Trump”s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other”s arms

Trump’s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other’s arms

MARTIN JAY | 15.03.2019 | FEATURED STORY

Trump’s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other’s arms

Trump’s foreign policy gambles in the Middle East just continue to shake the region up, causing confusion, betrayal and, more recently, a new arms race which is all heading towards more bloodshed there, as ISIS appears to be in decline and Russia, Iran and Turkey continue to look like stronger players.

Despite Iran sanctions, Tehran continues to show its strength in its sheer resilience and its brash cavalier attitude towards other countries in the region; barely days after if foreign minister resigns – but then withdraws it – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani takes a trip to Iraq, to remind the Americans that Tehran still wields considerable power and influence there, as well as Syria, Lebanon and also Qatar and Turkey.

The shake-up which is as a direct result of Trump’s erroneous decisions in the region has led though to an arms race starting, amid rumours of Trump wanting to sell nuclear arms to Saudi Arabia – despite Riyadh going rogue recently on arms procurement and looking more to Russia and China. In recent weeks we heard of reports of Hezbollah’s new missiles in Lebanon having updated heads fitted which makes them even more precise than previously thought, which is a chilling thought for the Israelis who have been mulling the timing of Hassan Nasrallah’s threat to use them if Israel continues to target Hezbollah fighters in Syria. More recently, American THAAD missiles were sent to Israel, as a direct consequence of the Nasrallah comment, as the Hezbollah leader never does empty threats; but it’s also about Iran’s missile capability which is making the Israelis a tad skittish.

And they’re right to be, but not exclusively because of the Iran sanctions and its missile capabilities.

It’s also about Turkey. In January, a secret document revealed that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE considered Turkey to be the real threat to their power in the region, which has changed the focus of their aggression and, in part, is responsible for a number of embassies reopening in the Syrian capital. The West believes that a softening of isolation might bring Assad farther away from Iran and Russia and align itself more with the Arab super powers in the region.

This idea, on its own, had some feasibility, until just very recently when it looked like Turkey’s firebrand leader had fired the starter’s pistol on a new level of difficult relations with Washington by making it clear that Ankara’s new accord with Russia over missiles – the revered S-400 system – is a done deal. President Erdogan has made it clear that nothing will stop this deal going ahead which means for Israel that he is edging closer to the Russia-Iran powerbase and, critically, towards a situation which the author has been arguing for months is inevitable: a thaw of relations with Assad.

Given that part of the Saudi-Israeli plan was to support the Kurds in Northern Syria in a new campaign to clear Turkish forces of their large enclave – perched in between Al Qaeda extremists on one side and Kurdish fighters on the other – it has pushed Erdogan to do what many would argue would be a no brainer, which is to consider cooperating with Assad, as both have a common objective of hitting the Kurds, Israelis and the Saudis at the same time. A triple whammy for both of them.

This scenario, if it pans out (as so far we have only heard reports of back channel talks between Ankara and Damascus) would be devastating for Israel, which is struggling presently with having Russia as an Assad ally to bypass before it hits Hezbollah targets; but for Turkey to be even a distant ally of Assad could spell disaster for Israel, which cannot afford to clash with Turkey – itself the premise of a completely new conflict which has been brewing for years, given the acrimonious and vociferous exchange of insults both leaders have flung at one another last year; Erdogan attacks Netanyahu over the latter’s appalling treatment of Palestinians, while the Israeli leader uses Erdogan’s unparalleled fondness of locking up journalists as return-fire ammo.

In reality, both of them are tarnished with an abysmal human rights record but both have used one another for political capital. That arrangement, until now a verbal one, might change if Assad were to actually let bygones be bygones and strike a deal with Erdogan.

If that were to happen, Trump would also completely slam the door on Turkey and make it also a target of hatred and ridicule – as no one but Trump will take it as personally as the US president, who has shown remarkable resilience towards the Turkish leader who has tested his patience on a number of occasions in the last two years. An Assad-Erdogan pact could spark a crisis within NATO and make Russia and Iran bolder than ever before in the region as Trump’s refusal to stop arming Kurdish factions in northern Syria – along with suspending the F-35 fighter jet program – is likely to reach a tipping point between Ankara and Washington. For Erdogan to play the ace card – Assad – would be a smart move to put Trump in his place, assert Turkey’s power in Syria and weaken the Kurds in one blow.

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Arms sales to Middle East increase dramatically, research shows

Saudi Arabia’s arms purchases grew by 192 percent over 2014-2018 (AFP)

By 

in

New York, United States

Arms flows to the Middle East grew by 87 percent in the past five years and now account for more than a third of the global trade, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report on Sunday.

The defence think tank’s annual survey showed that Saudi Arabia became the world’s top arms importer between 2014-18, with a growth of 192 percent compared to the preceding five years.

Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq also ranked in the top 10 list of global arms buyers.

The report shows how the United States and European nations sell jets, jeeps and other gear that is used in controversial wars in Yemen and beyond, SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman told Middle East Eye.

“Weapons from the US, the UK and France are in high demand in the Gulf, where conflicts and tensions are rife. Russia, France and Germany dramatically increased their arms sales to Egypt in the past five years,” said Wezeman.

The growth in Middle Eastern imports was, in part, driven by the need to replace military gear that was deployed and destroyed in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya, said Wezeman.

It was also driven by tensions and a regional arms race, he added.

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The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel are readying for a potential conflict with Iran, said the 12-page report. Since 2017, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and others have rowed with Qatar in a rift, which, at times, looked like it could turn violent.

Between 2014-18, Saudi received 94 combat jets fitted with cruise missiles and other guided weapons from the US and Britain.

Over the next five years, it is set to get 98 more jets, 83 tanks and defensive missile systems from the US, 737 armoured vehicles from Canada, five frigates from Spain, and Ukrainian short-range ballistic missiles.

Between 2014-18, the UAE received missile defence systems, short-range ballistic missiles and some 1,700 armoured personnel carriers from the US as well as three corvettes from France, the report says.

Qatari imports grew by 225 percent over the period, including German tanks, French combat aircraft and Chinese short-range ballistic missiles. It is set to receive 93 combat aircraft from the US, France and Britain and four frigates from Italy.

Iran, which is under a UN arms embargo, accounted for just 0.9 percent of Middle Eastern imports.

For Wezeman, “the gap is widening” between Iran and its foes across the Gulf, which have more advanced weapons.

US remains top arms seller

The US has kept its position as the world’s top arms seller. Its exports grew by 29 percent these past five years, with more than half of its shipments (52 percent) going to customers in the Middle East.

British sales grew by 5.9 percent over the same period. A total of 59 percent of UK arms deliveries went to the Middle East — most of it combat aircraft destined for Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Arming governments in the turbulent Middle East is increasingly controversial in the West, said Patrick Wilcken, an arms control specialist with Amnesty International, a UK-based rights watchdog.

He pointed to cases where sales are merited – such as re-tooling Iraq’s army after it lost much of its hardware and territory during the so-called Islamic State (IS) group’s surprise attack in 2014.

But, more often, western arms end up being used in human rights abuses, he added, pointing to Egypt’s crackdown on opponents, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

He blasted the “hypocrisy” of western governments not following their own rules by continuing to supply authoritarian leaders who commit wartime abuses or violations against their own people.

“A critical problem for the region is the emergence of armed groups like IS,” Wilcken told MEE.

A critical problem for the region is the emergence of armed groups like IS

– Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International

“In Yemen, totally unaccountable militias are being armed and supported by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is setting the scene for a future period of instability and human rights violations.”

The problem has not gone unnoticed in western capitals.

In the US, lawmakers in both houses have passed resolutions to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition, though US President Donald Trump has vowed to veto the document if it reaches his desk.

In Britain, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a ban on arms exports to Saudi. Last month, a parliamentary committee concluded that the UK was on “the wrong side of the law” by arming Riyadh.

In October, Amnesty released a report about French-built armoured vehicles being used by Egyptian government forces to “disperse protests and crush dissent” in crackdowns between 2012-2015.

Germany, however, has taken a stand. This week, it extended until the end of March a unilateral freeze on arms supplies to Saudi over its war in Yemen and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This has caused a rift with Britain and France, its partners in European defence projects, as it puts a question mark over orders, including a $13.1bn deal to sell 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Riyadh.

Jeff Abramson, a scholar at the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group, said the US should follow Germany’s example.

“Instead of being challenged, the US continues to claim a larger share of an expanding global arms market,” Abramson told MEE.

“As such, the US should take the lead in promoting responsible behavior, rather than encouraging trade to repressive and irresponsible regimes, such as those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

Other findings

The report made other interesting findings.

These past five years, Turkey has increased exports of armoured vehicles, missiles and other gear by 170 percent, becoming the world’s 14th most important arms exporter and the second biggest in the Middle East, after Israel.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were among Turkey’s top three importers of weapons in the past five years, despite Ankara being at odds with its customers over Khashoggi and the blockade on Qatar.

Continuing to buy arms from Turkey may be a bid by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to keep ties with Ankara on track despite the rift, said Wezeman.

Also, Algeria increased its arms imports by 55 percent over the past five years, with shipments from Russia, China, Germany and elsewhere.

This made it the world’s fifth biggest arms importer despite only having a $168bn economy.

Algeria buys arms for military prestige, to tackle militants from neighbouring Libya and because of its “long-standing rivalry with Morocco”, said Wezeman.

Sipri measures the volume of deliveries of arms, not the dollar value of deals. The volume of deliveries to each country tend to fluctuate, so it presents data in five-year periods that a give a more stable indication of trends.

Syria Accuses US Stole 40+ Tons of Its Gold

Syria Accuses US Stole 40+ Tons of Its Gold

ERIC ZUESSE | 08.03.2019 | WORLD / MIDDLE EAST

Syria Accuses US Stole 40+ Tons of Its Gold

The Syrian National News Agency headlined on February 26th“Gold deal between United States and Daesh” (Daesh is ISIS) and reported that,

Information from local sources said that US army helicopters have already transported the gold bullions under cover of darkness on Sunday [February 24th], before transporting them to the United States.

The sources said that tens of tons that Daesh had been keeping in their last hotbed in al-Baghouz area in Deir Ezzor countryside have been handed to the Americans, adding up to other tons of gold that Americans have found in other hideouts for Daesh, making the total amount of gold taken by the Americans to the US around 50 tons, leaving only scraps for the SDF [Kurdish] militias that serve them [the US operation].

Recently, sources said that the area where Daesh leaders and members have barricaded themselves in, contains around 40 tons of gold and tens of millions of dollars.

Allegedly, “US occupation forces in the Syrian al-Jazeera area made a deal with Daesh terrorists, by which Washington gets tens of tons of gold that the terror organization had stolen, in exchange for providing safe passage for the terrorists and their leaders from the areas in Deir Ezzor where they are located.”

ISIS was financing its operations largely by the theft of oil from the oil wells in the Deir Ezzor area, Syria’s oil-producing region, and they transported and sold this stolen oil via their allied forces, through Turkey, which was one of those US allies trying to overthrow Syria’s secular Government and install a Sunni fundamentalist regime that would be ruled from Riyadh (i.e., controlled by the Saud family). This gold is the property of the Syrian Government, which owns all that oil and the oil wells, which ISIS had captured (stolen), and then sold. Thus, this gold is from sale of that stolen black-market oil, which was Syria’s property.

The US Government claims to be anti-ISIS, but actually didn’t even once bomb ISIS in Syria until Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, and the US had actually been secretly arming ISIS there so as to help ISIS and especially Al Qaeda (and the US was strongly protecting Al Qaeda in Syria) to overthrow Syria’s secular and non-sectarian Government. Thus, whereas Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, America (having become embarrassed) started bombing ISIS in Syria on 16 November 2015. The US Government’s excuse was “This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike.” They pretended it was out of compassion — not in order to extend for as long as possible ISIS’s success in taking over territory in Syria. (And, under Trump, on the night of 2 March 2019, the US rained down upon ISIS in northeast Syria the excruciating and internationally banned white phosphorous to burn ISIS and its hostages alive, which Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had routinely done to burn alive the residents in Donetsk and other parts of eastern former Ukraine where voters had voted more than 90% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom Obama’s coupin Ukraine had replaced. It was a way to eliminate some of the most-undesired voters — people who must never again be voting in a Ukrainian national election, not even if that region subsequently does become conquered by the post-coup, US-imposed, regime. The land there is wanted; its residents certainly are not wanted by the Obama-imposed regime.) America’s line was: Russia just isn’t as ‘compassionate’ as America. Zero Hedge aptly headlined “’Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away’: US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes”. Nobody exceeds the United States Government in sheer hypocrisy.

The US Government evidently thinks that the public are fools, idiots. America’s allies seem to be constantly amazed at how successful that approach turns out to be.

Indeed, on 28 November 2012, Syria News headlined “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Machinery in Broad Daylight” and presented video allegedly showing it (but unfortunately providing no authentication of the date and locale of that video).

Jihadists were recruited from throughout the world to fight against Syria’s secular Government. Whereas ISIS was funded mainly by black-market sales of oil from conquered areas, the Al-Qaeda-led groups were mainly funded by the Sauds and other Arab royal families and their retinues, the rest of their aristocracy. On 13 December 2013, BBC headlined “Guide to the Syrian rebels” and opened “There are believed to be as many as 1,000 armed opposition groups in Syria, commanding an estimated 100,000 fighters.” Except in the Kurdish areas in Syria’s northeast, almost all of those fighters were being led by Al Qaeda’s Syrian Branch, al-Nusra. Britain’s Center on Religion & Politics headlined on 21 December 2015, “Ideology and Objectives of the Syrian Rebellion” and reported: “If ISIS is defeated, there are at least 65,000 fighters belonging to other Salafi-jihadi groups ready to take its place.” Almost all of those 65,000 were trained and are led by Syria’s Al Qaeda (Nusra), which was protected by the US

In September 2016 a UK official “FINAL REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON COMBATING TERRORIST AND FOREIGN FIGHTER TRAVEL” asserted that, “Over 25,000 foreign fighters have traveled to the battlefield to enlist with Islamist terrorist groups, including at least 4,500 Westerners. More than 250 individuals from the United States have also joined.” Even just 25,000 (that official lowest estimate) was a sizable US proxy-army of religious fanatics to overthrow Syria’s Government.

On 26 November 2015, the first of Russia’s videos of Russia’s bombing ISIS oil trucks headed into Turkey was bannered at a US military website “Russia Airstrike on ISIS Oil Tankers”, and exactly a month later, on 26 December 2015, Britain’s Daily Expressheadlined “WATCH: Russian fighter jets smash ISIS oil tankers after spotting 12,000 at Turkish border”. This article, reporting around twelve thousand ISIS oil-tanker trucks heading into Turkey, opened: “The latest video, released by the Russian defence ministry, shows the tankers bunched together as they make their way along the road. They are then blasted by the fighter jet.” The US military had nothing comparable to offer to its ‘news’-media. Britain’s Financial Times headlined on 14 October 2015, ”Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists”. Only America’s allies were involved in this commerce with ISIS — no nation that supported Syria’s Government was participating in this black market of stolen Syrian goods. So, it’s now clear that a lot of that stolen oil was sold for gold as Syria’s enemy-nations’ means of buying that oil from ISIS. They’d purchase it from ISIS, but not from Syria’s Government, the actual owner.

On 30 November 2015 Israel’s business-news daily Globes News Service bannered “Israel has become the main buyer for oil from ISIS controlled territory, report”, and reported:

An estimated 20,000-40,000 barrels of oil are produced daily in ISIS controlled territory generating $1-1.5 million daily profit for the terrorist organization. The oil is extracted from Dir A-Zur in Syria and two fields in Iraq and transported to the Kurdish city of Zakhu in a triangle of land near the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Israeli and Turkish mediators come to the city and when prices are agreed, the oil is smuggled to the Turkish city of Silop marked as originating from Kurdish regions of Iraq and sold for $15-18 per barrel (WTI and Brent Crude currently sell for $41 and $45 per barrel) to the Israeli mediator, a man in his 50s with dual Greek-Israeli citizenship known as Dr. Farid. He transports the oil via several Turkish ports and then onto other ports, with Israel among the main destinations.

After all, Israel too wants to overthrow Syria’s secular, non-sectarian Government, which would be replaced by rulers selected by the Saud family, who are the US Government’s main international ally.

On 9 November 2014, when Turkey was still a crucial US ally trying to overthrow Syria’s secular Government (and this was before the failed 15 July 2016 US-backed coup-attempt to overthrow and replace Turkey’s Government so as to impose an outright US stooge), Turkey was perhaps ISIS’s most crucial international backer. Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s leader, had received no diploma beyond k-12, and all of that schooling was in Sunni schools and based on the Quran. (He pretended, however, to have a university diploma.) On 15 July 2015, AWD News headlined “Turkish President’s daughter heads a covert medical corps to help ISIS injured members”. On 2 December 2015, a Russian news-site headlined “Defense Ministry: Erdogan and his family are involved in the illegal supply of oil”; so, the Erdogan family itself was religiously committed to ISIS’s fighters against Syria, and they were key to the success of the US operation against Syrians — theft from Syrians. The great investigative journalist Christof Lehmann, who was personally acquainted with many of the leading political figures in Africa and the Middle East, headlined on 22 June 2014, “US Embassy in Ankara Headquarter for ISIS War on Iraq – Hariri Insider”, and he reported that the NATO-front the Atlantic Council had held a meeting in Turkey during 22-23 of November 2013 at which high officials of the US and allied governments agreed that they were going to take over Syria’s oil, and that they even were threatening Iraq’s Government for its not complying with their demands to cooperate on overthrowing Syria’s Government. So, behind the scenes, this conquest of Syria was the clear aim by the US and all of its allies.

The US had done the same thing when it took over Ukraine by a brutal coup in February 2014: It grabbed the gold. Iskra News in Russian reported, on 7 March 2014, that “At 2 a.m. this morning … an unmarked transport plane was on the runway at Borosipol Airport” near Kiev in the west, and that, “According to airport staff, before the plane came to the airport, four trucks and two Volkswagen minibuses arrived, all the truck license plates missing.” This was as translated by Michel Chossudovsky at Global Research headlining on 14 March, “Ukraine’s Gold Reserves Secretly Flown Out and Confiscated by the New York Federal Reserve?” in which he noted that, when asked, “A spokesman for the New York Fed said simply, ‘Any inquiry regarding gold accounts should be directed to the account holder.’” The load was said to be “more than 40 heavy boxes.” Chossudovsky noted that, “The National Bank of Ukraine (Central Bank) estimated Ukraine’s gold reserves in February to be worth $1.8 billion dollars.” It was allegedly 36 tons. The US, according to Victoria Nuland (Obama’s detail-person overseeing the coup) had invested around $5 billion in the coup. Was her installed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk cleaning out the nation’s gold reserves in order to strip the nation so that the nation’s steep indebtedness for Russian gas would never be repaid to Russia’s oligarchs? Or was he doing it as a payoff for Nuland’s having installed him? Or both? In any case: Russia was being squeezed by this fascist Ukrainian-American ploy.

On 14 November 2014, a Russian youtube headlined “In Ukraine, there is no more gold and currency reserves” and reported that there is “virtually no gold. There is a small amount of gold bars, but it’s just 1%” of before the coup. Four days later, Zero Hedge bannered “Ukraine Admits Its Gold Is Gone: ‘There Is Almost No Gold Left In The Central Bank Vault’”. From actually 42.3 tons just before the coup, it was now far less than one ton.

The Syria operation was about oil, gold, and guns. However, most of America’s support was to Al-Qaeda-led jihadists, not to ISIS-jihadists. As the great independent investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva reported on 2 July 2017:

“In December of last year while reporting on the battle of Aleppo as a correspondent for Bulgarian media I found and filmed 9 underground warehouses full of heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin. They were used by Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria designated as a terrorist organization by the UN).”

The US had acquired weapons from around the world, and shipped them (and Gaytandzhieva’s report even displayed the transit-documents) through a network of its embassies, into Syria, for Nusra-led forces inside Syria. Almost certainly, the US Government’s central command center for the entire arms-smuggling operation was the world’s largest embassy, which is America’s embassy in Baghdad.

Furthermore, On 8 March 2013, Richard Spenser of Britain’s Telegraph reported that Croatia’s Jutarnji List newspaper had reported that “3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November. … The airlift of dated but effective Yugoslav-made weapons meets key concerns of the West, and especially Turkey and the United States, who want the rebels to be better armed to drive out the Assad regime.”

Also, a September 2014 study by Conflict Armaments Research (CAR), titled “Islamic State Weapons in Iraq and Syria”, reported that not only east-European, but even US-made, weapons were being “captured from Islamic State forces” by Kurds who were working for the Americans, and that this was very puzzling and disturbing to those Kurds, who were risking their lives to fight against those jihadists.

In December 2017, CAR headlined “Weapons of the Islamic State” and reported that “this materiel was rapidly captured by IS forces, only to be deployed by the group against international coalition forces.” The assumption made there was that the transfer of weapons to ISIS was all unintentional.

That report ignored contrary evidence, which I summed up on 2 September 2017 headlining “Russian TV Reports US Secretly Backing ISIS in Syria”, and reporting there also from the Turkish Government an admission that the US was working with Turkey to funnel surviving members of Iraq’s ISIS into the Deir Ezzor part of Syria to help defeat Syria’s Government in that crucial oil-producing region. Moreover, at least one member of the ‘rebels’ that the US was training at Al Tanf on Syria’s Jordanian border had quit because his American trainers were secretly diverting some of their weapons to ISIS. Furthermore: why hadn’t the US bombed Syrian ISIS before Russia entered the Syrian war on 30 September 2015? America talked lots about its supposed effort against ISIS, but why did US wait till 16 November 2015 before taking action, “’Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away’: US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes”?

So, regardless of whether the US Government uses jihadists as its proxy-forces, or uses fascists as its proxy-forces, it grabs the gold — and grabs the oil, and takes whatever else it can.

This is today’s form of imperialism. Grab what you can, and run. And call it ‘fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption’. And the imperial regime’s allies watch in amazement, as they take their respective cuts of the loot. That’s the deal, and they call it ‘fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption around the world’. That’s the way it works. International gangland. That’s the reality, while most of the public think it’s instead really “fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption around the world.” For example, as RT reported on Sunday, March 3rd, about John Bolton’s effort at regime-change in Venezuela, Bolton said: “I’d like to see as broad a coalition as we can put together to replace Maduro, to replace the whole corrupt regime,’ Bolton told CNN’s Jake Tapper.” Trump’s regime wants to bring clean and democratic government to the poor Venezuelans, just like Bush’s did to the Iraqis, and Obama’s did to the Libyans and to the Syrians and to the Ukrainians. And Trump, who pretends to oppose Obama’s regime-change policies, alternately expands them and shrinks them. Though he’s slightly different from Obama on domestic policies, he never, as the US President, condemn’s any of his predecessors’ many coups and invasions, all of which were disasters for everybody except America’s and allies’ billionaires. They’re all in on the take.

The American public were suckered into destroying Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Syria in 2011-now, and so many other countries, and still haven’t learned anything, other than to keep trusting the allegations of this lying and psychopathically vicious and super-aggressive Government and of its stenographic ‘news’-media. When is enough finally enough? Never? If not never, then when? Or do most people never learn? Or maybe they don’t really care. Perhaps that’s the problem.

On March 4th, the Jerusalem Post bannered “IRAN AND TURKEY MEDIA PUSH CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUT US, ISIS: Claims pushed by Syrian regime media assert that US gave ISIS safe passage out of Baghuz in return for gold, a conspiracy picked up in Tehran and Ankara”, and simply assumed that it’s false — but provided no evidence to back their speculation up — and they closed by asserting “The conspiracies, which are manufactured in Damascus, are disseminated to Iraq and Turkey, both of whom oppose US policy in eastern Syria.” Why do people even subscribe to such ‘news’-sources as that? The key facts are hidden, the speculation that’s based on their own prejudices replaces whatever facts exist. Do the subscribers, to that, simply want to be deceived? Are most people that stupid?

Back on 21 December 2018, one of the US regime’s top ‘news’-media, the Washington Post, had headlined “Retreating ISIS army smuggled a fortune in cash and gold out of Iraq and Syria” and reported that “the Islamic State is sitting on a mountain of stolen cash and gold that its leaders stashed away to finance terrorist operations.” So, it’s not as if there hadn’t been prior reason to believe that some day some of the gold would be found after America’s defeat in Syria. Maybe they just hadn’t expected this to happen quite so soon. But the regime will find ways to hoodwink its public, in the future, just as it has in the past. Unless the public wises-up (if that’s even possible).

قواعد الدور التركي في سورية تتراجع

مارس 6, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

دخول الأزمة السورية، في مرحلة حاسمة من الصراع الأخير بين قواها الأساسية المتورّطة، يفرض على تركيا، اختيار فريق من محاورها المتناقضة.

وبذلك تختم فصلاً طويلاً مستمرّاً من المراوغات بين عثمانيتها البائدة وأطلسيتها المتذبذبة وروسيتها الطارئة.

راكمت تركيا قواعد دورها السوري من سنين سبع من التدخل العسكري والسياسي المكشوف في الأراضي السورية، رعت خلاله عملية الإشراف على دخول مئات آلاف الإرهابيين من حدودها الى عموم الجغرافيا السورية، فاستفاد دورها من خمسة مصادر للقوة، منحته إمكانات عدوانية واسعة، تكاد تكون الأولى بين الدول الأجنبية المتورّطة.

استفادت أولاً من جوارها الجغرافي المباشر لسورية المبنية على علاقات تاريخية واسعة، تتجلى في استعمار عثماني لها دام أربعة قرون، وتركت في بعض أنحاء سورية مئات الآلاف من ذوي الأصول التركمانية.

اما تنظيمات الإرهاب من داعش والقاعدة والنصرة والأحزاب الأخرى فتمكنت أنقرة من الإمساك بها إلى حدود التوجيه والقيادة ورسم الخطط وكلذ الأعمال اللوجستية بموافقة أطلسية ـ خليجية.

بالإضافة إلى أنّ إخوانية الدولة التركية حزب العدالة والتنمية أتاحت لها قيادة الاخوان المسلمين في العالم وإدارة فرقهم الإرهابية في الميدان السوري.

في هذا المجال، لا يمكن أيضاً تجاهل قوة الجيش التركي التي استخدمها لاحتلال منطقة سورية حدودية سرعان ما تمدّد منها إلى عفرين وإدلب، داعماً انتشاراً إرهابياً في أرياف حلب وحماة واللاذقية.

و»لتعريب» دورها العدواني، استعملت تركيا دولة قطر لإسقاط الدور العربي للدولة السورية. والدخول إلى المنطقة العربية من بوابة الفتنة السنية ـ الشيعية على خطى «إسرائيل» والأميركيين والخطاب الطائفي للإرهاب.

للتوضيح فقطر التركية ـ الأميركية والسعودية الأميركية، أصرّتا على طرد سورية من جامعة الدول العربية، وترفضان اليوم عودتها إليها بذريعة عدم تقدّم الحلّ السياسي.

لكن الحقيقة في مكان آخر، وتتعلق بضرورة استمرار الحصار على سورية لتحقيق أكبر قدر ممكن من المكاسب السياسية وفي مرحلة انتصار الدولة السورية وحلفائها، وذلك بالضغط الأميركي في شرق الفرات والشمال والدور التركي والجامعة العربية وإعادة الإعمار ومقاطعة الدولة السورية.

للتذكير فقط فإنّ إعلان الرئيس الأميركي ترامب عن بدء انسحاب قواته من سورية قبل شهرين، أدّى إلى عودة البحرين والإمارات والسودان وعمان والكويت إلى سورية، وكانت السعودية نفسها تتحضّر للعودة، لولا ولادة ضغط أميركي جديد أرغمها على التوقف.

وكادت تركيا تتضعضع في ذلك الوقت من احتمال عودة التضامن العربي، فرفعت وتيرة خطابها عن مقتل مئات آلاف «السنة» بيد «النظام العلوي»، وهو خطاب مستهلك لم يعد يصدّقه أحد، وبذلك يتساوى الدور التركي في إثارة الفتنة بين العرب مع الأميركيين و»الإسرائيليين».

ولهذا الدور مقوّمات أطلسية ويستفيد من التناقضات الروسية ـ الأميركية في الميدان السوري، فتركيا عضو أساسي في الحلف الاطلسي، أدّى دوراً في مواجهة لجم نفوذ الاتحاد السوفياتي من ناحية البحر الأسود لكنه تراجع بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي 1989 حتى انّ الاتحاد الأوروبي رفض انتسابها إليه.

لكن الأهمية التركية في الميدان السوري جعلت الأميركيين لا يقطعون معها على الرغم من اختلاف أهداف مشروعهم مع طموحاتها.

فيتناقضون معها تارة ويجهدون للعثور على قواسم مشتركة جديدة ومرة أخرى وهكذا دواليك.

اما النقطة الأخيرة الداعمة للدور التركي فهي الصراع الأميركي ـ الروسي الحادّ الذي يتصاعد مرتدياً شكل تحوّل الأحادية الأميركية المتسلطة على العالم إلى ثنائية روسية ـ أميركية أقلّ ضرراً.

هذا ما منح الترك أهمية إضافية، فارضاً إفساح الطريق لهم ليصبحوا جزءاً من حلف أستانة وسوتشي مع الروس والإيرانيين.

فموسكو اعتقدت انّ «أستانة» من جهة وعلاقاتهم الاقتصادية مع أنقرة على قاعدة تصدير الغاز الروسي إليها عبر البحر الأسود فأوروبا مع تبادلات اقتصادية وسياحية اعتقدوا أنها عناصر كافية لجذب أنقرة نهائياً. لكن رفض تركيا تطبيق اتفاقيات خفض التوتر في إدلب وأرياف حماة واللاذقية وحلب، بذرائع ضعيفة، ترفع من مستوى تناقضها مع روسيا وإيران، هذا إلى جانب دعمها لهجمات تشنّها التنظيمات الإرهابية على الجيش السوري من خلال أرياف حماة وحلب إلى اللاذقية، تكشف عن محاولات تركية لتعقيد ما تخططه الدولة السورية لتحرير إدلب في وقت قريب وهي عمليات تشبه هجوماً كبيراً يريد بناء مواقع أمامية لصدّ الهجمات الوشيكة للجيش السوري على مواقع الإرهاب.

وهذا يضع تركيا في إطار محاولات أميركية مستجدة لإعادة نصب الأزمة السورية بآليات جديدة تجمع بين دعم أميركي للكرد في الشرق والشمال ورعاية تركية لمنظمات الإرهاب من النصرة إلى جيش العزة والتوحيد والتركمان ومنظمات الاخوان مع حضور مباشر للجيش التركي.

بالاضافة إلى قوات أميركية وأوروبية لها طابع معنوي، أما الأكثر خبثاً فهي تلك المحاولات الاميركية ـ السعودية لإضفاء طابع عربي على «قسد» التركية وذلك عبر ضخ كميات من أجنحة عشائر متورّطة بقيادة الجربا.

في المقابل، هناك تصميم من الدولة السورية على إنهاء إدلب أولاً ومواصلة التقدّم نحو كلّ متر من أراضيها، بتأييد مفتوح من حزب الله وروسيا وإيران، فإنهاء ما تبقى من إرهاب يقضي على معظم الدور التركي في سورية، فيصبح احتلال جيش أنقرة لمناطق حدودية وفي جهات عفرين مكشوفاً لا يمتلك وسائط حماية محلية ومتقدّمة، وكذلك من جهات الحدود.

انّ تحرير سورية بشكل كامل أصبح يتطلب إنهاء الدور التركي فيخسر الأميركيون ما تبقى من أوراقهم دافعاً الكرد نحو دولتهم السورية، الإطار الوحيد الضامن لحقوقهم.

US Imperialism in Syria: Daesh, ‘SDF,’ White Phosphorus, Hostages

Source

Syria

The one and only flag of the Syrian Arab Republic

US and allies have been busy accelerating their war crimes against Syria over the last two days. White phosphorus and “regular” bombings, ambushes and beheading, Syrian IDPs held hostage are not considered newsworthy by NATO media. More shameless, though, are ‘independent’ media increasingly normalizing geopolitical Newspeak.

On 2 March, the US – led fascist coalition, created by Obama and continued by Trump, again bombed al Baghouz — this time a farming village — in Deir Ezzor, with white phosphorus. Un-shockingly, AFP was (safely) on hand to take photos, while omitting the phosphorus bombs, and waxing poetic on the devastation.

Despite ”sanctions”-related telecommunications problems in Syria, AFP reporter claimed that family members in France had spoken with their French terrorist relatives in al Baghouz.
US Coalition doubles down on war crimes, again bombing al Baghouz with white phosphorus. Photo courtesy SANA.

On 3 March, US’s multi-billion dollar subsidized ally, Israel, bombed Quneitra, Syria.

Israeli media are under the fist of IDF censors, who prefer to first report on their military war crimes via reporting on reports of others.

Also on 3 March, rabid Erdogan continued to show his commitment to the [unilateral] ‘Idlib de-escalation zone’ agreement when his sponsored takfiri attacked Syrian Arab Army outposts.

Massive funeral services were held today, 4 March, for the martyred SAA soldiers slaughtered while defending their country from US-backed terrorists.

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The martyrs helped to repel al Qaeda killers from planned attacks against civilians in Hama and Lattakia.

The swine in the UN somehow are oblivious to the worth of Erdogan’s guarantees for the “Idlib de-escalation zone.”

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‘Erdoğan thinks he’s a Muslim Caliph’ President Assad

On 30 January, US acting ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Cook, threatened Syria that the US was ready to hold Syrian IDPs hostage, in Rukban camp, near al Tanf. This imperialist threat has been activated: Though Syria has opened two humanitarian corridors — Jalib and Jabal al Ghurab — illicit American troops refuse to allow convoys to transport out of the open-air jail. There are approximately 40,000 Syrian hostages in this camp.

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Photo & caption 13 January 2019. “EPA” is a photo agency founded by AFP and 6 other European news agencies.

Such heinous crimes against humanity against Syria, and there is no MSM reporting on any of them. Instead, a Google search has three smarmy propaganda pieces:

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Filthy anti-Syria propaganda offered by sewage media.

The ever-feculent BBC writes of British and Dutch human garbage in Syria as though reporting on a romantic honeymoon. Dutch takfiri Yago Riedijik is interviewed showing excellent telecommunications, despite US economic terrorism and US sponsored terrorists blowing up power plants, both of which make electricity and internet sporadic and undependable for ‘ordinary’ Syrians.

Dutch terrorist Yago Riedijik interviewed by rancid BBC, without a hiccough. This rabid dog is a captive in an American jail…in Syria.

Al Jazeera – owned by the Gulfie gas station toilet, Qatar, which has spent billions toward the final solution against Syria — spent most of its report pretending that the “SDF” is not a US-created international wetworkers militia, and normalizing an American colonel in Syria.

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al Khanzeera quoted American illegal/ military terrorist in Syria

ABC News won the Scum Award, for its description of foreign human garbage Mark Taylor, as “serving with the Islamic State group,” as though he were volunteering as diaper-changer for seniors in nursing homes. Every faction of al Qaeda in Syria — FSA, Nusra, ISIS — has been whitewashed by warmongering media whose countries have armed these savages.

New Zealand human garbage whined to ABC that he was “only” a guard for ISIS. Poor baby..

There is no such thing as a “Kurdish jail” in Syria. There are Syrian jails, or there are makeshift jails created by illegal American troops in Syria. This rabid New Zealander dog was freely interviewed in Qamishli, where, on 8 September 2018, “the traitorous and treacherous faction of Kurds” owned by the US, ambushed and slaughtered 13 members of the SAA military security.

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Imagine American soldiers slaughtered in the US, their bodies dumped & the world writing about “moderate American opposition.”
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Liters of blood of the Syrian martyrs….

Most appalling of vicious, separatist propaganda came from the too many ‘independent’ news sites that have been consistently pro-Syria, and consistently anti-NATO “regime change” obliteration. It is inexcusable for any of them to ever cite “SOHR” as credible. “SOHR” is one man, Abdul Rahman, funded by British intelligence.

While he freely admits he has not been in Syria since 2000, he leaves out the part about “fleeing” another trial involving fraud. Syria, after all, remains that paradoxical Utopia in which there is no crime, yet the jails runneth over.

Syria

Worse, still, is the legitimization of the faux “Syrian Defense Forces.” This geopolitical scam was created under the Obama regime, which had planned to turn Syria into Libya, Part II, after FSA terroristsaccidentally bombed themselves with chemical weapons, in Ghouta, 2013, because

They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them.  When Saud Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people he must give them to those who know how to use them.”

The Syrian Arab Republic immediately joined the OPCW, forcing the US to switch gears: Several wetworkers — American, British, Japanese — masquerading as “humanitarians” and/or “journalists” were killed off by other foreign wetworkers as cover for the United States to launch a coalition of war criminals to bomb Syria, as the US never keeps its bargains (see “Cue the Illegal Orangettes,” here).

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President Obama, 10 September 2014, addressed the world, live, to announce the creation of international war criminals. Trump has continued the Nobel Laureate’s work.

The US created al Qaeda. The US created ISIS.

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US created “ISIS

The US created the “SDF,” because wetworkers cannot be killed as photo ops, indefinitely, lest the pool dry up. The above hyperlinked report includes multiple pictures of “SDF” members: Swedes, Brits, Irish, American (included in Americans was a former juvenile delinquent, alcoholic, druggie who bragged that he had “literally done nothing” “but jack off” before joining the US-SDF).

Consider that NATO forces have occupied Syria’s al Tabqa Dam, since February 2013. First it was occupied by NATO created and armed “FSA,” then came the utterly absurd story that US-ISIS chieftains had sought ‘sanctuary’ there, magically wresting control from FSA. In March 2017 came the psyop that the US-SDF had taken control from the US-ISIS which had taken control from the US-FSA.

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al Tabqa Dam.

That Syria has invited the world to take back its particles of human garbage dumped there, does not change the fact that only Syria has the legal authority to arrest criminals in its country. When the “SDF” announces that it has released 283 ISIS prisoners — because ‘they had no blood on their hands’ — this is actually the US admitting it abducts people in Syria, and that it still runs ISIS terrorists against the SAR.

It is an extension of its ongoing imperialist aggression in the Republic, no different than in 2017, when the US signed an agreement with the US for US troops in Syria.

Lest these facts intrude upon the impolite self-soothing of western serfs whose superiority complexes have them always supporting balkanization — under cover of ”rights” of various ethnic groups in othercountries — we chastise their silence when Sheikh al Bouti, of Kurdish origins, was martyred by US sponsored terrorists.

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Sheikh Muhammed Saeed Ramadan al Bouti.
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Sheikh al Bouti with President al Assad and Syria’s Grand Mufti.

We also paraphrase Hillel: That which is military aggression and terrorism in western countries, is also military aggression and terrorism in Syria.

 Miri Wood

NB: It has been noted that a certain social medium’s algorithms take umbrage at headlines with “US” and “ISIS,” censoring such reports and/or suspended accounts that have the temerity to share them.

 

The Curse of Free Elections

By Hussein Samawarchi

The US assumes it has the right to interfere in elections around the world, accepting results for some countries and refusing others. Any presidential nominee who leads a campaign on the grounds of true political sovereignty becomes the subject of hate speech on Fox News and that has proved to be the first step towards loading jet fighters with depleted uranium ordinance.

They did not like the popular vote in Iran that took the form of a spontaneous street movement about 40 years ago but the Persian nation is no easy game. In those four decades, neither did the subsequently elected governments show signs of subordination nor did the people who elected them show readiness to lose national pride. The Americans have been battering the Iranian people with one embargo after another, attempting to deprive them of medicine, food, electricity, clean water, defensive weapons, and anything else that could spark a popular movement against a political system that refuses to condone colonialism.

Syria has proved to be the master of its own politics. President Bashar al-Assad stood firmly by his people’s beliefs in independent choices regarding the rights of Arabs. He voiced out, as President Hafez did before him, the need to maintain the right to dignity regardless of which self-proclaimed superpower gets furious. And, furious it became.

After years of harsh embargos, rendered unsuccessful due to the resilience of the people, aimed at the Syrian society’s very basis, Washington gave its regional agents the green light to introduce terrorism with budgets in the billions. Qatar, alone, is said to have spent three billion dollars in arms and payoffs to those aiming mortar shells at morning markets, hospitals, and schools.

This was all because Syria held its own elections and refused foreign intervention in the people’s choice.

In January 2006, the Palestinian people chose Hamas representatives as majority seat holders in the parliament. That didn’t sit well with the American administration. A punishment was therefore administered to teach the children of Abraham a lesson in “democratic” elections. Not that they haven’t been subjected to the true meaning of the word Holocaust for the past 80 years or so, but now  their systematic annihilation is being supported by regional powers as well.

The majority in Bahrain dared to ask for proportionate representation in the government and the Saudi women began questioning their status quo. As a result, minors were executed and women were tortured. The governments who administered those crimes are not elected. The White House says those governments are friends. It seems that George Washington’s beliefs do not apply to the humans living on that side of Earth.

Nicaragua and Cuba are deemed to be in desperate need of American intervention in the people’s choice according to recent statements and last but not least, Venezuela.

The American government has finally decided that years of economic warfare against the Venezuelans are not yielding the desired results in controlling their freedom of choice when ballots are set. Last August, Former President Obama’s favorite toys were dispatched to get rid of their majority’s choice. When that did not work, they had a public figure go openly against the constitution and proclaim himself a president who could, with the help of Trump, relief the country from famine, medicine shortages, independence, and free elections.

So, despite Russian denial and lack of credible proof, President Putin interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections! The same media sources who are not letting us hear the end of this are glorifying pilots of US aerial refueling aircraft extending the range of Saudi bombers that target Yemeni civilians who chose a government out of free will.

What is the new world order going to look like if we give up our rights to form our own governments according to our social beliefs? Should we just send the voting booths to the US where Americans can do the voting for us? Perhaps, this way they can choose the puppets they have trained to govern us without cruise missiles armed with democracy warheads falling on our children.

Mr Bolton’s Long Game Against Iran – Pakistan Becomes Saudi Arabia’s New Client State

Mr Bolton’s Long Game Against Iran – Pakistan Becomes Saudi Arabia’s New Client State

Mr Bolton’s Long Game Against Iran – Pakistan Becomes Saudi Arabia’s New Client State

The Wall Street Journal has an article whose very title – Ambitions for an ‘Arab NATO’ Fade, Amid Discord – more or less, says it all. No surprise there at all. Even Antony Zinni, the retired Marine General who was to spearhead the project (but who has now resigned), said it was clear from early on that the idea of creating an “Arab NATO” was too ambitious. “There was no way that anybody was ready to jump into a NATO-type alliance,” he said. “One of the things I tried to do was kill that idea of a Gulf NATO or a Middle East NATO.” Instead, the planning has focused on ‘more realistic expectations’, the WSJ article concludes.

Apparently, “not all Middle Eastern nations working on the proposal, want to make Iran a central focus – a concern that has forced the US to frame the alliance as a broader coalition”, the WSJ recounts. No surprise there either: Gulf preoccupations have turned to a more direct anxiety – which is that Turkey intends to unloose (in association with Qatar) the Muslim Brotherhood – whose leadership is already gathering in Istanbul – against Turkey’s nemesis: Mohammad bin Zaid and the UAE (whom Turkish leadership believes, together with MbS, inspired the recent moves to surround the southern borders of Turkey with a cordon of hostile Kurdish statelets).

Even the Gulf leaders understand that if they want to ‘roll-back’ Turkish influence in the Levant, they cannot be explicitly anti-Iranian. It just not viable in the Levant.

So, Iran then is off the hook? Well, no. Absolutely not. MESA (Middle East Security Alliance) maybe the new bland vehicle for a seemingly gentler Arab NATO, but its covert sub-layer is, under Mr Bolton’s guidance, as fixated on Iran, as was ‘Arab NATO’ at the outset. How would it be otherwise (given Team Trump’s obsession with Iran)?

So, what do we see? Until just recently, Pakistan was ‘on the ropes’ economically. It seemed that it would have to resort to the IMF (yet again), and that it was clear that the proximate IMF experience – if approved – would be extremely painful (Secretary Pompeo, in mid-last year, was saying that the US probably would not support an IMF programme, as some of the IMF grant might be used to repay earlier Chinese loans to Pakistan). The US too had punished Pakistan by severely cutting US financial assistance to the Pakistani military for combatting terrorism. Pakistan, in short, was sliding inevitably towards debt default – with only the Chinese as a possible saviour.

And then, unexpectedly, up pops ‘goldilocks’ in the shape of a visiting MbS, promising a $20 billion investment plan as “first phase” of a profound programme to resuscitate the Pakistani economy. And that is on top of a $3 billion cash bailout, and another $3 billion deferred payment facility for supply of Saudi oil. Fairy godmothers don’t come much better than that. And this benevolence comes in the wake of the $6.2 billion, promised last month, by UAE, to address Pakistan’s balance of payments difficulties.

The US wants something badly – It wants Pakistan urgently to deliver a Taliban ‘peace agreement’ in Afghanistan with the US which allows for US troops to be permanently based there (something that the Taliban not only has consistently refused, but rather, has always put the withdrawal of foreign forces as its top priority).

But two telling events have occurred: The first was on 13 February when a suicide attacker drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a bus that was transporting IRGC troops in the Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran. Iran’s parliamentary Speaker has said that the attack that killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was “planned and carried out, from inside Pakistan”. Of course, such a provocative disruption into Iran’s most ethnically sensitive province may mean ‘nothing’, but perhaps the renewed inflow of Gulf money, fertilizing a new crop of Wahhabi madrasa in Pakistan’s Baluch province, may be connected – as IRCG Commander, General Sulemani’s stark warning to Pakistan suggests.

In any event, reports suggest that Pakistan, indeed, is placing now intense pressure on the Afghan Taliban leaders to accede to Washington’s demand for permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

The US, it seems, after earlier chastising Pakistan (for not doing enough to curb the Taliban) has done a major U-turn: Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

General Votel, the head of Centcom told the US Senate Armed forces Committee on 11 February, “If Pakistan plays a positive role in achieving a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the US will have opportunity and motive to help Pakistan fulfill that role, as peace in the region is the most important mutual priority for the US and Pakistan.” MESA is quietly proceeding, but under the table.

And what of that second, telling occurrence? It is that there are credible reports that ISIS fighters in the Deir a-Zoor area of Syria are being ‘facilitated’ to leave East Syria (reports suggest with significant qualities of gold and gemstones) in a move to Afghanistan.

Iran has long been vulnerable in its Sistan-Baluchistan province to ostensibly, secessionist factions (supported over the years by external states), but Iran is vulnerable, too, from neighbouring Afghanistan. Iran has relations with the Taliban, but it was Islamabad that firstly ‘invented’ (i.e. created) the Deobandi (an orientation of Wahhabism) Taliban, and which traditionally has exercised the primordial influence over this mainly Pashtoon grouping (whilst Iran’s influence rested more with the Tajiks of northern Afghanistan). Saudi Arabia of course, has had a decades long connection with the Pashtoon mujahidin of Afghanistan.

During the Afghan war of the 1980s and later, Afghanistan always was the path for Islamic fundamentalism to reach up into Central Asia. In other words, America’s anxiety to achieve a permanent presence in Afghanistan – plus the arrival of militants from Syria – may somehow link to suggest a second motive to US thinking: the potential to curb Russia and China’s evolution of a Central Asian trading sphere and supply corridor.

Putting this all together, what does this mean? Well, firstly, Mr Bolton was arguing for a US military ‘hub’ in Iraq – to put pressure on Iran – as early as 2003. Now, he has it. US Special Forces, (mostly) withdrawn from Syria, are deploying into this new Iraq military ‘hub’ in order, Trump said, to “watch Iran”. (Trump rather inadvertently ‘let the cat out of the bag’ with that comment).

The detail of the US ‘hub encirclement’ of Iran, however, rather gives the rest of Mr Bolton’s plan away: The ‘hubs’ are positioned precisely adjacent to Sunni, Kurdish, Baluch or other Iranian ethnic minorities (some with a history of insurgency). And why is it that US special forces are being assembled in the Iraqi hub? Well, these are the specialists of ‘train and assist’ programmes. These forces are attached to insurgent groups to ‘train and assist’ them to confront a sitting government. Eventually, such programmes end with safe-zone enclaves that protect American ‘companion forces’ (Bengahazi in Libya was one such example, al-Tanaf in Syria another).

The covert element to the MESA programme, targeting Iran, is ambitious, but it will be supplemented in the next months with new rounds of economic squeeze intended to sever Iran’s oil sales (as waivers expire), and with diplomatic action, aimed at disrupting Iran’s links in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Will it succeed? It may not. The Taliban pointedly cancelled their last scheduled meeting with Pakistani officials at which renewed pressure was expected to be exerted on them to come to an agreement with Washington; the Taliban have a proud history of repulsing foreign occupiers; Iraq has no wish to become ‘pig-in-the middle’ of a new US-Iran struggle; the Iraqi government may withdraw ‘the invitation’ for American forces to remain in Iraq; and Russia (which has its own peace process with the Taliban), would not want to be forced into choosing sides in any escalating conflict between the US, Israel and Iran. Russia and China do not want to see this region disrupted.

More particularly, India will be disconcerted by the sight of the MESA ‘tipping’ toward Pakistan as its preferred ally – the more so as India, likely will view (rightly or wrongly), the 14 February, vehicle-borne, suicide attack in Jammu-Kashmir that resulted in the deaths of 40 Indian police, as signaling the Pakistan military recovering sufficiently confidence to pursue their historic territorial dispute with India over Jammu-Kashmir (perhaps the world’s most militarised zone, and the locus of three earlier wars between India and Pakistan). It would make sense now, for India to join with Iran, to avoid its isolation.

But these real political constraints notwithstanding, this patterning of events does suggest a US ‘mood for confrontation’ with Iran is crystalizing in Washington.

Photo: Flickr

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