Across Syria these days, one is able to examine massive evidence that this ancient civilization, the historic bastion of nationalist Arabism and since the 1948 Nabka, an essential pillar of the growing culture of Resistance to the Zionist occupation of Palestine, is becoming awash with foreign arms being funneled to “rebels” by countries advocating regime change.
This observer has been researching foreign arms transfers into certain Middle East countries since last summer in Libya, where to a lesser degree the identical foreign actors were involved in facilitating the transfer of arms and fighters to topple the then, “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”
During a recent stay in Syria, I was able to observe first hand, substantial demonstrative evidence supporting the thesis that American, Zionist and Gulf intelligence agencies as well as private arms dealers from these countries top the list of more than two dozen countries benefiting from the crisis in Syria by injecting arms. These countries gain politically and financially, via governmental and black market arms transfers.
Which countries are sending the most weapons into Syria to arm militia?
A list of the top 24 countries, among the more than three dozen that are currently involved in sending weapons to Syria to achieve regime change include: USA, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, UK, France, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, and Argentina.
Above: one of the periodic lists complied of foreign weapons confiscated from foreign fighters in Syria. Aug.-late September, 2012
Nearly two-thirds of the above listed arms suppliers are members of NATO and constitute almost half of NATO’s 28 country membership.
Russia is not included in the above list because it is the main supplier of arms to the Syrian government. Yet, one finds older USSR era weapons and even some more recent vintage Russian arms in rebel hands, the latter from the decade (12/79-2/89) of Soviet, occupation of Afghanistan. Also offering Russian weapons are a growing number of black market arms dealers of whom there is no shortage along the Turkey-Syrian border and elsewhere. This recent visitor to Syria was offered near the Old City, AK 47’s (Russian Kalashnikovs) or Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) for $ 1,800 (in Lebanon today and before the Syrian crisis the price was around $800. After some bargaining and starting to walk away a couple of times, the “special one-time only price for an American friend” dropped to $ 750 each. Russian made Dragunov sniper rifles are being offered at $ 6,500 but can be bought for around $ 5000.Buying arms these days in Syria is a caveat emptor proposition. Fake weapons and military rejects/defects are also being offered by hustlers from nearby countries including Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.
The involvement of numerous countries in the Syrian crisis as arms suppliers and political operatives was tangentially referenced by the recent UN Security Council Statement of 12/25/12 which admits the existence of foreign actors and implies their arms supplying activities by urging “all regional and international actors to use their influence on the parties concerned to facilitate the implementation of the (Eid al Adha) ceasefire and cessation of violence.”
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari observed last week: “This part of the [Security Council] press statement, mentioned for the first time, proves Syria’s view repeated since the beginning of the crisis on the existence of Arab, regional and international parties influencing the armed groups negatively or positively. Therefore, those parties need to be addressed.”
One of the key challenges for the UN and Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi whose aides told this observer at the Dama Rose hotel on 10/22/12 where we were staying, is: “We need to persuade key countries in the Middle East, but also internationally, not to support the rebels with arms.
The failed initiative of envoy El Brahimi, was the third ceasefire attempt to date following the December 2011Arab League proposal and the April 2012 Kofi Annan initiative, both of which were endorsed by the Syrian government and most of the world community. Some rebel militia, but not nearly enough, did endorse the Brahimi four day Eid al Adha ceasefire only to have it collapse this past weekend. To his credit, Brahimi continues his work.
The same Brahimi sources suggested that the United States may also be supplying man-portable air-defense systems (Manpods) to rebels in Syria. According to Russian Foregin Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, speaking on 12/15/12: “At the same time, it is also well-known that Washington is aware of supplies of various types of arms to illegal armed groups operating in Syria. Moreover, the United States, judging by admissions by American officials that have also been published in American media, is conducting coordination and providing logistical support for such supplies.” NBC News, based in New York reported in July that Syrian insurgents had obtained two dozen US MANPADS, delivered from Turkey.
A month after the October 2011 death of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Tripoli that the U.S. was committing $40 million to help Libya “secure and recover its weapons stockpiles.” Congressional sources report that the Obama administration is fully aware that quantities of these arms are current in Syria and more in transit.
With respect to arms moving from Libya to Syria, on the night of Sept. 11 Libya time, in what was his last public meeting, US Ambassador Christopher Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and accompanied him to the consulate front gate just before the assault began. Although what was discussed has not yet been made public, Washington sources including the pro-Zionist Fox News speculate that Stevens may have been in Benghazi negotiating a weapons transfer, from Libya to Syria.
Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro expressed concerns that the increasing flow of Libya arms was far from under control. Speaking to the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. on 2/10/12 Shapiro said: “This raises the question — how many weapons and missiles are still missing? The frank answer is we don’t know and probably never will.”
According to a 10/14/12 report by the Times of London, a vessel flying the Libyan flag named Al Entisar (Victory), loaded with more than 400 tons of cargo, docked in southern Turkey 35 miles from the Syrian northern border. While some of the undeclared cargo was likely humanitarian, staff accompanying UN envoy Brahimi during his recent Syrian trip report the Al Entisar also carried the largest consignment of foreign weapons to date, including surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, RPG’s and MANPADS destined for Syria.
Partly because of the jihadists and arms entering Syria from its northern border, southern Turkey is increasingly referred to here in Damascus as “New Afghanistan”, given its matrix of jihadists, salafists, wahabists, and battle-hardened panoply of arriving foreign would-be mujahedeen and al Qaeda affiliates.
One teenage al Qaeda wannebe explained to the author that his specialty was making and using homemade specialized knives as shown in this photo. He also delivered a mini-lecture he said was based on a Koranic Hadith explaining why severing heads of animals and adversaries is actually the most humane method. He gave earnest assurances that if allowed to perform a one-time demonstration, this observer would feel no pain and he would post the photo on Facebook!
Remarkably, as was witnessed in 2007, during the conflict at the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon, some of the arriving eager jihadists in “New Afghanistan” actually believe that they are fighting against Zionist forces near occupied Palestine and not killing fellow Arabs in Syria.
Some, but not all of the many types of small arms flowing into Syria in large numbers, and viewed by this observer include:
7.62mm Tabuk (Yugoslavia) rifles, Mass rifles (UK), 7.62 mm rifles (Poland), 12 mm rifles (Italy), 7.62 mm Kalashnikovs (several countries versions), 9 mm ‘fast gun’, (Austria), 7.62 mm Val (Belgium), G3 7.62 mm G3 rifles (Germany), 7.5mm model 36 rifles (France), M16 and a variety of sniper and other rifles (USA), 7.62 rifles (Bulgaria, 10.5 Uzi and other automatic machine guns, three types of hand grenades (Israel), 9 mm guns (Canada), 7 mm guns (Czech Republic), 7 mm guns (Brazil).
Photo: 10.23.12 Syria
Israeli weapons are among the most frequently found in Syria as was the case in Libya. Israeli arms dealers are claimed to have recently intensified links with Blackwater International and also are currently smuggling through the Golan Heights, the tri-border area of south Lebanon, occupied Palestine and Syria.
The observer also examined and was briefed on M72 LAW and AT-3 anti-tank missiles developed by the United States. But the extent of their use is difficult to verify. Most of the arms shown in accompanying photos are from the main urban centers and near the Turkish, Iraqi, Lebanese and Jordanian borders.
In tightly built up urban areas such as Homs, Idlib and Aleppo, door to door fighting includes a battle among snipers. According to one Syrian military intelligence source in whose Damascus office this observer discussed the subject, the most frequently confiscated sniper rifles currently being found in the hands of “rebels” include:
· the U.S. Army & USMC M1903-A4 (also: USMC M1903-A1/Unertl), the U.S. Army & USMC M1C & M1D and U.S. Army M21;
Photo: Damascus 10/23/12: American weapons from Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and NATO stores are entering Syria with the aid of Qatar and Saudi Arabia and black market arms dealers.
· the Israeli M89SR Technical Equipment International 7.62x51mm NATO Semi-automatic, Galil Sniper Rifle and the T.C.I. M89-SR,
· the British .243 Winchester, 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester,.300 Winchester Magnum, and the 338 Lapua Magnum Bolt action sniper rifles.
Photo: Syria 10/13/12: The most frequently confiscated sniper rifles currently being found in the hands of “rebels” in Syria include the above shown U.S. Army & USMC M1903-A4. Other US sniper rifles include the USMC M1903-A1/Unertl), the U.S. Army & USMC M1C & M1D and U.S. Army M21
A few Afghanistan era Russian Dragonov SVD and SV-98 sniper rifles have also been confiscated among an assortment of others.
Foreign jihadists have some access to Soviet-era DShK heavy machine guns or ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannons which are used for anti-aircraft and fire support. Both use fairly scarce high-explosive rounds and armor-piercing rounds, which are capable of penetrating the armor of the Syrian military’s BMP infantry fighting vehicles. The ZU-23-2 “Sergey”, also known as ZU-23, is a Soviet towed 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon. Vehicle mounted Zu-23-2’s are relatively easy to spot by government aircraft and artillery units are used to attack a target and quickly flee to avoid counter strikes.
On 10/25/12 Russia reiterated its claims that the US assists and coordinates arms deliveries to foreign-sponsored insurgents battling the Syrian government forces. Russia’s chief military officer said that Syrian armed groups have acquired US-made weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. This observer saw many weapons from more than a dozen types of IED’s (improvised explosive device) to medium sized artillery pieces but no missiles.
Photo: 10/24/12 Damascus, Syria
Improvised Explosive Devices are a key rebel weapon with many arriving from Iraq and camps near Hataya, Turkey. Many DIY (do it yourself) improvisations have been uncovered across Syria in both urban and rural areas. This observer examined and was briefed on several types, including those shown above.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry issued statement of 10/25/12, “Washington is aware of the deliveries of various weapons to illegal armed groups active in Syria. Moreover, judging by the declarations of US officials published in US media, the US coordinates and provides logistical assistance in such deliveries.”
Some analysts in Damascus claim that Syria’s potential military strength has not been as effective as it could be in the current urban fights against rebels. The government appears very strong militarily if one studies the statistics regarding Syria’s large and disciplined army which continues its support and also given its sophisticated long range missiles, air defense systems that have deterred an airborne attack from Israel. One reason progress has at times appeared slow against the “rebels” according to some local analysts was a certain initial unpreparedness to confront highly motivated guerrilla militia in downtown densely populated areas. These kinds of battles, it is claimed, require a mobile infantry, armored flexibility and very effective use of light arms. The Assad government’s “adapt, catch up and go on the offensive” paradigm is developing rapidly according to US Senate Armed Service Committee sources who assert that the Syria army has actually become battle hardened, tougher, stronger and more disciplined over the past several months. But it has taken time and has incurred a significant cost.
Weapons examined by this observer in Syria during 10/12 include some of the more than 1,750 new American sniper rifles channeled from Iraq and NATO supply stores to rebel militia.
How foreign weapons are entering Syria
As widely speculated particularly in the regional media, foreign supplied weapons to “rebels” arrive by air, sea and mainly by land from Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and occupied Palestine.
Israel is reported, by some researchers in Damascus who have been covering the crisis for nearly 20 months, to be sending arms to Syria from Kurdistan, having had much experience in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe via Mossad and Israeli black market arms dealing. What Israel did in Libya in terms of a wide spread arms business it is also trying to do in Syria. Israeli arms, according to Syrian and Lebanese sources are being transported into Syria from along the tri-border area of South Lebanon, near Shebaa Farms, close to Jabla al-Saddaneh, and Gadja. In addition, Israeli smugglers have increasingly, over the past five months, been seen by locals moving arms inside Syria via the Golan Heights. These violations of Syrian and Lebanese sovereignty raise serious questions about the vigilance of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone (UNDO) based in the Golan Heights as well as the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Army as well as National Lebanese Resistance units near the ‘blue line’ to stop the illicit Israeli arms transfers.
The recent arrival in southern Turkey and along the northern Syrian border of Blackwater mercenaries is expected to increase the foreign arms flow. Currently using the name Academi (previously known as Xena- Xe Services LLC, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide) Academi is currently, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly, the largest of the US governments “private security” contractors. Details of its relationship with the US Defense Department and the CIA are classified.
Is there a coherent US policy toward the Syrian crisis?
Secretary of State Clinton has been announcing recently that the U.S. is increasing its “non-lethal support” (i.e. direct shipments as opposed to boots on the ground or ballistic weapons) according to her Congressional liaison office. She also confirmed that Washington is working with its friends and allies to promote more cohesion among the disparate Syrian opposition groups with the aim of producing a new leadership council following meetings scheduled for Doha in the coming weeks.
Photo: Syria: 10/24/12
Examples of US, UK and NATO “non-lethal aid” equipment taken from militia in south and north Syria between 5/2011 and 10/2012.
However, to the consternation of the State Department, General David Petraeus the former US commander of NATO forces in Iraq, now director of the CIA acknowledged, during his senate confirmation hearings. “Non-lethal aid to combatants, including communication equipment, is sometimes more lethal and important than explosive devices due to the logistical advantages they provides on the battlefield.”
In tandem with the US, the UK and several European governments are supplying “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, including satellite communications equipment according to Syria security sources.
There is also plenty of anecdotal and demonstrative and probative evidence in Syria of human weapons patterned on the “Zarqawi model” which refers to the bloody al Qaeda in Mesopotamia campaign named for its leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi after U.S. troops occupied Iraq.
In a speech this week in Zagreb, Croatia, this week, Secretary of State Clinton insisted that any group seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad must reject attempts by extremists to “hijack” a legitimate revolution. She added, “There are disturbing reports of heavily armed foreign extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over.” Clinton used her strongest words to date concerning risks that the uprising in Syria could be overtaken by militants who do not seek a democratic replacement or the reforms that the current government claims it is trying to implement. She told her conferees: “We made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice. We also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. There are disturbing reports of heavily armed extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over.” Clinton advised her colleagues that the US has become convinced that the SNC does not represent the interests of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria and that it has little legitimacy among on-the-ground activists and fighters, and has done little to stem the infiltration of Islamist extremists into the opposition forces.
Clinton’s language is being interpreted by some as evidence that a post-election Obama Whitehouse, she he win on November, may move toward the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian position and away from, what one Congressional source derisively labeled, “ the view from the Gulf gas stations” i.e. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some other despotic monarchies.
The intervention in Syria by more than three dozen countries supplying weapons must be stopped. Both sides of the Syrian crisis need to manifest by actions, not just words, a serious commitment to meaningful dialogue. The above noted arms supplying countries, and others off stage, have a solemn obligation to their citizens and to the world community to immediately halt the shipment of arms.
They should, and their people should demand that they do without further delay, honor the words of Isaiah 2:3-5….”and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Granted, perhaps a cliché and certainly far easier said than done.
Yet, as Oregon’s late great US Senator Wayne Morse used tell audiences around America during the Vietnam War, quoting General George Marshall, “The only way we human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
It’s time for the international community to end the Syrian crisis diplomatically, stop funneling arms and cash fueling hoped for regime change elements. Instead, they must demand that all the involved parties immediately engage in serious dialogue and settle their differences.
As a former law professor President Obama knows something about international law and US constitutional law which he taught at the University of Chicago. But he besmirched his academic bona fides, violated Democratic Party rules and hurt his campaign on 12/5/12 by ordering the Democratic Party to summarily change earlier a twice debated and unanimously adopted plank of the Democratic Platform on the subject of the status of Jerusalem.
The reason this observer even took the time to read the 26,56l word, 37 page 2012 Democratic Party Platform which guides every Democratic candidate for both Houses of Congress and the party’s Presidential candidate, and to a lesser degree, thousands of Democratic Party candidates across the USA is, well, nostalgia.
And I read every word from my preferred relaxation spot which is on the top of my fine new14 story Waad apartment building in the Hezbollah security zone of Dahiyeh, South Beirut. The high-rise was rebuilt, (Israel bombed it and 251 other residential buildings during the July 2006 33-day aggression, reducing it to rubble and dust with two US gifted MK-83 1000 lb. bombs) and my perch has a wonderful view of the mountains to the east and the Mediterranean to the west. As I studied the platform, among my ducks and chickens that I raise on the roof, I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience, now more than a quarter century ago from my time representing Oregon as Democratic National Committeeman under Jimmy Carter and being a member of the 1980 DNC Platform Committee while working in Washington on Ted Kennedy’s issues staff as he tried to wrest our party’s nomination from our incumbent President. It was not easy for the Kennedy campaign to do and as history records our campaign petered out. But not before and not too unlike what occurred this week, a Middle East issue caused some sparks over whether to recognize the PLO and support calls for a State of Palestine in the 1980 Platform.
The decision made by the DNC Platform committee this year cut the 2004 and 2008 Platform sentence “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” and was the result of several months of work by the platform committee analyzing written submissions, receiving oral presentations, and participating in discussions and debate sessions around the country. To the party’s credit, removing the earlier language reflected international law, both UN Resolution and international customary law based on the overwhelming consensus of more than 188 member countries of the United Nations with very few exceptions being Israel. All of which assert that the status of Jerusalem, whether it’s to be the capital of Palestine, Israel, both or internationalized, is to be left to final status negotiations between the native Palestinians and their colonial occupiers. Nor did the expunged language reflect Obama’s personal views.
Following reports that the Romney campaign was going to run ads asking where is God and support for Israel in the Democrats platform, Obama hastily and ill-advisedly, in this observers view, ordered the Platform Committee to restore the language of both. At the same time, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, which had urged including language about Jerusalem’s status as the Israeli capital in written testimony to the platform drafting committee, made clear that they were troubled by the omission of their favor Jerusalem language.
As required by Democratic Party rules, the language change needs to be approved by a 2/3 floor vote called by Platform Committee Chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He did put the vote at the beginning of the 9/5/12 Convention session. However since video/audio reports, including C-Span, make plain the delegates voted roughly 50/50, well shy of required 2/3’s , Villaraigosa called for a second and then a third vote which produced the same result. Each time there was a cacophony of “No’s’! from the assembled delegates which were ignored. Mayor Villaraigosa violated Party rules again when he rejected motions for a roll-call vote and repeated ‘points of order” from the floor. He then falsely announced that 2/3’s had agreed to the language change. He then abruptly walked off the podium thereby profoundly disrespecting the party stalwarts who support it with their hard work and organizational skills. The stunned stare on Villaraigosa’s face suggested how deep in denial the Democratic Party has been about the anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian sentiment growing among the party rank and file. The widely claimed bipartisan support for the Zionist occupation of Palestine is receding.
The Party now faces the prospect of a full convention vote on the issue or a court challenge if delegates choose not to let Obama’s betrayal stand.
The reason the 2012 Platform Committee Members changed the former language is that the old position was ludicrous according to expert testimony presented at the Platform hearings, does not reflect US policy as reiterated on 9/6/12 by State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell, and because this year’s platform reflected, to a modest degree at least, the overdue and increasing political power of Arab and Muslim Americans who, often as small business people have largely heretofore considered themselves Republicans. But more are becoming active in the Democratic Party. These new party activists are informed about the issue of Palestine and take the status of Jerusalem seriously.
Either way the Romney campaign was sure to claim, as they are doing right now that: “Mr. Obama has refused to state his position on Jerusalem and Israel.” Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, is telling the media: “Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”
Obama erred politically and humiliated himself and his partly needlessly with his sell-out in Charlotte. He gained nothing in the way of Zionist support because the lobby has made clear form Tel Aviv to New York that it will never trust him on Israel as they increasingly coalesce around the Romney-Ryan ticket.
The whole spectacle also damaged the Democratic Party which since the 1960’s has championed voter’s rights. Bill Clinton touted this important legacy in his speech. He also focused on the Republicans’ disrespect for voter’s rights: “If you want every American to vote and you think it’s wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama.”
One wonders what the delegates were thinking having just experience disrespect for voting rights within their own party.
Tom Hayden once described the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties as the difference between Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. The same applies to both parties Platform language on Palestine. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs illustrates the differences if the reader can find them:
GOP: The U.S. and Israel “speak the same language of freedom and justice”
DEMS: The U.S. and Israel “share common values”
GOP: “The security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States”
DEMS: “A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States”
GOP: “Ensure that [Israel] maintains a qualitative edge in military technology”
DEMS: “Ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge”
GOP: “We envision two democratic states”
DEMS: “Seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians….producing two states for two peoples”
GOP: “Palestinian people must support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law.”
DEMS: Palestinians must “recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements”
GOP: “We call on the new government in Egypt to fully uphold its peace treaty with Israel”
DEMS: “We will continue to support Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan”
GOP: “We call on Arab governments throughout the region to help advance [the] goal [of peace]”
DEMS: “President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel”
GOP: “We support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders; and we envision two democratic states—Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine—living in peace and security”
Dems: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths”
Neither the Republican nor the Democratic Platforms make any reference to Israeli settlements, increasing violence carried out by Israeli government and settlers or provides even a faint hint of any Israeli wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, AIPAC released a statement on 9/6/12: “We welcome reinstatement to the Democratic platform of the language reaffirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. One imagines that Obama’s nemeses, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is chortling.
Over the weekend the Western-backed opposition in Syria stepped up its attacks on government buildings, military facilities and civilians as it aims to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and install a pro-Western client regime in Damascus.
Fighting between the Syrian army and Western proxy forces has been intensifying since US President Barack Obama threatened Syria with direct military intervention two weeks ago. Last week French President Hollande, British Foreign Secretary of State William Hague and Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi demanded Assad’s fall. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu also called for a no-fly zone over Syria. However, for the moment decisions to enforce a no-fly zone and launch open warfare against Syria have not been finalized.
The Western powers are still relying on their armed proxy forces inside Syria—like the Turkey-based Free Syrian Army (FSA) and various Sunni Islamist terrorist groups—to fight Assad.
Media reports indicated intense fighting between the Syrian army and anti-Assad forces throughout the weekend. Opposition sources said that armed insurgents had seized an air defense base close to Deir-Ez Zor on Saturday, and that battles were raging near a military airport in the area. Opposition fighters also claimed that they had targeted the regime’s air installations near Aleppo and Idlib in the northern part of Syria close to the Turkish border, and that they had shot down a Syrian fighter jet.
On Saturday a car bomb near the Muaz Bin Jabal mosque in the Sbaineh suburb of Damascus killed 15 civilians. The explosion also reportedly wounded several people and caused damage to buildings in the area. The Sbaineh district is dominated by Palestinian refugees who are mostly reluctant to join the pro-Western opposition against Assad.
The Syrian state-run news agency, SANA, reported that earlier on Saturday another bomb killed Brigadier General Taher Subeir, when he got into his car in front of his home in the Damascus district of Rukn Addien. Since the outbreak of armed struggle in Syria, over 8,000 soldiers and security personnel have been killed by the Western-backed armed opposition.
In Deir ez-Zor, the largest city in eastern Syria, a suicide bomb attack on the pro-government al-Akhbariya TV station killed one person and injured two children.
On Sunday a bomb attack at the Syrian army’s General Staff headquarters in the Abu Rummaneh district in central Damascus wounded four officers. Islamist forces in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) took responsibility for the attack. A video statement released by the Grandsons of the Prophet brigade, a section of the FSA, said that “bombs were planted inside the army headquarters” and that “the operation targeted officers in the Assad army who have been planning and giving the go ahead for the massacres against the Syrian people.”
The blast was in the same district where an FSA suicide bomber killed four high-ranking Syrian officials—including Defense Minister Dawould Rajha and his deputy, Assef Shawkat—on August 15, and 55 people in a twin suicide car bombing outside a military intelligence building on May 10.
The FSA said it carried out the bombing as retaliation for an August 25 massacre in the Damascus suburb of Daraya, where more than 300 people were reportedly killed. While the FSA and other opposition groups blame the Syrian regime for the deaths, a report by Robert Fisk, the first Western journalist reporting from Daraya after the massacre, indicates that the FSA itself was involved in the killings.
Another element of the US-backed propaganda campaign is the release of ever-higher casualty figures, which are all blamed on the Syrian government. On Sunday the London-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that 5,440 people, including 4,114 civilians were killed in August. The Local Coordination Committees (LCCs), a faction of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), put the toll at 4,933 civilians.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the new United Nations (UN) envoy to Syria made clear that the offensive for regime change in Syria will be continued. In an interview withal-Arabiya TV he said that “the need for change is urgent and necessary. The Syrian people must be satisfied and their legitimate demands are met.”
He stated that the Syrian government is primarily responsible for the violence. Calling on both parties to stop the violence, he said that “this call is primarily directed to the government. More than others, it is the duty of governments, under any circumstances and anywhere, not just in Syria, to ensure security and stability for their people.”
Brahimi’s comments are deeply cynical. It is the intensification of the campaign by the US and its allies to oust Assad that is primarily responsible for the humanitarian disaster.
A former colonel of the Syrian army told the New York Times that he would not have defected if he had known that he would end up in a refugee camp in Jordan. He said: “We thought the regime would collapse in two months” explaining that now “the Syrians are getting killed in a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
This comment is particularly significant, in that it shows that Syrian refugees—presented in the Western media purely as victims of the Assad regime—view themselves as caught between the Iranian backers of the Assad regime and the reactionary Saudi monarchy, which is backing the anti-Assad forces together with Washington. They do not see the anti-Assad armed opposition as fighting for democracy, but for the strategic interests of the Persian Gulf monarchies.
Washington views regime change in Syria as the next step to deepen its hegemony over the energy-rich and geostrategically crucial Middle East and Central Asian regions. Iran feels increasingly threatened by the US war-drive against Syria and pointed to the danger of a wider regional war in the case of a US attack on its ally.
With cooperation from Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, America has the goal of striking a blow against Syria and making preparations for the fall of the Syrian government,” Mohammad Ali Assoudi, the deputy for culture and propaganda of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said.
He added, “if America were to attack Syria, Iran along with Syria’s allies will take action, which would amount to a fiasco for America. In the case of American stupidity and a military attack by this country on Syria, the joint military pact [Iran and Syria signed a mutual defense pact in 2006] of Syria’s allies would be implemented.”
And other tales of an empire gone mad…
Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s … Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s … Libya 2011 … Syria 2012 … In military conflicts in each of these countries the United States and al Qaeda (or one of its associates) have been on the same side. 1
What does this tell us about the United States’ “War On Terrorism”?
Regime change has been the American goal on each occasion: overthrowing communists (or “communists”), Serbians, Slobodan Milosevic, Moammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad … all heretics or infidels, all non-believers in the empire, all inconvenient to the empire.
Why, if the enemy is Islamic terrorism, has the United States invested so much blood and treasure against the PLO, Iraq, and Libya, and now Syria, all mideast secular governments?
Why are Washington’s closest Arab allies in the Middle East the Islamic governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, and Bahrain? Bahrain being the home of an American naval base; Saudi Arabia and Qatar being conduits to transfer arms to the Syrian rebels.
Why, if democracy means anything to the United States are these same close allies in the Middle East all monarchies?
Why, if the enemy is Islamic terrorism, did the United States shepherd Kosovo — 90% Islamist and perhaps the most gangsterish government in the world — to unilaterally declare independence from Serbia in 2008, an independence so illegitimate and artificial that the majority of the world’s nations still have not recognized it?
Why — since Kosovo’s ruling Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) have been known for their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic) — has the United States been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union? (Just what the EU needs: another economic basket case.) Between 1998 and 2002, the KLA appeared on the State Department terrorist list, remaining there until the United States decided to make them an ally, due in no small part to the existence of a major American military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, well situated in relation to planned international oil and gas pipelines coming from the vast landlocked Caspian Sea area to Europe. In November 2005, following a visit to Bondsteel, Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights envoy of the Council of Europe, described the camp as a “smaller version of Guantánamo”. 2
Why, if the enemy is Islamic terrorism, did the United States pave the way to power for the Libyan Islamic rebels, who at this very moment are killing other Libyans in order to institute a more fundamentalist Islamic state?
Why do American officials speak endlessly about human rights, yet fully support the Libyan Islamic rebels despite the fact that Doctors Without Borders suspended its work in prisons in the Islamic-rebel city of Misurata because torture was so rampant that some detainees were brought for care only to make them fit for further interrogation? 3
Why is the United States supporting Islamic Terrorists in Libya and Syria who are persecuting Christians?
And why, if the enemy is Islamic terrorism, did US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice — who daily attacks the Syrian government on moral grounds — not condemn the assassination of four Syrian high officials on July 18, in all likelihood carried out by al Qaeda types? RT, the Russian television channel broadcast in various parts of the United States, noted her silence in this matter. Does anyone know of any American media that did the same?
So, if you want to understand this thing called United States foreign policy … forget about the War on Terrorism, forget about September 11, forget about democracy, forget about freedom, forget about human rights, forget about religion, forget about the people of Libya and Syria … keep your eyes on the prize … Whatever advances American global domination. Whatever suits their goals at the moment. There is no moral factor built into the DNA of US foreign policy.
Bring back the guillotine
In July, the Canadian corporation Enbridge, Inc. announced that one of its pipelines had leaked and spilled an estimated 1,200 barrels of crude oil in a field in Wisconsin. Two years ago, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 19,000 barrels in Michigan. The Michigan spill affected more than 50 kilometers of waterways and wetlands and about 320 people reported medical symptoms from crude oil exposure. The US National Transportation Safety Board said that at $800 million it was the costliest onshore spill cleanup in the nation’s history. The NTSB found that Enbridge knew of a defect in the pipeline five years before it burst. According to Enbridge’s own reports, the company had 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, releasing close to 7 million gallons of crude oil. 4
No executive or other employee of Enbridge has been charged with any kind of crime. How many environmental murderers of modern times have been punished?
During a period of a few years beginning around 2007, several thousand employees of stock brokers, banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, credit-rating agencies, and other financial institutions, mainly in New York, had great fun getting obscenely rich while creating and playing with pieces of paper known by names like derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, index funds, credit default swaps, structured investment vehicles, subprime mortgages, and other exotic terms, for which, it must be kept in mind, there had been no public need or demand. The result has been a severe depression, seriously hurting hundreds of millions of lives in the United States and abroad.
No employee of any of these companies has seen the inside of a prison cell for playing such games with our happiness.
For more than half a century members of the United States foreign policy and military establishments have compiled a record of war crimes and crimes against humanity that the infamous beasts and butchers of history could only envy.
Not a single one of these American officials has come any closer to a proper judgment than going to see the movie “Judgment at Nuremberg”.
Yet, we live in the United States of Punishment for countless other criminal types; more than two million presently rotting their lives away. No other society comes even close to this, no matter how the statistics are calculated. And many of those in American prisons are there for victimless crimes.
On the other hand, we see the Chinese sentencing their citizens to lengthy prison terms, even execution, for environmental crimes.
We have an Iranian court recently trying 39 people for a $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement carried out by individuals close to the political elite or with their assent. Of the 39 people tried, four were sentenced to hang, two to life in prison, and others received terms of up to 25 years; in addition to prison time, some were sentenced to flogging, ordered to pay fines, and banned from government jobs. 5
And in Argentina in early July, in the latest of a long series of trials of former Argentine officials, former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years for a systematic plan to steal babies from women prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military junta’s war on leftist dissenters — the “dirty war” of 1976-83 that claimed 13,000 victims. Many of the women had “disappeared” shortly after giving birth. Argentina’s last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, was also convicted and got 15 years. Outside the courthouse a jubilant crowd watched on a big screen and cheered each sentence. 6
As an American, how I envy the Argentines. Get the big screen ready for The Mall in Washington. We’ll have showings of the trials of the Bushes and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Obama. And Henry Kissinger, a strong supporter of the Argentine junta among his many contributions to making the world a better place. And let’s not forget the executives of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Enbridge, Inc. Fining them just money is pointless. We have to fine them years, lots of them.
Without imprisoning these people, nothing will change. That’s become a cliché, but we very well see what continues to happen without imprisonment. And it’s steadily getting worse, financially and imperially.
Items of interest from a journal I’ve kept for 40 years, part VII
- Bantustanning the aboriginals all over the world: The Indians in America, the aboriginals in Australia, the blacks in South Africa, and the Palestinians in Palestine.
- From 1966 tape of President Lyndon Johnson: “I know we oughtn’t to be there [in Vietnam], but I can’t get out.” And he never did. And thousands more troops would die before Johnson left office. (Washington Post, March 12, 2006)
- The Germans had Lebensraum. Americans had Manifest Destiny.
- chinks, gooks, wogs, towelheads, ragheads — some of the charming terms used by American soldiers to describe their foes in Asia and the Middle East
- In June, 2005, Cong. Duncan Hunter (Rep.-CA) held a news conference concerning Guantánamo. Displaying some tasty traditional meals, he said the government spends $12 a day for food for each prisoner. “So the point is that the inmates in Guantánamo have never eaten better, they’ve never been treated better, and they’ve never been more comfortable in their lives than in this situation.” (Scripps Howard News Service, June 28, 2005, Reg Henry column)
- Vice President Dick Cheney: Guantánamo prisoners are well treated. “They’re living in the tropics. They’re well fed. They’ve got everything they could possibly want.” (CNN.com, June 23, 2005)
- “[Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld said Guantánamo’s operations have been more open to scrutiny than any military detention facility in history.” (Associated Press, June 14, 2005)
- “Their ‘coalition of the willing’ [in Iraq] meant the US, Britain, and the equivalent of a child’s imaginary friends.” Paul Loeb, Truthout, June 16, 2005
- Nobody has ever suggested that Serbia attacked or was preparing to attack a member of NATO, and that is the only event which justifies a military reaction under the NATO treaty, such as the 1999 78-day bombing of Serbia.
- Rumsfeld re Chinese military buildup: “Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: Why this growing investment?” (New York Times, June 6, 2005
- Rumsfeld re Venezuelan major weapons buildup: “I don’t know of anyone threatening Venezuela, anyone in this hemisphere.” (Washington Post, October 3, 2006) [Is it possible that the response to both points raised is the same? A country in North America bordering on Mexico?]
- The failure of the United Nations — as an institution and its individual members — to unequivocally oppose and prevent the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 can well be called “appeasement”.
- The Iraqi Kurds generally sided with Iran during the 1981-88 Iraq-Iran war; helped the United States before and during its bombing of Iraq in 2003 and during its occupation; and most Kurds don’t identify with being Iraqi according to polls.
- One of the military judges at Guantánamo said: “I don’t care about international law. I don’t want to hear the words ‘international law’ again. We are not concerned with international law.” (Democracy Now, April 12, 2005)
- George W. Bush, re al Qaeda types: “Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country. And we will help them rid Iraq of these killers.” (Baltimore Sun, May 6, 2004)
- “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq. Those who want to come and help are welcome. Those who come to interfere and destroy are not.” Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense and unindicted war criminal (Chicago Tribune, July 22, 2003)
- Timothy McVeigh, Gulf War veteran who bombed a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people: “What occurred in Oklahoma City was no different than what Americans rain on the heads of others all the time … The bombing of the Murrah building was not personal, no more than when Air Force, Army, Navy or Marine personnel bomb or launch cruise missiles against government installations and their personnel. … Many foreign nations and peoples hate Americans for the very reasons most Americans loathe me. Think about that.” (McVeigh’s letter to and interview with Rita Cosby, Fox News Correspondent, April 27 2001)
- Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and unindicted war criminal: “Defense Department officials don’t lie to the public. … The Defense Department doesn’t do covert action, period.” (Washington Post, February 21, 2002)
- The United States will “deal promptly and properly with the terrible abuses” of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers. “No country in the world upholds the Geneva Conventions on the laws of armed conflict more steadfastly than does the United States.” Douglas Feith, Boston Globe, May 5, 2004
- “The State Department plans to delay the release of a human rights report that was due out today, partly because of sensitivities over the prison abuse scandal in Iraq, U.S. officials said. One official who asked not to be identified said the release of the report, which describes actions taken by the U.S. government to encourage respect for human rights by other nations, could ‘make us look hypocritical’.” (Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2004)
- In the decades after 1945, as colonial possessions became independent states, it was widely believed that imperialism as a historical phenomenon was coming to an end. However, a new form of imperialism was in fact taking shape, an imperialism not defined by colonial rule but by the global capitalist market. From the outset, the dominant power in this imperialism without colonies was the United States.
- Francis Boyle re the capture and public display of Saddam Hussein: “This is the 21st century equivalent of the Roman Emperor parading the defeated barbarian king before the assembled masses so that they might all shout in unison: Hail Caesar!”
- The US-provided textbooks in Nicaragua after the US-instigated defeat of the Sandinistas in 1990 carefully excluded all mention of Augustino Sandino as a national hero. (Z magazine, November, 1991)
- “Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: ‘If you want your family released, turn yourself in.’ Such tactics are justified, he said, because, ‘It’s an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info.’ They would have been released in due course, he added later. The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said, the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and surrendered.” (Washington Post, July 28, 2003) [This is illegal under international law; in ordinary parlance we'd call it a kidnapping with ransom; in war, it's the collective punishment of civilians and is forbidden under the Geneva Convention]
- “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “Americans, who up until now had been so valued for their pragmatism, have become ideologues, ‘Bolsheviks’ of the Right, as Daniel Cohn-Bendit once described them.” (Jean-Marcel Bouguereau, concerning Iraq, Le Nouvel Observateur, September 8, 2003)
- Six months after its invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration defended its policy on the basis of schools and hospitals opening and strides made in providing water and electricity. (Washington Post, September 25, 2003) — These are all things 12 years of US bombing and sanctions had destroyed.
- For a summary of much of this, see: Peter Dale Scott, “Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington’s Ongoing Collusion With Terrorists“, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, August 7, 2011 ↩
- Camp Bondsteel entry on Wikipedia ↩
- Washington Post, January 27, 2012 ↩
- Enbridge entry on Wikipedia; Washington Post, July 29, 2012↩
- Reuters, July 31, 2012 ↩
- Associated Press, July 6, 2012 ↩
The U.S. media has made its intentions clear: the ‘rebels’ attacking Syria’s government must have more support to advance Syria’s “revolution.” This was the result of the much-hyped advance of Syria’s rebels into the country’s two largest cities, which the western media portrayed as a defining moment in global democracy. But “journalists” like these have blood on their hands, with much more in the works.
The systematic dismantling of Syria has more to do with western media lies and geo-politics than “revolution;” and the more that the U.S. media cheers on this bloodletting, the more politicians feel enabled to spill it.
The rebel attacks on the cities of Damascus and Aleppo were, in actuality, meant to convince the western media that the rebels are near victory, with the hopes of attracting more direct military support from abroad. In reality, however, the attacks in Damascus were instantly crushed by the Syrian government, but the U.S. media predicted “victory just around the corner” for the rebels.
Suddenly Syria is becoming a U.S. presidential topic of debate. Republicans have accused Obama of “outsourcing” the Syrian conflict, refusing to be involved when the rebels deserve extra support (guns mainly). But Obama is the principal cause of this humanitarian catastrophe. Middle East expert Robert Fisk explains:
“While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria…Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world.”
Fisk fails to mention that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are virtual puppets of U.S. foreign policy; they would never act independently to overthrow a regional neighbor; they do so on command.
Syria is conveniently surrounded by close allies of the U.S., and it is through these allies that guns and foreign fighters have poured into Syria to cause massive destruction. The rebel-held areas of Syria exist only on the rural borders of Turkey, Jordan, and Northern Lebanon, areas in alignment with U.S. foreign policy.
Revolutions are city affairs, but the Syrian revolution has been a rural undertaking ever since foreign powers decided to destroy the country. It is fortunate for the rebels that Syria’s two largest cities are close to these border countries: the rebels made a quick foray into the cities for some high profile attacks, and then drifted back to the border areas to seek protection from their friends.
Although it is true that the so-called Free Syrian Army includes defectors from the Syrian military, it is possible that these defectors are simply betting that, in the long term, the U.S. will spare no expense in overthrowing the Syrian government.
The commonsense question that the U.S. media never explores is whether Syrians want their country destroyed, the inevitable result of this conflict. In fact, there are numerous indications to the contrary. After constant cheerleading of the Syrian rebels, The New York Times has been forced to admit on several occasions that massive pro-government rallies have been held in Syria’s only two large cities:
“The turnout [at least tens of thousands] in Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, the [Syrian] capital, once again underlined the degree of backing that Mr. Assad and his leadership still enjoy among many Syrians… That support is especially pronounced in cities like Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s two largest.”
This was further confirmed by a poll funded by the anti-Syrian Qatar Foundation, performed by the Doha Debates:
“According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates, Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign.” (January 2, 2012).
This should be of zero surprise. Syrians have seen Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya destroyed by U.S.-style “liberation.” Americans should know better too — and many do — regardless of their media’s blatantly criminal behavior.
The United States is using a strategy in Syria that has been perfected over the years, starting with Afghanistan (in the 1980′s) Yugoslavia, and most recently in Libya: arming small paramilitary groups loyal to U.S. interests that attack the targeted government — including terrorist bombings — and when the attacked government defends itself, the U.S. cries “genocide” or “mass murder,” while calling for foreign military intervention.
In each instance the targeted society is dismembered, mass murder and ethnic/religious violence is consciously used to gain military advantage that inevitably spirals out of control; refugee crises are also natural consequences, which inevitably lead to cross border destabilization and wider regional conflicts. Millions of lives are completely ruined in each instance, if not ended.
There is every indication that the Syrian conflict has the potential — as the Iraq war before it — to cause incredible ethnic and religious violence on a multi-nation scale. Neighboring Lebanon has already experienced armed conflict as a direct result of Syria and is a powder keg of ethnic and religious tension that needs only a spark to explode, and Syria promises to spew flames.
The U.S. population has largely been spared images of the incredible suffering and social destruction caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Syria’s crisis is thus happening in an already-destabilized region, having the potential to completely tear the social fabric of the larger Middle East.
These war crimes benefit nobody except the very rich who take over the helm of governments and use these positions to privatize the invaded country’s economy, though especially the oil. The people in Syria, however, are being used as cannon fodder for an additional reason: so that the U.S. can have a steppingstone towards destroying Iran (Syria is Iran’s close ally). But Russia and China are acting more boldly against this genocidal behavior, and may act with more vigor in defending their allies, a dynamic that could easily lead to a regional or even world war.
Thus, the hell that has become the Middle East is being poked and prodded by U.S. foreign policy with absolutely no regard for the global implications. Both U.S. major presidential candidates are cheerleading the flood of blood to different degrees, ensuring that the next election will provide fresh “legitimacy” to an equally barbarous U.S. foreign policy.
Once upon a time, early in the previous century, a line in the sand was drawn, from Acre to Kirkuk. Two colonial powers — Britain and France — nonchalantly divided the Middle East between themselves; everything north of the line in the sand was France’s; south, it was Britain’s.
Many blowbacks — and concentric tragedies — later, a new line in the sand is being drawn by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Between Syria and Iraq, they want it all. Talk about the return of the repressed; now, as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Gulf Cooperation Council compound, they’re in bed with their former colonial masters.
Blow by blow
No matter what militarized Western corporate media spins, there’s no endgame in Syria — yet. On the contrary; the sectarian game is just beginning.
It’s 1980s Afghanistan all over again. The over 100 heavily armed gangs engaged in civil war in Syria are overflowing with Gulf Cooperation Council funds financing their Russian RPGs bought on the black market. Salafi-jihadis cross into Syria in droves — not only from Iraq but also Kuwait, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan, following enraged calls by their imams. Kidnapping, raping and slaughtering pro-Assad regime civilians is becoming the law of the land.
They go after Christians with a vengeance. They force Iraqi exiles in Damascus to leave, especially those settled in Sayyida Zainab, the predominantly Shi’ite neighborhood named after Prophet Muhammad’s grand-daughter, buried in the beautiful local mosque. The BBC, to its credit, at least followed the story.
They perform summary executions; Iraq’s deputy interior minister Adnan al-Assadi told AFP how Iraqi border guards saw the Free Syrian Army (FSA) take control of a border outpost and then “executed 22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers”.
The Bab al-Hawa crossing between Syria and Turkey was overrun by no less than 150 multinational self-described mujahideen — coming from Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Chechnya, and even France, many proclaiming their allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
They burned a lot of Turkish trucks. They shot their own promo video. They paraded their al-Qaeda flag. And they declared the whole border area an Islamic state.
Hand over your terrorist ID
There’s no way to understand the Syrian dynamics without learning that most FSA commanders are not Syrians, but Iraqi Sunnis. The FSA could only capture the Abu Kamal border crossing between Syria and Iraq because the whole area is controlled by Sunni tribes viscerally antagonistic towards the al-Maliki government in Baghdad. The free flow of mujahideen, hardcore jihadis and weapons between Iraq and Syria is now more than established.
The idea of the Arab League — behaving as NATO-GCC’s fully robed spokesman — offering exile to Bashar al-Assad may be as ridiculous as the notion of the CIA supervising which mujahideen and jihadi outfits may have access to the weapons financed by Qatar and the Saudis.
At first, it might have been just a bad joke. After all, the exile offer came from those exact same paragons of democracy, the House of Saud and Qatar, who control the Arab League and are financing the mujahideen and the anti-Syria jihad.
Baghdad, though, publicly condemned the exile offer. And the aftermath — in fact on the same day — was worthy of The Joker (yes, Batman’s foe); a wave of anti-Shi’ite bombings in Iraq, with over 100 people dead, duly claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda’s local franchise. Spokesman Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi energetically urged the Sunni tribes in Anbar and Nineveh to join the jihad and topple the “infidel” government in Baghdad.
The mujahideen/jihadi back and forth between Syria and Iraq has been more than confirmed by Izzat al-Shahbandar, a senior member of Iraq’s Parliament and close aide to Prime Minister al-Maliki. Baghdad even has updated lists. The crossover could only spawn more frenetic Orwellian newspeak, nailed by the website Moon of Alabama.
Mujahideen and jihadis active in Iraq are now “Iraqi insurgents”. And mujahideen and jihadis active in Syria remain the usual “Syrian rebels”. They have been all decommissioned as “terrorists”. Under this logic, the Colorado Batman shooter may also be described as an “insurgent”.
Follow the money
As it stands, the romanticized Syrian “rebels” plus the insurgents formerly known as terrorists cannot win against the Syria military — not even with the Saudis and Qataris showering them with loads of cash and weapons.
Nor is there any evidence the regime is contemplating a retreat to the Alawite mountains in northern Syria, as evoked by this collective foreign policy blog discussion. After all, the “rebels” do not control any territory.
What’s certain is who would profit from Syria being progressively balkanized. The House of Saud and Qatar would love nothing better than to have the civil war exported to Iraq and Lebanon; in their very narrow calculations, that would eventually yield fellow Sunni regimes.
So expect Saudi and Qatari funds buying every well-connected Syrian regime apparatchik in sight — even while the urban Sunni bourgeosie still has not abandoned the ship.
And as the civil war spreads out, a tsunami of weapons will keep inundating Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and of course Turkey, boosting assorted guerrilla outfits, Kurdish included — yet one more facet of now ostracized neo-Ottoman Turkey impotently watching nation states carved out of that 1920s colonial line in the sand being smashed.
Strategically, this will always be a war by proxy; essentially Saudi Arabia vs Iran — with the House of Saud behind hardcore Islamists of all colors compared to Qatar supporting “its” Muslim Brotherhood. But most of all this is the US-NATO-GCC vs Iran.
Israel’s motives go way beyond the Saudi-Qatari sectarian lust. Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has just excavated a Bushism — calling Iran-Syria-Hezbollah an “axis of evil”. What Tel Aviv wants in the long run is clear; for Washington, Obama administration or not, to bring down the axis.
Meanwhile, this long-term goal does not prevent Defense Minister Ehud Barak from getting crazy — speculating on an invasion of Syria based on a hypothetical transfer of Syrian anti-aircraft missiles or even chemical weapons to Hezbollah.
Washington for its part would love at least a pliable/puppet Sunni regime in Damascus to turbo-charge the encircling of Iran — without increasing Israel’s substantial fears. Meanwhile, what passes for “smart power” is no more than glorified wishful thinking. Here in detail is how pro-Israel functionaries in the US are designing post-Assad Syria.
Meet the new Bane
For all its production values, NATO’s jihad — in conjunction with al-Qaeda affiliates and copycats — still has not delivered regime change. UN Security Council sanctions won’t be forthcoming, as Beijing and Moscow have already stressed three times. So Plan Bs keep surfacing all the time. The latest is straight from the Iraq playbook; Damascus will attack civilians with chemical weapons. This lasted only for a few news cycles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already made it clear; regime change is anathema, especially for a reason that eludes most in the West — jihadis at the gates of Damascus means they are a stone’s throw from the Caucasus, the possible new pearl in a lethal collar bound to destabilize Muslim Russia.
Blowback meanwhile is ready to strike like the Medusa. What is for all practical purposes NATO-GCC mujahideen/jihadi death squads will be more than happy to bleed Syria across sectarian lines — in the sand and especially in urban areas. It’s hunting season now, not only for Alawites but also Christians (10% of the population).
A foreign policy that privileges Sunni jihadis formerly known as terrorists to create a “democratic” state in the Middle East seems to have been conjured by Bane — the Hannibal Lecter meets Darth Vader bad guy in The Dark Knight Rises, the final chapter of the Batman trilogy. And yes, we are his creators. While the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity, a masked Sunni jihadi superman is slouching towards Damascus to be born.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at email@example.com
1. http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage /world-news/detail/articolo/siria-syria-15868/
4. http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/07/nyt-terrorists-are -now-insurgents.html#comments
5. http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/07/20/ inside_the_secret_effort_to_plan_for_a_post_assad_syria
Source: Asia Times
Israel’s refusal to stop building illegal settlements in occupied West Bank and Jerusalem is a poignant reminder the Palestinians could share a fate similar to the indigenous American Indian people of the 1800’s.
According to the author, James W. Loewen, the U.S government’s model of wiping out nearly 54 million  indigenous people, with the remaining numbers relocated to desolate reservations, inspired Adolf Hitler to do the same against the Jews.
“Hitler admired the American concentration camps set up for Indians in the West and often lauded them to his inner circle for the effectiveness of American aptitude for promoting starvation and unequal combat, which inspired him for his own extermination of Jews and Gypsies. [Romani people],” Loewen wrote.
Noam Chomsky, the political author and professor of linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT), believes today’s role reversal of the Palestinians becoming the indigenous American Indian people is merited, but up to a point.
“It’s bad enough, but not that bad. The leading figures of the US conquests were quite explicit about taking over everything, and ‘exterminating’-their word-anyone who stood in the way. What we’d call ‘genocide’ if anyone else were to try it,” Chomsky said.
By mid-2011, 131 illegal settlements were in the region, housing 498,000 Israeli Jews, of which the majority of settlements are on privately owned Palestinian land, not part of Israel.
Israel occupies 77.5% of expropriated land, it terms, “State land”. This demographic change took more than 50 years of planning by the World Zionist organisation, a Jewish nationalist movement, exploiting Judaism, to advance colonisation in Palestine for a Jewish nation.
Integral to Israel’s land drive is an 8 metre concrete wall enclosure that surrounds illegal settlements. The idea was suggested in 1923, by the Polish Zionist, Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of the Jewish terrorist group, Irgun, in the Jewish Herald, stating: “This colonization can develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through.”
Israel’s colonisation depends on exploiting natural resources. The Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea area have 37 illegal settlements of 9,500 settlers and up to 56,000 Palestinians, yet Israel pumps most of the water to its settlements, forcing the Arabs to ration water supplies. When supplies end, families risk contamination from polluted streams or make up the 67% forced to buy water in tanks from the Mekorot Company, which is expensive. 
To Palestinian farmer’s, water shortages limit the variety of crops grown, affecting an already crumbling economy, which Israel controls, to almost $1.83bn in lost annual revenue,  with complete losses in the West Bank and Gaza totalling around £4.4bn. 
Nazism rise to power in Germany was an important juncture for Zionism. Although, the persecution of Jews didn’t interest the Zionists, Hitler’s demise in 1945 provided the opportunity to take advantage of Jewish suffering, by sabotaging efforts to relocate Jews to other parts of Europe, instead increased Jewish migration into Palestine.
By 1946 the Jewish population rose to 602,586, which was nearly four times the 1931 British Mandate population figure of 174,610, with 65% (approximately 1,339,763) being Arab as opposed to 759,717 (73.5%) in 1931.
“There are multiple motives behind the settlement enterprise, such as cheap housing, but nationalist and religious ideologies (e.g. the belief the West Bank, or ‘Judea and Samaria,’ is part of the biblical ‘Eretz Israel’ play a very significant role,” said Human Rights Watch spokesman, Bill Van Esveld.
The Judaic significance refers to, ‘chosen people’ and ‘promised land’, prominent among settler motives, and forms the basis of Israeli claims over Palestinian land. Most Rabbis peddle Zionist interpretation in the Jewish Holy book, the Tanakh, focusing on (Genesis 15:18) that, ‘God promised Abraham’s descendants the land between the River of Egypt and the Forat (Euphrates)’, and in (Exodus 23:31), where ‘the border was set from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines; the inhabitants of the land would be delivered into your hand; and the people shall be driven out’.
According to traditional Jewish scholars it is not for the Jewish people to fulfil this promise but a pact between God and the prophet Elijah, yet to be delivered. Once delivered, it would signal the later arrival of the Messiah, who would redeem the Jews and all of mankind. Until then, God commands the Jews to remain in exile until it is time to be redeemed. The term, ‘exile’, refers to Jews being loyal subjects to their nation of residence, and not establishing rule over the native population, including the land of Palestine. 
To gain unconditional public support, exploiting Judaism wasn’t enough. Zionism needed land. In 1901, a proposal was accepted by Zvi Hermann Schapira, a rabbi and professor of mathematics, to establish an institute, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), to aggressively purchase land for Jewish settlement, and form a ‘Jewish territory’ in the process.
By the 1930’s the JNF using its leading influence, persuaded other land agencies to adopt its practices of retaining the legal title of the land, with leases granted to Jewish settlers.
The first Zionist land purchase was in the Jezreel Valley, bought from the Sursuk family in 1925. The Judaic importance and its nearly 100,000 acres, of which at least 93,000 acres were fertile and arable, made it one of the most fertile lands in Palestine. The Sursuk family bought the land from the Turkish government for 18,000 Palestinian pounds (roughly $50,000). The Zionist movement offered Sursuk an obscene amount of 726,000 Palestinian pounds (approximately $2 million), which was accepted by the Sursuk family.  This kind of exploitive dealings was common practice.
Most land purchases were followed by Arab expulsion. A secret memorandum in 1930, written by Dr. A. Rupin, the Jewish Agency agriculture and settlement expert, to his Agency, confirms expulsion is built into Zionism, when he said, “Since there are hardly any more arable unsettled lands in Palestine, we are bound in each case of purchase of land and its settlement to remove the peasants who cultivated the land thus far, both owners of the land and tenants.”
It is believed 1270 Palestinian Arab families were removed from 13 villages. To avoid a public scandal, each family was compensated 24 Palestinian pounds (just above $50), seen as an exception to the rule, as normally Arab families received nothing, for example the land purchase of Hefer Valley, saw about 2000 Arab peasants dispossessed. 
The Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, dismisses the argument of the Palestinians leaving on their own accord. In his research paper, later included in his book, ‘The ethnic cleansing of Palestine’, he reveals the official version of the 1948 Arab expulsion.
“On 10 March 1948, a group of 11 veteran Zionist leaders and Jewish officers put the finishing touches to a large scale military operation for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Military orders that evening, were despatched to units, preparing Palestinian expulsion from vast areas of the country. The detailed methods included: large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centers; setting fires to homes, properties, and goods; expelling residents; demolishing homes; and finally planting mines in the rubble to prevent the expelled Arabs from returning. Each unit was issued its own list of villages and neighbourhoods to target in keeping with the master plan, Code-named Plan D (Dalet in Hebrew)”.
Taking six months to complete its mission, more than half of Palestine’s population, over 750,000 people, had been uprooted, 531 villages destroyed, and 11 urban neighbourhoods had been emptied of their inhabitants.
The squeezing of Arab lands, especially during 1948-1959, further expanded Israeli territory. Some of the villages included, the village of Umm Al-Fahm, with a population of 7000 and a land of 140,000 dunam*, by 1959 its population increased to 11,000 but the land was reduced to an astonishing 1500 dunam. The village of Tayyiba inhabited 3,500 people, with 45,000 dunam of land, by 1959 the population climbed to 7,000 but were left with only 13,000 dunam of land. The village of Tira with a population of 3100 people, owned 28,000 dunam, by 1959 the population rose to 5100 but only occupied 7,500 dunam of land. 
Deception was also used to expel Arab villagers, as witnessed in the Arab-Christian village of Ikrit in December 1948. The villagers were instructed by the Israeli army to leave their village temporarily, for two weeks, alleging land mines where found in the area and needed to be cleared for their safety. The residents moved to the nearby village of Rama, which became the Rama Refugee Camp, until it was safe to return.
Two weeks has now become 64 years. Instead of being resigned to their fate, in 1952 the villagers filed a lawsuit action, as they were instructed to leave for a limited time, so their property couldn’t be considered ‘absentee property’. The judges deceived the plaintiffs ruling in favour of the plaintiffs’ right of return to their land, but on condition of attaining a permit issued by the military governor. In reality, the Governor would never issue a permit.  The case still goes on. The court’s decision underlines how complicit the legal system is with Zionism’s policies.
Resistance also came from individuals, such as the Syrian, Shaykh Muhammad Izz ad-Din al-Qassam. He was an Imam of a local mosque in Haifa and an educator by night, teaching literacy to labourers. It was his student’s experiences, largely ex-farmers, recalling how they had to leave their lands by the JNF, which had a profound impact on Al-Qassam, who decided armed Jihad, (resistance) was necessary to end Arab dispossession, and in 1930, he formed a small militant group.
By 1935, the group raided Jewish settlements and sabotaged British rail lines, but Al-Qassam wanted a national revolution and wrote to the Arab leadership in Jerusalem, to support an armed struggle, but was rejected, as the leadership felt Arab rights could still be achieved through negotiations.
When news reached the British of al-Qassam’s vision, military units were deployed around a cave near Ya’bad in Jenin, where he was hiding, with twelve of his followers. Soon afterwards, the British soldiers pounded the area with heavy artillery. Al-Qassam, rather than surrender, took a last stand and was killed.
Al-Qassam’s efforts were not in vain, who instantly became a symbol of resistance, epitomising the Palestinian land struggle. His martyrdom triggered the great Arab Revolt (1936-1939). His legacy lives on with the military wing of Hamas named after him, Ezzedeen al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.
By the time Britain’s rule expired on 14 May 1948, the newly Zionist-aligned U.S government emerged as the leading global political power, and using its influence, forced the voting U.N nations to accept the two-state resolution, which the Palestinians rejected, giving 56% of the land to the Jews and 42% to the Arabs, the remaining land went to Christian and other small minority groups.
The pressure for U.N Nations to vote was acknowledged by James Forrestal, the U.S Minister of Defense at the time, in his memoirs, stating, “The methods used to pressure and to constrain the other nations within the U.N. were close to scandalous.” 
Since then, political elites have conspired to view the Palestinians as the ‘unseen’ people, which is emphasised with the ‘peace’ broker, the U.S government, forging strong economic and political ties with Israel, while ensuring there are no Palestinian agreements in dismantling illegal settlements and reclaiming civil rights equal to the Israeli citizens.
Palestine’s full admission to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), in October 2011 is a historic small step for the Palestinians to address its rights with some authority, and with at least 112 countries endorsing Palestinian statehood, the pressure to be given full U.N membership, is growing and cannot be ignored for much longer.
*One dunam is approximately 1,000 square metres
1 Denevan, William. “The Native Population of the Americas in 1492”. 2nd edition Publication. 1992.
2 Loewen, James W., “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”. Touchstone, Simon & Schuster. 1995.
3 Peace Now Settlement Watch Team, Report-“Construction of Settlements upon Private Land-Official Data”, March 2007.
4 Jabotinsky, Vladimir. The Jewish Herald (South Africa). “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs)”. November 26, 1937.
5 Ma’an Development Center, Parallel Realities: Israeli Settlements and Palestinian Communities in the Jordan Valley, 2012.
6 7 The economic cost of the Israeli occupation for the occupied Palestinian territory, A bulletin published by the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy in cooperation with the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ), September 2011.
8 Palestine 1946: District and District Centers during the Mandate period. Source: Palestine Remembered
9 Census of Palestine 1931, Volume I. British Mandate of Palestine.
10 Leizer Fishberg, Jews Against Zionism group.
11 Rabbi Cohen, Ahron. “Declaration on ‘the Palestine issue’ by Neturei Karta of the UK”. 25 June, 2003. (Accessed 26 June 2012).
12 The composition of the group that met is the product of a mosaic reconstruction of several documents, as demonstrated in my book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2006). The document summarizing the meeting is found in the Israel Defense Force Archives [IDFA], GHQ/Operations branch, 10 March 1948, File no. 922/75/595, and in the Haganah Archives [HA], File no. 73/94. The description of the meeting is repeated by Israel Galili in the Mapai center meeting, 4 April 1948, found in the HA, File no. 80/50/18. Chapter 4 of my book also documents the messages that went out on 10 March as well as the eleven meetings prior to ﬁnalizing of the plan, of which full minutes were recorded only for the January meeting.
13 Lehn and Davis 1988: 24, 86-7.
14, 19 Fouzi el-Asmar, “Zionist land-aggression in Israel/Palestine”, 4th Edition. English translation by Uri Davis, 4th Edition.
15 Arakhim, (Hebrew Newspaper), “The Arab Population in Israel”, No. 3, 1971, p.10
16 The historian Meir Pail claims, in From Haganah to the IDF [in Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: Zemora Bitan Modan, n.d.), p.307, the orders were sent a week later. For the dispatch of the orders, see also Gershon Rivlin and Elhanan Oren, The War of Independence: Ben-Gurion’s Diary, vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 1982), p.147. The orders dispatched to the Haganah brigades to move to State D—Mazav Dalet—and from the brigades to the battalions can be found in HA, File no.73/94, 16 April 1948.
17 On Plan Dalet, which was approved in its broad lines several weeks before that meeting, see Uri Ben-Eliezer, The Emergence of Israeli Militarism, 1936–1956 (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1995), p. 253: “Plan Dalet aimed at cleansing of villages, expulsion of Arabs from mixed towns.”
18 Ilan Pappe, white paper, p.7, “The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”.
20 Yediot Aharonot, Hebrew newspaper. 30 June 1972.
21 Pappe, 2006, p. 35 Pappe speech given by the Pakistani representative to the U.N Sir Zafrullah Kahn on 28 November 1947
22 “Forrestal’s Memoirs”, p.363, N.Y., The Viking Press. 1951.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is running out of rhetorical ammunition in the US’s Holy War against Syria. Perhaps it’s the strain of launching a NATO war bypassing the UN Security Council. Perhaps it’s the strain of being eaten for breakfast routinely by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Hillary has just called on “Western powers” and their Arab stooges – the NATOGCC compound  that passes for the “international community” – to “make it clear that Russia and China will pay a price because they are holding up progress” regarding weaponized regime change in Syria.
In non-newspeak, this means, “If you block our new war, there will be payback”.
Howls of laughter in the corridors of the Kremlin and the Zhongnanhai notwithstanding, this shows how desperate the NATOGCC compound is to force regime change in Syria as a stopover in cutting off Iran’s privileged connection with the Arab world. And this while Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan – leading NATO’s eastern flank – itches to attack Syria but can’t find a way to sell it to Turkish public opinion.
Into this incandescent context plunges WikiLeaks – releasing a batch of very embarrassing emails against the Assad system and the NATO rebels as well. A possible side effect will be to inspire waves of so-called progressives all across the West to start supporting the Holy War on Syria. A realistic effect will be to show how unsavory both sides – the police state Assad system and the armed opposition – really are.
Car bombing tourism, anyone?
It’s useful to examine what price Washington itself, not to mention its NATO subjects, could be paying for this Holy War branch-out fought with – who else – the same bunch of “terrorists” who until yesterday were about to destroy Western civilization and turn it into a giant Caliphate.
Washington, London and Paris have tried – twice – to twist the UN Security Council into yet another war. They were blocked by Russia and China. So plan B was to bypass the UN and launch a NATO war. Problem is NATO has no stomach – and no funds – for a very risky war with a country that can actually defend itself.
Thus plan C is to bet on a prolonged civil war, using the Far-from-Free Syrian Army (FSA), crammed with mercenaries and jihadists, and the band of opportunistic exiles known as the Syrian National Council (SNC).
The SNC has actually called for a Libya-style no-fly zone over Syria – shorthand for a NATO war. Turkey also formally asked NATO for a no-fly zone. NATO commanders may be inept – but they have a certain amount of experience with major embarrassment (see Afghanistan). They flatly refused it.
The SNC – and the FSA – could not be more un-representative. The “Friends of Syria” – as in Hillary and the Arab stooges – barely acknowledge the existence of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change (NCB), the main indigenous opposition movement in Syria, composed of 13 political parties, mostly from the Left, Arab nationalists and including one Kurdish party. The NCB firmly denounces any form of militarization and totally dismisses the FSA.
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari – a Kurd – has warned that Salafi-jihadists of the al-Qaeda mould are moving into Syria in droves. Apparently this bunch still listens very closely to “invisible” al-Qaeda ideologue Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri; five months ago he issued these marching orders to jihadis in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. It also helps that many of them are being weaponized – via different networks – by the House of Saud and Qatar.
For months everybody knows that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) of al-Qaeda-linked Abdul Hakim Belhaj has been active in Syria – as well as remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq now responsible for car bombings even in Damascus.
In the event of a post-Assad Syria dominated by hardcore Sunnis infiltrated by Wahhabis and Salafi-jihadists, guaranteed blowback will leave Afghanistan after the 1980s anti-Soviet jihad looking like a ride on Disneyland Hong Kong.
We accept Yuan and Rubles
As for China, it’s laughing about Hillary’s desperation all the way to the bank. As the House of Saud becomes ever more paranoid with what it sees as the Obama administration flirting with democracy in the Arab world, Beijing jacked up trade ties by delivering a bunch of new missiles to Riyadh.
And while the “West” flirts with Holy War, Beijing’s state-sponsored corporations have been buying commodities like crazy all across the Middle East, North Africa and South America – as well as stockpiling rare earths for strategic reserves. China produces no less than 97% of the world’s rare earths – used on everything from iPads to those shiny new missiles now frying in the Arabian desert.
Other side effects as in “the price to pay” for the bypassing of the UN and the obsession on NATO as global Robocop will be inevitable. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Holy War on Syria is a stopover on the way to Tehran. For instance, a new system of maritime insurance, as well as a new international exchange mechanism – bypassing Western diktats – may be about to be born.
Yet the most important element may be a concerted move by Russia, Iran and China to reorganize the global energy market by transacting outside of the petrodollar.
So Washington cuts Iran off from SWIFT – the international bank clearing system? Iran’s central bank counterpunches; if you want to do business with us, you can pay in any currency apart from the US dollar, or you can pay with gold.
This is the Holy Grail of the Holy War – not Syria; one thing is for Tehran to accept euros as payment for its oil and gas; another thing is to accept gold. On top of it with full support from both Russia and China.
In a nutshell; the whole Holy War syndrome is accelerating the end of the US dollar as global reserve currency. And when it happens, will there be an American Spring? Or will US elites – like the Mob – have the guts, and the muscle, to force Russia and China to pay the price?
1. NATOGCC is a compound of the North Atlantic treaty Organization and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
Source: Asia Times
The recent coup against Paraguay’s democratically elected president is not only a blow to democracy, but an attack against the working and poor population that supported and elected President Fernando Lugo, whom they see as a bulwark against the wealthy elite who’ve dominated the country for decades.
The U.S. mainstream media and politicians are not calling the events in Paraguay a coup, since the president is being “legally impeached” by the elite-dominated Paraguayan Congress. But as economist Mark Weisbrot explains in the Guardian:
“The Congress of Paraguay is trying to oust the president, Fernando Lugo, by means of an impeachment proceeding for which he was given less than 24 hours to prepare and only two hours to present a defense. It appears that a decision to convict him has already been written…The main trigger for the impeachment is an armed clash between peasants fighting for land rights with police…But this violent confrontation is merely a pretext, as it is clear that the president had no responsibility for what happened. Nor have Lugo’s opponents presented any evidence for their charges in today’s ‘trial.’ President Lugo proposed an investigation into the incident; the opposition was not interested, preferring their rigged judicial proceedings.”
What was the real reason the right-wing Paraguay Senate wanted to expel their democratically elected president? Another article by the Guardian makes this clear:
“The president was also tried on four other charges: that he improperly allowed leftist parties to hold a political meeting in an army base in 2009; that he allowed about 3,000 squatters [landless peasants] to illegally invade a large Brazilian-owned soybean farm; that his government failed to capture members of a [leftist] guerrilla group, the Paraguayan People’s Army… and that he signed an international [leftist] protocol without properly submitting it to congress for approval.”
The article adds that the president’s former political allies were “…upset after he gave a majority of cabinet ministry posts to leftist allies, and handed a minority to the moderates…The political split had become sharply clear as Lugo publicly acknowledged recently that he would support leftist candidates in future elections.”
It’s obvious that the President’s real crimes are that he chose to ally himself more closely with Paraguay’s left, which in reality means the working and poor masses of the country, who, like other Latin American countries, choose socialism as their form of political expression.
Although Paraguay’s elite lost control of the presidency when Lugo was elected, they used their stranglehold over the Senate to reverse the gains made by Paraguay’s poor. This is similar to the situation in Egypt: when the old regime of the wealthy elite lost their president/dictator, they used their control of the judiciary in an attempt to reverse the gains of the revolution.
Is it fair to blame the Obama administration for the recent coup in Paraguay? Yes, but it takes an introductory lesson on U.S. – Latin American relations to understand why. Paraguay’s right wing – a tiny wealthy elite – has a long-standing relationship with the United States, which has backed dictatorships for decades in the country – a common pattern in most Latin American countries.
The United States promotes the interests of the wealthy of these mostly-poor countries, and in turn, these elite-run countries are obedient to the pro-corporate foreign policy of the United States (The Open Veins of Latin America is an excellent book that outlines the history).
Paraguay’s elite is incapable of acting so boldly without first consulting the United States, since neighboring countries are overwhelmingly hostile to such an act because they fear a U.S.-backed coup in their own countries.
Paraguay’s elite has only the military for internal support, which for decades has been funded and trained by the United States. President Lugo did not fully sever the U.S. military’s links to his country. According to Wikipedia, ”The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) provides technical assistance and training to help modernize and professionalize the [Paraguay]military…”
In short, it is not remotely possible for Paraguay’s elite to act without assurance from the United States that it would continue to receive U.S. political and financial support; the elite now needs a steady flow of guns and tanks to defend itself from the poor of Paraguay.
The Latin American countries surrounding Paraguay denounced the events as they unfolded and made an emergency trip to the country in an attempt to stop them. What was the Obama administration’s response? Business Week explains:
“As Paraguay’s Senate conducted the impeachment trial, the U.S. State Department had said that it was watching the situation closely.”
“We understand that Paraguay’s Senate has voted to impeach President Lugo,” said Darla Jordan, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs…“We urge all Paraguayans to act peacefully, with calm and responsibility, in the spirit of Paraguay’s democratic principles.”
Obama might as well have said: “We support the right-wing coup against the elected president of Paraguay.” Watching a crime against democracy happen – even if it is “watched closely” – and failing to denounce it makes one complicit in the act. The State Department’s carefully crafted words are meant to give implicit support to the new illegal regime in Paraguay.
Obama acted as he did because Lugo turned left, away from corporate interests, towards Paraguay’s poor. Lugo had also more closely aligned himself with regional governments which had worked towards economic independence from the United States. Most importantly perhaps is that, in 2009, President Lugo forbid the building of a planned U.S. military base in Paraguay.
What was the response of Paraguay’s working and poor people to their new dictatorship? They amassed outside of the Congress and were attacked by riot police and water cannons. It is unlikely that they will sit on their hands during this episode, since President Lugo had raised their hopes of having a more humane existence.
President Lugo has unfortunately given his opponents an advantage by accepting the rulings that he himself called a coup, allowing himself to be replaced by a Senate-appointed president. But Paraguay’s working and poor people will act with more boldness, in line with the social movements across Latin America that have struck heavy blows against the power of their wealthy elite.
President Obama’s devious actions towards Paraguay reaffirm which side of the wealth divide he stands on. His first coup in Honduras sparked the outrage of the entire hemisphere; this one will confirm to Latin Americans that neither Republicans nor Democrats care anything about democracy.
“Around 38,000 people are living in deplorable conditions and unfit for humans.”
The killings of three Palestinian refugees this past week including Ahmad Qassim from Nahr al Bared ( ‘cold river’) camp near Tripoli and 15 year old Khaled al-Youssef from Ein el Helwe (‘ the beautiful eye’) 30 miles south of Beirut in Saida, and the wounding of more than a dozen others by the Lebanese army were not, as some Lebanese politicians are claiming, “ accidental security incidents”. They were avoidable negligent homicides as much so as Zionist occupation forces and settler/colonists in Palestine regularly commit.
It is true that Lebanon’s army, like the country itself, is confessionalized and as it has done before, the army will likely fracture if a civil conflict erupts. It is also undertrained, weak on discipline, and ill equipped. But from this observer’s experience and learning from friends in the army, the least that can be said on its behalf is that it is no worse and is probably more humane than some others in the region.
Some in the Palestinian community fear that the recent killings of refugees by the army represents a revival of what in the Lebanese army it has often meted out to Palestinians and that it may be intensifying 30 years after the massacre at Sabra-Shatila.
Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are the worst 12 of the 57 UN established camps in the Levant including Jordan, Syria, Gaza and occupied Palestine in terms of problems of poverty ( 65 per cent of Palestinian family living in camps in Lebanon live on less than six dollars a day), health, education, general living conditions, discrimination, isolation, joblessness, shanty housing and a lack of proper elementary and secondary schools, forbidden by law to enroll in state colleges, lack of adequate clinics, hospitals and sewage systems as well as essentially no potable water, little fresh air or sunlight in many areas of the camps, rising respiratory diseases, domestic abuse and psychological health issues. Contributing to all of the above is the outlawing of Palestinians enjoying the elementary civil right to work or the own a home.
During a recent visit to the camps, Muhammad Farwana, a member of Hamas’s politburo described the Nahr al-Barid camp in which “around 38,000 people are living in deplorable conditions and unfit for humans.” He added: “I visited Nahr al-Bared and no human being can lead a normal life in it. Not even animals can have a normal life in it.”
No refugees on earth are so targeted and discriminated against as Lebanon’s Palestinians and only some political help and negligible economic assistance sporadically arrives from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Not even the employees at the Embassy of Palestine in Beirut have been paid their salaries for the past two months due significantly to US and EU aid shrinkage aimed at forcing yet more concessions from the PA in favor of the Zionist occupiers of their country.
Every camp Palestinian family in Lebanon can recount cases of arbitrary arrests, beatings, false imprisonment and harassment from the army’s Military Intelligence unit, the supposedly disbanded Deuxieme Bureau. This Stasi type organization — supposedly reformed — hunted and terrorized Palestinians following the PLO departure from Beirut in August of 1982. According to long time PLO representative in Lebanon. Shafiq al Hout. in his wonderful book, My Life in the PLO, the Deuxieme Bureau was a major factor in 70,000 departing Lebanon in just1983 via Beirut airport.
The army initially suspected that the motor bike riders it stopped at Nahr al Bared camp had no ID. This was a reasonable assumption because thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have no ID because the country where they were born, Lebanon, refuses to provide them ID, thus depriving them of even the few rights given their fellow Palestinian refugees. Most Palestinians, for example, who arrived in Lebanon after being expelled from Jordan in 1970 never registered with the Lebanese barely functioning bureaucracy and despite a quarter century of promises by politicians here to remedy “the non-ID problem” it’s been just more idle talk with not action being taken. Once more the non-ID issue has become a deadly one and officials promising yesterday to solve the problem. Lebanon’s politicians will likely do nothing unless they see some significant personal benefit. Hence non-ID Palestinians will remain subject to arrest at any time, not able to register their marriages or get ID’s for their children or achieve a score of other civil acts that require a government issued ID.
While a meeting was held between a number of officers including the head of Army Intelligence, Edmond Fadel, with a delegation of Palestinian factions in order to restore calm in the camp there is little confidence that much was achieved except another pledge on behalf of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji to uncover the details of the crime “through a swift investigation that will determine the perpetrators and prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.” Given past experience, few believe the investigation will be serious or even completed.
Compounding these problems is a number of politicians who lack the political will to provide a simple available solution. Lebanon’s Interior Minister on 6/20/12 told Akbar al-Youm news agency that “the disturbances” (army killing of Palestinian civilians) that occurred lately in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein al-Hilweh were not related to what had happened in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp… What happened in the two Palestinian camps has nothing to do with the security situation in Lebanon. They were just coincidence. The problems inside the camps have been resolved by the Lebanese army.”
This gross mischaracterization of what occurred at the camps this past week is inflaming passions even more. Every 9 year old anywhere in Lebanon knows that the “incident” in Ein el Helwe was a direct and predictable result of the army’s killing in Nahr al Bared. What is remarkable is the restraint shown by refugees in the other 10 camps and dozen ‘gatherings’.
Taking the opposite view from the Interior Minister, the Speaker of Lebanon’s Parliament chimed in with the observation that: “The incidents at the Palestinian camps and the targets against the Lebanese army are not coincidence and not innocent and call for concern. A foreign plot is present but there is an internal participation in it,” he warned, reiterating that the security incidents from the North to the South are not a coincidence.
Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn’s declaration on 6/20/12 “that attacking Army posts is dangerous and does not serve the interests of the Palestinian brothers at all” raised a question whether he was even aware what had happened at either camp. At least he rejected the foreign plot thesis designed to undermine Lebanese Army accountability.
What is clear is that local politicians will skew the facts to suit their political instincts and are incapable of analyzing the events objectively and that the killings at Nahr al Bared and Ein el Helwe are not the result of the Syrian chaos. It is perhaps remarkable that the camps have to date not exploded into violence while exercising their legitimate rights to protect themselves against those, including the Lebanese army, perceived as killing their children and families.
Were Lebanon politicians sincere in their hand-wringing claims to be seeking a solution to Army attacks on Palestinians they could make an immediate differences by implementing the following:
– Conduct a full transparent investigation of the army killings of refugees and amnesty for camp residents who have protested the past week unless it is proved that the refugees committed any crime by exercising their right of free speech.
-Take measures to remove army provocations, insults, and harassments of entering and exiting camp residents that are causing distress to the Palestinians in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and to respect the refugee’s dignity and humanity.
-Pull the army from inside Nahr al Bared, where it acknowledges there are no weapons and withdraw to two kilometers from the entrances to the other five camps it surrounds thus removing the likelihood of bored and or malevolent troops harassing camp residents.
-Withdraw military deployment among the residents of the camp. End the army’s system of permits, which refugees are forced to secure in order to enter and exit their camp authorized originally in 1949 by the United Nations.
-End the practice, such as is the case at NAB camp of sending in Mabarrat (intelligence) personnel with every camp visitor to monitor conversations between the visitors and camp residents.
- Immediately order the army to vacate the camps public spaces including Nahr al Bared’s graveyard, the football field, and all residential buildings annexed by and currently occupied by the army.
- Release the foreign and domestic aid donated to Nahr al-Bared in order to rebuild the camp, after five years since its needless and vengeful destruction and to stop the media campaigns and fabricated news that are helping in igniting sedition and increasing tension to create “fake instability.”
And perhaps most fundamental and crucial:
Take a few hours during a current Parliamentary session to repeal the racist 2001 law outlawing home ownership for Palestinian refugees and grant immediately grant Palestinian refugees the internationally mandated right to work.
The American government also has a special obligation to remedy this crisis given its work to prevent the refugees from returning to their country. The White House should enforce the provisions of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act and cut aid to Lebanon, including its army, until it complies with international law in its treatment of refugees. The US would do well to desist from piling sanctions on Iran and Syria and apply a few to Lebanon until it grants civil rights to its unwanted guests from occupied Palestine.
Unfortunately when US Secretary of State Clinton telephoned Lebanon’s Prime Minister Miqati last week to lobby for Lebanese support against the Bashar Assad government in Syria, she omitted, as always, to insist that Lebanon comply, as a condition of future US aid, with its internationally mandated obligations toward its Palestinian refugees.
The ball is in the Lebanese Parliaments court. Time is running out for impunity relative to Lebanon’s refusal to grant elementary civil rights for their sisters and brothers from occupied Palestine.
At the current rate of legal and illegal immigration, the United States will add 100 million foreigners to our civilization within the next 38 years. From a sustainable and cohesive society, we will drop our country into the vortex of accelerating cultural poverty, water shortages, energy dilemmas, resource scarcities, an overwhelmed environment, degraded quality of life and senseless loss of our standard of living.
Last week, Barack Obama engineered an illegal amnesty of the often defeated Dream Act that allows nearly one million illegal alien offspring of illegal alien parents to enjoy complete immunity from our laws. In time, those same children will be able to “chain migrate” millions upon millions of their families into the United States.
While Obama should be considering 14 million unemployed Americans as well as 46 million Americans subsisting on food stamps, he fails to grasp the enormity of his unconstitutional executive order. Another black activist, former House member Barbara Jordan said, “It is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.” She couldn’t be called a “racist” because she was an African-American.
Anyone else who speaks up against illegal immigration or continued mass legal immigration immediately receives the “racist, xenophobe, nativist” monikers. Those names have cowed the majority of Americans into submission. We are being displaced from our own language, culture and country, much like we displaced the Native Americans.
With over 20 million illegal border crossers residing in the USA, Time Magazine columnist, Fareed Zakaria, an Indian immigrant himself, wrote an asinine piece in the June 18, 2012 issue titled: “Open the borders: broken and obsolete—an immigration deadlock makes the U.S. a second-rate nation.” This statement comes from an arrogant immigrant who lacks any understanding that his own country, India, wallows in 1.2 billion miserably compacted people living on borrowed time. Indians suffer intractable environmental degradation and human misery on a scale unknown to Americans. For example, India features 1,000 kids under the age of 12 dying of dysentery, diarrhea and other water borne disease every single day of the year, yet officials can’t do anything about it because their overall population grows by a whopping 11 million annually. They cannot solve their basic problems of over 665 million Indians openly defecating on the land daily. Why? They cannot secure a toilet. (Source: www.populationmedia.org)
Yet, Zakaria wants us to follow his country into the same human mega-pileup in our own society. We chose NOT to run our civilization into the ground by choosing to birth 2.03 children per American woman since 1970. It’s as if Time Magazine editor Richard Stengel wants to punish our citizens for making a logical choice for a sustainable society. Since 1965 and the notoriously stupid Teddy Kennedy Immigration Reform Act, we imported 100 million people within 40 years. Did it solve any problems around the world? Answer: developing countries added four billion people, net gain by last year. They add another 1 billion every 12 years. The line of desperate people never ends. The next 100 million immigrants will arrive into America within 38 years at current immigration rates.
At the same time, as if to condemn us for our sensible immigration laws, Time Magazine ran another foolhardy story in the June 25, 2012 issue: “We are Americans* *just not legally: not legal, not leaving” by Jose Antonio Vargas who is himself, an illegal alien, and boasts about it. Time gave him front and center stage with no rebuttals from Americans. I’ve submitted dozens of articles on our population predicament caused by endless immigration. They won’t publish anything rational or logical that counters their quest to flood this country with immigrants. Vargas condemns us for his lawbreaking along with his 20 million lawbreaking friends.
Ironically, Time and this illegal writer tally only 12 million illegal aliens as they have for the past 10 years. If they gain amnesty, look for 20 to 25 million instant citizens that will run this country into greater environmental chaos, poverty and Balkanization.
While Obama openly courts those illegals as potential voters, Mitt Romney proposes workplace enforcement to create, “Self-deportation.”
All the while, our teens and college kids cannot secure a job. Our African-American minority falls into an endless hole of joblessness while American Hispanics find themselves with lower wages and degraded jobs. I finished my bicycle ride in Washington DC last week. Janitors, waiters, bell hops, window washers and taxi cab drivers speak every language on the planet but English. Who the hell promotes this fiasco and why?
At the end of the article, illegal alien writer Vargas said, “What exactly do you want to do with us? More important, when will you realize that we are one of you?”
No, he is not! He’s a foreign national who belongs in his own country. We don’t want 12 million lawbreakers pretending to be U.S. citizens. That’s like saying there are so many bank robbers, rapists and child molesters among us that we should make their crimes legal because they have become the norm.
Dear reader, we already import 100,000 legal immigrants every 30 days into America. Watch these two short videos to see what we will bequeath to our children. It’s not pretty.
It is now pretty much a matter of record that, after World War II, refugees from Europe landed in Palestine and started a massive terrorist blitzkrieg campaign, massacring thousands of Christians and Muslims in their wake. In a vast display of ethnic cleansing similar to what had previously happened in Europe, approximately 500 local towns were destroyed, 15,000 residents of Palestine were killed and 750,000 more were expelled. Local residents of this area (the ones who actually survived, that is) started referring to this premeditated slaughter as “al Nakba” — The Catastrophe.
And a second “Nakba” is apparently now in the works.
According to University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer, “Given the right circumstances – say a war involving Israel that is accompanied by serious Palestinian unrest – Israeli leaders might conclude that they can expel massive numbers of Palestinians from Greater Israel and depend on the lobby to protect them from international criticism and especially from sanctions. We should not underestimate Israel’s willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presents itself.” http://www.silviacattori.net/
Are the land-grabbing neo-cons and faux-Jewish corporatists who now run Israel actually contemplating the instigation of an actual Second Nakba? Holy yikes! Are they seriously actually thinking about starting a second wide-ranging slaughter and ethnic cleansing on the scale of the first Nakba? Perhaps under the cover of a war on Iran? Good grief.
Both strategically and morally, that whole idea sucks eggs.
But then I got an e-mail from a Palestinian friend of mine who lives on the West Bank and he said that his village had just been brutally invaded by a needlessly-large number of highly-armed Israeli neo-con occupation forces.
“During the invasion last night,” wrote my friend, “one of the soldiers stole 1000 Nis (200€) from a moneybox of the youngest brother of my neighbor Mosab. Mosab’s brother had been saving this money for months, little by little from his work as a vegetable farmer and salesman. A laptop was also stolen from the house.
“Throughout the operation the soldiers fired sound grenades, a type of riot control weapon that produces a flash and a loud bang. The sound is sufficient to make the most weathered and well-prepared person flinch in fear and when this weapon is used inside a village at night, it will not only serve to keep people awake but also to bring about memories of past atrocities that the village of Ni’lin has had to live through.
“Many villagers came out of their houses to protest the brutality of the Israeli army and were met with tear gas and more sound bombs. The tear gas was fired straight at civilian houses which caused dozens children to suffer from tear gas inhalation. Live ammunition was also used by the Israeli soldiers as a scare tactic.”
And, right at this very moment, this type of malicious military activity is going on constantly all over the West Bank. Constantly. Night and day. Occupation armies and armed settlers constantly swoop down upon Palestinian citizens night and day. No one is safe. And there are all-too-many instances where the occupation armies shoot Palestinian children, shop-keepers and farmers, steal Palestinian goods, defecate in Palestinian homes and piss in their water supplies. To say the least.
Sure, maybe some day another full-scale blitzkrieg-style Nakba invasion of armed soldiers, settlers and thugs may suddenly descend en mass upon occupied Palestine and expel every single Christian and Muslim Palestinian in “Greater Isreal” to the other side of the Jordan River, into Lebanon and Syria, or over into Egypt. And this would be dramatic as hell and make the front pages of all the newspapers. Sure.
But in the meantime, another “Second Nakba” has actually already begun: The Nakba by a Thousand Cuts.
According to Mearsheimer, “There are now about 480,000 settlers in the Occupied Territories and a huge infrastructure of connector and bypass roads… Between 1993 and 2000, Israel confiscated 40,000 acres of Palestinian land, constructed 250 miles of connector and bypass roads, doubled the number of settlers, and built 30 new settlements…. [And since then,] the Israeli prime minister has not only refused to stop building the 2500 housing units that were under construction in the West Bank, but just to make it clear to Obama who was boss, in late June 2009, he authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank. Netanyahu refused to even countenance any limits on settlement building in East Jerusalem, which is supposed to be the capital of a Palestinian state.”
I could write more about this death by a thousand cuts but what good would it do. The Second Nakba has already begun. And nobody seems to care — except for its victims. History is repeating itself here. This is so much like Germany in 1933 when corporatists started establishing prisons-for-profit and nobody cared what happened to the Jews. And it’s also like South Africa in 1962 when corporatists took control of establishing Bantustans and nobody cared what happened to the Blacks.
And will this also be like America in a few more years, after corporatists have also seized absolute power here — and nobody will care what happens to us either?
Here’s another example of a forced population displacement that nobody cared about, one that was overseen by Britain and the United States (not by Nazis), involved 13 million Europeans and cost approximately 500,000 to 2,000,000 lives, including the lives of 7,000 children under the age of five:
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians—the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16—were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland.
“As The New York Times noted in December 1945, the number of people the Allies proposed to transfer in just a few months was about the same as the total number of all the immigrants admitted to the United States since the beginning of the 20th century. They were deposited among the ruins of Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves as best they could. The number who died as a result of starvation, disease, beatings, or outright execution is unknown, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people lost their lives in the course of the operation.” http://chronicle.com/article/
Are we having fun yet?
I was recently thinking about all the wars that America has been in over time, and then started listing them. Let’s see. There’s been America’s various wars on the Middle East, that Korean “police action”, World War I, World War II, the American Civil War, Vietnam, the Central American Wars, the Cold War and also various covert wars where other countries did the fighting but Washington supplied the cash — such as the violent and tragic fall of democratic governments in the Congo and Iran.
But when we consider the Big Picture, did any of these wars ever even make even the slightest difference — other than to make innumerable American citizens poorer and/or deader?
Even World War II, which was supposed to keep us safe from corporatism? But did it? Now that a kinder, gentler form of corporatism currently runs the world? Or what about World War I, which was supposed to keep us safe for democracy? Under Citizens United, is our democracy now all that safe? Or take Vietnam, which was supposed to keep us safe from China — the landlord who now holds our mortgage?
Did any of these wars make any difference at all? Other than to kill approximately one billion people and waste trillions of dollars and destroy untold resources — which we now desperately need? Not really. And nobody had fun during any of them either.
US foreign military sales have shot over $50 billion. Another record-breaking year is expected thanks to US ally Saudi Arabia, which accounts for three-fifths of the sum.
“We have already surpassed $50 billion in sales in the fiscal year 2012,” Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told journalists on Thursday.
Though it is three months till the end of the fiscal year, the figure already shows a 70 per cent increase over government-to-government military deals in 2011. Last year also set a record for the US with sales at some $30 billion.
“The sale to Saudi Arabia was very significant,” said Shapiro. The $29.4 billion deal finalized in December included 84 new fighter jets and the modernization of 70 old jets.
Former Canadian diplomat Peter Dale Scott told RT that Saudi’s big contribution to Washington’s revenues may be explained by the long standing “arms for petrol” relations between the two countries.
“During the oil price hikes of 1971 and 1973 the US negotiated an agreement to pay Saudi Arabia higher prices for crude, on the understanding that Saudi Arabia would recycle the petrodollars, many of them through arms deals,” said Professor Scott. “So recently the imports of American hardware to Saudi Arabia have grown significantly.”
The record-breaking figure also includes the sale of the Joint Strike Fighter to Japan, which is valued at approximately $10 billion, according to the State Department.
As for direct commercial sales, whereby companies sell directly to foreign governments as opposed to government-to-government sales, an official report released the previous week only accounts for 2011. That year brought US contractors some $44 billion with top customers including Jordan, Japan, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
How to join the US gun club
Shapiro also pointed out that weapons sales are licensed “to serve foreign policy interests” and brought up the trend of tying defense contracts to diplomacy. Countries willing to buy from the US have to be sure “about the nature of the relationship” with Washington.
“When a country buys an advanced US defense system through our foreign military sales, direct commercial sales or foreign military financing programs, they aren’t simply buying a product. They are also seeking a partnership with the United States. These programs both reinforce our diplomatic relations and establish a long-term security relationship,” said the official.
Can this mean that a country importing US weapons may fall under America’s influence?
“Yes, this link may be correct,” observed Professor Scott. “Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, for instance, was the third-largest recipient of the US aid, which arrived in the shape of finances and arms. In return, Cairo granted security in the region, which first meant acceptance of Israel.”
Whether 2013 see a further increase in foreign military sales is “too early to predict,” says the US State Department
The US is expected to continue expanding into key markets, including India, which is considering a $1.4 billion deal for 22 Apache helicopters. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency is also eyeing military sales of more than $1.1 billion to Qatar and Oman, reports ArabianBusiness.com. Qatar is considering purchase of Black hawk helicopters and missile-warning systems, while Oman might be buying missiles and military training kits.
Free weapons for Russia’s backyard?
However, it appears that some Asian countries can get US weapons for free, a report in the Russian daily Kommersant reveals. The Pentagon is engaged in talks with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to hand over some of their military hardware after NATO troops quit Afghanistan in 2014.
This would mean distributing armored vehicles, tank trailers, tankers, medical equipment and communication tools – everything which is not worth sending back home due to high transport costs. Pakistan, affronted by continuous drone strikes, has pushed up fees from $250 per container to $5,000.
The US reportedly intends to give away some of its equipment for free, while some of it is to be left behind for secure storage, as it may prove to be of need later – for new operations in Afghanistan or Pakistan or other Central Asian countries.
Kyrgyzstan has confirmed negotiations are under way, but officials do not believe they will get anything valuable.
“This is done to study the three countries leaders’ reactions as well as the reaction of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Collective Security Treaty Organization,” an unnamed official in the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry told Interfax news agency.
Meanwhile, the prospects of finding US military hardware in neighboring countries have reportedly thrust Moscow into “utter bewilderment.”
“This kind of scenario is totally unacceptable for Russia. It would contradict our arrangements with Central Asian partners and violate our agreement within the Collective Security Treaty Organization,” a diplomat told Kommersant.
Syria is bracing for more political chaos as all antagonistic forces appear to have entered into an unholy alliance to bring the government to its knees by ingeniously choreographing massacres and attributing them to the Syrian government, thereby turning the country into fertile soil for US-led invasion.
Deadly clashes broke out on Friday between Syrian forces and armed groups in the township of Houla in Homs and claimed the lives of 108 people including at least 32 children according to the head of the UN observer mission in Syria. However, Syrian authorities on Sunday denied having a hand in the carnage.
“Women, children and old men were shot dead. This is not the hallmark of the heroic Syrian army,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdesi told reporters in Damascus.
Makdesi said the massacre was carried out by “terrorists” after fighting between rebels and forces loyal to al-Assad.
“They (rebels) were equipped with mortars and anti-tank missiles, which is a quantitative leap,” he said.
Violence is spiraling drastically despite the presence of 260 UN observers who are currently monitoring the ceasefire as part of a six-point peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan in March.
Earlier this month, 55 people were killed and about 400 others injured in two strings of terrorist bombings near a military intelligence building in Damascus.
What deserves due attention in the carnage that happened in Houla is that many were shot dead at close range, many were Shia Muslims and many were women and children. In other words, these atrocities are conjectured to have been carried out at the hands of the extremist Wahhabis and al-Qaeda elements who are notorious for targeting women and children in their terrorist operations.
Another element which reinforces this speculation is that many among those who were killed were Shia Muslims for whom the Wahhabis nurse inveterate loathing. Despite the prevailing trend in western media to rule out the possible presence of the al-Qaeda in the country, the presence of al-Qaeda terrorists is gradually gaining strength in Syria. They are believed to have penetrated the country from Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
Washington is funding the rebel groups in Syria. A report reveals that the rebels in Syria “have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the United States” (The Washington Post ):
“We are increasing our nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, and we continue to coordinate our efforts with friends and allies in the region and beyond in order to have the biggest impact on what we are collectively doing,” said a senior State Department official, one of several US and foreign government officials on the condition of anonymity.
Besides, Washington is pressing Qatar and Saudi Arabia to fund and provide the rebels with heavy weaponries.
This behavior on the part of Washington runs counter to the fact that many rebels are linked with al-Qaeda and that the US claims to be fighting the terror group. Along with Washington, the British government acknowledged early in March that it has provided an extra 2 million to the Western-backed rebels fighting the Syrian government. Prime Minister David Cameron told a hearing at the House of Commons Liaison Committee that his government had provided cash and equipment to western-backed rebels in Syria in the name of emergency medical supplies and food.
The government of al-Assad is losing ground thanks to the influx of the extremist Wahhabis and al-Qaeda members and on account of the financial and military support the rebels receive from the West and the Persian Gulf regimes.
The noose is getting tighter and tighter and all Washington and the extremists want is an absence of Bashar al-Assad. The implication is not that they are consciously united to topple the government of al-Assad but that they are united in a malicious cause to do so, each with its own benefits to reap. In other words, all these groups are fomenting unrest in Syria, and dragging the country into shreds of despair in their own way. Although these groups may ostensibly be daggers drawn over different issues, they share one common point: the fall of al-Assad and therefore turning the situation to their own interest.
Metaphorically speaking, Syria is now going through a sea of troubles where there are many opportunists who will readily make the best of the crisis in the country.
Most importantly, Israel is silently and ironically funneling millions of dollars to the rebels in Syria. In fact, Israel is capitalizing enormously on the collapse of Bashar al-Assad government. The fall of al-Assad in Syria means a lot to Israel. It is in fact tantamount to immense latitude and a capacious place of potency in the Middle East.
Syria is now a nightmarishly humanitarian catastrophe brought about by the regional Arab puppet regimes, extremist Wahhabis, al-Qaeda, Washington and Israel.
Forget the Loch Ness Monster. There’s a new mysterious underwater creature that’s getting tongues wagging. But unlike Scotland’s mirage-like legend, this large gelatinous appendage that some experts are calling a Deepstaria Enigmatica has been captured on video.
The U.K.’s Daily Mail has images of the “whale-like blob” that were captured by a deep-sea remote-controlled underwater camera.
Though the milky mass looks like nothing that has ever been seen before, wild theories abound.
Video from: YouTube.com (No Audio)
Everything from the remains of a whale’s placenta to a special type of jellyfish have been suggested, although the article notes that the object’s appendages and organs would make it unique among its slippery brethren.
One theory that experts have suggested is that it may be a Stygiomedusa Gigantea, a fish of the jelly variety that has only been spotted 114 times in almost as many years.
The rarely-studied (and thus perfectly named) Deepstaria Enigmatica jellyfish has also been proposed, although the mass’ host of irregularities —like its unusual organ placement — has also thrown that guess into murky waters.
Source: Jordana Divon | DailyBrew
From movie stars to us ordinary folk, everyone is at risk from those without conscience.
Michael Jackson stood trial for a crime. He was found to be innocent, but the cost exacted on Jackson’s career and on him emotionally, financially, and physically, was enormous. Jackson was an unusual man, uniquely talented, whose art changed the world. He was victimized by those without conscience who saw his vulnerabilities and were determined to victimize him. As bad as it was, it could have been worse.
You have heard about the Arvizo family. But another man Jackson trusted, and invited into his home, also lied without conscience. If the Duke of Manchester had had just a little more credibility Michael Jackson might not have avoided being unjustly convicted of a crime he did not commit.
It is time all of us take steps to reduce the risk presented by psychopaths. We have the tools. We just need to use them.
On one level, Alexander Montagu is a hereditary peer of the realm holding multiple titles, the highest being Duke of Manchester. On another, he is a man whose life has focused him on victimizing others.
The Duke of Manchester, has been identified as, “having psychopathic tendencies,” since 1984, when Dr. Williamson of Pine Lodge Clinic, conveyed this opinion to Montagu’s solicitor, Mr. Voltan Varszenghy, who repeated this assessment to Judge Lisink, during a hearing held September 6, 1984, this appearing in the transcript from the hearing.
Montagu had inherited the title of Viscount of Mandeville, given to the ducal heir in June, 1985 at the death of his uncle, the previous Duke. His father, Angus, had succeeded to the title, becoming the 12th Duke. Alex’s reaction was recorded in this article, published in Australia,June 5th, titled, “Mary and Alexander: It’s a title fight.”
Two months later Alexander was standing in the dock, facing conviction on multiple criminal charges. The Age, an Australian paper, published this article, titled, “Duke’s jailed heir weeps in dock. Included is a quote from Judge Byrne, who heard the case. The paper summarized Byrne’s remarks as, “Montagu’s pathetic state and gross personality disorder were largely responsible for his crimes, but he (the judge) said that the offenses had been, “carried out with a degree of cunning.” The direct quote is telling.
The Manchester estates were even then were seriously depleted in status due to the excesses of previous holders.
Splendour and Squalor, the book by Marcus Scriven, includes the shocking excesses of the 12th duke, barely touching on the 13th, Alex. This will most likely change as Scriven has not given up following the ducal antics and is very aware of the problems presented by psychopaths.
In 1985 Alex had not yet developed a reliance on using his title to gain continuing access to credulous potential victims. His methods had been more direct.
This changed. After being released from prison in Australia in 1985 Montagu began traveling, eventually ending up again arrested for lying upon entry to Canada in September, 1991, as reported by the Sun Journal from a release credited to AP. The article, titled, Diana’s Cousin Selling Title appeared September 21, 1991. His techniques began to focus on the use of his title.
A spate of articles, published between 1986 and 1991 follow, all are shocking and filled with direct quotes from the Viscount. Then, a calm fell on his life. Although he had neglected to get a divorce from his first wife, Marion Stoner, Alex had, again, married.
Unknown to the bride, the marriage was bigamous. Alex then faced a serious need to avoid deportation from the United States. He signed the marriage license as ‘never married,’ and failed to mention even Stoner’s name to Wendy Buford, who soon afterward gave birth to their son, Alexander, Jr., according to Buford Montagu.
Over the next 15 years the couple was evicted 11 times, according to Wendy, each time because Alexander spent the money for rent or the mortgage elsewhere. Psychopaths court chaos because it keeps their victims off balance and under control.
Wendy was never permitted to know anything about their finances. Asking if the rent was paid was pointless. Alexander would always lie, Wendy said.
When evicted for non-payment of rent or mortgage, Alex focused anger on the landlord, routinely destroying the property. This has included pouring cement down the toilets. according to his present wife Laura. With Montagu the barrage of such behavior was constant and consistent, according to Wendy.
Alexander’s mother, Lady Mary, evidently realizing the potential for a public relations disaster, carried the paperwork for the Stoner divorce in 1996, asking Alexander only to sign and return papers. This was accomplished and the divorce secured. However, Montagu and his mother, Lady Mary Montagu, still failed to mention the issue to the wife and daughter-in-law who was enduring continual chaos, trying to do the right thing in her lights.
Alex did not legitimize their union even though another child was born in 1999.
This was the status quo when Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997. As people around the world reeled in disbelief, many looked for the opportunity to say ‘goodby’ to a woman who had touched them deeply.
Michael Jackson was, also, an ardent admirer of Princess Diana. Jackson was moved to pay his respects to Britain’s Princess but was unwelcome in London. Instead, he attended the private memorial service taking place in Los Angeles, September 13, 1997, at St. James Episcopal Church as a guest of the Manchesters, returing with them to their hotel afterward for refreshments.
An AP photo of the group leaving the service appears here. The woman at the right of Jackson is Wendy Buford Montagu. Once at the hotel, Jackson made the acquaintance of Alexander, Jr.. Charming movies were taken of the 4 year old lad playing hide-and-go-seek with the megastar, oblivious to the identity of his new friend, but delighted to find someone willing to take time to play.
Jackson invited the family to Neverland on Martin Luther King Day in 1998, where young Alex again delighted in spending time with his mother and her friend and child, with Jackson on the rides at Neverland.
While young Alex never saw Jackson again, according to both him and his mother, Wendy Buford Montagu, these moments remained very much alive for him, bright points in a life otherwise often frightening because of his manipulative father.
Jackson had settled a law suit filed for sexual abuse by the Jordan Chandler and his parents on January 25, 1994 for $15331250. This occurred three years before Alexander, Duke of Manchester, asked Jackson back to his hotel and introduced him to his young son.
FROM THE WIKI: On July 2, 1993, in a private telephone conversation, Chandler was tape-recorded as saying,
There was no reason why he (Jackson) had to stop calling me … I picked the nastiest son of a bitch I could find [Evan Chandler's lawyer, Barry Rothman], all he wants to do is get this out in the public as fast as he can, as big as he can and humiliate as many people as he can. He’s nasty, he’s mean, he’s smart and he’s hungry for publicity. Everything’s going to a certain plan that isn’t just mine. Once I make that phone call, this guy is going to destroy everybody in sight in any devious, nasty, cruel way that he can do it. I’ve given him full authority to do that. Jackson is an evil guy, he is worse than that and I have the evidence to prove it. If I go through with this, I win big-time. There’s no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever … Michael’s career will be over.
In the same recording Chandler dismisses all concern for his son.
In 2003 Jackson was, again, targeted, and again it appears financial gain might have been the motivating factor. Before filing a criminal complaint the potential litigant contacted Barry Rothman, the attorney who had handled the 1993 case, according to this article on Wikipedia. Although people who had signed into the register at the Jackson estate in Santa Ynez had been contacted, no credible victims of possible sexual assault were eventually included with the case of Gavin Arvizo.
People v. Jackson was a media circus, costing tax-payers millions. Jackson was found innocent after exhaustive efforts by Los Angeles DA Tom Sneddon.
As a Jackson trial became likely, news of the previous multi-million dollar settlement rippled through the media.
The subject was discussed by Wendy Montagu and her husband, the Duke. During this time Wendy received a call from Montagu telling her he had been subpoenaed. Wendy was unaware Alexander had provided a Declaration for the court. The Declaration was entered into the court record on April 20th, 2005.
According to Wendy Montagu, and her son, Alexander, Jr., now an adult, the declaration is a fabric of lies with only the faintest relationship to the truth.
Wendy stated, for publication, to her knowledge her husband had never met Jackson before the morning of the Princess Diana Memorial on September 13, 1997. She recalls the introduction took place through a quasi-business acquaintance of Montagu’s who owned a car refurbishing business in Beverly Hills. Montagu, an obsessive name-dropper, according to Wendy, occasionally mentioned having met Janet Jackson, never Michael.
The agreement with Jackson was for him to attend the service as their guest and then accompany them to their hotel to meet their son. Room service was ordered for a simple snack. Jackson played hide-and-Seek with then four year old Alex. Wendy said she was sure Jackson was there less than two hours, not the twelve hours mentioned in the Declaration.
Afterward, Michael called young Alex a few times and spoke briefly to him. There were less than five phone calls, as Wendy recalls. Jackson allowed young Alex and his father to spend the night at Neverland, in his absence on December 31, 1997. Father and son occupied a guest house with twin beds, never seeing Jackson.
Wendy, a friend, and their two children, along with Alex, the Duke, spent the day at Neverland on Martin Luther King Day in February, 1998. Jackson joined them later in the day, allowing filming of the inside of his home and himself as he, young Alex, and the rest of the party, enjoyed the rides at Neverland. Wendy said she sensed Jackson felt uncomfortable with this unexpected invasion of his private space.
Although they never saw Michael again Alex attempted to arrange the sale of a plane to the star, for which he hoped to get a commission.
Wendy Montagu found out about Alex’s involvement and the Declaration when she began receiving calls from her friends on March 25th, telling her about Alex’s interview on MSNBC. She was stunned to hear her husband’s claims their home and car had been vandalized. Nothing of the kind had taken place.
Not only did Alex fail to mention it at the time, he and Wendy had carried on occasional chats about the pleasant time they had enjoyed with Jackson. The only sour note Wendy remembered was the non-purchase by Jackson of the plane, on which Alex hoped to make a commission.
Alex may have finally understood he would not be one of a larger number of complaining parties. His testimony would not stand up under scrutiny because Wendy, and the family friend who had also visited Neverland, would contradict his statements in every instance. It is impossible to know what was going through his mind at having made such an outrageous charge.
But this is not atypical of psychopaths. Psychopaths lie. Less intelligent ones, like the Duke, fail to think out the consequences, being used to carrying off lies by using threats, character assassination, and bluffing.
Psychopaths change the story without reference to reality.
In 2006 the Duke, never legally married to Wendy, attempted to force her to pay alimony and child support through a plan which included a perjured account of violence against himself and nine months of stalled attempts to keep the children from seeing their mother. Ultimately, the court awarded physical custody to Wendy. The Duke left the area, abandoning the children and never paying support.
Two years later he informed the Trust, who had been paying support, his children were illegitimate. On July 19, 2011, the Trusts managed to reverse the restriction on providing support to the abandoned children. Telegraph July 20, 2011, Duke of Manchester’s illegitmate children have claim to estate, judge rules
Psychopaths are a danger to everyone of us. They use the system for their own ends. There are no limits to their lies or to their desire to either use, or destroy, those around them, costing us in countless ways, they work to kill our trust in each other because in the resulting chaos they are find power and so benefit.
Young Alex has survived. Michael Jackson is dead. It is impossible to assess the impact Alexander Montagu had, individually, on Jackson’s health and well being. We will never know. The predator does not always bring down its prey. But we should remember and be warned.
As humanity moves toward understanding the impact psychopathy has had on every part of our world we face a multitude of choices, together and as individuals. A young man, Alexander Montagu, Jr., chooses to remember wonderful moments spent with a world-famous icon, a kind and aware man who could participate in the small delights of childhood. Young Alex did not know Michael Jackson was a global icon. He knew him as a friend who listened and cared. Alex Jr., now 18, is narrating the videos of himself and Jackson so you, too, can see a side of Jackson captured in time.
Always find the good and hold on to it. Good is more powerful than evil, bringing with it the power to heal the deepest wounds. Moments of Happiness, My Time with Michael Jackson narrated by Alex Montagu, Jr.
Photo credit: Wendy Buford Montagu and Alex Montagu, Jr.