gallery Sri Lanka Blasts: Terrorism Targets Another Ally of China?

Global Research, April 27, 2019

The recent, tragic Easter attack in the South Asian state of Sri Lanka – killing and injuring hundreds – follows a now unfortunately all too familiar formula.

The New York Times has reported in its article, “What We Know and Don’t Know About the Sri Lanka Attacks,” that:

The authorities in Sri Lanka said a little-known radical Islamist group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath, [believed to have ties to the Islamic State] carried out the attacks, with help from international militants.

It is also reported that these extremists received assistance for the large-scale attack from foreign sponsors. The attack has put Sri Lanka on the map for many in the general public for the first time – but for all the wrong reasons.

Countering OBOR: Divide and Destroy 

Sri Lanka has recently and decisively pivoted toward Beijing as a major partner of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. This is despite Washington’s best efforts to prevent it from doing so.

Consequently, extremists fuelled by Washington’s “clash of civilizations” have helped set the stage for growing violence between Sir Lanka’s majority Buddhists and its minority Muslim communities. The resulting violence serves as a medium for US coercion, destabilization, and intervention aimed at undermining Sri Lanka’s unity as a nation, and thus its viability as a partner for China.

A nearly identical ploy has been used in nearby Myanmar where US-backed Buddhist extremists battle against US-Saudi-Qatari backed extremism rising from the ranks of the nation’s Muslim Rohingya minority.

The resulting violence and growing humanitarian crisis – without coincidence – is unfolding in Myanmar’s Rakhine state – precisely where China is attempting to build another leg of its region-spanning OBOR initiative.

Sri Lanka has signed on to OBOR in a big way, with major railport, airport, and highway projects all moving forward with Beijing’s support. Sri Lanka is also considered by Western policymakers as one of several among China’s strategic “String of Pearls,” strong points where China can secure maritime routes through waters traditionally dominated by the United States.

These projects are derided across the Western media with headlines like the New York Times’ article, “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port” and France24’s article, “In Sri Lanka, the new Chinese Silk Road is a disappointment” – characterizing Washington’s growing opposition to China’s expanding influence across Asia – a region Washington has long presumed primacy over.

Washington’s ability to compete with China regarding regional development is nonexistent. Instead, the US has tried to tempt nations like Sri Lanka with military aid.

AFP in an article titled, “US gives Sri Lankan military US$39 million, countering China’s investments in strategic island,” would claim:

The US funding for Sri Lanka is part of a US$300 million package Washington is setting aside for South and Southeast Asia to ensure a “free, open, and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region”.

This “free, open, and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region,” is how the US regularly refers to US primacy in Asia throughout policy papersdiplomatic statements, and even political speeches.

It is obvious that “military aid” can in no way compete with massive investments by China aimed at spurring national development through tangible infrastructure projects.

America’s inability to compete openly and on equal economic footing has given way to political interference and even the use of violence.

Sri Lanka’s Crisis Linked to US-Driven Crisis in Myanmar 

In Myanmar, the US is documented to have supported ethnic violence for years. The US all but installed current “State Counsellor” Aung San Suu Kyi into power along with her political party – the National League for Democracy (NLD) lined top to bottom with US State Department-funded “activists.

Despite the liberal facade constructed by the Western media around Suu Kyi, her political party, and factions supporting both – rampant bigotry and racism pervades all three.

Simultaneously, US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have worked to co-opt and wield Rohingya communities as an equal but opposing political weapon while US-allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar have begun radicalizing and arming factions within Rohingya communities to carry out armed violence across Rakhine state.

The resulting conflagration affords the US and its partners a pretext to intervene on an ever expanding scale – giving Washington access to and leverage over Myanmar to counter Beijing’s growing influence.

And in precisely the same way the US has inserted itself into the heart of Myanmar’s political affairs – it is attempting to do so again in other Asian nations – including now Sri Lanka.

Articles from across the Western media including the UK Independent’s 2018 article titled, “Violent Buddhist extremists are targeting Muslims in Sri Lanka,” even establish direct links between Myanmar’s and Sri Lanka’s growing conflicts.
The article would admit (emphasis added):

Currently, Sri Lanka’s most active Buddhist extremist group is Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist power force, or BBS). BBS entered politics in 2012 with a Buddhist-nationalist ideology and agenda, its leaders claiming that Sri Lankans had become immoral and turned away from Buddhism. And whom does it blame? Sri Lankan Muslims.

BBS’s rhetoric takes its cue from other populist anti-Muslim movements around the globe, claiming that Muslims are “taking over” the country thanks to a high birth rate. It also accuses Muslim organisations of funding international terrorism with money from Halal-certified food industries. These aren’t just empty words; in 2014, one of their anti-Muslim protest rallies in the southern town of Aluthgama ended with the death of four Muslims.

BBS also has links to Myanmar’s extremist 969 movement. Led by nationalist monk Ashin Wirathu, who calls himself the “Burmese Bin Laden”, it is notorious for its hardline rhetoric against the Rohingya Muslim community.

The West’s use of “Islamophobia” to sell its serial wars of aggression and to divide nations around the globe is a classic example of “divide and conquer.

While the West no longer possesses any real means to “conquer” the nations it is now targeting – it does possess the capacity to use resulting divisions to destroy them. If the US cannot hold primacy over Asia – no one will. It is a “War on Peace” waged under the guise of a “War on Terrorism.”

Sri Lanka appears to be but the latest victim of Washington’s now trademark “slash and burn” foreign policy – where it is fueling conflict to consume political orders that oppose its interests, and building upon the ashes ones that do serve them instead.

In the coming days, weeks, and months – not only will more information emerge linking the recent attacks in Sri Lanka to Washington, Riyadh, and Doha’s global network of terrorism – but additional pressure will also be mounted upon Sri Lanka to divest from Beijing and pivot back toward the West.

In reality – Sri Lanka’s violence is an artificial construct carried out by a tiny minority of extremists on either side of an equally artificial ethnoreligious divide. The nation and the region must unite in purpose – as peace and stability benefit them all – while chaos benefits only a handful of waning interests from afar.

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Tony Cartalucci is Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from NEO

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US Defeat in Syria Transforms into Campaign of Spite. “ISIS Was a Creation of the West”

Global Research, April 21, 2019
The US-engineered proxy war against Syria, beginning in 2011 and the crescendo of the so-called “Arab Spring,” has ended in all but absolute defeat for Washington.

Its primary goal of overthrowing the Syrian government and/or rendering the nation divided and destroyed as it has done to Libya has not only failed – but triggered a robust Russian and Iranian response giving both nations an unprecedented foothold in Syria and unprecedented influence throughout the rest of the region.

Lamenting America’s defeat in Syria in the pages of Foreign Affairs is Brett McGurk – a career legal and diplomatic official in Washington whose most recent title was, “Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” He resigned in protest over alleged plans for a US withdrawal from its illegal occupation of eastern Syria.

McGurk’s lengthy complaints are full of paragraph-to-paragraph contradictions – illustrating the lack of legitimate unified purpose underpinning US policy in Syria.

In his article titled, “Hard Truths in Syria: America Can’t Do More With Less, and It Shouldn’t Try,” McGurk would claim (emphasis added):

Over the last four years, I helped lead the global response to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS)—an effort that succeeded in destroying an ISIS “caliphate” in the heart of the Middle East that had served as a magnet for foreign jihadists and a base for launching terrorist attacks around the world.

McGurk would also claim (emphasis added):

Following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump gave a surprise order to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, apparently without considering the consequences. Trump has since modified that order—his plan, as of the writing of this essay, is for approximately 200 U.S. troops to stay in northeastern Syria and for another 200 to remain at al-Tanf, an isolated base in the country’s southeast. (The administration also hopes, likely in vain, that other members of the coalition will replace the withdrawn U.S. forces with forces of their own.)

Yet if anything McGurk says is true, then ISIS is undoubtedly a threat not only to the United States, but to all of its coalition partners – mainly Western European nations. Why wouldn’t they eagerly commit troops to the coalition if ISIS truly represented a threat to their security back home? And why would the US withdraw any troops in the first place if this were true?

The answer is very simple – ISIS was a creation of the West – a tool explicitly designed to help “isolate” the Syrian government and carry out military and terrorist operations the US and its partners were unable to do openly.

It was in a leaked 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo (PDF) that revealed the US and its allies’ intent to create what it called a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria. The memo would explicitly state that (emphasis added):

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

On clarifying who these supporting powers were, the DIA memo would clarify:

The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.

This “Salafist”[Islamic] “principality” [State] would show up on cue, placing additional pressure on an already besieged government in Damascus and eventually creating a pretext for direct Western military intervention in Syria.

Only through Russia’s own intervention in 2015 were US plans overturned and its overt war against Syria frozen in limbo.

McGurk and others throughout the Western establishment have attempted to compartmentalize what is essentially their own collective failures by linking them exclusively to both former-US President Barack Obama and current US President Donald Trump.

Whether President Trump maintains troops in eastern Syria or not, nothing will change or reverse the significant strategic and geopolitical defeat Washington has suffered.

Instead, troops levels and deployments in not only Syria, but also neighboring Iraq, serve to contribute to the next phase of US interference in the Middle East – spoiling reconciliation and reconstruction.

Washington’s War of Terror

This most recent episode of US military intervention in the Middle East – fighting terrorists it itself created and deliberately deployed specifically to serve as a pretext – is an example of US “slash and burn” foreign policy.

Just as farmers burn to the ground forest that serves them no purpose so that they can plant what they desire in its place – the US deliberately overturned an emerging political and economic order in the Middle East that served them no purpose in a bid to replace it with one that did.

McGurk all but admits this in his article, claiming – as he gave his version of ISIS’ defeat – that (emphasis added):

Over the next four years, ISIS lost nearly all the territory it once controlled. Most of its leaders were killed. In Iraq, four million civilians have returned to areas once held by ISIS, a rate of return unmatched after any other recent violent conflict. Last year, Iraq held national elections and inaugurated a new government led by capable, pro-Western leaders focused on further uniting the country. In Syria, the SDF fully cleared ISIS out of its territorial havens in the country’s northeast, and U.S.-led stabilization programs helped Syrians return to their homes.

He also claimed:

Iraqis and Syrians, not Americans, are doing most of the fighting. The coalition, not just Washington, is footing the bill. And unlike the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq, this campaign enjoys widespread domestic and international support.

In other words, it was a redesigned regime-change campaign spanning both Syria and Iraq, designed to attract domestic and international support by using an appalling – but artificially engineered – enemy to destroy both nations and allow the US and its “coalition partners” to rebuild the region as it desired.

And while McGurk enumerates the accomplishments of his US-led coalition – what he omits is the existence of a vastly more effective and powerful coalition in the region led by Russia and Iran.

While McGurk boasts of taking back empty desert in eastern Syria, it was the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah allies who took back Syria’s most important, pivotal, and most populated cities.

In Iraq – Iranian sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) carried out a large percentage of the fighting against ISIS there – and in the process have created a permanent nationwide network of militias that will better underwrite Iraqi security than compromising US defense partnerships and expensive US arms contracts, and the hordes of terrorists sponsored by the US itself to justify both.

McGurk eventually admits further into his article that the US presence in Syria has little to do with ISIS – and more to do with “great power diplomacy.”

He talks about the “US zone of influence” in Syria and brags about America’s ability to “enforce” it by killing Iranians and Russians who entered it in pursuit of terrorists the US was all but openly harboring.

McGurk also repeatedly decries “Iranian military entrenchment” in Syria, a geopolitical development made possible only by America’s many categorical failures amid its proxy war in Syria.

ISIS was eradicated first and foremost in areas under the control of the sovereign governments of Syria and Iraq in cooperation with Russia and Iran.

ISIS remnants have clung – without coincidence – to territory within the “US zone of influence.”

The US continues citing “ISIS” as its pretext to remain in Syria – while simultaneously admitting its presence in the region aims at reasserting Western domination over it and containing Russian and Iranian influence – Russia which was invited by Damascus to assist in counter-terrorism operations – and Iran – a nation that actually resides within the Middle East.

This incoherent, conflicting narrative contrasts with Russia and Iran’s clear-cut agenda of eliminating terrorists and preserving the territorial integrity of Syria, and their decisive, clear-cut actions to implement this agenda. Russia and Iran are also offering all shareholders in the region amble incentives to get behind this agenda – including the economic and political benefits that normally accompany national and regional peace and stability.

Washington’s War on Peace

Washington’s illogical and contradicting narratives undermine any notion of unified purpose in the Middle East. Even if its goal is regional hegemony, its multitude of failures and lack of incentives for allies undermine any chance of success.

In the absence of a sensible, unified purpose, attractive incentives, or a coherent strategic plan, the US has instead turned to spoiling reconciliation and reconstruction through attempts to divide the region along ethnic lines, preserve what few terrorists remain by shuffling them between Iraq and Syria through territory US forces occupy, and by targeting nations and their allies with sanctions to hinder reconstruction efforts.

Sanctions on Iran directly impact Tehran’s efforts to assist Syria and Iraq in reconstruction and the rehabilitation of their respective economies. So do US sanctions on Moscow.

The US is also targeting fuel shipments attempting to reach Syria – with Syria’s own oil production hamstrung by the ongoing illegal US occupation of Syria’s east where much of its oil resides.

AP in an article titled, “Syria fuel shortages, worsened by US sanctions, spark anger,” would report that:

Syrians in government-controlled areas who have survived eight years of war now face a new scourge: widespread fuel shortages that have brought life to a halt in major cities.

The article also reported that:

The shortages are largely the result of Western sanctions on Syria and renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran, a key ally. But they have sparked rare and widespread public criticism of President Bashar Assad’s government just as he has largely succeeded in quashing the eight-year rebellion against his rule.

The combination of sanctions and deliberate attempts to prolong the proxy war in Syria illustrate Washington’s true attitude toward any notion of “responsibility to protect.”

Fuel will still reach Syria’s government and military where it is needed most – but will cause extraordinary suffering among Syria’s civilian population – as Washington explicitly intends.

Washington is not attempting to remove the government in Damascus to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people – it is causing immense suffering among the Syrian people to remove the government in Damascus.

While Washington has lost its war against Syria, it continues its war on peace. It will spoil attempts by Syria to move forward – and by doing so – and more than anything else – illustrating to the world that its own malign interests and agenda wrecked the region – not “ISIS” and not “Iranians” or “Russians.”

The US campaign of spite will continue onward both in Syria and across the rest of the region until an alternative regional and global order can be established that allows nations to sufficiently defend against US aggression and interference and enables the world to move on without those special interests on Wall Street and in Washington driving America’s current battle for hegemony.

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Tony Cartalucci is Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from NEO

Battlefield Libya: Fruits of US-NATO Regime Change

April 10, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Libya is back in the news, as fighting escalates around the capital, Tripoli.

Forces under the control of Khalifa Haftar – a former Libyan general under the government of Muammar Qaddafi – turned opposition during the 2011 US-led NATO intervention – turned “opposition” again against the UN-backed “Government of National Accord” (GNA) seated in Tripoli – have most recently reached Tripoli’s airport.

The confusing chaos that has continually engulfed Libya since 2011 should come as no surprise. It is the predictable outcome that follows any US-led political or military intervention. Other examples showcasing US-led regime change “success” include Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine.

And just like in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine – the Western corporate media has regularly omitted mention of Libya from headlines specifically to mask the very predictable consequences of US-led regime change as additional interventions against nations like Venezuela, Syria, and Iran are engineered and pursued.

Battlefield Libya 

In 2011, the North African nation of Libya was transformed from a prosperous, developing nation, into a divided, perpetual battlefield where local warlords backed by a milieu of opposing foreign sponsors and interests have vied for power since.

Libya’s current status as a failed, warring state is owed entirely to the US-led NATO intervention in 2011.

Predicated on lies promoted by Western-funded “human rights” organizations and fought under the pretext of R2P (responsibility to protect) – the US and its NATO allies dismembered Libya leading to predictable and perpetual chaos that has affected not only Libya itself, but North Africa, Southern Europe, and even the Middle East.

The war immediately triggered not only a wave of refugees fleeing the war itself, but the redirection of refugees from across Africa seeking shelter and work in Libya, across the Mediterranean and into Europe instead.

Militants fighting as proxies for the US-led war in 2011 would be armed and redeployed to Turkey where they entered Syria and played a key role in taking the cities of Idlib and Aleppo during the early stages of that US-led proxy war.

Currently, Libya is divided between the UN-backed government based in Tripoli, eastern-based forces loyal to Haftar, and a mix of other forces operating across the country, holding various degrees of control over Libya’s other major cities, and equally varying degrees of loyalty to the UN-backed government, Haftar’s forces, or other factions.

Fighting around Tripoli has even allegedly prompted US military forces stationed in Libya to temporarily evacuate. CNBC in its article, “US pulls forces from Libya as fighting approaches capital,” would report:

The United States has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to “security conditions on the ground,” a top military official said Sunday as a Libyan commander’s forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias. 

A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years, helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.

The presence of US forces in Libya might be news to some – and was certainly only a dream within the Pentagon until after the 2011 US-led NATO intervention finally toppled the Libyan government.

America’s foreign policy of arsonist-fireman has endowed it with a large and still growing military footprint in Africa – one it uses to project power and affect geopolitics well beyond the continent.

America’s Growing Footprint in Africa 

The ongoing Libyan conflict – flush with weapons pouring in from foreign sponsors – has also fuelled regional terrorism impacting neighboring Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, and Chad, as far west as Mali and Nigeria, and southeast as far as Kenya. The war has been a boon for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) which has used the resulting chaos as a pretext to expand Washington’s military footprint on the continent.

In a 2018 Intercept article titled, “U.S. Military Says it has a “Light Footprint” in Africa. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases,” it was reported that:

According to a 2018 briefing by AFRICOM science adviser Peter E. Teil, the military’s constellation of bases includes 34 sites scattered across the continent, with high concentrations in the north and west as well as the Horn of Africa. These regions, not surprisingly, have also seen numerous U.S. drone attacks and low-profile commando raids in recent years.

The article notes that much of AFRICOM’s expansion in Africa has occurred over the past decade.

While the pretext for US military expansion in Africa has been “counter-terrorism,” it is clear US military forces are there to protect US interests and project US power with “terrorism” a manufactured pretext to justify Washington’s militarization of the continent.

Much of the terrorism the US claims it is fighting was only possible in the first place through the flood of weapons, equipment, and support provided to militants by the US and its partners amid regime change operations targeting nations like Libya.

The US-led NATO war in Libya is a perfect example of the US deliberately arming terrorist organizations – including those listed as foreign terrorist organizations by the US State Department itself – overthrowing a nation, predictably destabilizing the entire region, and using the resulting instability as a pretext to massively expand America’s military footprint there.

The wider agenda at play is Washington’s desire to displace current Russian and Chinese interests on the continent, granting the US free reign.

Fruits of US-NATO Regime Change 

As NATO celebrates its 70th anniversary, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would claim:

Over seven decades, NATO has stepped up time and again to keep our people safe, and we will continue to stand together to prevent conflict and preserve peace.

This “peace” includes 8 years of heavy fighting in Libya following NATO’s intervention there.

NATO’s Secretary General proclaims NATO’s mission as one to “prevent conflict and preserve peace,” yet it paradoxically and very intentionally engineered the war in Libya, overthrew the government in Tripoli, and triggered regional chaos that not only plagues North Africa to this day – but also inundated Europe with refugees fleeing the conflict.

Europe is one of the few places NATO could conceivably claim any mandate to protect or operate in – yet its own wars of aggression abroad directly compromised European safety and security.

The media blackout that has shrouded the true impact of NATO’s intervention in Libya for the past 8 years helps enable the US and its NATO partners to perpetrate additional proxy wars and political interventions elsewhere.

As the US openly pursues aggressive regime change in Venezuela and meddles in the internal politics of nations across Southeast Asia, the “fruits” of US intervention in places like Libya should always be kept in mind.

What is most alarming of all is considering that the US-led intervention in Libya may not necessarily be a failure. It is only a failure if one believed the US truly sought a better future for the nation. However, if the fruits of perpetual chaos and an equally perpetual pretext for the US militarization of Africa were intentionally set out for from the beginning – then in many ways – Libya was a resounding success.

Depending on how the current fighting around Tripoli unfolds, whether or not a unified Libya emerges, and whose foreign military presence and economic interests are allowed to persist on Libyan soil thereafter – will help determine just how successful Washington’s true agenda in Libya – and in Africa – has been.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

In Iraq, as US Influence Ebbs, Iran’s Flows

March 31, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson – NEO) – In the dead of Christmas night last year, to evade possibly being shot down, US President Donald Trump made a surprise, whirlwind visit to US troops in Iraq.

He visited Al Asad Air Base about 100 miles west of Baghdad in Al Anbar province, or about halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border where US forces are also operating. Between Al Asad and Baghdad are the notorious cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, hotbeds of resistance after the 2003 US invasion, and since then, hotbeds of extremism fueling the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

The base is home to about 5,000 US service members.

As in Syria, America’s presence in Iraq seems to be clinging to areas where extremism and separatism are greatest. In many instances, it is the US openly and deliberately encouraging both, especially in Kurdish territory stretching over both nations, but also in areas dominated by Sunni Muslims where extremist fronts like Al Qaeda and IS believe they can find support.

The fact that President Trump visited American forces in the dead of night, meeting no one from the actual Iraqi military or government, helps illustrate the increasingly isolated position the US holds in Iraq.

While the US claims it is fighting extremists from Syria to Iraq and beyond, with Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Iraqi forces clearing these extremists out of virtually all corners of Syria and Iraq except where US forces occupy, it seems the US isn’t fighting extremism, it is cultivating it.

Enter Iran

Several months later, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made his first official visit to Iraq. His trip brought him to the center of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. There he met with top representatives of the Iraqi government including Iraqi President Barham Salih. He also travelled through the city to visit Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, a particularly important pilgrimage site for Shia’a Muslims.

President Rouhani had previously commented on Trump’s swooping in at night and his failure to meet with any actual Iraqis in an open and official capacity. The Washington Post would quote President Rouhani as also stating:

“You have to walk in the streets of Baghdad … to find out how people will welcome you.”

In addition to meeting Iraqi representatives and leaders, and travelling through Baghdad, President Rouhani also signed agreements involving “oil and gas, land transport, railways, agriculture, industry, health and regarding the central bank,” the Washington Post would report.

French news portal France24 would note in their article, “Iraq attempts balancing act as Iran’s Rouhani arrives for first official visit,” that:

Last year, Iran’s exports to Iraq amounted to nearly $9 billion. Tehran hopes to increase the roughly $13 billion volume in trade between the two neighbouring countries to $20 billion. Also, some 5 million religious tourists bring in nearly $5 billion a year as Iraqis and Iranians visit Shiite holy sites in the two countries.

The article would note the growing ties between the two nations and the growing influence Iran has over Iraq in contrast to America’s ebbing presence there.

Iraq-Iran Ties are Built on Mutual Interests – US Ties are Built on Fabricated Threats 

The Trump-Rouhani visits and the stark contrast between the two illustrates another very important point.

President Trump would openly admit the US was in Iraq to “to watch Iran,” the New York Times would report.

The New York Times would also report:

Mr. Trump’s comments come as the United States has quietly been negotiating with Iraq for weeks to allow perhaps hundreds of American commandos and support troops now operating in Syria to shift to bases in Iraq and strike the Islamic State from there. Military leaders are seeking to maintain pressure on the militant group as the president fundamentally reorders policy toward Syria and toward Afghanistan, where peace talks with the Taliban are underway.

Yet there are serious problems with this claim. President Rouhani’s visit highlights Iran as a key ally for Iraq.

In terms of security, Iranian-backed militias helped rid Iraq as well as neighboring Syria of Al Qaeda, its affiliates and IS.

And as just pointed out, Iran is also a key economic partner for Iraq.

The US on the other hand has little to offer in terms of security or economics. Its presence in Iraq to allegedly fight extremists it and its regional allies themselves helped fund and arm in the first place, only adds to Iraq’s many security challenges.

In terms of economics, while the US provides Iraq a large export market, it is a market still dwarfed by China and India. It is also smaller than the combined export market of Iraq’s major European trade partners. The geographical proximity of Iraq and Iran to one another means deeper and more practical economic ties can be developed than anything on offer by the US, if economic partnership was actually one of Washington’s goals.

By President Trump’s own admission, the US is in Iraq not to assist it in any way, but to use it for Washington’s own self-serving agenda regarding neighboring Iran. Since the United States and its Persian Gulf allies have nothing of significant value to offer Iraq in terms of real security or economics, it is instead playing a diplomatic balancing act where it associates with and radicalizes Sunni communities, then poses as combating the terrorism that predictably results.

It is a balancing act that is hardly sustainable, especially opposite the significant security and economic benefits Iran can counter-offer Baghdad.

It is not hard to see why Iran’s influence in the Middle East continues to flow, despite being targeted by the US through an array of subversive measures, while US influence in the region ebbs despite having a clear advantage in terms of resources and military might.

It is also not hard to see the significance of remaining US bases in Iraq being in Kurdish areas or regions where extremism still persists. The US presence in Al Anbar, as pointed out as far back as 2017, along with supposed reconstruction aid offered by Washington’s Persian Gulf allies, all seems to point toward a strategy of growing an extremist threat to serve as a counterweight or spoiler against Iran’s constructive contributions to Iraq’s security situation and economic growth.

It is a strategy that will only further exhaust US credibility and resources, as well as those of its regional partners, all while forcing it opponents to expand further and dig in deeper, as Iran has been doing.

Despite claims that the biggest threats to US interests and national security are extremists in the Middle East, or even revisionist states like Russia and China, in truth, the United States’ biggest enemy is its own unsustainable foreign policy and the exhausting aggression that underpins it. Its ebbing influence in Iraq despite the trillions in dollars and many years invested there, serves as “exhibit A.”

Gunnar UIson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Syria: Is US Fighting ISIS or Liquidating Assets?

March 30, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – That the “final stronghold” of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) resides in US occupied territory in Syria says it all.

From US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memos dating back to 2012 noting efforts to create a “Salafist” [Islamic] “principality” [State] in eastern Syria precisely where ISIS rose and now clings to its “final stronghold,” to the obvious fact that ISIS’ fighting capacity was only possible through extensive state sponsorship – it was already clear that the US and its partners in regime change against Syria had been using terrorists including ISIS as proxy ground forces.

Now the US claims it has cornered and is on the verge of defeating ISIS – despite the terrorist group having been cleared out of virtually every other corner of the nation by Syrian, Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces long ago.

In reality, the US is merely liquidating assets it had harbored, protected, armed, and funded throughout the 8 year proxy war until no longer politically feasible.

CNN in its article, “Thousands of ISIS troops surrender amid attack on final stronghold in Syria,” uncritically claims:

At its height, ISIS controlled huge swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq. The US-led coalition has been working for years to oust the group from cities and towns.

CNN omits entirely any mention of the source of ISIS’ fighting capacity and the fact that its supply lines led directly out of NATO-member Turkey and was overseen by US special forces and intelligence agencies.

CNN also omits that it wasn’t until the 2015 Russian military intervention when Russian air power attacked and cut ISIS supply lines that ISIS began suffering defeat across Syrian territory – first and foremost in territory being retaken by Syrian forces and its allies.

In territory illegally-occupied by the US, it appears that ISIS militants and other extremists were simply being shuffled around. In other cases, US forces attacked the Syrian military and their allies when attempting to cross into US-occupied territory in pursuit of ISIS forces. This game has carried on to the point of absurdity with the largest and most powerful military in the world only now creeping in last across the finish line of its own supposed battle against ISIS.

What Becomes of Surrendering and Fleeing ISIS Militants? 

CNN also claims:

More than 3,000 ISIS fighters have surrendered amid a pitched battle by US-backed forces to retake the last ISIS stronghold in Syria.   

The article also notes that many more may attempt to flee. The US has not made it clear what will happen with these fighters, or others “fleeing” from the supposed US-backed offensive. In certain cases, it seems Washington has singled interest in sending foreign fighters back to their countries of origin – which means many will simply be reintegrated into society where local intelligence agencies will keep tabs on them, use them for domestic distractions, or redeploy them to Washington’s next proxy war when required.

A recent Iraqi military deployment near the Syrian-Iraqi border consisting of Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) amid the ongoing US offensive in Syria indicates that at least Baghdad believes Washington’s “defeat” of ISIS is more likely another attempt to shuffle valuable proxy fighters around on the battlefield – and this time – back into Iraq and in particular, into Al Anbar governorate where the US still maintains a military presence and where they will continue receiving defacto US protection.

Al-Masdar News in an article titled, “Iraqi reinforcements deploy to Syrian border as ISIS terrorists attempt to escape Syria,” would note:

The Iraqi Armed Forces deployed a large number of military personnel to the Syrian border this week to block any Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) from fleeing into Iraq.

 According to a new report, the Iraqi Army and Hashd Al-Sha’abi deployed these reinforcements to the Anbar-Deir Ezzor border after some Islamic State terrorists were suspected of sneaking into Iraq from eastern Syria.

It was the rise of ISIS inside Iraq and its crossing over into Syrian territory that set the pretext for the now ongoing US occupation of Syrian territory. The threat of ISIS “resurging” in Iraq also serves as an ongoing pretext for US forces still based there.

The rise of Iranian-backed militias throughout Iraq has become a potent counterweight to US-backed proxies attempting to take root there once again, and will make it infinitely more difficult for the US to repeat the scale and duration of the ISIS scourge the US visited upon the region.

The term “liquidate” in this context doesn’t necessarily mean destroying ISIS formations entirely – but instead simply moving them where they can be protected in Al Anbar and reconstituted to either continue serving as a pretext for US troops to remain in the region, or to fight in future proxies wars the US is planning in the wake of its current defeat in Syria.

While the Western media is attempting to hail this “final battle” as a victory for US forces – it is in actuality an indictment of America’s complicity in ISIS’ creation, proliferation across the region, and its longevity on the battlefield – suspiciously where US forces are operating.

The real story isn’t that the US is finally moving in on ISIS’ “last stronghold,” it’s that the US presided over the “last stronghold” for so long.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Assad’s Tehran Visit Signals Iran’s Victory in Syria

March 9, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – For the first tiirme since war broke out in Syria in 2011, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has travelled to Iran to meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

President Assad had only travelled outside of Syria on two other occasions during the war – both times to Russia.

The significance of the trip cannot be understated – it was a message sent to those who orchestrated the proxy war against Syria that Damascus has prevailed and instead of driving a wedge between it and its allies in Moscow and Tehran – it has only drawn these regional powers closer together.

The symbol of solidarity between Syria and Iran comes at a time when Washington finds itself vacillating between a full withdrawal from Syria, a redeployment to Iraq, or an attempt to drag out the conclusion of the Syrian conflict for as long as possible by keeping US forces there indefinitely.

The Washington Post in its article, “Syria’s Assad visits Iran in rare trip abroad,” would admit:

U.S. officials said Trump’s decision authorizing a small number of U.S. troops to stay is a key step in creating a larger multinational observer force that would monitor a so-called safe zone along Syria’s border with Turkey. The buffer zone is meant to prevent clashes between Turkey and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. It is also aimed at preventing Assad’s forces and Iran-backed fighters from seizing more territory.

The US will also seek to preserve militants – many of which are openly aligned with designated terrorist organizations – still occupying the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib.

While the US has certainly failed in its goal of regime change in Syria and even as it appears weak and confused regarding its policy in Syria and the Middle East in general – its potential to prolong the Syrian conflict and leave the nation more or less permanently divided persists.

Iran is in Syria for Good 

President Assad’s visit to Iran was not only a symbolic gesture of gratitude for Iran’s role in helping Syria prevail over US aggression – it is also a clear sign that Iranian influence has only grown in Syria. Iranian-backed militias have spread across both Syria and Iraq to confront US and Persian Gulf-backed terrorists including various factions of Al Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) itself.

Washington’s gamble banked on what it had hoped would be a relatively quick regime change operation following along the same lines as the US-backed proxy war in Libya. The Syrian government was meant to fold quickly – the US appears not to have anticipated its resilience nor the eventual Russian military intervention in 2015. Washington may also not have anticipated the scale and efficacy of the commitment made by Tehran.

Instead of liquidating one of Iran’s allies thus further isolating Tehran ahead of US-backed regime change efforts aimed directly at Iran – the terrorist proxies the US and its regional partners sponsored in Syria served as impetus for Tehran to broaden and deepen the presence of its forces – including militias sponsored by Iran – across the region, and specifically in Syria and Iraq.

US policy papers predating the 2011 proxy war against Syria – including the RAND Corporation’s 2009 publication titled, “Dangerous But Not Omnipotent : Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East,” noted that much of Iran’s domestic and regional policies revolved around self-defense.

The RAND paper itself would note:

Iran’s strategy is largely defensive, but with some offensive elements. Iran’s strategy of protecting the regime against internal threats, deterring aggression, safeguarding the homeland if aggression occurs, and extending influence is in large part a defensive one that also serves some aggressive tendencies when coupled with expressions of Iranian regional aspirations. It is in part a response to U.S. policy pronouncements and posture in the region, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Iranian leadership takes very seriously the threat of invasion given the open discussion in the United States of regime change, speeches defining Iran as part of the “axis of evil,” and efforts by U.S. forces to secure base access in states surrounding Iran.

RAND also noted Iran’s preference for asymmetrical warfare over conventional military forces and the use of resistance militias across the region. The report would note:

Some of Iran’s asymmetric capabilities are threatening. Because of its inferior conventional military forces, Iran’s defense doctrine, particularly its ability to deter aggressors, relies heavily on asymmetric warfare. Iranian strategists favor guerilla efforts that offer superior mobility, fighting morale, and popular support (e.g., the Hezbollah model in Lebanon) to counter a technologically superior conventional power— namely, the United States.

These militias would end up playing a significant role in neutralizing both asymmetrical forces sponsored by the US and its regional partners, as well as conventional military forces deployed by the US and Europe in both Syria and Iraq. It is clear that US policymakers were aware of Iran’s capabilities – and either ignored them or believed their own plans had sufficiently accounted for them.

Iran’s significant and long-term investments in sponsoring resistance forces including Hezbollah and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) across the Middle East coupled with Russia’s significant conventional military capabilities left little chance for success for US-sponsored militants – with Russia’s role in Syria preventing a more muscular conventional military response from the US when its proxy forces began to crumble.

The US and its regional partners – particularly Israel – have expressed a determination to dislodge the growing Iranian presence their own proxy war on Syria necessitated. However, despite repeated Israeli airstrikes on Syrian territory – it is clear that such airstrikes alone will accomplish very little and in the long-term even signals weakness that will only further rally Iran’s allies, justify their continued expansion across the region, and further broaden and deepen their positions well beyond Iran’s own borders – making a US-led regime change war against Iran itself a more remote possibility than ever.
America’s Flagging Unipolar Order 

The US faces an ignominious retreat from the Middle East – as well as from other areas around the globe. Its refusal to shift from its 20th century unipolar hegemonic ambitions to a constructive 21st century multipolar player may be closing permanently windows of opportunity that will cost it significantly as others displace its influence and reach in regions like the Middle East.

Russia and Iran are clearly benefactors of Washington’s stubbornness. But as Russia and Iran have both repeatedly expressed a desire for more constructive relations with the United States – perhaps policymakers in Washington believe they can risk pursuing destructive hegemonic ambitions to carve out or coerce from the region the best position possible in the Middle East before coming to the table to negotiate.

More likely though – the world is witnessing a 21st century rendition of the British Empire’s withdrawal from around the globe, stubbornly being thrown out of one corner of its realm after the other until relegated as Washington’s subordinate. For Washington, there is no other Western power for it to hand the torch of Western imperialism over to. Once it is evicted from around the globe, it will struggle to find a relevant or more constructive role to play in these regions ever again.

By virtue of Washington’s shortsightedness and its inability to adapt to the world as it really is versus how Washington desires it to be – Washington has proven itself unfit to lead the “international order” it presumes dominion over.

In a global order predicated on “might makes right,” Washington is now faced with the reality of no longer being mightiest, and thus no longer “right.”

Iran’s patient and measured resistance has proven capable of challenging and rolling back American hegemony in the Middle East and serving the ultimate goal of Tehran’s asymmetrical strategy – the defense of Iran itself.

While the prospect of US war with Iran can never be fully ruled out, it is a possibility that appears to be fading into the distance as US power wanes regionally and globally. But a flagging empire is a desperate empire. While the days of US regime change wars burning a path of destruction across the Middle East appear to be over, continued patience and persistence must be maintained by Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies to ensure the victories they are celebrating today endure and are expanded upon well into the future.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

This Map Shows a Trillion-Dollar Reason Why US is Backing Terrorism in Western China

February 26, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – As part of a larger, concerted effort to encircle and contain China, an ongoing disinformation campaign has been waged by the Western media against Beijing’s massive global infrastructure building spree known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

A recent and particularly appalling example of this comes from a Business Insider article titled, “This map shows a trillion-dollar reason why China is oppressing more than a million Muslims.”

The article has been widely circulated by the Western-funded fronts cited in the article itself, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) whose executive director – Kenneth Roth – would claim in a social media post:

China’s mass detention of Uighur Muslims is driven [not] only by Islamophobia but also by the centrality of their Xinjiang region to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Claims that Chinese policy is “driven by Islamophobia” are particularly absurd. China’s closest ally and partner in the region is Pakistan – an undoubtedly Muslim-majority nation. Roth never explains why the BRI’s “centrality” would drive “mass detentions” in Xinjiang when Chinese infrastructure projects elsewhere – both within China and abroad – including across Muslim-majority Pakistan – do not feature nor necessitate such “detentions.” 

 


Something is clearly missing from the Business Insider’s, Human Rights Watch’s, and the rest of the Western media’s Xinjiang narrative.The Business Insider article claims:

Beijing has been cracking down on Uighur life in on Xinjiang. Officials say its repression is a necessary counter-terror operation, but experts say it’s actually to protect their BRI projects.

These “experts” never explain why Beijing officials would feel the need to “protect their BRI projects.” Nor do they explain from whom they need protection. The obvious explanation is in fact that – as Beijing has stated – Xinjiang faces a significant terrorist threat.

A minority among Xinjiang’s Uyghur population has undoubtedly been radicalized and has carried out scores of high-profile terrorist attacks across not only Xinjiang, but across all of China in recent years.

A Reuters article published by Business Insider in 2014 titled, “Knife-Wielding Attackers In Chinese Train Station Leave 27 Dead, 109 Injured,” details just one of many attacks carried out by Uyghur extremists.

2015 Reuters article also published by Business Insider confirms that the attackers were in fact Uyghur terrorists. The train station located in Kunming is over 2,000 miles from the Xinjiang region – illustrating the reach of the terrorist threat Beijing is dealing with.

Despite these previous – well-known admissions – published by Business Insider itself – the media platform as well as many others, alongside fronts like HRW unashamedly feign ignorance over China’s very real security concerns in Xijiang today.

Western Propaganda Inverts Reality  

The Business Insider article claims:

China’s government has for years blamed the Uighurs for a terror, and say they saying the group is importing Islamic extremism in Central Asia.

But there’s another reason why Beijing wants to clamp down on Uighurs in Xinjiang: The region is home to some of the most important elements of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s flagship trade project.

Here – Business Insider deliberately inverts cause and effect – claiming China is cracking down on Uyghurs simply because vital segments of its BRI project pass through Xinjiang – instead of cracking down because of very real terrorism threatening an obviously essential economic corridor.

And as Business Insider’s own map reveals, China’s BRI passes through many other regions inside China and beyond – including regions dominated by Muslim communities absent of similar tensions.


Uyghur Terrorism is Real 

It is clear that Business Insider, HRW, and others are deliberately mischaracterizing China’s policies in Xinjiang and misrepresenting the root cause of Uyghur extremism. But even the article itself admits a very real security threat, stating:

China has accused militant Uighurs of being terrorists and inciting violence across the country since at least the early 2000s, as many Uighur separatists left China for places like Afghanistan and Syria to become fighters.

US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America (VOA) in an article titled, “Analysts: Uighur Jihadis in Syria Could Pose Threat,” would admit (emphasis added):

Analysts are warning that the jihadi group Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in northwestern Syria could pose a danger to Syria’s volatile Idlib province, where efforts continue to keep a fragile Turkey-Russia-brokered cease-fire between Syrian regime forces and the various rebel groups. 

The TIP declared an Islamic emirate in Idlib in late November and has largely remained off the radar of authorities and the media thanks to its low profile. Founded in 2008 in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, the TIP has been one of the major extremist groups in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 2011. 

The TIP is primarily made up of Uighur Muslims from China, but in recent years it also has included other jihadi fighters within its ranks.

The article also admits that up to 3,000 militants may have fought for TIP in Syria and warned of the possibility that these militants might transfer their fighting skills back to China.

Such admissions – even from official US state media operations – help expose the current disinformation campaign targeting Beijing for supposed “repression,” and means that Western special interests – including the US government itself – are at the very least undermining China’s legitimate counter-terrorism efforts.

US is Intentionally Fomenting Violence in Xinjiang to Disrupt the BRI

But clues even in Business Insider’s own article reveal US support for undermining Chinese internal security goes far beyond mere disinformation.

Among the “experts” Business Insider cites includes Rushan Abbas described by the article as a “Uyghur activist in Virginia.”

What the article intentionally omits is that Abbas is actually a long-time employee and contractor of the US government – admitting in her own biography posted by a Washington DC-based consulting firm she works for, that:

[Rushan Abbas] has extensive experience working with U.S. government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, and various U.S. intelligence agencies.

The biography also admits:

She was also employed at L-3, as a consultant at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom during 2002- 2003 and as a news reporter at Radio Free Asia. 

Ms. Abbas has also worked as a linguist and translator for several federal agencies including work for the US State Department in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and for President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush.

Her claims that family members were abducted due to her US-based “activism” fit into a pattern of fabricated human rights “outrages” used to paint targets of US coercion and aggression in the worst possible light.

Abbas is just one of many working out of Washington DC to support what is openly US-backed Uyghur separatism in Xinjiang.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – a US government-funded organization dedicated to political interference worldwide – has an entire page dedicated to “Xinjiang/East Turkistan” – East Turkistan being the state Uyghur extremists seek to carve out of territory recognized under international law as China.

Subversive organizations openly promoting separatism such as the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) also maintain offices in Washington DC and receive money and support directly from the US government.

Also a poorly guarded secret is the extensive amount of US arms, equipment, money, and other material support provided to terrorists waging war against the Syrian government – among which include Uyghur terrorists as admitted by VOA itself.

From Washington DC, to the battlefields of northern Syria, to Xinjiang itself – the US is openly cultivating a vast terrorist threat to pose as a significant roadblock to China’s BRI.

Is the public really meant to believe a state-sponsored terrorist threat aimed at crippling a multi-trillion dollar economic corridor is not reason enough for Beijing to launch an extensive counter-terrorism campaign? Not only is Washington fomenting terrorism in western China, it is attempting to cripple Beijing’s internal security operations in response to it – all by leveraging and abusing human rights advocacy and portraying the victim of US-sponsored terrorism as a culprit.

That all of this context was intentionally omitted from Business Insider as well as by Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch proves that the West is waging war against China and its economic expansion not only on the ground from Washington to Syria to Xinjiang, but all across information space as well.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

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