[NATO's goal is] to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.
— Hastings Ismay, first NATO Secretary-General
Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
— James Madison (1751-1836), fourth American President
The hazards associated with American foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 should appear obvious to all, because it is precisely this policy that has caused the crisis in Ukraine with all its negative consequences for the coming months and years.
President Barack Obama was candid in admitting it on March 3, 2014: “we are indicating to the Russians [that] if in fact they continue on the current trajectory they’re on, then we are examining a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic— that will isolate Russia.”
Well, it is precisely this desire to expand NATO and to isolate Russia by incorporating all the countries bordering Russia into NATO; i.e., a strategy of geopolitical and military encirclement of Russia, which has provoked that country when it felt threatened in its national security.
This is easy to understand.
For example, what would the United States do if a hypothetical Russian Empire were to incorporate Mexico or Canada into a military alliance? To ask the question is to answer it. Why is it so difficult to understand that the best way to start a war is to threaten a country’s vital interests?
The truth is that NATO should have been disbanded after the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, and especially after the Warsaw Pact was itself dismantled. Europe should have then moved to build an expanded Europe of nations, large, democratic and peaceful, within a framework of economic and political cooperation and peace. But no! The United States wanted to take advantage of the situation and demanded that everything fell into the military-financial U.S. empire.
That is the source of many problems.
In my book The New American Empire, originally published in 2003, just before the onset of the Iraq war, I pointed out the dangers of the American global imperial ambition and explained the reasons. The Middle East was the first to suffer under this global policy of interventionism. And now, Europe as a whole, most unfortunately, may have to pay the price for this unbridled American hubris, under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, although that policy goes back to George H. Bush and Bill Clinton.
This is why President Obama and his neocon advisers do not think beyond their nose, as was the case for the not-too-bright George W. Bush, when they adopted such a global imperialist ideology.
In 2008, it just happened that I wrote an article in which I advanced the idea that Europe had a vital interest in disbanding that relic of another age: NATO. Indeed, we must blame European leaders not to have understood that the fundamental interest of Europe was not to blend into the American Empire but rather to build an independent and united Europe. Because that reality has not been well understood, Europe is now running the risk of falling prey to a new Cold War with divisive and ruinous conflicts, while the United States will try to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, with the U.K. as its convenient ally from within Europe.
It may be not too late for European leaders to rectify the situation. This would, however, require wisdom and the courage to tell the American neo-cons who have designed American foreign policy for a quarter of a century that they are not masters of the world and that the European Union has no intention to pursue an aggressive policy of military encirclement of Russia. Point to the line.
Rather, on the contrary, Russia should be invited to join an expanded Europe of nations, large, democratic and peaceful within a framework of economic cooperation and peace.
What is needed of them is vision, insight, and a spirit of independence, which currently seems to be lacking badly in many current European governments.
Carelessness and the current European abdication in letting Washington decide European foreign policy may serve the interests of the American empire, but this could lead Europe to disaster.
The author can be reach at: email@example.com
The world’s largest military alliance seems annoyed about Russia’s “lack of transparency” over military drills at a very “delicate time.” NATO, however, has its own long history of war games all over the globe.
Western politicians have leveled criticism at Russia for planned drills on its own territory, seemingly glossing over the many joint military exercises Western powers, namely the US and NATO forces, have conducted on foreign soil over the years.
This week, US and South Korean forces began their annual joint military drills, which will last until mid-April. The Foal Eagle exercise is conducted near Iksan and Damyan, South Korea.
The drills prompted a stern reaction from North Korea, which slammed the exercises as “a serious provocation” that could plunge the region into “a deadlock and unimaginable holocaust.”
The US joined Greece, Italy, and Israeli forces at Ovda air base in southern Israel for the ‘Blue Flag’ air-training drills in November 2013. The drills were called the “largest international aerial exercise in history,” by Israeli news outlet Haaretz.
According to Israel National News reports the exercises are geared towards “simulating realistic engagements in a variety of scenarios, based on Israel’s experience with air forces of Arab armies in previous engagements.”
Poland and Latvia
NATO’s ‘Steadfast Jazz’ training exercise was held in November 2013, in Latvia and Poland. The drills included air, land, naval, and special forces.
Over 6,000 military personnel from around 20 NATO countries and allies took part in the largest NATO-led drills of their kind since 2006.
In October, NATO also held anti-aircraft drills in Bulgaria, along with the Greek and Norwegian air forces. The exercises were held to test responses in conditions of radio interference, according to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense.
In May 2013, the US joined 40 other countries in the Persian Gulf for maritime war games. The US Navy said the mass exercises are aimed at “enhancing capability to preserve freedom of navigation in international waterways.”
The drills provoked a sharp response from the Iranian government who voiced concerns at how the maneuvers came in the run-up to the Iranian elections.
In August 2012, US Marines joined Japanese troops for military drills in the western Pacific. The drills were held in part in Guam, a US holding, just as an old territory dispute reemerged between Japan and China over islands in the East China Sea.
“China will not ignore hostile gestures from other nations and give up on its core interests or change its course of development,” the Chinese Communist Party stated in response to the drills, warning the US and Japan not to “underestimate China’s resolve to defend its sovereignty.”
The US joined 16 other nations in May 2012 for military exercises in Jordan near the Syria border. The ‘Eager Lion’ drills included 12,000 soldiers from the participating countries, Turkey, France, and Saudi Arabia among them.
Denying accusations that the violence in Syria had nothing to do with the drills, the US claimed it was “designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships through a joint, entire-government, multinational approach, integrating all instruments of national power to meet current and future complex national security challenges.
In August 2010, the US Navy joined Vietnamese forces for drills in the South China Sea, to the dismay of China. Sovereignty claims in the South China Sea have long been a subject of debate and animosity among Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, and Malaysia, though China’s territorial declarations have been the most aggressive.
Ukraine welcomed a fleet of NATO warships for a two-week period of military drills in July 2010. Operation ‘Sea Breeze-2010′ focused on joint anti-terror exercises, despite Kiev’s decision not to enter the NATO alliance. Some 3,000 international military personnel were said to be a part of the drills.
Ukraine began hosting the Sea Breeze exercises in 1997, as part of its commitment to join the alliance. In 2009, the Ukrainian parliament voted against the drills, curtailing then-President Viktor Yuschenko’s efforts to seek NATO membership.
In May 2009, 15 NATO countries held a series of controversial military exercises in Georgia less than a year after it launched an offense against its breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia called the maneuvers “dubious provocation” saying it may encourage the country’s regime to carry out new attacks.
TBILISI: Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania said Wednesday that the country has decided to join the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2015 with financial support from the United States.
The decision was announced at a joint press conference with Knud Bartels, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, on the second day of the committee’s first ever visit to the South Caucasus country, during which talks with Georgian leaders were also held to discuss security, cooperation and Georgia’s involvement in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
“It has already been decided that Georgia will become part of the NATO Response Force in 2015 and a sponsor state has already been selected. The United States will ensure readiness along with the NATO military to provide rapid response in case of crisis,” said Alasania.
Bartels told the assembled press that Georgia has made “solid progress in its defense reforms that will allow cooperation between Georgia and NATO.”
The NRF, initiated in November 2002, has a joint force of around 13,000 high-readiness troops made up of land, air, maritime and special operations components that the Alliance can deploy quickly wherever needed, according to NATO information.
The first of four US missile destroyers has arrived in Europe, an apparent move by Washington to challenge Russia that voiced concerns over the deployment.
The USS Donald Cook arrived in the Spanish port of Rota on Tuesday.
“For the first time, a ship of the United States Navy equipped with the Aegis ballistic missile-defense system is permanently based in Europe,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
“The arrival of the USS Donald Cook marks a step forward for NATO, for European security, and for transatlantic cooperation,” he added.
Three more American destroyers will also be joined the USS Donald Cook at the base in Rota over the coming two years. Other US destroyers are the USS Ross, the USS Porter, and the USS Carney.
The deployment of the four destroyers is part of Washington’s military policy in Europe that includes land-based Aegis interceptor batteries in Romania and Poland, radar in Turkey and a command center at the US Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany.
The Obama administration’s plans for increasing military presence in Europe have caused a major rift with Russia.
Moscow says the system is major threat to its own security and has threatened to beef up its own nuclear arsenal in response.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already ordered the deployment of short-range missiles to the country’s western Kaliningrad enclave, which is situated between Poland and Lithuania.
In a speech to the country’s Federal Assembly in December, the Russian president said that his country will not allow any nation to dominate it in military terms.
“We realize clearly that the AMD system is only called defensive, while in fact it is a significant part of the strategic offensive potential,” Putin said.
A journalist was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison by a Saudi criminal court for “disobeying the ruler” and claiming in televised remarks that the Saudi kingdom incites terrorism, state media reported.
Local media identified the convicted as Wajdi Al-Ghazzawi, who was also accused of contacting an unnamed “enemy of Saudi Arabia at the time (2009) and receiving a suspicious sum of money from it,” according to SPA news agency.
Reports suggested that Ghazzawi was accused of taking money from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2009, a time of tension between Tripoli and Riyadh.
Ghazzawi, the court in Riyadh said, was guilty of “disobeying the ruler on a television programme, inciting sedition… discrediting the kingdom and claiming that terrorism and Al-Qaeda were created by Saudi Arabia.”
He was also charged with spreading excerpts of the televised remarks on the internet and of accusing the Saudis “of insulting residents and denying them their rights,” SPA reported.
The court also instituted a 20-year travel ban on Ghazzawi, in addition to barring him from appearing in any media.
Gaddafi, a long-time foe of Saudi Arabia during his four-decade rule in Libya, was killed by rebels in 2011 following the NATO-led ouster of his regime. In 2004, US and Saudi news outlets accused Gaddafi of allegedly plotting to assassinate Saudi King Abdullah, who was crown prince at the time, AFP pointed out.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia passed a broad law that deems those that “disturb the public order” as terrorists.
It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender… intended to disturb the public order… to shake the security of society…stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text, as cited by Human Rights Watch.
Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”
The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.
GAZA — Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri strongly denounced de facto president Mahmoud Abbas for his recent press remarks to a US newspaper and said that the views he expressed pose a threat to Palestinian cause and only represent himself.
Spokesman Abu Zuhri stated that the ideas that were voiced by Abbas in press remarks to the New York Times newspaper do not reflect the national consensus which rejects the negotiations and any solution against Palestinian rights and constants.
Abbas told the New York Times on Monday that he refuses demands made constantly by Palestinian parties to join some UN bodies or go to the international criminal court, adding that he wants to exhaust his negotiation with the Israelis before making any such move.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would be willing to allow a US-led NATO force to patrol a Palestinian state for an indefinite amount of time, adding that the Israeli army and settlements could remain for five years rather than three years as he had told the Americans before.
Abbas also said the Palestinian state would be demilitarized and have only a police force and the NATO force, affirming that he would not allow the return of the armed struggle in the Palestinian state.
He called recognizing Israel as a Jewish state out of the question and said he would agree on extending the nine-month negotiations, which started in July last year, if progress was made.
The US has deployed a ballistic missile defense destroyer to Spain to boost NATO’s anti-missile shield in Europe. The move, allegedly aimed at curbing the Iranian threat, has sparked talks about Russia possibly scrapping the START nuclear treaty.
The deployment of the Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook, equipped with the Aegis shipboard integrated combat weapons system, was announced by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“An important posture enhancement is European missile defense in response to ballistic missile threats from Iran,” Hagel said, adding that the US is committed “to deploying missile defense architecture there,” as a part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA).
Hagel also said that over the next two years, three additional Aegis-enabled missile defense-capable destroyers will join the effort to protect NATO countries on the European continent.
“Despite fiscal constraints, the budget that we will release next month fully protects our investment in European missile defense,” Hagel said, reiterating views he also expressed on a visit to Poland earlier last week.
“There are some capabilities that the United States military will continue to invest heavily in,” Hagel told the Munich conference. “We will continue to be the world leader in those kinds of capabilities.”
In his Munich speech, Hagel also mentioned that China and Russia “are rapidly modernizing their militaries and global defense industries, challenging our technological edge and defense partnerships around the world.”
The USS Donald Cook will become the first of four ballistic missile defense (BMD)-capable ships based in Europe. It will be joined by the destroyer Ross in a few months, while Carney and Porter will reach European waters in 2015.
The US Navy estimates that 1,239 military personnel will move to Spain’s port of Rota as part of the EPAA plan, according to the Congressional Research Service. The move will cost $92 million, with another $100 million being spent annually on maintaining the ships in Spain.
The Obama administration claims this deployment will serve to protect US allies in Europe from Iranian and possibly North Korean missile threats.
The movement of the four destroyers to Spain and a creation of a ground-based radar is Phase 1 of the EPAA. Phase 2 is the installation of the Aegis Ashore armed with Standard SM-3 IB interceptor missiles in Romania. Phase 3 of EPAA is the creation of Polish Aegis Ashore installation, armed with SM-3 IIA missiles. Phase 4, involving deployment of SM-3 IIB missiles, was canceled by the US in March 2013.
The destroyers in Spain are known as “forward deployed naval forces” (FDNF), as they enable the US Navy to provide more forward-based presence with fewer ships, and also cut down on the transit time when tackling a wide range of threats.
“Permanently forward-deploying four ships in Rota will enable us to be in the right place, not just at the right time, but all the time,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said, Defense News reported.
Russia may consider withdrawing from START treaty
In the meantime, if the US continues boosting its anti-missile capabilities through developing its missile defense system in Europe, Russia may eventually be forced to withdraw from the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the Russian Foreign Ministry’s top disarmament official, Mikhail Ulyanov, has warned.
“We are concerned that the US is continuing to build up missile defense capability without considering the interests and concerns of Russia,” Ulyanov told Interfax. “Such a policy can undermine strategic stability and lead to a situation where Russia will be forced to exercise [its] right of withdrawal from the [START] treaty.”
Ulyanov said that the legal basis for Moscow to scrap the START treaty is legislated for within the text of the agreement, which Russia says it has so far fully implemented. In certain exceptional cases, involving a known threat to national security, both Russia and the US have the option to quit the treaty.
“The statement on missile defense made by the Russian side on April 8, 2010, at the signing of the START Treaty, explicitly states that such exceptional circumstances include the build-up of missile defense systems by the United States, which threatens the potential of Russian Federation’s strategic nuclear forces,” Ulyanov said. “A similar [regulation] is contained in the Federal Law on the Ratification of the New START treaty.”
Ulyanov said that “at the current stage” Russian experts estimate that the US missile defense system “has not yet reached a level that would represent a threat to the efficiency of Russian strategic deterrence forces.”
Moscow hopes to eventually come to terms with Washington on the issue of European missile shield, Ulyanov said. “Such a chance, of course, remains, but everything depends on the political will of the US.”
The New START Treaty was signed between US and Russia in April 2010 and entered into force after ratification in February 2011. It is planned to last until at least 2021.
All the wars and attacks, which were started by the U. S. and its so-called allies in the wake of 9/11, have wreaked havoc. You name it, you got it: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and perhaps even Iran. The Islamic Republic is not yet off the hook. There are strong forces in the U. S. and in the Middle East that prefer war to peace at the expense of the U. S. Right now, there is a war going on in Libya against the Western installed puppet government, without notice of the corporate media.
Cynthia McKinney, a former African-American Congresswoman has edited a book, The Illegal War on Libya (Clarity Press, Atlanta 2012), on the illegal war on Libya fought by NATO members with the support of the Arab League and some despotic Arab regimes. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms in the House of Representatives before she was defeated by Denise Majette in the 2002 Democratic primary. McKinney’s loss was attributed to her support of Arab causes and to her suggestion that George W. Bush had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
Those whom the Western powers and their fawning media wish to destroy must first be demonised. This was exactly what happened to Libya’s leader Muammar al Gaddafi. Just before France, Great Britain and the U.S. started the war against Libya, Nikolas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi and other Western politicians courted Gaddafi. When the Libyan leader visited Paris in 2007, he struck his tent in front of the guest house of the French government. His bizarre conduct and much more were accepted by Sarkozy in order to promote lucrative business with Libya. A few years later, he rewarded him with and his country with a bombing spree.
As a candidate for the U.S. Presidency, Barack Hussein Obama had nice things to say in December 2007: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” After he became U.S. President, he expanded drone attacks to an unprecedented scale. “As the U.S. fires its drones killing innocent Somalis, Pakistanis, Yemenis, Afghanis, and others around the world, it is my hope that this book will provide a rare prism of truth through which to view NATO’s illegal war in Libya, current and future events, and US foreign relations as a whole,” so McKinney in her introductory remarks.
In her book, Cynthia McKinney has gathered a large number of renowned authors who offer an alternative perspective of the events in Libya. Some authors even risked their life by reporting live during the war. Among them are Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Julien Teil, Stephen Lendman, Christof Lehman, Sara Flounders, Wayne Madsen, Bob Fitrakis, and many others. All of them illuminate the dark machinations of the U.S. in Libya and elsewhere. Their narrative reminds the readers of the overthrow of the Iranian, Guatemalan or Chilean democracy by the U.S. for corporate benefit. The same apparently held true for Libya.
The essays in McKinney’s anthology describe the horrors caused by the Western bombing campaign and the distorted picture of the events painted by mainstream media. Lizzie Phelan refers to a “full blown media war” and to the silence of Western journalists while Libya was “being bombed into extermination.” Although they witnessed these horrors, they found “all manner of justifications for their self and collective delusion.” Their behavior reminded the author of the riddle: “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” The Western media pundits played down the horrendous crimes against the Libyan people by cartooning Gaddafi as a “mad dog.”
Stephen Lendman designated the crimes committed by NATO against Libya as amounting to “a Nuremberg Level.” He added: “The US-led NATO war on Libya will be remembered as one of history’s greatest crimes, violating the letter and spirit of international law and America’s Constitution.” Whereas the “Third Reich criminals were hanged for their crimes. America’s are still free to commit greater ones.” Lendman invokes General Wesley Clark who was told at the Pentagon a few days after 9/11, that the Bush administration had already decided to attack seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq and finishing off with Iran. According to Lendman, the U.S. won’t tolerate democratic rule in Libya, for it needs a puppet regime that would follow the dictates of Washington. Beyond that, the U.S. generously used terror weapons in all its wars. Weapons of mass destruction, including depleted and enriched uranium munitions were widely used in the different Iraq wars, leading to miscarriages and severe deformities by newborn babies.
The anthology also reveals that Gaddafi bore no responsibility for the Lockerbie incident. Although he took the blame and had Libya pay millions of U.S. Dollars to the families of the victims in order to have sanctions lifted against his country, the west thanked him by overthrowing his regime. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya suggests that Libya’s main “crimes” – as seen by the West – were “how (Libya L.W.) distributed and used its wealth, its lack of external debts, and the key role it was attempting to play in continental development and curtailing of external influence in Africa. Tripoli was a spoiler that effectively undermined the interests of the former colonial powers.”
Already at the International Security Conference in Munich, 2007, then President of The Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, used the strongest possible language to warn the U.S., saying that “its aggressive expansionism has brought the world closer to a third world war than it has ever been before.” So far, Putin’s diplomacy prevented U.S. aggression against Syria and Iran.
The book contains, inter alia, a scathing speech by Gaddafi, delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2009. A chronology of the NATO-led assault on Libya completes the book.
This book is a must-read. It gives its readers a premonition of things that are yet to come.
Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela. The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents. Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over. The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection. The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family. The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.
Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides: overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers. In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.
The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials. Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983-2005). Between 2005-2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency. Early on, Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working in liaison with the CIA. Among his numerous “dirty operations” with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channelled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua. During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon. Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act. US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review.
With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.
Bandar’s Terror Network
Bandar bin Sultan has transformed Saudi Arabia from an inward-looking, tribal based regime totally dependent on US military power for its survival, to a major regional center of a vast terror network, an active financial backer of right-wing military dictatorships (Egypt) and client regimes (Yemen) and military intervenor in the Gulf region (Bahrain). Bandar has financed and armed a vast array of clandestine terror operations, utilizing Islamic affiliates of Al Qaeda, the Saudi controlled Wahhabi sect as well as numerous other Sunni armed groups. Bandar is a “pragmatic” terrorist operator: repressing Al Qaeda adversaries in Saudi Arabia and financing Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. While Bandar was a long-term asset of the US intelligence services, he has, more recently, taken an ‘independent course’ where the regional interests of the despotic state diverge from those of the US. In the same vein, while Saudi Arabia has a longstanding enmity toward Israel, Bandar has developed a “covert understanding” and working relationship with the Netanyahu regime, around their common enmity toward Iran and more specifically in opposition to the interim agreement between the Obama-Rohani regime.
Bandar has intervened directly or via proxies in reshaping political alignments, destabilizing adversaries and bolstering and expanding the political reach of the Saudi dictatorship from North Africa to South Asia, from the Russian Caucuses to the Horn of Africa, sometimes in concert with Western imperialism, other times projecting Saudi hegemonic aspirations.
North Africa: Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and Egypt
Bandar has poured billions of dollars to bolster the right-wing pro-Islamic regimes in Tunisia and Morocco, ensuring that the mass pro-democracy movements would be repressed, marginalized and demobilized. Islamic extremists receiving Saudi financial support are encouraged to back the “moderate” Islamists in government by assassinating secular democratic leaders and socialist trade union leaders in opposition. Bandar’s policies largely coincide with those of the US and France in Tunisia and Morocco; but not in Libya and Egypt.
Saudi financial backing for Islamist terrorists and Al Qaeda affiliates against Libyan President Gadhafi were in-line with the NATO air war. However divergences emerged in the aftermath: the NATO backed client regime made up of neo-liberal ex-pats faced off against Saudi backed Al Qaeda and Islamist terror gangs and assorted tribal gunmen and marauders. Bandar funded Islamic extremists in Libya were bankrolled to extend their military operations to Syria, where the Saudi regime was organizing a vast military operation to overthrow the Assad regime. The internecine conflict between NATO and Saudi armed groups in Libya, spilled over and led to the Islamist murder of the US Ambassador and CIA operatives in Benghazi. Having overthrown Gadhafi, Bandar virtually abandoned interest in the ensuing blood bath and chaos provoked by his armed assets. They in turn, became self-financing – robbing banks, pilfering oil and emptying local treasuries – relatively “independent” of Bandar’s control.
In Egypt, Bandar developed, in coordination with Israel (but for different reasons), a strategy of undermining the relatively independent, democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi. Bandar and the Saudi dictatorship financially backed the military coup and dictatorship of General Sisi. The US strategy of a power-sharing agreement between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military regime, combining popular electoral legitimacy and the pro-Israel-pro NATO military was sabotaged. With a $15 billion aid package and promises of more to come, Bandar provided the Egyptian military a financial lifeline and economic immunity from any international financial reprisals. None were taken of any consequences. The military crushed the Brotherhood, jailed and threatened to execute its elected leaders. It outlawed sectors of the liberal-left opposition which it had used as cannon fodder to justify its seizure of power. In backing the military coup, Bandar eliminated a rival, democratically elected Islamic regime which stood in contrast to the Saudi despotism. He secured a like-minded dictatorial regime in a key Arab country, even though the military rulers are more secular, pro-Western, pro-Israel and less anti-Assad than the Brotherhood regime. Bandar’s success in greasing the wheels for the Egyptian coup secured a political ally but faces an uncertain future.
The revival of a new anti-dictatorial mass movement would also target the Saudi connection. Moreover Bandar undercut and weakened Gulf State unity: Qatar had financed the Morsi regime and was out $5 billion dollars it had extended to the previous regime.
Bandar’s terror network is most evident in his long-term large scale financing, arming, training and transport of tens of thousands of Islamic terrorist “volunteers” from the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Caucuses, North Africa and elsewhere. Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia became “martyrs of Islam” in Syria. Dozens of Islamic armed gangs in Syria competed for Saudi arms and funds. Training bases with US and European instructors and Saudi financing were established in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey. Bandar financed the major ‘rebel’ Islamic terrorist armed group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for cross border operations.
With Hezbollah supporting Assad, Bandar directed money and arms to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon to bomb South Beirut, the Iranian embassy and Tripoli. Bandar directed $3 billion to the Lebanese military with the idea of fomenting a new civil war between it and Hezbollah. In co-ordination with France and the US, but with far greater funding and greater latitude to recruit Islamic terrorist, Bandar assumed the leading role and became the principle director of a three front military and diplomatic offensive against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran. For Bandar, an Islamic takeover in Syria would lead to an Islamic Syrian invasion in support of Al Qaeda in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah in hopes of isolating Iran. Teheran would then become the target of a Saudi-Israeli-US offensive. Bandar’s strategy is more fantasy then reality.
Bandar Diverges from Washington: the Offensive in Iraq and Iran
Saudi Arabia has been an extremely useful but sometimes out of control client of Washington. This is especially the case since Bandar has taken over as Intelligence chief: a long-time asset of the CIA he has also, at times, taken the liberty to extract “favors” for his services, especially when those “favors” enhance his upward advance within the Saudi power structure. Hence, for example, his ability to secure AWACs despite AIPAC opposition earned him merit points. As did Bandar’s ability to secure the departure of several hundred Saudi ‘royalty’ with ties to the 9/11 bombers, despite a high level national security lockdown in the aftermath of the bombing.
While there were episodic transgressions in the past, Bandar moved on to more serious divergences from US policy. He went ahead, building his own terror network, directed toward maximizing Saudi hegemony – even where it conflicted with US proxies, clients and clandestine operatives.
While the US is committed to backing the right-wing Maliki regime in Iraq, Bandar is providing political, military and financial backing to the Sunni terrorist “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. When the US negotiated the “interim agreement” with Iran Bandar voiced his opposition and “bought” support. Saudi signed off on a billion dollar arms agreement during French President Hollande’s visit, in exchange for greater sanctions on Iran. Bandar also expressed support for Israel’s use of the Zionist power configuration to influence the Congress, to sabotage US negotiations with Iran.
Bandar has moved beyond his original submission to US intelligence handlers. His close ties with past and present US and EU presidents and political influence have encouraged him to engage in “Big Power adventures.” He met with Russian President Putin to convince him to drop his support for Syria, offering a carrot or a stick: a multi-billion dollar arms sale for compliance and a threat to unleash Chechen terrorists to undermine the Sochi Olympics. He has turned Erdogan from a NATO ally supporting ‘moderate’ armed opponents to Bashar Assad, into embracing the Saudi backed ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, a terrorist Al Qaeda affiliate. Bandar has “overlooked” Erdogan’s “opportunist” efforts to sign off oil deals with Iran and Iraq, his continuing military arrangements with NATO and his past backing of the defunct Morsi regime in Egypt, in order to secure Erdogan’s support for the easy transit of large numbers of Saudi trained terrorists to Syria and probably Lebanon.
Bandar has strengthened ties with the armed Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arming and financing their armed resistance against the US, as well as offering the US a site for a ‘negotiated departure’.
Bandar is probably supporting and arming Uighur Muslim terrorists in western China, and Chechens and Caucasian Islamic terrorists in Russia, even as the Saudi’s expand their oil agreements with China and cooperate with Russia’s Gazprom.
The only region where the Saudi’s have exercised direct military intervention is in the Gulf min-state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops crushed the pro-democracy movement challenging the local despot.
Bandar: Global Terror on Dubious Domestic Foundations
Bandar has embarked on an extraordinary transformation of Saudi foreign policy and enhanced its global influence. All to the worst. Like Israel, when a reactionary ruler comes to power and overturns the democratic order, Saudi arrives on the scene with bags of dollars to buttress the regime. Whenever an Islamic terror network emerges to subvert a nationalist, secular or Shia regime, it can count on Saudi funds and arms. What some Western scribes euphemistically describe as “tenuous effort to liberalize and modernize” the retrograde Saudi regime, is really a military upgrade of its overseas terrorist activity. Bandar uses modern techniques of terror to impose the Saudi model of reactionary rule on neighboring and distant regimes with Muslim populations.
The problem is that Bandar’s “adventurous” large scale overseas operations conflict with some of the ruling Royal family’s “introspective” style of rule. They want to be left alone to accrue hundreds of billions collecting petrol rents, to invest in high-end properties around the world, and to quietly patronize high end call girls in Washington, London and Beirut while posing as pious guardians of Medina, Mecca, and the Holy sites. So far Bandar has not been challenged, because he has been careful to pay his respects to the ruling monarch and his inner circle. He has bought and brought Western and Eastern prime ministers, presidents, and other respectable notables to Riyadh to sign deals and pay compliments to the delight of the reigning despot. Yet his solicitous behavior to overseas Al Qaeda operations, his encouraging Saudi extremists to go overseas and engage in terrorist wars, disturbs monarchical circles. They worry that Saudi trained, armed and knowledgeable terrorists — dubbed as “holy warriors” — may return from Syria, Russia, and Iraq and bomb the King’s palaces. Moreover, overseas regimes targeted by Bandar’s terror network may retaliate: Russia or Iran, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis may just sponsor their own instruments of retaliation. Despite the hundreds of billions spent on arms purchases, the Saudi regime is very vulnerable on all levels. Apart from tribal legions, the billionaire elite have little popular support and even less legitimacy. It depends on overseas migrant labor, foreign “experts” and US military forces. The Saudi elite is also despised by the most religious of the Wahhabi clergy for allowing “infidels” on sacred terrain. While Bandar extends Saudi power abroad, the domestic foundations of rule are narrowing. While he defies US policymakers in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, the regime depends on the US Air Force and Seventh Fleet to protect it from a growing array of adversarial regimes.
Bandar, with his inflated ego, may believe that he is a “Saladin” building a new Islamic empire, but in reality, by waving one finger his patron monarch can lead to his rapid dismissal. One too many provocative civilian bombings by his Islamic terrorist beneficiaries can lead to an international crises leading to Saudi Arabia becoming the target of world opprobrium.
In reality, Bandar bin Sultan is the protégé and successor of Bin Laden; he has deepened and systematized global terrorism. Bandar’s terror network has murdered far more innocent victims than Bin Laden. That, of course, is to be expected; after all he has billions of dollars from the Saudi treasury, training from the CIA and the handshake of Netanyahu!
You could very well say that Navi Pillay was more than anyone else the person responsible for NATO’s disastrous invasion of Libya. As UN Human Rights Commissioner she chaired that fateful meeting in February, 2011 where Libyan NGO leader Soliman Bouchuiguir was allowed to repeat incredible tales about the “massacres” taking place in Libya – tales he openly admitted after the NATO invasion he had just made up. “There is no evidence,” he exclaimed when asked after the invasion to back up his claims, which were the basis of the chain of events that led to NATO bombing.
The first link in that chain was the UN Human Rights Commission hearing chaired by Pillay, where Bouchuiguir’s lies led to the suspension of Libya from that body and the referral of the Libya issue to the UN Security Council. At the hearing, Pillay took her cue from the falsifier Bouchuiguir, exclaiming that, “The Libyan leader must stop the violence now.” Eventually the Security Council passed Resolution 1973, cracking the interventionist door to Libya, which NATO very soon kicked open.
Commissioner Pillay wasted no time setting her “humanitarian interventionist” sights on another crisis just waiting for a military solution. As early as August, 2011 she began urging the International Criminal Court to take up the case against the Syrian government, which was fighting against a foreign-sponsored insurgency seeking its overthrow. Never mind the illegality of her position urging the overthrow of a sovereign state, Pillay has argued relentlessly from the beginning in favor of a Libya-style NATO invasion of Syria.
Now Pillay is back in the news, releasing an incredibly dubious “report” concluding that the Syria government is guilty of war crimes in its fight against a foreign-sponsored insurgency. Pillay’s methodology would be laughed out of any courtroom except perhaps those of Stalin’s show trials. Her “investigators” had no access to Syria, conducted no on-the-ground investigations, but instead conducted their interviews in neighboring countries or via Skype. As with her previously discredited Libya claims, there is no independent verification of her findings, no way of even knowing who she talked to in the collection of this “evidence.” In fact, she would not even reveal the names of the accused, a list of perpetrators which she claims was secretly handed to her. No, she prefers to keep her information secret in hopes that the International Criminal Court would finally take up her case against the Syrian government.
Pillay’s fanaticism and the religious fervor of her devotion to the doctrine of “humanitarian interventionism” harkens back to an earlier era where the murder of millions was justified in pursuit of the historical inevitability of utopia on earth. It is a dangerous and deadly philosophy, which justifies all manner of death and destruction. The oft-cited C.S. Lewis quote comes most often to mind when thoughts wander to the Navi Pillays of the world:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the US will no longer have a reason to build the long-touted missile defense shield in Europe, if Iran fulfills its obligations in the recently-signed nuclear program deal.
“If the Iran deal is put into practice, the stated reason for the construction of the defense shield will no longer apply,” Lavrov told journalists in Rome.
NATO is currently rolling out its new Europe-wide missile defense shield, which will include two interceptor bases close to the Russian border in Romania and Poland, with the first of the first ground missiles becoming operational in 2015. The bases will be able to shoot down short and medium-range ballistic missiles.
Russia has long protested at the placement of such bases on its borders, but during both, the Bush era and Obama’s terms, Washington has insisted that the bases are primarily directed against a potential threat from Iran, and are too close to Russia to stop any of its nuclear warheads.
On Sunday, Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for a loosening of substantial EU and US sanctions that have crippled its economy.
The initial term of the deal is six months, though both sides hope this will lead to a permanent rapprochement after a stand-off that lasted a decade, during which the West accused Iran of attempting to acquire a nuclear weapon, while Iran denied this, insisting that it was entitled to enrich uranium.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, while visiting Europe earlier this month, said that the deployment of the missile shield was not likely to be contingent on improving relations with Iran.
“Nothing has changed at this point and I don’t foresee it changing,” he said.
The current European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense system was adopted by the White House in 2009. It generally uses more established technologies than President George W. Bush’s expensive and ambitious system that first aroused Russia’s ire over five years ago. The most ambitious phase of the program, initially scheduled to begin next decade, was also canceled earlier this year.
Nonetheless, negotiations about Moscow’s potential involvement in the defense shield have broken down over a lack of trust, and the recent groundbreaking ceremony at NATO’s base in Romania was swiftly followed by an unannounced test of Russia’s newest ballistic missiles as well as international patrols by its strategic bombers.
Lavrov recently called missile defense a “burning issue” in Moscow-Washington relations, and said that Russia will soften its stance on the Eastern European bases only if NATO provides written assurances that they will never be used to shoot down Russian missiles, a request it has repeatedly rejected.
- NATO building anti-missile shield in Romania (voiceofrussia.com)
Thousands of demonstrators protesting US drone strikes in Pakistan blocked a main road Saturday in the Peshawar province used to transport NATO supplies to and from Afghanistan.
The protests was led by the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which is led by Imran Khan, a former international cricketer now turned politician.
They were supported by their allies in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government and they were also joined by the Jamaat -i-Islami (JI) and the Awami Jamhoori Ittehad (AJIP) political parties.
“We will put pressure on America, and our protest will continue if drone attacks are not stopped,” Khan told reporters.
“We are here to give a clear message that now Pakistanis cannot remain silent over drone attacks,” said Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a senior member of the PTI, addressing the protesters.
Imran Khan has been a fierce critic of US drone attacks, arguing that they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. Khan said that the Pakistani government is doing nothing to stop drone attacks except for issuing statements of condemnation and that the protest would continue indefinitely.
Khan stressed that NATO supplies would not be allowed to pass through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly called North-West Frontier Province, and added that the province’s PTI-led government had the mandate to block NATO trucks from passing through its territory.
Earlier Imran Khan had warned that NATO supply routes will be blocked if continuing US drone strikes in Pakistan threaten the country’s peace talks with the Taliban.
An attack on November 1 killed the former leader of the Pakistan Taliban, a day before the Pakistani government said it was going to invite him to peace talks. Officials said they were enraged by the attacks, although the Pakistani government is known to have supported some of the drone attacks in the past.
Party workers from the PTI and the JI travelled to Peshawar from across Pakistan and an estimated 10,000 people participated in Saturday’s protests. The protesters shouted anti US slogans such as “Stop drone attacks” and “Down with America”.
“I am participating in today’s sit-in to convey a message to America that we hate them since they are killing our people in drone attacks. America must stop drone attacks for peace in our country,” Hussain Shah, a 21 year old university student, told Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.
American drones are performing regular extrajudicial killings of Islamist leaders, accompanied by the collateral damage of many civilian casualties.
Strict security measures were in place Saturday, with 500 police personnel on duty. Trucks were directed to use an alternative route, although Tahir Khan, a government official, said there was normally little NATO traffic Saturday as most of the trucks arrive by Friday night to clear the border crossing.
However, protesters said that they would begin to stop trucks carrying NATO supplies through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Sunday night, which could spark conflict with the federal government in Pakistan.
The US embassy in Islamabad declined to comment.