Protests about the lack of proper city sanitation services have quickly escalated into full-blown calls for regime change.
Lebanese protesters demonstrated in Beirut this weekend as part of the “You Stink” movement, which was organized by citizens fed up with the garbage that had been piling up in their streets for weeks.
What began as an expression of legitimate grievances, however, quickly spiraled into the world’s latest Color Revolution attempt.
Some radical youth started throwing rocks and petrol bombs at police officers (uncannily reminiscent of the earlier hijacking of the peaceful-intentioned “Electric Yerevan” protests), which resulted in a forceful counter-response that was then immediately used to ‘justify’ the movement’s transformation into one of open regime change ends.
The thing is, however, Lebanon doesn’t really have a functioning government to begin with, having been without a President for over a year. If the Prime Minister steps down as he threatened to do, then it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis that might bring the formerly civil war-torn and multi-confessional state back to the brink of domestic conflict.
Any significant destabilization in Lebanon is bound to have a serious impact on Syria, which would be put in a difficult position by the potential cutoff of the strategic Beirut-to-Damascus highway and the possible redeployment of valuable Hezbollah fighters back to their homeland.
A Little About Lebanon
The tiny Middle Eastern state of about four and a half million people is marked by a demographic and political complexity that could hinder a speedy resolution to the current crisis. It’s necessary to be aware of some of its specifics in order to better understand the origins of the current stalemate and where it might rapidly be headed.
Unilaterally sliced out of Syria during the early years of the French mandate, the territory of Lebanon hails what is generally recognized as the most diverse population in the Mideast. Eighteen religious groups are recognized in the country’s constitution, including Alawites, Druze, Maronite Catholics, Sunnis, and Shiites.
This eclecticism of religious communities is presided over by something referred to as the National Pact, an unwritten understanding that the President will always be Maronite, the Prime Minister will be Sunni, and the Speaker of Parliament will be Shiite, among other stipulations (and with a few historical exceptions).
Complementary to this concept is the country’s unique political system called confessionalism, whereby Christians and Muslims share equal seats in the unicameral parliament, but each group’s respective composition is determined proportionally by sect. Originally meant to be a temporary solution when it was first enacted in the 1920s, it was later refined by the 1989 Taif Agreement that ended the lengthy civil war and has remained in place to this day.
Crawling To A Crisis
The current crisis in Lebanon was long in the making, and it’s the result of many embedded problems that spilled over with the garbage protests. The economy has always been fragile, in that it’s highly dependent on tourism and banking – hardly the prerequisites for a stable system.
The overwhelming influx of over 1 million Syrian refugees over the past couple of years (on top of the nearly half a million Palestinian ones already present in the country) contributed to the country’s economic malaise, with the International Labor Organization quoting a 34% unemployment rate for youth between the ages of 15-24. It’s thus of no surprise then that there were plenty of disaffected young people eager and available to protest when the “You Stink” opportunity finally arose.
Lebanon’s economic troubles have been exacerbated by its enormously high debt-to-GDP ratio that has the dubious honor of being one of the world’s worst at 143%. It’s of such magnitude that Prime Minister Tammam Salam just announced that the government might not be able to pay salaries next month.
This economic dysfunction persists despite the discovery of large amounts of offshore oil and gas that have yet to be extracted. Part of the reason for this is that the country is in the midst of a political impasse stemming from parliament’s inability to agree upon a new president after the former one finished his term in May 2014.
Since the president appoints the prime minister, if Salam resigns like he threatened to do if Thursday’s upcoming Cabinet meeting yields no results, then the country would enter completely uncharted territory that might prompt more pronounced unrest and guarantee a period of heightened uncertainty.
The arrangement of political forces is thus that two men have the possibility to be president – Michel Aoun and Samir Geagea. Each represents one of the two main trans-religious political coalitions, the 8 March Alliance and the 14 March Alliance, respectively, and both want parliament to end its impasse as soon as possible.
Their similarities end there, however, since Aoun is in an alliance with multipolar-oriented Hezbollah, while Geagea is closely tied to former Prime Minister and dual Lebanese-Saudi billionaire powerbroker Saad Hariri.
Wikileaks’ latest releases from the Saudi Foreign Ministry prove that Hariri still has intimate contacts with the Saudi royal family and intelligence services, and that Geagea once begged the kingdom to bankroll his party’s finances. Therefore, although the presidency itself is largely ceremonial, it’s the diametrically competing visions of these two parties and the potential for street clashes between their supporters during the Color Revolution tumult that creates serious concern about Lebanon’s future, and consequently, could be expected to have negative repercussions for Syria.
The regional backdrop in which all of this occurs is that the US and its allies are in a ‘race to the finish’ to ‘win’ their various Mideast wars before the tens of billions of dollars of frozen Iranian funds are returned to Tehran, which would then partially disseminate it to its regional allies Hezbollah and Syria.
Additionally, Russia has made remarkable diplomatic progress in trying to reconcile all sides in Syria and assemble a coordinated anti-ISIL coalition, raising the US’ fears that its window of ‘opportunity’ for accomplishing regime change there may unexpectedly be drawing to a close.
It’s thus under these conditions that the organic protests in Beirut were almost immediately hijacked by radical Color Revolutionaries in order to create chaos along Syria’s western border.
The intent behind the calculated state collapse being attempted at the moment in Lebanon is to disrupt the Beirut-to-Damascus highway that serves as one of the two main lifelines to the Syrian capital, the other being the Damascus-to-Latakia highway. Shutting down the Lebanese route would make Syria wholly dependent on the Latakian one that’s vulnerable to an “Army of Conquest” offensive, which if successful, would cripple the country by de-facto blockading the capital.
At the same time, in the event that Beirut reaches its breaking point, some Hezbollah units currently deployed to Syria would be compelled to return back to the home front to assist in the inevitable power struggle there. The withdrawal of part (or all) of this valuable fighting contingent would make the military situation much more difficult for the Syrian Arab Army, both in defending the Damascus-to-Latakia corridor and in securing the Lebanese border from becoming a ‘second Turkey’ of terrorist infiltration.
Conclusively, it’s for these strategic reasons why it strongly appears that externally directed forces were ordered to exploit Lebanon’s existing tensions at this specific time. They engineered a Color Revolution attempt by using the “You Stink” protests as a semi-plausible cover, and this was timed to coincide with the ‘race to the finish’ being played out all across the Mideast.
Lebanon can still pull away from the brink, provided that Thursday’s upcoming Cabinet meeting resolves the presidential crisis and placates the country’s main political parties, but it will have to tread very carefully in containing sectarian temptations and avoiding the trap of escalatory Color Revolution provocations.
From Regional War, “Regime Change” to Global Warfare
2015 has become a year of living dangerously.
Wars are spreading across the globe.
Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.
Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.
These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.
There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders. Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.
Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia: NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China. Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?
Living Dangerously: The Rising Tide of Violent Conflicts
There is no question that wars and military threats have replaced diplomacy, negotiations and democratic elections as the principal means of resolving political conflicts. Throughout the present year (2015) wars have spread across borders and escalated in intensity.
The NATO allies, US, Turkey and the EU have openly attacked Syria with air strikes and ground troops. There are plans to occupy the northern sector of that ravaged country, creating what the Erdogan regime dubs a ‘buffer zone’ cleansed of its people and villages.
Under the pretext of ‘fighting ISIS’, the Turkish government is bombing Kurds (civilians and resistance fighters) and their Syrian allies. On Syria’s southern border, US Special Forces have accelerated and expanded operations from their bases in Jordan on behalf of the mercenary terrorists – funded by the monarchist Gulf States.
Over 4 million Syrians have fled their homes as refugees and over 200,000 have been killed since the US-EU-Turkey-Saudi-sponsored war against the secular Syrian government was launched four years ago.
Dozens of terrorist, mercenary and sectarian groups have carved up Syria into rival fiefdoms, pillaged its economic and cultural resources and reduced the economy by over ninety percent.
The US-EU-Turkish military intervention extends the war into Iraq, Lebanon and…. Turkey – attacking secular governments, ethnic minority groups and secular civil society.
The feudal, monarchist Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have invaded Yemen with tanks, launching air strikes against a country without any air defenses. Major cities and towns are devastated. Saudi ground troops and armored carriers are killing and wounding thousands – mostly civilians. The brutal Saudi air and sea blockade of Yemen’s ports have led to a humanitarian crisis, as ten million Yemenis face starvation deliberately imposed by a grotesque and obscenely rich monarchy.
The Yemeni resistance fighters, driven out of the major cities, are preparing for prolonged guerrilla warfare against the Saudi monsters and their puppets. Their resistance has already spread across the frontiers of the absolutist Saudi dictatorship.
The brutal Israeli occupation troops, in collaboration with armed ‘settler’ colonists, have accelerated their violent seizure of Palestinian lands. They have stepped up the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Bedouins, Druze and Christian inhabitants replacing their communities with racist ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements.
Daily assaults against the huge ‘concentration camps’ of Gaza accompany an armed blockade of land, air and water, preventing the reconstruction of the tens of thousands of homes, schools, hospital, factories and infrastructure, destroyed by last year’s Israeli blitzkrieg.
Israel’s continued annexation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory precludes any diplomatic process; colonial wars have been and continue to be Israel’s policy of choice in dealing with its Arab neighbors and captive populations.
Africa’s wars, resulting from earlier US-EU interventions, continue to ravage-the Continent. Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Libya are riven by bloody conflicts between US-EU backed regimes and armed Islamic and nationalist resistance movements.
Throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, US-EU backed regimes have provoked armed upheavals in Libya, Nigeria (Boko Harem), Egypt (ISIS, Moslem Brotherhood et al), Chad, Niger, South Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere.
Imperial client Egyptian and Ethiopian dictators rule with iron fists – financed and armed by their EU and US sponsors.
Imperial wars rage throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Hundreds of experienced Baathist Iraqi military officers, who had been expelled or jailed and tortured by the US Occupation army, have now made common cause with Islamist fighters to form ISIS and effectively occupy a third of Iraq and a strategic swath of Syria.
There are daily bombings in Baghdad undermining its US client. Strategic advances by ISIS are forcing the US to resume and escalate its direct combat role
The US-Baghdad retreat and the defeat of the US-trained Iraqi military in the face of the Baathist-Islamist offensive is the opening salvo of a long-term, large-scale war in Iraq and Syria. The Turkish air-war against the Kurds in Iraq will escalate the war in Northern Iraq and extend it into southeast Turkey.
Closer to ‘home’, the EU-US-backed coup (‘regime change’) in Kiev and the attempt to impose dictatorial-pro-West oligarchic rule in Ukraine have detonated a prolonged civil-national war devastating the country and pitting NATO’s proxies against Russian-backed allies in the Donbas.
US, England, Poland and other NATO powers are deeply committed to pushing war right up to Russia’s borders.
There is a new Cold War, with the imposition of wide-ranging US-EU economic sanctions against Russia and the organizing of major NATO military exercises on Russia’s doorsteps. It is no surprise that these provocations are met with a major counter-response – the Russian military build-up. The NATO power grab in Ukraine, which first led to a local ethnic war, now escalates to a global confrontation and may move toward a nuclear confrontation as Russia absorbs hundreds of thousands of refugees from the slaughter in Ukraine.
The US puppet regime in Afghanistan has faced a major advance of the Taliban in all regions, including the capital, Kabul.
The Afghan war is intensifying and the US-backed Kabul regime is in retreat. US troops can scarcely advance beyond their bunkers.
As the Taliban military advances, its leaders demand total surrender of the Kabul puppets and the withdrawal of US troops. The US response will be a prolonged escalation of war.
Pakistan, bristling with US arms, faces a major conflict along its borders with India and permanent war in its semi-autonomous Northwest frontier states with Islamist and ethnic Pashtu guerrilla movements backed by mass regional political parties. These parties exercise de facto control over the Northwest region providing sanctuary and arms for Taliban militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Armed ethno-religious conflicts persist in western China, Myanmar and northern India. There are large-scale popular resistance movements in the militant northeast Thailand opposed to the current military-monarchist dictatorship in Bangkok.
In the 21st century, in South and Southeast Asia, as in the rest of the world, war and armed conflicts have become central in resolving ethnic, social, tribal and regional differences with central states: diplomacy and democratic elections have been rendered obsolete and inefficient.
Latin America – On the Verge
Burgeoning violent extra-parliamentary right-wing movements, intent on overthrowing or ‘impeaching’ elected center-left Latin American governments face major confrontations with the state and its mass supporters.
In Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil, US-backed opposition groups are engaged in violent demonstrations, directed toward ousting the elected regimes. In the case of Ecuador, ‘popular sectors’, including some indigenous leaders and sectors of the trade union movement, have called for an ‘uprising’ to oust President Correa. They seem oblivious of the fact that the hard-right oligarchs who now control key offices in the three principal cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca) will be the real beneficiaries of their ‘uprisings’.
The resurgent Right envisions violent ‘regime change’ as the first step toward ‘wiping the slate clean’ of a decade of social reforms, independent regional organizations and independent foreign policies.
‘Civil war’ may be too strong a word for the situation in Latin America at this time – but this is the direction which the US-backed opposition is heading. Faced with the mess and difficulty of dislodging incumbent regimes via elections, the US and its local proxies have opted for the choreography of street violence, sabotage, martial law and coups – to be followed by sanitized elections – with US-vetted candidates.
War and violence run rampant through Mexico and most of Central America. A US-backed military coup ousted the popularly elected, independent President Zelaya in Honduras. The ensuing US-proxy regime has murdered and jailed hundreds of pro-democracy dissidents and driven thousands to flee the violence.
The 1990’s US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ in El Salvador and Guatemala effectively blocked any agrarian reform and income redistribution that might have led to the rebuilding of their civil societies. This has led to over two decades of mass disaffection, the rise of armed ‘gangs’ numbering over 100,000 members and an average of six to ten thousand homicides a year with El Salvador becoming the ‘murder capital of the hemisphere’ on a per capita basis. The annual murder toll under the US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ now exceeds those killed each year during the civil war.
The real ‘carnage capital’ of the hemisphere is Mexico. Over 100,000 people have been murdered during the decade-long, US-backed ‘war on drugs’ – a war which has become a state-sponsored war on the Mexican people.
The internal war has allowed the Mexican government to privatize and sell the crown jewels of the national economy – the petroleum industry. While thousands of Mexicans are terrorized and slaughtered, the US and EU oil companies are curiously shielded from the drug lords. The same Mexican government, its police, officials and military, who collaborate with the drug lords in dividing up the billions of drug dollars, protect foreign oil companies and their executives. After all, narco-dollars are laundered by banks in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and London to help fuel the speculation!
From Regional to Nuclear Wars
Regional and local wars spread under the shadow of a looming world war. The US moves its arms, planes, bases and operations to the Russian and Chinese borders.
Never have so many US troops and war planes been placed in so many strategic locations, often less than an hour drive from major Russian cities.
Not even during the height of the Cold War, did the US impose so many economic sanctions against Russian enterprises.
In Asia, Washington is organizing major trade, military and diplomatic treaties designed to exclude and undermine China’s growth as a trade competitor. It is engaged in provocative activities comparable to the boycott and blockade of Japan which led to the Second World War in Asia.
Open ‘warfare by proxy’ in Ukraine is perhaps the first salvo of the Third World War in Europe. The US-EU-sponsored coup in Kiev has led to the annexation of Western Ukraine. In response to the threat of violence toward the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea and the loss of its strategic naval base on the Black Sea, Russia annexed Crimea.
In the lead-up to the Second World War, Germany annexed Austria. In a similar manner the US-EU installed a puppet regime in Kiev by violent putsch as its own initial steps toward major power grabs in Central Asia. The military build-up includes the placement of major, forward offensive military bases in Poland.
Warsaw’s newly elected hard-right regime of President Andrzej Duda has demanded that Poland become NATO’s central military base of operation and the front line in a war against Russia.
Wars and More Wars and the Never-ending Torrents of Refugees
The US and EU imperial wars have devastated the lives and livelihoods of scores of millions of people in South Asia, North and Sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, Mexico, the Balkans and now Ukraine.
Four million Syrian refugees have joined millions of Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Yemeni, Somali, Libyan, Palestinian and Sudanese refugees fleeing US-EU bombs, drones and proxy mercenaries ravaging their countries.
Millions of war refugees escape toward safety in Western Europe, joining the millions of economic refugees who have fled free market destitution in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Balkans and other EU satellites.
Panic among the civilian population of Western Europe sets in as hundreds of thousands cross the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Balkans.
Droves of refugees perish each day. Tens of thousands crowd detention centers. Local labor markets are saturated. Social services are overwhelmed.
The US builds walls and detention camps for the millions trying to escape the harsh consequences of imperial-centered free markets in Mexico, narco-terror and the fraudulent ‘peace accord’-induced violence in Central America.
As Western wars advance, the desperate refugees multiply. The poor and destitute clamber at the gates of the imperial heartland crying: ‘Your bombs and your destruction of our homelands have driven us here, now you must deal with us in your homeland’.
Fomenting class war between the refugees and ‘natives’ of the imperial West – may not be on the agenda . . . for now, but the future for ‘civil’ society in Europe and the US is bleak.
Meanwhile, more and even bigger wars are on the horizon and additional millions of civilians will be uprooted and face the choice of starving, fleeing with their families or fighting the empire. The ranks of seasoned and infuriated resistance fighters are swelling in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere.
The US and EU are becoming armed fortresses. US police deal with the marginalized citizenry as an occupying army, assaulting African-Americans, immigrants and dissidents – while looting poor communities . . . and protecting the rich…
War is everywhere and expanding: No continent or region, big or small, is free from the contagion of war.
Imperial wars have spawn local wars . . . igniting mass flights in a never-ending cycle. There are no real diplomatic success stories! There are no enduring, viable peace accords!
Some pundits may protest this analysis: They point to the recent US – Cuba rapprochement as a ‘success’. They conveniently forget that the US is still subverting Cuba’s biggest trading partner, Venezuela; that Washington’s major regional proxies are demanding regime change among Cuba’s allies in Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia and that Washington is increasingly threatening Cuba’s alternative markets in Russia and China. The vision of the US flag flapping in the breeze outside its embassy in Havana does little to cover Washington’s iron fist threatening Cuba’s allies.
Others cite the US – Iran peace accord as a major ‘success’. They ignore that the US is backing the bloody Saudi invasion of neighboring Yemen and the massacre of Shiite communities; that the US has provided Israel with a road map detailing Iran’s entire defense system and that the US [Israel] and EU are bombing Iran’s Syrian ally without mercy.
As for the US – Cuba and Iranian agreements– are they enduring and strategic or just tactical imperial moves preparing for even greater assaults?
The war epidemic is not receding.
War refugees are still fleeing; they have no homes or communities left.
Disorder and destruction are increasing, not decreasing; there is no rebuilding the shattered societies, not in Gaza, not in Fallujah, not in the Donbas, not in Guerrero, not in Aleppo.
Europe feels the tremors of a major conflagration.
Americans still believe that the two oceans will protect them. They are told that placing NATO missiles on Russia’s borders and stationing warships off China’s shores and building electrified walls and laying barbed wire along the Rio Grande will protect them. Such is their faith in their political leaders and propagandists.
What a packet of lies! Inter-continental missiles can ‘rain down’ on New York, Washington and Los Angeles.
It is time to wake up!
It is time to stop the US – EU headlong race to World War III!
Where to start? Libya has been irrevocably destroyed; it is too late there! Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are aflame. We are being plunged deeper into war while being told we are withdrawing! Ukraine sucks in more guns and more troops!
Can we really have peace with Iran if we cannot control our own government as it dances to the Israelis tune? And Israel insists on war – our waging war for them! As the Israeli war criminal General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once told some worried American Zionists: “Trouble with the US? We lead them by the nose…!”
Just look at the terrified families fleeing carnage in the Middle East or Mexico.
What is to be done?
When will we cut our losses and shake off the bonds of these war makers – foreign and domestic?
The August 16, 2015 attack on a market in the Syrian town of Douma, just outside the capital Damascus, has caused international outrage. Condemnations of the Syrian government have poured in from seemingly all corners of the globe as President Assad and the Syrian military have been declared responsible for the attack, convicted in the court of media opinion. Interestingly, such declarations have come well before any investigation has been conducted, and without any tangible evidence other than the assertions of the rebel spokespersons and anti-government sources. Indeed, there has been an embarrassing dearth of investigative questions asked as corporate media, who have been far from objective these last four and half years, have rushed to fit the facts to their long-standing narrative of “Assad the Butcher.”
This author fully understands that, in asking difficult questions, he will be called an “apologist,” an “Assad propagandist,” or some other such nonsense. Frankly, such name-calling means very little when compared to the suffering of Syrian people, and the untold brutality that will be visited upon them if the western corporate media and warmongers get their way and yet another imperialist so-called intervention is carried out in the name of “humanitarianism.” The goal is to ask the right questions, to cast doubt on the already solidifying propaganda narrative that will undoubtedly be used to justify still more war.
Those who work for peace must be prepared to interrogate the received truths of the media machine, to confront head on that which is uncomfortable, and to do so knowing that their motives are just. The victims of this war, both past and future, deserve nothing less.
Questioning the Douma Narrative
When carefully scrutinizing the documentary evidence of the attack, and comparing that to the claims made throughout western media, some troubling irregularities emerge. Not only do the claims seem to be exaggerated, but when placed within the historical context of this war, they seem to fit into a clear pattern of distortion and misinformation disseminated for political purposes, rather than objective reportage. Indeed, the raw footage taken on the scene goes a long way to contradicting some of the claims made by witnesses and “activists” (an interesting term in itself) often quoted in the media.
First, there is the allegation that more than 100 civilians were killed in an airstrike carried out by the Syrian military. There are certainly plenty of pictures that seem to bolster that claim, with debris scattered everywhere, aid workers carrying victims, and frightened civilians rushing around the destroyed marketplace. However, when one looks at the videos, even those provided by outlets such as The Guardian in the above linked article, one curious thing seems to be missing: bodies.
Indeed, it does seem odd that an airstrike could obliterate a crowded market on a Sunday, killing over a hundred people, and no videos or images would show bodies torn apart by the blast? One would expect to see mangled corpses, limbs scattered on the ground, pools of blood, etc. None of that seems visible.
Compare the Douma videos to those from Gaza on July 30, 2014 during Israel’s vicious war. An Israeli airstrike, which killed 15 people and injured more than 150, also hit a crowded market and caused horrific destruction. And in the videos, one sees bloodied bodies missing limbs, pools of blood on the street, and other gut-wrenching images. Or compare the Douma videos to those of the Christmas 2013 bombing of a crowded Baghdad market. The videos of that attack are gruesome, showing victims with heads partially blown off their bodies, legs attached to bodies by skin alone, lifeless corpses of children and other truly disturbing images.
All of these are conspicuously absent from any of the footage of the airstrike on Douma. Why? The various footage from the scene, repeated on both anti-Assad media (as seen here), and on mainstream western media (as seen here), shows no such images. Raw videos taken in the immediate aftermath of the attack also show no bodies (as seen here and here). There is footage showing bodies, however there is no discernible evidence that they were victims of the airstrike. Interestingly, all the victims shown in this video were military age males, rather curious if indeed this was an attack on a crowded market where presumably women and children would have been present. Indeed, in the midst of the ongoing war, there are fighters being killed on a daily basis, and it is entirely plausible that the wrapped bodies shown were fighters killed in some other fashion and simply presented to the camera as if they were victims of the airstrike.
To be fair, hours of research did uncover a total of one video, taken after the blast, showing the bodies of a handful of male victims. However, none of the signs of death by airstrike are visible; the bodies are all whole, no missing limbs, very little blood (unlike in the Gaza and Baghdad videos). A logical conclusion based on the available evidence would be that the men seen in the video died from the collapse of a building, presumably the destroyed building behind them.
While impossible to say exactly what happened, there is certainly no definitive evidence of an airstrike as a “deliberate massacre,” the argument trumpeted by western media and their Saudi- and Qatari-funded counterparts in the region. An objective examination of the evidence yields the distinct possibility that an airstrike was carried out on a building adjacent to the market. And yet, within hours of the attack, the narrative was seemingly already written: Assad carries out retribution against innocent civilians – a clear war crime.
Another important question that bears close scrutiny has to do with the victims themselves. Naturally, one does not want to make light of anyone killed or wounded in a war, but in trying to discern what is real and what is not, one must closely examine all evidence. And the victim list, as well as the treatment of the bodies raises more questions than it answers.
According to a list of victims names published in Arabic by the Doumaa Coordinating Committee, a pro-rebel group, there were 102 victims of the airstrike. After a translation, it is clear that the list reveals a grand total of three women among the 102 victims. It strains credulity that in a crowded market on a Sunday, with an alleged airstrike that could not distinguish between genders, there would be only three women among the dead. How is this possible? It seems likely that, as mentioned above, the list includes dead fighters who may have been killed in some other fashion – in battle, targeted by the Syrian military, etc. – who have simply been added to the list in order to bolster the narrative of a “massacre” in the market.
Additionally, we hear of the burial of victims in mass graves, still another puzzling development. As Reuters reported the day after the incident:
Sixty bodies were buried on Sunday night in two mass graves, said a spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defense force in Douma, a rescue service operating in rebel-held areas. Another 35 were buried on Monday, and the death toll was over 100, he said. “It was really difficult to identify the bodies of the martyrs. Some of them were burned to the bone, so we couldn’t add them to the documented list,” said the 28-year-old spokesman, who declined to give his real name for security reasons. His house was destroyed in the bombing, he added.
Naturally, the grizzly description given in the article elicits a strong emotional and visceral response. However, there is the troubling question as to why, if the Doumaa Coordinating Committee was able to compile a list of all the victims with their names, so many were still buried unceremoniously in mass graves. Even assuming that the number killed was correct, if it was difficult to identify the bodies with some so badly burned, they still managed to somehow identify them. If one accepts that this is true, then surely these bodies would have been given to the local families for burial. Yet they were not. Why not?
Typically the use of mass graves indicates a desire to quickly hide bodies which, if the media narrative on Douma were true, would seem unnecessary. At the very least, a real investigation into this incident would probe into the use of mass graves for the purposes of hiding key information, namely the identities of those killed.
An alternative theory, one which is supported by the evidence available, is that the Syrian military carried out an airstrike in the rebel stronghold town of Douma, and that the strike hit its target, a building housing a terrorist faction long since known to be in the city. This would explain the preponderance of men among the dead, the need for secrecy in burying the bodies, and the motive for the Syrian military striking the target.
Moreover, it is no secret exactly who has been operating in Douma and why they would be targeted. As the Carnegie Endowment noted in 2013:
The city of Douma has long been a stronghold of the insurgency, and several armed factions are active in the area, many of them with an Islamist bent. One, the Islam Brigade of the Alloush family, has over time grown quite a bit bigger than the others, particularly after it claimed responsibility for the July 18, 2012 attack against the National Security Office in Damascus, which killed several leading Syrian security figures. In March 2013, the main factions of the area joined forces in a local body called the Douma Mujahedin Council. The new group included the Islam Brigade, the Douma Martyrs’ Brigade, the Ghouta Lions Brigade, the East Ghouta Revolutionaries’ Brigade, the Lions of God Brigade, the Tawhid al-Islam Brigade, the Farouq Brigade [Liwa al-Farouq], the Shabab al-Hoda Brigade, the Seif al-Omawi Battalions, the Military Police Battalion, the Regime Protection Battalion, and the al-Ishara Battalion.
This key information is entirely omitted from the western media narrative about what happened in Douma, for obvious reasons. Namely, it undermines the meme that Assad’s forces carried out a criminal massacre of civilians as a form of collective punishment. Instead, it bolsters the claims by Syrian military spokespeople that the military targeted terrorist elements inside the city, just as they had done on a number of previous occasions, including as recently as June 2015. This point is critical because it demonstrates that this latest incident is part of an ongoing battle with these Douma factions, one which has seen countless rockets fired at Damascus from Douma and other surrounding suburbs.
Furthering this point is the fact that this attack in Douma was by no means the only incident of the day. There were in fact a series of clashes throughout the Damascus suburbs on Sunday August 16, the day of the incident. According to military sources, there were fierce clashes in East Ghouta with both Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) and Faylaq al-Rahman (Al-Rahman Corps) which resulted in 11 Syrian soldiers killed and 21 militants killed. In addition, the city of Harasta, adjacent to Douma, was the scene of major clashes between the army and rebels.
Were one to present all these facts clearly, it becomes inescapable that whatever happened in Douma was part of an ongoing battle between the Syrian military and anti-government “rebels” in control of the town. But that fact is not at all convenient for the war narrative. It presents no justification for an expansion of the international campaign against Syria; it provides no pretext for the US or its allies to invoke their wretched, and utterly discredited, “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. And ultimately that is the goal.
Exposing the “Humanitarian” Warmongers
The sad fact is that the dead in Douma are little more than props for those who would attempt to orchestrate yet another US-led war in the Middle East. These purported humanitarians would like to transform the incident into viable political currency to expand the war already raging in order to achieve the longed for regime change in Syria that thus far has been unattainable.
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, has been vocal in his support for a full scale war on Syria in the name of humanitarianism. Roth has repeatedly called for intervention against the legal government of Syria, having recently tweeted statements such as “Like Sarajevo, could Douma market slaughter finally force Assad to stop targeting civilians?” (@KenRoth, Aug 16). The implication of the statement is quite clear: there should be military intervention, such as the US-NATO war on Yugoslavia and later Serbia, in order to stop the “slaughter” of civilians. It should be noted that this tweet was posted within hours of the news of the incident in Douma long before any investigation.
Roth, and by extension his organization Human Rights Watch, further discredits whatever vestiges of impartiality he and HRW might have had with inane tweets such as “Douma market killings show how Assad chooses to fight this war: deliberately against civilians,” (@KenRoth, Aug 16), an obviously biased, and utterly unsubstantiated allegation. Roth could have absolutely no knowledge of either the identities of the dead, or the Syrian government’s motives, when he released the tweet the same day as the attack. He reveals himself here to be little more than a lackey for imperialism, a war hawk masquerading as a human rights defender.
Such dishonesty is nothing new for Roth and HRW however. As this author has previously argued, HRW is an utterly discredited organization that has on multiple occasions published blatantly false allegations about the war in Syria in order to justify a US-NATO intervention. One should of course recall the laughable, and now completely debunked, 2013 report from HRW entitled Attacks on Ghouta: Analysis of Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, which falsely claimed that the Syrian government carried out the infamous chemical weapons attack of August 21, 2013.
The report, cited by many of the leading warmongers itching for intervention in Syria, has since been thoroughly discredited by the work of former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd and Prof. Theodore Postol of MIT who published their findings in a report entitled Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013 which demonstrated unequivocally that the Syrian government could not have carried out the attack.
Additionally, Roth and HRW’s false narrative was again obliterated when Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh published his exposé The Red Line and the Rat Line which firmly established the fact that the rebels were indeed capable of carrying out the attack on East Ghouta, and that they had help from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and possibly other regional actors. This critical fact completely contradicted the assertions by Roth, HRW and the chorus of others who emphatically declared that only Assad’s forces were capable of carrying out the attack. Oops. Sorry Kenny, but your war pretext fell flat that time. One can only hope that it will once again.
But Roth and HRW are not the only ones making spurious claims in pursuit of the war agenda. Leave it to the Nobel Peace Prize winner President Obama and his White House to never let any tragedy go to waste. The day after the attack, National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price, speaking on behalf of the President, issued an official statement which “strongly condemns the deadly airstrikes yesterday by the Asad regime on a market in the Damascus suburb of Douma, where more than 100 people were killed and hundreds more injured, including scores of innocent women and children… These abhorrent actions underscore that the Asad regime has lost legitimacy and that the international community must do more to enable a genuine political transition.”
It is interesting to note here that the White House had already determined that “scores of innocent women and children” had been killed or injured. Where did this information come from? Certainly the casualty list released by the anti-Assad rebels did not indicate scores of dead women and children, nor did any of the videos of incident. It seems that, rather than conveying factual information, the White House was merely using the emotionally charged phrase “women and children” for propagandistic purposes, in order to be able to justify a possible military escalation against Damascus.
It is equally interesting to recall that just like Roth and HRW, the White House attempted to similarly capitalize on the August 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack for the purposes of pushing the US into war on Syria. In its now also debunked U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013, the White House stated that “The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack.” Oops again.
But why should this author pick on the August 21, 2013 chemical weapons incident in attempting to critically examine the recent attack on Douma? Because it was at that moment, in the late summer of 2013, exactly two years ago, that the United States was on the verge of all out war against Syria and the Syrian people; because a narrative built on lies and distortions almost, yet again, pushed the US into war. Because this author marched in Times Square, New York City demanding that there be no war on Syria, then or ever. And because today, with so many lives already lost over these last four and half bloody years in Syria, peace-minded people cannot sit by and allow the US-NATO war machine and its human rights complex toadies to drag us into war.
It is clear that the Douma incident has been portrayed as an “official massacre” not because of any aspect of the attack itself. Rather, it has been presented this way in order to justify a pre-conceived war narrative, one that has repeatedly collapsed in the past, but one which the rapacious warmongers and strategic planners refuse to give up on. It’s not about the dead, nor is it even really about Assad. It is about destroying Syria and achieving geopolitical objectives which have been thus far unattainable due to the stubborn resolve of Damascus and its military. Ultimately, this war is about remaking the Middle East, no matter how many bodies it takes. Sadly, the dead of Douma are little more than tinder to those desperate to set Syria and the region ablaze.
In this episode of Truth in Media, Ben Swann explores the origin of ISIS that has already been long forgotten by American media. Swann takes on the central issue of whether or not ISIS was created by “inaction” by the United States government or by “direct” action.
A senior Iranian lawmaker has slammed recent remarks by a top US military commander on Iraq’s disintegration, saying Washington seeks to break down the entire Middle East.
“The US has created Daesh based on a calculated scheme in order to realize the Greater Middle East plan and disintegrate the region. That’s why the Americans are bringing up the issue of Iraq’s disintegration,” Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis), said on Sunday.
The Iranian lawmaker’s remarks came after US Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno, who once served as the top US commander in Iraq, said on August 12 that partitioning Iraq “is something that could happen” and “might be the only solution.”
The remarks came as a controversial US Congress bill, the draft of which was released in April, proposes the division of Iraq into three states and allows the Kurdish forces and the Sunni tribesmen to be armed directly without Baghdad’s approval.
The bill stipulates that 25 to 60 percent of the USD 715-million aid money allegedly allocated to Iraq in its war against Daesh will be directly supplied to Sunni and Kurdish forces.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi strongly condemned the comments by the top US military commander as “irresponsible,” saying they reflected “ignorance of the Iraqi reality.”
Iraqi politicians, including members of the parliament, as well as religious leaders have also voiced their opposition to the bill.
Syria no-fly zone
Elsewhere in his remarks, Boroujerdi said that Turkey’s pushing for a no-fly zone over Syria is a “strategic mistake” for Ankara.
He said that the move is a violation of international law as well as sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Arab country.
“Turkey is expected to adopt a policy that will contribute to regional stability and security, not [one that will] lead to instability in the region,” he added.
Turkey has been pushing for a no-fly zone over northern Syria, claiming that such a buffer zone could protect Ankara from Syrian airstrikes against foreign-backed militants.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview last week that he would work with the US to establish what he called a “safe area,” claiming that the buffer zone would protect civilians.
The US has not given the official go-ahead for the plan yet.
The Middle East has been in a state of chaos for years now, with each passing year bringing a new wave of instability, carnage and human suffering to the people of the region. From Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya to Syria, Western foreign policy has directly caused or exacerbated much of the chaos we see in the region today and has contributed to a growing trend of instability.
A pertinent question of our time however is whether this instability and destabilization is a result of inept strategy by Western nations, or a calculated strategy by the West to intentionally create chaos, balkanize nations and increase sectarian tensions in the region?
The “New Thirty Years War”
Certain individuals within the US establishment have been drawing the comparison between the Middle East today and the Thirty Years War in Europe in the 17th century, with Prof. Larry Goodson of the US Army War College being one of the latest individuals to make the comparison. Even though the parallels between Europe and the Middle East are by no means exact, it has become somewhat of a talking point within Western geostrategic circles.
The Thirty Years War is a complex historical period, pertaining to numerous wars and conflicts fought by an array of power blocs for a variety of reasons. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica: “Although the struggles that created it erupted some years earlier, the war is conventionally held to have begun in 1618, when the future Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand II, in his role as king of Bohemia, attempted to impose Roman Catholic absolutism on his domains, and the Protestant nobles of both Bohemia and Austria rose up in rebellion.”
The war quickly spread to embroil the majority of Europe’s major powers who either believed there was an opportunity to conquer neighbouring powers or were drawn into the conflict by a force invading their lands, and is regarded by historians as one of the most destructive periods in European history. Villages, towns and cities were raped and pillaged by mercenaries who were fighting for different power blocs, devastating the European continent.
The Thirty Years War was brought to an end when a series of treaties was signed in 1648 known as the Peace of Westphalia, establishing a new political order in Europe in the form of co-existing sovereign states (although some historians dispute the significance of Westphalian sovereignty). James Bissett, the former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania, described the Westphalian system in a 2007speech as laying “down the basic tenets of sovereignty—the principle of territorial integrity and of non-interference in the affairs of national states… The Westphalian order has frequently been violated, but age has not diminished the principles themselves.”
In July of 2014, the former director of policy planning for the US Department of State and the President of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Richard Hass, compared the Middle East of today to 17th century Europe, in his article “The New Thirty Years War”. Hass proclaims that the Middle East will likely be as turbulent in the future unless a “new local order emerges”:
“For now and for the foreseeable future – until a new local order emerges or exhaustion sets in – the Middle East will be less a problem to be solved than a condition to be managed.”
As I reported a year ago, this “new local order” may be in the form of a Middle Eastern Union.
Fragmenting the Middle East
Ubiquitous evidence indicates that there is an agenda by at least some strategists within the US to destroy the nation state and balkanize the region into feuding rump states, micro-states and mini-states, which will be so weak and busy fighting each other that they will be unable to unify against foreign colonial powers – most notably Western multinational corporations. After a prolonged period of destruction and chaos in the region, the people of the Middle East may be so weary of the horrors of war that they will accept a Western imposed order as a means of ending the fighting, even though the very same Western forces have been responsible for creating much of the intolerable chaos.
The strategy of balkanization can be traced back to at least the early 1990’s, when British-American historian Bernard Lewis wrote an article published in the 1992 issue of the CFR’s publication, ‘Foreign Affairs’, titled: Rethinking the Middle East. He envisages the potential of the region disintegrating “into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.” Even though Lewis writes in his article that this is only one “possibility” of many other possibilities, it is starkly similar to the situation that we see in countries such as Iraq and Libya today:
“Another possibility, which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call “Lebanonization.” Most of the states of the Middle East—Egypt is an obvious exception—are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation state.”
“The state then disintegrates—as happened in Lebanon—into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties. If things go badly and central governments falter and collapse, the same could happen, not only in the countries of the existing Middle East, but also in the newly independent Soviet republics, where the artificial frontiers drawn by the former imperial masters left each republic with a mosaic of minorities and claims of one sort or another on or by its neighbours.”
Speaking at the Ford School in 2013, former US secretary of state and CFR member, Henry Kissinger, reveals his desire to see Syria balkanized into “more or less autonomous regions”, in addition to comparing the region to the “Thirty Years War” in Europe:
“There are three possible outcomes. An Assad victory. A Sunni victory. Or an outcome in which the various nationalities agree to co-exist together but in more or less autonomous regions, so that they can’t oppress each other. That’s the outcome I would prefer to see. But that’s not the popular view…. I also think Assad ought to go, but I don’t think it’s the key. The key is; it’s like Europe after the Thirty Years War, when the various Christian groups had been killing each other until they finally decided that they had to live together but in separate units.” (from 27.35 into the interview).
Creating a “Salafist Principality” in Syria
In May of this year, Judicial Watch released a series of formerly classified documents from the US Department of Defense and Department of State after the watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the two government agencies. One important document contained in the release was a 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report which reveals that the powers supporting the Syrian opposition – “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” – wanted to create a “Salafist principality in Eastern Syria in order to isolate the Syrian regime”:
“Opposition forces are trying to control the Eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to the Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighbouring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts… 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).” (p.5)
The document adds:
“ISI [the Islamic State of Iraq] could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria.” (p.5)
Fragmenting Iraq into three separate regions has been the goal of many within the US establishment since the 2003 invasion of the country, although NATO member Turkey has vocally opposed the creation of a Kurdish state in the North. In 2006, a potential map of a future Middle East was released by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters which depicted Iraq divided into three regions: a Sunni Iraq to the West, an Arab Shia State in the East and a Free Kurdistan in the North.
Even though the map does not reflect official Pentagon doctrine, it gives a glimpse into the minds of some of the top military strategists and corroborates with many other Western voices on the strategy for Iraq. As geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser noted in a recent article for New Eastern Outlook, the President Emeritus of the CFR, Leslie Gelb, argued in a 2003 article for the NY Times that the most feasible outcome in Iraq would be a “three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south.”
Syria is shown as still being a unified country in the above map, although this may be because the Syrian proxy war did not begin until years later. Israel could also come to occupy more territory in the coming decades.
Different Country, Same Strategy
The same pattern of balkanization and chaos that we see in Iraq and Syria is also true in Libya. Following the NATO’s 2011 war in the North African nation, the country descended into an abyss of chaos and has essentially been split into three parts, with Cyrenaica comprising the East of the country, and the West split into Tripolitania in the Northwest and Fezzan in the Southwest. Libya is now a failed state which is devoid of central government and is stricken by tribal warfare, where rival militias who were once fighting alongside each other are now battling against one another.
The Iranian nuclear deal could mark a new beginning for Western geopolitical strategy in the Middle East, where they would work with regional powers to promote stability and refrain from military intervention (or intervention through proxies). Let’s hope this is true, and the West will halt the plethora of destabilization programs it has engaged in for years.
But the most probable scenario will be a continuation of the balkanization strategy that we have all come to expect; until a “new local order emerges” – an order that will be designed by, and for, Western interests of course.
Foreign powers are meddling within Syrian political affairs not to defeat ISIS as they claim, but to get rid of a regime they don’t approve of to replace it by God knows what, Catherine Shakdam from the Beirut Centre for Middle East Studies told RT.
RT: The rebels and government forces are fighting not only each other but Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] at the same time. How is this multiple-front conflict affecting attempts to prevent terrorism?
Catherine Shakdam: That’s the main problem. It’s not just that they are fighting each other. I think that there are very different goals as to what foreign powers are trying to achieve in Syria. And for now when it comes to the US for example all Washington seems to want to do is to neutralize and get rid of President Bashar Assad in Syria rather than really fight IS. That’s the main problem. We have foreign powers meddling within Syrian political affairs not to defeat IS as they claim, but rather to get rid of a regime that they do not approve of to replace it by God knows what, because they created a situation and a power vacuum which would essentially allow for Islamist radicals to take over Damascus and I don’t think that anyone would want that.
RT: Iran and Turkey brokered a 48 hour ceasefire between the Insurgents, Assad’s army and Hezbollah. How significant is their diplomatic intervention? Could this move be helpful in resolving the crisis long-term?
CS: There is a real effort here to try to breach differences and to look towards. I’m hoping, diplomacy will actually pave the way for a resolution rather than resort to military intervention. That’s the message that is coming out of Iran and Russia as well. They are all trying to calm the situation, defuse it and try to find a way which would be acceptable for everyone. I think that if indeed the fight of IS takes precedence over everything else then there is no reason why a diplomatic solution could not take place.
The problem is until now Washington’s intent on getting rid of the Syrian president, even though it’s not really their business to decide whether the Syrian people should have him as a president or not. It’s really up to the Syrians to decide for themselves. That’s the main problem – we see foreign powers trying to decide what people should do or shouldn’t do in this case.
RT: The US and its allies are stepping up their support for so-called moderate rebel groups. How could that change what’s happening in your country?
CS: Whenever I hear the US or even Britain talking about supporting moderate Islamists in Syria or anywhere else I tend to cringe. Who are those moderates really? We know those moderates are not so moderate after all. Most of the military aid which actually landed in Syria or even in Iraq landed in the hands of the likes of IS and that’s a worry, because what we are seeing is radicalization of the radicals. And whenever you attempt to fuel, by adding more military power to the situation which is already unacceptable and very volatile, you are making the problem worse here. And they are not trying to go after the ideology, what they are trying to do is militarize the ideology of terror which is of course very dangerous and it’s leading people to wonder who it is that they are serving and who it is they are really trying to support and help because the assistance is going to ISIS as far as I can see.
The Conference of 52 Presidents of the Major American (sic) Jewish Organizations and the US-Iran Nuclear Agreement: The Centerpiece of US Foreign Policy Struggle
Prologue: In the village of Duma, an 18 month old Palestinian baby died following the fire-bombing of his family’s home by Israeli settlers. The father of the child died of burns a week later and the surviving mother and young sibling are barely alive – covered with burns from racist Jewish arson.
The United Nations Special Committee to investigate Israel’s practices toward Palestinians in Israeli occupied territory have revealed that the ‘root cause’ of the escalating violence is the ‘continuous policy of Jewish settlement expansion (financed and defended by the Netanyahu regime) and the climate of impunity relating to the activities of the settlers (financed and defended by the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations). (UN News Centre, Aug. 10, 2015).
The recent US-Iran nuclear agreement, entitled Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, has implications far beyond the ending of nearly 40 years of regional confrontation.
Several fundamental issues concerning the nature of US policymaking, the power of a foreign regime (Israel) in deciding questions of war and peace and the role organized power configurations with overseas loyalties play in making and breaking executive and legislative authorities.
To investigate these fundamental issues it is important to discuss the historical context leading up to the rise of this paradoxical situation: Where a ‘global power’ is subject to the dictates of a second-rate state through the strategic penetration and influence by domestic organizations composed of ‘nominal citizens’ of the subject state with ‘divided (to put it politely) loyalties’.
The Centrality of Israel’s Unchallenged Regional Supremacy
The motor force of Israeli foreign and domestic policy is their drive for unchallenged regional supremacy: Military dominance through wars, territorial occupation, brutal armed interventions, extra territorial political assassinations of opponents and favorable one-sided treaties. To ensure its unquestioned dominance Israel has developed the only nuclear weapons arsenal and largest missile launch capacity in the region and has openly declared its willingness to use nuclear weapons against regional rivals.
Israel’s repeated mantra that it faces an ‘existential threat’ from its Arab neighbors and subjugated Palestinians has no factual basis. On the contrary, history has taught the world that Israel, directly and indirectly, has engaged a series of aggressive wars devastating its Arab and Muslim neighbors. Israel has bombed and/or invaded Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Sudan. Israel has assassinated scientists in Iran and Palestinian political leaders as well as intellectuals, writers and poets in the Gulf, Jordan and Europe. Even family members have not been spared Israeli terror.
Israel can brutalize its neighbors with total impunity because of its vast military superiority, but its real power is found in its overseas proxies, the Tel Aviv-dominated Zionist power configurations, especially in North America and Europe. The most important proxy organizations and individuals operate in the United States. Thanks to them Israel has received over $150 billion dollars in economic and military grants and loans from US taxpayers in the past half-century. Each year Israel rakes in billions in tribute, billions in tax-free donations from billionaire Israel loyalists with dual US citizenship, who extract their wealth from American workers, investors and gamblers, and hundreds of billions via unrestricted investments, privileged market access and technology transfers.
The economic and military transfers to Israel result from the cumulative build-up of political power among powerful US Zionists. No one disputes today that what is dubbed as the ‘pro-Israel lobby’ is the most powerful configuration inside Washington DC today. Focusing primarily on the ‘Israel lobby’ overlooks the powerful role that influential, Zionist political officials have played in deciding issues prioritized by the Israeli leadership.
Israeli power over the making and implementing of US Middle East policy has led to the US invasions of Iraq, Syria and Libya; the current economic boycott and blockade of Iran; the breakup of Sudan; and the bombing of Somalia.
Israeli power in the US operates through various political instruments in different institutional settings. The pro-Israel mass media moguls at the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and all the TV networks unconditionally defend Israel’s bombing, dispossession and repression of Palestinians while demonizing any Arab or Muslim states which has opposed its brutality – frequently calling for the US to impose sanctions and/or to launch armed attacks against Israel’s critics.
The US military campaign known as the ‘Global War on Terror’, a series of brutal invasions and ‘regime changes’, launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001 was formulated and promoted by fanatical Israeli proxies in strategic positions within the Bush government, especially Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, ‘Scooter’ Libby, Elliott Abrams and Richard Perle. The boycott of Iran was designed and implemented by US Treasury officials Levey and Cohen. The drumbeat for war in Iraq and the phony ‘intelligence’ about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was propagated by New York Times scribe Judith Miller, designed by Wolfowitz and Feith, backed by the 52 President of Major American Jewish Organizations and ultimately paid for with the lives of over five thousand Americans and well over a million Iraqi civilians. The destruction and breakup of Iraq, a long-time supporter of Palestinian national rights, was accomplished without the loss of a single Israeli life – despite the enormous benefit the Jewish state has enjoyed from the war! The extraordinary success of this highest Israeli military priority was due entirely to the machinations of Israel’s highly placed US proxies.
Yet the cost of the war has been very high for the American people (and unimaginably high for Iraqis): Over a quarter million physical and mental casualties among US troops; two trillion dollars and counting in military expenditures crippling the US economy and a vast and growing army of Islamist and nationalist rebels opposing US interests throughout the region.
The Israeli power configuration within the US led the US into a war, which enhanced Israel’s dominance of the Middle East region and accelerated its annexation of Palestinian land. But Israeli ambition for total regional power is not complete. It still faces a formidable opponent to its conquest of the Middle East: Iran remains a staunch supporter of the people and national sovereignty of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.
The regime of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, backed by the entire Israeli political opposition and the majority of the Jewish electorate, has been aggressively pushing for a US confrontation with Iran – through economic and eventually military warfare.
There have been scores of public and private meetings in the US and elsewhere, where Netanyahu’s regime “informed” (or rather dictated to) the entire Zionist power configuration to launch an economic and military attack against Iran with the open aim of ‘regime change’ and the ultimate aim of breaking up and destroying the Islamic republic – similar to the destruction of Iraq, Libya and now Syria.
Israel’s Proxies and the Obama – Iran Nuclear Accord
All the major US spy agencies, including the CIA, long concluded that Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program. Its nuclear program has been proven to be limited to legal, internationally sanctioned peaceful civilian use. When the US intelligence establishment went ‘off-script’ and cleared Iran of a nuclear weapons program, Israel responded by brazenly assassinating five Iranian scientists and engineers, leaking faked evidence of a nuclear weapon program and directing its US proxies to push the US toward greater economic sanctions. They escalated their media campaign demonizing Iran, pushing for an economic and military blockade of Iran using the US naval forces in the Persian Gulf and its military bases in adjoining countries. Israeli officials want yet another US war for Israel along the lines of the Iraq invasion.
With the recent change in the Iranian government leadership via democratic elections there have been serious expressions of greater flexibility with regard to inspections of its nuclear programs and facilities. At the same time Washington has been confronted with multiple escalating insurgent wars in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. This provides the context for President Obama’s ‘pivot’ toward negotiations and diplomacy to secure an agreement with Iran and away from military confrontation.
This has infuriated the Netanyahu regime. Its government leaders and agents met with the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, leading Zionist Washington insiders like (Dennis Ross), super-rich Zionist billionaires and multiple delegations of notables and told them to launch an all-out campaign to sabotage the Iran-US- England- France-Russia-China, and Germany (‘P5+1’) nuclear agreement.
The entire Zionist political apparatus immediately organized a multi-prong, multi-million dollar campaign blitz to undermine the US President. The American (sic) Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) mobilized hundreds of its full-time functionaries, invading the US Congress with offers of all expense-paid junkets to Israel, political threats, campaign ‘donation’ enticements and outright blackmail.
Influential US Zionist Congress people joined the onslaught with their ‘leader’ the ‘Senator from Tel Aviv’ Charles Schumer, accompanied by his fellow Zionist one-hundred percenters, Congress people like Steve Israel, Ted Deutsch, Eliot Engel and Nita Lowery. They have openly chosen to follow the dictates of the Israeli Prime Minister against their fellow Democrat US President Obama. Schumer, who frequently boasts that his name derives from ‘shomer Yisrael’ (Israel’s Guardian), flaunts his ‘role in Washington’ to serve Israel’s interest. The unannounced (or undenounced) ‘elephant in the room’ is their primary loyalty to Israel over the US. The Democratic Congressional Zionists have joined hands with the Republican war mongers – both in tow to militarist, Zionist billionaires and media moguls. The 52 organizations brazenly announced a $40 million budget to fund an Israeli front group “Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran” to undermine President Obama’s (and the other members of the P5+1) push for diplomacy.
Netanyahu’s ‘megaphones’ in the US mass media spread his message in their daily reports and editorial pages. The Zionist power configuration ran roughshod over dissident Jewish voters and Congress people who dared to support Obama’s Iran agreement – an agreement which has majority support of the war-weary US public and strong support from US scientists and Nobel Prize recipients.
President Obama has finally counter-attacked this campaign to undermine the agreement, calling attention to the fact that “the same people who led us into the Iraq war are pushing us into war with Iran”. The President discreetly omitted identifying the Israeli links of the “same people”.
Obama understands that the alternative to the peace accord opposed by Israel and the Zionist-led US Congress members will be a devastating regional war, costing trillions of dollars in losses to the US economy, thousands of US lives and hundreds of thousands of wounded soldiers – not to speak of millions of Iranian casualties – and an environmental holocaust! While the Zionist power configuration saturates the airwaves with its unending lies and fear mongering, each and every major city and community Jewish Confederation have sent their activists to plant stories and twist arms to sabotage the agreement.
While many US intellectuals, liberals, progressives and leftists support the US-Iran agreement (see the Scientists’ Letter to Obama on Iran Nuclear Deal, Aug. 8, 2015 with 29 top scholars and Nobel laureates support diplomacy), few would dare to identify and attack Israel’s US proxies as they promote Tel Aviv’s agenda pushing the US to war with Iran. A brief glance through the sectarian left press, for example, The Socialist Register, New Politics, New Left Review, finds no discussion of the powerful, well-financed, highly organized, elite-driven Israeli proxies and their role in determining US wars in the Middle East, and more specifically the war agenda toward Iran.
The success or failure of the US-Iran nuclear agreement will have momentous, world-historic consequences that go far beyond the Middle East. Obama is absolutely right to pose the question as one between a diplomatic accord or a large scale, long-term devastating war. But war is what Israel, its leaders, its majority and its opposition parties are demanding and what its US proxies are pursuing.
The basic question for all Americans is whether we will act as an independent, sovereign country pursuing peace through diplomacy, as we currently see unfolding with Iran and Cuba, or a submissive military instrument, directed by Israel’s proxies hell-bent on destroying America for Israel.
A year has passed since the establishment of a rather peculiar state—the Islamic Caliphate. And today, a year later, its “founding fathers,” allies, enemies, objectives and tasks (which will define its further development) can be identified with precision.
Hardly anybody doubts today that the notorious al-Qaeda is responsible for the creation, nurturing and funding with dollars (supplied by the U.S. and their allies from the Persian Gulf region, headed by Saudi Arabia) of a terrorist organization the Islamic State. Al-Qaeda had already been suspected of being an “American mercenary.” That is why it is believed that al-Qaeda was behind the formation of a terrorist organization the Islamic State of Levant in Syria, whose objective was to oppose country’s President Bashar Assad, who, unlike Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi of Yemen, had been legitimately elected and had never abandoned his country. The members of this organization were those same militants, who had undergone combat training conducted by American military advisors in the territory of Turkey and Jordan and had been supplied with the most advanced weapons. From time to time, in order to acquit themselves, Washington officials would admit that yes, indeed, there were instances when American weapons did not reach the intended people and fell into the wrong hands. However, it is an irrefutable fact that militants of the Islamic State of Levant were much better armed with American weapons as compared to the fighters of the so-called Free Syrian Army (an organization, which is now almost completely forgotten).
Despite their high-tech armament, militants and terrorists failed to achieve considerable success, and this is why militants of the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq had to be relocated to the Syrian territory. It should be noted that the CIA spawned this organization during the U.S. occupation of Iraq with the objective of curbing the intentions of Tehran to gain full control over Iraq. Soon this organization, whose core consisted of the former officers of Saddam Hussein’s army and members of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, became an influential force, capable of “showing teeth” to its overseas patrons to display their unwillingness to always dance to their tune. There was something about those former members of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party (who, perhaps, still maintain their memberships): they were aware of their worth and were very skillful negotiators. After the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq seeped to the territory of Syria, they joined forces with the Islamic State of the Levant. Thus, a new organization was formed — the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which is led by none other than the Head of the Islamic State of IraqIbrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, also known as Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi.
Since the leader of ISIS is a very intriguing and nontrivial character, whose charisma affects all activities of this organization, it would be proper to share a few interesting facts about this individual. According to the official data of the United States Department of Defense, from February to December of 2004 Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi was detained and held as a suspect in Camp Bucca, the largest detention camp in Iraq. But according to the memoirs of the commander of the Camp, US Army Colonel Kenneth King, who remembers this person very well, he is “99 % sure” that the Iraqi prisoner left the Camp not in 2004, but only right before its closing, i.e., at the end of the summer of 2009. The Colonel remembers Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi because when leaving the Camp, he said to his guards, “See you in New York,” because he knew that the guards were from New York and served in the 306th Military Police Battalion.
An unidentified friend of Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi, who was also detained at the Camp, told Iraqi newspaper Al-Fourat about their life in the American Camp Bucca. Only two people were detained in one cell, which was more like a room of a campsite; their daily ration was the same as the ration of a US Army sergeant; they would regularly receive carefully selected fresh press; a TV in the cell was always on; cells were equipped with a powerful AC unit. They would spend a part of their day talking with American advisors, who tried to convert the detainees to their faith. Often pro-American Iraqi university professors would come to teach the prisoners international relations, politics, history and geography. In other words, those prisoners of the Camp, selected for the close cooperation with Americans, not only had to participate in an extensive “counterinsurgency program” from early morning to late evening, but were also trained by American advisors “for future collaborative business.” Perhaps this is why Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi was released only on the 5th year of his imprisonment, or rather “training.”
Truth be told, American advisors, who lack the knowledge of Arab morals and customs, used to make and still make many mistakes. One of the Arab sayings is that, “a Bedouin cannot be enslaved, he can only be killed.” And Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi, not a Bedouin, but an Arab (though a descendant of Bedouins) and a faithful follower of Islam, who after his liberation had at his disposal a powerful organization and plenty of money, started playing by his own rules.
It is peculiar that the interests of this Iraqi and of the Washington rulers still coincide, at least to some extent. It is also noteworthy that the borders of the proclaimed state (Caliphate) perfectly fit the borders of the “Sunni State,” outlined in the map elaborated by Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters (at the order of the Pentagon), which was assigned the name the New Middle East. Militants did not immediately head for Baghdad, which is supposed to be the capital of the Caliphate, but took Mosul first, from which the Sunni army of Iraq quietly withdrew leaving behind most of its inventory. Newspaper Al-Mashriq reported that on the day right before the seizure of Mosul, 50 million dollars had been delivered to the city’s Central Bank from Baghdad. Was it a coincidence? Later newspapers wrote that militants acquired a total of 200 million dollars in the Mosul operation.
Simultaneously, by having engaged in battles against Kurds and having threatened Iraqi Kurdistan, militants did an invaluable favor to Washington. First of all, Kurds were then faced with a rather tangible threat, were forced to begin mobilization and had to throw their Peshmerga forces into the battle. Secondly, in the absence of any considerable assistance on the part of the rulers of Baghdad, who were themselves hanging by a thread, dependence of Erbil on the U.S. had increased even more. It is not surprising then that the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter promptly arrived in Kurdistan and held talks with the senior Kurdish leadership, not even having informed the central government of that. The day before, Ashton Carter defined the ground forces of the army of Kurdistan as “powerful and successful” and confirmed his eagerness to meet Barzani who, being the leader of the guerrilla movement, had been opposing the regime of Saddam Hussein for decades. It is no surprise either that the Pentagon intended to deploy American military units, including its elite special forces, in the territory of the autonomous Kurdish region. The Western mass media reported that military machinery, weapons and equipment would be delivered to Kurdistan to arm Kurdish groups countering jihadists of the Islamic State. All these actions were never coordinated with the Iraqi central government, which, as the facts suggest, was no longer viewed by Washington as a real power. By the way, neither such country as Iraq is at present in the Lt. Col. R. Peters’ map, nor its name is mentioned anywhere.
At the same time, unceasing clashes in the northern Iraq forced Turkish government to issue a permission to the US Air Force to use the Incirlik Air Base located in the eastern part of the country to launch air operations against the Islamic State in the territory of Syria. “We have endorsed the agreement pertaining to the Incirlik Air Base. The Base can start operating at any time. First of all, it will be used to target the IS’s facilities in Syria,” the agency quotes the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tanju Bilgiç. And recently, the implementation of the agreement on the construction of the Turkey Stream pipeline, signed with Russia, has been considerably slowed down. Based on the opinion of a knowledgeable expert in the field of energy Efgan Nifti, statements made by the Russian party, in which the beginning and end dates of the construction of the gas pipeline were announced, were premature since not all contentious issues had been resolved. The expert stressed that the parties have to find common ground and ensure their interests are harmonized. Apparently, the slowing down of the pipeline construction process was also “accidental.”
So far it looks like the IS is acting in line with the Washington’s interests, and Islamist militants carry out tasks orchestrated by their oversees patrons. But that, as they say, can go on only until the IS matures. The Caliphate was proclaimed in the entire territory of the Arab world and, apparently, Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi is ploughing around in an attempt to find the most vulnerable “link in the chain.” Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi had realized a long time ago that he could not stake on Jordan, as Washington would not give it up. Therefore, he does not seem to show any particular interest in it, though, he would not mind stirring up “an Islamic wave” (and it would not be hard to accomplish) in this small neighboring state. But a solemn pledge to free both holy cities—Mecca and Medina—from the notorious House of Saud has already been made. And, having put all pieces of this crazy jigsaw together, we get a bizarre picture: Saudi Arabia, which played the first fiddle and had made major monetary contributions to support the creation of terrorist organizations (including IS) in Syria to fight President Bashar Assad now faces the risk of falling victim of its own brainchild!
However, these actions of the IS fit perfectly into the map of the New Middle East, in accordance with which, a number of new states controlled by the United States is supposed to emerge in the territory of Saudi Arabia. Besides, when the time of the “one” Saudi Arabia is long gone would there be anybody to recall that almost a trillion dollars, deposited into accounts of American banks, earlier belonged to Saudi citizens? The U.S. would only gain from such a development since, having deployed its military bases in the territory of 140 states worldwide and having put together a huge military budget, the world’s gendarme would be fully insured against claims made by any country. Thus, since the only good enemy is a dead enemy, total destruction of this state would solve all the problems. Such thinking pattern was vividly illustrated in the situation with Iraq.
There we have it: a new American “assistant” with a proven track record of the obedient fulfillment of all uncle Sam’s orders has emerged in the Middle East. And apparently (for the above reasons), militants of the IS and the IS itself will not be at risk of destruction in the near future, as long as they continue launching strikes against victims picked by Washington. And all these speculations and vague hints that the U.S. are presumably countering the IS just do not withstand any criticism because criticism is supported by numerous crying facts.
At a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the White House on Aug. 4, US President Barack Obama stated that Syria needs a “realistic political process” to settle its internal armed conflict, which would “lead to a stabilizing of the country and a transition to a government that is reflective of all the people of Syria.” A few days earlier, the US president had authorized the use of US aircraft to defend the ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition troops (trained by the Pentagon), in case they were attacked by the Syrian army. The Americans have already launched the first air strikes in support of the rebels.
National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey warned that Washington is ready to offer broader military aid to opposition forces in Syria. This will take the Syrian crisis – which has already gone on for four years – to a whole new level: for the first time US forces could be drawn into a direct clash with the Syrian army.
Washington still seeks regime change in Syria and the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power. The Military Times notes that for the first time since the air strikes against Syrian targets began a year ago, the US military now has an ally on the ground. Their small numbers do not bother the US president – what is important is the shift in the wind, and that is strong enough for the Americans to manifest a willingness for direct, armed intervention in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated at an Aug. 3 2015 press conference in Qatar that America’s plans are counterproductive and hampering the fight against the Islamic State (IS). Russia is pushing for an immediate end to foreign interference in the Syrian crisis and a stop to the bloodshed. Moscow is not offering its unconditional support to any party to this conflict, except for the Syrian people. But the Russians are in no way discounting the threat posed by IS. Russia is providing military and technical support to both Syria and Iraq in order to combat this threat, cooperating with the governments of both countries. “We have every reason to believe that, without this support, this terrorist organization (IS) would have captured hundreds or even thousands more square kilometers of territory,” Russia’s top diplomat stressed.
The US administration prefers to ignore Russia’s role in the battle against the terrorists of the Islamic State, focusing instead on the Pentagon’s statistics. Over the past 12 months, the US and its allies have carried out a total of nearly 6,000 attacks on IS positions (3,570 in Iraq and 2,267 in Syria). During this period, about 17,000 bombs and missiles were dropped and delivered. However, given the current scuffle over the White House being waged between the Democrats and Republicans, it is becoming increasingly difficult for President Obama to explain to voters why the measures his administration has taken against IS have been so ineffective. After all, they have spent a lot of money with nothing to show for it. For example, it costs between $1,000 (for a Predator or Reaper) and $7,000 (for a Global Hawk) per hour to fly a reconnaissance drone.
One quarter of all the staff of the CIA and other intelligence agencies are employed as part of counter-terrorism programs, and that price tag tops $15 billion each year.
But despite all this, IS is only getting stronger. That terrorist pseudo-state has found sources of self-financing (the air strikes have not stopped oil production), is imposing its rule in the vast areas seized last year in Syria and Iraq, and quickly replenishes its ranks depleted by combat casualties, using mercenary ‘jihad warriors’ from around the world. According to US intelligence estimates, IS controls about 30,000 combat troops. IS is gradually carving out a zone of influence in Libya, Egypt, and Afghanistan. This is ultimately less than reassuring, and it leaves the Obama administration increasingly vulnerable to criticism from his Republican opponents.
Meanwhile President Obama is maintaining his insistence on a regime change in Damascus. And in its relations with Baghdad, the current US administration is more fearful of Tehran’s growing influence in Iraq than the actual threat posed by IS. The White House has still not made up its mind what is more important in the Middle East – fighting against the growing power of IS terrorists or continuing its own confrontation with both Syria and her backer, Iran.
Meanwhile, America’s Arab allies in the Gulf will not commit themselves to anything beyond declaring their intention to fight IS. Saudi Arabia has engineered a war with Yemen in order to prevent Iran’s influence from expanding there. By destroying Yemen’s Shiite Houthis, Riyadh is striking a blow at Tehran, which, it must be said, is providing quite substantial support to the government of Iraq in its confrontation with the forces of the Islamic State in the east. It is telling that, under the onslaught of Shiite militias, IS is pulling back and losing the areas it had previously occupied in Iraq’s eastern regions on the Iraqi border.
Obama’s decision to render military support to the pro-American opposition in Syria looks like a calculated maneuver. There is now a danger that America’s NATO allies might also enlist in this adventure. Air strikes will be launched from air bases in Turkey, so if Syria decides to retaliate, the war will then spill over that country’s borders.
Information has already come to light about the actions of British special forces in Syria. The Sunday Express reports that more than 120 British military elite units, dressed in black and flying IS flags, have attacked Syrian government forces. Both the armed-conflict zone in Syria, as well as the scale of NATO’s intervention in that country, are expanding under the guise of combating terrorist factions. This threatening sequence of events suggests the possibility that the Libyan scenario could be repeated.
The former director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has said that the rise of the ISIL terrorist group in Syria was a “willful decision” made by Washington.
An internal DIA study released recently shows Washington knew that the actions of “the West, (Persian) Gulf countries and Turkey” in Syria may create a Takfiri group like the ISIL.
Michael Flynn, the former head of the DIA, has described the study as important and confirmed its findings.
In an interview with Al Jazeera TV, he said he had studied a DIA memo in 2012 predicting the West’s backing of ISIL in Syria, adding it was very clear intelligence.
When the interviewer asked whether the administration turned a blind eye to his analysis, Flynn said, “I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.”
Asked if it was a willful decision to support an insurgency, he responded, “It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.”
He also said he had even argued against sponsoring foreign militants in Syria, noting the reason behind the rise of the ISIL was the US and its allies sponsoring terrorists in Syria to pressure Damascus.
Observers say that the US and its allies helped create and train the terrorist organizations to wreak havoc in Muslim countries.
The ISIL militants have seized large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq. They have been carrying out heinous crimes against all communities in both neighboring Arab states.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Flynn admitted that Washington was well aware of the chaos Iraq would face following its withdrawal in 2011.
US warplanes have been conducting airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq since early August 2014. Some Western states have also participated in some of the strikes in Iraq.
Since late September 2014, the US and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out airstrikes against ISIL inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.