the attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut in November
But US support for the Lebanese military will go ahead. Just as Washington is now offering more missiles and planes to the Shia sub-dictator President Maliki of Iraq if he goes on biffing Sunni insurgents and al-Qa’ida men in Anbar province. History, of course, repeats itself in Fallujah and Ramadi, the two cities repeatedly conquered and then re-conquered and then re-conquered for a third time by US forces after the illegal invasion of 2003. In 2004, the Marines claimed they had wiped out al-Qa’ida in Fallujah, then handed the city over to Baathist policemen. Then the Americans virtually destroyed the city around the heads of al-Qa’ida after another few months – we will not mention the use of US phosphorous shells and the outbreak of childbirth abnormalities more than five years later – and now the largely Shia Iraqi army is fighting the Sunni tribesmen of Fallujah. Who are in turn (be patient, readers) claiming they are fighting the local al-Qa’ida groups, just as the Free Syrian Army insists that it is now in combat against the same al-Qa’ida groups in Syria.
Meanwhile Kerry – who has not invited the Iranians to the Geneva 2 talks on Syria – says Iran might play a valuable role “on the sidelines” (has ever an invitation to Iran appeared more insulting?) while the main Syrian opposition forces have no intention of taking part in the Swiss conference. Geneva 2, in other words, is a dead duck; just like the Palestinian-Israeli talks of which Kerry still speaks with optimism – a sure sign that this particular duck is also dying.
Who now remembers the Arab Awakening – or “spring” as some of my colleagues still insist on calling it? Well, let’s just take a look at an ominous statement this past weekend in which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the latest bomb in Beirut – the one that killed at least four civilians in the Hezbollah suburbs. So now Isil – as I suppose we must call it – acknowledges it is fighting on three fronts: Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. So we have Arab regime unity at last. As for America – well, I guess they’ll go on supporting the Free Syrian Army which is fighting al-Qa’ida which is fighting Bashar whom Washington wants to dethrone.
America’s Muslim Brotherhood friends in Egypt have just been formally classed as “terrorists” by Sisi who is supported by the country which is paying – long live Salafism – for Islamist “terror” in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. And Saudi Arabia – the key to the whole fandango, though no one will say this – remains a close and “moderate” friend of America. Say no more.
[There is no AQ In Iraq, no ISIL, nor any “Islamic State In Syria (Sham)….there are only secret military operations needing a name, an excuse to be, most of all, a real leader. Today, the state of Iraq, Interior Ministry released the following photo of the man who is known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.]
A handout picture released by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI) shows a photograph purportedly of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, an Al-Qaeda-linked group fighting in Iraq and Syria. AFP PHOTO / MOI/ HO
THIS IS CLEARLY NOT THE MAN IN THE PHOTO BELOW.
[This is the man that is currently pretending to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, alleged to be leader of Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the guy who is supposedly leading the insurrection against the Free Syrian Army. Would that make him a “terrorist” or an “actor,” since he is playing a role in this grand production? In the performance, we see a weird, unintended script twist, where life imitates art, meaning that the Baghdadi guy is much like the “Mandarin” character from “Ironman 3,” played by Sir Ben Kingsley.
“Baghdadi” was allegedly the man in charge of the Iraqi group, after original leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed.
As for Zarqawi himself, he was allegedly killed in Chechnya, long before the second Iraq War, according to respected Jordanian/Chechen terrorist leader, Ibn al-Khattab.
This is an early photo of Zarqawi. Is the guy who was killed as “al-Zarqawi” the same guy? ]
* * * *
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi interior ministry Wednesday published a photograph purportedly of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, an Al-Qaeda-linked group fighting in Iraq and Syria.
The photograph, the first of its kind published by an official source, provides a rare glimpse of the man leading a militant group blamed for killing countless Iraqis, as well as fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The black-and-white picture shows a balding man with a beard wearing a suit and tie.
“Intelligence forces have obtained a recent portrait of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and they also got three handwritten letters,” said the statement accompanying the photograph, published on the ministry’s website.
“The security forces call on the people to provide any information that helps lead to the arrest of this criminal.”
Baghdadi’s group has been blamed for a litany of attacks across Iraq in recent months, and ISIS has been involved in a deadly standoff with government forces in western Iraq’s Anbar province.
In Syria, ISIS has also been fighting not only forces loyal to Assad but also fellow rebel groups. The ISIS leader has, however, reached out to other rebel groups in a bid to curb the infighting.
ISIS, which was previously the Islamic State of Iraq, was formed in April 2013 when Baghdadi sought to merge his group with Al-Nusra Front, but they rejected the alliance and pledged allegiance directly to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Since then, the two groups have functioned separately.
Incident is first pitting Turkey against jihadist group which has been fighting the Al Assad regime
Istanbul: The Turkish army said on Wednesday it had opened fire on a convoy of vehicles in northern Syria belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) jihadist group. The army said the attack, carried out on Tuesday, came after two Turkish military vehicles had been fired upon at the Cobanbey border post in the south [should be north–ed.] of the country.
“A pick-up, a truck and a bus in an Isil convoy were destroyed,” read the statement, published by Turkish media. There were no casualties on the Turkish side. The incident is the first pitting Turkey against the Syrian jihadist group, which has been fighting forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad as well as fellow rebel groups in the north of the country since January.
Turkey, a fierce opponent of Assad’s regime, has been accused of supplying arms to several rebel groups fighting to topple him since March 2011. Ankara has categorically denied the accusation. The Turkish army has fired into northern Syria several times in retaliation for shelling from on Turkish villages.
[The pseudo-democracy that the US State Dept. has managed to sell to the desperate masses of the Middle East is the cause of the bloodbaths. We sold them “HOPE,” wrapped-up in a pretty package, while allowing the Qataris to pump millions into the Brotherhood, without creating a reciprocal support structure for the real Democrats of Egypt. The same methodology for destabilization was previously perfected Gaza and Iraq, with the same results. The fact that the Saudis have chosen to pour vast amounts of their fortune into reversing the damage done by this process in Egypt by undermining the pseudo-democracy after the fact, is just another way to prolong the bloodshed and to discredit real “Democracy” in the Arab world. By allowing the Saudis to salvage their puppets in Egypt at the price of destroying Big D “Democracy,” while doing the same to Syria, we are ensuring that the Big D we pretend to defend never has a real chance to undermine the most insidious regime of them all…the one sitting in Riyadh.]
Police officers inspect the site of a bomb attack in front of the damaged Cairo Security Directorate building, which includes police and state security, in downtown Cairo January 24, 2014. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
The bomb attacks targeting Egypt’s capital Friday represent a disturbing development for the country’s stability, and highlight the presence of a growing segment of society which feels completely negated by the current system.
Those who care about the region had tried to convince themselves Egypt was immune to the type and scale of violence that has befallen Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria, among others, but worryingly, it looks as though this is not the case.
The region’s giant, Egypt seemed too big to fall, and while attacks targeting security forces have grown increasingly frequent in the Sinai and other provinces, these are the first major incidents in Cairo.
Certainly, all the ingredients for widespread violence are there: extremely high levels of poverty and unemployment, a lack of education, and a hangover from decades of an often cruel and oppressive military dictatorship. The population has grown enormously over the last 50 years, but without the needed economic, urban and social planning.
Stability is needed, badly. A climate of confidence and calm must be nurtured if these violent attacks are going to cease any time soon.
After winning the first free elections, the Muslim Brotherhood neglected its opportunity to govern fairly, but depressingly, it appears that their form of dictatorship has been replaced by an army dictatorship, not unlike the era of Mubarak.
But if this new regime is going to have any hope of lasting in place longer than its predecessors, it must choose to embrace its enemies, rather than remaining in permanent confrontation with them. Those Brotherhood supporters, not an insignificant minority, must be made to feel that they have a place in this new Egypt.
[One side believes that it is under siege by an international army of foreign terrorists and their secular sympathizers, while the other side, under collective authority of the international majority, demands that Assad surrender his authority as Syrian Commander-In-Chief to the internationalists as a precondition to “peace talks,” which should really be called “surrender talks.” The absolutely unreasonable circumstances that have been forced upon all of the Syrian people because of the campaign of political agitation, followed by military hostilities, that has been carried-out by the international coalition invested in the overthrow of Bashar al-Asad represents great crimes against humanity of the First Order. The powerful foreign interests who have engineered this democratic-revolutionary war in Syria, as well as other regional conflicts, are responsible for the deaths in this war, as well as the terror used in inflicting those deaths. If Bashar has chosen to repel the international invasion by foreign terrorists by meeting “terror with terror,” then where does the the responsibility lie? Were US authorities guilty of war crimes when they tortured terrorists to death? Were they more guilty than the terrorists’ sponsors?]
AP In this Jan. 22, 2014, photo, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, right, speaks during a joint news conference with UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Montreux, Switzerland. Syria’s government and the Opposition refused to come face to face at the peace talksscheduled for Friday in Geneva to end the three year-long civil war that is unsettling the entire Middle East.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that his delegation was prepared to walk out if efforts to secure a face-to-face meeting with opposition representatives fail.
Syrian government envoys threatened on Friday to leave a peace conference on ending the conflict should efforts to secure a face-to-face meeting with opposition representatives fail.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told U.N. and Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi that his delegation was prepared to walk out of the talks if the historic meeting doesn’t happen by Saturday, the Information Ministry said.
Mr. Brahimi held talks with government representatives, and is expected to meet opposition leaders separately later on Friday.
The main point of contention is the future of President Bashar al-Assad. The opposition says he must go, and the government insists the issue is a “red line” that is not up for discussion.
Information Minister Amran Zoubi said in a statement before the meeting with Mr. Brahimi that the regime had not agreed to the formation of an interim government, the cornerstone of a blueprint agreed at an international conference on Syria in 2012.
The opposition said it was committed to the talks, as long as a discussion of a political transition is on the agenda.
Mr. Brahimi wants the sides to meet at the UN’s offices in Geneva, Switzerland, where it is believed talks will centre on the release of prisoners and detainees and the possibility of opening besieged towns and villages to humanitarian aid deliveries.
The two sides clashed openly over the conference’s focus at a launch ceremony Wednesday in the Swiss town of Montreux.
Mr. Assad’s representatives insisted the gathering be devoted to tackling the threat of “terrorism” from extremist groups in Syria.
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) demanded that negotiations open with discussions on the formation of an interim government and the departure of Mr. Assad.
On the eve of the face-to-face talks, SNC chief Ahmad Jarba dismissed the Assad regime as “dying” and “criminal.” Syrian officials questioning the legitimacy of the coalition.
Nevertheless, opposition delegates remained hopeful that progress could be made toward finding a solution to end the violence that has claimed more than 130,000 lives.
“We know that the road to an agreement over a political solution is a long one, but every journey starts with a first step,” Burhan Ghalioun, an opposition delegate, told DPA.
Should the initial two-day talks prove a success, opposition delegates and mediators expect the negotiations to stretch on from several weeks to six month, rotating to different European cities.
Col. Eugene Khrushchev – Former Soviet/Russian Airborne, Intelligence, PsyOps, First Secretary, Soviet and Russian Embassies, Kabul, Afghanistan, Director of Strategic Planning, Adamus Defense Group, Switzerland
Jim W. Dean – Military Order of World Wars, Association for Intelligence Officers, Director of Media Relations, Adamus Defense Group, Switzerland
Gwenyth Todd – Former Head, White House National Security Council, Middle East Desk, Chief Political Advisor, US Navy 5th Fleet
Leo Wanta – Former National Director of Intelligence under President Reagan and Inspector General, Department of Defense
Clinton Bastin, WWII Marine Corps officer, 42 year veteran of the Atomic Engery Commission and Dept. of Energy, Lead Investigator, IAEA, chief nuclear weapons designer, DOE, world renowned expert on nuclear proliferation.
Mike Harris – Financial Editor, radio host, former GOP Campaign Finance Chairman, Senior Vice President, Adamus Defense Group, Switzerland
Carol Duff – RN, BA, MSN, Veteran’s Health Issues Editor
Dr. James H. Fetzer, McKnight Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota Duluth, former Marine Corps officer
Dr. Kevin Barrett, Specialist in Islamic Studies, Educator, Radio Host, Investigative Journalist
Middle East: Editor/Chief Correspondent: Gwyneth Todd, former head, Middle East Desk, National Security Council, White House, Washington, Chief Consultant, Department of the Navy for Middle East Affairs U.S.
Lebanon/Syria: Bureau Chief:Dr. Franklin Lamb; former Assistant Counsel of the US House Judiciary Committee , Professor of International Law at Northwestern College, based in Beirut and Damascus.
Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey (Ret. Former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, Military of Pakistan)
Japan: Bureau Chief: Benjamin Fulford: Published over 30 books, including best sellers, in Japanese. Before becoming freelance, his last corporate job was as the Asia Pacific Bureau Chief for Forbes Magazine.
United Kingdom: Bureau Chief: Gilad Atzmon (author, musician), Alan Hart (ret. BBC Middle East Desk Chief), Stuart Littlewood, Michael Shrimpton (QC, Barrister, Intelligence Briefer to US/UK govts.)Harry Erivona (Barrister, Intelligence Analyst), Robbie “the Pict” (Rights Activist)
FIRST CAME PRESIDENT BUSH’S DECLARATION OF WAR AGAINST TYRANNY
“So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world….
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country….
By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well – a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.”
SWIFTLY FOLLOWED BY THE MURDER OF RAFIK HARIRI…February 15, 2005
With the reopening of the Hariri murder tribunal, it is only fitting that someone should examine the attack from another perspective–What if Hariri was killed because he crossed the wrong people, or because he borrowed money from “bad guys,” or because chaos in Beirut=MORE PROFIT for the already rich and powerful?
A hit by a car-bomb or by a missile would outwardly look the same, whether it was done by mob professionals or by a military strike. Whoever was responsible for the reprehensible murder of Rafik Hariri and 22 others, someone made a boatload of money in Beirut afterwards.
Whoever killed him also made extensive plans for the aftermath, intending to reap enormous profits, as well as political mileage, which were certain to be generated as a direct result of the attack. Worldwide sympathy for Lebanon and especially for the son of Hariri unlocked a bottomless well of generosity for the Lebanese people. The tidal wave of humanitarian support which was generated for young Hariri’s efforts to tame Lebanon’s problems provided cover for what was planned next.
What better cover story could have been needed for the foreign takeover of Lebanon than a massive national/international civil war rebuilding program? (Saad Hariri would later describe it as a “Marshall Plan for Lebanon.” after the devastation wrought by Israel’s latest aggression against all Lebanon in 2006.)
By late 2004, Hariri Senior’s Saudi-based companies were in deep financial trouble. His visionary project to renovate central Beirut, Solidere, was much bigger than His wallet (20 December 2004),Arab Bank to decimate shares , Hariri owned 40% of the bank’s shares, when they split the shares 8/1
The hottest piece of real estate in all of Beirut was being squabbled over. On Feb. 14th, when Mr. Hariri’s motorcade exploded at the exact epicenter of the desired properties, it enabled the planners to smoothly transition from “ground zero” to the quiet transfer of Hariri’s property to persons unknown ( Rafik Hariri’s Business Dealings More Relevant Than Beirut Phone Records.)
27 April 2005, Syrian troops completely withdrew from Lebanon
This is the new Beirut Central District Master Plan–
The following photos of the downtown model really shows the grandeur of the new scheme–
Most of the project is being built on new land, reclaimed from the Mediterranean Sea. By contractual arrangement, all reclaimed Beirut property belongs to “Solidere.” Hariri had managed to accumulate most of the property in the “Master Plan” development project, encompassing the entire marina area.
It was all that Saad could do to hang-on against relentless Saudi pressure to sell his father’s construction company, “Saudi Oger.” Despite the total absence of international assistance to recover his footing in the middle of the latest Israeli invasion, he persevered, managing to reap substantial profits by assisting the development projects being carried out in Beirut by the Saudis and Gulf monarchies.
The ensuing Hariri/Saudi dealings left Solidere as primarily a Saudi construction/investment project, with 4 Saudi Directors of the Board (at least one of them a prince), 4 Lebanese (none of them a Hariri) and 1 from Dubai. They have since effectively tossed-out the timid plans of Rafik Hariri, replacing them with a bold new royal plan of extravagant proportions for yacht clubs, hi-rise luxury condos, memorial gardens, shopping mall, visitors center, even a giant water park, not to mention a grand prix race circuit along the developed waterfront.
Saudi/Arab banks have financed Saudi/Arab construction companies as their $trillion+ development projects supplanted the Hariri company “Solidere” (Société libanaise pour le développement et la reconstruction de Beyrouth) vision.
Preceding the Hariri murder, there was an intense, ongoing competition between Rafik’s construction and telecommunications businesses and their Saudi-owned rivals for Lebanese reconstruction and telecom development. After Hariri’s passing, royal aid to Saad’s Future movement overcame his urges to fulfill Solidere’s ambitions to develop Beirut, thus allowing the Saudis to eventually corner the Lebanese telecommunications and construction boom by absorbing a large portion of Oger.
Saudi Telecom says finalizes $2.6 bln Oger deal on Feb 9, 2008. Three days later, February 12, 2008, Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughnieh, was eliminated with a car-bomb in Damascus and Bandar bin-Sultan was allegedly arrested in Damascus, whereupon he “spilled his guts” about the scheme dreamed-up with US Amb. Jeffrey Feltman and Elliot Abrams to create civil war within Syria (it was later applied to Libya first).
Approximately one month later, on 16 April 2008, the next variant of the Feltman/Abrams plan for igniting civil war got underway in Beirut, as Lebanese Telecommunications minister Marwan Hamadeh responded right on cue to Feltman’s prodding him to take action over an independent fiber optics system built by Hizballah throughout the country. This secure communications network was immune to Israeli and international eavesdropping, meaning that it had to be eliminated before the next Israeli invasion.
The Palestinian chapter of the Feltman civil war plan was exposed in mid-April 2008, when Vanity Fair magazine released its daring expose’, “Gaza Bombshell,” revealing the detailed plan to ignite civil war in Gaza.
By May 10, 2008, Hariri was pushing to eliminate the Hezbollah network, prompting the Resistance forces to take control of the airport and sections of West Beirut. Bitter fighting between Hariri’s Future forces and Hezbollah ended with Hariri neutered and his own Future communications network shut-down.
Scene One: Saad Hariri put a piece of property up for sale in the Barbir area. According to sources close to the Saudi embassy in Beirut, the property forms part of a plot of land the Saudis want to turn into housing projects for the people of Beirut.
The sale of the land is not particularly noteworthy. Its value is merely pocket change for Hariri. The surprise lies in the names of those who stepped in to buy it.
They are the president of Riyadi (Sporting) Club, Hisham Jaroudi, the “republic’s contractor” and businessman, Jihad al-Arab (brother of the head of Hariri’s personal security detail), and the former head of Future TV, Nadim al-Munla.
All three had built or expanded their wealth under the Hariri family mantle. Ultimately, the land went to al-Arab for around US$37 million.
“One set of documents [from Zawahiri’s computer captured in Afghanistan] discusses the case of Abu Ibrahim al-Masri, colorfully known as ‘the traitor.’He was operating out of Yemen and sold out to Yemeni security, but an al Qaeda sympathizer in the state security service informed his terrorist leaders. He was caught, escaped, caught again, interrogated, and confessed. A prolonged debate ensued as to his fate, and in the end, remarkably, he was set free. It was believed that ‘his shame before the rest of the organization was sufficient,’ and other terror groups were cautioned against having any dealings with him. Masri wandered about before winding up in Afghanistan, a religious teacher at a school for the children of ‘Arab Afghans’ (i.e., members of al Qaeda in Afghanistan). It was reported last month that
He was in fact an Egyptian double agent,
who had fed back key information from the terrorist stronghold.”
that is waging war against the elected government of Iraq, while serving as an active counter-intelligence front for “al-CIA-da” and other intelligence agencies.
Abu Musab, from Zarqa, Jordan, killed in Botlikh, Dagestan, Aug. 1999, according to testimony given by legendary Chechen Islamist leader, Ibn-ul-Khattab in an interview with Islamist website
“In those operations, the Vice Military Commander, Hakeem Al-Madani, was martyred as well as Sheikh Abu Musab (Arabian Peninsula).”
It is then even more fitting that that imaginary terrorist progeny of a dead terrorist leader, move half of its insurgency operations to Syria, under the command of its non-existent leader, to provide cover for foreign intelligence agency operations against another elected leader of a second Arab government.
The absolute absurdity of what comes next is almost beyond description, no matter how sarcastic the description…
In Syria, the established cover story of the non-existent terrorist group (AQII) is used to hide a corrective covert war which is allegedly being waged between various Islamist factions and the Free Syrian Army. This terrorist “split” is providing cover for Special Forces/CIA actions that are currently underway, to regain control over the Syrian resistance. All Islamists in Syria are Saudi/Qatari sponsored, supposedly working together for one goal, the overthrow of Bashar al-Asad. CIA agents are there redirecting the most radical proxies into war against the uncooperative, using the foreign terrorists to undo the damage done by Qatar’s guiding hand, within Syria
The battle in the great psywar is allegedly between the new Saudi Sunni terrorist creations, Islamist Front and Army of Muhahideen (“al-Qaeda lite”) and old Saudi Sunni terrorist creations, al-Qaeda in Iraq. Both variants on the Sunni terrorist theme operate on the same principles, enforced “Shariah” and the killing of the Shia “unbelievers.” The intra-Islamist conflict is being waged between militant groups comprised mostly of criminals and military deserters, which are controlled by undercover Western Special Forces and intelligence operatives, who push their “jihadis” to fight against the Saudi intelligence operatives in the newly created “armies,” intending to restore Pentagon/CIA control over all of the anti-Syrian and anti-Iraqi players and their networks of hardcore radicals who have associated themselves with the name “Abu-Musab.”
[This report outlines the big shuffling of the Saudi “Islamist” deck, as Riyadh’s web of agents fulfill Zawahiri’s orders to “old al-Qaeda” to return to Iraq, so that the “new al-Qaeda-lite,” Jahbat Al-Nusrah, or one of other new faces of “moderate extremism” in Syria, like “Islamic Front” or “Army of the Mujahideen” can take the lead in Syria. Bandar bragged about his ability to turn-off or turn-on the Chechen Islamists at will. Word that Chechen fighters in Syria are withdrawing their support from ISIL (Al-Qaeda In Iraq and Levant) in Syria, at a time when ISIL fighters are under siege in Fallujah indicates that Bandar has thrown the Chechen Islamist “switch,” shifting their fight against Bashar al-Assad back to the Kfir govt of Maliki, proving that Bandar also controls “Al-Qaeda In Iraq,” as well as all of the little terrorist sub-groups that have been spun-off from the Iraqi terrorist group since 2006, when alleged group founder Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi or his double was killed. Legendary Chechen terrorist leader Ibn-ul-Khattab reported that the original Jordanian al-Zarqawi was killed in 1999:
“In those operations, the Vice Military Commander, Hakeem Al-Madani, was martyred as well as Sheikh Abu Musab (Arabian Peninsula).”
Nothing is as it seems in the middle of the psywar, or as it is portrayed through the Western brainwashing medium. We have no way of knowing how many terror groups have been led by “doppelgangers” for the original militant leader. It should be no surprise that “al-Qaeda In Iraq” was led by Zarqawi’s double, when the original “al-Qaeda” was led by bin Laden’s ghost, after 2001. Staying with this theme, it is highly unlikely that the real Saddam was hanged, or the real Gaddafi gunned-down. It should therefore serve as no surprise to the observant that the most-feared and the most over-reported terrorist outfits are often run by ghosts, or intelligence agents, or by terrorist leaders who have gone through multiple reincarnations. Either the terrorist handlers are overconfident that our memories are very short, or they are being boxed-in by their own seeming success in using their limited terrorist “stable” to generate the “war on terror” narrative.]
It seemed that many actors wanted to take advantage of ISIS’ retreat to bolster the Free Syrian Army (FSA), with renewed attempts in recent days to resurrect the latter. But what is the story behind the Army of the Mujahideen? How did it advance rapidly at the expense of ISIS, which until recently was the “bogeyman” threatening to devour everyone?
Speaking to Al-Akhbar, a field source from the Syrian opposition explained that the nascent Army of the Mujahideen did not emerge overnight. He said, “Efforts to create the army began in conjunction with the formation of the Islamic Front. There seemed to be an urgent need to merge the armed groups that do not want to take the form of an Islamist army, and which insisted on the idea of the endangered FSA, together.”
The source added that the delay in forming the army in question was due to many reasons, most notably the fact that no outside power had sponsored the move, whether politically or financially. As a result, the source said, there was no outside pressure put on the various factions to force them to unite.
Formation, Components, and Spheres of Influence
The Army of the Mujahideen was formed out of the following factions: the 19th Division of the FSA, the group known as Fastaqim Kama Umirt, meaning “Be Upright As Ordered,” the Nur al-Din al-Zanki Islamic Brigades, and al-Noor Islamic Movement.
In turn, the FSA 19th Division consists of the Liwaa al-Ansar, whose influence is concentrated along the Aleppo-Damascus highway in Aleppo’s western countryside; Liwaa Amjad al-Islam; Liwaa Ansar al-Khilafa; al-Quds Brigades; Khan al-Assal Free Brigades; al-Shuyukh Brigade; and Liwaa al-Mujahireen.
Fastaqem Kama Umirt is made up of the Aleppo City Battalion; Liwaa Halab al-Shahbaa; Liwaa al-Islam, and the Abu Amara Brigades, which refused to join the Army of the Mujahideen, and subsequently split from Fastaqem Kama Umirt. The militants with Fastaqem are concentrated in the districts of Salah al-Din, Seif al-Dawla, Sheikh Said, Bab al-Nairab, Jeb al-Jalabi, Jisr al-Haj, Ansari, and Mashhad of Aleppo.
These brigades have been deploying the so-called “hell cannon,” which fires explosive gas cylinders at the Western neighborhoods adjacent to the areas they control, killing many civilians.
Meanwhile, the influence of the Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades covers areas in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo, such as Anjara, Hour, Mansoura, and Kafr Dael. These brigades are believed to be the strongest among the constituents of Army of the Mujahideen.
They are led by Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, who some reports alleged was the leader of the new army. However, sources inside the group denied this, and told Al-Akhbar, “There is no one leader, but a joint leadership including Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin; Lt. Col. Abu Bakr commander of Liwaa al-Ansar; and Captain Mohammed Shakerdi, commander of Liwaa Amjad al-Islam.”
The source also stressed that the Army of the Mujahideen relied on local resources for funding, and did not receive any external financing.
The Situation on the Ground on the Eve of the Battles
ISIS had offices and outposts in the areas mentioned earlier, which started as preaching centers before they were turned into military garrisons. Some of the FSA-affiliated brigades in these areas had also pledged allegiance to ISIS, such as the notorious Abdo Zamzam group in the town of Bashqatin, strengthening ISIS’ presence.
After ISIS took control of a given area, it would leave a small group of militants behind, numbering no more than a few dozen, or no more than 200 in vast regions like Dana in Idlib. ISIS then put increased pressure on the towns of Atareb and Orme (west of Aleppo), following its habit to isolate and attack FSA groups one by one, as it had done in some districts of Aleppo and the towns of Aazaz and Bab.
ISIS’ attack on Atareb and Orme coincided with the Army of the Mujahideen going public. The Army of the Mujahideen’s first mission was to repel an attempt to storm the area. The army benefited from popular anger against ISIS, although the latter was previously cheered and seen as a savior from the “thieves of the revolution.”
According to Army of the Mujahideen sources, the number of people from the area who enlisted has exceeded 5,000. The sources said, “For the first time, ISIS forces faced fierce resistance from the people of the region, who rushed to expel it after they suffered from its excesses.” Since ISIS militants in the area were scattered and distributed into small groups, according to the same sources, “the residents were able to easily rout the small groups.”
Other sources familiar with the inner workings of the armed groups told Al-Akhbar that Liwaa al-Tawhid, one of the groups that make up the Islamic Front, took advantage of these developments, and began supporting Army of the Mujahideen forces away from the media. Similarly, the notorious brigades that were under siege from ISIS, such as the Free Syria Battalion led by Ahmad Afash, and the Badr Martyrs Battalion led by Khaled Hayyani, attacked ISIS forces in the town of Andan, north of Aleppo, and the Bani Zeid district within the city.
In the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, militants from Fastaqem Kama Umirt attacked ISIS’ posts in Jisr al-Haj. The fighting spread to Kallaseh Square, while battles in the countryside quickly spread north, to Haritan and Tel Rifaat, all the way to Azaz, in an effort to expel ISIS from there.
In the eastern countryside of Idlib adjacent to the border with the Aleppo governorate, Dana, Bab al-Hawa, and the town of Atma were put under siege, the latter being ISIS’ reception point for jihadist arrivals from all over the world via Turkey. A villa compound housing ISIS foreign fighters and their families near the town or Orme al-Kubra was also placed under siege.
Faced with these developments, ISIS was forced to pull some of its troops from the front lines with the Syrian army in southeast Aleppo and Raqqa. This could give the Syrian army an opportunity to advance and take advantage of the vacuum.
Causes Behind ISIS Retreat
There are many reasons behind ISIS’ sudden retreat. In addition to the dispersion of its militants, and the Army of the Mujahideen successfully taking advantage of the popular mood, another fundamental factor has made a great impact, namely, the absence of Chechen jihadists from the battle. Indeed, the Chechen fighters are known to be a formidable strike force.
Several Chechens have split from ISIS. Saifullah al-Shishani defected with 400 of his men three months ago, followed by Sheikh Salah al-Shishani with 800 of his men. Things culminated two weeks ago with Sheikh Omar al-Shishani leaving with a large group of his fighters to Deir al-Zour, a move that sources told Al-Akhbar was meant to distance himself from ISIS’ conduct in Aleppo and its countryside.
The sources said, “From what we know about Sheikh Omar, we can affirm that he hates injustice, and is not satisfied with ISIS’ actions. However, he cannot defect. Given his fondness of the project to establish the caliphate and impose Sharia, defection would ruin this project.”
But another informed source believes Sheikh Omar al-Shishani’s move was essentially motivated by the temptation of controlling oil wells in Deir al-Zour. Giving his take on why ISIS is on the retreat, the source said, “God will not allow an unjust state to survive. The infidel state can endure if it is just. I believe ISIS has two main problems: the foolishness and arrogance of the Tunisian, Libyan, and Iraqi members; and the disloyalty of Syrian supporters.”
Al-Nusra Front: Schadenfreude
On the afternoon of January 5, reports surfaced that al-Nusra Front had seized the town of Dana, taking advantage of the disarray in ISIS’ ranks. But Al-Akhbar’s sources denied that al-Nusra had taken full control of the town, saying that an agreement was reached whereby ISIS hands over its posts to al-Nusra Front.
Either way, al-Nusra Front, which is designated by many as a terrorist group, has rushed to take advantage of the situation, calling on foreign jihadists who had defected to ISIS to rejoin its ranks. Al-Nusra has proposed itself as a mediator, when it is actually on the side of Army of the Mujahideen.
In the same vein, an opposition source told Al-Akhbar, “It is a known fact that the Chechens would rather die than hand themselves over to the FSA, while al-Nusra Front represents an acceptable party for them to surrender to, in preparation to be reabsorbed into its ranks.”
It is also worth noting that ISIS’ ultra extremist brand has helped promote among some the notion that al-Nusra is a moderate Islamist front, when this is definitely not the case. Interestingly, jihadist sources reported on January 5 that Abu Mohammed al-Golani, emir of al-Nusra Front, has proposed an initiative to ISIS whereby the two groups would unite under one banner and one leadership, in a formation to be called al-Qaeda in the Levant.
Profile: Sheikh Tawfiq Leader of Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades
The Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades are considered the strongest component of the Army of the Mujahideen. The militia’s leader is Tawfiq Shahabuddin, born in 1973 in the region of Sheikh Salman near Qubatan al-Jabal. Since he formed the brigades, he has become known as Sheikh Tawfiq.
Before the start of the Syrian crisis, the illiterate Shahabuddin worked as a camel-meat butcher. At the start of the armed insurgency in the Aleppo countryside, he sold all his properties for about $150,000, which he donated to Riad al-Assaad, to support the FSA. In return, Assaad appointed him as commander of the FSA in his home region, and in a short space of time, the armed group Shahabuddin formed was able to control Sheikh Salman.
Recruits to his group have since increased continuously. He took part in the battle to enter Aleppo, and positioned his group in the Salah al-Din district under the banner of Liwaa al-Tawhid. In early December 2012, Shahabuddin split from Liwaa al-Tawhid, and decided to operate independently.
Locally, the Nour al-Din al-Zanki Brigades are not seen as engaging in looting and theft, despite having confiscated private properties and factories belonging to residents of Aleppo. The brigades have also kidnapped people and released them for ransom.
Army of the Mujahideen: We Will Not Fight al-Nusra Front
Army of the Mujahideen sources were keen to stress that they are not an “extremist group,” while a number of media outlets sought to portray the army as a moderate faction “similar to the FSA.” But this is inconsistent with the message carried by a January 4 statement.
Signed by the political bureau of Army of the Mujahideen, “Statement Two” said: “We distance ourselves from any confrontation with our brothers in al-Nusra Front, or any other jihadi faction, whether through direct fighting or in coordination with any faction against them.”
The statement then added, “We call on the honest ones among our brothers the mujahideen in ISIS to defect and join their brothers in Syria against the Nusairi [derogatory term for Alawi] Assad regime.”
[The new kid on the Syrian bloc, “Army of the Mujahideen,” is another offshoot of Abu Musab Zarqawi’s “Al-Qaeda In Iraq,” as was the second incarnation of the “Abdallah Azzam Brigades.” Army of Mujahideen is another Sunni Iraqi terrorist outfit. This one fought a blood-feud with Zarqawi’s Al-Qaeda in Iraq, before he was removed from power and eventually killed. The Iraqi Muj group was associated with the Ikhwan, Muslim Brotherhood. The feud fought was over Zarqawi’s brutal murders of Sunni officials and policemen, breaking-out into the open over the murder of Anbar tribal leader Sheikh Naser Abdul Karim al-Miklif in Feb. 2006. The fact that they have relocated to Syria to continue that feud is unimpressive. All of this is just the latest slant on Bandar’s war against Bashar, which is now moving into Lebanon.]
New Syria rebel alliance declares war on al-Qaeda’s ISIL
Photo: Fighters of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Tel Abyad. Syrian rebels’ uneasy co-existence with the hardline IsiL has turned to outright hostility. Photograph: Reuters
A newly formed Syrian Islamist rebel alliance has declared war on the powerful al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and joined other opposition groups in battling the extremists. For its part, Syria’s main opposition National Coalition says it backs the rebel fight against al-Qaeda.
“We, the Army of the Mujahideen, pledge to defend ourselves and our honor, wealth and lands, and to fight ISIL, which has violated the rule of God, until it announces its dissolution,” said the new alliance of eight groups, in a statement published on Facebook Friday.
As the statement was issued, it fought in fierce clashes with the ISIL in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces of northern Syria.
The Islamic Front, the largest rebel alliance, which is made up of several powerful Islamist groups, and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, another major rebel bloc, also battled ISIL on Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.
On Saturday, rebels battling jihadists in northern Syria killed or captured scores of the militants loyal to an al-Qaeda affiliate in two days of fighting, a watchdog said.
“At least 36 members and supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been killed since Friday in Idlib and more than 100 have been captured by rebels” in Idlib and Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The Syrian Opposition Coalition fully supports ongoing efforts by Free Syrian Army elements to liberate towns and neighborhoods from the authoritarian oppression” of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the group’s presidency said in a statement.
“The Coalition stands in full solidarity with all Syrians rising up against al-Qaeda’s extremism and calls upon the international community to recognize the importance of supporting revolutionary forces as partners in the fight against al-Qaeda’s extremism and Assad’s sponsorship and encouragement of extremist forces,” it added.
For its part, the Army of Mujahideen, a newly formed group made up of eight brigades, demanded that ISIL fighters join the ranks of other rebel groups “or hand over their weapons and leave Syria,” earlier on Saturday.
The alliance reproached ISIL for “spreading strife and insecurity… in liberated [rebel] areas, spilling the blood of fighters and wrongly accusing them of heresy, and expelling them and their families from areas they have paid heavily to free” from Assad’s forces.
Anti-government fighters in Syria clash with al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists, while five aid workers are kidnapped in the north of the country
Agence France-Presse in Beirut
Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant parade at Syrian town of Tel Abyad. Photo: Reuters
Syrian rebels in opposition-held areas engaged in fierce battles with al-Qaeda-linked elements on Friday in what activists say is growing resistance to the jihadists’ brutal grip in many places.
Elsewhere in northern Syria, an unidentified group seized five people working for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) from a house, the Paris-based humanitarian organisation said.
Protesters turned out in rebel areas chanting the strongest slogans yet against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as tensions soar between the opposition and the al-Qaeda affiliate.
Ammar, an activist on the ground, described it as “the start of the revolution against ISIL” which operates in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile a key group within Syria’s mainstream opposition National Coalition stressed on Friday that it will not attend peace talks scheduled for later this month in Switzerland.
“After meetings with many international delegations in recent weeks … the Syrian National Council confirms it sees no reason to attend the Geneva conference,” SNC member Samir Nashar said by telephone.
Nashar also forecast that the National Coalition, which has still not taken a definitive decision, would similarly not show up.
After months of delays, a January 22 date for the peace talks has been set, but doubts remain about whether the conference will go ahead.
The Coalition is set to hold its next general assembly meeting in Istanbul on Sunday and Monday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fierce fighting between rebels and ISIL in flashpoints of Aleppo city and province on Friday.
“They [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] use violence and abuses to crush dissent. They are only Islamic in name.”
Activist Abu Leyla
In Aleppo and nearby Idlib, 16 pro-al-Qaeda fighters were reported killed.
In Idlib alone, at least 42 ISIL fighters were wounded and 20 other civilians hurt in the crossfire, while in Aleppo, a media activist was killed while covering the fighting.
The Observatory and activists said a number of battalions united under the name “Army of Mujahedeen” and other rebel groups, including more moderate Islamists, were fighting ISIL.
The fighting comes two days after ISIL reportedly tortured and murdered Doctor Hussein al-Sleiman, known as Abu Rayyan.
His death was the latest in a string of beatings, kidnappings and killings that have enraged rebels and activists alike.
It prompted protesters to take to the streets under the slogan: “Friday of the martyr Abu Rayyan”.
The Observatory and activists said ISIL fired on protesters in Aleppo city, who were chanting anti-regime slogans as they have every week since the outbreak of an uprising that has killed more than 130,000 people.
Both the Islamic Front and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, two key alliances formed last year that group tens of thousands of fighters, condemned ISIL.
“We call on ISIL to withdraw immediately from Atareb … and remind them that those who freed Atareb [from Assad’s regime] are those you are fighting today,” said the Islamic Front.
Syrian residents gather after fleeing their homes following the clashes. Photo: Reuters
Abu Leyla, an Idlib-based activist, told reporters via the internet: “I’d say about 90 per cent of people in the opposition areas are against ISIL.
“They use violence and abuses to crush dissent. They are only Islamic in name. All they want is power.”
Sunday’s Katyusha rocket fire from Lebanon has created a certain lack of clarity in the Israeli defense establishment.
No organization took responsibility for firing the rockets, most of which fell on the Lebanese side of the border. The cautious and non-committal assessment of military sources is that it seemed to be the work of a Sunni Jihadist faction, meaning one of the extremist factions identified with a loosely-connected network that intelligence officials call Global Jihad.
In addition to its enmity for Israel, Global Jihad devotes most of its time to the battle to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria and engages in lengthy tit-for-tat murderous attacks with Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently doesn’t share the cautious view. At the outset of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, he informed the media that there were two entities that should be seen as the address regarding the rocket fire: the Lebanese government, which bears responsibility for any attack from Lebanese territory, and Hezbollah, which has thousands of missiles and rockets positioned within the civilian population of southern Lebanon.
[The following photo is from the last “rocket attack” into Israel from Lebanon, using “wooden rocket launchers.” The “launcher” turned-out to be a single 2″ x 12″ board. The “rocket” found had no warhead, meaning that it could not explode by launching it. No authority has yet confirmed that rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon, except for the lying Zionist press. This was clearly intended to open the door to Israeli aggression against Southern Lebanon, meaning that this alleged attack, if there really was an attack,was by Sunni terrorists, looking to blame Hezbollah.]
Two missiles fired from southern Lebanon exploded Sunday in northern Israel, prompting the Israeli military to hit back with three artillery shells, an army spokesman said.
“The Israeli artillery responded to rocket attacks from Lebanon against Israel that left no victims, targeting the area where these projectiles were fired from,” an army spokesman told AFP.
The Katyusha-style rockets landed in a field west of the town of Kiryat Shmona, without causing any casualties or damage, Israeli military radio reported.
The National News Agency said that the Israeli army retaliated by firing over 20 shells at the region located between Rashaya, Rashaya al-Fakhar, al-Mariyeh, Ibl al-Saqi, al-Wazzani, Kfarshouba Hills, Wata al-Khiyam, and Sarda.
Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said that the Israeli army fired over 100 shells.
The Lebanese army has been conducting a sweep of the region where the rockets were fired from towards Israel and where the Israeli shells landed, reported LBCI television.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon also contacted the Lebanese and Israeli sides, urging them to exercise restraint and to cooperate with the respective armies to determine the details of Sunday’s incident, it added.
“This is a very serious incident… and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area,” UNIFIL chief Paolo Serra said in a statement.
“UNIFIL’s first imperative is to ensure that there is no further escalation of the situation.”
Lebanese army and UNIFIL forces were carrying out patrols in the area after the exchange of fire, an AFP correspondent said.
The Army Command later announced that the army discovered four wooden rocket launchers used in the attack in the Wadi al-Khraybeh region in the Hasbaya district.
Tension has spiked on the border between the two countries since Lebanese troops gunned down an Israeli soldier driving near the frontier on December 16.
Israel’s border with Lebanon has been largely quiet since the 2006 war with Hizbullah.
The last time a soldier was killed there was in August 2010, when two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist also died.
In August, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an explosion some 400 meters (yards) inside Lebanese territory, in a blast claimed by Hizbullah.
Last week, Hizbullah said one of its top leaders was killed near Beirut and blamed Israel for his murder — a charge denied by Israel, which warned against any retaliation.
UNIFIL troops were deployed along the border following the 34-day war in 2006 which killed some 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
The term “cutout” is intelligence jargon for a special sort of role that must be played in covert operations. A cutout acts as a go-between, bringing support and instructions from the planners to the perpetrators.
By doing this, the cutout becomes a link in the chain of evidence that connects the planners to the perpetrators. And the cutout’s most important job is to be “cut out” of the chain if and when necessary.
The timely disappearance of a cutout can break the trail that would otherwise lead back from the crime to the people who wanted it to happen. By making cutouts disappear, covert operators can maintain a certain level of “plausible denial,” even if the perpetrators are caught in the act, or tracked down later.
In the case of 9/11, where the “hijackers” were apparently patsies who were intended to be caught, the role of the cutouts was especially important — and especially dangerous.
… in the chain of evidence that connects …
It is sad and strange and very pathetic that we still know so little about the nature of the 9/11 attacks. It’s bad enough that that we don’t know who did it. But we don’t even know what they did! That complicates everything except the government story, the litigation based on it, and the mainstream coverage.
Some information already has leaked from the [28 redacted pages], which is based on both CIA and FBI documents, and it points back to Saudi Arabia, a presumed ally….
LOS ANGELES: Saudi consulate official Fahad al-Thumairy allegedly arranged for an advance team to receive two of the Saudi hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — as they arrived at LAX in 2000. One of the advance men, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, left the LA consulate and met the hijackers at a local restaurant. (Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks, while Thumairy was deported back to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.)
… the planners of a covert operation …
Watch how this happens. The timing is very interesting. al-Bayoumi, who was directly connected with the patsies, disappeared two months before the attacks. Thumairy, who was connected to al-Bayoumi but not to the patsies directly, didn’t disappear until after the attacks.
SAN DIEGO: Bayoumi and another suspected Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, set up essentially a forward operating base in San Diego for the hijackers after leaving LA. They were provided rooms, rent and phones, as well as private meetings with an American al Qaeda cleric who would later become notorious, Anwar al-Awlaki, at a Saudi-funded mosque he ran in a nearby suburb. They were also feted at a welcoming party. (Bassnan also fled the United States just before the attacks.)
Bassnan (sometimes also “Basnan”), who was also in direct contact with the patsies, also disappeared before the attacks.
WASHINGTON: Then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and his wife sent checks totaling some $130,000 to Bassnan while he was handling the hijackers. Though the Bandars claim the checks were “welfare” for Bassnan’s supposedly ill wife, the money nonetheless made its way into the hijackers’ hands.
Other al Qaeda funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy — so much so that by 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington had dropped the Saudis as a client. The next year, as a number of embassy employees popped up in terror probes, Riyadh recalled Bandar.
“Our investigations contributed to the ambassador’s departure,” an investigator who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington told me, though Bandar says he left for “personal reasons.”
… to the perpetrators.
Prince Bandar, who as Ambassador was under diplomatic immunity, didn’t have to disappear until he could leave for “personal reasons” by being “recalled.”
FALLS CHURCH, VA.: In 2001, Awlaki and the San Diego hijackers turned up together again — this time at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Pentagon-area mosque built with funds from the Saudi Embassy. Awlaki was recruited 3,000 miles away to head the mosque. As its imam, Awlaki helped the hijackers, who showed up at his doorstep as if on cue. He tasked a handler to help them acquire apartments and IDs before they attacked the Pentagon.
Awlaki worked closely with the Saudi Embassy. He lectured at a Saudi Islamic think tank in Merrifield, Va., chaired by Bandar. Saudi travel itinerary documents I’ve obtained show he also served as the official imam on Saudi Embassy-sponsored trips to Mecca and tours of Saudi holy sites. Most suspiciously, though, Awlaki fled the United States on a Saudi jet about a year after 9/11.
A cutout’s most important job…
Awlaki needed a lot of help to disappear … and he got it! Where do you suppose it came from?
As I first reported in my book, “Infiltration,” quoting from classified US documents, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was briefly detained at JFK before being released into the custody of a “Saudi representative.” A federal warrant for Awlaki’s arrest had mysteriously been withdrawn the previous day.
This timing is also very interesting, is it not? Normally, federal arrest warrants are not mysteriously withdrawn — let alone just in time to facilitate a disappearance!
HERNDON, VA.: On the eve of the attacks, top Saudi government official Saleh Hussayen checked into the same Marriott Residence Inn near Dulles Airport as three of the Saudi hijackers who targeted the Pentagon. Hussayen had left a nearby hotel to move into the hijackers’ hotel. Did he meet with them? The FBI never found out. They let him go after he “feigned a seizure,” one agent recalled.
Hussayen “feigned a seizure” to disappear. Such a clever lad. He has even disappeared from the official story, as did they all, according to Sperry:
Hussayen’s name doesn’t appear in the separate 9/11 Commission Report, which clears the Saudis.
Poof! They’re all cleared! Isn’t that amazing?
Guess who else got “help” from a high-ranking Saudi, who then disappeared?
SARASOTA, FLA.: 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and other hijackers visited a home owned by Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd. FBI agents investigating the connection in 2002 found that visitor logs for the gated community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers. Just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, the Saudi luxury home was abandoned. Three cars, including a new Chrysler PT Cruiser, were left in the driveway. Inside, opulent furniture was untouched.
… is to disappear …
Esam Ghazzawi disappeared in a big hurry. That’s the way it goes sometimes, especially when you’re in contact with the “ringleader.”
Some folks have more pull than others, apparently. The cutouts got away, but the senator chasing them ran into a stone wall.
Democrat Bob Graham, the former Florida senator who chaired the Joint Inquiry, has asked the FBI for the Sarasota case files, but can’t get a single, even heavily redacted, page released. He says it’s a “coverup.”
Of course it’s a coverup. Sperry asks:
Is the federal government protecting the Saudis?
But that question is beneath consideration, is it not? The interesting question is “Why is the federal government protecting the Saudis?” But perhaps Sperry can’t ask such questions in the New York Post. He does say this, though:
Case agents tell me they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.
… and they all did! Isn’t that amazing?
Yes, curious indeed … unless you prefer a stronger word. In my view, there is no plausible explanation, unless people in very high places wanted it to happen this way.
Just days after Bush met with the Saudi ambassador in the White House, the FBI evacuated from the United States dozens of Saudi officials, as well as Osama bin Laden family members. Bandar made the request for escorts directly to FBI headquarters on Sept. 13, 2001 — just hours after he met with the president. The two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony while discussing the attacks.
And that’s how all the cutouts disappeared. Funny how that worked, isn’t it? — probably just the way it was supposed to.
Some of the cutouts didn’t disappear safely enough. As Sperry notes,
A US drone killed Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.
We also know about some other cutouts who didn’t disappear fast enough. We’ll talk about them soon.
RIYADH – Analysts the world over are assessing the situation in the Middle East in 2012 by listing the region’s “winners” and “losers.” Hamas won. Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi won, then lost. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won. Syria lost. Iraq lost. Iran had a draw (tougher sanctions, but closer to nuclear-weapons capability), as did Saudi Arabia (growing clout, but unable to stop the killings in Syria [LYING TURKI–order your al-qaeda fighters to stop the killing, you royal asshole, everything else will fall into place] or Gaza) and Israel (avoided massive bloodshed, but became even more isolated).
All of these lists, however, are merely the pastimes of policy wonks. In the bloody, hostile miasma of the Middle East, being a “winner” in any sense of the word is fallacious. The region continues to breed only losers. The victims of the conflicts in Syria, Iran, and Palestine; the friends and families of the victims; those who hope for peace: all lost. This is a grim reminder that when it comes to killing one another, repeatedly missing opportunities for peace, and botching all efforts at progress, no one can beat the Middle East. In 2012, the region proved once again that it is truly the best at perpetrating the worst.
When will these vital, eclectic, and prosperous (or potentially prosperous) countries stop their ravenous infighting and start nurturing, protecting, and sustaining their people? While there have been many prescriptions, I will provide my own 2012 Middle East roundup, with a look toward what must happen in 2013 if we want it to bring fewer losses.
The Israeli killing machine must be stopped by a determined United States using its leverage to bring about implementation of the land-for-peace principles of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, the Madrid Conference, the Oslo Agreement, and the Abdullah Peace Initiative. This is the only way out of the current unworkable predicament.
Borrowing a term from nuclear strategy, the situation between Israel and the Palestinians can be described only as “mutually assured destruction,” also known, fittingly, as MAD. It benefits no one, so why let it continue? Only the US has the ability to push the Israelis out of their MAD-ness, so I look forward to the Obama administration recognizing and acting on that moral obligation in the coming year.
The Assad killing machine must also be stopped. In this case, it is through the West agreeing with Saudi Arabia to arm the Free Syrian Army with the defensive weapons that it needs to ground Bashar al-Assad’s aircraft and immobilize his tanks and artillery. [LYING TURKI–pretending that the answer is to support the FSA, while his country’s “Islamist Front” attacks the FSA in Syria, stealing their weapons, and now one of their bases. Saudi royal lies are coming back to haunt them in a blitzkrieg of outrage, whenever enough people realize that “al-Qaeda” has ALWAYS been an arm of the Saudi royal family.]
Unlike some conflicts in the region, this is a case with a clear and simple solution. Those being attacked merely need weapons to defend themselves; if they get them, the entire dynamic of the conflict will shift, in turn ending the bloodshed. [LYING TURKI–there is only ONE SOLUTION to the Syrian conflict, for foreign entities to stop all support operations. Stop arming and transporting Islamist terrorists into Syria. Stop Turkey and Jordan from allowing war materiel and fighters across their borders. Prevent covert Israeli and American supply of the Syrian foreigners. Failure to oppose the Saudi initiative will result in another Talibanized Muslim country, bought and paid for by Saudi Arabia and friends.]
By now, all of the actors in Syria are known. There are no hidden jihadis, terrorists, or gangsters. They are all well documented. So the moderates are the ones who should get the anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. Having them, their prestige among other fighters will soar, and so will support for their moderate stance. [LYING TURKI–by “moderates,” the Saudi spokesperson means the least extremist of all of the extremist radicals, who fight under the “Islamist” banner. THERE ARE NO MODERATE EXTREMISTS!]
Iranian intervention in Iraq must stop. It is tearing Iraq apart and endangering the countries around it. Western and Iranian support for Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which is controlled by Iran’s Basij militia, must be withdrawn, enabling the Iraqi people to determine freely their own destiny. [TURKI YOU LYING BASTARD–Iraq has been brought to boil again by Sunni (al-Qaeda) terrorists, who are hell-bent to overthrow the Maliki democratically-elected govt. Turki is urging Obama to abandon Iraq to these Sunni terrorists and the second Iraqi civil war, which they intend to fight.]
Did the Americans defeat Saddam Hussein, and did more than 100,000 Iraqis die in the process, so that their country could become a puppet of the hostile Iranian regime? Iran’s meddling in Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, and other Gulf states must end as well. [LYING TURKI–Saudi money, tanks and planes have been used to upset the democratic process in all of the aforementioned countries, blaming popular expressions of discontent upon “Iranian spies and agents.” More than anything else, the Saudis are at war with “Democracy” within all of the Middle East. The implication, hidden within the Saudi initiative, is the unspoken intention of Riyadh to use its fortune as a weapon, to conquer and to assimilate the entire region (SEE: Gulf union is inevitable: Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal). The Saudi royal family are a threat to the human race and should be stopped BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.] In addition to these major tasks, Palestine’s main political rivals, Hamas and Fatah, must reconcile and turn their united efforts toward improving the lives of the Palestinian people. Egypt must get over its post-revolutionary squabbling and reassume its leading role among the Arab states. And all Arab states must coordinate their efforts to realize common ambitions, rather than continuing to pursue only narrow national interests.
Central to all of these tasks is a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that is united into a confederation that can meet the challenges of Iran’s regional ambitions and bring major military deployments to bear on regional conflicts. [LYING TURKI–Saudis will not be satisfied until they have divided the Muslim Ummah into two warring halves in the Middle East. He should worry less about meeting “the challenges of Iran’s regional ambitions” and worry instead about reforming the Middle Eastern Arab dictatorships, who have always lived fat while their people suffered.]
If anything has become clear in the last year, it is that states like Israel, Iran, and Syria will act with impunity if no one is ready, willing, and able to stand up to them. It is time for the GCC, anchored on Saudi Arabia’s power, to take up that role.
The Middle East has been losing for too long, because its national leaders have been seeking to win in their own way, for their own purposes, and at everyone’s cost but their own. Such unilateralism is impossible in today’s globalized world. We must join together, or else we will rip each other to shreds. The choice is simple: Do we want to be winners or losers?
[If this dangerous truckload of material was NOT under American control, then it clearly should have been, if it was a legal shipment. The US Nuclear Security Administration is responsible for removing old dangerous radioactive sources worldwide, under authority of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). Another teletherapy generator containing Cobalt-60 was removed from a hospital in Ciudad Juarez, about three weeks ago (SEE: High-activity radioactive materials removed from Mexico, NNSA says), before it was reportedly shipped safely to the US. At that time, NNSA had 97 Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, or RTGs, left to secure in Mexico.]
A truck carrying radioactive material was hijacked in central Mexico, the UN’s nuclear watchdog reported.
The truck was reportedly carrying outdated medical equipment used to perform radiotherapy when it was hijacked at a gas station in Tepojaco, Hidalgo – near Mexico City – on Monday, the National Commission of Nuclear Safety and Safeguards (CNSNS) said.
The white Volkswagen Worker semi-trailer had reportedly stopped en route from a hospital in Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage center.
CNSNS authorities said the cobalt-60 teletherapy source posed no health risk as long as the part of the equipment housing the radioactive source is not cracked.
“At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
“The Mexican authorities are currently conducting a search for the source and have issued a press release to alert the public,” the UN nuclear watchdog said. Local authorities have urged calm, telling the public the threat posed by the stolen equipment is minimal.
According to the IAEA, sealed radioactive sources are widely used in medicine for the treatment of malignant diseases and for blood irradiation. Cobalt-60 sources are often deployed in teletherapy, a form of external beam radiotherapy used to treat cancer, and brachytherapy – also known as internal radiotherapy.
FIG. VI-4. Cobalt-60 unit used for teletherapy (Typical source activity: up to 370 TBq (10 kCi) 60 Co). (Image from iaea.org)
Experts have previously warned that such radioactive sources have long been held by hospitals without sufficient security. Although such materials cannot be employed in a conventional nuclear weapon, they can be put in a so-called “dirty bomb,” a speculative radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives.
[Obama was so frustrated with his failed attempt to engineer world war with Russia in the Middle East, that he has now “pivoted” to his next intended war front in the South “China Seas.” The US and Japanese Navies are now skirting around the Chinese Navy and their new aircraft carrier, in order to reinforceJapan, which was forced into relinquishing its claims to the Paracel/Spratly Islands as a condition of the WWII surrender document. The dubious claims made upon the Spratlys by the Japanese are related to Japan’s many aggressions committed against China.
First, Obama confirmed that Bush’s terror is now his own, before he escalated the war in the Middle East against multiple nations, revealing for all to see that he is waging a true “war of aggression” against the entire world.
Next, Obama anoints the new Imperial Japanese government with his blessing, in the form of a promise to invoke the American postwar commitment to defend Japanese territory, even those defined by previous war claims. Obama, the self-celebrated legal expert, doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on in this intricate, pre-arranged dogfight. Is WWIII to begin with a revival of WWII?]
Ambassador Niwa was forced to apologize for his remarks and was recently replaced. But what is most alarming amid these developments is that despite Japan’s democratic and pluralist society, rising nationalist sentiments are sidelining moderate views and preventing rational dialogue.
The Japanese government maintains that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory under international law and historical point of view and has repeatedly insisted that no dispute exists. Despite that the rest of the world sees a major dispute, the Japanese government continues to evade important historical facts behind its unlawful incorporation of the islands in 1895.
Specifically, the Japanese government asserts, “From 1885 on, our government conducted on-site surveys time and again, which confirmed that the islands were uninhabited and there were no signs of control by the Qing Empire.”
My research of over 40 official Meiji period documents unearthed from the Japanese National Archives, Diplomatic Records Office, and National Institute for Defense Studies Library clearly demonstrates that the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership of the islands back in 1885.
Following the first on-site survey, in 1885, the Japanese foreign minister wrote, “Chinese newspapers have been reporting rumors of our intention of occupying islands belonging to China located next to Taiwan.… At this time, if we were to publicly place national markers, this must necessarily invite China’s suspicion.…”
In November 1885, the Okinawa governor confirmed “since this matter is not unrelated to China, if problems do arise I would be in grave repentance for my responsibility”.
“Surveys of the islands are incomplete” wrote the new Okinawa governor in January of 1892. He requested that a naval ship Kaimon be sent to survey the islands, but ultimately a combination of miscommunication and bad weather made it impossible for the survey to take place.
Japan Diplomatic Records Office.Letter dated May 12, 1894 affirming that the Meiji government did not repeatedly investigate the disputed islands.
“Ever since the islands were investigated by Okinawa police agencies back in 1885, there have been no subsequent field surveys conducted,” the Okinawa governor wrote in 1894.
After a number of Chinese defeats in the Sino-Japanese War, a report from Japan’s Home Ministry said “this matter involved negotiations with China… but the situation today is greatly different from back then.” The Meiji government, following a cabinet decision in early 1895, promptly incorporated the islands.
Negotiations with China never took place and this decision was passed during the Sino-Japanese War. It was never made public.
In his biography Koga Tatsushiro, the first Japanese citizen to lease the islands from the Meiji government, attributed Japan’s possession of the islands to “the gallant military victory of our Imperial forces.”
Collectively, these official documents leave no doubt that the Meiji government did not base its occupation of the islands following “on-site surveys time and again,” but instead annexed them as booty of war. This is the inconvenient truth that the Japanese government has conveniently evaded.
Japan asserts that neither Beijing nor Taipei objected to U.S. administration after WWII. That’s true, but what Japan does not mention is that neither Beijing nor Taipei were invited as signatories of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, from which the U.S. derived administrative rights.
When Japan annexed the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in 1895, it detached them from Taiwan and placed them under Okinawa Prefecture. Moreover, the Japanese name “Senkaku Islands” itself was first introduced in 1900 by academic Kuroiwa Hisashi and adopted by the Japanese government thereafter. Half a century later when Japan returned Taiwan to China, both sides adopted the 1945 administrative arrangement of Taiwan, with the Chinese unaware that the uninhabited “Senkaku Islands” were in fact the former Diaoyu Islands. This explains the belated protest from Taipei and Beijing over U.S. administration of the islands after the war.
Report dated August 12, 1892 from navy commander affirming the islands were not fully investigated. Source: Library of The National Institute for Defense Studies.
The Japanese government frequently cites two documents as evidence that China did not consider the islands to be Chinese. The first is an official letter from a Chinese consul in Nagasaki dated May 20, 1920 that listed the islands as Japanese territory.
Neither Beijing nor Taipei dispute that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands — along with the entire island of Taiwan — were formally under Japanese occupation at the time. However, per post-WW II arrangements, Japan was required to surrender territories obtained from aggression and revert them to their pre-1895 legal status.
The second piece evidence is a Chinese map from 1958 that excludes the Senkaku Islands from Chinese territory. But the Japanese government’s partial unveiling leaves out important information from the map’s colophon: “certain national boundaries are based on maps compiled prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War(1937-1945).”
Qing period (1644-1911) records substantiate Chinese ownership of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands prior to 1895. Envoy documents indicate that the islands reside inside the “border that separates Chinese and foreign lands.” And according to Taiwan gazetteers, “Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships” under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan.
The right to know is the bedrock of every democracy. The Japanese public deserves to know the other side of the story. It is the politicians who flame public sentiments under the name of national interests who pose the greatest risk, not the islands themselves.
Update: The author would like to include an updated image of the Qing era documents that recorded, “Diaoyutai Island accommodates ten or more large ships”, as mentioned in his blog post.
National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan.Record of Missions to Taiwan Waters (1722), Gazetteer of Kavalan County (1852), and Pictorial Treatise of Taiwan Proper (1872).
Han-Yi Shaw is a Research Fellow at the Research Center for International Legal Studies, National Chengchi University, in Taipei, Taiwan.
[The CIA has helped the ISI to “disappear” one of the pesky “Adiala 11″ (SEE: The “Adiala 11″ Disappeared Were Suspects in GHQ Bombing and Musharraf Assassination Attempt). All of the suspects in the GHQ assault were members of the “Amjad Farooqi Cell,” (SEE: Paramilitary Pretense, Who Controls the Predators? ), named after the top dog in Lashkar e-Jhangvi, the Punjabi root of the terrorist vine which leads back to the Army and to Special Forces commando Ilyas Kashmiri (who was allegedly killed near the site of this latest drone attack). The reported victims of CIA murders have a way of reappearing again, whenever the agency needs them in new hot spots. We have no ability to determine who dies in these drone attacks, or even if anybody dies at all. If there are no recognizable photos to document a celebrated terrorist leader’s demise, then it is wise to question the validity of first press reports.
The Pak Army’s publicity apparatus and “iron fist” are very effective at dominating public opinion. Wake-up, Imran Kahn! The culprits behind CIA drone deaths work from offices in Rawalpindi, as well as in Kabul. The first step towards ending drone deaths is to put an end to the official lie which denies Army complicity in drone deaths.]
Militant involved in GHQ attack injured in drone attack
PESHAWAR: Two militants, including an accused linked with attack on Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi, were also injured in the US drone attack that targeted a compound in Miranshah town of North Waziristan.According to sources, Aslam alias Yaseen is linked with attacks on General Headquarters (GHQ) and another attack on the naval base in Karachi.The sources further said that three militants were killed in the drone strike. Two militants were from Punjab.
They said that the injured militants have been taken to hospital. The militants were fighting in Afghanistan, the sources claimed.
The militants were living in the attacked compound for four months, the sources added.
The Powers That Be decided to trash this post, since someone deleted all of the commentary and image previously posted here. Normally I copy my posts before hitting the post button….Screwed-up here. I will try to recapture that which was lost.
[The following is a welcome admission by the Establishment press that our wars have been unmitigated disasters, but it is also very deceptive, falling far short of acceptable standards of journalistic integrity. Despite the long-overdue admission that are wars have been failed efforts, this article is what is known as “limited hangout” propaganda, telling partial truths as a means for concealing more revelatory damning truths. In this case, the writer wants his readers to begin to see our wars as huge “mistakes,” human-error caused disasters, rather than criminal wars of aggression. The cold hard truth is that all of our wars have been resounding successes, judging by Pentagon/CIA standards. The disastrous end-products of these wars wasthe intended result for all of them, destroying the Muslim countries that refused to follow American dictation. We fully intended for the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Pakistanis, Yemenis, Syrians, Libyans and all of the rest of America’s perceived “enemies,” to experience unimaginable human suffering on a scale far greater than that which has been experienced so far. In addition to all of this, the Imperial plan was to take advantage of the rising chorus of humanity, urging that we remedy all of this misery, as an excuse for inflicting even greater suffering and indignation on these populations under the guise of “humanitarian relief.”]
“US ‘humanitarian interventionism’ is the official cover story for the planned destruction of governments and the sustained, relentless punishment of the people who supported those governments…plain and simple.
American foreign policy under Bush and Obama has been a concentrated effort to inflict maximum suffering upon civilian populations, under the cover of pretending to “help” them. America’s foreign policy is criminal…far worse than the alleged ‘crimes against humanity’ which Syria allegedly committed. The chaotic deadly conditions left in the wakes of these criminal wars have affected all of humanity and pushed civilization to the brink of complete collapse. This,makes America’s Imperial wars, by definition, ‘crimes against humanity.'”
A militia member patrols during clashes with demonstrators on November 15, 2013 in Tripoli, Libya. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media
Forty-three people died on Friday in clashes between militias in Libya, as did 22 on Sunday from bombs in Iraq. In Helmand, a return of the Taliban to power is now confidently expected. Why should we care? Why should it feature on our news?
The answer is that we helped to bring it about. Britain’s three foreign wars in the past decade were uninvited military interventions to topple installed governments. All have ended in disaster.
In each case – Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan – it was easy to see evil in the prevailing regime. These are bad guys that we need to go after, said the Americans. Yet the removal of law and order from a nation is devastating, however cruel that order may have been. Iraqis today repeat that, whatever the ills of Saddam Hussein, under his rule most ordinary citizens and their families could walk the streets at night without fear of murder or kidnap. Religious differences were tolerated. Iraq should have been an oil-rich modern state. Even the Kurds, scourged by Saddam in the past, enjoyed autonomy and relative peace.
In each of these cases Britain and its allies, chiefly America, intervened to overthrow the army, disband government, dismantle the judiciary and leave militias to run riot. Little or no attempt was made to replace anarchy with a new order. “Nation building” was a fiasco. The British bombs that flattened government buildings in Kabul, Baghdad and Tripoli did not replace them, or those who worked in them. Those who dropped them congratulated themselves on their work and went home.
It is hard to exaggerate the misery and chaos created by so-called “liberal interventionism”. It is hard to think of a more immoral foreign policy, roaming the (chiefly Muslim) world, killing people and sowing anarchy. That is why the blood-stained consequence should be splashed across headlines. Those who seek political kudos by visiting violence on foreign peoples should never be allowed to forget their deeds.
[Shame on you, Gen. McRaven…all of your predecessors were smarter than that! These guys are just practicing the deadly skills that your boys taught to them, and you want us to believe that the problem is that you need to train them better?
Hell, you guys backed the head of an al-Qaeda terrorist group as Libyan military chieftain, after your men murdered the President of Libya Your Islamist proxies have murdered the entire legitimate Libyan govt. Now that their terrorism is making Africom look bad, you beg for the privilege of making them even better terrorists, only you call them “Freedom Fighters” when you try to sell them to the American people. I hope that you burn in Hell for what you guys have done to this world.
You should be congratulating your terrorist proxies for a job well done, every time that they carry-out another massacre, even if they massacre the trainers that you intend to send them.]
WHAT A WHOPPER! This guy, just like ALL U.S. officers and American politicians, lies to us so often that he must think that he has some kind of weird diplomatic immunity. After the recent public stink which was spontaneously generated around Obama’s intention to enter the war against Syria, one would think that they would be reluctant to try it again, so soon. Pentagon warmongers will have to play catch-up with the politicians, who have slowly come to realize that the American people are waking-up. There will be a great electoral correction of America’s course to the Nazi shoals, since most politicians don’t want to be swept aside in the anticipated great house-cleaning. The American people have started sobering-up, after having drunk deeply from the poisoned chalice of the plastic patriotism that has been dispensed so freely by Bush/Cheney and the neocon traitors. More Americans are coming to understand that the Pentagon and the CIA have been taken over by a bunch of Nazis.
By all means, allow the Pentagon to complete the Nazification process among the nascent little national militaries that it is raising-up all over the Africom mischief zone. If no one besides a handful of “conspiracy theorists” opposes this rising-up of the new “Fourth Reich,” an American global “Reich,” then we all might as well start practicing our goose-stepping and stiff-armed salutes to our tall, thin, dark-skinned “Fuhrer.”]
Simi Valley, Calif. — The U.S. military is preparing to conduct military and special operations training for Libya’s military and the training will risk including Islamist terrorists among the trainees, according to the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Adm. William McRaven said in a brief interview Saturday that the counterterrorism training operation has not begun. “We’re in the early stages,” he told the Free Beacon.
McRaven said a major gun battle erupted in Tripoli last week among opposing militias, a sign of instability in the North African country. The training is needed to stabilize Libya, an oil-rich country beset by mounting terrorism and Islamist militias.
During a panel discussion on the war on terrorism at the Reagan National Defense Forum, McRaven disclosed that the Libyan military training would include both conventional forces training and special operations training and that there will be risks.
“We are going to have to assume some risks,” McRaven said. “Right now we have the authorities to do that training, and I think as a country we have to say there is probably some risk that some of the people we will be training with do not have the most clean records, but at the end of the day it is the best solution we can find to train them to deal with their own problems.”
McRaven disclosed the plans for Libyan training when asked about problems encountered in training foreign special operations forces.
McRaven said the training would include a “very, very thorough review” of the Libyans who will take part.
Since the ouster of Muammar Gadhafi in 2011, Libya has had a weak government in a region dominated by Islamist militias ranging from al Qaeda affiliates to Islamists that do not support al Qaeda.
A weak central government has resulted in the spread of militias throughout the country. Weak border controls also have made the country a safe haven for jihadists.
Intelligence reports from earlier this year said some of the Islamists are engaged in training jihadists fighters who are then dispatched to Syria to join Islamist rebels there fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashir Assad.
The four-star admiral said the risks have been explained to senior leaders, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, and the regional combatant commanders.
The U.S. covert raid to capture al Qaeda leader Anas al Libi also has led to a backlash by Islamist militias operating in Libya.
The terrorists who attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans, were linked to al Qaeda.
The group, Ansar al Sharia, continues to operate openly, despite promises by President Barack Obama to bring those who carried out the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks to justice.
Additionally, Ansar al Sharia has grown more belligerent in recent months, apparently abandoning propaganda efforts to rebrand itself as a nonviolent militia.
Libyan militias also have seized some oil production facilities and have been selling oil to fund their activities.
Recently, al Qaeda terrorists reportedly infiltrated into Libya through the poorly protected southern border, according to a U.S. official.
McRaven said the military and special forces training will be carried out through the U.S. Africa Command, the military command in charge of Africa, and that negotiations with the Libyans are still underway.
Between 5,000 and 7,000 Libyans will receive conventional military training from the United States.
“And we have a complementary effort on the special operations side to train a certain number of their forces to do counterterrorism,” McRaven said.
Special operations training for the Libyans raises the prospect that some of the most advanced military tactics and operations could be compromised to Islamists.
Both training programs are being developed with Africom and supported by the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.
[They used the same process in Bosnia and in Iraq. The Pak Army is very efficient. The Saudis called upon them during the siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Their disciplined trainers are very efficient at transmitting that training to rebel groups.
It is laughable that the media is trying to make us believe that the Saudis would attempt to revive the trans-national network of Islamist recruitment and supply necessary for such a “shadow war,” without help from both the Pentagon and the CIA. The name of the game is deniability. The CIA has been very methodical in using first Qatari, then Saudi funds to reestablish the Islamist recruitment network in Syria. First, the Qatari project brought in the most violent, radical Islamist militants….let’s call them “al-Qaeda,” When the uproar began over the barbarity of these thugs, then the Saudis created the Nusra nexis, to impersonate “good Islamists,” even though they too have been called “al-Qaeda.” The Saudis demand international support, on the grounds that failure to assist their good Islamists, would be tantamount to surrendering Syria to the “bad al-Qaeda,” even though the Gulf monarchs are financing both sides. It is all a grand show for our benefit.
It is long past time that we helped Bashar al-Asad to eliminate ALL of these vermin “Islamist” scum from his country. The question then becomes, do we then clean-out the huge nest of “Islamist” vipers in Riyadh? That will all depend upon the Saudis themselves. Will they also admit the error of their ways and seek to help the international effort to repair the unimaginable desolation that they have wrought in Syria? Would such a change of heart make amends for the war crimes committed by both the US and the Saudis in creating this war?]
BEIRUT — Saudi Arabia, having largely abandoned hope that the United States will spearhead international efforts to topple the Assad regime, is embarking on a major new effort to train Syrian rebel forces. And according to three sources with knowledge of the program, Riyadh has enlisted the help of Pakistani instructors to do it.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, along with the CIA, also supported the Afghan rebels against the Soviet-backed government during the 1980s. That collaboration contains a cautionary note for the current day: The fractured Afghan rebels were unable to govern after the old regime fell, paving the way for chaos and the rise of the Taliban. Some of the insurgents, meanwhile, transformed into al Qaeda and eventually turned their weapons against their former patrons.
While the risk of blowback has been discussed in Riyadh, Saudis with knowledge of the training program describe it as an antidote to extremism, not a potential cause of it. They have described the kingdom’s effort as having two goals — toppling the Assad regime, and weakening al Qaeda-linked groups in the country. Prince Turki, the former Saudi intelligence chief and envoy to Washington, said in a recent interview that the mainstream opposition must be strengthened so that it could protect itself “these extremists who are coming from all over the place” to impose their own ideologies on Syria.
The ramped up Saudi effort has been spurred by the kingdom’s disillusionment with the United States. A Saudi insider with knowledge of the program described how Riyadh had determined to move ahead with its plans after coming to the conclusion that President Barack Obama was simply not prepared to move aggressively to oust Assad. “We didn’t know if the Americans would give [support] or not, but nothing ever came through,” the source said. “Now we know the president just didn’t want it.”
Pakistan’s role is so far relatively small, though another source with knowledge of Saudi thinking said that a plan was currently being debated to give Pakistan responsibility for training two rebel brigades, or around 5,000 to 10,000 fighters. Carnegie Middle East Center fellow Yezid Sayigh first noted the use of Pakistani instructors, writing that the Saudis were planning to build a Syrian rebel army of roughly 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers.
“The only way Assad will think about giving up power is if he’s faced with the threat of a credible, armed force,” said the Saudi insider.
A State Department official declined to comment on the Saudi training program.
Saudi Arabia’s decision to move forward with training the Syrian rebels independent of the United States is the latest sign of a split between the two longtime allies. In Syria, Saudi officials were aggrieved by Washington’s decision to cancel a strike on the Assad regime in reprisal for its chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburbs this summer. A top Saudi official told the Washington Post that Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan was unaware of the cancelation of the strike. “We found about it from CNN,” he said.
As a result, Saudi Arabia has given up on hopes that the United States would spearhead efforts to topple Assad and decided to press forward with its own plans to bolster rebel forces. That effort relies on a network of Saudi allies in addition to Pakistan, such as Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and France.
As Sayigh laid out in his Carnegie paper, Saudi Arabia is attempting to build “a new national army” for the rebels — a force with an “avowedly Sunni ideology” that could seize influence from mainstream Syrian opposition groups. In addition to its training program in Jordan, Saudi Arabia also helped organize the unification of roughly 50 rebel brigades into “the Army of Islam” under the leadership of Zahran Alloush, a Salafist commander whose father is a cleric based in the kingdom.
Given the increased Islamization of rebel forces on the ground, analysts say, it only makes sense that Saudi Arabia would throw its support behind Salafist groups. These militias “happen to be the most strategically powerful organizations on the ground,” said Charles Lister, an analyst with IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre. “If Saudi Arabia does indeed follow such a strategy… it could well stand to become a major power player in the conflict.”
In calling on Pakistan to assist in toppling Assad, Saudi Arabia can draw on its deep alliance with Islamabad. The two countries have long shared defense ties: Saudi Arabia has given more aid to Pakistani than to any non-Arab country, according to former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, and also allegedly helped fund Islamabad’s nuclear program. In return, Pakistan based troops in Saudi Arabia multiple times over three decades to protect the royals’ grip on power.
The current Pakistani government, in particular, is closely tied to Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted from power in 1999 by a military coup – the Saudis allegedly brokered a deal that kept him from prison. Sharif would spend the next seven years in exile, mainly in Saudi Arabia. “For the Saudis, Sharif is a key partner in a key allied state,” said Arif Rafiq, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.
But despite close collaboration in the past, Saudi Arabia may find its old allies chafing at the sheer scope of its ambitions in Syria. One Pakistani source with close ties to military circles confirmed that Saudi Arabia had requested assistance on Syria over the summer — but argued that Pakistani capabilities and interests were not conducive to a sweeping effort to train the rebels.
Pakistan is already grappling with its own sectarian bloodshed and must mind its relationship with Iran, while its foreign policy is focused on negotiations with the Taliban over the future of Afghanistan and its longtime rivalry with India. “They have their hands full,” the source said. “And even if they want to, I don’t think they’ll be able to give much concrete help.”
Jordan is also reportedly leery about fielding a large Syrian rebel army on its soil. The ambitious Saudi plan would require a level of support from Amman “that is opposed within the security and military establishment and is unlikely to be implemented,” according to Sayigh.
As the Saudis expand their effort to topple Assad, analysts say the central challenge is not to inflict tactical losses on the Syrian army, but to organize a coherent force that can coordinate its actions across the country. In other words, if Riyadh hopes to succeed where others have failed, it needs to get the politics right — convincing the fragmented rebel groups, and their squabbling foreign patrons, to work together in pursuit of a shared goal.
It’s easier said than done. “The biggest problem facing the Saudis now is the same one facing the U.S., France, and anyone else interested in helping the rebels: the fragmentation of the rebels into groups fighting each other for local and regional dominance rather than cooperating to overthrow Assad,” said David Ottaway, a scholar at the Wilson Center who wrote a biography of Prince Bandar. “Could the Saudis force [the rebel groups] to cooperate? I have my doubts.”