A Statement from Levant Report Writers: SYRIA and the PEOPLE’S FOREIGN POLICY

Interventions MapIn late August, early September 2013, the United States nearly went to war with Syria. According to veteran investigative Pulitzer Prize journalist, Seymour Hersh, the Obama White House set September 2 as the date for a “monster strike” on Syria, which was to include devastating bombing raids of military and civilian infrastructure by B-52 bombers and other aircraft. This planned strike, which never materialized yet which has since been kept “on the table” by the administration, was Obama’s response to the two-and-a-half years long civil conflict which had engulfed Syria in a seeming endless cycle of death and destruction.

This planned “humanitarian intervention” or “humanitarian war” was given justification as “Assad is killing his own people.” Specifically, the White House accused the Assad regime of carrying out the August 21 large scale chemical attack against civilians of Ghoutta, on the outskirts of Damascus. The argument for war, based on the supposed crossing of the chemical weapons “red line” previously set by President Obama, would by the end of August hinge on Assad’s alleged use of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

That the world was about to witness, once again, a U.S. led intervention against a Ba’athist government based on charges of WMD was an irony not lost on many commentators. The untold story of why Obama backed down, while deferring to a Congress which never even got to the point of holding a vote, was the American people’s taking to the streets in defiance of the White House’s logic of “Assad must go” via overwhelming strike power of the U.S. military.

In this moment—the first such moment going back to the Vietnam War, the common people brought Washington’s war plans to an abrupt halt. This in spite of mainstream media’s preparing the people and rallying the public for war with the non-stop airing of images of what was said to be Assad’s unique brutality against women and children, and the frequent parading of pro-intervention pundits on news shows declaring the moral outrage of “doing nothing.”

The Washington war machine failed as the people, for even a brief moment, took back the republic’s foreign policy. This was a moment of triumph for what Senator Wayne Morse called “the people’s foreign policy.”

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, a lone voice of caution during a decade of war hysteria, spoke on a Face the Nation episode circa 1964, about his voting against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and general opposition to entering Vietnam:

Questioner: Senator, the Constitution gives to the President of the United States the sole responsibility for the conduct of foreign policy-

Morse: Couldn’t be more wrong!  You couldn’t have made a more unsound legal statement than the one you have just made.  This is the promulgation of an old fallacy, that foreign policy belongs to the President of the United States, that’s nonsense-

Questioner: To whom does it belong, then, Senator?

Morse: It belongs to the American people, and our Constitutional fathers made it very, very, clear.

Questioner: Where does the President fit into this in the responsibility scale?

Morse: What I am saying is under our Constitution all our President is, is the administrator of the people’s foreign policy.  Those are his prerogatives, and I am pleading that the American people be given the facts about foreign policy-

Questioner: You know, Senator, that the American people cannot formulate and execute foreign policy.

Morse: Why do you say that?  Why, you’re a man of little faith in democracy if you make that kind of statement.  I have complete faith in the ability of the American people to follow the facts if you’ll give them.

Questioner: It isn’t a lack of faith, Senator-

Morse: And my charge against my government is we’re not giving the American people the facts.

Now, in September 2014, the United States stands ready once again to bomb inside Syrian territory. The stated objective continues to be the bringing down of the sovereign Syrian state. As Senator Morse demanded decades ago, the American people must have the facts.

NEO Journal: Sanction-Drunk West Forgets to Target ISIS Sponsors

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NEW EASTERN OUTLOOK (by Ulson Gunnar 9/21/14) – As the US and Europe prepare another round of sanctions against Russia over the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, the third round of such sanctions since the conflict began shortly after the Euromaidan unrest resulted in the installation of a NATO-backed regime in Kiev, a curious and inexplicable oversight appears to have been made.

While wild accusations have been leveled against Russia over its involvement over the violence in Ukraine, claims ranging from covert support up to and including unsubstantiated claims of a “full scale invasion,” prominent media organizations across the Western World have for years reported a flow of cash, weapons, equipment and fighters from America’s allies in the Persian Gulf as well as from nations like NATO member Turkey, and into the conflict raging within Syria’s borders.

While baseless claims leveled against Russia have served as ample justification for the West to continue leveling sanctions against Moscow, no sanctions have as of yet been leveled against the overt sponsors of militancy and, in fact, terrorism in Syria. So widespread has state-sponsored terrorism become in the Middle East that what began as a limited proxy war against Syria has transformed into an immense regional army with tens of thousands of paid soldiers requiring millions of dollars a day to operate across multiple borders and confounding the forces of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon combined.

ISIS is State-Sponsored, So Why Aren’t These States Being Sanctioned? 

Clearly, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS or ISIL, are the benefactors of vast state-sponsorship and yet the West has not identified nor condemned these sponsors, let alone move toward leveling sanctions similar to what it is seeking to impose upon Moscow.

Read the full article at NEW EASTERN OUTLOOK…

Bomb ISIS as Syrian Intervention Plan B: The Goal Has Always Been Regime Change in Syria

syrian-revolutionMost Americans think the current war plans are really about war on ISIS. The long game continues to be regime change in Damascus. Americans should simply pay closer attention to what the top command is saying in very plain terms.

Hagel couldn’t have been any clearer in his Senate Armed Services Committee testimony Sept. 16:

As we pursue this program, the United States will continue to press for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict resulting in the end of the Assad regime. Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern, and has created the conditions that allowed ISIL and other terrorist groups to gain ground and terrorize and slaughter the Syrian population. The United States will not coordinate or cooperate with the Assad regime. We will also continue to counter Assad through diplomatic and economic pressure.

As many other commentators have said before me, bombing ISIS inside Syria (without Syrian approval, which amounts to an attack on a sovereign state) is but a Trojan Horse backdoor attempt to accomplish the regime change Obama pushed for a year ago.

Plans for regime change in Syria were discussed very publicly in Washington going back to the 1990’s (esp. PNAC and the neo-cons), and again in the early 2000’s (immediately after Saddam was toppled).

Understand that plans for the current bloodbath in Syria were made long ago in Washington. Read the following Time Magazine article from 2006 entitled “Syria in Bush’s Crosshairs.”

Current war plans leave even the likes of academic Syria experts baffled. Joshua Landis expressed in frustration on his Twitter feed today: “HAGEL SAYS END OF ASSAD REGIME IS U.S. GOAL IN SYRIA & political solution?! How would this work? Makes no sense me.” No one should assume that the people in charge of the White House’s Syria policy actually care about people in Syria or Iraq.

Last year, the White House decided it was time to push for direct military intervention against Damascus, using as a pretext the August 21 chemical attack incident. If you still believe “Assad gassed his own people” please read this article I wrote based entirely on mainstream admissions concerning CW usage in Syria (the United Nations final report, establishment media outlets, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the major defense tech. contractor Tesla Labs).

A lot has been invested in the three year long push to oust Assad. For the Gulf states, the U.S., Turkey, Israel, Cameron’s Britain, it is inconceivable that the Syrian state overcame the plot and still endures intact.

So now plan B is in effect…

I hope that I am wrong, but here are my predictions of what we’re about to see:

1) The U.S. will bomb ISIS sites inside Syria.

2) Washington will continue to warn the Assad regime not to interfere while coalition jets fly over Syrian territory.

3) Either ISIS or a so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition group will use one of the many MANPADS now in their hands to down a U.S./Western military plane. (Both ISIS and Syrian rebels have every incentive do this! See #4)

4) Downed jet incident will be pinned on the Syrian regime, and U.S. will respond (as promised) by simply expanding the scope of its campaign to bombing Syrian government facilities.

5) U.S. will attack by air both ISIS and Syrian government sites while claiming to wage “war on terror” on two fronts

6) U.S. equipped/trained Syrian opposition rebels will attempt to move in to bombed out government facilities

 

Joshua Landis: Why Syria is the Gordian knot of Obama’s anti-ISIL campaign

ALJAZEERA AMERICA (9/15/14) – President Barack Obama’s strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) relies entirely on allied forces on the ground doing the work that can’t be done by U.S. airpower. That formula may have made some progress in Iraq in recent weeks, but in Syria it lacks ready partners on the ground.

ISIL currently controls approximately 35 percent of Syrian territory, according to opposition-aligned human rights monitors, and fights against both the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian rebel forces. The question facing U.S. military planners is which forces on the ground will move in to clear and hold towns after ISIL positions have been bombed into retreat. Without such a partner, the U.S. will simply be repeating the Israeli approach to Gaza, cynically dubbed mowing the lawn by Israeli officials — an approach that not only fails to eliminate adversaries but can even work to their political advantage.

Obama has ruled out cooperating with Assad, whose forces control a bit less than half of Syria’s land mass (although a lot more than half the population lives in areas under government control). Instead, Obama informed the world that he would work with Syria’s “opposition.” Tellingly, he named no names.

Continue reading at ALJAZEERA AMERICA…

The 28 Pages and the War on Terror

28 PAGES.ORG (9/14/14) – Today more than ever, Americans are struggling to unravel the Gordian knot of overt and covert alliances that comprise the Middle East’s geostrategic landscape. As they do, politicians and pundits constantly remind them that reaching the correct conclusions about the region is imperative if we are to thwart the menace of terrorism and prevent the next 9/11.

As if a thicket of misinformation, hit-and-miss journalism and competing propaganda didn’t make the challenge daunting enough, the American people face an even more formidable barrier in their attempts to reach informed and rational conclusions about U.S. policy in the Middle East: the classification of a 28-page finding on foreign government support of the 9/11 hijackers—classification that continues over the objections of the chairman and vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission and the former senator who co-chaired the inquiry that produced the 28 pages.

Preventing a hypothetical “next 9/11″ starts with a clear understanding of what enabled the actual one—yet, even as the U.S. military prepares for the next chapter in the seemingly perpetual War on Terror, Americans continue to be denied critical knowledge about how the September 11 attacks were planned and funded. Reflecting on that disconnect, Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie recently told Slate, “Until we know what enabled or caused 9/11, we shouldn’t be talking about starting a third war to prevent another 9/11.”

Continue reading here…

ISIS as U.S. Creation: The Clearest Authenticated Video Evidence to Date

The above video entitled, “US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al Nusra,” which shows raw reporting footage compiled by “Eretz Zen” channel (YouTube), is the clearest video evidence to date documenting the role of the United States in creating and sustaining ISIS on the Syrian battlefield.

Amazingly, the video has yet to be widely viewed, even though it has been authenticated by the top academic Syria expert in the U.S., Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma, and author of the influential Syria analysis site Syria Comment. Dr. Landis, himself a mainstream analyst regularly quoted by outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Aljazeera, commented on his Twitter account about the footage (8/27/14): “in 2013 WINEP advocated sending all US military aid thru him [Col. Okaidi]. Underscores US problem w moderates.”

The video, documenting (now former) U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford’s visit to FSA Col. Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi in Northern Syria, also shows the same Col. Okaidi celebrating with and praising a well-known ISIS commander, Emir Abu Jandal, after conducting a successful joint operation against Syrian Army forces at Menagh Airbase in early August 2013. Abu Jandal’s identity can be further established in an interview he did with Al-Jazeera (Arabic), immediately after the capture of the airbase.

In interview footage from the Eretz Zen video, the U.S. “key man” Okaidi, through which U.S. assistance flowed, also praises ISIS and Al-Qaeda as the FSA’s “brothers”. The video further shows Okaidi proudly declaring that al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria) makes up ten percent of the FSA.

In truth the “Free Syrian Army” was from the beginning but a “branding” construct created by western and Gulf governments. Men like Okaidi were marketed to the world as the “face” of the Syrian opposition, but in reality served as conduits of covert support for more effective fighting forces like ISIS and al-Nusra Front.

The summer of 2013 was a time when ISIS was still operating under the radar and thus not well known to the western public. The capture of Menagh was celebrated by the American political class. Looking back at mainstream reporting of the rebel operation, one finds admissions like the following in the Wall Street Journal:

“Foreigners fighting with an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq—called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS—led the capture of the Minigh air base north of Aleppo early Tuesday, according to local activists and some rebel commanders. The seizure offers Syria’s rebels a strategic victory after eight months of failed advances on the base.”

While much reporting at the time declared the Menagh campaign a victory for the FSA, it was ISIS that led the assault with the initial suicide bombings that aided rebel entry into the base.

EA Worldview, a Middle East analysis website operated by University of Birmingham (UK) professor Scott Lucas, also provided confirmation and analysis of the raw video footage in an article, “Which Insurgents Captured Menagh Airbase & Who Led Them?”, written just after the base takeover:

“However, the biggest clue as to their relationship with the Free Syrian Army may be in this video, posted on Monday immediately after Menagh fell. In it, the FSA head of the Aleppo Military Council, Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi, leads a press statement praising his fighters for taking the base. Standing next to him is ISIS Emir Abu Jandal, whom al-Oqaidi invites to give a statement.

The footage indicates that not only are there links between ISIS and FSA fighters on the ground, but that there was a high level of coordination and collaboration in the operation to besiege and take the airbase…”

It must be remembered, as the video so clearly documents, that Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was the State Department’s top man giving public and material support to commanders like Okaidi and his ISIS and Nusra fighters.

More recently the UK-based “Conflict Armament Research” documented U.S. weapons recovered from ISIS by Kurdish groups operating in Iraq. The Washington Post reports (9/7/14):

The most powerful weapons documented were the two 90mm Yugoslav anti-tank rocket launchers, known as “Osas,” which resembled rockets that were transferred to moderate Syrian rebels, reportedly by Saudi Arabia last year.

The Washington Post fails to remind its readers that the weapons originated through a CIA program—a program which resulted not in arming so-called “moderates”—but in the arming, as early photographs of the program’s beneficiaries prove, of ISIS and other terrorists.

Brief Reactions: IS magically multiplies?

This morning the BBC explained that the CIA has just revised its estimates about the fighting strength of IS (aka ISIS aka ISL). They suddenly have three times more fighters than we first thought. I can think of very few kind ways to process this news.

(1) Given that the Agency’s track record of periodic and stunning failures (Nairobi bombing, 9/11, a nuclear Pakistan), perhaps this is another admission of rank incompetence.

(2) President Obama essentially declares war — or rather, direct military action (war would require a real vote in Congress) — on IS. A few days later the CIA says, “Oops, there are three times the number of militant soldiers than we first thought”. Even if this claim were true, it would be hard to escape the impression that the administration is ginning up evidence to justify an expanded war.

I would prefer to believe the first option. Unfortunately, after the utterly dishonest handling of the chemical weapons claims last fall, I find it difficult to reject the second option as mere paranoia.

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