The good news about the Trump Presidency: stupid can be good!

January 11, 2018

The good news about the Trump Presidency: stupid can be good!

[Note: This column was written for the Unz Review]

Just a few days shy of the one year since the inauguration of Donalt Trump as President of the United States I think that it would be reasonable to say that pretty much everybody, besides the Neocons and a few unconditional supporters, is now feeling quite appalled at what the past year brought to the USA and the planet. Those who hated Trump don’t hate him any less, while those who had hopes for Trump, such as myself, now have to accept that these hopes never materialized. I think that if we imagine a Hillary Presidency then the word “evil” would be a good way to describe what such a Presidency would most likely have been like. Likewise, if I had to chose a single word to describe the Trump Presidency, at least so far, I think that this word should be “stupid”. I won’t even bother, as I had initially planned, to list all the stupid things Trump has said and done since his inauguration (those who think otherwise might as well stop reading here). I will say that it gives me no pleasure writing this because I also had hopes that Trump would fulfill at least some of his campaign promises (even though most of my support for him was based on the fact that he was not Hillary who, I still believe, would have brought the USA and Russia to war against each other). Furthermore, each time I recall Trump’s inauguration speech I have this painful sense of a most important and totally missed opportunity: to finally restore the sovereignty of the USA to the the people of the USA and to return to a civilized and rational international policy. Alas, this did not happen and that is a reality we have to accept and deal with.

I also want to clarify that when I say that the Trump Presidency can be best summed up with the word “stupid” I don’t just mean The Donald himself. I mean the entire Administration (I don’t mention Congress, as Congress as been about stupid for as long as I can recall it). If you wonder how I can call an entire administration “stupid” even though it is composed of often brilliant civil servants, lawyers, academic, technical specialists, etc I will simply reply that I don’t judge an administration by the resumes of those working for it, but simply by its output, what it actually does. If what this administration produces is a lot of stupid, then this is a stupid administration.

Stupid can mean a lot of different things. For example, it can mean stupid threats against North Korea. That is a very frightening kind of stupid. But there is also a very good kind of stupid. For example, I think that the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a wonderful kind of stupid which I warmly welcome.

Why?

Because it is the kind of stupid which tremendously weakens the AngloZionist Empire!

Think of the damage this truly stupid move did to not only the US international reputation (which indeed was already pretty close to zero even before this latest move) but also to the US capability to get anything done at all the the Middle-East. The military defeat of the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan and the political defeat of the USA in Syria just needed a little something to truly make the USA irrelevant in the Middle-East and now, thanks to Donald Trump, this has now happened! Furthermore, there was a dirty little secret which everybody new about which has now become a public fact:

USA= ISRAEL & ISRAEL=USA

Again this is all very good. Even better is the fact that the only ones disagreeing with this would be Honduras, Guatemala, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Togo, Nauru and southern Sudan and, of course, Israel.

The US foreign policy has become so outlandishly stupid that even the most subservient US puppet regimes (say, the UK, Norway, ROK or Japan) or are now forced to condemn it, at least publicly. A lot of credit here goes to Nikki Haley who, following this catastrophic vote, decided to make things even worse by blackmailign the UN and all its member states. Finally, President Trump himself sealed it all by giving Nikki Haley’s speech a very public endorsement.

So stupid as this may have been, and stupid it really was, in this instance the results of this stupid were nothing short of a blessing for the Middle-East: even Hamas is now finally talking again with Hezbollah and Iran!

Just as we can sincerely thank President Obama for pushing Russia and China into each other’s arms, we can now all thank Nikki Haley and Trump for uniting the resistance to the state of Israel and the entire AngloZionist Empire. I can just about imagine the jubilation in Tehran when the Iranians heard the good news!

But good stupid does not stop here. The fact that the US elites are all involved in a giant shootout against each other by means of investigations, scandals, accusations, talks of impeachment, etc. is also a blessing because while they are busy fighting each other they are much less capable of focusing on their real opponents and enemies. For months now President Trump has mostly ruled the USA by means of “tweets” which, of course, and by definition, amounts to exactly nothing and there is nothing which could be seriously called a “US foreign policy” (with the exception of the neverending stream of accusations, threats and grandstanding, which don’t qualify). There are real risks and opportunities resulting from this situation

  1. Risks: when nobody is really in charge, each agency does pretty much what it wants. We saw that during the 2ndhalf of the Obama Presidency when State did one thing, the Pentagon another and the CIA yet another. This resulted in outright goofy situation with US allies attacking each other in Syria and Iraq because they all reported to different agencies. The risk here is obvious: for example, when US diplomats made an agreement with Russia in Syria, the Pentagon torpedoed the very next day by attacking Syrian forces. The recent attacks on the Russian Aerospace Forces base in Khmeimim (and the latest drone attack on that same base) would exactly fit that pattern. The Russians have been complaining for months now that the USA are “non-agreement capable” and this can clearly be a problem and a risk.
  2. Opportunities: when nobody is in charge then the AngloZionist Empire cannot really bring its full force against one specific target. This of a car or bus in which all the passengers are fighting each other for the control of the steering wheel. This is bad for them, but good for everybody else as the only place this car or bus is headed for is the ditch. Furthermore, since currently the US is, at various degrees, threatening no less than 9 countries (Afghanistan, Syria, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Turkey, Pakistan, China) these threats sound rather hollow. Not only that, but should the USA get seriously involved in any type of conflict with any one of these countries, this would open great opportunities for the others to take action. Considering how the US elites are busy fighting each other there and threatening everybody else there is very little change that the USA could focus enough to seriously threaten any of its opponents. But this goes much further than the countries I mentioned here. There is a French expression which goes “when the cat’s away, the mice will play” and this is what we might see next: more countries following the example of the Philippines, which used to be a subservient US colony and which now is ruled my a man who has no problems publicly insulting the US President, at least when Obama was President (Duterte seems to like Trump more than Obama). There have already been signs that the South Koreans are taking their first timid steps towards telling “no” to Uncle Sam.

I am not trying to paint a rosy picture of the situation which is bad, no doubt about that. Having ignorant fools in charge of nuclear weapons is not good, by definition. But I do want to suggest two things: first, that no matter stupid Trump is, Hillary would have been infinitely worse and, second, that there are also some good aspects to the current vacuum of power in Washington, DC.

If we can agree that anything that weakens the AngloZionist Empire is a good thing (including for the American people!), as is anything which brings its eventual demise closer, then there is a lot to be grateful for the past year. The Empire really began to crumble under George W. Bush (thanks Neocons!), and that process most definitely continued under Obama. However, Donald Trump is the one who truly given this process a tremendous acceleration which has, I think, brought it to a qualitatively new level. The risks ahead are still tremendous, but so far the Empire is losing and the Resistance to it is still winning. And that is a very good thing.

The Saker

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Breaking: Houthi air defenses shoot down Saudi Tornado warplane over north Yemen

 

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:27 P.M.) – Houthi rebels have shot down a Saudi warplane whilst it was conducting an attack over northern Yemen. The downed aircraft is of a Western European Cold War-era design.

Reports are emerging that a Panavia Tornado of the Saudi Royal Air Force has been shot down by Houthi air defenses whilst it was on a combat mission in the skies over Saada province in northern Yemen

 

Initial reports of the aircraft downing did not clarify what kind of warplane had been shot out of the sky, leaving mystery as to whether it belonged to the Saudi or Emirati air forces.

 

However, the identification of the aircraft as a Panavia Tornado means that it must belong to the Saudi Royal Air Force since it is the only regional air force to use such a warplane.

At the present time, the type of air defense weapon used by Houthi fighters has not been mentioned.

The Panavia Tornado is a joint British-West German-Italian strike fighter aircraft design originally entering service with Western European air forces in 1979.

 

HOUTHI FORCES DOWNED SAUDI-LED COALITION WARPLANE IN YEMEN’S SA’ADA – REPORTS

On January 7, the Houthis’ air defense forces reportedly shot down a twin-engine Panavia Tornado multirole aircraft belonging to the Saudi-led coalition in the province of Sa’ada in Yemen.

Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported that the warplane was downed with a surface-to-air missile over Kitaf wa al-Boqe’e district of the province.

| الدفاعات الجوية تسقط طائرة حربية تابعة لقوى العدوان السعودي الأمريكي في أجواء محافظة صعدة

In January 2018, the Saudi-led coalition continued its intense bombing campaign in Yemen targeting military and civilian infrastructure controlled by the Houthis across the country. Considering that the Houthis lack air-defense capabilities every lose of a warplane is a significant blow to the public image of Saudi-led forces.

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Over 700 Yemeni Civilians Killed and Wounded by US-backed Saudi Airstrikes in December

Over 700 Yemeni Civilians Killed and Wounded by US-backed Saudi Airstrikes in December

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 31.12.2017

Over 700 Yemeni Civilians Killed and Wounded by US-backed Saudi Airstrikes in December

Bill Van AUKEN

The US-backed Saudi monarchy and its allied Gulf oil sheikdoms have dramatically escalated their bombing campaign against Yemen, the poorest nation in the Middle East, killing scores of civilians within the last few days.

In the bloodiest of the airstrikes, Saudi warplanes targeted a crowded marketplace in Yemen’s southwestern Taiz province on Tuesday, killing 54 civilians.

While coverage of the bloodbath by the US and Western media has been scarce, Yemen’s Al Masirah television network published photos on its website showing the market’s bombed-out shops and the dismembered remains of slaughtered civilians. It reported that body parts had been thrown hundreds of yards from the blast sites.

Among the dead were at least eight children. Another 32 people were wounded in the bombing, including six children.

On the same day, warplanes attacked a farm in the al-Tuhayta district of Yemen’s western Hodeida province killing an entire family of 14, including women and children.

Yemeni sources reported that Saudi and allied warplanes carried out more than 45 airstrikes on Wednesday targeting several Yemeni cities and killing at least another six civilians, including a family of five whose house was targeted in the port city of Hodeida.

According to the Al Masirah television network the number of Yemenis killed and wounded in Saudi airstrikes since the beginning of December had risen to 600 before the latest round of casualties beginning on Tuesday.

This bloody new phase in the more than 1,000-day-old war by the wealthy and reactionary Arab monarchies against impoverished Yemen is driven by the House of Saud’s frustration over its inability to shift the military stalemate and made possible by the unrestrained support from Riyadh’s Western allies, principally the US and Britain.

The stepped up bombing campaign has come partly in response to the failure of a Saudi-backed coup by the former Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh against his erstwhile allies, the Houthi rebel movement. The abortive effort ended in Saleh’s death and the routing of his supporters earlier this month.

Riyadh has also been shaken by the firing of missiles from Yemen targeting both the international airport and the House of Saud’s royal palace. Both missiles were brought down without causing any casualties.

Washington has long relied upon the Saudi monarchy as a pillar of reaction in the Arab world, arming it to the teeth and in the process reaping vast profits for US arms corporations.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia in May, US President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi regime. While the agreement represented the single largest arms deal in US history, it represented a continuity with the policy pursued by the Democratic administration of Barack Obama, which had struck a $29 billion agreement to sell F-15s the Saudis—representing the previous largest single US arms deal—and had a total of $100 billion worth of weaponry slated for sale to the kingdom.

In addition to providing the warplanes, bombs and missiles being used to slaughter Yemeni civilians, Washington is a direct accomplice and participant in the assault on Yemen, a flagrant war crime that has produced the greatest humanitarian catastrophe on the face of the planet. US Air Force planes are flying refueling missions that keep Saudi fighter bombers in the air, while US intelligence officers are assisting in the targeting of airstrikes and US warships are backing a Saudi sea blockade that is part of a barbaric siege of the country aimed at starving its population into submission.

While an estimated 13,600 civilians have lost their lives to the US-backed Saudi military campaign launched in March of 2015, that death toll has been massively eclipsed by the number of lives lost to hunger and disease resulting from the destruction of basic water and sanitary infrastructure, along with factories, farms, medical facilities and other vital resources, and the blockading of food, medicine and humanitarian supplies.

Almost three years into the war, 21.2 million people, 82 percent of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance, lacking access to food, fuel and clean water,. An estimated 8 million people are on the brink of starvation, while soaring food prices have placed essential commodities out of reach for all but the wealthiest layers of Yemeni society.

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced last week that the number of cholera cases had topped 1 million, the worst epidemic in modern history, while the country has also been hit by an outbreak of diphtheria, a disease that has been almost entirely eradicated in the rest of the world.

The apocalyptic scale of the human suffering in Yemen has moved some in the West to make timid criticisms of the Saudi regime. Thus, French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly called Saudi King Salman on December 24 to advocate a “complete lifting’ of the blockade of Yemen. Macron made no move, however, to amend the 455 million euro arms deal struck with Riyadh by his predecessor, François Hollande, providing weapons being used to murder Yemeni civilians.

Similarly, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick pointed to the latest mass casualties resulting from Saudi bombings to condemn the “complete disregard for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, continue to show in this absurd war.”

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of deaths have been caused by illegal Saudi aggression. The war, from the standpoint of both Riyadh and Washington, moreover, is not “absurd,” but rather part of a broader regional strategy being pursued by US imperialism to prepare for a military confrontation with Iran, which has emerged as an obstacle to the drive to assert American hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East.

Finally, the New York Times published an editorial Thursday saturated with hypocrisy and deceit. Titled “The Yemen Crucible,” it accuses the Trump administration of applying “a double standard” to the catastrophe in Yemen by denouncing alleged Iranian arms support for the Houthi rebels, while “having nothing bad to say” about the Saudi bombing campaign.

The Times, a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party establishment, raises the possibility that Iran “could be in violation” of a UN Security Council resolution barring it from the export of missiles and other weapons, and guilty of “escalating a crisis” that could lead to war with Saudi Arabia.

Referring to the recent performance of the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who appeared at a US military hangar in Washington with what was claimed to be debris from an Iranian-supplied missile fire by the Houthi rebels at Riyadh, the newspaper acknowledged that the presentation recalled the “weapons of mass destruction” speech delivered by then US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN Security Council in preparation for the US invasion of Iraq.

Of course the Times supported that war of aggression in 2003 and became one of the main propagandists of the “weapons of mass destruction” lie used to justify it.

The editorial utters not a word of criticism of US arms sales to the Saudi regime—much less about the Obama administration’s initiation of Washington’s support for the war on Yemen—and concludes with claims of seeing signs that the Trump administration is exerting “constructive influence on the Saudis.”

These lies and omissions make clear that if and when Washington embarks on a potentially world catastrophic war against Iran, the “newspaper of record” will once again provide its services as a propaganda organ for American militarism.

wsws.org

The United States: Destroyer of Nations

The United States: Destroyer of Nations

WAYNE MADSEN | 30.12.2017 | OPINION

The United States: Destroyer of Nations

After the Donald Trump administration’s decision to recognize the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, the national aspirations of the Palestinian people to live in their own state have been severely dashed by Washington’s move. Ever since the formation of the United States, it has been American policy to destroy aspirant nations like the internationally-recognized State of Palestine.

The first nation destroyed by the United States was the Cherokee Nation, or Tsalagihi Ayeli, which, beginning in 1794, was slowly decimated by forced removals from territory in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. If Tsalagihi Ayeli was given its rightful independence and sovereignty, it would be seated in the United Nations General Assembly between the delegations of Trinidad and Tobago and Tunisia.

In what was known as the 1830s “Trail of Tears,” the forced relocation of the Cherokee Nation and its dependencies of Lenape-Delaware, Natchez, Swan Creek and Black River Chippewa, Shawnee, and Cherokee Freedmen (freed African-American slaves of the Cherokee) sub-nations to “Indian Territory” in modern-day Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation was all-but-destroyed through disease, famine, and outright genocidal extermination. The Cherokee Nation was led by a chief, or “uku,” and maintained a functioning capital city in New Echota, a few miles north of what is present-day Calhoun, Georgia. The Cherokee Nation maintained a legislature called the Council House, a Supreme Court, and a Cherokee language newspaper. The Cherokee Nation maintained low-level relations with the United States, Great Britain, Spain, and France until the US government took over Cherokee foreign relations. After European-Americans — mostly ancestors of the present-day white racists who dominate Georgia and the Carolinas and wholeheartedly support Trump — began forcing to the west the Cherokee and protectorate tribes out of the southeastern United States, New Echota became a ghost town.

Re-established as an exiled government in Tahlequah, in the Oklahoma Indian Territory, the Cherokee Nation was disbanded by Washington in 1907. In 1938, the Cherokee Nation was reconstituted, however, its sovereignty was limited by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. The bureau, influenced by corporate mining, oil drilling/pipeline, and casino interests, continues to suppress the sovereign tribal rights of hundreds of recognized Native American tribes. A successor state to the Cherokee Nation boasts of recognition by the State of Palestine, which is fitting given the similarities of American involvement in the genocide of the Cherokee and Palestinian peoples. The Cherokee and Choctaw Nations are legally entitled to non-voting delegates in the US House of Representatives. However, unlike the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guahan (Guam), American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas, the US Congress has taken no action to seat Native delegates.

The destruction of the Cherokee Nation was the first of many such actions taken by US imperialists, actions that continue to this very day in Palestine, Puerto Rico, Guahan (Guam), and other nations and territories around the world.

While not as distinct a nation-state as the Cherokee Nation, the Choctaw Nation, which mainly existed in what is now Mississippi, revolved around not a capital city, but a 600 BC religious mound, Nanih Waiya, or “Mother Mound,” built by the Choctaws’ ancestors in what is now Winston County, Mississippi. Like the Cherokee, the Choctaw were forcibly removed from Mississippi to Oklahoma Indian Territory by the US government, acting at the behest of European-American settlers who invaded and occupied their lands. Today, the descendants of these white occupiers constitute the pro-Trump Republican governing authorities in Mississippi. The Choctaw Nation maintained relations with Great Britain, France, and Spain. The first American president and arch-imperialist George Washington decided that the Choctaw and other Native American peoples should be “culturally transformed” to American citizens because their societies were “inferior” to European-Americans. President Thomas Jefferson continued Mr. Washington’s policies.

The Creek Confederacy was also systematically destroyed by the United States. Known as Este Mvskokvlke, the Creek or Muscogee Nation was forcibly removed from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida panhandle to Oklahoma Indian Territory. There was not a single capital city of the Creek Confederacy but there were four major towns: Abihka, Coosa (Kusa), Tuckabutche, and Coweta. The Creek Confederacy consisted of a multitude of tribes banding together in a commonwealth of sub-nations. The Creek Confederacy consisted of the Yuchi, Koasati, Alabama, Coosa, Tuskeegee, Coweta, Cusseta, Chehaw (Chiaha), Hitchiti, Tuckabatchee, Oakfuskee, and several other tribes. In 1799, William Bowles, a native of Maryland who supported the British during the American Revolution, proclaimed the State of Muskogee, with its capital at Miccosuki, near present-day Tallahassee in Florida. Muskogee maintained relations with Great Britain, Spain, and First French Republic. Bowles, an agent for British King George III, was recognized by London as the Ambassador for the “Creek and Cherokee Nation.” Bowles later denounced Native treaties with the United States and Spain. Eventually, he was captured by the Spanish and died in a Havana prison in 1805.

The next major Native American nation to be destroyed by the United States was the Seminole Nation and its Miccosukee and Black Seminole dependencies in Florida. In 1821, the US Army began the forced removal of the Seminole people from Florida to the Oklahoma Indian Territory. Prior to its destruction by the United States, the Seminole Nation maintained relations with Great Britain and Spain. The Seminole Nation never signed a peace treaty with the United States, making it the only Native American nation to refuse a treaty with the federal government, one which would have eventually been violated by Washington, in any event.

Today, a US government-coopted Seminole Nation, many of its leaders being Republican supporters of Trump, exists in Oklahoma, with a capital in Wewoka. The Miccosukee Nation, however, continues to exist on a reservation bordering Everglades National Park in southern Florida. The unofficial capital is the Tamiami Trail Reservation. One thing that makes the Miccosukee Nation stand out from other tribal nations is the rightful absence of the US flag anywhere on the reservation. The Miccosukee flag of horizontal bands of white, black, red, and yellow is ubiquitous. The US flag is obviously treated as not only a foreign flag but the flag of an illegal occupier.

The Sac Nation (Thakiwaki) existed on and near the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Constantly relocated by the federal government, they joined the Black Hawk War against the European-Americans in 1832. The Sac and Fox Nation was eventually forcibly removed from the Upper Middle West to Oklahoma Indian Territory.

The Black Hawk or Sauk Nation, which dominated northern Illinois and Iowa along the Mississippi River, maintained a capital at Saukenuk, near present-day Rock Island, Illinois. The Sauk put up a spirited defense of their lands, fighting against the forces of the American genocidal president Andrew Jackson. US troops conducted their own scalping campaigns against Sauk refugees, killing those Native peoples attempting to escape the American Army during the Black Hawk Wars of the early 1830s.

The genocide of the Native American peoples would be repeated with wars against the Navajo, Lakota Sioux, Dakota, Ute, Hopi, Cayuse, Yakima, Klikitat, Mohave, Spokane, Apache, Comanche, Kiowa, Goshute, Nez Perce, and the Cheyenne Nation (Tsêhéstáno) and the Kingdom of Hawaii. European-American racism against Native Americans continues under Trump, who recently grabbed 85 percent of the Bears Ears and 50 percent of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, both sacred to Native American peoples, to hand over to uranium mining companies and natural gas fracking firms. Trump and his supporters are no different than the genocidal Americans of the past who systematically destroyed peaceful Native American cultures and emergent nation-states. Americans should forever live in shame over their Holocaust of the Native American peoples and nations.

More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]

30-12-2017 | 14:17

More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]
More than a 1000 Days of War on Yemen [Photos]


Source: The Atlantic, Edited by website team

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Did Obama Arm Islamic State Killers?

Did Obama Arm Islamic State Killers?

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 23.12.2017

Did Obama Arm Islamic State Killers?

Daniel LAZARE

Did Barack Obama arm ISIS? The question strikes many people as absurd, if not offensive. How can anyone suggest something so awful about a nice guy like the former president? But a stunning report by an investigative group known as Conflict Armament Research (CAR) leaves us little choice but to conclude that he did.

Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative in August 2014

CAR, based in London and funded by Switzerland and the European Union, spent three years tracing the origin of some 40,000 pieces of captured ISIS arms and ammunition. Its findings, made public last week, are that much of it originated in former Warsaw Pact nations in Eastern Europe, where it was purchased by United States and Saudi Arabia and then diverted, in violation of various rules and treaties, to Islamist rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The rebels, in turn, somehow caused or allowed the equipment to be passed on to Islamic State, which is also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, or just the abbreviation IS.

This is damning stuff since it makes it clear that rather than fighting ISIS, the U.S. government was feeding it.

But CAR turns vague when it comes to the all-important question of precisely how the second leg of the transfer worked. Did the rebels turn the weapons over voluntarily, involuntarily, or did they somehow drop them when ISIS was in close proximity and forget to pick them up? All CAR will say is that “background information … indicates that IS [Islamic State] forces acquired the materiel through varied means, including battlefield capture and the amalgamation of disparate Syrian opposition groups.” It adds that it “cannot rule out direct supply to IS forces from the territories of Jordan and Turkey, especially given the presence of various opposition groups, with shifting allegiances, in cross-border supply locations.” But that’s it.

If so, this suggests an astonishing level of incompetence on the part of Washington. The Syrian rebel forces are an amazingly fractious lot as they merge, split, attack one another and then team up all over again. So how could the White House have imagined that it could keep weapons tossed into this mix from falling into the wrong hands? Considering how each new gun adds to the chaos, how could it possibly keep track? The answer is that it couldn’t, which is why ISIS wound up reaping the benefits.

But here’s the rub. The report implies a level of incompetence that is not just staggering, but too staggering. How could such a massive transfer occur without field operatives not having a clue as to what was going on? Was every last one of them deaf, dumb, and blind?

Not likely. What seems much more plausible is that once the CIA established “plausible deniability” for itself, all it cared about was that the arms made their way to the most effective fighting force, which in Syria happened to be Islamic State.

This is what had happened in Afghanistan three decades earlier when the lion’s share of anti-Soviet aid, some $600 million in all, went to a brutal warlord named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar was a raging bigot, a sectarian, and an anti-western xenophobe, qualities that presumably did not endear him to his CIA handlers. But as Steve Coll notes in Ghost Wars, his bestselling 2004 account of the CIA’s love affair with Islamic holy war, he “was the most efficient at killing Soviets” and that was the only thing that mattered. As one CIA officer put it, “analytically, the best fighters – the best-organized fighters – were the fundamentalists” that Hekmatyar led. Consequently, he ended up with the most money.

After all, if you’re funding a neo-medieval uprising, it makes sense to steer the money to the darkest reactionaries of them all. Something similar occurred in March 2015 when Syrian rebels launched an assault on government positions in the northern province of Idlib. The rebel coalition was under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra, as the local branch of Al Qaeda was known at the time, and what Al-Nusra needed most of all were high-tech TOW missiles with which to counter government tanks and trucks.

Arming Al Qaeda

So the Obama administration arranged for Nusra to get them. To be sure, it didn’t provide them directly. To ensure deniability, rather, it allowed Raytheon to sell some 15,000 TOWs to Saudi Arabia in late 2013 and then looked the other way when the Saudis transferred large numbers of them to pro-Nusra forces in Idlib. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Climbing into bed with Al-Qaeda.”] Al-Nusra had the toughest fighters in the area, and the offensive was sure to send the Assad regime reeling. So even though its people were compatriots with those who destroyed the World Trade Center, Obama’s White House couldn’t say no.

“Nusra have always demonstrated superior planning and battle management,” Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said a few weeks later. If the rebel coalition was successful as a whole, it “was entirely due to their willingness to work with Nusra, who have been the backbone in all of this.”

Scruples, assuming they existed in the first place, fell by the wayside. A senior White House official told The Washington Post that the Obama administration was “not blind to the fact that it is to some extent inevitable” that U.S. weapons would wind up in terrorist hands, but what could you do? It was all part of the game of realpolitik. A senior Washington official crowed that “the trend lines for Assad are bad and getting worse” while The New York Times happily noted that “[t]he Syrian Army has suffered a string of defeats from re-energized insurgents.” So, for the master planners in Washington, it was worth it.

Then there is ISIS, which is even more beyond the pale as most Americans are concerned thanks to its extravagant displays of barbarism and cruelty – its killing of Yazidis and enslavement of Yazidi women and girls, its mass beheadings, its fiery execution of Jordanian fighter pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, and so on.

Yet U.S. government attitudes were more ambivalent than most Americans realized. Indeed, the U.S. government was strictly neutral as long as ISIS confined itself to attacking Assad. As a senior defense official told the Wall Street Journal in early 2015: “Certainly, ISIS has been able to expand in Syria, but that’s not our main objective. I wouldn’t call Syria a safe haven for ISIL, but it is a place where it’s easier for them to organize, plan, and seek shelter than it is in Iraq.”

In other words, Syria was a safe haven because, the Journal explained, the U.S. was reluctant to interfere in any way that might “tip the balance of power toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting Islamic State and other rebels.” So the idea was to allow ISIS to have its fun as long as it didn’t bother anyone else. For the same reason, the U.S. refrained from bombing the group when, shortly after the Idlib offensive, its fighters closed in on the central Syrian city of Palmyra, 80 miles or so to the east.  This was despite the fact that the fighters would have made perfect targets while “traversing miles of open desert roads.”

As The New York Times explained: “Any airstrikes against Islamic State militants in and around Palmyra would probably benefit the force of President Bashar al-Assad. So far, United States-led airstrikes in Syria have largely focussed on areas far outside government control, to avoid the perception of aiding a leader whose ouster President Obama has called for.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “How US-Backed War on Syria Helped ISIS.”]

Looting Palmyra

A Russian orchestra performing at Palmyra’s Roman theater on May 5, 2016, after Syrian troops, backed by Russian air power, reclaimed the ancient city from the Islamic State. (Image from RT’s live-streaming of the event.)

The United States thus allowed ISIS to capture one of the most archeologically important cities in the world, killing dozens of government soldiers and decapitating 83-year-old Khalid al-Asaad, the city’s retired chief of antiquities. (After looting and destroying many of the ancient treasures, ISIS militants were later driven from Palmyra by a Russian-backed offensive by troops loyal to President Assad.)

Obama’s bottom line was: ISIS is very, very bad when it attacks the U.S.-backed regime in Iraq, but less so when it wreaks havoc just over the border in Syria. In September 2016, John Kerry clarified what the administration was up to in a tape-recorded conversation at the U.N. that was later made public. Referring to Russia’s decision to intervene in Syria against ISIS, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh, the then-Secretary of State told a small knot of pro-rebel sympathizers:

“The reason Russia came in is because ISIL was getting stronger.  Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus and so forth, and that’s why Russia came in, because they didn’t want a Daesh government and they supported Assad. And we know this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, that Assad might then negotiate. Instead of negotiating, he got … Putin in to support him. So it’s truly complicated.”  (Quote starts at 26:10.)

“We were watching.” Kerry said. So, by giving ISIS free rein, the administration hoped to use it as a lever with which to dislodge Assad. As in Afghanistan, the United States thought it could use jihad to advance its own imperial interests. Yet the little people – Syrian soldiers, three thousand office workers in lower Manhattan, Yazidis, the Islamic State’s beheading of Western hostages, etc. – made things “truly complicated.”

Putting this all together, a few things seem clear. One is that the Obama administration was happy to see its Saudi allies use U.S.-made weapons to arm Al Qaeda. Another is that it was not displeased to see ISIS battle Assad’s government as well. If so, how unhappy could it have been if its allies then passed along weapons to the Islamic State so it could battle Assad all the more? The administration was desperate to knock out Assad, and it needed someone to do the job before Vladimir Putin stepped in and bombed ISIS instead.

It was a modern version of Henry II’s lament, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” The imperative was to get rid of Assad; Obama and his team had no interest in the messy details.

None of which proves that Obama armed ISIS. But unless one believes that the CIA is so monumentally inept that it could screw up a two-car funeral, it’s the only explanation that makes sense. Obama is still a congenial fellow. But he’s a classic liberal who had no desire to interfere with the imperatives of empire and whose idea of realism was therefore to leave foreign policy in the hands of neocons or liberal interventionists like Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

If America were any kind of healthy democracy, Congress would not rest until it got to the bottom of what should be the scandal of the decade: Did the U.S. government wittingly or unwittingly arm the brutal killers of ISIS and Al Qaeda? However, since that storyline doesn’t fit with the prevailing mainstream narrative of Washington standing up for international human rights and opposing global terrorism, the troublesome question will likely neither be asked nor answered.

Yemen Conflict: 70+ Martyred by Saudi Warplanes Strikes

16-12-2017 | 11:13

More than 70 Yemeni people had been martyred in airstrikes by Saudi warplanes on the impoverished country of Yemen, reports said Friday.

Saudi fighterjet

Yemen’s al-Masirah television network said the Saudi warplanes bombed a market in the Mawza district in the west of Taiz province on Friday. According to a preliminary count, the airstrike left eight people dead and 15 others injured.

At least 15 people also lost their lives in Saudi air raids on the northern province of Saada. According to al-Masirah, 12 of the victims were martyred in two airstrikes that hit a market and a car in the Munabbih district. The three other victims, including two women, were martyred in earlier air raids on the districts of al-Dhaher and Shada. The aerial attacks also left five people injured in the Northern Province.

Medics and security sources also reported on Friday that Saudi air raids claimed the lives of 28 people around Yemen’s west coast.

Another 20 people, mostly women and children, had been martyred by Saudi airstrikes in al-Hudaydah Province, in Yemen’s northwest.

The airstrikes were carried out against residential areas on Friday. Another 10 people were injured.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen in an attempt to crush the popular Ansarullah movement and reinstate the former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

More than 12,000 people have been martyred since the onset of the campaign. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war. The Saudi-led war has also triggered a deadly cholera epidemic across Yemen.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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