In response to the tragic Paris events of November 13, Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan warned that “ISIL is planning additional attacks… It is clear to me that ISIL has an external agenda, that they are determined to carry out these types of attacks.” (Quoted in Daily Telegraph, November 16, 2015)
Five days later following the CIA Chief’s premonition, the Bamako Radisson Hotel Blu in Mali’s capital was the object of a terrorist attack, resulting in 21 people dead. Following the attack and the taking of hostages by the terrorists, French and Malian special forces raided the hotel. US. Africa Command (AFRICOM) also confirmed that US special forces were involved.
The Bamako terror operation was allegedly coordinated by Mokhtar Belmokhtar (aka Khaled Abu al-Abbas), leader of an affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Islamist al-Mulathameen (Masked) Brigade, or “Those who Sign with Blood.”
Belmokhtar’s group was created in 2012 in the wake of the war on Libya. His organization has also allegedly been involved in the drug trade, smuggling as well kidnapping operations of foreigners in North Africa. While his whereabouts are said to be known, French intelligence has dubbed Belmokhtar “the uncatchable”.
In June he was reported dead as a result in a U.S. air strike in Libya. His death was subsequently denied.
Based on shaky evidence, The New York Times report below (November 20) concludes that Belmokhtar’s group (together with AQIM) is unequivocally behind the Bamako attacks:
A member of Al Qaeda in Africa confirmed Saturday that the attack Friday on a hotel in Bamako, Mali, had been carried out by a jihadist group loyal to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian operative for Al Qaeda. The Qaeda member, who spoke via an online chat, said that an audio message and a similar written statement in which the group claimed responsibility for the attack were authentic. The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist groups, also confirmed the authenticity of the statement.
The Qaeda member, who refused to be named for his protection, said that Mr. Belmokhtar’s men had collaborated with the Saharan Emirate of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, … In the audio recording, the group, known as Al Mourabitoun, says it carried out the operation in conjunction with Al Qaeda’s branch in the Islamic Maghreb.
The recording was released to the Al Jazeera network and simultaneously to Al Akhbar, … The recording states: “We, in the group of the Mourabitoun [Arabic Rebel Group], in cooperation with our brothers in Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, the great desert area, claim responsibility for the hostage-taking operation in the Radisson hotel in Bamako.” (emphasis added)
The SITE Intelligence Group is presented as an “independent” Washington think tank with a mandate of analyzing data pertaining to Al Qaeda affiliated terror organizations. SITE is also on contract with a number of US government agencies and has close links to US intelligence.
SITE has provided no substantive evidence which supports the authenticity of the online audio chat recording, which is considered as a reliable source. The story could have been planted.
Following the audio release, the Western media in chorus immediately pointed to an act of revenge directed against the French Republic in response to France’s 2013 military intervention in Mali, which had been ordered by President Francois Hollande.
“France saved Mali from al-Qaeda but it never broke terror threat”. “France saved northern Mali from al-Qaeda’s brutal rule … But the country is still beholden to outsiders and, as events at the Radisson hotel have demonstrated, acutely vulnerable to the worst of terrorism” (The Independent, November 20, 2015)
Screenshot The Independent, November 20, 2015
In turn, the French Minister of Defense acknowledged –prior to the conduct of a police investigation– that the authors of the attack were “most likely” led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s group in association with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
What Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain failed to mention was that both Belmokhtar and AQIM have longstanding links to the CIA, which in turn has a working relationship with France’s General Directorate for External Security, Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE).
Casually ignored by the Western media, the leaders of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) including Belmokhtar were trained and recruited by the CIA in Afghanistan. Acknowledged by the Washington based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR):
Most of AQIM’s major leaders are believed to have trained in Afghanistan during the 1979-1989 war against the Soviets as part of a group of North African volunteers known as “Afghan Arabs” that returned to the region and radicalized Islamist movements in the years that followed. The group is divided into “katibas” or brigades, which are clustered into different and often independent cells.
The group’s top leader, or emir, since 2004 has been Abdelmalek Droukdel, also known as Abou Mossab Abdelwadoud, a trained engineer and explosives expert who has fought in Afghanistan and has roots with the GIA in Algeria. (Council on Foreign Relations, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, cfr.org, undated)
Saudi born terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was recruited in 1979 ironically under the auspices of the CIA. The training, recruitment and indoctrination of Mujahideen launched in 1979 was considered to be “the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA” in response the Soviet Union’s military support of the pro-Communist secular Afghan government of Babrak Kamal.
Al Qaeda in Arabic means “the Base”. What it referred to was the CIA’s “Database” of Mujahideen recruits who were referred to by President Ronald Reagan as “freedom fighters”:
Shortly before his untimely death, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that “Al Qaeda” is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujaheddin and arms smugglers used by the CIA and Saudis to funnel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. (See Pierre-Henri Bunel, Al Qaeda: The Database, Global Research, November 20, 2005, emphasis added)
Mokhtar Belmokhtar: Post Cold War CIA intelligence asset?
The Council on Foreign Relations erroneously describes “Mokhtar Belmokhtar as the one-eyed veteran of the anti-Soviet Afghan insurgency.” (CFR, op cit, emphasis added). Belmokhtar (born in 1972) did not fight in the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989). He was recruited in 1991 at the age of 19 in the immediate wake of the Cold War.
CIA recruitment continued in the wake of the Cold War. It was in large part directed against the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Republics as well as the Middle East.
The purpose of this later CIA recruitment was to establish a network of “intelligence assets” to be used in the CIA’s post-cold war insurgencies. Leaders of the Chechen Islamist insurgencies were also trained in CIA camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the notorious leader of the Chechen insurrection Ibn al-Khattab (a citizen of Saudi Arabia).
Following his training and recruitment and a two year stint in Afghanistan (1991-1993), Mokhtar Belmokhtar was sent back to Algeria in 1993 at age 21 where he joined the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) (emblem left). The latter was initially part of the so-called Armed Islamic Group (Groupe islamique armé (GIA)) in Algeria which sought to overthrow the secular Algerian Government with a view to installing a theocratic Islamic State.
Supported covertly by the CIA, Belmokhtar fought in Southern Algeria in the civil war opposing Islamist forces and the secular government. He was also instrumental in the integration and merging of “jihadist” forces.
In January 2007, the Armed islamic Group (GIA) which had been prominent in the 1990s, officially changed its name to the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
In turn, as of 2007, the newly formed AQIM established a close relationship with the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was directly supported by NATO during the 2011 war on Libya, “providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.” (Tony Cartalucci, The Geopolitical Reordering of Africa: US Covert Support to Al Qaeda in Northern Mali, France “Comes to the Rescue”, Global Research, January 2013).
British SAS Special Forces had also been brought into Libya prior to the onset of the insurrection, acting as military advisers to the LIFG.
In fact, what has unfolded since the war on Libya is the merging of LIFG and AQIM forces. In turn, many of the LIFG operatives have been dispatched to Syria to fight within the ranks of Al Nusrah and the ISIS.
Robert Stephen Ford, US Ambassador to Algeria (2006-2008)
It is worth noting that the 2007 restructuring of jihadist forces in Algeria and the Maghreb coincided with the appointment of Robert Stephen Ford as US ambassador to Algeria in August 2006. Ford had been reassigned by the State Department from Baghdad to Algiers. From 2004 to 2006, he worked closely with Ambassador John Negroponte at the US embassy in Baghdad in supporting the creation of both Shia and Sunni death squads in Iraq.
This project consisted in recruiting and training terrorists modelled on the so-called “Salvador Option” which had been applied by the CIA in Central America. Negroponte as we recall played a central role in supporting the Contras terrorists in Nicaragua as ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, “The Salvador Option For Syria”: US-NATO Sponsored Death Squads Integrate “Opposition Forces”, Global Research, May 28, 2012)
The 2006 appointment of Robert Stephen Ford to head the US Embassy in Algeria was timely. It coincided with the consolidation of jihadist groups within Algeria and the Maghreb. It preceded the 2011 US-NATO sponsored insurrections in Libya and Syria.
In 2010, Ford was approved by the US Congress as US Ambassador to Syria. He presented his credentials to president Bashar al Assad in January 2011, barely two months prior to the onslaught of the terrorist insurrection in the border city of Daraa in mid-March 2011. Ford played a central role in assisting the channelling of US and allied support to Syrian “opposition” groups including Al Nusrah and the ISIS.
Belmokhtar’s history and involvement in Afghanistan confirms that from the very outset he was an instrument of US intelligence. While, he operates with a certain degree of independence and autonomy in relation to his intelligence sponsors, he and his organization are bona fide CIA “intelligence assets”, which can be used by the CIA as part of a covert agenda.
There are various definitions of an “intelligence asset”. From the standpoint of US intelligence, “assets” linked up to terrorist organizations must not be aware that they are supported and monitored by Western intelligence.
With regard to Al Qaeda, from the outset in 1979, the CIA chose to operate through various front organizations as well as indirectly through its Saudi, Qatari and Pakistani intelligence partners. CIA’s Milton Beardman who played a central role in the Soviet Afghan war confirms that members of Al Qaeda including Osama bin Laden were not aware of the role they were playing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): “neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help”(Michel Chossudovsky, Who is Osama bin Laden, Global Research, September 12, 2001):
Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic warriors were unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army on behalf of Uncle Sam. While there were contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in theatre had no contacts with Washington or the CIA. (Ibid)
Amply documented, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)and its affiliated groups including the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was serving the interests of the Western military alliance. Confirmed by the Washington Post, June 29, 2011 (See below), France was supplying weapons to the LIFG at the height of NATO’s bombing raids.
AQIM in turn was receiving weapons from the LIFG, which was supported by NATO. Moreover, LIFG mercenaries had integrated AQIM brigades.
According to alleged Terror Mastermind Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who also coordinated the 2013 In Amenas Mali kidnapping operation:
“We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world. As for our benefiting from the (Libyan) weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.” http://www.hanford.gov/c.cfm/oci/ci_terrorist.cfm?dossier=174
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is indelibly tied into a Western intelligence agenda. While it is described as ”one of the region’s wealthiest, best-armed militant groups”, financed covertly by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. France’s Canard enchaîné revealed (June 2012) that Qatar (a staunch ally of the United States) has been funding various terrorist entities in Mali:
The original report cites a French military intelligence report as indicating that Qatar has provided financial support to all three of the main armed groups in northern Mali: Iyad Ag Ghali’s Ansar Ed-Dine, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA).
The amount of funding given to each of the groups is not mentioned but it mentions that repeated reports from the French DGSE to the Defense Ministry have mentioned Qatar’s support for ‘terrorism’ in northern Mali. (quoted by Jeune Afrique June 2012)
Qatar is a proxy state, a de facto Persian Gulf territory largely controlled by Washington. It hosts a number of Western military and intelligence facilities.
The Emir of Qatar does not finance terrorism without the consent of the CIA.
And with regard to Mali, the CIA coordinates its activities in liaison with its French intelligence partners and counterparts, including la Direction du renseignement militaire (DRM) and the Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE).
The implications are obvious and should be carefully understood by Western public opinion. Inasmuch as Belmokhtar and AQIM are “intelligence assets”, both US and French intelligence are (indirectly) behind the Bamako attacks.
Both US and French intelligence are complicit in the State sponsorship of terrorism.
Prime Minister David Cameron must examine financial links between UK-allied Gulf regimes and terror groups, or risk facing awkward questions about Conservative Party links to “rich Arab Gulf individuals,” says former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown.
Speaking on ITV’s Lorraine program on Tuesday, Ashdown – who is also a former soldier and has served as an ambassador to Afghanistan and Bosnia – said he is deeply concerned about how terrorism and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) are being funded, and the UK government’s response to this.
“Who is arming ISIS, who is providing safe havens for ISIS? To get there you have to ask questions about the arms everyone’s sold in the region, the role of Saudi Arabia in this. I think there are some very big questions and we have to be careful,” Ashdown said.
He said there had been a “failure to put pressure on the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to stop funding the Salafists and Wahhabists,” and said he is worried “about the closeness of the Conservative Party and rich Arab Gulf individuals.”
He hinted the strategic priorities of the UK in Syria are the wrong way around. “I think we should be impatient about the removal of ISIL and I think we should be more patient about the removal of Assad.”
Ashdown’s calls for a proper investigation into terror funding by the West’s Arab allies echo, to some extent, those of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Speaking to the House of Commons last Wednesday, the Labour leader urged Parliament to take more action to clamp down on institutions which provide “vital infrastructure” to the terror group in Syria and Iraq.
Corbyn said one of the main ways to stop IS from functioning is to cut off its resources, suggesting the EU would also need to play a part in suffocating the organization.
“Surely a crucial way to help defeat ISIL is to cut off its funding, its supply of arms, and its trade,” Corbyn said during prime minister’s questions (PMQs).
“Can I press the prime minister to ensure that our allies in the region, indeed all countries in the region, are doing all they can to clamp down on individuals and institutions in their countries who are providing ISIL with vital infrastructure?”
A Russian Mi-8 helicopter came under attack while conducting a search and rescue operation, searching for the crew of the downed Su-24 in Syria. One naval infantry soldier was reported killed, the helicopter destroyed by mortar fire.
The Russian General Staff said that two Mi-8s were involved in the operation to save the crew of the downed Su-24.
One helicopter has been shot down, its crew evacuated to the Russian base at Hmeymim.
“A search and rescue operation involving two Mi-8 helicopters was carried out, charged with evacuating the pilots from the landing site. During the operation, as a result of small-arms fire, one of the helicopters was damaged, and forced to make a landing on neutral territory. One naval infantry soldier was killed,” Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi, the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, told reporters on Tuesday.
The officer noted that the “personnel from the search and rescue team and the helicopter’s crew have been evacuated and are now located at the Hmeymim air base. The downed helicopter was destroyed by mortar fire from territory controlled by armed gangs.”
“The search and rescue operation tasked with finding the crew of the downed Russian bomber continues,” Rudskoi added, emphasizing that the territories in which the operation was conducted is believed to be controlled by radical rebel groups.
A Russian Su-24 Fencer jet crashed in Syria earlier in the day with two people aboard. Ankara claims that its F-16s shot down the plane because it violated the country’s airspace. Russia has countered Turkey’s accusations, President Vladimir Putin saying that the aircraft was 0.6 miles away from the Turkish border when it was shot down.
According to the Russian leader, the crashed aircraft was not posing any threat to Turkey when it was struck by an air-to-air missile from the Turkish jet.
The Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, has released a grateful video, where they openly thank the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which the US has touted as a “moderate opposition group”, for supplying them with US-made anti-tank TOW missiles (“Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided”).
A recently released video shows an Al-Nusra Front field commander thanking the FSA commanders for giving his forces TOW missiles, according to a report released by the Iranian news agency FARS.
The agency reminds readers that the two groups, the Al-Nusra and the FSA, formed an alliance in March, the Army of Conquest, or Jaish al-Fatah in Arabic, to fight against the forces of President Assad.
Since then, they have fought together “at almost every single battle in Aleppo, Lattakia, Hama, and Idlib Governorates of Syria.”
Through this alliance several militant groups like the Al-Nusra Front and the Ahrar al-Sham movement have been given access to FSA’s US-made heavy weaponry, which has been supplied to the militant group by the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
According to the agency’s estimates, Saudi Arabia sent 500 TOW missiles to Al-Nusra directly last month.
The US, however, claims that it is just supplying aid and weapons to FSA or the so-called moderate militant groups in Syria.
The BGM-71 TOW is one of the most widely-used guided anti-tank missiles. The weapon is used in anti-armor, anti-bunker, anti-fortification and anti-amphibious landing roles.
TOW missiles are used by the armed forces of more than 40 countries and are integrated in over 15,000 ground, vehicle and helicopter platforms worldwide.
The problem with America’s “anti-ISIS coalition” is not a matter of poor planning or a lack of resources. It is not a matter of lacking leadership or military might. The problem with America’s “anti-ISIS coalition” is that it never existed in the first place. There is no US-led war on ISIS, and what’s worse, it appears that the US, through all of its allies, from across the Persian Gulf to Eastern Europe and even within Washington itself, are involved in feeding ISIS, not fighting it.
Going from Syria itself, outward according to geographical proximity, we can trace ISIS’ support all the way back to Washington itself. And as we do, efforts like the “talks” in Vienna, and all the non-solutions proposed by the US and its allies, appear ever more absurd while the US itself is revealed not as a stabilizing force in a chaotic world, but rather the very source of that chaos.
Within Syria itself, it is no secret that the US CIA is arming, training, funding and equipping militant groups, groups the US now claims Russia is bombing instead of “ISIS.” However, upon reading carefully any report out of newspapers in the US or its allies it becomes clear that these “rebels” always seem to be within arms reach of listed terrorist organizations, including Jabhat al Nusra.
Al Nusra is literally Al Qaeda in Syria. Not only that, it is the terrorist organization from which ISIS allegedly split from. And while the US has tried to add in a layer of extra plausible deniability to its story by claiming Nusra and ISIS are at odds with one another, the fact is Nusra and ISIS still fight together on the same battlefield toward the same objectives.
And while we’ll get to who is propping up these two terrorist groups beyond Syria’s borders, it should be noted that the US and European media itself has reported a steady flow of weapons and fighters out from its own backed “rebel” groups and into the ranks of Nusra and ISIS.
Articles like Reuters’ “U.S.-trained Syrian rebels gave equipment to Nusra: U.S. military” give at least one explanation as to where ISIS is getting all of its brand new Toyota trucks from:
Syrian rebels trained by the United States gave some of their equipment to the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage, a U.S. military spokesman said on Friday, the latest blow to a troubled U.S. effort to train local partners to fight Islamic State militants.
The rebels surrendered six pick-up trucks and some ammunition, or about one-quarter of their issued equipment, to a suspected Nusra intermediary on Sept. 21-22 in exchange for safe passage, said Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, in a statement.
Before this, defections of up to 3,000 so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) “rebels” had been reported, even by the London Guardian which claimed in its article “Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra” that:
Abu Ahmed and others say the FSA has lost fighters to al-Nusra in Aleppo, Hama, Idlib and Deir al-Zor and the Damascus region. Ala’a al-Basha, commander of the Sayyida Aisha brigade, warned the FSA chief of staff, General Salim Idriss, about the issue last month. Basha said 3,000 FSA men have joined al-Nusra in the last few months, mainly because of a lack of weapons and ammunition. FSA fighters in the Banias area were threatening to leave because they did not have the firepower to stop the massacre in Bayda, he said. Advertisement
The FSA’s Ahrar al-Shimal brigade joined al-Nusra en masse while the Sufiyan al-Thawri brigade in Idlib lost 65 of its fighters to al-Nusra a few months ago for lack of weapons. According to one estimate the FSA has lost a quarter of all its fighters.
Al-Nusra has members serving undercover with FSA units so they can spot potential recruits, according to Abu Hassan of the FSA’s al-Tawhid Lions brigade.
Taken together, it is clear to anyone that even at face value the US strategy of arming “moderate rebels” is a complete failure and that to continue proposing such a failed strategy is basically an admission that (in fact) the US seeks to put weapons and trained fighters directly into the ranks of Al Nusra and other hardcore terrorist groups. Of course, in reality, that was the plan all along. So even before our journey leaves Syria, we see how the US is feeding, not fighting terrorism, completely and intentionally.
And of course, before many of the fighters even reach the battlefield in Syria, they have spent time training, arming up and staging in Turkey and Jordan. There has been a lot of talk in Washington, London and Brussels about establishing safe havens in Syria itself for this army of rebel-terrorists, but in reality, Turkey and Jordan have served this purpose since the war began in 2011. All the US and its allies want to do now is extend these safe havens deeper into Syrian territory.
But before that, a steady stream of supplies, weapons and fighters have been pouring over the border, provided by the Persian Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular) and with the explicit complicity of the Turkish government.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle videotaped hundreds of trucks pouring over the Turkish border, bound for ISIS in Syria as part of its story, “ISIS and Turkey’s porous borders” (video here). It was not a scene one would describe as “smuggling” behind the back of Turkish authorities, but rather a scene reminiscent of the Iraq War where fleets of trucks openly supported the full-scale invasion of Iraq by America’s military.
Turkey’s borders aren’t merely porous, they are wide open, with the Turkish government itself clearly involved in filling up the fleets of supply trucks bound for ISIS on a daily basis.
In recent days, as Russia has begun decimating fleets of these trucks, and in particular, oil tankers that, instead of bringing supplies into Syria, are stealing oil for export beyond Syria’s borders, there has been talk about just who this oil is being sold to. Turkey’s name comes up yet again.
Business Insider in its article “Here’s How ISIS Keeps Selling So Much Oil Even While Being Bombed And Banned By The West” reveals:
Most of the oil is bought by local traders and covers the domestic needs of rebel-held areas in northern Syria. But some low-quality crude has been smuggled to Turkey where prices of over $350 a barrel, three times the local rate, have nurtured a lucrative cross-border trade.
And if some readers don’t find the argument that ISIS sustains itself from within Turkish territory entirely convincing, perhaps a direct admission from the US State Department itself might help. Its Voice of America media network recently reported in an article titled “US, Turkey Poised for Joint Anti-ISIS Operation, Despite Differences” that:
Some have even suspected the Turkish government of cooperating with IS, making allegations that range from weapons transfers to logistical support to financial assistance and the provision of medical services. The Cumhuriyet daily this week published stories that alleged Turkish Intelligence was working hand-in-hand with IS. A former IS spy chief told the paper that during the siege of the Syrian city of Kobani last year, Turkish Intelligence served McDonald’s hamburgers to IS fighters brought in from Turkey.
Some analysts say the pending border operation could help silence some of the criticism.
That the US is still working openly with Turkey despite increasing evidence that Turkey itself is sustaining ISIS in Syria, indicates that the US itself is also interested in perpetuating the terrorist group’s activities for as long as possible/plausible.Eastern Europe
Those nations in Eastern Europe who have either joined NATO or now aspire to, also appear to be directly involved. The large torrent of weapons needed to sustain ISIS’ terrorism within Syria cannot, as a matter of managing public perception, appear to be coming entirely from US arsenals themselves (though hundreds of TOW missile systems and M16s do regularly show up in the hands of Nusra, ISIS and other terrorists organizations). Instead, Soviet bloc weapons are needed and to get them, the US has tapped NATO members like Croatia and aspiring NATO member Ukraine to help arm its ISIS legions.
In 2013 it was revealed by the New York Times in their article Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A. that:
Although rebel commanders and the data indicate that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been shipping military materials via Turkey to the opposition since early and late 2012, respectively, a major hurdle was removed late last fall after the Turkish government agreed to allow the pace of air shipments to accelerate, officials said.
Simultaneously, arms and equipment were being purchased by Saudi Arabia in Croatia and flown to Jordan on Jordanian cargo planes for rebels working in southern Syria and for retransfer to Turkey for rebels groups operating from there, several officials said.
One wonders how many of these weapons “coincidentally” ended up in Nusra or ISIS’ hands.
More recently, the NATO-installed junta in Ukraine has been implicated not in supplying weapons to ISIS by proxy, but supplying them to ISIS much more directly after a high-profile bust was made in Kuwait implicating Kiev.
International Business Times reported in its article “Ukraine Weapons To ISIS? Kiev Denies Charge After Islamic State Terrorists Caught In Kuwait” that:
The Ukrainian military has denied knowledge of how its weapons made it into the hands of Islamic State group terrorists. Lebanese citizen Osama Khayat, who was arrested this week in Kuwait with other suspects, said he purchased arms in Ukraine that were meant to be delivered to the militant group in Syria via smuggling routes in Turkey.
Perhaps readers notice a pattern. Washington is using its vast global network and allies to arm and fund terrorists in Syria, supported by massive logistical networks flowing through Turkey and to a lesser extent, Jordan. Everyone from America’s allies in Kiev and Zagreb, to Riyad and Doha, to Ankara and Amman are involved which goes far in explaining just how ISIS got so powerful, and why it still remains so powerful despite its widening war on what appears to be the entire world.
The United States
And all of this brings us back to Washington itself. Surely Washington notices that each and every single one of its allies is involved in feeding, not fighting ISIS. When each and every one of its allies from Kiev to Ankara are involved in arming and supplying ISIS, Washington not only knows, it is likely orchestrating it all to begin with.
And proving this is not a matter of deduction or mere implications. Proving this requires simply for one to read a 2012 Department of Intelligence Agency (DIA) report (.pdf) which openly admitted:
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).
If, at this point, one is unclear on just who these “supporting powers to the opposition” are, the DIA report itself reveals it is the West, NATO (including Turkey) and its allies in the Persian Gulf.
This Salafist (Islamic) principality (state), or ISIS for short, was not an indirect consequence of US foreign policy, it was (and still very much is) a concerted conspiracy involving multiple states spanning North America, Europe, and the Middle East. It could not exist otherwise.
While Russia attempts to reach westward to piece together an inclusive coalition to finally put an end to ISIS, it is clear that it does so in vain. Washington, Brussels and their regional allies in the Middle East have no intention of putting an end to ISIS. Even today, this very moment, the US and its allies are doing everything within their power to ensure the survival of their terrorist armies inside of Syria for as long as possible before any ceasefire is agreed to. And even if a peace settlement of some sort is struck, all it will do is buy Syria time. No matter how much damage Russia and its genuine coalition consisting of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon deal ISIS within Syria, the networks that fed it from Turkey, Jordan, the Persian Gulf, Eastern Europe and Washington itself remain intact.
One hopes that these networks can be diminished through the principles of multipolarism within the time being bought for Syria through the blood, sacrifice and efforts of Syrian soldiers and Russian airmen.
Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer.
Commenting on the origins of the Islamist terrorism plaguing the Middle East, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad noted that terror groups including Al-Qaeda and ISIL have been able to find fertile soil in Iraq as a result of US interventionism, with Saudi oil money and their poisonous Wahhabi ideology nurturing the groups and helping them grow.
Interviewed by Italy’s RAI UNO television, Assad was asked to respond to accusations made by some Western analysts that his government was at least partly responsible for ISIL’s creation.
“Actually,” the president retorted, “according to what some American officials, including Hillary Clinton, have said, Al-Qaeda was created by the Americans with the help of Saudi Wahhabi money and ideology. Of course, many other [US] officials said the same… ISIL and al-Nusra are offshoots of Al-Qaeda. Regarding ISIL, it started in Iraq; it was established in Iraq in 2006… and the leader of ISIL today – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – he was in American prisons, and he was put in New York in their prisons, and then he was released. So it wasn’t in Syria; it didn’t start in Syria. It started in Iraq, and it started before that in Afghanistan… And Tony Blair recently said that yes, the Iraq War helped to create ISIL. Their confession is the most important evidence regarding your question.”
Moreover, according to Assad, ISIL has no natural incubator in Syria, given the country’s long-standing ideology of secular nationalism, religious tolerance and ethnic and religious co-existence prior to the war.
“If you want to talk about the strength of Daesh,” the president noted, “the first thing you have to ask is how much of an incubator, a real, natural incubator, you have in a certain society. Up to this moment, I can tell you that Daesh does not have a natural incubator, a social incubator, within Syria.”
At the same time, Assad warned, if ISIL’s poisonous ideology grows roots and becomes chronic, “this kind of ideology can change the society.” In the president’s words, the terrorists, who have been “supported…in different ways since the beginning of the crisis” by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, “and of course the Western policy that supported [them] in different ways since the beginning of the crisis,” will lose their strength once they lose the support of their benefactors.
“They can be strong as long as they have strong support from different states, whether in the Middle East or the West,” Assad suggested.
Asked to comment on the deadly attacks which took place in Paris earlier this month, the president once again sent his condolences, condemning the “horrible crime” and noting that Syrians like few others can understand the terror of seeing “innocents being killed without any reason and for nothing…. We’ve been suffering from that for the past five years.”
Assad emphasized that “we feel for the French as we feel for the Lebanese a few days before that, and for the Russians regarding the airplane that’s been shot down over Sinai, and for the Yemenis.” At the same time, the president voiced his hope that the Western world would find compassion for the victims of terror from all these attacks, and not “only for the French.”
Political Settlement Requires an Accurate Definition of the Opposition
Commenting on the potential for a political settlement to the Syrian crisis, the president emphasized that there could be no discussions on any timetable for settlement so long as the terrorist threat was not dealt with. Otherwise, Assad noted that a year and a half to two years would be enough to create mechanisms for a new political system, including a new constitution, and guidelines on referendums, parliamentary and presidential elections.
Regarding disagreements with Western powers over who can be defined as the legitimate opposition, Assad explained that people who hold machineguns in their hand cannot be considered legitimate opposition. “That’s the case in every other country. Whoever holds a machinegun and terrorizes people and destroys private or public property or kills innocents –he is not the opposition. Opposition is a political term. Opposition can be defined not through your own opinion; it can be defined only through elections –through the ballot box.”
According to the president, only the Syrian people, via elections, can determine who they consider the real opposition. “If you want to talk about my own opinion, you can be opposition when you have Syrian grassroots, when you belong only to your country. You cannot be opposition while you are formed as a person or as an entity in the foreign ministry of another country or in an intelligence office of another country. You cannot be a puppet; you cannot be a surrogate mercenary; you can only be a real Syrian.”
Refugee Crisis Hitting Syria Just as Hard as Its Hitting Europe
Asked to comment on the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have fled Syria for Europe in recent months, Assad emphasized that “everyone who leaves this country is a loss to Syria… We feel the suffering, because every refugee in Syria has a long story of suffering within Syria, and that’s what we should deal with by asking the question: ‘Why did they leave?'”
According to the president, Syrians leave “for many reasons. The first one [is] the direct threat by terrorists. The second is the influence of terrorists in destroying infrastructure and affecting the livelihood of those people. But the third one, which is as important as the influence of terrorists, is the Western embargo on Syria.” Assad emphasized that many people would go back to Syria in a heartbeat, “but how can he go back… while the basics of his life, his livelihood, has been affected dramatically?… The Western embargo and terrorism have put these people between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
Asked by his interviewer whether he considered the Syrian war to be a religious war, the president made clear that this was actually a war with “people who have deviated from real religion; mainly, of course, from Islam, toward extremism, which we don’t consider as part of our religion. It’s a war between the real Muslims and the extremists. Of course, [the radicals] give it different titles –a war against Christians, a war against other sects…but the real issue is the war between them and the rest of the Muslims, the majority of whom are moderates.”
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.
EU Migrant Crisis: Coincidence or Plot Aimed at Starting Military Operation in Syria?
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.
The Blairs’ charitable Faith Foundation, aimed at combating religious extremism, does not hesitate to accept donations from anyone, be it Rupert Murdoch or Ukrainian oligarchs.
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.
‘Clinton Cash’ book alleges foreign donations to family foundation linked to political favors
Ukraine oligarch ‘top cash contributor’ to Clinton Foundation prior to Kiev crisis
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.