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Turkey switches to full defiance of US, continues Putin courtship

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | December 14, 2017

On Monday, US National Security Advisor HR McMaster added to tensions in the Middle East when he condemned Turkey and Qatar as prime sponsors of extremist Islamist ideology.

He tore into the Turkish leadership, saying the country’s growing problems with the West are largely due to the rise of the Justice and Development Party in Ankara.

A few days ago, McMaster had described China and Russia as “revisionist powers” encroaching on US allies and undermining the international order, and castigated Iran and North Korea as outlaw regimes that “support terror and are seeking weapons of mass destruction.”

McMaster now rounds on Turkey and Qatar for mentoring a radical Islamist ideology that “is obviously a grave threat to all civilized people.” The stunning part is that Turkey is a NATO ally, while the US Central Command is headquartered in Qatar.

Arguably, Turkey no longer qualifies to be a NATO member. McMaster spoke at a rare public policy platform with his British counterpart Mark Sedwill, at an event hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank in Washington. How any of this transmutes into Anglo-American policy will bear watching. (Interestingly, on a visit to Greece last week, Erdogan publicly sought a revision of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which was negotiated under the tutelage of Britain and the US and ceded, amongst other things, all Turkish claims on the Dodecanese Islands and Cyprus.

Significantly, McMaster’s outburst came within hours of a meeting in Ankara between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, their eighth this year, during a combined day-long trip by the Russian leader which included stops in Egypt, Turkey and the Hmeimim airbase in Syria.

Ironically, if it was the perceived Soviet threat to Turkey that Harry Truman and Dean Acheson blew out of proportion to lay the ground for an enthusiastically pro-American Turkish prime minister, Adnan Menderes, to bring Turkey into the NATO fold in 1952, 55 years later the blossoming of Russo-Turkish cooperation prompts Washington to doubt Turkey’s credentials as an ally.

But then, NATO has no precedents of ousting a member state and its decisions are taken unanimously. To be sure, Erdogan will only leave the NATO tent kicking and screaming. His intent is to shake off US hegemony, which he can do better while inside the NATO tent. He is in turn taunting, provoking, snubbing, defying and – worse still –ridiculing US regional strategies.

Erdogan’s talks with Putin on Monday suggest a new stage in their coordination to undermine US interests in the Middle East. Putin announced that they agreed on a loan agreement, which will be signed “very shortly,” to pursue the “significant prospects for expanding our military and technical cooperation.”

Erdogan added that “the relevant agencies of our two countries are expected to complete what needs to be done this week” with regard to Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system. It is a huge snub to Washington and some of its NATO allies that the Russian system cannot be integrated into the alliance’s defenses.

Again, Erdogan announced that Turkey and Russia are “determined to complete in the shortest possible time” the Turkish Stream (which will bring more Russian gas to Turkey and use Turkey as a hub to supply southern Europe) and the US$25 billion Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. The US opposes the Turkish Stream, which will frustrate its plans to export LNG to Europe.

Putin joined Erdogan to criticize the US decision regarding Jerusalem. Putin said, “It is destabilizing the region and wiping out the prospect of peace”; Erdogan said he was “pleased” by Putin’s stand. Erdogan said the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) summit in Istanbul on Wednesday would be a “turning point” on the crisis; Putin promised to send a representative.

Most stunning, though, are the emerging contours of a profound Russo-Turkish action plan in Syria. They attribute centrality to the Astana peace process, which also includes Iran but leaves the US and its regional allies in the cold. Following Putin-Erdogan talks, the next meeting at Astana has been announced.

Equally, Russia and Turkey are collaborating to organize a congress of Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu signaled on Tuesday that Turkey no longer objects to Kurdish participation. Evidently, Russia is leveraging its influence with the Kurdish groups. This badly isolates the US, which is increasingly left with rump elements of Kurdish militant groups as its remaining allies. An open-ended US military presence in Syria becomes pointless since the capacity to influence a Syrian settlement is nearing zero.

After returning to Moscow, Putin submitted to the Duma a new agreement on expanding the Russian base in the Syrian port city of Tartus. The balance of forces in the Mediterranean region is dramatically shifting even before a Syrian settlement is negotiated.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu hinted that Turkey and Russia plan to create new facts on the ground in northern Syria. “Threats for Turkey are coming from Afrin. We may enter this region without a warning. If we carry out the operation there, we will agree on all its aspects with our allies, including Russia.”

Putin apparently heeded Erdogan’s concerns that Afrin is a crucial region for Turkish national security. This is a paradigm shift. If Turkey kicks out the Kurdish militia from Afrin in coordination with Russia, it is a slap to America’s face. A flashpoint may arise.

What emerges is that denying the US any form of land access to Syria’s Mediterranean coast and reducing the American bases in Syria as remote and isolated pockets would be a Russo-Turkish enterprise. McMaster’s rage is understandable.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Qatar finalizes $8bn weapons deal with UK

Press TV – December 10, 2017

Qatar has signed a major weapons deal to buy 24 Typhoon fighters from the United Kingdom amid a political stand-off with former Arab allies of the Persian Gulf region.

Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and his British counterpart, Gavin Williamson, signed the deal on Sunday in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The agreement, worth USD 8 billion (6.8 billion euros), is the latest to come from Doha amid a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. The four cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar six months ago over allegations of its support for terrorism. They have even warned of further action if Doha does not mend its regional policies.

Qatar has showed no sign that it is ready to bow to the pressures while maintaining that it would remain independent in its foreign policy. It has also rejected key conditions put forward by the four countries for normalization, including a downgrade in ties with regional power Iran and expulsion of Turkish troops from the Qatari soil.

The deal signed Sunday is Qatar’s second major military agreement this week. An agreement to buy 12 French Dassault Aviation warplanes worth of billions of dollars came on December 7.

Williamson, British defense chief, hailed the Sunday agreement with Qatar and said it was the biggest order for Typhoons in a decade. He said the fighter jets will support “stability in the region and delivering security at home”.

Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region are major customers for weapons made in the West. Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, the countries have signed deals worth of tens of billions of US dollars with major western arm producers over the past years.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

France , Qatar sign deals worth around 12 billion euros: Macron

Press TV – December 7, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatar’s ruling emir have signed contacts worth around 12 billion euros ($14.15 billion) during the French president’s visit to Doha.

“In total, it amounts to nearly 12 billion euros which was signed today and which underlines the closeness of our relations,” Macron said at a press conference with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Thursday.

Macron and Sheikh Tamim agreed on a deal for Qatar to purchase at least a dozen French-made Dassault Rafale fighter jets with the option of buying 36 more. The deal also includes purchase of 490 VBCI armored vehicles from French firm Nexter.

Qatar would additionally buy 50 Airbus twin-engine A321s with the option of buying 30 more.

The small Persian Gulf country also signed a transportation deal with France’s national rail authority to manage and maintain Doha’s planned metro, as well as a light rail system north of Doha.

The French president is traveling with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who in 2015 as defense minister helped negotiate a deal with Qatar buy dozens of Rafale fighter jets.

Macron’s one-day trip comes as Doha faces a continued boycott by some of its Saudi-led Arab neighbors.

In the rare press conference, Qatar’s ruling emir expressed his regret for the boycott and said it was especially disheartening that the crisis erupted in June.

Qatar has been locked in a political standoff with Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries for the past months. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut relations with Qatar in early June

Earlier this week, a Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Kuwait failed to bring the standoff any closer to a resolution.

There has been almost no sign that Qatari authorities would bow to the demands of Saudi Arabia and its allies to restore diplomatic ties.

Among the conditions put forward for a full normalization of ties is the need for Qatar to downgrade its relations with Iran and expel foreign troops, including those from Turkey, from military bases in the country.

Macron visits US, French troops in Qatar

During his visit to Qatar, Macron traveled to the vast al-Udeid air base, which is home to some 10,000 American troops and the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command.

France also has a contingent of several hundred troops in Qatar as part of the 1,200 French forces deployed to the region.

The troops are a part of the US-led coalition, which is purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

Speaking to the soldiers, he said the next few months of battle would determine the outcome of the war against Daesh in Iraq in Syria.

“This military win does not signify the end of the operations and the end of our battle because first we need to stabilize and win peace in Iraq and Syria,” he said.

Macron also stressed in his remarks that France wanted to avoid the partitioning of Syria and “avoid the domination of certain international elements whose interests contradict peace.”

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The airstrikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

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

Press TV – November 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | October 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The partial English transcript is as follows:

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

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

The email stated in direct and unambiguous language that:

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

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

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

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

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

UAE, US ground forces to launch joint military drill

Press TV – September 16, 2017

The ground forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States are to begin a joint military exercise in Abu Dhabi later on Saturday.

Code-named Iron Union 5, the war game is part of a series of exercises that the UAE organizes with its allies to upgrade its military power, the UAE’s official WAM news agency reported.

The drills come amid a rift between several Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and Qatar.

Back in June, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Separately on Saturday, Qatari and French naval forces concluded a two-day exercise in Qatar’s territorial waters.

A number of boats and the French Frigate Jean Bart reportedly took part in the drill.

Lieutenant Colonel Falah Mahdi Al Ahbabi, Qatari naval formation commander, said the marine exercise had two stages, which focused on combating terrorism and piracy as well as protecting facilities, and marine shipping lines.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Retired Israeli general joins anti-Qatar conference

MEMO | September 15, 2017

A review of the list of participants in an anti-Qatar conference revealed that the list includes right-wing extremists, pro-Israel figures and a retired Israeli general.

The Qatar, Global Security & Stability Conference was held in London, UK, yesterday, and according to a list of participant which Al-Araby Al-Jadeed obtained, US-Israeli citizen and chairperson of the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition, Dov Zakheim; a founder of the neoconservative think-tank the Henry Jackson Society Alan Mendoza and Shlomo Brom, a retired Brigadier-General in the Israeli Air Force, were all due to participate.

According to the news site, the conference’s programme was not released until Tuesday, 48 hours before the event was due to take place for alleged security reasons.

Bill Richardson, former US ambassador to the UN who has been involved in financial corruption cases, and Charles Chuck Wald, a retired US Air Force General who has suggested that Washington should support Israel should it decides to launch a military attack on Iran, were also amongst the list of those taking part in the conference.

The list of participants also include Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who had previously filed a case against Qatar after receiving money from the UAE.

The British Conservative party politicians speaking at the event include MPs, Daniel Kawczynski, Iain Duncan Smith and former Deputy Mayor of London, Roger Evans.

The Qatari opposition is represented by businessman Khalid Al-Hail who is accused of receiving funds from the countries boycotting Qatar to organise the conference.

In early June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups in the region.

The four countries also imposed an embargo on Qatar and issued a long list of demands, including the closure of Doha-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera, under the threat of further sanctions.

Qatar has refused to submit, denying charges that it supports terrorism and describing the bloc’s efforts to isolate it as a violation of international law and an infringement of its national sovereignty.

The conference is seen as a means through which they hope to give legitimacy to the boycott.

Photo-compilation of those attending the anti-Qatar conference [Alaraby]

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Al Jazeera: Blair, US officials on UAE payroll

MEMO | August 31, 2017

The UAE has paid tens of millions of dollars to expand its regional and international influence by buying positions and the loyalty of key figures, an Al Jazeera documentary has said.

Aired yesterday, “Men around Abu Dhabi” claimed the Emirates paid former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the international envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon and a number of leaders of the US Department of Defence in order to keep them on side.

The channel said that UAE paid $35 million to Tony Blair when he was the envoy for the Middle East Quartet. He was also paid as a consultant, leaked email published by the Sunday Telegraph revealed.

The UAE government paid about $53,000 per month to the Spanish diplomat Bernardino Leon.

Last year, the UAE Diplomatic Academy, which is headed by the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of its Board of Trustees, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, announced that Leon, who served as UN envoy to Libya, will be assigned as its general manager.

At that time, media sources considered the news as a scandal that would undermine the credibility of the United Nations.

Abu Dhabi also paid $20 million in donations to the Middle East Institute in Washington, which is run by US General Anthony Zinni.

Zinni is an American general who once led US forces in the Middle East. After retiring, he served as a special envoy to the region. The US administration chose him and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Timothy Lenderking, as envoys to support the Kuwaiti mediation to resolve the Gulf crisis.

There is also James Mattis, the current US secretary of defence, who was previously hired by the UAE as a military adviser to develop its army and Robert Gates, the former US secretary of defence who attacked Qatar’s policies and Al Jazeera.

The documentary also revealed that Turki Aldakhil, the director of Al Arabiya TV channel, received more than $23 million in return for promoting Abu Dhabi’s agenda in the region.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed punitive measures on the small Gulf state accusing it of “supporting terrorism”. Doha strongly denied the claims.

August 31, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | 1 Comment

James Le Mesurier: The Former British Mercenary Who Founded The White Helmets

British ex-mercenary, and founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, pictured in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: Twitter/James Le Mesurier)

British ex-mercenary, and founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, pictured in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: Twitter/James Le Mesurier)
By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | July 31, 2017

James Le Mesurier, a British ex-mercenary, founded the White Helmets in 2013. The group has been lauded for its “humanitarian” efforts in Syria, but they have actually functioned more as a logistics and propaganda arm of Syria’s al-Qaeda branch, complete with training from Le Mesurier.

Over the past two years, enlightening information has been revealed that thoroughly and unequivocally debunks the “humanitarianism” of the White Helmets in Syria, sometimes referred to as the Syrian Civil Defense.

Since they were founded in 2013, much of Western media has sought to elevate the White Helmets as the “bravest” and most heroic of Syrians. They have been the subject of a Netflix documentary, which won an Oscar, and has consistently been plastered across TV screens in surprisingly well-produced videos showing them removing children from rubble in war-torn areas claimed by Syria’s “rebels.”

However, missing from this unambiguously positive coverage has been the group’s ties to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, their doctoring of footage, their role in executing civilians and their use of children – both dead and alive – as props for producing pro-intervention propaganda. Also absent is how the White Helmets have received over $123 million from 2013 to 2016 from the U.S. and UK governments, as well as Western NGOs and Gulf state monarchies.

While numerous articles have been devoted to dispelling the propaganda that surrounds the group and detailing their shady ties to known terrorist organizations like Syria’s al-Qaeda branch Al-Nusra Front, significantly less attention has been focused on how the group was created, particularly on the man who founded them – James Le Mesurier, a British private security specialist, and former British military intelligence officer.

Le Mesurier’s role in founding the White Helmets and propagating its mythology to a Western audience was exposed in 2015 thanks to the work of independent journalist Vanessa Beeley.

Beeley, who spoke to MintPress News at length for this report, notes that it was Le Mesurier’s “‘realization that humanitarian aid was more effective at maintaining war than an army” that spurred his creation of the organization in order “to maintain public support for another costly war in a country that is, in reality, posing little to no threat to mainland America” or its allies.

James Le Mesurier: from mercenary to “humanitarian”

Though mainstream narratives have suggested that the White Helmets were trained by the Red Cross, the White Helmets were actually founded in March 2013 by Le Mesurier. He, like many officers in the British military, attended the Royal Military Academy, where he graduated at the top of his class, receiving the Queen’s Medal.

He later served in the British Army and operated in a variety of theaters. Most notably, Le Mesurier served as intelligence coordinator for Pristina City in Kosovo soon after the NATO intervention that led to NATO being accused of war crimes for its targeting of thousands of civilians and media.

James Le Mesurier: The British Ex-Military Mercenary Who Founded The White Helmets

Having served the governments of the UK, US, UN and Gulf States, James Le Mesurier was able to very quickly garner financial support from fervent supporters of Syrian regime change. (Sofie Gran/Aspunvik)

By 2000, Le Mesurier left the army and went to work for the United Nations as he had “realized humanitarian aid was more effective” than an army in theaters of war during his time with the British military. He, again, served in a variety of locations, focusing on “delivering stabilization activities through security sector and democratization programs.” According to Le Mesurier, “stabilization activities” refers to the “framework for engagement in ‘fragile’ states” or, in other words, destabilized nations.

Prior to his founding of the White Helmets, Le Mesurier served as Vice President for Special Projects at the Olive Group, a private mercenary organization that has since merged with Blackwater-Academi into what is now known as Constellis Holdings. Then, in 2008, Le Mesurier left the Olive Group after he was appointed to the position of Principal at Good Harbor Consulting, chaired by Richard A. Clarke – a veteran of the U.S. national security establishment and the counter-terrorism “czar” under the Bush and Clinton administrations.

After joining Good Harbor, Le Mesurier became based in Abu Dhabi, where he specialized in risk management, emergency planning, and critical infrastructure protection. He trained a UAE gas field protection force and “ensured the safety” of the 2010 Gulf Cup in Yemen, a regional soccer tournament. But following this work, Le Mesurier claims to have become dissatisfied, wanting to have a more direct impact on the communities he worked in.

He told Men’s Journal in 2014 that it was the idea of using his military training to benefit civilians that truly enthused him: “the idea of being a civilian carrying a weapon and guiding a convoy in a conflict zone — that leaves me cold.”

White Helmets founded through Western funding

When it came time to found the White Helmets in March 2013, Le Mesurier seemed to have simply been in the right place at the right time. According to his own account, he founded the group in Turkey after being “compelled” by Syrians’ wartime stories.

James Le Mesurier: The British Ex-Military Mercenary Who Founded The White Helmets

James Le Mesurier in Istanbul, Turkey.
(Photo: Twitter/James Le Mesurier)

Despite founding the White Helmets in Turkey, he raised $300,000 in seed funding provided by the UK, the U.S. and Japan, which Le Mesurier apparently had no trouble scrounging up. The $123 million dollars that was funneled soon after to the organization by the U.S. and UK governments, along with Western NGOs and Qatar, dispels all notion of the organization’s alleged “impartiality” and “non-partisan” stance on the Syrian conflict stated on their website.

He then used it to train 25 “vetted” Syrians “to deal with the chaos erupting around them.” By September of that year, more than 700 “vetted” individuals were believed to have undergone training under Le Mesurier’s supervision.

However, Le Mesurier’s ties to British military intelligence, mercenary groups and involvement in “stabilization activities” and “democratization programs” suggest that his convenient appearance in Istanbul, Turkey is perhaps not too coincidental. As Beeley noted in an interview with MintPress : “there are very few coincidences in the multi-spectrum, hybrid war that has been waged against Syria by the U.S. coalition since 2011.”

Indeed, the White Helmets were founded when the West was losing on both the propaganda and military front regarding the push for regime change and foreign intervention in Syria. More specifically, as Beeley told MintPress, the group’s founding took place just after “the Syrian government had raised concerns about a terrorist chemical weapon attack in Khan Al Asal against the SAA [Syrian Arab Army].”

It should come as no surprise then that, since their founding, the White Helmets have been instrumental in blaming the Syrian government for any and all subsequent chemical weapons attacks in Syria, acting as both witnesses and responders to events that were later proven to be the work of the armed opposition in Syria or staged. As a result, Beeley argued that it’s well within reason to speculate that the White Helmets were explicitly founded with this purpose in mind.

However, it is Le Mesurier himself who shed light on why the White Helmets were formed at such a crucial point for the foreign-funded opposition. As Le Mesurier noted in a speech delivered on June 2015, in “fragile” (i.e. destabilized) states, security actors – such as mercenaries or foreign armies – have the lowest level of public trust. However, Le Mesurier states that in contrast, those professions with the highest level of public trust in such situations are firefighters, paramedics, rescue workers and other similar types of first responders.

Le Mesurier discusses the White Helmets in June 2015:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/132521006?color=c9ff23&title=0&byline=0&portrait=0

Le Mesurier, however, is not the only figure linked to the British military to take such a perspective. UK Admiral Sir Philip Jones, Chief of Naval Staff, stated last year that “the hard punch of military power is often delivered inside the kid glove of humanitarian relief.” It is for this reason that military actions sponsored by the United States and its allies for the past few decades have often been framed as “humanitarian interventions.”

Thus, the White Helmets were seen as a chance to reclaim the trust that the Syrian opposition fighters had lost, as news of their affiliation with terrorist groups began to spread.

In reclaiming that trust in Western audiences, the White Helmets have done nothing to ease the burden of war in Syria, but have fomented it by underpinning the very propaganda that has kept the conflict raging on for over six years, as well as undermined the ability of the Syrian and Russian governments to secure diplomatic alternatives to continued fighting.

Indeed, despite their claim of “impartiality,” the White Helmets were instrumental in Western attempts to bolster international support for Western intervention and a “no-fly zone” in Syria. However, such intervention will bring much more devastation to Syria, something the White Helmets profess to want to end.

Training the White Helmets

While the White Helmets have successfully been framed as a professionally-trained first responder group active in Syria, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that their training was entirely different. First responders and doctors in other countries have been skeptical about the “aid” the White Helmets have delivered.

For instance, Dr. Leif Elinder, a Swedish pediatrician, told the Indicter that “after examination of the video material [of the White Helmets], I found that the measures inflicted upon those children, some of them lifeless, are bizarre, non-medical, non-lifesaving, and even counterproductive in terms of life-saving purposes of children.”

Other medical doctors have stated that other procedures conducted by the White Helmets as seen in the previously mentioned Netflix documentary were performed so poorly they would have killed the children, who were already deceased when the footage was taken.

In addition, first responder groups have also found flaws with the White Helmet’s trained rescues. Questions have been raised such as: how did the White Helmets know the bodies would be exactly where they found them?; Why are no attacks heard or seen in White Helmet videos – only the “aftermath”?; and why have the White Helmets chosen to “recycle” footage of the people they are allegedly helping?

Thus, if the White Helmets were not actually trained in first aid – as the above suggests – what did Le Mesurier and his team actually train them to do?

According to Beeley, Le Mesurier trained the White Helmets as a military group, as they have been found “working side by side with the Nusra Front and other extremist groups such as Nour Al Din Zinki in East Aleppo, where their ‘humanitarian’ centers were invariably alongside Nusra Front or even in the same building.”

Noting the White Helmet’s lack of paramedic expertise and the numerous photographs showing them carrying weapons, she added that this “confirms that their role has been as military and logistical support for their Nusra Front colleagues.”

However, the training received by the White Helmets likely did not stop there.

Beeley strongly believes that they were given extensive training in the production of propaganda – specifically, trained in camerawork and video production in order to produce videos for the media. She noted that “the sheer number of cameras on site at any one of their rescue productions demonstrates that they are well versed in publicity craft.”

Furthermore, Beeley suggested that the White Helmet’s footage used in their documentary also proves this point:

“The Oscar-winning Netflix documentary that recorded their exploits was based entirely on footage taken by the White Helmets themselves and supplied to the producers of the movie who did not leave Turkey and were therefore unable to verify the authenticity of the footage. The quality of video supplied suggests that the White Helmets were using sophisticated equipment and had been well trained in its use.

Thus, this training has enabled the White Helmets to accomplish two major goals for the governments and organizations that have orchestrated its rise to prominence.

First, as Beeley pointed out, it has facilitated “further proxy military intervention and to incite pseudo-humanitarian outrage from the International community and western public.”

Second, it has allowed the atrocities of the extremist factions that work with the White Helmets to be camouflaged by the “humanitarianism” of the group, which has been instrumental in allowing foreign governments to continue arming and funding these extremist, terrorist organizations with complete impunity.

Le Mesurier, for his part, has apparently become tired of the limelight – perhaps as a result of the thorough debunking of the terrorist-linked organization he fostered. Though still listed as an employee of Good Harbor, Le Mesurier has removed himself from the site of MayDay Rescue, a White Helmets-linked organization he founded, and all mention of him has been erased from the White Helmets website.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Al Qaeda “Mysteriously” Metastasizing in Northwest Syria

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 30.07.2017

The Washington Post in an article titled, “Al-Qaida in Syria snuffs out competition in northwest,” clumsily reveals what many following the Syrian conflict have known all along – that the so-called uprising never existed, and that the US and its allies are directly arming, aiding, and abetting Al Qaeda in Syria.

The article admits:

Syrian rebels and activists are warning that an al-Qaida-linked jihadi group is on the verge of snuffing out what remains of the country’s uprising in northwestern Syria, after the extremists seized control of the opposition-held regional capital, Idlib, last weekend.

However, the so-called “uprising” has been allegedly supported since 2011 by the US, Europe, and the West’s collective allies across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in weapons, training, logistics, and even vehicles, and now even direct military support.

This significant support has been reported on numerous times by Western papers, including the Washington Post itself. If such support was truly being given to a secular, pro-democratic opposition inside of Syria, who then has supplied “Al Qaeda-linked jihadi groups” with enough support to meet or exceed it on the battlefield? The answer is, there was never a secular, pro-democratic opposition in Syria.

The Washington Post fails to inform readers that Al Qaeda’s consolidation in the northwest of Syria is a logistical necessity, with the West unable to sustain token opposition groups any further if Damascus and its allies are to be prevented from exercising further control over its own territory before the conflict draws to a relative close.

The Washington Post – in a way – already admits this in its article. It states (emphasis added):

The Nusra Front is one of the many names for the al-Qaida-affiliate that now heads the mighty Hay’at Tahrir al Sham militant alliance — Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee — that seized the city of Idlib, as well as two border crossings with Turkey to feed its coffers. It is also known as HTS.

The Washington Post acknowledges that an Al Qaeda affiliate is sustaining its fighting capacity in Syria through supply lines leading out of Turkey – a NATO member since 1952. It is also a Western ally, with multiple Western nations still supplying the state with weapons, including 86 million British pounds sold to Ankara by the UK. Turkey, alongside Saudi Arabia, represent two state-sponsors of terror contradicting Western narratives revolving around a “War on Terror” allegedly being fought. In fact, it appears that instead of fighting terror, the West is propping up the largest nations on Earth driving it.

Worse than the West fueling terrorism by proxy, the Washington Post also obliquely mentions that militant groups in Syria supported directly by the US CIA are coordinating with the very Al Qaeda-affiliates it claims is “snuffing out” the opposition.

It claims:

Other factions, including many once financed and armed in part by the CIA, kept to the sidelines. They are hoping to win a share of the revenues from the lucrative Bab al-Hawa border crossing, said a Turkey-based opposition activist who liaises with Syrian rebels and their state sponsors. He asked for anonymity so as not to jeopardize his position.

In other words, Al Qaeda-controlled border crossings are being jointly used and exploited by groups “once” financed and armed by the CIA. More likely, this was the case before the conflict even began, with the US simply using Al Qaeda in Syria, just as it had in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, as the global mercenary army of choice to go and do where and what US troops cannot.

The Washington Post’s article appears to be a final attempt to salvage long-exposed disinformation, misinforming the public about the true nature of both the Syrian crisis and the alleged “opposition” fighting it on the West’s behalf. The article concludes, claiming that US programs to arm militants in Syria are drawing to a close, and that the US is “leaving Syria in Russia’s hands.”

In reality, the US will only leave Syria once its options have been fully confounded and exhausted by Syria and its allies. While it may not be able to continue funding terrorists in Syria’s northwest, it still maintains a military presence with US troops and proxies in the nation’s east. It openly plans to occupy these regions – and from them – incrementally expand them until eventually Syria is either dissolved as a unified state, or regime change can eventually be achieved.

Al Qaeda’s “emergence” in northwest Syria, and its dominance of “opposition” groups admittedly funded to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year, can only be explained if those hundreds of billions of dollars were actually being fed into Al Qaeda’s hands. Admitting that Al Qaeda now infests Syria’s northwest allows the “opposition” to use any and all tactics required to keep or even claw back territory from forces loyal to Damascus, with papers like the Washington Post tasked  now with obfuscating and ignoring the reality that Al Qaeda does this with logistical routes leading directly into NATO territory, and arms and supplies acquired with NATO complicity.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Price of Defiance: Why US, Saudi Arabia Turning Kuwait Against Iran

Sputnik – 22.07.2017

Commenting on the latest twist in the diplomatic row in the Persian Gulf, this time between Kuwait and Iran, Iranian political analysts spoke to Sputnik Iran, revealing who’s really behind this new development and which of the two countries will suffer the most from the consequences.

On Thursday, Kuwait sent a diplomatic note to Iran’s embassy stating that the office of military and cultural attaches would be closed down. The note also said that 15 Iranian diplomats, including Ambassador Alireza Enayati, would have to leave the country within 45 days, leaving only four Iranian diplomats in Kuwait.

Kuwait’s acting information minister, Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah, said in a statement that the move was taken in “accordance with diplomatic norms and in abidance with the Vienna conventions with regards to its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

According to mass media reports, the moves were made following the conviction of the members of Al Abdali terror cell, whose Kuwaiti members were accused of alleged intelligence contacts with Iran and Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite militant group.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran has responded by summoning the Kuwaiti charge d’affaires. While rejecting the accusations, Iran has said that the measures taken by Kuwaiti officials are regrettable, given that the existing tensions in the region are now in a critical condition.

“We expect Kuwait to act rationally instead of responding to pressures and worsening the tensions,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

In an interview with Sputnik Iran, Sabbah Zanganeh, a political commentator, Iranian envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and former adviser to the Iranian foreign minister, said that the moves of the Kuwaiti authorities have been evidently fuelled by pressure from Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian authorities have not been informed of any details of the ongoing investigation in Kuwait and any charges which have been put forward. Neither the Iranian legal representative, nor any independent Iranian experts have been allowed to study the case in more detail.

The Iranian political analyst recalled that there have already been groundless and unsubstantiated accusations made against Iran, alleging that it played a major role in liberating the territories of Kuwait from the occupation of Saddam Hussein by supporting and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Kuwaiti residents, similar to the current accusations against Tehran.

“In due course, Saddam Hussein made a very ambitious offer to Iran to capture not only Kuwait, but the territories of other countries of the Persian Gulf. However Iran had never had a goal of the occupation of the territories of sovereign states and the destruction of the system of government of these countries,” Sabbah Zanganeh told Sputnik.

“Hence this demarche of Kuwait is baseless and is fuelled purely by the pressure of Saudi Arabia, which does not want to put up with the idea that the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, such as Kuwait and Qatar, have good relations with Iran. Saudi Arabia is exerting strong pressure on the Kuwaiti authorities and its mass media,” he added.

The political commentator further explained that until recently, Kuwait has been pursuing a very reasonable and moderate foreign policy; however it has come under strong pressure from the Saudis. Where Qatar was the first target of the Saudis, now it is Kuwait’s turn. The Saudis cannot tolerate Kuwait’s key positions in the settlement of the Qatari crisis, in the negotiations of the Yemeni issue and in the issue of diplomatic correspondence with Iran on behalf of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. Kuwait, unlike Qatar, is to a far lesser extent an independent state.

In a separate comment on the issue, Iranian political analyst and expert on Middle East and Iranian-Arab relations, former editor-in-chief of the Iranian news agency Mehr News, Hassan Hanizadeh told Sputnik that Kuwait will be the country to suffer from its demarche, while it will have no impact on the economic environment of Iran.

“These actions of Kuwait, aimed at decreasing diplomatic relationship with Iran, have been evidently dictated by Saudi Arabia and the US. As we remember, during his trip to the Middle East, Donald Trump had an important meeting with the leaders of six Arab states of the Persian Gulf in Riyadh. Trump demanded that these states cut their diplomatic relations with Iran or at least lower the level of their ties. Qatar is the first to be punished for disobeying this order,” he told Sputnik.

However, he further elaborated, Qatar held firm and defied pressure from Saudi Arabia and the US. Kuwait, in turn, is a sparsely populated country, compared to its neighbors, and prefers not to oppose the pressure of the US and the Saudis. The danger is that this demarche could spark tensions in the region between the Arab states and Iran even further.

For the last 30 years Iran has been maintaining good and friendly relations with Kuwait, avoiding any hostilities. Moreover, in 1990, during the attack of Saddam Hussein on Kuwait, the Iranian embassy in Kuwait sheltered over a hundred women and young ladies, wives and daughters of Kuwaiti emir and his brothers, on its territory from Hussein’s troops and then safely sent them to Iran for temporary relocation.

Unfortunately, the current Kuwaiti authorities have forgotten this and are putting forward baseless accusations against Iran under pressure from Saudi Arabia, the political analyst said.

“Kuwait will be the only one to suffer from this demarche. Iran is a large and strong country, which will easily overcome this crisis. Kuwait is not a high priority in the Iranian foreign policy and the lowering of the level of diplomatic relations between the two countries won’t have any impact on Iran,” Hassan Hanizadeh told Sputnik.

He explained that there are no deep trade-economic relations between the two states, only political and cultural. Hence the demarche won’t have any impact on the economy of Iran.

Commenting on the conviction of the members of the Al Abdali terror cell, and the accusation of the members in espionage on behalf of Iran, Hassan Hanizadeh noted that Iran would not spend any resources attempting to glean intelligence from Kuwait, hence all the accusations are illogical and unreasonable.

“Kuwait is not the type of country for Iran to spend its intelligence resources on. It has neither a strong army nor any objects of infrastructure, such as a nuclear power plant, for example. It is not of any particular value to Iranian intelligence services. Hence, any accusations of espionage are absurd and unreasonable,” he told Sputnik.

The political analyst said that scenario, which has got the name of “Al Abdali process” had been planned beforehand by the Americans and the Saudis. One of its aims is to clear the way for the breakup of ties between Iran and the member states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf.

Among other possible reasons of the Kuwaiti demarche, Hassan Hanizadeh suggested that it could be the discontent of the fast growing Shia Muslim population of the country. The Shia Muslim community makes over 40% of the total population of the country. And the Kuwaiti authorities don’t want them to set their eyes on Iran. Thus they are trying to lessen Iran’s influence on their country, he concluded.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Gulf Crisis: US Admits Fake News of Russian Hacking

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.07.2017

In a sharp about-turn, US intelligence agencies are now accusing the United Arab Emirates for hacking into Qatar’s official news agency, thereby sparking the Gulf crisis between Washington’s Arab allies. The latest twist amounts to an admission that the US is guilty of previously broadcasting fake news blaming Russia.

This week, the Washington Post cites US intelligence officials when it reported Monday: «The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors».

However, last month, on June 7, the American news outlet CNN had a completely different take on the Gulf crisis, when it blamed Russia for trying to sow division between US allies in the Persian Gulf. It reported in an «exclusive» article with the headline: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis.

That CNN report went on to claim: «US officials say the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries».

While CNN hinted that the alleged Russian hackers in the Gulf could have been criminal privateers, the thrust of its report last month very much pointed the finger of blame at the Russian government for hacking into the Qatar news agency. Using assertion, speculation and anonymous sources, the alleged Russian cyber-attack on Qatar was linked to alleged meddling by the Kremlin in the US presidential election last year.

«US intelligence has long been concerned with what they say is the Russian government’s ability to plant fake news in otherwise credible streams, according to US officials», reported CNN.

But now this week, US intelligence officials have changed their tune on who they think is whipping up the Gulf crisis. It is not Russia, it is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

«[US] Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by US intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation,» reports the Washington Post this week.

For over a month now, the UAE has aligned with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to blockade Qatar, another member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The crisis has become deadlocked with neither side willing to back down, much to the strategic concern of Washington. All of the monarchial energy-rich states are longtime allies of the US and together as a unit are a linchpin in maintaining the global petrodollar system. The other GCC members, Kuwait and Oman, have taken a neutral stance in the diplomatic crisis and have acted as brokers to resolve the dispute. Egypt, has joined with the Saudi-led bloc, to impose sanctions against Qatar.

The row blew up dramatically days after US President Donald Trump made an official state visit to Saudi Arabia on May 20-22. In exchange for a record $110-billion arms deals with the Saudi rulers, it seems clear that Trump gave the green light for the Saudis to instigate a blockade on Qatar. Ostensibly, the Saudis and the others are accusing Qatar of sponsoring terrorism and, they say, that is why they acted to isolate the neighboring gas-rich state. The absurd hypocrisy behind the accusation belies the real motive of petty rivalry among the Gulf monarchs. In particular, the Qatari-based Al Jazeera news network has been a bane for the Saudi and Egyptian rulers owing to its relatively independent and critical reporting on repression in those countries. Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has also rankled the Saudis and Egyptians.

Two days after Trump flew out of Saudi on May 22, the official Qatari News Agency was hit with a fake news attack. Its news reports attributed statements to the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, in which he praised Iran – the Shia arch-enemy of the US-backed Sunni monarchies – as well as making critical comments about Trump.

The whole debacle was an obvious set-up. Despite urgent notices from Qatar that its new agency had been hacked with fake news, the Saudi, Bahraini and Emirati media continued to prominently report the statements as if they were genuine, with the evident intention of smearing Qatar and provoking a stand-off.

The stage was then set for Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to announce on June 5 a total embargo of commercial, media and transport links with Qatar «because of its support for terrorism and friendly relations with Iran».

US President Trump initially voiced support for the blockade on Qatar, claiming it as a success from his trip to Saudi Arabia.

«So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King [Saudi King Salman] and 50 countries already paying off», Trump smugly declared through his Twitter feed. «They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!»

But ever since Trump set off the worst crisis in the Gulf among US allies, his top diplomat Rex Tillerson has been busy trying to calm the row.

Qatar serves as the base for US Central Command in the Middle East with an airbase housing 10,000 troops. American warplanes flying out of Qatar are the main strike force for operations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Strategic planners in Washington realize that the US cannot afford to alienate Qatar.

Tillerson has diverged noticeably from Trump’s simplistic broadside supporting Saudi Arabia, and has instead sought to bring Qatar back into the GCC fold. The US Secretary of State has hinted that the Saudi-led blockade is draconian and unrealistic. On June 23, Saudi Arabia and its partners demanded that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network along with a dozen other ultimatums. Qatar refused.

Last week, Tillerson had a frenetic week of shuttle diplomacy flying between Qatar and Saudi Arabia to get both sides to compromise. On Friday, July 14, the former Exxon CEO returned to the US deflated, unable to break the deadlock.

While traveling back to the US, Tillerson alluded to the strategic importance at stake for Washington in maintaining Gulf Arab unity. He said it is «really important to us from a national security standpoint. We need this part of the world to be stable, and this particular conflict between these parties is obviously not helpful».

This would explain why the US has now moved to expose the Saudi-led camp as being behind the fake news hack incident against the Qatari news agency.

That disclosure undermines the Saudi-led position. It confirms what the Qataris have been saying from the outset; namely, that they have been set up for a faux crisis by Gulf rivals, whose objective is to subjugate Qatari sovereignty under Saudi tutelage. Shutting down the «offensive» Al Jazeera news station being one of the desired outcomes.

By undermining the Saudis and UAE in this way, the US is wagering that it can lever the Saudis and the others GCC members into softening their demands on Qatar.

So keen are the US military and geopolitical planners to defuse the prolonged Gulf crisis – a crisis that threatens the petrodollar system – that they were obliged to come clean about the real identify of the perpetrators of the cyber attack on Qatar. That means dishing the dirt on the Saudis and UAE as the source of the hack, and abandoning the earlier claim that Russia was to blame.

CNN is once again caught out faking news about Russian hackers. At the time of its «exclusive» last month accusing Russia of destabilizing US allies in the Gulf, the news channel at least had the decency to quote Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on the claim.

Peskov said in the June 7 report: «It is another lie.. CNN again and again publish references to unnamed sources in unnamed agencies, etc, etc. These streams of information have no connection with the reality. It is so far away from the reality. Fake is a fake».

What the whole episode shows is not just how irresponsible US intelligence officials and major media are in publishing false claims defaming Russia. It also shows them as unscrupulous and expedient.

Just because the lingering Gulf crisis is spiraling to threaten US strategic interests, only then is there a sudden switch to a version of events that more accurately reflects reality. If it weren’t for US strategic concerns in the Gulf, the fake news put out about Russian hackers would no doubt continue. Which begs the question: if Russian hackers in the Gulf is fake news, then what does that say about similar claims of Russian hacking in the US?

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment