British Hijack Iranian Ship: Another Day, Another Provocation

British Hijack Iranian Ship: Another Day, Another Provocation

July 17, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Had Iran openly hijacked a vessel of any nation, for any reason, plying through waters anywhere on Earth, the US and its allies would immediately cite it as a provocation toward war.

In fact, even without evidence, suspiciously timed attacks carried out last month on tankers passing through the Persian Gulf were cited by Washington and London as a pretext for increased pressure on Tehran despite the attacks appearing staged by the West itself.

Now in a display once again illustrating just who the actual menace is to global peace and stability, the British have openly – even proudly – hijacked a ship carrying Iranian oil allegedly bound for Syria.

The Guardian’s article, “Iran fury as Royal Marines seize tanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria,” would report:

Royal Marines have helped seize an Iranian supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria off the coast of Gibraltar, escalating tensions between the UK and Tehran as the agreement aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear programme unravels.

A detachment of nearly 30 British troops working with the Gibraltarian police intercepted the vessel, believed to be carrying 2m barrels of oil, in a dramatic manoeuvre Spain said had been conducted at the request of the US.

The article would quote the British ambassador to Iran who claimed:

[The UK] welcomes this firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities.

As to why the UK believed it was justified to hijack the Iranian tanker – the article would cite “sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad” the UK and EU placed on Syria – which are in themselves illegal and an act of war.

Stealing Ships from Stolen Land to Enforce Illegal Sanctions 

The UK’s presence in Gibraltar itself is a point of contention between London and Madrid.

Spain does not recognize British claims over the tiny piece of land located at the furthest tip of the Iberian Peninsula. The British presence is one of its many holdovers from its imperialist past. The British presence gives the UK a choke point over the Strait of Gibraltar and all shipping passing through it.

The fact that the British are using the disputed territory of Gibraltar to hijack ships or that the London Guardian is trying to depict it as an operation undertaken while “working with the Gibraltarian police” – when the “Gibraltarian police” are nothing more than functionaries representing London itself – provide a clear illustration of how foreign policy, media, and crimes against international law are being coordinated, justified, and sold to the public by Washington and London.

While Iran has regularly threatened to impede shipping through the Stait of Hormuz in retaliation to Western military aggression – it has never acted upon these threats – reserving them as a means of last resort.

The British and Americans – on the other hand – have literally implicated themselves in disrupting “freedom of navigation.” 

The US and UK both pose as international arbiters and underwriters of what they call “the freedom of navigation” of the world’s seas. They regularly accuse nations like China of impeding such “freedom” in the South China Sea – using these accusations as an excuse to build up a military presence off China’s shores – thousands of miles from their own shores.

They have also regularly cited Iran’s “threats” to shipping through the Strait of Hormuz as another reason Iran should be further pressured, sanctioned, and its government ultimately removed from power.

Yet by hijacking Iranian ships, or likewise intercepting North Korean vessels, or the ships of any nation based on sanctions unilaterally and illegally imposed by Washington, London, and Brussels implicates the West themselves as the primary threat to the very “freedom of navigation” of the world’s seas they claim to uphold.

Provoking War 

From Western policy think tanks to policymakers and politicians themselves – the West has all but admitted it is trying to goad Iran into war.

Sanctions, Western-sponsored terrorism aimed at Iranian territory itself, and provocations – like the recent hijacking of an Iranian tanker – all aimed at Tehran – are moves seeking to trigger a response from Iran that will justify even wider Western economic sanctions and military aggression.

And if Iran fails to provide such a provocation, one might be staged and blamed on Iran anyway.

These are the actions of outlaw nations presiding over a fading international order – one fading specifically because it is so transparently unjust, lopsided, and disruptive toward global stability. It has persisted for so long solely through the maxim of “might makes right.”

The British stealing ships from stolen land to enforce illegal sanctions is a vulgar display of “might makes right,” but one that may possibility be reaching its expiration.

The countervailing multipolar order emerging across Eurasia has an opportunity to oppose this flagrant provocation – not merely on Iran’s behalf – but to erode the impunity that will allow the US and UK to target the ships of other nations in a similar fashion if afforded impunity to do so to Iran now.

For Tehran, it will need to continue exhibiting “maximum patience” while enduring Washington and London’s “maximum pressure” campaign – avoiding the traps both have laid out for Tehran as they attempt to bait the nation into war and change their failing fortunes in the Middle East and around the globe.

The British – still a thorn in the side of global peace and stability despite losing most of its empire – presents us with a preview of what to expect from America even long after it fades as sole global hegemon. Learning to put the UK’s recent provocations in check now will help develop the tools necessary to put in check its future provocations – and those the US will find itself also depending on more and more often in the future.

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

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BBC Says China Building Schools is “Bad”

BBC Says China Building Schools is “Bad”

July 14, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – China’s recent building-spree of schools in its underdeveloped and remote region of Xinjiang – in a saner world – would be good news. But for editors at the BBC it is being depicted as sinister and dystopian.

The BBC’s article, “China Muslims: Xinjiang schools used to separate children from families,” attempts to depict boarding schools – a concept popular in the UK itself – as a “form of interment” and “cultural re-engineering.”

The BBC’s article claims:

China is deliberately separating Muslim children from their families, faith and language in its far western region of Xinjiang, according to new research. At the same time as hundreds of thousands of adults are being detained in giant camps, a rapid, large-scale campaign to build boarding schools is under way.

The “new research” conducted by the BBC is admittedly not even being done in China itself. The BBC admits:

China’s tight surveillance and control in Xinjiang, where foreign journalists are followed 24 hours a day, make it impossible to gather testimony there. But it can be found in Turkey.

“Testimony” gathered in Turkey – one of the nations abetting US efforts to fuel radicalism and separatism in Xinjiang in the first place – is accompanied by satellite photos taken from outer space of vacant lots in Xinjiang being transformed into newly built schools complete with football pitches and jogging tracks.

The images are only proof that China is building schools in Xinjiang. Not of any of the claims being made by the BBC of “internment” or “cultural re-engineering.” The inclusion of the images is meant to serve as convincing stand-ins where actual evidence of the BBC’s otherwise baseless accusations should be.

The BBC Omits the Real “Cultural Re-Engineering” in China’s Xinjiang 

The BBC has been one of the leading voices promoting claims of Xinjiang “concentration camps,” “one million Muslims” being detained, and now the “internment” of children in schools.

The BBC – however – has been relatively quiet for years over genuine cultural re-engineering taking place in Xinjiang – funded by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and abetted by nations like Turkey and even the UK itself through its propaganda and political support of such efforts.

The LA Times in a 2016 article titled, “In China, rise of Salafism fosters suspicion and division among Muslims,” would reveal:

Salafism is an ultra-conservative school of thought within Sunni Islam, espousing a way of life and prayer that harks back to the 6th century, when Muhammad was alive. Islamic State militants are Salafi, many Saudi Arabian clerics are Salafi, and so are many Chinese Muslims living in Linxia. They pray at their own mosques and wear Saudi-style kaffiyehs.

The article also noted (emphasis added):

Experts say that in recent years, Chinese authorities have put Salafis under constant surveillance, closed several Salafi religious schools and detained a prominent Salafi cleric. A once close-knit relationship between Chinese Salafis and Saudi patrons has grown thorny and complex.

And that:

…Saudi preachers and organizations began traveling to China. Some of them bore gifts: training programs for clerics, Korans for distribution, funding for new “Islamic institutes” and mosques.

This pervasive radicalism has translated directly into real violence – another fact omitted completely from the BBC and other Western media coverage of events in Xinjiang.

China’s efforts to reverse the growing influence of Salafism – such as collecting deliberately mistranslated copies of the Koran published and distributed by Saudi Arabia to promote radicalism – have been depicted by the Western media as religious oppression with all context intentionally omitted.

That the BBC claims China building schools teaching Mandarin and Chinese culture in China is “cultural re-engineering” while overlooking Saudi Arabia building Salafist networks thousands of miles away from its borders fuelling very real extremism in western China to begin with – helps fully reveal recent BBC reports on Xinjiang and China’s Muslim community as pure propaganda.

Salafism as a Geopolitical Tool 

Not only does the BBC intentionally omit mention of extremism and violence in regions like Xinjiang or how it came to be, the BBC is also omitting the fact that Salafism itself was admittedly spread worldwide by Saudi Arabia as a geopolitical tool.

In the pages of the Washington Post, the Saudi Crown Prince would recently admit:

Asked about the Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism, the austere faith that is dominant in the kingdom and that some have accused of being a source of global terrorism, Mohammed said that investments in mosques and madrassas overseas were rooted in the Cold War, when allies asked Saudi Arabia to use its resources to prevent inroads in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union.

Wahhabism is closely related to Salafism and the terms are often used interchangeably. The Crown Prince’s admission refers specifically to the Cold War and the Soviet Union, but it is abundantly clear that these networks didn’t simply vanish with the collapse of the Soviet Union, they evolved.

They are now used to help feed extremists into Washington’s many proxy wars around the globe including in Libya and Syria. They are also being used to pressure nations across Asia and to create a pretext for a continued US military presence in Asia-Pacific.

And clearly they are being used to fuel US-backed separatism inside China.

Just as the Western media deliberately misrepresented terrorists waging proxy war on the West’s behalf against Libya and Syria – the Western media is deliberately misrepresenting China’s Uyghur minority, the extremists within that minority, who funds and encourages them, and why.

We’re left with articles like the BBC’s – attempting to undermine China’s global standings by depicting very real efforts to confront very real extremism as “oppressive” and “authoritarian.” It is partly to help provide cover for ongoing efforts to divide China from within, but also to demonize China among global Muslim communities.

Never mentioned by the BBC in its efforts to depict China as persecuting all Muslims – rather than a minority of extremists who just so happen to be Muslims – is the fact that China’s oldest and most important ally in Eurasia is Pakistan – a Muslim-majority nation. Also omitted is the fact that China has many other Muslim minority groups within its borders who live without conflict.

These facts – along with ham-handed attempts by the BBC and others to depict newly constructed schools in a previously underdeveloped and remote region as “oppressive” – help one understand the true obstacles impeding global stability and progress. It is not Beijing – it is those claiming Beijing building schools and confronting real radicalism through reform rather than perpetual war are “villains.”

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

US vs China: Smartphone Wars

July 7, 2019 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – If Washington’s goal was to pressure and isolate China by targeting smartphone giant Huawei, it seems to have accomplished the exact opposite. In the process, the US has only accomplished in exposing its own growing weakness and unreliability as a trade partner amid a much wider, misguided and mismanaged “trade war.”

While we’re only talking about smartphones and economic competition, however fierce, the outcome of this smartphone battle amid a much wider trade war will have an impact on global power and who wields it in the years to come.

Losing Ungracefully  

By May 2019, Huawei had firmly climbed to the number two spot in global smartphone sales at the expense of US-based Apple. By the first quarter of 2019 it had shipped 59.1 million phones compared to Apple, now third place, at between 36-43 million phones, IDC (International Data Corporation) reported.

IDC and many other articles based on its data would note that while Huawei and Apple have traded places in the past over who held second place among global smartphone sales, Huawei’s ascension this time seemed much more permanent.

Those watching the trajectory and inner workings of both tech giants will have noticed Apple’s decline as endemic internal management problems coupled with growing global competition tattered its reputation and consumer appeal.

Was it just a coincidence that just as first quarter sales data emerged, the US announced one of its more dramatic turns amid its wider trade war with China? The Trump administration would announce a ban on all American-made goods to Huawei including microchips made by Intel and Qualcomm as well as the Android operating system (OS) made by US tech giant Google.

Coupled with this move was a public relations blitz across the US media and their partners working within nations moving closer to China. In Thailand, for example, local media trained and influenced by US interests attempted to undermine consumer confidence in Huawei in the wake of US sanctions against the company.

This one-two punch was a partial success. Sales did slump and Huawei was faced with significant obstacles. But significant obstacles are not the same as insurmountable obstacles, and overcoming obstacles is often how true competitors strengthen themselves.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger 

For Huawei, a tech giant integral to China’s wider economic and political success upon the global stage, it has all the resources and support it needs to weather the toughest of storms.

In the wake of US sanctions, and even in the lead up to them, Huawei has begun to source critical parts from non-US companies. It is also investing significantly in its own in-house alternatives to US manufactured microchips and even in an alternative OS to replace Android.

Digital Trends in its article “Huawei’s Android-alternative operating system: Everything you need to know,” helps illustrate just how determined Huawei is to overcome these obstacles.

The fact that work on the OS supposedly began as early as 2018 indicates that Huawei executives are under no illusions regarding American goodwill. If America is to play nicely with Huawei and other Chinese companies, it will be because Huawei and other Chinese companies took steps leaving the US no other choice but to do so.

Android is an open source OS. This means that its code is free for all developers to access and use. It was the key to Android’s wide success, and thus Google’s domination of the smartphone OS market, but it is also a weakpoint in Google and the US government’s attempts to hobble Huawei.

Huawei’s alternative OS will be compatible with the open source Android system. Android applications can still be downloaded and used on a Huawei phone running Huawei’s OS, but instead of doing so through Google’s online application store, it will be done through Huawei’s.

As some media have pointed out, this means that Huawei’s setbacks by being restricted from Android will only be temporary. Long-term, Google stands to lose tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of customers who will instead be using Huawei’s alternatives.

Google could even lose its dominion over smartphone OS development if Huawei made its own alternative as accessible and as appealing as Android, minus the political and economic threats aimed at nations Washington finds displeasing.

Maybe this is why the US appears to be backing off (for now), if only partially, from its initial threats against Huawei. Nothing the US is doing to Huawei actually addresses why US companies themselves are losing the smartphone war to begin with. Should companies like Huawei overcome what little leverage the US still has over global telecom tech, it will have a stronger smartphone product coupled with stronger, alternative infrastructure out of reach of US influence.

In efforts to isolate China, the US may be succeeding in only isolating itself.

US Threats Undermine Confidence in the US, Not China  

Other nations needed little imagination to realise that if the US could target Chinese companies simply for outcompeting American corporations, they could easily find themselves next. This has made them sympathetic to China’s current challenges.

While media influenced by the US in various nations have aided US efforts to undermine China’s Huawei, the nations themselves have not.

In Thailand, for example, the Thai government has moved forward with plans to partner with Huawei to develop its national 5G network despite mounting pressure not to from the US, NPR would report.

Huawei is still a popular brand in Thai markets, in third place behind Oppo (also a Chinese brand) and Samsung, Bangkok Post reported.

Thai government agencies have been assuring consumers that US sanctions will not impact Huawei goods sold in Thailand in the short-term, while Huawei takes steps to ensure there will be no impact in the long-term.

Since Huawei is not the first Chinese tech company targeted by the US in such a manner, and with other Chinese-made smartphones becoming popular in nations like Thailand (Oppo for example), China as a nation will only pour further resources in protecting Chinese companies from the coercive measures taken by the US.

Other nations are not only sympathetic toward Chinese efforts, they themselves will likely take similar measures regarding their own industries.

The ongoing trade war with China is not the only example of economic warfare used by the US. We see much more extreme examples of US economic warfare aimed at Iran and Venezuela.

Growing US pressure placed on Russia is another example. The US has even gone as far as threatening nations like Germany with sanctions for moving ahead with a German-Russian pipeline (Nord Stream 2).

The US has revealed itself as an unreliable trade partner, bitter at any prospect of competition or genuine cooperation. Amid its trade war with China it has pressured its own allies to hamper trade with China, a move that benefits China’s trade partners in no conceivable way. The US is willing to do anything to anyone to cling to global economic supremacy and the power that stems from holding it in its own hands. Sharing it with China and Russia or even its own allies in Europe and East Asia dilutes both the potency of that power, and its ability to weild it with potent impunity.

False Pretexts Aren’t Just for Hot Wars

The US regularly uses false pretexts to launch its many real wars around the globe. Fabrications regarding “weapons of mass destruction” were used to justify the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Disingenuous humanitarian concerns regarding imaginary abuses were used to justify the US military intervention in Libya. Serial but baseless accusations over chemical weapon use has been used to justify US military intervention in Syria.

But fabricating justifications to go off to war isn’t reserved merely for hot wars. The US is citing supposed security concerns to target China’s Huawei, coincidentally just as it permanently overtakes US-based Apple in global smartphone sales, and amid a wider trade war built on entirely different (but also fabricated) claims.

The fact that the US is lying about its motivations to target Huawei should be another warning to Beijing over the trustworthiness of the current circles dominating US economic and political power. It should also be a warning to the rest of the world when doing business with the US.

A robust strategy must be adopted by nations and between nations to protect themselves from the still potent and disruptive power the US holds over global economics.

Whether it is attempts by the US to undermine confidence in a nation’s economy, smear a nation’s tourism industry, attempts to reverse the global success of companies like Huawei or even sabotage energy deals made by the US’ own allies with nations Washington considers adversaries, what amounts to highly dangerous American-led economic warfare remains a critical threat to global peace and stability.

Strategies for protecting national industries by developing domestic industrial capacity and relying less on sourcing critical components from unreliable partners like the US is essential. So is protecting bilateral trade through the creation of financial exchange systems out of reach of US sanctions. Being able to counter Washington’s manufactured narratives used to justify its coercive economic behavior is also key.

Just as growing military prowess and unity of purpose among Eurasian nations have helped impede the growing number of America’s many and very destructive real wars, similar economic prowess and unity of purpose will be required to stifle America’s likewise disruptive economic warfare waged globally.

Huawei’s success or failure serves as a weather vane indicating in just what direction this balance of power is headed.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Convenient “Tanker Attacks” as US Seeks War with Iran

June 13, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO)

…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. 

– Brookings Institution, “Which Path to Persia?” 2009 

For the second time since the United States unilaterally withdrew from the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal, Western reports of “suspected attacks” on oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz have attempted to implicate Iran.

The London Guardian in an article titled, “Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman,” would claim:

Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.

The article also claimed:

Gulf tensions have been close to boiling point for weeks as the US puts “maximum economic pressure” on Tehran in an attempt to force it to reopen talks about the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year. 

Iran has repeatedly said it has no knowledge of the incidents and did not instruct any surrogate forces to attack Gulf shipping, or Saudi oil installations.

The Guardian would admit that “investigations” into the previous alleged attacks in May carried out by the UAE found “sophisticated mines” were used, but fell short of implicating Iran as a culprit.

The article would note US National Security Advisor John Bolton would – without evidence – claim that Iran “was almost certainly involved.”

All Too Convenient 

This news of “attacked” oil tankers near the Stait of Hormuz blamed by the US on Iran – comes all too conveniently on the heels of additional steps taken by Washington to pressure Iran’s economy and further undermine the Iranian government.

The US just recently ended waivers for nations buying Iranian oil. Nations including Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China, and India will now face US sanctions if they continue importing Iranian oil.

Coincidentally, one of ships “attacked” this week was carrying “Japan-related cargo,” the Guardian would report.

Also convenient was the US’ recent designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) just ahead of this series of provocations attributed to Iran.

AP in a May 2019 article titled, “President Trump Warns Iran Over ‘Sabotaged’ Oil Tankers in Gulf,” would claim:

Four oil tankers anchored in the Mideast were damaged by what Gulf officials described as sabotage, though satellite images obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday showed no major visible damage to the vessels.

Two ships allegedly were Saudi, one Emirati, and one Norwegian. The article also claimed:

A U.S. official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships.

And that:

The U.S. already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran. 

This more recent incident will likely be further exploited by the US to continue building up its military forces in the region, applying pressure on Iran, and moving the entire globe closer toward war with Iran.

The US has already arrayed its forces across the Middle East to aid in ongoing proxy wars against Iran and its allies as well as prepare for conventional war with Tehran itself.

All of this amounts to a renewed push toward a more direct conflict between the United States and Iran after years of proxy war in Syria Washington-backed forces have decisively lost.

It is also a continuation of long-standing US foreign policy regarding Iran put into motion over a decade ago and carried out by each respective presidency since.

Washington’s Long-Standing Plans 

Continued sanctions and the elimination of waivers are part of Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” The deal was signed in 2015 with the US withdrawing in 2018.

While the decision is portrayed as political differences between former US President Barack Obama and current US President Donald Trump – in reality – the plan’s proposal, signing, and then withdrawal from by the US was planned in detail as early as 2009 as a means of justifying long sought-after war with Iran.

In their 2009 paper, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (PDF), the corporate-financier funded Brookings Institution would first admit the complications of US-led military aggression against Iran (emphasis added):

...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. 

The paper then lays out how the US could appear to the world as a peacemaker and depict Iran’s betrayal of a “very good deal” as the pretext for an otherwise reluctant US military response (emphasis added):

The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offerone so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

And from 2009 onward, this is precisely what the United States set out to achieve.

First with President Obama’s signing of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, up to and including President Trump’s attempts to backtrack from it based on fabricated claims Iran failed to honor the agreement.

The 2009 policy paper also discussed “goading” Iran into war, claiming (emphasis added):

With provocation, the international diplomatic and domestic political requirements of an invasion [of Iran] would be mitigated, and the more outrageous the Iranian provocation (and the less that the United States is seen to be goading Iran), the more these challenges would be diminished. In the absence of a sufficiently horrific provocation, meeting these requirements would be daunting.

Unmentioned directly, but also an obvious method for achieving Washington’s goal of provoking war with Iran would be the US simply staging an “Iranian provocation” itself.

As the US had done in Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or US fabrications regardings “weapons of mass destruction” Washington claimed Iraq held in its possession, the US has a clear track record of not just simply provoking provocations, but staging them itself.

The Brookings paper even admits to the unlikelihood of Iran falling into Washington’s trap, lamenting (emphasis added):

…it is certainly the case that if Washington sought such a provocation, it could take actions that might make it more likely that Tehran would do so (although being too obvious about this could nullify the provocation). However, since it would be up to Iran to make the provocative move, which Iran has been wary of doing most times in the past, the United States would never know for sure when it would get the requisite Iranian provocation. In fact, it might never come at all.

The alleged sabotaging of oil tankers off the shore of the UAE in May and now additional “attacks” this month could be the beginning of a series of staged provocations aimed at leveraging the recent listing of the IRGC as a “terrorist organization” coupled with increased economic pressure as a result of US sanctions re-initiated after the US’ own withdrawal from the Iran Deal.

Synergies Toward War 

The US has already attempted to leverage allegations in May of “Iranian sabotage” to further build its case against Iran. Washington hopes that either war – or at least the impending threat of war – coupled with crippling economic sanctions, and continued support of political and armed sedition within Iran itself will create the synergies required for dividing and destroying Iran’s political order.

In a wider regional context, the US has seen political losses particularly in Iraq where Iranian influence has been on the rise. Militarily, US-backed proxy forces have been defeated in Syria with Iran and Russia both establishing permanent and significant footholds there.

Despite the setbacks, the success of Washington’s designs against Tehran still depends mainly on America’s ability to offer political and economic incentives coupled with equally effective threats to friend and foe alike – in order to isolate Iran.

How likely this is to succeed remains questionable – decades of US sanctions, covert and overt aggression, as well as proxy wars have left Iran resilient and with more influence across the region now than ever. Still, Washington’s capacity for sowing regional destruction or dividing and destroying Iran should not be underestimated.

The intentional creation of – then withdrawal from the Iran Deal, the US’ persistent military presence in the Middle East, and sanctions aimed at Iran all indicate that US policymakers remain dedicated isolating and undermining Iran. It will continue to do so until its geopolitical goals are met, or until a new international order creates conditions in the Middle East and throughout the global economy making US regime change against Iran impossible.

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

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.

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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”.

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