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U.S. Sends Planes Armed with Depleted Uranium to Middle East

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | October 28, 2014

The U.S. Air Force says it is not halting its use of Depleted Uranium weapons, has recently sent them to the Middle East, and is prepared to use them.

A type of airplane, the A-10, deployed this month to the Middle East by the U.S. Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing, is responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform, according to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). “Weight for weight and by number of rounds more 30mm PGU-14B ammo has been used than any other round,” said ICBUW coordinator Doug Weir, referring to ammunition used by A-10s, as compared to DU ammunition used by tanks.

Public affairs superintendent Master Sgt. Darin L. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing told me that the A-10s now in the Middle East along with “300 of our finest airmen” have been sent there on a deployment planned for the past two years and have not been assigned to take part in the current fighting in Iraq or Syria, but “that could change at any moment.”

The crews will load PGU-14 depleted uranium rounds into their 30mm Gatling cannons and use them as needed, said Hubble. “If the need is to explode something — for example a tank — they will be used.”

Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told me, “There is no prohibition against the use of Depleted Uranium rounds, and the [U.S. military] does make use of them. The use of DU in armor-piercing munitions allows enemy tanks to be more easily destroyed.”

On Thursday, several nations, including Iraq, spoke to the United Nations First Committee, against the use of Depleted Uranium and in support of studying and mitigating the damage in already contaminated areas. A non-binding resolution is expected to be voted on by the Committee this week, urging nations that have used DU to provide information on locations targeted. A number of organizations are delivering a petition to U.S. officials this week urging them not to oppose the resolution.

In 2012 a resolution on DU was supported by 155 nations and opposed by just the UK, U.S., France, and Israel. Several nations have banned DU, and in June Iraq proposed a global treaty banning it — a step also supported by the European and Latin American Parliaments.

Wright said that the U.S. military is “addressing concerns on the use of DU by investigating other types of materials for possible use in munitions, but with some mixed results. Tungsten has some limitations in its functionality in armor-piercing munitions, as well as some health concerns based on the results of animal research on some tungsten-containing alloys. Research is continuing in this area to find an alternative to DU that is more readily accepted by the public, and also performs satisfactorily in munitions.”

“I fear DU is this generation’s Agent Orange,” U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott told me. “There has been a sizable increase in childhood leukemia and birth defects in Iraq since the Gulf War and our subsequent invasion in 2003. DU munitions were used in both those conflicts. There are also grave suggestions that DU weapons have caused serious health issues for our Iraq War veterans. I seriously question the use of these weapons until the U.S. military conducts a full investigation into the effect of DU weapon residue on human beings.”

Doug Weir of ICBUW said renewed use of DU in Iraq would be “a propaganda coup for ISIS.” His and other organizations opposed to DU are guardedly watching a possible U.S. shift away from DU, which the U.S. military said it did not use in Libya in 2011. Master Sgt. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing believes that was simply a tactical decision. But public pressure had been brought to bear by activists and allied nations’ parliaments, and by a UK commitment not to use DU.

DU is classed as a Group 1 Carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and evidence of health damage produced by its use is extensive. The damage is compounded, Jeena Shah at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) told me, when the nation that uses DU refuses to identify locations targeted. Contamination enters soil and water. Contaminated scrap metal is used in factories or made into cooking pots or played with by children.

CCR and Iraq Veterans Against the War have filed a Freedom of Information Act Request in an attempt to learn the locations targeted in Iraq during and after the 1991 and 2003 assaults. The UK and the Netherlands have revealed targeted locations, Shah pointed out, as did NATO following DU use in the Balkans. And the United States has revealed locations it targeted with cluster munitions. So why not now?

“For years,” Shah said, “the U.S. has denied a relationship between DU and health problems in civilians and veterans. Studies of UK veterans are highly suggestive of a connection. The U.S. doesn’t want studies done.” In addition, the United States has used DU in civilian areas and identifying those locations could suggest violations of Geneva Conventions.

Iraqi doctors will be testifying on the damage done by DU before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C., in December.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration said on Thursday that it will be spending $1.6 million to try to identify atrocities committed in Iraq . . . by ISIS.

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Two journalists hit by Israeli rubber bullets while covering protest (VIDEO)

RT | October 28, 2014

An AP photographer and his Swiss colleague were hurt after Israeli border police fired a crowd control grenade at a group of journalists covering Palestinian protests in the West Bank.

The news agency’s Majdi Mohammed and Swiss freelance journalist Lazar Simeonov were injured during the Israeli forces’ suppression of protests, where they deployed rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.

The photographers were working in the West Bank town of Silwad, where Palestinians were protesting after the funeral of a 14-year-old boy, who was killed in an earlier clash with Israeli soldiers.

Mohammed told the Agency that as he was taking pictures, an armored car pulled up behind him and a border policeman stepped out and fired directly at him from a distance of 10 to 20 meters.

The officer fired a round that discharges a number of rubber-coated steel projectiles, which is basically a grenade designed to hurt small groups of people. Simeonov was injured by the same round.

“The impact was so strong that it made me fall to the ground,” Mohammed said. “The policeman aimed straight at us … even though we were clearly a group of media people and there were no protesters at all around us.”

Both journalists reported minor injuries and Simeonov’s camera was also damaged.

AP said it would lodge a protest with the Israeli government. John Daniszewski, AP’s senior managing editor for international news, said the incident showed “outrageous disregard for the safety of journalists” lawfully doing their jobs.

Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said it was not immediately clear why the border patrol policeman had opened fire on the journalists. He added the police “dispersed hundreds of rioters,” some of whom threw firebombs and stones at the Israeli forces.

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Militarism and Capital Accumulation

The Pentagon and Big Oil

By James Petras | October 25, 2014

There is no question that, in the immediate aftermath and for several years following US military conquests, wars, occupations and sanctions, US multi-national corporations lost out on profitable sites for investments. The biggest losses were in the exploitation of natural resources – in particular, gas and oil – in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia.

As a result some observers speculated that there were deep fissures and contradictory interests within the US ruling class. They argued that, on the one hand, political elites linked to pro-Israel lobbies and the military industrial power configuration, promoted a highly militarized foreign policy agenda and, on the other hand, some of the biggest and wealthiest multi-national corporations sought diplomatic solutions.

Yet this seeming ‘elite division’ did not materialize. There is no evidence for example that the multi-national oil companies sought to oppose the Iraq, Libyan, Afghan, Syrian wars. Nor did the powerful 10 largest oil companies with a net value of over $1.1 trillion dollars mobilize their lobbyists and influentials in the mass media to the cause of peaceful capital penetration and domination of the oil fields via neo-liberal political clients.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, the three major US oil companies, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, eager to exploit the third largest oil reserves in the world, did not engage in Congressional lobbying or exert pressure on the Bush or later Obama Administration for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. At no point did the Big Ten challenge the pro-war Israel lobby and its phony arguments that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction with an alternative policy.

Similar “political passivity” was evidenced in the run-up to the Libyan war. Big Oil was actually signing off on lucrative oil deals, when the militarists in Washington struck again – destroying the Libyan state and tearing asunder the entire fabric of the Libyan economy.

Big oil may have bemoaned the loss of oil and profits but there was no concerted effort,  before or after the Libyan debacle, to critically examine or evaluate the loss of a major oil producing region. In the case of economic sanctions against Iran, possessing the second largest oil reserves, the MNC again were notable by their absence from the halls of Congress and the Treasury Department where the sanctions policy was decided. Prominent Zionist policymakers, Stuart Levey and David Cohen designed and implemented sanctions which prevented US (and EU) oil companies from investing or trading with Teheran.

In fact, despite the seeming divergence of interest between a highly militarized foreign policy and the drive of MNCs to pursue the global accumulation of capital, no political conflicts erupted. The basic question that this paper seeks to address is: Why did the major MNCs submit to an imperial foreign policy which resulted in lost economic opportunities?

Why the MNCs Fail to Oppose Imperial Militarism

There are several possible hypotheses accounting for the MNC accommodation to a highly militarized version of imperial expansion.

In the first instance, the CEOs of the MNCs may have believed that the wars, especially the Iraq war, would be short-term, and would lead to a period of stability under a client regime willing and able to privatize and de-nationalize the oil and gas sector. In other words, the petrol elites bought into the arguments of Rumsfeld, Chaney, Wolfowitz and Feith, that the invasion and conquest would “pay for itself”.

Secondly, even after the prolonged-decade long destructive war and the deepening sectarian conflict, many CEOs believed that a lost decade would be compensated by “long term” gain. They believed that future profits would flow, once the country was stabilized. The oil majors entry after 2010; however, was immediately threatened by the ISIS offensive. The ‘time frame’ of the MNCs’ strategic planners was understated if not totally wrong headed.

Thirdly, most CEOs believed that the US-NATO invasion of Libya would lead to monopoly ownership and greater profits than what they received from a public-private partnership with the Gaddafi regime. The oil majors believed that they would secure total or majority control. In other words the war would allow the oil MNCs to secure monopoly profits for an extended period. Instead the end of a stable partnership led to a Hobbesian world in which anarchy and chaos inhibited any large scale, long-term entry of MNCs.

Fourthly, the MNCs, including the big oil corporations, have invested in hundreds of sites in dozens of countries. They are not tied to a single location. They depend on the militarized imperial state to defend their global interests. Hence they probably are not willing to contest or challenge the militarists in, say Iraq, for fear that it might endanger US imperial intervention in other sites.

Fifthly, many MNCs interlock across economic sectors: they invest in oil fields and refineries; banking, financing and insurance as well as extractive sectors. To the degree that MNCs’ capital is diversified they are less dependent on a single region, sector, or source for profit. Hence destructive wars, in one or several countries, may not have as great a prejudicial effect as in the past when “Big Oil” was just ‘oil’.

Six, the agencies of the US imperial state are heavily weighted to military rather than economic activity. The international bureaucracy of the US is overwhelmingly made up of military, intelligence and counter-insurgency officials. In contrast, China, Japan, Germany and other emerging states (Brazil, Russia and India) have a large economic component in their overseas bureaucracy. The difference is significant. US MNCs do not have access to economic officials and resources in the same way as China’s MNCs. The Chinese overseas expansion and its MNCs, are built around powerful economic support systems and agencies. US MNCs have to deal with Special Forces, spooks and highly militarized ‘aid officials’. In other words the CEOs who look for “state support” perforce have mostly ‘military’ counterparts who view the MNCs as instruments of policy rather than as subjects of policy.

Seventh, the recent decade has witnessed the rise of the financial sector as the dominant recipient of State support. As a result, big banks exercise major influence on public policy. To the extent that is true, much of what is ‘oil money’ has gone over to finance and profits accrue by pillaging the Treasury. As a result, oil interests merge with the financial sector and their ‘profits’ are as much dependent on the state as on exploiting overseas sites.

Eighth, while Big Oil has vast sums of capital, its diverse locations, multiple activities and dependence on state protection (military), weaken its opposition to US wars in lucrative oil countries. As a result other powerful pro-war lobbies which have no such constraints have a free hand. For example the pro-Israel power configuration has far less ‘capital’ than any of the top ten oil companies. But it has a far greater number of lobbyists with much more influence over Congress people. Moreover, it has far more effective propaganda – media leverage- than Big Oil. Many more critics of US foreign policy, including its military and sanctions policies, are willing to criticize “Big Oil” than Zionist lobbies.

Finally the rise of domestic oil production resulting from fracking opens new sites for Big Oil to profit outside of the Middle East – even though the costs may be higher and the duration shorter. The oil industry has replaced losses in Middle East sites (due to wars) with domestic investments.

Nevertheless, there is tension and conflict between oil capital and militarism. The most recent case is between Exxon-Mobil’s plans to invest $38 billion in a joint venture in the Russian Arctic with the Russian oil grant Rosneft. Obama’s sanctions against Russia is scheduled to shut down the deal much to the dismay of the senior executives of Exxon Mobil, who have already invested $3.2 billion in an area the size of Texas.

Conclusion

The latent conflicts and overt difference between military and economic expansion may eventually find greater articulation in Washington. However, up to now, because of the global structures and orientation of the oil industry, because of their dependence on the military for ‘security’, the oil industry in particular, and the MNCs in general, have sacrificed short and middle term profits for “future gains” in the hopes that the wars will end and lucrative profits will return.

October 26, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Middle East borders bound to change: Israel minister

Press TV – October 24, 2014

Israeli Minister for Military Affairs Moshe Ya’alon says the borders of many Middle Eastern countries are bound to change in the future as a result of recent developments in the region.

The Israeli minister said in a recent interview with the US-based National Public Radio (NPR) that the current borders would change in the coming years, as some have “been changed already.”

The Israeli minister added that the borders of some countries in the region were artificially drawn by the West.

“Libya was a new creation, a Western creation as a result of World War I. Syria, Iraq, the same — artificial nation-states — and what we see now is a collapse of this Western idea,” he stated.

However, Ya’alon said the borders of some nations, including the Egyptian border with Israel, would remain unchanged.

“We have to distinguish between countries like Egypt, with their history. Egypt will stay Egypt,” said Ya’alon.

The minister did not say whether the borders of Israel, also drawn by Western powers after World War I, would change or not.

Regarding the right to return for Palestinian refugees, Ya’alon said Tel Aviv could not allow such a move, as it would keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alive “forever.”

He also said that the insistence to remove Israeli settlers from the West Bank amounts to ethnic cleansing.

The Israeli regime expelled more than 700,000 people from their homeland after it occupied Palestine in 1948.

Israeli forces have wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map, leaving an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees hoping for an eventual return to their homeland more than six decades later.

Since 1948, the Israeli regime has denied Palestinian refugees the right of return, despite United Nations’ resolutions and international laws that uphold the people’s right to return to their homeland.

Tel Aviv has built over 120 illegal settlements built since the occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

October 24, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

JSIL vs. ISIS

Revenge10

By Samer Jaber | Al-Akhbar | October 23, 2014

The Jewish state of Israel in the Levant (JSIL) and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are different in many ways. The most fundamental difference is that the former is a recognized state and a member of the United Nations, while the latter is not recognized as a legitimate polity and is considered a political/military terrorist organization. However, the two share core characteristics that define them and by recognising these similarities observers may be able to make predictions about their futures.

Divine right to exist

Both JSIL and ISIS display what might be termed “self-defined righteousness.” Although Israel is a modern state, its politics and treatment of others (Palestinians) are based on religious concepts and principles that can be traced back to the first century BC and the teachings of Rabbi Hillel, someone who would be considered a fundamentalist today. He instructed Jews to have a religious and social identity separate from those of other people (tribes). Israel introduces itself to the international community as a Jewish state and, based on this interpretation of Zionist Judaism, is a home to Jews wherever they are in the world. In other words, it is a state which includes all Jews but excludes the indigenous people of Palestine, the Palestinians. It uses its interpretation of Judaism to deny Palestinians equal rights and prevent them from accessing their lands.

ISIS believes that it is enacting God’s will and defines itself as the force to enforce the Islamic moral code, religious rituals and law (Sharia). ISIS’ interpretation of Islam goes back to Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328) who promoted the idea that Muslims are different from non-Muslims both in their way of life as well as in religious instruction. This notion of non-acceptance together with cultural differences led Ibn Taymiyyah’s followers to the practice of excluding others and in some cases putting them to death. This particular interpretation of Islam also means the rejection of other branches of Islam.

The form of righteousness practiced by ISIS leaders and Israeli politicians is also used to set apart the “good” people from the “bad” ones. The good are those who believe and support their respective political projects while the bad ones are those who stand against them. It is this stance that makes it permissible for Israel to inflict damage on the bad ones and reward the good. As such, the Palestinian people are depicted in the official Israeli narrative as the bad people who work hard to inflict damage on the good Israeli Jews.

Historically, the state of Israel was established on the self-proclaimed premise of the Zionist movement, that anti-Semitism and murder might surge again in the world. Thus, the resurgence of another wave of anti-Semitism will inflict another Holocaust on the world’s Jews. The Zionist movement took anti-Semitism and the Holocaust out of their historical context. In other words, the concepts were given an absolute ahistoric “religious” meaning. Consequently, the “Jews” started to become reified as an ethnic identity and Israel as a refuge for the world’s Jewry from harm.

For ISIS, one of the underlying reason for Muslims’ degeneration over the centuries is that too many people have strayed far from the fundamental principles of Islam. The role of ISIS is to establish an Islamic state ruled by the caliph. It considers itself to be the force that will revive true Islam and create a state in which all Muslims can live in under its interpretation of Islam. Similarly to Israel, where non-Jews are discriminated against, there is no place for non-Muslims to live as equal citizens in the so-called Islamic State.

Both JSIL and ISIS use the self-serving interpretation of religious texts to enact pragmatic politick. The Zionist narrative that gave birth to the state of Israel and is now its official ideology starts with the idea that the Jews are God’s chosen people and that God promised them the holy land. These two concepts of chosenness are ahistorical, unconditional, and self-limited. Thus, settler colonial expansion in Palestine beyond the 1948 borders is seen as the redemption of the biblically named Judea and Samaria for the Jewish people. Putting Palestinian communities under closure during Jewish holidays is usually disguised as a religious instruction and therefore not seen for what it is: a measure of control.

ISIS also claims it is justified in its actions; it considers itself the group fighting for God and enforcing the latter’s instructions on earth. The group’s interpretation of religious texts is based on its spiritual-political leaders’ rulings that place people into two main categories – believers in ISIS’ ideology are viewed as being on the right path for following the “correct” version of Islam while everyone else, including followers of other branches of Islam, is on the wrong path. Thus the expulsion or execution of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis in Mosul who refuse to convert or pay Jizya (a tax paid by non-Muslims) is introduced as a religious instruction that permits politically motivated discrimination.

Indiscriminate attacks on perceived “enemies”

International humanitarian law forbids parties in armed conflict from deliberately launching attacks against civilians but both Israel and ISIS carry out indiscriminate attacks against their enemies, and they cite similar justifications for such attacks, mainly operational reasons.

JSIL, like ISIS, says that engaging in conflict in residential areas makes it difficult to avoid harm to civilians. Israel, which deems itself “superior” to others, says it launches military operations to prevent harm to its own people whose lives are worth much than those of “others.” ISIS believes it is on the right path and views everyone else as living in a state of sinfulness and, according to the group, sinners deserve to be put to death. Ultimately, ISIS and Israel attack civilians as part of their strategy to dispose of the natives and remove them from their lands. As such, in their quest for control of the land they both practice ethnic cleansing under a myriad of guises.In areas controlled by ISIS, in both Syria and Iraq, the group has carried out the mass executions of opposition militants captured by its forces and any person who assists its enemies is liable to be sentenced to death. Israel carries out a similar strategy of collective punishment against Palestinian resistance. It used it in its latest war on the Gaza Strip and during the so-called Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. Even when Israel states that its attacks are intended to kill only resistance fighters, its bombardment of residential areas always leads to the killing of civilians. These attacks are clearly designed to target and punish the combatants’ families and homes.

During Israel’s latest war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Israeli army intentionally converted 40 percent of the Gaza Strip into uninhabited land. The Israeli army displaced up to 500,000 Palestinians out of their neighborhoods. This is the same tactic ISIS has been using in vast swaths in Syria and Iraq. The latest incident is the ongoing fighting in Kobane, the Kurdish city under Syrian jurisdiction, where ISIS’ shelling of the city forced the majority of its citizens to be displaced.

Displacement, collective punishment, terrorism and ethnic cleansing in the name of God are but a few similarities between the two entities. It is worth considering how the state of Israel has embraced the legend of the Maccabees, a sect of Judaism which fought other Jews and foreign powers in the name of piousness and righteousness, and how it has incorporated it within the contemporary ethos. The Maccabees were fundamentalists who used violence against their enemies, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and carried out forced conversions much as ISIS does today.

Samer Jaber is a political activist and researcher. He is the managing director for Dar el-Karma Inc. for Media, Researches and Publication. He tweets at @Jerusalem_sbj

October 23, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria Lambasts Alliance for Terrorism

October 21, 2014

Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari at the UN: “In Golan terrorists get paid ransom by Qatar with the help of Israel”.

October 22, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Why Military Intervention Will Never “Fix” the Middle East

Who Will Show the Moral Courage to End the US’s Middle East Wars?

By Col. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR | CounterPunch | October 17, 2014

American military interventions tend to follow a familiar pattern. The path to intervention begins when Washington decides to support one side in an ongoing conflict. Regardless of its true nature, the side Washington chooses is elevated to sainthood while the side Washington decides to attack is demonized.

Soon, the usual suspects, Neocons and Liberal Interventionists who are only nominally Republicans or Democrats, trot out the old mantra, “It’s the 1930s and we can’t we can’t let another Hitler rise again.” In 1991 it was Saddam Hussein. In 1995, the villains were Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić.  In 1999, the principle villain was Slobodan Milošević. All were guilty of heinous crimes and deserved the worlds’ contempt, but none were radically different from most of their contemporaries governing peoples at the same time in the Balkans and the Middle East.

To the uniformed American public remote from the regions where their armed forces will operate, it did not matter. With the added boost from America’s enthusiastic media, the usual suspects stampeded the nation into military action.

Today, things are a little different.  After 13 years of ‘mission accomplished’ in Afghanistan and Iraq, and, after watching 123 Islamist Militias overrun Libya in the aftermath of the United States-led NATO bombing campaign, Americans are more circumspect. True, ISIS, the Sunni Islamists in pickup trucks ransacking towns across the wastelands of the Middle East, is barbarous and savage, but the support for all-out war to destroy ISIS involving tens of thousands of American Soldiers and Marines is tenuous. The solution: an “airpower only” answer to Washington’s need to “do something.”

Today, it’s a re-run of the Kosovo Air Campaign across Mesopotamia. It’s worth pausing to recall the events of the air campaign that lasted from 28 February 1998 until 11 June 1999.

In Kosovo American and NATO pilots found few if any good targets on the ground. Once Yugoslav (Serbian) tanks, artillery and troops dispersed across mountainous and forested terrain inside a region smaller than Wales, American Airpower had enormous trouble finding and attacking Serb forces. Old, but robust Serb air defenses skillfully integrated with commercial radars made effective air strikes launched from below 11,000 to 15,000 feet extremely dangerous, if not impossible.

Confronted with this situation, General Wes Clark expanded the air war beyond Kosovo into Serbia where the aircraft could easily identify and strike infrastructure. Initially, the resulting strikes in Serbia looked impressive on television and acted as a tonic for NATO’s beleaguered leaders. The destruction of electrical power plants and bridges over the Danube ruined Serbia’s economy, but it did little to influence events on the ground in Kosovo.

America’s European allies grew impatient. Why, Europeans asked, had NATO’s military Leaders not anticipated Serb military action to expel Kosovo’s Muslim Albanian population?  Why not refocus the air campaign on Serb forces in Kosovo? To make matters worse, small numbers of Serb and Albanian civilians died in air strikes meant for Serb troops or infrastructure. Predictably, public support for the air campaign in the United States and Europe weakened.

Undeterred, General Clark pressed for the commitment of U.S. and European ground forces. Clark believed the air campaign was the equivalent of “Rolling Thunder;” the 1965 air campaign that led to the commitment of U.S. Ground Forces to Vietnam. It was not to be.

After weeks of negotiations, Ambassador Strobe Talbot succeeded in persuading Moscow to abandon Belgrade. Moscow deserted Belgrade because Moscow needed American and European support to cope with Russia’s shattered economy and a relentless Muslim rebellion in Chechnya.

Without Russian material support in terms of food and fuel, Milošević had no choice but to capitulate. Without food and fuel, hundreds of thousands of Serbs would die in the fierce Balkan winter.  Serbian forces withdrew in good order from Kosovo. Pushing the Serbs out of Kosovo cost roughly $4.5 billion. Air strikes inflicted $9 billion of damage on little Serbia.  Damage to the economies of the States in the Danube River Valley, to Italy and Greece ran into the billions of dollars too.

President Clinton was understandably relieved. He’d escaped from the Balkan disaster just in time.

Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the Middle East is not tiny Kosovo. There is no easy retreat from the strident declarations made at the outset of his generals’ hasty, ill-conceived policy of intervention from the air. Once again, there are few, if any, lucrative target sets for American Airpower. Worse, the Middle East is in the grip of societal collapse and radicalization.

From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, the old Cold War military alliances are crumbling and many of the Sunni Arab ruling elites that supported them fear their own populations. Millions of Sunni Muslim Arabs admire ISIS. They do so because they are struggling with dysfunctional governments mired in corruption and they fear the encroaching power and influence of Shiite Iran in Damascus, Baghdad, and the Persian Gulf Emirates.

More significantly, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is leading Turkey’s population of 77 million on an Ottoman Revival intertwined with the re-invigoration of Turkey’s centuries’ old Islamic identity. Since taking office, Erdogan has rejected every American diplomatic and military initiative in the region. Frustrated with the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood to secure power in Egypt, Erdogan has no interest in obstructing ISIS’s attacks on his regional opponents, apostate Shiites, Christians, Jews and, most of all, Kurds.

Erdogan and his Sunni Islamist supporters in the region are furious with Washington’s support for the Kurdish independence and Iran’s client Shiite State Baghdad. American air strikes are rescuing Ankara’s enemies from destruction at the hands of ISIS. Whatever else ISIS may be, in Erdogan’s mind, they are fellow Sunni Islamists and many of its fighters are Turks from the Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as Anatolia. Under these circumstances no one in Washington should be surprised that the Turkish Army, the largest in NATO, obedient to Erdogan’s orders recently attacked Kurds, but not ISIS fighters.

More time, new tactics, more money, more troops and better strategic “partners” will not change these regional realities. The logical choice for President Obama is to tell the American people the truth: America’s military interventions in the Middle East and Southwest Asia are festering sores, bottomless pits for American blood and treasure. Americans can secure their own borders, enforce the rule of law and build economic prosperity at home, but Americans in uniform cannot and will not “fix” the Middle East.

Of course, suspending military operations that are both ineffective and counterproductive takes both understanding and moral courage. In Washington DC, moral courage is always in short supply. British Prime Minister, Sir Benjamin Disraeli made the same point over a hundred years ago: “You will find as you grow older,” Disraeli said to a new member of the House of Commons, “that courage is the rarest of all qualities to be found in public life.”

 

October 17, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Erdogan’s expansionist dreams in Syria

Press TV – October 9, 2014

The policies of the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are becoming more and more dangerous both in Syria and the whole Middle East.

Ankara has not only been promoting terrorist and extremist groups, alongside its sole ally in the region, Qatar, but it is now preparing an invasion of northern Syria.

Erdogan thinks that he has the right to invade and occupy territories of Turkey’s neighbors and ignore and violate the sovereignty of these Arab countries. He has supported terrorist organizations in Syria and allowed illegal oil trading by these groups, ignored Baghdad’s sovereignty over the Iraqi Kurdistan and its resources and insulted the Egyptian president in the United Nations.

The Erdogan government has long been a key supporter of ISIL, al-Nusra Front and some other terrorist organizations. However, Ankara is now trying to use ISIL advances towards its border as a pretext to illegally send troops to occupy a part of the northern Syrian territory without the authorization of the Syrian government. This is clearly a war act.

Turkish propaganda is invoking a false excuse, the humanitarian protection for Kurds fleeing the advance of ISIL, to promote the creation of a buffer zone and a no-fly zone in Syria.

The objective of this strategy is to weaken the Syrian state and give the Ankara-backed opposition armed groups a sanctuary from which they can launch attacks on the Syrian army and where the Turkish forces can train them.

On his return from New York, Erdogan unveiled some of the plans of the Turkish leadership, which explain the situation prevailing in northern Syria. “We must look to the events in Syria, not only from the angle of terrorism, but also from the angle of the Syrian regime”, he said.

He openly called for the creation of a buffer zone and a no-fly zone in northern Syria, while criticizing Germany’s decision to provide Peshmerga Kurdish forces fighting against ISIL in Iraq with arms, claiming that they could end up in the hands of terrorist organizations, according to the Turkish classification, such as PKK.

That is, from Erdogan’s point of view, the main enemy is not ISIL but the Syrian government and PKK, which are both fighting the ISIL terrorists.

It is noteworthy to point out that the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has also claimed that Turkey opposes supplying the Iraqi army with weapons, because “95 percent” of the soldiers are Shiites, according to him.

Recently, Abdulkadir Selvi, journalist in the newspaper Yeni Safak, which is considered a leading pro-Erdogan outlet, said that Turkey will not take part in any air war or ground war with the coalition against ISIL in order to press the US to establish a buffer zone in Syria or allow Turkey to do so with its own warplanes and troops.

Erdogan is now using the events in the Kurdish town of Kobani to increase this pressure: If you do not allow me to send troops to Syria, Kobani will fall. This is Erdogan’s new strategy.

According to several media, Syrian Kurds are denouncing Erdogan’s plans. One of them, Binici Ibrahim, member of the Popular Democratic Party (HDP), has blamed Ankara for the situation in northern Syria due to its support for ISIL “The Turkish authorities are partly responsible for this situation. They protect ISIL, which is a terrorist organization”, Binici said, “Today they prevent young Kurds from returning to Syria to defend their territory.” “The Turkish government does not want to defend our city”, accused Mehmet Eminakma, another young HDP activist. “It crazily supports ISIL and not the Syrian people.”

Therefore, Ankara is trying to prevent young Syrian Kurds living in Turkey from returning and fighting against ISIL in order to create a humanitarian crisis and press ahead with its plans.

Facing this blackmail, the strategy of the Obama Administration is not clear. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has said that stopping ISIL terrorists in Kobani is not a priority because “the strategic objective of the US war is to attack ISIS infrastructure”.

This could mean that Washington understands the Turkish game and is unwilling to fall into the trap.

Nevertheless, on October 8, US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that the UK and the US were “ready to examine the Turkish idea of setting up a buffer zone in Syria to protect refugees fleeing ISIL violence.” Kerry made the announcement in a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Washington DC.

“The buffer zone is an idea that is out there. It is worth examining. It is worth looking at very, very closely,” said Kerry. The US Secretary of State added that creating a buffer zone will be one of the issues General John Allen, President Barack Obama’s anti-ISIL envoy, will be discussing with Turkish officials during an upcoming meeting in Turkey.

Some months ago, Turkey sent some troops to protect the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, located 33 km from the border. According to Turkish media, the convoy entered the Syrian territory without asking permission of Damascus. The excuse was some alleged links between the site and the Ottoman history. If such an argument was acceptable, dozens of countries could use a similar pretext to invade other neighbouring states.

Obstacles for a Turkish intervention

However, there are some obstacles for a possible Turkish intervention. First of all, Syrian and Arab peoples remember the Ottoman occupation and they do not want to see the Turks return. Erdogan’s policies have outraged not only Syria and Iraq but also other states of the region. In fact, Jordan’s alleged decision to suspend its participation in the airstrikes in Syria has been linked by some Arab media to Turkish actions in this country.

Other countries, such as Egypt and United Arab Emirates, do not want a Turkish intervention in Syria either. They think that Turkish government, alongside with Qatar, is trying to mobilize its allies of the Muslim Brotherhood in northern Syria and this is a clear threat for these countries, which are battling this group in their territories.

Even Saudi Arabia, despite its hostility towards the Syrian government, will not likely be happy either, as the Saudi regime does not want a more powerful Brotherhood-supporting Turkey in the region.

Secondly, Syria and Iraq have rejected any military Turkish interference. Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar Abadi reiterated on October 7 to his Turkish counterpart, Ahmed Davutoglu, that Iraq rejects any ground intervention of foreign forces in his country under the pretext of fighting ISIL. Syria has also warned that any Turkish military deployment in its territory would be an “act of aggression”.

Thirdly, Iran and Russia have clearly stated that Syria is a red line and any aggression against Syria would violate their principles and interests. Russia will certainly block any project in the UN Security Council to create a buffer or a no-fly zone. Both countries would also respond to such a Turkish action. Russia has recently sent a new warship to the Mediterranean and has held military maneuvers in the Caspian Sea alongside with Iran in order to send a signal to Turkey.

In Turkey, a large part of the population strongly rejects Erdogan’s policies in the Middle East. Major Turkish opposition parties opposed a motion by AKP (Erdogan’s party) aimed at authorizing a military intervention in Syria and Iraq. The Republican People’s Party and Freedom and Democracy Party said that such a step would be “unacceptable”.

There have also been demonstrations in Istanbul and other cities against the government’s interference in Syria and its support for ISIL. On October 5th, 10,000 people marched in Istanbul behind banners proclaiming “ISIL killer; AKP accomplice”.

For the West, Erdogan’s Turkey is becoming a serious problem too. Turkey, a NATO member, is one of the main supporters of extremism in the Middle East, and its imperialist “neo-Otoman” dreams are endangering the whole region and feeding terrorism everywhere. Thus, it is not surprising that Erdogan has become the new hero of the extremist sites and forums in Internet.

However, a Turkish intervention in Syria would have dire consequences for both Erdogan and Turkey. He will soon discover everyone is against him and such a step would renew the fear of “the Otoman resurgence” among the Arab peoples. Therefore, it would become the last nail of the coffin of the Turkish leadership’s ambitions in the Middle East.

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foreign Policy by Ted Cruz

Bible thumping and carpet bombing

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • October 7, 2014

The really interesting thing about the Junior Senator from Texas is the fact that he demonstrates that anyone who wants it badly enough can become president. It is, of course, something for which there is a precedent, when voters elected an inexperienced and largely unknown Barack Obama. Cruz shares Obama’s lack of preparation for the highest office while he is also something of a throwback to fellow Texan George W. Bush’s tradition of anti-intellectualism and lack of curiosity about how the rest of the world interacts with the United States. This is particularly unfortunate as Cruz, a conventional Republican conservative on all social issues, ironically has chosen to identify differences in foreign policy to distinguish himself from the rest of the Republican pack.

Cruz might rightly be seen by some as a nightmarish incarnation of a narrow minded conservative Christian vision of what the United States is all about, aggressively embracing a world view based on ignorance coupled with the license granted by God endowed “American exceptionalism” from sea to shining sea. His father is an Evangelical preacher and the son has successfully absorbed much of both the blinkered notions of right and wrong as well as the Elmer Gantry style, but that is not to suggest that he is stupid. By all accounts Cruz, a graduate of Princeton and of Harvard Law School, is extremely intelligent and by some accounts endowed with both extraordinary cunning and ambition. He is possessed of excellent political instincts when it comes to appealing to the constituencies in the GOP that he believes to be essential to his success.

Washington has seen presidents who were truly religious in the past but it has rarely experienced the Cruz mixture of demagoguery combined with a Biblically infused sense of righteousness which admits to no error. His Manichean sense of good and evil is constantly on display, but he is most on fire when he is speaking to his fellow conservative Christians, most recently at the gathering of the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Iowa. Cruz was one of a number of GOP speakers, which included potential presidential hopefuls Bobby Jindal and Paul Ryan, who were received tepidly while Cruz was greeted with cheering and a standing ovation before launching into his most recent theme, blaming the White House for not pressuring foreign governments to protect their Christian minorities. The enthusiastic reception was not surprising as Cruz is, after all, the “real thing” speaking “their language” fluently and the Evangelicals know it.

Cruz is intelligent enough to realize that what he is peddling is a type of narrative designed to make himself electable. What he actually believes is somewhat irrelevant except that if he is an actual zealot he might well be immune to viewpoints that run counter to his biases, dangerous in a president. A year ago Cruz grandstanded in leading the GOP dissidents’ attempt to shut down the government over the issue of Obamacare, a move that the party leadership regarded as a major “tactical error.” He was widely condemned for his performance in the media and within his own party but he made points with the constituency he was courting, the Tea Partiers.

The disturbing thing about Cruz is that his foreign policy statements are awash in what must be a willful disregard of reality, but, as with the threatened government shutdown, he apparently knows what will sell with the Bible thumping America first crowd that he is primarily targeting. His latest leitmotif which he has been hammering relentlessly is the worldwide persecution of Christians, with the clear implication that it is uniquely a Muslim problem. It is also a line that is being pursued by the Israeli government and American Jewish groups, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is somehow a protector of Christianity. He opposes negotiations with Iran, for example, because a Christian pastor is in prison there. That several other Americans are also being held by the government in Tehran, including a former US Marine, appears to be of secondary importance and US broader regional interests do not enter into the discussion at all.

As part of his strategy to outflank his competition in the GOP, Cruz is shameless in his promotion of Israel and its interests. He did so recently by telling an audience of beleaguered Middle Eastern Christians that they had “no greater ally than Israel,” a statement so palpably out of sync with the actual experiences of those in the audience that he was booed of the stage. His response: “Those who hate Israel hate America.” Countering conservative critics of his performance Cruz subsequently wrote that “… the only time at least some of these writers seem to care about persecuted Christians is when it furthers an anti-Israel narrative for them.”

Cruz will, of course, find Israel haters wherever he looks as it constitutes a convenient way to dismiss critics without affording them a hearing. He will never concede that Israel discriminates against its Christian minority in spite of the considerable evidence that it does so. That Israel chooses to describe itself as a Jewish State, a designation that Cruz enthusiastically supports, does not ring any bells for him though he is quick to pounce on Iran for calling itself the Islamic Republic.

This willful blindness derives from the fact that Israel is central to Cruz’s foreign policy thinking. He has visited the country three times since becoming Senator. In Des Moines last week he spoke about Israel and he has referred to it from the Senate floor literally thousands of times, according to the Congressional Record. His private Senate office features a large framed photo of himself with Netanyahu. Nearly every speech Cruz makes sooner or later comes around to the issue of “standing for Israel” even when there is no logical reason to make that connection. At the recent Values Voters Summit in Washington he brought the cheering crowd to its feet by shouting “We stand for life. We stand for marriage. We stand for Israel.”

To be sure, part of the Cruz strategy comes from his recognition that no Republican can become a presidential candidate without the endorsement of Israel’s supporters. Cruz has met privately with the leaders of Jewish organizations, including Bill Kristol, editor of the neocon Weekly Standard and founder or board member of the multitude of pro-Israel alphabet soup organizations that seem to spring up spontaneously. The Weekly Standard has, not surprisingly, promoted the Cruz candidacy. Cruz also has his eye on Jewish money. He is seeking the support of Las Vegas casino mega-billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who could single handedly fund his campaign if he should choose to do so, as well as with other potential donors.

Cruz, who apparently believes he has learned something from the Vietnam and Iraq fiascos, describes his foreign policy in simple terms: have a clearly defined objective, use overwhelming force, and then get out. If viewed at face value, the formula is an antidote for prolonged and unsuccessful nation building, which would be good, but it has to be taken in the context of Cruz’s other pronouncements. He describes the world as being “on fire” and his rhetoric is uniformly belligerent. He sees “overwhelming” military intervention by the US as a God given right whenever the policy makers in Washington feel threatened and he also regards the military option as a first resort without any regard for what is going on in the country that is the target. Making a mess and leaving it is a recipe for international anarchy.

In a recent speech Cruz denounced the Administration for talking with Iranian representatives at the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York. He characterized the event as “swilling chardonnay with the Iranian government.” That the United States has very compelling interests to be working with Iran both on ISIS and on nuclear proliferation apparently escaped Cruz’s grasp, so he was left with little more than a cheap shot joke to explain his unwillingness to negotiate with a government that he and Israel have repeatedly demonized.

Regarding Russia, Cruz has called for an expansion of NATO and more sanctions without any explanation of what the strategy might be or any curiosity about where increasing pressure on Moscow might lead. As a Cuban American he is inevitably hostile towards the government in Havana. Regarding Iran, Cruz supports harsher sanctions even though it would mean an end to negotiations over that country’s nuclear program.

Cruz’s foreign policy vision has been reported to be finding a “sweet spot” between the nation building of the Democrats and the reflexive belligerency of some Republican Senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who have not apparently realized that the country is weary of war. In reality however, Cruz veers strongly towards McCain-like solutions, accepting military interventions while eschewing the occupation and rebuilding bits only because they are too expensive and prone to misadventure to entertain. Sadly, like other GOP hawks, Cruz does not recognize that Washington has caused many if not most international problems, that foreign nations actually have interests that should be respected or at least considered, that military solutions are rarely sustainable, and that inextricably linking the United States to a rogue nation like Israel might not actually be good policy. But such considerations count for little when a man with a mission is on his way to become President of the United States.

October 7, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ISIS attacks Hezbollah at eastern Lebanon checkpoint

Al-Akhbar | October 5, 2014

Clashes took place in eastern Lebanon on Sunday afternoon, as a group of militants attacked a Hezbollah checkpoint, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.

There were conflicting media reports on Sunday evening over the number of wounded and killed in the attack in the outskirts of Britel, in the Baalbek region.

According to the NNA, there were several casualties on the side of the armed militants.

News channel LBCI, which identified the militant gunmen as members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, said there were injuries on both sides, while radio station Sawt Lubnaan said at least two Hezbollah fighters had been killed.

Sawt Lubnaan also reported that the army had not intervened until late, and that the clashes had relatively subsided by 5:00 pm.

The NNA also reported clashes outside of Yuneen, and the sound of rockets or bombs near some villages east of Baalbek.

October 5, 2014 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | Leave a comment

The Attempt to Destabilize Lebanon

Eve’s Thoughts | October 3, 2014

One month ago I came to Beirut the capital of Lebanon. Here and all over the country, where ever you go, you constantly meet Syrian refugees as well as Iraqis.

Lebanon a country with a population of only 4 and a half million native citizens has taken in about 1.2 Million Syrian refugees and the number is growing still. Already since the beginning of the second Gulf War countless Iraqi refugees have entered the country fleeing violence, chaos and destruction at home. While many of these Iraqi refugees have sought and found asylum in Western countries, there are still an estimated 100,000 Iraqi refugees inside Lebanon, most of them are unregistered and without legal rights.

These enormous numbers of refugees have had a large impact on Lebanese economic conditions. Rents for working class housing have sky-rocketed, since the refugees now, according to some Lebanese friends, rent all the available spaces, with six or more people occupying a single room paying several times the rent that has been asked of Lebanese tenants before the Syrian civil war. At the same time wages have fallen drastically, since the the refugees are ready to work for far lower pay.

This, however, is not the only reason why there also more and more hostile feelings against the refugees in this country. Sunni refugees are often suspected by both Christian and Shiite Lebanese of sympathizing with or even supporting the radical Islamists, like ISIS which is called the Da’esh here or the Al Nusra front or other Al Qaeda affiliated groups.

Public anger has then increased enormously after the Da’esh had, in a cross-border raid, taken over the Lebanese village of Arsal, which also houses a large camp for Syrian refugees and the local army station.  29 soldiers and policemen were captured, some of the Sunni captives were released, while those of other sects and religions are still kept as hostages.

Two of the captives so far have been murdered by beheading. Although the first soldier murdered was a Sunni man, there are still great fears of the public outrage that the murders might lead to sectarian violence.

But this is exactly what nobody wants here in Lebanon the long decades of civil war are still a recent and horrifying memory. And therefore great efforts are made both by individuals as well as by political parties and groups to diffuse sectarian distrust and fear which might lead to hatred and violence.

An example of these strenuous efforts are those of the parents of the murdered soldiers as reported about the family of Abbas Medlej, a Shiite family:

The family of the Lebanese soldier who was executed by ISIS Saturday called for unity against takfiri groups, saying citizens need to support the state and the Army, not slip into civil strife.

“Our choice remains as is, Lebanon a country of coexistence for all its components,” said the statement by the family of Abbas Medlej Saturday night, appealing for calm.

“The terrorist act that killed our son Abbas is a crime against all Lebanese; Shiites, Sunnis, Christians and Druze.”

The Medlej family called for Lebanese to prevent “takfiris from penetrating into our national fabric,” and thus stop them from achieving their goal of division among the Lebanese…

Similarly the family of the other executed soldier, Ali Al-Sayed, a Sunni, as reported by Lebanese News :

In a bid to challenge rising sectarian tensions, the families of the two Lebanese soldiers executed by ISIS joined together in prayer Friday.

The family of Ali Al-Sayed traveled from north Lebanon to the Al-Ansar, near Baalbek, to offer condolences to the relatives of Abbas Medlej.

Medlej and Sayed were both kidnapped by ISIS during the Arsal clashes last month and were later beheaded by the fundamentalist group.

The two families, one Sunni and one Shiite, gathered for a joint prayer at the village’s mosque led by the Baalbek and Hermal Mufti Sheikh Bakr al-Rifai, who stressed on the importance of “Muslim unity and coexistence.”

And then there are the statements of religious Hezbollah leaders like the Head of Hezbollah’s religious committee, Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, who, along with Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan and a delegation from Hezbollah, visited the Baalbek town of Al-Ansar to offer condolences to the relatives of Lebanese Armed Forces soldier Abbas Medlej:

Sheikh Yazbek told LBCI that martyrs Ali Al-Sayyed and Abbas Medlej represent the entire Lebanese nation, stressing that Lebanese authorities should exert more efforts to face terrorism.

Sheikh Yazbel also stated that terrorism does not differentiate between Shiites, Sunnis, and Christians, urging Lebanese citizens to unite their efforts in order to face this threat.

Hezbollah, as both a political party and a Shiite militia, has before been considered not a friend but competition to the Lebanese army. But in spite of everything the Lebanese people of all creeds and political sides try to do, the country isn’t safe.

There are forces at work, which do not originate in Lebanon, forces which do their utmost to inflame tensions and in doing so to create conditions for a new civil war.

The Lebanese daily The Daily Star writes in its English edition on September 25:

Worrying reports emerge of ISIS plans to wreak havoc in Lebanon

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: There are reports that ISIS is looking to create trouble and instability via the sleeper cells it is believed to have implanted across the country.

Lebanese security sources said that ISIS was trying to create strife in areas in Lebanon’s north, south and the Bekaa Valley in order to undermine the country’s stability.

The starting point of this plan was the five-day clashes in Arsal, which have since been followed by sporadic incidents in north Lebanon such as gunmen opening fire on a Lebanese Army position Tuesday, leading to the death of soldier Mohammad Khaled al-Hussein…

As Islamist militants fighting in Syria search for different ways to get hold of supplies needed in the ongoing war there, Lebanese political factions have been forced to mobilize to keep pace with the fast-moving developments.

For the first time in a long time, the various Lebanese security bodies have decided to join efforts in their fight against terrorism.

This has been made all the more urgent since senior security sources revealed that ISIS has been intensifying its efforts to create pockets of support across the country…

The security authorities have warned that ISIS and the Lebanese branches of the Nusra Front and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades have united in order to establish a haven in the border area stretching from the north through the Bekaa Valley to the Shebaa farms in the south.

According to reports, if ISIS is to conduct attacks in these areas, they will be led by a figure known as Sheikh Abu Hasan al-Ramlawi.

Ramlawi – who goes by a nom du guerre – is a Palestinian who holds a Jordanian passport. Security forces marked him as an important figure because he used to mobilize Islamists in Deraa in southern Syria, before moving to an area closer to Lebanon.

Ramlawi is believed to have moved toward the Syrian part of the Golan Heights and Shebaa until he reached the area’s Lebanese Sunni villages, where he has reportedly been working on forming armed groups.

As a result of the sensitive location of this area, Hezbollah is believed to be monitoring the situation closely.

There are fears that Israel might try to take advantage of these developments to target Hezbollah. Some even believe that Ramlawi may have been coordinating with Israeli secret service agency Mossad in order to manipulate events in Syria.

Such reports pushed Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah to give a speech Tuesday emphasizing the party’s position on the war against terrorism, while rejecting Lebanon’s participation in an international anti- ISIS coalition. Nasrallah also called on the Lebanese government to negotiate from a position of strength with the Islamist militants from ISIS and Nusra Front who are holding at least 21 soldiers and policemen…

But even the travesty of the kidnappings seems to pale in comparison to dramatic developments predicted to be on the horizon.

In a statement, Sheikh Sirajuddine Zureiqat, a spokesman of Al-Qaeda-affiliated group the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, said he would be coming to Beirut soon. This statement was dismissed by Nasrallah in his speech.

Zureiqat is believed to now be with the Lebanese captives, which if true would be a dangerous indicator that the Nusra Front, ISIS and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades are starting to unify within Lebanon.

The threat posed by ISIS’ alleged sleeper cells is being taken sufficiently seriously that it prompted Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt to make a tour around Wadi al-Taym – a predominantly Druze area very close to the Syrian border – over the weekend.

The move comes as the Druze community is reporting feeling directly threatened by these extremists groups. As the area that the groups are believed to be interested in contains large numbers of Druze, it is natural to fear that the Druze would be displaced were the groups to take over. Therefore the targeting of the Druze in Shebaa is being prepared for.

The Lebanese government also senses the danger that the country is in, and is fully aware of the complications ahead. One senior political source compared the expected turmoil to the aftermath of Israel’s invasion in the summer of 1982.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam wants to get through the crisis with as little fallout as possible, and he is currently in New York working on ensuring Lebanon has a safety net amid the regional turmoil.

From Syrians, both Sunni Muslim and Christian, that I met here in Beirut and during my one-week stay Syria I have heard nearly the same words again and again in helpless sighs: “We are like pawns, who are used in a game by outside powers who play with us. But we do the suffering and dying.”

The Lebanese are very close to feeling the same helplessness, being tossed around by ruthless forces in their power games, forces which have no regard for the livelihood, the safety, the dignity and the lives of most human beings, forces who are ready to go over mountains of dead bodies to reach their aims.

October 4, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Official Washington’s Syrian ‘Fantasy’

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | October 1, 2014

What does it say when the capital of the world’s most powerful nation anchors a major decision about war in what every thinking person acknowledges is a “fantasy” – even the principal policymaker and a top advocate for foreign interventions?

It might suggest that the U.S. government has completely lost its bearings or that political opportunism now so overwhelms rationality that shortsighted expediency determines life-or-death military strategies. Either way, it is hard to see how the current U.S. policy toward Iraq, Syria and the larger Middle East can serve American national interests or translate into anything but more misery for the people of the region.

Official Washington’s most treasured “fantasy” today is the notion that a viable “moderate opposition” exists in Syria or could somehow be created. That wish-upon-a-star belief was the centerpiece of congressional action last month on a $500 million plan by President Barack Obama to train and arm these “moderate” rebels to combat Islamic State terrorists who have been plundering large swaths of Syria and Iraq — and also take on the Syrian army.

Yet, as recently as August, President Barack Obama publicly declared that trust in these “moderates” was a “fantasy” that was “never in the cards” as a workable strategy. Then, on Wednesday, David Ignatius, national security columnist for the neoconservative Washington Post and a prominent booster of U.S. interventionism, reported from a rebel staging area in Reyhanli, Turkey, the same reality in nearly the same language.

“The problem is that the ‘moderate opposition’ that the United States is backing is still largely a fantasy,” Ignatius wrote, noting that the greatest challenge would be to coordinate “the ragtag brigades of the Free Syrian Army into a coherent force that can fill the vacuum once the extremists are driven out.”

Ignatius quoted Syrian rebel commander Hamza al-Shamali, a top recipient of American support including anti-tank missiles, as saying, “At some point, the Syrian street lost trust in the Free Syrian Army,” the U.S.-backed rebel force that was the armed wing of the supposedly “moderate opposition” to President Bashar al-Assad. Ignatius added:

“Shamali explains that many rebel commanders aren’t disciplined, their fighters aren’t well-trained and the loose umbrella organization of the FSA lacks command and control. The extremists of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra have filled the vacuum. Now, he says, ‘the question every Syrian has for the opposition is: Are you going to bring chaos or order?’”

According to Ignatius, Shamali said he rejected a proposal to merge the FSA’s disparate brigades because “we refuse to repeat failed experiments.” He argued that an entirely new “Syrian national army” would be needed to fight both the Islamist radicals and Assad’s military.

But even the sympathetic Ignatius recognized that “the FSA’s biggest problem has been internecine feuding. Over the past two years, I’ve interviewed various people who tried to become leaders, such as: Abdul-Jabbar Akaidi, Salim Idriss and Jamal Maarouf. They all talked about unifying the opposition but none succeeded.

“An Arab intelligence source explains: ‘Until now, the FSA is a kind of mafia. … People inside Syria are tired of this mafia. There is no structure. It’s nothing.’ And this from one of the people who have struggled the past three years to organize the resistance.”

In other words, the “moderate” rebels – to the degree that they do exist – are viewed by many Syrians as part of the problem, not part of any solution.

Favoring Al-Qaeda

Another flaw in Obama’s strategy is that the Syrian “moderates” are much more opposed to Assad’s harsh but secular regime than they are to the Sunni jihadists who have emerged as the most effective fighting force against him.

“If U.S. airstrikes and other support are seen to be hitting Muslim fighters only, and strengthening the despised Assad, this strategy for creating a ‘moderate opposition’ will likely fail,” Ignatius concluded.

That complaint has given new hope to Washington’s influential neoconservatives that they can ultimately redirect Obama’s intervention in Syria from bombing the Islamic State terrorists to a full-scale “regime change” war against Assad, much like the neocons helped convince President George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNeocons’ Noses Into the Syrian Tent.”]

In this regard, Obama appears to be the proverbial deer in the headlights. He’s afraid of being called “weak” if he doesn’t go after the Islamic State for its hyper-violent attacks inside Iraq and its brutal executions of American hostages in Syria. Yet, Obama also can’t escape his earlier tough talk that “Assad must go.”

Obama’s core contradiction has been that by providing “covert” assistance to Syrian rebels, he has indirectly strengthened the Sunni extremists who have seized the Free Syrian Army’s weapons depots and won converts from the “moderate” rebels, some of whom were trained, armed and financed by the CIA. Meanwhile, other U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have been helping more extreme Syrian rebels, including al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

A year ago, many of the “moderate” rebels publicly repudiated the Syrian political front that the Obama administration had put together and instead endorsed al-Nusra. According to one source with access to Western intelligence information, some “moderate” rebels – recruited from Muslim communities in Great Britain and other Western countries – have now taken their military skills (and passports) to the Islamic State.

Yet, instead of acknowledging that this strategy of relying on an unreliable “moderate opposition” is indeed a “fantasy,” President Obama and a majority in Congress have chosen to pursue this geopolitical unicorn with another $500 million and much political chest-thumping.

An Alternative Approach

At this late stage, the only practical strategy would be to press the non-extremist Sunni opposition to work out some form of unity government with Assad who retains strong support among Syria’s Alawite, Shiite and Christian minorities. By enlisting Russia and Iran, Obama might be able to secure concessions from Assad, including the possibility of a gradual transition to a post-Assad era.

With such a political settlement in hand, the focus could then be on defeating the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Nusra affiliate and restoring some order to Syria. But the problem is that Official Washington’s neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies are so fixated on “regime change” in Syria and are so hostile to Russia and Iran that any pragmatic strategy is effectively ruled out.

Though Obama may be a closet “realist” who would favor such a compromise approach, he has consistently lacked the political courage or the geopolitical foresight to impose this kind of solution on the powers-that-be in Washington. Any suggestion of collaboration with Russia and Iran or acquiescence to continued rule by Assad would touch off a firestorm of outrage in Congress and the mainstream U.S. media.

So, Obama instead has charted a course into what he knows to be a fantasyland, a costly pursuit of the chimerical Syrian “moderates” who – once located – are supposed to defeat both the Sunni extremists and the army of the secularist Assad. This journey is not simply a march of folly but a meandering into illusion.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

October 2, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change" | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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