The furious reaction across the Middle East to the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric strongly suggests that the killing is a deliberate provocation by the ruling House of Saud.
That provocation would appear to be aimed at inflaming sectarian tensions and fomenting conflict in various regional countries – already near flashpoint – in order to further Saudi geopolitical interests. Central to those interests is, as always, the bitter rivalry with the region’s Shiite powerhouse, Iran.
Following the announcement at the weekend by the Saudi Interior Ministry that Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr had been executed, along with 46 other prisoners, there was predictable outrage from across the region, especially among countries where there is a large Shiite following, such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. Iran denounced the radical Sunni Saudi rulers as “criminal” and accused them of carrying out an act that is “the depth of imprudence and irresponsibility.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, compared the House of Saud with Daesh, the extremist terror group (also known as Islamic State, and previously ISIS/ISIL). Of note is the way that the kingdom executes opponents by beheading according to a similar stringent interpretation of Islamic Sharia law known as Wahhabism – shared by both the Saudi regime and the cadres of Daesh.
Former Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki said that the imposition of capital punishment would lead to the downfall of the Saudi rulers, with other Iraqi politicians saying that it would “open the gates of hell” across the volatile and religiously fraught region.
The United States and European Union also responded with alarm at the execution of al-Nimr, both warning of deepening sectarian tensions being exacerbated by the Saudi death penalty.
Sheikh al-Nimr was executed on Saturday, along with 46 other prisoners in what is believed to have been the biggest mass execution in Saudi Arabia for over three decades. The death sentences were carried out in 12 prison locations by decapitation or firing squad, according to reports. Most of those sentenced were alleged members of the Al-Qaeda terror group, who had been accused of carrying out deadly attacks against Western interests in Saudi Arabia between 2003 and 2006.
Nimr al-Nimr was among four Shiite activists who were executed at the weekend. They were convicted on several charges of subversion and terrorism in trials that were dismissed by international rights groups as a travesty of judicial process. Sheikh al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 and accused of inciting violent protests, but supporters point out that the respected cleric always publicly endorsed peaceful protest. One of his best-known statements was: “The power of the word is mightier than the roar of bullets.”
In October, al-Nimr lost a judicial appeal against his death sentence. There then followed several international appeals for clemency. The Iranian government in particular issued several statements calling for the cleric’s life to be spared.
The widely seen miscarriage of justice against al-Nimr and the chilling determination to carry out his execution in spite of appeals for clemency is what makes the case so incendiary.
Lebanese Shiite resistance movement Hezbollah condemned Saudi Arabia’s conduct as “an assassination,” while Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps vowed that the Saudi rulers would meet with “harsh vengeance.”
In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and a coalition of other Sunni Arab states have been carrying out airstrikes for the past nine months, the mainly Shiite Houthi rebels also condemned the execution of al-Nimr and promised retribution for his death. At the weekend, it was reported that 24 Saudi troops were killed in a Houthi rocket attack on the Saudi border province of Jizan. It is not clear if the attack preceded the announced execution of al-Nimr.
The Saudi regime has previously accused Iran and Hezbollah of fueling the Houthi rebellion in Yemen. Tehran has rejected claims of militarily supporting the insurgents. But it would be a fair assumption that Iran and Hezbollah will henceforth step up military intervention in Yemen as a way of striking back at the Saudis.
The same response is envisaged for Iranian and Hezbollah involvement in Syria, where the Saudis have bankrolled and armed various anti-government militia, primarily so-called radical Islamist groups with a shared Wahhabi fundamentalist ideology. These groups include Jaish al Islam (Army of Islam), whose leader Zahran Alloush was killed in a Syrian airstrike near Damascus on December 25. The Saudi regime publicly rebuked the killing of Alloush, saying that it jeopardized the forthcoming UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva on Syria.
The House of Saud, led by King Salman, is known to be not in favor of the Geneva talks, which Washington and Moscow have both endorsed. The Saudis are dismayed by the seeming compromise made by Washington towards the Russian position, which is that the political future of Syria must be decided by the Syrian people through elections. The erstwhile demand by Washington that Syria’s President Bashar Assad must stand down as a precondition for peace talks has been abandoned – leaving the Saudis, Turkey and the extremist militia groups in Syria as the only parties persisting with the call for Assad to go.
It is perhaps significant that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a “strategic summit” with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh only days before the execution of Nimr al-Nimr.
Russia’s military intervention in Syria, from the end of September, has been a resounding success in terms of stabilizing the Syrian government of Bashar Assad. Even the Obama administration has recently acknowledged the strategic success for Russian President Vladimir Putin in Syria.
That military success can also be attributed to Iran and Hezbollah, as well as to Iraq, which have all contributed to the gains made by the Syrian Arab Army on the ground.
The biggest loser is the axis for covert regime change in Syria, led by Washington, London and Paris, together with their regional allies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. While Washington and the other Western powers have the nous to switch tactics from backing a covert insurgency to belatedly trying a political process for eventual regime change in Syria, it would appear that the Saudis and Turks are still committed to the covert war agenda.
In that way, the Russian-backed military alliance in Syria is a particularly damaging broadside to Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
From the Saudi point of view, one way of trying to salvage their losses in Syria and ongoing setbacks in Yemen would be to blow up the region with an explosion in sectarian conflicts. For many people, of course, such a gambit is insane. But if the House of Saud can provoke a firestorm between Sunnis and Shiites, that would in turn polarize relations between Washington and Moscow, leading to a wider war across the region.
Having lost in their Machiavellian schemes for regime change in Syria, the House of Saud seems to want to inflict a plague of chaos and bloodshed on everyone else’s house.
The execution of renowned Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr is such a gratuitous barbaric killing, one is left with the conclusion: the unadulterated madness of the slaying betrays an altogether pathological calculation aimed at inciting mayhem in the region.
Saudi Arabia is on such a losing streak over Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere that its autocratic rulers probably figure that they don’t have much else to lose by going for broke – and thus provoking a regional bloodbath.
The Israeli military has fired a number of artillery rounds into Lebanon amid a pledge by the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, that it will not leave unanswered Israel’s assassination of its high-ranking member Samir Qantar.
On Sunday, Israeli forces shelled the Lebanese border fence for the fourth consecutive day. The Israeli military feared that Hezbollah forces might take advantage of the stormy weather and the poor visibility to launch a strike.
The Israeli shelling comes two weeks after Qantar was killed during the Israeli raid that targeted his home in the southern Syrian city of Jaramana, located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) southeast of the Syrian capital, Damascus, early on December 20, 2015.
Following Qantar’s death, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, “We reserve the right to respond to this assassination at the time and place of our choosing. Those of us in Hezbollah will exercise that right.”
“We have no doubt or question that Israel is the one which assassinated Samir Qantar, its planes fired precise missiles on an apartment (he was in),” Nasrallah noted.
Senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine also said that Tel Aviv will be held accountable for Qantar’s death.
“If the Israelis think by killing Samir Qantar they have closed an account then they are very mistaken because they know and will come to know that they have instead opened several more,” Safieddine added.
Israel launched two wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. About 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, lost their lives during the 33-day war in the summer of 2006.
On both occasions, Hezbollah fighters gave befitting responses to the Tel Aviv regime’s acts of aggression, forcing Israeli military to retreat without achieving any of its objectives.
The Tel Aviv regime has resorted to an intelligence and psychological campaign against Hezbollah to compensate for its fiascos in the two wars on Lebanon.
Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis through sending reconnaissance drones, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.
Press TV has conducted an interview with political analyst Ibrahim Mousavi to talk about the Al Saud regime in Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr.
Below is a rough transcription of that interview:
Press TV: Let’s start with one of the main points of [secretary general of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah] Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech which basically he is talking about how all Muslims should be diligent and not to basically play the game that the Saudis have initiated, trying to ignite division in the Muslim community and that everyone must remain united.
Mousavi: Indeed this is a very important message at this juncture of history and this sensitive moment when Seyyed Nasrallah talks we hear the voice of reason, we hear the voice of wisdom, we hear the voice of responsibility. Those who are responsible for the Ummah, for the nation, for the people, they should be very aware of what they say, when they say it, and to who they say. The message that should be sent is that this unjust ruling of the Saudi dynasty, those supporters of Takfiri groups, the oppression against the Saudis whether Shia Muslims or non-Shia Muslims—and we know very well that when we talk about the Saudis who are outside the country—you go to Europe, you see how many have applied for political asylum. So we are talking here about a national crisis that is taking place when the Saudi rulers are oppressing their own people.
They are trying at the same time to say that this is a conflict between the Shias and the Sunnis. The execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr and the execution of every single Yemeni individual regardless of his age, regardless of his belonging on the factional and conventional level, tells you that this is a kind of attack against humanity.
That’s why it is very important to highlight the direction of the message. The message that we should not be misled by what they are trying to do. They are trying to sow the seeds of discord and sedition among the people, among the Arabs, among the Muslims. We should not be in any way under the pressure or under the impact of the Saudi propaganda.
Press TV: And Mr. Mousavi, another point, basically that Seyed Hasan Nasrallah also talked about the desperation of the Saudi regime and that with the spilling of the blood of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and other innocent people, it is the beginning of the end of the Saudi regime. Your perspective on that point sir.
Mousavi: This is again, a very clear point and a very evident point. We know very well that when you are strong enough you can handle your problems and go through. When a kingdom, when a dynasty that has tens and hundreds of billions of dollars that they spend in order to annihilate Yemen and the civilization in Yemen and the Yemeni people. When they have all these F-16s that are being supplied to them by the Americans. Why would they go and execute Sheikh Nimr if they are afraid of the voice of one man when they wage wars against their neighbors? When they go and invade Bahrain against the will of the Bahraini people, trying to support the regime of Al Khalifa? When they go and send booby-trapped cars to Iraq? When they interfere in here and there. When they try to topple the authorized and legitimate government in Syria by supporting Takfiri groups?
This all tells you that when they go to these wars and try to execute a man who had always been preaching for change, for political rights, via peaceful means, via political means, this tells you that they are very weak. And yes indeed this is a very important indicative, this is very important and evident reason that proves that they are very weak and they are accumulating more and more mistakes that is going to bring their end in a more hasty way than expected.
“Occupation is in itself a form of terrorism”
MOSCOW – Russia and the United States agree that Daesh, al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra are terrorist organizations but differ over blacklisting Hezbollah and Hamas, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Speaking to the Interfax news agency on Tuesday night, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said: “Our opinions coincide as regards to the main terrorist organizations. These are ISIS, al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra.”
But “we are not even discussing Hezbollah and Hamas with the Americans,” he added.
Moscow has routinely held senior-level contacts with Hamas officials and leaders.
Commenting on the Russian position, political analyst Abdul Sattar Qassem said: “Hamas cannot be compared to Daesh or al-Qaeda. It can only be viewed in terms of its resistance to the Israeli occupation.”
“The Israeli occupation and the USA are the real terrorists. They are fighting all those who stand in their way,” he added.
“Blacklisting Hamas as terrorist is unacceptable for Moscow. There is no evidence to corroborate the fact that Hamas is a terror group,” he said.
“Israel has been misleading the world into believing that Hamas is targeting Israeli civilians, which is not in fact the case,” the analyst stated.
“Hamas is a movement of national liberation that defends its people. It does not seek to wage wars for the sake of wars. It is engaged in a fight against an entity that colonized its motherland,” he explained.
However, “does Russia dare blacklist Israel as a terrorist entity for the crimes it has perpetrated against the Palestinians?” Qassem wondered. “It is not enough that Russia refuses to dub Hamas a terror group. It should dare include Israel on its terror list.”
“There is no colonizing power in the world but Israel. Occupation is in itself a form of terrorism,” the analyst further stated.
PSC Director Sarah Colborne went out of her way to kosherize the UK PSC (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign) but now no longer holds her position in what is left of the diluted solidarity institution. The rumour is that Colborne had to go because evidence of her collaboration with the police against leading Palestinian activists was too embarrassing.
Back on 17 October two men were arrested at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in London after they refused to take down a Hezbollah flag they had hoisted on a pole.
Abbas Ali and Antonio Maniscalco, both prominent pro-Palestinian activists had been warned by the PSC that only Palestinian national flags would be welcome at the protest. Shortly after, Ali and Maniscalco were arrested by the police, their homes were raided, their PCs, laptops and memory cards were confiscated. They were questioned by counter-terrorism officers for 15 hours before being released with no charges.
Once free, Abbas Ali told 5Pillars “we were initially told to take down the flag by people on the podium and by someone at the demonstration (so) we moved across the road. We also told the police that we were in a public place so we saw no reason to take down the flag – we had as much right to protest as anyone else but the police kept hounding us.”
After the event Sarah Colborne admitted that the organisers of the event had made a clear request before the demonstration that only Palestinian flags should be raised. However, Colborne did not confirm or deny that any of the organisers had alerted the police of Mr Ali and Mr Maniscalco’s actions.
In her interview with 5pillars a few days after the arrest, Colborne produced the standard sound-bite outburst of diarrhea: “we welcome all who stand with us in our opposition to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Supporters of Palestinian rights encompass all faiths and none. Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Atheist, religious and non-religious people all stand together on this protest… We stand with Palestinians in their struggle for a future free of racism, colonialism and apartheid. There is no place for racism in a progressive movement fighting for justice and human rights.”
No secret that PSC under the rule of the ‘progressive’ Sarah Colborne was mainly concerned with anti-Semitism, racism and other Jewish sensitivities. The question remains whether the PSC can resurrect itself, de-kosherize its act and support Palestine for real. I hope it can but I do not hold my breath.
Letter drafted by IHRC* to the PSC following the 17 October arrest
We the undersigned are deeply concerned about events at last Saturday’s demonstration called by yourselves (17 October 2015).
It is reported that two long-time activists were harassed by other protestors, and ultimately arrested after being told by the police that the organisers and others had complained to them about the flag they were carrying. This came after:
• organisers had called from the stage for all flags other than Palestinian flags to be lowered;
• various persons were sent on behalf of the organisers to ask the activists to remove the flag;
• and some protestors it would seem, emboldened by the organisers’ call, harassed both activists in a manner bordering on violence (one protestor was seen shouting abuse and breaking the flagpole used by one of the men eventually arrested).
The flag in question was the Hizbullah flag. At the time of writing we know that both of the protestors have been bailed pending a decision by the CPS on whether to charge them with supporting a proscribed organisation and encouraging others to support a proscribed organisation. When arrested they were questioned upon arrest by SO15 (the Counter Terrorism Command).
It has also been reported that police were asked by PSC to ask one of the men to remove banners in support of Palestinian prisoners from a previous demonstration.
As you are aware the anti-terrorism laws and regime are not only unjust, they have been used to target Muslims, and demonise some liberation movements, including some associated with the Palestinian struggle. This vicious curtailment of civil liberties, the removal of Muslims from equality before the law and the demonisation of political causes that run counter to UK foreign policy, are all surely things that PSC should at the very least eschew and at most actively oppose.
If these arrests have come as a result of the organisers’ request to the police, it is a matter of great shame for PSC. Those involved in making those calls from the platform and contacting the police should resign their positions forthwith.
As a note, it is worth recognising that the two men arrested have spent every other week over the last three years holding vigils for Palestinan prisoners. The conditions of their bail – of extraordinary disproportionality – prevent them from contacting each other, forbid them from going to demonstrations and require them to sign at a police station three times a week. It is truly disgusting that such committed pro-Palestinian activists and their activities have been stopped in their tracks. Whilst there is no legal case to charge and convict them under anti-terorrism laws, the threat that hangs over them is a form of harassment that has already had the effect of closing down regular pro-Palestinian protests organised by one of these men. As you are doubtless aware one of these men was one of the pioneers of BDS some fifteen years ago, and has suffered many threats and abuse from pro-Israel groups and indviduals.
Both these men should have been supported in their work by the organisers, not targeted. This sorry state of affairs has come through some level of instigtaion by the organisers. At the very least PSC must campaign for these two men. Please advise as to how you will be proceeding.
With deep regret,
• Massoud Shadjareh, Chair of Islamic Human Rights Commission
• Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities
• Francesca Viceconti, visual artist and member of Artisit Against Apartheid (USA)
• Fateh Party UK
• Brighton and Hove PSC
• John Tymon, Football Against Apartheid (Coordinator)
• Badee Dwaik, Human Rights Defenders – Palestine (Coordinator)
*IHRC- Isalmic Human Right Commission
Regarding the assassination of the martyr Samir el-Kuntar
– After a few days, there will be the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ – and on this anniversary, we extend our greetings to all the Christians and Muslims. A few days later, is the anniversary of the birth of Prophet Mohammed, and we extend our greetings to all the Muslims on this occasion and we ask God for the blessings of both these two prophets to extend mercy and security and happiness to all the region and to open the hearts and minds of all to love and mercy that these two great leaders brought to the world.
– Yesterday, we lost one of our brothers who shared in the birth of Hezbollah from its first hours and carried heavy responsibility for 33 years – el Sheikh Mohammed Khatoun. I shall speak more about him at the date of his funeral tomorrow. I extend condolences to his family and loved ones.
– Before I speak about the main event – I want to speak about what happened in Nigeria a few days ago – a massacre in Zariah. Hundreds were killed. Hundreds were injured. Hundreds were detained. We include our voice among the voices of all who condemned this massacre, and we condemn the silence of all those who chose to be silent – a horrific silence. There is talk of up to 1,000 killed. And we call on the Nigerian government and its political parties – to act with strength to hold those responsible and to have a national and humanitarian response. I worry that there are American or Israeli hands or Takfiri hands that are behind this horrific massacre – designed to create more bloodshed in Nigeria.
– Back to our main point of discussion
– The assassination of the General of the Political Prisoners in the Israeli Jails – the brother, the martyr, Samir el Quntar
– (1) The facts. We have no doubt that the Israeli enemy is the one behind the assassination. It was not a covert operation – but an open attack. The assassination was by Israeli jets – against a residential home, that specifically targeted Samir el Quntar and other fighters and civilians. Did the Israeli jets enter Syrian air space or the did the Israeli jets fly over occupied Golan Heights – that is a detail, one that does not change anything, unless the discussion is about Syria and Russia and today that is not our focus. What is clear is that it was an Israeli attack against a residential home in Geramana in the outskirts of Damascus. I extend condolences to all those martyred. Anyone who kills a man like Samir el Quntar does a service to Israel.
– (2) We know and Samir knew and the Israelis themselves did not hide – that Israel would not leave Samir el Quntar alive, from the first day of his release. The threat was alive throughout all the years, months, days. Israel was very open that it would not forgive him for his past nor on his strength and resilience in jail nor on his dedication to the resistance. Israel does not forgive – it is our governments that forgive the murderers of Deir Yassin to Qana. This talk by Israel was before the plan for building resistance in the occupied Golan Heights. We in Hezbollah hold the enemy Israel responsible for the assassination of Samir el Quntar
– (3) In this night I do not want to talk about the characteristics of this great martyr. I shall simply say tonight that Samir el Quntar was a lover of Palestine. Palestine was all his love and filled his heart and mind. Palestine’s destiny and the destiny of Palestine’s people and the future of the resistance was always his first and main focus. In our first visit upon liberation, he and I spoke – and we always leave options open – I told him that he has numerous options – politics, media, and military. He said then what he told others publicly: I left Palestine to return to Palestine. He told me that from this very moment I am ready to participate in any military operation, whether on the border with occupied Palestine or within occupied Palestine. I await my martyrdom, he said. It would be an honor to me to be a fighter, he said. That is Samir, that is his truth that we must say today. Does the enemy Israel imagine that by killing Samir and those like him that they can kill such love and passion and commitment and the vast sacrifice of the people of this nation? Many great leaders have been killed and tens of thousands of people have been martyred – in Palestine and Lebanon and Syria and Egypt and Jordan. And what was the result? Has this nation and these people and these generations given up on Palestine? NO. A generation grew up to inherit resistance and to give it to the next generation. The blood of Samir el Kuntar and those who passed before him – is that the resistance against Israel for liberation is a call that will not be broken, regardless of who will be killed and detained and tortured; this is a call that will not be broken. Look now at the people of occupied Palestine – this is a generation that is as old as Samir el Kuntar was when he went to occupied Palestine (i.e. 17). The youth of Palestine fight death with death. Tens of them have been martyred as they fight with knives – because that is their only option. They have entered terror in the hearts of the enemy. When we see a youth in her prime – such as (martyr) Ashraqat Tamami – and when I speak of her, I speak of all the youth of Palestine, I discovered that this youth (female) had a great deal of awareness and clarity and dedication and deep understanding to the cause that she wants to sacrifice for and to the understanding of the enemy and the friend, and for the calmness of her decision. Ashraqat is today a model for many of Palestine’s youth – who love with a passion the land and freedom. They carry the same passion that Samir el Quntar carried and it remained in his heart until a traitorous Israeli rocket killed him.
– (4) Our position. When Israel attacks, anywhere it chooses and how it chooses and in any time it does, it is the right of the resistance – anywhere, and any way, and in any place, and at any time. Today, I repeat: from now, any member of Hezbollah that is killed, we shall hold the responsibility to the Israelis and we shall consider it is our right to respond at any time, at any location, and in the manner we choose. We said this on the 30th of January 2015. Today, we say, to the enemy and to the friend, Samir el Quntar is one of us, and he is a leader in our resistance, and Israelis killed him, and it is our right to respond to his assassination in the time, place, and in the manner that we choose. That is our right. And I add – we, in Hezbollah, we shall fulfill this right.
– (5) In the same vein, the killing against Hezbollah and this resistance, comes the US actions that seek to target Hezbollah on a number of levels. Since the early 90s, we as a party have been on the terrorism list – as a political party and as individuals. And for decades, the Americans have tried to force this description on other countries; they were not successful. Such a description is not accepted by the UN, and the EU, only lately, considers the military wing on the terrorism list, and China and Russia do not consider us as such. What the Americans decided to do now – even though they support terrorism worldwide — is that they consider us a criminal organization and not terrorism, claiming that we are drug dealers and that we are money launderers and that the US Congress now seeks to investigate the accusation that we are human traffickers. These accusations are false and have no basis in truth. It is our duty to deny them. We are not due to show evidence of our innocence. It is their responsibility to show evidence – if they have any, although they have long made accusations without evidence. Clearly, these accusations are political – and it’s first objective is to show Hezbollah in a bad light. They are the ones who spent millions of dollars, as per their own Ambassador, to create propaganda against Hezbollah for the Arab youth. We have a strong example here: the international organization of nuclear energy presented a report about the Iranian nuclear energy – and they said that the Iranian nuclear energy is peaceful and at the very least, since 2009 until today, there is no evidence of anything military in the Iranian nuclear energy. They presented the evidence, and one of the panel of the international organization is an American and there was a consensus on the report! A full consensus. Let us remember that it was the Americans that accused Iran for years. Also the Europeans. And let’s not forget Netanyahu in many occasions, including his speech at the UN. Netanyahu should be a joke internationally and even for Israel – let’s remember his chart at UN when he said that Iran would have a nuclear bomb in a few months. And now we have this report – with consensus – that there is no evidence of military usage of Iran’s nuclear energy. Let’s remember that they were planning a war against Iran, and they enforced sanctions against more than 80 million people, and they threatened, unfortunately with some of their Arab collaborators. That is just one example of a political accusation. The accusations against us are small in comparison. With the battle against us, they won’t accuse us of getting nuclear weapons. This is what they have to say against – either terrorist or criminal. That is the end of their line. The line of their lie is short. The truth will eventually be exposed. We know, in front of God, in front of our people, in front of many people, this is not who we are. If they think their accusations are a propaganda war, it will fail. From a financial perspective, they have now forced upon international banks to freeze Hezbollah funds – well, this was closed a long time ago. We do not have funds in international banks. Now, they are also putting pressure on Lebanese banks and the Lebanese central bank – to put pressure on any organization that is claimed to be tied to Hezbollah. We also state today, and state it again, we have no funds in Lebanese banks, not in the past nor in the present, nor do we have funds that we put in any banks. Nor do we transfer our funds via Lebanese banks – so there is no need for either the Lebanese central bank or any Lebanese banks to feel fear of being chased by the Americans. Furthermore, as I have stated before and shall say again, we are not a business nor an investment. We do not have companies nor are we partners with any Lebanese merchants. Whatever funds we have, we give to our resistance and to the families of the injured and the martyrs. We do not have an extra penny that we invest or put in any fund.
– Based on this, we have to speak seriously about this – it is the responsibility of the Lebanese Central Bank and the Lebanese banks to protect the Lebanese consumers and merchants! It is enough that one sign come from the Americans for there to be an accusation against an individual, and these banks immediately follow. Does this country not have sovereignty? Not have its own courts? Its own state? There are Lebanese merchants and investors that are hurt. We are not hurt. But now if Americans want to target a particular political current or a particular community, all they do is give the names to the Lebanese banks! These are Lebanese who should be protected by the Lebanese State. I do not ask the Lebanese State to protect any member of Hezbollah – but at the very least, it is the responsibility of the State to protect the men and women of this country. No one is asking the State to declare war on the US, only to ask for evidence for these accusations and to take the evidence to the Lebanese courts. This has already begun — this subservience to the US!
– Furthermore, with regards to the media, whether it is part of our network (Manar and Nour) or accused of supporting us or even empathizing with us – they are being threatened! The US is accusing you and judging you in absentia and charging you and killing you and you are not allowed to speak and if you speak, your voice cannot reach anywhere in the world. That is the freedom and democracy of the United States. Your media is not allowed – and maybe it will reach the stage that any media that shows the truth will be accused of being pro-terrorism, while knowing of course that anyone with a Dish can see hundreds of channels that call for takfiri [intolerance] and for killing and raping and committing terrorism and destruction and occupation and violence; those channels are accepted. But you and your type of the resistance are targeted, and the real reason is Israel, and not our position in Yemen or otherwise, but the real reason is that you are a resistance! The intention is Resistance itself – the discourse, the culture, the knowledge base of Resistance!
– Media is part of the struggle. We will not surrender. We will look for all options and opportunities so that the voice of Resistance and the voice of all who reject the project of Israel and the US in the region – those voices will be heard. This is an ongoing struggle.
– What is more important about all these actions against us, is how we look upon all these actions. You can see the negative, but there is also the positive. The fact that Congress sits and meets and has consensus and continues to think about new ways to fight us – means that we are in the right place. They have given us more faith and strength. It shows that we are in the right struggle, the right battle, the right discourse. Who ever finds himself – knowingly or not – a partner with the US and Zionism, let him re-examine his nationalism and religion and ethics! These actions by the US are also a recognition of us, that we are not a small group with small consequences. It is a recognition that Hezbollah plays a large role in Lebanon and in the region in fighting the Israeli project and the hegemonic project. As part of the Resistance – and we don’t claim to fight alone, just as we didn’t fight alone in 1982 and since – there were many US projects of hegemony, we are part of this battle and not alone. That is why the US Congress needs to take these declarations with clear time lines — they take us seriously. We also say that we understand these actions, see how loving we are. We understand these actions. When we are enemies to each other, and this is a compliment to us – to be enemies to the US and to Israel and enemies to all who want to steal the riches of our people and to all who want to destroy our civilization, we understand that they would want to do all these things, and we also will not surrender in this battle. I say to the US and to Israel and to their allies in the region: all these actions against us, from sanctions and murders, you will not be able to erase us. All the actions against us and are planned against us – will only increase our commitment.
– May God have mercy on our great martyr Samir el Kuntar…
Translation by Rania Masri [not word for word]
Samir Kuntar, before being released in Israeli prisoner exchange
Yesterday, Israel murdered Samir Kuntar, a Hezbollah militant involved with a terror attack that killed three Israeli civilians in 1979. Until he was freed in a prisoner exchange in 2008, he’d been the longest-serving security prisoner in Israeli jails.
In the years following the original attack, Kuntar became the embodiment of the bloodthirsty terrorist, supposedly personally bashing in the head of a little girl with a rifle butt. At least this is the story they told. But this narrative, like so many spun by Israeli military-intelligence circles, and lapped up so eagerly by an adoring Israeli media, is largely fiction.
According to Aviv Sela, a noted Israeli psychologist who served in that capacity for years with the police and Shabak, Kuntar did not kill the girl or her father. Instead, he claims he had left the boat to help his comrades who’d been attacked by Israeli security forces. The firing that killed the Israelis came via friendly (Israeli) fire and not the Palestinians. As with so many ugly facts Israel tries to conceal in such circumstances, it creates comfortable narratives that obscure the truth.
Something similar happened with the 300 Line bus hijacking in which the Israeli media initially dutifully reported that all the Palestinian hostage takers were killed in the bus assault. This concealed the fact that the Shabak chief personally approved the cold-blooded murder of the two surviving Palestinians. In this case, it was Israeli security forces who stove in their heads, this time with rocks instead of a rifle butt. The moral being: the only good Palestinian terrorist is a murdered one, the gorier the better.
Israel’s military is continuing the Kuntar charade to justify his execution in an Israeli air attack over Damascus, which destroyed the apartment building where he was living, killing eight others as well. He not only bashed a little girl’s head in way back. He continued his evil ways as a mastermind of terror in Assad’s regime. Read this fantasia:
Samir Kuntar, the notorious terrorist killed Saturday night near Damascus, was believed to be preparing a major terror attack against Israel from the Golan Heights, according to highly reliable Western sources.
According to these sources, last year Kuntar turned into a kind of independent terror entrepreneur and was considered by Israel and the West to be a “ticking bomb”. The sources said Kuntar had recently not been working on behalf of Hezbollah, but rather acting with increasing independence alongside pro-Assad militias in Syria.
The organization with which Kuntar was working was founded by the Syrian regime to replace the brutal Shabiha (an Alawite militia), which even the Syrian regime opted to reject. Assad’s regime therefore established a less vicious militia, the Syrian National Resistance Committee, which did not engage in the economic and criminal activities of the Shabiha. Farhan al-Shaalan, another senior leader killed Saturday night in the same building where Kuntar ran his secret operation, also belonged to the Syrian National Resistance Committee…
Western sources believe Kuntar was in the final stages of planning and carrying out another attack against Israel, which senior Hezbollah officials apparently did not know about…
Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and the Russians have no interest in a confrontation with Israel now, and certainly not a confrontation ignited by a “freelancer” such as Kuntar, driven by his hostility to Israel.
This suggests that Kuntar was eliminated because he was considered a ticking bomb by more than one entity in the Middle East.
One absolute trademark of Israeli disinformation is after such murders it always suggests the killing wasn’t necessarily Israel’s doing, but due to internal disputes within the ranks of the terrorists. It’s been used by Israel’s security apparatus from time immemorial (h/t to Joan Peters!).
I’ve often written about specific instances in which the Israeli security apparatus blatantly lies to cover up embarrassment or deflect from the truth of events. In the case of Kuntar, the IDF knows that I, and perhaps other journalists will begin calling this what it was, an extrajudicial execution. To pre-empt this inconvenient narrative, it puts forth yet another bubbeh meiseh portraying Kuntar as a revitalized terror mastermind. A man who had to die to save Israeli lives. He was a “ticking bomb.” Apparently, the ticking was in the ear of the beholder. What was he planning? A vague terror attack somewhere in the Golan. But it would’ve been big, trust me, or so they claim.
Note there is no proof whatsoever offered to support these claims. They are threads of narrative spun, not from gold, but from lead.
As I read the passage above, two possibilities struck me: one, the reporter really had a “western intelligence source” who offered this information. If that were the case, my money would be on the U.S. being the source. Since the Obama administration had placed Kuntar on a specially designated Global Terrorist list in September, it seemed entirely possible it would be monitoring his communications to keep track of him. It would be easy to share this information with the IDF thus enabling it to target him. If this were so, then the U.S. would be collaborating with Israeli targeted assassinations. Unlikely, but still possible.
Ronen Bergman claimed just such an intelligence collaboration enabled the Mossad to locate and track Imad Mugniyeh, who was similarly assassinated in Damascus in 2008.
But there was an even more probable scenario. Ron Ben Yishai, like most Israeli security reporters (and unlike most U.S. reporters covering the same beat) has only one set of sources: the military. Not only will he not question the veracity of these sources, he will not consult critics or skeptics in order to qualify the accuracy of his reports. So the chances were high that the story was entirely manufactured by Kuntar’s killers, the IDF.
Indeed, when I questioned an Israeli security source about the authenticity of the “western sources,” he replied “They are as western as Bogie!” In other words, the source of this story is most likely Defense Minister Bogie Yaalon.
Another media stenographer for the IDF is Roni Daniel. His report on this story had a different spin. Kuntar was a demon-mastermind. But not for Assad. Rather for Iran. In Daniel’s report it is not a western source who defines Kuntar as a ticking bomb but Israel itself. So either the two different sources miraculously came up with the same locution independently of each other; or the same source told two different journalists the same thing and told each to attribute them differently (or the journalists did so on their own). … Full article
Al-Manar sources said the Israeli warplanes struck the building with four long-range missiles, causing complete destruction of the building and partial damage to the surrounding structures.
Hezbollah Media Relations released a statement on Sunday announcing the martyrdom of Kuntar who spent 29 years in the Israeli prisons.
“At 10:15 p.m. on Saturday December 19, Zionist warplanes struck a residential building in Jaramana city in Damascus countryside,” Hezbollah Media Relations said in the statement.
“The Dean of liberated detainees from Israeli prisons, brother Mujahid Samir Kuntar was martyred along with several Syrian citizens in the strike,” the statement added.
Al-Manar correspondent in Damascus reported that the Takfiri insurgents fighting the Syrian government have been operating in Jaramana, noting that they have been repeatedly coordinating with the Israeli enemy, in a clear indication that the latest strike could be coordinated by the Zionist forces and the terrorists.
Kuntar was detained by occupation forces in 1979, at the age of 16, for his involvement in a heroic operation against Zionists. He was released along with four other Lebanese prisoners in a 2008 swap deal with Hezbollah in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2006 war.
Bill also targets Al-Manar TV
The US House of Representatives has approved sanctions against banks that do business with the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.
Lawmakers unanimously voted for the imposition of the sanctions in a bill that will be sent to the White House for US President Barack Obama’s signature.
Following a unanimous one in the US Senate on November 17, the House voted for the measure 422 to 0 .
The bill also targets the resistance movement’s television channel Al-Manar through attempts to cut the broadcast of satellite operators that air the channel’s programs.
Meanwhile, a senior administration official told AFP that the president will sign the legislation, adding the White House and the US Congress have been working together for long “to intensify the pressure” on the organization, which the official described as a “terrorist.”
This is while Hezbollah fighters have been engaged in battles against the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Syria.
Apart from pressuring banks that knowingly do business with the group, the bill also requires the White House to present reports to the Congress in regard to Hezbollah’s operations.
The organization has been accused by the US of committing “terrorism” while its fighters keep advancing against the ISIL militants, originally trained and funded by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the government of Syrian President Basher al-Assad.
At the Brookings Institution in Washington last Friday, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon gave an expose of his country’s perspectives on the conflict in Syria. Ya’alon is a former chief of staff of Israeli armed forces. His extensive remarks betrayed Israel’s acute dilemma on the policy front following the traumatic defeat its diplomacy suffered in attempting to forestall the Iran nuclear deal. Israel is finding it hard to turn a new leaf, while other protagonists in the region and indeed the Obama administration are moving on. Ya’alon made the following points:
- Russia is playing a “more significant role” than the US in the Syrian conflict at present. This is not to Israel’s liking, because Russia supports the ‘Shia axis’, which includes Iran, Syria (Assad regime), Hezbollah, Houthis in Yemen and other Shia elements in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, etc.
- Israel disfavors the Syrian peace process devolving upon the UN-sponsored International Syria Support Group and the Vienna talks because it recognizes Iran’s key role in reaching any settlement, which can only lead to the consolidation of Iran’s ‘hegemony’ in Syria.
- The geopolitics of the Middle East in general and in Syria are centred around three groupings: a) The “very solid” Shia axis which at present enjoys the support of Russia, is anathema to Israel; b) The Muslim Brotherhood axis which comprises Turkey, Qatar, and Gaza (Hamas), which is “not on the same page” as with the US or Israel; and, c) The Sunni Arab camp, “the most significant camp” in the region, which lacks leadership, but brings together Israel with Saudi Arabia and other GCC states, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.
- The US should “orchestrate” and lead the Sunni Arab camp; in Syria, this means defeating Daesh with the foot soldiers provided by Sunni Arabs and Kurds, whom, therefore, Washington should ‘empower, support, finance and arm’. The US should have done this from the very beginning, but it is not yet “a lost cause. There is still a chance to do it”.
- One of the dangerous implications of the Iran deal is that Tehran is increasingly perceived as “a part of the solution” in Middle East’s hot spots, whereas, a resurgent Iran is a more confident Iran which is all set on the path to become a big military power. The S-300 missiles supplied by Russia recently “are going to be operational within a couple of weeks.”
- The Russian military operations in Syria have been a failure insofar as Moscow had estimated that a 3-month offensive would gain more territory for the Syrian regime, whereas, this hasn’t happened, and, therefore, pressure has built on Moscow to explore a political settlement.
- A settlement is hard to reach in Syria and the country will remain unstable for a very long time to come.
Interestingly, Ya’alon conceded that the “apocalyptic, messianic” regime in Iran is firmly ensconced in power in Tehran and “with more money now, without political isolation, without external pressure”, it has more room to maneuver. Thus, no change can be expected in the Iranian policies. As he put it, “I don’t see the chance to have McDonald branches in Tehran as the new future”.
The remarks by Ya’alon underscore the stark isolation of Israel in the politics of the Middle East. Evidently, Israel’s preferred option is that the US resumes its containment strategy against Iran, and, as part of the policy, should lead its regional allies to militarily push for regime change in Syria. On the other hand, the Obama administration has had enough of confrontation with Iran, has no stomach for getting involved in a prolonged war in Syria or anywhere in the Middle East. Besides, Israel is overlooking that the West’s attitude toward the Assad regime has mellowed significantly and there is overall acceptance that Assad has a role in the transition.
On the other hand, the S-300 missiles supplied by Russia recently are becoming operational within the coming week or so and they will considerably strengthen Iran’s air defence system. In sum, an Israeli military option against Iran is inconceivable from now onward. Both Iran and Israel are acutely conscious that the power balance in the region has shifted. Put differently, the spectre that is haunting Israel is the inexorable rise of Iran as a regional ‘superpower’. At one point Ya’alon put it as follows:
- We believe in the end Daesh (Islamic State) is going to be defeated. Iran is very different. It’s actually an original superpower… That is why we worry about this regime, and if they are perceived as a key for the solution because they are ready to fight Daesh, then they are going to gain more hegemony in the region… to be more dangerous, to be situated on our border, as part of the political settlement in Syria. This is very dangerous.
The implications of a Syrian settlement, reached on the basis of a consensus involving Iran, are very serious indeed for Israel. Iran put its cards on the table recently by stressing that the fate of President Assad is a ‘red line’ for Tehran – non-negotiable. And Iran openly regards Assad as an anchor sheet of ‘resistance’. Significantly, one of the most influential figures in the Iranian establishment, Ali Akbar Velayati, the advisor on foreign affairs to the Supreme Leader and a distinguished former foreign minister himself, made a stunning statement last week that Tehran expects Russia to join the resistance soon — and China too in a conceivable future. Velayati’s statement cannot be without any basis.
Israel has adopted a tactful line so far by engaging Russia and avoiding any skirmishes with the Russian forces operating in Syria. But it thoroughly dislikes the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis in Syria, which is only going from strength to strength. Israel watches with unease that the Russian-Iranian military ties are poised for a phenomenal makeover. (Iranian and Hezbollah forces apparently helped in the rescue of the Russian pilot recently on the Syrian-Turkish border.) The Russian operations go hand in hand with the ground attacks by the Syrian government forces, who are assisted by the Hezbollah and are operating under the guidance of Iranian military advisors.
The crunch time comes if and when the military operations intensify in the southern regions of Syria bordering the Golan Heights. The instability in Syria is useful for Israel to disrupt the supply lines for Hezbollah. But the new reality could be a strong Iranian-Hezbollah presence in southern Syria in the approaches to the Golan Heights enjoying Russian air cover. If that happens, Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights could become a theatre for the forces of the ‘resistance’. Read Ya’alon’s extensive remarks here.
The NATO attack on a Russian military jet on Tuesday November 24, using the Turkish air force to do its dirty work, is a dangerous act of war against Russia with very dangerous consequences for the world. The murder of one of the pilots, shot by ISIS terrorists while parachuting to the ground, is a war crime for which Turkey and the NATO countries are collectively responsible. President Putin has rightly called it a stab in the back by Turkey, a betrayal that cannot be forgiven and will forever be remembered.
If anyone ever doubted that the joint criminal enterprise called NATO was supporting and directing the terrorist groups in Syria, the same groups, they claim, that conducted the attacks in Paris and on the Russian airliner over Sinai, they now have the proof. Can there be any doubt that this attack on Russian forces in Syria is intended to disrupt the Russian-Syrian campaign against those NATO supported terrorist groups? Can there be any doubt that if they are willing to shoot down one Russian aircraft they are willing to shoot down more? Can there be any doubt that this attack is intended to push Russia to react with counter force against Turkey resulting in a claim by NATO that it is under attack, resulting in a general war?
This attack is intended to both test Russian resolve in Syria and to provoke it into a reaction that will be used to justify further military actions by the Turkish and US military forces against the Russian forces. It was preceded by hysterical claims by NATO leaders that Russia and the Syrian government are the reasons ISIS exists and calling for action against both. It was preceded by the sudden appearance of the refugee crisis in Europe and then the attacks in Sinai and Paris and the constant fear raising alerts in Belgium, Germany, Britain and the United States.
Just days before this attack, Russia was subjected to the sabotage of the electric power lines connecting Crimea with the Ukraine electricity grid that the Kiev regime has not attempted to repair, cutting off power to Crimea at the same time as shelling of the Donbass republics increased, accompanied by a build up of Kiev forces in the region. Who would be surprised if Crimea also found itself subject to further sabotage and then shelling by the Kiev forces pushing Russia on this front as well, to react to defend its territory, again testing its resolve?
The only reaction from the NATO countries on Tuesday was to call an emergency meeting and it has to be asked if they knew this attack was coming since none of the NATO leaders has so far condemned Turkey’s action and it is logical to assume that the order for the attack came from Washington, desperate to save its terrorist proxy forces in Syria from being annihilated by the joint Syrian-Russian campaign against ISIS. No doubt the order was to seek a target of opportunity, bring it down, and see what happens, what Russia will do in response.
Whatever Russia does it will be serious but necessarily measured in order to avoid a general war in the Middle East. But act it will.
The New York Times, the journal that speaks for the American ruling class and intelligence services, on the same day as the shoot down, ran an opinion piece by former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the aggressive John Bolton, who clearly defined the American strategy in Syria and Iraq. He wrote:
“Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan. If, in this context, defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Mr. Assad in Syria and Iran’s puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.”
“Creating an American-led anti-Islamic State alliance instead of Moscow’s proposed coalition will require considerable diplomatic and political effort. American ground combat forces will have to be deployed to provide cohesion and leadership. But this would be necessary to defeat the Islamic State even if the objective were simply to recreate the status quo ante.”
“This Sunni state proposal differs sharply from the vision of the Russian-Iranian axis and its proxies (Hezbollah, Mr. Assad and Tehran-backed Baghdad). Their aim of restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli and friendly Arab state interests. Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib.
In Syria, Moscow wants to dominate the regime (with or without Mr. Assad) and safeguard Russia’s Tartus naval base and its new Latakia air base. Tehran wants a continuing Alawite supremacy, with full protection for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria.
As for Iraq, Russia and Iran want the Sunni territories returned to Baghdad’s control, reinforcing Iran’s regional influence. They may wish for the same in Kurdistan, but they lack the capability there. Sunnis today support the Islamic State for many of the same reasons they once supported Al Qaeda in Iraq — as a bulwark against being ruled by Tehran via Baghdad. Telling these Sunni people that their reward for rising against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq will be to put them back in thrall to Mr. Assad and his ilk, or to Shiite-dominated Baghdad, will simply intensify their support for the jihadists. Why would they switch sides? This is why, after destroying the Islamic State, America should pursue the far-reaching goal of creating a new Sunni state. Though difficult in the near term, over time this is more conducive to regional order and stability.”
So there we have it, the plan by Washington and its dependencies to continue their aggression against Syria and Iraq in order to create a new state serving its interests and wrecking the strategic interests of Russia and Iran. This is a statement of intent to carry out a war of aggression against sovereign states, members of the United Nations, in complete defiance of and contempt for the United Nations Charter, and all international law and humanity. It matters not to them how many innocents are slaughtered in the process. They know no morality, have no conscience.
The shooting down of the Russian jet, the murder of its officers is in the logic of this madness. And how long will it be before a French fighter jet shoots down a Russian jet as well, claiming it was too close to them and further escalating the situation?
Can Russia trust the French after the Mistral Affair, the refusal by the French, to deliver two naval ships bought and paid for by Russia in order to sabotage Russian strategic interests, and after they learned that the French aircraft carrier was already on its way to the region before the Paris attack; giving credence to the strong possibility that the attack in Paris, and the bombing of the Russian airliner, were Gladio style NATO operations with the blame shifted to their assets in ISIS? No one in NATO can be trusted except to commit every crime and to cut every thread that weaves civilization together.
The world watches and waits for the next phase of this war, a war which is developing with breathtaking rapidity into a world war in which all of us will suffer. Hopes for peace in our time have vanished along with the humanity required to achieve it. The anti-NATO, anti-war movement has not developed as we hoped and those who are engaged in the effort now risk arrest and worse as accomplices of ‘terrorism.’ All I can say is prepare yourselves as best you can for what is coming, and try to resist, try to speak out, and try to hold the flame of civilization aloft as long as you can.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes.
Over the past 15 years the US has been engaged in a series of wars, which has led many writers to refer to the ‘rise of militarism’ – the growth of an empire, built primarily by and for the projection of military power – and only secondarily to advance economic imperialism.
The rise of a military-based empire, however, does not preclude the emergence of competing, conflicting, and convergent power configurations within the imperial state. These factions of the Washington elite define the objectives and targets of imperialist warfare, often on their own terms.
Having stated the obvious general fact of the power of militarism within the imperialist state, it is necessary to recognize that the key policy-makers, who direct the wars and military policy, will vary according to the country targeted, type of warfare engaged in and their conception of the war. In other words, while US policy is imperialist and highly militaristic, the key policymakers, their approach and the outcomes of their policies will differ. There is no fixed strategy devised by a cohesive Washington policy elite guided by a unified strategic vision of the US Empire.
In order to understand the current, seemingly endless wars, we have to examine the shifting coalitions of elites, who make decisions in Washington but not always primarily for Washington. Some factions of the policy elite have clear conceptions of the American empire, but others improvise and rely on superior ‘political’ or ‘lobbying’ power to successfully push their agenda in the face of repeated failures and suffer no consequences or costs.
We will start by listing US imperialist wars during the last decade and a half. We will then identify the main policy-making faction which has been the driving force in each war. We will discuss their successes and failures as imperial policy makers and conclude with an evaluation of “the state of the empire” and its future.
Imperial Wars: From 2001-2015
The current war cycle started in late 2001 with the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. This was followed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003, the US arms support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the proxy invasion of Somalia in 2006/7; the massive re-escalation of war in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007-2009; the bombing, invasion ‘regime change’ in Libya in 2011; the ongoing proxy-mercenary war against Syria (since 2012), and the ongoing 2015 Saudi-US invasion and destruction of Yemen. In Europe, the US was behind the 2014 proxy putsch and violent ‘regime change’ in Ukraine which has led to an ongoing war against ethnic Russian speakers in south-east Ukraine, especially the populous industrial heartland of the Donbas region.
Over the past 15 years, there have been overt and covert military interventions, accompanied by an intense, provocative military build-up along Russia’s borders in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe (especially Poland), the Balkans (Bulgaria and Romania) and the mammoth US base in Kosovo; in Central Europe with nuclear missiles in Germany and, of course, the annexation of Ukraine and Georgia as US-NATO clients.
Parallel to the military provocations encircling Russia, Washington has launched a major military, political, economic and diplomatic offensive aimed at isolating China and affirming US supremacy in the Pacific.
In South America, US military intervention found expression via Washington-orchestrated business-military coup attempts in Venezuela in 2002 and Bolivia in 2008, and a successful ‘regime change’ in Honduras in 2009, overthrowing its elected president and installing a US puppet.
In summary, the US has been engaged in two, three or more wars since 2001, defining an almost exclusively militarist empire, run by an imperial state directed by civilian and military officials seeking unchallenged global dominance through violence.
Washington: Military Workshop of the World
War and violent regime change are the exclusive means through which the US now advances its foreign policy. However, the various Washington war-makers among the power elite do not form a unified bloc with common priorities. Washington provides the weapons, soldiers and financing for whichever power configuration or faction among the elite is in a position, by design or default, to seize the initiative and push their own war agenda.
The invasion of Afghanistan was significant in so far as it was seen by all sectors of the militarist elite, as the first in a series of wars. Afghanistan was to set the stage for the launching of higher priority wars elsewhere.
Afghanistan was followed by the infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, dictated by Tel Aviv, penned by presidential speech-writer, David Frum and mouthed by the brainless President Bush, II. The ‘Global War on Terror’ was the thinly veiled slogan for serial wars around the world. Washington measured the loyalty of its vassals among the nations of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America by their support for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The Afghan invasion provided the template for future wars. It led to an unprecedented increase in the military budget and ushered in Caesar-like dictatorial presidential powers to order and execute wars, silencing domestic critics and sending scores of thousands of US and NATO troops to the Hindu Kush.
In itself, Afghanistan was never any threat and certainly no economic prize for plunder and profit. The Taliban had not attacked the US. Osama Bin Laden could have been turned over to a judicial tribunal – as the governing Taliban had insisted.
The US military (with its Coalition of the Willing or COW) successfully invaded and occupied Afghanistan and set up a vassal regime in Kabul. It built scores of military bases and attempted to form an obedient colonial army. In the meantime, the Washington militarist elite had moved on to bigger and, for the Israel-centric Zionist elite, higher priority wars, namely Iraq.
The decision to invade Afghanistan was not opposed by any of Washington’s militarist elite factions. They all shared the idea of using a successful military blitz or ‘cake-walk’ against the abysmally impoverished Afghanistan as a way to rabble rouse the American masses into accepting a long period of intense and costly global warfare throughout the world.
Washington’s militarist elites fabricated the link between the attacks on 9/11/2001 and Afghanistan’s governing Taliban and the presence of the Saudi warlord Osama Bin Laden. Despite the ‘fact’ that most of the ‘hijackers’ were from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and none were Afghans, invading and destroying Afghanistan was to be the initial test to gauge the highly manipulated and frightened American public’s willingness to shoulder the burden of a huge new cycle of imperial wars. This has been the only aspect of the invasion of Afghanistan that could be viewed as a policy success – it made the costs of endless wars ‘acceptable’ to a relentlessly propagandized public.
Flush with their military victories in the Hindu Kush, the Washington militarists turned to Iraq and fabricated a series of increasingly preposterous pretexts for war: Linking the 9/11 ‘jihadi’ hijackers with the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, whose intolerance for violent Islamists (especially the Saudi variety) was well documented, and concocting a whole fabric of lies about Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which provided the propaganda basis for invading an already disarmed, blockaded and starved Iraq in March 2003.
Leading the Washington militarists in designing the war to destroy Iraq were the Zionists, including Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and a few Israel-centric Gentile militarists, such as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The Zionists had a powerful entourage in key positions in the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon.
There were ‘outsiders’ – non-Zionists and militarists within these institutions, especially the Pentagon, who voiced reservations – but they were brushed aside, not consulted and ‘encouraged’ to retire.
None of the ‘old hands’ in the State Department or Pentagon bought into the hysteria about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but to voice reservations was to risk one’s career. The manufacture and dissemination of the pretext for invading Iraq was orchestrated by a small team of operatives linking Tel Aviv and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s Office of Special Plans, a tight group of Zionists and some Israelis headed by Abram Shulsky (Sept. 2002-June 2003).
The US war on Iraq was an important part of Israel’s agenda to ‘re-make the Middle East’ to establish its unchallenged regional hegemony and execute a ‘final solution’ for its own vexing ‘Arab (native Palestinian) problem’: It was made operational by the powerful Zionist faction within the Executive (White House), which had assumed almost dictatorial powers after the attack on 9/11/2001. Zionists planned the war, designed the ‘occupation policy’ and ‘succeeded wildly’ with the eventual dismemberment of a once modern secular nationalist Arab state.
In order to smash the Iraqi state – the US occupation policy was to eliminate (through mass firings, jailing and assassination) all high level, experienced Iraqi civil, military and scientific personnel – down to high school principals. They dismantled any vital infrastructure (which had not been already destroyed by the decades of US sanctions and bombing under President Clinton) and reduced an agriculturally advanced Iraq to a barren wasteland which would take centuries to recover and could never challenge Israel’s colonization of Palestine, let alone its military supremacy in the Middle East. Naturally, the large Palestinian Diaspora refugee population in Iraq was targeted for ‘special treatment’.
But Zionist policymakers had a much larger agenda than erasing Iraq as a viable country: They had a longer list of targets: Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Libya, whose destruction was to be carried out with US and NATO blood and treasure (and not a single Israeli soldier).
Despite the fact that Iraq did not even possess a functioning air force or navy in March 2003 and Afghanistan in late 2001 was rather primitive, the invasions of both countries turned out to be very costly to the US. The US completely failed to benefit from its ‘victory and occupation’, despite Paul Wolfowitz’ boasts that the pillage of Iraq’s oil fields would pay for the entire project in a ‘few months’. This was because the real Zionist plan was to destroy these nations – beyond any possibility for a quick or cheap imperialist economic gain. Scorching the earth and salting the fields is not a very profitable policy for empire builders.
Israel has been the biggest winner with no cost for the ‘Jewish State’. The American Zionist policy elite literally handed them the services of the largest and richest armed forces in history: the US. Israel-Firsters played a decisive role among Washington policy-makers and Tel Aviv celebrated in the streets! They came, they dominated policy and they accomplished their mission: Iraq (and millions of its people)was destroyed.
The US gained an unreliable, broken colony, with a devastated economy and systematically destroyed infrastructure and without the functioning civil service needed for a modern state. To pay for the mess, the American people faced a spiraling budget deficit, tens of thousands of American war casualties and massive cuts in their own social programs. Crowning the Washington war-makers’ victory was the disarticulation of American civil and constitutional rights and liberties and the construction of a enormous domestic police state.
After the Iraq disaster, the same influential Zionist faction in Washington lost no time in demanding a new war against Israel’s bigger enemy – namely Iran. In the ensuing years, they failed to push the US to attack Tehran but they succeeded in imposing crippling sanctions on Iran. The Zionist faction secured massive US military support for Israel’s abortive invasion of Lebanon and its devastating series of blitzkriegs against the impoverished and trapped people of Gaza.
The Zionist faction successfully shaped US military interventions to meet Israel’s regional ambitions against three Arab countries: Yemen, Syria, and Libya. The Zionists were not able to manipulate the US into attacking Iran because the traditional militarist faction in Washington balked: With instability in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US was not well positioned to face a major conflagration throughout the Middle East, South Asia and beyond – which a ground and air war with Iran would involve. However, the Zionist factions did secure brutal economic sanctions and the appointment of key Israel-Centric officials within the US Treasury. Secretary Stuart Levey, at the start of the Obama regime, and David Cohen afterwards, were positioned to enforce the sanctions.
Even before the ascendancy of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv’s military objectives after Iraq, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Yemen had to be spaced over time, because the non-Zionist factions among Washington’s elite had been unable to integrate occupied Afghanistan and Iraq into the empire.
Resistance, armed conflict and military advances in both Afghanistan and Iraq never ceased and are continuing into their 2nd decade. As soon as the US would withdraw from a region, declaring it ‘pacified’, the armed resistance would move back in and the local sepoys would defect to the rebels or take off for London or Washington with millions in pillaged loot.
‘Unfinished wars’, mounting casualties and spiraling costs, with no end in sight, undermined the agreement between the militarist and the Zionist factions in the Executive branch. However, the massively powerful Zionist presence in the US Congress provided a platform to bray for new and even bigger wars.
Israel’s vicious invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was defeated despite receiving massive US arms supplies, a US funded ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system and intelligence assistance. Tel Aviv could not defeat the highly disciplined and motivated Hezbollah fighters in South Lebanon despite resorting to carpet bombing of civilian neighborhoods with millions of banned cluster munitions and picking off ambulances and churches sheltering refugees. Israelis have been much more triumphal murdering lightly armed Palestinian resistance fighters and stone-throwing children.
Libya: A Multi-faction War for the Militarists (without Big Oil)
The war against Libya was a result of multiple factions among the Washington militarist elite, including the Zionists, coming together with French, English and German militarists to smash the most modern, secular, independent state in Africa under President Muammar Gaddafi.
The aerial campaign against the Gaddafi regime had virtually no organized support within Libya with which to reconstruct a viable neo-colonial state ripe for pillage. This was another ‘planned dismemberment’ of a complex, modern republic which had been independent of the US Empire.
The war succeeded wildly in shredding Libya’s economy, state, and society. It unleashed scores of armed terrorist groups, (who appropriated the modern weapons of Gaddafi’s army and police) and uprooted two million black contract workers and Libyan citizens of South Saharan origin forcing them to flee the rampaging racist militias to the refugee camps of Europe. Untold thousands died in rickety boats in the Mediterranean Sea.
The entire war was carried out to the publicly giddy delight of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her ‘humanitarian interventionist’ lieutenants (Susan Rice and Samantha Power), who were utterly ignorant as to who and what the Libyan “opposition” represented. Eventually, even Hillary’s own Ambassador to Libya would be slaughtered by … the same victorious US-backed ‘rebels’ (sic) in the newly liberated Bengazi!
The Zionist faction destroyed Gaddafi (whose capture, grotesque torture and murder was filmed and widely disseminated), eliminating another real adversary of Israel and supporter of Palestinian rights. The US militarist faction, which led the war, got nothing positive – not even a secure naval, air, or training base – only a dead Ambassador, millions of desperate refugees flooding Europe, and thousands of trained and armed jihadists for the next target: Syria.
For a while Libya became the main supply-line for Islamist mercenaries and arms to invade Syria and fight the secular nationalist government in Damascus.
Once again the least influential faction in Washington turned out to be the oil and gas industry, which lost lucrative contracts it had already signed with the Gaddafi regime. Thousands of highly trained foreign oil workers were withdrawn. After Iraq, it should have been obvious that these wars were not ‘for oil’!
Ukraine: Coups, Wars, and Russia’s ‘Underbelly’
With the US-orchestrated coup and intervention in Ukraine, the militarist factions once again seized the initiative, establishing a puppet regime in Kiev and targeting Russia’s strategic ‘soft underbelly’. The plan had been to take over Russia’s strategic military bases in Crimea and cut Russia from the vital military-industrial complexes in the Donbas region with its vast iron and coal reserves.
The mechanics of the power grab were relatively well planned, the political clients were put in power, but the US militarists had made no contingencies for propping up the Ukrainian economy, cut loose from its main trading partner and oil and gas supplier, Russia.
The coup led to a ‘proxy war’ in the ethnic-Russian majority regions in the south east (the Donbas) with four ‘unanticipated consequences’. 1) a country divided east and west along ethno-linguistic lines, (2) a bankrupt economy made even worse by the imposition of an IMF austerity program, (3) a corrupt crony capitalist elite, which was ‘pro-West by bank account’, (4) and, after two years, mass disaffection among voters toward the US puppet regime.
The militarists in Washington and Brussels succeeded in engineering the coup in Ukraine but lacked the domestic allies, plans and preparations to run the country and successfully annex it to the EU and NATO as a viable country.
Apparently the militarist factions in the State Department and Pentagon are much more proficient in stage managing coups and invasions than in establishing a stable regime as part of a New World Order. They succeed in the former and fail repeatedly in the latter.
The Pivot to Asia and the Pirouette to Syria
During most of the previous decade, traditional global strategists in Washington increasingly objected to the Zionist faction’s domination and direction of US war policies focused on the Middle East for the benefit of Israel, instead of meeting the growing challenge of the new world economic superpower in Asia, China.
US economic supremacy in Asia had been deeply eroded as China’s economy grew at double digits. Beijing was displacing the US as the major trade partner in the Latin American and African markets. Meanwhile, the top 500 US MNCs were heavily invested in China. Three years into President Obama’s first term the ‘China militarist faction’ announced a shift from the Middle East and the Israel-centric agenda to a ‘pivot to Asia’, the source of 40% of the world’s industrial output.
But it was not profits and markets that motivated Washington’s Asia faction among the militarist elites – it was military power. Even trade agreements, like the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), were viewed as tools to encircle and weaken China militarily and undermine its regional influence.
Led by the hysterical Pentagon boss Ashton Carter, Washington prepared a series of major military confrontations with Beijing off the coast of China.
The US signed expanded military base agreements with the Philippines, Japan, and Australia; it participated in military exercises with Vietnam, South Korea, and Malaysia; it dispatched battleships and aircraft carriers into Chinese territorial waters.
The US confrontational trade policy was formulated by the Zionist trio: Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, Trade Negotiator Michael Froman (who works for both the Asia militarist and Zionist factions), and Treasury Secretary Jake Lew. The result was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving 12 Pacific countries while deliberating excluding China. Washington’s Asian militarist faction planned to militarize the entire Pacific Basin, in order to dominate the maritime trade routes and, at a moment’s notice, choke off all of China’s overseas markets and suppliers – shades of the series of US provocations against Japan leading up to the US entering WW2.
The ‘Asia-militarist faction’ successfully demanded a bigger military budget to accommodate its vastly more aggressive posture toward China.
Predictably, China has insisted on defending its maritime routes and has increased its naval and air base building and sea and air patrols. Also, predictably, China has countered the US-dominated TPP by setting-up a one hundred billion dollar Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), while contributing to the multi-billion dollar BRICS Bank. Meanwhile, China even signed a separate $30 billion dollar trade agreement with Washington’s strategic ‘partner’, Britain. In fact, Britain followed the rest of the EU and joined the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank – despite objections from Washington’s “Asia faction”.
While the US depends heavily on its military pacts with South Korea and Japan, the latter nations have been meeting with China – their most significant trading partner – to work on expanding and deepening economic ties.
Up until 2014, the “business-with-China faction” of the Washington elite played a key role in the making of US-Asia policy. However, they have been eclipsed by the Asia militarist-faction, which is taking US policy in a totally different direction: Pushing China out as Asia’s economic superpower and escalating military confrontation with Beijing now heads Washington’s agenda.
Ashton Carter, the US Defense Secretary, has China, the second most important economy in the world in the Pentagon’s ‘cross-hairs’. When the TPP failed to curtail China’s expansion, the militarist faction shifted Washington toward a high risk military course, which could destabilize the region and risk a nuclear confrontation.
The Pirouette: China and Syria
Meanwhile in the Levant, Washington’s Zionist faction has been busy running a proxy war in Syria. The pivot to Asia has had to compete with the pirouette to Syria and Yemen.
The US joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf Emirates, and the EU in sponsoring a replay of the Libyan ‘regime change’ — sponsoring proxy terrorists from around the globe into invading and devastating Syria. Damascus has been attacked from all sides for the ‘crime’ of being secular and multi-ethnic; for being pro-Palestinian; for being allied with Iran and Lebanon; for having an independent foreign policy; and for maintaining a limited representative (but not necessarily democratic) government. For these crimes, the West, Israel and the Saudis would have Syria fractured into an ethnically cleansed ‘tribal state’ – something they had accomplished in Iraq and Libya.
The US militarist faction (personified by Secretary of Defense Carter and Senators McCain and Graham) have funded, trained and equipped the terrorists, whom they call ‘moderates’ and had clearly expected their progeny to follow Washington’s directions. The emergence of ISIS showed just how close these ‘moderates’ stuck to Washington’s script.
Initially, the traditional militarist wing of Washington’s elite resisted the Zionist faction’s demand for direct US military intervention (American ‘boots on the ground’). That is changing with recent (very convenient) events in Paris.
Warfare: From Piecemeal Interventions to Nuclear Confrontation
The Washington militarists have again committed more US soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan; American fighter planes and Special Forces are in Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, US naval armadas aggressively patrol the coasts of China and Iran. The militarist-Zionist ‘compromise’ over Syria was comprised of an initial contingent of 50 US Special Forces to join in ‘limited’ combat roles with (“loyal” sic) Islamist mercenaries – the so-called moderates. There are commitments for greater and heavier weaponry to come, including ground to air missiles capable of shooting down Russian and Syrian military jets.
Elite Factional Politics: An Overview
How does the record of these competing factions, formulating US imperial war policies in the Middle East over the past 15 years stack up? Clearly there has been no coherent imperial economic strategy.
The policy toward Afghanistan is remarkable for its failure to end the longest war in US history – over 14 years of occupation! The recent attempts by US-led client NATO forces to withdraw have been immediately followed by military advances by the nationalist-Islamist resistance militia – the Taliban, which controls much of the countryside. The possibility of a collapse of the current puppet in Kabul has forced the militarists in Washington to retain US bases – surrounded by completely hostile rural populations.
The Afghan war’s initial appearance of success triggered new wars – inter alia Iraq. But taking the long view, the Afghan war, has been a miserable failure in terms of the stated strategic goal of establishing a stable client government. The Afghan economy collapsed: opium production (which had been significantly suppressed by the Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign in 2000-2001) is the now predominant crop – with cheap heroin flooding Europe and beyond. Under the weight of massive and all pervasive corruption by ‘loyal’ client officials – the Afghan treasury is empty. The puppet rulers are totally disconnected from the most important regional, ethnic, religious and family clans and associations.
Washington could not ‘find’ any viable economic classes in Afghanistan with which to anchor a development strategy. They did not come to terms with the deep ethno-religious consciousness rooted in rural communities and fought the most popular political force among the majority Pashtu, the Taliban, which had no role in the attack on ‘9/11’.
They artificially slapped together a massive army of surly illiterates under Western imperial command and watched it fall apart at the seams, defect to the Taliban or turn their own guns on the foreign occupation troops. These “mistakes”, which accounted for the failure of the militarist faction in the Afghanistan war were due, in no small part, to the pressure and influence of the Zionist faction who wanted to quickly move on to their highest priority, a US war against Israel’s first priority enemy – Iraq – without consolidating the US control in Afghanistan. For the Zionists, Afghanistan (envisioned as a ‘cake-walk’ or quick victory) was just a tool to set the stage for a much larger sequence of US wars against Israel’s regional Arab and Persian adversaries.
Before the militarists could establish any viable order and an enduring governmental structure in Afghanistan, attention shifted to a Zionist-centered war against Iraq.
The build-up for the US war against Iraq has to be understood as a project wholly engineered by and for the state of Israel, mostly through its agents within the US government and Washington policy elite. The goal was to establish Israel as the unchallenged political-military power in the region using American troops and money and preparing the ground for Tel Aviv’s “final solution” for the Palestinian ‘problem’; total expulsion…
The US military and occupation campaign included the wholesale and systematic destruction of Iraq: Its law and order, culture, economy and society – so there would be no possibility of recovery. Such a vicious campaign did not resonate with any productive sector of the US economy (or for that matter with any Israeli economic interest).
Washington’s Zionist faction set about in a parody of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge to identify and destroy any competent, experienced Iraqi professional, civil servant, scientist, intellectual, or military official capable of re-organizing and re-building the county and war-battered society. They were assassinated, arrested, tortured, or driven into exile. The occupation deliberately encouraged religious parties and traditional tribes to engage in inter-communal massacres and ethnic cleansing. In other words, the Zionist faction did not pursue the traditionally understood policy of empire building which would incorporate the second tier functionaries of a conquered state to form a competent client regime and use Iraq’s great oil and gas wealth to build its economy. Instead they chose to impose a scorched earth policy; setting loose organized sectarian armies, imposing the rule of grotesquely corrupt ex-pats and placing the most venal, sectarian clients in positions of power. The effect has been to transform the most advanced, secular Arab country into an ‘Afghanistan’ and in less than 15 years destroying centuries of culture and community.
The goal of the ‘Zionist strategy’ was to destroy Iraq as Israel’s regional rival. The cost of over a million Iraqi dead and many millions of refugees did not prick any conscience in Washington or Tel Aviv.
After all, Washington’s traditional ‘militarist faction’ picked up the bill (costing hundreds of billions) which they passed on to the American taxpayers (well over one trillion dollars) and used the deaths and suffering of tens of thousands of American troops to provide a pretext for spreading more chaos. The result of their mayhem includes the specter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which they may consider to be a success – since hysteria over ISIS pushes the West ‘closer to Israel’.
The sheer scale of death and destruction inflicted on the Iraqi population by the Zionist faction led to thousands of highly competent Ba’athist officers, who had survived ‘Shock and Awe’ and the sectarian massacres, to join armed Islamist Sunnis and eventually form the ISIS. This group of experienced Iraqi military officers formed the strategic technical core of ISIS which launched a devastating offensive in Iraq in 2014 – taking major cities in the north and completely routing the US-trained puppet armies of the ‘government’ in Baghdad. From there they moved into Syria and beyond. It is fundamental to understanding the roots of ISIS: The Zionist faction among US militarist policymakers imposed a deliberate ‘scorched earth’ occupation policy, which united highly trained nationalist Ba’athist military officers with young Sunni fighters ,both locals and increasingly foreign jihadist mercenaries. These deracinated members of the traditional Iraqi nationalist military elite had lost their families to the sectarian massacres; they were persecuted, tortured, driven underground, and highly motivated. They literally had nothing left to lose!
This core of ISIS leadership stands in stark contrast to the colonial, corrupt, and demoralized army slapped together by the US military with more cash than morale. ISIS quickly swept through half of Iraq and came within 40 miles of Baghdad.
The US militarist faction faced military defeat after eight years of war. They mobilized, financed, and armed their client Kurdish mercenaries in northern Iraq and recruited the Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to appeal to the Shia militia.
ISIS exploited the Western-backed Islamist uprising in Syria and extended their sweep well across the border. Syria had accepted a million Iraqi refugees from the US invasion, including many of Iraq’s surviving experienced nationalist administrative elite. The US militarists are in a dilemma – another full-scale war would not be politically feasible, and its military outcome uncertain… Moreover the US was aligned with dubious allies – especially the Saudis – who had their own regional ambitions. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Kurds were each eager to expand their power territorially and politically.
In the midst of this, the traditional Washington militarists are left with no overall viable imperialist strategy. Instead they improvise with faux ‘rebels’, who claim to be moderates and democrats, while taking US guns and dollars and ultimately joining the most powerful Islamist groups – like ISIS.
Throwing a wrench into the machinery of Israeli-Saudi hegemonic ambitions, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have sided with the secular Syrian government. Russia finally moved to bomb ISIS strongholds – after identifying a significant ISIS contingent of militant Chechens whose ultimate aims are to bring war and terror back to Russia.
The US-EU war against Libya unleashed all the retrograde mercenary forces from three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) and Washington finds itself with no means to control them. Washington could not even protect its own consulate in their ‘liberated’ regional capital of Benghazi – the US ambassador and two intelligence aides were killed by Washington’s own ‘rebels’. The competing and cooperating factions of the Washington militarist elite placed Libya on a steaming platter: Serving up invasion, regicide and hundreds of thousands of refugees, which they did not bother to even ‘season’ with any plan or strategy – just unadulterated scorched earth against another opponent of Zionism. And a potentially lucrative strategic neo-colony in North Africa has been lost with no accountability for the Washington architects of such barbarism.
Latin America: The Last Outpost of the Multi-Nationals
As we have seen, the major theaters of imperial policy (the Middle East and Asia) have been dominated by militarists, not professional diplomats-linked to the multi-national corporations. Latin America stands as something of an exception. In Latin America, US policymakers have been guided by big business interests. Their main focus has been on pushing the neo-liberal agenda. Eventually this has meant promoting the US-centered ‘free trade’ agreements, joint military exercises, shared military bases, and political backing for the US global military agenda.
The ‘militarist faction’ in Washington worked with the traditional business faction in support of the unsuccessful military coups in Venezuela (2002 and 2014), the attempted coup in Bolivia 2008, and a successful regime change in Honduras (2010).
To harass the independent Argentine government which was developing closer diplomatic and trade ties with Iran, a sector of the US Zionist financial elite (the ‘vulture fund’ magnate Paul Singer) joined forces with the Zionist militarist faction to raise hysterical accusations against President Cristina Kirchner over the ‘mysterious’ suicide of a Israel-linked Argentine prosecutor. The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, had devoted his career to ‘cooking up a case’ against Iran with the aid of the Mossad and CIA for the unsolved, bombing the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994. Various investigations had exonerated Iran and the Nisman Affair was an intense effort to keep Argentina from trading with Iran.
The Washington business faction operated in a mildly hostile Latin America for most of the past decade. However, it was able to recover influence, via a series of bilateral free trade agreements and took advantage of the end of the commodity cycle. The latter weakened the center-left regimes and moved them closer to Washington.
The ‘excesses’ committed by the US backed military dictatorships during the nineteen sixties through eighties, and the crisis of the neo-liberal nineties, set the stage for the rise of a relatively moderate business-diplomatic faction to come to the fore in Washington. It is also the case that the various militarist and Zionist factions in Washington were focused elsewhere (Europe, Middle East and Asia). In any case the US political elite operates in Latin America mostly via political and business proxies, for the time being.
From our brief survey, it is clear that wars play a key role in US foreign policy in most regions of the world. However, war policies in different regions respond to different factions in the governing elite.
The traditional militarist faction predominates creating confrontations in Ukraine, Asia and along the Russian border. Within that framework the US Army, Air Force, and Special Forces play a leading, and fairly conventional, role. In the Far East, the Navy and Air Force predominate.
In the Middle East and South Asia, the military (Army and Air Force) factions share power with the Zionist faction. Fundamentally the Zionists dictate policy on Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine and the militarists follow.
Both factions overlapped in creating the debacle in Libya.
The factions form shifting coalitions, supporting wars of interest to their respective power centers. The militarists and Zionists worked together in launching the Afghan war; but once launched, the Zionists abandoned Kabul and concentrated on preparing for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was of far greater interest to Israel.
It should be noted that at no point did the oil and business elite play any significant role in war policy. The Zionist faction pushed hard to secure direct US ground intervention in Libya and Syria, but was not able to force the US to send large contingents of ground troops due to opposition from the Russians as well as a growing sector of the US electorate. Likewise, the Zionists played a leading role in successfully imposing sanctions against Iran and a major role in prosecuting banks around the world accused of violating the sanctions. However, they were not able to block the military faction from securing a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its uranium enrichment program – without going to war.
Clearly, the business faction plays a major role in promoting US trade agreements and tries to lift or avoid sanctions against important real and potential trade partners like China, Iran and Cuba.
The Zionist faction among Washington elite policymakers takes positions which consistently push for wars and aggressive policies against any regime targeted by Israel. The differences between the traditional militarist and Zionist factions are blurred by most writers who scrupulously avoid identifying Zionist decision-makers, but there is no question of who benefits and who loses.
The kind of war which the Zionists promote and implement – the utter destruction of enemy countries – undermines any plans by the traditional militarist faction and the military to consolidate power in an occupied country and incorporate it into a stable empire.
It is a serious error to lump these factions together: the business, Zionist, and various militarist factions of the Washington policy making elite are not one homogeneous group. They may overlap at times, but they also differ as to interests, liabilities, ideology, and loyalties. They also differ in their institutional allegiances.
The overarching militarist ideology which permeates US imperialist foreign policy obscures a deep and recurrent weakness – US policymakers master the mechanics of war but have no strategy for ruling after intervening. This has been glaringly evident in all recent wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, etc. Improvisation has repeatedly led to monumental failures: from financing phantom armies to bleeding billions to prop-up incompetent, kleptocratic puppet regimes. Despite the hundreds of billions of public money wasted in these serial disasters, no policymaker has been held to account.
Long wars and short memories are the norm for Washington’s militarist rulers who do not lose sleep over their blunders. The Zionists, for their part, do not even need a strategy for rule. They push the US into wars for Israel, and once having destroyed ‘the enemy country’ they leave a vacuum to be filled by chaos. The American public provides the gold and blood for these misadventures and reaps nothing but domestic deterioration and greater international strife.