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A NATO summit for the Donald Trump era

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | May 24, 2017

If the expectation was that US President Donald Trump would outline his strategy toward Afghanistan at the summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels (May 25-26), that might not be the case. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in his customary pre-summit press conference at the alliance’s Headquarters, in fact, said the summit’s agenda will focuse on two issues: a) Stepping up of NATO’s contribution to the fight against terrorism. The NATO will not undertake combat missions and its role is to “deal with the root causes of terrorism, training local forces is one of the best tools we have”; and,  b) “Burden sharing”, which meant meeting the pledge that the member countries had made in 2014 to stop the cuts in military budgets, and “gradually increase and move towards” spending 2% of GDP on defence within a decade.

This is essentially a summit to get acquainted with Trump. The US’ allies fervently hope that Trump will give decent burial to his famous description of NATO being “obsolete” and, in particular, pledge loyalty to Article V of the alliance’s charter on collective security. There is bound to be some unease because Trump can be very unpredictable.

Stoltenberg was circumspect about Afghanistan, saying,

  • But the security situation remains challenging. We have recently completed our regular review of our training mission. And our military commanders have asked for a few thousand more troops. We are currently in the process of force generation and I expect final decisions to be taken next month.

It appears that Trump is yet to take a final decision on the US troop level in Afghanistan and/or his strategy toward the war.

Interestingly, during the Q&A, Stoltenberg distanced himself from the allegations in the US media (attributed to senior Pentagon commanders) that Russia has been giving covert support to Taliban to undermine the NATO operations. He said, “We have seen reports, but we haven’t seen fine proof of direct support of Russia to the Taliban.”

Importantly, Stoltenberg added, “We urge Russia to be part of an Afghan-led peace process” to reconcile the Taliban. This is a significant remark, because the NATO secretary-general usually takes his cue from Washington. Can this remark be taken as Stoltenberg’s premonition of some sort of US-Russia cooperation sailing into view over Afghanistan in a near term? It is a plausible assumption, if only because, below the radar, US-Russian cooperation over Syria at the military-to-military level is gaining momentum in the fight against ISIS. The US, it seems, is taking a leap of faith, finally.

Earlier today, addressing the upper house of the Russian parliament in Moscow, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu made the stunning disclosure that the Russian and American militaries are engaged in discussions about the Syrian situation in a “round-the-clock mode” and are preparing a “joint project” on the hugely controversial southern zone of “deconfliction” where the competing interests of various external protagonists — Israel, Jordan, Iran, US and Hezbollah —  threaten to bring the roof down. (See my earlier blog US, Iran run into each other in Syria.)

To quote Shoigu,

  • We did not halt contacts and cooperation with them (Americans), this is also happening almost in a round-the-clock mode, we are talking with them during the day and the night, and we are meeting at different venues. A great work is underway with them. We would like it to be completed and presented as a project ready for implementation. But we are working with them and working, naturally, on the southern zone of de-escalation.

The “great work” in progress on Syria can stimulate similar cooperation in Afghanistan as well. Indeed, the US and NATO snubbed repeated Russian overtures over the years for cooperation in Afghanistan, including at the level of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization. But Trump is perfectly capable of deciding that Russian help is useful and necessary in Afghanistan in the fight to defeat the ISIS and to bring the war to an end through a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.

By the way, Stoltenberg’s 48-minute press conference in Brussels today was free of any of his past rhetoric against Russia. It will be interesting to see what, if any, Trump will have to say tomorrow on “Russian aggression”, which had been the leitmotif of such high-level NATO events in the recent years during the Barack Obama administration. The video of Stoltenberg’s press conference is here.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

No proof to back allegations Russia gave weapons to Taliban – US military intel chief

RT | May 23, 2017

The thinly-veiled accusations in the US that Russia supplied arms to Taliban militants were not based on any physical evidence of weapons or money transfers, a senior US military official told lawmakers.

“We have seen indication that they offered some level of support but I have not seen real physical evidence of weapons or money being transferred,” Marine Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, who serves as director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), said at a Senate hearing.

Last month allegations against Russia were voiced by some US officials, including US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, military commander of alliance forces in Europe, and US Army General John W. Nicholson Jr., who commands US troops in Afghanistan.

The officials claimed that Russia was exerting influence on the Taliban and may be involved in supplying weapons to the militants.

The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations as “fabrications designed to justify the failure of the US military and politicians in the Afghan campaign.”

Stewart was reporting to the Senate Arms Services Committee on the Pentagon’s view on global threats to the US and its allies.

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Deception, Fake News | , , , | Leave a comment

If NATO Wants Peace and Stability it Should Stay Home

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 20.05.2017

A curious op-ed appeared in The National Interest, penned by Hans Binnendijk and David Gompert, adjunct senior fellows at the RAND Corporation. Titled, “NATO’s Role in post-Caliphate Stability Operations,” it attempts to make a case for NATO involvement everywhere from Libya to Syria and Iraq in fostering stability in the wake of a yet-to-be defeated Islamic State.

The authors propose that NATO step in to fill what it calls an impending “vacuum left as the caliphate collapses,” heading off alternatives including “chaos or Iran, backed by Russia, filling the void, with great harm to U.S. and allied interests in either case.” The op-ed never explains why Iran, neighboring Syria and Iraq, are less qualified to influence the region than the United States which exists literally oceans away and shares nothing in terms of history, culture, language or shared interests in stability and peace.

The op-ed would literally claim:

NATO is the only security organization with the skills and breadth to take on this task. The U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition of 68 partners is ill equipped to engage in this complex task. A more cohesive organization such as NATO should lead, but in ways that allow continued Arab participation. A creative version of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition could provide the answer.

It was an interesting choice by the authors to showcase one of NATO’s most stupendous and continuing failures in Afghanistan with mention of the ISAF, a force that not only has failed to bring stability to the Central Asia nation in over a decade and a half of occupation, but has presided over the emergence of the Islamic State there where previously it had no presence.

The reality of what NATO is versus what The National Interest op-ed attempts to pass it off as, resembles more of a sales pitch for a shoddy product than a genuine attempt at geopolitical analysis or problem solving. But the truth goes deeper still.

NATO is a Global Wrecking Ball, It Cannot Create Stability

The op-ed focuses primarily on proposing NATO roles for a post-Islamic State Libya, Iraq and Syria.

Libya is perhaps the most tragic of the three, with NATO having used direct military force in 2011 to topple the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in support of known extremists passed off at the time by both NATO spokespeople and the US-European media as “moderate rebels.”

The predictable fallout from this military campaign was the collapse of Libya as a relatively stable and unified nation-state into warring factions. The instability became fertile grounds for extremism, with many of the groups backed by NATO evolving into what is now the “Islamic State.”

The National Interest op-ed also makes mention of “Arab participation.” It should be remembered that the most extreme factions fighting in Libya were not only aided by direct NATO military intervention, but were armed and funded by Persian Gulf dictatorships as well, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

A similar pattern of sowing instability has unfolded in Syria, leading to, not averting the rise of the Islamic State.

And Iraq’s instability is a direct and lasting consequence of the US military invasion and occupation of 2003.

If nothing else, this exposes NATO and its members as a collective, global wrecking ball. Just as a wrecking ball cannot be used to construct a building on a vacant lot, NATO cannot be used to construct the conditions for stability across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Really Stopping the Islamic State Means Really Stopping Support for It 

Ultimately, what the op-ed calls for is the permanent occupation of the three nations by NATO forces ranging from special forces in Libya to the formal occupation of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

Interestingly, the op-ed suggests that the NATO occupation force in Syria should not only be used to combat the Islamic State, but to also deter “Syrian military thrusts,” referring to the armed forces of the actual and only legitimate government in Syria.

This last point exposes fully what NATO is really interested in, and what this sales pitch is really advertising. NATO is not in MENA to defeat the Islamic State, it is merely using the Islamic State as a pretext to project Western hegemony across the region.

The closing paragraph states:

This NATO strategy cannot, and should not be expected to, settle the Syrian civil war, bring ethnic and sectarian harmony to Iraq, or create an effective Libyan state. What it could do is create conditions of stability in which lasting solutions at least have a chance. It can do so only if the U.S. is ready to call upon NATO to join it in filling the post-ISIS void and for the European allies to answer that call.

Certainly, NATO’s presence in Syria, Iraq or Libya will not bring any sort of stability. NATO has proven its absolute inability to achieve this in its 16 year occupation of Afghanistan. Claiming NATO occupation will “create conditions of stability in which lasting solutions at least have a chance” is merely NATO’s way of ensuring no matter the chaos it itself has created across MENA, it will hold a stake in the outcome if for no other reason because it has literally taken and occupies territory within the post-war region.

It is interesting that the Islamic State rose in the wake of US-led, NATO-backed violence stretching from North Africa to Central Asia and only began to suffer setbacks upon greater and more direct Russian and Iranian intervention.

The bombing of Islamic State and Jabhat Al Nusra logistical lines emanating from NATO-member Turkey’s borders by Russian warplanes, for example, inevitably led to huge gains by the Syrian Arab Army including the eventual liberation of Aleppo, the containment of Idlib and a significant retraction of Islamic State-held territory in eastern Syria.

The torrent of supplies feeding Islamic State and other fronts of extremist militancy flowing from Turkey is the admitted result of Persian Gulf sponsorship, which in turn, serves as an intermediary for US and NATO support for what the US Defense Intelligence Agency called in 2012 (.pdf) a “Salafist principality.”

The specific purpose of this “Salafist principality,” admittedly backed by Persian Gulf dictatorships, Turkey and what the US DIA refers to as “the West,” was to “isolate the Syrian regime.”  Clearly then, were NATO genuinely interested in defeating the Islamic State and undoing the damage it has done, it would begin by withdrawing it and its allies’ own support of the terrorist organization in the first place.

In short, if NATO truly wants to create stability across MENA, it merely needs to stop intentionally sowing instability.

Of course, a unilateral military bloc intentionally sowing chaos across an entire region of the planet is doing so for a very specific purpose. It is the same purpose all hegemons throughout human history have sought to divide and destroy regions they cannot outright conquer. A destroyed competitor may not be as favorable as a conquered, controlled and exploited competitor, but is certainly preferable to a free and independent competitor contributing to a greater multipolar world order. NATO, by embedding itself amid the chaos it itself has created, as it has proven in Afghanistan, only ensures further chaos.

Within this chaos, NATO can ensure if its own membership cannot derive benefit from the region, no one else will. A call like that featured in The National Interest for NATO to bring “stability” to the MENA region stands in stark contrast to the reality that everywhere NATO goes, chaos not only follows, it stays indefinitely until NATO leaves.

The best thing NATO can do for stability across MENA is to leave.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Last to Die in Afghanistan: US Marines Back to Helmand

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 17.05.2017

Some 300 US Marines are once again being deployed to Helmand province, Afghanistan after upward to 20,000 US Marines had spent between 2009-2014 attempting, but clearly failing to secure the province for the US-installed client regime in the nation’s capital of Kabul.

The latest deployment of US forces in Afghanistan after allegedly “ending” combat operations and the “Afghanistan War” in 2014, exposes several realities surrounding US foreign policy that directly conflict with the political narratives emanating from Washington.

The War Isn’t Over 

The United States and members of its coalition involved in the invasion and now 16 plus year occupation of Afghanistan have not in fact ended the war, let alone won it. The fact that entire districts, and even provinces remain beyond the control of America’s client regime, and even those that are under Kabul’s control remain contested, reveals an ongoing conflict with little prospect of ending.

Fighters resisting the US occupation and the US-backed client regime have established networks that extend beyond Afghanistan’s borders far from where US forces can reach. Afghanistan’s neighbors have attempted to broker practical peace deals between groups like the Taliban and other factions within Afghanistan’s patchwork of tribes for the sake of long-term stability, undermining entirely the artificially imposed political order the US has attempted to create and maintain. 

Attempts at “nation building” have failed, with foreign contractors and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to profit from their activities within Afghanistan with little to no genuine interest in a collaborative and fundamentally constructive effort to develop the nation.

Attempts to build up local Afghan governance and military forces have also failed because of a fundamental disconnect with American objectives and the actual aspirations of the people the US is attempting to impose its version of governance upon.

The New York Times in an article titled, “Marines Return to Helmand Province for a Job They Thought Was Done,” explains the current situation in Helmand province:

The Marines’ new mission is a difficult one: to assist and train Afghan soldiers and police to defend the provincial capital. The Taliban control seven of the province’s 14 districts and are encroaching on five others. The government fully controls just two, local officials say.

The process of US Marines taking and holding towns, cities and districts only to have them fall immediately back into the armed opposition’s hands after withdrawing is a familiar one for US foreign policy. It is the same process that played out repeatedly in Southeast Asia as the United States struggled to impose its political will upon the people of Vietnam.

Ultimately the US conceded defeat in Vietnam with the nation then able to determine its own future for itself. Fear-mongering over the consequences of a communist Vietnam creating a cascading effect across all of Asia and placing entire nations under the control of the Soviet Union and communist China were revealed as unfounded. The people of Vietnam were just as adamantly opposed to being dictated to by their Asian neighbors as they were by French and American invaders.

Afghanistan is no different.

The War Has Nothing to do with “Terrorism” 

The entire premise for the initial invasion of Afghanistan was fighting terrorism. Predicated on the attack on September 11, 2001 in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania which cost nearly 3,000 lives and blamed on Al Qaeda, the invasion of Afghanistan was meant to strike at the senior leadership of the terrorist organization, including Osama Bin Laden.

Instead, from the beginning, the US invasion focused almost exclusively on regime change, targeting the ruling Taliban, not Al Qaeda. The invasion and toppling of the Taliban government transformed into a protracted occupation and counterinsurgency as the United States struggled to assert its political order via a supremely corrupt and incompetent client regime residing in Kabul.

And while time to time news stories would circulate regarding alleged US military operations targeting Al Qaeda, it is clear, specifically with the most recent deployment of US Marines to Helmand, that asserting, reasserting and struggling to maintain control over the Central Asian state remains America’s primary objective. 

In fact, within the body of the New York Times’ nearly 1,000 word article regarding the return of US Marines to Helmand province, Al Qaeda and “terrorism” weren’t mentioned once.

Sadly, actual terrorists, including Al Qaeda itself, have been intentionally bolstered by the US and its allies, specifically in Syria where weapons, training, money and other forms of material support are being funneled into their hands to carry out regime change by proxy against Damascus.

The common denominator defining US foreign policy appears to be  imposing Washington’s political will upon nations and regions, with terrorism serving as the most tenuous of excuses, and at other times, being used explicitly as a tool to carry out US foreign policy.

America, Its Client Regime Unwanted

Toward the end of the article, the New York Times admits (emphasis added):

But the biggest challenge for the Marines will be to help Afghan forces regain territory and hold it. Abdul Jabar Qahraman, President Ashraf Ghani’s former envoy in charge of operations in Helmand, said that for a long time the people of Helmand had sided with the Afghan forces, but that the government had repeatedly failed the civilian population and “left them handcuffed for the brutal enemy.” He said he expected that the Afghan forces would struggle to regain the population’s trust.

“There is no contact between the security forces and the local people,” Mr. Qahraman said. “People do not believe the promises of security forces, and the security forces always remain inside their bases, they don’t get out.”

It is clear that the problem is not just the “Taliban,” but rather the United States’ entire agenda, not only in Helmand province, or even in Afghanistan, but overseas in general. 

It is attempting to impose a self-serving political order that suits its sociopolitical and economic interests at the cost of peace, stability and security for entire regions of the planet. Its presence in Afghanistan and the proxies it has established to administer the nation to serve Washington’s interests are admittedly unwanted by the very people being administered.

The 300 US Marines who have dutifully deployed to Helmand will once again risk life and limb for a nebulous objective serving a geopolitical agenda divorced from the best interests of both the American and Afghan people.

Far from enhancing the national security of the United States, the costly, protracted occupation of Afghanistan is demonstrating tactical and strategic weakness, geopolitical ineptitude and exposing the dangerous shortsighted greed that drives US foreign policy at the cost of long-term, rational planning and implementation.

What 300 US Marines are supposed to accomplish that 20,000 couldn’t years before with a much larger NATO force supporting them is difficult to discern. Like during the late stages of the Vietnam War, it appears that US foreign policymakers are designating these US Marines as the “last to die” in Afghanistan for the sake of “saving face,” though 16 years onward and with the state of Afghanistan as it is, there is little left to save.  

Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

US and Turkey: The Balkanization of the Middle East

By James Petras | May 15, 2017

For the past 20 years Washington has aggressively pursued the age-old imperial strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ throughout the Middle East, Southwest Asia and East Africa. Frustrated at its inability to control national policy of various independent nation-states, Washington used direct and indirect military force to destroy the central governments in the targeted nations and create patchworks of tribal-ethno-mini-states amenable to imperial rule. Tens of millions of people have been uprooted and millions have died because of this imperial policy.

Washington’s strategy of fragmentation and secession follows closely the “Greater Israel Plan” set forth by Israeli politico-military writer Oded Yinon in February 1982 and published by the World Zionist Organization. Yinon maintained that the key to Israel’s domination of the Middle East rested on fostering ethno-religious and regional divisions. Following the Yinon Plan, in the first instance, Tel Aviv signed accords with Jordan and Egypt to break-up Arab regional support for the Palestinians. It then proceeded to fragment what remained of Arab-Palestine into small warring enclaves between the West Bank and Gaza. Israel then sub-divided and settled wide swatches of the West Bank with the collaboration of the corrupt ‘Palestinian Authority’ under Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel’s ‘divide and conquer’ strategy toward the Greater Middle East depended on its placement of ‘Israel First’ officials in top policymaking positions of the US Defense, State and Treasury Departments and the power of the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) — the so-called “Israel Lobby” – to control the US Congress and Presidency in matters related to Israel.

The Israeli Mid-East strategy of fragmenting and weakening pro-Palestinian governments thus become the official US policy toward Arab countries.

This policy has not been limited to the Arab Middle East: Israel and US policymakers intervened to undermine the ‘pro-Palestinian’ government of Sudan by supporting a secessionist war to create a huge resource-rich ‘Southern Sudan’ conglomeration of tribal warlords, leaving a devastated region of mass murder and famine.

Somalia, Libya and Ethiopia were also riven by regional wars financed and armed by the US with overt and covert Israeli operatives and advisers.

Israel’s policy to weaken, fragment and destroy viable developing countries, differed from the traditional policies of colonial regimes, which sought to conquer and exploit unified nation-states. Washington has blindly followed Israel’s imperial ‘model’ without assessing its impact on US interests and thus undermining its past practice of economic exploitation of viable nation states.

‘Israel First’ officials within the US federal administrative policy-making bodies played a decisive role in fabricating the pretexts for the 2003 US invasion and destruction of Iraq. They pushed fake ‘documents’ alleging Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and they promoted a plan to sub-divide the country in three ethnically ‘cleansed’ regions: Kurds (as Israel’s allies) in the North, impoverished Sunnis in the center and easily controlled Shia tribal leaders in the South.

The policy of dismantling a central government and promoting regional fragmentation backfired on the US authorities in Iraq: Sunni insurgents, often trained by experienced Baathist (former Iraqi Army) officers, formed the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS), which took over major cities, slaughtering all non-Arab, non-Sunni residents, and threatened to established an independent state. The Shia-led government in Baghdad turned to Iran for support, forcing the US, Israel and the Kurds to declare war against ISIS, while trying to retain the weakened Sunni tribal clients. No viable central government remains in the once powerful multiethnic republic of Iraq.

The US joined Saudi Arabia in invading and bombing Yemen to destroy the Houthi rebels and favor the Sunni Salafist groups allied to al Qaeda. The goal was to weaken Yemen and prevent popular Yemini revolts from spreading to Saudi Arabia as well as undermining any Houthi alliances with Iran and expression of support for Palestine.

The US directly invaded Afghanistan expecting to easily conquer and ‘neatly’ subdivide that enormous region and ‘skillfully’ pit the various regional ethno-tribal groups against each other – while setting up a lucrative and militarily strategic site for launching future wars against US (and Israeli) rivals in Iran, Central Asia and China.

The battle-hardened Afghan Islamist Pashtun guerrilla-fighters, led by the Taliban, and unified by ethno-religious, national, tribal and extended family ties and customs, have successfully resisted this divide and conquer strategy. They now control most of the countryside, infiltrating and influencing the armed forces and police and have driven the US forces into garrison airbases, reliant on dropping mega bombs from the stratosphere.

Meanwhile, blinded by the media propaganda reports of their ‘successes’, Washington and the NATO powers launched a bloody surrogate war against the secular nationalist government of Syria, seeking to divide, conquer and obliterate an independent, pro-Palestine, pro-Iran, ally of Russia.

NATO’s invading armies and mercenary groups, however, are sub-divided into strange factions with shifting allegiances and patrons. At one level, there are the EU/US-supported ‘moderate’ head-chopping rebels. Then there are the Turkey and Saudi Arabia-supported ‘serious’ head-chopping al Qaeda Salafists. Finally there is the ‘champion’ head-chopping ISIS conglomeration based in Iraq and Syria, as well as a variety of Kurdish armed groups serving as Israeli mercenaries.

The US-EU efforts to conquer and control Syria, via surrogates, mercenaries and terrorists, was defeated largely because of Syria’s alliance with Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Syria has effectively been ‘chopped up’ by competing imperial and regional powers leading to a possible confrontation among major powers. The US-Kurdish-Turkey conflict provides the most immediate danger of serious open warfare among major nations.

Among the myriad surrogate groups that Washington supported in its seemingly contradictory policy of violently overthrowing the Syrian government in Damascus while seizing territory from ISIS, Pentagon strategists have relied most heavily on the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG). The US escalated its military support for the YPG, promising heavy arms and increased US ground and air support. Meanwhile, the YPG expanded its control of the Kurdish regions in Syria especially along the Turkish border, creating a powerful territorial tie of Syrian-Kurds with Turkish-Kurds and Iraqi-Kurds. The US generous supply of heavy weapons to the YPG has increased the Kurds capacity to fight Turkey for the establishment of a contiguous ‘Greater Kurdistan’. Moreover, the US government has publicly informed Turkey that its armed forces will provide a ‘shield’ to protect the YPG – and indirectly the PKK – from Turkish attack.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is acutely aware that the YPG’s goal is to partition Southeastern Turkey and Northern Syria and form a Kurdish state with Iraqi Kurdistan. US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ pledge that ‘Washington is committed to protecting its NATO ally (Turkey)’ is ambiguous at best and most likely a hollow promise. Washington is counting on the Kurds as a strategic ally against both Damascus and ISIS. Only after accomplishing their twin goals in Syria might the Pentagon turn against the Kurds and support the Turkish government.

Complicating this scenario, the Israelis have long-standing ties with the Iraqi Kurds as part of their own divide and conquer strategy. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv has been bombing Damascus, aiding ISIS fighters in southern Syria (with material and ‘humanitarian’ medical treatment) while supporting YPG against the Syrian and Turkish militaries.

The Erdoğan regime is in a quandary: A victory for the Kurdish YPG and their occupation of territory along its border will materially threaten the ‘unity of the Turkish state’. An armed, unified Kurdish presence in this region will result in enormous pressure on Erdoğan from the nationalist political parties and supporters and the Turkish Armed Forces. On the other hand, if Erdoğan launches cross border attacks on the Pentagon-supported YPG it will directly face US ground and air power.

President Erdoğan is clearly aware that the US was involved with the silent ‘Gulanist’ permeation of the Turkish state leading up to the 2016 abortive Gulanist coup. Erdoğan’s scheduled meeting with US President Donald Trump in mid-May may not resolve the impending Turkish-Kurdish confrontation in Syria where the US is committed to protecting the YPG.

Washington hopes to convince President Erdoğan that the YPG will hand this strategic territory over to an amorphous, minuscule puppet Arab-led militia, presumably made up of non-Kurdish collaborates of the US-NATO-Saudi war against Damascus. It is hard to imagine the veteran politician Erdoğan believing a Pentagon plan for the YPG to just hand over its territorial patrimony after having fought and died to secure the region. The US is in no position to force the YPG to surrender its gains because the YPG is crucial to the Washington-Israeli-Saudi plan to destroy the central government in Damascus and fragment Syria into weak tribal mini-states.

Erdoğan’s imminent failure to get Washington support for his war with the Kurds will force him to play his ‘nationalist’ card: There will be more pro-Palestine rhetoric, more opposition to a Cyprus accord, more pro-Russia posturing and the ‘discovery’ of more and greater ‘internal threats’ to the great Turkish State.

Will Erdoğan be able defuse the hostility among his own and independent nationalist supporters?

One point is clear: A territorially-based powerful Kurdish militia, armed by the US, will be a far more formidable threat to the unity of the Turkish state than the previous ill-armed rag-tag guerrillas in the mountains of northern Iraq.

It will be a humiliating defeat if Erdoğan surrenders to Pentagon demands and tolerates a US-YPG alliance on Turkey’s border. Erdoğan has some powerful options of his own: Turkey might deny the US Armed Forces access to its huge airbases in Turkey thus weakening NATO’s ‘southern flank’. A Turkish threat to withdraw from NATO altogether would have greater repercussions. Even the slightest hint of exercising these options would set off a ‘second coup’ against Erdoğan. This would involve a more serious US-NATO-backed uprising by senior Turkish officers, ‘nationalists’, democratic secularists and Kurds in major urban centers with ‘Gulanist’ politicians and bureaucrats waiting in the wings.

President Trump and the Pentagon may gain a foothold against Damascus with Kurdish surrogates in Northern Syria, but the loss of Turkey will be a strategic setback. Behind all of this confusion and devastation the partition of Syria and, eventually of Turkey, fits in very well with Greater Israel’s ‘Oded Yinon Plan’ for subdividing Muslim countries.

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

The silence of the pseudo-left on the danger of war

By Eric London | Defend Democracy Press | April 21, 2017

A wide range of nominally left-wing political groups and publications have acquiesced to a series of dangerous military actions by the Trump administration that have brought the world to the brink of war.

On April 13, the US dropped the largest nonnuclear bomb ever deployed in history in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb weighs over 10 tons and is so destructive it reportedly obliterated the homes of peasants living several miles from the drop zone.

Four days later, Vice President Michael Pence traveled to the demilitarized zone on the Korean peninsula, where the US has threatened to use preemptive military force against the nuclear-armed North. Pence acknowledged that the MOAB bombing was aimed at proving that the US was prepared to go to war.

“Just in the past two weeks,” he declared, “the world witnessed the strength of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

The growing danger of a nuclear conflagration is widely felt. A Marist poll published this month shows that 72 percent of Americans are concerned about growing international tensions. Leading figures in Russia, China, North Korea and the United States have warned of the real possibility of war.

“Nuclear war has become thinkable again,” reads a headline in Monday’s Guardian. The New York Times’ April 17 editorial warns of “President Trump’s Loose Talk on North Korea,” while the Times news section compares tensions in East Asia to the Cuban missile crisis. Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman wrote an article titled, “Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and the risk of nuclear miscalculation.”

All the more remarkable is the role played by various political groups that identify themselves as left-wing but have maintained an intentional silence with regard to the dropping of the MOAB and the threat of war in Korea. These groups hide the threat of war from their readers and provide political cover for US imperialism.

Not a single article relating to these events appears on the front page of Jacobin Magazine’s website, nor does its official Facebook page make any reference to the MOAB attack or the recent US threats against Korea. There are no references to the MOAB or rising tensions in North Korea on the front page of the Pabloite International Viewpoint website.

Similarly, Socialist Alternative’s website has no articles dealing in any detail with the bombing or US moves against North Korea. One article from April 15 titled “Trump administration damaged and unpredictable” includes a one-sentence reference to the MOAB in the 13th paragraph, while North Korea is addressed only briefly later in the article.

It is the most basic obligation of socialists to condemn and oppose US war threats and warn the working class of the dangers and root causes of imperialist war.

The front page of Socialist Worker, the publication of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), has no references to the dropping of the MOAB, and only on Tuesday did it publish its first article of the year relating to North Korea.

At no point in the article (“Will Trump start a new Korean War?”) does the writer, David Whitehouse, state that the ISO is opposed to the American government’s provocative war threats. It instead reports the potential outbreak of nuclear war as a disinterested observer, including 20 hyperlinks to various reports in the bourgeois press, including five from the New York Times alone.

Whitehouse refers to Washington’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea as a “sticky issue.” He reports US-South Korean joint war games, as well as proposals to assassinate North Korean leaders and launch preemptive strikes, but passes over them without making any critical comment.

The article downplays the danger of war. It begins, “Now that the latest North Korean missile test failed on April 16, the immediate risk of a US military attack may fade.” It comments further on that “Trump’s ‘new’ belligerence toward North Korea is really the latest oscillation between the twin options of ‘containment’ or ‘rollback’ that have lain in the US policy toolkit since the Cold War.”

Whitehouse complacently asserts that the likelihood of US military intervention is lower than some claim: “Trump can talk a tougher line, but US military options have begun looking weaker, not stronger, since the North’s three-decade arms build-up.”

Fifteen years after the mass protests leading up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the pseudo-left’s support for war shows that the present absence of an organized antiwar movement is not the product of popular apathy. Rather, it is due to the rightward shift of previously radicalized sections of the middle class whose opposition to war has disappeared in the decades following the Vietnam War.

This section of the population has greatly enriched itself since the late 1960s and early 1970s, in part from the spoils of the wars of the past quarter century that have inflated the stock market and enriched American banks and corporations. Their political orientation is toward the Democratic Party and the state.

This weekend, many representatives of this milieu will be gathering at New York University for the Historical Materialism forum. Sponsors and participants include Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara as well as historians Lars Lih and Eric Blanc. The ISO’s International Socialist Review is an event sponsor and ISO members Paul Le Blanc, Tithi Bhattacharya, Todd Chretien and Paul Heideman will appear as speakers.

Of the 60 scheduled panels, not a single one relates to the subject of war. The words “imperialism,” “war,” “Iraq,” “North Korea,” “Afghanistan,” “Libya” and “Somalia” do not appear in any panel title.

Instead, the NYU panel features discussion topics such as “Queer(ing) Marxism,” “Women’s Strikes in the Age of Feminization,” “The International Women’s Strike and the Anticapitalist Feminist Movement,” “Silencing the Subaltern: Resistance & Gender in Postcolonial Theory,” “Concerning Violence: Subjections, Resistance, Subversions,” “Adorno: Subjectivity and Critique,” “New Directions in Marxist/Feminist Theory,” “Race, Repetition, Rebellion: The Political Economy of Surplus,” and “Late Althusser: Politics and Theoretical Practice.”

Any connections that the radicalized middle class once had to anti-imperialism or socialism are long gone. The categories of analysis they employ have nothing to do with class or historical materialism. War, social inequality and poverty all take a back seat to what really interests them: race, gender and their own sex lives.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

US Marines sent to Afghanistan’s Helmand province

Press TV – April 29, 2017

US Marines have returned to Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, the first to be deployed in the war-torn country since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ended its combat mission in 2014.

US General John Nicholson, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, attended a ceremony on Saturday marking the return of the Marines to Helmand, where US forces faced intense fighting until 2014.

About 300 Marines will form part of the so-called Operation Resolute Support, described by NATO as a train, advise, and assist mission consisting of over 13,000 troops.

The Marines were among the first US forces sent to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. Several thousand were deployed in Helmand, only for it to slip deeper into a quagmire of instability.

The deployment came one day after the Taliban militant group announced the start of its “spring offensive,” a heightened campaign of bombings, ambush attacks, and other raids that begin as weather conditions improve.

The new deployment is the latest sign of how the NATO military alliance is increasingly being drawn back into fighting in Afghanistan.

The Marines will largely operate from a sprawling installation known during earlier Marine operations as Camp Leatherneck, but will be based in other locations and could engage in combat.

The US has around 8,400 troops in the country with about another 5,000 from NATO allies.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that two US troops were killed in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province during a military operation against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.

In total, 2,217 American soldiers have died in the country since the invasion in 2001 and another 20,000 have been wounded, according to the Pentagon.

On Monday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Afghanistan as President Donald Trump’s administration looks to craft a new policy in the country.

The change of policy was put on display earlier this month, when Gen. Nicholson ordered a Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb—also known as the Mother of All Bombs— to be dropped on a purported Daesh target in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Afghanistan is still suffering from insecurity and violence years after the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The 2001 military invasion removed the Taliban from power, but their militancy continues to this day.

April 29, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

At Reuters, ‘Not Refuting’ Is the Same as ‘Seeing’

By Jim Naureckas | FAIR | April 26, 2017

Top U.S. general in Afghanistan sees Russia sending weapons to Taliban

US general in Afghanistan does not say what Reuters headline says he said

“Top US General in Afghanistan Sees Russia Sending Weapons to Taliban” was Reuters’ headline over a April 25 story.

Well, that sounds like news! Tell me more, Reuters’ Idrees Ali:

The head of US and international forces in Afghanistan said on Monday he was “not refuting” reports that Russia was providing support, including weapons, to the Taliban…

Asked about reports that Russia was providing a range of help, including weapons, to the Taliban, who control large areas of Afghanistan, [Gen. John] Nicholson replied: “Oh no, I am not refuting that.”

“I am not refuting that”? How does that translate into “General… Sees Russia Sending Weapons to Taliban”? If NASA tells Reuters that they can’t refute speculation that there might be life on Mars, will Reuters run a story headlined “NASA Sees Life on Mars”? That would be a scoop!

Ali writes that Nicholson’s no-comment comments “are among the strongest suggestions yet that Moscow is providing arms to the Taliban.” Maybe next time Reuters could wait for a somewhat stronger suggestion—involving actual evidence, perhaps—before running a story that could inflame the new Cold War.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

US can’t take pressure anymore in Afghanistan

By M K Bhadrakumar | IndianPunchline | April 25, 2017

The seething US-Russia rivalry in Afghanistan took a sharp turn with the explosive threat held out by the visiting US Defence Secretary James Mattis in Kabul on Monday that Washington “will confront Russia” for violating international law by sending arms to the Taliban. Mattis said this while answering what appears to have been a planted question by a Washington Post correspondent who asked him about Russian weapons “showing up in Taliban hands in Helmand, Kandahar and Urozgan” (provinces bordering Pakistan.)

General John Nicholson, US commander in Afghanistan, who stood beside Mattis refused to refute the reports on Russian weapons but couldn’t provide details, either. He merely noted, “we continue to get reports of this assistance.” However, Mattis went ahead nonetheless to threaten Moscow:

  • Russians seem to be choosing to be strategic competitors in a number of areas. The level of granularity and the level of success they’re achieving — I think the jury is out on that… I would say that we will engage with Russia diplomatically. We’ll do so where we can. But we’re going to have to confront Russia where what they’re doing is contrary to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries. For example, any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be — would be a violation of international law, unless they’re coming through the government of Afghanistan for the — for the Afghan forces. And so that would have to be dealt with as a violation of international law.

This is a dramatic escalation in rhetoric. What accounts for it? Indeed, I can visualize a backdrop with three likely vectors. (After all, Mattis is reputed to be a “thinking general” himself.) First, of course, the immediate context of his visit was the devastating Taliban attack on the Afghan army corps headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif in which 200 soldiers were killed, leading to the exit of the Afghan defence minister and army chief.

Although there was no American casualty as such, it was a big blow to the Pentagon generals, who constantly claim to be doing a masterly job in the “capacity-building” of Afghan armed forces. Simply put, Mattis and Nicholson probably tried to change the narrative.

Indeed, it wouldn’t have been far from Mattis’ mind that Russian weapons are reportedly “showing up” in Taliban’s hands in Helmand when a deployment of Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to that province “quietly” got under way last week, which is the first such deployment of Marines since 2014 when President Barack Obama announced the termination of the US’ combat mission in Afghanistan. The last thing Trump would want is body bags arriving from Helmand (which borders Pakistan’s Baluchistan.)

Second, Russia’s regional initiative to kickstart a political process in Afghanistan must be driving the Americans crazy.

The Pentagon has reason to worry that continued US occupation (military bases in Afghanistan) may become untenable if the political process made headway and a regional consensus favoring intra-Afghan reconciliation sought the restoration of Afghanistan’s sovereignty. (By the way, Taliban representatives based in Qatar travelled to China recently.)

Washington’s biggest worry would be that the Afghan opinion itself may come to view the Moscow-led regional initiative as the best (and only) available platform today to somehow bring the senseless bloody war to an end.

Third, if Matti’s idiom toward Russia has become distinctly hostile, it is also reflective of the deepening US frustration that Moscow is challenging its geo-strategies across the board – over Iran, North Korea, Ukraine, Turkey, Syria and so on. The chessboard is increasingly posing a “check-and-checkmate” scenario for the US, which in turn exposes the limits to America’s global hegemony.

Specifically, Mattis might have hit out in the wake of reports that Moscow has drawn up plans to deploy Special Forces to the key battle zones in Syria to vanquish the extremist groups (which enjoy US-Israeli backing). Mattis’ allegation of Russia violating “international law” in Afghanistan becomes curious because that is precisely what Moscow accuses the US of doing in Syria.

Interestingly, there are also a few sub-plots to Mattis’s press conference in Kabul: A) He was evasive about President Donald Trump deploying “thousands more” troops in Afghanistan, which was what Pentagon had recommended. Mattis said blithely, “our review in Washington is a dialogue with Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson and the president and his staff in the White House. And I’d say that we’re under no illusions about the challenges associated with this mission.”

B) Mattis parried a direct question as to the US’ war objective in Afghanistan. C) He touched on reconciliation with Taliban – “If the Taliban wished to join the political process…, they need only to renounce violence and reject terrorism. It’s a pretty low standard to join the… political process.”

Significantly, Mattis made his visit to Kabul within a week of the fact-finding mission by NSA Lt. Gen. HR McMaster who reports directly to Trump. The transcript of Mattis’ press conference is here.

April 25, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

‘Abhorrent’ Torture of Detainees in Afghanistan Still High and Rising – UN

Sputnik – April 24, 2017

Torture and mistreatment of detainees by Afghan security forces is as widespread as ever if not more so, despite promises from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and new laws enacted by the government, a United Nations report has declared.

Investigators from UNAMA — UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan — spent two years interviewing 469 detainees in 62 detention centers across Afghanistan.

In all, the report says 39 percent of conflict-related detainees interviewed by the UNAMA gave “credible and reliable accounts” of being tortured or experiencing severe mistreatment at the hands of the Afghan national police, intelligence, or military personnel while in custody.

Among the methods described by interviewees were severe beatings to the body and soles of the feet with sticks, plastic pipes or cables, electric shocks, including to the genitals, prolonged suspension by the arms, and suffocation.

The total compares with 35 percent of interviewees who reported ill treatment in the UN’s previous investigation into the issue in 2015, although this apparently slight uptick in brutality obscures significant spikes in specific areas — for instance, 45 percent who had had been detained by the National Police said they had been tortured or ill-treated, the highest level documented since UNAMA began its monitoring program in 2010, and a leap of 14 percentage points.

More than a quarter of tortured detainees were under the age of 18. Detainees held by the Afghan Local Police were even more likely to experience violence, with 60 percent reporting having been beaten, and 30 percent of interviewees held by the National Directorate of Security faced torture or mistreatment.

Afghan National Army soldiers were also accused of mistreating some detainees, but the prisoners held by the army usually fall in categories less vulnerable to torture.

The majority of detainees said they had been tortured in order to extort false confessions, and the torture ceased once they signed or thumbprinted pre-prepared confession statements. In many cases, interviewees did not understand or could not read what was written on the document.

“Torture does not enhance security. Confessions produced as a result of torture are totally unreliable. People will say anything to stop the pain. It is essential there is proper monitoring of detention facilities in Afghanistan and meaningful investigations to ensure those accused of torture are brought to trial and held accountable for this abhorrent crime. Ensuring accountability for such acts sends a strong message and helps to prevent future violations,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Nonetheless, the report welcomes the government’s efforts to implement its National Plan on the Elimination of Torture, promulgated in February 2015, particularly with regard to enacting legislation, issuing policies, and establishing and developing mechanisms for humanitarian oversight within law enforcement and security institutions.

If proposed legislative changes are adopted, the report said, Afghanistan would formally recognize the authority of the UN Committee Against Torture to conduct visits to places of detention, and undertake to establish an independent monitoring body to visit places of detention with the support of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture

The report is published days before senior Afghan officials are scheduled to appear before the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, to face a review of Afghanistan’s record of implementing anti-torture laws.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague is conducting a separate review of torture in Afghanistan, although their sphere of research includes abuses committed by US forces during their 13-year occupation of the country.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said there is a “reasonable basis” for believing US forces and the Central Intelligence Agency resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes, including “of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape.”

READ MORE:

Afghans Learned the Art of Torturing Their Prisoners From the West

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

US snubs 11-state Afghanistan peace conference, says Russia trying to ‘assert influence’

RT | April 14, 2017

Washington failed to attend the latest international conference hosted by Moscow, where 11 nations discussed ways of bringing peace to Afghanistan. The US branded it a “unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region.”

Friday’s meeting is the latest in a series of similar events in the Russian capital that have grown from trilateral consultations between Russia, China, and Pakistan held in December of last year into talks involving the majority of the Afghan region’s powers. The latest included Russia, China, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. An invitation was sent to Kabul’s patron, America, but was rejected.

“I think just to end it, we just felt that these talks – it was unclear to us what the purpose was,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Tuesday, in explaining the US’ absence.

“It seemed to be a unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region that we felt wasn’t constructive at this time,” he noted.

Moscow responded by saying it “could not comprehend” the US’ reason for snubbing the gathering.

Participants in the event reiterated their support for a peaceful transition in Afghanistan, while calling for Kabul to be supported in moving in that direction.

“A call has been sent to the Taliban movement to abandon its line for a military solution of the Afghan conflict in favor of direct talks with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the issue of national reconciliation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the conference.

The statement added that more consultations in this format will follow, while noting that Moscow has offered to host them again.

Moscow and China have separately been trying to persuade the Taliban to focus less on Kabul and more on the more imminent threat – the advances of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.

Washington has criticized such initiatives, citing the Taliban’s record of waging guerilla warfare against the Afghan government, while downplaying the threat posed by IS in Afghanistan. The US military reported in February that the joint efforts of Afghan troops and US-led international forces have reduced IS’ presence in the country to less than 1,000 fighters, according to Voice of America.

According to Russia’s estimate, the jihadist group has at least 3,500 fighters in Afghanistan, which Moscow says Kabul and its allies are not doing enough to eradicate.

The conference in Moscow comes a day after the US dropped its most powerful conventional bomb on a suspected IS hideout in Afghanistan, marking the first time the weapon has been used in combat. It was not immediately clear whether this signified a shift in Washington’s view of the threat posed by IS affiliates in Afghanistan.

Read more:

‘Complete fabrication’ – Russian FM on US allegations Moscow aids Taliban in Afghanistan

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian Foreign Ministry Outlines What It Expects From Talks With Tillerson

Sputnik – April 11, 2017

MOSCOW – Moscow hopes for fruitful negotiations with the US state secretary on his visit to Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

In connection with the beginning of today’s working visit to Russia by US Secretary of State R. Tillerson, we would like to note that we are counting on productive negotiations,” the ministry said.

Tillerson is visiting Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

This is important not only for the prospects of further bilateral interaction, but also for the general atmosphere in the international arena,” the ministry underscored.

Moscow hopes that Washington will agree to an unbiased investigation of the recent chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun.

We firmly expect that Washington will agree to an objective investigation with the OPCW involvement of the incident with chemical poisoning on April 4 of the residents of Syria’s Khan Shaykhun. The West groundlessly accused Syria’s authorities of it, although militants of Jabhat al-Nusra [banned in Russia], who… produced landmines stuffed with poisonous substances, operate in that area,” the statement said.

On April 4, a chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib province claimed the lives of some 80 people and inflicted harm on an additional 200 civilians. The Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, as well as a number of Western states, accused the Syrian government troops of carrying out the attack, while Damascus refuted these allegations, with a Syrian army source telling Sputnik that the army did not possess chemical weapons.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on April 5 that the airstrike near Khan Shaykhun by the Syrian air force hit a terrorist warehouse that stored chemical weapons slated for delivery to Iraq, and called on the UN Security Council to launch a proper investigation into the incident.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said April 6 that groundless accusations in the chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib were unacceptable before the investigation into the matter had been carried out.

However, the incident was used as pretext for a US missile strike against the Ash Sha’irat airbase carried out late on April 6. US President Donald Trump characterized the strike as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government troops while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was a violation of the international law. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the US missile strike against the Syrian airfield as a strategic mistake.

Moscow expects Tillerson to detail Washington’s plans in Libya.

We expect to hear what the US plans to do in Libya, which has in fact become shattered as a result of NATO’s military intervention, like Iraq,” the ministry said.

Libya has been in a state of turmoil since 2011, when a civil war broke out in the country and long-standing leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown, and the country was contested by two rival governments: the internationally-recognized Council of Deputies based in Tobruk and the Tripoli-based General National Congress.

In March 2011, several NATO states, including France, launched a military intervention in Libya aimed at ending all attacks against the civilians and establishing a ceasefire. Then-President of France Nicolas Sarkozy played an important part in promoting the EU sanctions against Gaddafi and urging for the intervention.

Russia awaits from the United States coherent clarifications on the whole range of issues of strategic stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic region.

We await coherent clarifications of the US course on the whole range of issues of ensuring strategic stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic,” the statement read.

Russia is concerned that the United States hints at the possibility of a military scenario regarding North Korea.

We are very much concerned over what Washington has conceived about the DPRK, hinting at the possibility of a unilateral military scenario. It is important to understand how this correlates with collective obligations on the issue of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in the UN Security Council resolutions,” the ministry said.

On Wednesday, North Korea reportedly launched a ballistic missile from Sinpho, South Hamgyong province, in the direction of the Sea of Japan.

On Saturday, US officials announced that aircraft carrier strike group was sent to the Korean peninsula amid rising tensions. On Sunday, US National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Herbert McMaster said that US President Donald Trump had ordered preparation of all possible options in order to protect the United States and its partners from North Korean threat.

Since the beginning of 2016, North Korea has carried out a number of missile launches and nuclear tests, prompting worldwide criticism. As a result, the UN Security Council tightened the sanctions regime for North Korea in an attempt to force Pyongyang to stop ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests, including imposing a measure intended to affect the country’s trade, export of natural resources, arms trade and the banking sector.

Moscow is preparing for constructive cooperation instead of confrontation, but stands ready for any developments.

We are ready for any eventuality, however proceed from the favorability of such work that will reduce international tension rather than raising it,” the statement said.

It added that “we are preparing not for confrontation, but for constructive cooperation. We hope the US side wants the same.”

Moscow hopes the United States does not refuse to take part in international consultations on Afghanistan this Friday.

We hope that the US will not refuse to participate in international consultations on Afghanistan, whose next round will be held in Moscow on April 14,” the ministry said.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told Sputnik last month that the US “does not plan to participate” in the international talks involving 12 countries. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow regretted Washington’s refusal to participate.

Afghanistan is in a state of political and social turmoil, with government forces fighting the continuing Taliban insurgency. The instability has persisted in the country since the 2001 US-led invasion to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

The lack of control and instability turned the country into home to the largest opium poppy production and distribution network in the world.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed hope that the United States would urge the Ukrainian government to adhere to the Minsk agreements.

We especially hope that the United States will be able to neutralize the revanchist moods of the Ukrainian ‘party of war’ by using its influence on Kiev. Washington could also persuade the Kiev authorities to adhere strictly to their obligations under the Minsk agreements,” the statement read.

The Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.

In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence supporters signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Despite the agreement brokered by the Normandy Four states (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine), the ceasefire regime is regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.

April 11, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment