Trump Backs Sunni Takfiri “Wahabism” over Revolutionary Islam

Trump Backs Sunni Radical Islam over Moderate Shi’ism

WAYNE MADSEN | 23.05.2017 | OPINION

Trump Backs Sunni Radical Islam over Moderate Shi’ism

President Donald Trump signaled to the nations of the Middle East and Muslim world that he strongly backs radical Sunni Islam, mostly embodied by Saudi Arabia’s brand of Wahhabism, over the emerging moderate Shi’ism on display in Iran. Trump’s first visit to another country as president was Saudi Arabia. Trump was also the only president to make Saudi Arabia his first stop after taking office. The decision to honor Saudi Arabia with such U.S. presidential protocol was a calculated one.

Trump’s first official act after he landed in Riyadh was to ink a $300 billion arms package with Saudi Arabia. The United States agreed to supply the Saudis with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system, maritime littoral combat ships for close-in shore combat, and so-called «precision-guided munitions» responsible for so many civilian «collateral damage» deaths in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Pakistan.

Considering the Wahhabist kingdom’s past and current support for the very same radical jihadists who are committing acts of terrorism in Syria, Yemen, and other nations, it is hypocritical that Trump claimed the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are «jointly» battling against terrorism. It was as if, in the leadup to World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt traveled to Berlin to meet with Adolf Hitler and FDR proclaimed from the Reich Chancellery that he and Nazi Germany were jointly fighting against anti-Semitism.

Ironically, as Trump was praising Saudi Arabia’s «efforts» against jihadist terrorism, Iran overwhelmingly re-elected moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani ran on a platform of bestowing more freedoms on the Iranian people and opening the country to the rest of the world. A day after Trump’s anti-Iran speech in Riyadh, reformists won all 21 seats in Tehran’s municipal election. Across the board, Iranians, particularly women and minority religious groups, enjoy many more rights than do the Saudi Arabs. Whereas in Iran, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians can worship openly and even enjoy representation in parliament, across the Persian Gulf, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists are banned from constructing churches or temples and displaying religious symbols. Donald Trump’s ignorance of Middle Eastern religions is a severe and dangerous handicap for an American president.

While the Saudi princelings are free to get drunk, use drugs, and heinously abuse women behind their palace walls, standing immune to the whims of the mutawa religious police, the rank and file of Saudi Arabia live in a country governed by centuries-old laws embracing misogyny, public beheadings, and religious persecution. While women are banned from driving vehicles and movie theaters are prohibited in Saudi Arabia, across the Persian Gulf in Iran, women drive freely and Iran has a vibrant movie industry and numerous theaters as attested to by that nation’s winning of several international film awards, including Hollywood’s Oscar.

Trump waxed on about moderate Islam in the capital city of the country that gave birth to Wahhabism. Saudi Arabia has nurtured with its financing, propaganda, government-subsidized clerics, and other support jihadist groups from Morocco to Indonesia and Fiji to Trinidad. Trump had the gall and audacity to accuse Iran of funding terrorists and promoting a «craven ideology,» i.e., Shi’ism.

Trump’s speech was largely written by Stephen Miller, a right-wing strongly pro-Israel creature of Santa Monica, California and an acolyte of the Islamophobe extremist David Horowitz. Trump’s speech in Riyadh did nothing to bridge the differences between Islam and his administration and everything to do with laying down a gauntlet to not only Shi’ism but the Alawite, Zaidi, Sufi, Alevi, Ibadi, Ahmadiyya, and Ismaili sects of Islam. Trump even managed to slip the phrase «Islamic extremism» into his speech rather than the less offensive «Islamist extremism». Even though a committed Islamophobe, Miller, wrote the speech, Trump’s spokespeople in Saudi Arabia insisted that the president was merely «exhausted» from his trip and that is why he said «Islamic extremism».

Trump called for the end of the Iranian and Syrian «regimes» and the international isolation of both. Trump’s speech, if it had not been written by Miller, could have easily been written by any Saudi or Israeli government propagandist.

Trump’s previous meeting in the White House with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave American sanction to the Ankara government’s war against secular Islam as envisaged by Kemal Ataturk. In a massive psychological warfare operation, Trump, who proclaimed his hostility to «radical Islamist terrorism» prior to his trip to Saudi Arabia and embrace of Erdogan, has, instead, embraced it.

Trump told his Saudi hosts and the Wahhabi potentates from Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait who gathered in Riyadh that «the path to peace begins right here». Riyadh was also the path crossed by many of the terrorists who have attacked the United States and other nations, including on September 11, 2001. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose nation was called a «promoter of terrorism» by Trump in Riyadh, issued a call for Trump to discuss with his Saudi friends ways to avoid them sponsoring another September 11th-like attack.

Trump’s rhetoric against Iran, Hezbollah, the Syrian government, the Yemeni Houthis, Hamas, and, given Trump’s strong support for the Bahraini Wahhabist regime, the majority Shi’as of Bahrain, could be taken as a call to arms for continued Saudi, Bahraini, Yemeni, Libyan, Syrian, Iraqi, Emirati, Qatari, Kuwaiti, Pakistani, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Sudanese repression of non-Sunnis within their countries. Trump signaled his support for continued Bahraini repression of its Shi’as by stating that the United States and Bahrain «have a wonderful relationship together, but there has been a little strain, but there won’t be strain with this administration».

Trump, in language befitting a religious fanatic, lumped together Shi’a Iran and Lebanese Shi’a members of Hezbollah with radical Sunni Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and exhorted the Arab and Muslim leaders gathered in Riyadh to «Drive them out! Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this Earth».

In a display of sheer hypocrisy, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $100 million to Trump’s daughter’s «Women Entrepreneurs Fund». During the presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton, Trump tweeted biting criticism of the Clinton Fund, which received from Saudi Arabia and the UAE only about 25 percent of that received by the Ivanka Fund. Trump wrote, «Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all the money from such countries!» For Trump. It was only an outrage when the Clintons accepted donations from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Yet, when Ivanka Trump received three times as much money from the same countries, Trump was effusive in his praise of them. If Ivanka Trump wanted to help women entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia, she could have told old King Salman to let them drive cars first.

Trump actually referred to Iran as a «terrorist safe harbor». Trump and his speech writer Miller completely ignored the fact that it was Saudi, Qatari, and Emirati funding, military, and other support that permitted the creation of Islamic State and other jihadist «safe harbors» in Raqqa, Syria; Mosul, Iraq; Derna, Libya; and Mukalla, South Yemen. While standing before Saudi, Turkish, and Qatari officials, Trump called Syrian President Bashar al Assad a «war criminal,» ignoring the fact that the Saudis, Turks, Qataris, and their client jihadist groups committed countless war crimes in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya.

At the end of his speech, Trump slipped and called King Salman «King Solomon». Trump, whose command of Biblical history is wanting, may want to know that King Solomon was known for wisdom and fairness. There was nothing wise or fair in Trump’s speech in Riyadh.

The Globalization of War, America’s “Long War” against Humanity by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, May 23, 2017

The Globalization of War is undoubtedly one of the most important books on the contemporary global situation produced in recent years. 

In his latest masterpiece, Professor Michel Chossudovsky shows how the various conflicts we are witnessing today in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Palestine are in fact inter-linked and inter-locked through a single-minded agenda in pursuit of global hegemony helmed by the United States and buttressed by its allies in the West and in other regions of the world.   Dr Chandra Muzaffar, President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

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The following text is the Preface of  Michel Chossudovsky’s New Book entitled: The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity

The Book can be ordered directly from Global Research Publishers.  

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PREFACE

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

Under a global military agenda, the actions undertaken by the Western military alliance (U.S.-NATO-Israel) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq are coordinated at the highest levels of the military hierarchy. We are not dealing with piecemeal military and intelligence operations. The July-August 2014 attack on Gaza by Israeli forces was undertaken in close consultation with the United States and NATO. The actions in Ukraine and their timing coincided with the onslaught of the attack on Gaza.

In turn, military undertakings are closely coordinated with a process of economic warfare which consists not only in imposing sanctions on sovereign countries but also in deliberate acts of destabilization of financial and currencies markets, with a view to undermining the enemies’ national economies.

The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. As we go to press, U.S. and NATO forces have been deployed in Eastern Europe including Ukraine. U.S. military intervention under a humanitarian mandate is proceeding in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. and its allies are threatening China under President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”.

In turn, military maneuvers are being conducted at Russia’s doorstep which could potentially lead to escalation.

The U.S. airstrikes initiated in September 2014 directed against Iraq and Syria under the pretext of going after the Islamic State are part of a scenario of military escalation extending from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to Central and South Asia.

The Western military alliance is in an advanced state of readiness. And so is Russia.

Russia is heralded as the “Aggressor”. U.S.-NATO military confrontation with Russia is contemplated.

Enabling legislation in the U.S. Senate under “The Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA) has “set the U.S. on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

Any U.S.-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the U.S. nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely upon Counterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event of war, to pre-emptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy.1

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act (RAPA) is the culmination of more than twenty years of U.S.-NATO war preparations, which consist in the military encirclement of both Russia and China:

From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. U.S. military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.2

The Globalization of War by Global Research

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Worldwide Militarization

 From the outset of the post World War II period to the present, America’s s global military design has been one of world conquest. War and globalization are intricately related. Militarization supports powerful economic interests. America’s “Long War” is geared towards worldwide corporate expansion and the conquest of new economic frontiers.

The concept of the “Long War” is an integral part of U.S. military doctrine. Its ideological underpinnings are intended to camouflage the hegemonic project of World conquest. Its implementation relies on a global alliance of 28 NATO member states. In turn, the U.S. as well as NATO have established beyond the “Atlantic Region” a network of bilateral military alliances with “partner” countries directed against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. What we are dealing with is a formidable military force, deployed in all major regions of the World.

The “Long War” is based on the concept of “Self-Defense”. The United States and the Western World are threatened. “The Long War” constitutes “an epic struggle against adversaries bent on forming a unified Islamic world to supplant western dominance”. Underlying the “Long War”, according to a study by the Rand Corporation, the Western World must address “three potential threats”:

  • those related to the ideologies espoused by key adversaries in the conflict,
  • those related to the use of terrorism • those related to governance (i.e., its absence or presence, its quality, and the predisposition of specific governing bodies to the United States and its interests). … in order to ensure that this long war follows a favorable course, the United States will need to make a concerted effort across all three domains.3

Our objective in this book is to focus on various dimensions of America’s hegemonic wars, by providing both a historical overview as well as an understanding of America’s contemporary wars all of which, from a strategic viewpoint, are integrated.

Our analysis will focus on the dangers of nuclear war and the evolution of military doctrine in the post-9/11 era.

The central role of media propaganda as well as the failures of the anti-war movement will also be addressed. While the first chapter provides an overview, the subsequent chapters provide an insight into different dimensions of America’s long war.

Chapter I, Imperial Conquest: America’s “Long War” against Humanity provides a post World War II historical overview of America’s wars from Korea and Vietnam to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. There is a continuum in U.S. Foreign Policy from the Truman Doctrine of the late 1940s to the neocons and neoliberals of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

Part II focuses on the dangers of nuclear war and global nuclear radiation.

Chapter II, The Dangers of Nuclear War Conversations with Fidel Castro consists of Conversations with Fidel Castro and the author pertaining to the future of humanity and the post-Cold War process of militarization. This exchange took place in Havana in October 2010.

Chapter III focuses on the doctrine of Pre-emptive Nuclear and the Role of Israel in triggering a first strike use of nuclear weapons against Iran.

Chapter IV, The Threat of Nuclear War, North Korea or the United States? focuses on the persistent U.S. threat (since 1953) of using nuclear weapons against North Korea while labeling North Korea a threat to global security.

Chapter V, Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War. The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation examines the dangers of nuclear energy and its unspoken relationship to nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy is not a civilian economic activity. It is an appendage of the nuclear weapons industry which is controlled by the so-called defense contractors. The powerful corporate interests behind nuclear energy and nuclear weapons overlap.

Part III illustrates at a country level, the modus operandi of U.S. military and intelligence interventions, including regime change and the covert support of terrorist organizations. The country case studies (Yugoslavia, Haiti, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Ukraine) illustrate how individual nation states are destabilized as a result of U.S.-NATO covert operations and “humanitarian wars.” While the nature and circumstances of these countries are by no means similar, there is a common thread. The purpose is to provide a comparative understanding of country-level impacts of America’s long war against humanity. In all the countries analyzed, the intent has been to destroy, destabilize and impoverish sovereign countries.

Chapter VI, NATO’s War on Yugoslavia: Kosovo “Freedom Fighters” Financed by Organized Crime examines the role of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as an instrument of political destabilization. In Yugoslavia, the endgame of NATO’s intervention was to carve up a prosperous and successful “socialist market economy” into seven proxy states. The political and economic breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s served as a “role model” for subsequent “humanitarian military endeavors.”

Chapter VII, The U.S. led Coup d’Etat in Haiti against the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide was carried out in February 2004 with the support of Canada and France. In a bitter irony, the U.S. ambassador to Haiti James Foley, had previously played a central role as U.S. special envoy to Yugoslavia, channeling covert support to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In Haiti, his responsibilities included U.S. aid to the Front pour la Libération et la reconstruction nationale (FLRN) (National Liberation and Reconstruction Front) largely integrated by former Tonton Macoute death squads. Closely coordinated with the process of regime change and military intervention, the IMF-World Bank macroeconomic reforms played a crucial role in destroying the national and impoverishing the Haitian population.

Chapter VIII, “Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil: Redrawing the Map of Africa reveals the hidden agenda behind NATO’s 2011 humanitarian war on Libya, which consisted in acquiring control and ownership of Libya’s extensive oil reserves, that is, almost twice those of the United States of America. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) played a key role in the war on Libya in coordination with NATO.

Libya is the gateway to the Sahel and Central Africa. More generally, what is at stake is the redrawing of the map of Africa at the expense of France’s historical spheres of influence in West and Central Africa, namely a process of neocolonial re-division.

Chapter IX, The War on Iraq and Syria. Terrorism with a “Human Face”: The History of America’s Death Squads examines U.S.-NATO’s covert war on Syria, which consists in creating Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist entities. The U.S.-led covert war consists in recruiting, training and financing Islamist death squads which are used as the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance. The ultimate military objective is the destruction of both Iraq and Syria.

Chapter X, War and Natural Gas. The Israel Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields focuses on Israel’s attack directed against Gaza with a view to confiscating Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

In Chapter XI, The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine, the structure of the U.S.-EU sponsored proxy regime in Kiev is examined. Key positions in government and the Armed Forces are in the hands of the two neo-Nazi parties. The Ukraine National Guard financed and trained by the West is largely integrated by Neo-Nazis Brown Shirts.

Part IV is entitled Breaking the American Inquisition. Reversing the Tide of War focuses on some of the contradictions of the antiwar movement.

Chapter XII, The “American Inquisition” and the “Global War on Terrorism” analyzes the central role of America’s “war on terrorism” doctrine in harnessing public support for a global war of conquest. The “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is a fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the multi-billion dollar U.S. intelligence community.

Today’s “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is a modern form of inquisition. It has all the essential ingredients of the French and Spanish Inquisitions. Going after “Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “protect the Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda.

In turn, “The Global War on Terrorism” is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.

Chapter XII, “Manufactured Dissent”, Colored Revolutions and the Antiwar Movement in Crisis examines the role of corporate foundations in funding dissent and the inability of “progressive” civil society organizations and antiwar collectives to effectively confront the tide of media disinformation and war propaganda.

Michel Chossudovsky, Montreal, December 2014

COMMENDATIONS

The Globalization of War is an extraordinarily important book. It tags the origin of a long series of wars and conflicts, from the end of World War II to the present, as being direct products of U.S. Foreign Policy. Nothing happens by accident. U.S. provocateurs, usually agents of the CIA, incite one conflict after another in what Michael Chossudovsky labels America’s “Long War” against Humanity.

It comprises a war on two fronts. Those countries that can either be “bought,” or destabilized by a corrupt international financial system, are easy targets for effective conquest. In other cases insurrection, riots and wars are used to solicit American military intervention to fill the pockets of the military-industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned us about. The “End Game” is a New World Order embracing a dual economic and military dictatorship prepared to use atomic weapons and risk the future of the entire human species to achieve its ends.

Michel Chossudovsky is one of the few individuals I know who has analyzed the anatomy of the New World Order and recognized the threat to the entire human species that it is. The Globalization of War is a must read for anyone who prefers peace and hope to perpetual war, death, dislocation and despair. Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of National Defence

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the most realistic of all foreign policy commentators. He does not lie for money and position, and he does not sell his soul for influence. His book provides an honest appraisal of the extreme danger that hegemonic and demonic American neoconservatism poses to life on earth. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Treasury, former Wall Street Journal editor,  former Wm. E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University. 

At these moments when  the threat  of humanity’s  extinction  by the forces  unleashed by the  empire  and its vassals,  it is imperative that we  grasp  the nature of the beast  that threatens us with  its endless wars perpetrated in the name of the  highest levels of freedom.

This  vital work by an outstanding teacher  will remain an enduring testimony  of the author’s  all-embracing  humanism and scholarship that has always been inseparable  from his political activism  that spans  several decades.    It should be mandatory reading  for those seeking to understand , and thus  to contain and repel,   the  compulsive  onslaughts   of the hegemon’s  endless wars with its boundless bestialities and crimes against humanity..Dr Frederic F. Clairmonte, award winning author and political economist, distinguished (former) economic analyst at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The Globalization of War is undoubtedly one of the most important books on the contemporary global situation produced in recent years. It comes from the pen of one of the most insightful and incisive writers on global politics and the global economy alive today.

In his latest masterpiece, Professor Michel Chossudovsky shows how the various conflicts we are witnessing today in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Palestine are in fact inter-linked and inter-locked through a single-minded agenda in pursuit of global hegemony helmed by the United States and buttressed by its allies in the West and in other regions of the world. This Machiavellian, indeed, diabolical agenda not only centres around wars of conquest and subjugation but also seeks to dismember and destroy sovereign states. Russia, China and Iran are the primary targets of this drive for dominance and control. The underlying economic motives behind this drive are camouflaged in the guise of a civilized West fighting “barbaric Islamic terrorism” which as Chossudovsky exposes is sometimes sponsored and sustained by intelligent networks in the West.

Chossudovsky has aptly described this US helmed agenda for hegemony as a “long war against humanity.” It is an assertion that is backed by solid facts and detailed analysis in a brilliant work that should be read by all those who are concerned about the prevailing human condition. And that should include each and every citizen of planet earth. Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) and former Professor of Global Studies at the Science University of Malaysia.

The media, political leaders, academics and the public at large often forget to put into historical perspective the spiral of daily news: we tend to concentrate on the latest events and crisis.

This may explain why the latest report of the US Senate on CIA’s rendition flights, detention places in black wholes and use of torture following 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq has been received as a surprise and shocking news. Such practices have been well known by the international community and depicted, among others, in a number of United Nations documents as well as in Dick Marty’s reports to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

This CIA’s behavior has a long history including assassination plots of political leaders, coups d’Etat, terrorist attacks and other subversive actions that merge into a recurrent pattern.

The Pax Americana like the Pax Romana has been built through wars and domination. General Smedley D. Butler, a hero and the most decorated soldier of the United States had already denounced the US policy in his book “War is a racket”, written over 70 years ago.

Michel Chossudovsky’s book “The Globalization of Warfare” has the great merit of putting into historical perspective the hegemonic project that has been carried out by the United States through various centuries for the control and exploitation of natural resources. Jose L. Gomez del PradoUN Independent Human Rights Expert, Former Member UN Group on the use of mercenaries

Michel Chossudovsky leads the world in communicating critical information that few or none know. He is a perfect guide for the East European to Russia war now in the making. John McMurty, professor emeritus, Guelph University, Fellow of the Royal Society of  Canada

Michel Chossudovsky ranks as the world’s leading expert on globalization – a hegemonic weapon that empowers financial elites and enslaves 99 percent of the world’s population. The Globalization of War exposes covert operations waging economic warfare designed to destabilize national economies deemed to be inimical to the USA and her NATO allies. The military dimension of western hegemonic strategies threatens to trigger a permanent global war. Chossudovsky’s book is diplomatic dynamite – and the fuse is burning rapidly. Michael Carmichael, President of the Planetary Movement 

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The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

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Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes

Photo by Mark Taylor | CC BY 2.0

MAY 19, 2017

President Donald J. Trump closed out his first hundred days in office on April 29.  Not marked by any notable achievements, Trump’s first hundred days did yield an impressive and ever-lengthening list of scandals.

And war crimes.  During his short time in office, Trump has racked up an impressive list of war crimes.  Congratulations, Mr. President!

Where to begin?  Nine days after Trump’s Inauguration, US Navy SEALs together with elite troops from the United Arab Emirates descended on the village of Yaklaa in the Yemeni governorate of Bayda.  At the time, the White House said that the mission’s objective was to enter a compound controlled by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and gather intelligence by grabbing computers and cell phones.  It was not until a week later that US military officials stated that the prime objective of the raid was to capture or kill AQAP emir Qassim al-Rimi.

The January 29 raid was executed with the same meticulous care President Trump brings to all facets of his administration.  What was conceived as a swift there-and-gone operation descended into an hour-long firefight with AQAP, bodies everywhere, and the loss of a $70 million MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

Two deaths stand out.  One was the Trump Administration’s first combat fatality: 36- year old Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens.

The second was an 8-year old American citizen, Nawar Al-Awlaki.  Nawar’s father was the US-born cleric and Al-Qaeda recruiter and propagandist, Anwar Al-Awlaki.  Al-Awlaki was assassinated in a US drone strike in Yemen on September 30, 2011.  Shortly afterwards, Nawar’s 16-year old brother Abdulrahman was also killed by a US drone, probably inadvertently.

Thanks to the US, the Awlakis—father, son, and daughter—are together again.  It’s too bad the Awlakis can’t thank the Pentagon themselves.

Civilian Fatalities

Trump has killed enormous numbers of civilians in drone strikes, attacks by manned aircraft, and ground assaults.  Many of these attacks have taken place far from any battlefield, in places such as Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.  International humanitarian law (IHL), however, restricts the use of military force to areas of “armed conflict.”[1] Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and co-chair of the International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, observes that the United States is not involved in an armed conflict with Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.[2]  Nor has any of these countries attacked the United States.  If any of them had, that would have triggered the United States’ right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

President George W. Bush maintained that the “armed conflict” against terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda extended over the entire world.  That would have allowed Bush to launch attacks anywhere he pleased.  The World Is a Battlefield, the subtitle of investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill’s 2013 book Dirty Wars, encapsulates this notion.[3]  Barack Obama and Donald Trump, have likewise believed that there are no limits to their power to project force anywhere in the world.

But even when an armed conflict does exist, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, other principles of IHL must be observed.

Under the principle of discernment, civilians are not to be deliberately targeted. (There is an exception for civilians who “directly participate in hostilities.”)  Precautions must be taken to minimize civilian casualties.

The principle of proportionality prohibits using excessive force in achieving a legitimate military objective.  To simplify greatly, you cannot kill one hundred innocents in order to kill one terrorist.

Large numbers of civilians have been killed in US attacks.  Fourteen militants died in Trump’s January 29 raid in Yemen, but US forces also killed twenty-five civilians, including women and nine children under the age of 13—these figures from the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Not killed was AQAP leader Qassim al-Rimi, the object of the raid.  Al-Rimi got away, later mocking Trump on video as a “fool.”

Trump’s worst slaughter of civilians is the March 17, 2017 US airstrike on west Mosul in Iraq which killed 200+ civilians.  The Iraqi government had told the residents of Mosul, then under occupation by ISIS, to remain indoors.  The US knew or ought to have known west Mosul’s residents were in harm’s way.

War Crimes by Remote Control: Targeted Assassinations by Drone

President Barack Obama had launched ten times as many killer drone strikes as President George W. Bush.  Donald Trump looks set to top Obama’s record.

Micah Zenko is an expert on drone strikes at the Council on Foreign Relations.  In a March 2 tweet, Zenko calculated that Obama conducted a drone strike every 5.4 days; Trump has upped the rate to a drone strike every 1.6 days.

Again, apart from Iraq and Afghanistan, US drone strikes take place outside areas of armed conflict.  Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell, who teaches law and conflict resolution at the University of Notre Dame, writes:  “[T]he law absolutely prohibits … targeted killing beyond armed conflict zones.”

There are some differences between how Obama and Trump have used drones.  President Obama took most drone strikes out of the CIA’s hands.  Instead, Obama left most drone strikes to the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).  Trump has brought the CIA back into the picture.

Obama set certain restrictions on drone strikes outside war zones, such as requiring “near certainty” that civilians will not be injured or killed.  Trump’s National Security Council is considering abandoning the Obama era restrictions.

Still, Obama was not over-scrupulous in who qualified as a civilian.  Any military-age male in an area where terrorists were active was presumed to be a terrorist himself.  Many victims, under Obama as well as Trump, have been children: “fun-size terrorists” as some drone pilots call them. US drones have attacked weddings and funerals. “Double-tap” strikes fire on first responders hurrying to aid people wounded in a drone’s initial strike.

In a just world, Bush, Obama, and Trump would share a cell at The Hague.  Obama largely escaped criticism from the liberal left for his drone strikes because, as Mike Whitney observes:  “[L]iberals always sleep while their man is in office.”  Whitney might have added that liberals will go back to sleep once the Republicans are out of the White House.

Escalating the Illegal US War in Syria

On April 4, a suspected sarin gas attack killed more than 70 people in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun.  Who launched the attack—rebels or the Syrian government—still hasn’t been proven.  Does it matter?  Those 70 people are just as dead no matter who killed them.  All of the belligerents in Syria have committed war crimes, including the United States.  The antiwar movement holds firm to its demand that the US withdraw from Syria now.

Donald Trump, not a man plagued by doubt, was certain that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was the culprit.  On April 7, 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles pounded a government airfield in Syria while Trump was eating chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago with the President of China.  Whether the US attack accomplished anything is unclear; Syrian military aircraft were taking off from the field a few days later.  At nearly $1.59 million for each Tomahawk missile, Trump would have achieved the same end result if he had burned $93 million on the White House lawn.

It suddenly occurred to the American public that the US was at war in Syria.  It seems to have escaped Americans’ notice that the US has been bombing ISIS in Syria since September 23, 2014 and in Iraq since August 8, 2014.  According to Airwars.org, which monitors Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, 3,530 civilians have been killed as of May 16.  Also overlooked was the fact that Obama had sent Special Operations Forces to both countries to fight ISIS.  So has Trump.  According to Professor Marjorie Cohn, as of April 5 there were close to a thousand US Special Ops forces, Marines, and Rangers in northern Syria.  The Trump Administration plans to up that number.

The Syrian government, needless to say, has refused consent to both US bombing and the presence of US troops within its borders.  (In sharp contrast, Russian military forces are in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government.)  US military involvement in Syria is, thus, prima facie a violation of international law.  Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter requires states to “refrain … from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”  Article 51 provides an exception for self-defense “if an armed attack occurs” (and then only “until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security”).  Syria has not attacked the United States.  Not even the Trump Administration has claimed that the April 7 attack was made defensively.  Instead, the Trump Administration said that the purpose of the US attack was to deter future uses of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.  That makes the April 7 attack a reprisal.  Reprisals are forbidden under international law.  Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell, one of the foremost authorities on the use of force under international law, quotes the 1970 UN Declaration on Friendly Relations which says: “States have a duty to refrain from acts of reprisal involving the use of force.”

In theory, US attacks on Syria expose Obama and Trump to prosecution for “waging aggressive war,” the principal charge against the Nazis at Nuremberg.  George W. Bush, of course, would face the same charge for his 2003 invasion of Iraq.

I say “in theory” because what court would try them?  President George W. Bush “unsigned” the treaty that created the International Criminal Court.  (And we thought Bush was stupid.)  In the 1990s, the UN Security Council created ad hoc criminal tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia.  The US would veto any attempt to create an ad hoc tribunal empowered to try US leaders for war crimes in Syria.

There have been no prosecutions under the federal War Crimes Act which criminalizes “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions.  In fact, President Barack Obama expressly ruled out prosecuting officials from the George W. Bush Administration.

Trump’s actions are by no means a sharp break with the past.  War crimes are how the Pentagon rolls.  Noam Chomsky has stated that if the standards of the Nuremberg Trials were applied, every American president since World War Two would have been hanged as a war criminal.  Something to think about.

Notes.

[1]  IHL is the branch of international law which “prescribes rules for the conduct of war.”  The sources for IHL are primarily the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 together with their two Additional Protocols.  The central concern of IHL is protection of civilians.  Jeanne Mirer, US Policy of Targeted Killing with Drones:  Unsafe at Any Speed, in DRONES AND TARGETED KILLING: LEGAL, MORAL, AND GEOPOLITICAL ISSUES (Marjorie Cohn, ed. 2015) at pages 136, 138.

[2]  Mirer at pages 136, 139.

[3]  JEREMY SCAHILL, DIRTY WARS: THE WORLD IS A BATTLEFIELD (2013), at page 78.

India, Pakistan to Become Full Fledged SCO Members

India, Pakistan to Become Full Fledged SCO Members

PETER KORZUN | 26.04.2017 | WORLD

India, Pakistan to Become Full Fledged SCO Members

The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states wrapped up in Astana on April 21. The participants confirmed the unanimous decision to grant full-fledged membership to India and Pakistan at the SCO Astana summit on June 8-9, 2017.

The SCO was established in 2001 as a multi-purpose regional organization active in three main fields: economic, military-political and humanitarian. The SCO members now are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Belarus are the SCO observer-countries, while Azerbaijan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners. Although Russia and China are the most important SCO members, the organization operates by consensus.

Since its formation, it annually brings together heads of states to discuss regional security issues and inter-regional cooperation. The SCO is gradually moving to the establishment of an economic integration union, including the creation of a free trade zone, bank and fund for development and strengthening of transport cooperation. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Silk Road Fund and Silk Road Economic Belt projects have been launched to this end. Since its establishment, the SCO has concluded several wide-ranging agreements on security, trade and investment, connectivity, energy, the SCO Bank, culture, etc.

Meanwhile, Iran looks to be the next candidate in line for the full SCO membership. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for Iran’s speedy accession to the organization. He expressed hope that the upcoming summit would launch the procedure to admit Iran into the organization as a full member. If Iran joins the group, the SCO would control around a fifth of the world’s oil and represent nearly a half of the global population.

With the Iran nuclear deal in place and international sanctions lifted, there is no hurdle on the way to membership. The move would make Iran a partner of Russia and China, the two leading powers in the organization. The move is opposed by Tajikistan. Russia-mediated talks are on the way to remove the reasons for the objections.

Membership of India will add significant heft and muscle to the SCO, particularly in the backdrop of the global economic slowdown. India is the fastest expanding global economy today with an annual GDP growth of 7.5 percent. It represents the third largest economy ($8 trillion dollars) in PPP terms and 7th largest ($2.3 trillion dollars) in nominal dollar terms.

The Pakistani economy is the 24th-largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and the 41st-largest in terms of nominal GDP (World Bank). It is ranked among the emerging and growth-leading economies, and is backed by one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing middle classes.

Granting New Delhi and Islamabad the status of full SCO member states in the near future will make the organization a global (Trans-Asian) political structure. It will boost the group’s potential and provide a fresh impetus to further securing its role on the regional and international arena. The accession will bring together three largest and most powerful Eurasian states and four nuclear powers. With the integration of new members, the group will unite 50 percent of Eurasian territory, 43 percent of the population on the planet and 24 percent of global GDP. Just think about it! The SCO will become a regional organization covering the widest land area with the biggest population in the world.

True, India and Pakistan have a history of conflict and are at loggerheads over security issues. The membership will help build bridges. The territorial disputes and nuclear arms will remain, but the very fact of being united in the same organization pursuing common goals will help them start a dialogue. For instance, all SCO members are interested in addressing the problem of Afghanistan. India and Pakistan can make a big contribution to finding proper solutions.

The fantasy of Indian and Pakistani military participating together in a joint SCO military exercise would become reality and a landmark event. Having joined, both countries will enjoy greater access to resources and energy import projects within the grouping’s framework. They will play their cards strongly with other multilateral donors including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank.

The two nations are seeking greater engagement in the Eurasian region. Central Asian countries are rich in hydrocarbons to make them attractive for energy-starved India and Pakistan. Both New Delhi and Islamabad are pushing ahead with infrastructure projects aimed at deepening their connectivity to the region. India is developing the Chabahar port in Iran that would grant it land access to Afghanistan and Eurasia. Islamabad is resting its hopes on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a plan to develop Pakistani infrastructure and broaden economic links with the help of China.

The new members’ accession could be a prelude to the formation of large Eurasian partnership. Over the 16 years of its existence, the SCO has become a consolidated, full-fledged, and very influential international association fully independent from the influence of the West, offering an alternative to the outdated vision of a unipolar world dominated by the US.

Game-changers ahead on the (long) Maritime Silk Road

February 04, 2017

by Pepe Escobar for the Asia Times

Game-changers ahead on the (long) Maritime Silk RoadFrom the Bab al-Mandab to the strait of Malacca, from the strait of Hormuz to the strait of Lombok, all the way to the key logistical hub of Diego Garcia 2,500 miles southeast of Hormuz, the question pops up: How will the unpredictable new normal in Washington – which is not exactly China-friendly – affect the wider Indian Ocean?

At play are way more than key chokepoints in an area that straddles naval supply chains and through which also flows almost 40% of the oil that powers Asian-Pacific economies. This is about the future of the Maritime Silk Road, a key component of the Chinese One Belt, One Road (OBOR), and thus about how Big Power politics will unfold in a key realm of the Rimland.

India imports almost 80% of its energy from the Middle East via the Indian Ocean. Thus, for Delhi, protection of supply chains must be the norm, as in the current drive to develop three carrier battle groups and at least 160 naval vessels, including submarines, before 2022. That also implies boosting a cooperation agreement with the nations bordering the strait of Malacca – Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – and developing military infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

China for its part advances a relentless economic / infrastructural drive from Myanmar to Pakistan, from Bangladesh to the Maldives, from Sri Lanka to Djibouti – a counterbalance to the impossibility of fully implementing “escape from Malacca”, the complex, multi-pronged Beijing strategy for diversifying energy supplies.

The privileged infrastructure connectivity hub remains the megaport of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea – which will be controlled for the next 40 years by a Chinese company. Gwadar is the naval destination of the US$46 billion (and counting) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) originating in Xinjiang, which will be the economic New Silk Roads game-changer in South Asia.

This implies everyone jumping aboard the new Karakoram highway, currently under construction in Pakistan’s sublimely mountainous northern Gilgit-Baltistan, with the military watching over a frantic maze of Chinese engineers.

Islamabad/Rawalpindi took no prisoners in offering a sprawling support system to prevent possible interference by Uighur separatist groups. For all practical purposes, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is now focused on resident Uighurs in Pakistan like a laser, while not forgetting Balochistan’s separatist groups, who, with the right “incentive”, might also derail CPEC further on down the road.

Beijing treads a very fine – soft power – line. Islamabad offered the Chinese Navy a base in Gwadar, but was politely declined: the graphic message would totally freak out both Delhi and Washington. Gwadar will be inevitably developed over time as a trade hub for a vast swathe of South Asia, but Delhi’s anxieties relate to its virtually ready-to-roll capability for monitoring the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean and the US Navy in the Persian Gulf.

Go North-South, young Eurasian

Gwadar happens to be not far away from Chabahar, in Iran – which is being designed as an Indian trade hub towards the markets of Central Asia, connecting India with Afghanistan via Iran and thus bypassing Pakistan. That’s the Southern – or Indian – Silk Road in action. Gwadar and Chabahar are the top two new hubs bound to link the Indian Ocean to central Eurasia, with Iran, India and Russia featuring as key members of the slowly-developing but potentially spectacular International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Moreover, Iran, China and India may all eventually converge towards a free trade zone with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEU), as the CPEC for its part will allow Russia and Central Asia to boost trade with the Indian Ocean Rimland.

Then there’s the fascinating case of Sri Lanka. According to the 
Institute of Policy Studies in Sri Lanka, from 2006 to 2015 China invested over US$5 billion, with Sri Lanka’s minister of development strategies and international trade adding that China has pledged over US$10 billion more up to 2019.

The key project is the deep-sea port at Hambantota – plus an international airport in nearby Mattala. Sri Lanka struck a deal with China Merchants Port Holdings at the end of 2016 to sell 80% of Hambantota for US$1.1 billion and to lease 15,000 acres of nearby land for 99 years.

Needless to add, the proverbial “concern” with this Chinese win-win was registered in both Delhi and Washington. The possibility that China will eventually acquire a permanent naval military base in the Indian Ocean is a full-time obsession of US Think Tankland. Colombo, though, has always been adamant: Chinese-financed infrastructure does not imply basing rights for the Chinese Navy.

In fact, any Chinese move – from leasing a Maldives island for 50 years for US$4 million to building a military base in Djibouti (officially a base for “technical and logistical support” to the Chinese Navy) by the end of 2017, close to the Americans and the French, is a source of “concern”.

Where China in South Asia is concerned, the Pentagon / Naval War College always fall back to the “string of pearls” threat. Especially now with the Maritime Silk Road, a “string of pearls” is a categorical imperative for Beijing. But that does not imply Chinese military hegemony.

For Beijing, conscious of cost-efficiency, the logistical nightmare of maintaining naval bases in foreign lands far, far away from the Middle Kingdom is definitely not a win-win. So the notion of having a Chinese carrier battle group in the Indian Ocean ready to confront the Indian Navy is idle geostrategic speculation. The very long game is all about establishing key trade nodes for the Maritime Silk Road.

I got a naval offer you can’t refuse

It will be fascinating to watch how mechanisms such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) develop.

Let’s see what Delhi – deeply committed to an official Make in India campaign – may offer in the way of “free” markets to Nepal (which is leaning towards China), Bangladesh (always in a complex relationship with Pakistan) and Sri Lanka.

Since 2008, China has been India’s largest trading partner. China and India will be involved in deeper cooperation inside the BRICS, and in managing the New Development Bank (NDB). Moreover, India is about to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The notion of Delhi reigning supreme in the Indian Ocean is misguided. From now on, with the emphasis on the Maritime Silk Road, it will be more a case of serious India-China economic competition and/or cooperation, as both countries invest in the protection/expansion of their extensive, complex supply chains.

The Pentagon, under James “Mad Dog” Mattis, will, of course, be watching closely. India’s NDTV recently reported that the US Pacific Command had tacitly admitted the obvious: that the US and India are sharing intel on Chinese warships and submarines in the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, there was a hint that Beijing could deploy a carrier battle group in the Indian Ocean today if it saw fit.

It’s unlikely Beijing will accept the challenge – just to be slapped with more charges of “Chinese aggression” and “threatening freedom of navigation”. Better invest in non-stop, cumulative Maritime Silk Road deals.

Twenty-six Things About the Islamic State (ISIS-ISIL-Daesh) that Obama Does Not Want You to Know About

Global Research, December 26, 2016
Global Research 18 November 2014
ISIL invasion

This article was first published in November 2014.  

Recent developments confirm what is known and documented: Washington is behind the Islamic State (ISIS-ISIL-Daesh) and at the same time it is behind the moderate Al Qaeda terrorists, which the Obama administration is supporting as part of America’s alleged campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). And they expect us to believe that they are committed to waging a campaign against terrorists.

Obama is protecting both Al Qaeda and ISIS-ISIL-Daesh.

The US Airforce is acting on behalf of the terrorists.

The Islamic State (ISIS) was until 2014 called al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

Al Nusra is an al Qaeda affiliate which has committed countless atrocities in Syria.  It is now considered by the Obama administration as the “Moderate Opposition” which has been “defending Aleppo” against Syrian government forces. 

America’s “anti-terrorist campaign’ consists in supporting a so-called “moderate” Al  Qaeda entity (Al Nusra)  with a view to going after another al Qaeda entity entitled The Islamic State, formerly designated as Al Qaeda in Iraq.  

“Al Qaeda is going after Al Qaeda”, and both wings of al Qaeda are supported covertly by US intelligence. 

The Liberation of Aleppo

While Aleppo has been liberated against the scourge of US-supported terrorism, most mainstream media are accusing Syrian government forces of committing atrocities against civilians, describing Aleppo as a humanitarian crisis. What they fail to mention is that for the last four years the Eastern party of  Aleppo has been occupied by Al Qaeda terrorists who are now upheld as “opposition” rebels. 

The terrorists are described as the victims of Syrian government aggression. From the very outset, the atrocities committed by the terrorists are casually blamed on Syrian government forces.  

Moreover, the Al Qaeda affiliated rebels responsible for countless atrocities are trained and financed by US-NATO and its allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel.  

Realities are turned upside down. The terrorists are portrayed as heroes and “freedom fighters”. 

The defeat of the terrorists is described as a crime against humanity. 

The Liberation of Aleppo is tagged as a humanitarian disaster. 

Those who recruited, trained and financed the terrorists are upheld by the “international community” as the guardians of World Peace. The latter include the heads of state and heads of government of the US, Britain, France and Turkey among others. It’s called “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

  • Turkey provided a corridor for the terrorists into Northern Syria, they recruited and trained them in liaison with NATO.
  • Saudi Arabia and Qatar provided money, training and weapons to Al Qaeda.
  • The Obama administration ordered an air campaign directed against the Islamic State (ISIS-Daesh). 
  • What the US-led coalition was doing was PROTECTING ISIS-DAESH, while bombing the civilian infrastructure of Syria and Iraq as part of a so-called “counterterrorism operation”.
  • The Terrorists R Us…. 
  • The mainstream media applauds, The Lie becomes the Truth. 
  • It’s official: Obama’s counterterrorism campaign requires upholding Al Qaeda as a “moderate opposition.”

It’s all for a good cause: install a puppet Islamic State in Damascus (modelled on Afghanistan), spread “Democracy Made in America” throughout the Middle East, confiscate the regions extensive oil and gas reserves, transform countries into open territories…  

The diabolical plan of sending terrorists into Syria as the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance has failed. 

Aleppo has been liberated: a Sad Day for the War Hawks. 

The Truth is a powerful weapon.

Michel Chossudovsky, December 13, 2016

*      *      *

The US led war against  the Islamic State is a big lie.

Going after ” Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “Protect the American Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a creation of US intelligence. Washington’s “Counter-terrorism Agenda” in Iraq and Syria consists in Supporting the Terrorists.  

The incursion of the Islamic State (IS) brigades into Iraq starting in June 2014 was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation supported covertly by the US, NATO and Israel.

The counter-terrorism mandate is a fiction. America is the Number One “State Sponsor of Terrorism” 

The Islamic State is protected by the US and its allies. If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June. 


The  Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map below). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, CF-18) it would have been  -from a military standpoint-  a rapid and expedient surgical operation  

In this article, we address 26 concepts which refute the big lie.  Portrayed by the media as a humanitarian undertaking, this large scale military operation directed against Syria and Iraq has resulted in countless civilian deaths.

It could not have been undertaken without the unbending support of  the Western media which has upheld Obama’s initiative as a counter-terrorism operation.  

THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF AL QAEDA

1. The US has supported Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations for almost half a century since the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war. 

2. CIA training camps were set up in Pakistan.  In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 jihadists from 43 Islamic countries were recruited by the CIA to fight in the Afghan jihad.

“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad.”

3. Since the Reagan Administration, Washington has supported the Islamic terror network.

Ronald Reagan called the terrorists “freedom fighters”. The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades.  It was all for “a good cause”: fighting the Soviet Union and regime change, leading to the demise of a secular government in Afghanistan.

Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)

4. Jihadist textbooks  were  published by the University of Nebraska. “. “The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings”

5. Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman and founder of Al Qaeda was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihadist war against Afghanistan . He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp.

Al Qaeda was not behind the 9/11 Attacks. September 11, 2001 provided a justification for waging a war against Afghanistan on the grounds that Afghanistan was a state sponsor of terrorism, supportive of Al Qaeda. The 9/11 attacks were instrumental in the formulation of the “Global War on Terrorism”.

THE ISLAMIC STATE (ISIL)

6. The Islamic State (ISIL) was originally an Al Qaeda affiliated entity created by US intelligence with the support of Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-’Āmah ( رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة‎).

China unlikely to join Obama's anti-ISIS coalition: Report

7. The ISIL brigades were involved in the US-NATO supported insurgency in Syria directed against the government of  Bashar al Assad.

8.  NATO and the Turkish High Command were responsible for the recruitment of ISIL and Al Nusrah mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011. According to Israeli intelligence sources, this initiative consisted in:

“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011.)

9.There are Western Special Forces and Western intelligence operatives within the ranks of the ISIL. British Special Forces and MI6 have been involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria.

10. Western military specialists on contract to the Pentagon have trained the terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.

“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

11. The ISIL’s practice of beheadings is part of the US sponsored terrorist training programs implemented in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

12. Recruited by America’s ally, a large number of ISIL mercenaries are convicted criminals released from Saudi prisons on condition they join the ISIL. Saudi death row inmates were recruited to join the terror brigades. 

13. Israel  has supported  the ISIL and Al Nusrah brigades out of the Golan Heights.

Jihadist fighters have met Israeli IDF officers as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. The IDF top brass tacitly acknowledges that “global jihad elements inside Syria” [ISIL and Al Nusrah] are supported by Israel. See  image below:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon next to a wounded mercenary, Israeli military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights’ border with Syria, 18 February 2014″

Inline images 1

SYRIA AND IRAQ

14 The ISIL are the foot soldiers  of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors.

15. US Senator John McCain has met up with jihadist terrorist leaders in Syria. (see picture right)

16  The Islamic State (IS) militia, which is currently the alleged target of  a US-NATO bombing campaign under a “counter-terrorism” mandate, continues to be supported covertly by the US.  Washington and its allies continue to provide military aid to the Islamic State.

17. US and allied bombings are not targeting the ISIL, they are bombing the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria including factories and oil refineries.

18.  The IS caliphate project is part of a longstanding US foreign policy agenda to carve up Iraq and Syria into separate territories: A Sunni Islamist Caliphate, an Arab Shia Republic, a Republic of Kurdistan.

THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM (GWOT)

19. “The Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.

20 U.S. sponsored Al Qaeda terror brigades (covertly supported by Western intelligence) have been deployed in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Yemen.

original

America’s “War on Terrorism” By Mchel Chossudovsky

These various affiliated Al Qaeda entities in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa  and Asia are CIA sponsored “intelligence assets”. They are used by Washington to wreck havoc,  create internal conflicts and destabilize sovereign countries.

21 Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) (supported by NATO in 2011),  Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM),  Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in Indonesia,  among other Al Qaeda affiliated groups are supported covertly by Western intelligence.

22. The US is also supporting Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organizations in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. The underlying objective is to trigger political instability in Western China.

Chinese jihadists are reported to have received “terrorist training” from the Islamic State “in order to conduct attacks in China”. The declared objective of these Chinese-based jihadist entities (which serves the interests of the US)  is to establish a Islamic caliphate extending into Western China.  (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, Chapter 2).

HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS

23 The Terrorists R Us:  While the US is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State,  Obama’s holy mandate is to protect America against ISIL attacks.

24 The homegrown terrorist threat is a fabrication.  It is promoted by Western governments and the media with a view to repealing civil liberties and installing a police state. The terror attacks by alleged jihadists and terror warnings are invariably staged events. They are used to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

In turn, the arrests, trials and sentences of “Islamic terrorists” sustain the legitimacy of America’s Homeland Security State and law enforcement apparatus, which has become increasingly militarized.

The ultimate objective is to instill in the minds of millions of Americans that the enemy is real and the U.S. Administration will protect the lives of its citizens.

25.  The “counter-terrorism” campaign against the Islamic State has contributed to the demonization of Muslims, who in the eyes of Western public opinion are increasingly  associated with the jihadists.

26  Anybody who dares to question the validity of the “Global War on Terrorism” is branded a terrorist and subjected to the anti-terrorist laws.

The ultimate objective of the “Global War on Terrorism” is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the inquisitorial social order which rules America.

The Obama Administration has imposed a diabolical consensus with the support of its allies, not to mention the complicit role of the United Nations Security Council.  The Western media has embraced the consensus; it has described the Islamic State as an independent entity, an outside enemy which threatens the Western World.

The Big Lie has become the Truth. 

Say no to the “Big Lie”. Spread the message.

The truth is ultimately a powerful weapon.

Please help us continue. We rely on the support of our readers.

Consider donating to Global Research. 

For Peace and Truth in Media, Michel Chossudovsky

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps: a deep insight into Iran’s most powerful institution

NOVEMBER 15, 2016

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps: a deep insight into Iran’s most powerful institution

By Aram Mirzaei

Described by the Western media as a “shadowy organization” involved in “clandestine activity” across the Middle East, not much is truly known about the “Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps” (IRGC) in the West as Western governments and media outlets are having an increasingly difficult time figuring out the IRGC and the role it plays in both the domestic and foreign relations of Iran. You can’t understand Iran and its politics without understanding the IRGC, why it was formed and what role it plays in Iranian politics.

Guardians of the revolution- The Pasdaran and other armed revolutionary organizations

Formed on May 5 1979 following the Islamic Revolution, the Sepah Pasdaran-e Enghelabe Eslami (Army of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, in Iran more commonly referred to simply as ‘Pasdaran’, meaning Guardians) was created to unite the different paramilitary forces that were present in the post-revolutionary Iran, to form a single force, loyal to the revolutionary government and to function as a counter balance to the influence and power of the regular military (Artesh) which was seen as untrustworthy because of its traditional loyalty to the Shah.

When the Pasdaran was created by decree from Ayatollah Khomeini in May 1979, its original members consisted of some 6,000 militia men who had fought the Pahlavi regime even before 1978, many of which had received guerrilla training with Palestinian and Lebanese groups, most notably the Shia Amal militia in Lebanon.

Many of the forces that had helped topple the Shah’s Pahlavi regime, like the Fedayeen-e Khalq and Mujahedin-e Khalq, had formed their own organized militias in the struggle, and many more armed groups were created more or less spontaneously during the chaos of the Revolution, as the raiding of armouries and army barracks made weapons widely available to opposition groups. The existence of many independent armed groupings certainly represented a potential threat to any one political faction trying to impose its authority over the post-revolutionary Iranian state. Although eventually growing to become the most important of the paramilitary organizations, the Pasdaran did face its fair share of competitors in enforcing revolutionary ideals. A particular challenge to the Pasdaran’s authority was posed by the plethora of komitehs (committees), makeshift, freelance bands of local Islamists that took control and allocated to themselves the powers of justice and administration over assorted neighbourhoods throughout the major cities of the Islamic Republic as the Pahlavi regime’s authority began to collapse. The triumph of the Pasdaran over these other organizations and centres of power was never preordained, but ultimately derived from the Pasdaran’s superior effectiveness as a guard for the emerging revolutionary government of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The Pasdaran was from its inception an ideologically driven force that recruited heavily from the faithful supporters of the revolution’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Drawing lessons from the US and UK backed 1953 coup d’etat which saw the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in favour of the young Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the revolution needed to rely on a force of its own rather than borrowing the previous Pahlavi regime’s units. Being one of the first revolutionary institutions, the Pasdaran legitimized the revolution and gave the government an armed basis of support to defend itself. Despite this move to counter the regular army of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini decided not to disband the army altogether since he realized the dangers of doing this, as thousands of servicemen becoming unemployed would turn into potential enemies of the revolutionary government. Rather Khomeini replaced the Army’s commanders and wanted the Army and the Pasdaran to not view each other as rivals, but rather as two branches of the armed forces working towards a common goal.

The Basij – The people’s militia

On November 25 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini called for the creation of a youth militia which according to him should be a 20-million-man strong force. Article 151 of the constitution obliges the government to “provide a program of military training, with all requisite facilities, for all its citizens, in accordance with the Islamic criteria, in such a way that all citizens will always be able to engage in the armed defence of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Formed through a merger of the komitehs (committees) and other various youth movements, the Sazman- Basij-e Mostazafin (The organization for mobilization of the oppressed), commonly known as simply Basij (the organized) was created in April 1980.

The Basij was to serve as an auxiliary force engaged in activities such as internal security, law enforcement, organizing religious activities and ceremonies, and to help the revolutionary government in fighting against Baluchi, Kurdish and Turkmen separatists in the remote regions of Iran. While the Pasdaran was mainly open for men older than the age of 18, the Basij was intended to be for the youth, however people of all walks of life were eligible to join this organization. The Basij came to open local offices in almost every corner of Iranian cities, with every neighbourhood in every Iranian city having a local Basij office to both recruit people and to defend the Islamic Revolution during its first unstable years.

In time, the Basij, along with the Pasdaran were to become an integral part of the revolutionary government’s ability to resist its enemies, both internal and external ones.

The Nojeh coup plot of 1980

In 1980, the Basij helped to prevent a coup planned to overthrow the newly established revolutionary government when several officers and servicemen from the Iranian Army and former secret service loyal to the Shah were arrested at the Nojeh Air Base near Hamedan in western Iran. The plan was organized by Colonel Mohammad Baqer Bani Amiri, with the help of Shapour Bakhtiar, the last Prime Minister of the Pahlavi regime who provided financial support. The plan was also said to have been supported by Iran’s future arch-enemy, Saddam Hussein who had developed a deep animosity towards the revolutionary government. According to then-Iranian President Abolhassan Banisadr, the government discovered eight major cells, and exposed the plotters’ plan, leading to the arrests: “their plan was to give the appearance of a coup d’etat to restore the Shah, while the real aim was to provide a pretext to cover the Iraqi invasion. According to the information we received, the conspirators had set up a military camp in [the Iraqi city of] Solimanieh and planned to ignite a Kurdish revolt and organize demonstrations throughout Iran. Their strategy was simple: internal disorders would first disperse Iranian military forces, so that on the very first day of the Iraqi attack Saddam could occupy the whole Western part of the country.” According to the Basij themselves, a Basij member was planted inside the conspirators’ group and kept the revolutionary government informed of the activities of the counterrevolutionaries. This enabled them to swiftly act and prevent the coup attempt.

The Iran-Iraq War

As a result of the revolutionary government’s attempt to neutralize the potential threat of the Army acting as a counter-revolutionary force, the Army went down from 285,000 to around 150,000 troops at the outbreak the Iran-Iraq war. Perhaps even more damaging for the Iranian Army’s ability to conduct military operations was the forced removal of some 12,000 skilled and trained officers, constituting between 30 and 50 percent of the Iranian officer corps from the rank of major to colonel. Despite these difficulties on the Iranian side however, Saddam Hussein’s gamble that the time was ripe to strike a blow to his neighbouring country was proven to be a major miscalculation. For the revolutionary government, the war was treated as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the resilience and vitality of the Iranian Revolution to the world. The Iranian people quickly mobilized and rallied to the defence of their country with great patriotic zeal, the Pasdaran developed to take on the size and shape of a full-fledged conventional army to counter the Iraqi threat posed against the gains of the Islamic Revolution.

The Pasdaran’s role was largely focused on internal threats to the Islamic Republic, as opposed to the strictly external focus of the regular Army, however this was to quickly change with the Iraqi invasion as the revolutionary government advocated the rise and expansion of the Pasdaran to conduct large-scale military combat operations, unwilling to leave the fate of the Islamic Republic in the hands of the still strongly distrusted remnants of the professional and modernized Army of the Shah

The war which came to be known in Iran as the Holy Defence thus became a defining moment for the Pasdaran, greatly expanding its responsibilities and importance within the emerging revolutionary Iranian state-structure. Relations between the Pasdaran and the regular Army throughout the war remained strained by mutual suspicions, historical grievances and resentments, political differences and uncertainty. A particularly recurring point of contention between the two organizations concerned the reliance on different military tactics,with the professional military insisting on well-planned and well-organized operations, while the ideologically driven Pasdaran argued that religious and nationalistic zeal, determination and superiority in manpower were enough. Pasdaran commander Mohsen Rezaei once asserted that:

“Unlike the army […] the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is in charge of safeguarding the revolution and its gains […]. we in the Revolutionary Guards give primary importance to the ideological and political dimensions more than the military ones.”

The Pasdaran came to see itself as embodying the spirit of the Islamic Revolution, where the will and dedication of the Iranian people had won out over the professional, modernized and “culturally contaminated” security organizations of the Shah’s Pahlavi regime, and sought to wage the war against Iraq along the same lines. This in practice meant a heavy reliance on lightly armed and manpower-intensive infantry attacks, with the ultimate goal of attaining Martyrdom, while the regular Army stressed the importance of conventional tactics incorporating modern, mechanized means of warfare. This constant rivalry severely complicated the ability of the Pasdaran and the Army to perform joint combat operations, and with the Revolutionary government tightening its grip over Iranian society, the favoured Pasdaran increasingly got the last say in the planning and execution of the Iranian war effort.

The already close relationship between the Pasdaran and the Clerical establishment (Ulema) became even more apparent during the course of the Iran-Iraq War with several members of the Ulema joining the Pasdaran on the frontlines as part of a morale boost campaign, among them a young Ayatollah Khamenei dressed in a Pasdaran uniform.

The Pasdaran enjoyed numerous privileges over the Army during the war, including superior pay and benefits and first call upon available arms and spare parts. With the Iranian population rushing to the defence of their country, the Pasdaran, soon developed from a revolutionary militia into an organized armed force outnumbering and rivalling the structure of the regular Iranian Army by absorbing and organising the thousands of highly motivated volunteers that flocked to the warfront. The extensive numerical increase in Pasdaran forces alone testify to their rise in power and influence during the war, doubling from some 20,000 – 30,000 in 1980 to around 50,000 during the first year of warfare, this number further increasing nine-fold by 1987, with the total forces of the Pasdaran consisting of close to 450,000 men as the war entered its final year.

The Pasdaran’s manpower was mobilized through local-level branches of the Pasdaran offices that were established throughout Iran in parallel with the development of the Pasdaran’s national command structure. Many of the lower-level branches grew out of the komitehs or other groups that had seized power in their respective areas in the course of the Revolution, and above the local level the Pasdaran was organized into ten administrative regions, largely corresponding to the then-Iranian provinces. On top of these were the Supreme Council of the Sepah Pasdaran and the Pasdaran Commander.

Of the Pasdaran’s original members many belonged to the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution (MIR), a group loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini that was established in the course of the Revolution. Many MIR-members had left the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) because of the MEK’s emphasis on what they perceived to be Marxist over Islamic ideology (the latter became an archenemy of the Islamic Republic in later years), the MIR strongly supported the Islamic character of the revolution. MIR members formed the leadership and the core of the Pasdaran, and this first group generally tended to be better educated and more politically sophisticated than the zealous volunteers that later flocked to the Pasdaran.

Although relying heavily on ideologically zealous manpower in massive infantry attacks at first, the Pasdaran came to incorporate more sophisticated armed services during the course of the Iran-Iraq War. The Pasdaran soon developed its own armoured and artillery units to reduce its reliance on the regular Army within these fields, and from September 1986 the Pasdaran also started with advanced artillery training. The Pasdaran further rivalled the structure of the Army by creating its own Air Force and Naval Forces, thus expanding into many areas that had previously been the sole domain of the Iranian Army inherited from the Shah’s days. The creation of the Sepah Pasdaran Air Force did however not play a significant role in the war due to the international arms embargo preventing Iran from importing new weapons or spare parts for the aircrafts left behind by the former Shah’s Air Force.

The Sepah Pasdaran Air Force (later Aerospace forces) did however develop several missile units for air defence against Iraqi aircraft, and managed to fire several surface-to-surface SCUD missiles against military and civilian installations in Iraq. Despite its moderate participation in the war effort, the establishment of the Pasdaran Air Force nevertheless served as a symbol of the Pasdaran’s increased responsibilities and influence. The Sepah Pasdaran Navy however saw more direct action in the Iran-Iraq War. Unofficially in existence since 1982, it participated in the successful 1986 Faw offensive, and was formally inaugurated in 1987 to retaliate against Iraqi attacks on Iranian ships. In the last year of the war, from 1987-88, the Pasdaran Navy was given resources and publicity for its challenge to the US naval build-up in the Gulf, employing hit-and-run tactics from small naval crafts armed with RPG-7’s and missile units armed with Chinese Silkworm surface-to-surface missiles to harass US ships and reflagged tankers.

Basij during the war

Another important component of the Pasdaran’s military forces was provided by the Basij-e Mostazafan. The Basij was as previously explained a mass mobilising popular volunteer militia, created following the call from Ayatollah Khomeini to establish a “20 million-man army” to defend the Islamic Republic from both internal and external enemies following the Iraqi invasion. Although the Basij as an organization was officially separate from the Pasdaran during the war and had its own commander, in practice it has always been part of the Pasdaran. The Basij was formally placed under Pasdaran control on January 1 1981, and the Pasdaran recruited, organized, trained and commanded all Basij units during the war, although it was not until 2009 that the control structure of the Basij was officially merged with that of the Pasdaran. The Basij served as a reserve pool of manpower for the Pasdaran, and military training for basijis generally consisted of a two week instruction program in the use of grenades and automatic rifles, heavily imbued with religious and ideological indoctrination with a focus on martyrdom and the promise of heaven for those killed in the war. The Basij was originally a volunteer and not a fixed force, whose members usually served a brief three month tour before returning to their homes, jobs or studies, and seasonal fluctuations made it hard to contemplate the exact capabilities of the basijis. The Basij nevertheless played an integral part in the Iranian war effort, and although the number of readily available basijis probably seldom exceeded 100,000 at any one time, by 1987 some 3 million Iranians had received Basij training, adding substantially to the potential power of the Pasdaran in a scenario of all-out mobilization. The creation of the Basij was thus another development strongly contributing to the rise of the Pasdaran in the course of the Iran-Iraq war.

According to an Iranian source personally close to me and speaking on the condition of anonymity, the creation of the Basij played an instrumental role in mobilizing the Iranian people to defend Iran from the Iraqi invasion. Every local Basij office was flocked with boys as young as 12 years old who wanted to join what became known as the Holy Defence in Iran. Mothers were proud of sending their sons to the front and according to the same Iranian source, young boys used to run away from home to join the Basij, often leaving behind them letters where they would apologize to their parents for running away but that they were proud to defend their homeland. These boys would often assume non-combat roles on the frontlines, such as cleaning weapons for the Pasdaran, cooking food for the soldiers at the front, helping to spread propaganda across restive regions such as Kurdistan and participating in mine-clearing operations. On some occasions however, these boys did partake in Iran’s infamous human-wave attacks which resulted in devastating losses for the Iranian side.

Sepah Pasdaran after the war – building upon a legacy

Much like Ayatollah Khomeini, the Pasdaran opposed the ending of the conflict with Saddam Hussein, and continued to dedicate itself to the slogan of “war until victory”, referring to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime and the export of the Islamic Revolution to the Shia majority Iraq. By 1988 however, there was a broad political consensus forming in the country around the need to end the war due to Iraqi counterattacks, American assaults in the Gulf and the exhaustion caused by the so called “war of the cities” phase of the war. Political leaders like Khamenei started to emphasise that Iran’s endurance, sacrifices and national solidarity throughout the long war had proven that Iran had already fulfilled its divine mission irrespective of obtaining a final victory, thus the need for further hostilities was no longer needed.

In their book Iran and Iraq at War by Shahram Chubin and Charles Tripp, they assess that “If Iraq succeeds in holding out for a return to the status quo ante bellum, it will have withstood a siege from a country three times its size. Iran, by contrast, can take little glory from a peace that takes it back to the pre-war settlement.”

This assessment fails to take into account several crucial facts. Firstly, with Iraq being the aggressor in this conflict and their return to the status quo ante bellum represented a triumph for Iran and the Sepah Pasdaran as they managed to deny Saddam Hussein his ambitions, thus costing him a lot of prestige and financial damage that the eight year long war had caused Iraq. Secondly, Iraq might have fought a country three times its size, but Iran had withstood the attack of a country that enjoyed massive superiority in terms of advanced weaponry, financial aid and international support while itself being under a heavy arms embargo. To shed some light on the “balance” in heavy military equipment, in 1987 estimates put Iraq’s capacities in battle tanks and combat aircrafts at 4,800 and 400-500 respectively, while the corresponding numbers for Iran at the time were approximated at 900-1,250 and 80-105. Against these odds, the Iranian achievement of obtaining a peace based on the pre-war settlement must be seen as a victory for Iran and the Sepah Pasdaran. Although not being able to claim a military victory from the conflict, the Pasdaran could none the less derive a huge amount of prestige from having managed to put up a formidable fight in what Pasdaran Commander Mohsen Rezaei characterized as “the war against the whole world”.

During the war, the Pasdaran grew to become a national actor, defending not just politically likeminded people but also the whole country against the Iraqi invaders. Iranians that were initially not positively inclined towards the Pasdaran or their ideology came to find themselves fighting for the same basic values of Iranian independence in the face of external danger and had to acknowledge the Pasdaran’s crucial role in defending the Iranian nation. By the end of the war, the Pasdaran had become a symbol of national resistance and represented the Iranian people to a much larger degree than before the war, thus adding to its legitimacy as one of the Iranian state’s most powerful institution.

From its early beginnings, the Sepah Pasdaran were involved in the struggle to control the outcome of the Islamic revolution, after the war, the Pasdaran however became to wield substantial political influence on its own merits. Pasdaran minister Mohsen Rafiqdoost justified the politicization of the Pasdaran, arguing that the Pasdaran was meant to defend the revolution also from within. Unlike the Army, the Pasdaran’s mission was to defend the purity of the revolution; this meant that it was not only a military task but also a political one. There has been a debate as to whether the Pasdaran should engage in politics or not, what however is clear is that their institutional strength has given them the political influence to have a say in Iran’s internal affairs.

With the huge expansion of the Pasdarans’s organization in the wake of the Iran-Iraq War, the Pasdaran greatly increased its importance and power, making it able to determine and influence the appointment of officials in many other institutions, including the civilian leadership and even the regular Iranian Army. This was seen in the Pasdaran’s successful pressure to reinsert and promote Ali Seyyed Shirazi as commander of the Army’s ground forces in March 1981, and later the promotion of Ali Shamkhani, one of the Pasdaran’s most prominent figures after Rezaei, to become commander of the Navy in October 1989.

Many former and current Pasdaran members also rose to prominent positions within the post-revolutionary Iranian government. Early examples include Hasan Abedi-Jafari, a former member of the Pasdaran Supreme Council who served as Minister of Commerce until 1988, and Ali Mohammad Besharati, an anti-Shah guerrilla member, former director of the Pasdaran’s Intelligence Unit, and former member of the Pasdaran Supreme Council, who became Deputy Foreign Minister in 1984.

It should however be said that the Pasdaran personnel did not necessarily remain a united and coherent group when they entered into politics, as factional disputes did indeed exist within the Pasdaran itself, with some former members distancing themselves from earlier hardliner policies. One such example is the current Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan, who himself is a Pasdaran member yet part of the Reformist cabinet of President Hassan Rouhani.

Shortly after the war, at the time of Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in 1989, Pasdaran members, and associates held 5 out of 25 Cabinet positions in the Iranian government, setting a strong precursor for the Pasdaran’s later substantial involvements in civilian politics, not least experienced with the former Pasdaran member Mahmoud Ahmedinejad ascending to the presidency in 2005 through the Principlist Abadgaran alliance platform, widely believed to be a political front for the Pasdaran. The Pasdaran also got involved in other civilian spheres by establishing schools, research facilities and engaging in the procurement and distribution of goods. This has turned the Pasdaran into an independent business empire in addition to its role as the principal guarantor for the Islamic Republics survival.

Two organizations closely affiliated with the Pasdaran were the Bonyad-e Mostazafan va Janbazan, the “Foundation of the Oppressed and Disabled”, and the Bonyad-e Shahidan, the “Martyr’s Foundation”. The Bonyad-e Mostazafan va Janbazan received the fortunes left by the former Shah’s Pahlavi Foundation and other properties confiscated in the course of the Revolution, including hundreds of companies, factories, housing units, agricultural lands and substantial holdings in the West. These massive assets were then used to reward the loyal supporters of the Islamic Republic and the Pasdaran. When the Iran-Iraq war broke out, the Bonyad-e Shahidan was created and given large funds dedicated to the war effort, especially to take care of the families of martyrs and wounded personnel from the Pasdaran and the Basij. Basically it served as a guarantee for those who lost family members in the war, that their beloved one’s efforts did not go in vain. The families of martyrs received a grant of 2 million rials (roughly $ 30,000 at the time), while those crippled and long-service volunteers were given priority in acquiring scarce goods, job, housing and medical care.

The close relationship between the Pasdaran and the above mentioned foundations were cemented by the large degree to which Pasdaran members rotated in and out of or served simultaneously in these organizations, with one example being Pasdaran Minister Mohsen Rafiqdoost becoming head of the Bonyad-e Mostazafan after the war’s end in 1988.

(For more information on Iran’s domestic political landscape, please read my previous article on Iranian politics)

Qods Force – Sepah Pasdaran’s foreign wing

The Pasdaran also developed a foreign wing called the Qods Forces (Sepah-e Qods) dedicated to spreading the ideology of the revolution outside the country and to the wider Middle East region. During the Iran-Iraq war, the Sepah-e Qods provided support to the Kurds in Iraq that were fighting Saddam Hussein but it was also active in other parts of the world. Furthermore, the Sepah-e Qods also oversaw the formation and arming of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shia Iraqi political party and a staunch opponent of the Baathist regime in Iraq. The Badr Organization consisted of several thousand Iraqi exiles, refugees and defectors who fought alongside Iranian troops in the Iran-Iraq war. The Badr Organization and other Shia paramilitary organizations in Iraq are still very much aligned with the Islamic Republic and the Sepah Pasdaran whom they view as a role model for their future.

Since 1979 the Revolutionary government had supported the Shia Hezbe Wahdat in Afghanistan against the Afghan government of Mohammad Najibullah and the Soviet forces backing his regime. The Sepah-e Qods were sent to train and arm the Hezbe Wahdat militia in an effort to counter both the Saudi backed Wahhabi Afghan militia groups and the Soviet backed government.

Connections with foreign organizations and militias with the aim of exporting the Islamic Revolution, was to become a hallmark of the Sepah-e Qods who were also instrumental in creating the Lebanese Resistance movement Hezbollah in the midst of Lebanon’s civil war. This cooperation is still ongoing and Hezbollah heavily relies on the Pasdaran for weapons and ideological influences. Heading this special unit of Pasdaran members is the famous General Qassem Soleimani.

Sepah-e Qods in Syria

On September 16 2012, Sepah Pasdaran commander Mohammad Ali-Aziz Jafari announced that the Sepah-e Qods were present in Syria, however he added that “this does not mean that Iran has a military presence” and that the aid was limited. According to Iranian sources and security experts, the presence of Sepah-e Qods personnel in Syria rose to several hundred military specialists including several senior commanders with the primary task to gather intelligence and manage the logistics of battle for the Syrian Arab Army forces. Since the Russian intervention in Syria starting from September 30 2015, the presence of Sepah-e Qods personnel has also been boosted with General Qassem Soleimani having been seen on several occasions near the Aleppo frontlines, taking charge of several offensives in the area, most notably the 2015 South Aleppo offensive which saw joint Sepah-e Qods forces, Hezbollah and Iraqi paramilitaries capturing swathes of territory in the southern Aleppo countryside from the US-backed Jihadist militants of Jaysh Al-Fateh. During this time, several Sepah-e Qods commanders and officers have been martyred, most notably the famous General Hossein Hamedani who was killed on October 7 2015.

Furthermore, it was reported on Sputnik News that in November 2015, the Sepah-e Qods conducted a successful rescue mission of the Russian pilot who was shot down by Turkey over the Latakia province. The commander of the Sepah-e Qods Major General Qassem Soleimani got reportedly in touch with his Russian counterparts and said that a special unit had been formed and was ready for the rescue operation. He also explained that the squad was made up of men from the Lebanese Hezbollah and soldiers from the Syrian Special Forces, who had undergone special training under the guidance of Iranian instructors. Apart from this fact, the Syrian soldiers were familiar with the terrain.

General Soleimani assumed command of the ground operation and Russian aircraft had to carry out air cover and enable satellite surveillance. Once the location of the Russian pilot was determined via satellite through the built-in GPS device, it became clear that the pilot was located six kilometers behind the front line between the Syrian army forces and the opposition forces. The Special squad that entered the territory controlled by militants was not only able to save the Russian pilot, but also destroy all of the remaining terrorists there who had the most modern weapons in their possession. All of the 24 fighters not only survived, but also returned to their base without injuries. [1]

Another important mission of the Sepah-e Qods was to establish, train and arm various militias commonly known in Iran as the “Modafean-e Haram” (Defenders of the Holy Shrines). These groups include the Afghan dominated Liwaa Fatemiyyoun and the Pakistani dominated Liwaa Zeynabiyyon that fight alongside government troops battling the Jihadist militants. The Sepah-e Qods mainly recruit these personnel from the Shia Afghan and Pakistani populations that have vowed to defend the holy shrines of Shia Islam from attacks by the Takfiri militants of ISIL and Jabhat Al-Nusra who on several occasions have threatened to destroy these shrines.

Born as a small militia in the midst of the revolutionary chaos of Iran in 1979, the Sepah Pasdaran has come to grow into the spine of the current political structure and a major player in the Iranian economy while achieving the status of self-sufficiency in the military field. With its rise to become a national power during the Iran-Iraq war, the Syrian war may very well prove to turn the Sepah Pasdaran into one of the most powerful regional forces to be reckoned with.

  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20160305221737/http://in.sputniknews.com/world/20151130/1016593040/iran-commandoes-russian-pilot-resque.html
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