The trouble with arrogance is that it is intellectually blinding; and the trouble with being intellectually blind is that you fail to see your own contradictions – no matter how preposterous those contradictions may be.
The arrogant ones we are referring to here are the United States and its Western allies. In the past week, Washington has been up in arms about Russia’s decision to step up its military support for the government of Syria. The Americans are calling on Moscow for “clarification” and are getting all hot under the collar about what they say is unwarranted Russian support for the “regime” of Bashar al-Assad.
This finger-wagging from Washington comes at the same time that a US-led military coalition continues to bomb Syria for nearly 12 months.
This week, US warplanes striking Syria were joined by fighter jets from Australia for the first time in those operations, which are allegedly aimed at hitting the Islamic State terror group within the country. France and Britain are also expected to soon join the bombing runs inside Syrian territory.
Now hold on a moment. Let’s get this straight. The US and its allies have appointed themselves to carry out air strikes on a sovereign country – Syria – without having approval from the government of that country, or without a mandate from the UN Security Council.
Thus, the legality of these US-led air strikes – which have resulted in numerous civilian casualties – is therefore of highly dubious status, if not constituting flagrant violation of international law.
Yet the arrogant Western powers, led by the US, have the temerity to lecture Russia about its decision to supply weapons to the government of Syria.
As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed out, the military equipment being sent to Syria is consistent with long-standing and legal bilateral agreements between the two allied countries. Russia and Syria have been allies for nearly 40 years.
There is nothing untoward going on – unlike the Western aerial bombing campaign.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin went further in defending the military aid to Syria by saying that it was necessary to help its ally “fight against terrorist aggression”.
For the past four years, the Syrian national army has been battling against an array of foreign mercenaries whose main formations comprise al Qaeda-linked terror groups, such as Al Nusra Front and Islamic State. Putin is correct when he says that the Syrian government forces are the primary fighting front against the jihadist terror networks.
If Western countries are serious about defeating these same terror groups – as they claim to be – then they should be supportive of the Syrian government, as Russia is.
America’s top diplomat John Kerry says that Russia’s support for Syria will “exacerbate and extend the conflict” and will “undermine our shared goal of fighting extremism”. His Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov rightly dismissed Kerry’s objection as “upside-down logic”.
Arrogance not only blinds to contradictions; it evidently leads sufferers of the condition to speak nonsense.
Here’s how the New York Times this week reported the Russia-Syria development:
“The move by Russia to bolster the government of President Bashar al-Assad, who has resisted Mr. Obama’s demand to step down for years, underscored the conflicting approaches to fighting the Islamic State terrorist organisation. While Mr. Obama supports a rival rebel group to take on the Islamic State even as he opposes Mr. Assad, Russia contends that the government is the only force that can defeat the Islamic extremists.”
Note the arrogance laden in those words. With breezy casualness, the Western view is that the Syrian leader has “resisted Mr. Obama’s demand to step down for years”.
Again, just like the presumed “right” to bomb a sovereign country, it is an American presumed right to decide whether a leader of another state should stand down.
Who are the Americans or any other government to decide something that is the prerogative of the Syrian people? At this point, it should be mentioned by the way that the Syrian people voted to re-elect President Assad by a huge majority – nearly 80 per cent – in the country’s last election in 2012.
But here is the fatal contradiction in the logic of the US and its Western allies. According to the New York Times, Obama “supports a rival rebel group to take on the Islamic State even as he opposes Mr. Assad”.
That proposition is simply not true. In fact, it is delusional. Even the Americans have elsewhere admitted that there is no “rival rebel group” in Syria. After years of pretending that the West was supporting “moderate rebels” in Syria, the reality is that the war against the Syrian state has been waged by jihadist extremists covertly armed and bankrolled by the US and its allies, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Former director of the US Defence Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, in an interview with the Al Jazeera news channel back in July, candidly admitted that Washington was well aware that it was supporting the Islamic State and other terror groups as the main anti-government forces. It was a “willful decision” said Flynn because Washington wanted regime change in Syria.
Regime change, it needs to be emphasized, amounts to criminal interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. And regime change is something that Washington and its European allies are all too habitually complicit in, as with Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Ukraine in 2014, to mention just a few.
From that “willful decision” by Washington, Syria has been plunged into four years of unrelenting war with a death toll of some 240,000 people. Over half its 24 million population has been displaced, with hundreds of thousands surging towards Europe in desperation. Terrorism has now become an even greater regional security problem threatening to tear other countries asunder through sectarian violence.
So, when Washington and its Western allies pontificate to Russia about terrorism and what to do or not to do in Syria, they are best ignored with the contempt they deserve. Arrogant, blind and criminal are not qualifications for international leadership.
The US’ obsessive insistence that “Assad must go” is the most dangerous expression of American arrogance in years.
White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest channeled President Obama’s famous chant that “Assad must go” when he claimed during a regular press briefing that:
“The international community has decided that it’s time for Assad to go. He clearly has lost legitimacy to lead. He has lost the confidence of those citizens of his country — at least the ones that — or I guess I should say particularly the ones that he is using the resources of the military to attack.”
The arrogance on display is both stupefying and dangerous. The problem in Syria isn’t, nor ever has been, President Assad – it’s always been the US’ arrogance in dictating demands and then militarily enforcing them after they’ve been rejected.
Syria’s ills are directly traceable to the failure of American foreign policy in the Mideast. The US rabidly went on a regime change streak that began during the Bush years, with former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe for NATO General Wesley Clark revealing in his 2007 memoirs that a senior general showed him a memo and said:
“‘Here’s the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We’re going to take out seven countries in five years.’ And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran.”
Earlier that year, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote an expose in The New Yorker in which he detailed, among other proposed regional regime change specifics, that the Bush Administration was planning to use the Muslim Brotherhood to launch a Gulf-funded sectarian war against the Syrian government.
At the time, the reason was supposedly because of Damascus’ closeness to Tehran, but later information as reported by The Guardian reveals that the decision to build a Friendship Pipeline between Iran, Iraq, and Syria in 2010, and Damascus’ rejection of a similar one from Qatar, likely had a lot to do with why the anti-government terrorist plan was pushed forward for activation the year after.
Beginning in 2011, the Mideast was rocked by the so-called “Arab Spring”, which Russian General Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov would in hindsight categorize as a theater-wide Color Revolution during an official conference on the topic last year in Moscow.
What the US had wanted to do is overthrow all of the Mideast’s republics (even those allied with the US such a Egypt) in order to bring a transnational Muslim Brotherhood clique to power in each of them that would thus make it a lot easier to control the entire region.
Think of it as the neocons’ version of a 21st-century communist party, but directed towards control of the Mideast and not Europe (which has the EU for that).
The Gulf Monarchies were not targeted because of their staunch pro-American allegiance and the potential that any domestic disruption would have in upsetting the US’ economic interests there.
Between the pro-American Gulf Monarchies and the pro-American EU thus lay a handful of republics that weren’t so firmly under the US’ sway (or not at all influenced by it like Syria), so in order for the US to securely control the broad swatch of Afro-Eurasia stretching from Iceland to Yemen, it needed to overthrow those governments, ergo the “Arab Spring” Color Revolutions.
The People’s Will
But something went wrong as it always does with the US’ plans, and it was that the Syrian people wholeheartedly rejected the Muslim Brotherhood’s ploy at regime change, instead favoring to preserve the secular and multicultural society that Syrian civilization is historically known for.
For this simple reason, the Color Revolution attempt was a dismal failure from the very beginning, hence why the US and its allies (notably Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia) sought to transform it into an Unconventional War by arming their proxies and ordering them to escalate their soft coup attempt into a hard one.
The resultant Hybrid War that’s been raging for the past four and a half years is thus a manifestation of the US’ geopolitical obsession for regime change. Far from realizing that the people had resoundingly rejected such an approach from the very beginning, the US and its allies dug in by reinforcing their proxy elements inside the country and allowing foreign fighters to flood into Syria via the Turkish border.
Amidst this external onslaught being launched against them, the Syrian people continued to bravely soldier on and democratically show the rest of the world that they supported their government.
A constitutional referendum in 2012 passed by an 89% margin and with the participation of 57% of the population, while President Assad was reelected in 2014 with 88.7% of the vote in which 73% of the electorate took part.
Both sets of numbers trump the civil society participation and political legitimacy of Western countries and their leaders, and as President Assad once said, there is no way he could remain in office during this war if he didn’t truly have the support of the vast majority of the population.
It’s also telling that most of the country’s refugees haven’t fled the country, but have instead decided to stay in their homeland and seek safety under the protection of the Syrian Arab Army, which currently provides security to around 80% of Syria’s citizens.
Be that as it is, the US and its allies stubbornly ignored the people’s will, and instead continued to blindly pump weapons and fighters into the country in clear confirmation of the adage that insanity is “repeating the same thing over again but expecting different results”.
Ground Zero In The War On Terror
All of those fighters and weapons that the US and its allies were shipping into Syria were bound to lead to some major problems, chief among them the rise of ISIL, but this was actually predicted and supported by the US government a couple years ago. Judicial Watch published a declassified report that it received in May from a Freedom Of Information Act request that proves that the Pentagon’s Defense Information Agency thought that:
“If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
This bombshell dovetails with what Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad recently said in an interview where he accused the US of using terrorism to promote regime change in his country. President Putin followed up at the CSTO summit by warning countries of the risks inherent in employing double-standards towards terrorists and directly or indirectly using them to further certain tactical objectives.
In order to stem the tide of terror that the US unleashed in the Mideast, Russia is rapidly moving forward with assembling an inclusive anti-ISIL coalition, and President Putin is expected to use his keynote speech at the UN General Assembly later this month to make his case that the situation is far too pressing to care about regime change, and that the world must unite in supporting Syria as it fights on its behalf on the frontlines against terror.
American arrogance got the world into this mess, but if you ask Russia, it’ll be Syrian humility that gets it out in one piece.
Today’s lesson in how propaganda works: The rumor mill turns a trickle of a story early this week about “thousands” of Russian soldiers deploying to Syria any day — a wholly unsourced story originating on an Israeli website — into a torrent of hyperventilating about the “Russian invasion” of Syria.
Today neocon convicted felon Eliot Abrams took to the Council on Foreign Relations website to amplify the Israeli article (again with no sources or evidence) to a whole new and more dramatic article ominously titled “Putin in Syria.” Abrams adds “reporting” by Michael Weiss, who has long been on the payroll of viscerally anti-Putin oligarch Michael Khodorkovsky, without revealing the obvious bias in the source. Never mind, all Weiss adds to Abrams’ argument is that the Pentagon is “cagey” about discussing Russian involvement in Syria before again referencing the original (unsourced) Israeli article.
See how this works? Multiple media outlets report based on the same totally unsourced article and suddenly all the world’s writing about the Russian invasion of Syria.
Now the White House has gotten into the game. According to an article by Agence France Press, the White House is “monitoring reports” that the Russians are active in Syria.
What reports? The article does not say nor does the White House. Presumably the White House is referring back to the original (unsourced) Israeli article.
But in the category of never let a good “crisis” go to waste, the White House, which began bombing Syria last August in violation of both international and US law, has declared that any Russian involvement in the Syria crisis would be “destabilizing and counterproductive.”
Apparently a year of US bombs is not “destabilizing.”
This is where the hypocrisy is so thick you could cut it with a knife. The US is illegally bombing Syria, illegally violating Syrian sovereignty, illegally training and equipping foreign fighters to overthrow the Syrian government, and has backed radical jihadists through covert and overt programs.
ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria were solely the products of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq under false pretenses — the lies of the neocons — and after a year of US bombing ISIS seems as strong as ever while scores of civilians are killed by US attacks.
All of this is perfectly fine and should never be questioned. But even the hint that the Russians, who have had to contend with their fair share of radical Islam and are much closer to Syria than the US, may have an interest in joining the fight against ISIS is met with hysterical reproaches by a White House that admits it has no evidence.
What is the White House afraid of? While the stated goal of the Obama Administration is to defeat ISIS, the real, long-term goal is to overthrow Assad. The Russians disagree with the US insistence that Assad’s departure must be the starting point of any political settlement of the crisis. The Russians have long ago come to understand that Assad may be key to saving Syria from the kind of jihadist chaos that has engulfed Libya after its “liberation” by the US and its allies.
That is why the US government is flirting with the (unsourced Israeli) rumors of a massive Russian invasion of Syria. Regurgitated cries that the Russians are coming may serve to divert attention from another failed US intervention in the region.
One might think that if the US was serious about defeating ISIS it would welcome involvement from Russia and Iran, both of which would like nothing more than to see the back of the Islamic State. One might think if the US was serious about defeating ISIS it would rethink its “Assad must go” policy and allow the one force that has the most incentive to defeat ISIS — the Syrian Arab Army.
Yet the US will only work with the same states that have trained, funded, and turned a blind eye to the radical Islamic fighters as they have poured into Syria over the past four years — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, etc.
Conspiracy-minded people must be wondering why the US is so reluctant to accept assistance from forces that so earnestly and with such military capacity seek the end of ISIS while partnering with those forces that have done so much to create ISIS.
As refugees from Syria stream into Europe, the Gulf Arab financial and diplomatic sponsors of Syria’s rebel groups have taken in zero refugees from the conflict.
Friends of Syria was a group of countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which united to provide diplomatic and often financial support to facilitate “regime change” in Syria in 2012.
The group’s Arab country members have since then rejected refugees leaving the country as a result of its civil war and resulting massive humanitarian crisis. The same countries have also sponsored rebel organizations in Syria, often supporting them with financial and logistical aid.
At the same time, the Gulf Arab states largely rely on migrant labor for everyday work, something that could provide Syrian refugees with the opportunity to provide for themselves in a temporary new home.
Refugees Not Welcome
According to the BBC, in addition to having complex visa rules and not participating in conventions on refugees, the countries rely largely on migrant workers from Southeast Asia.
To make matters worse, Saudi Arabia has been deporting migrant workers, particularly those from neighboring Arab countries such as Yemen. According Human Rights Watch, the country deported an average of 2,000 migrants per day between November 2014 and March 2015.
In addition, Saudi Arabia’s kafala system only allows migrants to enter the country with sponsorship from their employment.
The Gulf countries also foresaw the refugee crisis after Syria’s conflict began in 2011, according to Alexander Sotnichenko, dean of the international relations department at Saint Petersburg State University.
“The Gulf countries foresaw the humanitarian catastrophe as a result of the civil war in Syria and in 2011 financed the construction and maintenance of large camps in Turkey and Jordan,” Sotnichenko wrote.
According to Sotnichenko, most refugees from Syria went to Turkey because of the country’s announcement that it is prepared to accept refugees. This allowed the Gulf countries to largely deflect the stream of refugees from Syria’s conflict, which they had taken part in sponsoring.
“From Turkey it is even more difficult to get to Gulf countries [than from Syria], while Europe is much closer,” Sotnichenko added.
As a result, refugees are able to get to Europe illegally from Turkey, while entering Gulf countries is much more difficult, according to Sotnichenko. In addition, Syrian refugees in Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Jordan are detained and sent to refugee camps.
Recently Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg sent a letter to the UN Security Council demanding that Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria end the use of barrel bombs. The foreign ministry of a European country that still maintains a diplomatic presence in Damascus, one of the few, asked for the opinion of its embassy on the matter. The embassy recommended to sign the letter: barrel bombs are indiscriminate and kill an awful lot of civilians. But the embassy also advised its government to condemn the opposition’s use of improvised mortar bombs (known as “hell cannons”) against the neighborhoods under government control. Diplomats say that the rebels have specifically targeted Christian areas for their perceived support for the Assad regime. Back in Europe, the foreign ministry officials admitted that they “haven’t heard anything” about the “hell cannons.”
This is only one example of how dysfunctional EU policy toward Syria has become, as a European Parliament (EP) delegation that visited Lebanon in mid-June learned. An early EU decision to cut off all ties with the Assad regime has not been vindicated by the developments on the ground. Not only has the regime survived, but radical jihadist elements have increasingly dominated the opposition to Assad. The EU, however, failed to modify its strategy accordingly. As a result, regional actors with often disruptive and sectarian agendas have taken center stage. And individual EU member states have also pursued their own policies, which are not necessarily in the interests of the EU as a whole.
The latest example of the distorting influence of the regional actors is the Syrian opposition’s failure to accept the “freeze plan” in Aleppo and surrounding areas proposed by the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura as a first step toward a negotiated solution. In the UN assessment, the opposition´s foreign sponsors—mainly Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan—bear primary responsibility for this failure, because they have insisted on removing Assad from power as a pre-condition to any agreements.
Such a position is not new. What is new, however, is that these sponsors do not hide anymore that they work directly with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda´s affiliate in Syria. They still pretend, however, that al-Nusra is the face of the “moderate opposition,” even though this assertion stems from a PR operation, widely believed to be Qatari-driven and carried out in Western mainstream media and think-tanks. An interview al-Nusra’s chief Al-Golani gave to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera was part of this PR campaign, but it backfired when Al-Golani made it clear that al-Nusra is al-Qaeda and expressed borderline genocidal views on Alawites.
The Dangers of Supporting Jihad
To make matters more complicated, even those rebel groups that are not part of al-Nusra, espouse deeply troubling views. According to a credible UN source in Damascus, a fighter from an obscure group Jaysh al-Ababil active in Syria´s south, has reported that “Syrian people deserve a democracy like in Saudi Arabia.” He boasted that the group “gets anything it needs” from Jordan and that a major offensive to take Damascus from the south, as well as the north, will be launched “very soon.”
If the US and EU had real strategy to end the war they would, in addition to pressuring Assad, demand that their regional allies curb the flow of weapons and recruits to terrorist groups. But they can’t credibly do that, since they are involved in this effort themselves. According to Conflicts Forum, the southern rebel front is managed from US Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan, which is run jointly by American, Jordanian, Saudi, Qatari, and British officers. … Full article
Emails of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton published by the State Department expose that the Qatari Royal family made efforts to befriend the American politician through former British PM Tony Blair’s spouse, Cherie Blair.
Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, a wife of the former emir of Qatar and mother of the ruling emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al-Thani, established contact with Clinton via Cherie Blair.
The Blair and Clinton families have been political and personal friends since the 1990s.
“Sheika Moser (Sheikha Mozah) has approached me privately saying they are keen to get their relationship with the USA onto a more positive footing and she was hoping for a ‘women to women’ one to one private meeting with you,” Cherie Blair wrote to Clinton in May 2009. “I am sure the conversation would not be confined to these issues but would be about the U.S./Qatar relationship generally,” Blair wrote, mentioning joint philanthropic interests among issues Clinton and Mozah could talk about.
Blair did her best to persuade Hillary Clinton to get acquainted with “someone who has real influence in Qatar,” the newly-released documents show.
“I could make time to meet in DC during the weeks of June 8th and 15th. Would that work?” Clinton gave in on May 26, promising to rearrange her schedule to “fit her time.”
Yet Sheikha Mozah was unable to meet with Clinton on suggested dates in June 2009 “due to prior commitments” and proposed to meet “immediately after Ramadan/Eid week of September 27, 2009.”
Altogether, on Tuesday the State Department released over 1,900 of Clinton’s emails (3,000 pages). Within this bulk of information, there are 19 emails that have to do with Clinton/ Mozah getting acquainted with each other.
The royal Al-Thanis family of Qatar is known for its fabulous wealth gathered on the back of the petroleum and liquefied natural gas trade. Over the last decades, Qatar rulers spent billions on increasing its influence in Western capitals. The Al-Thanis invested particularly heavily in London, the Guardian claims.
The scale of the Qatar royal family’s investment in the British capital remains largely unknown. Al-Thanis own Harrods, the Olympic village and Shard completely, along with certain property in Hyde Park. A quarter of Sainsbury’s, large share of Barclays and 8 percent of the London Stock Exchange all belong to them, as well as the US embassy building in Grosvenor Square.
Earlier this year it emerged that the Clinton Foundation allegedly received multiple foreign donations during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
A newly-released book accused the Clinton Foundation, run by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, her husband Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea, of accepting quid pro quo donations from foreign sources while Hillary was secretary of state.
It was revealed that governments that had received frequent criticism from the State Department for repressive policies – countries like Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – had donated to the Clinton Foundation and gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons.
In late May, the FIFA corruption scandal also cast its shadow over the Clintons, as it emerged that the Clinton Foundation received at least $50,000 and as much as $100,000 from the football governing body.
“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Hillary Clinton told NBC News in May.
The Guardian reports that the Blair family has done some favors for Qatar’s rulers, too.
Although Tony Blair stepped down from his post as PM in 2007, his influence remains in place. In 2012 he brokered a $50-billion commodities deal between Glencore and Xstrata, which brought him $1 million.
Later the same year the former Labor leader assisted the Qataris in getting a share in a £1-billion-valued group owning such prestigious hotel as Berkeley, Claridge’s and Connaught, the Guardian claims.
In this regard, the Faith Foundation mirrors the Clinton Foundation, set up by the former US President Bill Clinton after leaving his post in 2001.
From 2009 up to 2013, the year the Ukrainian crisis erupted, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is headquartered in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, a new report claims.
The Clinton Foundation’s donor list includes some 200,000 names, among them foreign financial institutions and Wall Street-based financial organizations, international energy conglomerates and governments, the government of Qatar included, which allegedly has given between $1 million and $5 million in donations to the Clintons.
There has never been a dime’s worth of difference between the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) and Barack Obama, and less than ten cents separates the worldviews of these Democratic political twins from the Bush wing of the Republican Party.
Each has their individual quirks. Barack destroys international order and the rule of law while dabbling at song; Bill dismantled the U.S. manufacturing base and threw record numbers of Blacks in prison as he toyed with his trumpet; George W. played the fool who would Shock and Awe the world into obedience; and Hillary is the evil crone that curses the dead while screaming “We are Woman” like a banshee. But they are all the same in their corporate soullessness.
They all lie for a living, and they live to lie. Hillary Clinton commingled official and personal criminality through the medium of email. Knowing that, in a life dedicated to crime, she could never successfully sequester her private and public conspiracies, Hillary privatized all of her email correspondence during her tenure as Obama’s Secretary of State (in the perfect spirit of neoliberalism). The fate of millions of Haitians whose country’s earthquake and development “aid” are under the Clinton family thumb were doubtless bundled into the tens of thousands of messages she erased on leaving Foggy Bottom.
Republicans have harassed her ever since, seeking an electronic smoking gun to show Clinton’s cowardice or lack of resolve to “stand up for America” and “our troops” or some other nonsense. What the Benghazi affair actually proves is that the Obama administration was just as intent as the Republicans to maintain the fiction that the “rebels” put in power by seven months of NATO bombing of Libya were not various flavors of Islamic jihadists – some of whom were already turning on their erstwhile masters. The U.S.-Saudi project to create and nurture the international jihadist network is a bipartisan venture that dates back to Jimmy Carter’s presidency – and, therefore, nothing for Democrats and Republicans to fight about. However, the GOP’s churning of Clinton’s emails does provide a glimpse into her quest to run for president in 2016 as the woman who vanquished Muammar Gaddafi (“Qaddafi” or simply “Q” in Clinton’s usage).
A number of Clinton’s correspondences were with Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton family spin-master who wrote nasty things about Barack Obama while working for Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign – which made it impossible for her to hire him at the State Department. Nevertheless, Clinton needed his talents for hype for the campaign ahead. Their emails in the summer of 2011 discussed how Hillary’s status as stateswoman could soar when the Libyan leader was finally eliminated. “This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” wrote Blumenthal, feeding the crone’s huge gizzard of ego, according to an article in Monday’s New York Times. “You must go on camera,” wrote Blumenthal. “You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment.” Hillary was anxious to seize the time to establish what Blumenthal described as “the Clinton Doctrine.”
The Times piece somehow concludes that Obama stole Clinton’s thunder with an 1,100-word speech, in late August, declaring: “The Gaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.” But Hillary best expressed the ghoulishness of America’s ruling duopoly two months later, in October, when Gaddafi was savagely butchered by screaming jihadists. “We came, we saw, he died,” cackled the banshee.
In the annals of global diplomacy, no more vulgar words have been spoken by a major power foreign minister or head of state. Yet, Clinton’s calculated quip perfectly encapsulates the bloodlust that is the common characteristic of both the governing duopoly of the United States and their suckling children in ISIS and the other proliferating al Qaida factions.
Thanks to Seymour Hersh, we now have a much more plausible scenario for the May 2, 2011, demise of Osama bin Laden, the “OG” of the U.S.-Saudi spawned global jihad, whose body will never be located. Virtually the entire U.S. account of his death is a lie, repeatedly contradicted on its own terms – another layer of fictional Americana in the age of empire in decline.
Clinton was hard-pressed to imagine how she might trump the president’s bin Laden death-watch extravaganza. Her opportunity came five months later, when she delivered her gruesome paraphrase of Julius Caesar on the occasion of Col. Gaddafi’s murder. In the context of Washington’s deeply racist foreign policy, Gaddafi and bin Laden were equally deserving of death, although Gaddafi was among the most fervent and effective fighters against Islamic jihadists: his government was the first in the world to request a global arrest warrant against bin Laden.
The Libyan Islamists were quickly transferred to the new U.S.-NATO-Saudi-Qatari front lines in Syria. The CIA station in Benghazi was at the center of the action – and got burned in the wild and unwieldy process of herding jihadists, who find it difficult to take orders from “infidels,” even when the “Crusaders” are paying the bills and supplying the weapons.
The U.S. consulate and CIA station in Benghazi were attacked on September 11, 2012. The next day, the Pentagon’s intelligence agency issued a report predicting that a “Salafist principality” – another term for an Islamic State – would likely arise in Syria as a result of the war, and that “Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey are supporting these efforts.” Moreover, the establishment of such an Islamic “principality” would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaida in Iraq, which became ISIS, ISIL and the Islamic State] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi” in Iraq – events that have since transpired.
The Defense Intelligence Agency report didn’t say so, but the “Western Powers” included the United States, through its CIA.
The document was declassified this year as the result of a suit by a libertarian right-wing legal outfit. The people of the world continue to be fed the fiction that the U.S. is engaged in a long, twilight struggle against al Qaida Salafists whose international network was created by, and continues to benefit from, “Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey.”
However, the 2012 Pentagon warning about the rise of an Islamic State may have had some effect on U.S. policy in Syria. One year later, in September of 2013, President Obama backed off from his threat to bomb Syria in “retaliation” for a chemical missile attack against civilians – a crime much more likely committed by western-backed Salafists. The conventional wisdom is that the Russians tricked a hapless Secretary of State John Kerry into agreeing to the peaceful, internationally supervised destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal; or that the refusal of Britain’s Parliament to go along with an air assault on Syria made the U.S. position untenable; or that Obama feared losing a vote on the issue in the U.S. Congress. None of this rings true to me. The United States is not easily deterred by the opinions of Europeans, who in the end accept Washington’s acts as a fait accompli. And, it was not clear that Obama would have lost the vote in Congress – a vote that he requested, while at the same time declaring that he did not need the legislature’s permission to “punish” Syria for crossing his “red line.”
I think that high Pentagon officials and elements of the Obama administration – probably including the president, himself – took the Benghazi disaster and the Defense Intelligence Agency report to heart, and decided that it was better to keep bleeding the Syrians and their Russian, Lebanese and Iranian allies through a prolonged war, than to bomb al Qaida into power. For the U.S., regional chaos is preferable to the triumph of the, ultimately, unmanageable Salafists – unchained.
The thirty-plus year war against Iran would, however, be ratcheted up. The Bush administration was snatched back from the brink of a military assault against Teheran in 2007 when – to the great consternation of Vice President Dick Cheney – all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies declared, publicly and unanimously, that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program, years before.
The spooks reaffirmed their consensus in the 2010 National Intelligence Estimate – again, that there was no evidence Iran has any intention of making a bomb. The Obama administration has since avoided asking the intelligence agencies for their analysis on the issue, knowing they would get the same answer. Instead, they rely on Israeli propaganda, pick and choose various “experts” from inside and outside the arms control “community,” or simply put forward unsupported statements on Iran’s capabilities and intentions: the Big Lie. While Bush was humiliated by facts supplied by his own intelligence experts, Obama has escalated the confrontation with Iran, applying crippling sanctions and the whole range of low-level warfare, in close collaboration with Israel – proving, once again, that Obama is the “more effective evil.”
Obama has nearly completed knocking off victims on the “hit list” of countries that George Bush was working on when General Wesley Clark ran across it in 2002. Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Somalia have been invaded since then, and Sudan was stripped of a third of its territory. Only Iran and Lebanon remain intact and outside the U.S. imperial umbrella.
The Republican-Democratic duopoly plays tag-team in promoting the Project for a New American Century – a doctrine promulgated by neo-conservatives in 1997 that has served as the guiding light of both the Bush and Obama administrations. The differences between the two teams are merely rhetorical. The Bush regime is described as “unilateralist,” although it employed the same “Coalition of the Willing” approach to aggressive war as does the Obama administration. President Obama claims the right to disregard and methodically undermine international law through “humanitarian” military intervention, whereas Bush claimed to be “spreading democracy.” Same weapons systems, same mass murder, same objective: U.S. domination of the planet.
There’s nothing democratic or humanitarian about the U.S. imperial project. Therefore, its maintenance requires the deployment of 24-7 psychological operations worldwide, but directed primarily against the U.S. public.
Republican strategist Karl Rove was far more honest than his Democratic counterparts when he explained to a reporter, back in 2004:
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
Election seasons are reality-creation festivals, during which the two corporate parties pretend to put forward different visions of the national and global destiny – when, in fact, they answer to the same master and must pursue the same general strategy.
The continuity of GOP-Democratic rule – the near-identical depravity – is horrifically evident in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where six million people have been slaughtered by U.S. surrogates since 1996: the largest genocide since World War II. Successive U.S. administrations – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, assisted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, the high U.S. official most deeply implicated in the entirety of the genocide – have armed, financed, and covered up the Congolese holocaust. Each administration has collaborated with its predecessor to hide the crime and obscure the question of guilt – and then to continue the killing.
Decent people do not vote for political parties that produce such fiends, who deserve Nuremburg justice of the capital kind. Any talk of “lesser evils” is both stupid and obscene.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
The June 7 parliamentary election in Turkey could have a huge impact on the conflict in Syria. The invincible image of President Erdogan has been cracked. There is a real chance that the election might lead to substantive change in Turkish foreign policy promoting the war in Syria.
Even though Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the most votes, they lost their majority in parliament and must now find a coalition partner. Turkey’s new parliament was seated for the first time on Tuesday June 23. Now begins the political bargaining and negotiations to form a governing coalition. Depending on the outcome, Turkey may stop or seriously restrict the flow of weapons and foreign fighters through its territory into Syria. If Turkey does this, it would offer a real prospect for movement toward negotiations and away from war in Syria. Why? The Syrian war continues because Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, USA, France, UK and others are spending billions of dollars annually to fund the armed opposition and sustain the war in violation of the UN Charter and international law.
Closely allied with Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey has been the primary path for weapons and foreign fighters in Syria. ISIS has depended on export of oil and import of weapons and fighters through Turkey. Jabhat al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham and other armed opposition groups have depended on weapons and foreign fighters coming in via Turkey for attacks on northern Syria including Syria’s largest city, Aleppo.
Turkish Government Support of War on Syria
The following examples show the extent of Turkish involvement in the war on Syria:
- Turkey hosts the Political and Military Headquarters of the armed opposition. Most of the political leaders are former Syrians who have not lived there for decades.
- Turkey provides home base for armed opposition leaders. As quoted in the Vice News video Syria: Wolves of the Valley: “Most of the commanders actually live in Turkey and commute in to the fighting when necessary.”
- Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT has provided its own trucks for shipping huge quantities of weapons and ammunition to Syrian armed opposition groups. According to court testimony they made at least 2,000 trips to Syria.
- Turkey is suspected of supplying the chemical weapons used in Ghouta in August 2013 as reported by Seymour Hersh here. In May 2013, Nusra fighters were arrested in possession of sarin but quickly and quietly released by Turkish authorities.
- Turkey’s foreign minister, top spy chief and senior military official were secretly recorded plotting an incident to justify Turkish military strikes against Syria. A sensational recording of the meeting was publicized, exposing the plot in advance and likely preventing it from proceeding.
- Turkey has provided direct aid and support to attacking insurgents. When insurgents attacked Kassab Syria on the border in spring 2014, Turkey provided backup military support and ambulances for injured fighters. Turkey shot down a Syrian jet fighter that was attacking the invading insurgents. The plane landed 7 kms inside Syrian territory, suggesting that Turkish claims it was in Turkish air space are likely untrue.
- Turkey has recently increased its coordination with Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This has led to the recent assaults by thousands of foreign fighters on Idlib and Jisr al Shugour in northern Syria. Armed with advanced weaponry including TOW missiles, and using suicide bomb vehicles, the armed groups over-ran Syrian armed forces defending both cities. The assaults were facilitated by Turkey jamming and disrupting Syrian radio communications.
- Turkey has facilitated travel into northern Syria by extremist mercenaries from all parts of the globe including Chechen Russians, Uyghur Chinese, Europeans, North Africans, South Asians including Indonesians and Malaysians. The assault on Jisr al Shugour was spearheaded by Chinese Uyghur fighters and suicide bombers crossing over from Turkey with tanks and heavy artillery.
- Turkey itself has provided steady supply of recruits to the Islamic State. Like other countries which have had citizens indoctrinated with wahabi fanaticism, they have done little or nothing to limit the indoctrination or restrict emigration for ‘jihad’.
- Turkey has permitted the supply of huge quantities of car bomb ingredients (ammonium nitrate fertilizer) to the Islamic State. On May 4 the NY Times reported these shipments at the Turkish border. Sixteen days later ISIS over-ran Ramadi in an assault that began with 30 car bombs with ten reportedly the size of the Oklahoma City bombing.
- Finally, as part of its continuing effort to draw the U.S. and NATO into direct participation in the war on Syria, Turkey is an active player in various propaganda campaigns. For example, the “White Helmets” or “Syrian Civil Defence” are trained and supplied in Turkey. Some of the videos purportedly from Syria are likely filmed in Turkey at their training site. White Helmets and Syrian Civil Defence are both creations of the West and join with Turkey in calling for a “No Fly Zone”.
Turkish Repression of Journalism, Police and Courts
The AKP government has vigorously tried to suppress information about the extent of Turkey’s support of the war on Syria. They have resorted to repression and intimidation such as:
- Turkish authorities have charged four regional prosecutors with attempting to topple the government. Their “crime” was to insist on the inspection of four trucks headed from Turkey to Syria. The trucks contained weapons and ammunition in violation of Turkish law. The trial of the four prosecutors is ongoing, 18 months after the inspection.
- Turkish authorities arrrested seven high ranking military officers over the inspection of trucks taking weapons and fighters to Syria.
- Turkish authorities banned social media and news outlets from reporting on arms shipments through Turkey to Syria. Twitter and Facebook accounts that talked about the shipments where shut down. Erdogan went on to threaten to “eradicate” Twitter.
- Turkish President Erdogan threatened two life term sentences for the editor of Hurriyet daily newspaper for publicizing support of the armed opposition in Syria by Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT.
- A whistle-blowing MIT (intelligence agency) officer who opposed the agency’s collusion with terrorism in Syria was arrested, convicted and imprisoned. After two years he managed to escape and tell his story. The blockbuster account was broadcast on Turkey’s OdaTV and later translated into English and published here.
Was American Journalist Serena Shim Murdered?
As seen in the examples above, Turkish AKP authorities have aggressively tried to suppress information on the involvement in Syria. If they have been that aggressive with Turkish journalists, prosecutors and military officers, how far might they go against a foreign journalist working for Iran’s Press TV?
The American born journalist Serena Shim died just days after she documented the use of World Food Program trucks to transport foreign fighters to the border with Syria and into ISIS territory. After learning that Turkish intelligence was looking for her, Serena Shim was so concerned that she expressed her fear on television. Two days later, Serena Shim’s car was hit head-on by a cement truck. The driver of the cement truck disappeared but was later found. There are many discrepancies about what happened. The first reports indicated the truck and driver left without stopping. Then the driver and truck were located, and then photos appeared showing a collision.
While some Turkish security services have preemptively exonerated the driver of the cement truck, the local prosecutor has filed charges against the driver, accusing him of causing death through negligence. There are many suspicious aspects, not least is the fact that the cement truck’s wheels are angled toward the car, not away as one would expect with a vehicle trying to avoid collision.
The death of American journalist Serena Shim, and her factual investigative reporting on Syria and Turkey, stands in sharp contrast with the sensational media accounts about the “kidnapping” of NBC reporter Richard Engel. That event turned out to be a hoax contrived by “rebels” to manipulate American political opinion. With the complicity of individual reporters and mainstream media, the fraud was successful. The bias in mainstream western media is further demonstrated by the almost complete media silence about the death of Serena Shim and her important journalistic work.
For the past 13 years Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has had majority control of Turkey’s parliament. In the recent election AKP’s share of the popular voted plummeted 10% and they lost their parliamentary majority. The results are a clear rebuff to Erdogan and AKP policies. Sixty percent of voters went against AKP, splitting the vote among the three alternative parties. The pro-Kurdish and Leftist People’s Democratic Party (HDP) burst onto the scene capturing 13% of the votes and equaling the number of parliamentary seats captured by the rightist and anti-Kurdish National Movement Party (MHP). The main opposition party is the social democratic Republican Peoples Party (CHP) with 26% of the vote.
Over the coming weeks, AKP will try to form a coalition government with one or more of the alternate parties. However, it won’t be easy. The natural bedfellow would be the anti-Kurdish and rightist MHP, but they are demanding the resumption of a corruption trial against AKP leaders including Erdogan’s son Bilal. That trial would probably lead back to President Erdogan himself, so it seems unlikely AKP will ally with MHP. The three alternative parties could form a coalition to govern without AKP, but it’s hard to imagine the staunchly anti-Kurdish MHP allying with the pro-Kurdish HDP.
If a majority coalition cannot be formed within 45 days, the Turkish constitution requires a rerun of the election.
Election Should Bring Major Change in Syrian Policy
Even with severe repression and intimidation, the Turkish public is aware of Turkey’s policy supporting war on Syria. One consequence of the war has been almost 2 million immigrant refugees with the dispersal of many throughout Turkey, providing cheap labor and adding significantly to the unemployment problem. In addition, there have been terrorist attacks in the border region and an escalation of corruption and repression as external money and weapons have flooded the area en route to Syria. The war against Syria has been widely unpopular and played a significant role in the election.
- All the opposition parties called for change in Turkey’s foreign policy.
- Criticism of Erdogan and Davutoglu’s policy even comes from within the AKP membership: “Many believe that one reason for the AKP’s dismal showing in the 2015 elections is its policy on Syria.”
- The head of the main opposition party (CHP) says Turkey will start controlling the border and stop the flood of arms and fighters into Syria.
The coming weeks will indicate how Turkey moves forward: Will AKP manage to form a coalition government with one of the opposition parties? Or will there be another election?
Will Turkey start enforcing the border and stop shipments of arms to the armed opposition as demanded by the leader of the main opposition party? This would be a huge change in the dynamics within Syria. Without a rear base of constant and steady support, the armed opposition would be forced to rely on their own resources rather than those of foreign governments. They would quickly wither since they have very little support base within Syria.
Since the election, there are already signs of a shift in the balance. Kurdish forces recently captured ISIS’ important border crossing at Tal Abyad. This has been the main route of weapons, fighters and supplies between Turkey and the Islamic State’s ‘capital’ at Raqqa in eastern Syria.
The Past Year and Looking Ahead
Thirteen months ago it looked like the war in Syria was starting to move toward resolution. The last remaining armed opposition in the “capital of the revolution” Homs, reached reconciliation and withdrew from the Old City of Homs in May 2014. On June 3, 2014 the election in Syria confirmed substantial support for the government.
Since then, we have seen dramatic changes. On June 10, 2014 ISIS surged through western Iraq and captured the city of Mosul and huge quantities of American armaments including tanks, rockets, humvees, etc. That led to the creation of the “Islamic State” and expansion in eastern Syria including Tabqa Air Base where hundreds of Syrian soldiers and ISIS fighters died.
This past spring saw the coalescing of numerous foreign and Islamist groups into the Jaish al Fatah (Army of Conquest) supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. With high powered TOW anti-tank missiles and thousands of shock troops they were able to overtake both Idlib and Jisr al Shugour near the Turkish border.
ISIS and the Army of Conquest are both dependent on the Turkish supply line. If that is closed off or seriously restricted, it will dramatically change the situation.
With the prospect of losing their base of support in Turkey, will the opposition try something desperate to draw the US and NATO into the conflict directly?
The Turkish people have indicated they want to stop their government’s war on Syria. If their will is respected, it should lead to restricting and stopping the foreign funding and promotion of the conflict. If Turkey stops the flood of weapons and foreign fighters into northern Syria, it will be following instead of violating international law. This will give peace a chance in Syria.
Rick Sterling is active with the Syria Solidarity Movement and Mt Diablo Peace and Justice Center. He can be emailed at: email@example.com.
The United States has admitted that it has been fully aware of Turkey’s role in the transit of terrorists into Syria, but has failed to name it as a sponsor of terrorism.
Throughout 2014, Turkey served as a source and transit country for foreign terrorists seeking to enter Syria, the United States said in its annual report on terrorism.
However, the State Department report released on Friday failed to condemn Ankara or declare it as a sponsor of terrorism.
Surprisingly enough, the report leveled accusations against Iran which has supported the fight against the ISIL terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. The United States and some of its regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — have been supporting the militants operating in Syria.
According to the United Nations, more than 220,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for nearly four years.
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.
They have been carrying out horrific acts of violence such as public decapitations and crucifixions against all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.
Newly-surfaced video footage has corroborated widespread assertions that the Turkish government’s intelligence agency has been ensuring ISIL terrorists safe passage into Syria.
The center-left Turkish daily, Cumhuriyet, integrated the videos in a Thursday report implicating the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in assisting the notorious Takfiri group.
The footage shows drivers admitting that they are “doing their duty to the state” by helping the militants bypass the territory near the heavily-defended Syrian city of Kobani.
One driver explains how vehicles would be accompanied by MİT agents during the trip, which would start from the Atme camp in Syria and end at the border town of Akçakale in Şanlıurfa Province, where the militants and cargo would reenter Syria.
One driver is seen saying, “They didn’t allow us to leave the vehicle [once we had arrived at Akçakale]. One of them [militants] was waiting by our side. Another vehicle came and parked behind my coach and they started moving the cargo from my vehicle [into the other one]. There were 46 [militants] in my coach, and I learned later on that there were 27 in the other bus. They were bearded men, scruffy looking.”
On June 5, the opposition daily had likewise accused Turkish authorities and intelligence agency of helping smuggle ISIL and other Takfiri terrorists into Syria from Turkey.
Cumhuriyet had also posted a video on its website on May 29, purportedly showing trucks belonging to Turkey’s intelligence agency carrying weapons to the Takfiri terror groups operating in Syria.
Syria has been struggling with an implacable militancy since March 2011. The US and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.
The international community has long been critical of Turkey over its provision of assistance to Takfiri terrorists waging war in Syria.
The Turkish opposition group, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has called for an immediate end to Ankara’s support for terrorists in Syria.
Selahattin Demirtas, HDP’s co-leader, has noted that the move would be key to restoring the foreign relations of the new Turkish government to a normal state.
Repressive governments donated to Clinton Foundation, arms deals approved by Hillary’s State Dept. – report
Nations openly chastised by the US for dismal human rights records donated billions to the Clinton Foundation, while gaining clearance for weapons deals approved by the Hillary Clinton-led US State Department, according to a new report.
As the Obama administration increased military weapons exports, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved transfer of more than $300 billion worth of arms manufactured by US defense contractors to 20 nations that were or have since become donors of the Clinton Foundation, a major philanthropic organization run by the Clinton family. According to a review of available records of foundation donors by the International Business Times, those countries included governments that have received frequent criticism by the State Department for repressive policies.
“Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents,” IBT wrote.
Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were nations that directly donated to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s term as secretary of state, even as they were requesting weapons shipments. The donated money represents a loophole in US law regarding political contributions.
“Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions — a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy,” IBT noted. “But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.”
The reviewed sales — both commercial and Pentagon-brokered — represent those made during “three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as secretary of state (from October 2010 to September 2012),” IBT reported. The deals made with the nations in question during this time add up to far more than arms agreements made with the same countries during the last three full fiscal years of George W. Bush’s administration, according to the report.
“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told IBT. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”
The Clinton Foundation’s donor list has come under closer examination since Hillary Clinton announced she is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. In April, the Clintons acknowledged they have made “mistakes” regarding transparency amid increased public scrutiny concerning donations from foreign entities, especially when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013.
Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton defended his family foundation’s donors.
“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Mr. Clinton told NBC News.
The Clinton Foundation signed a foreign donor disclosure agreement just before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, yet neither the department nor the White House raised issues with potential conflicts of interest regarding the weapons agreements.
IBT reported that in 1995 President Clinton signed a presidential policy directive demanding the State Department take into account human rights abuses when considering the approval of military equipment or arms purchases from US companies. Yet Mrs Clinton’s State Department ignored this stipulation, helping the Obama administration increase weapons transfers.
The State Department, under the aegis of Clinton, hammered the Algerian government in its 2010 Human Rights Report for “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association,” allowing “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.”
“That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country,” IBT reported. “The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as ‘toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment’ after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.
“During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria — nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year — a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.”
IBT also reported that major US weapons manufacturers and financial corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton lucrative speaking fees “reaching $625,000” just as arms deals they had an interest in were in the works with Mrs Clinton’s State Department.
Hillary Clinton had pledged during her Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”
US weapons sales tripled in 2011 to a new yearly high of $66.3 billion, according to the New York Times, mostly driven by sales to Persian Gulf nations allied against Iran. This dollar total made up nearly 78 percent of all worldwide arms deals that year, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Reuters reported in January 2013 that the State Department office that has oversight of direct commercial arms sales “was on track to receive more than 85,000 license requests in 2012, a new record.”
The boom in arms sales by the Obama administration has continued to the present day, as Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are using American-made fighter jets against Islamic State and for proxy wars in places like Yemen and Syria.
According to the Times, foreign weapons sales now represent 25 percent to 30 percent of revenue taken in by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US-based arms dealers.
About Those Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria
With allegations of chlorine gas attacks in Syria on March 16, some humanitarian groups have called for a “No Fly Zone” over part of Syria. I believe this is reckless and dangerous and will explain why.
Part 1 of this article was published on March 31. It documented the campaign by Avaaz and others for a “No Fly Zone” in Syria and contrasted the promises with the consequences in Libya.
Part 2 examines the allegations of chlorine gas attacks in Syria, what various organizations are doing and saying and where major violations of international law are occurring.
Humanitarians Pushing for Intervention
We have a strange situation where “human rights” groups are demanding foreign intervention in Syria via a “No Fly Zone” while military leaders are expressing caution saying “hold on…do you realize that’s an act of war?” The humanitarian interventionists may feel righteous in their cause, but they should be held accountable when it leads to disaster and tragedy as we saw in Libya.
After decades of wars and occupation based on deception, exaggeration and outright lies, it’s past time to demand proof of accusations and to be skeptical regarding any call for military action.
What is the Evidence from Syria?
Syrian rebels and supporters have repeatedly accused the Syrian military of using chemical weapons, often with the accompanying demand for foreign intervention. The Syrian government has consistently denied the accusations.
A major push for a foreign attack on Syria followed the highly publicized incidents in Ghouta in outer Damascus on August 21, 2013. Many humanitarian groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) joined or led in accusing the Syrian government of being responsible and calling for “action.” A military attack was averted by the Syrian government agreeing to remove its existing chemical weapons and manufacturing facilities.
Opposition supporters like Kenan Rahmani predicted that the Syrian government would not comply with the agreement. But it did. On October 1, 2014, the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that the elimination of prohibited chemical weapons and facilities in Syria had been successfully completed. It was a remarkable achievement and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Syria received little credit.
During 2014, as the Syrian government was working to successfully implement the agreement to dispose of banned chemical weapons, new unverified accusations emerged that the Syrian military was using barrel bombs containing poisonous chlorine gas. The accusations prompted renewed demands from governments actively supporting the armed opposition. The Syrian government removed all prohibited chemicals and facilities but now is accused of using a chemical which is not on the prohibited list.
According to its report, in May 2014, an OPCW team tried to investigate at the site of alleged chlorine gas attacks. The Syrian government gave the OPCW team passage to the rebel controlled area but the convoy was attacked by a rebel faction. None of the team members was injured but that stopped their on-site investigation. Instead, the OPCW worked with the well-funded opposition-supporting Violations Documentation Center to arrange interviews with numerous people from three villages. The interviews were conducted outside Syria, probably in Turkey. They gathered photographs, videos and other evidence and expressed “high confidence that chlorine had been used as a weapon in Syria” in three villages. They did not ascribe responsibility.
More recently there was an alleged chlorine gas attack on March 16, 2015 with six deaths including three children. The Avaaz petition and campaign sprung from this alleged incident.
Along with these accusations, there has been a steady drumbeat from various organizations that the Syrian government is committing war crimes. For example, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) issued a press release on May 14 with the title “New Map Shows Government Forces Deliberately Attacking Syria’s Medical System.”
Are the Accusations Objective or Biased?
Following are some of the major organizations reporting or making accusations regarding the conflict in Syria:
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – This is the official intergovernmental organization tasked with promoting adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention. It has been responsible for removal of chemical weapons from Syria. It was then tasked with investigating allegations about use of chlorine gas as a weapon. While OPCW seeks to be highly professional and nonpartisan, there are questions of potential conflict of interest and bias as follows:
* The director general of OPCW, Ahmet Uzumcu, is the appointee of Turkey, a country which actively supports the Syrian opposition and has pushed for a No Fly Zone. Given that Uzumcu is a political appointee of a state directly involved in the conflict, he has a potential conflict of interest: he might advance his own career and please the Turkish government by making the Syrian government look bad.
* The interviews with villagers were done with OPCW “working closely” with the partisan “Violations Documentation Center.” How did OPCW verify the integrity of the witnesses?
* According to OPCW report, NATO’s CBRN Task Force (Chemical-Biological-Radioactive-Nuclear) collected data “in the field following reported attacks” and supplied this to OPCW. What exactly was the NATO task force doing in the rebel controlled territory?
* The official report of the OPCW notes that in the UN Security Council “Some doubts and questions were also raised in regard to the procedures and methods (of the Fact Finding Mission).”
AVAAZ – Avaaz is clearly biased and was involved in the Syria conflict from early on. They were supplying satellite phones and otherwise aiding and promoting local activists from early on. Is that a good thing? Not necessarily; their claims and actions in Syria have been controversial and criticized.
WHITE HELMETS / SYRIAN CIVIL DEFENCE – This is a new organization, highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria. Their video and reports have influenced Avaaz and other humanitarian groups. Avaaz refers to the White Helmets as “Syria’s respected and non-partisan civil protection force.”
In reality the White Helmets is a project created by the UK and USA. Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the program is done by “The Syria Campaign” supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project which has received glowing publicity from HuffPo to Nicholas Kristof at the NYT. White Helmets have been heavily promoted by the U.S. Institute of Peace (U.S.IP) whose leader began the press conference by declaring “U.S.IP has been working for the Syrian Revolution from the beginning”.
Apart from the PR work, White Helmets work in areas of Aleppo and Idlib controlled by Nusra (Al Queda). The video from a medical clinic on March 16 starts with a White Helmets logo. The next video of same date and place continues with the Nusra logo.
US and UK tax dollars pay for a program which has an appealing rescue component and is then used to market and promote the USA and UK policy of regime change in Syria in de facto alliance with Nusra.
The fake “independence and neutrality” of White Helmets is shown by their active promotion of a No Fly Zone.
MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERS (MSF) and other humanitarian groups no longer have staff in Syria. They rely on witnesses and videos provided by rebels. In a war zone it is difficult to ascertain when someone is speaking out of fear or intimidation or for payment. Witnesses in rebel-controlled territory may claim that helicopters dropped bombs with chlorine. But what if the witnesses are lying? The possibility for manipulation and deceit is huge.
PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (PHR) is also active reporting on the Syria conflict. They make bold but sometimes inaccurate assertions. They recently claimed that “people in Homs are facing serious health consequences as the medical system collapses, with only three doctors available.” This is inaccurate. I personally visited Homs one year ago and drove around the city for hours. Since the rebels departed the Old City last May it is being rebuilt and nearly all the city continues normally except for periodic terrorist car bombs.
A recent PHR press release is headlined “New Map shows Government Forces Deliberately Attacking Syria’s Medical System.” It looks slick and impressive but is inaccurate. For example, one of the most dramatic attacks on a Syrian hospital was the suicide bombing of Al Kindi Hospital in Aleppo. Yet the PHR map shows the attack having been carried out by “government forces.” Readers are encouraged to look at the 3 minute rebel video of the suicide attack which leaves no doubt who was responsible.
SUMMARY. Statements/documentation from the Syrian government and supporters tend to be dismissed or ignored; statements/video from opposition witnesses and activists tend to be accepted uncritically. That is bias.
The starting point for many criminal investigations is who has a motive? Who benefits from an action or event?
In order to prevail, the Syrian opposition needs foreign intervention. In order to prevail, the Syrian government needs to prevent foreign intervention.
Who benefited from from use of sarin gas that would cross Obama’s ‘red line’? The answer was always obvious. This received surprisingly little consideration as the US Government and humanitarian groups like Human Rights Watch argued that the Syrian Government was culpable without even considering who had motive.
Since that time, in-depth analysis of the August 2013 chemical attack in Ghouta increasingly points to the use of sarin gas by the rebels not the Syrian government. The “vector analysis” advanced by HRW has been discounted. The US and other countries almost began an international attack on the basis of false claims and analysis.
Similarly, who benefits from the use of chlorine gas that would violate the new UN Security Resolution? To ask the question is to answer it. Clearly it is the opposition rebels who benefit when the Syrian government is charged with using chlorine gas bombs. Clearly they are the ones who seek foreign intervention or imposition of a No Fly Zone.
A War of Aggression Against Syria
Supporters of intervention sometimes claim Syria has been “abandoned” by the international community. On the contrary, the Syrian conflict has continued primarily BECAUSE of foreign involvement.
The unholy alliance of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, USA, France and Britain (with silent partner Israel) have supplied, trained, provided weapons and salaries for Syrian and international fighters seeking to topple the government. They openly called themselves, with Orwellian chutzpah, the “Friends of Syria” as they divide the tasks of supplying the rebels and consider who should be the “legitimate political representatives”.
The crime has not been the absence of international effort; it has been the absence of enforcement of international law. The US and allies are doing to Syria what the US did to Nicaragua in the 1980’s. As the International Court at the Hague said in its decision on June 27, 1986:
… the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the “contra” forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State.
The Nicaraguan Foreign Minister at that time was Father Miguel D’Escoto. He served as president of the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2008-2009. When recently asked his opinion on what is happening in Syria he responded:
“What the U.S. government is doing in Syria is tantamount to a war of aggression, which, according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, is the worst possible crime a State can commit against another State.”
The conflict in Syria continues primarily because foreign powers continue to “arm, equip, finance and supply” the equivalent of the Contras. Imposing a No Fly Zone in Syria would not make anyone safer; it would dramatically expand the war and lead to vastly more, not fewer deaths.
Those who genuinely want peace in Syria need to press for ENDING foreign intervention in Syria via proxy armies and ENCOURAGING reconciliation and negotiations without preconditions.
The humanitarians pushing for intervention in Syria are not R2P (responsible to protect). They are R4W (responsible for war).
Rick Sterling is a founding member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org