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American Resistance To Empire

Homeland Security Stockpiling Lots of “Less Lethal Specialty Munitions”

Are They Arming for Riots Across America? Homeland Stockpiling “Less Lethal Specialty Munitions”

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Mac Slavo

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One of the biggest stories for years in the alternative media was the mysterious and foreboding purchase by Homeland Security of more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition.

Thanks to coverage on prominent sites like DrudgeReport, the story reached into mainstream media, prompting official spin and downplaying of the purchase.

Now, a new Homeland Security purchase order listed on FedBizOpps  also raises an eyebrow or two, given the heated and divided political and social climate at hand. Just look at what happened in Ferguson…

A request for “less lethal specialty munitions” for use by Homeland Security dated March 23, 2015 reads:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends to solicit responses to Request for Information (RFI) 20082225-JTC for Less Lethal Specialty Munitions (LLSM) for use by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CBP is interested in incorporating commercial and industry practices that support this type of procurement. To accomplish this, CBP intends to make industry a partner in all facets of the acquisition process, specifically by considering existing market capabilities, strengths and weaknesses for the acquisition of this commodity.

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Over the course of 9 pages (PDF), the technical requirements call for an arsenal of specialized weaponry for training and deployment against crowds.

On top of a wide range of gas and chemical grenades, rubber bullets and other riot rounds, the purchase calls for “controlled noise and light distraction devices,” including flash bangs which set off a 175 dB sound with 6 – 8 million candelas light bursts in 10 milliseconds.

So why are the Feds prepping to take on crowds?

Officially, the request is put through Customs and Border Patrol, a subset of the Department of Homeland Security, but it is unlikely that the equipment will be used to protect the border and keep out illegal aliens. But the riot gear and crowd control devices have many potential uses.

Perhaps, the equipment for use in instances like last year, when protesters in Murrieta confronted Customs and Border Patrol agents and blocked buses carrying a wave of illegal immigrants from Central America?

The requested equipment includes:

Hand Delivered Pyrotechnic Canisters, including

  • Smoke Canister for Training (Reduced Toxicity)
  • Continuous Discharge Large Smoke Canister (Operations)
  • Continuous Discharge CS Canister
  • Orange Colored Smoke Canister
  • Green Colored Smoke Canister
  • Pocket Tactical Smoke Canister
  • Pocket Tactical CS Canister
  • Three Part Sub-Munitions CS Canister
  • Non-Burning Internal Canister OC Grenade

Non-Pyrotechnic Indoor/Outdoor Use

  • Flameless Expulsion Grenade (OC)
  • Flameless Expulsion Grenade (CS)
  • Flameless Expulsion Grenade (Inert)

Hand Delivered Rubber Ball Grenades

  • Rubber Ball Grenade
  • Rubber Ball Grenade (CS)

40mm Launched Specialty Impact Munitions

  • 40mm Direct Impact Sponge Cartridge
    40mm Direct Impact Sponge Cartridge (OC)
  • 40mm Direct Impact Sponge Cartridge (Marking)
  • 40mm Direct Impact Sponge Cartridge (Inert)
  • 40mm Sponge Training Rounds

Crowd Management Projectile Cartridges

  • 40mm Smokeless Powder Blast (OC)
  • 40mm Smokeless Powder Blast (CS)
  • 40mm Long Range Canister (CS)
  • 40mm Long Range Canister (Smoke)
  • 40mm Cartridge Four Part Sub-Munitions (CS)
  • 40mm Cartridge Four Part Sub-Munitions (Smoke)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions (100 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions (200 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions (300 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions OC (100 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions OC (200 Meters)
  • 40mm Aerial Warning Munitions OC (300 Meters)

Controlled Noise And Light Distraction Devices

  • Distraction Device Compact
  • Distraction Device
  • Distraction Device Reloadable Steel Body
  • Distraction Device Reload
  • Command Initiated Distraction Device Reload
  • Distraction Device Training Fuse
  • Distraction Device Training Body
  • Multiple Detonation Distraction Device
  • Low Profile Distraction Device
  • Command Initiator

Ferret Rounds

  • 40mm Ferret Round (OC Powder)
  • 40mm Ferret Round (OC Liquid)
  • 40mm Ferret Round (CS Powder)
  • 40mm Ferret Round (CS Liquid)
  • 40mm Ferret Round (Inert Powder)

The ferret rounds are designed to penetrate barriers and deliver debilitating or disrupting chemicals:

“The projectile shall be designed to penetrate barriers of glass, particle board, and interior walls. Upon impact of the barrier, the nose cone will rupture and instantaneously deliver the OC liquid on the other side of the barrier. “

The collection of equipment provides a diverse range of toys with which authorities could push back crowds and potentially intimidate free speech as well.

Are there more riots coming? Is widespread civil unrest only a matter of time? Is it related to martial law exercises like Jade Helm 15?

What do the Feds know that we don’t?

They are getting ready… are you?

 

Related Reading:

The Prepper’s Blueprint: Prepare For Any Disaster

If Martial Law Comes to America “Dissidents and Subversives Would Be Rounded Up”

The 17 Elements of Martial Law

What Was The True Mission In Iraq, To Create Chaos Or To Contain It?

Accusations Emerge That the U.S. Is Aiding ISIS – The Latest “Conspiracy Theory” Circulating in Iraq

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My belief is, we will, in fact be greeted as liberators.

– Dick Cheney on NBC’s Meet the Press, March 16, 2003

But that enmity for the United States circulates beyond the militias that once fought U.S. soldiers, surfacing also in parliamentary debates and Iraqi media reports and even at the highest ranks of the national armed forces that the United States is aiding.

“Everybody knows that the Americans are dropping supplies to Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Abed al-Maliki, a senior Iraqi army commander based in the city of Samarra, about 80 miles north of Baghdad, using another term for the Islamic State.

What’s more, he said, during some of the fiercest fighting around Samarra last year, U.S. Special Operations forces dropped behind enemy lines to assist Islamic State militants.

“They came in with parachutes, and they were helping to bomb the city,” he said.

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, he contended, are probably just a cover for efforts to support the group.

“It’s just a show,” he said, sitting in the city’s army command headquarters. “If the Americans want to finish something, they will finish it. If they wanted to liberate Iraq, they could.”

– From the Washington Post article, In Fight for Tikrit, U.S. Finds Enemies on Both Sides of the Battle Lines, March 27, 2015

How do you know your foreign policy is a complete and total destructive nightmare? When the country you supposedly “liberated” not only turns into a horrific war zone, but all sides fighting accuse you of helping the enemy. This seems to be precisely what is happening in Iraq at the moment.

Just last week, I was shocked to read in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. military was preparing to coordinate action against ISIS in Tikrit, alongside Iranian backed militias. I highlighted this in the post, Can’t Make This Up – U.S. Providing Aid in Fight Against ISIS in Iraq Alongside Iranian Troops. Here’s the key excerpt:

The U.S. has started providing Iraq with aerial intelligence in the stalled battle to oust Islamic State from Tikrit, drawing the American military into closer coordination with Iranian-backed militias spearheading the offensive. 

Military officials said they aren’t working directly with Iran. But the intelligence will be used to help some 20,000 Iranian-backed Shiite militia fighters who make up the bulk of the force that has been struggling for weeks to retake the strategic city.

Incredibly, only a few days later, we learn from the Washington Post that one of the most popular “conspiracy theories” circulating in Iraq at the moment is that the U.S. is directly supplying and aiding ISIS in Iraq. Significantly, these accusations aren’t just emerging from random corners of the internet, but from senior military figures within the Iraqi army. Can’t make this up indeed.

From the Washington Post:

 As American forces open another front of battle in Iraq, they find themselves on the same side as an array of armed groups that not only consider the United States an enemy but also accuse it of actively supporting Islamic State militants.

Since the U.S.-led coalition planes launched their first airstrikes in the Islamic State-held city of Tikrit on Wednesday night, threats and accusations from ­Shiite militias who were leading the battle there have grown. Several of the Iranian-backed groups accused coalition aircraft of bombing a headquarters for pro-government fighters in the city on Friday, promising retribution.

The claim was the latest in a long string of accusations leveled at the United States since its first airstrikes against the Islamic State in August. Rumors of coalition planes dropping weapons supplies to Islamic State militants and attacking pro-government fighters are now widely held beliefs in a country where conspiracy theories are rife.

But that enmity for the United States circulates beyond the militias that once fought U.S. soldiers, surfacing also in parliamentary debates and Iraqi media reports and even at the highest ranks of the national armed forces that the United States is aiding.

“Everybody knows that the Americans are dropping supplies to Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Abed al-Maliki, a senior Iraqi army commander based in the city of Samarra, about 80 miles north of Baghdad, using another term for the Islamic State. 

What’s more, he said, during some of the fiercest fighting around Samarra last year, U.S. Special Operations forces dropped behind enemy lines to assist Islamic State militants.

“They came in with parachutes, and they were helping to bomb the city,” he said.

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, he contended, are probably just a cover for efforts to support the group.

“It’s just a show,” he said, sitting in the city’s army command headquarters. “If the Americans want to finish something, they will finish it. If they wanted to liberate Iraq, they could.”

When such accusations appear in the Iraqi media, they are normally accompanied by an image from an Islamic State video from Kobane in Syria last year, showing the militants displaying a load of weapons accidently dropped from a U.S. plane — an incident the United States acknowledged.

Whoops, sorry, our mistake! At this point, who doesn’t have access to hundreds of millions of U.S. weaponry?

Visiting U.S. officials are left to fend off questions about whether they support the group. The topic was the first to be broached in questions when Gen. John Allen, special envoy for the coalition to counter the Islamic State, met with Iraqi journalists in January.

The theories are stoked by U.S. involvement in the wider region, where Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia are battling for influence against Shiite Iran. While the United States has backed the same side as Saudi Arabia in conflicts in Syria and Yemen, in Iraq it finds itself on the other side of the battle.

A wildly popular trailer for an Iraqi TV program launched last year that mocked the Islamic State played off that speculation. It showed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hatching out of an egg after a marriage between characters representing Israel and America.

If this is how Iraqis greet their liberators, I don’t want to be invited to the party they throw for enemies.

Seriously though, it doesn’t even matter if these accusations are true or not. What matter is that Iraq is a total disaster zone, and everyone suffering from the chaos knows full well the U.S. government is responsible. Over the past decade, the clowns running American foreign policy have gone from promising the world that the Iraqis would greet U.S. soldiers as liberators, to all sides accusing the USA of aiding the enemy; whether that enemy be the Iraqi army, Iranian backed militias, or ISIS.

This is not a recipe for success. Unless of course, success is determined by the ability to create as much chaos and death overseas as possible via a divide and conquer strategy in which all combatants attempt to slay each other using weapons purchased from American defense companies. In that case, the Iraq war can be defined as a resounding success.

America’s Complicated Pro-Wahhabi, Iran Friendly, Mideast Policy

Layout 1A look at America’s complicated collage of a Mideast policy

new zealand herald

 

WASHINGTON (AP) ” The United States’ engagement in the volatile and unpredictable Middle East got more complicated this week, as American and Iranian negotiators sought a historic nuclear agreement while the U.S. provided intelligence for a Saudi-led air campaign against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

The two efforts, diplomatic and military, underscore the sometimes conflicting and oftentimes country-by-country alliances that are guiding U.S. policy in the region. The collage is largely framed by America’s difficult relationship with Iran.

Despite severing diplomatic ties 36 years ago, the adversaries recently have found some means of direct and indirect cooperation. Beyond the nuclear talks, they are both helping Iraq’s government fight Islamic State extremists.

At the same time Washington and Tehran are locked in a proxy war in Syria, where the U.S. is arming insurgents battling the Iran-backed government. A reverse conflict could be emerging in Yemen, where Washington is assisting the military intervention by Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia against Iran-supported Shiite rebels.

A look at several crises in the Middle East and how the Obama administration is approaching matters:
NUCLEAR TALKS:

President Barack Obama’s biggest national security goal is reaching a diplomatic agreement that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But achieving such a goal through negotiation, and not through military or economic pressure, means it requires cooperation from the Islamic Republic.

Secretary of State John Kerry is leading the U.S. in talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, hoping to reach an outline of a deal over the next several days that would curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

But Obama has said a deal could lead to a “better path” that includes greater trade ties, foreign investment, cultural exchange, scientific partnerships and jobs for young Iranians. The prospect of a nuclear accord and even the tiniest steps toward U.S.-Iranian rapprochement are prompting deep concern and even opposition among America’s traditional allies in the neighborhood.

Israel has lobbied aggressively against the deal in the United States, claiming it would pave the way for an Iranian nuclear arsenal. Saudi Arabia has threatened to explore greater nuclear technology of its own. Other Sunni governments want greater U.S. commitment to their defense. And all have spoken gravely of the implications of what they see as Washington cozying up to Tehran.

Hoping to ease their concerns, the U.S. has emphasized repeatedly it isn’t shifting alliances.

IRAQ:

In Iraq, the U.S. and Iran actively support a common ally.

American airstrikes started this week to help Iraqi troops retake the northern city of Tikrit from Islamic State extremists. Until recently, the Iraqis there were fighting side-by-side with Shiite militias and Iranian special forces. But they withdrew as a condition of the U.S. air intervention, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin told a congressional panel Thursday.

Although the Americans and Iranians share the common goal of defeating Islamic State extremists, they differ on tactics. Washington has cited reports of human rights abuses by Iranian-backed militias and criticized the Iranian-led operation in Tikrit for lacking precision firepower, proper command from the Iraqi government and a coherent plan for maneuvering ground forces against a dug-in enemy.

Both sides deny that they are actively coordinating military strategy, though U.S. officials have spoken of working with the Iraqis as a go-between to “deconflict” operations. The dynamic has unsettled Sunni Arab states likes Saudi Arabia.

___

SYRIA:

In Syria, the U.S. and Iran are on a clearer collision course. While each again speaks of combating the Islamic State group, they clash on their views of the Syrian government and the country’s four-year rebellion.

The U.S. is arming and training a primarily Sunni force described as moderate, working with Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan. The rebels have the double objective of defeating the terrorists and ousting President Bashar Assad from power.

On the other side, the Iranians are providing military assistance to Assad’s army and Hezbollah forces fighting the rebellion, and have deployed special forces of their own to help out.

___

YEMEN:

The picture is similarly complicated in Yemen.

The U.S. is providing intelligence and logistical help for the Saudi-led airstrikes against the Houthi rebels who’ve seized the capital and much of the country, driving out the president. The Saudis and their Arab partners may now be planning a ground invasion.

But the Iranians are unhappy, and the threat of another wider war is clear. Despite the U.S’s auxiliary role, Tehran is blaming Washington for the attacks. And it is calling the intervention a “dangerous step” that will fuel terrorism. The Iranians only acknowledge giving the Houthi rebels humanitarian support, not the advanced weaponry that the Saudis and others claim is being provided.

The U.S. is in an uncomfortable position, tied by its alliances to Sunni Arab states and conviction that Yemen’s rightful government should be restored. But it doesn’t want a protracted war that draws Iran in deeper, takes attention away from Yemen’s highly active al-Qaida branch and other threats to the United States, or becomes a factor in U.S.-Iranian nuclear discussions.

Although Kerry “commended” Saudi Arabia’s action in a telephone call with Arab foreign ministers Thursday, he then discussed the situation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the nuclear talks. Details of that conversation were kept private.

New Era of American Financial Warfare

New Era of Financial Warfare

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Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Thursday’s Daily Telegraph, reports on new ways the U.S. is carrying out financial warfare against Russia by stealth. He writes that the U.S. has created a financial “neutron bomb” that can target any country and is now targeting Russia. He claims that for the past 12 years an “elite cell” at the U.S. Treasury has been designing ways to bring almost any country to its knees without firing a shot.

“It is a new kind of war, like a creeping financial insurgency, intended to constrict our enemies’ financial lifeblood, unprecedented in its reach and effectiveness,” says Juan Zarate, the Treasury and White House official who led the policy after 9/11. “The new geo-economic game may be more efficient and subtle than past geopolitical competitions, but it is no less ruthless and destructive,” he writes in his book Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare.

This includes shutting off market access for Russian banks, companies, and state bodies with $714 billion of debt. He calls it the “scarlet letter,” created under Section 311 of the U.S. Patriot Act, which was devised to be used against terrorist financiers. Once a bank is named, it will be caught in a “boa constrictor’s lethal embrace,” as Zarate puts it. Even if the bank has no operations in the U.S., European banks will not violate it.

Evans-Pritchard continues, “The U.S. Treasury faces a more formidable prey with Russia, the world’s biggest producer of energy with a $2 trillion economy, superb scientists, and a first-strike nuclear arsenal. It is also tightly linked to the German and East European economies,” and therefore the U.S. risks destabilizing its own alliance system. Furthermore, President Vladimir Putin knows this as well and no doubt is prepared to take counter-moves.

Zarate now advises HSBC on how to stop in-house money laundering, which is a laugh in itself.

Evans-Pritchard’s column cites Princeton Professor Harold James, who compares such actions to the pre-First World War attempts by Britain and France to use financial warfare against Germany. Warning of the dangers of such action, James said, in a piece for Project Syndicate, “Lehman was a small institution compared with the Austrian, French, and German banks that have become highly exposed to Russia’s financial system. A Russian asset freeze could be catastrophic for European — indeed, global — financial markets.”

Evans-Pritchard seems to be familiarizing himself with the Classics, as he cites how the sanction imposed by Pericles turned out badly. “So are the salutary lessons. Pericles tried to cow the city state of Megara in 432 B.C. by cutting off trade access to markets of the Athenian Empire. He set off the Peloponnesian Wars, bringing Sparta’s Hoplite infantry crashing down on Athens. Greece’s economic system was left in ruins, at the mercy of Persia. That was a taste of asymmetry.”

Bodhita | News & Analysis

US Policy Is Driving Force Behind the Call To Jihad

[A very strong case is made that it is US foreign policy which fuels Islamist anger and drives the call to “jihad.”  American policy has been humiliating to every Muslim since 2001, in particular, the policies of torture, secret renditions and drone assassinations, all of which have been designed to destroy the collective psyche of all Muslim males.  

Murder by drone and rendition have demonstrated to every Muslim family that none of them are safe in their beds, or in their homes anymore.  What more reason would a sensible young man need than this, to drive him to take-up arms against the American aggressors?   Yemen hosted a US drone/counter-insurgency base, allegedly used to “hunt al-Qaeda,” which was probably the driving force in Yemen’s destabilization.  The more the US and the Saudis bombed Yemen, the greater grew the unrest of all sectarian derivations. 

The ease of recruitment for ISIS (and the Middle Eastern radicals in general) is a pretty direct measure of the effectiveness of US psychological warfare.  The more we humiliate Muslims, the more jihadis answer the call to battle. 

But, I would argue that that has been the objective of the entire war on terror since its inception…find those who would be jihadis and kill them all.  It doesn’t matter to the Pentagon/CIA that they are feeding the cycle that they have been fighting to stop?  Instead of trying to kill the Muslim world to get all the survivors to “LIKE” us, we should try to disengage long enough for the Arabs to fight among themselves and settle their tribal/religious feuds which we had no right to interfere with, at all.]

Smith College religion professor, historian says US should stay out of Middle East battles

MASS live

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By Diane Lederman | dlederman@repub.com

 

Smith College religion professor Suleiman A. Mourad believes the United States should not be involved in the Middle East. (Diane Lederman/The Republican)

 

NORTHAMPTON – This week, Saudi Arabia took on rebels in Yemen, the latest action in the escalating conflict in the Middle East. It’s a confusing muddle of alliances.

As the New York Times reports the United States is supporting the Saudi campaign to dislodge Iranian-backed Houthi rebels but in Iraq and Syria, the United States is on the same side as Iran in the fight against the Islamic State.

And while some Congress debate whether to send in ground troops, Smith College religion professor Suleiman A. Mourad believes the United States should not be involved.

In fact anger against the United States is fueling the antagonism and serves as a recruiting tool for Isis and other extremists.

Mourad, who also studies jihad, explained some of the roots of the conflict and the reasons he believes that it needs to play out there without United States intervention.

He doesn’t think the warring parties are ready or able to talk to each other nor does he see any diplomat in the United States able to bring the parties to the table.

In fact, he said the United States is hated abroad. A native of Lebanon he returned recently and said the level of animosity between Sunnis and Shia towards the United States was extreme.

Middle Eastern leaders don’t trust or respect the United States.

The wars between Sunnis and the Shia – different sects within the Muslim community with different customs – have both modern and historical roots.
According to the BBC, most of the Muslims are Sunnis – estimates suggest the figure is somewhere between 85 to 90 percent.

Historically, Sunnis consider themselves as the orthodox or traditional form of Islam where the Shia the political faction, according to the BBC.

“There are historical grievances historical reasons that speak to the current grievances,” Mourad said, much in the way slavery here is linked to issue of race in America.

He said at the same time, some Shia are aligned with some Sunnis and vice versa. Also he said Shias in Yemen are different than the Shias of Iran. “They don’t have a common history. There’s much animosity.”

Each political leader has his own agenda and uses the rebel groups to support that just as long they don’t topple their own regime. “Every dictator has interests.”

While the Middle East was under the control of such leaders as Saddam Hussein, the militant factions were squelched but as those leaders were toppled the militant groups were able to emerge.
And what makes the modern conflict unprecedented is how widespread the uprisings are. The battle “across the Muslim world is unprecedented.”

He said the modern day Sunni militant movements began in the 1960s-1970s with the ideas of Sayyid Qutb of Egypt and Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan being put into practice.

They believed that Muslims rulers “were in the pockets of the West.:” And he said those militant ideologues were in “pursuit of a great Islam” and urged Muslims to jihad and unity.

Later there was a split where one group wanted a less militant approach and instead advocated for activism. The idea was “to just do activism to take control of the Sunnis. Teach ideas to ultimately unify Islam.”

But with such things as the overthrow of the Shah in Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini becoming the supreme leader and the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, these militants groups realized they had power and could demonstrate that militarism could achieve their goals.

Isis too feels like it has power with the attention it garners with the beheadings of Americans or its connection to attacks in France at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine in January.

“(In their minds) It puts them on equal footing with the west,” Mourad said. And if “we are equal to the West, we can defeat the West.”

Each regime, meanwhile, in the Middle East has its own agenda but leaders are not able or willing right now to talk about what that is and how to meet their needs. Some take advantage of groups like Isis to push for their respective interests and agendas.

So the wars have to play out until they are willing to talk. Meanwhile he said, “We have no business being (there.)”

He said the Iranians during the overthrow of the Shah said, “America is Satan” and wanted to destroy the country. That hatred has only worsened as the United States has gotten more involved in the battles of the countries in the Middle East.

UN Calling Humanitarian Disaster In Syria A “Situation”

 

UN: Humanitarian situation in Syria dramatically worsened

daily sabah
Istanbul
UN: Humanitarian situation in Syria dramatically worsened

The United Nations has more than doubled its estimate of Syrians who are living in besieged areas, who risk death by starvation, dehydration and a lack of medical care, to roughly 440,000. The U.N.’s top humanitarian official said that the life expectancy of a Syrian is expected to be 20 years lower than when the conflict started. The U.N. also said that the war, which has recently entered its fifth year, has killed more than 220,000 people. It was also claimed that at least $8.5 billion is needed this year to meet the needs of Syrians.

The Arab uprisings, which euphorically swept across the Middle East and North Africa, attracted Syrians who had lived under the dictatorship of the Assad family since 1970, when Bashar’s father Hafiz Assad seized power. Since then the majority Sunnis were forced to live in a police state that tried to control every movement, organization or business through the use a wide-ranging intelligence service. In March of 2011, Syrians were emboldened enough to raise their voices against the dictatorship. However, the regime’s response was not as peaceful as the protests. And the country was subsequently dragged into a deadly civil war after opposition groups took up arms against the government. The opposition groups have also been divided internally. While moderate opposition groups like the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) were struggling for a democratic Syria where all religious and political groups would be free to exist, radical elements like al-Qaida’s Syrian branch Nusra Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) aimed to establish a new Syria, ruled by an extremist religious jurisprudence.

The fate of the country was changed since the war started. United Nations’ top humanitarian official said that the inability of the international community to stop the war means millions of Syrians will continue to suffer. Valerie Amos said the situation has “dramatically worsened.” In just the past month, she noted that the number of Syrians living in what are considered “besieged” areas has doubled, from 212,000 to 440,000. Nearly 5 million Syrians live in hard-to-reach areas. “The inability of this Council, and countries with influence over the different parties at war in Syria, to agree on the elements for a political solution in the country means that the humanitarian consequences will continue to be dire for millions of Syrians,” said Amos. As the world has taken stock this month of Syria on the anniversary of the conflict, Amos pointed out some of the more grim findings: “Today, a Syrian’s life expectancy is estimated to be 20 years less than when the conflict started,” she said. “Unemployment is around 58 percent, up from around 10 percent in 2010; nearly two-thirds of all Syrians are now estimated to be living in extreme poverty.” Amos later told reporters that $8.5 billion is needed this year to address the crisis both in and outside Syria, whose neighbors say they are overwhelmed by millions of refugees. Many aid groups and others in the international community say the divided council has failed the Syrian people on this and other issues. Russia, Syria’s ally, has blocked actions such as an attempted referral of the country’s situation to the International Criminal Court, though some diplomats say they’d like to try again for a referral.

Doing To The Entire Islamic World What We Have Done To Iraq

Instability in the Islamic world

The Hindu

G PARTHASARATHY

Three major developments require careful attention. These are the emergence of the ISIS, the growing Persian-Arab and sectarian Shia-Sunni tensions, and the possibility of a negotiated end to the Iranian nuclear impasse. All this is occurring amidst the fall in global oil and gas prices, which is imposing a strain on the economies of countries in the Persian Gulf.

American subversion

The entire polity of what is known as the ‘Greater Middle East’ (extending from Pakistan to Turkey) has been destabilised by American-led subversion and invasions in Iraq, Syria and Libya, to oust secular but authoritarian governments, without having viable alternatives in sight. In Syria, American-supported destabilisation efforts have led to millions fleeing their homes and the emergence of diverse groups embroiled in a seemingly neverending civil war. The invasion of Iraq has led to Shia-Sunni bloodletting that has spread across the entire region. Libya has been fragmented by similar intervention and has emerged as another centre of Shia-Sunni conflict. More importantly, the intervention in Syria has led to the emergence of the Islamic State of Levant (ISIS). It now controls large parts of Syria and northern Iraq and has made inroads in Libya while establishing links with religious extremists in Nigeria, Somalia and elsewhere.

The world has seldom, if ever, seen a group as fanatical, revivalist and ruthless as the ISIS, which has drawn thousands of armed cadres, not just from Arab and Islamic countries but from across Europe and America. Its practices include arbitrary killing of non-Muslims and Shias. It forcibly takes non-Muslim women as slaves, extorts payment of jiziya tax by non-Muslims, and practises beheading and crucifixion. The only other recent case of similar behaviour was by the Afghan Taliban which persecuted Shias and required Hindus to display their identity by sporting yellow scarves/armbands.

Another barbaric trait the two share is the destruction of ancient shrines, artefacts, statues and art. If the Taliban vandalised and dynamited the historic Bamiyan Buddha statues, the ISIS destroyed or sold the priceless ancient treasures of Nimrud, Tikrit and Mosul.

The Sunni Arab alliance

The escalating tensions in the Greater Middle East have resulted in a Sunni Arab Alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, facing off a Shia, Iranian-led grouping, including Iraq and Syria. We also have the strange situation of Iran and the US making common cause, to assist Iraqi security forces to drive out the ISIS from the Sunni majority Tikrit, Mosul and across the Anbar province. The US provides the air power, while the Iranian Revolutionary Guards train, arm, equip and fight alongside the Iraqi Shia militia.

Yet another strange meeting of minds is that of Israel and the Sunni Arab leadership from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. While the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US congress in Washington to voice his opposition to an agreement being negotiated between the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany, on the one hand, and Iran on the other, to end sanctions against Iran, the Sunni Arab countries launched a diplomatic offensive to get the US to scuttle the proposed deal.

Quite obviously chary of an Iranian ‘Shia bomb’, Saudi Arabia and its Arab Gulf partners held discussions with the US Secretary of State John Kerry on March 4 and voiced their reservations about a prospective US-led Iranian nuclear deal. The Saudis simultaneously fear not only an American-Iranian rapprochement, but also the prospects of the growing ISIS presence along their borders and in the Arab world. They know that the US is no longer dependent on them for oil supplies. The Americans, in fact, now have oil and gas reserves to meet current levels of demand for 85 years. Saudi Arabian oil is no longer vital for meeting the US’ energy needs.

It is in these circumstances that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was received at Riyadh airport on March 3 by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince Mukri and the entire Saudi cabinet. This was a rare honour for a head of government, especially from a bankrupt country that has survived on Saudi and American doles for decades. Interestingly, barely a month earlier, the chairman of Pakistan’s joint chiefs of staff committee Gen Rashad Mahmoud, the seniormost military officer in Pakistan’s Nuclear Command Authority which has operational command and control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, visited Saudi Arabia.

Old ties

Pak-Saudi nuclear links go back to the 1990s when AQ Khan paid visits to Saudi Arabia, following a visit to the Kahuta nuclear and missile facilities by the Saudi defence minister, Prince Salman. Interestingly, Pakistan tested, for the first time, a nuclear capable missile, Shaheen 3, with a range of 2,750 km, capable of striking targets beyond India, just after Sharif’s visit to Riyadh. This missile could be an asset to target Iran from Saudi Arabia. The already complicated situation in the Greater Middle East could become more tense if Pakistan agrees to send troops to guard Saudi Arabia’s frontiers, or provides the desert kingdom a ‘Sunni nuclear shield’ to counter Iran. Given the tensions on its borders with India, Afghanistan and Iran, it remains to be seen how Pakistan responds to Saudi requests for military assistance, conventional and nuclear.

New Delhi has just gone through a significant effort in building viable security architecture with neighbouring Indian Ocean island-states. There is now need for careful consideration of the impact of recent developments across the Islamic world on India’s security, and the welfare of its nationals in the Arab Gulf states.

The author is a former High Commissioner to Pakistan

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