Yemen: A Voice in the Wilderness

10 Jul

  
By Vanessa Beeley

Global Research, July 10, 2015

thewallwillfall 10 July 2015

A boy and his sisters watch graffiti artists spray on a wall, commemorating the victims who were killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, May 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

“ Yemeni people are not bad people, they are good people. They want to be respected, they want their sovereignty to be respected. We did not wage a war, a war was brought upon us. Our issue was an internal one and it would have been sorted out internally”

Hanan al-Harazi, her mother and her 8 year old daughter fled Yemen 10 days after the first bombs started to tear holes in her beloved country. Hanan’s daughter had begun to present the early signs of PTSD and for her sanity, the family decided to split itself down the middle, leaving Hanan’s husband behind in Yemen with his family and her two brothers. Hanan brings us a moving and powerful insight into the events leading up to the present devastation of Yemen at the hands of their Saudi oppressors and their imperialist allies.

A boy and his sisters watch graffiti artists spray on a wall, commemorating the victims who were killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, May 18, 2015. Saudi-led airstrikes targeting Yemen’s Shiite rebels resumed early on Monday in the southern port city of Aden after a five-day truce expired amid talks on the war-torn country’s future that were boycotted by the rebels. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Vanessa Beeley: When did you leave Yemen?

Hanan al-Harazi: I think we were in Yemen for almost 10 days after the bombing started and then there was a rocket attack on our immediate neighbourhood, very close to where we lived. After this, my daughter developed urinary incontinence and a sudden fear of any loud sound. Recently, I was looking for her for over an hour and I eventually found her hiding in the closet because she had heard an aircraft flying overhead. It will take decades to erase this trauma from her memory. I can’t even imagine what the other children still in Yemen have been going through after almost 103 days of continuous air raids. It is devastating.

V: How old is your daughter?

collageH: She is turning 9 in August. I used to work at a school so I know that children are not able to express themselves in words as well as adults. I just gave her a piece of paper and I told her to write down her feelings. It was heart-breaking for me to read the pain and suffering in those baby words. A few days later, it’s the same thing, all she can draw or paint are jets bombing her country, really sad images. I know that the sun represents something really positive in a child’s life but when you have a child depicting a crying sun with a sad face, it should really pass a powerful message to the world.

We were lucky enough to have foreign passports that meant we could leave Yemen. Nobody is issuing visas to Yemeni nationals so this means 23 million people trapped inside a country that is being mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed with complete disregard for civilian life.

V: There are reports that state over 80% of the population are now enduring a humanitarian crisis. Is this figure realistic?

H: Absolutely! There is a catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen. My fear is that if the blockade is not lifted we are going to witness something horrific by all standards. You are talking about a population of which almost 60% are living below the poverty line. They don’t know how to secure the next meal and this was when their world was “ok” and not in a state of war. I would say the few people who had jobs have lost them and food prices have rocketed. The capital may have slightly better facilities than some outlying areas but even there, the water is now contaminated and the cost of bottled water has trebled in price. I have no idea how people are coping.

Food is still available in the markets but supplies are sparse. Once these supplies do run out, Yemen will starve. We produce very little food in Yemen itself, the majority of foodstuff is imported so the movement of goods is essential to our survival. The blockade will ensure that we cannot survive. There has been a tiny trickle of aid via certain aid groups and NGOs but this has only reached hardest hit areas like Aden, leaving entire swaths of the country without food, water or medical facilities. The cumulative effects will be horrendous and the Humanitarian crisis will be crippling.

V: I am assuming that KSA [as Israel did in Gaza] is targeting Yemen’s infrastructure in order to destroy the civilian ability to survive this onslaught.

goatH. Yes absolutely. If you look back to yesterday, the events in Amran and Lahj, they have targeted food markets and livestock markets. More evidence of the coalition determination to starve the people of Yemen. The livestock constitutes part of our minimal domestic produce, so this is a deliberate destruction of the civilian ability to survive. The footage that is coming out shows that they are targeting civilian areas, schools have been hit, stadiums, sports facilities, you name it. They have hit everything. They are saying they are only targeting military centres. Perhaps in the beginning this was true. Over the last few weeks we have seen far more random & intense bombing of civilian sites.

The Ansarullah movement is pretty much part of the Yemeni fabric, the Yemeni society. They don’t carry any markings or insignia to distinguish them from the local population so it is beyond ridiculous to say that they are hitting only Ansarullah targets in a city like Sanaa, that has a population of 3 million people .The civilian death toll is way higher than if they were only targeting Ansarullah operatives.

V: In your view is there any alternative to resisting this attack on Yemen? Is there an option for surrender and negotiation?

H: Look, I will speak for myself and for a lot of people in Yemen. The question of Yemen’s sovereignty has always been uppermost in Yemeni minds and this led to the 2011 revolution to get rid of our long- time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh because we knew he was largely a Saudi puppet. He was pushing the Saudi agenda in Yemen and giving it priority over the interests of the country. During this time many people lost their livelihoods and their lives and most of the major cities caught up in the revolt, came to a standstill for a while.

We have not come this far only to have another Saudi puppet government in place in Yemen. If this continues we no longer have an identity. Yemeni people are not bad people, they are good people. They want to be respected, they want their sovereignty to be respected. We did not wage a war, a war was brought upon us. Our issue was an internal one and it would have been sorted out internally.

Jamal Benomar, the former UN peace envoy to Yemen has actually stated very openly that the warring factions were actually reaching an agreement before the first bomb hit. “When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis,” said Mr. Benomar, a Moroccan diplomat. Thus it becomes obvious that our aspirations are being sacrificed at the altar of Imperialist greed and ambition.

V: We are seeing this across the region, these internal attempts at reconciliation and agreement that are being derailed by the Imperialist agenda and their sectarian propaganda. From what you are saying, this is also happening in Yemen?

H: I can categorically state, there is no sectarian conflict in Yemen. They have been trying to ignite a sectarian war in Yemen but Yemen is one country where we have had Shafi Sunnis and Zaydi Shias praying in the same mosques for hundreds of years. We are a society that is known to intermarry between these two sects. In reality they instigated this territorial war when they wanted to split Yemen into a 6 federal state system. We are tired of having their agenda imposed upon us and being forced to implement it.

I have lived in Yemen for the last 21 years and I never knew that my next door neighbour was a Shafi Sunni or a Zaydi Shia. It was not part of our culture, we never asked. We peacefully coexisted. This balkanisation agenda was the start of the entire problem. Their division was all wrong. They left some areas totally isolated.

The Ansarullah movement and the Southern Separatist movement were both in favour of a confederal state system where Yemen would be divided into north and south existing within a federal state. Most of us were ok with that.

President Hadi [although I hate to call him our President] was pushing the Saudi agenda of the 6 state system. Another thing that a lot of people don’t realise, is that when they divided the 6 state system they purposefully isolated one state called Azal. Azal incorporated many of the Zaydi strongholds, Sadaa, Amran, Sanaa and Dhamar. Azal was left without any resources or any access to the sea. It was blatant imprisonment and suppression of what we would term the “traditional powers” in that area. It was a deliberate attempt to weaken their influence in Yemen.

So Hadi’s plan would have divided Yemen into smaller sectarian states while the Ansarullah plan was more like going back to the boundaries before unity where the south would have greater autonomy over its own internal affairs.

V: How great is the “extremist” threat in Yemen?

H: Let me give you an example. The al-Jauf area has both Sunni and Shia populations and so does Marib and elsewhere. The Zaydi Shias and Shafi Sunnis are both very moderate sects. Yemeni people have no affiliation to the Wahabi sect of Saudi Arabia. Wahabism is alien to Yemen.

We do see certain areas in the South, like Hadramaut which has been in the media lately, parts of which are totally under control of Al Qaeda. The funny thing is, the bombs are falling on the very people that are fighting these extremists. Not a single bomb has been dropped on the extremist strongholds. Even though they know that AQ is in total control of al-Mukalla in Hadramaut and the seaport in that area. That has to be a huge question mark over their true agenda in the region.

The bombing has only achieved one thing and that is to further strengthen these extremist groups in Yemen. I know that in Ansarullah controlled-areas we have the local popular committees that are in charge of security and they have been working round the clock to ensure that the extremist elements are kept at bay. On the battleground their progress has been immensely impeded thanks to the airstrikes that serve as cover for the advancing extremists.

I am not sure if there are any foreign fighters at the moment. I know there are some Saudis, but I am not aware of foreigners from Afghanistan, Chechnya for example. If things escalate I believe we will see many more of these extremists entering Yemen via our borders, yes. Right now the northern borders are secure, apart from Marib where there is heavy fighting going on.

V: How much support are you receiving from Iran?

H: I do not believe that Iran is playing any active role. They support Yemen from a media perspective only. I believe Iran’s “support” is a propaganda ploy to justify hitting Yemen. This war was planned a long time ago, even before Ansarullah moved towards the capital. It becomes very suspicious when you have a president in power and a minority group leaves its stronghold in the northernmost tip of Yemen and moves down towards the capital, Sanaa, in the centre of the country. One city after another in the north falls to them and the president says nothing. Then just as they reach agreement which was the Peace and Partnership Initiative, Hadi suddenly decides that he does not want Ansarullah to have even marginal representation in Government. That was obviously never going to be acceptable, Ansarullah is a force on the ground that must be considered part of the coalition. That is where the conflict originated and that is why they placed Hadi under house arrest because he was following Saudi instructions. Saudi was against the Ansarullah inclusion in Yemen’s government. Then Hadi fled to the south.

My personal take was that the plan was always for Hadi to flee to the south and ask the Saudis for help which justified their bombing of the north of Yemen which has traditionally been the Zaydi stronghold and a thorn in their side. Ansarullah and the army discovered this plan and moved very quickly down to the south and hence you see this widespread bombing in all areas, not just in the north.

As a final point in the analysis of Iran’s role in Yemen. Yemen is a sovereign state and we are free to have bilateral ties with whomsoever we choose. Saudi had a problem with Yemen opening up about 12 flights per week to Iran mainly for bilateral reasons because the rest of the world shut down against Yemen. We have been under Saudi influence for, at least, the last 30 years. Many will say it’s much longer due to Saudi having been implicated in the assassination of President Ibrahim Al Hamdiwho was probably the best President that Yemen has ever had.

Yemen’s greatest problems are economic in nature. Saudi never did anything to resolve our economic issues other than putting our leaders on their payroll in order to effectively destroy the country. It’s nearly impossible for a Yemeni to get a visa to travel, even to the UAE. How can a country flourish when there are so many restrictions upon its people? When Ansarullah came to power our options were reviewed and bilateral ties with Iran were naturally investigated.

V: There is a very strong sense Yemen’s isolation. Even last night 180 Yemeni civilians were massacred in Amran and Lahj yet the media barely mentions it. Is this how you perceive it?

H: Yes. This goes back to decades and decades of isolation. Let me ask this question to the world. The government collapsed in Yemen in September 2014. Can you imagine a country that has gone months and months without a government in place, without a police force, without an army, with a population that does carry arms and with crushing poverty, yet the crime rate is less than “first world” countries like America. Why are these people isolated when they have this inestimable respect for human life? They are an example to the world.

News trickles out via internet, Yemen Today channel and Ansarullah’s channel, al-Masirah. It pains me that people seem to be largely ignoring our suffering, particularly when it is relatively easy to inform themselves these days. For instance, Yemen has had no coverage regarding the internationally banned weaponry that is being used against us. I know that where I work, the area has been severely damaged. It is an area called Faj Attan a densely populated civilian area where there are shopping areas, thousands of residential homes, schools. How can you use such weapons of mass destruction in an area like this and be exempt from investigation? 

V: Are you receiving any help through Oman?

H: Oman appears to have taken a neutral stance, for which I am grateful. The interesting thing is, about a month before the bombing started, I read a report from inside Oman stating that they were preparing for a refugee crisis. They were talking about the possibility of setting up refugee camps on the Yemen/Oman borders. So when the first bombs hit at 1.30 am when we were all asleep, I knew immediately that this had all been pre-planned. Maybe because Oman are part of the Gulf Cooperative [GCC] they had information that something was being prepared against Yemen. I do know that a lot of people have been flown into Oman for treatment, particularly during the suicide bomb attacks on the mosques in Yemen.

V: How is the internet in Yemen? How much electricity or alternative power source is available?

H: People are struggling, there is no power. Can you imagine a country in the 21st century without any power at all? Many people don’t realise that much of the water used in Yemen is pumped from underground reservoirs and so we need diesel or electricity to enable this pumping process, neither of which are available.

From what I hear, electricity is available maybe 40 minutes per week in the capital, Sanaa. There are other areas in the country that have no power at all. We did have this black out problem even before the war but never to this extent. Yes some have generators but black market fuel prices are crippling.

V: You mention WMD. I know there were reports on the use of nuclear bombs. The information coming out of Yemen is sketchy. Do you have any further information or evidence of this claim?

H: I know that 2 of the bombs that were used did produce a nuclear “type” mushroom cloud. Obviously the effects of any radiation will only be seen after time.

yemen cluster bombsBut even if they did not use nuclear missiles..the weapons they are using are still illegal and devastating. Their use of cluster bombs is well documented, some have failed to detonate and have been photographed on the ground. They have used neutron bombs which generate so much pressure. When my neighbourhood came under attack in first 10 days, the pressure I felt from a relatively distant explosion was terrifying. I had pain in my ears from the pressure draft for weeks afterwards.

The Yemenis were leading normal lives before being suddenly flung into a war zone, its bewildering for everyone. My husband is part of a food distribution network for the poor during Ramadan. He had just gone to deliver some goods to someone in the neighbourhood. Two minutes after he left there were direct rocket hits on this area and this poor man who didn’t even know where his next meal was coming from, was killed. How many more people must die senselessly to serve an Imperialist agenda?

V: Do you have a personal concept of what that Imperialist agenda is?

H: I do not think it is related to Iran despite the propaganda to the contrary. I think we are paying dearly for trying to free ourselves from Saudi slavery. We are paying for our freedom with our lives.

I have been told there are oil and more importantly, gas reserves in al-Jawf which is bordering Saudi Arabia and has been protected by them for years. In 2011 when the people took to the streets demanding a better life, President Saleh was forced to admit its existence publicly for the first time. So we are cursed, we are cursed because we have oil & gas. Every country that has natural resources is cursed and a target of Imperialist intervention.

Saudi Arabia has fostered corruption in Yemen for decades. Ansarullah were committed to ending this poisonous influence on our leaders and this would have countermanded Saudi power in Yemen. When the first bombs hit, the “sold” tribal sheikhs and politicians were seen fleeing to Saudi Arabia.

V: Would you be able to just elaborate on the situation in Aden and also address why Yemen is so important to Saudi Arabia.

H: Aden is being portrayed by the pro aggression media as being a battle for the legitimacy of Hadi. In 2011 Hadi was the only viable choice to fill the power vacuum. 6 million northerners voted for him while the south actually boycotted elections. This alone should counter the claims that he has legitimacy in the South of Yemen.

In Aden what is happening now is that Hadi has gone back to the South but it has to be made clear that the people of Aden and the surrounding area are not pro Hadi, they are also fighting for their independence and are not pro Saudi aggression.

If you look at a map of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is landlocked. Its only access or lifeline to the outside world is via the Bab-el-Mandeb straits in the south of Yemen and the Straits of Hormuz which are controlled by Iran. Yemen has never attempted to block or to impede movement through the Yemeni controlled Mandeb straits. To be honest I don’t even think that Yemen truly controls this area, it is covertly under the control of the Imperialist nations. Saudi Arabia has a lot of internal turmoil and is brutally crushing its own internal opposition. We would never interfere in Saudi internal affairs but I believe that they fear a strong Yemen. With our new constitution clearly stating that leaders can only have two terms in power, we would be the only republic in the GCC block. In Saudi Arabia, which is a despotic regime, our evolution could threaten the stability of their ruling families.

V: What is the message that you would like to convey to the outside world.

H: My hope right now, apart from a miracle from God, is that there are more good people than bad people in this world and I wish we could reach out to them and tell them, today it is me, tomorrow it is you.

We just want to survive, we want to live. Yemen is not the country it is being portrayed to be. We are not terrorists. We are proud of our culture. We are a peace loving people. Yemen is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. We are being portrayed as savages by a media that is supporting the savaging of our land.

I also have to say I respect Ansarullah for their wisdom and self -restraint especially when our mosques came under attack. Mosques that may have been built by Zaydi but are inclusive of all sects for worship. Ansarullah released a statement instructing people not to be drawn into the foreign conspiracy to ignite sectarian divisions. I feel they genuinely represent millions of Yemeni who are fighting for self-determination and recognition as a sovereign nation.

Surrender is not an option while our own internal peace process is being derailed by external aggression. Saudi Arabia has failed to send in ground troops and they are attempting to bomb us into submission. They see that this will not succeed so they have now imposed this brutal, horrific, cruel, vicious blockade on Yemen in the hope that the Yemeni people will turn against those who are fighting the Saudi invaders. I am proud of the solidarity that my people have shown to one another. Even in a situation like this where they have so few resources they will still take care of their neighbours. We are human beings and we have a right to a decent life.

Hands off Yemen

Yemen is far from perfect but no country in this world is perfect. We did not wage this war, we did not provoke this war. For the first 40 days of the Saudi offensive, Yemen did not fire one bullet towards Saudi Arabia. It is rank hypocrisy from Saudi Arabia to label us the aggressor. It has always been the opposite, Saudi Arabia has always been sending its filthy elements into my country and attempting to spread its disgusting Wahabi ideology. Whether Zaydi or Shafi we will never adopt this distorted, twisted, ugly version of Islam.

I would go so far as to state that Yemen has potential to be a model for true democracy in the Middle East. There are 25 million people who call Yemen, home. We simply ask to be left in Peace. Is that too much to ask?

Vanessa Beeley is a photographer, writer, peace activist and volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She lived in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defence and again in 2013. In 2014 she established the Gaza Smile Project to raise funds for children in Gaza. She spent her childhood in Egypt with her father, Sir Harold Beeley who was Special Envoy to Cairo during both Suez Crises, confirmed Nasserist and Middle East Advisor to Ernest Bevin. Since 2011, Vanessa has spent most of her time in the Middle East . She was recently invited to be on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement. Visit her blog thewallwillfall.wordpress.com.

Behind the Greek Economic Crisis. The Unspoken History of Foreign Intervention

6 Jul

  
Image: Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s Syriza party. (Photo credit: FrangiscoDer)

By William R PolkGlobal Research, July 06, 2015

Consortiumnews 2 July 3015

 globalresearch.ca

Behind the Greek Economic Crisis. The Unspoken History of Foreign Intervention

1024px-Alexis_Tsipras_Syriza-300×200

Image: Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s Syriza party. (Photo credit: FrangiscoDer)
The usual narrative of the Greek economic tragedy is that the country is paying for its past profligacy, but there is deeper back story of political repression fueled by major powers intervening in Greece and contributing to a dysfunctional political system, recalls ex-U.S. diplomat William R. Polk.
Focusing exclusively on the monetary aspects of the Greek crisis the media misses much of what disturbs the Greeks and also what might make a solution possible.
For over half a century, Greeks have lived in perilous times. In the 1930s, they lived under a brutal dictatorship that modeled itself on Nazi Germany, employing Gestapo-like secret police and sending critics off to an island concentration camp. Then a curious thing happened: Benito Mussolini invaded the country.
Challenged to protect their self-respect and their country, Greeks put aside their hatred of the Metaxis dictatorship and rallied to fight the foreign invaders. The Greeks did such a good job of defending their country that Adolf Hitler had to put off his invasion of Russia to rescue the Italians. That move probably saved Josef Stalin since the delay forced the Wehrmacht to fight in Russia’s mud, snow and ice for which they had not prepared. But, ironically, it also saved the Metaxis dictatorship and the monarchy. The king and all the senior Greek officials fled to British-occupied Egypt and, as new allies, they were declared part of the “Free World.”
Meanwhile, in Greece, the Germans looted much of the industry, shipping and food stuffs. The Greeks began to starve. As Mussolini remarked, “the Germans have taken from the Greeks even their shoelaces…”
Then, the Greeks began to fight back. In October 1942, they set up a resistance movement that within two years became the largest in Europe. When France could claim less than 20,000 partisans, the Greek resistance movement had enrolled about 2 million and was holding down at least two divisions of German soldiers. And they did it without outside help.
As the war’s outcome became apparent, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined to return Greece to the prewar rule of the monarchy and the old regime. He was motivated by fear of Communist influence within the resistance movement.
Churchill tried to get the Anglo-American army that was getting ready to invade Italy to attack Greece instead. Indeed, he tried so hard to change the war plan that he almost broke up the Allied military alliance; when he failed, he threw all the soldiers he still controlled into Greece and precipitated a civil war that tore the country apart. The Underground leaders were outsmarted and their movement was smashed. The bureaucracy, police and programs of the prewar dictatorship resumed control.
After the war, with Britain out of money and no longer able to sustain its policy, London turned Greece over to the Americans who announced the “Truman Doctrine” and poured in money to prevent a leftist victory. American money temporarily won the day, but the heavy hand of the former regime created a new generation of would-be democrats who challenged the dictatorship.
This is the theme beautifully evoked in Costa Gavras’ film “Z,” starring Yves Montand. As the film shows, the liberal movement of the early 1960s was overwhelmed by a new military dictatorship, “the rule of the colonels.”
When the military junta was overthrown in 1974, Greece enjoyed a brief period of “normality,” but none of the deep fissures in the society had been healed. Regardless of what political party chose the ministers, the self-perpetuating bureaucracy was still in control. Corruption was rife. And, most important of all, Greece had become a political system that Aristotle would have called an oligarchy.
The very rich used their money to create for themselves a virtual state within the state. They extended their power into every niche of the economy and so arranged the banking system that it became essentially extra-territorialized. Piraeus harbor was filled with mega-yachts owned by people who paid no taxes and London was partly owned by people who fattened off the Greek economy. The “smart money” of Greece was stashed abroad.
The Current Crisis
This state of affairs might have lasted many more years, but when Greece joined the European Union in 1981, European (mainly German) bankers saw an opportunity: they flocked into Greece to offer loans. Even those Greeks who had insufficient income to justify loans grabbed them. Then, the lenders began to demand repayment. Shocked, businesses began to cut back. Unemployment increased. Opportunities vanished.
There is really no chance that the loans will be repaid. They should never have been offered and never should have been accepted. To stay afloat, the government has cut back on public services (except for the military) and the people have suffered. In the 2004 elections, the Greeks had not yet suffered enough to vote for the radical coalition led by the “Unity” (SYRIZA) party. Only 3.3 percent of the voters did.
Then, after the 2008 financial crash came years of worsening hardship, disapproval of all politicians and anger. It was popular anger, feeling misled by the bankers and by their own foolishness. There was also hopelessness as Greeks realized that they had no way out and began to turn to SYRIZA. After a series of failed attempts to secure a mandate, SYRIZA won the 2015 election with 36.3 percent of the vote and 249 out of 300 members of Parliament.
Today, the conditions that impelled that vote are even more urgent: the national income of Greece is down about 25 percent and unemployment among younger workers is over 50 percent. So where does that leave the negotiators?
Faced with German and EU demands for more austerity, the Greeks are angry. They have deep memories of hatred against the Germans (this time, not soldiers but bankers). They have been, time after time, traduced by their own politicians. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must know that if he is charged with a “sell-out,” his career is finished.
And the bail-out package offered by the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank is heavily weighted against Greece. Greeks also see their option of exiting the Euro as similar to stances taken by Britain and Sweden in not joining in the first place – although a painful adjustment for the Greek economy would be expected if Greece undertakes an unprecedented departure from the European currency.
However, unless the IMF and ECB offer a real chance for a better life for Greeks by forgiving most of the debts, I believe that the Greeks might well vote on Sunday to reject the austerity demands and leave the Euro.
William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.

Media Coverage of Europe’s Migrant Crisis Ignores Root Cause: NATO

28 Jun

   

By Global Research News

Global Research, June 28, 2015

Russian Insider 

The scale of the migrant crisis Europe is facing today cannot be understated. It is truly unprecedented. What is habitually understated, however — and in fact almost completely ignored by mainstream media — are the real roots of the crisis.
The debate around migration into the EU is happening nearly entirely without reference to the causes of the recent influx of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. The elephant in the room is NATO and nobody really wants to talk about it.
Hundreds of articles, laden down with numbers and proposals and predictions fail to make any direct link between cause and effect. News anchors sit seemingly baffled, mouths agape, at the apocalyptic-like pictures they are seeing land on their desks, and yet few are willing to draw the appropriate conclusions. But it is such a basic and logical connection that it’s hard to believe it is not being made very loudly and very persistently.
Maybe it’s just that these journalists are so conditioned to framing U.S. and NATO policy in a positive light that the links don’t even really occur to them. Or maybe they’re simply embarrassed and trying to shift focus from their long-recorded support for various military interventions in these countries.
Either way, the result is that the story is framed in such a way that it makes the timing of the crisis sound almost random. We’re witnessing a conversation about how to ‘deal’ with boats full of Libyans making their way across the Mediterranean — as if Libya was a country that had just self-imploded yesterday, and for no discernible reason.
A fierce debate is raging over ‘what to do’ about these migrants — and in a way that’s understandable because that is the more immediate problem — but the debate we really need to be having is about the policies, NATO’s policies, which were the catalyst.
Even if Europe unites in formulating a ‘solution’ to the problem, it will be nothing more than a bandaid fix because it will only deal with symptom. After all, what’s the point in covering your open wound with a bandaid when the guy who cut you is still wielding a knife in the same room? It doesn’t take a genius to work out how that story ends.
Whenever the cause is grudgingly mentioned by the media, it is mentioned briefly and abstractly where the author or anchor might refer to “conflict” or make mention of how violence has “reignited” in these countries in recent years and months.
The editors at the New York Times in particular, are big fans of loading all the blame squarely onto Europe’s shoulders. Here a Times piece argues that the migrant crisis “puts Europe’s policy missteps into focus”. Another piece, from the editorial board, lectures Europe on how to handle the situation.
In April, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg called for a “comprehensive response” to the crisis and promised that NATO would help to stabilize the situation. The alliance’s role in “stabilizing” Afghanistan was part of its broader approach to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, he said.
That is rich coming from the head of a ‘security’ and ‘defensive’ alliance which for years has pursued a policy of offensive destabilization in the very regions which people are fleeing from in their hundreds of thousands. But Stoltenberg’s comments and NATO’s actions are easily decoded by the employment of some basic common sense.
The NATO modus operandi is clear. The pattern, repeated over and over, involves the complete destabilization of a region, to be swiftly followed up with another NATO-led ‘solution’ to the problem. When you couple that with the use of spokespeople who are unashamed to feign ignorance and lie blatantly (Jen Psaki, Marie Harf etc.), and a compliant media that will regurgitate the line without question, this is what you get.
The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya was authorized by the United Nations on “humanitarian” grounds and resulted in the deaths of between 50,000 and 100,000 people and the displacement of 2 million. Very humanitarian.
Similarly, after the U.S.-led campaign to destabilize Syria in an effort to topple Bashar al-Assad, facilitating (and even supporting) the rise of ISIS in the region, a staggering 10 million have been displaced (according to Amnesty International) and European countries are left to help pick up the pieces. Germany, for example, has pledged to resettle 30,000 Syrian refugees. Sweden, a non-NATO nation, has taken in similar numbers.
It should be made clear however, that the numbers European countries have taken or pledged to take pale in comparison to the numbers being hosted in other Middle Eastern countries. Lebanon, for example, is hosting 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Jordan is hosting more than 600,000. Iraq hosts nearly a quarter of a million. Turkey hosts 1.6 million.
There is one country that’s getting off scot-free in all of this — at least on the Syrian front. That country is the United States. The U.S. has taken in less than 900 Syrian refugees after four years of war. American officials have cited “national security” in their explanations for not yet taking more, although they have said they would like to see the number increase.

Maybe this has something to do with it?
Debate not allowed
There is a second media crime flying under the radar here and it is this: In European countries where the massive influx of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa have caused serious societal divisions, where migrants have failed to assimilate (for a variety of reasons, including both government policies and often radical religious beliefs), Western media will allow no one to talk about it honestly — and woe betide the person who tries.
Take Sweden, where the disease of political correctness is at an even more advanced stage than it is in the rest of Europe. There, any attempt to debate the coherence of a ‘doors wide open’ immigration policy is branded as “racist”. A further irony in the Swedish context, is that the country is facing a housing crisis and has nowhere to put most of the people they are pledging to resettle. There’s some real forward-thinking, common sense policy for you.
This is a dangerous combination for Europe: An unsustainable influx of migrants, foreign policy which ensures its continuation, a docile media, and an epidemic of political correctness which has infected the entire continent.
Media 101 on the migrant crisis: Talk a lot about migrants, don’t mention why they fled and then call anyone who has a problem with it a “racist” — success! Oh, and you get an added bonus if you can somehow link it all to ‘Russian aggression’, Vladimir Putin and NATO as a ‘defensive’ alliance.
Some European countries are taking a more hardline approach and are getting slammed for it. Hungary, for example, is looking at building a barrier wall along its border with Serbia, similar to barriers along the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders. Again, this has sparked accusations of xenophobia and racism from media and political quarters.
But that’s part of the game, isn’t it? If NATO’s war supporters can focus the debate around the idea that anyone who wants to address or critically assess immigration policy is “racist” then we won’t have to talk about why the migrants are here in the first place or why they are facing such dire circumstances at home.
Russia Today’s Oksana Boyko tried recently, to broach this topic with Peter Sutherland, the UN’s special representative on international migration and development, but she got nowhere. She argued that the debate around migration into the EU can’t really be had without addressing the essence and heart of the problem, but found that NATO policy is apparently a topic not up for discussion.
Debating Europe’s migrant crisis without acknowledging the context in which it has been created it useless. It would be like asking Americans to debate police brutality without talking about race. The two are inescapably interlinked and any ‘solutions’ that come from an incomplete debate will ultimately fail.
For now though, it seems Europe will continue to debate this humanitarian crisis in terms of ‘what to do’ without addressing the ‘how to stop’ and we’ll keep running around in a vicious circle.
An easier solution, of course, would be for NATO to put an end to its campaign of destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa, but that would require the acceptance and acknowledgement of some very hard truths.

The Next Phase of the Middle East War. Pentagon “Guidelines” for “Preemptive” Nuclear Strikes against “Rogue Enemies”

24 Jun

  
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, June 24, 2015

4 September 2006

The Next Phase of the Middle East War

This article written 9 years ago discusses the evolution of the Middle East War. The US-NATO design involves a timeline of military interventions. The wars on Syria and Yemen are part of a military roadmap which is ultimately directed against Iran.

In the wake of the 2006 war on Lebanon, Israel announced plans to wage a pre-emptive “full-scale war” against Iran and Syria, implying the deployment of both air and ground force. These war plans in 2006-2007 were said to at the top of the defense agenda as confirmed in a September 2006 Sunday Times report (highlights added): 
“Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources.”

“The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defense agenda, higher than the Palestinian one,” said an Israeli defense source. Shortly before the war in Lebanon Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, the commander of the air force, was placed in charge of the “Iranian front”, a new position in the Israeli Defense Forces. His job will be to command any future strikes on Iran and Syria.”
In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities,” said one insider, “but Iran’s growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player.” (Sunday Times, 3 September 2006)
Michel Chossudovsky, June 24, 2015
* * *
Israel’s war on Lebanon is an integral part of a US sponsored “military roadmap”.

The war on Lebanon, which has resulted in countless atrocities including the destruction of the nation’s economy and civilian infrastructure, is ”a stage” in a sequence of carefully planned military operations.
Lebanon constitutes a strategic corridor between Israel and North-western Syria. The underlying objective of this war was the militarization of Lebanon, including the stationing of foreign troops, as a precondition for carrying out the next phase of a broader military agenda.
Formally under a UN mandate, the foreign troops to be stationed on Lebanese soil on the immediate border with Syria, will be largely although not exclusively from NATO countries. This military force mandated by the UN Security Council is by no means neutral. It responds directly to US and Israeli interests.
Moreover, the timely withdrawal of Syrian troops, following the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has contributed to opening up a “new space”. The withdrawal of Syrian troops served Israeli interests. The timely pullout was of strategic significance: it was a major factor in the timing and planning of the July 2006 IDF attacks on Lebanon.
In the aftermath of the Israeli bombings and the “ceasefire”, UN Security Council Resolution 1701, drafted by France and the US in close consultation with the Israeli government, has paved the way for the militarization of Lebanon, under a bogus UN mandate.
The Next Phase of the Middle East War
Confirmed by official statements and military documents, the US in close coordination with Britain (and in consultation with its NATO partners), is planning to launch a war directed against Iran and Syria. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has already initiated the draft of a UN Security Council resolution with a view to imposing sanctions on Tehran for its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program. Whether this resolution is adopted is not the main issue. The US may decide to proceed in defiance of the Security Council, following a veto by Russia and/or China. The vote of France and Britain, among the permanent members has already been secured.
US military sources have confirmed that an aerial attack, pursuant to a sanctions regime on Iran, with or without UN approval, would involve a large scale deployment comparable to the US “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003:
American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq. Using the full force of operational B-2 stealth bombers, staging from Diego Garcia or flying direct from the United States, possibly supplemented by F-117 stealth fighters staging from al Udeid in Qatar or some other location in theater, the two-dozen suspect nuclear sites would be targeted.
Military planners could tailor their target list to reflect the preferences of the Administration by having limited air strikes that would target only the most crucial facilities … or the United States could opt for a far more comprehensive set of strikes against a comprehensive range of WMD related targets, as well as conventional and unconventional forces that might be used to counterattack against US forces in Iraq
(See Globalsecurity.org at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iran-strikes.htm
The aerial bombing plans have been fully operational (“in an advanced state of readiness”) since June 2005. The various components of the military operation are firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska.
In November 2004, US Strategic Command conducted a major exercise of a “global strike plan” entitled “Global Lightening”. The latter involved a simulated attack using both conventional and nuclear weapons against a “fictitious enemy” [Iran]. Following the “Global Lightening” exercise, US Strategic Command declared “an advanced state of readiness”.
The operational implementation of the Global Strike is called CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022. The latter is described as “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’
The command structure of the operation is centralized and ultimately The Pentagon will decide on the sequence; ” if and when” to launch military operations against Iran and Syria. Israeli military actions and those of other coalition partners including Turkey, would be carried out in close coordination with the Pentagon.

Ground War

While the threat of punitive aerial bombardments of Iran’s nuclear facilities have been announced repeatedly by the Bush administration, recent developments suggest that an all out ground war is also under preparation.

CONPLAN constitutes only one component of the Middle East military agenda. CONPLAN 8022 does not contemplate a ground war. It posits “no boots on the ground”, which was the initial assumption envisaged in relation to the proposed aerial attacks on Iran.
US and Israeli military planners are fully aware that the aerial “punitive bombings” will almost inevitably lead coalition forces into a ground war scenario in which they will have to confront Iranian and Syrian forces in the battlefield.
Tehran has confirmed that it will retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel as well as against US military facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war.
Iranian troops could cross the Iran-Iraq border and confront coalition forces inside Iraq. Israeli troops and/or Special Forces could enter into Syria.
The foreign troops stationed in Lebanon under UN mandate would respond to the diktats of the US led coalition and the prior commitments reached with Washington and Tel Aviv in the context of the various military alliances (NATO-Israel, Turkey-Israel, GUUAM, etc).
War Games
These military preparations have also been marked, quite recently, by the conduct of war games.
In late August, Iran was involved in the conduct of war games in major regions of the country, including border areas with Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Iran’s Defense Minister General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar has confirmed the deployment of enhanced military capabilities including weapons systems and troops on the Iranian border: “[Iranian] forces are supervising all movements by trans-regional troops and their agents around the Iranian borders” (FARS news, 2 September 2006)
Iran War Games August 2006.
Barely acknowledged by the Western media, military exercises organized by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan under the Collective Security Treaty Organization, (CSTO) were also launched in late August. These war games, officially tagged as part of a counter terrorism program, were conducted in response to US-Israeli military threats in the region including the planned attacks against Iran. (See Michel Chossudovsky, August 2006). In turn, China an Kazakhstan held concurrent war games under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Azerbaijan and neighboring Georgia have close military ties to Washington. Both countries are part of GUUAM, a military alliance with the US and NATO.
Turkey is a close ally of Israel. Since 2005, Israel has deployed Special Forces in the mountainous areas of Turkey bordering Iran and Syria with the collaboration of the Ankara government: Pakistan is also a close ally of the US and Britain. Georgia also has a military cooperation agreement with Israel.
Meanwhile, the USS Enterprise, America’s largest aircraft carrier is en route to the Persian Gulf.

Map; Copyright Eric Waddell, Global Research 2003. Click to enlarge.

US Troop Build-up
US troops in Iraq have been increased to 140,000 as confirmed by recent Pentagon statements (Reuters, 2 September 2006) These plans have been coupled with a the compulsory recall of “inactive servicemen” as well as the expansion of mercenary forces. (Mahdi Darius Namzaroaya, August 2006)
The Pentagon justifies the troop build-up as part of a “routine” process of replacement and rotation, required in its ongoing war against “terrorists” in Iraq. The speeding up of military recruitment is also occurring in the core countries of the Anglo-American coalition including Great Britain. Australia and Canada (see also Recruiting Canada). Canada and Australia are aligned with the US. Australian Prime Minister John Howard as well as Canada’s Steven Harper have confirmed their commitment to the US-Israeli war and have promised an expansion of the armed forces in their respective countries.
Meanwhile British troops stationed in Iraq have been redeployed to the Iranian border in southern Iraq. This redeployment has been casually presented by Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq as part of a “crack down on smuggling and the entrance of weapons into Iraq from Iran”.
While British officials are maintaining no desire or preparations for a conflict with Iran, more British troops are being mobilized and deployed to Iraq at the same time. The Light Infantry of the 2nd Battalion, another unit with rapid deployment capabilities, is deploying to the southern Iraqi border with Iran. The 2nd Battalion is being sent to Iraq under the pretext of working in the Rear Operations Battle Group which will provide escorts for military convoys and security for British forces and bases in Basra. (See Mahdi Darius Namzaroaya, August 2006)
The Role of Israel
In the wake of the war on Lebanon. Israel’s military plans and pronouncements are increasingly explicit. Tel Aviv has announced plans to wage a pre-emptive “full-scale war” against Iran and Syria, implying the deployment of both air and ground force. These war plans are now said to at the top of the defense agenda:
“Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources.”
(…)
“The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defense agenda, higher than the Palestinian one,” said an Israeli defense source. Shortly before the war in Lebanon Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, the commander of the air force, was placed in charge of the “Iranian front”, a new position in the Israeli Defense Forces. His job will be to command any future strikes on Iran and Syria.”
(…)
In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities,” said one insider, “but Iran’s growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player.”
(…)
As a result of the change in the defense priorities, the budget for the Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza is to be reduced.” (Sunday Times, 3 September 2006)
Media Disinformation
The Western media is beating the drums of war.
The Sunday Times views Israel’s war plans as legitimate acts of self defense, to prevent Tehran from launching an all out nuclear attack on Israel: “Iran and Syria have ballistic missiles that can cover most of Israel, including Tel Aviv. An emergency budget has now been assigned to building modern shelters.”
The fact that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons capabilities as confirmed by the IAEA report does not seem to be an issue for debate.
Media disinformation has contributed to creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. The announcement on August 10 by the British Home Office of a foiled large scale terror attack to simultaneously blow up as many as ten airplanes, conveys the impression that it is the Western World rather than the Middle East which is under attack.
Realities are twisted upside down. The disinformation campaign has gone into full gear. The British and US media are increasingly pointing towards “preemptive war” as an act of “self defense” against Al Qaeda and the State sponsors of terrorism, who are allegedly preparing a Second 911.
The underlying objective, through fear and intimidation, is ultimately to build public acceptance for the next stage of the Middle East “war on terrorism” which is directed against Syria and Iran.
The antiwar movement has also been weakened.
While China and Russia will oppose the US led war at the diplomatic level as well as at the UN Security Council, Washington has secured the support of France and Germany. While Russia and China have military cooperation agreements with Iran, they would most probably not intervene militarily in favor of Iran.
NATO is broadly supportive of the US led military agenda. In February 2005, NATO signed a military cooperation agreement with Israel.
Nuclear Weapons against Iran
The use of tactical nuclear weapons by the US and Israel against Iran, is contemplated, ironically in retaliation for Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons: B61-11 NEP Thermonuclear Bomb
The Bush administration’s new nuclear doctrine contains specific “guidelines” which allow for “preemptive” nuclear strikes against “rogue enemies” which “possess” or are “developing” weapons of mass destruction (WMD). (2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations (DJNO)).
CONPLAN 8022, referred to above, is ‘the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’
‘It’s specifically focused on these new types of threats — Iran, North Korea — proliferation and potentially terrorists too,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing that says that they can’t use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.’(According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese economic News Wire, op cit)
The mission of JFCCSGS is to implement CONPLAN 8022, in other words to trigger a nuclear war with Iran.
The Commander in Chief, namely George W. Bush would instruct the Secretary of Defense, who would then instruct the Joint Chiefs of staff to activate CONPLAN 8022.
The use of nuclear weapons against Iran would be coordinated with Israel, which possesses a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.
The use of nuclear weapons by Israel or the US cannot be excluded, particularly in view of the fact that tactical nuclear weapons have now been reclassified as a variant of the conventional bunker buster bombs and are authorized for use in conventional war theaters. (“they are harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”).
In this regard, Israel and the US rather than Iran constitute a nuclear threat.
The World is at a Critical Crossroads
The Bush Administration has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. This is not an overstatement. If aerial bombardments were to be launched against Iran, they would trigger a ground war and the escalation of the conflict to a much broader region. Even in the case of aerial and missile attacks using conventional warheads, the bombings would unleash a “Chernobyl type” nuclear nightmare resulting from the spread of nuclear radiation following the destruction of Iran’s nuclear energy facilities.
Throughout history, the structure of military alliances has played a crucial role in triggering major military conflicts. In contrast to the situation prevailing prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, America’s ongoing military adventure is now firmly supported by the Franco-German alliance. Moreover, Israel is slated to play a direct role in this military operation.
NATO is firmly aligned with the Anglo-American-Israeli military axis, which also includes Australia and Canada. In 2005, NATO signed a military cooperation agreement with Israel, and Israel has a longstanding bilateral military agreement with Turkey.
Iran has observer status in The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and is slated to become a full member of SCO. China and Russia have far-reaching military cooperation agreements with Iran.
China and Russia are firmly opposed to a US-led military operation in the diplomatic arena. While the US sponsored military plan threatens Russian and Chinese interests in Central Asia and the Caspian sea basin, it is unlikely that they would intervene militarily on the side of Iran or Syria.
The planned attack on Iran must be understood in relation to the existing active war theaters in the Middle East, namely Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon-Palestine.
The conflict could easily spread from the Middle East to the Caspian sea basin. It could also involve the participation of Azerbaijan and Georgia, where US troops are stationed.
Military action against Iran and Syria would directly involve Israel’s participation, which in turn would trigger a broader war throughout the Middle East, not to mention the further implosion in the Palestinian occupied territories. Turkey is closely associated with the proposed aerial attacks.
If the US-UK-Israeli war plans were to proceed, the broader Middle East- Central Asian region would flare up, from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Afghan-Chinese border. At present, there are three distinct war theaters: Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine-Lebanon. An attack directed against Iran would serve to integrate these war theaters transforming the broader Middle East Central Asian region into an integrated war zone. (see map above)
In turn the US sponsored aerial bombardments directed against Iran could contribute to triggering a ground war characterized by Iranian attacks directed against coalition troops in Iraq. In turn, Israeli forces would enter into Syria.
An attack on Iran would have a direct impact on the resistance movement inside Iraq. It would also put pressure on America’s overstretched military capabilities and resources in both the Iraqi and Afghan war theaters.
In other words, the shaky geopolitics of the Central Asia- Middle East region, the three existing war theaters in which America is currently, involved, the direct participation of Israel and Turkey, the structure of US sponsored military alliances, etc. raises the specter of a broader conflict.
The war against Iran is part of a longer term US military agenda which seeks to militarize the entire Caspian sea basin, eventually leading to the destabilization and conquest of the Russian Federation.
The Pentagon’s Second 911
The economic and political dislocations resulting from this military agenda are far-reaching.
If the attacks directed against Iran and Syria were to proceed, martial law and/or a state of emergency could be declared in the US and possibly Britain on the pretext that the homeland is under attack by Iran sponsored terrorists. The purpose of these measures would essentially be to curb the antiwar movement and provide legitimacy to an illegal war.
The Pentagon has intimated in this regard, in an official statement, that “another [9/11] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity to retaliate against some known targets [Iran and Syria]“. In a timely statement, barely a few days following the onslaught of the bombing of Lebanon, Vice President Cheney reiterated his warning: “The enemy that struck on 9/11 is fractured and weakened, yet still lethal, still determined to hit us again” (Waterloo Courier, Iowa, 19 July 2006, italics added).
Reversing the Tide of War
The issues raised in this article do not imply that the war will take place. What the analysis of official statments and military documents confirms is that:
a) the war is part of a political agenda;
b) military plans to launch an attack on Iran and Syria are “in an advanced stage of readiness”.
War is not an inevitable process. War can be prevented through mass action.
The issue is not whether the war will inevitably take place but what are the instruments at our disposal which will enable us to shunt and ultimately disarm this global military agenda.
War criminals occupy positions of authority. The citizenry is galvanized into supporting the rulers, who are “committed to their safety and well-being”. Through media disinformation, war is given a humanitarian mandate.
The legitimacy of the war must be addressed. Antiwar sentiment alone does not disarm a military agenda. High ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military and the US Congress have been granted the authority to uphold an illegal war.
The corporate backers and sponsors of war and war crimes must also be targeted including the oil companies, the defense contractors, the financial institutions and the corporate media, which has become an integral part of the war propaganda machine.
There is a sense of urgency. In the weeks and months ahead, the antiwar movement must act, consistently, and address a number of key issues:
1. The role of media disinformation in sustaining the military agenda is crucial.
We will not succeed in our endeavours unless the propaganda apparatus is weakened and eventually dismantled. It is essential to inform our fellow citizens on the causes and consequences of the US-led war, not to mention the extensive war crimes and atrocities which are routinely obfuscated by the media. This is no easy task. It requires an effective counter-propaganda program which refutes mainstream media assertions.
It is essential that the relevant information and analysis reaches the broader public. The Western media is controlled by a handful of powerful business syndicates. The media conglomerates which control network TV and the printed press must be challenged through cohesive actions which reveal the lies and falsehoods.
2. There is opposition within the political establishment in the US as well as within the ranks of the Armed Forces.
While this opposition does not necessarily question to overall direction of US foreign policy, it is firmly opposed to military adventurism, including the use of nuclear weapons. These voices within the institutions of the State, the Military and the business establishment are important because they can be usefully channeled to discredit and ultimately dismantle the “war on terrorism” consensus. The broadest possible alliance of political and social forces is, therefore, required to prevent a military adventure which in a very real sense threatens the future of humanity.
3. The structure of military alliances must be addressed. A timely shift in military alliances could potentially reverse the course of history.
Whereas France and Germany are broadly supportive of the US led war, there are strong voices in both countries as well as within the European Union, which firmly oppose the US led military agenda, both at the grassroots level as well within the political system itself.
It is essential that the commitments made by European heads of government and heads of State to Washington be cancelled or nullified, through pressure exerted at the appropriate political levels. This applies, in particular, to the unbending support of the Bush adminstration, expressed by President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The weakening of the system of alliances which commits Western Europe to supporting the Anglo-American military axis, could indeed contribute to reversing the tide. Washington would hesitate to wage a war on Iran without the support of France and Germany.
4. The holding of large antiwar rallies is important and essential. But in will not in itself reverse the tide of war unless it is accompanied by the development of a cohesive antiwar network.
What is required is a grass roots antiwar network, a mass movement at national and international levels, which challenges the legitimacy of the main military and political actors, as well as their corporate sponsors, and which would ultimately be instrumental in unseating those who rule in our name. The construction of this type of network will take time to develop. Initially, it should focus on developing an antiwar stance within existing citizens’ organizations (e.g. trade unions, community organizations, professional regroupings, student federations, municipal councils, etc.).

5. 9/11 plays a crucial and central role in the propaganda campaign. 
The threat of an Al Qaeda “Attack on America” is being used profusely by the Bush administration and its indefectible British ally to galvanize public opinion in support of a global military agenda.
Revealing the lies behind 911 would serve to undermine the legitimacy of the “war on terrorism”.
Without 911, the war criminals in high office do not have a leg to stand on. The entire national security construct collapses like a deck of cards.
Known and documented, the “Islamic terror network” is a creation of the US intelligence apparatus. Several of the terror alerts were based on fake intelligence as revealed in the recent foiled “liquid bomb attack”. There is evidence that the several of the terrorist “mass casualty events” which have resulted in civilian casualties were triggered by the military and/or intelligence services. (e.g Bali 2002).
The “war on terrorism” is bogus. The 911 narrative as conveyed by the 911 Commission report is fabricated. The Bush administration is involved in acts of cover-up and complicity at the highest levels of government.
Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best seller “The Globalization of Poverty “ published in eleven languages. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. His most recent book is America’s “War on Terrorism”, Global Research, 2005.
To order Chossudovsky’s book America’s “War on Terrorism”, click here
Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war. Please indicate the source and copyright note.

The following texts by Michel Chossudovsky provide detailed analysis of the US war plans:

Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon 2006-08-06
The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil – 2006-07-26
Israeli Bombings could lead to Escalation of Middle East War – 2006-07-15
Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust? – 2006-02-22
The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War – 2006-02-17
Nuclear War against Iran – 2006-01-03
Israeli Bombings could lead to Escalation of Middle East War – 2006-07-15
Iran: Next Target of US Military Aggression – 2005-05-01
Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran – 2005-05-01

Kurds Retake Town of Tal Abyad, US Warplanes Strike Iraqi Army and Popular Forces, Deliver Weapons to ISIS in Iraq and Syria

18 Jun

  
By South Front

Global Research, June 18, 2015

South Front 16 June 2015globalresearch.ca

Kurds Retake Town of Tal Abyad, US Warplanes Strike Iraqi Army and Popular Forces, Deliver Weapons to ISIS

US-Warplanes-Iraq

Syria’s Kurdish forces have taken control of the strategic northern border town of Tal Abyad in Raqqa province from Islamic State militants UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported on Monday. Some 40 terrorists were killed as they fled the town after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units advanced into the city, the monitoring group added.

Fighter jets of the US-led coalition once again struck the Iraqi forces in the Western province of Anbar on Saturday. The US-led coalition warplanes hit a position of the Iraqi army in Anbar province. We remember, in early June, the US-led coalition warplanes hit the bases of Iraqi army’s Hezbollah battalions in Fallujah in Anbar province, killing 6 soldiers and injuring 8 others. Indeed, The US has constantly struck the popular forces’ positions in different parts of Iraq. Meanwhile, Head of Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee Hakem al-Zameli also disclosed that the anti-ISIL coalition’s planes have dropped weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL in Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces.
Alexei Miroshnichenko and Yuri Miroshnichenko, the former stating that he had worked in the Foreign Intelligence Service and the latter that he had worked in Ukraine’s embassy in France, declared their unwillingness to continue working for Kiev, saying that they could no longer tolerate what was happening to their country. “We can no longer put up with what is happening in Ukraine. Traitors, fascists, various intelligence agents have taken up the reins of the country, and are leading it to ruin.” the brothers stated at press conference on Monday. The brothers added that most part of Ukrainian Special Services and politician are controlled by US Special Services.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Armed Forces is presently consolidating their positions, preparing for an offensive, and deliberately provoking Lugansk and Donetsk militia to return fire, in order to blame them for violating the truce. Only according to reports from DPR the Ukrainian Armed Forces have violated the ceasefire regime 191 times over the past 24 hours.
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Iraq War Propaganda Redux: U.S. Claims Syrian Government Supporting ISIS West Busted Supporting ISIS … Tries Instead to Point Finger At Syrian Government

8 Jun

 
 By Washington’s Blog

Global Research, June 05, 2015

Washington’s Blog 4 June 2015

America’s closest allies have been busted supporting ISIS in order to topple Syria’s government. Mainstream U.S. writers are calling for open support of ISIS and Al Qaeda to enact regime change in Syria.
And a newly-declassified government document hints that the West supported the creation of ISIS.
This may sound far-fectched and wild-eyed … But the following former high-level US and UK intelligence officials and whistleblowers confirm that the document implicates the West in the birth of ISIS:
Military analyst – and famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower – Daniel Ellsberg

High-level NSA official Thomas Drake

Well-known FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley

Senior MI6 officer Alastair Crooke

MI5 counter-terrorism officer Annie Machon

British counter-terrorism officer Charles Shoebridge

In any event, whether or not you believe the West created ISIS, the U.S. is now trying to blame the single most unlikely entity imaginable for ISIS … the Syrian government.
Specifically, the U.S. Embassy in Syria just accused the Syrian government of supporting ISIS:
This is all kinds of silly … and is Iraq War propaganda redux.
Specifically, the Syrian government and ISIS are mortal enemies.
The Syrian government – which is allied with Shia Muslims – has been battling Sunni jihadis for many years. ISIS are Sunnis … the arch-enemy of Shias and the Syrian government. The Syrian government is ruled by a sect of Shias called Alawites.
In other words, ISIS and the Syrian government are on opposite sides of the war, and have been ever since ISIS was formed.
Similarly, in the run up to the Iraq War, Bush and the gang said that Saddam was in bed with Al Qaeda. Only one little problem: Saddam and Al Qaeda hated each other’s guts.
Flashback: A Bogus Iraq-Qaeda “Connection”
Because the accusations that the Syrian government is supporting ISIS mirror so closely what happened in the run up to the Iraq war, let’s recap …
5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam”. He also said “Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”
And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several lines below the statement “judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same time”, is the statement “Hard to get a good case.” In other words, top officials knew that there wasn’t a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.
Moreover, “Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda”.
And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.
And yet Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials claimed repeatedly for years that Saddam was behind 9/11. See this analysis. Indeed, Bush administration officials apparently swore in a lawsuit that Saddam was behind 9/11.
Moreover, President Bush’s March 18, 2003 letter to Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq, includes the following paragraph:
(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Therefore, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war to Congress by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.
Indeed, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind reports that the White House ordered the CIA to forge and backdate a document falsely linking Iraq with Muslim terrorists and 9/11 … and that the CIA complied with those instructions and in fact created the forgery, which was then used to justify war against Iraq. And see this.
Suskind also revealed that “Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official ‘that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.’ ”
Cheney made the false linkage between Iraq and 9/11 on many occasions.
For example, according to Raw Story, Cheney was still alleging a connection between Iraq and the alleged lead 9/11 hijacker in September 2003 – a year after it had been widely debunked. When NBC’s Tim Russert asked him about a poll showing that 69% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein had been involved in 9/11, Cheney replied:
It’s not surprising that people make that connection.
And even after the 9/11 Commission debunked any connection, Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime , that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties.
Again, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks. See this, this, this.
On December 16, 2005, Bush admitted “There was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attack of 9/11″ (and see this video). However, Bush and Cheney continued to frequently invoke 9/11 as justification for the Iraq war. And see this. (Cheney finally admitted in 2009 that there was no link.)
A bipartisan Senate Report from 2006 found that Bush misled the press on Iraq link to Al-Qaeda.
The administration’s false claims about Saddam and 9/11 helped convince a large portion of the American public to support the invasion of Iraq. While the focus now may be on false WMD claims, it is important to remember that, at the time, the alleged link between Iraq and 9/11 was at least as important in many people’s mind as a reason to invade Iraq.
Top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied about a non-existent connection between Al Qaida and Iraq, but they pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions in an attempt to create such a false linkage.
McClatchy reported in 2009:
Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration…
For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

***
When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.”Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .
A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.
“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
“I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”
Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.
In other words, top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied about a non-existent connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, but they pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create such a false linkage.
The Washington Post reported the same year:
Despite what you’ve seen on TV, torture is really only good at one thing: eliciting false confessions. Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we now know, were cold-bloodedly modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War.
So as shocking as the latest revelation in a new Senate Armed Services Committee report may be, it actually makes sense — in a nauseating way. The White House started pushing the use of torture not when faced with a “ticking time bomb” scenario from terrorists, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks — in order to strengthen their public case for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 at all.
***
Gordon Trowbridge writes for the Detroit News: “Senior Bush administration officials pushed for the use of abusive interrogations of terrorism detainees in part to seek evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to newly declassified information discovered in a congressional probe.
Colin Powell’s former chief of staff (Colonel Larry Wilkerson) also wrote in 2009 that the Bush administration’s “principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaeda.”
Here We Go Again …
Of course, truth is the first casualty of war, and so the fact that the Syrian government and ISIS are mortal enemies or that Saddam and Al Qaeda hated each other makes no difference in the middle of a tidal wave of propaganda.
The U.S. has decided on regime change (again!) in Syria, just like it committed to regime change (again!) in Iraq.
And America will say and do anything to get its war on.

With US Air War in 10th Month, ISIS Advances in Iraq and Syria

2 Jun

 
By Bill Van Auken

Global Research, June 02, 2015

World Socialist Web Site

 With the US-led air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) now in its 10th month, the Islamist militia continues to make territorial gains in both countries, inflicting serious losses on the military in Iraq as well as both government forces and rival Islamist “rebels” in Syria.
In its latest attack on Monday, ISIS launched a devastating suicide bombing against an army base just north of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, killing at least 45 members of the security forces and wounding scores more.
The attack was carried out using an armored Humvee fighting vehicle loaded with explosives. The attack detonated ammunition in a base depot, setting off explosions that continued for several hours.
The increasing use of US-made Humvees in such bombing attacks is the byproduct of the debacle suffered by the Iraqi regime and its US-armed and trained security forces with the fall of Mosul to ISIS last June. Iraqi army and police units fled the city abandoning massive stockpiles of US arms and ammunition that fell into the hands of the Islamist militia.
The scale of this debacle was underscored on Sunday with the admission by Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi that “We lost 2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone.”
As an indication of the scale of this loss, the Guardian newspaper reported that the cost of 1,000 armored Humvees approved for sale to Iraq last year was estimated at $579 million.
In a separate attack Monday, ISIS ambushed an Iraqi army column in Seddiqiya in Anbar province, killing at least 33 troops and pro-Baghdad militia fighters.
The continued attacks come in the wake of last month’s fall of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, the most humiliating defeat for the US-backed government since the rout of Iraqi forces in Mosul a year ago.
The bitter recriminations over the fall of Ramadi, with US officials blaming a lack of Iraqi “will” to fight and countercharges that the US has done little to combat ISIS, have extended to within the Iraqi regime itself.
Salim al-Jabouri, the speaker of Iraq’s parliament and most prominent Sunni politician within the Baghdad regime, told CNN that Iraqi troops abandoned Ramadi to ISIS as the result of “a clear decision to give the order to pull out — and after that Ramadi fell.”
Al-Jabouri said that Prime Minister Abadi, installed last year with Washington’s backing, had not been informed of the order to retreat from the city. The collapse of the security forces in Ramadi occurred, he added, after the so-called Golden Division — a US-trained Special Forces unit — suddenly pulled out.
“We feel that there were other hands involved in this that played a role in military decisions,” he told the US news network.
Tensions continue between Abadi and the former US-installed prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who has refused to move out of the prime minister’s palace in Baghdad’s heavily fortified “Green Zone” and is widely charged with seeking to undermine his successor. Maliki remains the leader of Abadi’s own Dawa party as well as the leader of the largest parliamentary bloc. He apparently continues to enjoy support from within top echelons of the security forces, as well as from Shia militias.
Following Ramadi’s fall, Abadi was compelled to allow Shia militias to take the leading role in a counter-offensive to retake the city. Washington, which had previously publicly opposed the participation of the militias, which are in most cases aligned with Iran, was forced to accept their role in the face of the rout of the government’s own forces.
In neighboring Syria, ISIS has also registered territorial gains against both the Syrian government and rival Islamist militias. According to an assessment by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS now controls half of Syria’s land mass, while the French Syria analyst and geographer Fabrice Balanche estimated that between Iraq and Syria, the Islamist militia now controls 115,000 square miles, roughly equivalent to the size of Italy. It has also taken over all of the border crossings between the two countries.
The most recent ISIS gains have come in the north, in the province of Aleppo. It overran the village of Suran on May 31, bringing its forces to within barely six miles of the Turkish border. And on Monday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, its forces inflicted losses on rival “rebels,” advancing on the town of Marea, which controls a key supply route from Turkey, which has been the major source of arms for the forces backed by the West and the Sunni Gulf oil monarchies in their bid for regime change in Syria. These advances follow the May 21 ISIS overrunning of the ancient southern Syrian city of Palmyra in Homs province.
There has been no evident attempt by Washington to blunt the advance of ISIS in Syria or to dissuade its reactionary monarchical Arab allies from continuing to arm and fund the Islamist militias. ISIS, together with the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front, remains the principal fighting forces in the US-backed war to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The price paid by the peoples of both Syria and Iraq for a bloody war that is the direct outcome of US policies in the Middle East, from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to the support of the Islamists in Syria a decade later, continues to grow.
May constituted the single bloodiest month since the outset of the Syrian conflict, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with at least 6,657 killed. The largest single category of dead was that of Syrian government troops and other fighters supporting the Assad government, which accounted for 2,450 of those killed. This was followed by the Islamist militias, which reportedly lost 2,109 fighters and then civilians, 1,285 of whom lost their lives to the conflict last month.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq counted the deaths of 1,031 Iraqis from the violence last month, with another 1,684 wounded.

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