Fighting Terrorists the ‘Russian’ Way: Playtime Is Over For Al-Qaeda in Libya

Fighting Terrorists the ‘Russian’ Way: Playtime Is Over For Al-Qaeda in Libya

A Libyan commander with ties to Moscow has kicked “moderate” rebels out of two key oil ports. Fighting terrorists — the Russian way.

A Libyan commander with ties to Moscow has just recaptured two key oil ports, Sidra and Ras Lanuf, from “Islamist militias” (fanatics affiliated with al-Qaeda) that seized them earlier this month.

Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), has previously asked Moscow for weapons and equipment, and had a January meeting with the Russians aboard their aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, en route back to Syria.

The LNA actually lost control of Sidra and Ras Lanuf on March 3, when the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) and “former Ibrahim Jadhran loyalists and units from other allied factions (some reportedly affiliated with al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia)” pushed them out of the oil ports.

Yesterday Moscow denied a Reuters report claiming that Russian Special Forces are operating from an Egyptian airbase near the Libyan border.

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Of course, the Reuters report could be a well-coordinated western media blitz to play “the Russians are coming!” card (again), but the timing here does raise some eyebrows.

Why did Haftar wait nearly a week to counter-attack? According to our calculations, it took Haftar less than 36 hours to retake Sidra and Ras Lanuf.

Haftar was clearly waiting for “favorable conditions” — perhaps in the form of Russian military advisors.

The level of direct Russian assistance to Haftar is not at all clear at this point, but what is known is that Moscow has aligned itself with the one Libyan general who has a no-nonsense stance on “moderate” rebels. Last year he pushed Islamist militants out of much of Benghazi.

In other words: He fights terrorists like a Russian. 

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(Just for some contrast: In nearly every interview he gives, Syrian President Bashar Assad describes the U.S. coalition “strikes” against ISIS as “cosmetic”. In other words: Washington’s idea of fighting terrorism involves bombing empty desert.)

Again, it’s still unclear just how “Russian-backed” Haftar really is. But one thing is certain: Haftar fights terrorists the Russian way.

Playtime is over for Al-Qaeda in Libya. We think this is noteworthy — perhaps even deeply revelatory

Gaddafi warned about influx of refugees & Islamist attacks on Europe

 

Flashback 1. Colonel Gaddafi: Immigrants will invade Europe

Padraic Flanagan — Daily Express March 8, 2011

Gaddafi with his spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi (left). Click to enlarge

Gaddafi with his spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi (left). Click to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He spoke after more than 1,000 refugees landed on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa in just 12 hours.

Gaddafi stormed: “Thousands of people from Libya will invade Europe. There will be no one to stop them any more.”

His rant came as he attempted to regain lost territory with air strikes against the rebels.

The United Nations has launched a £100million emergency appeal to set up camps for the million foreign workers trapped in the war-torn country.

Meanwhile, rebel fighters faced increasingly tough resistance from Gaddafi loyalists as they battled to move westwards from their stronghold in Benghazi.

Residents fled fighting at Ras Lanuf. The oil-producing town had its port closed after Gaddafi’s pilots launched a series of air strikes, including one on a car carrying a fleeing family.

“The inside of the car and parts of the outside are splattered with blood and children’s shoes are scattered inside,” reported eyewitness Mohammed Abbas.

There was also heavy fighting in the western town of Misrata, where rebels have resisted onslaughts despite heavy losses.

Gaddafi’s forces were reported to have regained control in Bin Jawwad, 110 miles east of his birthplace of Sirte.

Fighting was also under way in Zawiya, 30 miles from the capital Tripoli, as rebels struggled to repel Gaddafi forces.

British and French diplomats at the United Nations were last night drawing up a resolution on a no-fly zone, despite hints that Russia would resist any intervention.

Source

Flashback 2. Gaddafi warned Blair of Islamist attacks on Europe

Robert Mendick — Telegraph.co.uk Jan 7, 2016

Tony Blair and Libya's Colonel Gaddafi in 2009. Click to enlarge

Tony Blair and Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi in 2009.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi issued a ‘prophetic’ warning to Tony Blair that jihadists would attack Europe if his regime was allowed to collapse, phone conversations reveal.

Gaddafi’s dire prediction was made in two desperate telephone calls with Mr Blair on February 25, 2011 – as civil war was engulfing Libya.

In the first call at 11.15am, Gaddafi said: “They [jihadists] want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe.”

Excerpt from Col Gaddafi's 2011 phone conversations with Tony Blair. Click to enlarge

Excerpt from Col Gaddafi’s 2011 phone conversations with Tony Blair. Click to enlarge

In the call, lasting half an hour, Gaddafi insisted he was trying to defend Libya from al-Qaeda fighters. The presence of al-Qaedas would later be superceded by the rise of the so-called Islamic State.

“We are not fighting them, they are attacking us, ” he said, “I want to tell you the truth. It is not a difficult situation at all. The story is simply this: an organisation has laid down sleeping cells in North Africa. Called the Al-Qaeda Organisation in North Africa… The sleeping cells in Libya are similar to dormant cells in America before 9/11.

“They have managed to get arms and terrify people. people can’t leave their homes… It’s a jihad situation. They have arms and are terrorising people in the street.”

In a second call made a little over four hours later, Gaddafi told Mr Blair: “I will have to arm the people and get ready for a fight. Libyan people will die, damage will be on the Med, Europe and the whole world. These armed groups are using the situation [in Libya] as a justification – and we shall fight them.”

Col Gaddafi warns of attacks on Europe in phone conversations with Tony Blair. Click to enlarge

Col Gaddafi warns of attacks on Europe in phone conversations with Tony Blair. Click to enlarge

Mr Blair had made two calls to Gaddafi to try to negotiate the dictator’s departure from Tripoli as civil war engulfed the nation. Three weeks later, a Nato-led coaltion that included Britain, began bombing raids that led to the overthrow of Gaddafi. The dictator was finally deposed in August and murdered by a mob in October.

Mr Blair had a developed a friendship with Gaddafi and had visted the Libyan leader at least six times after leaving Downing Street in 2007.

He cleared the phone calls with both David Cameron and Hillary Clinton, the then US Secretary of State, in an attempt to persuade Gaddafi to leave Libya with safe passage and to avoid further conflict.

The existence of the phone calls emerged last year and Mr Blair passed the transcripts to the Foreign Affairs Committee which is investigating Libya’s collapse. The committee of MPs published the transcripts on Thursday.

In the calls Mr Blair told Gaddafi: “If you have a safe place to go you should go there because this will not end peacefully and there has to be a process of change, that process of change can be managed and we have to find a way of managing it.

“The US and the EU are in a tough position right now and I need to take something back to them which ensures this ends peacefully.”

Mr Blair ended the call by saying: “i would like to offer a way out that is peaceful… keep the lines open.”

Gaddafi’s warnings appear to have been born out. Libya has collapsed following his overthrow. The country remains in the grip of civil war and much of it is in the control of Islamist extremists linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Terrorists sent by Isil to France were responsible for the attacks on Paris in November amid growing concern jihadists are crossing into Europe from north Africa and the Middle East.

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Crispin Blunt MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “The transcripts supplied by Mr Blair provide a new insight into the private views of Colonel Gaddafi as his dictatorship began to crumble around him.

“The failure to follow Mr Blair’s calls to ‘keep the lines open’ and for these early conversations to initiate any peaceful compromise continue to reverberate.

“The Committee will want to consider whether Gaddafi’s prophetic warning of the rise of extremist militant groups following the collapse of the regime was wrongly ignored because of Gaddafi’s otherwise delusional take on international affairs.

“The evidence that the Committee has taken so far in this inquiry suggests that western policy makers were rather less perceptive than Gaddafi about the risks of intervention for both the Libyan people and the western interests.”

Source

The Politics Behind ‘Russia-gate’

By Robert Parry

The hysteria over “Russia-gate” continues to grow – as President Trump’s enemies circle – but at its core there may be no there there while it risks pushing the world toward nuclear annihilation, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

March 05, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  “Consortium News” – J There may be a turn-about-is-fair-play element to Democrats parsing the words of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Trump administration officials to hang them on possible “perjury” charges. After all, the Republicans made “lock her up” a popular chant citing Hillary Clinton’s arguably illegal use of a private email server as Secretary of State and her allegedly false claim under oath that her lawyers had hand-checked each of her 30,000 or so emails that were deleted as personal.

But there is a grave danger in playing partisan “gotcha” over U.S. relations with the world’s other major nuclear superpower. If, for instance, President Trump finds himself having to demonstrate how tough he can be on Russia — to save his political skin — he could easily make a miscalculation that could push the two countries into a war that could truly be the war to end all wars – along with ending human civilization. But Democrats, liberals and the mainstream news media seem to hate Trump so much they will take that risk.

Official Washington’s Russia hysteria has reached such proportions that New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has even compared the alleged Russian hacking of Democratic emails to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, two incidents that led the United States into violent warfare. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Friedman demanded that the hacking allegations be taken with the utmost seriousness: “That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event. … This goes to the very core of our democracy.”

But what really goes to “the very core of our democracy” is the failure to deal with this issue – or pretty much any recent issue – with the sobriety and the seriousness that should accompany a question of war or peace. Just as Friedman and other “star” journalists failed to ask the necessary questions about Iraq’s WMD or to show professional skepticism in the face of U.S. propaganda campaigns around the conflicts in Libya, Syria or Ukraine, they have not demanded any actual evidence from the Obama administration for its lurid claims about Russian “hacking.”

Before this madness goes any further, doesn’t anyone think that the U.S. intelligence community should lay its cards on the table regarding exactly what the evidence is that Russian intelligence purloined Democratic emails and then slipped them to WikiLeaks for publication? President Obama’s intelligence officials apparently went to great lengths to spread these allegations around – even passing the secrets around overseas – but they never told the American people what the evidence is. The two official reports dealing with the issue were laughably short on anything approaching evidence. They amounted to “trust us.”

Further, WikiLeaks representatives have indicated that the two batches of emails – one from the Democratic National Committee and the other from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta – did not come from the Russians but rather from two different American insiders. That could be wrong – it is possible that Russian intelligence laundered the material through some American cutouts or used some other method to conceal Moscow’s hand – but Obama’s intelligence officials apparently don’t know how WikiLeaks obtained the emails. So, the entire “scandal” may rest upon a foundation of sand.

No ‘Fake News’

It’s also important to note that nothing that WikiLeaks published was false. There was no “fake news.” Indeed, a key reason why the emails were newsworthy at all was that they exposed misconduct and deception on the part of the Democrats and the Clinton campaign. The main point that the DNC emails revealed was that the leadership had violated its duty to approach the primary campaign even-handedly when instead they tilted the playing field against Sen. Bernie Sanders. Later, the Podesta emails revealed the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street bankers, which she was trying to hide from the voters, and the emails exposed some of the pay-to-play tactics of the Clinton Foundation.

In other words, even if the Russians did reveal this information to the American people, how does knowing relevant facts regarding a presidential campaign translate into an attack on “the core of our democracy”? Usually, journalists believe that getting the truth out, even if it embarrasses some politician or some political party, is healthy for a democracy. As an American journalist, I prefer getting information from people who have America’s best interests at heart, but I’m not naïve enough to think that people who “leak” don’t often do so for self-interested reasons. What’s most important is that the information is genuine and newsworthy.

Frankly, I found the WikiLeaks material far more appropriate for an American political debate than the scurrilous rumors that the Clinton campaign was circulating about Trump supposedly getting urinated on by Russian prostitutes in a five-star Moscow hotel, claims for which no evidence has been presented.

Also, remember that no one thought that the DNC/Podesta emails were significant in deciding the 2016 election. Clinton herself blamed FBI Director James Comey for briefly reopening the FBI investigation into her private email server near the end of the campaign as the reason her poll numbers cratered. It’s relevant, too, that Clinton ran a horrific campaign, which included breathtaking gaffes like referring to many Trump supporters as “deplorables,” relying way too heavily on negative ads, failing to articulate a compelling vision for the future, and ignoring signs that her leads in Rust Belt states were disappearing. In other words, the current effort to portray the disclosure of Democratic emails as somehow decisive in the campaign is revisionist history.

Yet, here we are with The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and almost the entire mainstream media (along with leading liberals and Democrats) panting every time they discover that someone from Trump’s circle met with a Russian. We are supposed to forget that the Russian government for many years was collaborating closely with the U.S. government – and particularly with U.S. national security agencies – on vital issues. Russia assisted in supplying the U.S. military in Afghanistan; President Putin played a crucial role in getting Iran to curtail its nuclear program; and he also arranged for the Syrian government to surrender its stockpiles of chemical weapons. The last two accomplishments were among President Obama’s most important foreign policy successes.

But those last two areas of cooperation – Iran and Syria – contributed to making Putin a target for Washington’s powerful neoconservatives who were lusting for direct U.S. military strikes against those two countries. The neocons, along with the Israeli and Saudi governments, wanted “regime change” in Tehran and Damascus, not diplomatic agreements that left the governments in place.

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Neocons inside the U.S. government – including Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Sen. John McCain and National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman – then took aim at “regime change” in Ukraine, realizing its sensitivity to Russia. Gershman, whose NED is funded by the U.S. government, called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and a key step toward ousting Putin inside Russia; McCain cheered on Ukraine’s ultranationalists who were firebombing police in Kiev’s Maidan square; and Nuland was conspiring with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt on how to “glue” or “midwife” a change in government.

This neocon strategy worked by overthrowing Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych and causing Putin to intervene on behalf of threatened ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. That, in turn, was transformed by the Western media into a “Russian invasion.”

Partisan Interests

Instead of standing up to this neocon troublemaking, Obama fell in line. Later, the Democrats saw political advantage in becoming the super-hawks standing up to Russia, essentially maneuvering to the right of the Republicans, especially when Donald Trump unexpectedly won the nomination, in part, by calling for better relations with Russia.

As the 2016 presidential campaign sank into infamy as one of the ugliest in U.S. history, Clinton hammered Trump over Russia, calling him a Putin “puppet.” But the Russia-bashing didn’t seem to help Clinton very much. Although it was calculated to pull in some “moderate” Republicans, it also alienated many peace-oriented Democrats.

Still, despite the shaky foundation and the haphazard construction, Official Washington is now adding more and more floors to this Russia “scandal.” Obama holdovers slapped together a shoddy pretext for going after Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – citing the never-prosecuted Logan Act of 1799 and then trapping Flynn because he didn’t have total recall of a phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29 while Flynn was vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

Similarly, the mainstream media and Democrats are framing in a “perjury” case against Attorney General Sessions because of a sloppily worded response during his confirmation hearing about contacts with Russians. He had met twice with Kislyak (as many others in Washington have done). The heavy-breathing suspicion is that perhaps Sessions and Kislyak were plotting how the Kremlin could help the Trump campaign, but there is zero evidence to support that conspiracy theory.

What’s actually happening here should be obvious. The Obama administration, the Democrats and the mainstream media were horrified at Trump’s election. They understandably were offended by Trump’s personal behavior and his obvious unfitness for the presidency. Many Clinton supporters, especially women, were bitterly disappointed at the failure of the first female major-party presidential nominee who lost to a lout who boasted about how he could exploit his fame and power by grabbing the genitals of vulnerable women whom he assumed couldn’t do anything to stop him.

There was also alarm about Trump’s policies on the environment, immigration, education and the courts. Among the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks, there was concern, too, that Trump would not continue their “regime change” strategies in the Middle East and their hostility toward Russia.

So, these anti-Trump forces grabbed at the most potent weapon available, the suspicions that Trump had somehow colluded with Russia. It didn’t matter that the evidence was weak to non-existent. It would be enough to spread the allegations around under the cloak of U.S. intelligence “assessments.”

Nobody important would demand to review the evidence and, surely, with the availability of National Security Agency intercepts, people’s memories could be tested against the transcripts of conversations and be found wanting. Verbal missteps could become perjury traps. There could be a witch hunt against anyone who talked to a Russian. Any pushing back from the Trump people could be construed as a “cover-up.”

Having worked in Washington for nearly four decades, I have seen political investigations before, both in steering away from real crimes of state (such as Nicaraguan Contra cocaine trafficking and Republican collaboration with foreign governments to undercut Democrats in 1968 and 1980) and in fabricating scandals that weren’t there (such as the fictional offenses of Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Chinagate, etc. under Bill Clinton who was finally cornered for the heinous crime of lying about sex). So far at least, “Russia-gate” fits much more with the latter group than the former.

What I also have learned over these years is that in Official Washington, power – much more than truth – determines which scandals are taken seriously and which ones are not. “Russia-gate” is revealing that the established power centers of Washington arrayed against Trump – the major news media, the neoconservatives and the Democratic Party – have more power than the disorganized Trump administration.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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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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Arab Parties Reject Intervention in Syria’s Internal Affairs, Urge Popular Front to Confront Takfiri Terrorism

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DAMASCUS, (ST)-Wrapping up its 61st Session in Damascus on Tuesday, the General Secretariat of Arab Parties Conference issued a final statement in which it reiterated support for Syria in fighting terrorism and resisting the war imposed on it.

The statement rejected all forms of mandate, fragmentation projects and intervention in Syria’s internal affairs.

It highly appreciated Syrian leadership’ efforts for the success of Syrian-Syrian dialogue, calling on the international community to implement UN resolutions related to counterterrorism.

The participating Arab parties also underlined the need to lift the unjust blockade imposed on the Syrian people. They called on Arab forces, parties, unions and commissions to form a ‘popular front’ to resist Takfiri terrorism and to confront extremism as well as to play a key role in resisting the US-Zionist-Wahhabi project, which used terrorism as a mean to reach its goals that pose threat to the future of countries and generations.

Resistance ‘Strategic choice’

As for resistance, the parties underscored that resistance is the strategic choice of the Arab nation to confront the US and Zionist threats and challenges.

“Resistance is an active factor to liberate occupied lands because enemy understands only the language of force,” the parties’ statement said, calling for supporting resistance, releasing prisoners from Israeli jails and stopping negotiation with the Zionist enemy.

It, in addition, called for cooperation between the Syrian and the Lebanese governments in order to confront terrorism that targets the two countries and to address the issue of the Syrian displaced people.

The statement appealed to Iraqi government to cooperate with the Syrian government to confront terrorism, condemning crimes being perpetrated by the Saudi-led aggression against the Yemeni people.

It voiced support for the peaceful movement in Bahrain that demands political rights, hoping that Egypt will play a pivotal role in enhancing Arab solidarity and joint action.

“The existence of US, British, French and Italian forces in Libya paves the way for the return of foreign colonization to it,” the parties said, calling on Libya’s neighboring countries to double their efforts in supporting Libyan political parties to reach political and economic stability in the country.

They praised Tunisian people’s support for Syria, Palestine and resistance.

The 61st session of the General Secretariat of Arab Parties Conference kicked off on Monday at al-Sham Hotel in Damascus with the participation of Arab politicians.

Basma Qaddour

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

PETER KORZUN | 25.02.2017 | WORLD

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

Russia is considering Iraq’s request for arms supplies. The statement was made by a Russian official during the IDEX-2017 arms exhibition in Aby Dhabi. Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Deputy Director Alexei Frolkin said that Russian-Iraqi military technical cooperation “is developing quite effectively.” According to him, Russia is rendering significant military assistance to Iraq, which is fighting Islamic State (IS) militants.

On January 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow did not rule out the possibility of assistance to Iraq in the fight against the IS terrorist group if Baghdad shows such an interest. The statements on arms supplies come amid the ongoingoperation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul, which began in October, 2016. Iraqi troops have managed to advance in the eastern part of the city, but the western part – on the right bank of the Tigris River – remains under militants’ control.

Russiaand Iraq have a history of successful military cooperation. In October 2012, Iraq signed a $4.2 billion deal to include a combination of 43 Mi-35 (28) and Mi-28NE (15) attack helicopters, plus 42-50 Pantsir-S1 combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons systems. The contract was fulfilled last October as the attack helicopters and anti-aircraft systems had been delivered to the Iraqi military.

The Iraqi armed forces inventory also includes Russia-produced TOS1ABuratino heavy flame throwers, Grad truck-mounted 122mm multiple rocket launchers, 152mm MSTA howitzers, Su-25 attack planes and armored vehicles.

According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia-made weapons are widely used in the battle for Mosul.TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system is a 220mm 24-barrel multiple rocket launcher and thermobaric weapon mounted on a T-72 tank chassis. It is designed for defeating enemy personnel in fortifications, in open country, and in lightly armored vehicles and transport. In addition to traditional incendiary rockets, it can also fire thermobaric rockets. When fired, the rockets disperse a cloud of flammable liquid into the air around the target, and then ignite it. The explosion is significantly longer and the shockwave is much stronger than a conventional warhead. All the oxygen in the near vicinity is also consumed, creating a partial vacuum. It is a formidable weapon to strike terrorists hidden in bunkers and caves, like in Mosul, for instance. A full salvo of the system’s 24 rockets will make a rectangle 200 meters by 400 meters to incinerate more than eight city blocks.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that a Russian Kornet anti-tank guided missile destroyed 120 IS truck bombs in Iraq. Reportedly, it obliterated a US-made Abrams tank. The Kornet can defeat reactivearmorand penetratesteel armorup to one meter deep.

Iraqi Mi28 and Mi-35 effectively launch attacks against IS positions in Mosul.

The military cooperation with Iraq – the country engaged in fierce fight against the IS – is part of a larger process.

Moscowis the key player in the Astana process aimed at achieving peace in Syria. It is expanding its naval base in Tartus as well as a new air base near Latakia, giving it a large, permanent military foothold to project power.

Turkey, a NATO member, is in talks with Russia regarding the purchase of advanced S-400long-range air defense missile systems. The parties are studying the prospects for boosting military cooperation in all areas, including procurement deals in electronic systems, ammunitions and missile technology. The related issues were discussed during the visit of General Hulusi Akar, the head of the Turkish armed forces’ General Staff, to Moscow last November.Moscowand Ankara are engaged in implementation of the ambitious Turkish Stream gas project.Turkeyhas even mentioned the possibility of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Political forces in Libya have approached Russia for help. In January Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar visited Russia aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on patrol in the Mediterranean.

The Russian-Egyptian relationship has flourished recently, including intensive military cooperation.

Moscowenjoys close ties with Tehran, cooperating in Syria. Iran has recently boosted its anti-aircraft capabilities after receiving Russian S-300 air defense systems.

Russiaand Jordan cooperate in the anti-terrorist effort.

Russiaand Israel set a good example of avoiding conflicts and incidents: both countries do not interfere with each other’s activities in Syria.

Algeriais strengthening ties with Moscow. It has recently purchased 14 Su-30MKA fighters and 40 Mi-28 attack helicopters. Other contracts may follow as the country is facing a terrorist threat to make it strengthen its borders.

Moroccoand Tunisia are interested in strengthening its military capabilities with Russian weapons.

The military cooperation encompasses the Persian Gulf. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Qatar’s State Minister for Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah signed a military cooperation agreement last September on the sidelines of the Army-2016 international military-technical forum in Kubinka near Moscow.

The success of the military operation, as well as Moscow’s staunch support of the ally in Damascus, boosts its clout in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Moscow has become an important partner for regional powers regardless of their opposing interests.

Russia is back to the region as a major actor. It has turned the tide of the Syrian conflict to take control of the peace process. It has built a close relationship with Turkey, including joint military activities in Al Bab. It develops strategic relationship with Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and other countries, including Israel. According to Newsweek, over the past two years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has received the leaders of Middle Eastern states 25 times – five more than former US President Barack Obama, according to a Newsweek analysis of presidential meetings.

Russian military effort in MENA is gaining ground. High effectiveness of Russian weapons in the Syrian boosts the customer demand and, consequently, political clout. The military operation in Syria has greatly raised its regional profile. It prevented Islamic extremists from turning the country into a part of “caliphate” to encourage their supporters and sympathizers across the Muslim world.

Moscow is perceived as a pragmatic, savvy, no-nonsense player able to weigh in on regional matters by both diplomatic and military means. New alliances emerge and old friendships are revived to involve the countries long regarded as being within the Western sphere of influence. The political landscape of the region is going through fundamental changes, with Russia greatly influencing the process.

The Misuse of American Military Power and The Middle East in Chaos

The Misuse of American Military Power and The Middle East in Chaos By Danny Sjursen

Tom Dispatch” – The United States has already lost — its war for the Middle East, that is. Having taken my own crack at combat soldiering in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that couldn’t be clearer to me. Unfortunately, it’s evidently still not clear in Washington. Bush’s neo-imperial triumphalism failed. Obama’s quiet shift to drones, Special Forces, and clandestine executive actions didn’t turn the tide either. For all President Trump’s bluster, boasting, and threats, rest assured that, at best, he’ll barely move the needle and, at worst… but why even go there?

At this point, it’s at least reasonable to look back and ask yet again: Why the failure? Explanations abound, of course. Perhaps Americans were simply never tough enough and still need to take off the kid gloves. Maybe there just weren’t ever enough troops. (Bring back the draft!) Maybe all those hundreds of thousands of bombs and missiles just came up short. (So how about lots more of them, maybe even a nuke?)

Lead from the front. Lead from behind. Surge yet again… The list goes on — and on and on.

And by now all of it, including Donald Trump’s recent tough talk, represents such a familiar set of tunes. But what if the problem is far deeper and more fundamental than any of that?

Here our nation stands, 15-plus years after 9/11, engaged militarily in half a dozen countries across the Greater Middle East, with no end in sight. Perhaps a more critical, factual reading of our recent past would illuminate the futility of America’s tragic, ongoing project to somehow “destroy” terrorism in the Muslim world.

The standard triumphalist version of the last 100 or so years of our history might go something like this: in the twentieth century, the United States repeatedly intervened, just in the nick of time, to save the feeble Old World from militarism, fascism, and then, in the Cold War, communism.  It did indeed save the day in three global wars and might have lived happily ever after as the world’s “sole superpower” if not for the sudden emergence of a new menace.  Seemingly out of nowhere, “Islamo-fascists” shattered American complacence with a sneak attack reminiscent of Pearl Harbor.  Collectively the people asked: Why do they hate us?  Of course, there was no time to really reflect, so the government simply got to work, taking the fight to our new “medieval” enemies on their own turf.  It’s admittedly been a long, hard slog, but what choice did our leaders have?  Better, after all, to fight them in Baghdad than Brooklyn.

What if, however, this foundational narrative is not just flawed but little short of delusional? Alternative accounts lead to wholly divergent conclusions and are more likely to inform prudent policy in the Middle East.

Let’s reconsider just two key years for the United States in that region: 1979 and 2003.  America’s leadership learned all the wrong “lessons” from those pivotal moments and has intervened there ever since on the basis of some perverse version of them with results that have been little short of disastrous.  A more honest narrative of those moments would lead to a far more modest, minimalist approach to a messy and tragic region.  The problem is that there seems to be something inherently un-American about entertaining such thoughts.

1979 Revisited

Through the first half of the Cold War, the Middle East remained a sideshow.  In 1979, however, all that changed radically.  First, rising protests against the brutal police state of the American-backed Shah of Iran led to regime collapse, the return of dissident ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and the declaration of an Islamic Republic. Then Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 52 hostages for more than 400 days.  Of course, by then few Americans remembered the CIA-instigated coup of 1953 that had toppled a democratically elected Iranian prime minister, preserved Western oil interests in that country, and started both lands on this path (though Iranians clearly hadn’t forgotten).  The shock and duration of the hostage crisis undoubtedly ensured that Jimmy Carter would be a one-term president and — to make matters worse — Soviet troops intervened in Afghanistan to shore up a communist government there. It was quite a year.

The alarmist conventional narrative of these events went like this: the radical mullahs running Iran were irrational zealots with an inexplicable loathing for the American way of life.  As if in a preview of 9/11, hearing those chants against “the Great Satan,” Americans promptly began asking with true puzzlement: Why do they hate us?  The hostage crisis challenged world peace.  Carter had to do something. Worse yet, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan represented blatant conquest and spotlighted the possibility of Red Army hordes pushing through to Iran en route to the Persian Gulf’s vast oil reserves.  It might prove the opening act of the long awaited Soviet scheme for world domination or a possible path to World War III.

Misinformed by such a tale that they repeatedly told themselves, Washington officials then made terrible choices in the Middle East.  Let’s start with Iran.  They mistook a nationalist revolution and subsequent civil war within Islam for a singular attack on the U.S.A.  With little consideration of genuine Iranian gripes about the brutal U.S.-backed dynasty of the Shah or the slightest appreciation for the complexity of that country’s internal dynamics, they created a simple-minded but convenient narrative in which the Iranians posed an existential threat to this country.  Little has changed in almost four decades.

Then, though few Americans could locate Afghanistan on a map, most accepted that it was indeed a country of vital strategic interest.  Of course, with the opening of their archives, it’s clear enough now that the Soviets never sought the worldwide empire we imagined for them, especially not by 1979. The Soviet leadership was, in fact, divided over the Afghan affair and intervened in Kabul in a spirit more defensive than aggressive. Their desire or even ability to drive towards the Persian Gulf was, at best, a fanciful American notion.

Nonetheless, the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan were combined into a tale of horror that would lead to the permanent militarization of U.S. policy in the Middle East.  Remembered today as a dove-in-chief, in his 1980 State of the Union address President Carter announced a decidedly hawkish new doctrine that would come to bear his name.  From then on, he said, the U.S. would consider any threat to Persian Gulf oil supplies a direct threat to this country and American troops would, if necessary, unilaterally intervene to secure the region.

The results will seem painfully familiar today: almost immediately, Washington policymakers began to seek military solutions to virtually every problem in the Middle East.  Within a year, the administration of President Ronald Reagan would, for instance, support Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein’s ruthless invasion of Iran, ignoring his more vicious antics and his proclivity for gassing his own people.

Soon after, in 1983, the military created the United States Central Command (headquarters: Tampa, Florida) with specific responsibility for the Greater Middle East. Its early war plans demonstrated just how wildly out of touch with reality American planners already were by then. Operational blueprints, for instance, focused on defeating Soviet armies in Iran before they could reach the Persian Gulf.  Planners imagined U.S. Army divisions crossing Iran, itself in the midst of a major war with Iraq, to face off against a Soviet armored juggernaut (just like the one that was always expected to burst through Europe’s Fulda Gap).  That such an assault was never coming, or that the fiercely proud Iranians might object to the militaries of either superpower crossing their territories, figured little in such early plans that were monuments to American arrogance and naïveté.

From there, it was but a few short steps to the permanent “defensive” basing of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain or later the stationing of U.S. troops near the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraqi attack.  Few asked how such forces in the heart of the Middle East would play on the Arab street or corroborate Islamist narratives of “crusader” imperialism.

Worse yet, in those same years the CIA armed and financed a grab bag of Afghan insurgent groups, most of them extreme Islamists. Eager to turn Afghanistan into a Soviet “Vietnam,” no one in Washington bothered to ask whether such guerrilla outfits conformed to our purported principles or what the rebels would do if they won. Of course, the victorious guerrillas contained foreign fighters and various Arab supporters, including one Osama bin Laden.  Eventually, the excesses of the well-armed but morally bankrupt insurgents and warlords in Afghanistan triggered the formation and ascension of the Taliban there, and from one of those guerrilla outfits came a new organization that called itself al-Qaeda. The rest, as they say, is history, and thanks to Chalmers Johnson’s appropriation of a classic CIA term of spy craft, we now know it as blowback.

That was a major turning point for the U.S. military.  Before 1979, few of its troops had served in the region.  In the ensuing decades, America bombed, invaded, raided, sent its drones to kill in, or attacked Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq again (and again), Somalia (again and again), Libya again, Iraq once more, and now Syria as well.  Before 1979, few — if any — American military personnel died in the Greater Middle East.  Few have died anywhere else since.

2003 and After: Fantasies and Reality

Who wouldn’t agree that the 2003 invasion of Iraq signified a major turning point both in the history of the Greater Middle East and in our own?  Nonetheless, its legacy remains highly contested. The standard narrative goes like this: as the sole remaining superpower on the planet after the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, our invincible military organized a swift and convincing defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the first Gulf War.  After 9/11, that same military launched an inventive, swift, and triumphant campaign in Afghanistan.  Osama bin Laden escaped, of course, but his al-Qaeda network was shattered and the Taliban all but destroyed.

Naturally, the threat of Islamic terror was never limited to the Hindu Kush, so Washington “had” to take its fight against terror global.  Admittedly, the subsequent conquest of Iraq didn’t exactly turn out as planned and perhaps the Arabs weren’t quite ready for American-style democracy anyway.  Still, the U.S. was committed, had shed blood, and had to stay the course, rather than cede momentum to the terrorists.  Anything less would have dishonored the venerated dead.  Luckily, President George W. Bush found an enlightened new commander, General David Petraeus, who, with his famed “surge,” snatched victory, or at least stability, from the jaws of defeat in Iraq.  He had the insurgency all but whipped.  Then, just a few years later, “spineless” Barack Obama prematurely pulled American forces out of that country, an act of weakness that led directly to the rise of ISIS and the current nightmare in the region.  Only a strong, assertive successor to Obama could right such gross errors.

It’s a riveting tale, of course, even if it is misguided in nearly every way imaginable.  At each turn, Washington learned the wrong lessons and drew perilous conclusions.  At least the first Gulf War — to George H.W. Bush’s credit — involved a large multinational coalition and checked actual Iraqi aggression.  Instead of cheering Bush the Elder’s limited, prudent strategy, however, surging neoconservatives demanded to know why he had stopped short of taking the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.  In these years (and for this we can certainly thank Bush, among others), Americans — Republicans and Democrats alike — became enamored with military force and came to believe that it could solve just about any problem in that region, if not the world.

This would prove a grotesque misunderstanding of what had happened.  The Gulf War had been an anomaly.  Triumphalist conclusions about it rested on the shakiest of foundations.  Only if an enemy fought exactly as the U.S. military preferred it to do, as indeed Saddam’s forces did in 1991 — conventionally, in open desert, with outdated Soviet equipment — could the U.S. expect such success.  Americans drew another conclusion entirely: that their military was unstoppable.

The same faulty assumptions flowed from Afghanistan in 2001.  Information technology, Special Forces, CIA dollars (to Afghan warlords), and smart bombs triggered victory with few conventional foot soldiers needed.  It seemed a forever formula and influenced both the hasty decision to invade Iraq, and the irresponsibly undersized force structure deployed (not to speak of the complete lack of serious preparation for actually occupying that country).  So powerful was the optimism and jingoism of invasion proponents that skeptics were painted as unpatriotic  turncoats.

Then things turned ugly fast.  This time around, Saddam’s army simply melted away, state institutions broke down, looting was rampant, and the three major communities of Iraq — Sunni, Shia, and Kurd — began to battle for power.  The invaders never received the jubilant welcome predicted for them by Bush administration officials and supportive neocons.  What began as a Sunni-based insurgency to regain power morphed into a nationalist rebellion and then into an Islamist struggle against Westerners.

Nearly a century earlier, Britain had formed Iraq from three separate Ottoman imperial provinces — Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul.  The 2003 invasion blew up that synthetic state, held together first by British overlords and then by Saddam’s brutal dictatorship.  American policymakers seemed genuinely surprised by all this.

Those in Washington never adequately understood the essential conundrum of forced regime change in Iraq.  “Democracy” there would inevitably result in Shia majority dominance of an artificial state.  Empowering the Shia drove the Sunni minority — long accustomed to power — into the embrace of armed, motivated Islamists.  When societies fracture as Iraq’s did, often enough the worst among us rise to the occasion.  As the poet William Butler Yeats so famously put it, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed… The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Furthermore, the invasion played directly into Osama bin Laden’s hands, fueling his narrative of an American “war on Islam.”  In the process, the U.S. also destabilized Iraq’s neighbors and the region, spreading extremists to Syria and elsewhere.

That David Petraeus’s surge “worked” is perhaps the greatest myth of all.  It was true that the steps he took resulted in a decrease in violence after 2007, largely because he paid off the Sunni tribes, not because of the modest U.S. troop increase ordered from Washington.  By then, the Shia had already won the sectarian civil war for Baghdad, intensifying Sunni-Shia residential segregation there and so temporarily lessening the capacity for carnage.

That post-surge “calm” was, however, no more than a tactical pause in an ongoing regional sectarian war.  No fundamental problems had been resolved in post-Saddam Iraq, including the nearly impossible task of integrating Sunni and Kurdish minorities into a coherent national whole.  Instead, Washington had left a highly sectarian Shia strongman, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in control of the government and internal security forces, while al-Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI (nonexistent prior to the invasion), never would be eradicated.  Its leadership, further radicalized in U.S. Army prisons, bided its time, waiting for an opportunity to win back Sunni fealty.

Luckily for AQI, as soon as the U.S. military was pulled out of the country, Maliki promptly cracked down hard on peaceful Sunni protests.  He even had his Sunni vice president sentenced to death in absentia under the most questionable of circumstances.  Maliki’s ineptitude would prove an AQI godsend.

Islamists, including AQI, also took advantage of events in Syria.  Autocrat Bashar al-Assad’s brutal repression of his own protesting Sunni majority gave them just the opening they needed.  Of course, the revolt there might never have occurred had not the invasion of Iraq destabilized the entire region.  In 2014, the former AQI leaders, having absorbed some of Saddam’s cashiered officers into their new forces, triumphantly took a series of Iraqi cities, including Mosul, sending the Iraqi army fleeing. They then declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Many Iraqi Sunnis naturally turned to the newly established “Islamic State” (ISIS) for protection.

Mission (Un)Accomplished!

It’s hardly controversial these days to point out that the 2003 invasion (aka Operation Iraqi Freedom), far from bringing freedom to that country, sowed chaos.  Toppling Saddam’s brutal regime tore down the edifice of a regional system that had stood for nearly a century.  However inadvertently, the U.S. military lit the fire that burned down the old order.

As it turned out, no matter the efforts of the globe’s greatest military, no easy foreign solution existed when it came to Iraq.  It rarely does.  Unfortunately, few in Washington were willing to accept such realities.  Think of that as the twenty-first-century American Achilles’ heel: unwarranted optimism about the efficacy of U.S. power.  Policy in these years might best be summarized as: “we” have to do something, and military force is the best — perhaps the only — feasible option.

Has it worked? Is anybody, including Americans, safer?  Few in power even bother to ask such questions.  But the data is there.  The Department of State counted just 348 terrorist attacks worldwide in 2001 compared with 11,774 attacks in 2015. That’s right: at best, America’s 15-year “war on terror” failed to significantly reduce international terrorism; at worst, its actions helped make matters 30 times worse.

Recall the Hippocratic oath: “First do no harm.”  And remember Osama bin Laden’s stated goal on 9/11: to draw conventional American forces into attritional campaigns in the heart of the Middle East. Mission accomplished!

In today’s world of “alternative facts,” it’s proven remarkably easy to ignore such empirical data and so avoid thorny questions.  Recent events and contemporary political discourse even suggest that the country’s political elites now inhabit a post-factual environment; in terms of the Greater Middle East, this has been true for years.

It couldn’t be more obvious that Washington’s officialdom regularly and repeatedly drew erroneous lessons from the recent past and ignored a hard truth staring them in the face: U.S. military action in the Middle East has solved nothing.  At all.  Only the government cannot seem to accept this.  Meanwhile, an American fixation on one unsuitable term — “isolationism” — masks a more apt description of American dogma in this period: hyper-interventionism.

As for military leaders, they struggle to admit failure when they — and their troops — have sacrificed so much sweat and blood in the region.  Senior officers display the soldier’s tendency to confuse performance with effectiveness, staying busy with being successful.  Prudent strategy requires differentiating between doing a lot and doing the right things. As Einstein reputedly opined, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

A realistic look at America’s recent past in the Greater Middle East and a humbler perspective on its global role suggest two unsatisfying but vital conclusions.  First, false lessons and misbegotten collective assumptions contributed to and created much of today’s regional mess.  As a result, it’s long past time to reassess recent history and challenge long-held suppositions.  Second, policymakers badly overestimated the efficacy of American power, especially via the military, to shape foreign peoples and cultures to their desires.  In all of this, the agency of locals and the inherent contingency of events were conveniently swept aside.

So what now? It should be obvious (but probably isn’t in Washington) that it’s well past time for the U.S. to bring its incessant urge to respond militarily to the crisis of the moment under some kind of control.  Policymakers should accept realistic limitations on their ability to shape the world to America’s desired image of it.

Consider the last few decades in Iraq and Syria.  In the 1990s, Washington employed economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein and his regime.  The result: tragedy to the tune of half a million dead children. Then it tried invasion and democracy promotion.  The result: tragedy — including 4,500-plus dead American soldiers, a few trillion dollars down the drain, more than 200,000 dead Iraqis, and millions more displaced in their own country or in flight as refugees.

In response, in Syria the U.S. tried only limited intervention.  Result: tragedy — upwards of 300,000 dead and close to seven million more turned into refugees.

So will tough talk and escalated military action finally work this time around as the Trump administration faces off against ISIS?  Consider what happens even if the U.S achieves a significant rollback of ISIS.  Even if, in conjunction with allied Kurdish or Syrian rebel forces, ISIS’s “capital,” Raqqa, is taken and the so-called caliphate destroyed, the ideology isn’t going away.  Many of its fighters are likely to transition back to an insurgency and there will be no end to international terror in ISIS’s name.  In the meantime, none of this will have solved the underlying problems of artificial states now at the edge of collapse or beyond, divided ethno-religious groups, and anti-Western nationalist and religious sentiments.  All of it begs the question: What if Americans are incapable of helping (at least in a military sense)?

A real course correction is undoubtedly impossible without at least a willingness to reconsider and reframe our recent historical experiences.  If the 2016 election is any indication, however, a Trump administration with the present line-up of national security chiefs (who fought in these very wars) won’t meaningfully alter either the outlook or the policies that led us to this moment.  Candidate Trump offered a hollow promise — to “Make America Great Again” — conjuring up a mythical era that never was.  Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton offered only remarkably dated and stale rhetoric about America as the “indispensable nation.”

In the new Trump era, neither major party seems capable of escaping a shared commitment to the legends rather than the facts of America’s recent past in the Greater Middle East.  Both sides remain eerily confident that the answers to contemporary foreign policy woes lie in a mythical version of that past, whether Trump’s imaginary 1950s paradise or Clinton’s fleeting mid-1990s “unipolar moment.”

Both ages are long gone, if they ever really existed at all.  Needed is some fresh thinking about our militarized version of foreign policy and just maybe an urge, after all these years, to do so much less. Patriotic fables certainly feel good, but they achieve little.  My advice: dare to be discomfited.

Major Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point

Is The Trump Administration Already Over?

Is The Trump Administration Already Over?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS | 06.02.2017 | WORLD

Is The Trump Administration Already Over?

Hopes for the Trump administration are not burning brightly. Trump’s military chief, Gen. Mattis, is turning out to be true to his «mad dog» nickname. He has just declared that Iran «is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world». Where is the evidence for this ignorant accusation? There is none.

If truth be spoken, there are only two terrorist countries in the world: Israel and the US. Israel terrorizes Palestinians and has done so for about 70 years. The US terrorizes the rest of the world.

All known Muslim terrorists are creations of the US government. Al Qaeda was created by the Carter administration in order to confront the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan with jihadism. ISIS was created by the Obama/Hillary regime in order to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya and then was sent by the Obama/Hillary regime to overthrow Assad in Syria, as Trump’s national security advisor, Gen. Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency revealed on TV. The Ukrainian neo-Nazis assaulting the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were also unleashed by the Obama/Hillary overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine. All terror is associated with Washington and Israel.

The fact of Washington’s overthrow of Ukraine’s government is incontestable; yet large numbers of brainwashed Americans think Russia invaded Ukraine, just as they believe the fake news that Iran is a terrorist state.

The last time Iran initiated a war of aggression was in the last decade of the 18th century when Iran reconquered the Caucasus and Georgia, which Iran soon lost to Russia.

Iran in our time has done no offense except to refuse to submit to being a Washington vassal state.

Additionally, Iran, and Syria rescued by the Russians, are the only states in the Muslim world that are not US puppet states and mere vassals that are nothing in themselves, no independent foreign policy, no independent economic policy. Only Iran and Syria have independent policies.

Iran is a large country endowed with substantial energy resources. Iran has a long history going back to ancient times of independence and military prowess. Today Iran is essential to Russia as a buffer to the US created jihadism that neoconservatives plan to export to the Muslim areas of the Russian Federation. Consequently, Iran is the most inopportune of targets for Trump if he wishes to restore normal, non-threatening relations with Russia. Yet his mad dog Pentagon chief recklessly makes threating statements alleging Iran to be a «terrorist state».

I was wrong. I thought Gen. Mattis was a reasonable choice as he rejects the efficacy of torture, and, according to Trump, convinced Trump that «torture doesn’t work». Apparently Mattis cannot reach beyond this realization to higher realizations. Trump needs to fire Mattis.

Do we see Israel’s hand at work in the threats against Iran? Iran and Syria are the only countries in the Middle East that are not American puppet states. Syria’s army has been hardened by combat, which is what it needs to stand up to US-backed Israel. Both Syria and Iran are in the way of Israel’s policy of Greater Israel—from the Nile to the Euphrates. For the Zionists, Palestine and Southern Lebanon are merely the beginning.

Israel has successfully used the corrupt British and now the corrupt Americans to reestablish themselves on lands from which God evicted them. This doesn’t speak well of the intelligence and morality of the British and US governments. But what does?

We are also hearing from Mattis and from Tillerson threats to intervene in China’s sphere of influence. Trump’s appointees appear to be unable to understand that there can be no improvement in relations with Russia if the Trump regime has Iran and China in its crosshairs.

Is there any prospect that the Trump administration can develop geopolitical awareness? Is the tough-talking Trump administration tough enough to overthrow the power that Israel exercises over US foreign policy and the votes of the US Congress?

If not, more war is inevitable.

For twenty-four years—eight years of the criminal Clinton regime, eight years of the criminal Bush regime, eight years of the criminal Obama regime—the world has heard threats from Washington that have resulted in the death and destruction of millions of peoples and entire countries. The Trump administration needs to present a different Washington to the world.

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