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

Trump’s Worse Than Bush and Obama Because You Think He Isn’t

November 12, 2016 (LD) – US President-elect Donald Trump is already lining up a tell-tale team of Wall Street and Washington insiders as well as warmongering Neo-Conservatives and sponsors of terrorism to fill his cabinet and serve in key positions within his upcoming administration. He’s also openly reneging on his campaign promises, before even getting into office.

The Intercept in an article titled, “Donald Trump Recruits Corporate Lobbyists to Select His Future Administration,” would reveal that:

Trump for America Inc., a nonprofit group chaired by Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., to oversee the Trump transition, has quietly moved ahead, meeting with interest groups and reaching out to lobbyists to plan a future Trump administration. 

The group has held regular meetings at the Washington, D.C., offices of Baker Hostetler, a law and lobbying firm. 

On Thursday, the group hosted a breakfast at Baker Hostetler attended by Microsoft’s Ed Ingle and Steve Hart, two lobbyists who, according to filings, have worked to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Other transition meetings have included briefings with the Financial Services Roundtable and the Investment Company Institute, two lobby groups that represent Wall Street interests, as well as with the BGR Group, a lobby firm that represents Saudi Arabia and the South Korean government.

Perhaps BGR relayed some information to Trump’s team during these meetings on behalf of their South Korean clients, which is why Trump has now already announced a complete reversal regarding his alleged platform of no longer maintaining America’s vast collection of protectorates around the globe – South Korea included.

Vox in its article, “Trump just completely reversed his policy on South Korea — only 2 days after being elected,” would report that:

Trump has tried to put those concerns to rest by speaking directly with Park over the phone and promising to maintain the existing security alliance. “We will be steadfast and strong with respect to working with you to protect against the instability in North Korea,” Trump told the South Korean president, according to a statement from her office.

This is in stark contrast to Trump’s comments during the presidential campaign. Vox stated:

“We are better off frankly if South Korea is going to start protecting itself,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper back in March. “They have to protect themselves or they have to pay us.” In a January interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump said, “We have 28,000 soldiers on the line in South Korea between the madman and them,” referring to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. “We get practically nothing compared to the cost of this.”

But this is relatively minor in comparison to some other warning signs.

Image: John Bolton (left) is a Bush-era Neo-Conservative. 

As early as August of this year, Trump revealed his consideration of John Bolton as his potential Secretary of State. Breitbart in an article titled, “Trump: We are Seriously Thinking About Picking John Bolton as Secretary of State,” would claim:

“I think John Bolton’s a good man,” Trump replied. “I watched him yesterday, actually, and he was very good in defending me in some of my views, and very, very strong. And I’ve always liked John Bolton. Well, we are thinking about it, Hugh. I will say that. We are thinking about it. I mean, the negative is what I told you. But we are seriously thinking about it.”

John Bolton is a Bush-era Neo-Conservative who helped sell the war in Iraq to the American people under the false threat of “weapons of mass destruction.” The war would claim a million Iraqis and over 4,000 US troops and has left the nation in ruination to this very day. Bolton would go on to use “weapons of mass destruction” as a pretext for America moving on to a narrowly averted war with Iran.

Additionally, Bolton has spent years lobbying for the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian terrorist group that has killed US military personal, US civilian contractors, as well as Iranian politicians and civilians through decades of terrorist attacks both within and beyond Iran’s borders. Until recently, and including during Bolton’s lobbying activities, MEK was a US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization, listed side-by-side Al Qaeda, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State,” and Boko Haram.

Image: Gingrich, Giuliani and Bolton are all present and accounted for at a confab supporting MEK terrorists. Now all three men are under consideration for positions within Trump’s White House. 

Today, Bolton characterizes Russia, China, and Iran as US enemies and seeks expanded military spending and military operations abroad to widen already unprecedented tensions with all three nations.

That Trump even considered making this man his Secretary of State should alarm all Americans, whether they opposed the Iraq War under Bush or US military interventions in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Iraq under Obama.

Bolton’s consideration for a place within Trump’s incoming administration all but assures the wars not only continue, they will disastrously expand.

Lobbying for MEK terrorists alongside Bolton was former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich. They and other fixtures of American Neo-Conservatism backed MEK along with the Royal Saudi Family, according to the US State Department’s own Voice of America (VOA) media platform.

VOA’s article, “Saudi Backing of Iranian Exile Group Inflames Mideast Conflicts,” would reveal:

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a respected former Saudi ambassador to Britain and the United States, startled many observers when he turned up Saturday at a conference in Paris of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq or MEK.

VOA would also report:

In the course of that campaign, the MEK and its “diplomatic” arm, the so-called National Council of Resistance in Iran, paid millions of dollars to ex-U.S. officials of both major political parties. Saturday’s confab featured many of these individuals including Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and a contender to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, as well as Bill Richardson, a former New Mexico governor and U.N. ambassador under Bill Clinton, and former Vermont governor Howard Dean.

Both Giuliani and Gingrich are also likely to receive positions within Trump’s administration. The fact that Trump has cozied up to men working not only for listed terrorist organizations, but terrorist organizations backed by the Saudis, is particularly alarming not to mention ironic considering Trump’s campaign trail rhetoric.

Continuity of Agenda and How to Break the Cycle 

The convergence here between Neo-Conservatism, sponsoring terrorism, warmongering, despotic regimes like that in Riyadh, and all the other abuses and outrages started under Bush and eagerly continued under Obama is no coincidence.

Continuity of agenda continues under Trump, just as it would have under Hillary Clinton, just as it has under Obama and before that under Bush, Bill Clinton, and before that under George Bush Sr.

The only real question America should be asking themselves now is not whether the right-wing claws of this scorpion are more dangerous than the left-wing poisoned stinger, but why we are arguing about it and not just going straight for the head.

Protests in the streets by the left, and a right prepared to go back to sleep for 4-8 years as “their guy” takes the helm of wars they have learned to loved to hate for the past 8 years, does nothing to affect the bottom lines of the corporations and financial institutions that dominate both parties of American politics, benefiting regardless of who is in the White House, moving their agenda and interests forward under the cover of a partisan smokescreen, and all at the cost of not only the American people, but increasingly the peace and stability of the entire planet.

If America’s left and right ever decide to meet in the middle, fighting the multinational corporations festering on Wall Street will be the ground upon which they do so. They will not require “elections” or protests to succeed – simply redirecting the daily financial support, time, and energy Americans pour into these corporations and institutions, instead into local alternatives, is all it will take. Recognizing this as the actual solution, amid increasingly tempting partisan pitfalls, will be the hardest part of reaching toward real progress.

Causing trouble the whole world over, USA backs India’s illegal military strikes on Pakistan

US backs India’s military strikes on Pakistan

The Obama administration has signalled its support for India’s “surgical” cross-border military strikes carried out Wednesday night in Pakistan-held Kashmir.

India’s attack was patently illegal and highly provocative. US strategic think tanks frequently refer to disputed Kashmir as the most dangerous “nuclear flashpoint” in the world. Yet American officials have studiously avoided making any criticism of India, a “global strategic partner” of US imperialism and pillar of its military-strategic offensive against China.

A chorus of former Obama and Bush administration officials now employed by various military-strategic think tanks are lauding the Indian action and even praising New Delhi for its “restraint,” even as the Hindu supremacist BJP government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes South Asia closer to the precipice of all-out war.

India claims it sent ground forces, paratroops and attack helicopters to more than a half-dozen places up to three kilometers inside Azad, or Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. It boasts that it inflicted “heavy,” “double-digit” casualties on “terrorists and those trying to shield them.”

Pakistan, while contesting the Indian version of events, concedes that two of its soldiers were killed and nine wounded Wednesday night.

The strikes represent a dangerous new turn in India’s strategy toward Pakistan. This is underscored by the fact that they are being celebrated not only by India’s virulently right-wing BJP government, but by the entire political establishment and corporate media. The attacks are being hailed as proof of a stronger, bolder India, which has thrown off the shackles of “strategic restraint.”

For more than four decades, India had not conducted military operations inside Pakistan. Or, to be more precise, any actions it did carry out were kept secret, with the aim of avoiding escalating strikes and counterstrikes that could quickly lead to war and even nuclear conflict.

Washington’s readiness to endorse India’s new aggressive posture is utterly reckless. It will only encourage New Delhi to take still greater military-strategic risks. It exemplifies the highly destabilizing role being played in South Asia by US imperialism and its “pivot to Asia.” Particularly incendiary is Washington’s drive to make India a “frontline” state in its offensive to encircle and prepare for war against China.

When questioned Thursday about Washington’s attitude toward the Indian strikes, Obama administration officials repeatedly evaded giving a straight answer. Instead, they issued general, pro-forma calls for both sides to show restraint and engage in dialogue, while insisting that Pakistan had to do more to prevent cross-border “terrorism.”

So anxious was US State Department spokesman John Kirby to shift attention from the Indian military strikes that at one point during his press briefing he apparently became flustered. He misinterpreted a question about whether the Indian strikes constituted the type of “escalation” that “Secretary Kerry had cautioned against,” and took it to be a reference to the September 18 terrorist attack on the Uri military base in India-held Kashmir.

Pressed as to whether the Indian strikes constituted an “escalation,” Kirby again ducked the question, while suggesting, as New Delhi does, that “terrorism” is the central cause of India-Pakistan tensions. “Our message to both sides has been the same,” declared Kirby, “in terms of encouraging them to increase communication to deal with [the terrorist] threat and to avoid steps that escalate the tensions. And I’m…not going to get into characterizing each and every step along the way there.”

It is likely that Washington had advance warning India was going to attack Pakistan and gave New Delhi a green light. In the run-up to Wednesday night’s attack, there was a flurry of phone calls between top US and Indian officials, including conversations between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj, and between US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and her Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval.

What is incontrovertible is that in the aftermath of India throwing off “strategic restraint” to attack Pakistan, the Obama administration has signaled its support, although it finds it politic—under conditions where the Pentagon remains dependent on Pakistan’s logistical support to maintain the US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan—not to go on record as publicly endorsing Indian strikes in Pakistan.

Ex-US government officials are under no such constraints and they have been lining up to voice support for India’s new and more aggressive military-strategic posture.

Bruce Riedel, a longtime CIA analyst and former AfPak War adviser to the Obama administration, told the Hindustan Times that India was within its rights to attack Pakistan, citing as a precedent Washington’s illegal Predator drone strikes and other violations of Pakistan sovereignty. “India,” said Riedel, “can note that the United States has been carrying out attacks in Pakistan for over a decade to kill terrorists, including Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mansour (the Afghan Taliban chief summarily executed last May).”

Ashley Tellis, who in the administration of George W. Bush played a key role in negotiating the 2008 Indo-US civil nuclear accord, was no less emphatic in support of India’s attack. Indian Prime Minister Modi, he told the Press Trust of India, “could not let the outrage at Uri go unanswered.”

Tellis praised the Indian action as “carefully measured.” Invoking New Delhi’s transparent, trumped-up pretext for the attack, that Pakistan was about to launch terrorist squads across the border, Tellis added, “Striking at terrorist launch pads was meant to signal that India has not lost its freedom to retaliate, but puts the onus of further escalation on Pakistan.”

John Blank, a former South Asian policy adviser to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and currently a Rand Corporation analyst,” said “any (US) criticism of India for a cross-border action would have seemed hypocritical,” given its own “surgical strike against Obama bin Laden in Abbottabad (Pakistan).”

Blank pointed to the significance of the Wednesday evening phone call between the Indian and US national security advisers. “The phone call between Ajit Doval and Susan Rice…enlisted the US to help prevent a Pakistani counter-strike.”

During the Cold War, Pakistan was a key US ally. Washington armed its military and encouraged it in its reactionary military-strategic rivalry with India, which, after 1971, was formally allied with the Soviet Union by a “Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation.”

The US subcontracted to Pakistani intelligence the training of the Afghan mujahedeen and allied Arab fundamentalist forces it used in the 1980s to bleed the Soviet Union in a proxy war in Afghanistan, while backing to the hilt Pakistan’s Islamist dictator Zia ul-Haq.

But since the turn of this century, Washington has been seeking to build up India as a counterweight to China, and since Obama launched the “pivot to Asia” in 2011, the US has sought to make India the fourth pillar of an anti-China alliance alongside its key Asian-Pacific allies, Japan and Australia.

Building on the Indo-US “global strategic partnership” forged by the previous Congress Party-led government, the 28-month-old BJP regime has, to Washington’s delight, dramatically expanded India’s integration into the “pivot.” This has included adopting the Obama administration’s provocative stance on the South China Sea, expanding bilateral and trilateral ties with Japan and Australia, and agreeing to allow US warplanes and battleships to make routine use of Indian bases for resupply and repair and the forward deployment of war materiel.

In conjunction with this shift, the Modi government has pursued a more aggressive policy against Pakistan and China. The latter has developed extensive economic ties in South Asia, so as to assert itself as the regional hegemon. This has involved diplomatic and political thrusts as well as major new arms purchases and aggressive military deployments on its borders.

In the face of the burgeoning threat from the Indo-US alliance, Beijing and Islamabad have strengthened their own longstanding strategic ties.

Already on the first anniversary of the Modi government’s coming to office, the aforementioned Riedel noted that “the bipolar alliance system in South Asia has hardened… the United States and India are closer to each other, and China and Pakistan have come much closer together.”

A key element in this is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $46 billion network of rail, road, pipeline and power projects linking western China to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.

India is mounting a very public campaign against the CPEC because it will provide a huge and desperately needed economic shot in the arm to Pakistan and because it fears Gwadar could ultimately serve as an Indian Ocean base for the Chinese Navy.

The US has left it to India to publicly campaign against the CPEC, on the grounds that it will pass through parts of the former British Empire princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which India claims is rightfully hers. But there is no question that Washington also views the CPEC as a strategic threat, as it would enable Beijing to circumvent US plans to impose an economic blockade on China using Indian Ocean and South China Sea chokepoints in the event of a war or war crisis.

Washington’s support for Wednesday’s Indian strikes on Pakistan involves more than a desire to cement its alliance with India. Its relations with Pakistan are badly frayed and increasingly characterized by bitterness and suspicion, in part because of Islamabad’s attempt to ensure itself a major say in any political settlement of the Afghan war by retaining ties to sections of the Taliban, especially the Haqqani network. But even more fundamental are Pakistan’s close ties to China, the power Washington has identified as the principal obstacle to US domination of Eurasia.

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Pakistan PM condemns India over its brutality in Kashmir

Pakistani PM condemns India over its brutality in Kashmir

Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaking at the UN General Assembly drew world’s attention to India’s brutality and occupation in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir Valley.

Sharif said that his government wants peace with India but the ruling BJP and its Hindu extremist allies are not reciprocating in good faith.

He said his government is ready for talks with India about nuclear non-proliferation (NPT). Both Pakistan and India along with the Zionist entity are not signatories to the NPT. Both countries are known to posses more than 90 nuclear bombs each.

He said that Pakistan is victim of foreign-sponsored terrorism.

Sharif said that peace in Afghanistan could only be achieved through negotiations between Kabul government and Taliban. And foreign powers must stop meddling in Afghan conflict.

Nawaz Sharif hailed Burhan Wani, 22, as a Kashmiri martyr which irked New Delhi. Wani was killed by the Hindu occupation forces on July 8. Sharif said that Wani has emerged as a symbol of latest Intifada in Kashmir – a popular and peaceful freedom movement.

Indian and pro-Israel Baloch separatists demonstrated outside the UN building ahead of Nawaz Sharif address.

On August 15, 2016 during his speech on India’s Independence Day, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi accused Pakistan of human rights abuses in its Balochistan province in order to whitewash India’s crimes in Kashmir Valley.

Islamabad has repeatedly accused Indian intelligence RAW of providing logistical support to the longstanding ethno-national secessionist insurgency in Balochistan. Pakistan’s impoverished south-western province is resource-rich. But its geo-strategic importance has greatly increased, because its newly-built Arabian Sea port, Gwadar, has emerged as the linchpin of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – a rail, road and pipeline network that will link western China with the Middle East and Africa.

New Delhi considers China its arch enemy since Indian army’s humiliation in the 1960s.

US-Israel also support Iran’s Baloch separatist group Jundallah that wants to merge Iranian Baloch territory with US-Israel protected Greater Balochistan.

On Tuesday, two Israel-First congressmen, Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher moved a bill at the US Congress to declare Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’ in the aftermath of Kashmiri Mujahideen attack on an Indian military base inside Indian annexed part of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir Valley – killing 17 Indian soldiers and wounding another 23 soldiers.

US’s Two Faces

US terrorism

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