Of thousands killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004, less than one third of the victims have been identified, including a record low number of ten last year, according to an international investigation.
A UK-based not-for-profit organization revealed the figures in the framework of their “Naming the Dead” project. Initially created for tracking US drone strikes in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, the project seeks to identify casualties, calling for accountability for the attacks.
According to project data, of 2,494 people confirmed killed by American drone strikes in Pakistan, only 729 have been identified. In 2015 the names of those killed was extremely small – only ten of 60 allegedly killed by drones.
Five of ten victims were pronounced members of Al Qaeda, another three were named Pakistani Taliban fighters and the last two were aid workers from Western states.
The US carried out 13 drone attacks in Pakistan in 2015, killing about 60 people. While unnamed sources revealed to Naming the Dead that the vast majority of victims in the six attacks were Uzbeks, the data on the rest of those killed remains scarce.
In 2015, Pakistan authorities declined to assist in the identification process of victims, for the first time since the US launched its drone campaign.According to Common Dreams, ISPR, the Pakistani military propaganda division, could have banned the release of data pertaining to the issue. Islamabad has started a military campaign against terrorists and other non-state groups in Waziristan in 2014, preventing data from being leaked.
ISI, Pakistan’s spy agency, is reportedly keeping secret the names of those murdered in drone attacks across the state’s tribal areas. Before 2015, the agency used to provide reporters and officials with the lion’s share of information on casualties, including those caused by American unmanned aerial vehicles.
ISI is still providing journalists with the names of Taliban and al Qaeda members murdered by US drones in Afghanistan.
But, as the Bureau announced, both Afghan and Pakistan officials tend to underestimate the number of casualties in bordering regions. They reported on 700 killed in drone attacks in 2015. In reality, Naming the Dead says at least 100 more people were killed.According to Washington, a total of 411 air and drone strikes were conducted in Afghanistan last year. But that’s all the authorities announced, leaving no specific information of number of killed people there.
A chilling remark from a House of Lords debate just caught my eye.
Hansard 4 Nov 2015 : Column GC355
Lord Mendelsohn: We welcome the appointment of the former British ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, who will have a key role in cybersecurity inside the Cabinet Office — a very useful and important position.
Sure enough, the UK Government’s website confirms that Gould is now Director of Cyber Security and Information Assurance at the Cabinet Office. “He and his team are focussed on keeping Britain safe from cyber attack, through delivering the UK’s Cyber Security Strategy.”
They must think we have very short memories. Gould was the first Jew ever to hold the post of Britain’s ambassador to Israel. He describes himself as a “passionate” Zionist and whilst in Tel Aviv was instrumental in setting up the UK-Israel Tech Hub. In the words of MATIMOP (the Israeli Industry Center for R&D), the Hub was established “to promote partnerships in technology and innovation between Israel and the UK, and is the first initiative of its kind for the British Government and for an embassy in Israel. The Hub’s creation followed an agreement between Prime Ministers David Cameron and Benjamin Netanyahu to build a UK-Israel partnership in technology.”
Three years ago Cameron appointed venture capitalist Saul Klein as the UK Tech Envoy to Israel with the task of promoting the partnership, leading UK tech missions to Israel, bringing Israeli start-ups to Britain, and hosting tech events in both countries.
MATIMOP quotes Britain’s National Health Service as an example of successful UK-Israel tech collaboration. The NHS “has now formed strong collaborations with Israeli life sciences companies conducting clinical trials in the UK. The cooperation was made as part of the burgeoning partnership between Israel and Britain’s life sciences industries initiated by the UK-Israel Tech Hub.”
Four years ago Craig Murray, a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, argued that British policy was being driven in an underhanded fashion by the Israel lobby. He linked Gould with the Fox-Werritty scandal and raised questions about meetings between disgraced former Defence Minister Liam Fox and Fox’s friend/adviser Adam Werritty (who was backed financially by Israel lobbyists but had no security clearance and therefore no authorized role) and Gould.
Former defence secretary Dr Liam Fox and his bestman Adam Werritty.
Murray wrote to Gould asking when he first met Werritty, how many times he had met him, and how many communications of every kind had passed between them. He was told these questions would be answered in Cabinet Secretary O’Donnell’s investigation. “But Gus O’Donnell’s report answered none of these questions,” wrote Murray. “It only mentioned two meetings at which Fox, Gould and Werritty were all three present…”
This prompted Murray to dig further. “There were at least six Fox-Werritty-Gould meetings, not the two given by O’Donnell…. Matthew Gould was the only British Ambassador who Fox and Werrity met together. They met him six times. Why?”
Did Fox and Werritty meet 6 times with ambassador to Israel to plan ‘secret agenda for war’ with Iran?
Murray, with many useful sources from his days as an ambassador, claimed to have serious evidence connecting Gould with a secret plan to attack Iran, but the Foreign Office and the Cabinet Secretary blocked questions. Murray published his story ‘Matthew Gould and the plot to attack Iran’ here.
In it he pointed out that “Matthew Gould does not see his race or religion as irrelevant. He has chosen to give numerous interviews to both British and Israeli media on the subject of being a jewish ambassador, and has been at pains to be photographed by the Israeli media participating in jewish religious festivals. Israeli newspaper Haaretz described him as ‘Not just an ambassador who is jewish, but a jewish ambassador’. That rather peculiar phrase appears directly to indicate that the potential conflict of interest for a British ambassador in Israel has indeed arisen.”
He went on to say that Gould stood suspected of long term participation with Fox and Werritty “in a scheme to forward war with Iran, in cooperation with Israel”. The stonewalling by O’Donnell and the FCO led Murray to conclude that “something very important is being hidden right at the heart of government”.
Labour MP Paul Flynn remarked that no previous ambassadors to Israel had been Jewish so as to avoid conflict of interest and accusations of going native. He immediately came under intense flak. Flynn too asked about meetings between Werritty and Gould, as some reports suggested that Gould, Werritty and Fox discussed a potential military strike on Iran with Mossad. “I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories,” said Flynn, “but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist and he has previously served in Iran.”
Fox had earlier made the idiotic claim: “Israel’s enemies are our enemies” and “in the battle for the values that we stand for… Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together”. The Jewish Chronicle hailed him as “a champion of Israel within the government”. Furthermore Fox continually rattled the sabre against Iran which, of course, was no threat to Britain but is regarded by Israel as a bitter enemy. Iraq too was Israel’s enemy, not ours. Yet Fox, according to the theyworkforyou.com, voted “very strongly” for the Iraq war. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Afghanistan.
Given that Fox so eagerly waved the flag of a foreign military power and was a man with dangerous beliefs and demonstrably weak judgement, how could those who appointed him not see that he was unemployable as a Minister of the British Crown – unless they were similarly tainted?
When the Werrity relationship came to light Fox jumped before being flung from the battlements. But the good people of North Somerset, in their wisdom, re-elected him at the general election last May. He’s already on the road to political rehabilitation among the Conservative high command.
Gould’s new job as head of The Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance (OCSIA) involves giving strategic direction to cyber security and information assurance for the UK. This includes e-crime, working with private sector partners on exchanging information, and engaging with international partners in improving the security of cyberspace and information security. Does it seem right for such a person to be in charge of crucial security matters at the heart of our government? What was in fellow Zionist David Cameron’s mind when he appointed him?
Well, here’s a possible clue. In March of this year Francis Maude, the previous Cabinet Office minister responsible for cyber security, announced three UK-Israel academic collaboration ventures with cyber research funding, the partnerships being University of Bristol/Bar Ilan University, University College London/Bar Ilan University and University of Kent/University of Haifa. They’ll be working together on six specific areas of research:
- identity management
- governance: regulating cyber security
- privacy assurance and perceptions
- mobile and cloud security
- human aspects of security or usable security
This builds on existing UK-Israel cooperation. Both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding on digital co-operation in March 2014.
Still sitting comfortably? Only this week the Cameron government was lecturing us on threats to national security and announcing plans to trawl through our personal emails and web browsers in order to “keep us safe”.
Question is, who trawls Gould’s private emails?
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) drives hundreds of soldiers and veterans of today’s Western armies (mainly Americans) to kill themselves, and sometimes their families too. Usually, the suicides come after months of depression and despair; nightmares, fragile nerves and paranoia are common symptoms. Families and old friends watch the victims sink under the burden of bad memories of the atrocities they have seen and done during their overseas deployments.
It may seem a perverse judgment on first reading, but in some degree those suicides represent the hope of mankind. They are our proof that some soldiers retain enough humanity to feel shame and guilt at the things they have been ordered to do, and have done. Of course not all who share those experiences and memories feel driven to suicide. Most suffer in silence, and pretend they don’t suffer. Some aren’t affected at all, because they lack the mental capacity for compassion. They are sociopaths, pretty much by definition, and we should be very afraid of them.
They will be our children’s and grandchildren’s guardians and torturers. They will be the enforcers of any and all oppressive domestic decrees and laws, and will bring to that job the same cold brutality they practised during their military service. They will obey orders without question. They are monsters.
There was a news item recently about a US drone strike on fifteen women and babies in Pakistan on the way to the river to do the family laundry. Now there are strict rules for the ordering of drone strikes; there is nothing casual about them. The targets are carefully identified and certified, and their assassinations justified and specified. Only then are their executions passed into the steady hands of the drone-pilots in military bases inside the USA. There is nothing casual about the exercise.
The slaughter of the women and babies was deliberate, as all such slaughters are. That’s what terrorism is, in occupied territories – taking out innocents in the hope of persuading fathers and spouses to stop resisting the occupation. That’s America’s and NATO’s “war of terror”. It’s the Mafia model, and it works well.
How do those actions rank in the general context of violence against women and children? Is it worse than domestic wife-bashing and child-cruelty, or better, or about the same? My own personal opinion is that it’s worse, but I may be wrong. I am a human-rights advocate, and my loyalty is to the human race, above any particular ingredient of it. I am not a Christian, but I honour the sentiment ascribed to Christ in the King James Version: inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I interpret brethren to include sistren (sisters), and I regard the sentiment as applicable beyond whatever tribal or national context they may have held. Not everybody does, which is why “human rights” have failed to be accepted as anything more than leftist whimsy.
No women’s organisation or children’s protection society in the West ever publicly deplores drone-strikes against foreign women and children. Simple tribal solidarity beats gender solidarity hands down.
Why else aren’t Western women’s organisations interested in the basic rights of women and children in non-Western countries? Why do they grumble about the enforced wearing of burkas and the like, but stay silent on rapes and murders by Western soldiers? What kind of priority is that?
By their silence, Western women (judging by their representatives) give support to their tribal soldiers’ perception that females and children of different tribes and cultures aren’t worth spit. God help us. As a culture, ours is not nearly as advanced as we like to think it is. We have a long way to evolve, yet.
Pentagon will publish 198 photos of tortured detainees in the US prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan on Friday, a top American civil rights group said. The release comes after a decade-long lawsuit ended in the group’s favor in March.
Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, announced on Wednesday that the US Department of Defense (DoD) would provide public access to previously disclosed images of prisoners being tortured in US detention centers after more than 10 years of staunch resistance to do so.
The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding the government to reveal records, including photos of the alleged abuse of prisoners by US officers in the American detention facilities overseas back in 2004.
Despite President Obama’s initial promise to release the requested materials back in 2009, he then urged Congress to pass a special exemption clause to block the release of photos citing security reasons, adding that the publication of the photos “would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by small number of individuals” and would “further inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in great danger.”
After a long-running court battle, the US District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the government should “disclose each and all the photographs” referring to the ACLU’s lawsuit in last March.
However, only about 200 images out of some 2,100 pictures will be released on Friday. The major part of the evidence comprising approximately 1,900 photos will remain concealed after US Defense Secretary Ash Carter had invoked his authority under 2009 exemption provision last November.
“I have determined that public disclosure of any of the photographs would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government deployed outside the United States,” he wrote in the certification renewal in support of his decision to appeal the ruling on November 7.
Yet the Pentagon has made some minor concessions in the case with Carter refusing to extend his certification to 198 photographs which are now being processed for release. However, Carter didn’t explain the difference between this series of photos and those remain withheld from the public domain, according to Politico.
The still-classified images consist of collection of photographs taken by the DoD in the period from September 11, 2001 to January 22, 2009 and relate to the treatment of “engaged, captured or detained individuals”, according to the court documents.
The ACLU said it would insist on releasing the whole package of documents. The last major scandal in connection with the release of photos and footages depicting scenes of prisoners’ abuse and humiliation by the American soldiers in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq broke out in 2004. The exposure of horrendous human right violations in the detention center prompted authorities to launch an investigation into the matter as a result of which 11 soldiers accused of sexual abuse in martial trials were incarcerated.
The notorious prison was used for detention purposes by US-led coalition in Iraq until 2006 when the US government handed control over prison to the local authorities. The prison ceased functioning in 2014.
Thousands of US troops could remain in Afghanistan for decades to come, despite Washington’s plan to pull the majority of soldiers out by early 2017, US military commanders reportedly suggest.
The revelation comes amid concerns about the Afghan government’s vulnerability.
“What we’ve learned is that you can’t really leave,” a senior Pentagon official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity. “The local forces need air support, intelligence and help with logistics. They are not going to be ready in three years or five years. You have to be there for a very long time.”
Senior US commanders expressed surprise at Al-Qaeda’s resilience in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban’s continued seizure of large areas of contested territory.
Following the departure of most foreign forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban began to seize district centers and inflict sizable losses on government forces. In addition to the Taliban, US and Afghan forces are now fighting an aggressive branch of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“No matter what happens in the next couple of years Afghanistan is going to have wide ungoverned spaces that violent extremist organizations can take advantage of,” said Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, a military spokesman in Afghanistan.
Commanders specifically noted that troops in Helmand province have struggled to maintain control of territory taken by US forces from the Taliban in 2011 and 2012.
“There’s a real will-to-fight issue there,” said a senior military official in Kabul.
The officials told the Post that Afghan troops in Helmand have lacked effective leaders, as well as the weapons and ammunition to hold off Taliban attacks. Some soldiers have been fighting for years without a break, which has led to poor morale and high desertion rates.
Although US officials have pointed to improvements made in the region, such as the time it takes to receive medical help on the battlefield – currently an average of four hours, down from 24 hours in 2013 – Shoffner stressed that other goals will take a long time to achieve.
“How long does it take to grow a 15-year pilot? It takes about 15 years,” he said. “We’re starting a little late with the Air Force.”
President Obama canceled Washington’s initial plan to withdraw the majority of US troops in 2014, shifting to a plan to scale back forces by early 2017. At that point, 5,500 would remain in the country to work with Afghan forces – down from the current 9,800 soldiers. Plans to completely remove all US troops have not been announced.
The decision was seen as a turn-around from Obama’s campaign promise to bring troops home, and his repeated assurance that he does not support the “idea of endless war.”
The New York Times has exposed a long-standing CIA partnership with Saudi Arabia, whose latest endeavor is a program to arm Syrian rebels authorized by President Obama in early 2013. Under the “Timber Sycamore” program the Saudis provide funding and purchase weapons for Syrian rebels, while the CIA trains them in secret camps in Jordan.
The Saudi-CIA partnership dates back many years, and involves the British secret service. During the years when Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, the Saudis poured money into the Afghan mujahedeen as it fought Soviet forces, matching U.S. funding dollar for dollar. The mujahedeen funding was run through CIA-managed bank accounts in Switzerland. Those accounts were said to be part of the “Al Yamamah” program, dating to 1985, in which the British and the Saudis used an oil-for-arms barter deal to create massive offshore “black” accounts, including in the Cayman Islands, to bankroll and arm a wide array of global insurgencies. These accounts provided a major source of funds in the Afghan war against the Soviets.
This revelation by NYT adds additional weight to the allegations made in a book by Mike Springmann, former head of the US visa section in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from1987-1989. In Visas for al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts that Rocked the World, Springmann details how, “during the 1980s, the CIA recruited and trained Muslim operatives to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later, the CIA would move those operatives from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and then to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, traveling on illegal US visas. These US-backed and trained fighters would morph into an organization that is synonymous with jihadist terrorism: al-Qaeda.”
In an exclusive interview with Sputnik News, Springmann shared his first-hand experience of issuing US visas to would-be terrorists, a flagrant violation of US law.
“I know. I was there. I issued the visas,” Springmann told Sputnik News.
Upon his arrival at Jeddah, Springmann found that, as a visa officer, he was expected to winnow over a hundred applications a day, separating them into “issuances,” “refusals,” and what he later termed, “free passes for CIA agents.”
“One day,” Springmann recalls, “Eric Qualkenbush, the [then] CIA Base Chief, stopped me while I was walking on the consulate’s huge compound. He had a request. Could I issue a visa to one of his agents, an Iranian whose family owned an Oriental rug store? Eric said, ‘Mike, make it look good (wink, wink). We want him in Washington for consultations.’”
Springmann told Sputnik News he had almost daily battles with Jay Freres, the Consul General, along with several other CIA officials, who would consistently demand visas for people that law and regulation would ordinarily require him to refuse. He also had running fights with applicants who told him to approve their visas or they would complain to Freres, and have him overruled.
Most of these that Springmann now considers ‘unsavory types’ did, in fact, receive visas to go to the USA for training, debriefing, and other purposes. In enabling their passage, American government officials violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as many regulations codified in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual, says Springmann. As a purported guardian of US immigration principles, he objected to the blatant violations of law and regulation. His objections fell on deaf ears.
Springmann details that eventually he came to realize that his Consular Section job duty in Jeddah was primarily to secure visas for CIA agents, i.e., foreigners recruited by American case officers.
“As I later learned to my dismay, the visa applicants were recruits for the war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union’s armed forces. Further, as time went by, the fighters, trained in the United States, went on to other battlefields: Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.”
But why would the CIA rely on a “genuine” state department visa employee when they could have easily planted one of their own into the Consular Section? According to Springmann, “at Jeddah, to the best of my knowledge, out of some twenty US citizens assigned to the consulate, only three people, including myself, worked for the Department of State. The rest were CIA or NSA officials or their spouses.”
The explanation to the above question was simple if cynical, Springmann told Sputnik News : it had to be an arms-length operation, to avoid exposure of the CIA program and to blame visa violations, if they became known, on “incompetent” office clerks, including himself.
The Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency collaborated in sending innocent workers like Springmann to Jeddah, a location that handled some forty-five-thousand visa applications annually. If a visa officer processed the paperwork and didn’t ask awkward questions about the applicants, that officer would keep his job. If the visa officer strictly followed the law, resisting illegal pressure to overlook those who did not have a legitimate reason for traveling to the United States, that employee “wasn’t with the program” and could be exposed to dismissal as an incompetent, an occurrence that eventually happened to the author.
“My name was on the visa plate that stamped applications to enter the United States, making me personally responsible for my actions,” he said. “In our spook-ridden Jeddah consulate, I sometimes found it was a daily battle to do my job,” he remarked, offering examples of two such battles.
“Two Pakistanis came to me for a visa. According to their story, they were traveling on a Commerce Department– organized trade mission to an automotive parts exhibition in the United States. However, they couldn’t name the trade show or identify the city in which it would be held. I denied their visa request. Within sixty minutes, Paul Arvid Tveit called and demanded visas for these same Pakistanis. I explained the reasons for my refusal, citing § 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Foreign Affairs Manual. Ignoring the law and regulation, Tveit went to Justice Stevens and the visas were issued.”
“Then, a political officer demanded a visa for a Sudanese who was a refugee from his own country and unemployed in Saudi Arabia. Following the letter and the spirit of the law, I refused. She immediately went to Justice, and a visa was issued. When I later asked Justice why he authorized a visa to someone with no ties to the Sudan or the kingdom, he replied simply ‘national security,’ a phrase without legal definition.”
The dubious games played by the CIA in the name of “national security” are common in many Foreign Service posts, Springmann contends. “In a subsequent conversation with Celerino Castillo, a former Drug Enforcement Agency official, I learned that the CIA’s involvement in the visa process was a successful program of long-standing in Latin America, he stated, adding that, it was also “I presume, a model for Saudi Arabia. South of the border the Agency would slip passports and applications from its contacts into packages sent to the local US consulate or embassy by travel agents. Sandwiched between legitimate applications, ‘Agency assets’ would not be carefully examined by consular officers and would thus get a free ride to the United States.”
A Visa for the Blind Sheikh
Likewise, Springmann says, it was a CIA “consular officer” at Khartoum in Sudan who issued a tourist visa to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, later linked to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The “blind” Sheikh had been on a State Department terrorist watch list when he was issued the visa, entering the United States by way of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Sudan in 1990.
Springmann believes the sheikh attempted to obtain a US visa from him via a proxy. The author states that he turned the application down.
The former state department employee pointed out to his superiors that, according to US law, passport and visa crimes are federal offenses, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum prison sentence is increased to 15 years if the offense is connected to drug trafficking, and to 20 years if connected to terrorism.
In a chance meeting, Joe Trento, a journalist at the Public Education Center in Washington, DC, put into perspective for Sprigmann what had been really going on with the CIA in Jeddah.
“It wasn’t a garden variety visa fraud as I had once thought, but something much more serious: it was a ‘visas for terrorists program,’ set up to recruit and train (in the United States) murderers, war criminals, and human rights violators for combat in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. These men became the founding members of al-Qaeda, the Arab-Afghan Legion.”
“Former President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski, began the campaign to assemble these goons to engage in blowing things up and shooting things down, preferably with Soviet soldiers inside.”
But the Saudis and other regional players in the “jihad” did not want those “saddle-tramps” on their soil, fearing that they would eventually use their newly acquired skills to promote “regime change” at home. That explains the reason many of these recruits were sent to the US, Springmann says, where there were up to 52 induction and training centers, the primary one in Brooklyn, New York City.
During his two years in Jeddah, Springmann says, he wrangled daily with intelligence officers who staffed and ran the US consulate.
“These were the people who arranged for recruiting and training what were then the mujahedeen, who later became al-Qaeda, who then transformed themselves into ISIS. I saw, but didn’t recognize, their start at Jeddah. We’ve all seen their later development and what happens when the intelligence services control foreign policy and diplomacy: the people they assembled aided the breakup of Yugoslavia, the destruction of Iraq, the collapse of Libya, and the savaging of Syria.”
Springmann attempted to protest the illegal visa practices at the highest levels of government for over 20 years, but was repeatedly stonewalled. During that time, he says, the Arab-Afghan Legion, created by the CIA to undermine the Soviet Union, has been marching from strength to strength.
The United States in the past year dropped more than 20,000 bombs on Muslim-majority countries Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to a study by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
In an article published January 7, Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at CFR, states that since January 1, 2015, the United States has dropped an estimated 23,144 bombs in those six countries: 22,110 in Iraq and Syria; 947 in Afghanistan; 58 in Yemen; 18 in Somalia; and 11 in Pakistan.
“This estimate is based on the fact that the United States has conducted 77 percent of all airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, while there were 28,714 US-led coalition munitions dropped in 2015. This overall estimate is probably slightly low, because it also assumes one bomb dropped in each drone strike in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, which is not always the case,” Zenko writes.
Despite dropping tens of thousands of bombs over the past 17 months, Washington’s strategy has failed to defeat Daesh and other Islamic militant groups, Zenko observed.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban control more territory than at any point since the 2001 US invasion, according to a recent analysis in Foreign Policy magazine.
Zenko notes that the primary focus of Washington’s counter-terrorism strategy is to kill extremists, and that far less attention is paid to prevent a moderate individual from becoming radicalized.
As a result, “the size of [Daesh] has remained wholly unchanged,” Zenko writes.
In 2014, the Central Intelligence Agency estimated the size of Daesh to be between 20,000-31,000 members. On Wednesday, Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, estimated the group at 30,000 members, despite Pentagon claims that 25,000 Daesh members have been killed in US air strikes.
At the same time, the Pentagon claims that only six civilians have “likely” been killed in the course of the bombing campaign.
For generations, U.S. officials have averted their eyes from Saudi Arabia’s grotesque monarchy – which oppresses women, spreads jihadism and slaughters dissidents – in a crude trade-off of Saudi oil for American weapons and U.S. security guarantees. It is a deal with the devil that may finally be coming due.
The increasingly undeniable reality is that the Saudis along with other oil sheikhs are the biggest backers of Al Qaeda and various terrorist groups – helping these killers as long as they spread their mayhem in other countries and not bother the spoiled playboys of the Persian Gulf.
President George W. Bush – and then President Barack Obama – may have suppressed the 28 pages of the congressional 9/11 report describing Saudi support for Al Qaeda and its hijackers but the cat is thoroughly out of the bag. Mealy-mouthed comments from the State Department spokesmen can no longer hide the grim truth that U.S. “allies” are really civilization’s enemies.
The big question that remains, however, is: Will Official Washington’s dominant neocon/liberal-interventionist claque continue to protect the Saudis who have built a regional alliance of convenience with Israel over their shared hatred of Iran?
Inside Official Washington’s bubble – where the neocons and liberal hawks hold sway – there is a determination to make the “designated villains,” the Iranians, the Syrian government, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Russians. This list of “villains” matches up quite well with Israeli and Saudi interests and thus endless demonization of these “villains” remains the order of the day.
But the Saudis – and indeed the Israelis – are showing what they’re really made of. Israel has removed its humanistic mask as it ruthlessly suppresses Palestinians and mounts periodic “grass mowing” operations, using high-tech munitions to slaughter thousands of nearly defenseless people in Gaza and the West Bank while no longer even pretending to want a peaceful resolution of the long-simmering conflict. Israel’s choice now seems to be apartheid or genocide.
Meanwhile, the Saudis – though long-hailed in Official Washington as “moderates” – are showing what a farcical description that has always been as the royals now supply U.S.-made TOW missiles and other sophisticated weapons to Sunni jihadists in Syria, fighting alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
Using advanced U.S.-supplied warplanes, the Saudis also have been pulverizing poverty-stricken Yemen after exaggerating the level of Iranian support to the Houthis, who have been fighting both a Saudi-backed regime and Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate. Amid the Saudi-inflicted humanitarian crisis, Al Qaeda’s forces have expanded their territory.
And, at the start of the New Year, the Saudi monarchy butchered 47 prisoners, including prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr for his offense of criticizing the royals, or as the Saudis like to say – without a touch of irony – supporting “terrorism.” By chopping off Nimr’s head – as well as shooting and decapitating the others – the Saudis demonstrated that there is very little qualitative difference between them and the head-choppers of the Islamic State.
The Usual Suspects
Yes, the usual suspects in Official Washington have sought to muddle the blood-soaked picture by condemning angry Iranian protesters for ransacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran before the government security forces intervened. And there will surely be an escalation of condemnations of anyone who suggests normalizing relations with Iran.
But the issue for the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks is whether they can continue to spin obviously false narratives about the nobility of these Middle East “allies,” including Israel. Is there a limit to what they can put over on the American people? At some point, will they risk losing whatever shreds of credibility that they still have? Or perhaps the calculation will be that public credibility is irrelevant, power and control are everything.
A similar choice must be made by politicians, including those running for the White House.
Some Republican candidates, most notably Sen. Marco Rubio, have gone all-in with the neocons, hoping to secure largesse from casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and other staunch supporters of Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On the other hand, real-estate magnate Donald Trump has distanced himself from neocon orthodoxy, even welcoming Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict to fight the Islamic State, heresy in Official Washington.
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the most closely associated with the neocons and the liberal hawks – and she has dug in on the issue of their beloved “regime change” strategy, which she insists must be applied to Syria.
She appears to have learned nothing from her misguided support for the Iraq War, nor from her participation in overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi’s secular regime in Libya, both of which created vacuums that the Islamic State and other extremists filled. (British special forces are being deployed to Libya as part of an offensive to reclaim Libyan oil fields from the Islamic State.)
A Sanders Opportunity
The Saudi decision to chop off Sheikh Nimr’s head and slaughter 46 other people in one mass execution also puts Sen. Bernie Sanders on the spot over his glib call for the Saudis “to get their hands dirty” and intervene militarily across the region.
That may have been a clever talking point, calling on the rich Saudis to put some skin in the game, but it missed the point that – even before the Nimr execution – the Saudis’ hands were very dirty, indeed covered in blood.
For Sanders to see the Saudis as part of the solution to the Mideast chaos ignores the reality that they are a big part of the problem. Not only has Saudi Arabia funded the extreme, fundamentalist Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam – building mosques and schools around the Muslim world – but Al Qaeda and many other jihadist groups are, in essence, Saudi paramilitary forces dispatched to undermine governments on Riyadh’s hit list.
That has been the case since the 1980s when the Saudis – along with the Reagan administration – invested billions of dollars in support of the brutal mujahedeen in Afghanistan with the goal of overthrowing a secular, Soviet-backed government in Kabul.
Though the “regime change” worked – the secular leader Najibullah was castrated and his body hung from a light pole in Kabul – the eventual outcome was the emergence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, led by a Saudi scion, Osama bin Laden.
Though Sanders has resisted articulating a detailed foreign policy – instead seeking to turn questions back to his preferred topic of income inequality – the latest Saudi barbarism gives him a new chance to distinguish himself from front-runner Clinton. He could show courage and call for a realignment based on reality, not propaganda.
President Obama, too, has a final chance to refashion the outdated and counter-productive U.S. alliances in the Middle East. At least he could rebalance them to allow a pragmatic relationship with Iran and Russia to stabilize Syria and neutralize the Saudi-backed jihadists.
Standing Up, Not Bowing Down
Instead of being supplicants to Saudi riches and oil, the West could apply stern measures against the Saudi royals to compel their acquiescence to a real anti-terrorist coalition. If they don’t comply immediately, their assets could be frozen and seized; they could be barred from foreign travel; they could be isolated until they agreed to behave in a civilized manner, including setting aside ancient animosities between Sunni and Shiite Islam.
It seems the European public is beginning to move in this direction, in part, because the Saudi-led destabilization of Syria has dumped millions of desperate refugees on the European Union’s doorstep. If a new course isn’t taken, the E.U. itself might split apart.
But the power of the neocon/liberal-hawk establishment in Official Washington remains strong and has prevented the American people from achieving anything close to a full understanding of what is going on in the Middle East.
The ultimate barrier to an informed U.S. public may also be the enormous power of the Israel Lobby, which operates what amounts to a blacklist against anyone who dares criticize Israeli behavior and harbors hopes of ever holding a confirmable government position or – for that matter – a prominent job in the mainstream media.
It would be a test of true political courage and patriotism for some major politician or prominent pundit to finally take on these intimidating forces. That likely won’t happen, but Saudi Arabia’s latest head-choppings have created the possibility, finally, for a game-changing realignment.
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).
TEHRAN – The United States and its NATO partners have once again given themselves the opportunity to prick Afghanistan wherever possible in 2016.
Army General John Campbell says he wants to keep US troops (9,800) in Afghanistan for as long as possible – and is considering asking for even more boots on the ground, which means America’s longest official war could become even more protracted.
To this end, the Pentagon is planning a military role long into Afghanistan’s future despite indications that its long-term intervention and occupation has worsened conflict and violence, with the Taliban showing signs of increased strength and ISIL capturing territory. Meanwhile, Afghan civilians continue to pay the greatest price. In the first half of 2015 alone, United Nations agencies documented 4,921 civilian casualties.
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was premised on the fantasy that the War Party could quickly win the so-called “War on Terror” and remake the Middle East to its benefit, a goal spelled out by the Project for a New American Century. Instead, America’s longest war has crushed the elected government and largely destroyed the national economy, leaving a failed state, refugees, and extremists who thrive on chaos in its wake.
The decision by the Pentagon to stay the course now means there will be plenty more casualties this year, and not just because of the seemingly permanent US military presence there. The Empire of Chaos plans to create a string of bases as staging areas for a permanent “War on Terror.” And there is no end in sight to the US at war, declared and undeclared, both because the War Party has found the perfect enemy (terror), and because no one at the United Nations is willing to stand up to it.
This is while the botched “War on Terror” has only brought immense, atrocious, sustained loss of life and chaos to the people of Afghanistan and the rest of the region. From their standpoint, all foreign occupying troops must leave Afghanistan, despite the inherent security risks. They say the war and occupation only advances the aims of those who profit from the circumstances – US military contractors and a global banking/financial elite.
Under the circumstances, it is past time for the world community to robustly push for an Afghan peace process since security and stability are crucial for the development of the war-torn country as well as for the advancement of regional peace and security. In addition, the competing big powers must acknowledge the crucial need of cooperation in the “real” war on terrorism and extremism. What’s more, Afghanistan and its neighbours are on the same page in promoting the peace talks and encouraging all parties in this regard. The pressing question is whether the United States and its NATO partners are also on the same page?
Unsurprisingly, President Obama has lost no time to personally back Dempsey’s new mission to Kabul. Obama is thrilled that his “Operation Occupy Afghanistan Forever” and “Pivoting to Asia” is not in jeopardy. He has in fact put a spoke in the wheel of the nascent peace talks that Afghanistan’s neighbours have been fostering for some time. Both Dempsey and Obama are walking away laughing, leaving the world community in no doubt that amid multiple layers of deception and newspeak, the War Party’s “surge, bribe and stay” gambit will remain a non-negotiable issue.
The top commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan said Tuesday he wants to keep as many military forces in the country to allegedly boost counter-terror operations.
In an interview with USA Today, Army Gen. John Campbell said he wants to keep the current 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to train the country’s security forces and conduct ‘counterterrorism’ operations.
“My intent would be to keep as much as I could for as long as I could,” Campbell told the paper “At some point it becomes physics. I’m going to have to get them out.”
Campbell’s declaration goes against a scheduled reduction to 5,500 U.S. troops by Jan. 1, 2017.
He is set to brief senior leaders in Washington about the security situation and offer proposals for a stronger military presence in Afghanistan.
“Some of them will not go over well with people,” Campbell said. “Some of them will get approved.”
The military commander has been pushing for a longer and more extensive military presence in Afghanistan in recent months to counter what he says is a growing strength of the Taliban, the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda in the country.
In recent months, the Taliban have regained control of much of Afghanistan, with vast swathes of rural areas slipping beyond the control of the central government.
The security crisis has led to the worst annual rate of civilian causalities in 2014 since at least 2009, according to a United Nations report released earlier this year.
Painting a bleak picture in the divided country, the report said civilian deaths increased by 22 percent between 2013 and 2014. The report attributed the steady rise in civilian killings to “increased ground engagements” and the mushrooming use of heavy explosives such as mortars in civilian populated areas.
Among the victims, children accounted for 714 killed and 1,760 wounded in 2014 – a 40 percent increase over the previous year.
Afghanistan’s security forces are also facing mounting casualties, with at least 5,000 troops and police killed last year.
Afghan authorities are investigating reports that two unidentified helicopters have dropped off Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in the Afghan province of Nangarhar, Afghan Senator Haji Lutfullah Baba told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Wednesday.”A number of people in Tor Ghar, Nangarhar Province have contacted me to say that unidentified helicopters have airlifted Daesh militants there,” Iran Front Page reported Baba as having said.
“They asked me to follow up the issue and urge security and military officials to look into the militant movements, which pose a threat to the security of the province and the entire nation.”
A spokesman for the local government in Nangarhar province confirmed reports that the helicopters had dropped off men wearing in black uniforms, and added that similar sightings had also been reported in the provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan and Badakhshan.On December 16 Afghanistan’s Khaama press news agency reported that fierce clashes between Daesh and the Taliban in eastern Nangarhar province had resulted in heavy losses for both sides.
“15 armed opponents have been killed and 36 others wounded in these clashes,” said Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, who added that four of the dead were Daesh terrorists, and 11 were Taliban.
“Out of the 36 wounded, 11 of them belong to Daesh and 25 others were members of Taliban,” he said, adding that two civilians had also been injured in the clashes.
Since John D. Rockefeller was advised to protect his wealth from government taxation by creating a tax-exempt philanthropic foundation in 1913, foundations have been used by American oligarchs to disguise a world of dirty deeds under the cover “doing good for mankind,” known by the moniker “philanthropy” for mankind-loving. No less the case is that of George Soros who likely has more tax-exempt foundations under his belt than anyone around. His Open Society foundations are in every country where Washington wants to put ‘their man’ in, or at least get someone out who doesn’t know how to read their music. They played a key role in regime change in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe after 1989. Now his foundations are up to their eyeballs in promoting propaganda serving the US-UK war agenda for destroying stability in Syria as they did in Libya three years ago, creating the current EU refugee crisis.
We should take a closer look at the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis wreaking such havoc and unrest across the EU, especially in Germany, the favored goal of most asylum seekers today. George Soros, today a naturalized American citizen, has just authored a six-point proposal telling the European Union on what they must do to manage the situation. It’s worth looking at in detail.
He begins by stating, “The EU needs a comprehensive plan to respond to the crisis, one that reasserts effective governance over the flows of asylum-seekers so that they take place in a safe, orderly way…” He then says that, “First, the EU has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future.”
Soros does not elaborate where he pulled that figure from, nor does he discuss the role of other of his Soros-financed NGOs in Syria and elsewhere which manufacture faked propaganda to build a public sympathy lobby for a US and UK “No Fly Zone” in Syria as was done to destroy Libya.
The American hedge fund speculator then adds, among his points to be implemented, a series of proposals that would consolidate a de facto supranational EU state apparatus under control of the faceless, unelected bureaucrats of the European Commission. The Soros proposals call for creating what amount to EU-issued refugee bonds. He states, “The EU should provide €15,000 ($16,800) per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs – and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states. It can raise these funds by issuing long-term bonds using its largely untapped AAA borrowing capacity…”
That issuing comes to 30 billion euros at a time when most EU member states are struggling to deal with domestic economic crises. Soros is generous with other peoples’ money. The mention of the AAA bond rating is the rating of the legal entity named the European Union. Soros has maneuvered for years to try to get a centralized Brussels independent financial power that would take the last vestiges of national financial sovereignty away from Berlin, Paris, Rome and other EU states, part of a scheme to destroy the remains of the national borders and of the nation-state principles established at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ending the Thirty Years’ War.
George Soros has more ideas how to spend European citizens’ tax euros. He calls on the EU to cough up an added annual commitment to “frontline countries” (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan) of at least €8-10 billion annually. Then, insidiously, Soros declares, “Safe channels must be established for asylum-seekers, starting with getting them from Greece and Italy to their destination countries. This is very urgent in order to calm the panic.”
His use of the term “destination countries” is very interesting. Today, by a huge margin that means the Federal Republic of Germany. Soros strategy is obviously to target Germany, especially, with a refugee flood.
It has gradually come out into the open that many of the refugees or asylum-seekers flooding into the EU since summer of 2015 have come in response to reading Twitter or Facebook social media portraying especially Germany as an arms-open, refugee-loving paradise where all their needs will be met.
How did word get out that Germany was the “in place” for those in flight from Syria and other conflict areas? Vladimir Shalak at the Russian Academy of Sciences developed the Internet Content-Analysis System for Twitter (Scai4Twi). He made a study of over 19,000 refugees-related original tweets (retweets discounted). His study showed that the vast majority of the tweets name Germany as the most refugee-welcoming country in Europe.
Shalak’s study discovered that 93% of all tweets about Germany contained positive references to German hospitality and its refugee policy. Some samples of the Tweets:
• Germany Yes! Leftists spray a graffiti on a train sayin “Welcome, refugees” in Arabic
• Lovely people – video of Germans welcoming Syrian refugees to their community
• Respect! Football fans saying “Welcome Refugees” across stadiums in Germany.
• This Arabic Graffiti train is running in Dresden welcoming refugees: (ahlan wa sahlan – a warm welcome).
• ‘We love Germany!,’ cry relieved refugees at Munich railway station
• Thousands welcome refugees to Germany – Sky News Australia
• Wherever this German town is that welcomed a coach of Syrian refugees with welcome signs and flowers –thank you.
Now comes the real hammer. The vast majority of these “Germany welcomes refugee” Tweets come not from Germany, but from the United States and from the UK, the two countries up to their necks in the bloody deeds of ISIS and Al Qaeda and countless other terror gangs rampaging across Syria the past four years.
Shalak analyzed 5,704 original tweets containing a “#RefugeesWelcome” hashtag and a country name which welcomes them. It showed almost 80% of all Tweets claimed that Germany was the most-welcoming country in Europe. However, the study also found that those “Germany welcomes you” Tweets did not originate from inside Germany. Over 40% of all the Tweets originated from the USA, UK or Australia. Only 6.4% originated inside Germany. The second most welcoming country found was Austria with 12%.
George Soros is also the Daddy Warbucks financing a new EU think-tank with the name European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). On the website of the ECFR is an editorial titled, “If Europe wants people to stop drowning it needs to let them fly.” The Soros Think-Tank argues that the main reason migrants choose boats is EU Directive 51/2001/EC: “The EU directive was passed in 2001. Put simply, it states that carrier companies—whether airlines or ship lines—are responsible for ensuring that foreign nationals wishing to travel to the European Union have valid travel documents for their destination. If such travelers arrive in the EU and are turned away, the airlines are obligated to foot the bill for flying them home.” In other words, “open the gates of heaven wider, dear Lord.”
Soros’ Syria NGOs Beat War Drums
The cynicism of the Soros call for the EU taxpayers to step up to the plate and accept millions of new refugees, to fly them in without papers, and more, is clear when we look at the same Soros-financed network of NGOs active in Syria trying to create the propaganda background to get acceptance of yet another US “No Fly Zone” over Syria as was done against Iraq after 1991 and against Libya in 2012 to bomb those countries back to the stone age.
One of the key online advocates for a US-UK “No Fly Zone” over Syria, something the Russian intervention since September 30 has de facto blocked, is an organization known as Avaaz. Avaaz was given initial financial support by Soros’ foundation in 2007 to promote key policies suitable to the US State Department. They cite Soros’ Open Society foundation as their foundation partner. Avaaz played a key role promoting the 2011 No Fly Zone in Libya that introduced a regime of terror and chaos in that once prosperous and stable African nation. Avaaz is now very actively promoting the same treatment for Syria.
Another Soros-financed NGO active demonizing the Assad government as cause of all atrocities in Syria and helping build public support for a war in Syria from the US and EU is Amnesty International. Suzanne Nossel, until 2013 the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, came to the job from the US State Department where she was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, not exactly an unbiased agency in regard to Syria. As well, the Soros-financed Human Rights Watch has played a major role in falsely portraying ISIS and Al Qaeda civilian bombings and other atrocities as the work of the Assad regime, building support for military action from the US and EU.
The Middle East and other wars today including Ukraine are the product of the foreign policy doctrine set out in 1992 by then Defense Assistant Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the infamous Wolfowitz Doctrine that justifies “pre-emptive” war, free from any oversight from the UN Security Council, against any nation or group of nations which threaten US “Sole Superpower” domination. George Soros, the hedge fund speculator turned self-proclaimed philanthropist, and his tax-exempt foundations, are an integral part of that pre-emptive war machine. Now Soros lectures the EU countries, above all Germany, on how they should receive the human fallout from the wars he and his cronies in the US State Department have created. That’s real Chutzpah, or perhaps it is really hubris.