Protecting al-Qaeda: Guest Analysis by Steven Chovanec

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Steven Chovanec is a student of International Studies and Sociology at Roosevelt University and conducts independent, open-source research into geopolitics and social issues.  His writings can be found at undergroundreports.blogspot.comfind him on Twitter @stevechovanec.

by Steven Chovanec

Please Don’t Attack Al-Qaeda

In the weeks leading up to the agreed upon cessation-of-hostilities (CoH) agreement between the US and Russia, it was John Kerry’s diplomacy that was instrumental in “downgrading” the truce from a more forceful and legally binding ‘ceasefire’ agreement to the less intensive ‘cessation-of-hostilities’ now taking effect.

As described by Kerry: “So, a ceasefire has a great many legal prerogatives and requirements. A cessation of hostilities does not.  A ceasefire in the minds of many of the participants in this particular moment connotes something far more permanent and far more reflective of sort of an end of conflict, if you will.  And it is distinctly not that.  This is a pause dependent on the process going forward.”

So why the insistence on non-permanence?  Especially if, as Kerry says, the ultimate objective is to “obtain a durable, long-term ceasefire” at some point in time?

According to the 29-year career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, India’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan and Turkey M. K. Bhadrakumar, it is plainly because “the Russian military operations have met with devastating success lately in strengthening the Syrian regime and scattering the Syrian rebel groups,” leading “the US and its regional allies” to “stare at defeat.”  Therefore, they “forthwith need an end to the Russian operations so that they can think up a Plan B. The Geneva talks will not have the desired outcome of President Bashar Al-Assad’s ouster unless the tide of war is reversed.” Therefore, “a cessation of hostilities in Syria is urgently needed.”(1)

Judging by the fact that top US officials began announcing that Russia would break the deal immediately after it was agreed upon while calling for further measures to “inflict real pain on the Russians”, Bhadrakumar’s assessment that a pause, and not a permanent halt, was sought in order to regroup and eventually reverse the tide of war seems to be quite apt.  As well there has been an almost ubiquitous media campaign in the US to prime the public for accusations of a Russian infraction, from which a breakdown of the deal would follow; the narrative portrayed is filled with “doubts” and “worries” and “statements from US officials” about how Russia isn’t serious and will likely break the agreement.

Furthermore, outwardly Russia is much more optimistic and invested in the deal, President Putin hopefully promoting it while engaging in a blitz of diplomacy to support it, while on the other hand the US has been less vocal and much quicker to doubt its outcomes.

However, this downgrading from a ‘ceasefire’ to a ‘cessation of hostilities’ actually violates past agreements.

In UN Security Council Resolution 2254, in which it was articulated that member states be committed to the “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,” while calling on them to suppress ISIS, al-Nusra, and “all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL”, it was also agreed upon that the Security Council  “expresses its support for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria.” (emphasis added)

Given the about-face, Lavrov was visibly agitated, stating that “Resolution 2254 talks about the ceasefire only. This term is not liked by some members of the International Syria Support Group. What I’m referring to is how something that has been agreed upon should be implemented rather than try to remake the consensus that has been achieved in order to get some unilateral advantages.”

The “unilateral advantages” likely are in reference to the pause-and-regroup strategy Bhadrakumar previously articulated.

Despite this Russia agreed to the downgraded CoH, however, in the week leading up to the agreement there was a major hurdle to overcome, namely whether al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, would be protected as a party to the truce.

Long has there been a tenant of US propaganda which claims that a sort of “third force” of “moderate opposition fighters” exists, separate and distinct from the extremists and al-Qaeda affiliates.  Yet when push came to shove the main stumbling-block in the way of the CoH was the oppositions demand that any truce be “conditional on the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front no longer being targeted.”  Sources close to the talks would tell Reuters that this insistence was the main “elephant in the room” preventing a settlement.

Even more telling is the fact that this opposition demand only came after the US had insisted upon it.  Indeed, while relentlessly pushing the “moderate rebel” narrative it was official US policy to push for the protection of al-Qaeda.

According to The Washington Post: “Russia was said to have rejected a U.S. proposal to leave Jabhat al-Nusra off-limits to bombing as part of a cease-fire, at least temporarily, until the groups can be sorted out.” (emphasis added)

Nusra is the Rebels

Responding to arguments posited that al-Nusra should be included in the truce, given that they operate in areas where other rebels are and thus Russia can use this as an excuse to bomb them, Max Abrahms, Professor at Northeastern University and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, explains that these recent developments show that Nusra and the other rebels are one in the same.

If you’re pro-rebel in Syria, you’re pro-al Qaeda in Syria,” Abrahms writes.  “The rebels are now begging for Russia to stop bombing their al-Qaeda partner.”

Indeed, it was the “moderate” US-backed FSA factions that were the biggest advocates of their al-Qaeda partners being included in the truce.

Major Ammar al-Wawi, Secretary General of the Free Syrian Army and head of the FSA’s al-Ababil Brigade in Aleppo, said that al-Nusra was the FSA’s “partner”, and that al-Qaeda was an ally of most of the groups brought together by Saudi Arabia underneath the Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC) banner.

“Nusra has fighters on the ground with rebel brigades in most of Syria and is a partner in the fighting with most of the brigades that attended the Riyadh conference.”

And therefore, while the ceasefire is good in principle, it is not good if it does not include al-Nusra, because “if the ceasefire excludes Jabhat a-Nusra, then this means that the killing of civilians will continue since Nusra’s forces are among civilians.”  Al-Wawi seems to forget that the reason Nusra is a terrorist organization is specifically because of its indiscriminate attacks and disregard for civilian lives.

According to the spokesman for Alwiyat al-Furqan, one of the largest FSA factions operating under the Southern Front umbrella, the FSA “will not accept a truce that excludes Jabhat al-Nusra.”  The spokesman later goes on to call Nusra “honorable”, along with the equally honorable Salafi-Jihadists groups Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam.

Ahrar, it should be noted, only presents itself as being different from al-Qaeda, in actuality it is not, it is a Salafi-Jihadi group which espouses a reactionary and apocalyptic Islamist ideology that has been complicit in sectarian mass murders of Alawites throughout Syria.  On the other hand, Jaish al-Islam, in the words of their former leader, regards al-Nusra as their “brothers” whom they “praise” and “fight alongside.”  Jaish al-Islam as well is infamous for parading caged civilians throughout warzones, using them as human shields.  The current leader of the group, Mohammed Alloush, was named as the chief negotiator to represent the rebel opposition in talks with the UN.

Yet, according to the FSA, “If today we agreed to exclude Jabhat a-Nusra, then tomorrow we would agree to exclude Ahrar a-Sham, then Jaish al-Islam and so on for every honorable faction.  We will not allow the threat of being classified as a terrorist organization to compromise the fundamentals of the revolution for which the Syrian people rose up and for which we have sacrificed and bled.”

One wonders, if the exclusion of al-Qaeda from the ceasefire is tantamount to “compromising the revolution”, what would choosing al-Qaeda as partners be called?

Muhammad a-Sheikh, spokesman for an FSA faction in Latakia, as well thanked Nusra for its “role in trying to lessen the pain inflicted on the Syrian people”, of all things.(2)

Yet all of this gets recycled within the US media as al-Nusra merely being “intermingled with moderate rebel groups”, as the Washington Post puts it.  While the narrative purports that the FSA consists of “moderates” reluctantly forced to endure an al-Qaeda alliance for military expediency, in reality much of FSA conduct throughout the war has not been much different from that of the recognized extremists.

In the case of Aleppo, while one man describes how al-Nusra beheaded one of his brother-in-laws, ripped the other to pieces between an electricity poll and a moving car, and kidnapped the other, another man describes how “Free Syrian Army fighters burned down their house – leaving one daughter with terrible burns” after the man refused to join them.  He said they attempted to abduct one of his daughters, but were unsuccessful as neighbors intervened.

Another Aleppo resident writes that “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars.”

Indeed, FSA groups were so brutal at times that these “moderates” were feared even more than other recognized extremists.

“Pilloried in the West for their sectarian ferocity… jihadists were often welcomed by local people for restoring law and order after the looting and banditry of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army,” writes Patrick Cockburn, the leading Western journalist in the region.(3)

For people paying close attention this is unfortunately not that surprising.

According to a recent poll conducted by ORB, it was found that most Syrians more or less hold both ISIS and the FSA in equal disdain, 9% saying the FSA represents the Syrian people while 4% saying that ISIS does.  The similarity in opinion is reflective of the similarity in conduct.

Jihadi ‘Wal-Mart’

The not-so-popular FSA groups are routinely described as a separate and distinct entity apart from al-Nusra and ISIS, yet in actuality the lines between the groups have always been extremely porous.

“Due to porous links between some Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels, other Islamist groups like al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, and ISIS, there have been prolific weapons transfers from ‘moderate’ to Islamist militant groups,” writes Nafeez Ahmed, Britain’s leading international security scholar.

These links were so extreme that “German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer, who spent 10 days inside the Islamic State, reported last year that ISIS is being “indirectly” armed by the west: “They buy the weapons that we give to the Free Syrian Army, so they get western weapons – they get French weapons… I saw German weapons, I saw American weapons.”

Recently the BBC’s Peter Oborne conducted an investigation into these claims and came across evidence that the “moderate” FSA were in essence being utilized as a conduit through which Western supplies were funneled to extremists.

Oborne spoke to a lawyer who represents Bherlin Gildo, a Swedish national who went to join the rebel ranks in 2012 and was subsequently arrested for terrorist offenses.  Based on her clients own first-hand observations while embedded with the rebels, trucks referred to as NATO trucks were observed coming in from Turkey, which would then be unloaded by the FSA and the arms then distributed quite generally without any specificity of the exact recipient.  The weapons would be distributed “to whoever was involved in particular battles.”

Similarly, in 2014 US-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) commander Jamal Maarouf admitted that his US-handlers had instructed him to send weapons to al-Qaeda.  “If the people who support us tell us to send weapons to another group, we send them. They asked us a month ago to send weapons to [Islamist fighters in] Yabroud so we sent a lot of weapons there.”

Battlefield necessity was dictating the weapons recipients, not humanitarian concern for victims of terrorism.

Eventually charges brought against Mr. Gildo were dropped.   The reason was because he planned to argue that he had fought on the same side the UK government was supporting  As it was explained before the court, if it is the case that the government “was actively involved in supporting armed resistance to the Assad regime at a time when the defendant was present in Syria and himself participating in such resistance it would be unconscionable”, indeed an “affront to justice”, “to allow the prosecution to continue.”

In a similar case a man named Moazzam Begg was arrested in the UK under terrorism charges after meeting with Ahrar al-Sham.  However, his case too was dropped, the courts understanding that if he was guilty of supporting terrorism than so was the British state.  “I was very disappointed that the trail didn’t go through,” Begg said.  “I believe I would have won… what I was doing… was completely in line with British policy at the time.”

Career MI6 agent and former British diplomat Alastair Crooke extrapolates further on this phenomena of the West’s principle allies playing such a crucial role in arming the jihadis.

“The West does not actually hand the weapons to al-Qaeda, let alone ISIS,” he said, “but the system that they have constructed leads precisely to that end.  The weapons conduit that the West directly has been giving to groups such as the Syrian Free Army (FSA), have been understood to be a sort of ‘Wal Mart’ from which the more radical groups would be able to take their weapons and pursue the jihad.”  This constitutes a sort of ‘supermarket’ where rebels can go and receive weapons, the weapons always migrating “along the line to the more radical elements.”  The idea was to “use jihadists to weaken the government in Damascus and to drive it to its knees to the negotiating table.”  Exactly the same kind of policy used in Afghanistan during the 1980s, when conduits such as the Pakistani ISI were used to funnel weapons to the mujahedeen.

Yet these Western weapons were not just going to al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham, ISIS too was shopping at the “moderate” “supermarket.”

In his book “The Rise of Islamic State”, Patrick Cockburn writes, “An intelligence officer from a Middle Eastern country neighboring Syria told me that ISIS members “say they are always pleased when sophisticated weapons are sent to anti-Assad groups of any kind, because they can always get the arms off them by threats of force or cash payments.”(4) (emphasis added)

The result of all of this was a deep alliance between the US-backed “moderates” and al-Qaeda, as well as a rebel opposition dominated by ISIS and al-Nusra.

Nusra’s FSA

Recently a leader of the Nusra group appeared in a video presenting an FSA commander with a gift while saying that there is no difference between the FSA, Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Qaeda.  “They are all one,” he explains.  The Nusra field commander goes on to thank the FSA for supplying Nusra with US-made TOW anti-tank missiles, which were given to the FSA directly, of course, from the CIA.

A month prior to these revelations reports started to surface about the unfolding situation in “rebel-held” Idlib.  Despite the repressive dress codes and savage Islamist laws it became apparent that the FSA was only operating under the authority of the more powerful al-Qaeda rebels.

Jenan Moussa, a journalist for the UAE based Al Aan TV channel who recently had visited the area, reported that Nusra allows the FSA to operate in Hama and Idlib because the FSA groups there get TOW missiles from the West.  The reason they are allowed to operate is that the “FSA uses these TOW in support of Nusra.”

Investigating the situation further, veteran journalist Gareth Porter concludes from a range of sources that in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo every rebel organization is in fact part of a military structure controlled and dominated by al-Nusra.

“All of these rebel groups fight alongside the Nusra Front and coordinate their military activities with it,” Porter writes.

In the case of the rebel capture of Idlib, “Although some U.S.-supported groups participated in the campaign in March and April 2015, the “operations room” planning the campaign was run by Al Qaeda and its close ally Ahrar al Sham.”  As well, before the Idlib campaign, “Nusra had forced another U.S.-supported group, Harakat Hazm, to disband and took all of its TOW anti-tank missiles.”

Clearly al-Nusra was subordinating the “moderates.”

The reality began to emerge in December of 2014 when US-backed rebels, supplied with TOW missiles, teamed up with Nusra and fought under their command in order to capture the Wadi al-Deif base.  Al Qaeda was “exploiting the Obama administration’s desire to have its own Syrian Army as an instrument for influencing the course of the war.”

Andrew Cockburn reports that “A few months before the Idlib offensive, a member of one CIA-backed group had explained the true nature of its relationship to the Al Qaeda franchise. Nusra, he told the New York Times, allowed militias vetted by the United States to appear independent, so that they would continue to receive American supplies.”

“In other words,” Porter writes, “Nusra was playing Washington,” while Washington was “evidently a willing dupe.”

This all comes down to the fact that the savage and brutal al-Qaeda fighters were proving to be militarily effective, leaving a trail of torture and atrocities, and battlefield successes, in their wake.

Explaining the mindset, Ed Husain, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes that the influx of Al-Qaeda and various jihadis “brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results.”

Because of this, Porter explains, “instead of breaking with the deception that the CIA’s hand-picked clients were independent of Nusra, the Obama administration continued to cling to it.”  The United States basing its policy on the “moderates” was “necessary to provide a political fig leaf for the covert and indirect U.S. reliance on Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise’s military success.”

Ever since the Russian intervention began, the US has continued to embrace this deceptive narrative, claiming that Russia is targeting the “moderate” opposition.  This narrative, and the publics belief in its validity, “had become a necessary shield for the United States to continue playing a political-diplomatic game in Syria.”

Yet, as Patrick Cockburn has reported for quite some time, “The armed opposition to President Assad is dominated by Isis, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the ideologically similar Ahrar al-Sham.”  Of the smaller groups the CIA openly supports, they “only operate under license from the extreme jihadists.”

Several rebel groups, 5 of which belong to the FSA, have recently united under the leadership of the former emir of the al-Qaeda-linked Ahrar al-Sham.  A longtime al-Qaeda member who sits on al-Nusra’s elite council explained that “The Free Syrian Army groups said they were ready for anything according to the Islamic sharia and that we are delegated to apply the rulings of the sharia on them”, essentially meaning that the FSA had subordinated themselves to al-Qaeda.

It has been further revealed that all of the Syrian groups operative in Aleppo had recently declared Ba’yaa (loyalty) to the Ahrar al-Sham emir Abu Jaber.

Ba’yaa, it should be noted, means total loyalty and submission, much like what follows from pledging loyalty to ISIS.

Official Policy

At least by as far back as August of 2012, the best US intelligence assessments were reporting that the jihadists and extremists were controlling and steering the course of the opposition.  Then head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Michael T. Flynn, would confirm the credibility of these reports, saying that “the intelligence was very clear” and that it wasn’t the case that the administration was just turning a blind eye to these events but instead that the policies were the result of a “willful decision.”

Despite all of this, US officials still continue to maintain that “Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria, launched last fall, has infuriated the CIA in particular because the strikes have aggressively targeted relatively moderate rebels it has backed with military supplies, including antitank missiles.”

However, according to the CIA and the intelligence communities own data, this is false.

Back in October of 2012, according to classified US intelligence assessments, “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar”, which were organized by the CIA, were
“going to hard-line Islamic jihadists.”

A year earlier, immediately after the fall of Gaddafi in October of 2011, the CIA began organizing a “rat line” from Libya to Syria.  Weapons from the former Libyan stockpiles were shipped from Benghazi to Syria and into the hands of the Syrian rebels.  According to information obtained by Seymour Hersh, “Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida.”

In a highly classified 2013 assessment put together by the DIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), an “all-source” appraisal which draws on information from signals, satellite, and human intelligence, it was concluded that the US program to arm the rebels quickly turned into a logistical operation for the entire opposition, including al-Nusra and ISIS.  The so-called moderates had evaporated, “there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad,” and “the US was arming extremists.”

DIA chief Michael Flynn confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of warnings to the civilian administration between 2012 and 2014 saying that the jihadists were in control of the opposition.

“If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,” Flynn said.

Yet, as Flynn stated previously, it was a “willful decision” for the administration “to do what they’re doing.”

By summer of 2013, Seymour Hersh reported that “although many in the American intelligence community were aware that the Syrian opposition was dominated by extremists,” still “the CIA-sponsored weapons kept coming.”

According to a JCS advisor, despite heavy Pentagon objections there was simply “no way to stop the arms shipments that had been authorised by the president.”

“I felt that they did not want to hear the truth,” Flynn said.

So what Russia is bombing in actuality is an al-Qaeda, extremist dominated opposition embedded with CIA-backed rebels operating under their control.  The not-so-moderates only operate under license from, and in support of, the Salafi jihadists, openly expressing their solidarity with them, labelling them as “brothers”, and begging the UN to protect them.  Concurrently the US and its allies continue to support the terrorist-dominated insurgency, US officials openly planning to expand their support to al-Qaeda-laced rebels in order to “inflict pain on the Russians”, all while Turkey and Saudi Arabia openly support al-Qaeda.  All of this occurring because of the United States reliance upon “Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise’s military successes” and their “deadly results”, in order to further the policy of using “jihadists to weaken the government in Damascus” and to “drive it to its knees at the negotiating table.”

The function of the “moderates” in essence being the logistical and public relations front for the “not-so-moderate” al-Qaeda units winning the battles.

Speaking at Harvard University, Vice President Biden infamously and candidly summarized what had been going on, saying that it was our allies who were “so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war,” that they “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

When asked why the United States was powerless to stop nations like Qatar from engaging in this kind of behavior, “a former adviser to one of the Gulf States replied softly: “They didn’t want to.”

So it should be no wonder why the US tried to push through a provision including al-Nusra in the current ceasefire agreement, nor why they would seek to protect their most viable ally in pursuance of their Syria policy.

It should be no wonder that it has been, and continues to be, official US policy to protect al-Qaeda.

Notes:

1) For further analysis, see Moon of Alabama, February 20, 2016, “U.S. Ignores Own UNSC Resolution – Tells Russia “Stop Bombing Al-Qaeda!” http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/02/us-ignores-own-unsc-resolution-tells-russia-stop-bombing-al-qaeda.html.

2) Syria Direct, “Five rebel spokesmen, commanders react to ‘cessation of hostilities’ to take effect Saturday.”  February 25, 2016. http://syriadirect.org/news/five-rebel-spokesmen-commanders-react-to-cessation-of-hostilities-to-take-effect-Saturday/#.Vs-kDMO3y9U.twitter.

3) Cockburn, Patrick. “Jihadists Hijack the Syria Uprising.” The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (Brooklyn, NY, 2015), pg. 84-5. Print.

4) Cockburn, Patrick, “The Rise of ISIS”, The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (Brooklyn, NY, 2015), pg. 3. Print.

How the CIA Helped Fuel the Rise of ISIS: Guest Analysis by Jeremy R. Hammond

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Cia-lobby-seal.jpg(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Jeremy R. HammondJeremy R. Hammond is an independent political analyst and a recipient of the Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. He is the founding editor of Foreign Policy Journal and the author of Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian economics in the financial crisis and The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. His forthcoming book is Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. This article first appeared at his blog JeremyRHammond.com and is used with permission of the author.

*****

THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS HABITUALLY DOWNPLAYED the early role of the CIA in coordinating the flow of arms to armed rebels in Syria in furtherance of the US policy of overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad. By doing so, the Times hence also whitewashes the US role in the rise of the Islamic State (or ISIS).

The Media’s Longstanding Propaganda Narrative

I have written repeatedly about how the Times‘ reporting serves as propaganda, manufacturing consent for a US interventionist policy in Syria, as the Times has repeatedly advocated.

For instance, in “NYT’s Bill Keller’s Propaganda Case for War with Syria” (May 2013), I wrote:

I find myself commenting again and again and again and again and again on how the U.S. media (following the lead of America’s “newspaper of record”) is being willfully dishonest with the public and attempting to whitewash the actual U.S. role in the Syrian conflict by tossing relevant facts down the memory hole; namely, the facts that (1) the CIA has already been coordinating the flow of arms to the rebels, and (2) most of those arms have indeed ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists.

My post “NYT Continues to Downplay How CIA-Funneled Arms to Syrian Rebels Helped Strengthen Jihadists” (October 2013) began:

As usual, the New York Times is spinning information to willfully obfuscate the role of the U.S. in arming Syrian rebels whose ranks include al-Qaeda-affiliated and other Islamic extremist groups, with most of the arms falling into the hands of the jihadists.

In “NYT Whitewashes US Support for Syrian Armed Rebels (Again)” (February 2014), I explained:

The reason the Times does not disclose this to readers is because it would undermine the obligatory propaganda narrative designed to manufacture consent for U.S. interventionist foreign policy. According to this narrative, the mess that Syria has become is a consequence of a lack of U.S. intervention. This is nonsense, of course. Precisely the opposite is true.

Still At It…

The Times‘ recent report, “U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels” pretty much follows the same script. While in some respects, this is great journalism, offering heretofore unknown details about US policy (such as the name of the CIA’s operation there: Timber Sycamore), it also maintains the obligatory propaganda narrative.

The article opens by reminding us what we already knew: that “President Obama secretly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013”.

Further down the page, the Times adds (emphasis added):

When Mr. Obama signed off on arming the rebels in the spring of 2013, it was partly to try to gain control of the apparent free-for-all in the region. The Qataris and the Saudis had been funneling weapons into Syria for more than a year.

A little further on, the Times does acknowledge:

The C.I.A. helped arrange some of the arms purchases for the Saudis, including a large deal in Croatia in 2012.

Yet it continues:

By the summer of 2012, a freewheeling feel had taken hold along Turkey’s border with Syria as the gulf nations funneled cash and weapons to rebel groups — even some that American officials were concerned had ties to radical groups like Al Qaeda.

The C.I.A. was mostly on the sidelines during this period, authorized by the White House under the Timber Sycamore training program to deliver nonlethal aid to the rebels but not weapons. In late 2012, according to two former senior American officials, David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, delivered a stern lecture to intelligence officials of several gulf nations at a meeting near the Dead Sea in Jordan. He chastised them for sending arms into Syria without coordinating with one another or with C.I.A. officers in Jordan and Turkey.

So there you have it. Early on, throughout 2012, the CIA, apart from helping arrange arms purchases and delivering nonlethal aid, was just sitting “on the sidelines” as US Gulf allies — predominantly Saudi Arabia and Qatar — funneled weapons to the Syrian rebels despite the risk of the arms falling into the hands of extremist groups. It wasn’t until “Months later” that “Mr. Obama gave his approval for the C.I.A. to begin directly arming and training the rebels from a base in Jordan, amending the Timber Sycamore program to allow lethal assistance” (emphasis added).

Which brings us to what’s wrong with this report. The key word in that last quote is “directly”. As is so often the case, the real story is in what the Times leaves out.

How the CIA Armed Extremist Groups in Syria

So what is it that the Times is leaving out? Well, as the Washington Post reported in May 2012 (emphasis added):

Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad 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, according to opposition activists and U.S. and foreign officials.

A senior State Department official told the Post, “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”.

We learned that “Opposition figures said they have been in direct contact with State Department officials to designate worthy rebel recipients of arms and pinpoint locations for stockpiles” — and that “the United States and others are moving forward toward increased coordination of intelligence and arming for the rebel forces.”

The following month, in June 2012, the Wall Street Journal filled in more of the story, enlightening that the CIA and State Department had begun stepping up their coordination with the Free Syrian Army in March 2012 in furtherance of the US goal of regime change. The Journal reported:

As part of the efforts, the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department—working with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other allies—are helping the opposition Free Syrian Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing communications training….

The U.S. in many ways is acting in Syria through proxies, primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, say U.S. and Arab officials….

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are providing the funds for arms….

So, again, the CIA was helping to coordinate the flow of arms to the rebels despite concerns about “some rebels’ suspected ties to hard-line Islamists, including elements of al Qaeda.”

Little more than a week later, the New York Times itself reported:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said.

So there you have it from the Times itself: the CIA was coordinating the flow of arms from the US’s Gulf allies to the Syrian rebels, ostensibly in part to prevent them from falling into the hands of extremist groups.

In July, Reuters revealed that the “nerve center” of the arms-funneling operation was Adana, Turkey — a city that is “also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.”

Among the arms allegedly supplied to the rebels were shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, or MANPADS.

So what was the result of the US’s intervention in Syria, ostensibly in part to prevent these arms from falling into the wrong hands?

The Rise of ISIS

As first reported in May 2015 by Brad Hoff of The Levant Report, on August 12, 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) warned in a memo that

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime….

Not to be unclear, the DIA specifically noted that “the supporting powers to the opposition” included “The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey”.

And, indeed, as we learned in October 2012 from no less impeccable source than, again, the New York Times itself:

Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists….

That report even noted that the US had been helping to organize the flow of arms.

And yet despite that acknowledgment, the article seeded the propaganda narrative that the problem in Syria is too little US intervention:

American officials have been trying to understand why hard-line Islamists have received the lion’s share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition through the shadowy pipeline with roots in Qatar, and, to a lesser degree, Saudi Arabia. The officials, voicing frustration, say there is no central clearinghouse for the shipments, and no effective way of vetting the groups that ultimately receive them.

Those problems were central concerns for the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus, when he traveled secretly to Turkey last month, officials said.

This despite officials from countries in the region telling the Times that Petraeus himself had been “deeply involved in trying to steer the supply effort”.

One Middle Eastern diplomat who has dealt extensively with the C.I.A. on the issue said that Mr. Petraeus’s goal was to oversee the process of “vetting, and then shaping, an opposition that the U.S. thinks it can work with.”

It wasn’t long before the narrative that the chaos in Syria was in no small part due to the Obama administration’s unwillingness to intervene came to dominate the media.

The head of the DIA at the time of its warning foreshadowing the rise of the Islamic State, Michael Flynn, later said that the Obama administration did not “turn a blind eye”, but rather made “a willful decision” to coordinate the flow of arms to Syrian rebels with full knowledge that the weapons were ending up in the hands of extremist groups.

Seymour M. Hersh followed up, and in the London Review of Books wrote:

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’

Half a year after Brad Hoff broke the story of the DIA memo, the New York Times finally got around to reporting on it:

Who are they? What do they want? Were signals missed that could have stopped the Islamic State before it became so deadly?

And there were, in fact, more than hints of the group’s plans and potential. A 2012 report by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency was direct: The growing chaos in Syria’s civil war was giving Islamic militants there and in Iraq the space to spread and flourish. The group, it said, could “declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

“This particular report, this was one of those nobody wanted to see,” said Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who ran the defense agency at the time.

“It was disregarded by the White House,” he said. “It was disregarded by other elements in the intelligence community as a one-off report. Frankly, at the White House, it didn’t meet the narrative.”

Conclusion

Likewise, while inconvenient facts occasionally manage to slip through the cracks, the New York Times, as in its recent report on the US-Saudi alliance against the Assad regime, routinely whitewashes the US role, and, namely, the fact that the US had a policy dating to early 2012 of coordinating the flow of arms to Syrian rebels with full knowledge that the arms were winding up in the hands of extremist groups and despite warnings from the intelligence community that this would fuel the rise of the movement we know today as ISIS.

Such truths are tossed down the memory hole because, at the New York Times, it just doesn’t meet the narrative.

On the Effort to Exonerate Team USA for the Rise of ISIS: Guest Analysis by David Mizner

Photo: An Islamic State fighter using the US-made BGM-71 TOW in Damascus countryside in 2014. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies funded “Long War Journal” has confirmed many instances of AQ and ISIS use of the TOW. 

David Mizner is a novelist and freelance journalist who writes about US foreign policy, with a focus on the Middle East. This article was first published at his blog, Rogue Nation, and is reproduced here with permission of the author. His writings can be found at Jacobin, Salon, The Nation, and other publications.

*****

ASSAD IS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE for the rise of ISIS. No one else is even close, with the possible exceptions of former Iraqi presidents Maliki and Hussein. That’s the predictable message of the State Department and its proxy reporters at outlets like Vox and Buzzfeed. The propaganda can be crude to the point of absurd. In Mad Max’s world, Iran bears more blame than the United States for ISIS, and George W. Bush would surely take comfort in analysis like this.

But on the question of Assad’s responsibility and the corresponding responsibility of his imperial opponents, there’s apparently a real debate to be had among thinking humans. In Jacobin and Salvage, leftists go a long way toward siding with State and the BuzzVoxxers.

While more or less holding the United States to account for its ISIS-creating actions in Iraq pre-2011, they exonerate the US and its regional allies for ISIS’s emergence as a force in Syria, which they attribute solely to Assad. In so doing they erase the war on Syria, which honest analysts would acknowledge even if they believe Assad to be a monster of Hitlerian proportions.

Both Jacobin and Salvage claim that Assad’s releasing jihadists from prison in 2011 contributed mightily to the rise of ISIS. Salvage, the magazine founded by Richard Seymour and his comrades, says Syria’s ex-prisoners are one of the three primary forces within IS, along with Iraqi Baathists and foreign fighters. It didn’t deign to provide any evidence, so I went looking for some.

This post by Kyle Orton says that, “In May and June 2011, the regime turned loose from its prisons violent jihadists.” But he links to two articles covering the Syrian’s government granting of general amnesty, which the press depicted at the time as an attempt to placate the opposition. The opposition itself received it as such. “Too little too late,” said one member of the opposition.

Nonetheless, Orton goes on to say that in 2011 the Syrian government released future jihadist leaders Abu Musab, Hassan Abboud, Zahran Alloush, and Ahmed Abu Issa. I suppose I’ll take his word for it, but these bad men didn’t join ISIS. They joined Al Qaeda, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Sham, and Suquor a-Sham, respectively. These groups are indeed brutal and reactionary—and they are proxy forces of US client states trying to overthrow the Syrian government.

This article at Huffington Post — “There Would Be No ISIS Without Assad” — likewise promises to establish a connection between Syria’s ex-prisoners and ISIS but manages only, via a link to a Politico piece, to connect them to Al Qaeda.

I’m not saying ISIS contains no people released from prison by the Syrian government, but if they made up a significant part of its leadership or rank-and-file — if they represented, as Salvage alleges, one leg of the stool supporting ISIS — evidence would surely be easier to come by. Aron Lund, who seems to be one of the more independent-minded of the popular Syria analysts, has this to say:

We know, by contrast, that all 12 of the judges who preside over ISIS’s court system in Raqqa are Saudi. They’re perhaps some of the hundreds of extremists Saudi Arabia has allowed to fly to Syria out of the Riyadh airport. (The Kingdom also reportedly sent more than a 1,000 death row inmates to go fight in Syria in exchange for commutations.) ISIS also includes many fighters from the Caucasus, Afghanistan, North Africa, and Europe, and that many, if not most, of these have entered Syria through Turkey.

Yet the ISIS-creation stories from Jacobin and Salvage include none of this. Not only do these leftist outlets pass along imperialist propaganda about Assad’s “giving” ISIS hundreds of fighters by opening his prisons; they ignore the role of US allies in funneling ISIS-bound fighters into Syria.

In fact, the words “Turkey” and “Saudi Arabia” appear nowhere in the Salvage piece. In Jacobin, Adam Hanieh, who elsewhere has written solid stuff, doesn’t mention Turkey’s role and dismisses the idea that “ISIS is a tool of the Gulf States,” because “there is little convincing evidence that ISIS is directly funded, or armed, by Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf state.” Leaving aside the fact that if Saudi Arabia directly supported ISIS, it would do so covertly (“ISIS, in fact, may have been a major part of Bandar’s covert-ops strategy in Syria,” writes Steve Clemons), there are other steps Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey have taken with the encouragement of the United States to strengthen ISIS.

There is, in fact, a fairly impressive compilation of evidence pointing to the role of Turkey in the rise of ISIS. It includes video and audio evidence of a meeting of an ISIS affiliate in Istanbul and allegations from an array of sources—opposition politicians in Turkey, intelligence services of other countries, and Kurdish officials in Syria—who claim that Turkey has allowed ISIS militants and weapons to go back and forth across the border and even directly armed and trained ISIS fighters. The case is circumstantial in places, to be sure, but compared to the case against Assad, it’s a smoking gun.

And it’s a fact that, on top of the aforementioned funneling of militants into Syria, US client states allowed wealthy individuals to fund ISIS. Did the governments themselves finance ISIS? In 2014, once ISIS had become a force, General Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that, yes, US allies had directly funded ISIS — as assessment that Lindsay Graham seconded. In any case, the funding was no secret — Kuwait was a hub for ISIS financing — and US allies didn’t little to nothing to crack down on it.

These governments also sent in weapons that ended up the hands of ISIS. Was the arming direct? Regardless, to send weapons to the opposition was to arm ISIS, both because ISIS routed groups and took their weapons and because early on opposition groups collaborated with ISIS.

Aping US government officials, who barely mentioned ISIS until mid-2014, US press accounts of the group’s rise in Syria tend to ignore its formative months (although they flashback to 2011 for the purpose of indicting Assad.) They pick up the narrative when the groups officially backed by the United States and its allies were fighting ISIS. To read the BuzzVoxxers, or some socialist outlets, you’d have no idea that ISIS ascended in Syria partly due to the collaboration and conciliation of other opposition groups. Joshua Landis’ analysis site Syria Comment details these alliances and calls them the “real” reason for ISIS’s rise in Syria:

The most prominent case-in-point is Colonel Oqaidi, who used to head the Aleppo FSA military council. Oqaidi constantly downplayed the idea that ISIS constituted a threat, describing his relations with ISIS as “excellent”…The other rebel groups that assisted ISIS in the wider conflict here included Liwa al-Tawhid, Ahrar ash-Sham, Suqur ash-Sham, and FSA-banner groups such as Liwa al-Hamza, Ibn Taymiyya (both Tel Abyad area) and Liwa Ahrar al-Jazira al-Thawri…Contrary to what ISIS members and supporters claim, there was no pre-planned ‘sahwa’ against ISIS. Till the very end of 2013, IF and its constituent groups tried to resolve problems with ISIS peacefully.

The FSA, remember, was the official American proxy so the United States was arming a group that it knew was collaborating with ISIS. In 2013, ISIS leader Abu Atheer told Al Jazeera that his group had cordial relations with the FSA and bought weapons from them.

Yet in popular ISIS creation narratives the myth of American innocence persists. The more intrepid western reporters will touch on the role of US client states yet exonerate the United States, as if Saudi Arabia and co. act wholly independently of the world’s most powerful country. And even if you believe that clients states have the desire and capacity to go rogue, there’s no evidence suggesting that US government officials tried to deter their ISIS-empowering actions during the group’s all-important early months in Syria. Biden’s tepid yet much-discussed criticism of allies for supporting ISIS came late in 2014 when ISIS was replacing the government as the primary, official rationale for US military action in Syria. As Biden was traveling around to apologize for his remarks, engaging in client management, no reporter thought to ask why no US official had said or done anything about their empowering of ISIS in the months and years prior.

The media complicity persisted despite last year’s declassification of a 2012 military intelligence memo showing that the United States had determined both that its allies sought to create a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” and that sectarian reactionaries — “The Salafist, The Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI” — were the “driving forces” in the opposition. Apologists responded predictably to the document: they challenged the most expansive interpretations and ignored the smaller yet still-damning ones.

It’s not so much the memo itself that exposes US culpability but the memo combined with the subsequent actions (and inactions) of the United States vis a vis its allies and the Syrian opposition. More confirmation than revelation, the memo shows what was already clear: 1) that the United States was content for its allies to try to destroy Syria by fueling the most extreme elements of the opposition, including ISIS, 2) that because extreme elements dominated the opposition, to support it was to empower these elements, including ISIS, and 3) that the United States, no bystander to this effort, contributed to it.

It’s not hard to understand why the BuzzBeasters exonerate the United States, even if doing so means ignoring reports in their own publications. The motive of socialists is a little harder to discern. Or perhaps not. Their purpose, it seems, is to pin all the blame on Assad, not just for ISIS but for all of it: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, the millions of refugees, the staggering suffering. The true story of the rise of ISIS, in context, exposes the degree of aggression against Syria, and once that comes to light, it’s hard to cling to the view that this war is, at its core, a battle between a tyrant and a progressive revolution.

Congresswoman Gabbard: CIA Must Stop Criminal and Counterproductive War to Overthrow Assad

“I don’t want the U.S. government to provide weapons to Al-Qaeda…it’s a very simple concept in my mind.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is a rare voice of sanity in the public arena. Her perspective on U.S. policy in Syria is not one you’ll often find on CNN but is one I encounter frequently among veterans and even the few intelligence analysts that I know. She boldly states that in the attempt to overthrow the Assad government of Syria, the U.S. and CIA armed and supported our enemies.

She is an Iraq war veteran and is fully aware that Al-Qaeda in Iraq, at the point it crossed into Syria and joined the fight against Assad, was used of the CIA and State Department to wage proxy war as a U.S. strategic asset against the Syrian Arab Republic.

ISIS would not be the massive terror army it is today without such U.S. covert support to the rebels in Syria.

Is Congresswoman Gabbard correct?

The below video provides airtight proof of the truthfulness of her statements. The primary raw footage was confirmed by the New York Times in 2013. The video montage and translation was authenticated by the top academic Syria expert in the United States, Joshua Landis.

The video is accompanied by an article I wrote which originally appeared in Foreign Policy Journal and was featured on AntiWar.com. I offer it as a tribute to my fellow veterans as well as active service members struggling to come to grips with the facts of our nation’s criminal actions in Syria…

“Iraq, ISIS, and The Myth of Sisyphus”

 

 “The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.”

Albert Camus, THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

As the world reacts to President Obama’s announcement of a multi-front air and ground proxy war—on the one hand, bombing ISIS inside Iraq and Syria, and on the other, ramping up arms and training for the vaguely defined Syrian “opposition”—we as a nation should reflect upon the Myth of Sisyphus.

Let’s Roll…

I joined the Marine Corps as an idealistic eighteen-year-old in 2000, with a firm resolve, as I enthusiastically told my recruiter shortly before leaving for boot camp, to “fight evil in the world”—a resolve rooted more deeply in my veins after the 9/11 attacks. Slogans such as “let’s roll!” echoed in my ears, and my fervor for “the mission” influenced others to follow my path of military service. While stationed in Quantico providing post-9/11 “first responder” security to headquarters assets in the area, I became close friends with a young local college student, also just out of high school, and I encouraged him to join up.

My friend embarked on multiple tours of duty within a short two years as a Marine infantryman, and was killed by an IED in Iraq on his third tour prior to his twenty-first birthday. He understood little about the place of his eventual death, as had been clear during our brief visits together as we reconnected between his deployments. We were never encouraged to learn about the history of Iraq or the Arab world, or to ask too many questions for that matter. “Let’s roll” was enough for us as we set out to “win hearts and minds.”

Uncovering Absurd Contradictions

As the power of such simple platitudes faded, I began to investigate for myself the history of U.S. involvement in the region: this search began in the library of Marine Corps University at MCB Quantico and led to my traveling to Syria upon completion of active service.

Few Americans know of the absurd contradictions of our foreign policy in Iraq and other places over the past few decades, yet I found that many Iraqis and Syrians knew the history well. The United States, through covert support of the Iraqi Ba’ath in the 1960’s and 1970’s, sponsored Saddam’s rise to power as a way to combat perceived communist influence and populist national movements in the Middle East. Throughout that time, the CIA-supported Ba’ath engaged in “cleansing campaigns” which involved door-to-door death squads offing Washington’s enemies based on questionable lists provided through covert liaisons.

Upon Saddam’s rising to the presidency in 1979, and while the Iranian Revolution drove forward just across the border, the United States encouraged Saddam to invade Iran, kick-starting the most devastating war in the region’s history. Most Americans still haven’t seen the easily accessible archive footage of Reagan’s then special envoy to the Middle East, Donald Rumsfeld, shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in 1983, in what was clearly a warm and cordial visit.

Saddam would go on, during the course of a war that took over a million lives (1980-1988), to frequently employ chemical nerve agents against Iranian troop movements; later into the war this occurred with the assistance of the CIA and DIA. By the time of the 1988 gas attack against the Kurds of Halabja, U.S. covert assistance to Iraq’s military was established and routine.

And yet, Saddam soon became the new super-villain of the 1990’s and 2000’s, the very image of evil incarnate in the world—though his dictatorial and brutal rule had undergone no change from when he was the CIA’s man in Baghdad—only American perceptions of him did. The United States had helped to create the monster that in 2003 it was telling young men and women to travel across the world to destroy. Ironically, one of the main moral justifications for going after “the evil tyrant” was his gassing of the Kurds of Halabja.

Uncovering such an absurd contradiction of recent history made me feel like Sisyphus in Albert Camus’ famous essay. Sisyphus, condemned by the gods to his fate of pushing his boulder up the hill, must ever repeat the same process after it inevitably rolls back down the hill; he eventually becomes conscious of the futility of his action. We can imagine such tragic Sisyphean moments of realization in the minds of hundreds of thousands of veterans as they watched ISIS tear through places like Fallujah and Northern Iraq over the course of this past half year.

The Rock is Still Rolling

And yet, ISIS too, is a monster the United States helped to create.

Instead of two decades for the contradictions to come full circle, as was the case with the creation and destruction of Saddam Hussein, ISIS has gone from friend to monster within only two years. The U.S. armed forces, told by the White House of a minimal three-year long campaign to destroy ISIS, have barely recovered from the now seemingly futile burden of wars in post-Saddam Iraq and forgotten, ongoing Afghanistan.

As if the absurdity of the task of a renewed Iraq campaign mandated by the “gods” in Washington weren’t enough, we will now bomb ISIS locations in Syria while increasing the training and equipping of Syrian rebels. If there are military members and veterans out there, still not conscious that “there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor,” then I suggest watching the above video. The video gives insight into the Sisyphean task ahead of us as a nation: a never-ending cycle, old-yet-new, already set up for futility and failure.

Amazingly, the video, titled, “US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al Nusra,” has not yet had widespread distribution, even though it has been authenticated by the top Syria expert in the U.S., Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma, and author of the hugely influential Syria Comment. Using his Twitter account, Dr. Landis commented (8/27): “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 joint operation. In an interview, the U.S. “key man” at that time (2013), 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.

I can think of no greater absurd foreign policy path to follow than to continue arming one wing of Syria’s rebels (only until very recently directly allied with the new “enemy”), while at the same time bombing another, and all the while declaring the necessity of continued “war on terror.”

Albert Camus concludes the myth thus, “I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again.”

Moscow Nights in Latakia: Guest Post by Michael Brenner PhD

New Video Emerges Of Russian Attack Helicopters Opening Fire Over Urban Syria  Screenshot of Russian Mi-24P Hind Attack Helicopters filmed operating over Syria

MbrennerThe following was first published to Sic Semper Tyrannis. It is republished here with permission of the author. Dr. Michael Brenner is Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS-Johns Hopkins (Washington, D.C.). He was the Director of the International Relations & Global Studies Program at the University of Texas until 2012. He writes a column for The Huffington Post which can be found here.

*****

The Middle East almost always has been near the top of the American foreign policy agenda. Balancing commitment to Israel’s welfare with the high value placed on support for oil-rich Arab states has been one challenge. Reconciling rhetorical dedication to democracy promotion and human rights with a pragmatic recognition of friendly despotisms has been another.   Hostile relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran added one more stressful element. Then the rise of radical jihadist movements and the phenomenon of transnational terrorism came to the fore. That turbulent mix has been stirred into a maelstrom by dramatic events – some initiated by the United States itself. Occupation of Afghanistan in response to 9/11, invasion and occupation of Iraq, the region-wide Global War on Terror, the Arab Spring, and capped by the unprecedented menace of ISIL.

Consequently, Washington officials face a uniquely complex policy field that places extraordinary demands of a strategic and diplomatic nature.

Surveying the present state of affairs, the observer is struck by the elements of contradiction in objective conditions and in the American policies intended to address them. Indeed, contradiction is the outstanding feature of the United States’ engagements in the Middle East. The swift Russian intervention into Syria exacerbates every one of the contradictory elements in Washington’s various, unintegrated Middle East policies. That is one reason the unexpected moves by Putin are deeply unsettling. They not only add a major variable, but that factor also involves a self-willed player ready and able to take initiatives which are not predictable or easy to counter. An already fluid field of action, thereby, is rendered even more turbulent by orders of magnitude.

Another, related reason is that since the United States has no comprehensive strategy, the repercussions of the Russian actions, military and political, are generating a piecemeal reaction that finds it difficult to gain any intellectual or diplomatic traction in each policy sphere. Theoretically, these developments should highlight the need for such an overarching strategy by underscoring the costs of not having one. There is no evidence, though, of that happening within the Obama administration – or within the American foreign policy community generally.  Why? In addition to the manifest lack of aptitude for such an undertaking, the kinds of conceptual adjustments indicated by the Russian intervention touch on highly sensitive questions of America’s status and mission in the world which its political elite is unprepared to engage.

Let us look first at the specific, practical effects on those problems with which Washington already is struggling. In Syria itself, the ambiguous Obama approach of “patience and persistence” is now fully exposed as the empty slogan that it always has been. Its basic flaws lie in the elementary failure to identify your enemy (ies), your allies, the nature of the threat and your objectives. No one has been able to say – from the President on down. Very early in the multi-party civil war, there was a recognition of their being two enemies: 1) the Assad government which President Obama vocally proclaimed “must go;” and 2) the diverse jihadist movements, declared foes of the West and their friends in the Islamic world, who rapidly became the dominant opposition force. The latter have subordinated “moderate” groups – both secular and Islamic – to a secondary status, with their very existence now being at the sufferance of al-Nusra (primarily) and ISIL. The former, in turn, is at war with ISIL for leadership of the Islamist cause – a conflict that creates incentives for it to tolerate tacit forms of cooperation with the “moderates” so as to facilitate the continued flow of assistance from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf statelets, Turkey and the United States itself (via the “moderate intermediaries” who “reverse launder” them).

American policy-makers have sought to avoid the painful choice of selecting a “preferred enemy” by concentrating their rhetorical fire on ISIL while, at the same time, trying to square the circle by building a “third force” of politically congenial elements who would fight, and defeat, both ISIL and the Damascus regime. That latter initiative has failed ignominiously and was officially suspended on October 9 by the Pentagon.  Unofficially, it never was viewed as the panacea.  I was told by a State Department official who works on Syria, a year ago, that it was generally understood that the training project was just political window dressing. No one in the administration (except for a few incurable innocents) believed in it or thought that it could have any practical results. Oddly, Obama himself stated as much in an interview with Thomas Friedman last summer.  That’s $50 million worth of window dressing. It seems that the other $450 million was spent mainly by the CIA to continue supplying their tacit allies up North, i.e. remnants of the Free Syrian Army and their associates which include parts of the al-Nusra apparatus. It has become public knowledge that that program dates from 2011, allowing for a slowdown, if not complete break, in 2012 when Obama rejected a formal proposal from CIA Director David Petraeus to expand it. In practice, much of the sophisticated equipment simply passed through the administrative hands of validated “good guys” directly into the hands of the “bad guys.”

The logical contradiction between the White House’s lack of conviction in successive programs in support of “moderate” elements of the Syrian opposition, on the one hand, and the persistence in pursuing one ill-fated venture after another became publicly manifest when Obama’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the President had backed the now discarded training program only because he had been pressed to do so by critics in Congress and the media. Hence, he did not judge its termination as a failure of his administration’s judgment. This is a first.

Never before has a sitting President admitted that he had taken a risky foreign policy course without conviction in its value but strictly as an expedient gesture to domestic forces whom he was not prepared to confront. To disown so cavalierly what was rolled out with fanfare, and cited routinely as the foundation stone of American strategy in Syria, is high-level fecklessness without precedent.

That politically circuitous route has been supplemented by direct supply routes from the Gulf and Turkey into the inventories of al-Nusra and its affiliates. By implication, but not in declaration, Washington therefore has been drawing a clear line of differentiation, for some time, between ISIL and al-Nusra – despite the latter’s being an acknowledged affiliate of al-Qaeda. A great anomaly of the situation, of course, is that al-Qaeda has been figured as the “Great Satan” against which America has been fighting a global war since 2001. Yet, there is no political reaction to this extraordinary policy turn – whether by politicians, the media or the unofficial foreign policy community.

There is more than a touch of absurdity in this. Just last week, the White House justified its policy reversal in regard to the maintenance of a substantial troop presence in Afghanistan to counter a persistent al-Qaeda and ISIL threat. (Where the Taliban fit into the picture is conveniently left obscure). Yet far more formidable units of the latter, which are operating close to American strategic interests in the region of Syria and Iraq, are being treated as tacit allies of the United States. In addition to indirect arms supplies via other members of the Army of Victory, they are immune to American airstrikes. Even ISIL gets less attention from the United States Air Force than do the Taliban around Kunduz. Over the past month, it has flown fewer missions in Iraq and Syria combined than the Russians have flown in one day.

As far as the Obama people are concerned, this oddity owes in part to the premiums placed on maintaining close relations with traditional allies in the Gulf and with Turkey who view all Islamist forces in Syria as the key to toppling Assad. He bulks largest in their strategic thinking due to his Iranian ties at a time when, for them, the Sunni-Shia civil war within Islam eclipses all else. It also owes in part to the administration’s independent judgment that Iran is the region’s greatest menace insofar as American interests are concerned. In part, it further reflects Israeli strategic thinking that parallels that of Riyadh and the GCC minnows, with political resonance domestically. In part, there is the simple inability of the White House and associates to devise a strategy of a subtlety that matches the complexity of the situation – or to make the tough decision to scale back objectives in recognition of the severe limits on American influence.

This last has been underscored by the Russian intervention. Official Washington was caught by surprise – once again. Intelligence failed in terms of foreseeing the scale of the operation, of properly estimating Putin’s will and nerve, of appraising Russian military capabilities for swift action, and of readying a set of possible responses. Consequently, a pre-existing state of intellectual and diplomatic disarray has now degenerated into general disorientation and confusion.

The ad hoc response is characterized by these elements. One is a definition of the crisis mainly in terms of a Russo-American contest. Hence, the talk is of a second “Cold War”, of a “test for NATO” that includes beefing up Nordic defense; rejecting if not ignoring out-of-hand Putin’s proposals for cooperation in finding a formula for stabilizing Syria; edging even closer to Turkey and the Saudis; and envisaging an entirely fresh approach to creating another version of a “third force” that would join the Syrian Kurds of the YPG with disparate splinter groups, who have given themselves the acquired surreal name of The Euphrates Volcano. They, in fact, are the flotsam and jetsam of the four year civil war: displaced locals, brigands, Turcomen recruited by Ankara from Syria, Iraq, the Caucasus or Central Asia. This last is strictly a public relations gesture whose accompanying rhetoric betrays the undercurrent of desperation in Washington. The Kurds of the Kobane region (Rojani) will not fight for anything more than their homes and fields – most certainly not for some abstract Sunni cause or to satisfy the ambitions of outside powers to unseat Assad with whom they long had reached a modus vivendi. As for the Euphrates Volcano, their loyalty as well as capacity for sustained military action is viewed as a very dubious commodity everywhere but in Langley, Virginia. They are no more the solution than have been the petty warlords and bandit militias in Afghanistan – another CIA and Special Forces creation.

Another sign pointing in the same direction is provided by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, among others, referring hopefully to the Russians experiencing another Afghanistan-like quagmire in Syria, of heavy casualties eroding Putin’s popularity and maybe even leading to his unseating (a la Kiev). Frustration over being outmaneuvered, of its less than serious campaign against being exposed for the pretentious failure it has been, of muscular Russian military performance – all are irritating that nerve of insecurity that runs through America’s body politic these days.

The most radical move, one with far-reaching complications, is to solidify what has been the tacit and partial understanding between the United States (pressed by Turkey and the KSA) and the al-Nusra dominated alliance renamed the Army of Victory (al-Burkan Furat) which also includes the radical Islamist group Ahrar – al-Shams. The implicit sanitizing of al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise entails the following steps: insistence on using the innocuous term “rebels” to refer in aggregate to all non-ISIL opponents of the Assad government – terminology that has been universally adopted by the media under administration pressure; denunciation of the Russians for striking al-Nusra and associates as well as ISIL; continued abstention from any American air strikes against even unmistakable al-Nusra sites; a pledge to bolster material support to groups operating under the  Army of Victory umbrella without noting its essentially jihadist identity; and keeping up the drumfire of virulent criticism of the Iranian campaign to destabilize the Middle East – Syria nominated as the central front.

More serious is the ramping up of the CIA’s program to provide sophisticated armaments likely to strengthen the al-Nusra inventory. They include TOWs to counter the government’s armor and rockets that could threaten Russian bases. Director John Brennan visited the region early in October to forge a pact with the Saudi government to expedite the TOW shipments. The possibility exists that this step represents a desire on the part of the Obama administration, or at least certain elements of it, to exploit its links with the recently constituted al-Nusra led Army of Victory that could transpose the second “Cold War’ onto the Middle East in response to the dramatic Putin initiative.

In short, insofar as Syria is concerned, we are observing Washington’s progressive adoption of the Israeli cum Saudi perspective. There is no indication that the Obama White House recognizes that the Russia factor has made that perspective academic and the chances of realizing its objectives nil. The potential implications are profound.

Cossetting the royal family and passive tolerance for all their weeks; ignoring the KSA as the source and abettor of radical Wahhabi movements; all-out backing for the assault on the Houthis in Yemen; refusing to cooperate on a tactical basis with Tehran despite manifest convergent interests – an attitude expressed with vehemence even after the nuclear accord; failure to confront Erdogan for his support to ISIL and al-Nusra; and fostering the Israeli-Saudi de facto diplomatic alliance. At no time have we heard an explanation of why we have taken these missteps or a recognition of their net effect. The Russian intervention in Syria (and Iraq) has highlighted the full geo-strategic implications of that strategic blindness. Our alignment with a self-conscious Sunni bloc (anti not just Shia but any non-Sunni Muslims, e.g. Alawite, Zaidi) is an enormous burden in an already flawed campaign against ISIL and AQAP. That is becoming evident in Baghdad as well as elsewhere.

*****

The errors of American policy in the Middle East over the past fourteen years are legion – as anyone paying attention knows. Those errors are conceptual, analytical and operational – at both the diplomatic and military plane. To this sorry record now has been added the macro error of choosing sides in Islam’s sectarian civil war. It should have been obvious to even the novice that any contribution to its exacerbation was detrimental to the United States’ interests and to those of the region as a whole. Instead, we have jumped in like fools where angels dare not tread. It is apparent that the implications of incremental decisions made disjointedly over time never were thought through – if thought about at all.

An ancillary error, as highlighted in this discussion, is the elementary mistake of having “chosen” the “wrong” side. By this I mean that it is a basic principle of realpolitik that an outside power that seeks (for sound reason or other) to intervene in such a situation to its advantage should not associate itself with the weaker side, as a matter of principle. The reasons are too obvious to cite. It is hardly surprising that the maladroit Obama crowd should add this misjudgment its long list of tragic mistakes.

Elsewhere in the region, the reverberations from the Russian intervention are also being felt. The most immediate effects are to diminish Israeli and Turkey hopes for using the civil war to advance their own ends. The Saudi royal family, enmeshed in a succession crisis and stressed by its imperial war in Yemen, is unprepared to change course and instead will persevere in its self-defined mortal combat with Iran and its Syrian ally. As to Iraq, the equivocations and incompetence of the United States over the past year have made the al-Abadi government sympathetic to the arrival of Russia on the scene. It strengthens their hand in playing off Washington, Teheran and now Moscow while adding a powerful military ally in the fight against ISIL. That is why they have gone so far as to join the Russian sponsored alliance and welcomed establishment of an intelligence and planning cell in Baghdad. This ‘4 + 1’ unit registered its first success on October 11 when it prompted an Iraqi airstrike that killed a number of Daesh leaders on a road near Ramadi and injured al-Baghdadi himself.

A paradoxical twist is the opening of a divide in the Sunni bloc. Egypt and Jordan within days expressed their backing for the Russian military campaign. Al-Sisi in Cairo made it clear that the Islamists of all stripes (including the offshoots and residue of the Mother Brotherhood who play a minor role in the ranks of the opposition) are politically haram. He sees them as a menace to his rule which, as such, must be crushed. That takes precedence over removing Assad or curtailing the Shi’ite bloc. So strong is this conviction that al-Sisi saw fit to break with the Saudis on this issue despite Egypt’s critical dependence on the KAS’ financial largesse. As far as the American view is concerned, he continues to discount it in the aftermath of what he views as Washington’s betrayal in its acceptance of the Morsi government.

A similar line of thinking prevails in Amman where King Abdullah is well aware that both al-Nusra and ISIL have his monarchy in their sights. Moreover, he is more vulnerable in terms of geography and the fragility of Jordanian national identity. Defection of Egypt and Jordan jeopardizes the informal coalition of status quo powers that the United States has sought to reconstitute in the wake of the Iraq and Arab Spring upheavals. That odd-fellow grouping brought together the KSA, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and, implicitly, the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority. Their common enemies were radical Islam, Iran and its allies, and popular democracy.

It remains to be seen whether the fissures created by the Russian intervention will endure. One consequence is that it provides a further incentive for the U.S. to tighten its embrace of the Saudis and the Gulfies as staunch allies. That conclusion does mean overlooking their financial and material backing for Islamist extremists and their reckless assault in Yemen. Obama’s overriding concern to placate them in the aftermath of the Iranian nuclear deal, which they ardently opposed, is cited as the principal motivation behind this policy of concession and deference.

Another factor is the high value that Washington places on the military bases they make available. The Pentagon has pressured the White House hard to avoid doing anything that might call into question current arrangements.  So long as some possible hot war with Iran is contemplated, they retain significant value for both the defense establishment and the President. Indeed, so long as the American military strategy aims at maintenance of “full spectrum dominance” in that part of the world, basing rights will trump other considerations no matter what path relations with the IRI take.

Taken together, these developments associated with the sudden entry of Russia into Syria, reestablishing itself as a Middle East power, have the net effect of weakening the American position. Since its loosely drawn goals remain maximalist and constant, the discrepancy will bedevil Washington policy-makers who already manifestly lack the adequate talents to manage the maelstrom of forces at work in the region.

In the broader perspective, Russia’s move into Syria has overturned some central pillars of the American worldview. As Alistair Crooke has written, since the Cold war’s end “NATO effectively has made all the decisions about war and peace. It faced no opposition and no rival. Matters of war were effectively a solely internal debate within NATO — about whether to proceed or not, and in what way. That was it. It didn’t matter much about what others thought or did. Those on the receiving end simply had to endure it.” That manifestly is no longer the case – whether in Europe or in the Middle East.

What irritates Washington more than anything else is the display of Russian military prowess thought relegated to history. Moreover, it has been done with impressive speed and efficiency. The unipolar moment that lasted for a quarter of a century is gone. America resists accepting that new reality. Hence, the denigration of Russia simultaneously with steps to impede its efforts in Syria rather than to form a tacit partnership.

These compounded frustrations lie behind the incandescent outrage at Russia’s temerity by American officials and the entire commentariat. The latter category includes highly regarded veteran “Sovietologists” like Strobe Talbott (former high official and now head of the Brookings Institution) and David Remnick (author of excellent books on the break-up of the Soviet Union and now editor of The New Yorker) whose supposed intimate knowledge of Russia is belied by the tenor of their emotional anti-Putin diatribes at once simplistic and at variance with the facts. Americans are reacting erratically to omens of the country’s mortality as global hegemon.

One never should underestimate the extent to which belief in American exceptionalism/superiority sustains collective and individual self-esteem.

Guest Analysis by Dan Sanchez: Tunisian Nobel Peace Prize an Indictment of US Intervention in the Arab Spring

Dan Sanchez, theAntiMedia.org — A quartet of peace negotiators has won the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in preserving the Tunisian Revolution. That 2011 event kicked off the wave of uprisings known as the Arab Spring. The Tunisian Revolution is widely seen as the one bright spot of the Arab Spring, which has otherwise brought war, tyranny, and chaos to every country it has touched.

But that should not be considered a mark against popular sovereignty itself. It was outside interference from the U.S. empire that poisoned the Arab Spring and turned it into a catastrophe.

Tunisia was the one Arab Spring country to escape this fate simply because it went first. Caught by surprise, Washington was not able to ruin things until the revolution had already run its course.

In every other country, the United States heavily intervened in one of two ways.

When the Arab Spring threatened or overthrew U.S.-backed dictators or royal despots, Washington sponsored counter-revolutions.

On the other hand, when the Arab Spring reached independent “rogue” regimes, the U.S. and its allies co-opted the uprisings. They radicalized the opposition by pouring money, training, and weapons into it and sponsoring radical jihadists who came to dominate the insurgency.

Egypt’s Arab Spring developed too early and quickly for the U.S. to be able to save then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “family friend ” General Hosni Mubarak from losing power. And so an election was held which was won by a mildly Islamist administration under Mohamed Morsi.

But this was short-lived, as a counter-revolution sanctioned by the United States and bankrolled by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia then overthrew the elected government, installing a new military dictator.

The revolution was completely reversed, with Mubarak to be released from prison and Morsi taking his place there. He and hundreds of his supporters have been sentenced to death.

John Kerry, Hillary’s successor at State, hailed the coup d’etat as “restoring democracy.”

The restored dictatorship is now back to business as usual: brutal repression and human rights violations, helping Israel keep the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip trapped and miserable, and receiving $1.5 billion a year in U.S. foreign aid.

By the time the Arab Spring reached Yemen, the United States was ready enough to engineer an election in which there was only one candidate on the ballot. And so one sock puppet dictator—Ali Abdullah Saleh—was merely replaced by another: Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Secretary Clinton praised the rigged election and inauguration as “promising steps on the path toward a new, democratic chapter in Yemen’s history.”

And after this replacement dictator of Yemen was overthrown by the local “Houthi rebel” movement, the U.S. backed a savage war by Saudi Arabia on that impoverished country that still rages today.

Adding to the vast collateral damage wrought by America’s drone war on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Saudis have been bombing the Houthis, who are AQAP’s chief enemies, resulting in ever greater conquests for the terrorist group.

Among innumerable other attacks on civilians, the Saudis bombed two weddings in ten days. And its total blockade has brought Yemen, already the poorest country in the Middle East (it imports over 90% of its food), to the brink of starvation.

As for Bahrain, as Amanda Ufheil-Somers wrote :

Back in 2011, for instance, just days after Bahraini security forces fired live ammunition at protesters in Manama—an attack that killed four and wounded many others—President Barack Obama praised King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s commitment to reform. Neither did the White House object when it was notified in advance that 1,200 troops from Saudi Arabia would enter Bahrain to clear the protests in March of 2011.”

But when the Arab Spring reached Libya, under the relatively independent Arab nationalist dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi, the United States took the side of the insurgents, arming jihadists and waging an air war that overthrew the government. This has sent the country spiraling into chaos.

And when the Arab Spring reached Syria, under the Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad, the United States again took the side of the insurgents and again sponsored jihadists, along with regional allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf monarchies.

As a released U.S. intelligence report revealed, Washington did so fully realizing that the insurgency was dominated by Islamic extremists and that supporting it would likely result in the rise of a “Salafist principality.” As it turned out, this Salafist principality was ISIS. And it is rivaled for leadership of the insurgency only by Syrian Al Qaeda. Both have ended up with a large amount of American weapons.

The American-fed Arab Spring war in Syria has claimed the lives of a quarter of a million and has displaced millions.

Tunisia has been a success — although not an unqualified or a necessarily permanent one — because it had the one Arab Spring that Washington did not get its bloody mitts on. The Nobel Peace Prize granted in its honor should also be seen as an indictment of the empire that stood in the way of millions of other Arabs from achieving the same success — and that turned their dreams of freedom into nightmares of tyranny and war.


Originally published at theantimedia.org.

This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dan Sanchez and theAntiMedia.org.

Guest Analysis by Steven Chovanec: The Refugee Crisis Isn’t the Real Problem

Photo: Libya; from “liberation” by NATO to “terror wonderland” to refugee crisis.

Steven Chovanec is an independent geopolitical analyst and writer based in Chicago, IL.  He is a student of International Studies and Sociology at Roosevelt University and conducts independent, open-source research into geopolitics and social issues.  His writings can be found at undergroundreports.blogspot.comfind him on Twitter @stevechovanec.

by Steven Chovanec

As the gravest refugee crisis since WWII continues unabated, everyday new reports give us privileged enough not to be personally effected mere glimpses at the outright horror that is being visited upon our brothers and sisters across the world on a daily basis.

A horror that has sparked the public to advocate that “no person is illegal” in response to their governments’ shameful positions which seek to keep refugees out at all costs while avoiding the main root causes of the problem and their own complicity.(1)

Reading the Western media, heavy emphasis is put upon the criminal enterprises that are boating these refugees across the seas, editorializing the situation to justify a heavy-handed response in order to ‘prosecute the criminals.’ However, despite the moral bankruptcy of seeking to profit from such a crisis, these enterprises would have no demand had not so much death and destruction been inflicted upon refugee homelands. Moreover one could glean that refugees are less upset over the fees of those providing them an opportunity to escape than they are with Western governments who refuse them, and whom also foment instability in their countries.

Western leaders and media pundits alike are straining to blame the crisis on official enemies and Western inaction. David Cameron blames Assad in Syria along with “the butchers of ISIS and the criminal gangs that are running this terrible trade in people,” yet, as Daniel McAdams points out, “proponents of the four-year US policy of Syria destabilization and regime change are lining up to make their case that the current refugee crisis… is one hundred percent the fault of both Syrian president Assad and western non-interventionists who objected to plans in 2013 for the US and UK to begin bombing Syria.”

Other Western publications do in fact have the gall to actually criticize their own leaders’ guilt in the matter. The reasons? The West has failed because it has simply not done enough, sat lazily on the sidelines, and thus further intervention is needed.

Once again the only criticisms allowed in the ‘liberal’ western press are ones which presuppose benevolent intentions.

The sad truth however is that the alarming refugee situation was a predictable outcome of the West’s crazed militant adventurism, and the calls for the West to ‘do more’ are in actuality calls to exacerbate the crisis by increasing that which caused it, thinly veiling themselves as dissident criticisms.

The UNHCR calculates that some 366,402 Europe-bound refugees have reached Europe by sea this year alone, the majority of which (51%) are Syrians, while the next largest portions are from Afghanistan (14%), Eritrea (8%), Nigeria (4%), and Iraq (3%).(2)

A total of 12 million Syrians have been displaced, 7.6 internally and 4 million abroad. In Iraq more than 3 million have been displaced since December 2013. Poverty and destruction in Libya have also caused hundreds of thousands to flee from Africa. 137,000 refugees migrated this year while 1,800 never completed the journey and died at sea. 1.3 million are displaced inside Ukraine, nearly all of them from the southeastern regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. 867,000 have left the country, most going to Russia.(3)

Almost invariably, the major regions afflicted by this crisis are also areas of either direct or indirect US military aggression and intervention.

The invasion of Afghanistan was initially justified through the declared motive of compelling the Taliban to hand over people the US accused of having been involved in the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban agreed, requesting that first evidence be provided. The Bush administration refused to provide any. The reason? They didn’t have any.

The FBI and Justice Department have never formally charged bin Laden with involvement in 9/11. Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI, said that the reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama’s Most Wanted page and why the DoJ never formally indicted and charged him for the offense is because “the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”(4)

The Taliban eventually agreed to hand over bin Laden for trail in a country other than the US without asking for evidence in return for a halt in the US bombing. The White House refused this offer as well, and 3 weeks into the war announced that the bombing would continue until the people of Afghanistan overthrew the Taliban, a textbook example of international terrorism according to the US’ own definition, and this would later became the official justification for the war.

The head of the FBI, after the most intense international investigation in history, told the press that the FBI believed that the plot might have been hatched in Afghanistan, but was most likely implemented and carried out in the UAE and Germany.(5)

The Afghan invasion thus had nothing to do with finding and bringing the criminals to justice, which could have been accomplished through careful investigative and police work, but instead, as was eventually admitted officially, was about regime change and thus control over Afghanistan, wrecking the country through war and destruction while sending countless fleeing for their lives.

As well, if the US’ declared ‘mission’ of going after any state that harbored terrorists were actually implemented, it follows that both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would have been invaded as well.

According to an extensive investigation by Britain’s leading international security scholar Nafeez Ahmed, in which declassified documents, official government reports, and intelligence official’s testimony are cited, specific intelligence was available to the US that bin Laden was living in Pakistan under the protection of US allies for years before the alleged 2011 assassination raid. The US was stymied from acting due to its longstanding relations with Saudi and Pakistani intelligence.(6)

Instead the response to 9/11 did not target these 2 US allies without whom the plot never could have succeeded, but instead was aimed at countries the US sought to colonize, Iraq having no ties whatsoever to al-Qaeda and being one of the main state-deterrents to jihadi radicalism.(7)

The true intentions behind the Iraq invasion, as all official pretexts collapse instantly upon examination, were evidenced in a “Declaration of Principles” document signed by Bush and then Prime Minister Maliki in 2007. The agreement allowed for a long-term US military presence in the country, if the enormous Green Zone “embassy” wasn’t enough of an indication for the permanence of the US presence, while as well explicitly stating that Iraq’s economy (meaning its oil resources) would be open to the preferential access of US capital. One would be hard-pressed to find a more blatant pronouncement of economic imperialism.

These reasons were further underscored a year later when President Bush issued a signing statement declaring that any congressional legislation which barred military spending from being used to establish permanent US military installations in Iraq or from allowing the US to exercise control over its oil resources would be rejected.(8)

The jihadism now plaguing Iraq was a direct result of this decision to use the military to hit the country with a sledgehammer.

Former CIA officer Graham Fuller explains that although the US did not plan the formation of ISIS, it was the destructive US interventions in the Middle East and the war in Iraq which were the basic causes of its creation.(9)

Tactics used by the occupiers exacerbated the violence and sectarianism, pitting peaceful resistance movements in violent conflict with radical jihadists, fostering intra-insurgent violence despite civilians being caught within the crossfire, and supporting both Sunni, al-Qaeda linked factions as well as government-run “Salvadorian option” Shia death-squads, all part of a ‘divide and rule’ strategy that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires. All of this transformed a society in which Shia and Sunni coexisted much like Protestant and Catholics do in the West into a raging sectarian bloodbath, now one of the most dangerous places in the world to live, forcing countless people to flee their homes.(10)

After Iraq came Libya.

Before 2011 Libya was a main transport hub for the Trans-Saharan migration routes that extended into southern Europe. According to 2006 estimates, between 65,000 and 120,000 entered the Maghreb region yearly, of which 70 to 80% are believed to migrate through Libya. As well, Libya was a final destination for many and housed those which failed to reach Europe, taking in around 1 to 1.5 million while helping to mitigate European immigration concerns. Going one step further, Gaddafi also made deals with European states to forcibly shut down the Libyan coast in exchange for large sums of money, dropping illegal immigration through Libya down by 75% in 2009.(11)

All of this changed in 2011.

Gaddafi expressed willingness to abdicate shortly after the beginning of the 2011 revolt, but the US ignored his calls for a truce and continued with their regime-change policy, according to an extensive study compiled by the Citizens Commission on Benghazi, a self-selected group of former top level military officers, CIA officers, and academic think-tankers.

The report details how this policy included the arming of terrorists to overthrow the Libyan state, “the U.S. was fully aware of and facilitating the delivery of weapons to the al-Qa’eda dominated rebel militias throughout the 2011 rebellion. The jihadist agenda of AQIM, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), and other Islamic terror groups represented among the rebel forces was well known to U.S. officials responsible for Libya policy. The rebels made no secret of their al-Qa’eda affiliation, openly flying and speaking in front of the black flag of Islamic jihad, according to author John Rosenthal and multiple media reports. And yet, the White House and senior Congressional members deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress al-Qa’eda.”(12)

According to a 2007 report by the West Point Combating Terrorism Center, the city of Benghazi was one of al-Qaeda’s main headquarters. Gaddafi was on the verge of invading Benghazi in 2011 under the pretext that it was an al-Qaeda hotbed, however NATO warplanes prevented him from doing so, protecting the city and the al-Qaeda factions stationed there that the US had allied with. Afterwards, the black flag of al-Qaeda was hoisted off government buildings in Benghazi.(13)

Following Gaddafi’s fall Libya transcended into what Senator Rand Paul calls “a jihadist wonderland.” The Obama administration also then, with the support of British intelligence and in collusion with allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, created a ‘rat line’ into Syria.

Authorized in 2012, it was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya through southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh notes that “Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida.”(14)

Obama then continued along the Libyan model by once again supporting al-Qaeda, this time to overthrow the Syrian president.

At least as far back as 2005 the US has been financing and training anti-government opposition groups in Syria with a view toward regime-change.(15)

Come 2011 United States Air Force (USAF) officers at the Lieutenant Colonel level would confirm in leaked WikiLeaks email exchanges that US Special Operations Forces were “already on the ground” in Syria prior to December of that year, whose mission it was to “commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces” and “elicit collapse from within.”(16)

A secret US-NATO base was established in Turkey in order to organize and expand the dissident base in the country, smuggle in weapons, conduct psychological operations and information warfare, and to funnel intelligence and military operators across the border.(17)

US-led operation rooms were set up in Turkey and Qatar where the CIA and MI6, along with Jordanian, Saudi, Turkish, and Qatari intelligence commanded and coordinated support to the rebel opposition to the tune of 1 billion dollars per year from the CIA alone. The US oversaw the operation, providing intelligence and deciding on which rebels would receive the weapons shipments, which were mainly supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. According to classified assessments from US intelligence, most of these shipments were going to “hard-line Islamists.”(18)

Training camps were also set up in Qatar and Jordan.

According to high-level Jordanian officials, rebels trained at the base in Jordan would later go on to join ISIS.(19) Despite this, the training continued.

At the base in Qatar, rebel commanders describe how they were trained specifically to break the Geneva Conventions and “finish off” wounded and surrendered soldiers after an ambush.(20)

Former CIA officer Phil Giraldi would note that “CIA analysts are skeptical regarding the march to war. The frequently cited United Nations report that more than 3,500 civilians have been killed by Assad’s soldiers is based largely on rebel sources and is uncorroborated. The [Central Intelligence] Agency has refused to sign off on the claims. Likewise, accounts of mass defections from the Syrian Army and pitched battles between deserters and loyal soldiers appear to be a fabrication, with few defections being confirmed independently. Syrian government claims that it is being assaulted by rebels who are armed, trained, and financed by foreign governments are more true than false.”(21)

And while US allies openly supported al-Qaeda and ISIS under US supervision, the US armed supposedly “moderate” factions who were working alongside the terrorists, committing the same kinds of atrocities while funneling US-supplied weapons to them.(22)

US intelligence as well foresaw the rise of an “Islamic State” given all of this support for an extremist dominated opposition, yet saw the development as strategically beneficial and therefore increased its level of assistant in the following years.(23)

All of this culminating in a sectarian opposition dominated by al-Qaeda and ISIS.(24)

Currently Turkey and Saudi Arabia are openly supporting al-Qaeda and various other jihadi entities, while Qatar maintains good relations with al-Nusra and Turkey as well supports the Islamic State. Saudi Arabia too shows no convincing evidence that it has stopped supporting ISIS, while the CIA still supports up to 10,000 rebels under a program which has mainly gone to aid “hard-line Islamists.” In addition, the US has been instrumental in facilitating Pentagon-supported rebels to fight alongside jihadi extremists.(25)

The anti-ISIS coalition, made up of the main states which were instrumental in supporting ISIS’ rise, has predictably been a complete failure. Turkey, although officially taking part in the coalition, continues to support ISIS, while the jihadi group has only increased in strength as a result of the illegal US bombings which have massacred hundreds of civilians.(26)

Like Libya, where US intervention created chaos and proliferated extremism, Syria is now a magnet for aspiring terrorists, a land overrun by violent extremists and foreign-manufactured war and therefore contributes the most significant number of refugees out of any country to a global displacement crisis the likes of which has never been seen since the Second World War.

Yet it doesn’t end with Syria. As NATO and its ally’s attack the Syrian state by proxy, Russia has drawn a red-line and bolstered its Middle Eastern ally, effectively preventing a repeat of what occurred in Libya.

Given this, another front was opened up by the US against Russia in Ukraine, in what Stratfor chief George Friedman calls “the most blatant coup in history.”

Partly the culmination of inertia from decades of regime-change efforts and EU/NATO expansion, and partly utilized as a way to punish Russia for defying the US policy in Syria, the violent seizure of power in Ukraine was the result of an externalization by foreign powers of internal Ukrainian political divisions.

Ukraine is divided between east and west by two contrasting visions of Ukrainian statehood. The western regions predominantly adhere to what Professor Richard Sakwa titles a “monist nationalist” vision, a form of nationalism which prioritizes the need to create an officially monolingual, unitary, and culturally specific “Ukrainian” state distinct from its neighbors, mainly Russia. This model seeks to restore an idealized vision of statehood, not to reflect the existing, pluralistic realities of the current Ukrainian society, and seeks greater relations with the EU and the West. At the extreme ends of this model are the militant ultra-nationalist neo-Nazi groups. The contrasting vision of statehood predominantly held by those in the south and east is that pluralism, which appeals to the principle of national inclusivity for all of the country’s disparate peoples, while still upholding a shared Ukrainian identity. This model thus opposes the nationalizing strain of the monists and favors strong and cooperative relations with Russia.(27)

The West’s decision to use the EU Association Agreement as a means to leverage Ukraine out of Russia’s and into its own orbit of influence, giving Yanukovych an ultimatum while ruling out calls by him and Russia for a negotiated settlement(28), saw the West ally itself with one half of the country against the other along a zero-sum, us-or-them mentality, exacerbating the internal tensions and eventually culminating in a violent seizure of power.

The US and EU provided financial, material, and political support to the opposition, whose militancy, propagandistically protected and enabled by the US, was led by far-right ultranationalist extremist the EU itself had denounced just years prior.(29)

The violent takeover of the state was endorsed by the US, although it was unconstitutional, broke an EU-brokered settlement agreed upon the day before, and saw unpopular ultra-nationalist leaders gain influential posts within the new government.(30)

A client administration was installed which immediately set out to silence any opposition to its rule. Given that the parties and politicians most supported in the east were driven out and purged as a result of the coup, the US-supported Kiev regime represented only the western regions and sought to instill its rule over a counter-coup revolt in the east that was rising up against it.(31)

Despite mirroring the exact same tactics used by the Maidan months before, Kiev and the West rejected the legitimacy of the eastern uprising and blamed it all solely on Russia, completely voiding out the humanity and legitimate grievances of the eastern Ukrainians, reducing them to nothing more than ‘terrorists’ and ‘Russian agents’ despite their shared desire for a unified Ukraine, albeit a differently envisioned unified Ukraine.(32)
Given a choice of negotiating with the differing views of the east or forcibly consolidating its rule by violently suppressing the dissent, Kiev launched a military campaign against its own citizens and their Russian backers at the behest of the United States.(33)

On its first launch, Kiev’s military was met by unarmed Ukrainian citizens. Mothers, grandmothers, and local inhabitants halted the tanks and soldiers, asking who they had come to fight, their own families and citizens?(34)

The convoy was forced to retreat, yet days after at again the behest of the US, the war machine was once again launched(35), this time succeeding in devastating and massacring the civilian populations in the east.

As the conflict has raged on, the unspoken of fact is that the Ukrainian military is targeting residential towns, villages, and buildings, causing countless civilian deaths while decimating the local infrastructure.(36)

It was because of this fateful decision of choosing to externalize all the blame on Russia for Ukraine’s internal political divisions while also launching a military operation to suppress the dissent against Kiev’s own violent seizure of power that so many families are being forced to flee from their homes.

Under the backdrop of Kiev shelling its own citizen population in the east was the Ukrainian addition to the refugee crisis born…

Much more can be said about all of this, and about many more interventions the US has embarked upon, yet the incontrovertible takeaway is the massive humanitarian toll and suffering that has been the result of all of this adventurism.

Many though are lining up to blame the West’s enemies for the humanitarian scourge of displacement that is occurring, however the common denominator in all these areas are not the presence of US enemies but of US aggression and meddling.

The same leaders and supporters of Western aggression who are attempting to use this crisis as a means to further their ignorant and militant narratives are most to blame for creating it with their prior displays of imperial aggression along the same narratives.

Any who profess concern over this inhumanity without calling for an end to the destructive interventions which are its causes are therefore only adding to the horrors they claim to seek to stop.

The imperial, exceptionalist mindset of the West which claims ownership for itself over the entirety of the world no matter how much death and destruction it causes is the true humanitarian catastrophe we now face in our times, of which this refugee crisis is unfortunately just one, inevitable symptom.


 

For another perspective, Afraa Dagher, an architect and political activist living in Syria, lends an insightful look at this crisis from the eyes of someone living in the country most affected by it:

“Hundreds of thousands of refugees are continuing to flee from countries of conflict, in the Middle East and Africa.

The sad point is that many of those refugees are Syrians. Syria, the country which used to welcome refugees from the war zone countries, such as Palestine, Armenia, Somalia, Iraq and Libya. Syria, the country which was one of the safer countries in the world just years ago before this global plot and global proxy war on Syria.

Syrians cross in illegal ways from Syria to Turkey, then to Greece, Macedonia and Europe.

Most of them drown in the sea because of no safer automotive is affordable to transfer them, though they pay huge amounts of money to warmonger merchants who manage to provide the transfer facilities to them.

Those merchants most of them based in Turkey, also most of those refugees are fleeing from their camps in Turkey to Europe, the question is why do they leave Turkey now?

On the other side the west handles this crisis in a bad way, forces on the border, more borders controlled, more fences. So there is no real solution, the west is really far from a solution.

At the same time the west blames Syria all the time for Palestinian refugees, accuses Syria of besiege them, which is not true at all, Palestinians in Syria have same Syrians rights, however they are also under terrorists attack as well as Syrians.

While Germany eases the rules of migration for those refugees and welcomes migrants, sets up camps, and calls for a conference to find a solution to deal better with those refugees.

Camps like these in Turkey and Jordan are not a solution, maybe Saudi and Qatar the two countries who funded the war against Syrians will send money to Europe as a help for those refugees expenses!, however these Arab gulfs countries didn’t welcome them, and didn’t help them in Jordan camps.

 Did Mrs. Merkel think of lifting sanctions on Syrian people, or to stop supporting the so-called moderate rebels?

Or the west see it is better to use this crisis against the Syrians’ homeland, to help Syrians to live in peace, as they used to do before the west intervention in Syria, is a better solution if the west was really interested in helping them. Destroying Syrians’ homeland and giving them the name: refugee, is another catastrophe for Arabs, it is enough to have one catastrophe, the Palestinian one.

Actually the reason behind this crisis which is considered the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two, is the western policy towards the Middle East, the interventions in these countries, bombing countries like Libya by NATO, nurturing the radical terrorist opposition organizations like in Syria under the name of freedom seekers, creating the chaos as in Iraq.

Also destroying the economy in these countries as in Syria, when Europe and USA imposed sanction on Syrians, which increased the poverty, simultaneously when bombing the infrastructures of Syria by the so-called moderate rebels, who are backed by the west.

Some wrote the refugee crisis is promoted by civil war! while it is promoted by the west’s intervention in these countries, it is a global crisis and a global responsibility.

There is some agenda of evacuating the original people of countries like Syria, by committed massacres against them by the terrorist organizations, and to escalate the war in their countries, so they leave their countries which turned into war zone countries, and they seek human asylum.

And it will not be weird if the west used this card against our governments, to bomb Syria is a dream of some west leaders, they always want to do it under any pretext, regardless if many refugees are from Africa and countries like Libya, regardless of the Palestinian refugees since 1948, regardless of what is going on now against Yemeni people.”

 

For more from Afraa, follow her @syrianasoldier on Twitter, “Afraa Dagher” on Facebook, and her blog at https://syrianaafrona.wordpress.com/.

Notes:

  1. Rick Lyman, “Treatment of Migrants Evokes Memories of Europe’s Darkest Hour.” The New York Times, 4 September 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/05/world/treatment-of-migrants-evokes-memories-of-europes-darkest-hour.html?partner=rss&emc=rss; Only 0.25 million of Syria’s total 20 million refugees (less than 2% of the total) have made it to Europe. Syrian refugees are not allowed to apply for asylum in embassies of EU countries in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan where they mostly are accumulated, so they must travel illegally to EU countries in order to exercise their right of applying for asylum. The discussed EU quota plan to allow application before entering the EU only includes 20,000, or 0.2% of the Syrian refugees. So the EU essentially does everything it can to stop more than 99% of the Syrian refugees from applying for the asylum they are legally entitled to. “Where Are the Syrian Refugees?” Gapminder Foundation, 9 June 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_QrIapiNOw; However, Germany’s “open door” policy is helping as 8,000 refugees recently entered the country. Yet still, in 2014 only around 45% of asylum applications made to European governments were accepted, at least half were turned away. Katrin Bennhold, et al., “Germans Welcome Migrants After Long Journey Through Hungary and Austria.” The New York Times, 5 September 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/world/europe/migrant-crisis-austria-hungary-germany.html?partner=rss&emc=rss.
  2. “Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response – Mediterranean.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) The UN Refugee Agency. http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.html. Accessed on 9/5/15.
  3. Patrick Boehler & Sergio Peçanha, “The Global Refugee Crisis, Region by Region.” The New York Times, 26 August 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/06/09/world/migrants-global-refugee-crisis-mediterranean-ukraine-syria-rohingya-malaysia-iraq.html.
  4. Ed Haas, “FBI says, ‘No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.’” Muckraker Report, 6 June 2006. https://web.archive.org/web/20070507051205/http://www.teamliberty.net/id267.html.
  5. Rory McCarthy, “New offer on Bin Laden.” The Guardian, 17 October 2001. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/17/afghanistan.terrorism11; “Noam Chomsky: US-led Afghan War, Criminal.” Press TV, 3 November 2010. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26756.htm.
  6. Nafeez Ahmed, “The bin Laden death mythology.” Medium, 3 July 2015. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/the-bin-laden-death-mythology-9a3776a6e3c3.
  7. “The first moves from Washington made it clear that the anti-terror war would be waged without any confrontation with Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, two close US allies, despite the fact that without the involvement of these two countries 9/11 was unlikely to have happened.” “The ‘war on terror’ has failed because it did not target the jihadi movement as a whole and, above all, was not aimed at Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two countries that fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement.” Patrick Cockburn, The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (New York and London: Verso, 2015), pp. 4, 58.
  8. The ‘Declaration of Principles’ document stipulated extensive US military influence (i.e. control) over Iraq’s security policy, never mentioning a US military withdrawal. In terms of the ‘economic sphere’ the two parties agreed upon the principle of “Facilitating and encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments…” Text of the “Declaration of Principles” between Iraq and the United States, issued by the White House on Nov. 26, 2007. http://www.dickatlee.com/etwf/bush_maliki.html; Bill Van Auken, “Bush rejects congressional ban on permanent bases in Iraq.” World Socialist Web Site, 1 February 2008. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2008/02/iraq-f01.html; Noam Chomsky, “It’s the Oil, Stupid!” info, 23 May 2015. http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20080708.htm.
  9. Ezgi Basaran, “Former CIA officer says US policies helped create IS.” Al-Monitor, 2 September 2014. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/09/turkey-usa-iraq-syria-isis-fuller.html#.
  10. A 2008 US Army-commissioned RAND report outlines a ‘Divide and Rule’ strategy for US engagement in the region, noting that the strategy “focuses on exploiting fault lines between various SJ (Salafi-jihadi) groups to turn them against each other…” The report calls for the US to “capitalize on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes… and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world” while as well maintaining “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government.” The report confirms that the ‘Divide and Rule’ strategy was already being deployed in Iraq “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level,” by forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups.” Although they have directly fought against the US for four years and “cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” these groups are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.” Christopher G. Pernin et al., “Unfolding the Future of the Long War.” RAND Corporation, 2008. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG738.pdf; Nafeez Ahmed, “Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS.” Insurge Intelligence, 22 May 2015. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-west-saw-isis-as-strategic-asset-b99ad7a29092; Early on during the invasion the US covertly supplied arms to al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents while propping up a Shia-dominated government. Pakistani defense sources confirmed to Asia Times that ‘former Ba’ath party’ loyalists were being supplied Pakistani-manufactured weapons by the US. These ‘former Ba’ath party’ loyalists were being recruited and trained by al-Qaeda in Iraq under the leadership of Abu Musab Zarqawi. The arms “could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them”, a source told Asia Times’ Pakistan bureau chief Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was “known for his exposes of the Pakistani military” according to the New Yorker, and was murdered in 2011. Syed Saleem Shahzad, “US fights back against ‘rule by clerics.’” Asia Times, 15 February, 2005. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/GB15Ak02.html; Nafeez Ahmed, “Caught red-handed.” The Raw Story, 23 September, 2005. http://rawstory.com/news/2005/CAUGHT_RED__0923.html; Nafeez Ahmed, “How the west created the Islamic State.” Insurge Intelligence, 11 September 2014. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state-dbfa6f83bc1f; According to a report for the US Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and Strategic Studies Department titled “Dividing Our Enemies”, post-invasion Iraq strategy relied upon pursuing public legitimacy through social welfare programs while simultaneously delegitimizing local enemies by escalating intra-insurgent violence, even though this would harm civilians. The report notes that Iraq post-invasion was “an interesting case study of fanning discontent among enemies, leading to ‘red-against-red’ [enemy-against-enemy] firefights,” this strategy however “involves no effort to win over those caught in the crossfire of insurgent and counterinsurgent warfare, whether by bullet or broadcast. On the contrary, this underside of the counterinsurgency coin is calculated to exploit or create divisions among adversaries for the purpose of fomenting enemy-on-enemy deadly encounters.” The ‘enemies’ included jihadis, Ba’athists, as well as peaceful Sufis. “Evidence of factional fighting between the residents came to light with nightly gun battles not involving coalition forces. These firefights between insurgent factions represented the impact of U.S. psychological operations (PSYOP), which took advantage of and deepened the intra-insurgent forces. The PSYOP contingent cleverly crafted programs to exploit Zarqawi’s murderous activities and to broadcast them countrywide, thereby diminishing his folk-hero image among Iraqis. Although the jihadis and Baathists shared hostility to the U.S. military forces surrounding Fallujah, their mutual antipathy to each other presented an opportunity to turn them against each other.” Thomas H. Henriksen, “Dividing Our Enemies.” Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), November 2005. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2005/0511_jsou-report-05-5.pdf; Nafeez Ahmed, “How the west created the Islamic State.” Insurge Intelligence, 11 September 2014. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state-dbfa6f83bc1f; US employs the “Salvadorian Option” for Iraq utilizing Shi’ite paramilitaries to lethally quell Sunni uprisings. Michael Hirsh and John Barry, “The Salvador Option.” Newsweek, 9 January 2005. https://web.archive.org/web/20050110030928/http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6802629/site/newsweek/; Mona Mahmood et al., “Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres.” The Guardian, 6 March 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/06/pentagon-iraqi-torture-centres-link; Mona Mahmood, et al., “From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington’s man behind brutal police squads.” The Guardian, 6 March 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/06/el-salvador-iraq-police-squads-washington; According to the UK based monitoring group Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) Iraq topped the worlds ‘most dangerous’ places list in June of 2015. “Iraq tops ‘most dangerous’ place in world list.” RT, 22 June 2015. http://www.rt.com/uk/268810-top-ten-dangerous-countries/.
  11. Hein de Haas, “Trans-Saharan Migration to North Africa and the EU: Historical Roots and Current Trends.” Migration Policy Institute, 1 November 2006. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/trans-saharan-migration-north-africa-and-eu-historical-roots-and-current-trends; Dan Murphy, “How the fall of Qaddafi gave rise to Europe’s migrant crisis.” Christian Science Monitor, 21 April 2015. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2015/0421/How-the-fall-of-Qaddafi-gave-rise-to-Europe-s-migrant-crisis-video.
  12. “How America Switched Sides in the War on Terror: An Interim Report by the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi.” Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, 22 April 2014. http://www.aim.org/benghazi/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CCB-Interim-Report-4-22-2014.pdf; “Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.” Praveen Swami, et al., “Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links.” The Telegraph, 25 March 2011. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8407047/Libyan-rebel-commander-admits-his-fighters-have-al-Qaeda-links.html.
  13. “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records.” Combating Terrorism center at West Point, 2007. http://www.scribd.com/doc/111001074/West-Point-CTC-s-Al-Qa-ida-s-Foreign-Fighters-in-Iraq; Rob Crilly, “Libya: Benghazi about to fall… then came the planes.” The Telegraph, 20 March 2011. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8393843/Libya-Benghazi-about-to-fall…-then-came-the-planes.html; Sam Greenhill, “Flying proudly over the birthplace of Libya’s revolution, the flag of Al Qaeda.” The Daily Mail, 2 November 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2055630/Flying-proudly-birthplace-Libyas-revolution-flag-Al-Qaeda.html.
  14. Seymour Hersh, “The Red Line and the Rat Line.” London Review of Books, 17 April 2014. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line; A declassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document dated October of 2012 confirms the existence, as well as the Obama administration awareness of, the ‘rat line,’ “Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125 mm and 155mm howitzers missiles. During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the ((Qaddafi)) regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo.” Judicial Watch, 18 May 2015. https://www.judicialwatch.org/document-archive/pgs-1-3-2-3-from-jw-v-dod-and-state-14-812/.
  15. Craig Whitlock, “U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show.” Washington Post, 17 April 2011. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/us-secretly-backed-syrian-opposition-groups-cables-released-by-wikileaks-show/2011/04/14/AF1p9hwD_story.html; “US trains activists to evade security forces.” AFP, 8 April 2011. http://www.activistpost.com/2011/04/us-trains-activists-to-evade-security.html; Ron Nixon, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings.” The New York Times, 14 April 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&emc=eta1.
  16. The Global Intelligence Files, “INSIGHT – military intervention in Syria, post withdrawal status of forces.” WikiLeaks, 6 March 2012. https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/16/1671459_insight-military-intervention-in-syria-post-withdrawal.html.
  17. Sibel Edmonds breaks the story on the existence of a secret US-NATO base in Turkey, and further explains its operations to organize and expand the dissident base, smuggle in weapons, conduct psychological operations and information warfare, and to funnel intelligence and military operators across the border.   Sibel Edmonds, “BFP Exclusive: Syria- Secret US-NATO Training & Support Camp to Oust Current Syrian President.” BoilingFrogsPost, 21 November 2011. http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2011/11/21/bfp-exclusive-syria-secret-us-nato-training-support-camp-to-oust-current-syrian-president/; James Corbett interviews former Syrian journalist Nizar Nayouf, previously imprisoned for 10 years for speaking out against the Syrian government, who accounts how hundreds of foreign soldiers were seen moving back and forth near the Jordanian-Syrian border. James Corbett, “BREAKING: US Troops Deploying on Jordan-Syria Border.” CorbettReport, 11 December 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v1h1bUfCVc.
  18. Greg Miller et al., “Secret CIA effort in Syria faces large funding cut.” Washington Post, 12 June 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/lawmakers-move-to-curb-1-billion-cia-program-to-train-syrian-rebels/2015/06/12/b0f45a9e-1114-11e5-adec-e82f8395c032_story.html; David E. Sanger, “Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria.” The New York Times, 14 October 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/world/middleeast/jihadists-receiving-most-arms-sent-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&.
  19. Aaron Klein, “Blowback! U.S. Trained Islamists Who Joined ISIS.” WND, 17 August 2014. http://www.wnd.com/2014/06/officials-u-s-trained-isis-at-secret-base-in-jordan/.
  20. “They trained us to ambush regime or enemy vehicles and cut off the road. They also trained us on how to attack a vehicle, raid it, retrieve information or weapons and munitions, and how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.” “Syria: Arming the Rebels.” Frontline, 27 May 2014. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/syria-arming-the-rebels/; The Conventions offer protections to wounded combatants, and prisoners of war must be humanely treated at all times. “Reference Guide to the Geneva Conventions.” Society of Professional Journalists. http://www.spj.org/gc-index.asp#woundedcombatants.
  21. Philip Giraldi, “NAO vs. Syria.” The American Conservative, 19 December 2011. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/nato-vs-syria/.
  22. Josh Rogin, “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS.” The Daily Beast, 14 June 2014. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/14/america-s-allies-are-funding-isis.html; “Biden: Turks, Saudis, UAE funded and armed Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.” Mideast Shuffle, 4 October 2014. http://mideastshuffle.com/2014/10/04/biden-turks-saudis-uae-funded-and-armed-al-nusra-and-al-qaeda/; “General Dempsey acknowledges U.S. Arab allies funding ISIS.” C-SPAN, 20 September 2014. http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4509231/general-dempsey-acknowledges-us-arab-allies-funding-isis; All of this was coordinated out of US-led operation rooms in Turkey and Jordan, Eric Schmitt, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition.” The New York Times, 21 June 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html?_r=0; Mark Hosenball, “Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret U.S. support for Syrian rebels.” Reuters, 1 August 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/01/us-usa-syria-obama-order-idUSBRE8701OK20120801; Adam Entous, et al., “A Veteran Saudi Power Player Works To Build Support to Topple Assad.” The Wall Street Journal, 25 August 2013. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323423804579024452583045962; FSA commander: “We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front”, Elise Knutsen, “Frustration drives Arsal’s FSA into ISIS ranks.” The Daily Star, September 8, 2014. http://cached.newslookup.com/cached.php?ref_id=394&siteid=2319&id=8144452&t=1410149280; US-backed SRF commander: “If the people who support us tell us to send weapons to another group, we send them. They [Jabhat al-Nusra] asked us a month ago to send weapons to Yabroud so we sent a lot of weapons there. When they asked us to do this, we do it.” Isabel Hunter, “’I am not fighting against al-Qa’ida… it’s not our problem’, says West’s last hope in Syria.” The Independent, April 2nd, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/i-am-not-fighting-againstalqaida-itsnot-our-problem-says-wests-last-hope-in-syria-9233424.html; US-backed commander Okaidi: “My relationship with the brothers in ISIL is good… I communicate almost daily with brothers in ISIL… the relationship is good, even brotherly… They [al-Nusra] did not exhibit any abnormal behavior, which is different from that of the FSA.” Joshua Landis, “US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra.” https://twitter.com/joshua_landis/status/504610185952784384; Then US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford admits US-backed rebels collaborated with ISIS and al-Qaeda, Brad Hoff. Levant Report, May 25th, 2015. https://levantreport.com/tag/robert-ford/.
  23. Nafeez Ahmed, “Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS: Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion.’” Insurge Intelligence, 22 May 2015. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-west-saw-isis-as-strategic-asset-b99ad7a29092; Nafeez Ahmed, “Ex-intel officials: Pentagon report proves US complicity in ISIS.” Insurge Intelligence, 2 June 2015. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/ex-intel-officials-pentagon-report-proves-us-complicity-in-isis-fabef96e20da.
  24. “…the Syrian military opposition is dominated by ISIS and by Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda representative, in addition to other extreme jihadi groups. In reality, there is no dividing wall between them and America’s supposedly moderate opposition allies.” Patrick Cockburn, The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (New York and London: Verso, 2015), pp. 3.
  25. Desmond Butler, “Turkey Officials Confirm Pact With Saudi Arabia to Help Rebels Fighting Syria’s Assad.” Huffington Post, 7 May http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/07/turkey-saudi-arabia-syria-rebels-pact_n_7232750.html; Kim Sengupta, “Turkey and Saudi Arabia alarm the West by backing Islamist extremists the Americans had bombed in Syria.” The Independent, 12 May 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-crisis-turkey-and-saudi-arabia-shock-western-countries-by-supporting-antiassad-jihadists-10242747.html; “Sources within and close to Nusra said that Qatar, which enjoys good relations with the group…” Mariam Karouny, “Syria’s Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity.” Reuters, 4 March 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/us-mideast-crisis-nusra-insight-idUSKBN0M00GE20150304; Former Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) officer blows the whistle on MIT organizing and coordinating “all incursions of jihadi murderers from Turkey to Syrian territory.” Heba, “Part 2: Stunning revelations from former Turkish Intelligence Agency officer.” The Arab Source, 1 March 2015. http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/part-2-stunning-revelations-former-turkish-intelligence-agency-officer/; Humeyra Pamuk et al., “Exclusive – Turkish intelligence helped ship arms to Syrian Islamist rebel areas.” Reuters, 21 May 2015. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/05/21/uk-mideast-crisis-turkey-arms-exclusive-idUKKBN0O61L020150521; Despite some signs of retrenchment in their ISIS-supporting policy, like crackdowns on Saudi fighters heading for Syria and the removal of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia shows no convincing evidence apart from verbal denials that it isn’t continuing to facilitate ISIS funding. The official narrative is that it is private Saudi donors that fund ISIS while the state is unable to stop them. This strains belief as the state is ruled by an iron fist. If any change has occurred it is likely to be that the Saudi state has taken steps to distance its involvement while it continues to use wealthy donors, who presumably provided the funds that were then transferred by the state all along, as its proxies; The CIA rebel train-and-equip program, separate from the Pentagons program, has aupported “nearly 10,000 fighters” over the past several years, Greg Miller et al., “Secret CIA effort in Syria faces large funding cut.” Washington Post, 12 June 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/lawmakers-move-to-curb-1-billion-cia-program-to-train-syrian-rebels/2015/06/12/b0f45a9e-1114-11e5-adec-e82f8395c032_story.html; According to US intelligence, this CIA program has from the beginning largely gone to aid “hard-line Islamists”, David E. Sanger, “Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria.” The New York Times, 14 October 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/world/middleeast/jihadists-receiving-most-arms-sent-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&; Rebel commanders confirm that US-led operation rooms “specifically encouraged a closer cooperation with Islamists commanding frontline operations.” The US-led operations rooms were “instrumental in facilitating their [Islamists] involvement in the [Idlib] operation from early April onwards.” Charles Lister, “Why Assad Is Losing.” 5 May 2015. http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/05/05/why-assad-is-losing-syria-islamists-saudi/.
  26. Nafeez Ahmed, “Why the war on ISIS will fail.” Middle East Eye, 16 December 2014. http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/why-war-isis-will-fail-1513487412; Kadri Gursel, “Turkish daily exposes transfer of weapons to IS.” Al-Monitor, 1 September 2015. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/09/turkey-syria-daily-exposes-transfer-weapons-supplies-to-isis.html#; Jim Michaels, “Islamic State recruiting offsets 15,000 killed by airstrikes in past year.” USA Today, 29 July 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/07/29/air-campaign-kills-15000-isis-militants-pentagon-iraq-syria/30750327/; “The ‘Islamic State’ is stronger than it was when it was first proclaimed on 29 June last year…” Patrick Cockburn, “Isis, a year of the caliphate: Have US tactics only helped to make Islamists more powerful?” The Independent, 26 June 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-a-year-of-the-caliphate-have-us-tactics-played-into-islamist-hands-10345905.html; Alice Ross, “Hundreds of civilians killed in US-led air strikes on Isis targets – report.” The Guardian, 3 August 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/03/us-led-air-strikes-on-isis-targets-killed-more-than-450-civilians-report.
  27. “Thus the monist model is one of integrated nationalism, in which the state is a nationalising one, drawing on the tradition of Ukrainism to fill the existing borders with a content sharply distinguished from Russia. It would be officially monolingual, unitary and culturally specific.” “The core of the problem is an ideological one. At the heart of the monist model… the aim is not to reflect existing realities, above all the different histories of the territories making up contemporary Ukraine, but to restore some idealised vision of that statehood.” “This brings us to the second paradigm of Ukrainian state development, which I call the pluralist to denote its appeal to broad principles of national inclusiveness. At root, this model proposes that the post-Communist Ukrainian state is home to many disparate peoples, reflecting its long history of fragmented statehood and the way that its contemporary borders include territories with very different histories, but that they all share an orientation to a civic Ukrainian identity.” “The pluralist model argues that all the peoples making up contemporary Ukraine have an equal stake in the development of the country, and thus opposes the nationalising strain…” “The monist view is obviously stronger in the western part of the country, while the pluralist approach is stronger in the east and the south.” Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), pp. 15, 21, 23, 24.
  28. The EU gives Yanukovych an ultimatum to either sign with them or sign with Russia, but rejects a joint deal amidst calls from Yanukovych and Russia for tripartite discussions to resolve the differences. “Ukraine ‘still wants to sign EU deal.’” Al Jazeera, 29 November 2013. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2013/11/ukraine-still-wants-sign-eu-deal-20131129111345619208.html; “The idea that Russia opposed Ukraine’s association with the EU needs to be modified by an understanding that the struggle prior to the planned signing of the Association Agreement sought to align Ukraine with the EEU [the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union], but not necessarily to force Ukraine to join it. In part, the campaign was an attempt to get the EU to engage in a genuine dialogue about the conditions on which Ukraine would sign up to association with the EU, including security issues. This campaign was conducted in a typically heavy-handed and alienating manner, with bans, boycotts and the like accompanied by some ferocious rhetoric from Sergei Glazyev and others, but some genuine issues were raised. Above all, Russia repeatedly warned that it would take measures to stop poor-quality Ukrainian and relabeled EU goods flooding into the Russian market once better-quality EU goods had free access to Ukraine. The compatibility of two free-trade areas is a matter that should, and could, have been sorted out calmly by technocrats on both sides but instead became politicized.” Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), pp. 206; For more on this, see my “The Mistaken Analysis on Ukraine.” Reports from Underground, 6 September 2014. http://undergroundreports.blogspot.fr/2014/09/follies-of-western-hubris-mistaken.html.
  29. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland confirms that the US has invested $5 billion in Ukraine since 1991 to “support the Ukrainians.” “Regime Change in Kiev.” Information Clearing House, 9 February 2014. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37599.htm; However, in terms of these ‘democracy promotion’ programs, International Relations scholar John J. Mearsheimer notes that “and when you talk about promoting democracy, what you’re really talking about is putting in power leaders who are pro-Western and anti-Russian… promoting democracy, which was all about putting in power pro-Western leaders.” Mearsheimer quoted in Labor Beat YouTube recording, 26 January 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhILmIvBe6o&feature=youtu.be; “it is clear that Washington backed the coup. Nuland and Republican Senator John McCain participated in antigovernment demonstrations, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, proclaimed after Yanukovych’s toppling that it was “a day for the history books.” As a leaked telephone recording revealed, Nuland had advocated regime change and wanted the Ukrainian politician Arseniy Yatsenyuk to become prime minister in the new government, which he did.” John J. Mearsheimer, “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault.” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2014. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2014-08-18/why-ukraine-crisis-west-s-fault; The militancy of the EuroMaidan was led by ultranationalist groups Svoboda and Right Sector. The violence was protected by Obama in his repeated public references to the protests as being wholly “nonviolent”, giving them the green light to continue the violence without fears of reprisals from the West; In 2012 the EU condemned the Svoboda party, whose members gained top ministerial positions and seats on the parliament following the February coup. “European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2012 on the situation in Ukraine,” Section 8. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P7-TA-2012-0507+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN.
  30. Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), pp. 93, 94, 95.
  31. Richard Sakwa, Chapter 6 “When History Comes Calling”, “Purging the State”, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), pp. 135-140; “Only two ministers from the entire south and east, covering half the country, joined the 21-person cabinet [of the government following the February coup]… No posts were given to PoR [Party of Regions, the party the south and east most predominantly supported]…” Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), pp. 95; “…but in fact the objective has been to put down and humiliate Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population. The radical nationalists of western Ukraine, for whom the rejection of Russia and its culture is an article of faith, intend to force the rest of the country to fit their narrow vision.” Vladimir Golstein, “Why everything you’ve read about Ukraine is wrong.” Forbes, 19 May 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2014/05/19/why-everything-youve-read-about-ukraine-is-wrong/.
  32. “The storming of government offices in the west of the country in the final months of Yanukovych’s rule was considered something entirely different – part of the revolutionary surge in support of monist nationalism – whereas now the ‘anti-Maidan’ insurgency using the same tactics in support of pluralism was called a terrorist movement.” “The fundamental inability of Kiev and its Western allies to understand that this was not simply an ‘invasion’ but a genuine revolt against a particular type of statehood that had long been unpopular in the south-east, and that the Ukrainian revolution only intensified, meant that they could not recognize the political subjectivity of the rebellion as a force with which there should be dialogue. Instead, labelling the insurgents ‘terrorists’ meant not only that their political identity was negated but also that their very humanity was dismissed, allowing untold cruelties to be inflicted upon the region.” Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), pp. 151, 181.
  33. Just hours after CIA Director John Brennan ‘secretly’ travelled to Ukraine and held consultation with the new Kiev authorities, Kiev announced the first launch of its military crackdown of the protests in the east. Daria Chernyshova, RIA Novosti, 18 April 2014. http://www.globalresearch.ca/hidden-agenda-of-cia-director-brennans-trip-to-kiev-initiate-the-use-of-force-in-eastern-ukraine/5378263.
  34. “Dozens of Ukrainian troops surrender APCs in Slavyansk, refuse to ‘shoot at own people.’” RT, 16 April 2014. http://www.rt.com/news/ukraine-troops-withdraw-slavyansk-940/.
  35. Again only hours after a high-level US official travels to consult with the Kiev authorities, this time by Vice President Joe Biden, Kiev re-launches its ‘Anti-Terror Operation’ against rebels in the east. “Ukraine relaunches anti-rebel operation after Biden departure.” Agence France-Presse, 23 April 2014. http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1494970/ukraine-relaunches-anti-rebel-operation-after-biden-departure.
  36. Vladimir Ruban, retired Colonel-General of the officer corps of Ukraine, admits in an interview on Hromadske TV that the Ukrainian military has been shelling civilians: “I want to offer the Ukrainian artillerists medals, to those who shell the city [Donetsk], the houses and the civilian population… For they have deserved it. Both because of the accuracy and inaccuracy… The shelling there is done as intimidation. It has a different purpose: not just object destruction, but intimidation. The civilian population is intimidated by a chaotic bombardment of different objects. There are many shells that plug directly into the streets or vegetable gardens.” YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l17KfjtaqpA; Also, journalists from the Russian RenTV news agency have allegedly recovered documents left after battle by Ukrainian soldiers which show residential areas and civilian buildings being specifically targeted. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-cl=85114404&x-yt-ts=1422579428&v=MCcl60gND7g#t=25; “Ukrainian soldiers confess to murder of mother and daughter: prosecutor.” Reuters, 17 June 2015. https://news.yahoo.com/ukrainian-soldiers-confess-murder-mother-daughter-prosecutor-152927752.html; “Ukraine: Unguided Rockets Killing Civilians.” Human Rights Watch, 24 July 2014. https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/07/24/ukraine-unguided-rockets-killing-civilians.