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Turkish military repeatedly shell Assad forces; Kurds confirm to RT being hit by massive attack

RT | February 13, 2016

The Turkish army has shelled Syrian government forces in Aleppo and Latakia provinces, while also hitting Kurdish targets near the city of Azaz in northwestern Syria, including an air base recently retaken from Islamist rebels, with a massive attack.

Anatolia news agency reported that the Turkish military hit Syrian government forces on Saturday, adding that the shelling had been in response to fire inflicted on a Turkish military guard post in Turkey’s southern Hatay region.

Turkish artillery targeted Syrian forces again late on Saturday, according to a military source quoted by RIA Novosti. The attack targeted the town of Deir Jamal in the Aleppo Governorate.

The agency also cited details of an earlier attack on Syrian government army positions in northwestern Latakia.

“Turkey’s artillery opened fire on the positions of the Syrian Army in the vicinity of Aliya mountain in the northwestern part of the province of Latakia,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Turkish shelling of Kurdish positions continued for more than three hours almost uninterruptedly, a Kurdish source told RT, adding that the Turkish forces are using mortars and missiles and firing from the Turkish border not far from the city of Azaz in the Aleppo Governorate.

The shelling targeted the Menagh military air base and the nearby village of Maranaz, where “many civilians were wounded,” local journalist Barzan Iso told RT. He added that Kurdish forces and their allies among “the Syrian democratic forces” had taken control of the air base on Thursday.

According to Iso, the Menagh base had previously been controlled by the Ahrar ash-Sham Islamist rebel group, which seized it in August of 2013. The journalist also added that Ahrar ash-Sham militants at the base had been supported by Al-Nusra terrorists and some extremist groups coming from Turkey.

Ahrar ash-Sham is a militant group that has trained teenagers to commit acts of terror in Damascus, Homs, and Latakia provinces, according to data provided to the Russian Defense Ministry by Syrian opposition forces.

The group, which has intensified its attacks on the Syrian government forces since January, was getting “serious reinforcements from Turkey,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing in Moscow on January 21.

A source in the Turkish government confirmed to Reuters that the Turkish military had shelled Kurdish militia targets near Azaz on Saturday.

“The Turkish Armed Forces fired shells at PYD positions in the Azaz area,” the source said, referring to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara views as a terrorist group.

A Turkish security official told Reuters that the shelling of the Kurds had been a response to a shelling of Turkish border military outposts by the PYD and forces loyal to Damascus, as required under Turkish military rules of engagement.

Turkey’s PM Davutoglu also confirmed that the country’s forces had struck Syrian Kurdish fighters and demanded that the Kurds retreat from all of the areas that they had recently seized.

“The YPG will immediately withdraw from Azaz and the surrounding area and will not go close to it again,” he told reporters, adding that Turkey “will retaliate against every step [by the YPG],” Reuters reports.

A Kurdish official confirmed to Reuters that the shelling had targeted the Menagh air base located south of Azaz.

According to the official, the base had been captured by the Jaysh al-Thuwwar rebel group, which is an ally of PYD and a member of the Syria Democratic Forces alliance.

Syrian Kurds are actively engaged in the fight against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group and have been recently described as “some of the most successful” forces fighting IS jihadists in Syria by US State Department spokesman John Kirby, AFP reports.

Earlier, the US also called the PYD an “important partner” in the fight against Islamic State, adding that US support of the Kurdish fighters “will continue.”

Turkey’s shelling of the Syrian Kurds comes just days after a plan to end hostilities in Syria was presented in Munich after a meeting of the so-called International Syria Support Group (ISSG), in which Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura participated.

‘We will strike PYD’ – Turkish PM

Earlier on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatened Syrian Kurds with military action, saying that Turkey will resort to force against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) if it considers the step “necessary.”

“As I have said, the link between the YPG and the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK is obvious. If the YPG threatens our security, then we will do what is necessary,” Davutoglu said on February 10, as quoted by the Hurriyet Daily.

“The leadership cadre and ideology of the PKK and PYD is the same,” he argued in a televised speech in the eastern city of Erzincan on Saturday, AFP reports.

Davutoglu also said that if there is a threat to Turkey, “we will strike PYD like we did Qandil,” referring to a bombing campaign waged by Turkey against the PKK in its Qandil mountain stronghold in northern Iraq, Daily Sabah reports.

Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the YPG, as affiliates of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decade-long insurgency against Turkish authorities, demanding autonomy for Turkish Kurds.

The latest developments come as Turkey continues a relentless crackdown on Kurds in its southeastern region. Ankara launched a military operation against Kurdish insurgents from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in July of 2015, breaking a ceasefire signed in 2013.

Turkey’s General Staff claim that Turkish forces killed more than 700 PKK rebels during the offensive in the southeastern districts of Cizre and Sur. Meanwhile, Amnesty International has reported that at least 150 civilians, including women in children, were killed in the Turkish military operation, adding that over 200,000 lives have been put at risk.

According to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, at least 198 civilians, including 39 children, have been murdered in the area since August of 2015.

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

While Kerry Talks Ceasefire, US Allies Secretly Ship Grad Missiles to Syria Rebels

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | February 12, 2016

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The big news yesterday was that after some five hours of intense negotiation on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, an agreement was reached between the major powers on a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria within the next week.

According to the agreement:

The [International Syria Support Group] members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council. The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.

Now today — just one day after the ceasefire agreement —  we discover that a massive shipment of ground-to-ground “Grad” missiles has been sent by US allies (and the CIA?) to rebels fighting against the Syrian government.

Reuters reports:

‘It is excellent additional fire power for us,’ said one of the commanders, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. The second rebel commander said the missiles were being used to hit army positions beyond the front line. ‘They give the factions longer reach,’ he said.

What are we to conclude by this dramatic turn of events? Two possibilities.

One, that since the deal is not finalized on paper the foreign powers backing regime change for Syria did not feel the need to halt the shipment and in fact may have hastened the delivery.

Two, that the “rebels” being supplied do not fall under the terms of the agreement spelled out above. In other words, the ceasefire does not apply to ISIS or al-Qaeda or affiliated forces, so perhaps the foreign Grad suppliers decided this is a two-way street: if Russia is still free to bomb the terrorist groups, then Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. are still free to provide them weapons.

Does anyone have any confidence in this kind of ceasefire when either the “moderates” or named terrorist groups are being armed to the teeth on the eve of its implementation? Will the Russians begin to doubt the veracity of their western partners’ commitment to halting the violence in Syria when they learn of this massive weapons shipment?

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | | Leave a comment

Bernie, No! Winston Churchill Was a War Criminal, Not a ‘Hero’

teleSUR | February 12, 2016

Professing one’s love for Winston Churchill, the British prime minister during World War II, is shorthand in U.S. politics for: “I think killing Nazis was good.” Churchill is a pugnacious old man with a cigar in his mouth, more an inspirational poster—”Never Give In”—than a real human being, with all our human flaws. Still, it was nonetheless a little strange to hear Bernie Sanders, the social democrat campaigning to be the presidential nominee of the Democrat Party, describing the symbol of giving-it-your-all as one of his two “heroes” at the last debate.

“Winston Churchill’s politics were not my politics,” Sanders began. “He was kind of a conservative guy in many respects,” having been the head of the Conservative Party, “But nobody can deny that as a wartime leader, he rallied the British people when they stood virtually alone against the Nazi juggernaut and rallied them and eventually won.” Along with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the former U.S. president who also killed Nazis, “These are two leaders that I admire very much.”

That the Vermont senator did not name Hugo Chavez or Karl Marx, or even U.S. socialist leader Eugene Debs, is not surprising: Sanders is on the radical left only in relation to the center-right politics of the United States in 2016. Naming Churchill, in this center-right country, is playing it safe, akin to—and another way of—coming out against Adolf Hitler.

But if, as Sanders contends, the former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is a vile war criminal responsible for an illegal bombing campaign in Cambodia that aided the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge (“Not my kind of guy,” the senator said), then he should be made aware: Winston Churchill, too, was responsible for many crimes as a wartime leader, beyond just what he himself described as the Allies’ “terror bombing” of German civilians in Dresden.

“I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes,” Churchill declared in a 1919 memo, referring to the unlucky people of occupied India. Using chemical weapons “would spread a lively terror,” said Churchil—ever the humanitarian, he maintained that the “moral effect” of terrorizing the “natives” would ultimately reduce the loss of life, or so he claimed to believe. As a young man, he gladly took part in “a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples”; as a white supremacist, he believed these people had a “propensity to kill” those attempting to steal their land, thus justifying the civilized white man’s efforts to kill them.

As secretary of state for war in the summer of 1919, Churchill would in fact authorize the use of toxic gas, planning and executing “a sustained chemical attack on northern Russia,” according to The Guardian, in an attempt to terrorize the Bolshevik government into collapse.

Despite his confidence in the humaneness of the weapon—”Why is it not fair for a British artilleryman to fire a shell which makes the said native sneeze?”—contemporary accounts suggest it was devastatingly lethal. Historian Gles Milton, the author of a book on the matter, noted in an interview with The Telegraph that “one soldier said that all 50 of his comrades were wiped out. It’s difficult to know how many fatalities there were but they dropped thousands of these things on various villages.”

Just as carpet bombing Cambodia did not aid the cause of moderation, dropping toxic gas all over revolutionary Russia did no favors to those revolutionaries who preferred the direct democracy of the soviets to the top-down, and decidedly more austere Stalinism that unsurprisingly prevailed with the help of a bloody civil war fueled by imperialism that left millions of people dead.

At the debate, Sanders said it was “rather amazing” that his rival, Hillary Clinton, would accept the advice of a man like Henry Kissinger, cast today as a round and cuddly figure but in fact “one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country,” with the blood of tens of thousands of people on his hands. “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend,” said Bernie, and bully for him. But if Kissinger’s crimes still matter, so should Winston’s.

Bernie may have just been fishing for a name that wouldn’t peg him as a no-good commie, falling back on an anti-communist that most are unaware was also a criminal white supremacist. But just as Hillary could use better advisers, Bernie should be reminded that he can find much better heroes. Clinton did, playing it safe and less problematic: She went with Nelson Mandela.

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia Has Destroyed the CIA’s Arms Smuggling Operation in Syria

By Stuart Hooper – 21st Century Wire – February 12, 2016

The covert Syrian intervention could not have gone any worse for the Western powers involved in the attempt to oust Assad.

The Russian military has successfully closed the Azaz Corridor, a narrow strip of land connecting Turkey to the rebel forces in Aleppo, which was being used as a major supply route for the terrorist forces currently wrecking havoc throughout Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was reportedly hounded by his American counterpart John Kerry at least six times to keep the Azaz corridor open.

A new report now explains why:

‘Mr. Kerry enters the negotiations with very little leverage: The Russians have cut off many of the pathways the C.I.A. has been using for a not-very-secret effort to arm rebel groups, according to several current and former officials.’

‘Mr. Kerry’s supporters inside the administration say he has been increasingly frustrated by the low level of American military activity, which he views as essential to bolstering his negotiation effort.’

For the last three years, the CIA has been smuggling arms into Syria via Turkey using the Azaz Corridor, and without it they have no leverage over Assad or the Russians.

Interestingly, now that the corridor has been essentially destroyed by Russian airpower, the US is now seeking to establish a peace deal in Syria meaning that the foreign interference could finally be coming to an end.

Assad has vowed to continue his fight with the Russians to finally liberate Syria and has openly decried the foreign support for terrorism.

Can the conflict in Syria now finally come to an end?

February 13, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton Sugarcoating Her Disastrous Record

By Ralph Nader | February 12, 2016

Bernie Sanders is far too easy on Hillary Clinton in their debates. Clinton flaunts her record and experience in ways that Sanders could use to expose her serious vulnerabilities and disqualifications for becoming president. Sanders responds to Clinton’s points, but without the precision that could demolish her arrogance.

For example, she repeatedly says that Sanders has not levelled with people about the cost of full Medicare for all, or single-payer. Really? In other countries, single-payer is far simpler and more efficient than our present profiteering, wasteful, corporatized healthcare industry. Canada covers all of its citizens, with free choice of doctors and hospitals, for about $4,500 per capita, compared to the over $9,000 per capita cost in the U.S. system that still leaves tens of millions of people uninsured or underinsured.

Detailed studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show big savings from a single-payer system in our country.

It is Hillary Clinton who is not levelling with the people about the costs of maintaining the spiraling U.S. costs of drugs, hospital stays and insurance premiums that are the highest in the world. The costs include: 1) the waste of well over $1 trillion a year; 2) daily denials of coverage by the Aetnas of the corporate world; 3) about forty thousand Americans dying each year, according to a peer-reviewed Harvard Medical School study, because they cannot afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time; and 4) daily  agonizing negotiations over insurance company denials, exclusions and bureaucratic paperwork that drive physicians up the wall.

Clinton hasn’t explained why she was once for single-payer until she defined her “being practical” as refusing to take on big pharma, commercial hospital chains and the giant insurance companies. She is very “practical” about taking political contributions and speaking fees from Wall Street and the health care industry.

As one 18 year-old student told the New York Times recently about Clinton, “sometimes you get this feeling that all of her sentences are owned by someone.”

This protector of the status quo and the gross imbalance of power between the few and the many expresses perfectly why Wall Street financiers like her so much and prove it with their large continuing monetary contributions.

Hillary Clinton is not “levelling with the American people,” when she keeps the transcripts (which she requested at the time) of her secret speeches (at $5,000 a minute!) before large Wall Street and trade association conventions. Her speaking contracts mandated secrecy. Clinton still hasn’t told voters what she was telling big bankers and many other industries from automotive to drugs to real estate developers behind closed doors.

She has the gall to accuse Bernie Sanders of not being transparent. Sanders is a presidential candidate who doesn’t take big-fee speeches or big donations from fat cat influence-peddlers, and his record is as clean as the Clintons’ political entanglements are sordid. (See Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer.)

But it is in the area of foreign and military affairs that “Hillary the hawk” is most vulnerable. As Secretary of State her aggressiveness and poor judgement led her to the White House where, sweeping aside the strong objections of Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, she persuaded President Obama to bomb Libya and topple its dictatorial regime.

Gates had warned about the aftermath. He was right. Libya has descended into a ghastly state of chaotic violence that has spilled into neighboring African nations, such as Mali, and that opened the way for ISIS to establish an expanding base in central Libya. Her fellow hawks in Washington are now calling for U.S. special forces to go to Libya.

Whether as Senator on the Armed Services Committee or as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton has never met a war or raid she didn’t like, or a redundant, wasteful weapons system she was willing to aggressively challenge. As president, Hillary Clinton would mean more wars, more raids, more blowbacks, more military spending and more profits for the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower so prophetically warned about in his farewell address.

So when Bernie Sanders properly chided her for having as an advisor, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, she bridled and tried to escape by asking Sanders to name his foreign policy advisors.

In fact, Kissinger and Clinton do have much in common about projecting the American Empire to brutal levels. Kissinger was the “butcher of Cambodia,” launching an illegal assault that destabilized that peaceful country into the Pol Pot slaughter of millions of innocents. She was the illegal “butcher of Libya,” an ongoing, unfolding tragedy whose blowbacks of “unintended consequences” are building by the week.

In a devastating recounting of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous war-making, Professor of Sustainable Economies at Columbia University, Jeffrey D. Sachs concludes that Clinton “is the candidate of the War Machine.” In a widely noted article on Huffington Post Professor Sachs, an advisor the United Nations on millennium development goals, called her record a “disaster,” adding that “Perhaps more than any other person, Hillary can lay claim to having stoked the violence that stretches from West Africa to Central Asia and that threatens U.S. security.”

The transformation of Hillary Clinton from a progressive young lawyer to a committed corporatist and militarist brings shame on the recent endorsement of her candidacy by the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.

But then, considering all the years of Clintonite double talk and corporate contributions going to the Black Caucus PAC (according to FEC reports January through December, 2015), and the Black Caucus conventions, why should anybody be surprised that Black Lives Matter and a growing surge of young African Americans are looking for someone in the White House who is not known for the Clintons’ sweet-talking betrayals?

See Michelle Alexander’s recent article in The Nation, “Hillary Clinton Does Not Deserve Black People’s Votes” for more information on this subject.

February 13, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes, Economics, Corruption, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

‘UK must maintain submarine Trident’

Press TV – February 13, 2016

The UK must renew its submarine-borne Trident nuclear weapons system if it is to maintain its “outsized” role in the world affairs, said US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

He went on stating that the deterrent allowed Britain to “continue to play that outsized role on the global stage that it does because of its moral standing and its historical standing.”

Carter said the submarine fleet helped the “special relationship” Britain enjoyed with the United States.

The statements come as a decision on replacing the aging fleet of four submarines which carry nuclear warheads is due to be made this year. While Prime Minister David Cameron is committed to renewal, the issue has caused deep divisions in the opposition Labour Party.

The Conservative government has said replacing the submarines will cost 31 billion pounds while media reports put the overall cost of renewing and maintaining a successor to Trident at more than 167 billion pounds over 32 years.

“It’s important that the military power matches that standing and so we’re very supportive of it. We depend upon the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom depends on us, that’s part of the special relationship,” the US official added.

While most lawmakers in Cameron’s party support keeping nuclear weapons, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn supports unilateral disarmament and is holding a review of the party’s policy.

That has led to deep divisions among its lawmakers and earlier this week Labour’s home affairs spokesman Andy Burnham said it might be impossible for the party to agree a position.

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

The Dawn of Killer Robots

April 16, 2015

In INHUMAN KIND, Motherboard gains exclusive access to a small fleet of US Army bomb disposal robots—the same platforms the military has weaponized—and to a pair of DARPA’s six-foot-tall bipedal humanoid robots. We also meet Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, renowned physicist Max Tegmark, and others who grapple with the specter of artificial intelligence, killer robots, and a technological precedent forged in the atomic age. It’s a story about the evolving relationship between humans and robots, and what AI in machines bodes for the future of war and the human race.

Read: The Evil ‘Star Wars’ Robot Who Owns the Term ‘Meatbag’ – http://bit.ly/1Hy6KLU

Subscribe to Motherboard Radio: http://apple.co/1DWdc9d

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Do We Need a Bigger War?

The Syrian Army and its allies have clearly turned the tide in the Syrian war. The “facts on the ground” have changed dramatically for all the major players, and constitute a major reversal for all the forces that have tried to institute “regime change” in Syria, in violation of its sovereignty.  The Geneva “Peace Conference” opposition delegation, composed of marginal figures representing a tiny fraction of the armed anti-government factions but ostensibly speaking for all of them, is now largely irrelevant. As the terrorists and foreign mercenaries and their families flee Aleppo, thousands or tens of thousands of Syrian civilians are returning to their homes in secure government held areas.

Given the reversal of fortunes for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, NATO and their allies and mercenaries, what’s next? The sensible thing would be for all the actors to declare victory by finishing off the ostensible terrorist enemy and accepting a face saving solution that includes a Syrian government commitment to reform, with expertise provided by a friendly international team of experts that puts Russia, the US, Europe, Iran and perhaps even Saudi Arabia on the same side.

But this is not the advice we are hearing from the advisers that got us into this mess in the first place, and who are disappointed that Syria might not go the way of Iraq, Libya and Somalia after all. They are suggesting that a more and bigger war is the way to complete the job of turning Syria into a failed state. Such a war would involve an invasion of Turkish forces amassed and poised on the border, direct intervention by Saudi forces, US and perhaps other NATO ground forces, and potentially Israeli forces as well.

Such a plan risks putting these forces directly in confrontation with Syrian and Russian units and objectives. It is a recipe for great power confrontation on a scale rarely seen since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Rarely, but not totally. When Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft on November 24, 2015, only very cool Russian heads prevented the unthinkable by deciding that the Russian response might best be served cold.

That dish is now on the table, and it is for the Turks and bigger warmongers to decide if they want to risk Armageddon by unleashing even greater forces of destruction.  There are players that would love to do so; they profit from death, misery and cataclysm, and would never miss such an opportunity. Chief among them are the arms merchants that dominate in the US and Israel, the neoconservative movement, also heavily subsidized by Israel and its Zionist lobbies in other countries, and by Israel’s investment in weakening all potential adversaries. Saudi Arabia has decided that it has much the same adversaries and has therefore thrown its lot in with Israel. The Erdogan administration in Turkey finds that its interests, including territorial aggrandizement, are congruent, and US objectives are defined by the neoconservative movement and the Israel Lobby, which have kidnapped US strategic policy in this regard, to the dismay of the Foreign Service, intelligence and military professional core of the American government.

The Syria Solidarity Movement suggests that further escalation is not a solution, but that the application of international law can bring the hostilities to a close. Astonishingly, this a war in which there are few declared enemies. Of the many parties and their sponsored combatants, only the armed groups and the Syrian government have declared themselves to be enemies, unless you count the insincere protestations that “terrorist” groups are also enemies of the same nations that are aiding and abetting them.

Syria is still recognized universally and diplomatically as a sovereign state, and under international law no power may interfere in its security considerations except by invitation from the recognized government of that state. To seek “regime change” (overthrow) is strictly illegal under international law, and prohibited by the United Nations. Governments that are pursuing such an objective should be sanctioned by the UN, although there is no realistic possibility of such action.

The Syria Solidarity Movement believes that it is time to complete the expulsion of the terrorist and mercenary forces that have been attacking Syria for the last five years. This can be accomplished by denying all support of arms and funding from the US, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and other countries. In addition, these countries can choose to either cooperate with the Syrian government and its allies to rid Syria of this scourge, or at least not interfere while Syrian, Russian and other allied forces complete the job. In this case, Syria can resume its role of providing government services and representation for its people, and its people can resume shaping their own government without outside interference.

It is time to end this ill-advised adventurism, and to put to flight the rascals and criminals, not only in Syria but also inside the countries whose strategic policies have been hijacked by gangs who are in many respects worse than those who bring beheadings and crucifixions to our computer screens.

The Syria Solidarity Movement

ILLEGAL USE OF OUR NAME:  Counterpunch recently published an article from an individual claiming to be from “Syria Solidarity UK”. This constitutes infringement of the use of the name of the Syria Solidarity Movement and a misrepresentation of who we are.  We wish to caution all persons and organizations against the fraudulent use of our name, even if published in good faith as a result of information provided by third parties. We are pursuing legal remedy and would not wish anyone to unnecessarily incur liability.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Britain’s War Crimes Will Not Go Unpunished

By Martin Berger – New Eastern Outlook – 11.02.2016

One could hardly find a person both within the UK or outside it that would look positively at the steps that have been taken by David Cameron and his government if, of course, we’re not talking about members of the Conservative Party and certain military circles. The reasons are plenty, but the most obvious ones are the crimes against humanity committed by this government, along with a total disregard for the social needs of UK citizens and the revanchist policies it pursued in the Middle East and Africa.

It will suffice to note that Cameron’s government is going to cut its social spending to the lowest possible level to be able to carry on foreign military campaigns. The Guardian notes:

Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative chair of the all-party Commons select committee on health, is calling for the government to act, saying that social care providers are reeling from rising costs and declining fees from cash-strapped local authorities.

As a direct result of the steps that are being taken by British government, those citizens that are facing retirement today will lose all means to pay their expenses in the next 10 years.

The benefits cuts on sheltered housing that have been recently announced by the UK government will literally make tens of thousands of those in dire need homeless. Those that are forced to experience the consequences of the shortsighted policies of London are to be the most vulnerable, namely older residents, domestic violence victims and people with mental illness. Those caps were first announced last autumn by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

However, the Guardian refuses to mention that the army is still enjoying substantial budgets just as it always has, to the benefit of countless military contractors and those politicians who represent them in the parliament. It is therefore not surprising that these lobbyists are among the most ardent supporters of David Cameron’s plan of the possible British military engagement in Syria, despite attempts of some sane politicians to put an end to airstrikes that the UK is carrying out in this Arab country, calling them “infanticide

The above mentioned activities predictably result in an ever growing body count that British troops are producing with their “fire and sword” across the world in the name of vague “democratic principles”, while actually protecting the interests of the City of London.

Therefore, the British political elite are putting every effort into a bid to prevent the investigation of their criminal policies in the Middle East, Africa and other regions around the world. For instance every possible step has been taken to derail an inquiry of the commission headed by Sir John Chilcot that was entrusted back in 2009 to give an answer on how justified Tony Blair’s decision was to go to war against Iraq, which resulted in 179 British soldiers killed and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis left suffering in lawlessness and bitter misery to this date. Moreover, a few days ago it was announced that the British Ministry of Defense was going to close the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) that was created in 2010 to study at least 58 allegations against British servicemen allegedly involved in murder cases in Iraq. And although the IHAT was investigating the deaths of 1,500 possible victims, out of which 280 were allegedly unlawfully killed, there’s every reason to believe that it won’t be funded up to 2019 as originally intended.

David Cameron is anticipating complete impunity for his actions, therefore refusing to launch an investigation of war crimes that were carried out with the use of British weapons, especially those supplied by the British to Saudi Arabia. Cameron excused himself for this decision by announcing that arms exports are being “closely monitored”.

Lately Amnesty International has been vocal in condemning the UK role in the Yemeni conflict, while directly pointing to the shameful support of routine brutality that the Saudi regime has been exhibiting. At the same time The Independent published an article that stated a member of the British government, while staying in Riyadh, praised Saudi authorities for the “remarkable progress” in the field of human rights, a month after the public execution of 47 people!

As for the British responsibility in the massive civilian killings in Yemen, it is necessary to recall that during the first nine months of 2015 the United Kingdom supplied Saudi Arabia with 2.95 billion pounds worth of arms, which were used to launch airstrikes against heavily populated urban areas. The total worth of weapons sold to Saudi Arabia throughout all of Cameron’s premiership amounts to 7 billion pounds, including a contract to supply the regime with 72 Eurofighter Typhoons. Numerous media sources have been calling repeatedly to bring to justice those responsible in the bloody conflict in Yemen. So there’s little wonder that the UN Security Council decided to form a special committee to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law by all the parties of the Yemeni conflict to identify those responsible. And the UK is not particularly happy about that fact.

As it was reported by The Independent :

An influential joint committee of MPs is set to investigate claims that British-made weapons may have been used for strikes against civilian targets. The Committee on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), made up of members of the Foreign Affairs, International Development, Defence and Business select committees, has not sat so far this Parliament, but will be re-established.

Crispin Blunt, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Stephen Twigg, chair of the International Development committee, have both indicated that they want the CAEC to investigate whether UK arms have been used for military strikes against civilians, and also to scrutinise the role of UK personnel working in Saudi command and control centres orchestrating airstrikes.

Taking into account the steps that David Cameron has made to hide numerous crimes committed by him and his government both in the UK and abroad, it’s about time for the international community to take such investigations into its own hands, to ensure that no felon, whether a politician or not, escapes justice.

Martin Berger is a Czech-based freelance journalist and analyst.

February 11, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes, Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel denies European Parliament delegation access to Gaza

MEMO | February 11, 2016

A delegation from the European Parliament was blocked by the Israeli authorities from entering Gaza on Tuesday, the EU said in a statement.

The lawmakers, who are part of the working group of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Palestine, arrived in Jerusalem on Monday and was due to visit Gaza to assess the destruction caused in the 2014 conflict and the reconstruction efforts funded by the European Union.

According to the statement, a copy of which was sent to MEMO’s reporter in Gaza, no justification was given to explain the refusal.

Delegation Chair Irish MEP Martina Anderson stated: “The systematic denial by Israel of access to Gaza to European Parliament delegations is unacceptable. The European Parliament has not been able to access Gaza since 2011.”

Anderson added: “This raises questions: what does the Israeli government aim to hide? We shall not give up on the Gazan people.”

The Delegation was led by Anderson and included six other lawmakers: Margrete Auken (Vice-Chair of Delegation, Greens), Roza Thun (EPP), Eugen Freund (S&D), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL), Rosa D’Amato (EFDD) and Konstantinos Papadakis (NI).

February 11, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

What US Congress Researchers Reveal About Washington’s Designs on Syria

Seeing the government in Damascus as too far to the left, Washington has been trying to orchestrate a regime change in Syria since at least 2003

By Stephen Gowans | what’s left |February 9, 2016

Documents prepared by US Congress researchers as early as 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria long before the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, challenging the view that US support for the Syrian rebels is based on allegiance to a “democratic uprising” and showing that it is simply an extension of a long-standing policy of seeking to topple the government in Damascus. Indeed, the researchers made clear that the US government’s motivation to overthrow the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is unrelated to democracy promotion in the Middle East. In point of fact, they noted that Washington’s preference is for secular dictatorships (Egypt) and monarchies (Jordan and Saudi Arabia.) [1] The impetus for pursuing regime change, according to the researchers, was a desire to sweep away an impediment to the achievement of US goals in the Middle East related to strengthening Israel, consolidating US domination of Iraq, and fostering free-market, free enterprise economies. Democracy was never a consideration.

The researchers revealed further that an invasion of Syria by US forces was contemplated following the US-led aggression against Iraq in 2003, but that the unanticipated heavy burden of pacifying Iraq militated against an additional expenditure of blood and treasure in Syria. [2] As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Damascus through sanctions and support for the internal Syrian opposition.

The documents also revealed that nearly a decade before the rise of Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra that the US government recognized that Islamic fundamentalists were the main opposition to the secular Assad government and worried about the re-emergence of an Islamist insurgency that could lead Sunni fundamentalists to power in Damascus. A more recent document from the Congress’s researchers describes a US strategy that seeks to eclipse an Islamist take-over by forcing a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Syria in which the policing, military, judicial and administrative functions of the Syrian state are preserved, while Assad and his fellow Arab nationalists are forced to leave office. The likelihood is that if this scenario plays out that Assad and his colleagues will be replaced by biddable US surrogates willing to facilitate the achievement of US goals.

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In 2005, Congress’s researchers reported that a consensus had developed in Washington that change in Syria needed to be brought about, but that there remained divisions on the means by which change could be effected. “Some call for a process of internal reform in Syria or alternatively for the replacement of the current Syrian regime,” the report said. [3] Whichever course Washington would settle on, it was clear that the US government was determined to shift the policy framework in Damascus.

The document described the Assad government as an impediment “to the achievement of US goals in the region.” [4] These goals were listed as: resolving “the Arab-Israeli conflict;” fighting “international terrorism;” reducing “weapons proliferation;” inaugurating “a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraqi state;” and fostering market-based, free enterprise economies. [5]

Stripped of their elegant words, the US objectives for the Middle East amounted to a demand that Damascus capitulate to the military hegemony of Israel and the economic hegemony of Wall Street. To be clear, what this meant was that in order to remove itself as an impediment to the achievement of US goals—and hence as an object of US hostility—Syria would have to:

o Accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state on territory seized from Palestinians, and quite possibly also Syrians and Lebanese, possibly within borders that include the Golan Heights, annexed from Syria by Israel in 1987 and occupied by Israel since 1967.
o End its support for militant groups seeking Palestinian self-determination and sever its connections with the resistance organization Hezbollah, the main bulwark against Israeli expansion into Lebanon.
o Leave itself effectively defenceless against the aggressions of the United States and its Middle East allies, including Israel, by abandoning even the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction (while conceding a right to Israel and the United States to maintain vast arsenals of WMD.)
o Terminate its opposition to US domination of neighboring Iraq.
o Transform what the US Congress’s researchers called Syria’s mainly publicly-owned economy, “still based largely on Soviet models,” [6] into a sphere of exploitation for US corporations and investors.

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US government objections to Syrian policy, then, can be organized under three US-defined headings:

o Terrorism.
o WMD.
o Economic reform.

These headings translate into:

o Support for Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups.
o Self-defense.
o Economic sovereignty.

Terrorism (support for Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups)

The researchers noted that while Syria had “not been implicated directly in an act of terrorism since 1986” that “Syria has continued to provide support and safe haven for Palestinian groups” seeking self-determination, allowing “them to maintain offices in Damascus.” This was enough for the US government to label Syria a state sponsor of terrorism. The researchers went on to note that on top of supporting Palestinian “terrorists” that Damascus also supported Lebanese “terrorists” by permitting “Iranian resupply via Damascus of the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah in Lebanon.” [7]

US Secretary of State Colin Powell travelled to Damascus on May 3, 2003 to personally issue a demand to the Syrian government that it sever its connections with militant organizations pursuing Palestinian self-determination and to stop providing them a base in Damascus from which to operate. In “testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 12, 2004, Powel complained that ‘Syria has not done what we demanded of it with respect to closing permanently of these offices and getting these individuals out of Damascus’.”

The Syrian government rejected the characterization of Hezbollah and Palestinian militants as “terrorists,” noting that the actions of these groups represented legitimate resistance. [8] Clearly, Washington had attempted to discredit the pursuit of Palestinian self-determination and Lebanese sovereignty by labelling the champions of these causes as terrorists.

WMD (self-defense)

“In a speech to the Heritage Foundation on May 6, 2002, then US Under Secretary (of State John) Bolton grouped Syria with Libya and Cuba as rogue states that… are pursuing the development of WMD.” [9] Later that year, Bolton echoed his earlier accusation, telling the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Bush administration was very concerned about Syrian nuclear and missile programs. By September 2003, Bolton was warning of a “range of Syrian WMD programs.” [10]

Syria clearly had chemical weapons (now destroyed), though hardly in the same quantities as the much larger arsenals of the United States, Russia and (likely) its regional nemesis, Israel. [11] Citing the Washington Post, Congress’s researchers noted that Syria had “sought to build up its CW and missile capabilities as a ‘force equalizer’ to counter Israeli nuclear capabilities.” [12] It should be noted, however, that the idea that chemical weapons can act as a force equalizer to nuclear weapons is not only untenable, but risible. In WWI it took 70,000 tons of gas to produce as many fatalities as were produced at Hiroshima by a single US atom bomb. [13] To have any meaning at all, the concept of WMD must include weapons that kill massive numbers of people (nuclear weapons) and exclude those that don’t (chemical weapons.) Otherwise, it is a propaganda term used to magnify the non-threat posed by countries seeking independence outside the US orbit which have CW and biological weapons, but which weapons are no match for the United States’ nuclear weapons and are dwarfed by the Pentagon’s own CW and BW arsenals. Deceptively labelling these weapons as WMD, makes a non-threat a large threat that must be dealt with through military intervention and thereby provides a public relations rationale for a war of aggression.

As to the substance of Bolton’s assertion that Syria had a wide range of WMD programs, the CIA was unable to produce any evidence to corroborate his claim. Alfred Prados, author of a 2005 Congressional Research Service report titled “Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues,” listed CIA assessments of Syrian nuclear and BW programs but none of the assessments contained any concrete evidence that Syria actually had such programs. For example, the CIA noted that it was “monitoring Syrian nuclear intentions with concern” but offered nothing beyond “intentions” to show that Damascus was working to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. Prados also noted that Syria had “probably also continued to develop a BW capability,” this based on the fact that Damascus had “signed, but not ratified, the Biological Weapons Convention.” Prados conceded that “Little information is available on Syrian biological programs.”

US president George H.W. Bush is responsible for rendering the concept of WMD meaningless by expanding it to include chemical agents. Before Bush, WMD was a term to denote nuclear weapons or weapons of similar destructive capacity that might be developed in the future. Bush debased the definition in order to go to war with Iraq. He needed to transform the oil-rich Arab country from being seen accurately as a comparatively weak country militarily to being seen inaccurately as a significant threat because it possessed weapons now dishonestly rebranded as being capable of producing mass destruction. It was an exercise in war propaganda.

In 1989, Bush pledged to eliminate the United States’ chemical weapons by 1999. Seventeen years later, the Pentagon is still sitting on the world’s largest stockpile of militarized chemical agents. US allies Israel and Egypt also have chemical weapons. In 2003, Syria proposed to the United Nations Security Council that the Middle East become a chemical weapons-free zone. The proposal was blocked by the United States, likely in order to shelter Israel from having to give up its store of chemical arms. Numerous calls to declare the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone have also been blocked by Washington to shelter Israel from having to give up its nuclear arsenal.

Bolton, it will be recalled, was among the velociraptors of the Bush administration to infamously and falsely accuse Saddam Hussein’s Iraq of holding on to WMD that the UN Security Council had demanded it dismantle. In effect, Iraq was ordered to disarm itself, and when it did, was falsely accused by the United States of still being armed as a pretext for US forces to invade the now defenceless country. Bolton may have chosen to play the same WMD card against Syria for the same reason: to manufacture consent for an invasion. But as Congress’s researchers pointed out, “Although some officials… advocated a ‘regime change strategy’ in Syria” through military means, “military operations in Iraq… forced US policy makers to explore additional options,” [14] rendering Bolton’s false accusations academic.

Since the only legitimate WMD are nuclear weapons, and since there is no evidence that Syria has even the untapped capability of producing them, much less possesses them, Syria has never been a WMD-state or a threat to the US goal of reducing WMD proliferation. What’s more, the claim that Washington holds this as a genuine goal is contestable, since it has blocked efforts to make the Middle East a chemical- and nuclear-weapons-free zone, in order to spare its protégé, Israel. It would be more accurate to say that the United States has a goal of reducing weapons proliferation among countries it may one day invade, in order to make the invasion easier. Moreover, there’s an egregious US double-standard here. Washington maintains the world’s largest arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, but demands that countries it opposes should abandon their own, or forswear their development. This is obviously self-serving and has nothing whatever to do with fostering peace and everything to do with promoting US world domination. One US grievance with Assad’s Syria, then, is that it refused to accept the international dictatorship of the United States.

Economic reform (economic sovereignty)

In connection with Syria impeding the achievement of US goals in the Middle East, the Congressional Research Service made the following points in 2005 about the Syrian economy: It is “largely state-controlled;” it is “dominated by… (the) public sector, which employs 73% of the labour force;” and it is “still based largely on Soviet models.” [15] These departures from the preferred Wall Street paradigm of free markets and free enterprise appear, from the perspective of Congress’s researchers, to be valid reasons for the US government to attempt to bring about “reform” in Syria. Indeed, no one should be under the illusion that the US government is prepared to allow foreign governments to exercise sovereignty in setting their own direction economically. That this is the case is evidenced by the existence of a raft of US sanctions legislation against “non-market states.” (See the Congressional Research Service 2016 report, “North Korea: Economic Sanctions,” for a detailed list of sanctions imposed on North Korea for having a “Marxist-Leninist” economy.)

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To recapitulate the respective positions of Syria and the United States on issues of bilateral concern to the two countries:

On Israel. To accept Israel’s right to exist as a settler state on land illegitimately acquired through violence and military conquest from Palestinians, Lebanese (the Shebaa Farms) and Syrians (Golan), would be to collude in the denial of the fundamental right of self-determination. Damascus has refused to collude in the negation of this right. Washington demands it.

On Hezbollah. Hezbollah is the principal deterrent against Israeli territorial expansion into Lebanon and Israeli aspirations to turn the country into a client state. Damascus’s support for the Lebanese resistance organization, and Washington’s opposition to it, places the Assad government on the right side of the principle of self-determination and successive US governments on the wrong side.

On WMD. Syria has a right to self-defense through means of its own choosing and the demand that it abandon its right is not worthy of discussion. The right to self-defense is a principle the United States and its allies accept as self-evident and non-negotiable. It is not a principle that is valid only for the United States and its satellites.

On opposition to the US invasion of Iraq. The 2003 US-led aggression against Iraq was an international crime on a colossal scale, based on an illegitimate casus belli, and a fabricated one at that, and which engendered massive destruction and loss of life. It was the supreme international crime by the standards of the Nuremberg trials. Applying the Nuremberg principles, the perpetrators would be hanged. US aggression against Iraq, including the deployment of “sanctions of mass destruction” through the 1990s, which led to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and was blithely accepted by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as “worth it,” was undertaken despite the absence of any threat to the United States. The deliberate creation of humanitarian calamities in the absence of a threat, as a matter of choice and not necessity, in pursuit of economic gain, is an iniquity on a signal scale. What, then, are we to think of a government in Damascus that opposed this iniquity, and a government in Washington that demands that Damascus reverse its opposition and accept the crime as legitimate?

Whatever its failings, the Assad government has unambiguously adopted positions that have traditionally been understood to be concerns of the political left: support for self-determination; public ownership and planning of the economy; opposition to wars of aggression; and anti-imperialism. This is not to say that on a spectrum from right to left that the Assad government occupies a position near the left extreme; far from it. But from Washington’s point of view, Damascus is far enough to the left to be unacceptable. Indeed, it is the Syrian government’s embrace of traditional leftist positions that accounts for why it is in the cross-hairs of the world’s major champion of reactionary causes, the United States, even if it isn’t the kind of government that is acceptable to Trotskyists and anarchists.

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In 2003, the Bush administration listed Syria as part of a junior varsity axis of evil, along with Cuba and Libya, citing support in Damascus for Hezbollah and groups engaged in armed struggle to achieve Palestinian self-determination. [16] An invasion of Syria following the US take-over of Iraq in 2003 was contemplated, but was called off after the Pentagon discovered its hands were full quelling resistance to its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Assad through sanctions and by strengthening the opposition in Syria, hoping either to force Assad to accept Israel’s territorial gains, end support for Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups, and to remake the economy—or to yield power. However, as Congress’s researchers reveal, there were concerns in Washington that if efforts to bolster the opposition went too far, Assad would fall to “a successor regime (which) could be led by Islamic fundamentalists who might adopt policies even more inimical to the United States.” [17]

On December 12, 2003, US president George W. Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act, which imposed sanctions on Syria unless, among other things, Damascus halted its support for Hezbollah and Palestinian resistance groups and ceased “development of weapons of mass destruction.” The sanctions included bans on exports of military equipment and civilian goods that could be used for military purposes (in other words, practically anything.) This was reinforced with an additional (and largely superfluous) ban on US exports to Syria other than food and medicine, as well as a prohibition against Syrian aircraft landing in or overflying the United States. [18]

On top of these sanctions, Bush imposed two more. Under the USA PATRIOT Act, the US Treasury Department ordered US financial institutions to sever connections with the Commercial Bank of Syria. [19] And under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the US president froze the assets of Syrians involved in supporting policies hostile to the United States, which is to say, supporting Hezbollah and groups fighting for Palestinian self-determination, refusing to accept as valid territorial gains which Israel had made through wars of aggression, and operating a largely publicly-owned, state-planned economy, based on Soviet models. [20]

In order to strengthen internal opposition to the Syrian government, Bush signed the Foreign Operations Appropriation Act. This act required that a minimum of $6.6 million “be made available for programs supporting democracy in Syria… as well as unspecified amounts of additional funds (emphasis added).” [21]

By 2006, Time was reporting that the Bush administration had “been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad.” Part of the effort was being run through the National Salvation Front. The Front included “the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that for decades supported the violent overthrow of the Syrian government.” Front representatives “were accorded at least two meetings” at the White House in 2006. Hence, the US government, at its highest level, was colluding with Islamists to bring down the Syrian government at least five years before the eruption of protests in 2011. This is a development that seems to have escaped the notice of some who believe that violent Islamist organizations emerged only after March 2011. In point of fact, the major internal opposition to secular Syrian governments, both before and after March 2011, were and are militant Sunni Islamists. Syria expert Joshua Landis told Time that White House support for the Syrian opposition was “apparently an effort to gin up the Syrian opposition under the rubric of ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘election monitoring,’ but it’s really just an attempt to pressure the Syrian government into doing what the United States wants.” [22]

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The US Congress researchers noted that despite “US calls for democracy in the Middle East, historically speaking, US policymakers” have tended to favor “secular Arab republics (Egypt) and Arab monarchies (Jordan and Saudi Arabia.)” [23] They noted too that since “the rise of political Islam as an opposition vehicle in the Middle East decades ago, culminating in the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran, US policymakers have been concerned that secular Arab dictatorships like Syria would face rising opposition from Islamist groups seeking their overthrow.” [24] “The religiously fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood,” which the Bush administration enlisted to pressure the Assad government, had long been at odds with the secular Syrian government, the researchers noted. [25]

Today, Islamic State operates as one of the largest, if not the largest, rebel groups in Syria. A 2015 Congressional Research Service report cited an “unnamed senior State Department official” who observed:

[W]e’ve never seen something like this. We’ve never seen a terrorist organization with 22,000 foreign fighters from a hundred countries all around the world. To put it in context—again, the numbers are fuzzy—but it’s about double of what went into Afghanistan over 10 years in the war against the Soviet Union. Those Jihadi fighters were from a handful of countries.” [26]

Islamic State differs from other militant Islamist opponents of the Syrian government in seeking to control territory, not only in Syria, but in Iraq and beyond. As such, it constitutes a threat to US domination of Iraq and influence throughout the Middle East and north Africa. In contrast, ideologically similar groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra, limit the scope of their operations to Syria. They, therefore, constitute a threat to the Syrian government alone, and have proved, as a consequence, to be more acceptable to Washington.

The US government has publicly drawn a distinction between Islamic State and the confined-to-Syria-therefore-acceptable rebels, seeking to portray the former as terrorists and the latter as moderates, regardless of the methods they use and their views on Islam and democracy. The deception is echoed by the US mass media, which often complain that when Russian warplanes target non-Islamic State rebels that they’re striking “moderates,” as if all rebels apart from Islamic State are moderates, by definition. US Director of Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that “moderate” means little more than “not Islamic State.” He told the Council on Foreign Relations that “Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who’s not affiliated with” Islamic State. [27]

The rebels are useful to the US government. By putting military pressure on Damascus to exhaust the Syrian army, they facilitate the achievement of the immediate US goal of “forcing a negotiated settlement to the conflict that will see President Assad and some his supporters leave office while preserving the institutions and security structures of the Syrian state,” [28] as Congress’s researchers summarize US strategy. Hence, Islamic State exists both as a useful instrument of US policy, and as a threat to US domination and control of Iraq and the broader Middle East. To Washington, the terrorist organization is a double-edged sword, and is treated accordingly. US airstrikes on Islamic State appear calculated to weaken the terrorist group enough that it doesn’t gain more territory in Iraq, but not so much that pressure is taken off Damascus. A tepid approach to fighting the hyper-sectarian terrorist group fits with US president Barack Obama’s stated goal of degrading and ultimately destroying Islamic State, which appears to mean destroying it only after it has served its purpose of exhausting the Syrian army. In the meantime, the anti-Shiite cut-throats are given enough latitude to maintain pressure on Syrian loyalists.

Congress’s researchers concur with this view. They conclude that “US officials may be concerned that a more aggressive campaign against the Islamic State may take military pressure off the” Syrian government. [29] This means that the US president is moderating efforts to destroy Islamic State to allow a group he decries as “simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations” [30] continue their work of brutalizing local populations. If he truly believed Islamic State was a scourge that needed to be destroyed, the US president would work with the Syrian government to expunge it. Instead, he has chosen to wield Islamic State as a weapon to expunge the Syrian government, in the service of building up Israel and fostering free market and free enterprise economies in the Middle East to accommodate US foreign investment and exports on behalf of his Wall Street sponsors. [31]

REFERENCES

1. Alfred B. Prados and Jeremy M. Sharp, “Syria: Political Conditions and Relations with the United States After the Iraq War,” Congressional Research Service, February 28, 2005.

2. Prados and Sharp.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Alfred B. Prados, “Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues,” Congressional Research Service, March 13, 2006.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Israel signed the global treaty banning the production and use of chemical weapons, but never ratified it.

12. Ibid.

13. Stephen Gowans, “Rethinking Chemical Weapons,” what’s left, August 14, 2015.

14. Prados and Sharp.

15. Ibid.

16. Steve R. Weisman, “US threatens to impose penalties against Syrians,” The New York Times, April 14, 2003.

17. Prados and Sharp.

18. Prados.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid.

22. Adam Zagorin, “Syria in Bush’s cross hairs,” Time, December 19, 2006.

23. Prados and Sharp.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid.

26. Christopher M. Blanchard and Carla E. Humud, “The Islamic State and U.S. Policy,” Congressional Research Service, December 28, 2015.

27. James Clapper: US Director of Intelligence: http://www.cfr.org/homeland-security/james-clapper-global-intelligence-challenges/p36195

28. Blanchard and Humud.

29. Christopher M. Blanchard, Carla E. Humud Mary Beth D. Nikitin, “Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response,”Congressional Research Service,” October 9, 2015.

30. Blanchard and Humud.

31. Virtually every member of the Obama administration, past and present, is a member of the Wall Street-dominated Council on Foreign Relations, or additionally, has spent part of his or her career on Wall Street. Wall Street was a major source of Obama’s election campaign funding. The strong interlock between Wall Street and the executive branch of the US government is not unique to the Obama administration. See my “Aspiring to Rule the World: US Capital and the Battle for Syria,” what’s left, December 15, 2015.

February 11, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Petition calls for Obama to be tried for ‘war crimes’ in The Hague

RT | February 10, 2016

A petition accusing Barack Obama of war crimes and demanding he be prosecuted has been published on the White House website. It has already gained about 4,000 signatures.

“We demand conviction of a war criminal Barack Obama and trial in the International Criminal Court in [The] Hague. He is guilty of crimes not only against the USA citizens, but against the whole world,” the petition states.

The authors also note that “one of the most dreadful prisons in history – Guantanamo – continues to function.”

The US added to the de-stabilization of the situation in the Middle East, too, the petition’s authors state.

“Libya was destroyed as a result of Obama’s aggression. In Syria, Obama’s agents train, fund and organize terrorist groups, deceitfully naming them ‘moderate opposition,’ who, among other things, bear a relation to Al-Qaeda, implicated in crimes against the American people.”

Last but not least, the petition accuses the US government of constant illegal surveillance.

“Secret services collect the Americans’ personal data information on a 24-hour basis under the canopy battling terrorism, using electronic surveillance tools on political undesirables, effectively stomping on the Americans’ right for privacy.”

If the petition – published on Monday – gets 100,000 votes by March 9, the White House administration will have to respond to it.

February 10, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

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