In pictures: Iraqi Army captures over a dozen ISIS car bombs in west Mosul

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:50 P.M.) – ISIS appears to be running low on volunteer suicide bombers in Mosul after the Iraqi Federal Police captured a large car bomb factory in the newly liberated ’17th Tammuz’ district of northwestern Mosul.

Upon discovery of over a dozen ready-made fortified car bombs, these were hastily transferred to rearguard positions for immediate destruction to avoid any complications following a potential ISIS-counter attack:

Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News
Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News
Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News

Prior to Mosul’s encirclement late last year, ISIS withdrew all its armored vehicles and tanks to Syria; instead, Islamic State commanders have relied heavily on modified civilian cars to function as deadly mobile bombs.
Due to recent advances, the Islamic State controls just three neighborhoods anchored on the western part of the Tigris River.

Meanwhile the Counter Terrorism Units, 9th and 15th divisions have been relieved of their duties in Iraq’s second largest city, rendering the final counter-insurgency operations to the Iraqi Federal Police and Rapid Response Division to deal with.

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Why The U.S. Really Attacked Syrian Militia Convoy

Exclusive: For the Pentagon to suggest that this was a sideshow to Washington’s battle against Isis was to stretch the truth beyond credibility

By Robert Fisk

May 19, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – According to the Syrians, the US destroyed not one but four T-62 tanks and a Shilka ZSU-23-4 Soviet-made radar-guided anti-aircraft vehicle manned by both Shia Iraqi militiamen loyal to Damascus and a unit of armed Iranians who were travelling in pick-up trucks to establish positions – on the instructions of the Syrian army – in the desert west of al-Tanf. Their intention – to set up strongpoints in the vast and largely empty land in advance of the American-trained forces – was an attempt by the Syrian government to keep open the route between Iraq and Syria now that the ISIS-held Syrian city of Raqqa far to the north has been almost surrounded by largely Kurdish fighters loyal to Washington.

Six of the pro-Syrian militiamen were killed in the American air strike and 25 wounded – it is unclear whether the casualties were Iraqi or Iranian – but forces under the command of the Syrian army intend to continue their reconnaissance missions towards al-Tanf. Anti-aircraft gunners aboard one of the pick-up trucks accompanying the pro-Syrian units that were attacked, opened fire on the US jets and, according to the Syrians, forced the American aircraft to fly higher.

At this point, Syrian air defence units north-east of Damascus prepared to fire Soviet-made S-200 Angara ground-to-air missiles (an older version of the S-300 which the Russians have since delivered to the Syrian military) at the Americans – but the US jets had by then left Syrian airspace. One of the five T-62 tanks attacked by the Americans was undamaged.

Nonetheless, the brief action in the Syrian desert was of great importance. The Syrians were obviously trying to test America’s resolve to move its anti-Assad militia forces deeper into the south-east of the country – and the US was prepared, albeit on a small scale, to show that it was prepared to press on. But the Syrian-Iraqi frontier town of al-Tanf may turn out to be a key strategic point in the struggle of the Assad government to regain its national territory and keep open its border to Iraq and, by extension, to Iran. It lies only 30 miles from Iraq – but because the Jordanian-Syrian-Iraqi borders join immediately to the south – al-Tanf also lies the same distance from Jordan – where the American-trained militia are based.

Although US jets were involved in Thursday’s air strikes, the forces on the ground comprised largely proxy fighters – belonging to both the American-trained ‘rebel’ opposition and to the Syrian military. If US personnel were accompanying the ‘rebel’ forces, then they were lucky that neither the Russians nor Syrian Army personnel were present on the other side. For the Pentagon to suggest that this was a sideshow to Washington’s battle against Isis was to stretch the truth beyond credibility in the Middle East. Cutting Syria off from Iraq – and thus from Iran – appears to be a far more immediate operational aim of US forces in Syria than the elimination of the Sunni “Caliphate” cult that Washington claims to be its principal enemy in the Middle East.

This article was first published by The Independent

See also

Int’l coalition’s attack on Syrian military site exposes its fake claims of fighting terrorism; The attack, which took place at 16:30 pm on Thursday, left a number of people dead, in addition to causing material damage, the source said.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

 

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Turn East شرقاً دُر

 Turn East

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The US-British-Jordanian preparations on the southern borders of Syria are no longer secret, and it became known that the visit of the US Chief of Staff to Tel Aviv is within the context of the preparation for what is so-called the processes on the southern front for which it was mobilized nearly five thousand militants from different nationalities. What was announced in the Israeli press was that the US visit aims to coordinate the efforts and to ask Israel for just the information and the intelligence support lest its direct intervention will lead to sabotage of the opportunities of the success of the process, and a bigger escalation that becomes out of control, and that its impact will be negative on the process and on Israel in particular.

The positions issued by Syria and its allies ensure that the response will be critical against any foreign intervention inside the Syrian borders, the information which came from Moscow says that those concerned in Washington and Amman in particular know that, while the responses issued by the Americans and the Jordanians through the diplomatic communications and media positions say that there are no intentions to collide with Syria, Russia, and their allies despite the announcement of Washington and all of its allies their hostility against Hezbollah and Iran, they consider that the cooperation to prevent the expansion of the resistance axis in the southern of Syria is within the announced goals. Some of the sources that belong to Washington took the responsibility to clarify the meaning of the military process in the southern of Syria on one hand, and the non-collision with Syria and Russia on the other hand, they say that the process is not as it seems apparently to seize part of the Syrian southern geography as the Turks or as the Kurds did in the north.

The Southern process according to the US sources aim to enter into a small line starts from the south to the north along the Syrian-Iraqi bordered line under the pretext of securing the area to prevent the infiltration of ISIS groups which flee from Mosul from reaching to Jordan and Syria, in addition that Washington sponsors this process and it does not want to turn it into a reason for a collision neither with Russia nor with Syria, the sources say that the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will discuss the details of the process with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and will try to have the contest of Moscow or at least its non-objection and understanding.

The resistance axis including the Syrian-Iranian and the resistance parties asserts its information about the field and the logistical preparations of the process, it considers the goal of the Syrian-Iraqi borders is right, but the goals are not related to what the Americans say but to complete the US seek to have control over the Syrian-Iraqi borders in the north to connect them from the south at Al Natf point, so having control on the borders between Syria and Iraq compensates the US failure in having control on Syria and Iraq. The geographical Syrian-Iraqi connection allows spreading oil and gas pipes and trade exchange, and allows an open supply line to the resistance, Syria, and Iran and later the way to the Mediterranean will be opened in front of Chine, so those who have control on the borders between Syria and Iraq will control the future of the economic and military equations in the Middle East and in Asia.

Moscow shares its allies their perspective and their concern, it ensures that it will unambiguously notify Washington that the supposed process is a change of the political and the military geography, and the announced goal does not justify it because the Syrian army with the support of Russia is ready, and it has started its progress to close the border line, so affecting its accomplishing of that task means there is something intended.

“Turn east” is announced by the Syrian army and the allies because it summarizes “Move to the South”.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

شرقاً دُر

ناصر قنديل

مايو 10, 2017

– باتت التحضيرات الأميركية البريطانية الأردنية على الحدود الجنوبية لسورية علنية، وصار معلوماً أن زيارة رئيس الأركان الأميركي لتل أبيب تندرج ضمن إطار التحضير لما سُمّي بالعمليات على الجبهة الجنوبية التي حشد لها الأميركيون قرابة خمسة آلاف مسلح من جنسيات مختلفة، والمعلن في الصحافة «الإسرائيلية» أن الزيارة الأميركية تتم لتنسيق الجهود وطلب اكتفاء «إسرائيل» بالدعم المعلوماتي والاستخباري كي لا يرتّب تدخلها المباشر تخريباً على فرص نجاح العملية ويرتّب انفجاراً أكبر في الوضع تصعب السيطرة عليه، ويكون ارتداده سلبياً على العملية وعلى «إسرائيل» خصوصاً.

– المواقف الصادرة عن سورية وحلفائها تؤكد أن الرد سيكون حازماً على أي تدخل أجنبي داخل الحدود السورية. والمعلومات من موسكو تقول إن المعنيين في واشنطن وعمان خصوصاً باتوا يعلمون ذلك. وتقول الأجوبة الصادرة من الأميركيين والأردنيين في الاتصالات الدبلوماسية والمواقف الإعلامية إن ليس هناك نيات للتصادم مع سورية وروسيا وحلفائهما، رغم إشهار واشنطن وكل حلفائها العداء لحزب الله وإيران واعتبار العمل لمنعهما من التمدد جنوب سورية ضمن الأهداف المعلنة، وتتكفل بعض المصادر بواشنطن بإيضاح المقصود من القيام بعملية عسكرية جنوب سورية من جهة، وعدم التصادم مع سورية وروسيا من جهة مقابلة، فتقول إن العملية ليست كما يبدو الظاهر بالسعي لاقتطاع جزء من جغرافيا الجنوب السوري، أسوة بما فعله الأتراك شمالا، أو بما فعله الأكراد.

– العملية الجنوبية، وفقاً للمصادر الأميركية تهدف للدخول في شريط رقيق يبدأ من الجنوب ويصعد شمالاً على طول خط الحدود السورية العراقية، بحجة تأمين جدار يمنع تسلّل جماعات داعش الهاربة من الموصل من الوصول إلى الأردن أو سورية، وأن واشنطن ترعى هذه العملية ولا تريد تحوّلها لسبب تصادم مع روسيا ولا مع سورية. وتقول المصادر إن وزير الخارجية الأميركية ريكس تيلرسون سيبحث تفاصيل العملية مع وزير الخارجية الروسية سيرغي لافروف، وسيسعى للحصول على موافقة موسكو أو عدم ممانعتها وتفهّمها على الأقل.

– محور المقاومة بأطرافه السورية والإيرانية والمقاومة يؤكد معلوماته عن التحضيرات الميدانية واللوجستية للعملية، ويعتبر هدف الحدود السورية العراقية صحيحاً، لكن لأهداف لا تتصل بما يقوله الأميركيون، بل لاستكمال السعي الأميركي لإمساك الحدود السورية العراقية شمالاً بملاقاتها من الجنوب عند نقطة التنف، بحيث يعوّض الإمساك بالحدود بين سورية والعراق الفشل الأميركي بالسيطرة على سورية والعراق، فالتواصل السوري العراقي الجغرافي يتيح مد أنابيب النفط والغاز والتبادل التجاري، ويتيح خط الإمداد المفتوح للمقاومة وسورية وإيران، ولاحقاً يفتح طريق البحر المتوسط أمام الصين، ومَن يمسك بالحدود بين سورية والعراق يتحكّم بمستقبل المعادلات الاقتصادية والعسكرية في الشرق الأوسط، بل في آسيا.

– موسكو تشارك حلفاءها نظرتهم ومخاوفهم، وتؤكد أنها ستبلغ واشنطن بما لا يقبل التأويل أن العملية المفترضة تغيير للجغرافيا السياسية والعسكرية، والهدف المعلن لا يبرّرها، لأن الجيش السوري بدعم روسي مستعدّ وقد بدأ بالتقدم لإقفال خط الحدود، والمشاغبة على إنجازه لهذه المهمة تعني أن النيات هي شيء آخر.

– «شرقاً در»، أعلنها الجيش السوري والحلفاء، لأنها تختصر «جنوباً سر».

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Video: Mosul Battle Report. Retreat of ISIS, Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Pushing towards Border with Syria

Global Research, May 17, 2017
South Front 16 May 2017

Iraqi security forces (ISF) have continued putting pressure on ISIS terrorists in the western part of the Iraqi city of Mosul. Recently, ISF troops have recaptured the 17 Tamouz district, the Al-Aurabi district, and further advanced against ISIS in the Al-Rafaee and Old Mosul areas. Some 49 ISIS terrorists were killed and 4 SVBIEDs destroyed during the clashes. According to the Iraqi military, ISIS controls only 9% of the city of Mosul.

The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have liberated a notable number of villages from ISIS terrorists in the area southwest of Mosul. PMU fighters took control of Khilo, Tal Qassab, Karkash, Sultan, Tal sheik, Kabar, and other villages near the town of Qayrawan.

https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Fmosul-battle-report-may-16-2017-pmu-pushing-to-border-with-syria%2F&pid=889

Earlier this month, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Deputy Commander of the PMU, announced that the PMU is seeing the Syrian-Iraqi border as a strategic objective of their military operations against ISIS. Al-Muhandis pointed out that forces of the PMU will enter the Syrian territory only in case of full coordination between the Syrian and Iraqi governments, and confirmed the existence of official channels with the Syrian government in case of the PMU need to do this.

Thus, the PMU advance in the Qayrawan area could be seen as a preparation to further push to the Syrian border that will likely be synchronized with the Syrian military’s efforts in it’s own territory.

On Monday, reports appeared that Syrian government forces started a military operation against US-backed militant groups in the eastern Sweida countryside. According to pro-government sources, the goal of the Syrian forces effort is the al-Tanaf border crossing.

Some sources indicate that the PMU and the Syrian military may privately coordinate efforts in order to prevent the progress of Western-backed militant groups along the Syrian border.

About 150 servicemen of the US and UK special operations forces entered southern Syria in order to support a ‘rebel advance’ against ISIS in the area.

On Monday, Jaysh Mughawyr Al-Thurah, backed by the US and UK special operation forces, was in about 90km east of the government-held city of Palmyra in the province of Homs. Militants were advancing in the northwestern direction along the Syrian-Iraqi border.

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The Globalization of Misery

By Tom Engelhardt

May 15, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  The closest I ever got to Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was 1,720.7 miles away — or so the Internet assures me.  Although I’ve had a lifelong interest in history, I know next to nothing about Mosul’s, nor do I have more than a glancing sense of what it looks like, or more accurately what it looked like when all its buildings, including those in its “Old City,” were still standing.  It has — or at least in better times had — a population of at least 1.8 million, not one of whom have I ever met and significant numbers of whom are now either dead, wounded, uprooted, or in desperate straits.

Consider what I never learned about Mosul my loss, a sign of my ignorance.  Yet, in recent months, little as I know about the place, it’s been on my mind — in part because what’s now happening to that city will be the world’s loss as well as mine.

In mid-October 2016, the U.S.-backed Iraqi army first launched an offensive to retake Mosul from the militants of the Islamic State.  Relatively small numbers of ISIS fighters had captured it in mid-2014 when the previous version of the Iraqi military (into which the U.S. had poured more than $25 billion) collapsed ignominiously and fled, abandoning weaponry and even uniforms along the way.  It was in Mosul’s Great Mosque that the existence of the Islamic State was first triumphantly proclaimed by its “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi.

On the initial day of the offensive to recapture the city, the Pentagon was already congratulating the Iraqi military for being “ahead of schedule” in a campaign that was expected to “take weeks or even months.”  Little did its planners — who had been announcing its prospective start for nearly a year — know.  A week later, everything was still “proceeding according to our plan,” claimed then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.  By the end of January 2017, after 100 days of fierce fighting, the eastern part of that city, divided by the Tigris River, was more or less back in government hands and it had, according to New York Times reporters on the scene, been “spared the wholesale destruction inflicted on other Iraqi cities” like Ramadi and Fallujah, even though those residents who hadn’t fled were reportedly “scratching out a primitive existence, deprived of electricity, running water and other essential city services.”

And that was the good news.  More than 100 days later, Iraqi troops continue to edge their way through embattled western Mosul, with parts of it, including the treacherous warren of streets in its Old City, still in the hands of ISIS militants amid continuing bitter building-to-building fighting.  The Iraqi government and its generals still insist, however, that everything will be over in mere weeks.  An estimated thousand or so ISIS defenders (of the original 4,000-8,000 reportedly entrenched in the city) are still holding out and will assumedly fight to the death.  U.S. air power has repeatedly been called in big time, with civilian deaths soaring, and hundreds of thousands of its increasingly desperate and hungry inhabitants still living in battle-scarred Mosul as Islamic State fighters employ countless bomb-laden suicide vehicles and even small drones.

After seven months of unending battle in that single city, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Mosul has receded from the news here, even as civilian casualties grow, at least half a million Iraqis have been displaced, and the Iraqi military has suffered grievous losses.

Though there’s been remarkably little writing about it, here’s what now seems obvious: when the fighting is finally over and the Islamic State defeated, the losses will be so much more widespread than that.  Despite initial claims that the Iraqi military (and the U.S. Air Force) were taking great care to avoid as much destruction as possible in an urban landscape filled with civilians, the rules of engagement have since changed and it’s clear that, in the end, significant swathes of Iraq’s second largest city will be left in ruins. In this, it will resemble so many other cities and towns in Iraq and Syria, from Fallujah to Ramadi,Homs to Aleppo.

The Disappearance of Mosul

At a moment when Donald Trump makes headlines daily with almost any random thing he says, the fate of Mosul doesn’t even qualify as a major news story.  What happens in that city, however, will be no minor thing. It will matter on this increasingly small planet of ours.

What’s to come is also, unfortunately, reasonably predictable.  Eight, nine, or more months after this offensive was launched, the grim Islamic State in Mosul will undoubtedly be destroyed, but so will much of the city in a region that continues to be — to invent a word — rubblized.

When Mosul is officially retaken, if not “ahead of schedule,” then at least “according to plan,” the proud announcements of “victory” in the war against ISIS will make headlines.  Soon after, however, Mosul will once again disappear from our American world and worries. Yet that will undoubtedly only be the beginning of the story in a world in crisis.  Fourteen years have passed since the U.S. invaded Iraq and punched a hole in the oil heartlands of the Middle East.  In the wake of that invasion, states have been crumbling or simply imploding and terror movements growing and spreading, while wars, ethnic slaughter, and all manner of atrocities have engulfed an ever-widening region.  Millions of Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, Yemenis, Libyans, and others have been uprooted, sent into exile, or fled across borders to become refugees.  In Mosul alone, untold numbers of people whose fathers, mothers, grandparents, children, friends, and relatives were slaughtered in the Iraqi Army’s offensive or simply murdered by ISIS will be left homeless, often without possessions, jobs, or communities in the midst of once familiar places that have been transformed into rubble.

Mosul now lacks an airport, a railroad station, and a university — all destroyed in the recent fighting. Initial estimates suggest that its rebuilding will cost billions of dollars over many years. And it’s just one of many cities in such a state. The question is: Where exactly will the money to rebuild come from? After all, the price of oil is at present below $50 a barrel, the Iraqi and Syrian governments lack resources of every sort, and who can imagine a new Marshall Plan for the region coming from Donald Trump’s America or, for that matter, anywhere else?

In other words, the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Yemenis, the Libyans, the Afghans, and others are likely, in the end, to find themselves alone in the ruins of their worlds with remarkably little recourse.  With that in mind and given the record of those last 14 years, how exactly do you imagine that things will turn out for the inhabitants of Mosul, or Ramadi, or Fallujah, or cities yet to be destroyed? What new movements, ethnic struggles, and terror outfits will emerge from such a nightmare?

To put it another way, if you think that such a disaster will remain the possession of the Iraqis (Syrians, Yemenis, Libyans, and Afghans), then you haven’t been paying much attention to the history of the twenty-first century. You evidently haven’t noticed that Donald J. Trump won the last presidential election in the United States, in part by playing on fears of a deluge of refugees from the Middle East and of Islamic terrorism; that the British voted to leave the European Union in part based on similar fears; and that across Europe pressures over refugees and terror attacks have helped to alter the political landscape.

Where Is Globalization Now That We Need It?

To frame things slightly differently, let me ask another question entirely: In these last years, haven’t you wondered what ever happened to “globalization” and the endless media attention that was once paid to it? Not so very long ago we were being assured that this planet was binding itself into a remarkably tight knot of interconnectedness that was going to amaze us all.  As Thomas Friedman of the New York Times put itin 1996, we were seeing “the integration of free markets, nation-states, and information technologies to a degree never before witnessed, in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations, and countries to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper, and cheaper than ever.”  All of this was to be fed and led by the United States, the last superpower standing, and as a result, the global “playing field” would miraculously “be leveled” on a planet becoming a mosaic of Pizza Huts, iMacs, and Lexuses.

Who of a certain age doesn’t remember those years after the Soviet Union imploded when we all suddenly found ourselves in a single superpower world?  It was a moment when, thanks to vaunted technological advances, it seemed blindingly clear to the cognoscenti that this was going to be a single-everything planet.  We were all about to be absorbed into a “single market for goods, capital, and commercial services” from which, despite the worries of naysayers, “almost everyone” stood “to gain.”  In a world not of multiple superpowers but of multiple “supermarkets,” we were likely to become both more democratic and more capitalistic by the year as an interlocking set of transnational corporate players, nations, and peoples, unified by a singularly interwoven set of communication systems (representing nothing short of an information revolution), triumphed, while poverty, that eternal plague of humanity, stood to lose out big time.  Everything would be connected on what was, for the first time, to be a single, “flattened” planet.

It won’t surprise you, I’m sure, to be told that that’s not exactly the planet we’re now on.  Instead, whatever processes were at work, the result has been record numbers of billionaires, record levels of inequality, and refugees in numbers not seen since much of the world was in a state of collapse after World War II.

Still, don’t you ever wonder where, conceptually speaking, globalization is now that we need it? I mean, did it really turn out that we weren’t living together on a single shrinking planet? Were the globalists of that moment inhabiting another planet entirely in another solar system? Or could it be that globalization is still the ruling paradigm here, but that what’s globalizing isn’t (or isn’t just) Pizza Huts, iMacs, and Lexuses, but pressure points for the fracturing of our world?

The globalization of misery doesn’t have the cachet of the globalization of plenty. It doesn’t make for the same uplifting reading, nor does skyrocketing global economic inequality seem quite as thrilling as a leveling playing field (unless, of course, you happen to be a billionaire). And thanks significantly to the military efforts of the last superpower standing, the disintegration of significant regions of the planet doesn’t quite add up to what the globalists had in mind for the twenty-first century. Failed states, spreading terror movements, all too many Mosuls, and the conditions for so much more of the same weren’t what globalization was supposed to be all about.

Perhaps, however, it’s time to begin reminding ourselves that we’re still on a globalizing planet, even if one experiencing pressures of an unexpected sort, including from the disastrous never-ending American war on terror. It’s so much more convenient, of course, to throw the idea of globalization overboard and imagine that Mosul is thousands of miles away in a universe that bears next to no relation to our own.

What It Really Means to Be on a “Flattening” Planet

It’s true that in France last week extremist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was defeated by a young, little known former investment banker and government minister, Emmanuel Macron, and the European Union preserved.  As with an earlier election in Holland in which a similar right-wing candidate lost, this is being presented as potentially the high-water mark of what’s now commonly called “populism” in Europe (or the Brexit-style fragmentation of that continent).  But I’d take such reassurances with a grain of salt, given the pressures likely to come. After all, in both Holland and France, two extreme nationalist parties garnered record votes based on anti-Islamic, anti-refugee sentiment and will, after the coming parliamentary elections in France, both be represented, again in record numbers, in their legislatures.

The rise of such “populism” — think of it as the authoritarian fragmentation of the planet — is already a global trend.  So just imagine the situation four or potentially even eight years from now after Donald Trump’s generals, already in the saddle, do their damnedest in the Greater Middle East and Africa.  There’s no reason to believe that, under their direction, the smashing of key regions of the planet won’t continue.  There’s no reason to doubt that, in an expanding world of Mosuls — the Syrian “capital” of the Islamic State, Raqqa, is undoubtedly the next city in line for such treatment — “victories” won’t produce a planet of greater ethnic savagery, religious extremism, military destruction, and chaos.  This, in turn, ensures a further spread of terror groups and an even more staggering uprooting of peoples.  (It’s worth noting, for instance, that since the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. Special Operations forces, al-Qaeda has grown, not shrunk, gaining yet more traction across the Greater Middle East.)  So far, America’s permanent “war on terror” has helped produce a planet of fear, refugees on an almost unimaginable scale, and ever more terror.  What else would you imagine could arise from the rubble of so many Mosuls?

If you don’t think that this is an ever-more connected planet still being “flattened” (even if in quite a different way than expected), and that sooner or later the destruction of Mosul will reverberate in our world, too, then you don’t get our world. It’s obvious, for instance, that future Mosuls will only produce more refugees, and you already know where that’s led, from Brexit to Donald Trump. Destroy enough Mosuls and, even in the heartland of the planet’s sole superpower, the fears of those who already feel they’ve been left in a ditch will only rise (and be fed further by demagogues ready to use that global flow of refugees for their own purposes).

Given the transformations of recent years, just think what it will mean to uproot ever vaster populations, to set the homeless, the desperate, the angry, the hurt, and the vengeful — millions of adults and childrenwhose lives have been devastated or destroyed — in motion.  Imagine, for instance, what those pressures will mean when it comes to Europe and its future politics.

Think about what’s to come on this small planet of ours — and that’s without even mentioning the force that has yet to fully reveal itself in all its fragmenting and globalizing and leveling power.  We now call it, mildly enough, “climate change” or “global warming.”  Just wait until, in the decades to come, rising sea levels and extreme weather events put human beings in motion in startling ways (particularly given that the planet’s sole superpower is now run by men in violent denial of the very existence of such a force or the human sources of its power).

You want a shrinking planet? You want terror? You want globalization? Think about that. And do you wonder why, these days, I have Mosul on my mind?

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Tom Engelhardt

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.


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POPULAR MOBILIZATION UNITS TO ADVANCE ON SYRIA-IRAQI BORDER

South Front

13.05.2017

The Iraqi Army has started evacuating thousands of civilians from the districts remaining under the control of ISIS on the right side of Mosul city. It appears that ISIS has finally allowed civilians to leave its areas in the city.

Click to see the full-size map

Click to see the full-size map

The army also stormed the Al-Iktesadin district and launched a surprise attack on several ISIS positions in the Old Mosul area.

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View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

 Federal Police (elite unit) have launched a surprised attack on  militants in  Old district
Significant gains made

The Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) captured the road linking Sinjar to Baji and Kairawan as part of its Operation “Mohammed Rasool Allah 2″.

Click to see the full-size map

Click to see the full-size map

So far, the PMU has managed to evacuate 700 families from the Kairawan area west of Tal Afar. PMU engineer units are working to remove mines and IED from liberated areas.

A head of the PMU operations, Abu Montazer al-Husseini, stressed that Iraqi Prime Minister, Haid al-Abadi, ordered the PMU to move towards the Iraqi-Syrian border. The goal is to liberate Kairawan, Tal Afar, Sinjar and Sinu and then will secure the borders.

Related Articles

Mass slaughter of civilians by the USA in Iraq & Syria goes unreported

The Silent Slaughter of the US Air War

Exclusive: The U.S. mainstream media voiced moral outrage when Russian warplanes killed civilians in Aleppo but has gone silent as U.S. warplanes slaughter innocents in Mosul and Raqqa, notes Nicolas J S Davies.

By Nicolas J S Davies

April 2017 was another month of mass slaughter and unimaginable terror for the people of Mosul in Iraq and the areas around Raqqa and Tabqa in Syria, as the heaviest, most sustained U.S.-led bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam entered its 33rd month.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with members of the coalition at a forward operating base near Qayyarah West, Iraq, April 4, 2017. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

The Airwars monitoring group has compiled reports of 1,280 to 1,744 civilians killed by at least 2,237 bombs and missiles that rained down from U.S. and allied warplanes in April (1,609 on Iraq and 628 on Syria). The heaviest casualties were in and around Old Mosul and West Mosul, where 784 to 1,074 civilians were reported killed, but the area around Tabqa in Syria also suffered heavy civilian casualties.

In other war zones, as I have explained in previous articles (here and here), the kind of “passive” reports of civilian deaths compiled by Airwars have only ever captured between 5 percent and 20 percent of the actual civilian war deaths revealed by comprehensive mortality studies. Iraqbodycount, which used a similar methodology to Airwars, had only counted 8 percent of the deaths discovered by a mortality study in occupied Iraq in 2006.

Airwars appears to be collecting reports of civilian deaths more thoroughly than Iraqbodycount 11 years ago, but it classifies large numbers of them as “contested” or “weakly reported,” and is deliberately conservative in its counting. For instance, in some cases, it has counted local media reports of “many deaths” as a minimum of one death, with no maximum figure. This is not to fault Airwars’ methods, but to recognize its limitations in contributing to an actual estimate of civilian deaths.

Allowing for various interpretations of Airwars’ data, and assuming that, like such efforts in the past, it is capturing between 5 percent and 20 percent of actual deaths, a serious estimate of the number of civilians killed by the U.S.-led bombing campaign since 2014 would by now have to be somewhere between 25,000 and 190,000.

The Pentagon recently revised its own facetious estimate of the number of civilians it has killed in Iraq and Syria since 2014 to 352. That is less than a quarter of the 1,446 victims whom Airwars has positively identified by name.

Airwars has also collected reports of civilians killed by Russian bombing in Syria, which outnumbered its reports of civilians killed by U.S.-led bombing for most of 2016. However, since the U.S.-led bombing escalated to over 10,918 bombs and missiles dropped in the first three months of 2017, the heaviest bombardment since the campaign began in 2014, Airwars’ reports of civilians killed by U.S.-led bombing have surpassed reports of deaths from Russian bombing.

Because of the fragmentary nature of all Airwars’ reports, this pattern may or may not accurately reflect whether the U.S. or Russia has really killed more civilians in each of these periods. There are many factors that could affect that.

For example, Western governments and NGOs have funded and supported the White Helmets and other groups who report civilian casualties caused by Russian bombing, but there is no equivalent Western support for the reporting of civilian casualties from the Islamic State-held areas that the U.S. and its allies are bombing. If Airwars’ reporting is capturing a greater proportion of actual deaths in one area than another due to factors like this, it could lead to differences in the numbers of reported deaths that do not reflect differences in actual deaths.

Shock, Awe … and Silence

To put the 79,000 bombs and missiles with which the U.S. and its allies have bombarded Iraq and Syria since 2014 in perspective, it is worth reflecting back to the “more innocent” days of “Shock and Awe” in March 2003. As NPR reporter Sandy Tolan reported in 2003, one of the architects of that campaign predicted that dropping 29,200 bombs and missiles on Iraq would have, “the non-nuclear equivalent of the impact that the atomic weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had on Japan.”

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

When “Shock and Awe” was unleashed on Iraq in 2003, it dominated the news all over the world. But after eight years of “disguised, quiet, media-free” war under President Obama, the U.S. mass media don’t even treat the daily slaughter from this heavier, more sustained bombardment of Iraq and Syria as news. They cover single mass casualty events for a few days, but quickly resume normal “Trump Show” programming.

As in George Orwell’s 1984, the public knows that our military forces are at war with somebody somewhere, but the details are sketchy.  “Is that still a thing?” “Isn’t North Korea the big issue now?”

There is almost no political debate in the U.S. over the rights and wrongs of the U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. Never mind that bombing Syria without authorization from its internationally recognized government is a crime of aggression and a violation of the U.N. Charter.  The freedom of the United States to violate the U.N. Charter at will has already been politically (not legally!) normalized by 17 years of serial aggression, from the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, to drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

So who will enforce the Charter now to protect civilians in Syria, who already face violence and death from all sides in a bloody civil and proxy war, in which the U.S. was already deeply complicit well before it began bombing Syria in 2014?

In terms of U.S. law, three successive U.S. regimes have claimed that their unconstrained violence is legally justified by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by the U.S. Congress in 2001. But sweeping as it was, that bill said only,

“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

How many of the thousands of civilians the U.S. has killed in Mosul in the past few months played any such role in the September 11th terrorist attacks? Every person reading this knows the answer to that question: probably not one of them. If one of them was involved, it would be by sheer coincidence.

Any impartial judge would reject a claim that this legislation authorized 16 years of war in at least eight countries, the overthrow of governments that had nothing to do with 9/11, the killing of about 2 million people and the destabilization of country after country – just as surely as the judges at Nuremberg rejected the German defendants’ claims that they invaded Poland, Norway and the U.S.S.R. to prevent or “preempt” imminent attacks on Germany.

U.S. officials may claim that the 2002 Iraq AUMF legitimizes the bombardment of Mosul. That law at least refers to the same country. But while it is also still on the books, the whole world knew within months of its passage that it used false premises and outright lies to justify overthrowing a government that the U.S. has since destroyed.

The U.S. war in Iraq officially ended with the withdrawal of the last U.S. occupation forces in 2011. The AUMF did not and could not possibly have approved allying with a new regime in Iraq 14 years later to attack one of its cities and kill thousands of its people.

Caught in a Web of War Propaganda

Do we really not know what war is? Has it been too long since Americans experienced war on our own soil? Perhaps. But as thankfully distant as war may be from most of our daily lives, we cannot pretend that we do not know what it is or what horrors it brings.

Photos of victims of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam galvanized public awareness about the barbarity of the war. (Photo taken by U. S. Army photographer Ronald L. Haeberle)

This month, two friends and I visited our Congresswoman’s office representing our local Peace Action affiliate, Peace Justice Sustainability Florida, to ask her to cosponsor legislation to prohibit a U.S. nuclear first strike; to repeal the 2001 AUMF; to vote against the military budget; to cut off funding for the deployment of U.S. ground troops to Syria; and to support diplomacy, not war, with North Korea.

When one of my friends explained that he’d fought in Vietnam and started to talk about what he’d witnessed there, he had to stop to keep from crying. But the staffer didn’t need him to go on. She knew what he was talking about. We all do.

But if we all have to see dead and wounded children in the flesh before we can grasp the horror of war and take serious action to stop it and prevent it, then we face a bleak and bloody future. As my friend and too many like him have learned at incalculable cost, the best time to stop a war is before it starts, and the main lesson to learn from every war is: “Never again!”

Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump won the presidency partly by presenting themselves as “peace” candidates. This was a carefully calculated and calibrated element in both their campaigns, given the pro-war records of their main opponents, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. The American public’s aversion to war is a factor that every U.S. president and politician has to deal with, and promising peace before spinning us into war is an American political tradition that dates back to Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.

As Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering admitted to American military psychologist Gustave Gilbert in his cell at Nuremberg, “Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

“There is one difference,” Gilbert insisted, “In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

Goering was unimpressed by Madison‘s and Hamilton’s cherished constitutional safeguards. “Oh, that is all well and good,” he replied, “but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Our commitment to peace and our abhorrence of war are too easily undermined by the simple but timeless techniques Goering described. In the U.S. today, they are enhanced by several other factors, most of which also had parallels in World War Two Germany:

–Mass media that suppress public awareness of the human costs of war, especially when U.S. policy or U.S. forces are responsible.

–A media blackout on voices of reason who advocate alternative policies based on peace, diplomacy or the rule of international law.

–In the ensuing silence regarding rational alternatives, politicians and media present “doing something,” meaning war, as the only alternative to the perennial straw man of “doing nothing.”

–The normalization of war by stealth and deception, especially by public figures otherwise seen as trustworthy, like President Obama.

–The dependence of progressive politicians and organizations on funding from labor unions that have become junior partners in the military industrial complex.

–The political framing of U.S. disputes with other countries as entirely the result of actions by the other side, and the demonization of foreign leaders to dramatize and popularize these false narratives.

–The pretense that the U.S. role in overseas wars and global military occupation stems from a well-meaning desire to help people, not from U.S. strategic ambitions and business interests.

Taken altogether, this amounts to a system of war propaganda, in which the heads of TV networks bear a share of responsibility for the resulting atrocities along with political and military leaders. Trotting out retired generals to bombard the home front with euphemistic jargon, without disclosing the hefty directors’ and consultants’ fees they collect from weapons manufacturers, is only one side of this coin.

The equally important flip-side is the media’s failure to even cover wars or the U.S. role in them, and their systematic marginalization of anyone who suggests there is anything morally or legally wrong with America’s wars.

The Pope and Gorbachev

Pope Francis recently suggested that a third party could act as a mediator to help resolve our country’s nearly 70-year-old conflict with North Korea. The Pope suggested Norway. Even more importantly, the Pope framed the problem as a dispute between the United States and North Korea, not, as U.S. officials do, as North Korea posing a problem or a threat to the rest of the world.

Pope Francis

This is how diplomacy works best, by correctly and honestly identifying the roles that different parties are playing in a dispute or a conflict, and then working to resolve their disagreements and conflicting interests in a way that both sides can live with or even benefit from. The JCPOA that resolved the U.S. dispute with Iran over its civilian nuclear program is a good example of how this can work.

This kind of real diplomacy is a far cry from the brinksmanship, threats and aggressive alliances that have masqueraded as diplomacy under a succession of U.S. presidents and secretaries of state since Truman and Acheson, with few exceptions. The persistent desire of much of the U.S. political class to undermine the JCPOA with Iran is a measure of how U.S. officials cling to the use of threats and brinksmanship and are offended that the “exceptional” United States should have to come down from its high horse and negotiate in good faith with other countries.

At the root of these dangerous policies, as historian William Appleman Williams wrote in The Tragedy of American Diplomacy in 1959, lies the mirage of supreme military power that seduced U.S. leaders after the allied victory in the Second World War and the invention of nuclear weapons. After running headlong into the reality of an unconquerable post-colonial world in Vietnam, this American Dream of ultimate power faded briefly, only to be reborn with a vengeance after the end of the Cold War.

Much as its defeat in the First World War was not decisive enough to convince Germany that its military ambitions were doomed, a new generation of U.S. leaders saw the end of the Cold War as their chance to “kick the Vietnam syndrome” and revive America’s tragic bid for “full spectrum dominance.”

As Mikhail Gorbachev lamented in a speech in Berlin on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2014, “the West, and particularly the United States, declared victory in the Cold War. Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of Western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination of the world, refusing to heed words of caution from many of those present here.”

This post-Cold War triumphalism has predictably led us into an even more convoluted maze of delusions, disasters and dangers than the Cold War itself. The folly of our leaders’ insatiable ambitions and recurrent flirtations with mass extinction are best symbolized by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, whose hands once again stand at two and a half minutes to midnight.

The inability of the costliest war machine ever assembled to defeat lightly-armed resistance forces in country after country, or to restore stability to any of the countries it has destroyed, has barely dented the domestic power of the U.S. military-industrial complex over our political institutions and our national resources. Neither millions of deaths, trillions of dollars wasted, nor abject failure on its own terms has slowed the mindless spread and escalation of the “global war on terror.”

Futurists debate whether robotic technology and artificial intelligence will one day lead to a world in which autonomous robots could launch a war to enslave and destroy the human race, maybe even incorporating humans as components of the machines that will bring about our extinction. In the U.S. armed forces and military industrial complex, have we already created exactly such a semi-human, semi-technological organism that will not stop bombing, killing and destroying unless and until we stop it in its tracks and dismantle it?

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader

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