The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday announced influential religious figure Haibatullah Akhundzada as their new leader after confirming supremo Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death in a US drone strike.
“Haibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed as the new leader of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) after a unanimous agreement in the shura (supreme council), and all the members of shura pledged allegiance to him,” the insurgents said in a statement.
It added that Sirajuddin Haqqani, an implacable foe of US forces, and Mullah Yakoub, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, were appointed his deputies.
Haibatullah was one of two deputies under Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike on Saturday, the first known American assault on a top Afghan Taliban leader on Pakistani soil.
Mansour’s killing is a major blow to the militant movement just nine months after he was formally appointed leader following a bitter power struggle, and sent shockwaves through the leadership.
Haibatullah’s appointment comes after the Taliban’s supreme council held emergency meetings that began Sunday in southwest Pakistan to find a unifying figure for the leadership post.
Taliban sources told AFP the supreme council members were lying low and constantly changing the venue of their meetings to avoid new potential air strikes.
The British government is providing military training to the majority of nations it has blacklisted for human rights violations, a new report reveals.
In a report published on Sunday, the Independent revealed that 16 of the 30 countries on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s “human rights priority” watchlist are receiving military support from the UK despite being accused by London itself of issues ranging from internal repression to the use of sexual violence in armed conflicts.
According to the UK Ministry of Defense, since 2014, British armed forces have provided “either security or armed forces personnel” to the military forces of Saudi Arabia , Bahrain, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Burundi, China, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
Britain is a major provider of weapons and equipment such as cluster bombs and fighter jets to Saudi Arabia in its year-long military aggression against Yemen that has killed nearly 9,400 people, among them over 2,230 children.
Since the conflict began in March 2015, the British government has licensed the sale of nearly $4 billion worth of weaponry to the Saudi kingdom.
British commandos also train Bahraini soldiers in using sniper rifles, despite allegations that the Persian Gulf monarchy uses such specialist forces to suppress a years-long pro-democracy uprising in the country.
Bahraini forces visited the Infantry Battle School in Wales last week, accompanied by troops from Nigeria, the Defense Ministry said.
Nigeria’s top military generals are accused by Amnesty International of committing war crimes by causing the deaths of 8,000 people through murder, starvation, suffocation and torture during security operations against the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorists, according to the report.
Andrew Smith, with the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said Britain should not be “colluding” with countries known for being “some of the most authoritarian states in the world.”
Pakistan has denounced the US drone strike believed to have killed the Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour.
In a statement issued to the media, Pakistan’s foreign office said the drone strike was a violation of its sovereignty, adding that information about the drone strike was shared with the prime minister and the army chief after the strike.
“It may be recalled that the fifth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) held on 18th May had reiterated that a politically negotiated settlement was the only viable option for lasting peace in Afghanistan and called upon the Taliban to give up violence and join peace talks,” the statement said.
Afghanistan’s spy agency known as National Security Directorate (NDS), senior officials in Kabul and some militant sources on Sunday confirmed that the Taliban leader was killed after the US drones targeted his vehicle in a remote area of in a remote area of south-west Pakistan, near the Afghan border, on Saturday.
On Saturday, the US Department of Defense announced in a statement that it had mounted the strike against Mansour “in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.”
File photo shows a picture of the leader of Taliban militant group, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.
The Pentagon announced on Saturday that the operation had been authorized by President Barack Obama.
The development comes as relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been tense in recent years over the ongoing militancy.
Senior Afghan officials blame elements inside the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for supporting the Taliban militants and sheltering its leadership, while Islamabad blames the Afghan government for giving shelter to the militants on its side of the border.
Moreover, senior officials in Kabul have been frustrated by what they see as Islamabad’s refusal to honor a pledge to force Taliban leaders based in Pakistan to join negotiations.
They have long blamed Pakistan for turning a blind eye to the Taliban militant group whose leadership is widely believed to be based in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar, near the border.
The Taliban has seen a string of defections ever since the news about the death of its founder and long-time leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, broke in late July 2015.
Mullah Omar died at a hospital in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi in April 2013.
Pakistan, which wields influence on the insurgent group, mediated the first round of direct peace talks between delegates from the Afghan government and the Taliban last summer, but a planned second meeting was canceled after news broke that Taliban’s founder and long-time leader Mullah Omar had died two years ago. In recent months, a four-member group comprising Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan has been attempting to revive the talks.
There have also been growing differences among Taliban elements over the negotiations, with some vowing to fight for power instead of taking part in the talks.
Former UK diplomats are cashing in on their contacts and experience and advising despots, venture capitalists and Gulf regimes, according to a new investigation.
Britain’s ex-ambassadors to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as former MPs, are legally profiting from conflict zones and poor countries in the Global South, according to the Daily Mail.
It has led to concerns that former diplomats are using their years of exposure to state secrets and their enviable contact lists to win lucrative paydays with big corporations.
One of the most high-profile figures involved is a former ambassador to Afghanistan, and one-time critic of the war and occupation, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.
Cowper-Coles took a job working for British arms firm BAE in 2010 after taking early retirement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Critics have connected him with halting a major investigation into the UK/Saudi arms trade in 2006.
He left BAE in 2013 to take up a role with HSBC. Both appointments were approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which examines if any conflicts of interest arise from such appointments.
Another former diplomat named in the investigation is Sir Dominic Asquith, who served as ambassador to Libya between 2011 and 2012 – the period immediately after the UK’s disastrous intervention to remove the Gaddafi regime.
Asquith now advises the Libya Holdings Group, which seeks out investment opportunities in the war-torn North African state.
Former ambassador to Nigeria Sir Andrew Lloyd later became a vice president of Statoil, under the proviso from ACOBA that he not deal with the firm’s Nigerian operations.
The highly experienced Sir William Patey – a former UK representative to Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia – later became an advisor for private security firm Global Risks.
Elected politicians have also been involved in similar venture capital schemes in the developing world.
Former Tory Africa minister Sir Henry Bellingham once sang the praises of UK mining firm Pathfinder Minerals to the government of Mozambique when the company was involved in a legal dispute. He now chairs the firm.
Blairite ex-Foreign Secretary David Miliband is reported to have earned up to £1 million from his advisory jobs within two years of leaving office. That includes £15,000 for one day of advising a Pakistan venture capitalist and £65,000 for sitting on a foreign ministerial forum in the United Arab Emirates.
Recently a number of retired British military generals have been seen to be involved in similar activities.
On April 27, ex-general Simon Mayall, former Ministry of Defence advisor to the Gulf, told a parliamentary committee on the arms trade that its inquiries were “unwelcome and self-defeating.”
After leaving the military in 2015, he took up a role at Greenhill & Co, a major investment bank with global reach and Middle East energy interests.
On April 18, former general and ex-head of mercenary firm Aegis James Ellery was interviewed by the Guardian over allegations the company was using former Sierra Leonean child soldiers as private guards in Iraq.
Ellery, who left Aegis in 2015, lamented the state of the mercenary market, saying: “I’m afraid all we can afford now is Africans.”
Ellery’s previous jobs include demobilizing Sierra Leone child soldiers as part of a UN program.
When Vice President Joseph Biden traveled to Iraq a few days ago, he did it, as always, under a shroud of secrecy. The mainstream press was asked in advance to keep the trip secret and dutifully complied. Biden declined to spend the night in Iraq, staying only 10 hours before whisking away to Italy, where presumably he slept safe and sound.
Why all the secrecy? Why didn’t Biden stay in Baghdad a few days, walk the streets, do a little shopping, visit with the people, and tour the country? After all, isn’t this the country that the US government invaded and regime-changed under the military rubric “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? Isn’t this the country that the US military and the CIA occupied for more than 10 years, killing people with impunity and destroying homes, buildings, and infrastructure in the process, all with the aim of producing a showcase for interventionism to present to the world?
Oh, let’s not forget the regime they installed. After all, lest we forget, this was, in fact, a regime-change operation, one devoted to removing Saddam Hussein from power (who had been a partner and ally of the US government during the 1980s) and installing and establishing a government that would be, well, more pro-USA. and, therefore, more “free.” And after all, the structure of the new government was modeled after that of the US government — that is, one founded on an all-powerful national-security establishment, including an enormous military and intelligence force with the omnipotent power to round up people, torture them, and kill them.
The purpose of Biden’s trip? To offer support to the beleaguered regime of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose government is wracked with political corruption. In fact, the corruption goes so deep that over the weekend hundreds of Iraqi protestors broke into the infamous “Green Zone” in Baghdad to protest the corruption. That’s the walled-in zone that the US government constructed as part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” It was the first time that many of the protestors had ever been inside the Green Zone.
Today a car bomb exploded in Baghdad, killing 18 and wounding at least 28 others. That was a different car bomb from the one that exploded in Baghdad on Saturday, which killed 21 people and wounded another 42. Those two were different from the car bomb that exploded in Baghdad on April 25, which killed at least 11 people and wounded 39.
No wonder Biden sneaks into Iraq and doesn’t dare spend the night there, much less walk the streets, do a little shopping, visit with the people, and tour the sites. Indeed, have you ever noticed that not one single American neocon has ever taken his family on vacation to Iraq since the Pentagon invaded some 13 years ago? Have you ever noticed that congressmen never include Iraq on their list of nice, little junkets to take?
What better testament to the philosophy of foreign interventionism than Iraq? Here was their chance — the great opportunity for the Pentagon, the CIA, the entire national-security establishment, the neocon movement, and the interventionist movement to show what they could do if given carte blanche over a country, a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
All that needed to be done was to kill a few hundreds of thousands of people, incarcerate and torture tens of thousands of others, reeducate millions who would survive the onslaught, and bring into existence a new government — one that might be a bit brutal, corrupt, and tyrannical but at least would be pro-USA.
Iraq was to be the showcase for foreign interventionism. It was to be their model.
Alas, all they’ve done is produced one giant hellhole of death, destruction, misery, suffering, privation, violence, crises, civil war, and loss of freedom. All they have to show for their grand interventionist experiment is hundreds of thousands of corpses, tens of thousands of others who have been detained and tortured, an impoverished society, and a crooked, corrupt, and tyrannical government, not to mention a brand new organization that their interventionism produced to the Middle East: ISIS, aka ISIL, aka the Islamic State.
The Iraq intervention is proof positive that God has created a consistent universe, one in which evil means beget evil ends. How in the world can any right-thinking American be an interventionist? How can anyone who cares about moral principles be an interventionist? How can any Christian be an interventionist? What does he say to God — that he meant well when he supported the violence, death, suffering, and corruption that comes with interventionism?
There is but one thing for the US government to do: Leave everyone in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East alone. Come home. You have done enough damage, especially if we throw Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia into the interventionist mix. You have killed, incarcerated, tortured, and maimed enough people. You have destroyed enough buildings. You have produced enough terrorists. You have caused enough refugees.
No more interventionism. Just bring all your troops home. Don’t pour fuel on the fire that your interventionism has ignited.
America considers civilians legitimate targets in all its wars of aggression. Fundamental laws of war prohibit attacking them – ignored in all US combat operations.
CENTCOM lied, calling its October 3, 2015 bombing of the Kunduz, Afghanistan Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital a “tragic incident.”
It turned truth on its head, claiming “personnel involved did not know that they were striking a medical facility. The intended target was an insurgent-controlled site which was approximately 400 meters away…”
CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel willfully lied, claiming US forces “had no idea” they were attacking a medical facility.
False! CENTCOM knew it was an MSF hospital, yet ordered the attack anyway, falsely claiming it was used as a Taliban command and control center – before acknowledging otherwise.
Dozens of doctors, other medical staff and patients were massacred in cold blood, many others injured, victims of US imperial viciousness.
MSF provided CENTCOM and Afghan authorities with precise hospital coordinates several times. While under attack, it informed their authorities about what was happening, the facility struck multiple times for over an hour with precision weapons – a war crime by any standard.
MSF called the attack an “abhorrent and a grave violation of international humanitarian law. (A) war crime (was) committed.”
The Pentagon denied MSF’s demand for an independent investigation into what happened – conducted its own to whitewash mass murder.
CENTCOM’s report acknowledged violations of rules of engagement and laws of war breaches, while at the same time denying culpability for an indisputable high crime.
Votel said more than a dozen US servicemen were disciplined for what happened, meaningless wrist slaps at most. None face criminal charges for deliberate mass murder. Coverup and denial reflect longstanding Pentagon practice.
CENTCOM’s commander willfully lied, saying “(t)he investigation found that the incident resulted from a combination of unintentional human errors, process errors and equipment failures, and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a hospital.”
“The trauma center was a protected facility but it was misidentified during this engagement.” It was on a “no strike” list, its precise location known, yet willfully attacked anyway without just cause.
In response to CENTCOM’s whitewash, MSF’s Meinie Nicolai called Votel’s briefing “an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area.”
“It is incomprehensible that, under the circumstances described by the US, the attack was not called off.”
“The threshold that must be crossed for this deadly incident to amount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law is not whether it was intentional or not.”
“(A)rmed groups cannot escape their responsibilities on the battlefield simply by ruling out the intent to attack a protected structure such as a hospital.”
“(V)ictims and their families have neither the option to pursue legal action (for justice) nor claim compensation for loss of life and livelihood.”
America commits war crimes with impunity in all its theaters of conflict. US warplanes destroyed or damaged several Syrian and Iraqi hospitals along with numerous nonmilitary related sites, these actions continuing on a regular basis.
Pentagon coverup and denial doesn’t wash. Repeated high crimes go unpunished – naked aggression without mercy most of all, attacking nonbelligerent nations threatening no one, raping and destroying them, the highest of high crimes.
NYT editors disgracefully called mass murdering and injuring dozens of MSF doctors, medical staff and patients a mistake, a catastrophe, “gross negligence,” and war zone blunder – failing to condemn a willful war crime and demand full accountability.
They ludicrously cited Pentagon officials claiming “they acted promptly to retrain all troops in Afghanistan about the rules for using deadly force and… have taken precautions” to avoid repeat incidents.
They continue on a regular basis in all US war theaters. Mass civilian casualties don’t matter, considered a small price to pay to advance America’s imperium – an agenda the NYT wholeheartedly endorses.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
In his first public comments on the US drone campaign in Pakistan, President Obama described it as “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases, and so on.” In 2011, then-national security advisor to the president John Brennan said of the CIA drone campaign that “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” Popular American mythology in the Obama era has held that drones are the surgeon’s tool in the endless, global war on terror. American soldiers and spies can knock off terrorists without bogging down the military in ground occupations, or killing civilians.
So says the myth. The reality is starkly different, according to scholar Micah Zenko.
Zenko examined civilian deaths from US military operations and found that drones kill more civilians than do piloted US aircraft—not fewer. “Drones are far less precise than airstrikes conducted by piloted aircraft, which themselves also conduct “precision strikes.” Drones result in far more civilian fatalities per each bomb dropped,” Zenko writes.
Zenko’s analysis shows us that the claims officials have long made about the supposed accuracy of drone strikes are dead wrong. But we don’t know why, in part because the US government refuses to disclose basic information about how it designates drone targets, or under what circumstances commanders order killings. It could be, as Zenko posits, “that the standards that need to be met before authorizing a [drone] strike are less rigid than Obama’s purported principle of “near certainty that the terrorist target is present.” This wouldn’t be surprising given that Obama continued the George W. Bush administration’s practice of “signature strikes” — killing anonymous suspected militants who appear to be associated with terrorists based upon their observable activity.”
If that’s the case, the US public and the victims of drone strikes have a right to know. But government secrecy and judicial evasiveness have conspired to keep us all in the dark about even the most basic legal theories upon which the CIA and military base their drone programs.
That secrecy has recently been reified. Just last week, a Washington D.C. federal appeals court tossed an ACLU lawsuit against the CIA seeking information about its drone operations. The court sided with the government, holding that releasing information about the drone program “could reasonably be expected to damage national security.”
As ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer said, “Secret law is always invidious, but it’s particularly so here because of the subject matter.” Now we know the stories officials have been telling us for years about the laser-like accuracy of drone strikes are false. But thanks to secret law, we don’t know why.
U.S. government hypocrisy is, as most everyone knows, boundless. It’s also utterly transparent. Our public officials evidently see no shame in belying their professions of benign intent with awesome malevolence and destruction. After all, there’s always the doctrine of American Exceptionalism to justify the unjustifiable. Take for instance Barack Obama’s global assassination campaign, or “drone war” in media-speak. It is now common knowledge (among the mildly informed, anyway) that said campaign is only nominally discriminate, and furthermore essentially pointless, assuming its point is not to foster Islamic extremism. Last year, leaked government documents confirmed what was already suspected: most of those killed by Barry O’s drone fleet are unidentified people who happen to be standing near the intended target, who for one reason or another (we’re not allowed to know) was selected for summary execution.
What is the effect of this policy? It’s not difficult to figure out. Let’s suppose for a moment that these remote control airstrikes really were “surgical”—that they didn’t result in dead civilians. It would still be an exercise in futility. Wiping out a single jihadist, no matter his rank, doesn’t eliminate his position: he can and will be replaced. Would it disrupt the relevant cell’s operation? Does it matter? Disrupt it enough and it will splinter, and now you’ve got two cells instead of one, and perhaps the new one is more monstrous than the original. ISIS, let’s remember, was first an al-Qaeda franchise. The latter group, whose side we’ve taken against Syria’s elected president, now seems like the “JV team” (credit to Obama for the awkward analogy) to the former’s Varsity. Needless to say, U.S. foreign policy, in its liberal interventionist form, facilitated the rise and expansion of ISIS; the group that now, according to most Republicans, presents the gravest threat to our national security.
To label the drone war as merely futile, however, is disingenuous. Counterproductive is a better word, although probably still too charitable. We take out one militant—reducing him to “a greasy spot on the ground”—and another springs up to take his place. That’s futility. But in the process, people living in Pakistan and Somalia and Yemen observe that the U.S. is not bound by any standard principle of law, least of all the one guaranteeing a criminal suspect due process. How, one wonders, are they expected to feel about that? If the American Empire says you’re fit to die, you’re fit to die, and that’s the end of it. Interesting concept. Of course, such tyranny would never be tolerated here at home, where a criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial remains (for the most part) inalienable and uncontroversial. Not so for foreigners suspected by the U.S. government of terrorist activity in their own countries, with whom the U.S. is not at war and over whom the U.S. has no jurisdiction in any reasonable sense of the word.
The American public may not care very much about the extrajudicial killing of a few supposedly dangerous Muslims living in Somalia. (CNN doesn’t tell them to worry about it, so why should they?) They do, however, seem to care about anti-Americanism in the Muslim world, the threat of global jihad, etc.—and rightfully so. These are serious issues; they should be treated as such. Here’s an axiom: if we’re going to take an issue seriously, the very least we can do is make an effort to understand it. Why does Salafism (i.e. Wahhabism, i.e. Saudism) continue to spread like wildfire over the Middle East and beyond? Why do so many Muslims have, in the words of Donald Trump, a tremendous, tremendous hatred for the U.S.?
It couldn’t have anything to do with the continuous, illegal bombing of Muslim-majority countries. That would be too straightforward an answer, and moreover contradictory to the narrative our policy-makers, always looking out for the weapons industry, like to spin for us. There is, however, Occam’s razor, which would insist that we stop dismissing simple, obvious explanations. One such explanation might be that Obama’s drone fetish, even without the civilian death toll, certainly doesn’t make the jihadist recruiter’s job any less difficult (and in fact does precisely the reverse). Another might be that, by shoring up the medieval sadists governing Saudi Arabia and oppressing its population, the U.S. indirectly (or perhaps directly) promotes the ideology underpinning every Wahhabi terrorist gang in the world, whether JV or Varsity.
Saudi Arabia. The world’s most prolific exporter of oil. Also the world’s most prolific exporter of Islamic extremism, that omnipresent threat to civilization we’re allegedly so bent on eradicating. It was reported that our dear leader was cold-shouldered upon his recent arrival to the great pious kingdom. The impudence! Have the Wahhabi princes no appreciation for the Obama administration’s generosity? After all, $50 billion in munitions sales is nothing to sneeze at, particularly when those munitions are earmarked for war crimes. The United States has given Saudi Arabia, and its Wahhabi coalition, carte blanche to commit atrocities against civilians in Yemen: American bombs, including illegal “cluster bombs,” are being used to blow up schools, hospitals, mosques, etc., in the name of… well, nothing, really. What more could the Saudis want! More weapons? All they have to do is ask. Obama distributes “smart bombs” like candy.
The civil war in Yemen represents the latest, though not quite the greatest (which says a lot), failure of American foreign policy. With our weapons and whole-hearted support, Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi pals have managed to do to Yemen what NATO did to Libya. In other words, Yemen is now a failed state with no central government and a massive power vacuum—ideal conditions for terrorists, in this case al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, to exploit. Naturally, all of this is underreported by Western media, since we have no enemy on whom to cast blame. You may hear the occasional whisper about Ayatollah culpability, but that’s about it.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen… every time the same result. To say that the U.S. has failed to learn its lesson is erroneous. I’ve seen no evidence that U.S. policy-makers are interested in learning any sort of lesson, nor that they actually desire a better outcome to begin with. They’re not merely inept, as so many like to insist; they’re cynical, and profoundly so.
Terrorism is useful. It can be, and is, cited to justify almost anything: extravagant military budgets, abrogation of civil liberties, alliance with nefarious regimes, arbitrary detention, torture, war. They all matter, but the last one matters most. If the objective really is to defeat terrorism, as defined by us, then our policy is irrational; in fact it meets the famous definition of insanity. Plainly, bombing volatile societies and unleashing dormant sectarian violence does nothing to contain terrorism. Plainly, it has the opposite effect. Terrorists draw strength and support from chaos and carnage; if you think Cheney et al. were oblivious to that fact, I’ve a got a plot of land to sell you…. Bush may be simple, and it’s certainly possible that he derived his conception of war from the pictures, but his cabinet was a sly bunch; a bunch whose loyalty was not to our nation’s security but rather to the Pentagon and the weapons manufacturers.
Before Bush was sworn in by the Supreme Court, Dick was pushing for a bigger military budget. Little did he know that he needn’t bother! The events of 9/11 were a windfall for the jingoists, damage to the Pentagon notwithstanding. Terrorism was no longer an abstract threat; the threat was all too palpable, all too urgent, and nobody was prepared to question the government’s response, which was not to invade the country that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers, but rather the one in which the plot’s ringleader, another Saudi, happened to live. The U.S. could have invaded Canada that October (surely there were some Bin Laden sympathizers loitering in that country)—we just wanted a show of military might, projected wherever.
That’s the terrorism effect. That’s why Saddam Hussein, our long-time ally and Israel’s great “existential threat” of the day, was suddenly charged with sponsoring terrorism. Casting Saddam as a Bin Laden advocate, however false, gave us a solid pretext for war. The consequence of that war—ISIS—gives us a solid pretext for more war, etc. As long as terrorism exists, we can go to war, and as long as we go to war, terrorism will exist. Meanwhile the Pentagon’s budget continues to swell. The War on Terror, then, is a self-sustaining enterprise.
The beauty of Obama’s global assassination campaign is that it allows us to bomb without declaring war. We don’t have to worry about running out of countries to invade; we can drone our allies if we so choose. That being said, no war machine is complete, and no Empire content, without the occasional full-scale invasion. Iran has been in the crosshairs for a long time—ever since they had the nerve to overthrow the iron-fisted dictator we kindly installed for them. Predictably, the Iranian nuclear agreement, Obama’s most significant foreign policy achievement, has done nothing to curb the hawks’ appetite. Indeed, many Republican presidential candidates have assured us that, as commander in chief, they would make it their first order of business to tear up the internationally-recognized treaty.
At the other end of the aisle, H.R. Clinton, the “superprepared warrior realist,” derides the prospect of normalizing relations with Iran. Back in 2008, she demonstrated her warrior spirit, boasting of her preparedness to “totally obliterate” the 80 million people who live there, which would steer the U.S. into a nuclear conflict with Russia, quite possibly annihilating us all. (Lest you forget: Trump is the real danger.)
Clinton and her fellow jingos hate the nuclear deal, and the reason is simple: it eliminates a major pretext for war. After all, the case against Iran is identical to the case against Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorism. And Israel at the center of it all. The Zionists lobbied hard for war with Iraq, and no one is lobbying harder for war with Iran. They intend to make Hillary’s obliteration fantasy into reality. Lucky for them, and unlucky for the rest of us, she is almost certainly our next president, and no one is more subservient to their will.
Unsurprisingly, no presidential candidate has been asked whether they plan to adopt Obama’s failed anti-terror policy, which is to fight terror with more terror, forever fanning the proverbial flames. Perhaps “failed” is not quite an accurate description, though, as that word implies a wish to succeed. Presently there’s no excuse to believe the Obama administration was ever serious about checking the scourge of Saudi-inspired terrorism. If Trump is right, and the Muslim world hates us, Obama was very much committed to aggravating that sentiment. He’s done a fine job.
Michael Howard can be contacted at email@example.com
Parliament has been deceived by the Conservative government on the scope and details of Britain’s unauthorized drone assassination program, according to a new report by the human rights NGO Reprieve.
The authors argue in the opening commentary that the “revelations in this report demonstrate that parliament has been misled” and that current scope of investigation into the issue is too “narrow.”
Published Sunday, the report makes a number of startling assertions. It claims the kill list – also known as the Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL) – conflates drug enforcement and counterterrorism.
It also says UK police units have helped the US military find targets for assassination and that unrepresentative examples of die-hard extremists are being cited to mask the human impact of drone warfare.
War on everything
The investigation warns that under the auspices of the UK’s targeted killing policy the ‘War on Terror’ is being merged with the ‘War on Drugs,’ with people other than suspected terrorists being killed by drones.
It alleges there may have been up to 50 Afghan drug traffickers on the list since 2009 and that UK police officers working for the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) worked with electronic intelligence agency GCHQ and Britain’s Joint Narcotics Analysis Centre to pick out targets.
Reprieve’s study claims the UK government has used particularly extreme examples to justify its drone policy, in the same way that the death penalty in the US has been justified by pointing to the most extreme killers.
It cites the example of Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement on September 15, 2015, when he said that a UK drone strike had killed jihadist Reyaad Khan in Syria. Reprieve claims this was used to spin the reality of drone warfare.
“History teaches us that it has always been easiest for advocates of the death penalty to sell their case to some by highlighting the face of a serial killer who is captured on film committing his atrocities,” the report says.
This, the NGO claims, is not reflective of the demographic most profoundly affected by drone warfare, instead arguing that drones are “far from the marvelously precise killing machines” they are marketed as. It claims up to nine innocent children have been killed in pursuit of a “High Value Target.”
The report warns against assassination as a tool of policy. It lauds those Conservative politicians who criticized Tony Blair’s government for “complicity” in the US torture program, but adds “if this government now seeks to drag the UK back to medieval times with an assassination project, it is only right that it should be fully discussed with parliament and the public.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has dismissed Sen. Bernie Sanders questioning her qualifications to be President as “silly” – and looking at her résumé alone, she’d be right – but there is also the need to judge her performance in her various jobs.
What is troubling about Clinton’s record is that she has left behind a trail strewn with failures and even catastrophes. Indeed, her highest profile undertakings almost universally ended in disaster – and a person’s record should matter when voters are deciding whether to entrust him or her with the most powerful office on earth.
In other words, it’s not just a question of her holding one prestigious job or another; it’s also how well she did in those jobs. Otherwise, you have a case of the Peter Principle Squared, not just letting someone rise to the level of his or her incompetence, but in Clinton’s case, continuing to get promoted beyond her level of incompetence.
So, looking behind Clinton’s résumé is important. After all, she presents herself as the can-do candidate who will undertake small-scale reforms that may not move the needle much but are better than nothing and may be all that’s possible given the bitterly divided Congress.
But is Hillary Clinton really a can-do leader? Since she burst onto the national scene with her husband’s presidential election in 1992, she has certainly traveled a lot, given many speeches and met many national and foreign leaders – which surely has some value – but it’s hard to identify much in the way of her meaningful accomplishments.
Clinton’s most notable undertaking as First Lady was her disastrous health insurance plan that was concocted with her characteristic secrecy and then was unveiled to decidedly mixed reviews. Much of the scheme was mind-numbing in its complexity and – because of the secrecy – it lacked sufficient input from Congress where it found few enthusiastic supporters.
Not only did the plan collapse under its own weight, but it helped take many Democratic members of Congress with it, as the Republicans reversed a long era of Democratic control of the House of Representatives in 1994. Because of Hillary Clinton’s health-care disaster, a chastened Democratic Party largely took the idea of providing near-universal health-insurance coverage to Americans off the table for the next 15 years.
In Clinton’s next career as a senator from New York, her most notable action was to enthusiastically support President George W. Bush’s Iraq War. Clinton did not just vote to authorize the war in 2002, she remained a war supporter until 2006 when it became politically untenable to do so, that is, if she had any hope of winning the Democratic presidential nomination against anti-war Sen. Barack Obama.
Both in her support for the war in the early years and her politically expedient switch – along with a grudging apology for her “mistake” – Clinton showed very little courage.
When she was supporting the war, the post-9/11 wind was at Bush’s back. So Clinton joined him in riding the jingoistic wave. By 2006, the American people had turned against the war and the Republican Party was punished at the polls for it, losing control of Congress. So it was no profile-in-courage for Clinton to distance herself from Bush then.
Not Learning Lessons
Still, Clinton seemed to have learned little about the need to ask probing questions of Bush’s team. In November 2006, she completely misread Bush’s firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and replacing him with ex-CIA Director Robert Gates. Serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Clinton bought the conventional wisdom that Gates’s nomination meant that Bush was winding down the Iraq War despite warnings that it actually meant the opposite.
If Clinton had done any digging, she could have discovered that Rumsfeld was dumped not because of his warmongering but because he backed his field generals – George Casey and John Abizaid – who wanted to rapidly shrink the U.S. military “footprint” in Iraq. But Bush and his neocon advisers saw that as effectively an admission of defeat, so they got rid of Rumsfeld and recruited the more malleable Gates to front for their planned escalation or “surge.”
Not only did Consortiumnews.com spell out that reality in real time, but it also was explained by right-wing pundit Fred Barnes in the neocon Weekly Standard. As Barnes wrote, Gates “is not the point man for a boarding party of former national security officials from the elder President Bush’s administration taking over defense and foreign policy in his son’s administration. … Rarely has the press gotten a story so wrong.”
Barnes reported instead that the younger George Bush didn’t consult his father and only picked Gates after a two-hour face-to-face meeting at which the younger Bush got assurances that Gates was onboard with the neocon notion of “democracy promotion” in the Middle East and shared Bush’s goal of victory in Iraq. [The Weekly Standard, Nov. 27, 2006]
But the mainstream press — and much of Official Washington — loved the other storyline. A Newsweek cover pictured a large George H.W. Bush towering over a small George W. Bush. Embracing this conventional wisdom, Clinton and other Senate Armed Services Committee members brushed aside the warnings about Gates, both his troubling history at the CIA and his likely support for a war escalation.
In his 2014 memoir, Duty, Gates reflects on his 2006 nomination and how completely clueless Official Washington was. Regarding the conventional wisdom about Bush-41 taking the reins from Bush-43, Gates wrote about his recruitment by the younger Bush: “It was clear he had not consulted his father about this possible appointment and that, contrary to later speculation, Bush 41 had no role in it.”
Regarding the mainstream news media’s wrongheaded take on his nomination, Gates wrote: “There was a lot of hilarious commentary about a return to ‘41’s’ team, the president’s father coming to the rescue, former secretary of state Jim Baker pulling all the strings behind the scenes, and how I was going to purge the Pentagon of Rumsfeld’s appointees, ‘clean out the E-Ring’ (the outer corridor of the Pentagon where most senior Defense civilians have their offices). It was all complete nonsense.”
Though Gates doesn’t single out Hillary Clinton for misreading the significance of his nomination, Gates wrote: “The Democrats were even more enthusiastic, believing my appointment would somehow hasten the end of the war. … They professed to be enormously pleased with my nomination and offered their support, I think mainly because they thought that I, as a member of the Iraq Study Group [which had called for winding down the war], would embrace their desire to begin withdrawing from Iraq.”
In other words, Hillary Clinton got fooled again.
Surging for Surges
Once installed at the Pentagon, Gates became a central figure in the Iraq War “surge,” which dispatched 30,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq in 2007. The “surge” saw casualty figures spike. Nearly 1,000 additional American died along with an untold number of Iraqis. And despite another conventional wisdom about the “successful surge” it failed to achieve its central goal of getting the Iraqis to achieve compromises on their sectarian divisions.
Yet, the mainstream press didn’t get any closer to the mark in 2008 when it began cheering the Iraq “surge” as a great success, getting spun by the neocons who noted a gradual drop in the casualty levels. The media honchos, many of whom supported the invasion in 2003, ignored that Bush had laid out specific policy goals for the “surge,” none of which were achieved.
In Duty, Gates reminds us of those original targets, writing: “Prior to the deployment, clear benchmarks should be established for the Iraqi government to meet during the time of the augmentation, from national reconciliation to revenue sharing, etc.”
Those benchmarks were set for the Iraqi government to meet, but the goals were never achieved, either during the “surge” or since then. To this day, Iraq remains a society bitterly divided along sectarian lines with the out-of-power Sunnis again sidling up to Al Qaeda-connected extremists and even the Islamic State.
But Clinton didn’t have the courage or common sense to recognize that the Iraq War “surge” had failed. After Obama appointed her as Secretary of State – as part of a naïve gesture of outreach to a “team of rivals” – Clinton fell back in line behind Official Washington’s new favorite conventional wisdom, the “successful surge.”
In the end, all the Iraq War “surge” did was buy President Bush and his neocon advisers time to get out of office before the failure of the Iraq War became obvious to the American public. Its other primary consequence was to encourage Defense Secretary Gates, who was kept on by President Obama as a gesture of bipartisanship, to conjure up another “surge” for Afghanistan.
In that context, in Duty, Gates recounts a 2009 White House meeting regarding the Afghan War “surge.” He wrote: “The exchange that followed was remarkable. In strongly supporting the surge in Afghanistan, Hillary told the president that her opposition to the surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary [in 2008]. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’
“The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.” Obama’s aides disputed Gates’s suggestion that the President indicated that his opposition to the Iraq “surge” was political, noting that he had always opposed the Iraq War. The Clinton team never challenged Gates’s account.
In other words, having been an Iraq War hawk when it mattered – from 2002-06 – Hillary Clinton changed direction when that was politically expedient, apologizing for her “mistake,” but then returned to her enthusiasm for the war by accepting the benighted view that the “surge worked.”
Clinton’s enthusiasm for “surges” also influenced her to side with Gates and General David Petraeus, a neocon favorite, to pressure Obama into a “surge” for Afghanistan, sending in an additional 30,000 troops on a bloody, ill-fated “counterinsurgency” mission. Again, the cost in American lives was about 1,000 soldiers but their sacrifice did little to shift the war’s outcome.
Again and again, Hillary Clinton seemed incapable of learning from her costly errors – or perhaps she just understands that the politically safest course is to do what Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment wants done. That way you get hailed as a serious thinker in the editorial pages of The Washington Post and at the think-tank conferences.
Virtually all the major columnists and big-name pundits praised Clinton’s hawkish tendencies as Secretary of State, from her escalating tensions with Iran to tipping the balance of the Obama administration’s debate in favor of a “regime change” mission in Libya to urging direct U.S. military intervention in Syria in pursuit of another “regime change” there.
On the campaign trail, Clinton seeks to spin all these militaristic recommendations as somehow beneficial to the United States. But the reality is quite different.
Regarding Iran, in 2010, Secretary Clinton personally killed a promising initiative sponsored by Brazil and Turkey (at President Obama’s request) to get Iran to swap much of its low-enriched uranium for radiological medical tests. Instead, Clinton followed the path laid out by Israel and the neocons, ratchet up pressure on Iran and keep open the “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” option.
It is noteworthy that the diplomatic agreement with Iran to restrain its nuclear program and to give up much of its low-enriched uranium required Clinton’s departure from the State Department in 2013. I’m told that Obama understood that he needed to get her out of the way for the diplomacy to work.
But Clinton’s signature project as Secretary of State was another war of choice, this time the “regime change” in Libya resulting in the grisly murder of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the descent of Libya into a failed state beset with terrorism, including the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and more recently the emergence of the Islamic State.
Clinton and her “liberal interventionist” allies sold the Libyan war as a “responsibility to protect” mission – or R2P – but the propaganda about Gaddafi’s supposed plans for “genocide” against the Libyan people was wildly exaggerated and fit with a long and sorry pattern of U.S. officials deceiving the U.S. public. [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Covering Up Hillary’s Libyan Fiasco.”]
According to all accounts, Obama was on the fence about the wisdom of joining European nations in undertaking the Libyan “regime change” and it was Secretary Clinton who tipped his decision toward going to war. The U.S. military then provided the crucial technological infrastructure for the war to go forward. Without the U.S. involvement, the “regime change” in Libya wouldn’t have happened.
As the conflict raged, Clinton’s State Department email exchanges revealed that her aides saw the Libyan war as a chance to pronounce a “Clinton doctrine,” bragging about how Clinton’s clever use of “smart power” could get rid of demonized foreign leaders like Gaddafi. But President Obama seized the spotlight when Gaddafi’s government fell.
But Clinton didn’t miss a second chance to take credit on Oct. 20, 2011, after militants captured Gaddafi, sodomized him with a knife and then murdered him. Appearing on a TV interview, Clinton celebrated Gaddafi’s demise with the quip, “we came; we saw; he died.”
However, with Gaddafi and his largely secular regime out of the way, Islamic militants expanded their power over the country. Many, it turned out, were terrorists, just as Gaddafi had warned. Some were responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens.
Over the next five years, Libya – a once prosperous North African country – descended into anarchy with dozens of armed militias and now three competing governments jockeying for power. Meanwhile, the Islamic State expanded its territory around the city of Sirte and engaged in its signature practice of beheading “infidels,” including a group of Coptic Christians slaughtered on a beach.
Yet, on the campaign trail, Clinton continues to defend her instigation of the Libyan war, disputing any comparisons between it and the Iraq War by rejecting any “conflating” of the two. Yet, the two disasters – while obviously having some differences – do deserve to be conflated because they have many similarities. Both were wars of choice justified by false and misleading claims and having terrible outcomes.
Clinton’s rejection of “conflating” the two wars has another disturbing element to it, the suggestion that she is incapable of extracting lessons from one situation and applying them to another. That inability to analyze, engage in self-criticism, and thus avoid repeating the same mistakes may indeed be a disqualifying characteristic for someone seeking the U.S. presidency.
So, is Hillary Clinton “qualified” to be President of the United States? While her glittering résumé may say one thing, her record – a litany of misjudgments, miscalculations and catastrophes – may say something else.
[For information about Hillary Clinton’s earlier career, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Clinton’s Experience: Fact and Fantasy.”]
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Introduction: The terror bombings in Paris and Brussels have raised a cacophony of voices, ranging from state officials, Prime Ministers and Presidents, to academics, journalists and media consultants. Tons of ink and print have focused on the psychology, networks and operations of the alleged perpetrators – radicalized young Muslim citizens of the EU.
Few have examined the long-term, large-scale policies of the EU, US and NATO, which have been associated with the development and growth of the worldwide terror networks. This essay will discuss the historical links between Islamist terrorists and the US-Saudi Arabian-Pakistani intervention in Afghanistan, as well as the consequences of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. In Iraq, the US implemented a deliberate policy of destroying all secular state structures and promoting the Balkanization of the country via ethnic-religious and tribal wars – a policy it has followed in subsequent areas of intervention.
The last section will focus on the US-EU-Gulf Petrol-Monarchy proxy invasions and ‘regime change’ bombings of the secular republics of Libya and Syria with the further cultivation and growth of international Islamist terrorism.
Historical Origins of International Islamist Terrorism: Afghanistan
In 1979, President James Carter and his National Security Chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski, launched Operation Cyclone, a major Islamist uprising against the Soviet- aligned secular Afghan regime. The US coordinated its campaign with the rabidly anti-Soviet monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which provided the funding and mercenaries for ‘international jihad’ against secular governance. This brutal campaign ‘officially’ lasted 10 years until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. It produced millions of casualties and decades of ‘blow-back’ when the CIA-Pakistani-Saudi trained Arab mercenaries (the ‘Afghan-Arabs’) returned to their home countries and elsewhere. The US intelligence agencies, Special Forces Commands and military directorates (especially Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service) trained and armed terrorists with US-Saudi funding. The American covert financial contribution mushroomed over the years rising to over $670 million dollars a year by 1987. Tens of thousands of Islamist mercenaries and adventurers were recruited from the Middle East, North Africa, the Gulf States, the Soviet Union (Chechens), Yugoslavia (Bosnians and Kosovars), China (Uigurs) and Western Europe.
With the defeat of the secular regime of President Najibullah in 1992, the Islamists and tribal factions then fought among themselves, converting Afghanistan into the world’s best-equipped training ground for International Islamist terrorists. Eventually, the Pashtun-based Taliban faction (with Pakistani arms and support) prevailed and established an extreme Islamist regime. The Taliban, despite its rhetoric, settled down to consolidating their brand of ‘Islamism in one country’, (1995-2001), a largely nationalist project. In its quest for respectability, it successfully destroyed the opium poppy fields, earning the praise of US President GW Bush in spring 2001. It also hosted a variety of Saudi princes and warlords, eventually including the jihadi-internationalist Osama bin Laden, who had been driven from North Africa.
Following the terrorist attack on the US in September 2001, the US and NATO invaded Afghanistan on October 2001 and overthrew the nation-centered Islamist Taliban regime. The subsequent chaos and guerrilla war opened up a huge new inflow and outflow of thousands of international extremists who came to Afghanistan, trained, fought and then departed, fully prepared to practice their terrorist skills in their countries of origin in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
The US interventions and invasion of Afghanistan provide some of the context for the subsequent bombings in Europe and the US. The Islamist ‘returnees’ to Europe and elsewhere had received funds from Saudi Arabia and training from the CIA and Pakistani intelligence. They began their work among a very ‘available’ constituency of potential recruits in the marginalized Muslim youth of the ghettos and prisons of Europe.
The Middle Period: the US-Zionist Invasion and Destruction of Iraq
The turning point in the growth and internationalization of Islamist terrorism was the US invasion, occupation and systematic reign of terror in Iraq. Largely under the guidance of key US Zionist policymakers (and Israeli advisers) in the Pentagon, State Department and the White House, the US dismantled the entire secular Iraqi army and police forces. They also purged the administrative, civil, educational, medical and scientific institutions of nationalistic secular professionals, opening the field to warring Islamist tribal factions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and millions fled in a regime of ethnic cleansing – which Washington touted as a model for the rest of the Middle East. However, thousands of experienced, but jobless Iraqi military officers, who had survived the US-orchestrated purges, regrouped and eventually joined with tens of thousands of nationalist and internationalist Islamist extremists to form ISIS. Their motives were arguable less ethno-religious and more related to revenge for their displacement and the destruction of their own society.
The deliberate US (Zionist)-EU-Saudi strategy to divide and conquer Iraq initially involved working closely with Sunni feudal tribal leaders and other extremists to counter the rising power of pro-Iranian Shia. They promoted a policy of fragmenting the country with the Kurds dominating in the North, the Sunnis in the center and the Shia in the south (the so-called Joseph Biden-Leslie Gelb Plan of national dismemberment and ethnic cleansing). The rationale was to create a weak central authority completely under US-EU tutelage and a loose group of fragmented subsistence fiefdoms in what had been the most advanced secular Arab republic.
Despite pouring billions of dollars in arms from the US to create a puppet-colonial Iraqi ‘national army’, the Saudis and Israelis pursued their own policy of financing sectors of the Kurds and violent Sunni opposition – with the latter forming the original mass base of ISIS.
As the US-client Shia regime in Baghdad focused on stealing billions while killing or exiling hundreds of thousands of educated Sunnis, Christians and other secular Iraqis from the capital, the morale of its US-puppet troops plummeted. With the entire experienced and nationalist Iraqi officer core purged (slaughtered or driven into hiding), the new puppet officers were cowardly, corrupt and incompetent – as openly acknowledged by their US ‘advisers’. ISIS, meanwhile had acquired hundreds of thousands of US weapons and was financed by the Shia-hating Saudi Royal Family and other Gulf Monarchs. Armed Sunnis soon launched major, lightning-quick offensives under the leadership of ex-Baathist army officers, supported by thousands of terrorists, suicide bombers and foreign mercenaries. US and European ‘military experts’ expressed ’shock’ at their effectiveness.
ISIS routed the Baghdad-controlled army, their US advisers and Kurdish allies from northern Iraq, capturing major cities, including Mosul, thousands of productive oil wells and drove their forces to within a few dozen kilometers of Baghdad. Territorial conquest and military successes attracted thousands more Islamist volunteers from the Middle East, Europe, Afghanistan and even North America. ISIS provided the military training; Saudi Arabia paid their salaries; Turkey purchased their captured oil and antiquities and opened its borders to the transfer of jihadi troops and weapons. Israel, for its part, purchased captured ISIS petrol at a discount from corrupt Turkish traders. Each regional player had its snout in the bloody trough that had once been Iraq!
ISIS successes in Iraq, led it to expand its operations and ambitions across the border into Syria. This occurred just as the US and EU were bombing and destroying the secular government of Colonel Gadhafi in Libya, in another ‘wildly successful’ planned campaign of ‘regime change’ (According to US Secretary of State Clinton as she gleefully watched the captive wounded Gadhafi ’snuff film’ by unspeakable torture – ‘WE came and HE died’.).
The chaos that ensued in Libya led to an exponential growth of extremist Islamist groups with tons of weapons of ‘liberated’ Libyan weapons! Islamist terrorists in Libya gained territory, took over oil wells and attracted ‘volunteers’ from the marginalized youth of neighboring Tunisia, Egypt, Mali and as far away as Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Flush with more guns, money and training. Many graduates went on to Syria and Iraq.
The Contemporary Period: EU-US-Turkey-Saudi-Israeli Sponsored War in Syria
In 2011, as ISIS rolled across the Iraqi border into Syria and terrorist Islamist bands seized cities in Libya, the US-EU-Turkish-Saudi and Israeli regimes financed and armed Islamist (and the mythical ‘moderate’) forces in Syria to overthrow the nationalist-secular Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad.
Thousands of Islamist extremist volunteers heeded the call (and the fat paychecks) of the Saudi regime and its Salafist propagandists. These constituted the Saudi Royal Family’s own ‘Foreign Legion’. They were trained and armed and shipped into Syria by Turkish intelligence. The US armed and trained hundreds of its own so-called ‘moderate rebels’ whose fighters quickly defected to ISIS and other terrorist groups turning over tons of US arms, while the ‘moderate rebel leaders’ gave press conferences from London and Washington. ISIS seized swaths of Syrian territory, sweeping westward toward the Russian naval and air bases on the coast and upward from the south, encircling Damascus. Millions were uprooted and minority populations were enslaved or slaughtered.
The news of ISIS territorial gains with their plundered oil wealth from sales to Turkey and the flow of arms from Saudi Arabia, the EU and the US attracted over 30,000 ‘volunteer’ mercenaries from North America, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
These new terrorists received military training, including bomb making and logistical planning in Syria. Many were citizens of the EU, Islamist extremists, numbering over five thousand. These young fighters trained and fought in Syria and then returned to France, Belgium, Germany and the rest of the EU. They had gone to Syria with the tacit support and/or tolerance of their own European governments who had used them, rather than NATO troops, in the US-EU campaign of ‘regime change’ against Damascus.
The European governments were sure they had ‘their’ Muslim recruits under control as they joined the US in a reckless policy of overthrowing independent secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa. They happily encouraged their marginalized young Muslim citizens to flock to Syria and fight. They hoped they would remain in Syria (fighting on the ground or buried under the ground). Officially, EU leaders claimed to support ‘moderate rebels’ (the bland term Western media used to sanitize Islamist terrorists) fighting the Assad ‘dictatorship’. European regimes were not prepared to detain the battle hardened ‘returnees’, who had been trained in Iraq and Syria. These young European Muslims (children of immigrants or converts to Islam) had been heavily indoctrinated and incorporated into international terrorist networks. They easily melted back into their marginalized European urban ghettos – beyond the control of Europe’s bloated intelligence services.
In practice, the EU regimes saw the thousands of Europe’s Muslim youth flocking to Syria as an ‘EU Foreign Legion’, a glorified wastebasket for unemployed young thugs and ex-prisoners, who would advance NATO’s imperial goals while solving the domestic social problem of the marginalized children of North African migrants. Europe’s Muslim youth were viewed as convenient cannon fodder by NATO planners and the governments of France, Belgium and the UK. For public relations, it was better for these young men and women to die overthrowing the secular government in Syria than to send in European soldiers (white Christians) whose deaths would have domestic political repercussions.
The EU underestimated the depth of antagonism these ‘volunteers’ felt about US-EU intervention in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as their anger at Europe’s continued support for Israeli land grabs in Palestine. In its racist arrogance, EU leaders underestimated the capacity of ISIS to indoctrinate, train and organize these marginalized kids from Europe’s slums into effective international cells able to carry the war back to Europe.
The EU smugly overlooked the active roles of Turkey and Saudi Arabia who had their own independent, regional ambitions. Ankara and Riyadh trained and financed the ‘volunteers’, and facilitated their flow into Syria from camps in Turkey and Jordan. The wounded were treated in Turkey and sometimes even in Israel. Thousands, many EU citizens, would flow back into Europe or to their countries of origin in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Russia.
The EU had slavishly and blindly followed Washington’s lead in all its Middle East wars. Now it is now paying a big price: Thousands of trained terrorists have returned; bombings and attacks on European civilians and civil structures have occurred, while the European government leaders trip over each other in a mad rush to dismantle civil and constitutional citizen rights and impose wide ranging police state measures (States of Emergency).
These new Saudi-funded terrorist recruits (Riyadh’s Legionnaires) are active in all the countries where the US and EU have launched proxy wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan . . . Turkey funds ISIS terrorists in Syria, Iraq and Kurdish territories to advance its own expansionist ambitions – oblivious to the clucking disapproval of EU leaders. Now Turkey receives over 6 billion Euro’s from the EU in what amounts to blackmail: In return, Turkey will ‘contain’ the flood of regional refugees in barely disguised concentration camps out of European sight.
Ever since the US-EU policymakers decided to implement a war against Arab and West Asian secular nationalism in the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Iran and North Africa through serial ‘regime change’ campaigns they have relied on Islamist Salafist mercenaries and volunteers to do most of the killing on the ground, while the West operates from the air. Washington and its NATO allies operated on the assumption that they could use and then discard their recruits, mostly from marginalized urban youth and criminal gangs, once they had served imperial military purposes. A few with requisite talent and ruthlessness could be turned into puppet ‘leaders’ to unleash on the Russians and other ‘obstacles’ in future engagements.
The EU-US totally misunderstood the volunteers’ high level of independence, their organizational autonomy and their own understanding of the tactical nature of their alliance with Western imperialism. Islamist extremist leaders, like their Western counterparts, believe there are no permanent alliances – only permanent interests.
The EU and US have pursued a policy of overthrowing independent Muslim and secular Arab nations and returning them to the status of pre-independence semi-colonies. The rollback policy against secular nationalism (with its deep roots in the Dulles era) has extended from North Africa, through the Middle East to Southwest Asia. For its part, ISIS and its allies envision a return to a pre-colonial Islamic caliphate over the same lands and people to counter Western imperialism. Millions are caught in the middle.
ISIS views the Westernized secular elites in the Muslim countries as a fifth column for the spread of empire, while it has re-socialized and trained young Islamists from the EU to serve as networks of terrorists ‘behind enemy lines’ sowing mayhem in the West.
The political repercussions of this internationalized war are profound. Millions of civilians in the war zones have been and will be killed, uprooted and converted into desperate refugees flooding the EU. Police-state emergency rule, arbitrary searches, arrests and interrogations have become the norm in the highly militarized European airports, train and metro stations, as well as markets and cultural centers. The EU has increasingly undergone an ‘Israelization’ of its society, with its population polarized and resembling Israel- Palestinian . . . its Muslim community marginalized and confined into little Gaza’s.
In this charged atmosphere, Israeli high tech security companies and advisers flourish, mergers and acquisitions of police state technology multiply. Israeli Prime Minister Benny Netanyahu embraces the French Prime Minister Hollande in the club of electoral authoritarians.
Meanwhile the refugees and their children flow to and fro, the bombs come and go. We line up to place flowers on our latest dead and then pay our taxes for more wars in the Middle East. More young ‘volunteers’ will become cheap fodder to fight in our wars; some will return and plant more bombs, so we can mourn some more at patriotic vigils -protected by armed battalions…
US airstrikes in Afghan province of Paktika have killed at least 17 civilians, local officials and elders say, rejecting official American and Afghan claims that only militants had been killed.
They were killed during three drone strikes carried out by the US in the area of Nematabad on Wednesday, former Afghan senator Hajji Muhammad Hasan said, quoted by The New York Times.
The first raid struck a vehicle carrying a local elder, Hajji Rozuddin, who was on his way to mediate a land dispute in a tribe with four bodyguards and seven other people, the report said.
“Hajji Rozuddin was strongly anti-Taliban,” said Hasan. “He carried bodyguards because the Taliban were trying to kill him.”
“The car was completely destroyed, and there was little of the bodies left,” he said.
Soon after the attack, another strike killed two people who had come to help recover the bodies from the truck after the first attack, said Hasan.
A third attack also killed three other civilians on top of a small hill. They were trying “to see what had happened and why the previous two men had not returned already,” he explained.
Governor Shaista Khan Akhtarzada also confirmed that an investigation team had determined that “the people killed were civilians.”
The US military had said on Thursday that two Wednesday airstrikes in Paktika killed 14 militants.
“There was no evidence to indicate that there were any civilian casualties at all,” Charles Cleveland, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said.
Cleveland claimed that most of the “just under a hundred” US strikes in Afghanistan from January 1 to March 31 were focused on Daesh militants in eastern Nangarhar Province.
Officials and residents said that such airstrikes have been relatively rare in Paktika in recent months, even as the United States has intensified its air operations elsewhere in the country.
In January, US President Barack Obama authorized American forces to target Daesh terrorists emerging in Nangarhar.
Although Taliban leaders have warned Daesh against “waging a parallel insurgency in Afghanistan,” the Takfiri group has been trying to expand its outreach there and is reported to have between 1,000 to 3,000 terrorists on its payroll.
Afghanistan is gripped by insecurity 14 years after the United States and its allies attacked the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.