Vladimir Putin’s statement at the annual meeting of the FSB

 

February 16, 2017

Vladimir Putin took part in an annual expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Board to discuss the FSB’s results for 2016 and the priority tasks for ensuring Russia’s national security.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

These annual FSB Board meetings give us a chance to meet and not only thoroughly analyse and review the results of the agency’s work over the period, but also to discuss at length all important national security issues in general and outline the priorities for the immediate future and the longer-term.

The FSB plays a key part in protecting our constitutional order and our country’s sovereignty, and in protecting our people from threats at home and abroad.

Let me say from the start that last year’s results were positive and show good development. This concerns your work to counter terrorism and extremism, a series of successful counterintelligence operations, your efforts to combat economic crime, and other areas.

You ensured a high standard of security for major public events, including the State Duma election and regional and local elections.

I would like to thank both the executives and staff for their conscientious attitude towards their work and their timely and efficient performance of their duties.

At the same time, demands on the quality and results of your work grow constantly. The global situation has not become any more stable or better over the past year. On the contrary, many existing threats and challenges have only become more acute.

Military-political and economic rivalry between global and regional policy makers and between individual countries has increased. We see bloody conflicts continue in a number of countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. International terrorist groups, essentially terrorist armies, receiving tacit and sometimes even open support from some countries, take active part in these conflicts.

At the NATO summit last July in Warsaw, Russia was declared the main threat to the alliance for the first time since 1989, and NATO officially proclaimed containing Russia its new mission. It is with this aim that NATO continues its expansion. This expansion was already underway earlier, but now they believe they have more serious reasons for doing so. They have stepped up the deployment of strategic and conventional arms beyond the national borders of the principal NATO member states.

They are provoking us constantly and are trying to draw us into confrontation. We see continued attempts to interfere in our internal affairs in a bid to destabilise the social and political situation in Russia itself.

We also see the recent serious flare-up in southeast Ukraine. This escalation pursues the clear aim of preventing the Minsk Agreements from going ahead. The current Ukrainian authorities are obviously not seeking a peaceful solution to this very complex problem and have decided to opt for the use of force instead. What is more, they speak openly about organizing sabotage and terrorism, particularly in Russia. Obviously, this is a matter of great concern.

The events and circumstances I have mentioned require our security and intelligence services, especially the Federal Security Service, to concentrate their utmost attention and effort on the paramount task of fighting terrorism.

We have already seen that our intelligence services dealt some serious blows to terrorists and their accomplices. Last year’s results confirm this: the number of terrorism related crimes has decreased.

Preventive work has also brought results. The FSB and other security agencies, with the National Antiterrorist Committee acting as coordinator, prevented 45 terrorism related crimes, including 16 planned terrorist attacks. You deserve special gratitude for this.

You need to continue your active efforts to identify and block terrorist groups’ activity, eliminate their financial base, prevent the activities of their emissaries from abroad and their dangerous activity on the Internet, and take into account in this work Russian and international experience in this area.

The murder of our ambassador to Turkey was a terrible crime that particularly highlighted the need to protect our citizens and missions abroad. I ask you to work together with the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Intelligence Service to take additional measures to ensure their safety.

You must also work to take our counterterrorism cooperation with partners abroad to a new level, despite the difficulties that we see in various areas of international life. It is a priority, of course, to intensify work with our partners in organisations such as the UN, the CSTO, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

It is in our common interests to restore dialogue with the US intelligence services and with other NATO member countries. It is not our fault that these ties were broken off and are not developing. It is very clear that all responsible countries and international groups should work together on counterterrorism, because even simply exchanging information on terrorists’ financing channels and sources and on people involved in or suspected of links with terrorism can substantially improve the results of our common efforts.

Our priorities include firmly suppressing extremism. Security methods must go hand-in-hand with constant prevention work. It is essential to prevent extremism from drawing young people into its criminal networks, and to form an overall firm rejection of nationalism, xenophobia, and aggressive radicalism. In this context, of great importance is open dialogue with civil society institutions and representatives of Russia’s traditional religions.

Counterintelligence services also face greater demands today. Operational data show that foreign intelligence services’ activity in Russia has not decreased. Last year, our counterintelligence services put a stop to the work of 53 foreign intelligence officers and 386 agents.

It is important to neutralise foreign intelligence services’ efforts to gain access to confidential information, particularly information concerning our military-technical capabilities.

This makes it a priority to improve our system for protecting classified information comprising state secrets, particularly with agencies going over to an electronic document circulation system.

I would like to note that the number of cyberattacks on official information resources tripled in 2016 compared to 2015. In this context, each agency must develop its segment of the state system for detecting and preventing cyberattacks on information resources and eliminating their consequences.

The public expects greater results in such key areas as economic security and the fight against corruption. I ask you to be particularly thorough in monitoring the funds allocated for state defence procurement (a subject I have spoken about before), major infrastructure projects, preparation of big international events, and implementing federal targeted and socially important programmes. Regrettably, we still see many cases of state funds being embezzled or misappropriated.

Reliable protection of our state borders plays a big part in ensuring our country’s comprehensive security. The priority here is to close off channels through which members of international terrorist and extremist groups enter Russia, and put a firm stop to all forms of smuggling, from weapons to drugs and various bio-resources.

Of course, we must continue the work to develop border infrastructure where it is not yet sufficiently developed, particularly in the Far East and in the Arctic.

Colleagues, let me stress that we will continue to bolster the FSB’s central and regional branches and ensure you have the most advanced arms and equipment. We will also continue to give attention to social provisions for FSB personnel and their family members.

I wish you success in protecting our national interests and the security of our country and our people. I am confident that you will continue working towards your targets with dignity.

Thank you for your attention.

source: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53883

The Western roots of “Middle-Eastern” terrorism

February 14, 2017

By Amir NOUR[1]

The Western roots of “Middle-Eastern” terrorism

Convinced that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, is unacceptable and unjustifiable, member States of the United Nations were finally able to adopt, on September 8, 2006, a common approach within the framework of the “United Nations global counter-terrorism strategy ». But, ten years later, the “international community” has yet to agree on a consensus definition of the common enemy, which continues to grow and expand, thus inflicting devastation and untold misery, mainly to the States and the peoples of the Arab and Muslim world.

However, in a bitter irony, and in total defiance of established historical truths, these very victims and their majority religion -Islam- are accused by some of the crime of sponsoring transnational terrorism, hence jeopardizing international peace and security.

But who is really to be held liable for the birth and expansion of the phenomenon of violence in modern times, against the consequences of which a number of visionary thinkers like Malek Bennabi and Eric E. Hobsbawm had yet forewarned the world a century ago already?

The opinions exposed in this paper on this burning topic aren’t expressed by Muslim officials or thinkers. They are those of Westerners, at different levels of authority and moral and political responsibility, representing the obverse and the reverse of the terrorism medal, and pointing out the historical responsibility of some Western governments They are representative of a “politically incorrect” voice whose echo is barely audible in the middle of the media tumult skillfully orchestrated by the new “self-righteous”.

Terrorism, Islam and treason of the clerks

Recently, magistrate Vincent Sizaire, author of the book titled “L’Imposture sécuritaire”, explained[2]that the characterization of terrorism is more about political calculation than legal hermeneutics, since it is necessarily the result of a process of balance of power and political assessment, at the end of which the powers to be tend to apply it in a more or less discretionary manner to a particular criminal rather than another. Sizaire highlights how it is problematic, today, to use the same term to refer to activities undertaken by fanatical and obscurantist groups, and to actions of political opponents of authoritarian regimes.

Therefore, there can obviously be no question for the need to put forward a new definition of this concept, one less equivocal. Indeed, it should be pointed out that, to date, no one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman identify 109 different definitions[3]. The United Nations still can’t find an agreed upon definition among its member States since December 17, 1996, date of adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 51/210, by which it was decided to create a special Committee to develop a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It’s so controversial a debate that, according to Oliver Libaw, even in the United States -where the “Global War on Terror” was launched in 2001- “it turns out that no one is all that sure just what ‘terrorism’ is”[4].

Thus, the future still looks bright for the famous and often-cited claim that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”[5]. Never mind! For one school of thought in the West, terrorism, barbarity and intolerance are consubstantial to Islam as a religion. Consequently, in the face of the “crazy Muslim zealots” who “see progress as an evil, tolerance as a weakness and pacifism as a sin”, and “call for murder and destruction”, resistance and relentless struggle are to be opposed within a “long Fourth World War”[6], akin to those waged by the “Free World” against fascism and nazism during the First and Second World Wars, and against communism during the third world war, presumably completed with the end of the cold war in 1989.

Nothing seems to shake the certainties of the proponents of this “dominant thought” often described as neoconservative, mainly conveyed by Western and Israeli think tanks, and relayed by their powerful mainstream media. And it would be pointless to remind them, for instance, that in the absence of a comprehensive international convention on terrorism-a result of the lack of a consensus definition that should be distinguished from the legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination and which should include “State terrorism”- Arab and Muslim States have developed their own legal instruments within their regional groups; that in the 1990s, a country like Algeria fought alone against terrorism -before a suspicious international silence- that cost her more than 200,000 deaths and economic losses estimated at more than $ 30 billion; that 95% of lives lost to “terrorist barbarity” are to be found among Muslims[7]; that the highest official authorities of Islam have condemned without appeal both the ideology and actions of terrorist groups; and that the overwhelming majority of Muslim populations reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as confirmed by statistics provided by Western survey institutes and agencies themselves.

In his time, Julien Benda denounced the “betrayal of the clerks”. More recently, Pascal Boniface pin the “intellectual counterfeiters” who bear a heavy responsibility in “the place occupied by lies in the public debate”. He targets in particular those who tend to equate Islam and terrorism by referring to “fascislamism” and contribute to nurture a neoconservative approach that thrives in the West since the 9/11 attacks.

We have already addressed this issue of Islam as a mobilizing and unifying scarecrow in the West[8]. We have reported “a dangerous semantic shift that we constantly observe since the fall of the Berlin Wall: from ‘counter-terrorism’ actions, we jumped to war against ‘Islamic terrorism’, and then to the fight against ‘Islamic extremism’ “. And we have, inevitably, raised the following question: “Are we soon going to abandon superfluous adjectives and hypocritical euphemisms to openly claim the war against Islam itself ?”. Since then, time and events seem to have proved us right…

Responsibility of the West regarding transnational terrorism

Some people believe that radical Islamism and jihadism are not an exclusive “creation” of the West. To think otherwise, they argue, would be to overestimate the Western influence in areas where many other local and international factors have contributed to their development over a long period of time. That is certainly right, and so is the fact that certain misguided policies pursued by Western powers, particularly by Anglo-Saxon countries, have greatly contributed to the emergence and expansion of these phenomena, especially since the iconic events of 9/11 and their disastrous ‘by-products’: the Afghan and Iraqi military expeditions.

Britain’s role

This view is shared by Mark Curtis, who documented in a book[9] the collusion of the United Kingdom with Islamism since the last century. Based on reliable documentation and government archives, he dissects an aspect of British foreign policy, which has remained curiously ignored or deliberately obscured by the mainstream media. This collusion, he says, has “a long history which has contributed not only to the rise of radical Islam itself, but also to that of international terrorism, which the new strategy of national security of the UK Government has designated as the biggest threat to the country”, and that the highest ranking officer of the British army has identified as “the fight of our generation, maybe our Thirty Years’ War”.

Curtis says that the share of responsibility of London in the emergence of the terrorist threat goes well beyond the impact its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had on a few individuals. The most important fact in this story is, according to him, that the successive labour and conservative governments have, for decades, connived with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organizations. They have, sometimes, trained and financed them in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives, with a view to desperately preserving what was left of British power and influence internationally, mainly in areas considered as sensitive but where it was no longer possible to impose their will and interests unilaterally or by relying on other local allies.

The role of the United States of America

In his book[10] published in 2005, Robert Dreyfuss meticulously documents the American role in this “Devil’s Game”. Drawing on archival research and interviews with policymakers and officials of the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department, he analyzes the consequences of “sixty years of misguided efforts” on the part of the United States in order to dominate the economically and strategically vital Middle East region. Dreyfuss argues that America’s historic alliance with the Islamic right is greatly to blame for the emergence of Islamist terrorism. He concludes by stating that “far from promoting democracy and security”, this policy, which continues to this day, “ensures a future of blunders and blowback”.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of the late U.S. President J.F. Kennedy, also considered the long history of the violent interventions of his country in the region. He explains in a long article[11] in “Politico” magazine why we should look beyond convenient explanations of religion and ideology and examine instead the more complex rationales of history and oil “and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores”. He also describes how “over the past seven decades, the Dulles brothers, the Cheney gang, the neocons and their ilk have hijacked that fundamental principle of American idealism and deployed our military and intelligence apparatus to serve the mercantile interests of large corporations and particularly, the petroleum companies and military contractors that have literally made a killing from these conflicts”.

Moreover, a Foreign Policy Journal article[12] tells us that the White House had made the decision to support the armed radical Jihadists in Syria (that would later emerge as ISIL and Jabhat Al-Nusra) despite the warnings of the intelligence agencies, which provided for the advent of the Islamic State. This amazing information was confirmed by former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Michael Flynn –after he resigned from his post in April 2014, much to everyone’s surprise- who was previously the Director of information for the Center of command of special operations and, in that capacity, had the main mission to hunt down Usama Bin Laden and dismantle Al-Qaeda.

It is worth noting that this piece of information and other related revelations have been reported in a documentary film[13] broadcast by ARTE-TV channel, which explains “how, from Bush to Obama, America has left prosper the blind terror that Daesh took over”. In this film, former members of the intelligence community, representatives of U.S. forces in Iraq, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and terrorism experts trace, with supporting evidence and archives, the thirteen years of “the lost war on terror”.

Last but not least, during the 2016 presidential campaign, the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, said[14]that he meant exactly what he had declared previously in Florida, when he called President Barack Obama the “founder of ISIS”. And when the conservative radio show host, Hugh Hewitt, tried to clarify Trump’s position by saying he understood him to mean “that he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace”, D. Trump objected, declaring “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton”.

France’s role

In his latest book[15], French philosopher Michel Onfray states that “terrorist Islam” was partially created by the bellicose West. Denouncing what he calls “contemporary colonial wars” conducted by some Western countries including France, he argues that Islamic regimes only started to threaten the West once, and only once the latter had indeed threatened them by brutal force.

For his part, Pierre Conesa, former senior official in the Ministry of defense, said[16] that his country “is paying a high price for a war that is not its own”. In this regard, he cites the example of the intervention in Libya where France has “done on its own account what Bush did in Iraq, which is destroying a regime and leaving behind chaos it has no ability to manage”.

In Syria, especially during the period when Laurent Fabius was the head of the Quai d’Orsay, this dubious interventionist policy resulted in total support to the rebels fighting against Al-Assad regime. Believing that the departure of the latter “is only a matter of weeks”, Fabius said in August 2012 “Bashar Al-Assad would not deserve to be on Earth”. And in December of the same year, reacting to Washington’s decision to place Jabhat Al-Nusra on its list of terrorist organizations, he declared: “All Arabs were fiercely against” the American position “because, on the ground, they (the elements of Al-Nusra) do a good job”[17].

In conclusion, we would like to invite the public to ponder the wisdom of a thinker who once said that in the past weapons were manufactured to wage wars, but today wars are manufactured to sell weapons.

Yet unfortunately, it has to be recognized that the rhetoric on the “clash of civilizations”, constantly and tirelessly repeated by some since the end of the cold war and the subsequent disappearance of the “indispensable enemy”, seems to have achieved the objective assigned to it, chiefly by those who benefit from and pull the strings of the perpetuation of conflicts all over the world. This rhetoric has thus produced a dangerous “clash of fundamentalisms’, which is updating the notions of “revenge of God”, “Crusades” and “Jihad”, and adding new ones such as “islamofascism”. The consequence of this dramatic turn of events is illustrated, on the sought and obtained ground of confrontation, by a “clash of barbarities”.

In today’s increasing international turmoil, nobody should be blind to the fact that the biggest danger associated with this change is that since the end of the second world war, the world has entered the age of the “supreme weapon” –the atomic bomb- and other weapons of mass destruction, and that extremists on all sides are promising and fervently promoting a “Cosmic War” for “the triumph of Good over Evil”. For some of them, it is a religious war, the ultimate war prior to the Apocalypse or the end of the world, whose theatre of operations one party sets in “Armageddon” and the other in “Dabiq”, both places situated in the Levant, comprising Syria which is being today put to fire and sword…

Isn’t it insane to believe that our civilized world is unable to find a path other than the one leading toward Mutually Agreed Destruction?

* * *

  1. Algerian researcher in international relations, author of the book “L’Orient et l’Occident à l’heure d’un nouveau Sykes-Picot” (East and West in time of a new Sykes-Picot”, Alem El Afkar, 2014.
  2. In Le MONDE Diplomatique, “Une notion piégée: quand parler de terrorisme ?” (A Tricky notion: When to talk about terrorism?), August 2016.
  3. A. Schmid & A. Jongman, “Political Terrorism“, 1988.
  4. O. Libaw, “How Do You Define Terrorism ?“, ABC News Network, October 11, 2015.
  5. C. Friedersdorf, “Is One Man’s Terrorist Another Man’s Freedom Fighter ?”, The Atlantic, May 16, 2012.
  6. Norman Podhoretz, “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism”, Doubleday, 2007.
  7. 2015 Global Terrorism Index report shows that terrorist attacks are concentrated in just five countries with a Muslim majority: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, totalling 78% of all deaths and 57% of all attacks; the West is remarkably safe from terrorism as 2.6% ‘only’ of terrorist deaths occurred there since the beginning of the 21st century (excluding the 3,000 deaths from September 11, 2001, this proportion falls to 0.5%).
  8. In our book “L’Orient et l’Occident…”, op. cit.
  9. M. Curtis, “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion With Radical Islam“, Serpent’s Tail, 2010.
  10. R. Dreyfuss, “Devil’s Game: How The United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam“, Metropolitan Books, 2005.
  11. http://www.politico.eu/article/why-the-arabs-dont-want-us-in-syria-mideast-conflict-oil-intervention/
  12. B. Hoff, “Rise of Islamic State Was a Willful Decision“, 7 August 2015.
  13. Titled “Du 11 septembre au Califat: l’histoire secrète de Daesh” (From 9/11 to the Caliphate: The Secret History of ISIS), August 30, 2016.
  14. Tal Kopan, “Donald Trump: I meant that Obama founded ISIS, literally”, CNN, August 12, 2016.
  15. M. Onfray, “Penser l’Islam” (Thinking Islam), éditions Bernard Grasset, Paris, 2016.
  16. See: “Les attentats sont la suite logique des bombardements” (Attacks are the logical result of the bombings”, Le Temps, July 16, 2016.
  17. See B. Collombat and J. Monin’s investigation: “Daesh: Autopsie d’un monstre” (ISIS: Autopsy of a Monster), November 20, 2015.

US vs Iran – a war of apples vs oranges

February 07, 2017

This article was written for the Unz Review

One of the most frustrating tasks is to try to debunk the Hollywood myths imprinted on the mind of Americans about warfare in general and about special forces and technology in particular. When last week I wrote my column about the first SNAFUs of the Trump Presidency I pretty much expected that some of the points I made would fall on deaf ears and that indeed did happen. What I propose to do today is to try, yet again, to explain the vast difference between what I would call “the American way of war” as seen in propaganda movies and the reality of warfare.

Let’s begin by the issue of the use of special operation forces and immediately say what they are not: special operation forces are not SWAT or anti-terrorist forces. The US propaganda machine has imprinted on the mind of people in the West that if a force is “elite” and looks “tacti-cool” it is some kind of special force. By that criteria, even some riot cops could be considered as “special forces”. This is, by the way, not only an American sin. The Russians have gone down the exact same ridiculous road and now you have “spetsnaz” forces all over Russia – even the Russian equivalent of the US department of correction which now has “spetsnaz” forces to deal with prison riots! Likewise, the famous anti-terrorist unit “A” (mistakenly called “Alpha” as opposed to the US “Delta”) is exactly that – an anti-terrorist unit and not a military special force. So what are, stricto sensu, special forces? They are a military force which participates to the overall war effort but autonomously and not in direct support of the main/conventional fighting force. Depending on the country and service, special forces can deal with a variety to tasks ranging from providing “advisors” to what Americans call direct action operation such as the recent ill-fated attack on the al-Qaeda compound in Yemen. Just like airborne forces, special forces have often been misused, especially when conventional forces could not be counted on, but that does not mean that SWAT and anti-terrorist forces should be thought of as “special forces”. Special forces are always military forces and they operate in support of military operations.

[Sidebar: some American readers who where miffed by my assertions that US special forces have a terrible real-life record have tried to counter with a logically fallacious argument: what about Russian special forces, are they any better? Examples given where Beslan, Nord-Ost and Budennovsk. There are two problems with this argument: one, none of these events can be considered as “special operations” and, two, even if the Russian special forces have a terrible record, this hardly means that the US special forces’ record is good or, even less so, better. Besides, these three tragedies are totally different. The Budennovsk hospital hostage crisis was, indeed, a total disaster which occurred against the backdrop of another total disaster, the First Chechen war, and which resulted in 130 dead civilians out of a total of about 2000. That is a 93.5% of hostages which survived. Considering that the civilians political authorities were arguably the worst in Russian history and considering that the hostage takers were well over 100 hardened Chechen terrorists, I think that this is not the “disaster” that civilians like to think of. Next, let’s look at Beslan. Here we have well over 1000 hostages when 385 fatalities – much more of a “disaster” indeed. But let’s remember what happened that day: a bomb, apparently one of the biggest one held in the sports hall, blew up which resulted in local civilians (parents) spontaneously storming the school. At this point, the anti-terror forces simply joined in to save as many people as possible and many of them died by shielding the kids with the own bodies. There is simply no way that Beslan can be blamed on Russian anti-terrorist forces. As for Nord-Ost, this is one of the most successful hostage rescue operation in history: about 900 hostages are taken by about 45 terrorists. As a result of the operation, all of the civilians are freed, all of the terrorists are killed and all the anti-terrorist troops survived. Not a single bomb was detonated. However, the tragedy happened after the operation when the medical services simply did not have enough manpower to revive the freed hostages, some of whom even died in buses on the way to medical care. In theory, every single one of these hostages had undergone a full anesthesia (without being intubated) and every single one of them needed to be revived by a medical team. In their worst nightmares the Russian anti-terrorist forces had never expected to deal with such a huge number of civilians needing immediate specialized medical care. The civilian emergency medical response units were completely overwhelmed and did not even know what gas had been used. As a result, 130 hostages died, or about 15% of the hostages. Had the Russians not decided to use gas the most likely casualty figure would have been well over 500 if not more. That is hardly what I would call a failure of the entire operation, including the civilian support. In terms of pure anti-terrorist operation is probably the most successful hostage liberation operation in history. Let me end this sidebar with a simple question: when is the last time that any anti-terrorist force in the West had to deal with a situation involving over 1000 hostages taken by a large number of ruthless military-trained terrorists?]

If one is absolutely determined to assess the Russian record on special operations I would point to the capture of the Ruzyne International Airport in Prague in 1968, the storming of the Tajbeg Palace in Afghanistan in 1979 and, of course, the Russian operation to seize Crimea in 2014. But, again, there is no logical need to prove that Russian can do it well/better to assert that Americans can’t.

Now let’s turn to the issue of a possible war between Iran and the United States.

The dumbest possible thing to evaluate the possible outcomes of a US attack on Iran would be to do compare all the technologies available to both countries and come to some kind of conclusion. For an example of that kind of nonsense, check out this typical article. Generally, the obsession with technology is a typical American pathology which is a direct result of fighting overseas wars against vastly out-gunned enemies. I call that the engineer’s view of war, as opposed to the soldier’s view. That is not to say that technology does not matter, it does, but tactics, operations and strategy matter a whole lot more. For example, while it is true that a modern M1A2 Abrams is vastly superior to an old Soviet T-55, there are circumstances (high mountains, forests) where the T-55, properly engaged, could be a much better tank. Likewise, putatively outdated WWII anti-tank guns can be used with devastating effect on modern APC just as outdated air defense guns can by turned into absolutely terrifying assault fire support vehicles.

US vs Iran – a war of apples vs orangesIn the case of the US attack on Iran, only a total ignoramus would suppose that as soon as the Iranians detect the US attack they would scramble their mostly dated air force to try to achieve air superiority or that they would hope to stop the US attack using their air-defenses. Let me remind everybody here that Hezbollah made exactly zero use of their air defenses (only MANPADS anyway) during the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 and that did not prevent Hezbollah from inflicting upon the IDF the most crushing defeat in their history. Why?

Because generally the American way of war doesn’t really work. What do I mean by “American way of war”? Using airstrikes and missile attacks to degrade the enemy’s capabilities to such a degree that it forces him to surrender. This was tried against the Serbian military in Kosovo and resulted in an abject failure: the Serbian forces survived the 78 days of massive NATO bombing completely unscathed (a few MBTs and APCs were lost, that’s about it). When that failure became apparent to the NATO commanders they did what the US military always does and turned against the civilian Serbian population in retaliation (same as the Israelis in Lebanon, of course) while offering Milosevic a deal: you surrender and we leave you in power. He accepted and ordered the Serbian military out of Kosovo. This was a spectacular political success for NATO, but in purely military terms, this was a disaster (well-concealed from the western public opinion courtesy of the best propaganda machine in history).

In one case only once did that American way of war really work as advertised: during the first Gulf War. And there is a good reason for that.

During the Cold War US force planners and strategist had developed a number of concepts to prepare for a war in Europe against the Soviet Union. Such concepts included the AirLand Battle doctrine or the Follow-on-Forces Attack (FOFA) which I shall not discuss in detail here, but which all placed a heavy emphasis on long-range reconnaissance-strikes systems and the use of air forces to defeat an assumed Soviet conventional superiority, especially in armor. I believe that these were fundamentally sound doctrines which could have been used effectively in the European theater. By the time Iraq invaded Kuwait, the USA had honed these concepts to quasi-perfection and the US armed forces were well trained in applying them. Saddam Hussein then committed a series of unforgivable mistakes the worst one being to give the USA many months to deploy into the KSA (this blatantly contradicts Soviet military doctrine which tells me that Saddam Hussein did not listen to this Soviet-trained generals or that these generals were afraid to speak up).

Apparently, Saddam Hussein believed that having fought the Iranians during the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988) he was ready to take on the USA. Well, he wasn’t. In fact, the way the Iraqis prepared for a US attack was a dream come true for US force planners and analysts because Saddam gave them the absolutely *perfect* target: large armored formations deployed in a desert with no air cover. The US, who for years had prepared to fight a much more sophisticated Soviet conventional military in the complex central European terrain (“Mischgelende” forests, many villages and town, rapid streams, steep hills and riverbanks, etc.) could simply not believe their luck: the Iraqis deployed in the worst possible manner making them an ideal target, much easier in fact that what was practiced for in US desert trainings. The result was predictable, the USA simply crushed the Iraqis and almost took no casualties.

Guess who observed that from right across the border with rapt attention?

The Iranians, of course.

If anybody seriously believes that the Iranians will prepare for a US attack by trying to out-American the Americans I have a few bridges to sell to them.

What Iranians, and Hezbollah, perfectly understood is that the key to prevail against the USA is to deny them the American way of war and to impose them a type of warfare they absolutely loathe. We can call that the Iranian way of war. Here are a few of its key components:

1) Assume that the American will establish air supremacy in 24 hours or less and deny them any lucrative targets. Sounds simple, but it is not. This requires a number of steps which can take years to implement including, but not limited to, concealing, hardening and deeply burying the most valuable civilian and military assets, creating an highly redundant network of communication and prepare for semi-autonomous operations when communications fail, creating a country-wide system of local civilian-military cooperation aimed at the survivability of essential government services including law and order, have procedures in place to compensate for the disruption of energy distribution and the destruction of key transportation nodes, etc. It might be my Swiss training speaking here, but I would assume that over the past 30 years the Iranians have dug thousands of miles of underground tunnels and command posts which allows the country to literally “go under” for as long as is needed.

2) Develop a number of key advanced technologies such as GPS-spoofing, computer network penetration and disruption, electronic counter-measures warfare, advanced mine warfare, small boat operations and, of course, missile strikes not to deny the US forces any portion of the Iranian territory, but to dramatically increase the risks and costs of US operations. This is were a limited number of advanced air defense systems can make a critical difference, especially if successfully concealed.

3) Engage in “horizontal escalation”: rather than wasting efforts in trying to shoot down US aircraft, use missile strikes to destroy US airfields (and ports) in the region. That is, by the way, official Iranian doctrine. Or strike at US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. Target Israel or, even better, the Saudi regime. Force the US Navy to either engage in brown-water or, at most, green-water operations (here the Russian Kilo-class subs will excel) or force them to move back and shut down the Strait of Hormuz (the US Navy hates brown and green water operations, and for good reason, the USN is a blue-water navy par excellence) and the Americans are acutely aware of what happened to the US-built Israeli Sa’ar 5-class corvette when it got hit by Hezbollah fired Chinese-built C-802 missile.

4) Play the time card: time is always against the US military as the expectation is a short, easy war, with as little as casualties as possible and then a quick “out”. The Israelis ran out of steam in 33 days, NATO in 78 – so plan for at least a 12 month long conflict. Western forces have no staying power, let them hope for a “quickie” and then see how they react when it ain’t happening.

5) Use the traditional American sense of superiority and condescension for “sand niggers”or “hajis” and don’t bother trying to intimidate them. Instead, try to use that racist mindset to make them commit crucial strategic mistakes as Iran did when it used fake Iraqi “defectors” who spread disinformation about non-existing Iraqi WMDs to convince the US Neocons to lobby for an attack on Iraq to protect Israel. I find the notion of using US Neocons to make the US get rid of Saddam Hussein and basically hand over Iraq to Iran nothing short of pure genius. This is, of course, why it is never mentioned in western sources 🙂

6) Force the Americans to present you more targets: the more US forces are deployed near Iran, the more targets they offer for Iranian counter-attacks and the more they get politically bogged-down (as shown by the recent Iraqi threat to revoke visas for US servicemen in Iraq in response to Trump temporary visa-ban; the threat is empty, but clearly nobody in the White House or Foggy Bottom ever considered such an option). Basically, being being everywhere CENTCOM forces are hated everywhere.

The above are just a few examples from a long list of things the Iranians can do to respond to a US attack on Iran. We can expect the Iranians to come up with a much longer and far more creative list. By the way, there is nothing new or original in the list I made above, and the Americans are quite aware of it. There is a reason why even though the US has come as close as being hours away from striking at Iran they always backed down at the last second. So we have that endless tug-of-war: the US politicians (who believe their own propaganda) want to strike Iran, while US military specialists (who know better than to believe their own propaganda) constantly try to prevent such an attack. I want to mention Admiral William Fallon here, a true hero and patriot, who bluntly declared about a possible attack on Iran “not on my watch” in direct defiance of his political superiors. I hope that one day his service to his country in a very difficult situation will be finally recognized.

One more thing: Israel and the other regional powers. They are basically the equivalent of the vegetables served in a steak house: decoration. Just as NATO is a pretend force, so is the IDF and all the rest of the locals, including the Saudis, at least compared to Iran and Hezbollah. Yes, sure, they spend a lot of money, purchase expensive systems, but should a war break out, the Americans will be carrying 90%+ of the burden of real warfare, as opposed to politically correct coalition-building. Iran is a very large country with a complex geography, and the only ones who have to kind of power-projection capabilities to strike at Iran other than symbolically are the Americans. Of course, I am quite sure that should the US strike at Iran the Israelis will feel obliged to strike at some putatively nuclear target, return home and declare yet victory of the “invincible Tsahal”. But to the extend that Iran will be meaningfully hurt, it will be by the US, not Israel.

So does that mean that Iran would come unscathed from a US attack? Absolutely not. What I expect the Americans to do is what they have always done: engage in the mass murder of civilians in retaliation for their military failures. I know that this will, yet again, offend some doubleplusgoodthinking patriots, but massacring civilians is an American tradition dating from the very foundation of the United States. Anybody doubting that ought to read the superb book by John Grenier (USAF Ret.) entitled “The First Way of War 1607-1814: American War Making on the Frontier” which explains in exquisite detail how the US anti-civilian terror operations doctrine was developed over the centuries. This is, of course, what the Anglos did during WWII when they engaged in mass bombings of German cities to “break their spirit of resistance”. And this is what they did in Iraq and Serbia and what the Israelis did in Lebanon. And this is exactly what we should expect will happen in Iran. At least, this is the worst case scenario. There are really fundamentally two basic options for a US attack on Iran and I outlined them in my 2007 article about Iranian asymmetrical response options:

Broadly speaking, we see the Neocon Empire has having two options in an attack on Iran:

  1. A short, limited, attack on some Iranian nuclear and government installations. The goals of that kind of attack would be solely political: to appear to have “done something”, give the despondent Americans and Israelis some flags to wave, to “show resolve” and “send a firm message” – the kind of State Department nonsense. If lucky, they could hope to kill some Iranian leaders (although what exactly that would achieve is anyone’s guess). Lastly, it would punish the Iranians for their “bad behavior”.

  2. A more significant military attack, which could not be limited to an air campaign and one which would have to include at least some insertion of ground forces. That would be similar to the strategy outlined in my How they might do it article. The goal of this option would be radically different from the first one: “to punish the Iranian population for its support of ‘the Mullahs’ (as the expression goes in the USA) via the ballot box. This is exactly the same logic which brought the Israelis to hammer all of Lebanon with bombs, missiles and mines – the same logic by which they killed over 500 people in Gaza – the same logic by which the U.S. bombed all of Serbia and Montenegro and the same logic which explains the bizarre embargo of Cuba. The message here is: if you support the bad guys, you will pay for it.

The option I discussed today is the 2nd one, because this is the one which would get most people killed. But make no mistake, since neither one of these options would result in anything remotely resembling a victory (this is a political concept defining an achieved political objective) one would have to conclude that both of these options would result in failure and defeat. Such an attack would also seal the end of the US political role in the Middle-East unless, of course, being a despised elephant in a porcelain store is considered a “role”. But make no mistake, even if the Iranian casualty figures go in the hundred of thousands, or even over a million like in Iraq, the Iranians will not surrender and they will prevail. For one thing, terrorizing civilians has never worked. Genocide can be a much more viable option, but there are too many Iranians to do that and they are too well dug-in in their country to contemplate such an option (sorry, Israelis, even nuking Iran will not result in a “victory” of any kind). The Iranians have been at it for, what, 3000-9000 years (depending on how you count) and they will not be subdued, submitted or defeated with 200 or 70 year old states, or by an AngloZionist Empire in terminal decline.

I suspect that by now quite a few readers will be thoroughly irritated with me. So what better way is there for me to end this discussion than by adding religion to the mix? Yes, let’s do that!

Most Iranian are Shia, that is well known. But what is less well-known is one of the key motto’s of the Shia which, I believe, beautifully expresses one of the key features of the Shia ethos, is: “Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala”. You can find an explanation of this phrase here. It basically expresses the willingness to die for the truth at any time and in any place. Millions of Iranians, even those not necessarily very pious, have been raised with this determination to fight and resist, at any cost. And now think of Donald Trump or General “Mad Dog” Mattis and try to imagine how hollow and grotesque they and their threats look to their Iranian counterparts.

Should I write an analysis of Chinese response options to a US attack? Nah – let’s just say that if the US doesn’t have what it takes to prevail over Iran, an attack on China would be simply suicidal.

Next week, alas, I will probably have to turn back to the dramatic events in the Ukraine.

The Saker

ترامب وأفول العولمة الأميركية

يناير 25, 2017

صفية سعاده

تقهقر الاقتصاد الأميركي

أحد الأسباب الرئيسة لفوز ترامب في الانتخابات الرئاسية على منافسته هيلاري كلينتون، هو الانهيار الاقتصادي الحاصل في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية. ولطالما كان الاقتصاد هو المحرك الفعلي في ترجيح كفة أصوات الأميركيين، إذ إنهم يعيشون في جزيرة قارة ضخمة، وبالتالي لا يأبهون كثيراً لمجريات السياسة الخارجية.

بعد إخفاق رئاسة بوش الابن في تحقيق انتصارات مدوية في افغانستان والعراق، وتوريط الجنود الأميركيين في هذين البلدين، بدأت ملامح فيتنام جديدة تتكوّن مع ما يعني ذلك من تآكل النفوذ الأميركي في مستنقعات آسيا الوسطى والغربية، وتراكم العجز المالي.

وصل باراك أوباما الى سدة الرئاسة، لأنه وعد الناخبين الأميركيين بأنه سينهي الحروب خارج الأراضي الأميركية، وسيعيد الجنود الأميركيين إلى الوطن. وسرعان ما واجهته أزمة سيولة مالية كادت تطيح بالمصارف الكبرى ليس فقط في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، بل في العالم أجمع.

بسبب هذا الانهيار الذي تلافاه أوباما بحجز أموال المواطنين الأميركيين، أعادت دول العالم النظر في نظام معولم قد يطيح بها من دون أن تكون هي مسؤولة عن أخطاء ارتكبها النظام المالي الأميركي الذي أفلت العنان للمصارف الأميركية التي تتصرّف من دون أيّ ضوابط أو رقابة.

العامل الاول إذاً هو زعزعة ثقة العالم بالنظام المصرفي الأميركي، وبالتالي أخذ الاحتياطات اللازمة لدرء تبعات انهيار هذا النظام، كانت نتيجتها إنشاء نظام مالي بديل تترأسه كلّ من الصين وروسيا ويضمّ دولاً أخرى، يتبادل السلع على أساس عملات محلية غير الدولار، ويقوم بمشاريع إنمائية مستقلة.

بالإضافة الى تحوّل العالم باتجاه التفتيش عن حلول بديلة للنظام المالي الأميركي المعولم، نشأت أزمة اقتصادية كبرى داخل الولايات المتحدة الأميركية من جراء العولمة نفسها التي نادى بها، وشجّعها، ونشرها الرأسماليون الأميركيون في الدرجة الاولى.

لقد أخذ الرأسمال الأميركي يتسرّب خارج أراضي الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، ما يعود بالنفع على أقلية محدودة العدد من كبار الرأسماليين الأميركيين، لكنه يؤدّي الى إغلاق المصانع والمعامل والصناعات في أرجاء الدولة الأميركية. انتقل العمل من داخل هذه الأخيرة الى خارجها، وبشكل خاص الى غريمتها: الصين. فلا دولة تستطيع منافسة اليد العاملة الرخيصة الصينية، وأيّ منافسة للسوق الصينية محتومة بالفشل.

التتمة ص8

انهارت الطبقة الوسطى الأميركية، وأصبحت البطالة عالية، وتبخر الحلم الأميركي بإمكانية الحصول على منزل وسيارة لكلّ عائلة، وتشرّدت ألوف العائلات، خاصة أنّ الولايات المتحدة الأميركية ليست بدولة رعائية، فهي لا تؤمّن ضماناً صحياً مجانياً، ولا ضماناً اجتماعياً كما تفعل دول أوروبا، أو كندا أو اوستراليا، أو حتى دول أميركا اللاتينية، على فقرها، ككوبا مثلاً. هذه الشريحة هي التي صوّتت لدونالد ترامب، لأنّ هيلاري كلينتون أرادت أن تكمل مسيرة العولمة، فلقد وعد ترامب بإعادة تفعيل الاقتصاد والمصانع، وإعطاء الأولوية لرفاهية الشعب الأميركي.

العودة إلى ترسيخ القومية

مسار العولمة الذي خطته أميركا يستوجب الهيمنة الاقتصادية الشاملة على العالم، ومن أجل بلوغ هذا الهدف كان من الضروري إلغاء دور الدول الوطنية/ القومية الأخرى عبر محاربة كلّ أشكال الأنظمة الاشتراكية أو القومية، ودفع دول العالم الثالث خاصة الى خصخصة ممتلكات الدولة، وتخلي الدولة عن لعب أيّ دور ناظم في المجتمع أو الاقتصاد. تحرير السوق أدّى الى القضاء على اقتصاد الدول النامية التي لا تستطيع منافسة الدول الصناعية الكبرى، وحوّلها مراكز استهلاك لا إنتاج.

أهداف العولمة اذاً تتضارب مع وجود الدولة القومية التي تدافع عن مواطنيها وعن حقوقهم المادية والمعنوية. فالعولمة تلغي نهائياً مفهوم الدولة الديمقراطية، حيث يقرّر الشعب مصيره، ويُستبدل ذلك بهيئات ناظمة عابرة للدول، كما حصل في الاتحاد الاوروبي، ومثال هذا الاتحاد هو الأقلّ بشاعة من أمثلة دول أفريقيا والعالم العربي. فلقد وجدت دول الاتحاد الأوروبي الفقيرة كاليونان واسبانيا وإيطاليا أنها خسرت قراراتها المستقلة واصبح البرلمان الاوروبي هو الذي يبادر الى توجيه مسار هذه الدول شاءت أم أبت. وفي وضع من هذا النوع يبدو جلياً أنّ الدول القوية هي التي ستطغى على الدول الضعيفة، وفي حالة الاتحاد الاوروبي، اصبحت المانيا هي القاطرة التي تملي على الجميع ما عليهم فعله. الا ان الاتحاد الاوروبي، بما فيه المانيا، هو بدوره فريسة النفوذ الأميركي.

التمرّد على العولمة حاصل اليوم في الدول المتقدّمة والتي عملت جاهدة لإرغام الجميع الدخول في شبكتها. تمرّد مواطنوها، من الولايات المتحدة الأميركية إلى بريطانيا، لأنّ شعوبها لا تريد أن تصادَر حرياتها وقراراتها ومصيرها.

ترامب يتكلم باسم هذا المنحى الجديد، وكما يشدّد على أهمية الحفاظ على قومية ومصالح الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، فإنه أيضاً يؤكد بأنه لن يتدخل في أمور الدول الأخرى، وليس في صدد شنّ حروب على دول لتغيير أنظمتها.

هذا الموقف يقود الى النتائج التالية والتي هي معاكسة تماماً للسياسات التي سبقته:

أولاً: الاعتراف بالدول الأخرى وقبول الاختلاف بين نظامه وأنظمتها.

ثانياً: الاعتراف بتعدّد الأقطاب في العالم، بالرغم من هدف ترامب جعل أميركا الأقوى والأفضل بين الدول.

ثالثاً: الالتزام بالقوانين الدولية في فضّ النزاعات بين الدول.

رابعاً: اعتراف ترامب ان لا وجود للدولة الديمقراطية الا في إطار الدولة القومية التي يقرّر شعبها مصيرها، ورفض خزعبلات الـ establishment الأميركي الذي يتظاهر بأنه يريد فرض الديمقراطية على الشعوب الأخرى بحدّ السلاح والدمار.

خامساً: يريد ترامب القضاء على الإرهاب التكفيري الآخذ في التفشي في العالم، وهو يقول صراحة إنه نتاج الإدارات الأميركية السابقة. أما لماذا أرادت هذه الإدارات دعم وتمويل الإرهاب التكفيري المبني على الفكر الوهابي الإلغائي، فلأنّ هدفها كان استعمار العالم ووضعه تحت الهيمنة الأميركية من دون اللجوء الى جنود أميركيين يقومون بهذه المهمة ويُقتلون، فالمواطنون الأميركيون يرفضون الحرب الا في حال الدفاع عن ارضهم القومية. هيمنة الإسلام السياسي الذي أدرجه أوباما تتطابق مع معايير العولمة العابرة للدول القومية، لكنه لا يتماشى البتة مع مفاهيم الدولة القومية العلمانية، وبالتالي يرفضه ترامب.

The American Empire with Allan Nairn (On Contact with Chris Hedges)

January 28, 2017

Chris Hedges and Allan Nairn, two cautionary voices well worth listening to:

Wave Of US State Department Personnel Resign, Are Fired As Tillerson Takes Control

Global Research, January 27, 2017
Zero Hedge 27 January 2017
White_House

Update: according to a CNN report – so as always take with lots of salt – the story has shifted materially, because according to two senior administration officials, it wasn’t a resignation by the State Department officials, but more of a termination: “the Trump administration told four top State Department management officials that their services were no longer needed as part of an effort to “clean house” at Foggy Bottom.”

Patrick Kennedy, who served for nine years as the undersecretary for management, Assistant Secretaries for Administration and Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Joyce Anne Barr, and Ambassador Gentry Smith, director of the Office for Foreign Missions, were sent letters by the White House that their service was no longer required, the sources told CNN.

All four, career officers serving in positions appointed by the President, submitted letters of resignation per tradition at the beginning of a new administration. The letters from the White House said that their resignations were accepted and they were thanked for their service.

The White House usually asks career officials in such positions to stay on for a few months until their successors are confirmed.

“Any implication that that these four people quit is wrong,” one senior State Department official said. “These people are loyal to the secretary, the President and to the State Department. There is just not any attempt here to dis the President. People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house.” 

Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting spokesman, said in a statement that “These positions are political appointments, and require the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm them in these roles. They are not career appointments but of limited term.”

A second official echoed that the move appeared to be an effort by the new administration to “clean house” among the State Department’s top leadership. “The department will not collapse,” the second official said. “Everyone has good deputies. It’s a huge institutional loss, but the department has excellent subordinates and the career people will step up. They will take up the responsibility.”

Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s assistant secretary for Europe, was also not asked to stay on.

The following org charts breaks out the unfilled appointee positions, in blue, while the red crosses show the resignations

* * *

Earlier:

Demonstrating just how ideologically alligned with the Obama administration was the entire US State Department, moments ago the WaPo reported that “the entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”

The mass resignation took place as Rex Tillerson was inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land.

According to WaPo’s Josh Rogin who suddenly has no more senior level sources left at State:

“I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.”

Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Additionally, “Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.”

“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”

There were more: several senior foreign service officers in the State Department’s regional bureaus have also left their posts or resigned since the election. But the emptying of leadership in the management bureaus is more disruptive because those offices need to be led by people who know the department and have experience running its complicated bureaucracies. There’s no easy way to replace that via the private sector, said Wade.

“Diplomatic security, consular affairs, there’s just not a corollary that exists outside the department, and you at least can afford a learning curve in these areas where issues can quickly become matters of life and death,” he said. “The muscle memory is critical. These retirements are a big loss. They leave a void. These are very difficult people to replace.”

Whether Kennedy left on his own volition or was pushed out by the incoming Trump team is a matter of dispute inside the department. Just days before he resigned, Kennedy was taking on more responsibility inside the department and working closely with the transition. His departure was a surprise to other State Department officials who were working with him.

Rogin’s conclusion: “By itself, the sudden departure of the State Department’s entire senior management team is disruptive enough. But in the context of a president who railed against the U.S. foreign policy establishment during his campaign and secretary of state with no government experience, the vacancies are much more concerning.”

On the other hand, if Tillerson wanted a real clean slate, he just got it.

Trump’s Safe-Zone Mandate: The Blind Leading the Blind into More Blindness in Syria

Trump’s Safe-Zone Mandate: The Blind Leading the Blind into More Blindness in Syria

Big mouth, small ears

Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:29

TEHRAN (FNA)- The man who has been called by psychologists and clinical psychologists “a narcissist with multiple sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies,” has just ordered the State Department and Pentagon to prepare for the establishment of what he calls “safe zones” in Syria.

The safe-zone mandate was included in the text of a draft executive order by President Donald Trump that puts harsh restrictions on people traveling from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Sudan to the United States.

The new Republican president, who wants to bring back waterboarding and believes “torture works and would help,” claims the long anticipated move is “on humanitarian grounds,” giving the State Department and Pentagon 90 days to provide a full blueprint for how they would go about it.

It’s the darkest of lies. He cannot hide such fabrications from hardcore thinkers. They get more aggravated and more provoked by his half-truths and “alternative facts” than the most painful truths:

1- Safe zones would be meaningless without a de-facto no fly zone. It would mean war with Syria and Russia. Even Trump agrees. During the campaign, he had endorsed the idea of safe zones, but also scorned Hillary Clinton for supporting the no-fly zone aspect, citing the concerns about starting such huge new wars. He said, “It would lead to World War III.”

2- The executive order is more than just an attempt at quietly considering potential safe zone options. The US flew no-fly zones over Iraq for more than a decade before the 2003 invasion. Now, it is planning to launch something similar over northern Syria. So it’s not a safe zone. Much as in Iraq and Libya, the de-facto no-fly zones often become precursors to additional military involvement at a later date.

3- This is not about humanitarianism. Washington is resisting use of the term no-fly zone, preferring the more innocuous safe zone. But after initially ignoring Turkish media reports that a deal was struck long before Trump’s presidency, war-party Washington said a protected area could soon be a reality. They say the evolving plan envisages occupation of the zone by their Al-Qaeda-linked proxy forces.

4- The scheme has no UN mandate and suggests the War Party hasn’t given up on the idea of regime change. They seek to eliminate air defenses so they can launch airstrikes against the Syrian military and free up a launching pad for their proxies to conduct attacks deeper into Syria.

5- Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey once said, “The no-fly zone seeks to deny the Syrian military the ability to launch airstrikes against terrorist groups therein.” European sources also told Kuwait’s al-Rai Daily last year, “The plan is to back moderate rebels and cripple the country’s military forces. The no-fly zone would include a ban on the movement of Syrian military forces, designed to neutralize Syria’s ability to carry out airstrikes.”

It’s a dramatic escalation and Trump’s arguing of semantics doesn’t mean much of anything here. Every indication is that the US occupying troops are not content to leave northern Syria. They are there to help terrorists keep the fighting going.

The whole idea is to derail the ongoing peace talks that has already led to an all-Syria ceasefire. It seeks to hinder the use of military power by Iran, Syria, Russia and Hezbollah against the terrorist groups of ISIL and Al-Qaeda that are not part of the ceasefire agreement.

Further still, the clandestine project is intended to provide more arms to US-backed “moderates,” help them use it to recruit and recover, operate out of the zone, deepen US military intervention, and revive the initial military objective, as happened with no-fly zones in Iraq and Libya: regime decapitation.

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