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.
Shiite leaders are up in arms over Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent cleric Nimr al-Nimr on terror charges. A senior Iranian Ayatollah called it a “crime,” while Tehran’s Foreign Ministry accused Riyadh of supporting terrorists.
“The Saudi government supports terrorists and takfiri [intolerant Sunni] extremists, while executing and suppressing critics inside the country,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
According to a lawmaker from Iraq’s ruling Shiite coalition, Saudi Arabia’s execution of al-Nimr was intended to fuel Sunni-Shiite strife and “set the region on fire.”
“This measure taken by the ruling family [of Saudi Arabia] aims at reigniting the region, provoking sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shiites,” Mohammed al-Sayhud told al-Sumaria TV.
Prominent Iraqis have called on the government in Baghdad on Saturday to cut ties with Riyadh over Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s execution, al-Sumaria TV reported.
“It’s a big crime that has opened the gates of hell,” Qasim al-Araji, the head of the Badr Organization in Iraq said, calling on Baghdad to cut diplomatic ties “immediately,” according to the channel’s website.
Another Iran-backed militia group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, has accused Saudi Arabia of seeking to provoke Sunni-Shiite strife, according to the TV’s website. “What’s the use of having a Saudi embassy in Iraq?” it reportedly said.
Al-Nimr’s death has already added fuel to the fire in the boiling sectarian tensions in the Middle East.
Police in Bahrain fired tear gas at several dozen people protesting al-Nimr’s execution and carrying pictures of the cleric in a standoff in the Shi’ite Muslim village of Abu-Saiba, west of the capital Manama, an eyewitness told Reuters.
Scores of Shiite Muslims have come out to protest in Qatif, one of the oldest settlements in eastern Saudi Arabia, against the government’s execution of al-Nimr on Saturday, Reuters reported.
The protesters reportedly chanted, “down with the Al Saud,” referring to the name of the ruling Saudi royal family. They marched from al-Nimr’s home village of al-Awamiya to the region’s main town of Qatif, the only district in Saudi Arabia where Shiites are a majority.
One of the most senior clerics in Shiite-majority Iran, Ahmad Khatami, said that al-Nimr’s execution reflected the “criminal” character of the Saudi ruling family.
“I have no doubt that this pure blood will stain the collar of the House of Saud and wipe them from the pages of history,” Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts, was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.
He added: “The crime of executing Sheikh Nimr is part of a criminal pattern by this treacherous family … the Islamic world is expected to cry out and denounce this infamous regime as much as it can.”
Kataib Hezbollah’s leader, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, hailed the execution of Sheikh al-Nimr as “a crime that is added to the criminal record of Al Saud,” he said, according to al-Ahd TV.
Yemen’s Houthi movement has also mourned the prominent Shiite cleric, executed on Saturday.
“The Al Saudi family executed today the holy warrior, the grand cleric Nimr Baqr al-Nimr after a mock trial … a flagrant violation of human rights,” an obituary on the Houthis’ official Al Maseera website stated.
According to Lebanon’s Supreme Islamic Shiite Council, al-Nimr’s capital punishment was a serious “mistake.”
“The execution of Sheikh Nimr was an execution of reason, moderation and dialogue,” the council’s vice president, Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan said in a statement.
The brother of the executed cleric said he hopes that any reaction to al-Nimr’s killing will be peaceful.
“Sheikh Nimr enjoyed high esteem in his community and within Muslim society in general and no doubt there will be reaction,” Mohammed al-Nimr told Reuters by telephone. “We hope that any reactions would be confined to a peaceful framework. No one should have any reaction outside this peaceful framework. Enough bloodshed.”
Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday, along with 46 other people. Authorities said most of those executed were involved in a series of attacks carried out by Al Qaeda between 2003 and 2006. Al-Nimr, along with six others, were accused of orchestrating anti-government protests between 2011 and 2013 in which 20 people died. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the death sentence passed on the Shia cleric.
July 31, 1998
Dear Amnesty Friends:
I am in receipt of the response by three members of the AIUSA Middle East Coordination Group to my message that was entitled “NGOs As Western Tools.” You will note that they never denied any of the basic facts set forth in my original message. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and murdered 20,000 Arabs/Muslims with the full support of the United States, both Amnesty International and AIUSA said absolutely nothing at all despite vigorous efforts by AIUSA Members to get them both to say and to do anything. When it became clear that AIUSA was not going to say or do anything about Israel’s wholesale slaughter of Arabs/Muslims in Lebanon because of the marked pro-Israel bias by the AIUSA Staff, Board, and Funders, I called the Irish Nobel Peace Prize Winner Sean MacBride at his home in Dublin and asked him to intervene with AI/London. What little AI/London said and did about 20,000 Arabs/Muslims in Lebanon murdered by Israel with the full support of the United States was due to Sean MacBride.
MacBride then convinced the then AI Secretary General to appoint me a Consultant to Amnesty International on the human rights situation in the Middle East. In that capacity, I attended the founding meeting of what would become the AIUSA Middle East Coordination Group. In other words, I was one of the founders of the AIUSA Mid-East Co-Group, some of whose members are now defending its work. At that founding meeting I said quite emphatically that Amnesty International and AIUSA would have absolutely no credibility whatsoever in the Middle East unless they dealt forthrightly and vigorously with violations of the human rights of Arabs and Muslims by Israel, and, in particular, Israeli atrocities against the People of Lebanon and the Palestinian People. Soon thereafter, I found out that the Members of the AIUSA Mid-East Co-Group had been instructed to have nothing more to do with me by a direct order coming from the AIUSA Board of Directors.
It is fair to say that Amnesty International has quite recently released some reports dealing with Israeli violations of human rights of the Palestinian People and the Lebanese People. But Israel has been consistently murdering, torturing and destroying the Palestinian People since at least the time when the occupation of their lands began in 1967–and with the full support of the United States Government. And only now has Amnesty International got around to condemning it. Almost a decade ago while on the AIUSA Board, I tried to get AI/London and AIUSA to act on the basis of the infamous Landau Report whereby the Israeli Government officially sanctioned torture against Palestinians. Over a decade ago while on the AIUSA Board, I pointed out that this made Israel the only state in the world to officially sanction torture. It is nice to see that a decade later Amnesty International has finally agreed with me and said something about it.
Likewise, Israel has been rampaging around Lebanon with the full support of the United States to the grave detriment of the Lebanese People and Palestinians living there since at least the time when Israel first invaded Lebanon in 1978. The primary reason why Amnesty International has put out these latest reports condemning Israeli human rights violations in Lebanon and against the Palestinian People after decades of silence is because there are now several other human rights organizations which have acted against Israel when AI/London and AIUSA refused to act because of their marked pro-Israel bias. When it comes to protecting the human rights of Palestinians, Lebanese, Arabs/Muslims from atrocities by Israel, the United States, and Britain, AI/London and AIUSA have always been too little, too late, and on purpose.
While on the AIUSA Board I once saw the itinerary drawn up by AIUSA for the visit to the United States by the then AI Secretary General coming from London. On the list was almost every major pro-Israel group in New York and Washington and about one Arab Group. Given their standard operating procedures, I am confident the pro-Israel groups threatened the AI Secretary General that they would have their members withhold or reduce their contributions to AI and AIUSA if AI/London did not reign in its pathetic, pitiful, and meager criticisms of Israel. While I was on the AIUSA Board, AIUSA paid about 20% of the budget for AI/London. He who pays the piper calls the tune.
You will also note that the three AIUSA Mid-East Co-Group members’ response to my original message said absolutely nothing at all about the scandalous Kuwaiti Dead Babies Report and Campaign that both Amnesty International and AIUSA used for the purpose of promoting war against Iraq. As a Member of the AIUSA Board, I received a pre-publication copy of the Dead Babies Report. I read it immediately and quite carefully. First, this report contained technical errors that should have precluded its publication. Second, even if all these sensational allegations had been true, it was clear that publication of this report at that critical moment in time (December 1990) would only be used by the United States and Britain to monger for war against Iraq. I expressed these opinions in the strongest terms possible and that this report should not be published because it was inaccurate; or that if for some reason it were to be published, it must be accompanied by an errata sheet. Amnesty International published the Dead Babies Report anyway despite my vigorous objections, and launched their Disinformation Campaign against Iraq. From this episode I could only conclude that AI/London deliberately intended the Dead-Babies Report and Campaign to be used in order to tip the balance in favor of war against Iraq.
This is exactly what happened. In January of 1991 the United States Senate voted in favor of war against Iraq by only five or six votes. Several Senators publicly stated that the AI/AIUSA Dead Babies Report and Campaign had influenced their votes in favor of war against Iraq. That genocidal war waged by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, inter alia, during the months of January and February 1991, killed at a minimum 200,000 Iraqis, half of whom were civilians. Amnesty International shall always have the blood of the Iraqi People on its hands!
Once it became clear that there never were any dead babies in Kuwait as alleged by Amnesty International, AI/London proceeded to engage in a massive coverup of the truth. For all I know, the same people at AI/London who waged this Dead-Babies Disinformation Campaign against Iraq are still at AI/London producing more disinformation against Arab/Muslim states in the Middle East in order to further the political and economic interests of the United States, Britain, and Israel. Because of its Dead-Babies Disinformation Campaign against Iraq and its ensuing coverup, Amnesty International will never have any credibility in the Middle East!
During the past eight years, about 1.5 million People in Iraq have died as a result of genocidal sanctions imposed upon them primarily at the behest of the United States and Britain, including in that number about 500,000 dead Iraqi children. While on the AIUSA Board of Directors, I tried to get them and AI/London to do something about this genocidal embargo against the People of Iraq, and especially against the Iraqi Children. Both AI/London and AIUSA adamantly refused to act despite the grievous harm that their Dead-Babies Disinformation Campaign had inflicted upon the People of Iraq. It was clear to me at the time that there was no way AI/London and AIUSA were going to take on Britain and the United States on behalf of the completely innocent People of Iraq.
Now we are told that there is something in the AI Mandate that precludes AI action against such genocidal economic embargoes. Of course this is nonsense. While I served on the AIUSA Board, one of our Board Chairs personally put me in charge of handling Mandate issues for the AIUSA Board. I know all about the Mandate. It was my responsibility.
Generally put, when AI/London and AIUSA want to take action on a matter because it will bring them publicity, money, members, and “influence,” they pay no attention whatsoever to their so-called Mandate. Likewise, when AI/London and AIUSA decide for political or economic reasons that they will not work on human rights problem, they trot out their so-called Mandate to justify non-action.
The same type of bogus argument was used by AI/London and AIUSA to prevent the organizations and their memberships from taking any effective action against the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa that had been oppressing millions of Black People for decades. To the best of my knowledge, Amnesty International is the only human rights organization in the entire world to have refused to condemn apartheid and work against it. The spurious argument made here was that Amnesty International could take no position on a type of government. But the truth of the matter was that Amnesty International is headquartered in London, and AIUSA is headquartered in New York and Washington. The biggest political supporters of the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa were the governments of Britain, the United States, and Israel. Likewise, the biggest sources of economic investments in the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa came from Britain and the United States. Once again, he who pays the piper calls the tune.
There was no way AI/London and AIUSA were ever going to work against the political and economic interests of Britain, the United States, and Israel operating together in support of the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa. So AI/London and AIUSA concocted this spurious rationale for non-action. The same is being done today by AI/London and AIUSA to justify their non-action in light of the genocidal economic embargo imposed now primarily by the United States and Britain against the People of Iraq. There is no way AI/London and AIUSA will ever act against the political and economic interests of the United States, Britain, and Israel in the Middle East, and certainly not on behalf of the People of Iraq, whose blood AI and AIUSA now have on their hands.
Notice too how this latest specious justification for AI non-action fits in quite neatly with the strategic objectives of the United States around the world. Right now the United States Government is primarily responsible for imposing genocidal economic sanctions against the People of Iraq, the People of Cuba, and the People of North Korea. Amnesty International will do nothing at all about it. In other words, by their deliberate non-action AI and AIUSA are supporting the genocidal policies of the United States, Britain and Israel against these Third World countries–just as AI and AIUSA supported the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa by their deliberate non-action. If you want to do effective human rights work in opposition to the imperial, colonial and genocidal policies of the United States, Britain, or Israel, there is no point working with Amnesty International or AIUSA. You will simply be wasting your time, your efforts, your resources, and your enthusiasm.
Permit me to further substantiate this assertion that Amnesty International and AIUSA are imperialist tools by reference to other areas of the world. It is well known that AI/London has done little effective work to help Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland. As Sean MacBride once said: Amnesty International will never treat Irish Catholics fairly so long as it is headquartered in London. The long and sordid history of AI/London non-action in the face of genocidal violations of the most fundamental human rights of Irish Catholics living in Northern Ireland by Britain is well known among Irish Americans and Irish People living in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and around the world. For example, a letter by a former AI Secretary-General sabotaged public support for the defense of Joe Doherty here in the United States. Just recently, it required a massive internet campaign to force AI/London to do anything at all to save the life of Loinnir McAliskey and to obtain the freedom of Roisin McAliskey.
Let me now move from the British colony in Northern Ireland to the American colony in Puerto Rico. While I was still on the AIUSA Board, a fellow Board Member asked me to draft a resolution for adoption by the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of AIUSA calling for a comprehensive AI Campaign against human rights violations by the United States in Puerto Rico. This resolution passed the AIUSA/AGM overwhelmingly, and without any dissent that I could detect. I was then invited by Amnesty International/Puerto Rico to give the Keynote Address at their Annual General Meeting in San Juan on the subject of the right of Puerto Rican political prisoners in American jails to be treated as prisoners of war. Immediately thereafter, AI/London and AIUSA applied massive pressure on AI/Puerto Rico to prevent this speech. AI/Puerto Rico refused to cave in.
I went down to Puerto Rico to attend their AGM, gave the Keynote Address, and also investigated U.S. human rights violations in Puerto Rico, including torture, summary executions and disappearances. Upon my return home, AIUSA attempted to stiff me out of my expenses despite the fact that I was attending the AI/Puerto Rico AGM in my official capacity as an invited AIUSA Board Member. Perhaps I missed it due to the press of other duties at the time, but I am not aware of any comprehensive Amnesty International Campaign against U.S. human rights abuses in Puerto Rico as overwhelmingly called for by the AIUSA/AGM.
Finally, let me say a few words about the deliberate non-action of AI/London and AIUSA on behalf of indigenous peoples living in the United States and its imperial ally, Canada. Back when I was on the AIUSA Board, AI/London decided to launch an international campaign on behalf of indigenous peoples. As usual, I received a pre-publication copy of the campaign material. On reading it, I immediately noticed that almost nothing was to be done to help the indigenous peoples living in the United States and Canada. I protested this to AI/London and AIUSA, and demanded that the indigenous peoples living in the United States and Canada be added as an integral part of this campaign. To the best of my knowledge, this was never done. I leave it to the indigenous peoples living in the United States and Canada to decide for themselves how helpful AI/London and AIUSA have been to them.
I will not belabor the obvious any longer in this brief Memorandum. But based upon my over sixteen years of experience having dealt with AI/London and AIUSA at the highest levels, it is clear to me that both organizations manifest a consistent pattern and practice of following the lines of the foreign policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel. You can certainly see this in all of AI’s non-work with respect to the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, indigenous peoples living in North America, etc. Effectively, Amnesty International and AIUSA function as tools for the imperialist, colonial and genocidal policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel.
There are many people of good will and good faith working at the grassroots level of Amnesty International and AIUSA who genuinely believe that they are doing meaningful and effective work to protect human rights around the world. But at the top of these two organizations you will find a self-perpetuating clique of co-opted Elites who deliberately shape and direct the work of AI and AIUSA so as to either affirmatively support, or else not seriously undercut, the imperial, colonial, and genocidal policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel. The Leadership Elites of AI/London and AIUSA have always considered themselves to be the so-called “loyal opposition” to the imperial, colonial, and genocidal policies of the United States, Britain and Israel. I would ask the people at the grassroots of AI and AIUSA whether you want to continue being part of the “loyal opposition” to imperialism, colonialism and genocide perpetrated by the United States, Britain and Israel? It is not for me to tell those people of good faith and good will currently working with AI/London and AIUSA what to do. But I have found other organizations to work with and support.
Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law, Board of Directors, Amnesty International USA (1988-92), Co-Founder AIUSA Middle East Coordination Group, Consultant to Amnesty International on the Middle East
Cover Image: Courtesy of WrongKindofGreen.
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
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.
Iraqi parliamentarians worry the US government has given Turkey a free hand to grab territory in the country’s oil-rich Mosul region, experts told Sputnik.
The Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee recently called on Prime Minister Haider Abadi to reassess and, if necessary, cancel the country’s security treaty with the United States following Turkish occupation of Iraqi territory near Mosul.
“My impression is that the Iraqi government has observed that the Russians are more effective in combatting ISIS [Islamic State] than the United States,” University of Louvain Professor Jean Bricmont in Belgium, author of “Humanitarian Imperialism,” told Sputnik.
Iraqi politicians recognize that Turkey continues to be favored by Washington as a major military ally in the Middle East, and Ankara also remains a member in good standing of the US-led NATO alliance despite its aggression toward Iraq, Bricmont pointed out.
“The Iraqis can see that NATO is supporting Turkey, and the latter is invading part of Iraq. Certainly this cannot happen without US approval.”
Genuine concern about Washington’s long-term policies toward Iraq was growing among policymakers in Baghdad and the parliamentary committee’s statement was an expression of this, Bricmont explained.
“I don’t know what is going on in the minds of the members of the Iraqi government, but I don’t see why that would only be pure posturing.”
Bricmont added that Turkey’s and Saudi Arabia’s support for the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, and the continued US support for Ankara and Riyadh was driving all forces in the Middle East to look to Russia for protection.
“Turkey’s support for the Islamic State and the recent events in the region are a game changer, since all the forces that are opposed to ISIS — Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon — see that their only real ally is Russia.”
However, would the United States allow Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi to escape from his security obligations to Washington?
“Abadi is a US puppet. Obama put him in power and keeps him in power. Nothing more than the Mayor of Baghdad,” University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle told Sputnik.
The Iraq-US Strategic Framework Agreement of 2008 contains a provision that allows either party to terminate it at one year’s notice.
The Lebanese army and militants from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Takfiri group al-Nusra Front have exchanged prisoners.
The swap on Tuesday took place under a Qatari-mediated deal that secured the release of 16 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held captive since August 2014, when the terrorist group kidnapped them during an attack in Lebanon’s border town of Arsal. The al-Nusra terrorists have killed four captives in that time span.
In exchange, the Lebanese government set free 13 militants, including Saja al-Dulaimi, the ex-wife of the so-called leader of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group Ibrahim al-Samarrai, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“We accomplished the entire agreement with al-Nusra. We received our heroic soldiers and we are on our way back to Beirut,” said Abbas Ibrahim, a senior Lebanese security official who supervised the prisoner swap.
Ibrahim, meanwhile, said Beirut was willing to strike a similar agreement with Daesh, which is believed to be holding nine Lebanese soldiers.
“This joy [is] not complete until the return of those kidnapped by Daesh. We are ready to negotiate with Daesh if we find someone to negotiate with,” he said.
The exchange started when Lebanon’s Red Cross received the body of a Lebanese soldier believed to be Mohamed Hamieh, one of the four slain troops, from al-Nusra. The body was handed over to officials from the Lebanese National Security Agency in the village of Labweh, located about 124 kilometers (77 miles) northeast of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
DNA tests are expected to be conducted to verify the identity of the dead soldier.
The government of Qatar launched a mediation effort over one year ago for the release of the Lebanese captives. Qatar is widely believed to be a major supporters of militants fighting in Syria.
Lebanon has been suffering from terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda-linked militants as well as random rocket attacks, which are viewed as a spillover of the conflict in Syria.
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.
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | November 19, 2015
Mass murder, as that which just occurred in Paris, is always distressing, but that does not mean we should stop thinking.
Isn’t it rather remarkable that President Hollande, immediately after the event, declared ISIS responsible? How did he know that? And if he was aware of a serious threat from ISIS, why did he not take serious measures in advance?
Within days of Friday 13, French forces assaulted an apartment with literally thousands of bullets being fired, killing a so-called mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Just how are you instantly elevated to the rank of “mastermind”? And if security people were previously aware of his exalted status, why did they wait until after a disaster to go after him?
Well, the ugly underlying truth is that, willy-nilly, France for years has been a supporter of ISIS, even while claiming to be fighting it. How do I know that? Because France’s foreign policy has virtually no independence from America’s. It could be described as a subset of American foreign policy. Hollande marches around with his head held stiffly up after getting off the phone at the Élysée Palace, having received the day’s expectations from Washington. He has been a rather pathetic figure.
So long as it is doing work the United States wishes done, ISIS remains an American protectorate, and regardless of Hollande’s past rhetoric, he has acted according to that reality. But something may just have changed now.
It is important to note the disproportionate attention in the West to events in Paris. I say disproportionate because there are equally ugly things going on in a number of places in the Middle East, but we do not see the coverage given to Paris. We have bombs in Lebanon and Iraq. We have daily bombings and shootings in Syria. We have cluster bombs and other horrors being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. And of course, there are the ongoing horrors of Israel against Palestinians.
We have endless interviews with ordinary people in Paris, people who know nothing factual to help our understanding, about their reaction to the terror, but when was the last time you saw personal reactions broadcast from Gaza City or Damascus? It just does not happen, and it does raise the suspicion that the press’s concern with Paris is deliberately out of proportion. After all, Israel killed about twenty times as many people in Gaza not very long ago, and the toll was heavily weighted with children, many hundreds of them. Events in Paris clearly are being exploited for highly emotional leverage.
Leverage against what? Arabs in general and Muslims in particular, just part of the continuing saga of deliberately-channeled hate we have experienced since a group of what proved (after their arrest) to be Israeli spies were reported on top of a truck, snapping pictures and high-fiving each other as the planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001. What those spies were doing has never been explained to the public. I’m not saying Israel is responsible for 9/11, but clearly some Israeli government interests were extremely happy about events, and we have been bombarded ever since with hate propaganda about Muslims, serving as a kind of constant noise covering the crimes Israel does commit against Palestinians and other neighbors.
It is impossible to know whether the attack in Paris was actually the work of ISIS or a covert operation by the secret service of an ISIS supporter. The point is a bit like arguing over angels on a pinhead. When you are dealing with this kind of warfare – thugs and lunatics of every description lured into service and given deadly toys and lots of encouragement to use them – things can and do go wrong. But even when nothing goes wrong in the eyes of sponsors for an outfit like ISIS, terrible things are still happening. It’s just that they’re happening where the sponsors want them to happen and in places from which our press carefully excludes itself. Terrible things, for example, have been happening in the beautiful land of Syria for four or five years, violence equivalent to about two hundred Paris attacks, causing immense damage, the entire point of which is to topple a popularly-supported president and turn Syria into the kind of rump states we see now in Iraq.
A covert operation in the name of ISIS is at least as likely as an attack by ISIS. The United States, Israel, Turkey, and France are none of them strangers to violent covert activities, and, yes, there have been instances before when a country’s own citizens were murdered by its secret services to achieve a goal. The CIA pushed Italian secret services into undertaking a series of murderous attacks on their own people during the 1960s in order to shake up Italy’s “threatening” left-wing politics. It was part of something called Operation Gladio. Operation Northwoods, in the early 1960s, was a CIA-planned series of terrorist acts on American civilians to be blamed on Cuba, providing an excuse for another invasion. It was not carried out, but that was not owing to any qualms in the CIA about murdering their own, otherwise no plan would have ever existed. The CIA was involved in many other operations inside the United States, from experiments with drugs to ones with disease, using innocent people as its subject-victims.
There have been no differences worth mentioning between Hollande’s France and America concerning the Middle East. Whatever America wants, America gets, unlike the days when Jacques Chirac opposed the invasion of Iraq, or earlier, when de Gaulle removed France’s armed forces from integration within NATO or bravely faced immense hostility, including a coup attempt undertaken by French military with CIA cooperation, when he abandoned colonialism in Algeria.
If anything, Hollande has been as cloyingly obsequious towards America’s chief interest in the Middle East, Israel, as a group of Republican Party hopefuls at a Texas barbecue fund-raiser sniffing out campaign contributions. After the Charlie Hebdo attack, Hollande honored four Jewish victims of the thugs who attacked a neighborhood grocery store with France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor. I don’t recall the mere fact of being murdered by thugs ever before being regarded as a heroic distinction. After all, in the United States more than twenty thousand a year suffer that fate without recognition.
Israel’s Netanyahu at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack actually outdid himself in manic behavior. He barged into France against a specific request that he stay home and pushed himself, uninvited, to the front row of the big parade down the Champs-Élysées which was supposed to honor free speech. He wanted those cameras to be on him for voters back home watching.
Free speech, you might ask, from the leaders of Egypt, Turkey, the UAE, and Israel, who all marched in front? Well, after the free-speech parody parade, the Madman of Tel Aviv raced around someone else’s country making calls and speeches for Jewish Frenchmen to leave “dangerous” France and migrate “home” to Israel. It would in fact be illegal in Israel for someone to speak that way in Israel to Israelis, but illegality has never bothered Netanyahu. Was he in any way corrected for this world-class asinine behavior? No, Hollande just kept marching around with his head stiffly up. I guess he was trying to prove just how free “free speech” is in France.
But speech really isn’t all that free in France, and the marching about free speech was a fraud. Not only is Charlie Hebdo, the publication in whose honor all the tramping around was done, not an outlet for free speech, being highly selective in choosing targets for its obscene attacks, but many of the people marching at the head of the parade were hardly representatives of the general principle.
France itself has outlawed many kinds of free speech. Speech and peaceful demonstrations which advocate a boycott of Israel are illegal in France. So a French citizen today cannot advocate peacefully against a repressive state which regularly abuses, arrests, and kills some of the millions it holds in a form of bondage. And Hollande’s France enforces this repressive law with at least as much vigor as Israel does with its own version, in a kind of “Look, me too,” spirit. France also has a law which is exactly the equivalent of a law against anyone’s saying the earth is flat: a law against denying or questioning the Holocaust. France also is a country, quite disgracefully, which has banned the niqab.
Now, America’s policy in the Mideast is pretty straightforward: subsidize and protect its colony Israel and never criticize it even on the many occasions when it has committed genuine atrocities. American campaign finance laws being what the are, politics back home simply permits no other policy. The invasion of Iraq, which largely was intended to benefit Israel through the elimination of a major and implacable opponent, has like so many dark operations backfired. I call the invasion a dark operation because although the war was as public as could be, all of America’s, and Britain’s, supposed intelligence about Iraq was crudely manufactured and the reasons for undertaking an act which would kill a million people and cripple an entire country were complete lies.
America’s stupid invasion created new room for Iran to exert its influence in the region – hence, the endless noise in Israel and Saudi Arabia about Iran – and it led directly to the growth of armed rabble groups like ISIS. There were no terrorists of any description in Saddam’s Iraq, just as there were no terrorists in Gadhafi’s Libya, a place now so infested with them that even an American ambassador is not safe.
Some Americans assert that ISIS happened almost accidentally, popping out of the dessert when no one was looking, a bit like Athena from the head of Zeus, arising from the bitterness and discontents of a splintered society, but that view is fatuous. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by accident in this part of the world. Israel’s spies keep informed of every shadowy movement, and America always listens closely to what they say.
It is silly to believe ISIS just crept up on America, suddenly a huge and powerful force, because ISIS was easy for any military to stop at its early stages, as when it was a couple of thousand men waving AK-47s from the backs of Japanese pick-up trucks tearing around Iraq. Those pick-up trucks and those AK-47s and the gasoline and the ammunition and the food and the pay required for a bunch of goons came from somewhere, and it wasn’t from Allah.
A corollary to America’s first principle about protecting Israel is that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in Israel’s neighborhood that is not approved, at least tacitly, by the United States. So whether,
in any given instance of supply and support for ISIS, it was Israel or Saudi Arabia or Turkey or America – all involved in this ugly business – is almost immaterial. It all had to happen with American approval. Quite simply, there would be hell to pay otherwise.
As usual in the region, Saudi Arabia’s role was to supply money, buying weapons from America and others and transshipping them to ISIS. Ever since 9/11, Saudi Arabia has been an almost pathetically loyal supporter of America, even to the extent now of often cooperating with Israel. That couldn’t happen before an event in which the majority of perpetrators proved to be Saudi citizens and which led to the discovery that large amounts of Saudi “go away” money had been paid to Osama bin Laden for years. But after 9/11, the Saudis feared for the continuation of their regime and now do what they are told. They are assisted in performing the banking function by Qatar, another wealthy, absolute state aligned with the United States and opposing the rise of any possibly threatening new forces in its region.
Of course, it wasn’t just the discoveries of 9/11 that motivated Saudi Arabia. It intensely dislikes the growing influence of Iran, and Iran’s Shia Muslim identity is regarded by Sunni sects in Saudi Arabia in much the way 17th century Protestantism was viewed by an ultramontane Catholic state like Spain. The mass of genuine jihadists fighting in Syria – those who are not just mercenaries and adventurers or agents of Israel or Turkey or the Saudis – are mentally-unbalanced Sunni who believe they are fighting godlessness. The fact that Assad keeps a secular state with religious freedom for all just adds to their motivation.
ISIS first achievement was toppling an Iraqi government which had been excessively friendly to Iran in the view of Israel, and thereby the United States. Iraq’s army could have stopped them easily early on but was bribed to run away, leaving weapons such as tanks behind. Just two heavy tanks could have crushed all the loons in pick-up trucks. That’s why there was all the grotesque propaganda about beheadings and extreme cruelty to cover the fact of modern soldiers running from a mob. ISIS gathered weapons, territory, and a fierce reputation in an operation which saw President al-Maliki – a man disliked by the United States for his associations with Iran and his criticism of American atrocities – hurriedly leave office.
From that base, ISIS was able to gain sufficient foothold to begin financing itself through, for example, stolen crude sold at a discount or stolen antiquities. The effective splitting up of Iraq meant that its Kurdish population in the north could sell, as it does today, large volumes of oil to Israel, an unheard of arrangement in Iraq’s past. ISIS then crossed into Syria in some force to go after Assad. The reasons for this attack were several: Assad runs a secular state and defends religious minorities but mainly because the paymasters of ISIS wanted Assad destroyed and Syria reduced in the fashion of Iraq.
Few people in the press seem to have noted that ISIS never attacks Israel or Israeli interests. Neither does it attack the wheezingly-corrupt rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic equivalent of ancient Rome’s Emperor Nero. Yet those are the very targets a group of genuine, independent warrior-fundamentalists would attack. But ISIS is not genuine, being supplied and bankrolled by people who do not want to see attacks on Israel or Saudi Arabia, including, notably, Israel and Saudi Arabia. ISIS also is assisted, and in some cases led, by foreign covert operators and special forces.
There does seem to be a good deal of news around the idea of France becoming serious in fighting ISIS, but I think we must be cautious about accepting it at face value. Putin is reported as telling ship commanders in the Mediterranean to cooperate and help cover the French aircraft carrier approaching. Hollande keeps calling for American cooperation too, as Putin has done for a very long time, but America’s position remains deliberately ambiguous. A new American announcement of cooperation with Turkey in creating a “safe zone” across the border with northern Syria is a development with unclear intentions. Is this to stop the Kurds Erdogan so despises fighting in the north of Syria from establishing themselves and controlling the border or is it a method for continued support of ISIS along the that border? Only time will tell.
I do think it at least possible Hollande may have come around to Putin’s view of ISIS, but America has not, and the situation only grows more fraught with dangerous possibilities. I’ve long believed that likely America, in its typically cynical fashion, planned to destroy ISIS, along with others like al-Nusra, once they had finished the dirty work of destroying Syria’s government and Balkanizing the country. In any event, Israel – and therefore, automatically, America – wants Assad destroyed, so it would be surprising to see America at this point join honestly with Putin and Hollande.
America has until now refused Russia any real support, including such basic stuff as sharing intelligence. It cooperates only in the most essential matters such avoiding attacks on each other’s planes. It also has made some very belligerent statements about what Russia has been doing, some from the America’s Secretary of Defense sounding a lot like threats. Just the American establishment’s bully-boy attitude about doing anything which resembles joining a Russian initiative does not bode well.
After all, Putin has been portrayed as a kind of Slavic Satan by American propaganda cranking stuff out overtime in support of Ukraine’s incompetent coup-government and with the aim of terrifying Eastern Europe into accepting more American weapons and troops near Russia’s border, this last having nothing to do with any Russian threat and everything to do with America’s aggressive desire to shift the balance of power. How do you turn on a dime and admit Putin is right about Syria and follow his lead?
And there are still the daily unpleasant telephone calls from Israel about Assad. How do you manoeuvre around that when most independent observers today recognize Assad as the best alternative to any other possible government. He has the army’s trust, and in the end it is the Syrian army which is going to destroy ISIS and the other psychopaths. Air strikes alone can never do that. The same great difficulty for Hollande leaves much ambiguity around what he truly means by “going to war against ISIS.”
It is an extremely complicated world in which we live with great powers putting vast resources towards destroying the lives of others, almost killing thousands on a whim, while pretending not to be doing so. We live in an era shaped by former CIA Director Allen Dulles, a quiet psychopath who never saw an opportunity for chaos he did not embrace.
The only way to end terror is to stop playing with the lives of tens of millions in the Middle East, as America has done for so long, and stop supporting the behaviors of a repressive state which has killed far greater numbers than the madmen of ISIS could dream of doing, demanding instead that that state make peace and live within its borders. But, at least at this stage, that is all the stuff of dreams.