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Category Archives: Syria

White House statement on the terrorist attacks in Iran.

Updated at bottom: Sunday, 11 June, 2017

Yesterday, Iran suffered two terrorist attacks.  The coordinated attacks targeted the Parliament complex in Tehran and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, 15 miles to the south.   Nineteen people were killed and 43 wounded.

ISIS has claimed responsibility, although the attack bears the hallmarks of MEK, a cultish group of Iranian exiles formed with the purpose of bringing down the Iranian government through violence and terrorist activities.  More than 16,000 people are known to have been killed by MEK’s attacks since 1979. MEK, also known by the acronym MKO, is the officially titled as the “People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran” or the “Mojahedin-e Khalq”.   Saudi Arabia, one of the US’ foremost allies in the Middle East, and itself a sponsor of extremist Islamic groups such as ISIS, recently said it would “take the fight against Iran into Iran itself” and has sponsored MEK since its inception in the late 1970’s; either terrorist organization, MEK or ISIS, would suit this purpose.   MEK was labeled a terrorist organization by all Western governments until fairly recently; the US removed them from that list in 2012, under the direction of then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who lauded their public statements that they were “renouncing violence”.  In fact, MEK simply spent a lot of money lobbying US officials, and have not renounced violence at all, but in the US, money will always top honesty.  Always.  MEK makes its money the old-fashioned way: through fraud and money laundering and from support from Israel, which has donated money to them so they could assassinate Iranian scientists and educators, and from Saudi Arabia, which considers Iran its most prominent enemy.   In the US, MEK simply paid high-profile US officials upwards of $50,000 for each appearance they made giving speeches favorable to the removal of MEK from the terrorist organization list.  This sort of thing used to be known as bribery; now it is called “lobbying”.  The US officials, both retired and active, who prompted the removal of MEK from terrorist designation made no bones about their reasoning: they said they supported MEK on the grounds that they “acted as opposition to the Iranian government”.

Iran has long been a target of the US, partly at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Israel, but mostly due to our own desire to control the entirety of the oil producing areas of the world.  We are constantly told by the media that Iran is the “biggest sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East”, although no-one has yet offered any proof backing this statement, and the evidence is all to the contrary – the biggest supporters of terrorism in the ME would have to be considered the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel, in no particular order.  Iran has not invaded any country in over 200 years.  They are currently involved in Syria, at the invitation of the Syrian government, which asked them to help oust ISIS and al Qaeda from that country.  One might think that would place Iran on the list of US allies in the “fight against terrorism” (aren’t ISIS and al Qaeda the enemies?), but apparently the media doesn’t notice that the reasoning gets somewhat muddled and illogical when American politicians supply the information.  Iran is still “our enemy” despite their fight against ISIS, while Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi belief system mirrors that of ISIS and whose money supports ISIS is “our ally”.  The US Congress is working on new sanctions against Iran, which unbelievably and inexplicably revolve around the concept that although Iran is following to the letter the non-nuclear agreement worked out between them and the US under Obama, they need further crippling sanctions levied against them in order to induce them to follow the agreement better.  One cannot even conjecture what they could possibly do to improve upholding their end of the bargain better than perfectly, but the US doesn’t feel the need to explain the nonsensical.  Congress has already passed a resolution that states the president may unilaterally bomb Iran at his whim, without notification beforehand to Congress or the American people, should he feel the need to do so.  This is, obviously, not only a preemptive declaration of war against a foreign country with no reason offered, but an abdication of Congressional power (for whatever that is worth – Congress ceded their powers way back in the Bush era).

We are also assured that the Iranians want nuclear weapons, even though their religious beliefs preclude the use of nuclear bombs.  This alleged “fact” of Iranian desire for nuclear capability has long been proven false by the IAEA itself, the group that monitors the development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and performs inspections internationally.  They have been allowed unlimited, free access to all Iranian facilities for years.  [By the way, you know who told the US that the Iranian government was trying to develop nuclear weapons in the first place?  Yeah, MEK, the anti-Iranian-government terrorist group that we no longer call terrorists.]  Fact is, the Pentagon and both parties in Congress view Iran as an obstacle, an intolerable one, to completely unbridled US hegemony in the area.  The Trump administration has gone further than even the Bush and Obama administrations in its stepped-up vitriol and programs against Iran.  They have created a new CIA “mission center” targeting Iran in the hopes that we can use American spies to help overthrow the Iranian government (a recycling of that successful coup we did in Iran so long ago).  Our forces in Syria have been told to change the rules of engagement so as to allow them to target the Iranian forces who are there assisting Assad in the fight against ISIS.  Our airstrikes are allowed to be carried out rather indiscriminately now, without consideration of collateral damage; i.e., without concern about civilian deaths or the accidental hitting of another government’s troops.

A few days ago, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen all cut their ties to Qatar and began an economic blockade against it.  Trump immediately hailed this as a wonderful development, which is sort of deranged, considering the unrest and conflict in the Middle East already.  Furthermore, the largest US military base in the Middle East is located in Qatar.  Maybe he thinks the US should spend a few billion bucks to move the base to Saudi Arabia, or possibly he doesn’t even know we have a base in Qatar.  (The latter is more likely, frankly.)  Iran’s president, Rouhani, on the other hand, immediately came out and offered food and economic aid to Qatar, recognizing that what these other countries are doing could bring on starvation conditions to Qatar fairly quickly.  Rouhani remarked, “We need to have peace here, not conflict,” a statement that clearly puts blame for the Middle East tensions on Saudi Arabia, which had initiated the blockade against Qatar.  It is easy to see how this situation could be twisted to frame Iran for any further escalation in the Middle East, however, especially if the other countries don’t change their tactics, and Iran has to act to fulfill its promise to not let the Qataris suffer unduly.  At that point, we can expect a US-led false flag operation against Iran to occur forthwith.

It is also easy to see how Trump could be convinced that what he really needs to bolster his popularity is a serious war, as opposed to the on-going multiple wars we started and are engaged in around the globe right now.  He wants to get attention away from the Russia investigation fiasco, one of the most remarkable bits of dumbassery and meaningless wastes of taxpayer monies ever dreamed up, all on behalf of Hillary Clinton, who can’t accept the fact that she lost the goddamn election because she was a horrible, hated candidate whom the public distrusts for good reason.  [See my note at the end of this post regarding election meddling.]   Let’s be honest here.  Clinton is toxic.  The only people who don’t want her to just go away seem to be the establishment Democrats, the Clinton wing, who take the party a foot closer to nonexistence each time they parade her in front of the cameras.  And let’s be honest about Trump: the guy is mental.  He’s got the emotional stability of a poorly raised five-year-old and he rows with only one oar in the water.  He appealed to the portion of the population whose tastes run to the louche, the garish; this represents a significant portion of Americans, to be sure.   Enough to get him elected, in any case, although half the eligible voters couldn’t be aroused enough by either Trump or Clinton to even go mark the ballot.  Since the election, the only praise this carnival barker got from the media or the Democrats was when he [illegally] bombed the shit out of the vacant Syrian airstrip and [illegally] dropped “the big one” on a hillside in Afghanistan.  He is not aware of much, but he surely marked that applause, and has noted that both major parties have long sought an excuse to take out Iran.  He sees that the politicians, the Pentagon, and most of the American population loves war, any war.  The creation of war footing and all its attendant financial accoutrements are, after all, the only economic plan Congress has, in the long term.  Of course, since Trump has already given his Pentagon generals unilateral authorization to carry out any and all missions they deem necessary without notifying him or the public first, Trump may only find out we are at war with Iran after the bombs start falling.  He will not stop, and will in fact welcome, the latest iteration of America’s War of Terror wherever it next roars to life, and whatever the given excuse; he will be quickly advised by his padrones that is is a useful distraction against not only the Russia-hacking bullshit, but also gets attention away from the Republican plan to tear up any social agreement between the US government and the US people.  The Democrats will also welcome an exciting new war to distract from the fact that they have no intention of serving the interests of the commoners either and actually agree with all the loathsome, hateful Shock Doctrine ideas the Republicans dream up.  War with Iran, war with Russia, war with Outer Mongolia – throw a dart at the map.  The only good news for the rest of the world is that the uncouth, stupid president of the United States is so rapidly burning bridges with our traditional allies that maybe this time no other country will allow itself to be dragged into whatever new monstrous adventure we Yanks cook up.  Too bad for us that we may find ourselves having to do our wilding alone in the future; but at some point, others surely must call quits to suffering fools lightly and step back to let fate and karma extract their inexorable dues.

So Iran was attacked by terrorists, and here is the official White House response:

Statement by the President on the Terrorist Attacks in Iran

We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/07/statement-president-terrorist-attacks-iran

That is the statement in its entirety.  Read that second sentence again.  Let it soak in, with all its appalling ugliness, ungodly falsity, and unmitigated American gall and hypocrisy on full display to the world, and be filled with wonder that no country as yet has ever dared to say such a thing to the United States, which, unlike Iran, utterly deserves such denunciations.

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A note on the election “meddling” involving Russia:  There is a serious lack of proof that Russia did much of anything to influence the 2016 election in the US.  So far, we have one dubious report offered up by the intelligence agencies (no names of actual personnel who work for these agencies, just a generic “all agencies” is attached to the report as authorship).  The report is headed with a disclaimer that none of the “findings” contained within it represent hard evidence or conclusions, but that the report is merely a summary of suspicions, assumptions, or inferences, some of which are based on “previous assessments”.  What the previous assessments are, or if those assessments were found to be accurate, is left unsaid.  The disclaimer states that the report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only, and that “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”   Well, alrighty then.  A report based on unidentified old reports, and not guaranteed to be factual; this is the report the media is hanging its hat on.  By far, the biggest section of the report (it uses up 6 out of the 14 pages, and page 14 is blank) is a fatuous commentary on the Russian media outlet, RTNews, wherein it is “discovered” that RTNews has a “pro-Russian bias”, leading to the conclusion that it is – aha! – a “propaganda outlet”.  This is akin to stating that the Wall Street Journal has a “pro-American bias”.  No doubt the Russians have some apparatchiks whose job it is to write findings like these for the Russian intelligence community.  In any case, this lengthy commentary on RTNews, added to the US intelligence summary on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, was actually written in 2012 (the original date of this section of the report is not obscured), and its inclusion in said report is without merit.  Offered as proof that RTNews is Russian propaganda meant to infect Americans with pro-Russian sentiment is that they covered Occupy Wallstreet and were critical of the treatment of the Occupy protesters, they reported on the increased use of fracking in the US, and (this is my favorite part), “In an effort to highlight the alleged ‘lack of democracy’ in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates.”   Need I say that only American politicians and spook agencies would consider it subversive to disseminate to US voters that there are actually more than two political parties extant in the US.

Aside from this report, we have suggestions from these same political sources that the Russians had internet “trolls” leaving comments attached to articles about Trump or Clinton.  Supposedly, these trolls – paid to leave comments that bashed Clinton – might have swayed people into disliking her and voting for Trump.  This is possible, although it seems unlikely that voters would change their votes based on such things.  Most people tend to argue more strenuously for their own positions when they encounter opposition in a comment section, not have their viewpoint entirely altered.  Speculation about supposed Russian trolls aside, we know for a fact that the Clinton campaign paid people to troll comment sections on her behalf throughout the campaign season.  The Russians did not hack into voting machines (which can’t be hacked into over the internet, anyway), nor did they physically alter anybody’s vote.  As far as one can tell from the evidence presented so far, the Russians didn’t even spend much money, if any, trying to meddle in our election.  Internet trolls aren’t known to make the big bucks.

The entire sideshow about Russian meddling leaves the country bereft of any coverage regarding the serious internal issues surrounding US elections: the results of the Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision, which allows unlimited amounts of corporate and oligarchic monies into the process, thereby vastly altering the potential of actual democratic outcomes; gerrymandered districts; voter suppression; ballot purging; reduction in the number of polling stations; lack of verifiable paper ballots; the peculiar way the primary elections are run (and the fact, disclosed in the leaked DNC and Pedestal emails themselves, that the DNC rigged the primary to assure Clinton would be the Democratic nominee); our arcane electoral college system for the general election; the utter inability of any third party candidate to find a way to be presented to the public, which is engineered deliberately by the two major parties and guaranteed to continue into the foreseeable future through the electoral college system; etc.

The US itself has directly meddled in the elections of other countries over 80 times between 1946 and 2000.  The lists of countries we have fucked with this way only include mild examples of election interference; things like spending money to promote one candidate over the other, articles written in behalf of one or another candidate, US politicians speaking publicly about elections abroad, etc., and do not include the most egregious examples of interference, such as assassinations, forced regime changes, invasions, and coups – all of which the US has done to interfere with the governance and/or political structure of foreign countries.  [Not included on these lists are actions like having Patrice Lumumba, the first person elected democratically in the Congo after they achieved independence from Belgium, kidnapped and shot by firing squad in 1961, shortly after he won his election.  The US also arranged for the coup d’etats in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Haiti in both 1991 and 2004.  Both the coups in Haiti were directed against the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had won his second successful election for office in 2000; and in 2004, he and his wife were kidnapped and flown to South Africa, where George W. Bush declared he had to remain “exiled from the Western hemisphere for life”.  During his exile, Aristide’s party, the Fanmi Lavalas, was not allowed to field any candidates in the 2009 Haitian election by order of US president, Barack Obama. (!! Let that one sink in.)  This was widely protested in Haiti, where Aristide and the Fanmi Lavalas party were extremely popular.  Obama finally rescinded the [grossly illegal] exile of Aristide in 2011, although he demanded that the flight returning Aristide to Haiti be delayed until after the run-off elections took place in March that year.  As a condition of his return to his native country, Aristide was forced by the US to sign an agreement that he would never seek public office again.  During the 2016 US elections, there were protests against Hillary Clinton, both in the US and in Haiti, demanding an accounting for the Help Haiti Funds; Bill Clinton and George HW Bush had been put in charge of the funds after the 2010 earthquake there, and the money never seemed to quite make it to Haiti, instead disappearing into the Clinton Foundation coffers.  Also not included as election meddling is the 1996 Russian election, wherein the US finagled an IMF loan to Russia in a blatant attempt to shore up support for the re-election of the alcoholic Boris Yeltsin, whom they then promoted as the only one who could secure financial aid for his country. We were so obvious about this meddling that Time Magazine wrote a cover story about it entitled, “Yanks to the Rescue.”  Since the lists offered in articles about US interference in other nations’ elections end at the year 2000, you also won’t see an inclusion of US direct manipulation of the election in Ukraine two years ago, our messing with Russia’s last elections, or our current manipulations in Venezuela.]

Some articles regarding US election interference in foreign countries:

http://www.npr.org/2016/12/22/506625913/database-tracks-history-of-u-s-meddling-in-foreign-elections

https://ww2.kqed.org/lowdown/2017/03/02/a-history-of-u-s-meddling-in-foreign-elections/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/10/13/the-long-history-of-the-u-s-interfering-with-elections-elsewhere/?utm_term=.9ba0bcac4dda

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/05/americans-spot-election-meddling-doing-years-vladimir-putin-donald-trump

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UPDATE: Sunday, 11 June:

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) made comments during a Congressional discussion about the terror attacks in Iran.  He is currently serving his 13th term in Congress (astonishing, but nonetheless factual).  An interesting tidbit, given what he says in the video clip below, from the biography page on his website is this: “Rohrabacher is a most forceful spokesman for human rights and democracy around the world.”  As you will see, this most forceful spokesman for human rights and democracy praises a terrorist group, ISIS, for attacking civilians in Iran.  Whether the true perpetrators are ISIS or MEK is not germane; at this point, ISIS has claimed credit, and this is taken at face value by the US, the US Congress, and the world.  Rohrabacher not only praises ISIS, he flat out states that the US should support them in this attack on Iran.  Support for ISIS, nominally the worst terrorist organization on the planet, is officially against current US law, punishable by imprisonment, but here we have a sitting US Congressman voicing support and approval for them.

Not only that, but within the first minute (the clip is less than 2 minutes long), Rohrabacher suggests that the US is behind the attack and that the Trump administration may be taking what Rohrabacher considers necessary and praiseworthy steps to go after Iran by using ISIS as a proxy force.  This is quite remarkable coming from a US Representative, especially in light of the fact that he is speaking on camera in open session.  This man may be a total whack-job as a general rule, but still, the suggestions that the US, and Trump specifically, are behind these attacks and that the US is (or should be) using ISIS as mercenaries to further our interests ought to be ringing bells all over the place.  Shit, ISIS should be using this clip as a recruitment video.  Now, it may be true, as I think and as many people in many countries believe, that ISIS is a creation of the US and is a proxy group being used by the US and Israel to disrupt the Middle East, but this is, of course, tacitly denied by US officialdom each time they name ISIS as the “greatest threat to mankind”.  Here, Rohrabacher seems to be admitting that US backing of ISIS is either a) the truth of the matter, or b) that it ought to be.  In either case, such declarations ought to concern the US government, which goes to great pains to appear to be dead-set on destroying ISIS.

His statement reveals peculiar labyrinthian thought processes wherein he makes it clear that in his view, our involvement in the Middle East is primarily to shore up and protect the Sunni side of the Sunni-Shia religious argument (and here we’ve thought all these years that it had something to do with 9/11 and terrorism), he can’t seem to distinguish between the mullahs of Iran (whom he thinks were attacked) and the Iranian civilians (who actually were attacked), and includes a bizarre comparison between Stalin killing Nazis to ISIS killing innocent people who just happened to be visiting public areas.  Thankfully, his remarks are brief; surprisingly, they weren’t deleted from youtube already by the CIA.

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The governmental responses to the Paris terrorist attacks.

In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night, France has rolled out its plans, seemingly prepared in advance much like the US’ response to 9/11: France is already increasing its bombing of Syria and is imposing strict new laws on its own people at home.

Despite the fact that at least half the terrorists in this case were already known to the French law enforcement community, the intelligence services mysteriously “ceased watching” the suspects a few days before the attacks. Oddly, and also reminiscent of 9/11, the French military and police forces were conducting anti-terrorist training exercises the morning of the attacks in Paris, so Paris was packed with law enforcement, but somehow the terrorists slipped around town to multiple locations unimpeded. The police response was notably slow at each location as well.  Despite these being obvious failures of the security community in France, the first steps rolled out in response are not directed as rebuke to or reform of these agencies, but are instead measures taken against the civilian population and which are a distinct curtailing of civil rights.  

Internally, French president Hollande has ordered a 3-month State of Emergency which will be extended further “as needed”. The state of emergency law allows French authorities to impose curfews, carry out random searches of private homes at any time, collect weapons owned by private citizens, use military tribunals rather than the courts, curtail public meetings, censor the press, order the house arrest of individuals (without trial), and close public places (most public places were closed for the week-end and the law allows for future closures at any time with little or no prior notification to the public).  The French government has already begun raids of private homes searching for accomplices to the terrorists and is increasing the number of soldiers patrolling Paris and suburbs. Right now, there are 5000 French military troops in Paris; there will be another 1500 added by Wednesday and the prime minister has promised to deploy another 10,000 troops throughout the rest of the country as quickly as possible. (There were already 7000 troops deployed internally in France since the “Charlie Hebdo” thing in January of this year, in addition to the number just in Paris alone.) This pretty much puts martial law in effect.

Hollande met with leaders of all the political parties in France over the week-end and they all agree with the new “state of emergency” law and to expanding participation of war abroad.  He asked for an increase in spending on security, police, and intelligence agencies, which will breach the EU’s budget agreements, and is seeking constitutional revisions to add to the powers of the president under emergency situations.   

Marie Le Pen, who is the leader of the National Front party (they are distinctly neo-fascists) called for the complete disarming of the suburbs, and Wauquiez, the secretary of the Le Republicans party (very right-wing) said that anyone in France who has an intelligence file (i.e., people being watched for one reason or another by the authorities) should be placed in internment camps.

Interior Minister Cazeneuve stated that the state of emergency might be used for “the dissolution of mosques in which people intervene to call for or promote hatred.”   What exactly constitutes “promoting hatred” is no doubt open to debate.

On Monday, Hollande made a speech to both houses of parliament in which he suggested sweeping changes to the democratic rights inherent in the French constitution and proposed modifying the constitution itself.  His measures would give arbitrary powers to the president and transfer authority from civilian institutions to the French military; he pointed out that the several articles supporting these sweeping changes were already part of the constitution under the state of emergency he imposed, but said that they needed to be modified and strengthened.  The articles in question allow the president full and arbitrary powers “when the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, its territorial integrity, or the carrying out of its international engagements are threatened in a grave and immediate way, and the regular functioning of the constitutional public authority is interrupted…”

It’s a fairly broad read of the articles to invoke them with the claim that ISIS could threaten all the institutions of France, or its independence and territorial integrity.  Nonetheless, massive changes appear to be in the works for the good people of France, who have enjoyed a free and democratic republic until now.

Joyeux Noel et bonne annee, gens. [Merry Christmas and happy new year, people.]

Other countries are calling for more bombing throughout the Middle East, as though killing more people will somehow stop blowback of the sort that the Paris attacks might have been.  It is also possible that the Paris events were a false flag designed to have the effect of solidifying the intent of the “coalition of the willing” to come together more firmly and utterly destroy Syria in particular and the Middle East in general.  We even had the requisite magic, indestructible passports and a peculiarly belated claim from ISIS that they were, in fact, behind the attacks.  It was only after Hollande claimed that he “knew” that ISIS was behind the attacks that ISIS thought to take credit.  I wonder how easy it is for someone fleeing a war-torn country to apply for a passport and how quickly that country can process the applications when it is under full military assault.  Millions of people have fled Syria; is it even likely that all, or most, of them waited for visitor’s passports before fleeing for their very lives?   It’s a moot point anyway; we are now being told the terrorists were not Syrian refugees, but French and Belgium nationals.  And why do these terrorists only target the civilian population, rather than the politicians and neocons who are responsible for the wars in their homelands?   If this is a case of false flag, it seems to be working.

At the G20 meeting taking place now, a bunch of countries (which are, well, noticeably not Syria nor territories of Syria nor colonies of Syria nor in any way, shape, or form countries going by the name of Syria) are deciding how Syria should be governed and run. The big questions seem to be: do we simply assassinate al Assad, demand he a) step down now or b) step down later, set up an [illegal] interim government without him (like we did in Libya just before we assassinated Ghaddafi), tell the people of Syria they will have early elections but al Assad cannot run for office this time, despite his winning the last election with 80% of the vote (like we did in Haiti, where we allowed Aristide to return home, but said he couldn’t run for office even if the people wanted him to – which they overwhelmingly did), and the final big question is, of course, do you suppose anyone will notice if we just fucking bomb Syria into a landfill and kill all the civilians in the meantime? Takes care of that part of the refugee problem, anyway.

The US now kind of wants Russia to take part in the bombing of Syria to get rid of our manufactured enemy ISIS (who, let’s face it, are getting a tad out of control), but don’t want Russia to bomb the “moderate” terrorists, who just happen to be aiming their sights on al Assad, whom we really want to get rid of.  I have to ask here, what the fuck is a “moderate” terrorist?  Is that a terrorist who will cut your head off but not eat your liver afterwards?  What we really want, of course, is that damn pipeline that al Assad won’t give us, and we hope Russia will ignore that losing the pipeline will hurt the Russian economy and can be convinced to not only help us get rid of ISIS, but along the way, also help us take down the only guy who is protecting Russia’s interests in that pipeline matter.  (“Real shame about your airplane there, Mr. Putin.  Shitty things happen when you don’t play by our rules.”)

Not one leader, and this is notably true in the US, which favors sanctions and other such assorted illegal actions in lieu of diplomacy, has suggested sanctions or investigations into who is buying all that black-market oil from ISIS which profits the group enormously.  Turkey and Iraq are among the known purchasers, and reports have been leaked that suggest at least two EU countries buy ISIS oil.  Somehow the US can sanction individuals and/or entire countries for any matter under the sun that affects “our interests”, but is completely nonchalant about the ISIS oil buyers or the methods of money transfers they utilize.  Remarkable.

France has placed itself in the absurd situation of seeking help from Russia against ISIS in Syria while at the very same time committed to the NATO buildup against Russia in Ukraine and eastern Europe.  The US and other NATO countries are doing the same thing, although few seem to have noticed the spectacular oddness of it all.  John Kerry, while in Paris a day ago, put the burden for intelligence-sharing on Russia and Iran (“…So the faster Russia and Iran give life to this process, the faster the violence can taper down, and we can isolate [IS] and Al Nusra and begin to do what our strategy has always set out to do”), despite the fact that we have been condemning both those countries for participating in military activity in the Syria up until this very moment, and have been making threats against both countries for decades.   We can only hope these idiots don’t start bombing each other (and us) in a mad melee while they are busy “coalescing” and bombing ISIS.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced he is adding financing to the military budget and doubling the drone fleet.  Countries all over the place are suddenly stating they are under “credible terrorist threats” and have begun canceling events, adding to their internal police forces and closing borders to refugees.  Roughly half the state governors in America have said they will not accept Syrian refugees – not that very many have come here in any case – despite the fact that it is not legal for them to bar refugees from their communities.

As for the larger US, we are suddenly bombing Libya again, in addition to Syria.  (Along with the seven or so other nations we are bombing.)  No authorization for any of the bombing we are doing anywhere, of course, and particularly egregious to be bombing a country we already ruined beyond repair a couple of years ago, but no-one in the media seems disturbed. Matter of fact, it is so humdrum that I’ve only seen one or two articles on the incident.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-officials-leader-of-islamic-state-in-libya-believed-killed-in-us-airstrike/2015/11/14/b42cb714-8af0-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html

The final paragraph in the above article sums up the media’s insouciance for facts and displays its ability to re-write even recent history, replacing truth with bullshit.

The Islamic State has been able to thrive in Libya in large part because of the country’s political instability four years after its revolution. Since last year, Libya has had two governments vying for resources and legitimacy. But neither is able to impose security across the vast desert nation or curb a sprawling array of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups.

It was not a revolution, those were CIA-funded, al Qaeda-affiliated “rebels” brought into the country of Libya to overthrow the then-current government.  Then an unbelievable amount of bombs were dropped under the lead of the US, ruining damn near everything, and then we assassinated the leader of this sovereign nation.  The country had been working pretty well up until that point, with Ghaddafi having over a 90% approval rating from the Libyans themselves.  And, by the way, the “sprawling array” of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups weren’t a problem until we wrecked the country.

In response to the events in Paris, I guess the PTB have decided their course of action: more of the same of what they’ve been doing.  Yeah, because that’s been working so well up to now.  We managed to create and fund al Qaeda and ISIS through our activities in the Middle East for all these long years, and we supply weapons to our “ally” Saudi Arabia, which in turn follows much the same set of Wahhabi beliefs that ISIS and the other Islamist militant groups do and which actively provides material and financial backing for terrorist groups worldwide.  The House of Saud is loathe to bomb ISIS, but has been savagely willing to use those weapons to bring hell on earth to Yemen and Pakistan.  Yesterday, it was announced that the US State Dept. has approved a new $1.3 bb sale of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia, which the Pentagon says will be used in the Saudis’ military campaigns in Syria and Yemen.  We consider Turkey an ally even as they purchase black-market oil from ISIS and back the “moderate terrorist” groups [al Qaeda and ISIS allies] and ignore the reports that our ally Israel is giving medical aid to ISIS wounded.  One thing that no-one will consider is to let the Arab nations figure out if they really want the kind of life ISIS is selling and let them sort it out for themselves.  

To underscore that our desire to spread weaponry, mayhem and misery is equal opportunity for the entire globe, the US Senate just cleared the revised Defense Authorization legislation for vote, legislation that will provide $715 mm to Iraqi forces fighting ISIS, $406 mm for the Syrian opposition forces (the so-called moderate terrorist groups), and $300 mm for lethal weapons for the neo-Nazis we put in power in Ukraine.

Obama has promised a quarter of a billion dollars to sponsor “maritime security” in the South China Sea.  The money will fund gunboat patrols and surveillance for Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia as the US tries to gin up the territorial disputes with China in that area.  (Wait’ll he finds out that China, Japan and South Korea are holding meetings to work out some trade questions and the sea-lane disputes without him.  See note at bottom.)  Escalation of war threats all over the globe.

Sounds like a plan, if a dismal one.

Note: Looks like China and Japan are starting to figure out they need each other more than either needs the stupid war-mongering US. and its manufactured dispute over some sand bars:

Nov 2015 – S Korea, Japan, and China agree to restore trade ties. 
Regional powers also agree to restart trilateral meetings that have not been held since 2012 due to strained relations.
 Two articles.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/korea-japan-china-agree-restore-trade-ties-151101130148174.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-01/south-korea-china-japan-vow-to-strengthen-ties-at-summit/6903686

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 16, 2015 in China, civil rights, Iran, Iraq, Libya, MIC, Russia, security state, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen

 

Two men.

Come sit with me for a moment or two.  I want to talk about two men, how US foreign policy affected their lives, and how the American media handles the stories about them.  Because I never hesitate to look for other stuff to do when I should be working and I feel better about it when I can get someone else to play hooky with me.

The first guy I want to talk about is James Foley, who was a free-lance journalist and video/photog dude.  He was beheaded by ISIS last week, leading to calls for the US to seek revenge.  Foley mostly worked for a paper called the GlobalPost.  He had embedded with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for awhile and then felt the call to represent the viewpoints of oppressed people everywhere.  Well, okay, the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t really oppressed, but one finds one’s calling where one can.  To that end, he later embedded with the “Libyan rebels”.  You remember those guys, the Libyan rebels, the ones who rose up against the evil dictator strongman tyrant despot Ghaddafi.  Yeah, the ones Ghaddafi said were CIA-funded operatives and later it turned out they were CIA operatives and the whole “rebel” thing was a bullshit undercover op to overthrow Ghaddafi and snatch Libya’s gold and oil resources.  Foley “embedded” with them to bring their revolution and plight to the attention of the world.  Unfortunately, he did not ever seem to discover the CIA and black-ops machinations behind the “rebel uprising” while covering the story.  I have no doubt he really meant well and was a very nice man, and surely a brave man, but the history of Libya has been forever altered in part because all kinds of well-meaning people did not see the truth, or the ones who did, did not report on it until after Libya was destroyed.  We are to refer to this period of history, the so-called rebel uprising, as “Libya’s civil war”, according to the new Truth Protocols set out by the Council on Foreign Relations and PNAC, although some of us “fact hard-liners” might decline to do so at our own risk.  Anyhow, Foley was “in country” in Libya for a mere matter of weeks before being captured by the despot’s military forces and held captive for 44 days.  His captivity, and that of the 3 other journalists with him, was said to be one of the final straws leading to the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya.  Near the end of his captivity, he could hear the NATO bombs falling and knew that help was on the way and that his suffering had not been in vain.  Mission, as they say, accomplished.

As to his ordeal while being held by the evil despot’s Torturous Torturers and Torture Brigade, Foley later recounted events for the public thusly [this is from two different articles]:

[…] Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli….Later we were taken to another prison where the regime kept hundreds of political prisoners. I was quickly welcomed by the other prisoners and treated well….[he was allowed a phone call to mom] “How are you, Jim?” [his Mom asked]. I told her I was being fed, that I was getting the best bed and being treated like a guest.

“Are they making you say these things, Jim?”

“No, the Libyans are beautiful people,” I told her.

[…] He said he was treated fairly well, fed regularly, and never tortured or beaten. He shared a cell with political prisoners, incarcerated for acts such as sending disparaging texts about Khadafy. Foley said he saw physical evidence that some of the other prisoners suffered electrical shock, beatings, and whippings. Foley said he became worried when the other two journalists were moved from the Tripoli prison on April 29 and he was left behind without explanation. Then, eight days later, Foley said he was blindfolded, placed in the back of a van and driven to a luxury villa. He was greeted by Gillis and Brabo, who had been staying there since their removal from the prison. Another captured journalist, Nigel Chandler, a British freelancer, was also there.

Foley said he spent his last days in custody at the villa, eating three-course meals, sleeping in a room of his own, and watching cable television, which included world news reports on the BBC. He said he was told that Khadafy’s son, Saadi, believed Western journalists should be treated well. Foley, who completed his graduate studies in 2008 at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, worked as an embedded reporter with US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan before arriving in Libya about three weeks before his capture.

http://www.prwatch.org/news/2014/08/12576/remembering-james-foley
and: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2011/05/27/after-release-james-foley-recounts-dark-secret-libya/Q0HClqVr8iat181WHO7YuL/story.html

Partly in response to the despot’s temerity at housing a journalist in a luxury villa (on a beautiful warm, white beach; I’ve seen the photos), feeding him three-course meals and letting him watch cable TV, we ruined Libya. Foley flew to Milwaukee to thank the US-ians for their prayers during his captivity. (And for the tens of thousands of dollars donated to his family to secure his release.) Being the intrepid reporter that he was, he then flew back to Libya and was there reporting on the “civil war” when Ghaddafi fell and eventually died.  Remember that?  When Ghaddafi just fell and died?  According to Foley’s own newspaper, GlobalPost, there was no bounty placed on Ghaddafi’s head by the US State Dept., there was no illegal invasion, Ghaddafi’s murder was not orchestrated by the US pointing the “rebels” to the place where Ghaddafi was hidden, the US did not condone (and perhaps instruct) Ghaddafi’s torture and assassination, nor did the US media gleefully circulate the video of his torture and murder repeatedly while Hillary giggled maniacally in orgasmic joy at the thought of a man, the leader of a sovereign nation, being tortured at her behest.  No, no, no: Ghaddafi just “fell” and “eventually died”.  The video of Foley’s death at the hands of ISIS, on the other hand, is deemed too brutal to be watched by the same media that slavered over Ghaddafi’s murder.

[…] While covering the Libyan civil war in 2011, Foley and two other journalists, American Claire Gillis and Spaniard Manu Brabo, endured a 44-day captivity in April and May of that year at the hands of then Libyan strongman Col. Muammar Gaddafi. A fourth journalist, South African Anton Hammerl, was killed when the journalists were captured by Gaddafi fighters near Benghazi in eastern Libya. Foley later returned to Libya to cover Gaddafi’s fall and eventual death. Foley and GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton were at the scene of Gaddafi’s capture in October,2011[….]

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/131016/american-journalist-james-foley-remains-missin

The above summary, written in recent days as part of Foley’s biography, implies that Foley was right there when Ghaddafi was captured and that he witnessed Ghaddafi’s murder. In fact, he did not witness the event.  He went to the scene after the fact to do on-the-ground interviews and to describe the event and the place.  The wording is ambiguous, perhaps intentionally so. All kinds of media outlets are linking to the above to baldly claim Foley was present when Ghaddafi was killed as though this [false] story somehow adds to Foley’s luster.  Even Truthdig made the claim, without doing any research, when they named Foley as their “Truthdigger of the Week”: “[…] Foley returned to Libya after a short time spent in the U.S. after his release. He wanted to speak with some of the people he had met in prison with the aim of telling their stories, and he ended up witnessing Gadhafi’s capture.[…]”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/truthdigger_of_the_week_james_foley_20140824

The true story of Foley’s involvement in Ghaddafi’s death was published by the same paper (the paper Foley freelanced for), GlobalPost, which wrote that so-misunderstood remark in the first place.

[…] “Jim couldn’t bear to watch from afar as the rebel tide finally turned against Gaddafi,” recalls Solana Pyne, his video editor at GlobalPost. On that last day in Libya, “rebels claimed Gaddafi had been killed in a firefight, but Jim found eyewitnesses who confirmed the despot had in fact died at the hands of his former subjects.”

That scoop would change the narrative of Gaddafi’s demise, and prompt United Nations officials to call for a war crimes investigation. It would also win the prestigious Overseas Press Club award for Foley and for colleague Tracey Shelton, who obtained the video of Gaddafi’s final moments [….]

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/140827/what-james-foley-meant-to-us

To his credit, and this is what should actually be used from his reporting to burnish his biography, Foley and Shelton exposed the brutal assassination of Ghaddafi and did not sit on the story out of fear that it would make Foley’s rebels look bad. It’s odd that Truthdig, et al, are not reporting the event in this light:

(Reuters) – “The death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was captured and killed by rebels in October, may have been a war crime”, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said on Thursday.  The U.N. Security Council referred Gaddafi’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators to the ICC in February and authorized military intervention to protect civilians in March. The ICC indicted Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and the former intelligence chief for war crimes.

Saif al-Islam is now in the custody of the Libyan authorities who have said they plan to try in him in Libya instead of handing him over to The Hague-based ICC.   Moreno-Ocampo has said this was possible.

Moreno-Ocampo has also said he was investigating allegations that the anti-Gaddafi forces and NATO were also guilty of war crimes during the civil war.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/16/us-libya-icc-idUSTRE7BF08820111216

As a side note, if Foley had been there at the exact moment, one would have to wonder how he knew where to be and when to be there. It would be odd, to say the least.  You may think about that for one second.  Okay, moving along.

Foley then went to Syria.  To report on the repressed and oppressed Syrians who were rebelling against the evil tyrant Assad.  He wanted to tell the story of the “rebels” belonging to such groups as al Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army.  Bring their plight to the world and support their cause of overthrowing the Assad government.  You know the drill.  We will ignore, as did Foley, that these “rebels” were funded by the US, the CIA, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, trained by the CIA and given arms and cash (oops, I mean “non-lethal aid”) by the US and Sauds.  We will also pay no attention to the fact that these groups, along with parts of al Qaeda in Iraq, later morphed into the Dread Terrorists now known as ISIS. (We will also ignore, as we have for 11 years now, that there was no al Qaeda in Iraq before we invaded.)  We will ignore the coincidence that Foley happened to embed with rebels who later turned out to be CIA front groups in two different countries and that both these countries happen to be on the neocon list of countries to destroy.  It is vitally important that you ignore these facts, as you will see while we go through the narrative here.

We were originally told that Foley was kidnapped in Nov, ’12 by one of Assad’s militias, the Shabiha militia.  He was held, the story went, by the Assad government in a Syrian Air Force complex, although the translator kidnapped with him was released.  This brought us undeniable proof of the horrible horribleness of the Assad regime.  The US State Dept. insisted that Assad had Foley, as well as numerous other reporters, and repeatedly said through their spokesmen that “of course the Assad regime denies it.  What else are they going to do?” and words to that effect.  Foley’s family and the GlobalPost stated it as fact, as well.

BOSTON — The family of a New Hampshire journalist abducted in Syria on Thanksgiving last year says they believe they now know where he is. James Foley’s family on Friday claimed the Syrian government is holding him in a military detention center. […]

http://www.wbur.org/2013/05/03/foley-family-syrian-prison

However, we now know, because they told us so, that Foley was beheaded by ISIS. Now how on earth did they get ahold of him?  A new “The Wire” article [See: http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/08/timeline-of-james-foleys-captivity/378898/] with a (partially theoretical) timeline that suggests al Nusra Front had Foley by March ’13, although no explanation is given as to why they would want to hold him (he reported favorably on the “moderate rebels”, remember), or where he was before the al Nusra Front had him (he disappeared in Nov ’12 and the timeline simply remarks that from Nov ’12 to March ’13 his whereabouts were “unknown”.  Nor does the article suggest who captured him in the first place.)   The Wire article offers that he was transferred to an ISIS training camp around Sept ’13.  In Nov., the US gov’t was given Foley’s location by a former fellow ISIS camp prisoner who had “left the camp”.  Escaped?  Just walked away?  Who knows?  The article does not say.  It was in May of 2013 that GlobalPost and the Foley family reported that they were confident that the Syrian government had him in a detention center, yet, according to The Wire, he was held by al Nusra well before that.  If, by November, the US knew that he was being held by ISIS, nothing was ever done to correct the erroneous reports that he was being detained by Assad’s government.

So how did ISIS or al Nusra Front get Foley from Assad?  I’m glad you asked. American media has provided us with the answer. And their answer is not that the “rebels” kidnapped him in the first place. Conveniently, the answer reveals further proof of the god-awfullness of the Assad regime, who perversely collaborated with the same guys who originally banded together to take down his government. He is obviously the worst of the worst, worse even than ISIS, since he not only hates his own people and the misunderstood repressed rebels, he hates his own self enough to want to take himself and his regime out. He is secretly working with the very group that wanted him gone!  (You have to say this breathlessly, hence the exclamation point.)

[…] What is unclear is if previous investigations into Foley’s whereabouts were inaccurate, if ISIS militants somehow captured Foley from some of the regime’s most elite security, or if the Assad regime provided Foley to ISIS.

“Until recently, James Foley was thought to be in hands of pro-Assad forces. If Assad is handing over Westerners to ISIS to be killed, it indicates Assad feels cornered, looking for leverage,” BBC’s Kim Ghattas tweeted, adding that the assessment jibes with what her sources in Damascus have told her recently.

Ghattas added that Assad providing Foley to ISIS “would confirm Assad tacitly working [with] ISIS and silence any suggestions Assad is the better alternative. “[…]

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-did-isis-kidnap-james-foley-2014-8]

I am not sure what “leverage” Assad would gain by kidnapping an American citizen and then turning him over to Assad’s own enemies to be killed, nor do I understand how it is possible for a rational person to think that Assad is “tacitly working with ISIS”, but then I can’t figure out why the fuck the press writes any of the crap they do nowadays.  But now you know why not only must ISIS be destroyed, but forcing Assad out must happen as well (preferably by bombing Syria to the same place we bombed Libya to: hell).  Any idea that Syria might be an ally in taking out ISIS is flat off the table.  And you surely see what a fine president Hillary would make; she is verily a prophet.  Did she not say shortly after the despot Ghaddafi’s murder – I mean, his fall and eventual death – that the tyrant Assad’s days were numbered as well?  We’ll go into Syria to get whatever part of ISIS remains there, and we don’t need to inform Assad of this decision.  If a few bombs take out some other stuff, like Assad’s air force, well, shit happens.  The beauty part of all this is that with one atrocity blamed on two different entities, the US might get to bomb both of them.  Now, if only we could find a way to blame Russia for ISIS as well…

If some of the stories are beginning make no sense to you, I can only remind you that bullshit, propaganda, and obfuscation are the prime purposes of the US media.  To make matters even more confusing, GlobalPost is now saying they knew for some time, although not immediately, that Foley was not held by Assad’s military.

But on Thanksgiving day in 2012, near the Turkish border after reporting from the war zones near Aleppo, he was captured by armed militants, a fact that remained under media blackout, to improve his chances of release. […]

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/140827/what-james-foley-meant-to-us

By Nov. of last year, the GlobalPost knew he had originally been taken by the rebels and was still in their custody, and that information had been given to the US, but the paper continued to let the US government publicly blame Assad.  I see.  Furthermore, Syria has given information to the United Nations that Foley was actually killed a year ago, with the video and photos only now released by ISIS. They also repeat that Foley was originally captured by the very rebels he embedded with. We will never know the absolute truth on the matter here in the US.

August 26 (RIA Novosti) – American journalist James Foley may have been murdered by Islamic State militants a year ago, The Daily Mail reported, citing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s official spokesperson, Bouthaina Shaaban.

“James Foley was first arrested by the Free Syrian Army and he was sold to ISIS [an earlier name for the IS]. You can check with the UN…James Foley was killed a year ago, not now, they only released the pictures now, but he was killed a year ago. We have definite information, the UN has the information,” Shaaban said as cited by The Daily Mail.[…]

http://en.ria.ru/world/20140826/192348464/US-Journalist-Foley-Murdered-by-IS-Militants-1-Year-Ago–Assad.html

A sampling of the response to Foley’s death:

Senior Republicans on Sunday called for expanded air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq and for the first time in Syria, in order to destroy their terrorist network in the wake of the killing of the American journalist James Foley and to protect against an attack on American soil. […]

The White House has been reported to be considering strikes in Syria, after Foley’s murder was classified as a terror attack. […]

Senator Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, told CNN he did not believe the US needed to signal its intent to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, before carrying out air strikes within Syria.
“The purpose of going into Syria is to deal with the threat to the homeland, the goal is to hit Isis and you cannot deal with the threat in Iraq without also hitting them in Syria,” he said.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/24/republicans-isis-militants-us-air-strikes

**********          **********          **********

Numerous Senate Democrats oppose bringing military operations in Iraq and Syria to a vote before Congress because they think going on the record as for or against will be harmful to their bids for office during an election season, The Hill reported Wednesday. Critics slammed this reluctance to take a position as a sign that cowardice and self gain—not principle—rule the legislature.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has been vocally pushing for President Obama to put the expanding U.S. military attacks on ISIS in Iraq and Syria to a vote before Congress, as required by the War Powers Resolution.[…]

Kaine’s position is not new. He had previously worked with Senator John McCain to “reform the War Powers Resolution in a way that lays out a clear consultative process between Congress and the President on whether and when to engage in military action,” according to a statement released from Kaine’s office. However, The Hill notes that McCain has held back on demanding congressional authorization of military strikes on ISIS because, according to a Democratic aide, this could get in the way of U.S. bombings.[…]

Since August 8, the U.S. has carried out nearly 100 air strikes across Iraq and currently has nearly 1,000 U.S. military service members deployed to the country. Public information about the attacks—including the military branches carrying them out, the civilians and combatants killed, and the role of private contractors—remains scarce. Furthermore, President Obama’s stated aims for the strikes have shifted throughout the month—from assisting refugees to protecting U.S. personnel to “eradicating” the “cancer” of ISIS. Meanwhile, U.S. drones are currently conducting surveillance flights over Syria, in what many warn is a sign of U.S. air strikes in that country as well.[…]

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/08/27/when-it-comes-war-iraq-and-syria-senate-dems-prefer-no-congressional-vote

**********          **********          **********

(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama expressed revulsion on Wednesday at the beheading of an American journalist by Islamist militants and vowed the United States would do what it must to protect its citizens as international condemnation of the insurgents grew.[…]

France said it wanted the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and regional countries, including Arab states and Iran, to coordinate action against Islamic State. President Francois Hollande called for an international conference to discuss how to tackle the group.[…]

Germany and Italy said they were ready to send arms to bolster the military capabilities of Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State in northern Iraq.[…]

U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican, said Foley’s death should serve as a turning point for Obama in his deliberations over how to deal with Islamic State. “First of all, you’ve got to dramatically increase the air strikes. And those air strikes have to be devoted to Syria as well,” McCain said in a telephone interview.[…]

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/20/us-iraq-security-idUSKBN0GH0JL20140820

How does Syria feel about all this?

The United States, one of the biggest supporters of the extremist-marked insurgency in Syria says it doesn’t need Syrian government’s permission to carry out military strikes in the Syrian soil.

The United States has started sending spy planes into Syria to track the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) radicals, but said it would seek no permission to do so.

A US official confirmed the plans after Syria said on Monday it was willing to work with the international community, including Washington, to tackle extremist militants, whose advances have sparked international concern and American air strikes in neighboring Iraq.

American officials said they did not plan to ask Damascus for permission for the attacks, a move that openly undermines Syria’s sovereignty.[…]

On Monday, Damascus said for the first time that it was willing to work with the international community, including the United States and Britain, to tackle terrorists including ISIL and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

But Foreign Minister Walid Muallem also made it clear that Syria would not accept unilateral military strikes by the United States or any other country.

“Any violation of Syria’s sovereignty would be an act of aggression,” he said.  There would be “no justification” for strikes on Syrian territory “except in coordination with us to fight terrorism”.

Muallem said Syria was seeking cooperation within an international or regional coalition, or at the bilateral level within the framework of a recent UN Security Council resolution targeting ISIL and Al-Nusra.

Syria has been gripped with a deadly unrest since 2011. The insurgency that is marked with extremist acts of violence and has al-Qaeda at its core, has received broad political and military support from Washington and its allies since it started.

http://en.alalam.ir/news/1626584

The US armed and supported the jihadist militias in Libya and in Syria. The US promoted the civil war in Syria and did not say a word as ISIS emerged from the various factions to rampage throughout Syria; at that time, they were doing us a favor by opposing Assad.  Libya is in complete collapse, with rival groups (one led by a Libyan who spent 20 years living in the US near CIA headquarters before returning to Libya in 2011) fighting over ascendancy and forcing Libyans to flee the country.  Now ISIS is in Iraq and has taken the credit for murdering an American journalist. Iraq, being ruined by the US invasion and occupation, is unable or unwilling to deal with them. (We might remember that Saddam Hussein and Ghaddafi were, and Assad is, all secular opponents of al Qaeda, and that ISIS is a spinoff of that group and the other fundamentalist Islamic militias.)   Buried deep underneath the sweltering blankets of conflicting stories is one basic truth.  If the US had not invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya [and, and, and] under false pretenses, if the US had not decided to go all in and destroy entire nations in order to steal their resources, if the US had not claimed the self-declared right to take out leaders and governments in foreign countries rather than deal with these other sovereignties with dignity and diplomacy and honesty, James Foley would doubtless still be alive.  At the least, he would not have died the way he did.  The US is ultimately responsible for Foley’s death.

As a postscript to Foley’s story, Obama and just about everybody who is anybody calls Foley a hero, which perhaps he was. I have no doubt he is dead, and despite my disbelief and anger at the appalling, flagrant propaganda being whipped out over his death, I do feel sympathy for his family. I would also like to make it clear that I think Foley was probably as fine a person as all the stories about him indicate. Perhaps a little misguided in whom he placed his trust and rather naive about the lengths the US is willing to go to in an effort to mess with other countries and interfere with their sovereignty, but a decent man, nonetheless.

This shit (below), however, is too much, and it doesn’t even come from some media mouthpiece. This is just the mind-blowing, idiotic, weirdness of the American public responding to the MIC propaganda.  Even the Pope, for God’s sake, has joined in, as a sign of solidarity with the US, I suppose.  We spent the past 13 years mocking and condemning the fundamentalist jihadis for their “willingness to die as martyrs”; yet now, without any irony, we are swept by patriotic fervor and want some of our own martyrs.  We have gone so far as to use that very word, and to furthermore compare Foley with Jesus Christ. Can we stop this crap?  Just stop it.  It is ridiculous, okay?  It is for these simple-minded people that the media stories are written the way they are, and why they work.  No disrespect to the Foley family, but they ought not to encourage this sort of over-the-top religious rhetoric.

[…] Many who entered Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, the church of Foley’s parents, said they didn’t know the reporter but felt compelled to be near his family.

“I feel my soul is united to them,” said Sandra Harrington, who made the hourlong drive from her home in Manchester. She had followed news reports for months, stories of how he ventured into some of the world’s most dangerous regions to cover conflicts and the suffering of those affected.

James Foley was like Christ,” said Harrington said. “He wanted to bring truth, and he suffered greatly.” […]

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/08/24/friends-and-family-gather-rochester-honor-slain-journalist-jame-foley/MtZ7YCpQJN4W9cWwwM0bhM/story.html

**********          **********          **********

Many people – including Pope Francis – are now arguing that slain American journalist James Foley is a martyr, and some believe he should be considered for sainthood….

[Jim] reminds us of Jesus. Jesus was goodness, love — and Jim was becoming more and more that,’ his grieving mother Diane Foley told reporters gathered outside her New Hampshire home, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

James Foley’s younger brother, Michael Foley, told Katie Couric in a recent interview that Pope Francis “referred to Jim’s act as, really, martyrdom” in an unprecedented phone call to the family.

Many cable news pundits and religious bloggers agree with the Pope.[…]

http://www.aol.com/article/2014/08/27/is-slain-us-journalist-james-foley-a-martyr/20953187/

At the beginning of this post, I promised you stories about two men, didn’t I?  The second story I want to tell you is about a man named Shaker Aamer.  He is being held without charges or trial in Guantanamo Bay by the US government and has been there for close to 13 years now.   That would be the same prison that Obama pledged to shut down when he took office.  You will not hear much about Shaker Aamer in the US press.  As a matter of fact, unless you read a few of the really fringe-y “far left” media sites, you won’t ever read his name.  He is one of the invisible men, one of our embarrassments.  Or he would be, if we found such things embarrassing any longer. He has been cleared for release by both the Bush and the Obama administrations, as there is no evidence against him, but the US won’t actually set him free.  It may simply be the case that we are afraid the guy might tell everyone what we have been doing to him, although he has agreed to keep silent as part of his release.  The US insists that if he is released, he only be allowed to go to Saudi Arabia, where he would certainly be killed.  His family lives in the UK, where he used to live.  While Aamer is certainly not a terrorist or a member of al Qaeda, the very existence of Guantanamo Bay is an incentive that fuels the anger of groups like ISIS.  ISIS seemed to be making a point of that when they dressed James Foley in an orange jumpsuit like that worn by the Guantanamo detainees.

Here is part of Shaker Aamer’s story:

July, 2014:

Shaker’s British wife and his four British children live in Battersea, where they lived with Shaker before he was seized after the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan. He had travelled to Afghanistan with his family to provide humanitarian aid, but while his wife and children safely returned to the UK, he was caught by bounty hunters, and was eventually sold to US forces.

Shaker was first cleared for release from Guantánamo under the Bush administration, in 2007, and he was cleared for release again in January 2010 by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama appointed to review the cases of all the prisoners after he took office in 2009. His release has also been requested by successive UK governments since 2007. And yet, although all the other British citizens and residents held in Guantánamo have been freed, he is still imprisoned, perhaps because he is a charismatic and eloquent man, who has always stood up for the prisoners’ rights, and both the US and the UK governments fear what he will say on his release.

Sadly, although Shaker would agree to a life of silence if it ensured that he could be reunited with his family, he remains held, and is suffering physically and mentally, as Dr. Emily A. Keram, an independent psychiatrist, explained in a submission to a US court after being allowed to meet with him for three days in December. That submission also included shocking details, in Shaker’s own words, of how he was treated in US custody in Afghanistan as well as his treatment in Guantánamo.

Unfortunately, on June 24, District Judge Rosemary Collyer rejected Shaker’s request for her to order his release on that grounds that, as the New York Times decribed it, “he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental and physical ailments.”

Judge Collyer gave her rejection in what the Times described as “a terse one-page order.” An accompanying memorandum opinion, which explained her ruling, was sealed, as was the submission of the Justice Department. Judge Collyer ordered the DoJ “to file a public version of her order and its documents by July 9,” but that date has come and gone, with no sign of any release of documents. […]
http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2014/07/22/photos-free-shaker-aamer-from-guantanamo-parliamentary-vigil-july-16-2014/

**********          **********          **********

August, 2014:

Shaker Aamer ‘Beaten’ in Latest Guantanamo Crackdown

LONDON – British resident Shaker Aamer has reportedly been beaten at Guantánamo Bay, in evidence of a new crackdown on prisoners protesting their detention without charge.

In new letters received by legal charity Reprieve, detainees reveal what one calls a new “standard procedure” of abuses at the prison. Emad Hassan, a Yemeni detained without charge since 2002, wrote that “an FCE [Forcible Cell Extraction] team has been brought in to beat the detainees […] On Sunday, Shaker ISN 239 was beaten when the medical people wanted to draw blood.” Mr Hassan adds that guards had beaten another detainee for nearly 2 hours.

‘Forcible Cell Extraction’ or ‘FCEing’ is the process by which a detainee is forced out of his cell by a group of armed guards, often before being taken to the force-feeding chair. Mr Aamer has previously described being beaten by the FCE team up to eight times a day.[…]

In June, former Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reprieve that UK officials were confident Mr Aamer had access to a “detainee welfare package” and that his health “remain[ed] stable.” In a letter sent this week, Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith urged Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond to raise urgent questions with the US Government about these latest reports of mistreatment.

Cori Crider, Strategic Director at Reprieve and a lawyer for Mr Aamer, said: “Just weeks ago, the UK Government dismissed our concerns about Shaker Aamer’s wellbeing, relying on US assurances about a so-called Guantanamo ‘welfare package.’ Now we hear that Shaker, already a seriously ill man, has been beaten. Phillip Hammond should seek answers from the US without delay about why, instead of simply releasing Shaker, it prefers to detain and abuse him.”

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2014/08/27/shaker-aamer-beaten-latest-guantanamo-crackdown

You may also read about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaker_Aamer

I will close with a poem Shaker Aamer wrote, published as part of a book of poems written by Guantanamo detainees in 2007.

THEY FIGHT FOR PEACE

by Shaker Abdurraheem Aamer, Guantanamo detainee.

Peace they say.
Peace of mind?
Peace of earth?
Peace of what kind?

I see them talking arguing, fighting –
What kind of peace are they looking for?
Why do they kill? What are they planning?

Is it just talk? Why do they argue?
Is it so simple to kill? Is this their plan?

Yes, of course!
They talk, they argue, they kill –
They fight for peace.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Iraq, Libya, MIC, Syria

 

US policy: “You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it.”

When Hillary Clinton testified before a Senate committee on the Benghazi consulate shootings, she inadvertently summed up the entire foreign US policy in one pithy sentence: “You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it.”  She said this specifically in regards to the US helping France in its attacks on Mali, but it captures the essence of our relationship with most of the world today.

“We are in for a struggle, but it is a necessary struggle. We cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven,” she said.[…]

U.S. military planes have helped to ferry French soldiers and equipment to Mali after France launched air strikes and deployed some 2,150 ground forces this month to halt a surprise Islamist offensive toward the Mali capital Bamako.

The United States is also helping to train and equip African forces from the ECOWAS regional group of West African countries who are mobilizing to join the battle. U.S. officials stressed there are no plans to dispatch American combat troops.

Clinton said the security situation in northern Mali is complicated by an inflow of weapons from neighboring Libya following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. She said such weapons were used in the Algeria attack.

“There is no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya. There is no doubt that the Malian remnants of AQIM have weapons from Libya,” she said, referring to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the regional affiliate of the al Qaeda network.

The United States must prepare for the possibility that groups like AQIM could threaten direct attacks on U.S. interests as they gain power, Clinton said.

You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it. This is not only a terrorist syndicate, it is a criminal enterprise. So make no mistake about it, we’ve got to have a better strategy.”

Clinton said she had no information to substantiate a report in the New York Times quoting an Algerian official as saying that some of the militants involved in the Algeria attack had also taken part in the Benghazi attack.

The United States was pressing officials in Libya and elsewhere in the region to keep up the hunt for the Benghazi attackers and improve overall security, she said.

“I have found the Libyan officials to be willing but without capacity. And part of our challenge is to help them build greater capacity because now it’s about them,” Clinton said.

“They are having leaders attacked and assassinated on a regular basis, so we have to do more to help them build up their security capacity.”

(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Will Dunham and Christopher Wilson)

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-23/news/sns-rt-us-usa-libya-clinton-malibre90m0xl-20130123_1_mali-capital-bamako-benghazi-attack-islamic-maghreb

Although the US previously voiced support for the people in the Arab Spring countries, we now blame their quest for democracy and freedom for the lack of security in the area.  The fact that we interfered, sometimes openly, but more often covertly, in the outcomes in these countries is one of the great unmentionables.

Hillary Clinton on Benghazi: ‘Arab Spring shattered security in region’

Hillary Clinton said the Arab Spring “shattered” security in North Africa, pointing to instability in Mali and Algeria, as she was finally grilled on the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya.[…]

“Benghazi didn’t happen in a vacuum,” Mrs Clinton said at the start of the hearing. “The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region.” […]

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9821292/Hillary-Clinton-on-Benghazi-Arab-Spring-shattered-security-in-region.html

The Senate committee was completely incurious as to how Libya’s officials came to be “without capacity” (the US took down its real government and installed a puppet government), where the weapons used in the Benghazi attack originally came from (the US and NATO passed them out to the “rebels” during the invasion of Libya), how Libya suddenly became so destabilized (the US and NATO sent the CIA and some foreign operatives in to stir up trouble and pretend to be “rebelling Libyans”, thus creating a situation specifically designed to lead to a civil war), why some Libyans might be seeking revenge on the US (we bombed schools, food depots, water supply routes, orphanages, television stations, killed Ghaddafi, whom a significant percentage of the Libyan population supported, obliterated a number of cities, and caused the deaths of over 50,000 Libyans).  No-one asked her about the rumored CIA black site in Benghazi or why our “ambassador” might be involved in the collecting of weapons which had previously been passed out to “rebels” like so much candy.

Never in our history have we been less inclined toward introspection, ethics, or logic; rather, facile and dogmatic rhetoric hold sway over not only our leaders, but the entire media and public domain.  There is no such thing as “blowback” or “imperial overreach” as far as we are concerned.  We are entitled to whatever we set our sights on, no matter where it is or how we have to go about obtaining it, and any who question this droit du seigneur or the methods we employ are considered foolish or childish and are scorned.

No-one asked Hillary why she thought the torture and assassination of Ghaddafi was so funny or questioned her mental capacity.    Nor did anyone ask her why the State Dept. posted a bounty on his head – “wanted: dead or alive, large reward”.

Not one senator queried her regarding the statements she and Leon Panetta made admitting that the US was backing al Qaeda in Libya and Syria.  [See: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/08/is-you-is-or-is-you-aint-aiding-a-terrorist/ ]

No-one asked why we had invaded and ruined Libya in the first place.  The truth is that our senators all know why we did it: because it was there and it looked to have some good stuff that we wanted.  It’s just what we do.

Obama, in his inaugural speech, said this:

Obama: […] We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Our brave men and women in uniform tempered by the flames of battle are unmatched in skill and courage.

Our citizens seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace, and not just the war. Who turn sworn enemies into the surest of friends. And we must carry those lessons into this time as well. We will defend our people, and uphold our values through strength of arms, and the rule of law.

We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.

America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad. For no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice.[…]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/president-obamas-second-inaugural-address-transcript/2013/01/21/f148d234-63d6-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story_3.html

“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”  This comes from a guy who is currently running clandestine shadow wars and directing drone killings in a dozen or so different countries.  He drops a bomb on someone somewhere once every hour and a half or so. [See: http://www.alternet.org/world/bomber-chief-20000-airstrikes-presidents-first-term-cause-death-and-destruction-iraq-somalia  ]  Despite the rhetoric about Lasting Peace, his very next sentence is an homage to the Warriors.  The remark on “uphold[ing] our values through strength of arms, and the rule of law” is simply laughable coming from him.  Perhaps the rule of law bit was added as an afterthought to the original speech.  Take that phrase out, as it is a blatant untruth at this point, and what’s left is the crux of matter.

In our quest for Lasting Peace, we are undertaking plans to place our military in 35 African nations [see: http://rt.com/usa/news/us-deploying-troops-order-749/ ] and are seeking to build a spy drone base in northern Africa; the drones can be militarized rapidly if need be.

U.S. Weighs Base for Spy Drones in North Africa
By ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON — The United States military is preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa so that it can increase surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.

For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.

The move is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in the country of Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, where French and Malian troops are now battling Qaeda-backed fighters who control the northern part of Mali.

A new drone base in northwest Africa would join a constellation of small airstrips in recent years on the continent, including in Ethiopia, for surveillance missions flown by drones or turboprop planes designed to look like civilian aircraft.[…]

The immediate impetus for a drone base in the region is to provide surveillance assistance to the French-led operation in Mali. “This is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom a more enduring presence for I.S.R.,” one American military official said Sunday, referring to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

A handful of unarmed Predator drones would carry out surveillance missions in the region and fill a desperate need for more detailed information on a range of regional threats, including militants in Mali and the unabated flow of fighters and weapons from Libya. American military commanders and intelligence analysts complain that such information has been sorely lacking.[…]

American military officials said that they were still working out some details, and that no final decision had been made. But in Niger on Monday, the two countries reached a status-of-forces agreement that clears the way for greater American military involvement in the country and provides legal protection to American troops there, including any who might deploy to a new drone base. […]

Some Africa specialists expressed concern that setting up a drone base in Niger or in a neighboring country, even if only to fly surveillance missions, could alienate local people who may associate the distinctive aircraft with deadly attacks in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. […]

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/us/us-plans-base-for-surveillance-drones-in-northwest-africa.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Obama is now considering intervening in Syria as well, with or without Congressional approval.  Not that Congress disapproves of any sort of warfare at this point in our history, so this is a hypothetical argument Obama need not waste too much time preparing for:

[…] Now, Obama is reportedly debating whether to intervene in yet another civil war — undeterred by the now superfluous constitutional limits on his war-making authority. Israel has also publicly stated that it is considering a preemptive strike on Syria and reserves the right to make such an attack if it feels threatened by events in that civil war.[…]

President Barack Obama said he has been struggling with the decision whether to enter into another war as the 22-month civil war in Syria drags on. Here is what he considers to be the operative question:
“In a situation like Syria, I have to ask: can we make a difference in that situation?”

That is a bit different from the question that the Framers wanted him to ask: “Do I have authority from Congress to engage in a war?” That question is now just a quaint concern for a president who has acquired unprecedented unchecked powers. Once again, the Democrats are silent because it is Obama not Bush who is speaking of war. It is the type of hypocrisy that is not just laughable. It is lethal.[…]

 We have taken a balanced and well-reasoned system and turned it on its head. The result is precisely what the Framers anticipated: continued foreign wars carried out on a unilateral basis.

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/28/obama-reportedly-considering-intervention-into-syrian-civil-war/#more-60022

As an update to Turley’s article above, it appears that Israel has indeed taken preemptive action against Syria.  See this: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/01/31-0 and this: http://www.rferl.org/content/syria-israel-/24888752.html

Barack is not alone; Hillary has been hankering to do away with Assad, Syria’s president, for a long time:

“[…] Late last week, [note: this article was written in Aug. ’12] during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Turkey, Ankara and Washington agreed that ‘a unified task force with intelligence, military and political leaders from both countries would be formed immediately to track Syria’s present and plan for its future.’

“After meeting with her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoðlu, Secretary Clinton said that the United States and Turkey are discussing various options for supporting opposition forces working to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, including the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over rebel-held territory in Syria.[…]” – http://consortiumnews.com/2012/08/15/would-us-intervention-help-syria/

Remember that she also gave forth with the opinion that “Assad’s days are numbered”; this is our Secretary of State speaking here.  And yesterday, Chuck Hagel stepped up to the plate and proved that, rumors to the contrary, he was no damn hippie liberal – he could monger war with the best of them.  He bared his teeth – no, not at Congress, silly, God forbid he not fit in with that crowd – at Iran and imaginary enemies everywhere.

Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense told Congress he will ensure the US can strike Iran, if necessary. Former Senator Chuck Hagel, who was criticized for his dovish stance on Iran, has made an apparent U-turn by saber-rattling towards Tehran.

Hagel addressed Congress ahead of his confirmation hearing on Thursday, stressing that although there is “time and space” for negotiation with Iran, “the window is closing” on a diplomatic solution.

If confirmed, I will focus intently on ensuring that [the] US military is in fact prepared for any contingency,” Hagel said in a write-up of questions and answers for the confirmation hearing obtained by Reuters. […]

Hagel also outlined his “unshakable” commitment to maintaining the longstanding US alliance with Israel. […]

­Defending his record, Hagel said he’s always believed in the need for a strong American military presence in the world and the use of “all tools of American power” for protecting US interests.[…]

The defense secretary nominee assured he always supported multilateral sanctions, and believed that Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism.[…]

RT’s Gayane Chichakyan suggested that the nomination of Hagel might be a way of toning down the war rhetoric in Washington. However, the possibility of a less aggressive strategy has angered some in Washington.

“Since the beginning of the attack campaign against Chuck Hagel over these two months or so, many of the attackers have withdrawn their objections,” said Chichakyan, suggesting that maybe they received confirmation behind closed doors that Hagel would not do anything drastic upon assuming the post of secretary of defense.

http://rt.com/usa/news/chuck-hagel-iran-prepared-142/

Any talk smacking of peace is now considered “drastic” and unacceptable to our Congress, whose outlook on the rest of the inhabitants of this planet is, “You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it”.  This is also the Congressional point of view on Americans, but that’s a post for a different day.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Congress, Iran, Libya, MIC, State Dept/diplomacy, Syria

 

The weather in Syria: cloudy. Getting murkier.

The US has apparently decided to ignore its own list of terrorist organizations when it comes to aiding the “rebels” in Syria, so determined are we to interfere in another nation’s governance and sovereignty.  We liked Assad well enough when he was running some black sites for us; now “his days are numbered”, according to Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton.  The US has just announced it will increase its monetary aid to the “rebels” in Syria, bringing the total amount given so far to $170 million.  Imagine what this money could be used for in our own country.  While we are offering only “non-lethal” support at this point – at least (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), we hope the rebels only use the money to purchase cell phones and the like – we are in fact giving money to groups who are on the US State Dept. terrorist list.  Arms to these groups are funneled through proxy countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

US seeks to rally Syrian opposition, Clinton pledges $45 million in additional aid
By Associated Press, Published: September 27 | Updated: Friday, September 28, 7:47 PM

NEW YORK — The Obama administration moved Friday to rally Syria’s opposition with pledges of $45 million in new non-lethal and humanitarian assistance as the administration and other world leaders lamented the failure of diplomatic efforts to push Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. would contribute an additional $15 million in non-lethal gear — mostly communications equipment — to the civilian opposition trying to oust Assad as well as $30 million in new humanitarian assistance to help those affected by the continuing violence.

She also delivered a new, stark warning to Iran that it must stop arming and supporting the Assad regime.
“It is no secret that our attempts to move forward at the U.N. Security Council have been blocked repeatedly, but the United States is not waiting,” Clinton said as she announced the new aid at a gathering of the Friends of Syria group that she hosted at a New York hotel on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. She and other foreign ministers from the group met with nine Syrian opposition figures, including several who traveled from Syria to attend Friday’s session, to discuss strategy.

With U.N. action blocked by Russia and China, Clinton said the rest of the world must support the Syrian opposition. She also said it was urgent that the fractured foes of the regime unite around plans for a political transition that could put an end to more than three decades of Assad family rule.[…]

The new U.S. humanitarian assistance — which brings America’s total humanitarian contribution to more than $130 million since the crisis began — will include food, water, blankets and medical services to victims of the violence. U.S. officials said on Thursday that an earlier shipment of medical goods provided by USAID had just arrived in southern Syria. The officials would not provide details of how the aid made it into Syrian territory.

The additional non-lethal support brings the total U.S. contribution in that area to nearly $40 million since the crisis began and includes 1,100 sets of communications equipment, including satellite-linked computers, telephones and cameras and training for more than 1,000 activists, students and independent journalists.

“We are working to help them strengthen their networks, avoid regime persecution and document human rights abuses,” Clinton said. The U.S. is not providing military aid to the rebels although it acknowledges that other countries are.[…]

Neither Russia nor China, which have vetoed three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring Assad to end the violence and enter negotiations on a political transition, were invited to Friday’s meeting.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — who was to address the General Assembly on Friday — has accused the U.S. and other countries of encouraging terrorism in their stance on Syria.

However, Clinton told the meeting that the greatest threat to Syria, other than the Assad regime itself was Iran.
“Let’s be very frank here,” she said. “The regime’s most important lifeline is Iran.”

“There is no longer any doubt that Tehran will do whatever it takes to protect its proxy and crony in Damascus. Iran will do everything it can to evade international sanctions,” Clinton said. She urged Syria’s neighbors to take extra steps to ensure that Iran is not smuggling weapons and materiel into Syria through their airspace or territory.

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report from Washington.Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/israels-netanyahu-says-world-must-act-against-iran-draws-red-line-to-prevent-nuke/2012/09/27/bf11a758-090b-11e2-9eea-333857f6a7bd_story.html

As Americans, we are supposed to hate Russia, China and Iran by reflex.  Yet it is Vladimir Putin of Russia who most clearly and succinctly states the truth of the situation in Syria:

(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin signaled in an interview aired on Thursday that Russia was not ready to shift its stance on Syria, and suggested Western nations were relying on groups such as al Qaeda to help drive President Bashar al-Assad from power.[…]

Putin was asked whether Moscow should rethink its stance on Syria after vetoing three Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolutions designed to pressure Assad to end violence that has killed 20,000 people.
“Why should only Russia re-evaluate its position?” he said. “Maybe our partners in the negotiation process should re-evaluate their position.”

Without naming any country, he hinted the United States was looking to militants to help topple Assad and would regret it, drawing a parallel with U.S. support for the mujahideen who fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan during the Cold War.

“Today somebody is using al Qaeda fighters or people from other organizations with the same extreme views to achieve their goals in Syria,” Putin said. “This is a very dangerous and short-sighted policy.”[…]

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Jon Boyle)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/06/us-russia-putin-syria-usa-idUSBRE8850CO20120906

Out in the hinterlands of the US, we have forgotten that the Taliban was not originally our enemy in Afghanistan nor the main reason for our invasion, although most of us seem to believe now that they were.  We have forgotten that al Qaeda was formed by the CIA out of the mujahideen of Afghanistan and that Osama bin Laden was originally a CIA asset.  al Qaeda is our prime enemy in the war on terror, or whatever this global conflict is now called; yet today, it is expected that we simply won’t notice that we are now on the same side as al Qaeda.  Even Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta admit as much and have done so publicly.  See: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/08/is-you-is-or-is-you-aint-aiding-a-terrorist/

For sure, we won’t notice that the “uprising” in Syria appears to be more of a planned invasion by terrorist groups sent in from elsewhere.  By us.

For a good history of the morphing of al Qaeda and its affiliated groups, you might do worse than to start here: http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2011/09/war-on-terror-is-fraud.html

As well as al Qaeda itself, the Syrian “rebels” include the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and the Tawhid Brigade (also called the Army of Islam).  Regarding the LIFG:

[…]In reality, the “opposition” in Syria constitutes foreign terrorist legions flowing across Syria’s borders, and in particular, staging and crossing over from NATO-member Turkey. In fact, it was recently admitted by the terrorist legions themselves that their headquarters has been located within Turkish territory for the duration of the conflict. In a recent France 24 article titled, “Free Syrian Army move HQ from Turkey to Syria,” armed militants claimed they had only just recently “moved from Turkey to within Syria.”[…]

The presence of LIFG in Syria was first announced by the Western press in November of 2011 when the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:
“Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader
of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, ‘met with Free Syrian Army
leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,’ said a military
 official working with Mr Belhadj. ‘Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim 
Libyan president) sent him there.’ ”

The face of Libya’s “revolution” was literally Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda’s LIFG commander, Abdul Hakim Belhadj, was NATO’s point man in Libya and has now redirected his terrorist forces against Syria. LIFG commanders are now literally running entire brigades in Syria with Western diplomatic, logistic, and military support.  Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit “Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday,
 aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against
 President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.”

Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and more recently, CNN, whose Ivan Watson accompanied terrorists over the Turkish-Syrian border and into Aleppo, revealed that indeed foreign fighters were amongst the militants, particularly Libyans.[…]

CNN’s reports provide bookends to 2011′s admissions that large numbers of Libyan terrorists flush with NATO cash and weapons had headed to Syria, with notorious terrorist LIFG commanders making the arrangements.


LIFG officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007, but has fought along Al Qaeda since its inception by the US and Saudis in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. This includes fighting alongside Al Qaeda most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq against US troops while sowing sectarian violence, as covered by the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center in a 2007 report.[…]

It would now appear that LIFG’s logistics capacity aimed at Iraq which was previously routed through Syria and Egypt in cooperation with sectarian extremists, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood based in both nations, is now being directed exclusively at Syria. LIFG is doing this with Qatari, Saudi, US, French, British, and NATO support (predominantly Turkey) after receiving similar support in overthrowing the Libyan government in 2011.[…]

Ironically, the recent infusion of cash and support for Al Qaeda terrorists by the US comes on the heels of assaults staged by the group against US diplomatic missions across the region. One in particular, emanating within LIFG’s own terror emirate in Benghazi, Libya, would claim the life of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. While Stevens’ death was most likely accidental, (he succumbed to smoke inhalation, and was not killed directly by militants), it was most certainly the LIFG militias who dominate Benghazi that staged the attacks.[…]http://EndtheLie.com/2012/09/30/surreal-clinton-pledges-45-million-in-aid-to-al-qaeda-in-syria/

About the Tawhid Brigade (Army of Islam) and the US attempts to get Iraq to engage in the Syrian matter as a US proxy against Iran:

[…]The “rebel” surge inside Syria’s two main cities is the latest escalation of the long-running proxy war between the United States and its regional allies, on one side, and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Iran, on the other.
The intensified fighting in Syria coincided with Washington’s announcement Friday that it would send additional aid to the opposition militias. The Obama administration declared that it would provide an extra $45 million of “non-lethal” aid to anti-Assad groups, bringing total direct US financial support for the Syrian opposition to $170 million.[…]

Washington has also ramped up its diplomatic offensive to isolate the Assad regime. During a press conference in New York on Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki had been pressured into conducting “random searches of Iranian aircraft en route to Syria.”

The Maliki regime has until now sought to balance the dictates of its US masters with the growing economic and political ties that Iraq has with its neighbors in Iran and Syria. Clinton’s announcement that the US proxy war against Syria has been extended into Iraqi airspace only underscores the bullying and reckless character of Washington’s role in the region. The seizure of Iranian civilian aircraft and their cargoes by Iraqi air defenses, acting under the control of the Pentagon, would amount to a declaration of war between the two countries.[…]

One of the main armed opposition forces waging the current offensive in Aleppo is the Tawhid Brigades. Led by Sunni extremists like Abu Khalid, a 28-year-old Syrian veteran of the sectarian civil war in Iraq, the Tawhid militia is one of the largest armed groups loosely associated with the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Speaking to McClatchy Newspapers in March, Khalid, then based in Jordan, admitted that his organization was running guns into Syria using money provided by the Sunni Gulf sheikdoms and the European powers. “We don’t mind any kind of cooperation,” even from the US, Khalid told a McClatchy journalist. “Our goal now is to end the regime, even if another million people are killed,” the opposition leader added.

While they have gained the sponsorship of Washington and its regional allies, the armed opposition groups have failed to win a significant base of support among the working class and small businessmen in either Aleppo or the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Pro-opposition activists inside Aleppo have estimated that there are around 6,000 “rebel” militants in the city – out of a total population of over 2 million people.Many of these fighters, including elements linked to Al Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, have come across the nearby border with Turkey under the auspices of the CIA.[…]

http://wsws.org/articles/2012/oct2012/syri-o01.shtml

Here is the official list of  terrorist organizations as per the State Dept:  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm#  You may notice that al Qaeda, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), and the Tawhid Brigade (listed as the Army of Islam) are on this list.   They are also groups which are part of the “rebel forces”, the Free Syria Army, that we have formed and are backing in Syria.   Laws pertaining to groups on the list as per the State Dept:

Legal Ramifications of Designation
1.    It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide “material support or resources” to a designated FTO. (The term “material support or resources” is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(1) as ” any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes “the term ‘training’ means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for these purposes the term ‘expert advice or assistance’ means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.’’
2.    Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)).
3.    Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm#

But Syria is on the way to Iran.  Thus we will ignore the terrorist designations for now and hope that the American public is sufficiently stupefied by this time as to ignore the fact that our own government is aiding and abetting terrorists.  And I sincerely doubt that the entire US government is going to imprison itself indefinitely under the rules of the 2012 NDAA.

The beneficiaries of the continued interference in the Middle East and north Africa are obvious; and it is not the average citizen of the US.  The weapons manufacturers, the oil companies, various mercenary groups, big corporations who get to divvy up the spoils after a country has been “democratized”, the security apparatus in the US that depends on our continued fear of “terrorists” – these are the ones who benefit.  The IMF and big banks do well also, as they rush in to offer “loans” to countries impoverished by our actions.  We will eventually become so impoverished ourselves by the costs of waging these operations that most of us will suffer terribly as our economy grinds to a standstill.  We, however, are not of paramount concern in the scheme of things.  We are useful as cannon fodder and a source of tax money.  (Except for the wealthiest among us, who will never see their tax rates rise.  That is a given.)  When the tax money dries up, as it must when people continue to lose jobs and homes and face unaffordable levels of inflation on basic goods, and the social safety net is finally ripped to complete shreds as part of austerity measures, then we are totally expendable.  That’s when you will see the TransPacific Partnership go into force and the sovereignty of the US given over to the corporations with no further pretense that our Congress has any interest in us.  (Regarding the TPP, see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/06/the-trans-pacific-partnership-tpp/)

Here is a bonus video.  This was taped in June of this year.  In this interview, Hillary Clinton and James Baker are talking with Charlie Rose.  You don’t need to watch the whole thing – start at the 23-minute mark and watch until about the 28-minute mark.  Baker says of Iran, “At the end of the day, we [the US rather than Israel] oughta take ’em [Iran] out.”  Hillary, cackling like the mad witch she is and rubbing her shoulder flirtatiously against Baker: “Ha, ha, ha!  We’re working on it!”  This year?  Next year?  Eventually, is the point – and we do fully intend to “take them out”.  Syria is on the way and in our way on the road to destroying Iran.  For doing what they are not doing.  And because our government seems to have a higher interest in following Israel’s wishes rather than the wishes of the American people, who, by a large margin, do not want war with Iran.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJcHiPusTS0&feature=youtu.be

[Note: in case you are too young to remember who James Baker is, here is part of his bio from wikipedia:

[…]In 1981, Baker was named White House Chief of Staff by President Ronald Reagan… He served in that capacity until 1985. Baker is considered to have had a high degree of influence over the first Reagan administration, particularly in domestic policy.[…]
During the Reagan administration, Baker also served on the Economic Policy Council, where he played an instrumental role in achieving the passage of the administration’s tax and budget reform package in 1981.[…]
President George H.W. Bush appointed Baker Secretary of State in 1989. Baker served in this role through 1992. From 1992 to 1993, he served as Bush’s White House Chief of Staff, the same position that he had held from 1981 to 1985 during the first Reagan administration.
On January 9, 1991, during the Geneva Peace Conference with Tariq Aziz in Geneva, Baker declared that “If there is any user of (chemical or biological weapons), our objectives won’t just be the liberation of Kuwait, but the elimination of the current Iraqi regime….”Baker later acknowledged that the intent of this statement was to threaten a retaliatory nuclear strike on Iraq, and the Iraqis received his message.[…]
In 2000, Baker served as chief legal adviser for George W. Bush during the 2000 election campaign and oversaw the Florida recount.[…]
On September 11, 2001, Baker watched television coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington DC, where Baker and representatives of Osama bin Laden’s family were among those attending the annual conference for the Carlyle Group. Baker is Senior Counselor for the Carlyle Group, and the bin Ladens are among its major investors.[…] -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Baker]

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in economy, MIC, State Dept/diplomacy, Syria

 

Is you is, or is you ain't, aiding a terrorist?

According to the 2012 NDAA  [National Defense Authorization Act], you can be picked up and detained indefinitely without trial for aiding terrorist organizations.  This most specifically includes the Taliban, al Qaeda and its related affiliates.  The Obama administration is appealing Judge Forrest’s recent decision barring enforcement of the indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA.  In other words, despite Obama’s words that he didn’t “like” that part of the NDAA and that he only signed it for the sake of national security, his administration is battling for the right to use exactly those provisions.

[…]Manhattan federal court Judge Katherine Forrest in May ruled in favor of activists and reporters who said they feared being detained under a section of the law, signed by President Barack Obama in December.

The government says indefinite military detention without trial is justified in some cases involving militants and their supporters.
The judge’s preliminary injunction prevents the U.S. government from enforcing section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act’s “Homeland Battlefield” provisions.

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, which represents the government in this case, along with named defendants Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta filed its notice of appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The plaintiffs in the case have asked Judge Forrest to make her injunction permanent. Oral argument on the request is scheduled for Tuesday.[…]

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/indefinite-detention-ruling_n_1749566.html

 As it came out during the hearings in this case, there are many ways the government can pick you up for “aiding terrorists”: you might interview a member of the Taliban or al Qaeda for an article you are writing or include a sentence expressing support for the political goals of the Taliban in a book or article you have written.  You may donate money to a group that is later added to a “watchlist” by the FBI or Homeland Security.  Perhaps you organize a demonstration that someone decides shows support for a terrorist organization (both “support” and “terrorist organization” being only vaguely defined by the NDAA).  You may loan money to a friend in need who has somehow become involved with a group on one of the “watchlists”; the fact that you did not know this, that you helped the friend unwittingly, is irrelevant under the provisions of the NDAA.

Now let’s look at the situation in Syria.  News reports recently revealed that Obama signed secret orders some time ago allowing the CIA to take part in the “rebel uprising” in Syria.

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, sources familiar with the matter said.

Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.[…]

Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined.
The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear.[…]

A U.S. government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.[…]

Separately from the president’s secret order, the Obama administration has stated publicly that it is providing some backing for Assad’s opponents.

The State Department said on Wednesday the U.S. government had set aside a total of $25 million for “non-lethal” assistance to the Syrian opposition. A U.S. official said that was mostly for communications equipment, including encrypted radios.[…]

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury confirmed it had granted authorization to the Syrian Support Group, Washington representative of one of the most active rebel factions, the Free Syrian Army, to conduct financial transactions on the rebel group’s behalf. The authorization was first reported on Friday by Al-Monitor, a Middle East news and commentary website.[…]

Recent news reports from the region have suggested that the influence and numbers of Islamist militants, some of them connected to al Qaeda or its affiliates, have been growing among Assad’s opponents.[…]

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/02/us-usa-syria-obama-order-idUSBRE8701OK20120802

We are determined to intervene in Syria and oust President Assad, for “humanitarian reasons”, of course.  We seemed to have liked Assad well enough when we were using his prisons as black sites to hold and torture people we deemed threats.  Now the Assad regime must go and we just have to get involved in another country’s internal problems. The thing is, we are determined to move forward with the broader war planned with Iran, and Syria is the last country standing in the way.

Thus we hear Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton, ever the diplomat, warn that Assad’s days are numbered. “The sand is running out of the hourglass,” she said.  “It should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime their days are numbered.” http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2012/07/clinton-assads-days-are-numbered.html ]  (Did a cackling Clinton just invoke the Flying Monkeys meme?)

Leon Panetta did her one better, threatening members of Assad’s family.  Although to be fair, he was merely stating US policy of going after the entire family in grand mafioso style as we did in Libya – one of our first targets there was a Ghaddafi family home and the dead included one of Ghaddafi’s sons and three of his little grandchildren.  “I’m sure that deep down Assad knows he’s in trouble and it’s just matter of time before he has to go,” Panetta said. “I would say if you want to be able to protect yourself and your family, you better get the hell out now.”  Interestingly, Panetta also thinks it is important to keep Assad’s military intact after getting rid of Assad; this is the same military supposedly running rampant and killing civilians throughout Syria.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says that when Bashar al-Assad loses his grip on power, he wants the Syrian military to remain in place.

“I think it’s important when Assad leaves – and he will leave – to try to preserve stability in that country. And the best way to preserve that kind of stability is to maintain as much of the military, the police, as you can, along with the security forces, and hope that they will transition to a democratic form of government. That’s a key,” Panetta told CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr in an exclusive interview in Tunis, Tunisia, Monday.[…]

http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/30/panetta-says-when-not-if-al-assad-falls-syrian-military-should-remain-intact/?hpt=hp_t3

 

According to one Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the US is seeking a “controlled demolition” of the Assad government.  (Which he seems to find not an altogether bad idea.)  [ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/world/middleeast/us-to-focus-on-forcibly-toppling-syrian-government.html ]

The “rebel” group we have befriended in our effort to get rid of Assad is the Free Syria Army.  They are supported by al Qaeda, as is acknowledged by both Clinton and Panetta, and a fact which has been pointed out by numerous media sources.  For instance:

Syria: Clinton Admits US On Same Side As Al Qaeda To Destabilise Assad Government

by Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has acknowledged that Al Qaeda and other organizations on the US “terror list” are supporting the Syrian opposition.

Clinton said: “We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region, al-Qaida [sic], Hamas, and those who are on our terrorist list, to be sure, supporting – claiming to support the opposition [in Syria].”

Yet at the same time, in the above BBC interview the US Secretary of State repeats the threadbare Western claim that the situation in Syria is one of a defenceless population coming under “relentless attack” from Syrian government forces.

There is ample evidence that teams of snipers who have been killing civilians over the past year in Syria belong to the terrorist formations to which Clinton is referring to.[…]

The admission at the weekend by Hillary Clinton corroborates the finding that armed groups are attacking civilians and these groups are terroristic, according to US own definitions, and that the situation in Syria is not one of unilateral state violence against its population but rather is one of a shadowy armed insurrection[…]

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29524#.UCIk3H88pmw.email

 

German intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria
By John Rosenthal

German intelligence estimates that “around 90” terror attacks that “can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups” were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July, as reported by the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).[…]

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NG24Ak02.html

From the Council on Foreign Relations’ Ed Husain:

The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.

In Syria, al-Qaeda’s foot soldiers call themselves Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahli al-Sham (Front for the Protection of the Levantine People). The group’s strength and acceptance by the FSA are demonstrated by their increasing activity on the ground (BBC)–from seven attacks in March to sixty-six “operations” in June. In particular, the Jabhat has helped take the fight to Syria’s two largest cities: the capital of Damascus, where 54 percent of its activities have been, and Aleppo. Indeed, al-Qaeda could become the most effective fighting force in Syria if defections from the FSA to the Jabhat persist and the ranks of foreign fighters (Guardian) continue to swell.

Al-Qaeda is not sacrificing its “martyrs” in Syria merely to overthrow Assad. Liberation of the Syrian people is a bonus, but the main aim is to create an Islamist state in all or part of the country. Failing that, they hope to at least establish a strategic base for the organization’s remnants across the border in Iraq, and create a regional headquarters where mujahideen can enjoy a safe haven. If al-Qaeda continues to play an increasingly important role in the rebellion, then a post-Assad government will be indebted to the tribes and regions allied to the Jabhat. Failing to honor the Jabhat’s future requests, assuming Assad falls, could see a continuation of conflict in Syria.

Thus far, Washington seems reluctant to weigh heavily into this issue. In May 2012, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly accepted al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria (Guardian). And in July, the State Department’s counterterrorism chief, Daniel Benjamin, rather incredulously suggested that the United States will simply ask the FSA to reject al-Qaeda. The unspoken political calculation among policymakers is to get rid of Assad first—weakening Iran’s position in the region—and then deal with al-Qaeda later.

But the planning to minimize al-Qaeda’s likely hold over Syrian tribes and fighters must begin now as the Obama administration ramps up its support to rebel groups (Reuters). […]

http://www.cfr.org/syria/al-qaedas-specter-syria/p28782#cid

See also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/30/al-qaida-rebels-battle-syria

And who are the experts in regard to all matters Syrian, the most often quoted by the press when a spokesman is needed to push for the invasion of Syria?  Charlie Skelton, a journalist for the Guardian UK, did an amazing bit of reporting when he asked just that question and found some answers:

A nightmare is unfolding across Syria, in the homes of al-Heffa and the streets of Houla. And we all know how the story ends: with thousands of soldiers and civilians killed, towns and families destroyed, and President Assad beaten to death in a ditch.

This is the story of the Syrian war, but there is another story to be told. A tale less bloody, but nevertheless important. This is a story about the storytellers: the spokespeople, the “experts on Syria”, the “democracy activists”. The statement makers. The people who “urge” and “warn” and “call for action”.[…]

It’s important to stress: to investigate the background of a Syrian spokesperson is not to doubt the sincerity of his or her opposition to Assad. But a passionate hatred of the Assad regime is no guarantee of independence. Indeed, a number of key figures in the Syrian opposition movement are long-term exiles who were receiving US government funding to undermine the Assad government long before the Arab spring broke out.[…]The most quoted of the opposition spokespeople are the official representatives of the Syrian National Council. The SNC is not the only Syrian opposition group – but it is generally recognised as “the main opposition coalition” (BBC). The Washington Times describes it as “an umbrella group of rival factions based outside Syria”. Certainly the SNC is the opposition group that’s had the closest dealings with western powers – and has called for foreign intervention from the early stages of the uprising. […]
The most senior of the SNC’s official spokespeople is the Paris-based Syrian academic Bassma Kodmani.

Kodmani is a member of the executive bureau and head of foreign affairs, Syrian National Council. Kodmani is close to the centre of the SNC power structure, and one of the council’s most vocal spokespeople. […]This year was Kodmani’s second Bilderberg. […]

Back a few years, in 2005, Kodmani was working for the Ford Foundation in Cairo, where she was director of their governance and international co-operation programme.[…]
In September 2005, Kodmani was made the executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) – a research programme initiated by the powerful US lobby group, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The CFR is an elite US foreign policy thinktank, and the Arab Reform Initiative is described on its website as a “CFR Project” . […]

Another often quoted SNC representative is Radwan Ziadeh – director of foreign relations at the Syrian National Council. Ziadeh has an impressive CV: he’s a senior fellow at the federally funded Washington thinktank, the US Institute of Peace (the USIP Board of Directors is packed with alumni of the defence department and the national security council; its president is Richard Solomon, former adviser to Kissinger at the NSC).

In February this year, Ziadeh joined an elite bunch of Washington hawks to sign a letter calling upon Obama to intervene in Syria: his fellow signatories include James Woolsey (former CIA chief), Karl Rove (Bush Jr’s handler), Clifford May (Committee on the Present Danger) and Elizabeth Cheney, former head of the Pentagon’s Iran-Syria Operations Group.
Ziadeh is a relentless organiser, a blue-chip Washington insider with links to some of the most powerful establishment thinktanks.[…]

Along with Kodmani and Ziadeh, Ausama (or sometimes Osama) Monajed is one of the most important SNC spokespeople. There are others, of course – the SNC is a big beast and includes the Muslim Brotherhood. The opposition to Assad is wide-ranging, but these are some of the key voices. […]  So, again, a fair question might be: who is this spokesman calling for military intervention?

Monajed is a member of the SNC, adviser to its president, and according to his SNC biography, “the Founder and Director of Barada Television”, a pro-opposition satellite channel based in Vauxhall, south London. In 2008, a few months after attending Syria In-Transition conference, Monajed was back in Washington, invited to lunch with George W Bush, along with a handful of other favoured dissidents […]

At this time, in 2008, the US state department knew Monajed as “director of public relations for the Movement for Justice and Development (MJD), which leads the struggle for peaceful and democratic change in Syria”.

Let’s look closer at the MJD. Last year, the Washington Post picked up a story from WikiLeaks, which had published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables. These cables appear to show a remarkable flow of money from the US state department to the British-based Movement for Justice and Development. According to the Washington Post’s report: “Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified US diplomatic cables show that the state department has funnelled as much as $6m to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria.”[…]

One of the most widely quoted western experts on Syria – and an enthusiast for western intervention – Michael Weiss echoes Ambassador Ross when he says: “Military intervention in Syria isn’t so much a matter of preference as an inevitability.”
Some of Weiss’s interventionist writings can be found on a Beirut-based, Washington-friendly website called “NOW Lebanon” – whose “NOW Syria” section is an important source of Syrian updates. NOW Lebanon was set up in 2007 by Saatchi & Saatchi executive Eli Khoury. Khoury has been described by the advertising industry as a “strategic communications specialist, specialising in corporate and government image and brand development”.[…]

But Weiss is not only a blogger. He’s also the director of communications and public relations at the Henry Jackson Society, an ultra-ultra-hawkish foreign policy thinktank.

The Henry Jackson Society’s international patrons include: James “ex-CIA boss” Woolsey, Michael “homeland security” Chertoff, William “PNAC” Kristol, Robert “PNAC” Kagan’, Joshua “Bomb Iran” Muravchick, and Richard “Prince of Darkness” Perle. The Society is run by Alan Mendoza, chief adviser to the all-party parliamentary group on transatlantic and international security.[…]

Statistic after horrific statistic pours from “the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” (AP). It’s hard to find a news report about Syria that doesn’t cite them. But who are they? “They” are Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdel Rahman), who lives in Coventry.

According to a Reuters report in December of last year: “When he isn’t fielding calls from international media, Abdulrahman is a few minutes down the road at his clothes shop, which he runs with his wife.”[…]

That name, the “Syrian Observatory of Human Rights”, sound so grand, so unimpeachable, so objective. And yet when Abdulrahman and his “Britain-based NGO” (AFP/NOW Lebanon) are the sole source for so many news stories about such an important subject, it would seem reasonable to submit this body to a little more scrutiny than it’s had to date.

The Observatory is by no means the only Syrian news source to be quoted freely with little or no scrutiny […]They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change, and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the “activists” and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in many cases financially) interlinked with the US and London – the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn’t necessarily pure news – it’s a sales pitch, a PR campaign.

But it’s never too late to ask questions, to scrutinise sources. Asking questions doesn’t make you a cheerleader for Assad – that’s a false argument. It just makes you less susceptible to spin. The good news is, there’s a sceptic born every minute.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking

I know that was a lengthy excerpt, but I think it important to understand who the spokesmen pushing for intervention in Syria are.  The entire article is excellent and I highly recommend you read the whole thing.  We see all the usual suspects pushing for war – the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg people, the Ford Foundation (Obama’s mother worked for the Ford Foundation at one point in her career, by the way), etc.  And the Syrian opposition is not really so much “rebels” and “freedom fighters” as it is CIA and al Qaeda.  Although it has become painfully clear that the US has been involved in staging this civil war in Syria for some time, Hillary angrily proclaimed a day ago that those working “to exploit the misery of the Syrian people, either by sending in proxies or by sending in terrorist fighters, must recognize that that will not be tolerated, first and foremost by the Syrian people.” [Clinton speaking from S. Africa: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/07/world/meast/syria-unrest/ ]  The CNN article goes on, blissfully unaware of the irony of following the Clinton quote with this: “Nations such as the United States, France, Britain and Turkey, as well as Arab League countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have supported Syrian rebels and the opposition.  There are also reports of Islamist cells schooled in terror tactics helping some rebels fight the al-Assad regime, and weaponry has flowed across the borders to Free Syrian Army rebels…”

As I pointed out at the beginning of this article, Obama wants to retain the right to imprison you indefinitely without trial for aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.  Congress likes the idea so much that they have included this provision in the 2013 NDAA, currently being worked on.  ….On the other hand, you are now encouraged to donate money to what we know is a group working with al Qaeda in Syria.   Wait a second here – what about the War on Terror?  Are we going to take al Qaeda off the terror list?  Perhaps just in this one case?  You know, temporarily-like?  What the hell?

Because this fundraiser is aimed at Americans, the donation website includes a little video game where you can shoot down Assad.  So cute and endearingly childish, we are.  Notice in the following article how sweetly we are encouraged to fight the government of a foreign nation with our donations and to “help set up a new government” there.  Getting us all to collude in the (illegal) invasion of sovereign nation with which we are not at war, and to (illegally) replace its current government with forced regime change.  Perhaps this is a method of entrapping foolish Americans into donating to terrorists.  Maybe Oblahblah forgot about the NDAA momentarily.   It may be an “oversight” (oops, did we just ask you to support al Qaeda?), or a way for the government to deny the already admitted al Qaeda affiliation to the Free Syria Army.   Perhaps it is just intended to be a tax deduction for the Koch Brothers and Jeffrey Immelt.  It is clearly a way for Americans and Big Money to directly fund terrorism and call it a charitable donation.  It may just be a sign of the insanity and nonsense that rules the US now.  Who the hell knows?   For what it is worth, though, here it is:

Now you legally can buy weapons for Syrian rebels, according to the Obama administration. Sacramento and national media are now telling U.S. residents that they can legally arm Syrian rebels by sending money to the Syrian Support Group based in Washington, DC at 1000 Connecticut Avenue NW, suite 900, Washington DC 20036 and run by an American. There’s a link on the group’s website you may click if you wish to donate money.

The group supports the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The Free Syrian Army is an armed opposition group operating in Syria that has been active during the Syrian civil war. […]

The organization reports that it advocates military intervention by any willing country to ensure saving lives on the ground, according to its website.

The U.S. Treasury Department cleared the way today for U.S. residents to buy weapons to send to Syria by donating money, not mailing guns and bombs, of course.

Today the federal government, that is, the Obama administration’s Treasury Department, has now cleared the way after more than a year and a half of rebel fighting in Syria for U.S. residents actually to buy weapons for the rebels who are fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. This means that now a Washington-based advocacy group has been legally granted a rare license to collect money for arms and other equipment.

You can’t actually mail guns to Syria, but the Washington-based advocacy group can collect money from you to buy arms and other equipment to fight the Syrian government and knock Bashar Assad out of office with the imagery of a pin-ball game, where you figuratively shoot the target photo of Assad, that is, send money to that organization which in turn buys the arms such as guns and other equipment like tanks and bombs to fight the government of Syria and help set up a new government there.[…]

http://www.examiner.com/article/u-s-residents-now-can-legallly-arm-sryian-rebels

See also: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/02/4684067/us-residents-can-help-arm-syrian.html

Or: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/08/01/159311/us-eases-arms-purchases-for-syrian.html

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Congress, Iran, MIC, Syria

 

Clinton pokes the Bear and the Dragon.

Updated below, Sat., 7 July.

Our top “diplomat”, Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton, is now threatening punishment for Russia and China because they refuse to support regime change in Syria.  Russia and China, let us remember, are founding members of the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (the SCO), and are working jointly in this economic and military partnership – formed largely to protect themselves and other participating nations from attempted US hegemony.  We are fools to ignore the SCO group and bigger fools to take a sharp stick and poke at them, especially on a matter where we are in the wrong.  Forced regime change by an outside country is illegal under international law.

The situation in Syria is murky at best.  The US, via the CIA, and several other nations are arming the “rebels”.  Reporting is bizarre, with some articles reading that the Syrian military is killing every civilian within range and others pointing out that the Syrian military itself is the target and on the losing side of each confrontation.  Reporting in the US consists mostly of canned quotes from “anonymous” persons in “positions of authority”.  I suspect that this will one of those matters where the truth is brought to light many decades after the events.  Clinton has called for regime change (again – illegal under international law) and baldly stated that Assad’s “days are numbered”.   al Qaeda, as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, is once again surfacing as the enemy de jour, although the entire al Qaeda brand name is beginning to be questioned in some quarters as a CIA operation.

We were oddly on the same side as al Qaeda in Libya, where the “rebels” were known to be both al Qaeda- and CIA-backed.  Our regime change there has left the country bereft of any meaningful leadership, embroiled in a civil war, mired in lawlessness, with a vigorous turn toward sharia by the “recognized government” the US preferred.  However, the oil derricks are being protected by US troops and the oil is once again beginning to flow under the auspices of the newly enshrined for-profit corporations, so there’s that.  Libya’s oil fields are no longer facing any threat of being nationalized, one of Ghaddafi’s final projects; the profits will go to the multinational companies instead of the Libyan people.  We call this A Success.  This is what we thought was better for Libya than what they had.

Russia and China both state that they do not approve of way Assad rules Syria, but that the issues must be worked out internally and that they cannot participate in the proposed forced regime change.

China joined Russia on Thursday in boycotting a meeting aimed at coordinating efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where three senior army officers were among more than 150 people reported killed in 48 hours.

Moscow confirmed that some Western countries had asked it to offer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a haven in exile, saying it had dismissed the idea as a “joke.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China would not attend the so-called “Friends of Syria” gathering in Paris on Friday. China “at present does not consider attending the meeting,” Liu said.

Russia has also said it will stay away from the meeting after accusing the West of seeking to distort a weekend deal by world powers in Geneva aimed at achieving a transition of power.

The Paris meeting follows one in Tunis and another in Istanbul, both of which called in vain for tougher action against Assad’s government.

China did not attend either of those meetings, in which the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Arab nations Saudi Arabia and Qatar lead a group of more than 60 members, including most EU states and many Arab League nations.

China backed Russia in Geneva on insisting that Syrians must decide how the transition should be carried out, rather than allow others to dictate their fate, and did not rule out Assad remaining in power in some form.

The West has said Assad should not be part of any new unity government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Western nations had asked Moscow to offer Assad asylum and that the idea was first raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during June 1 talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  “Our side thought this was a joke and responded with a joke — how about you, the Germans, take Mr Assad instead,” Lavrov said during a press appearance with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle.

Lavrov said he was “quite surprised” when the idea was raised again during the meeting in Geneva on Saturday.

The foreign minister also repeated Russia’s displeasure with the slow pace of reforms pursued by its Soviet-era ally, but again argued that any attempts at forced regime change were doomed to end in even greater violence.

“Yes, the regime bears the main responsibility,” but those who seek regime change “ignore the fact that we are not talking about a few dozen people — as they tell us we are — but a very large part of the Syrian population that ties its security to the current president.”

On the eve of the Paris meeting, Amnesty International called for an immediate arms embargo on the Syrian government and for caution over the supply of weapons to rebels. [Teri’s note: it was Amnesty International France which supplied the original story that Ghaddafi was going to massacre civilians – a story that they later admitted was untrue and based on unfounded rumors, although they carefully did not admit that they themselves had begun the rumors.  It seems they are being a little more careful WRT to Syria.]

“Amid growing reports of abuses by members of the armed opposition, states should also stop arms transfers to the opposition wherever there is a substantial risk that they are likely to be used for war crimes or other human rights abuses,” it said.[…]

http://news.yahoo.com/west-trying-distort-syria-deal-says-russia-032828655.html

Despite their rather reasonable pleas for handling the matter in a way that allows for the national sovereignty of Syria to be honored, Clinton just issued a belligerent threat to both countries today while attending the “Friends of Syria” meeting.

Moscow and Beijing will be punished for supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton harshly stated at the “Friends of Syria” meeting of over 100 Western and Arab nations in Paris on Friday.

“I do not believe that Russia and China are paying any price at all – nothing at all – for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime.  The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price,” Clinton warned.

Russia and China once again opted not to attend the “Friends of Syria” meeting. Neither Moscow nor Beijing believe the meeting in the French capital will be helpful in uniting the Syrian opposition “on a constructive basis”.

“We have frankly laid out the reasons why we have restrained from joining the mechanism, the very name of which has a contradiction between the word and the deed,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this week.
The US Secretary of State further criticized Russia for the maintenance of Syria’s Soviet-made helicopters. Two weeks ago Hillary Clinton lashed out at Russia for repairing three Syrian helicopters, saying their presence “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry swiftly refuted the allegations. “In 2008 there was a contract to repair them. They are still to be assembled after delivery”, Lavrov said. ”That entire process will take at least three months. So to speak about something we have just sold to Syria, which is then to be used in action, is not true at all,” he added.

French President Francois Hollande demanded Bashar Assad step [down] while delivering an opening statement at the Friends of Syria meeting on Friday. Hollande believes a transition of political power is the only way to end the 16-month conflict in Syria.  The Friends of Syria meeting comes just a week after a UN-led summit in Geneva where the international community endeavored to reach a consensus on the conflict. They agreed to get behind UN envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for a transition government in Syria.

However, Russia said that western powers were purposely distorting the terms of the agreement to push for the removal of Assad.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that the agreement said Assad must leave office, whereas Moscow claims that the original accord made no allusion to the removal of the Syrian president.

http://on.rt.com/24i1ib

RT further updates its article with the following rumination from someone who actually studies the use of diplomacy:

Mark Almond, a professor of international relations at Bilkent University in Turkey, told RT that the US probably has its own solution for the Syrian problem and is not prepared for any sort of compromise.

“The rhetoric of Mrs Clinton recalls that of the Bush era,” the professor said. “There is a great deal of congeniality in international policy between George Bush and Barack Obama’s administrations,” he said. 

“After all France, Russia and China opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. (Then US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice threatened (Then French President) Jacques Chirac by name that he would pay a price with the distraction of his reputation and public esteem,” Almond recalled.

“Mrs. Clinton is converting a regional problem, a crisis in Syria and its neighbors, into a potential global problem,” he said. “Those countries that do not agree with every word of Mrs Clinton are to be considered supporters of tyranny and enemies of the good. This is creating a much more dangerous global answer,” he continued.  

“Maybe Mrs. Clinton is simply speaking out of frustration at the fact that her policies have not yet achieved the goal of overthrowing Assad,” Almond argued, adding that Clinton is known for using harsh rhetoric towards people she does not like.

“Remember her comments on Gaddafi. She said ‘We came, we saw, he died’, which was broadcasted on American TV. Falling out with Mrs Clinton can prove fatal,” he concluded.

http://www.rt.com/news/clinton-russia-china-syria-569/

One would think that after the ruin we have imposed on Iraq, Libya, and many South American and African countries through these coups and regime changes that we indulge in, after the obvious bad results wrought by our interference and invasions in foreign lands (think the Philippines, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) we would stop this sort of thing.  Just stop.  It makes no sense and produces nothing remotely passing for democracy or peace in the nations thus “handled” by the US – if that weren’t obvious before, it certainly should be by now.  Still, we intend to forge ahead in yet another country; and this time we are threatening two nuclear armed giants with “punishment” for not agreeing with the process.

Our leaders are clinically insane.

UPDATE: Sat. 7 July:

This has nothing to do with Russia and China, but with Clinton – and as it comes immediately on the heels of her statements a day or two ago, I am posting it with this article.

Apparently, Hillary and Barrack have just posted a sign in Afghanistan which reads, “Please excuse our mess as we remodel to better serve our customers”.  Clinton just announced that Afghanistan is now a major non-NATO ally of the US.

Mercy.  Slap me on the ass and call me Betsy.  I could have sworn that the United States invaded and has been at war with Afghanistan for over a decade.  Can you call a country an ally if you only like half the people who live there and are doing your best to kill the other half?  We have a rather, um, visible group of military and mercenary forces in Afghanistan and last I heard, they were armed with a vengeance and using those arms against Afghans.  We are also running a number of prisons to house Afghans we don’t like so much.  Guess we will go through neighborhood by neighborhood to decide which ones are allies and which not.  Although, come to think of it, we consider Pakistan and Yemen allies and we are drone-bombing the hell out of certain people in those countries.  Perhaps the fact that we are “accidentally” arming both the Afghans we like and the Afghans we are at war with makes the designation somehow more acceptable and meaningful.  Or maybe not.  Maybe nothing means anything any more.

The truth is, it would seem that by naming Afghanistan an “ally”, Obama and Clinton have just assured that boatloads of US taxpayer dollars will eternally flow into the place and, despite our agreement to withdraw troops by 2014, we will now have cover for keeping forces there forever – as we do in our other “non-Nato ally” countries such as Japan and the Philippines.  Clinton said at a press conference in Kabul, “Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite.”  Your friend and partnerAbandoning them?  This is what we say to a country we invaded?  They did not, to the best of my recollection, ask us to come in and start a jolly little war.  Yeah, excuse our mess…

(Reuters) – Washington declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally on Saturday, a largely symbolic status reinforcing its message to Afghans that they will not be abandoned as the war winds down.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the decision, made by President Barack Obama, during her unannounced visit to Kabul where she met President Hamid Karzai on the eve of a major donors’ conference in Tokyo which will draw pledges for aid.

The status upgrade may help Afghanistan acquire U.S. defense supplies and have greater access to U.S. training as the Afghan army takes more responsibility for the country’s security ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of most NATO combat troops.

“Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite,” Clinton told a press briefing with Karzai before jetting off to Tokyo.

Obama’s decision meets a pledge he made on a visit to Afghanistan this year to upgrade Kabul to a special security status given to only a limited number of U.S. partners — including close allies like Israel and Japan — which are not members of NATO.

Participants at the Tokyo meeting are expected to commit just under $4 billion annually in development aid for Afghanistan at Sunday’s meeting, though the central bank has said the country needs at least $6 billion a year to foster economic growth over the next decade.

This is on top of the $4.1 billion committed annually by NATO and its partners for Afghanistan’s security forces, pledged at a Chicago summit in May.

U.S. officials with Clinton declined to say how much aid the United States would pledge, which has significantly reduced aid since the peak year of 2010 when more than $6 billion was given, two thirds from Washington.[…]

U.S. officials may be reluctant to cite a specific pledge because the sum actually given is ultimately controlled by Congress, which holds the U.S. government’s purse strings. Enthusiasm for foreign aid has generally waned in Congress because of massive U.S. budget deficits.

(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/07/us-afghanistan-clinton-idUSBRE86601120120707

 

[…]Clinton announced the new alliance to diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, according to the Associated Press. She was in Afghanistan to meet with President Hamid Karzai.

The White House had informed Karzai of  its plans when President Barack Obama made a secret trip to Afghanistan in May, on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. At the time, a White House statement said the move would “provide a long-term framework for security and defense cooperation.”

The list of major non-NATO allies includes Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.  Notably, these countries are eligible for priority delivery of military hardware and can get U.S. government help to buy arms and equipment.

But the designation does not include the mutual-defense pledge that is at the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance.

NATO has agreed to give Afghan security forces the lead in their strife-torn country by mid-2013, on the road to a full withdrawal by the end of 2014. But Obama has always said that U.S.-Afghan cooperation will continue beyond that date.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/u-anoints-afghanistan-major-non-nato-ally-033404099.html

Welcome to the fold, Afghanistan:

A video has surfaced online that appears to show a US helicopter crew singing “Bye-bye Miss American Pie” before blasting a group of Afghan men with a Hellfire missile.

The footage comes in the wake of a string of damaging videos and pictures showing US forces in Afghanistan urinating on the bodies of dead insurgents, and posing with the remains of both suicide bombers and civilians killed for sport by a group of rogue soldiers.[…]

Men spotted digging in Afghan roads by the US or other foreign forces are likely to fall under suspicion that they are insurgents burying home-made bombs, one of the Taliban’s main weapons.

If the US military is confident it has identified them as insurgents, bombs are sometimes used to kill them, although Afghan officials have accused troops in the past of killing farmers and people working on irrigation ditches when they thought they were targeting people laying bombs.

In the video, after the bomb appears to hit the group, survivors scatter, and the helicopter aims machine gun fire at them.[…]

In April, the Los Angeles Times published pictures that appeared to show American soldiers posing with the bodies of dead Afghans in the south of the country, and the US president, Barack Obama, called for an investigation.[…]

In March a US soldier killed 16 civilians on a solo night-time shooting rampage. Deadly violence erupted in February over the burning of copies of the Qur’an by US troops. In January a video surfaced of marines apparently urinating on Taliban corpses, and last year a group were tried for murdering three Afghan civilians for sport.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/06/u-s-helicopter-crew-sings-bye-bye-miss-american-pie-before-launching-hellfire-missile-in-afghanistan/

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Afghanistan, Libya, MIC, Russia, SCO, State Dept/diplomacy, Syria