Despite his repeated public statements opposing “American boots on the ground,” President Barack Obama—just shy of the end of his time in office— has been expanding U.S. military presence in war-torn Somalia as the Pentagon has deployed up to 300 U.S. special forces and increased airstrikes in the African country, the New York Times reported Sunday.
U.S. special operation troops have been “heavily involved” with Somali and African troops, U.S. and African officials told the newspaper, as part of operation “Somalia Campaign” which Obama has quietly and secretly spearheaded in a bid to fight the al-Qaida-aligned Shabab group.
The special forces are carrying out, along with other local troops, more than six raids a month against what they claim are extremist group positions.
Officials told the newspaper that the U.S. troops get to interrogate alleged militants first before they are passed on to local Somali authorities, which brings to mind the countless accounts of torture and brutal interrogation methods carried out by U.S. agents and soldiers in the past.
What’s more troubling is that information about the airstrikes—where hundreds of people are being killed—are not being made public.
One of the deadliest airstrikes by the U.S. in the county came in March when the Pentagon said its military jets killed more than 150 alleged Shabab fighters at what military officials called a “graduation ceremony.”
Another airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who are supposedly U.S. allies against the Shabab, Somali officials told the New York Times.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon admits to very few of the hundreds of operations taking place in Somalia, labeling them as “self-defense strikes.”
However, analysts and observers of the conflict have said “this rationale has become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” meaning that the only reason U.S. forces are facing any threat at all from Shabab group is because of their very deployment into the country in the first place.
This year alone Obama has authorized airstrikes and covert operations in at least seven countries and the Somalia campaign comes as the outgoing president intends to pass on his administration’s model for how to carry out foreign interventions—like in Syria, Iraq and Libya—to his successor.
Somalia will be remembered as another large stain in Obama’s record as the country is considered one of the largest targets for Washington’s drone program that has been accused of killing civilians, with very loose guidelines on collateral damage.
“What did he say?” not merely “When did he say it?”
What was the purpose of this whole thing (the war on Iraq)? Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and legs? Not to mention the other side. All those Iraqi kids who’ve been blown to pieces. And it turns out that all of the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing. (Emphasis, JW)
Obviously I have thought about that a lot in the months since (her October 2002 vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution). No, I don’t regret giving the President authority.
— Hillary Clinton on Iraq War, April, 2004.
As election day approaches, it is time to ignore the noise of the moment and think clearly about the crucial issues facing us, none of which is more important than war or peace. The War on Iraq has been a touchstone for these issues over the last 14 years.
On Iraq, Clinton and her operatives have sought to avoid at all costs an accurate comparison of her position over the last 14 years to Trump’s. “What did Trump say?” has been buried by the Clintonites and company. “When did he say it?” has been slyly substituted for it. The time line has been used to equate the positions of Hillary the most notorious of hawks with that of Trump.1
Let us have a look at Trump’s words as well as the dates they were uttered. And compare them to Hillary’s:
Trump utters four words of wavering assent in September but no animated support.
Hillary votes for war “with conviction” in long speech in October.
First come Trump’s famous four words “Yeah, I guess so.” These are the four words that Trump uttered on September 11, 2002, a month before the Senate vote on the War, when Howard Stern asked out of the blue whether Trump favored invading Iraq2 These four words can be regarded as a half-hearted, off the cuff assent to the war, but they hardly amount to a well-considered position let alone a policy statement.3
The next month in October, 2002, then Senator Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the War on Iraq “with conviction” and emerged as an enthusiastic proponent of the war. She retained that “conviction” without wavering until January, 2008, at least, when Obama threatened her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination by presenting himself, falsely, as a peace candidate.4
Trump makes a passionate, humane denunciation of the war, now unchanged for 12 years.
Clinton sticks to her vote for war.
Now we come to 2004 and Trump’s first clearly articulated position on the war to appear in print. This was the inspiring statement and it has been buried in the timeline. It was published in Esquire in August of 2004, and, though not long, it is rarely quoted in full. Here it is:
Look at the war in Iraq and the mess that we’re in. I would never have handled it that way. Does anybody really believe that Iraq is going to be a wonderful democracy where people are going to run down to the voting box and gently put in their ballot and the winner is happily going to step up to lead the country? C’mon. Two minutes after we leave, there’s going to be a revolution, and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take over. And he’ll have weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam didn’t have.
What was the purpose of this whole thing? Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and legs? Not to mention the other side. All those Iraqi kids who’ve been blown to pieces. And it turns out that all of the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing.(Emphasis, JW)
Trump calls attention to the death and injuries inflicted on Americans, as have other politicians who have criticized the war. But then he goes on to lament the deaths of innocent Iraqis as well. No other major political figure, so far as this writer knows, has expressed such sentiments. They stand in stark contrast, for example, to those of Madeleine Albright, who famously declared that the deaths of 500,000 children, due to Clinton era sanctions of the 1990s, were “worth it.”
Thus, from a humanitarian standpoint, the content of Trump’s condemnation of the war is outstanding. In fact, to grieve over the lives of Americans but not the people of Iraq is a form of racism. Trump is virtually unique among major politicians in taking this stand on the lives of innocents the US has attacked. He should be praised for it.
Let us now look at one example of how this statement of Trump’s has been handled in the “progressive” media, in an article in Mother Jones by Tim Murphy entitled, “What did Donald Trump Say on the Iraq War and When Did He Say it,” by Tim Murphy. When Murphy gets to the Esquire article above, he quotes only the first of the two paragraphs and leaves out the second, which refers to the needless loss of life. And therefore it leaves out the impressive section, which I have italicized above, bemoaning the loss of Iraqi lives! Do you think that is honest, dear reader? Or would you call it a lie of omission?
What about Trump’s consistency? The statement above remains Trump’s position; he quoted every word of it, word for word, in his foreign policy address of August, 2016. Thus he has stood by his position for 12 years.5
In 2004, Clinton stuck to her vote on the Iraq war. She said to Larry King on April 20: “Obviously I have thought about that a lot in the months since (her October 2002 vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution). No, I don’t regret giving the President authority.”
Trump adds one new feature to his critique: The war was not a mistake but based on lies by Bush.
Clinton remains solidly committed to her Iraq War vote.
In 2007 Trump added one more component in an interview with Wolf Blitzer. The added component is that the war was based on lies – not mistakes, not faulty intelligence but lies. Again no major political figure has said this, certainly not Hillary Clinton.
In the interview Trump says: “Look, everything in Washington has been a lie. Weapons of mass destruction was a total lie. It was a way of attacking Iraq, which he (George W. Bush) thought was going to be easy and it turned out to be the exact opposite of easy. … Everything is a lie. It’s all a big lie.” Here again Trump has remained consistent. In one primary debate he confronted Jeb Bush with the fact that his brother lied us into Iraq.
What was Hillary’s position in 2007? She remained committed to her 2002 vote, despite the call of many antiwar Democrats to apologize and admit it was a mistake. To an audience in Dover, New Hampshire, in February, she said defiantly: “If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from.” She could afford to be defiant. She was the front runner for the Democratic nomination at that point. Little did she know that Obama would be a serious contender.
Trump’s position is unchanged.
Hillary lies about the reason for her Iraq War vote.
By 2008 Obama was endangering Hillary’s bid for the presidency by presenting himself in the Democratic primary as the antiwar candidate – falsely as we can now see. In the second Democratic presidential debate, Hillary claimed she voted for the war with the understanding that Bush would wait for UN inspectors to finish their job of searching for weapons of mass destruction. But as Carl Bernstein and others have pointed out, she voted against the Levin amendment, which would have imposed precisely that restriction on Bush. In other words, she lied.
We could go on and try to pierce the fog of words in the present election to wriggle out of her strong advocacy for the criminal adventure in Iraq. But her deeds as Secretary of State speak much louder than any words she and her advisors might engineer.
More than anyone else she was responsible for the illegal bombing and regime change operation that overthrew Gaddafi and plunged Libya into a failed state riddled with Islamic extremists. She is still pursuing the same policy of regime change or destruction in countries of the Middle East and North Africa that have defied the US. Her advocacy of a no-fly zone in Syria right now is more of the same – and it assures war with Russia according to General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and possibly nuclear war. She remains virulently hawkish – irredeemably so one might say.
Is the impression conveyed by Clinton and her apologists that there is no difference between Trump and Clinton on the Iraq War correct? It is not. And it tells us that there will be an enormous difference between a Trump and a Clinton presidency. Since that difference involves the very question of human survival, what does that say about our responsibility come November 8?
- For example, a fund raising appeal from Code Pink recently popped into my inbox with this line: “Both candidates supported the Iraq War at its inception, though both have now walked back that support.” Clearly the implication is that the two candidates have the same stance on Iraq. A vague timeline is trotted out but not a word about the content of what the candidates said.
- To be complete there were actually thirteen words, “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
- Trump also claims that he had frequent verbal fights with his friend Sean Hannity over the period leading up to the war with Hannity pro and Trump con. Hannity backs him up on that, but in fairness that is not evidence because it is not in the public domain. Memory can be tricky in these situations especially when a friend seeks support. So we simply cannot make a judgment about that.
- To be complete, there was another Trump statement in 2003, although it is quite ambiguous and directed more at tactics than policy. In January, 2003, Trump in an interview with Neil Cavuto, before the commencement of “Shock and Awe” in March, made some comments on the War. This time there was no endorsement of the War – not even an off the cuff endorsement. Instead there was confusion, and the discussion revolved around tactics of war. Trump said, “Well, he (Bush) has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps, because perhaps (he) shouldn’t be doing it yet and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations, you know.” No endorsement, no outspoken opposition. (The brief interview can be found here and Trump’s summary of it in his August, 2016, foreign policy address).
- Was Trump’s stand on Iraq opportunist? Trump took his position on Iraq long before he was in politics. He entered the presidential race as a candidate for the Republican nomination, not the Democratic one. At the time he entered the race, the GOP was the reliable party of war, dominated by the neocons. His position on Iraq could hardly have helped him with that crowd. So let us not call Trump’s position opportunist, designed to get votes. As he became a more serious contender, the neocons left the GOP to join the Democrats and support Hillary.
John V. Walsh can be reached at email@example.com.
Just a geography question. Or maybe it’s a different sort of question.
Do a web search for “USS Mason” and you will find countless “news” reports about how this poor innocent U.S. ship has been fired upon, and fired upon again, and how it has fired back “countermeasures” in self-defense.
But you might stumble onto one article from CNN (don’t watch the totally misleading video posted just above the text) that says:
“Officials Saturday night were uncertain about what exactly happened, if there were multiple incoming missiles or if there was a malfunction with the radar detection system on the destroyer.”
So, was the poor wittle innocent destroyer fired at or not?
The simple but apparently impossible point to grasp is that it does not matter. The United States destabilized Yemen with a massive killing spree known as a “drone war.” The United States armed Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen with jets, supplied the jets, supplied the bombs (and cluster bombs), refueled the jets midair, provided the targeting information, provided the cover at the United Nations, and deployed its ships to the coast of Yemen as part of its effort to achieve U.S./Saudi power in Yemen through mass murder and devastation. If one group or another or nobody in Yemen fired some harmless shots at a U.S. ship the outcome is the same: zero legal or moral or practical justification to continue or escalate the killing, and zero logic in calling such escalation “defensive.”
Likewise, speculation — including in the CNN video posted just above its article — that Iran was behind the possibly fictional attacks on the U.S. ship does not matter. The conclusions that can be drawn are identical whether or not such baseless and wishful theories are true.
This is the point of my use of examples of past similar (non)-incidents like the Gulf of Tonkin Non-Incident in my book War Is A Lie. The point is not that because the U.S. military lied about Tonkin it’s likely to be lying again next time (though that’s a fair conclusion). The point is actually completely different. The point is that when you put U.S. ships on the coast of Vietnam and use them to fire on Vietnam, the question of whether anyone ever fires back is not a question of aggression against the United States of America.
Let’s recall what (didn’t) happen on August 4, 1964. U.S. war ships were on the coast of North Vietnam and were engaged in military actions against North Vietnam. So President Lyndon Johnson knew he was lying when he claimed the August 4 (non)-attack was unprovoked. And any ordinary person could have known he was lying without awaiting any classified leaks. One simply had to check to see which coast of the United States the Gulf of Tonkin was on. (Same with the Red Sea.)
Had the Gulf of Tonkin Incident happened, it could not have been unprovoked. The same ship that was supposedly attacked on August 4 had damaged three North Vietnamese boats and killed four North Vietnamese sailors two days earlier, in an action where the evidence suggests the United States fired first, although the opposite was claimed. In fact, in a separate operation days earlier, the United States had begun shelling the mainland of North Vietnam.
But the supposed attack on August 4 was actually, at most, a misreading of U.S. sonar. The ship’s commander cabled the Pentagon claiming to be under attack, and then immediately cabled to say his earlier belief was in doubt and no North Vietnamese ships could be confirmed in the area. President Johnson was not sure there had been any attack when he told the American public there had been. Months later he admitted privately: “For all I know, our navy was just shooting at whales out there.” But by then Johnson had the authorization from Congress for the war he’d wanted. There the parallel breaks down, of course, as President Barack Constitutional Scholar Obama cannot be bothered with Congressional authorizations. Yet he still requires a certain level of public tolerance.
In a 2003 documentary called The Fog of War, Robert McNamara, who had been Secretary of “Defense” at the time of the Tonkin lies, admitted that the August 4 attack did not happen and that there had been serious doubts at the time. He did not mention that on August 6 he had testified in a joint closed session of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees along with Gen. Earl Wheeler. Before the two committees, both men claimed with absolute certainty that the North Vietnamese had attacked on August 4.
McNamara also did not mention that just days after the Tonkin Gulf non-Incident, he had asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide him with a list of further U.S. actions that might provoke North Vietnam. He obtained the list and advocated for those provocations in meetings prior to Johnson’s ordering such actions on September 10. These actions included resuming the same ship patrols and increasing covert operations, and by October ordering ship-to-shore bombardment of radar sites (exactly what the U.S. just did in Yemen).
A 2000-2001 National Security Agency (NSA) report concluded there had been no attack at Tonkin on August 4 and that the NSA had deliberately lied. The Bush Administration did not allow the report to be published until 2005, due to concern that it might interfere with lies being told to get the Afghanistan and Iraq wars started.
On March 8, 1999, Newsweek had published the mother of all lies: “America has not started a war in this century.” No doubt Team Bush thought it best to leave that pretense undisturbed.
When the United States was lied more deeply into the Vietnam War, all but two senators voted for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. One of the two, Wayne Morse (D-OR), told other senators that he had been told by the Pentagon that the alleged attack by the North Vietnamese had been provoked. Obviously any attack would have been provoked. But the attack itself was fictional, and that’s the point people seem to latch onto, missing the more important understanding that it does not matter.
Senator Morse’s colleagues did not oppose him on the grounds that he was mistaken, however. Instead, a senator told him, “Hell, Wayne, you can’t get into a fight with the president when all the flags are waving and we’re about to go to a national convention. All [President] Lyndon [Johnson] wants is a piece of paper telling him we did right out there, and we support him.”
Hell, Swanson, you can’t raise scruples about blowing people up in Yemen when traitors are failing to stand during the National Anthem and Hillary Clinton took big bucks from Saudi Arabia and Boeing into her family foundation to get those jets there and the Democrats are trying to paint Donald Trump as too dovish.
Catastrophe and Conflict in Aleppo
Tuesday’s House of Commons debate in Britain was filled with the hollow anguish of impotence, fresh with statements about Russian war criminality tossed about like freshly made blinis. Ever easy to point to, Russian support for a regime which Western powers wish to remove, at the expense of further catastrophe, has accelerated the ruthless disposition of the conflict. Peace talks have died in utero; the agents’ actions lack conviction and they pursue, instead, the moral outrage that only impotence engenders.
Hence the scenes of pent up indignation in the Commons, with members running up flags of desperation against a force they see as the Assad monster, backed to the hilt by bully boy Russia and theocratic Iran. At points, the descriptions of desperation became more insistent on a direct military confrontation with Russia, oblivious about the dangerous escalation of the entire conflict.
Aleppo has been raised to be a spectre of cruelty and devastation, a point that was driven home by members of the House after Russia’s veto of a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in the eastern part of the city.
Individuals such as former international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, have been pushing for a no-fly zone for months. Erroneously, and dangerously, Mitchell assumes that such zones of aerial engagement can be controlled and delicately managed, despite a proposed tracking of Russian jets by UK warships off the Syrian coast.
On BBC Radio 4’s programme, Mitchell claimed, “No one wants to see a firefight with Russia, no one wants to shoot down a Russian plane.” This is the same Mitchell who claimed that the UK, having learned hard lessons from Iraq, had a plan for post-Qaddafi Libya.
One would hate to have seen the alternative, though anyone with a sense of history’s nasty surprises would be wary about hyperventilating rhetoric on the moral register. For Mitchell, Russia’s behaviour regarding Aleppo matched “the behaviour of the Nazi regime in Guernica in Spain.”
The parliamentary proceedings during Tuesday’s three-hour emergency debate contained an element of farce, though foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, urged members to remember that “the mills of justice grind slowly, but they grind small”. He had held to the firm line, at least so far, that no-fly zones were simply too risky a proposition, an open invitation to expanded conflict and dangerous encounters.
That said, to help the grind towards some form of indignant justice just that little bit, Johnson urged protests outside the Russian embassy. The ledger board for political points was obviously something Johnson had in mind, arguing that other organisations needed to have their voice heard against Russian shelling and bombing.
This view has been appended to a growing list of calls by such company as US Secretary of State John Kerry and French President and François Hollande, who wish to Russia accountable for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.
This rather rich and discriminatory assertion is not so much focused on the regular civilian deaths occasioned by the airstrikes as the attack on an aid convoy that scuttled the latest Russia-US led ceasefire. Details have been traded and questioned, often with infantile fury, but the facts, as with so much in the Syrian war, remain grimly obscured.
The business of finding war criminals would, in any case, be a tough one, since these same powers assist a fair share of brutal rebels who have a good complement of atrocities under their belts as well. Sponsorship from Paris, Washington and London has never been doubted, and their efforts to destabilise the region more broadly have are a given.
What, then, of the no-fly zone proposition? Even the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, has conceded privately about how devastating it could be in the Syrian conflict. In her 2013 speech to yet another shindig at Goldman Sachs, acknowledgment was made how the carnage would be significant in the event such a zone was implemented with any degree of effectiveness.
They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defenses, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting out pilots are risk – you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.
The result is clear, even from Clinton’s sometimes tortured logic: bodies, and more bodies: “So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.”
As is evidenced by Clinton’s own scepticism, the no-fly zone for Syria is a cul-de-sac of sanguinary doom. Her initial comments came before the full blooded commitment of Russia’s air force had commenced. To implement such a plan now would not only amplify the massacre; it would ensure a regional conflict of ever greater savagery.
Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A document produced last December by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, headed: “UK Non-Humanitarian Aid in Response to The Syria Conflict”, makes interesting reading. The British government, it states, has spent “over £100 million” since 2012, “working closely with a range of actors” to “find a political solution to the conflict and prepare to rebuild the country in the post Assad era.” (Emphasis added.)
“Our efforts … include providing more than £67 million of support to the Syrian opposition.”
One of the “actors” to benefit from hefty chunks of British taxpayers moneys is the Syrian National Coalition whose website states under “Mission Statement and Goals”: “The coalition will do everything in its power to reach the goal of overthrowing the Assad regime …” and to “Establish a transitional government …” (Emphasis added.) Thus the UK government is overtly supporting the illegal overthrow of yet another sovereign government.
This all reads like a re-run of Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraq National Congress and Iyad Allawi’s Iraq National Accord, backed by the British and US governments to equally criminally overthrow Saddam Hussein.
Iraq’s football pitches, gardens and back yards turned graveyards, probably three million deaths between the embargo, the 1991 thirty two country assault, the 2003 blitzkrieg and invasion – ongoing – the ruins of the “Cradle of Civilisation” of which Syria is equally custodian, are silent witness to that gargantuan crime against humanity – and history. Will Washington and Whitehall never learn – or is destruction of civil societies, Nazi-like aggression, illegal overthrows and rivers of blood their raison d’être?
Incidentally, Foreign Office accounting farcically includes: “more than £29 Million to reduce the impact of the conflict on the region.” Stopping the dropping of British bombs would surely be the most practical way to do that – and persuading their US “coalition partners” to do the same. Yet more nauseating, murderous, hypocrisy.
Talking of reducing “the impact of conflict on the region” – here is what the UK is contributing to destroying it – courtesy again the (un-consulted) British taxpayer:
Each of the RAF’s Tornado GR4 jets costs £9.4 million, and each flight costs around £35,000 per hour.
Two Tornados are typically used for each flight, and each flight lasts anywhere between four and eight hours. Even at the lowest estimate, each flight costs £140,000.
Their cargo is four Paveway bombs and two Brimstone missiles, costing £22,000 and £105,000 per unit respectively.
That’s £298,000 plus the cost of the flight which is £438,000, and that’s an optimistic estimate. If the jets carry Storm Shadow missiles – which cost a cool £800,000 a pop – and conduct an eight-hour mission, the total cost is a hell of a lot higher, and none of this takes into account the cost of fuel.
The British government document informs that: “To date, there are over 2,700 volunteers in 110 civil defence stations across northern Syria, trained and equipped with help from UK funding … The ‘White Helmets’ as they are more commonly known …” The “White Helmets”, of course, only work in the areas held by the “moderate” organ eating, child decapitating, human incinerating, crucifying “opposition.”
In Foreign Office parlance, under the heading: “Moderate armed opposition: £4.4 million”, it is explained that this has been devoted to “life saving equipment”, presumably for the head choppers since the “life savers” appear to be their guests. Indeed the “White Helmets” website states that: “They are the largest civil society organisation operating in areas outside of government control …” (Emphasis added.)
Also, near farcically, the Foreign Office informs: “We have also funded Law of Armed Conflict training to help commanders train their fighters to understand their responsibilities and obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.” Given their track record of near unique, medieval barbarity, the “training” is clearly falling on deaf ears.
The UK, of course, is in no position to lecture on the law of armed conflict since the newly unelected Prime Minister, Theresa May, has vowed to halt all cases against British service men and women brought by Iraqis who allege torture, murder of relatives, and varying unimaginable abuses. So much for “responsibilities and obligations under human rights and humanitarian law.”
British generosity is seemingly boundless in murderous meddling in other nations. “Media activists” have been given £5.3 million: “UK funded projects are helping establish a network of independent media outlets across Syria, whose work has included sending out messages about personal safety after the regime’s chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and, more recently, active reporting produced by civil society groups and the likes of the ‘White Helmets’ across Twitter and Facebook accounts.”
The “regime’s chemical weapons attack on Ghouta” has, of course, been roundly disproved despite the best efforts of Western propaganda. As Eric Draitser has written:
What makes that incident significant, both politically and historically, is the fact that, despite the evidence of Syrian government involvement being non-existent, the Obama administration nearly began a war with Syria using Ghouta as the pretext.
As the months have passed, however, scientific studies amassing an impressive body of evidence have shown that, not only were Washington’s claims of ‘certainty’ that Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons in their war with extremist fighters utterly baseless, but, in fact, the reality was quite the opposite – the rebels were the most likely culprits of the attack.
The cynic might ponder that funding “media activists” and the “The White Helmets” to possibly “actively (mis )report” is blatant propaganda. As the propaganda master, Joseph Goebbels, knew: Propaganda is the art of persuasion – persuading others that your ‘side of the story’ is correct – with mega money and resources thrown at the “persuasion.”
The UK’s arguable illegal munificence also extends to: “… working with other international donors to establish and build up the Free Syrian Police (FSP) a moderate police force in opposition-controlled areas …”
Breathtaking! Another re-run of Iraq: disband the police, army, all structures of State – and Iraq is the soul searing, haunting, admonishing ghost, mourning the vibrant, cohesive, civil society (for all its complexities, as most societies) it was prior to the embargo and Iraq Liberation Act (1998) which stated that: “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq…” and signed into law on 31st October 1998, by President Bill Clinton.
As mentioned previously, there is now, of course, the Syria Accountability and Liberation Act of 2010 (H.R. 1206.) Spot the parallels.
“The White Helmets” have also benefitted from $23 million from the US, according to State Department spokesman, Mark Toner (27th April 2016) and €4 million from the government of the Netherlands. Last week Germany announced increasing this year’s donation to €7 million. Japan has also chipped in.
A great deal of money, it would seem, is being thrown at insurgents and illegal immigrants in a sovereign country, awarding themselves the title of Syrian Civil Defence. Yet they do not even have an emergency telephone number. As Vanessa Beeley has pointed out in extensive writings on the subject, the real Syria Civil Defence was established in 1953, is a Member of the International Civil Defence Organisation whose partners include the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs – and as all national emergency services, they have a telephone number: 113.
Among the myriad tasks the “White Helmets” claim to undertake is: “The provision of medical services – including first aid – at the point of injury.” Why then were they trained not by expert first responders, paramedics, civil emergency operatives, but by a mercenary, sorry, “private contractor”?
According to Wikipedia:
Founder of Syria’s White Helmets, James Le Mesurier is a British ‘security’ specialist and ‘ex’ British military intelligence officer with an impressive track record in some of the most dubious NATO intervention theatres including Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. Le Mesurier has also been placed in a series of high-profile posts at the United Nations, European Union, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Equally interesting is Le Mesurier’s own site:
James has spent 20 years working in fragile states as a United Nations staff member, a consultant for private companies and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and as a British Army Officer. Much of his experience has involved delivering stabilisation activities through security sector and democratisation programmes. Since 2012, James has been working on the Syria crisis where he started the Syrian White Helmets programme in March 2013. In 2014, he founded Mayday Rescue, and is dedicated to strengthening local communities in countries that are entering, enduring or emerging from conflict. (Emphasis again added.)
“Democratisation programmes” eh? George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-four” had a “Re-education Committee”, but let’s not get too carried away.
On Tuesday 11 October 2016, the UK’s arguably combative Andrew Mitchell MP, ex-Royal Tank Regiment, who allegedly called Downing Street Police after an altercation [with] “f ***** g plebs”, was granted an emergency three-hour debate in the House of Commons on Syria after allegations by the ‘White Helmets’ that Russian military jets and Syrian helicopters were bombing civilians in eastern Aleppo.
Mitchell stormed the debate all guns blazing, calling the alleged situation “akin to the attack on Guernica during the Spanish civil war” and suggesting the RAF should be empowered to shoot down Russian and Syrian aircraft. He also pushed for a “no fly zone.” As is known from Libya, that is a Western-only fly zone obliterating all in its sights. Guernica indeed!
Again, of course, all but Russian and Syrian aircraft are there illegally, but Andrew Mitchell is being advised among others by former CIA Director General David Petraeus, who was also former Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan and of Multinational Forces in Iraq. Not really a mini think tank, some might speculate, where the rule of law is going to have highest priority.
Mitchell also called for extra funding for – you guessed it – “The White Helmets.”
Incidentally, there are rigid protocols for first responders, paramount among which is to protect the injured, the traumatized, from publicity and identification, in their vulnerability.
“The White Helmets” are seemingly never without camera crews handy recording a small body, face facing the camera, dust covered, blood spattered, clothes awry, in the arms of the “rescuer.”
“Lights, camera, action”? Heaven forbid!
Iran’s deputy permanent representative to the UN has warned against continued sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia and Israel, which are in violation of other territories as well as humanitarian laws.
“We are deeply concerned about the destabilizing repercussions of the continual entry and export of such weaponry into the region, especially into Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime of Israel,” Gholam-Hossein Dehqani said.
He said both Saudi Arabia and Israel are “engaged in aggression and violation against other countries and in flouting their commitments to international humanitarian laws.”
Dehqani was speaking at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly’s Disarmament and International Security Committee at the world body’s headquarters in New York, IRNA reported on Saturday.
He said the Saudi regime was using “British and American bombs” against vital Yemeni infrastructure.
Saudi Arabia has been pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an unsuccessful attempt to reinstall a former ally as president. The war has killed more than 10,000, according to UN figures in August.
Dehqani also stressed the need for disarming Israel of its nuclear arsenal and for the regime’s accession to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), saying “the most dangerous weapons are in the hands of the most dangerous regime in the Middle East.”
“The Zionist regime has recurrently perpetrated violations, occupation, genocide, and terrorist activities; and nuclear weapons in the hands of such a regime constitutes the most dangerous threat to NPT signatories in the Middle East,” he said.
Israel, which has refused to sign the NPT or allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities, keeps an estimated stockpile of some 200-400 nuclear warheads.
Separately, Iran’s envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) urged the complete annihilation of chemical weapons stockpiles.
Alireza Jahangiri, addressing the body Executive Council in The Hague, also urged those countries in possession of such weapons to act on their commitments within the framework of the organization’s Chemical Weapons Convention and non-members to join the Convention.
Jahangiri also urged international cooperation to prevent the use of chemical weapons by terrorist groups, a scenario that he said posed a threat to international peace.
He called on member countries of the organization to refrain from providing support, financial and otherwise, to terrorist groups.
Before people had an easy way to see video footage of police murders, headlines crediting the police with just and noble actions couldn’t be effectively questioned.
We’re still back there in the dark ages when it comes to war murders, but we can overcome the lack of quickly shared videos if we choose to. When the headlines celebrate some sort of “victory” in Mosul or anywhere else, we can point out that the videos of people being blown up in their houses would be truly horrific if we had them. This is not, after all, a point on which there can actually be any question.
The police who murder innocents say they serve a grander purpose of maintaining law and order. Watching the videos of what they do eliminates all possibility of taking that seriously.
The war makers say they serve a grander purpose of . . . well, it depends; sometimes it’s also law and order, other times spreading democracy, other times weapons elimination, other times simply revenge. Imagining the videos we aren’t seeing should help us understand why these justifications do not hold up.
The U.S. has, in recent years, bombed Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. None of them is safer, less armed, more democratic, more peaceful, more prosperous, or less of a threat to others. Quite the contrary. “Defeating” ISIS by bombing people will fuel more suffering and violence, just as “defeating” the government of Saddam Hussein fueled ISIS.
Picture a woman in Mosul who lacks permission to go outside without a male guardian. Now picture that woman’s roof collapsing on her and her children with a thunderous crash and a cloud of dust. Is she better off? Do those who love her appreciate her “liberation”? Would the video be allowed on U.S. media outlets unless we shared it on social media as many times as we do a police video?
“One unfortunate incident.” “Collateral damage.” “A few bad apples.”
No. Police murder routinely and with immunity. Wars murder extensively, immorally, counterproductively, and illegally with immunity. There can be good policing. But there cannot be good war making. It’s all illegal under the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The war on terrorism has been increasing terrorism for years. The U.S. government itself admits it has no idea who most of the people are that it murders with drones.
“So you’re on the side of the criminals.” “You must love ISIS.” “Putin LOVER!”
In fact, this childish retort is more common on the question of war and, tragically, is sometimes fueled by a grain of truth. Even so-called peace groups have fallen for the “pick a side” routine on Syria for years. I know people opposed to U.S. war-making in Syria but not to the U.S. providing weapons to others. I know people opposed to both of those things but not to Syrian government war-making with help from Russia and others. I know people opposed to Syrian and Russian war-making but not to anything directed at overthrowing the Syrian government. I know people in favor of war against ISIS but not against Syria. I know people in favor of any war making armed and funded by Saudi Arabia or Qatar or Turkey but not by the United States or Russia. I could list 18 more variations, all from people claiming — as does the Pentagon — to favor peace.
I oppose war in the way I oppose dueling or blood feuds, not by supporting one side. I oppose the U.S.-led arming of Western Asia the way I oppose pushing heroin in poor neighborhoods, not by wanting particular people to get it all. I oppose murder by police or soldiers in the way that I oppose capital punishment — that is: not because videos make my social media browsing unpleasant, but because people’s lives are being taken.
It’s time we put an end to war as if we could see it.
Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars. To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.
Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mounting hit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.
British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.
Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.
Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.
British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.
SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedly fighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata.
But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.
The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.
Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.
The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.
A secret ‘memorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.
In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.
In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.
Pakistan and Somalia
Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providing ‘locational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.
The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.
The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.
Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.
Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.
The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.
Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.
Kenya and Turkey
Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.
The web of deceit
When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.
Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.
There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.
British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.
twitter – @markcurtis30
It should be personal to all of us. Yemen, regularly portrayed as the poorest nation in the Arab world, is proving itself to be the richest in courage, resourcefulness and resilience.
Ever since March 2015, some of you may have noticed how oil-rich Saudi Arabia, with the United States at its side, have been waging genocidal war against the Yemeni people.
Yemen are a people under attack by an undeclared super-power coalition comprised of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, US, UK, EU, UAE and Israel. As in Iraq, while the Yemeni people are under attack from super-powers, they are simultaneously being collectively punished by the illegal sanctions imposed by a corrupt United Nations body.
Sanctions imposed by resolution 2216, against 5 named individuals, on the pretext of legitimizing an illegitimate fugitive ex-president, Saudi Arabia and Washington’s hand-picked puppet leader, Mansour Hadi, who demanded that neighbouring Saudi Arabia bomb his own people – even after Hadi had resigned twice from an already over-extended presidential term, before fleeing to his alma mater in Riyadh.
UN sanctions imposed upon 5 named individuals yet being exploited by the US/UK/EU backed Saudi coalition to collectively starve and punish 27 million Yemeni people.
This fact has been consistently omitted and waxed over by western political appeasers and ethically challenged mainstream media apologists – and their ignorant and conceded omission is one of the primary reasons why this conflict has been allowed to go from bad to worse.
To compare Saudi Arabia’s belligerent actions in Yemen to Nazi Germany’s undeclared wars of aggression prior to WWII is no exaggeration. In fact, one could make the argument that this Saudi-US joint venture is much worse, and a far more dangerous precedent. Likewise, the failure of a corrupt UN (who effectively sold Saudi Arabia its seat on at the head of the UN Human Rights Council ), led by an impotent Secretary General in Ban-ki Moon, to censure Saudi Arabia for its flagrant violation of international law, the Nuremberg Principles and the entire Geneva Convention content and implied framework – leaves the UN in the exact same position as the League of Nations in 1938.
This is most certainly the case on paper, and with each passing moment we are nudging ever closer to geopolitical déjà vu.
This is one of the most egregious war crimes we’ve seen so far in Yemen, and considering what Saudi Arabia has already done to date, this is off the scale. On the 9th October 2016, the Saudi ‘coalition’ targeted one of the biggest public halls in Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
Officials said two air strikes hit the grand hall of ceremonies, where a post funeral gathering was held to receive condolences for the late Ali bin Ali al-Ruwaishan, the father of Interior Minister, Jalal al-Ruwaishan.
A total of 4 missiles were launched into crowds of civilians. The first strike, two missiles tore into the hall and surrounding areas leaving dozens dead and dying. Then, as funeral-goers clambered over the smouldering rubble to rescue the injured, Saudi coalition planes returned for the double tap air-strike, targeting the civilian rescuers.
Yesterday, the under secretary of the Public Health Ministry in Yemen told journalist and Middle East commentator, Marwa Osman, the death toll had risen to 458 and hundreds more injured. In an interview with RT, Osman went on to describe, 213 bodies were reported as charred, burned beyond recognition, 67 bodies were completely dismembered and 187 bodies torn apart by shrapnel. The brutality of this attack is evident from the horrific photos that appeared on social media very quickly after the event, as Yemenis were reeling from the scale of the massacre.
Yemen civil defence and army recovering bodies from the Saudi coalition bombed ceremony hall in Sanaa (Photo: Yemen the Forgotten War)
The hundreds more injured have been described as “bleeding to death in the streets“. The following report came in from Sanaa hours after the attack:
“Saudi-American airstrikes targeted the biggest hall in Sanaa. The hall was hit by 4 missiles, 2 air-strikes. When rescuers went to the aid of the dying and injured Saudi jets attacked for the second time in their double tap operation. It’s impossible to count the deaths. Officially they are saying less than 500 but many more are dying because they can’t be treated due to the absence of medical supplies and hospital facilities. This is entirely due to the UN sanctions and effective land, air and sea blockades. The hall is 2km from our home and 150m from my university but luckily, today I was not there.
Yesterday we killed several mercenary leaders in Mareb and Saudi commanders so today they are taking their revenge on the innocent people” ~ information supplied to Vanessa Beeley of 21st Century Wire.
According to Hassan Al Haifi, writer, academic and political commentator, living in Sanaa, the Saudi attack was deliberate:
“The mourners were paying tribute to General Jalal Al-Rouishan, Min of Int, who hails from a leading family of Khowlan Al-Tayyal Tribe, a leading and powerful Yemeni tribe.”
Al Haifi commented that this was a cynical and brutal attack by the Saudi coalition, intending to kill as many Ansarullah and Ali Abdullah Saleh officials and supporters as possible. A number of Saleh’s closest friends and allies were killed by the strikes along with a smaller number of Ansarullah members. Al Haifi, himself should have been at the ceremony but had been delayed and fortunately was not there when the Saudi jets launched their missiles into the throngs of mourners.
Saudi air-strike on Sanaa (Photo supplied to 21st Century Wire from Yemen)
The US State Department immediately swung into damage limitation mode and cranked up their hypocrisy to protect their Saudi coalition military industrial complex clients. John Kirby even deployed the “self-defence” terminology usually reserved for their other regional, arms guzzling ally with close links to Al Qaeda, Israel.
The bloodshed and suffering of the Yemeni people was reduced to an obscene game of semantics by a cold and calculating US State Department, as their multi billion dollar arms industry registered obscene trading levels with the Saudi coalition in 2015. In the first 21 months of Saudi-US illegal war on Yemen, US arms sales worth $33 Billion were closed Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) entities according to Defense News. In total, America’s Nobel Peace Chief Barack Hussein Obama has offered to sell $115 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia since taking office in 2009 – more than any previous US administration, according to a recent report.
Not to be left out of the party, Britain has also sold more than £3.7 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia since Saudi’s illegal war of aggression began.
In truth, many of these estimates are conservative and do not include many more hundreds of millions in ancillary costs, staffing, support contracting and engineering.
Even though they’ve been completely redacted by the western media, and also by the myriad of Gulf monarchy media outlets, the real heroes of this conflict are the Yemeni people.
In their reductionist way of thinking and categorizing the world outside of their shores, Americans refer to Middle East populations in sectarian terms – because this is they way they would like to see the world, but it couldn’t be any further from reality. To Americans, the Yemeni war is all because of “Iranian-backed Shia Houthi Rebels.” The first US Congressman ever to say that in public probably read it directly off an AIPAC policy briefing sheet. That’s the sad reality still in Washington – information-poor (and lobby cash-rich) elected representatives are only able to see the world through the Israeli lens.
The reality is much more complex than just “the Houthis.” A genuine Arab Spring has taken place in Yemen and the US and Saudi response was simply to try and crush the people. But the people have resisted fiercely, and together. Unlike other neo-colonial ventures like Iraq and Afghanistan – the people of Yemen have united to a large degree and are determined to realize their own vision of self government. This is something that has been written off by everyone in the US establishment – from the President all the way down the political food chain.
The UK/US built, House of Saud, is waging a genocidal war of aggression that has already destroyed entire swathes of Yemeni cultural heritage and decimated entire communities, particularly in the northern, traditionally Ansarullah (Houthi) held areas such as Saada and Hajjah. This was by design. By now, we can see clearly how this was yet another ethnic cleansing programme being endorsed, fuelled and defended by the United States and her allies in the UK, EU, Israel, and of course the neighbouring Gulf States, the majority of whom participated in this dirty war. Oman, a lone, moderate, and independent thinking gulf state, has remained neutral, providing a degree of support to the Yemeni people. […]
The height of US hypocrisy was on full display during a US State Department press briefing where the already discredited US spokesman John Kirby shameless danced around a mass-murder by Saudi Arabia – whose airstrikes are supported logistically by the United States. This is the definition of criminality unchecked. Watch:
Author Vanessa Beeley is a special contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.
For further background on Saudi ‘s war of aggression please read 21WIRE article: UN Whitewashing Saudi Coalition War Crimes and International Human Rights Violations
The Internet has lately been filled with pictures of American military pilots rushing towards US warplanes closely resembling Russia’s Su-34, painted in a recognizable light blue paint scheme that has never been used in the US military, but is routinely used by the Russian Air Force.
But this was not a demonstration of US pilots finally filling the seats of Russian hardware, provoked by the fact that US military contractors failed to deliver a competitive fifth-generation fighter, alas. Though it’s true that the Lockheed Martin F-35 has been a bitter failure riddled by criticism from all sides, including the American “hawk in chief” – Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, John McCain.
Regardless, what we’ve seen in the pictures is the direct implementation of the notorious American “plan B” in Syria, so now pro-American “eye-witnesses” can not simply claim that they’ve witnessed Russia’s involvement in alleged “war crimes” somewhere in Aleppo and other Syrian cities. They would now be able to provide pictures taken with their mobile devices to show the “evidence of criminal Russian activities in Syria.” Somewhere in Washington someone has assumed that the whole world would echo the demands of their obedient British and French client government to hold an “international tribunal regarding Russia’s aggression” after seeing such pictures.
In addition to the United States repainting its warplanes to resemble Russian military livery, it is also fairly obvious that America’s F-18 is fairly similar to the Russian Su-34 in appearance. In fact, only a military expert can tell the difference, but only when pictures are presented in high resolution. The folding wings of the American F-18 can only be seen in on the runway, and as for the vertical stabilizers of the F-18, they are only slightly different from the Russian Su-34.
Thus, if an American jet is to be filmed by somebody’s shaking hands on a smartphone, or even a semi-professional camera, it will be virtually indistinguishable from the Su-34.
The only notable distinguishing marks left on the repainted F-18 is a white star on a dark background. However, it’s tail features the bright red star all of Russian’s military jets bear.
In such circumstances, an American F-18, while being virtually indistinguishable from a Russian jet, can launch, wittingly or unwittingly, a classic false flag attack. The possible targets are plenty: humanitarian convoys, residential areas, or even US military personnel. Should this attack be filmed, Washington will end up having “irrefutable evidence” of “Russian aggression.”
As a matter of fact, Russia is already being accused of such aggression on a daily basis, but the problem is that nobody has seen any convincing evidence of such aggression. Repainting American planes to resemble Russian aircraft may be a solution to this problem.
But it must be pointed out that this attempt to launch a provocation against Russia comes from a very old book of CIA tricks. Back in 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, Washington was also planning to use repainted aircraft,which would be used to take down a civilian airliner as a pretext for Washington to blame the Cuban Air Force. This story was told by US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in the documentary, “The Fog of War.”
But it’s a well-known fact that the US is an empire of lies, and there can be no doubt about that. Therefore, all the statements and actions of the White House should be taken with a grain of salt in order not to be fooled by yet another US-crafted lie.
A Yemeni military source denied on Thursday targeting US warship earlier this week, stressing that Washington uses such allegations as a pretext to escalate the aggression against Yemen.
Earlier on Thursday, the Pentagon announced that the US had bombed three radar sites controlled by Houthi revolutionaries in Yemen after the destroyer USS Mason was targeted by missile fire for the second time in four days.
“Those claims are baseless,” Saba news agency quoted the military source as saying.
“The army and the Popular Committees have nothing to do with this action,” according to the source.
“Such claims aim to create false justifications to step up attacks and to cover up for the continuous crimes committed by the (coalition) aggression against the Yemeni people,” Saba quoted the source as saying.
French troops engage in joint drills with Saudi forces on the outskirts of the northeastern French city of Lille (Photo by alsharq.net.sa)
Special Forces units with the Saudi and French armies have partaken in joint military drills in France.
The exercise engaged the Royal Saudi Land Forces’ crack unit brigade and its French counterpart in the town of Meer, London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Citing the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA ), the paper said the maneuvers had started last week.
The news comes only three days after the kingdom’s navy finished 10 days of live-fire military exercises in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.
The seaborne drills involved warships, speedboats, marines and special forces in the strategic waters.
The SPA alleged that the maneuvers sought to test combat readiness “in preparation for the protection of the marine interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any possible aggression.”
France is known for its close relations with Saudi Arabia. The two sides have been seeking to boost their military ties in recent months.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom’s defense minister and most powerful figure after the monarch, has twice traveled to France since 2015.
During Salman’s visit to France last June, Paris and Riyadh reportedly sealed military deals worth up to USD 12 billion for the delivery of modern weaponry to the Arab kingdom amid Riyadh’s deadly military campaign against Yemen.
The prince paid another visit to France in July this year, in what was widely seen as an attempt to finalize the agreements reached with Paris the previous year.
Last year, the Paris government raised controversy by closing off a French beach for a visit by Saudi King Salman.