Aletho News


Pentagon quadruples troop levels in Syria to ‘stabilize’ liberated areas

RT | December 7, 2017

The US military has increased the number of troops in Syria from 500 to 2,000, the Pentagon says, adding that the “conditions-based” military presence is justified by the need to “stabilize” liberated areas.

The Pentagon has officially announced that there are now 2,000 troops in Syria – a fourfold increase from the previous figures given. “The United States will continue necessary counterterrorism and stabilization effort,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning said.

“The United States will sustain a conditions-based military presence in Syria to combat the threat of insurgent-led insurgency, prevent the resurgence of ISIS and to stabilize liberated areas.”

Manning claimed that the Iraqi Army and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have liberated about 97 percent “of the people and land” previously controlled by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Iraq and Syria respectively. He said the campaign to defeat IS is now in a new phase in these countries.

Coalition forces are still needed in the two countries, Manning said, adding that they will now focus on “train, advise and assist” missions. “As the terrorist group continues to lose territory, important work remains to ensure its lasting defeat.”

The US military has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the number of troops and “military advisers” it has fighting alongside anti-government rebel forces. Under the Obama administration, the Pentagon routinely announced foreign troop deployments, but the Trump administration stopped disclosing such information regarding Operation Inherent Resolve. The policy was reversed in the spring of 2017 in order to maintain the “element of surprise” against Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.

Damascus views the US military engagement in Syria as illegitimate, as there was no official request for intervention from the government. Early in November, Syrian leader Bashar Assad said his government will deal with any “illegal invader force.” He added that the war in Syria will continue until there is a full “recovery of security and stability to all Syrian lands.”

Washington insists its military presence in Syria is lawful and justified by UN mandate. In mid-November, US Defense Secretary James Mattis claimed the United Nations sanctioned the US presence in Syria.

“You know, the UN said that… basically we can go after ISIS. And we’re there to take them out,” Mattis said. Moscow responded by saying the UN cannot greenlight a foreign invasion of Syria, as it is contrary to international law.

Media reports indicate that the US is not planning to leave any time soon. According to the Washington Post, the US wants to keep troops in Syria long after Islamic State is defeated to help the Western-backed SDF establish “new local governance” structures in order to prevent complete victory by the Syrian government and its ally, Iran.

Read more:

Syria fully liberated from ISIS terrorists – Russian MoD

Major blunder: US commander unsure if it’s 4k or 500 troops in Syria

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Iran: Saudi-drafted Arab League statement full of lies, worthless

Press TV – November 20, 2017

The spokesman of Iran’s Foreign Ministry has described as “worthless” the closing statement of the latest Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo, emphasizing that the statement was “full of lies and distortions.”

“In line with the policies of the Zionist regime [of Israel] to intensify differences in the region and to divert [the attention of] Muslim nations and states away from the continued occupation of Palestine as the main issue of the Islamic Ummah, Saudi Arabia has succeeded through pressure as well as extensive political and propagandistic hue and cry to have a statement that is full of lies and distortions be issued in the name of foreign ministers of the Arab League,” Bahram Qassemi said on Monday.

On Sunday, the Arab League foreign ministers held an extraordinary general meeting in the Egyptian capital at the request of Saudi Arabia. At the end of the meeting, the participants issued a statement accusing Iran of interfering in the internal affairs of the countries in the region and pursuing aggressive policies against Arab states.

Qassemi dismissed the resolution as “worthless” and urged Saudi Arabia to “immediately end its savage aggression” against the Yemeni Arab people so that the Yemeni civilians, particularly women and children, would no longer be affected by the “flames of their spite.”

Iran also calls on Saudi Arabia to stop its policy of exerting pressure on Lebanon, Qatar and the entire Middle East and allow the Bahraini people to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis in the country by removing its forces there, he said.

Qassemi said Iran’s policy was to boost good relations with regional countries, adding that the Islamic Republic had made great efforts to counter terrorism and help resolve regional crises by actively participating in several rounds of peace talks in the Kazakh capital city of Astana on the Syrian conflict and presenting a peace plan for Yemen.

The Iranian spokesperson emphasized that the solution to the regional problems was not to issue such worthless statements but to stop following the policies of the Israeli regime, put an end to bullying and terrorism and accept the demands of regional nations and states.

Saudi policies root cause of regional, world instability: Deputy FM

Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari also on Monday criticized the Arab League statement and said Saudi Arabia’s policies were the root cause of insecurity and instability in the region and the world.

“Saudi Arabia must stop pursuing the Zionist regime’s policies through causing escalation of differences and conflicts in the region and providing extensive support for terrorism and extremism,” Jaberi Ansari added.

He emphasized that regional crises would never be resolved through making false claims, distorting evident realities and publishing statements under the pressure of Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian official urged Riyadh to end its interference in and pressure on Qatar, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria as well as the use of terrorism and extremism as a means.

The Saudi-drafted Arab League’s statement came on the same day that Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz for the first time revealed that Tel Aviv had covert contacts with Saudi Arabia.

“We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries and usually [we are] the party that is not ashamed,” Steinitz said in an interview on Army Radio on Sunday.

He added that Saudi Arabia was the side that was interested in hiding its ties with Israel and Tel Aviv had no problem with this.

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law

By Ralph Nader | November 15, 2017

Me Too is producing some results. At long last. Victims of sexual assault by men in superior positions of power are speaking out. Big time figures in the entertainment, media, sports and political realms are losing their positions – resigning or being told to leave. A producer at 60 Minutes thinks Wall Street may be next.

Sexual assaults need stronger sanctions. Only a few of the reported assaulters are being civilly sued under the law of torts. Even fewer are subjects of criminal investigation so far.

Perhaps the daily overdue accounting, regarding past and present reports of sexual assaults will encourage those abused in other contexts to also blow the whistle on other abuses. Too often, there are not penalties, but instead rewards, for high government and corporate officials whose derelict and often illegal decisions directly produce millions of deaths and injuries.

A few weeks ago, former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice shared a stage at the George W. Bush Institute, reflecting on their careers to widespread admiration. What they neglected to mention were the devastated families, villages, cities and communities and nations plunged into violent chaos from the decisions they deliberately made in their careers.

In a 1996 interview, Madeleine Albright, then secretary of state under Bill Clinton, was asked by Lesley Stahl of CBS 60 Minutes about the tens of thousands of children in Iraq whose deaths were a direct result of Clinton-era sanctions designed to punish Baghdad and whether it was worth it (At that time, Ms. Stahl had just visited these wasting children and infants in a Baghdad hospital). Secretary Albright replied in the affirmative.

Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under George W. Bush, pushed for the criminal and unconstitutional invasion of Iraq, which resulted in over one million Iraqi deaths, millions of refugees, a broken country and sectarian violence that continues to this day. She has said she often thinks about this mayhem and feels some responsibility. Yet one wonders, as she collects huge speech fees and book advances from her position at Stanford University, whether she might consider donating some of her considerable resources to charities that support those Iraqis whose lives were destroyed by the illegal interventions she advocated.

Then there is lawless Hillary Clinton, who, against the strong advice of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and without any Congressional authorization, persuaded Barack Obama to support a destabilizing regime overthrow in Libya– which has since devolved into a failed state spreading death, destruction and terror in Libya to its neighboring countries. Clinton, who is at large touting her new book and making millions of dollars in book royalties and speech fees to applauding partisan audiences, should also consider making donations to those who have been harmed by her actions.

Relaxing in affluent retirement are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the butchers of millions of innocent Iraqis and Afghans. They too are raking it in and receiving ovations from their partisans. No prosecutors are going after them for illegal wars of aggression that were never constitutionally declared and violated our federal laws, international treaties and the Geneva Conventions.

As these ex-officials bask in adulation, the American people are not being shown the burned corpses, charred villages, and poisoned water and soil created by their “public service.” Nor are they exposed to the immense suffering and broken hearts of survivors mourning their deceased family members. Americans never hear the dreaded 24/7 whine of the omnipresent drones flying over their homes, ready to strike at the push of a button by remote operators in Virginia or Nevada. Nor do they hear the screams and sobbing of the victims of unbridled military action, fueling ever-greater hatred against the US.

Corporate executives also get rewarded for the mayhem they unleash by selling dangerously defective cars (e.g. GM, Toyota and VW recently) or releasing deadly toxins into the air and water or presiding over preventable problems in hospitals that a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study reported is talking 5000 lives a week in this country.

What’s the difference? Because the cause and effect by officials pushing lethal politics, openly carried out with massive armed forces, do so at a distance in time and space (the Nuremberg principles after World War II, which included adherence by the US, addressed this problem). They lather their massive violent, unlawful actions with lies, cover-ups and deceptions, as was the case in 2002-2003 in Iraq. They wrap the flag around their dishonorable desecrations of what that flag stands for and the lives of US soldiers whom they sent there to kill or die.

These officials overpower the rule of law with the rule of raw power – political, economic and military.

For centuries patriarchal mayhem has exploited women in the workplace or the home. Raw power – physical, economic and cultural, regularly, overpower the legal safeguards against wrongful injury, rape and torture, both in the household and at work.

Sporadic assertions of a punishing public opinion will not be enough in either sphere of humans abusing humans. That is why the rule of law must be enforced by the state, and through private civil actions.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Shocking, Viral Interview, Qatar Confesses Secrets Behind Syrian War

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | October 28, 2017

A television interview of a top Qatari official confessing the truth behind the origins of the war in Syria is going viral across Arabic social media during the same week a leaked top secret NSA document was published which confirms that the armed opposition in Syria was under the direct command of foreign governments from the early years of the conflict.

And according to a well-known Syria analyst and economic adviser with close contacts in the Syrian government, the explosive interview constitutes a high level “public admission to collusion and coordination between four countries to destabilize an independent state, [including] possible support for Nusra/al-Qaeda.” Importantly, “this admission will help build case for what Damascus sees as an attack on its security & sovereignty. It will form basis for compensation claims.”

A 2013 London press conference: Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. A 2014 Hillary Clinton email confirmed Qatar as a state-sponsor of ISIS during that same time period.

As the war in Syria continues slowly winding down, it seems new source material comes out on an almost a weekly basis in the form of testimonials of top officials involved in destabilizing Syria, and even occasional leaked emails and documents which further detail covert regime change operations against the Assad government. Though much of this content serves to confirm what has already long been known by those who have never accepted the simplistic propaganda which has dominated mainstream media, details continue to fall in place, providing future historians with a clearer picture of the true nature of the war.

This process of clarity has been aided – as predicted – by the continued infighting among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) former allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with each side accusing the other of funding Islamic State and al-Qaeda terrorists (ironically, both true). Increasingly, the world watches as more dirty laundry is aired and the GCC implodes after years of nearly all the gulf monarchies funding jihadist movements in places like Syria, Iraq, and Libya.

The top Qatari official is no less than former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, who oversaw Syria operations on behalf of Qatar until 2013 (also as foreign minister), and is seen below with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in this Jan. 2010 photo (as a reminder, Qatar’s 2022 World Cup Committee donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation in 2014).

In an interview with Qatari TV Wednesday, bin Jaber al-Thani revealed that his country, alongside Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United States, began shipping weapons to jihadists from the very moment events “first started” (in 2011).

Al-Thani even likened the covert operation to “hunting prey” – the prey being President Assad and his supporters – “prey” which he admits got away (as Assad is still in power; he used a Gulf Arabic dialect word, “al-sayda”, which implies hunting animals or prey for sport). Though Thani denied credible allegations of support for ISIS, the former prime minister’s words implied direct Gulf and US support for al-Qaeda in Syria (al-Nusra Front) from the earliest years of the war, and even said Qatar has “full documents” and records proving that the war was planned to effect regime change.

According to Zero Hedge’s translation, al-Thani said while acknowledging Gulf nations were arming jihadists in Syria with the approval and support of US and Turkey: “I don’t want to go into details but we have full documents about us taking charge [in Syria].” He claimed that both Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (who reigned until his death in 2015) and the United States placed Qatar in a lead role concerning covert operations to execute the proxy war.

The former prime minister’s comments, while very revealing, were intended as a defense and excuse of Qatar’s support for terrorism, and as a critique of the US and Saudi Arabia for essentially leaving Qatar “holding the bag” in terms of the war against Assad. Al-Thani explained that Qatar continued its financing of armed insurgents in Syria while other countries eventually wound down large-scale support, which is why he lashed out at the US and the Saudis, who initially “were with us in the same trench.”

In a previous US television interview which was vastly underreported, al-Thani told Charlie Rose when asked about allegations of Qatar’s support for terrorism that, “in Syria, everybody did mistakes, including your country.” And said that when the war began in Syria, “all of us worked through two operation rooms: one in Jordan and one in Turkey.”

Below is the key section of Wednesday’s interview, translated and subtitled by @Walid970721. Zero Hedge has reviewed and confirmed the translation, however, as the original rush translator has acknowledged, al-Thani doesn’t say “lady” but “prey” [“al-sayda”]- as in both Assad and Syrians were being hunted by the outside countries.

The partial English transcript is as follows:

“When the events first started in Syria I went to Saudi Arabia and met with King Abdullah. I did that on the instructions of his highness the prince, my father. He [Abdullah] said we are behind you. You go ahead with this plan and we will coordinate but you should be in charge. I won’t get into details but we have full documents and anything that was sent [to Syria] would go to Turkey and was in coordination with the US forces and everything was distributed via the Turks and the US forces. And us and everyone else was involved, the military people. There may have been mistakes and support was given to the wrong faction… Maybe there was a relationship with Nusra, its possible but I myself don’t know about this… we were fighting over the prey [“al-sayda”] and now the prey is gone and we are still fighting… and now Bashar is still there. You [US and Saudi Arabia] were with us in the same trench… I have no objection to one changing if he finds that he was wrong, but at least inform your partner… for example leave Bashar [al-Assad] or do this or that, but the situation that has been created now will never allow any progress in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], or any progress on anything if we continue to openly fight.”

As is now well-known, the CIA was directly involved in leading regime change efforts in Syria with allied gulf partners, as leaked and declassified US intelligence memos confirm. The US government understood in real time that Gulf and West-supplied advanced weaponry was going to al-Qaeda and ISIS, despite official claims of arming so-called “moderate” rebels. For example, a leaked 2014 intelligence memo sent to Hillary Clinton acknowledged Qatari and Saudi support for ISIS.

The email stated in direct and unambiguous language that:

the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

Furthermore, one day before Prime Minister Thani’s interview, The Intercept released a new top-secret NSA document unearthed from leaked intelligence files provided by Edward Snowden which show in stunning clarity that the armed opposition in Syria was under the direct command of foreign governments from the early years of the war which has now claimed half a million lives.

The newly released NSA document confirms that a 2013 insurgent attack with advanced surface-to-surface rockets upon civilian areas of Damascus, including Damascus International Airport, was directly supplied and commanded by Saudi Arabia with full prior awareness of US intelligence. As the former Qatari prime minister now also confirms, both the Saudis and US government staffed “operations rooms” overseeing such heinous attacks during the time period of the 2013 Damascus airport attack.

No doubt there remains a massive trove of damning documentary evidence which will continue to trickle out in the coming months and years. At the very least, the continuing Qatari-Saudi diplomatic war will bear more fruit as each side builds a case against the other with charges of supporting terrorism. And as we can see from this latest Qatari TV interview, the United States itself will not be spared in this new open season of airing dirty laundry as old allies turn on each other.

October 29, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

West’s “Kurdistan” Policy Not Adding Up

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 28.10.2017

On one hand, the United States is demanding that Iranian-backed militias “leave” Iraq, claiming the fight against the self-titled “Islamic State” (IS) is over. On the other hand, the US and its European partners are still funneling weapons, cash, direct military support and organizing training for Kurdish factions in Iraq’s northern region to “beat back” IS.

Additionally, US contractors are attempting to take control of Iraq’s western highways connecting the nation to neighboring Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The contractors are to provide both security and rebuild destroyed infrastructure, also citing IS’ continued presence as a pretext for America’s continued presence in the country.

In other words, the United States is attempting to claim IS is both defeated and also yet to be defeated, attempting to craft a narrative that excludes Iraqi cooperation with Iran, Syria and Russia who are also operating in the region against IS and other militants, and gives the US and its partners exclusive control over Iraq and its future.

Artificial Conflict 

CNN in its article, “Tillerson: Time for Iranian-backed militias to leave Iraq,” would claim:

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, anticipating an end to the fight against ISIS, said Sunday it was time for Iranian-backed militias to exit the war-torn nation of Iraq.

“Those militias need to go home,” Tillerson said. “Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control of areas that had been overtaken by ISIS and Daesh that have now been liberated. Allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives with the help of their neighbors.”

And while Secretary Tillerson notes that the Iraqi people should be allowed to rebuild their lives “with the help of their neighbors,” he apparently means, all of the Iraqi people’s neighbors except Iran and Syria.

Secretary Tillerson’s remarks were made in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, giving a significant clue as to which neighbors he meant Iraq should get help from. However, it was Saudi Arabia who provided the very militants the Iraqi people have been fighting with arms, cash, equipment and training in the first place.

CNN would even note that:

At the same time, at least 1,500 Saudis had traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS over the years, and Baghdad had long accused Saudi Arabia of turning a blind eye to Sunni militants crossing its territory to enter Iraq to take part in the country’s sectarian conflict.

In 2007, the US military reported that around 40% of all foreign militants targeting US troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces had come from Saudi Arabia. Half of the Saudi fighters who arrived in Iraq during that time went there to be suicide bombers, the US military said.

What this apparent contradiction indicates is that the conflict in Iraq was never about defeating a spontaneous militant threat, but was instead a proxy conflict engineered by Washington with the help of partners like Riyadh, aimed against Tehran and its allies.

Kurdistan, the Other “IS” 

If IS and other militant organizations fighting in Iraq and neighboring Syria represent one proxy of US, European and Persian Gulf interests, the Kurdish factions in northern Iraq seeking to carve out an independent “Kurdistan” are another.

Similarly, US and European governments are insisting that Iraqi militias begin standing down, even as US-European support for certain Kurdish factions not only continues, but expands.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) in an article titled, “German army restarts training Iraqi Kurds, but future of mission in doubt,” would report that:

The German army on Sunday announced it has restarted training Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters, despite a political and military conflict between the autonomous region and Baghdad.

The Bundeswehr has been training and supplying weapons to the peshmerga for three years to help the Iraqi Kurds beat back the “Islamic State” (IS).

It has provided some 32,000 assault rifles and machine guns, as well as the MILAN anti-tank missile, valued at some €90 million ($106 million) since September 2014. Some 150 Bundeswehr troops are in northern Iraq, and peshmerga units have also received training in Germany.

But the training mission was suspended for a week after the central government in Baghdad, backed by Iranian-trained paramilitary groups, moved to reassert control over disputed territories the Kurds have captured since June 2014.

However, if  “Iranian-trained paramilitary groups” are reasserting control over disputed territories the Kurds have captured since June 2014, this means unequivocally that the threat of IS has been removed from the region and thus German military support is either unwarranted, or was never fully intended to combat IS and simply appeared as doing as much while bolstering yet another proxy force to confront and conflict with Iraq’s central government.

DW’s report also included an interesting map. It depicts “Kurdistan” as a diminutive region clinging to the northern borders of Iraq, divided between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) factions. It resembles not the foundation for a future, functional, independent nation-state, but rather a divided and weak proxy that will be forever dependent on its foreign sponsors.

Still Pursuing Balkanization 

In other words, “Kurdistan” is little more than a vector through which the US and its partners seek to divide, weaken and assume hegemony over both the nation, and throughout the region.

More honest politicians and commentators, quoted in the DW article, note that there is little logic in continuing Germany’s support for Kurdish militias if the true objective was indeed fighting IS. However, it appears that the US will attempt to use willing Kurdish factions as proxies against Baghdad and to a greater extent, against Tehran, for as long as certain Kurdish leaders allow them to.

Attempts to frame “Kurdistan” as an issue of “independence” and “self-determination” fall flat upon examining that actual sociopolitical, economic and military landscape of Iraq’s northern reaches. It is clear, that for now, the future of the Kurds is being determined by Washington and its partners, not the Kurds themselves. But it will be primarily the Kurds themselves who pay the highest price in this ongoing political game, along with militias and soldiers representing Baghdad they are arrayed against to fight.

It is little secret that the US seeks to divide both Syria and Iraq along sectarian lines. US policymakers at think tanks like the Brookings Institution have literally published papers with titles like, “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war,” detailing just how such divisions can be cultivated.

Such divisions diminish both nations further in their ability to influence their own destiny, let alone influence the region. With the US attempting to take control of Iraq’s western highways to reinforce a “Sunni” sphere of influence, while it arms, trains and backs Kurds in the north, the three-way partitioning of Iraq is still clearly at the center of US policy. IS, it appears, was merely a catalyst, one intentionally introduced, but one that has almost run its course.

One wonders what “catalyst” the US will turn to next, and seems content for now pretending IS both exists and doesn’t exist. But what there is little doubt of is that Washington and its partners still eagerly seek to move forward their agenda, continuing to weaken the region in an attempt to reassert its control over it.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

US attempt to fuel Iraq-Iran rift backfires

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | October 26, 2017

The US project to create a rift between Iraq and Iran backfired just a couple of days of its launch from Riyadh on October 22 by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Washington effectively sought out Saudi Arabia to project itself as counterweight to Iran in the Iraqi theatre, predicated on the presumption that Riyadh’s offer to extend funding to ‘rebuild’ post-ISIS Iraq will be found irresistible by Baghdad. Washington fancied that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is looking for ways to push back at Tehran, as his dependency on Iran’s military support is diminishing with the defeat of ISIS.

Tillerson travelled to Riyadh over the weekend to be present as a special guest at the first inaugural meeting of the so-called Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Council. Things seemed to go well and Tillerson’s remarks to the media exuded optimism. At a press conference in Riyadh, he said that the Saudi largesse will “strengthen Iraq as an independent and whole country… (and) this will be in some ways counter some of the unproductive influences of Iran inside of Iraq.” Tillerson then came to the point:

  • Certainly, Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against Daesh and ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home. Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control of areas that had been overtaken by ISIS and Daesh that have now been liberated, allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives with the help of their neighbors. And I think this agreement that has been put in place between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iraq is a crucial element to assisting the Iraqi people to do that. (Transcript)

The reference was to the Shi’ite militia groups funded, trained and deployed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, which literally bore the brunt of the fight against the ISIS in the recent years. Washington is particularly incensed over the lead role by the Shi’ite paramilitary groups in seizing Kirkuk recently from the Kurdish Peshmerga who are US allies. (See my blog Kirkuk bells also toll for US strategy in Syria.)

Evidently, Tillerson crossed the red line. The point is, these Shi’ite groups, collectively known as Popular Mobilisation Forces and several tens of thousands strong, are probably going to be designated as part of the Iraqi armed forces. Abadi’s office in Baghdad came out in no time with a stinging rebuke – “No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters” – and called the Shi’ite paramilitary groups “patriots.” The next day, when Tillerson showed up in Baghdad for a meeting with Abadi, the latter was fairly explicit. Abadi said the Popular Mobilisation Forces form “part of the Iraqi institutions” and they will be the “hope of country and the region.” (Reuters )

Later, in an interview with the American press, Abadi retorted: “We would like to work with you (US)… But please don’t bring your trouble inside Iraq. You can sort it anywhere else.” Abadi then began suggesting a US troop withdrawal from Iraq. He said that US air power won’t be needed anymore and Iraq’s requirements will be henceforth on intelligence sharing and help to train Iraqi forces. The way things are shaping up between Washington and Tehran, continued US military presence in Iraq may become problematic in a near future.

Meanwhile, having gambled on the independence referendum only to lose oil-rich Kirkuk, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani is suing for ceasefire and talks with Baghdad. The US is urging Abadi to respond to Barzani’s overture and engage with him in discussions. The Trump administration has secured strong Congressional support for its demands on Abadi. Signaling the seriousness of the demands, On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry issued the following statement to pressure Baghdad:

  • Ongoing clashes between forces aligned with the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government are undermining hard-fought gains in the fight against ISIS, and threatening to plunge Iraq into a new wave of sectarian violence. The bloodshed must stop immediately. We support a united Iraq under the federal government in Baghdad, and we support the Kurdistan Regional Government.
  • To that end, we welcome today’s reports that the Kurds are offering to suspend results of their recent referendum in return for a ceasefire and negotiations with the central government. Baghdad should accept this offer and enter into meaningful discussions that address long-term Kurdish concerns about autonomy, share of the national budget, and oil revenues. Meanwhile, it is critical that the Iraqi government heed Secretary Tillerson’s concern about the role and activities of Iranian-backed Shia militias. We are very concerned about Iranian involvement in recent operations. These forces have been responsible for horrible abuses, including the deaths of Americans. They have no place in a peaceful, united, and stable Iraq.

But Abadi is parrying. He visited Ankara on Wednesday to consult President Recep Erdogan. (Rudaw ) The latest reports suggest that the Iraqi forces with the support of the Shi’ite forces might go for the jugular veins of the Iraqi Kurds. Baghdad will want to drive home the advantage that the Kurds are not cohesive and are split 3-ways with the PUK (which was led by late Talabani) inclined to cooperate with Baghdad and Tehran, thereby isolating Barzani who is reduced now increasingly as a US-Israeli proxy. (Turkey has also become hostile toward Barzani following his push for the Kurdish independence referndum.)  The Russian news agency Sputnik reported today as ‘breaking news’ that  Iraqi troops and Shi’ite militias had been pulling heavy artillery and tanks close to Peshmerga positions near Zummar and shelling their positions. (Sputnik ) If a flare-up ensues in coming days, the US will be in a tight spot, apart from the breakdown of ties between Washington and Baghdad.

The US’ problem, quintessentially, is that its intentions are suspect in all three key regional capitals confronting the Kurdish question – Ankara, Baghdad, Tehran. At a recent meeting with US ambassador Douglas Sliman, Iraqi Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki said with brutal frankness, “We will not allow the creation of a second Israel in northern Iraq.”

Last week’s events underscore three things. One, the US does not intend to end its military presence in Iraq (and Syria), although the pretext of the war against the ISIS is no longer there. Two, US is planning to turn Iraq into a major theatre of confrontation with Iran.

A US control of Iraq puts it in a position to pile pressure on Iran from different directions — interfering with Iranian supply routes to Syria and Lebanon; playing itself back to regain a role in the Syrian settlement; having a say in Iraq’s rising oil production and staging covert cross-border operations to destabilize the Iranian regime. Indeed, with the open-ended US military presence already in place in Afghanistan, the intention is to squash with a similar western neighbor under American tutelage.

Three, fundamentally, it becomes all too obvious that the US-Saudi alliance in regional politics is very much alive and kicking, and any reports to the contrary are greatly exaggerated. The US’ return to the centre stage in Iraq to challenge Iran’s regional influence will give much verve to the US alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Interestingly, the Saudi establishment daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported last week that the Pentagon plans to boost deployments to the Middle East specifically to counter Iran. The report cited General Joseph Votel, commander of the US Central Command, as saying, “The United States wants to help the Arab countries deal with Iranian threats. The Pentagon is working to achieve that desire and ensure its effective implementation. That includes the establishment of US military battalions sent as missions to the region and be designed specifically to provide advice and assistance.”

October 26, 2017 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Iraq Resists Outside Pressure: Hubris Inspires US Foreign Policy

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.10.2017

Speaking at a press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir in Riyadh on October 22, US State Secretary Rex Tillerson said, “Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against Daesh and ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home. The foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control.” A senior US official clarified that Tillerson’s invitation to “go home” was specifically directed at the Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia and Iran’s Quds Force, which has been providing material support, training, and operational leadership for them. The secretary added that the United States hopes “European companies, countries, and others around the world” will join in isolating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which oversees the Quds Force. He said the IRGC is working to “foment instability in the region and create destruction in the region.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected a call by Washington for Iranian-backed fighters to leave Iraq at a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Baghdad on October 23. The PM insisted that the force consists solely of Iraqi nationals who “fought terrorism” and made sacrifices that contributed to the victory over the Islamic State terrorist group. Calling it “part of the Iraqi institutions,” he said PMF fighters “should be encouraged because they will be the hope of country and the region”, according to a statement by his media office.

Tillerson’s visit to Baghdad came a few days after the Iraqi army, backed by the Shia-majority PMF (the Hashed al-Shaabi), claimed control of all of oil-rich Kirkuk province. The 60,000-strong PMF was cobbled together from Iranian-backed militias in 2014 after the Islamic State militants took over large parts of northern Iraq. Trained and armed by Iran, the Iraqi Hashed al-Shaabi fought side by side with Iraqi government army against the militants. They are paid by the Iraqi government and officially report to the Prime Minister. The Iraqi parliament has voted to integrate the militia into state forces. Critics allege that visits by Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani, a commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who advises the PMF, reflect Tehran’s influence in the country.

Tillerson’s statement is not only a flagrant meddling in the other country’s internal affairs. It’s the statement made by the official of the country, which illegally invaded Iraq in 2003. It is still deeply involved in the country’s politics.

The State Secretary did not say the PMF had to “go home” when they were taking part in the US-backed operation to free Mosul from Islamic State! The Shia, Christians and Assyrians bore the brunt of the fighting. Now the Shia militias have become expandable. For Shia Muslims Tehran is the stronghold of their faith the same way Vatican is the stronghold of Catholicism. The Shia, Sunni and Kurds are all Iraqis and there are all home in Iraq.

The details of the alleged deal reached between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) on October 16 have been released recently. The released info argues that PUK-linked Peshmerga units were to surrender control of the contested territories to the PMU. Reports based on it have been widely spread by media outlets linked to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and its leader, Masoud Barzani. The agreement was supposedly signed by the son of the leader of PUK, Pavel Talabani, and states that the contentious areas are to be surrendered to the PMU. So, it was an oil deal which presupposed that the Iraqi government would fund the Kurdish administration and the militias while receiving its share of oil revenues. The deal went through on the condition of Kurdistan preserving its status as part of Iraq. It was a deal between the two sides and Iran had nothing to do with it. The US couldn’t influence the deal. Iran has no reason to intervene if Kurdistan remains part of Iraq.

Tillerson appears to support Israel’s position. Tel Aviv is concerned over Tehran’s alleged plans of securing a corridor from its border, through Iraq and all the way to the Mediterranean and providing it unhindered land access to its allies in Syria and Lebanon for the first time. The shared concern makes the US keep its al-Tanf base in southern Syria and hinder the movement of Syrian government forces to the Iraqi border. But in Iraq the Shia PMF are not creating any “corridors” from Iran to Syria. They report to Iraqi PM and operate upon the orders.

Under the circumstances, the US behaves like a bull in china shop, openly intervening into the other state’s internal affairs. It makes Baghdad resist the pressure and look for other partners. On October 23, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari met in Moscow to discuss the situation in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. The visit coincided with the meeting of Iraqi-Russian intergovernmental commission on Trade, Economic, and Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Moscow on October 23-25, which discussed joint oil projects with Russian Rosneft in Iraqi Kurdistan. Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Baghdad is looking forward to a visit of President Vladimir Putin to Iraq. He called Russia a strategic partner. In July, 2017, Russia and Iraq inked a big arms deal.

Mr. Tillerson was given a chilly reception in Iraq. Baghdad stands up to the challenge rejecting the US policy of outright interference into its internal affairs. The US pressure brought about the opposite result. The presumption that the US has overwhelming power to influence other countries’ policies is no longer valid. But with old instincts dying hard, hubris continues to inspire poor foreign policy decisions in Washington.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

What Israel is Fighting for in the Middle-Eastern Mess?

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 24.10.2017

As forces of the so-called Islamic State terrorist group are pushed across Syria and Iraq, one can clearly see Israel’s shifting position regarding the situation in Syria, which can be explained by Tel-Aviv’s desire to reorder the Middle East.

It’s clear that Israel has finally realized that it’s been betting on the wrong side in Syria and is now risks losing all. It goes without saying that once defeated, Israel’s leadership will be in no position to demand anything from anyone. This includes failing to establish a security zone within the Golan Heights, as well as failed ambitions over controlling the Iraqi-Syrian border which now will likely not come to fruition. In fact, the panic mode that the Netanyahu administration has been in for a while reflects the dramatic changes that are taking place in Syria and across the region. After Israel’s betting on the losing party for so long, Tel-Aviv has no other choice but to pursue damage control in a desperate bid to save its Jordanian and Kurdish proxies. Its new strategy states that it must draw Iraq and Syria away from Iran and integrate them into the Israeli-American-Saudi alliance.

Over the last six years of conflict in Syria, Israel would try to avoid any direct military confrontation. Only recently Israeli aircraft and artillery have started launching strikes inside Syrian territory. Among their targets included Hezbollah, which is fighting on the side of the Syrian government, but also military facilities of the Syrian Arab Army as well. In particular, the recent bombardment of Israeli artillery targeting Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights, according to Israeli media reports, destroyed three Syrian artillery positions.

Israel has always been deeply involved in the Syrian conflict. Repeated statements by Israeli officials that “Tel-Aviv pursues a policy of non-interference in the Syrian civil war” have been circulating within Western media sources for years. However, in a recent series of explanations given by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to European officials, he would acknowledge that Tel-Aviv destroyed dozens of Iranian convoys fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic against ISIS hordes. On June 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia were allies from the very beginning of the Syrian conflict, as Israel supplied the Syrian rebels operating alongside its borders with money, food, fuel and even drugs. The Wall Street Journal has also added that Israel might be sponsoring a total of four rebel groups operating inside Syria. These groups would use the cash provided to them to pay mercenaries and buy ammunition. These revelations, according to Zero Hedge, can also explain why ISIS terrorists would never attack Israeli citizens or launch operations deep inside Israel’s territory despite their close proximity.

According to Telegram’s Directorate 4 channel, militants have recently released a video of one of their gangs using anti-aircraft ammunition delivered from Israel while engaged in a deadly firefight against Syrian government troops in the vicinity of Daraa. It is noted that this was not the first time that media sources received confirmation that Israel has been supplying weapons to miltiants depicted by the West as “radical Islmasists.” In addition, it’s been repeatedly reported that Israel has been providing medical aid to militants wounded in Syria.

In mid-October it was reported that Syrian troops discovered four warehouses filled with US and Israeli-made weapons in the liberated Syrian city of Mayadin.

Tel Aviv’s sympathy for ISIS was confirmed last May by the editor of Politico, Bryan Bender, who visited Israel just before US President Donald Trump’s visit, discovering that Israeli military forces did not want the US to fulfill its promise to crush the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria .

Regarding the policy of Israel, a number of regional politicians and experts have noted an abrupt increase in its attempts to provoke the so-called redrawing of the Middle East map, which will inevitably result in the weakening of some countries across the region. This was stated, in particular, at the press conference given by Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli in early October. Fazli would emphasize Israel’s support for the referendum of independence in Iraqi Kurdistan, for the sole purpose of weakening Tel-Aviv’s opponents in the Middle East.

The consistent political support for an Iraqi Kurdistan provided by Israel has recently been emphasized by the commander of the elite paramilitary Peshmerga unit known as Black Tiger, General Sirwan Barzani, the nephew of long-time leader of the Iraqi Kurds – Masoud Barzani. Israelis have been freely visiting Iraqi Kurdistan with their national passports, although such a paper would make anyone an unwelcome visitor across the Arab world. Israeli companies are beginning to unofficially operate in Erbil, while the Kurds are seeking the support of the Israeli lobby in the US in hopes that it would support Kurdistan’s independence. Last year, the Kurdish authorities announced the opening of a “representative office for relations with Jews”, which can be viewed as a nascent diplomatic mission.

Of course, there’s intelligence cooperation to be found between Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan. Simply, the “common enemy” has now changed – instead of targeting the hated Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein, those services are now targeting the government of the now Shia Arab majority along with Iran which supports it. There is no doubt that through Kurdistan, Israeli special services have been enjoying ready access to the territories of Iran and Iraq, which in the event of a major war would be a crucial factor.

However, the Kurds are not cooperating with Israel openly because they are afraid of the wrath of Iran and the Arab world that it may trigger.

Israel’s goals in supporting Iraqi Kurds are truly multifaceted. One of them, according to the former Israeli intelligence officer Alexander Grinberg, is to resist Iran’s influence while maintaining leverage against Turkey. Especially given the fact that commercial relations between Turkey and Israel began to develop rapidly and both Ankara and Tel-Aviv share a number of positions on the Iranian issue, in spite of the fact that Erdogan is an impulsive leader with anti-Semitic and dictatorial habits, while according to the opinion prevailing in Israel today, it’s Turkey that is the main supporter of Hamas, not Qatar.

In a bid to preserve its role as a major Middle Eastern power in the eyes of America’s elite, Israel has offered Washington a plan that may allow it to push Iran both from Syria and the regional scene. The plan was drafted under the supervision of Israel’s Minister of Transportation and Intelligence, Yisrael Katz, and approved by the country’s top political leadership. According to the Katz Plan, Washington must recognize the Golan Heights occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 as Israel’s sovereign territory. Such a recognition will grant Israel a number of advantages, especially in the matter of striking the positions of Hezbollah within Syrian territory, particularly those found in the immediate vicinity of the disputed heights. Also in the Katz plan, special emphasis is placed on preventing the permanent military basing of Iranians in Syria. In this regard, the US is recommended to tighten sanctions against Tehran on the pretext that Iran is “supporting terrorism.”

Tel-Aviv is also aware of the growing role that Russia is playing in the Middle East, so it wants to get Moscow on board with its plan of pushing pro-Iranian forces out of Syria. In order to achieve this goal Tel Aviv has been unprecedentedly active in approaching Moscow along with its “allied” Arab leaders: Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. In exchange for reviewing its relations with Iran, Russia, which has already established two permanent military bases in Syrian territory, is promised to receive a whole set of “preferences”, including the tacit acceptance of Russian jurisdiction over Crimea by the West, the lifting of Western sanctions, the restoration of Russia’s membership in the G8, and guarantees on the preservation of Moscow’s air and naval bases in the Syrian provinces of Latakia and Tartus. There is another “benefit” for Russia in the form of keeping President Bashar Assad in power in Damascus indefinitely, as well as supplying Riyadh with Russian arms and the list goes on and on.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hashd Commander: US Must Prepare to Leave Iraq after ISIL Defeat

Al-Manar | October 24, 2017

Leader of paramilitary force in Iraq, Assaeb Ahl Al-Haqq hit back at US Secretary of State remarks on Hashd Shaabi volunteer forces, saying Washington must prepare to withdraw its forces from the country following the defeat of ISIL Takfiri group.

Tweeting on his account on social media, Sheikh Qaiss Al-Khazali said: “To US Secretary we say: Your forces have to prepare to leave our country, Iraq, right after the pretext of ISIL presence is over.”

Al-Khazali was responding to Rex Tillerson, who on Monday called on Hashd fighters in Iraq to “go home” as the fight against the ISIL terrorist group was ending.

Assaeb Ahl Al-Haqq is one of the Hashd factions. The volunteer forces have a crucial role in defeating the Takfiri terrorists in Iraq.

Al-Khazali remarks come after Hadi Al-Ameri, leader of the Badr Organization, said that Tillerson is ‘persona non grata’, calling on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi not to receive him.

October 24, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

US Mercenaries, Iraqi Highways and the Mystery of the Never-Ending ISIS Hordes

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 22.10.2017

While the US and European media provided little explanation as to how militants from the self-titled Islamic State (IS) managed to appear, expand and then fight for years against the combined military power of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia, it was abundantly clear to many analysts that the IS organization was not only receiving state sponsorship, but it was receiving reinforcements, weapons and supplies from far beyond Syria’s and Iraq’s borders.

Maps of the conflict stretching over the last several years show clear corridors used to reinforce IS positions, leading primarily from Turkey’s southern border and to a lesser extent, from Jordan’s borders.

However, another possible vector may be desert highways in Iraq’s western Anbar province where US military contractors are allegedly to “provide security” as well as build gas stations and rest areas. These highways contributed to the current conflict and still serve as a hotbed for state sponsored terrorism. Whether these US-controlled and improved highways pose a significant threat for a reorganized effort by the US and its regional allies to divide and destroy Iraq and Syria seems all but inevitable.

US Mercenaries “Guarding” Iraqi Highways 

Al Monitor in an April 2017 article titled, “How Iraq is planning to secure key border road,” would claim:

 Due to the imminent threats to the road, which is one of Iraq’s vital economic lines as it connects Basra in the south to Jordan in the west, Iraq commissioned an American company to secure and rebuild the road. The contract also included reconstructing bridges, 36 of which are destroyed.

The article would elaborate, stating:

A security source from the Iraqi intelligence service told Al-Monitor, “The American company will only secure the two roads reaching Terbil from Basra and Baghdad and will build gas stations and rest areas, in addition to building bridges and cordoning off the roads with barbed wires, as per distances that would be determined later.”

Al Monitor would claim that Iraq’s popular mobilization units found themselves unable to oppose the move made by the central government in Baghdad. It would also note that Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades claimed, in opposition to the plan, that:

The road connecting Iraq and Jordan is a strategic gateway allowing the US and forces seeking to control it to tighten their grip on Anbar and the potential Sunni region as per a US-Gulf plan.

One could imagine future potential scenarios including these rebuilt roads, complete with gas stations and rest areas, leading from Jordan and Saudi Arabia and providing an efficient route for future wars waged either directly or by proxy against Iraq. The infiltration of fighters and supplies, for example, would be greatly expedited should the US and its partners decide to shift their efforts along this new axis.

Beyond this more obvious threat comes the fact that US-Jordanian-Saudi influence would be greatly enhanced with stronger logistical lines leading into Iraq’s western regions.

How the US Might Use its New Highways  

The Islamic State’s de facto invasion of Syria and Iraq was a more massive and dramatic replay of an earlier surge of foreign militants into the region, following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

It would be America’s own Combating Terrorism Center at the West Point United States Military Academy in two reports published in 2007 and 2008 (.pdf) respectively that would describe in detail the networks some of Washington’s closest regional allies used to flood post-war Iraq with foreign fighters.

While these fighters indeed attacked US soldiers, what they also did was disrupt a relatively unified resistance movement before plunging Sunni and Shia’a militias into a deadly and costly “civil war.”

Fighters, weapons and cash infiltrated into Iraq from a network that fed fighters from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region first into Turkey, through Syria via the help of many of the senior leadership of anti-government militant groups now fighting  Damascus, and then into Iraq primarily where IS has been based and where the remnants of its militancy remains.

During the more recent conflict, these same networks were utilized successfully until Russia’s intervention in 2015 when these terrorist “ratlines” came under fire by Russian warplanes. The cause and effect of attacking these terrorist ratlines was visible on conflict maps, causing an almost immediate shrinking of IS-occupied territory and a corresponding atrophy of IS fighting capacity.

The Jordanian-Iraqi and Saudi-Iraqi border crossings and the highways running through them represent an alternative means to reorient Washington’s proxy conflict either now or in the near future.

US Already Planning to Weaponize the Project 

Raising further alarm bells should be the New York Times’ May 2017 article, “U.S. Sees a Vital Iraqi Toll Road, but Iran Sees a Threat,” which helps frame the very sort of conflict US policymakers are seeking with this move and the reaction it has already provoked among America’s primary targets in the region, particularly Iran.
The article would claim:

 As part of an American effort to promote economic development in Iraq and secure influence in the country after the fight against the Islamic State subsides, the American government has helped broker a deal between Iraq and Olive Group, a private security company, to establish and secure the country’s first toll highway.

This being Iraq, though, the project has quickly been caught up in geopolitics, sectarianism and tensions between the United States and Iran, which seems determined to sabotage the highway project as an unacceptable projection of American influence right on its doorstep.

The New York Times also helps prepare a narrative so that any attack on American contractors along the highway could easily be blamed on militias linked to Iran, or even on Iran itself. The article states:

Already, Iraqi militia leaders linked to Iran, whose statements are seen as reflective of the views of Tehran, have pledged to resume attacks against American forces if the Trump administration decides to leave troops behind to train the Iraqi military and mount counterterrorism missions, as appears likely. And the militia leaders have specifically singled out the highway project for criticism.

The New York Times ultimately admits that the US is attempting to control the highway specifically to continue its increasingly dangerous proxy war against Tehran. The article also admits that the highways will be entirely controlled by US contractors, including the collection of tolls of which only a portion would be handed over to the Iraqi government. The article also claims other highways, including one leading directly from Saudi Arabia, are being considered.

In essence, these would be terrorist ratlines directly controlled by the United States, leading directly out of the very epicenter of state sponsored terrorism in the region, Saudi Arabia, other Persian Gulf states and to a lesser but still significant extent, Jordan.

They would be terrorist ratlines difficult for Iraq’s central government or its allies to attack without providing a much welcomed pretext for Washington to directly retaliate against the faction of its choosing.

While the New York Times and US politicians and businessmen involved in the highway deal attempt to portray it as a means of providing peace, stability and economic prosperity for Iraq, a quick audit of US policy in the Middle East should ground those lofty promises in a much more frightening reality.

The scope of this project is nothing short of both a US occupation and a US-administered “safe zone” in which militant groups backed by the US and its regional partners can safely be harbored, and from which they can strike out against Iraq and its neighbors with the full protection of US military force.

Some US policymakers may feel that their failing proxy war against Syria involved a cart-before-the-horse policy in which the creation of US-administered and protected safe zones turned out to be more difficult to implement than initially anticipated, and that in the future, such zones should be created before another round of proxy-hostilities.

No matter what, the US presence and the more-than-certain intentions that underpin it will ensure not peace, stability or prosperity, but another decade of division and strife both in Iraq and beyond. Confounding this project, and those like it, and replacing them with actual projects to fulfill the promises of progress the US is merely hiding behind, will be key to truly moving Iraq and the region forward.

October 22, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Netanyahu lobbies world powers to support Iraqi Kurds’ secession bid

Press TV – October 20, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lobbying world powers to support the independence of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region from the rest of the Iraqi territory, as Kurdish Peshmerga forces are losing ground to Iraqi army forces in the country’s oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk.

Israeli officials, requesting anonymity, said Netanyahu raised the Kurdish plans for independence with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, and with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The 67-year-old Chairman of the Likud party also made a reference to the issue in his contacts with French authorities.

An Israeli official, who declined to be named, stated that the Tel Aviv regime has security interests in Kurdistan.

“This (territory) is a foothold. It’s a strategic place. It would be best if someone gave them weaponry, and whatever else, which we cannot give, obviously,” the official said without providing further detail.

Israel has maintained military, intelligence and business ties with Iraqi Kurds since 1960s.

“The issue at present is … to prevent an attack on the Kurds, extermination of the Kurds and any harm to them, their autonomy and region, something that Turkey and Iran and … other powers in Iraq and part of the Iraqi government want,” Israeli Intelligence Minister, Israel Katz, alleged in an interview with Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM on Friday.

“The prime minister is certainly engaging the United States, Russia, Germany and France to stop the Kurds from being harmed,” Katz said.

On Friday, Iraqi government forces wrested control of a strategic sub-district of Kirkuk province following clashes with Peshmerga forces.

“Iraqi Federal Police and Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces, along with fighters from Popular Mobilization Units – commonly known by the name Hashd al-Sha’abi, have secured Kirkuk’s northern Altun Kupri sub-district,” the Iraqi Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Iraqi Army Captain Jabbar Hasan said Iraqi federal forces had given Peshmerga forces 24 hours to vacate their strongholds in Altunkopru, and withdraw to areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Peshmerga forces, however, had rejected the ultimatum, Hasan said.

The referendum on secession of the Kurdistan region was held on September 25 despite strong opposition from the central government in Baghdad, the international community, and Iraq’s neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Following the vote, Baghdad imposed a ban on direct international flights to the Kurdish region and called for a halt to its independent crude oil sales.

On October 12, an Iraqi government spokesman said Baghdad had set a series of conditions that the KRG needed to meet before any talks on the resolution of the referendum crisis could start.

“The KRG must first commit to Iraq’s unity. The local authorities in the [Kurdistan] region… must accept the sovereign authority of the federal government on… oil exports, [as well as] security and border protection, including land and air entry points,” the unnamed Iraqi official added.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has already demanded the annulment of the referendum.

During a recent press conference in Paris, Abadi said his government did not seek confrontation with Iraqi Kurds, but reiterated Baghdad’s position that the vote was illegal and that problems should be solved within the framework of Iraq’s constitution.

October 21, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

US State Dept cautions Iraqi govt against troop advances in Kurdish territory

RT | October 20, 2017

The US State Department is advising Iraq’s federal authority to limit its military activity in the country’s Kurdish northern region, as it also calls for “all parties to cease all violence” in the wake of violence in the town of Altun Kupri.

On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert urged the Baghdad government to only make troop movements that were “coordinated with the Kurdistan Regional Government.”

This marks the most specific statement out of the State Department on the situation since Iraq regained control over the provincial capital Kirkuk on Monday, following a popular vote of 92 percent in favor of an independent Kurdistan late last month. Previously, the State Department has stuck to general calls for calm on all sides.

Nauert’s statement also declared that the disputed Kurdish areas remained disputed, despite Iraqi authorities crossing into the region.

“The reassertion of federal authority over disputed areas in no way changes their status – they remain disputed until their status is resolved in accordance with the Iraqi constitution,” the statement read.

According to security sources cited by Reuters, Iraqi troops gained control of the last district in Kirkuk on Friday, taking the oil-producing province from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters after three hours of hostilities.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called the September 25 vote for Kurdish independence illegitimate, and said US policy rejects such unilateral moves.

This week, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters lost large swathes of territory held since 2014 or later, which had been gained during years of war against Islamic State fighters.

October 21, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment