Venezuela, Iran: Trump and the Deep State — Astute News

The new deal of the White House and the Pentagon The parliamentary elections of 6 November 2018 deprived President Trump of his majority in the House of Representatives. The Democratic Party assumed that this would lead inevitably to his destitution. Of course, he had done nothing to deserve it, but a flood of hysteria swamped […]

via Venezuela, Iran: Trump and the Deep State — Astute News



South Front


Venezuelan Ex-Spy Chief That Supports Guaido Detained Over Supposed Links To Cocaine Trafficking

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On April 12thVenezuelan ex-spy chief Hugo Carvajal was arrested in Madrid by Spanish police on a US warrant for allegedly trafficking tons of cocaine.

He is also accused of having connections to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US.

Maibort Petit@maibortpetit

Hugo Carvajal fue arrestado en Madrid en la mañana de este viernes ..Carvajal tiene dos expedientes por delitos de narcotráfico y vinculaciones con el.grupo terrorista de la . Contrató abogados en para aclarar su situación, no llegó acuerdos de cooperación,

“Hugo Carvajal was arrested in Madrid on the morning of this Friday #12abril.. Carvajal has two cases for drug offenses and ties with the terrorist group. #Farc He hired US lawyers to clarify his situation, there was no cooperation agreement.”

A spokeswoman with Spain’s National Court, which handles extradition cases, said that Carvajal would testify on April 13th before Judge Alejandro Abascal in Madrid.

Carvajal was an adviser to Venezuelan Leader Hugo Chavez and headed the security services. On March 21sthe became one of the more influential military figures to recognize US-Proclaimed President Juan Guaido as the legitimate Venezuelan leader.

He also called on Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino to topple maduro with the Armed Forces.

Hugo Carvajal@hugocarvajal4f

Padrino debería ponerse par de b… y detener a Maduro. Fue quién ordenó la instalación de este sistema de torturas en la dgcim y el ingreso de los malditos cubanos a sus instalaciones. Ahí no se hace nada que Nicolás no apruebe.

Rocío San Miguel


Ministro @vladimirPadrino, su subalterno el M/G (Ej)Iván Hernández Dala, Director General de Contrainteligencia Militar en Venezuela, debe ser detenido, después de las evidencias del sistema de torturas que ha instalado en la dgcim, presentadas por el Tte Ronald Dugarte en la OEA

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“The majority of the Armed Forces want to return the freedom to Venezuela, but they are kidnapped by this system of torture and terror, and when I said that the control is more iron than they imagine, it was serious, believe me, if we do not finish with the Cubans, the FAN will not be able to fulfill its duties,” he warned on his Twitter account.

Despite his opposition to the Maduro government, his arrested was condemned by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

He described the detention of the former intelligence director as an “ambush” and, in addition to ruling out that he has or has had any relationship with drug trafficking, reiterated that he is a “diplomat in functions of the Venezuelan State.”

The Venezuelan Supreme Court also claimed that Carvajal should be released, since he had immunity “because he is an active Venezuelan diplomatic official.”

Separately, at the opening of the joint World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that it is up the fund’s members “to indicate which authority they are recognising diplomatically.”

On the side of the World Bank, newly-appointed WB Group President David Malpass said that the organization is preparing to become “deeply involved” in Venezuela, “but the situation is still troublesome on the ground.”

Malpass said that Venezuela is a “deep concern” for the World Bank, but that any decision to intervene in the country or recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president would be left to the World Bank’s stakeholders.

The US, on its part is attempting to increase pressure on Venezuela.

On April 12ththe US Treasury announced sanctions on companies that transport Venezuelan oil to Cuba.

Treasury Department


Treasury increases pressure on Cuba to end support to Maduro by imposing further oil sector sanctions: 

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“We continue to target companies that transport Venezuelan oil to Cuba, as they are profiting while the Maduro regime pillages natural resources.  Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and should not be used as a bargaining tool to prop up dictators and prolong oppression,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “Maduro relies on the support he receives from the Cuban military and intelligence services to retain his hold on power because he does not have the support of the Venezuelan people.”

On his Latin America tour, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while visiting Chile accused China of prolonging Venezuela’s crisis by financing Nicolas Maduro.

Pompeo said China is a major US trading partner, but that its “trade activities often are deeply connected to their national security mission, their technological goals, their desire to steal intellectual property, to have forced technology transfer, to engage in activity that is not economic.”

On April 10thUS Vice President Mike Pence once more said that the US would continue to “exert all diplomatic and economic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela.  But all options are on the table.

Pence also said that the US would push the UN to recognize Juan Guaido as the legitimate Venezuelan leader and revoke the credentials of the Venezuelan government.

“Up to this point, while other international bodies have acted, the United Nations and this Security Council have refused to act.  But now that nations across this hemisphere have spoken, the time has come for the United Nations to recognize Interim President Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of Venezuela and seat his representative in this body.

This body should revoke the credentials of Venezuela’s representative to the United Nations, recognize Interim President Juan Guaidó, and seat the representative of the free Venezuelan government in this body without delay.”

In response, Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN Samuel Moncada accused the US and UK of benefiting from the physical and financial assets which the Bolivarian people held abroad and were illegally confiscated.

“Our refineries’ profits are being used to pay debts to Trump administration-friendly oil companies. His friends, who hold Venezuelan debt bonds, receive special licenses to collect profits from our people’s stolen money,” Moncada said, while also commenting on an alleged plan to indebt Venezuela for $70 billion.

“One aspect of this mass destruction policy is looting and robbery of tens of billions, literally a robbery,” he said and warned that companies profiting from U.S. policies are using the stolen resources in dark financial transactions. “It is a plan where banks, insurance and ships are used… [as] weapons of mass destruction, although those who are responsible are not being brought to justice or suffering moral sanctions they deserve,” Ambassador Moncada said


Gloria La Riva to ST: US is engaged in covert military actions against Venezuela

Wednesday, 03 April 2019

Damascus,(ST)-Is the danger of US military intervention against Venezuela near? What is the best workable way to resolve Venezuela crisis peacefully? And what are the similarities between US war against Syria and what Washington is attempting against Venezuela? These questions are answered by Gloria La Riva, the American anti-war activist, who works at Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee.

La Riva told the Syria Times e-newspaper that the US administration at this time can’t afford politically to directly intervene with U.S. troops, but they are engaged in covert military actions, including the arming and training of paramilitaries for possible action in the near future.

Her article in Liberation News, explains one of those plots that has just been exposed and is being dismantled.

“The U.S. tactics right now involve the degrading of Venezuela’s infrastructure. They are trying to not only continue the electricity sabotage, but to permanently damage the power system in order to create severe hardship and evoke civil strife in the population. This way it can claim to rescue a “humanitarian crisis,” as the situation develops, and then perhaps use more direct military means,” La Riva said.

She added: “At some point, if all else fails, they will due what they have always done, send in the troops. As you know from Syria’s experience, this is the pattern of U.S. regime change efforts, work to create internal strife, then introduce massive amounts of weapons, support terrorist organizations that intervene and carry out a proxy and direct war. In Venezuela there is a danger every day of more attacks, on the electricity system, on the Metro system of Caracas, on the continued seizing of Venezuela’s oil and other wealth to prevent its ability to provide for the population, and of assassination attempts.”

The anti-war activist, who has been in many countries representing social justice causes, affirmed that US imperialism is heading these efforts, and is supported by its European, Canadian and right-wing Latin American allies.

The situation is peaceful in Venezuela, despite the extreme difficulties caused since January with the growing U.S. aggression

She referred to the fact that the masses who support the Bolivarian Revolution are resisting valiantly along with their government, keeping mobilized in the streets on a permanent basis, organizing in their communal councils and communes, linked with the ministries to distribute the food boxes called CLAP to more than 6 million families, working to set up alternative sources of water when the electricity is downed, forming civilian militias that work together with the military, and defending their homeland.

La Riva believes that the crisis would be resolved if the Venezuelan people were left alone without U.S. interference, without U.S. sanctions.

“When you hear the Venezuelans who oppose the rightwing opposition inside the country and the U.S. role, they say, “Yes, we have problems like everyone else, but let us solve them ourselves.” It is remarkable how peaceful the situation is in Venezuela, despite the extreme difficulties caused since January with the growing U.S. aggression. I was in Venezuela for the almost 5 days of blackout from March 7 to 12, and it was generally calm,” she stated.

The activist stressed that he people did what they could to overcome the water shortage, because electricity is needed for the water system, but there were no major disturbances. And yet the U.S. and its opposition forces have continued attacking the power system. One thing for certain, the U.S. government is promoting the violence as they have in various periods of the last 20 years.

“Juan Guaidó’s party, for instance, Voluntad Popular, Popular Will, is a fascist organization that is financed and its leadership fully supported in the recent terror plots that were uncovered. If successful they would have carried out major violence. That danger still exists,” La Riva asserted.

In response to a question about how people in the US can get involved to prevent war on Venezuela, the activist said: “People in the United States are organizing against the U.S. aggression under the banner of “No Sanctions, No Coup, No War, Hands Off Venezuela.” Many anti-war and social justice organizations have rallied on an emergency basis in more than 20 U.S. cities since late January. On March 16, a coalition that the ANSWER Coalition initiated and included Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, various Bolivarian Circles, and prominent activists, held the largest action to date for Venezuela, in Washington DC, starting at the White House. The movement is early and our biggest challenge is overcoming the enormous U.S. media war that has demonized the Venezuelan leadership and paralyzed part of the U.S. liberal population from opposing this latest U.S. aggression. But we see a positive development in these months, especially with so many young people who oppose U.S. war, who are already active in many social causes and who are not falling for the U.S. lies. We believe the movement will grow.”

#HandsOffVenezuela #HandsOffSyria

La Riva, in addition, elaborated the similarities between the U.S. war in Syria and what they are attempting against Venezuela.

“First is the demonization of President Bashar Al-Assad and making invisible the Syrian people, while it arms and supports the terrorist organizations. That is what has taken place in Venezuela as well, not only the demonization of President Maduro but President Chávez, too. Second is the continued attempt by Washington to prevent peace in Syria. The U.S. is relentless in its openly-stated plans to overthrow President Maduro. The Russian government’s support of the Syrian government and people has caused great anger within the U.S. imperial establishment, and Russia is also engaged in an invaluable alliance with the Venezuelan government.”

The activist emphasized that the resistance of both peoples is the essential element in defense of their sovereignty and independence.

“We salute Syria for staying strong against the years-long terror war, and also stand side-by-side with the people of Venezuela. #HandsOffVenezuela #HandsOffSyria,” La Riva concluded.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour


McClatchy: Diplomats, Washington Skittish on Maduro’s Downfall in Venezuela

By Staff, McClatchy

The excitement in some US and foreign diplomatic circles about the rise of Juan Guaidó and an expectation for the fall of Nicolas Maduro has been replaced by frustration over the Venezuelan leader’s staying power and concerns of Russian and Chinese meddling, according to multiple diplomatic sources.

His staying power has led diplomats, foreign leaders and some Washington officials to reassess their timelines and consider that, barring military action, Maduro may be able to follow in the footsteps of other authoritarian leaders who have held onto power despite crushing sanctions.

“Maduro has definitely shown he is more resilient than what people thought. That’s a fact,” said one diplomat from Latin America, who was unauthorized to speak publicly about the regional strategy. “If you think about what the administration said about ‘this is the end, this is the end,’ and yet Maduro is still there.”

Foreign diplomats in Washington say they got caught up in expectations raised by some in the Trump administration that Guaidó would take over the government, and so were disappointed that Maduro’s regime has not yet fallen. Confidence that Maduro’s fall was guaranteed has now turned to more hope that he will – and concern he may not.

“There was this euphoric reaction that we all felt that it was the end of Maduro,” said Fernando Carrera, Guatemala’s foreign minister in 2013 and 2014. “I felt it. I was part of that group. I thought Maduro is gone. But no Guaidó couldn’t make it happen. The Trump administration couldn’t make it happen. And the Chinese and Russians have raised the stakes too high.”

Trump’s special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told McClatchy: “We do not have the ability to predict exactly when regimes like this will fall, but we do have the ability to analyze, and we are confident Maduro’s regime will eventually come to an end. The endgame for him should be to leave Venezuela, and the sooner the better, because his own situation is only going to decline the longer he clings to power and the more misery will be in the country.”

Diplomats from the region say economic pressure, mainly US sanctions, may not be enough to dislodge Maduro, if the Venezuelan people don’t rise up.

Maduro has been able to hang onto territorial control of the South American nation despite recognition by more than 50 nations, including the United States, of Guaidó as interim president, crippling oil sanctions and paralyzing banking restrictions.

The Venezuelan generals who the US sees as key to controlling the populace have stuck by Maduro despite veiled US threats of taking military action and promises their families would be blocked from entering the US.

The sanctions must be given time to have an impact, some argue. Venezuela’s oil sector accounts for as much as 70% of the Maduro government’s income.

The Trump administration continues to ratchet up the pressure.

The Trump administration appears engaged at all levels, including at the White House, State Department, USAID and Treasury. National Security Advisor regularly tweets about Venezuela multiple times a day.

Yemenis Mark 4 Years of Saudi War in Nationwide Mass Rallies

By Staff, Agencies

Millions of Yemenis took to the streets of the capital, Sana’a, and other major cities to mark the fourth anniversary of the Saudi regime’s devastating war against the Arab country and reiterate their steadfastness in the face of the ongoing aggression.

Many provinces and cities, including Sana’a, Sa’ada, Ta’izz, Ibb, Bayda and Raymah, have been witnessing mass rallies since Monday, Yemen’s al-Masirah television network reported.

However, the protests reached their peak on Tuesday, March 26, the day the Saudi regime and a coalition of its vassal states launched the US-backed military campaign against Yemen in 2015 to reinstate the ex-Yemeni government – a close Riyadh ally – and destroying the popular Ansarullah revolutionary movement.

The demonstrators carried placards and Yemeni national flags, chanting slogans against Riyadh, ‘Israel’ and Washington, which has been providing military support to the Saudi-led coalition over the course of the war.

The offensive initially consisted of a bombing campaign, but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen.

Relatively, Yemen’s Grand Mufti was among the keynote speakers at the rally in Sana’a, where he called on the Arab country’s religious scholars as well as the Muslim world not to remain silent in the face of the crimes the Al Saud regime and its allies have been committing against Yemenis.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, also delivered a speech and stressed, “The Yemeni nation will continue fighting to the end and [we] will never give in. We will finally defeat the enemy.”

He further condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision on Monday to formally recognize Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as part of the “Israeli territory.”

The Saudi-led war has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

A number of Western countries, the US and Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

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Four Years on Sana’a Mosques Massacre, Kanan Can Barely Remember His Martyred Father

By al-Ahed Correspondent

Sana’a – Kanan, eight-year-old, all he can remember well of his martyred dad is that “my father was taking me in a trip to the park”.

Kanan was only 4-years-old when he lost his father as two suicide bombers detonated themselves with two other bombers at two pro-Zaidi mosques, Badr Mosque and Al Hashoosh, on 20 March, 2015 while worshippers gathered for Friday prayers.

At least 137 were martyred, and 351 wounded, according to medics. Local media said the attacks are “the deadliest terrorist attacks in Yemen’s history”.

Some children were killed because their fathers brought them to the mosques. However, Kanan was only 4-years-old at the time, that’s why his father did not take him there.

On Wednesday [March 20, 2019], the day that marks the fourth anniversary of this massacre, Kanan sat beside his father’s grave, and prayed for him along with his grandfather, Hamoud.

Kanan grandfather walks at Al Hashoush mosque he survived the assault but his son martyred – Date Wed, March 20, 2019 ( al-Ahed News)

Kanan has another sister. She is 9-years-old and was in a deep state of shyness that we forget to ask about her name. She also refused to be pictured nor to speak to al-Ahed News reporter.

She and Kanan study at a private school. She is at second grade, and Kanan at first grade. Kanan says he has a dream to be something special in the future.

“I dream to become a flight engineer,” Kanan said while sitting near his father grave. However, his grandfather smiled and interrupted him: “say to be a fighter pilot and take revenge from Al Saud [the Saudi monarchy that’s ruling KSA].”

Then, Kanan’s grandfather, Hamoud, was walking with a stick between the graves where hundreds buried including martyrs of these four suicide bombers that the Yemeni branch of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] claimed its responsibility for the first time since it was announced to have a branch in Yemen in November 2014.

Kanan mourns his father who martyred by Daesh suicide bombers. Date Wed, March 20, 2019 ( al-Ahed News)

US administration on the next day of the suicide bombers condemned the attack without sending condolences to the families of the victims. “The White House ‘strongly condemned’ the attacks, but said it could not confirm that those behind them were affiliated with Daesh, according to BBC.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said Daesh could be falsely claiming responsibility.

What happened?

Kanan’s grandfather, Hamoud, remembers with pain the two terrorist suicide bombers, claiming to be disabled and hiding explosives under casts, detonated at Al Hashoosh Mosque worshippers, near Sana’a International Airport, where he used to pray at and where Kanan’s father, and Hamoud’s son Ghaleb martyred.

Hamoud, during our visit to the graveyard, he pointed with his stick to a martyr. He named him Osama. Osama at his late teens. Hamoud said Osama was a guard at the entrance of Al Hashoosh mosque and any worshipper was subjected to security searches before entering the mosque via Osama.

Osama was a volunteer at the popular committees that had captured Sana’a. Hamoud says we were performing Friday prayers, “we heard an explosion outside the mosque”. “It was this boy, Osama, who stopped -at the entrance- the first suicide bomber from getting inside the mosque, then the attacker after resorted to blow himself up,” Hamoud told al-Ahed News.

Before we went to the graveyard, we met father of Osama, Mohammed Al Ward, outside the mosque. Hamoud told us he is a father of a son martyred at the entrance of the mosque in a heroic operation.

Al Ward, told us that he is proud of his son who was able to dismantle the first suicide bomber. “He was martyred to let more than 200 worshippers inside the mosque live.”

“Osama searched the suicide bomber at the entrance. The suicider told him he wants to get into the mosque to blow himself at the worshippers,” Osama’s father said, citing reports of colleagues survived the blast.

“According to the families near the entrance, they told me he got in a fistfight with the suicider, he took him over a taxi to be transported to special place, and the suicider threatened to blew himself up. Osama urged his colleague to run for their lives, but he is not afraid of his life, forcing the suicider to blow himself up,” said Osama’s father.

Kanan’s father was inside the mosque, while his grandpa was at the prayer hall. It was a surprise for our website to speak to Hamoud while he was sitting before we reach him at the same place he said he was in during the blast.

After the first explosion, another terrorist infiltrated on crutches to the mosque, claiming disabled and hiding explosives at his legs that were really detonated materials plastered on.

How it happened?

Another survivor, Mohsen Taher, in his sixties, said he was under the rostrum two minutes before the second suicider blew himself up at the same place.

Immediately after the prayer, Taher said, worshippers stormed out of the mosque, to figure out what happened outside the mosque in the first explosion. “I was one of those who run to see,” Taher said.

“I just came out from the western gate of the mosque cup the prayer yard, helping an elder man to walk, I stood at this place, where grandfather of Kanan was sitting,” Taher told al-Ahed News. “Immediately I heard second explosion inside the mosque,” Taher added.

“It was the terrorist suicide bomber who infiltrated after the first explosion that targeted the security belt. He wanted to target the preacher Taha Al Mutawakel, [now health minister].”

Taher explained that the second explosion was at the place where he performed Friday prayers. “All the people whom were around me martyred because they remained there,” Taher said, thanking Allah that he got out immediately.

“American and ‘Israeli’ Design”

People at Al Hashoosh Mosque were surprised at the international biased condemnations of the terrorist suicide bombers, where condemnations limited to denounce the assault without sending condolences to the families of victims like the one of the White House.

The international community kept silent on this crime, according to Taher, because it was “an American and ‘Israeli’ design a long time ago”.

“There were efforts to foment sectarian division and civil strife,” Taher noted. “They failed to do so, because Yemenis are all brothers, followers of Zaidism or Shafi’i Islam live together and share mosques, that’s why victims are from all community.”

At the time, there were many of Ansarullah leaders at the mosque who survived the bombers like late president Saleh Ali Al Samad, whom Hamoud said was on the second floor of the mosque. Al Samad was then martyred in a US drone air strike in Hodeidah last April.

However, innocent civilians died at this terrorist attack including Kanan’s father who was working at the Commercial Bank and Agricultural Cooperative Lending and has nothing to do with this all this sectarian assaults.

Suffering of the victims’ families

Grandfather of Kanan, Hamoud, lost his son Ghaleb in the terrorist attack. Kanan lost his father, and Hamoud mourns his son Ghaleb.

Ghaleb was working at the Commercial Bank and Agricultural Cooperative Lending Bank and was able to make a good living for his father and two sons. However, after this assault, Hamoud says his son’s salary was decreased by the bank.

“The bank pays now only $50. It’s for nothing if his children are still depending on it,” said Hamoud.

“I have tried, last year, to get one of my sons to marry Kanan’s mother, so she won’t feel the pain of parting with him [Ghaleb],” Hamoud told al-Ahed News. “They are now living together with the two children happily.”

Kanan, along with his grandfather, Hamoud, mourns Kanan dad who martyred by Daesh suicide bombers. Date Wed, March 20, 2019 ( al-Ahed News)

While we were waiting for Kanan and his sister to get out of the school so we can visit their father’s grave, Saudi-led warplanes were hovering on Sana’a for the first time in more than a month.

That Saudi overflight has demonstrated that there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the war to end, and that the cycle of war will continue to let Yemeni children like Kanan to suffer and pay the heaviest price.

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The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operation

South Front

March 20, 2019

Written and produced by SF Team: Brian KalmanDaniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

This video is based on the text anlysis entitled “The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations“. It was originally released by SouthFront on February 2, 2019.


With the possible U.S. military withdrawal from Syria in the news on a daily basis, the mainstream media has been quick to parrot the DOD’s claim that 2,000 troops, mostly special operations forces, are to be withdrawn from the country. Although the total number of U.S. special operators deployed to Syria may have approached as many as 5,000, the current headlines have not mentioned that the United States has special operations units deployed not just in Syria, but in a majority of the nations of the world. Over the past seventeen years, the forces at the disposal of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have grown exponentially, more than doubling in size in numbers, with a budget that has also expanded four fold in that same period of time.

The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations

U.S. special operations forces on patrol in northern Syria. Although no concrete timeline has been publicly announced, the Trump administration has signaled its intention to pull U.S. military forces out of the country.

If U.S. SOF troops do pull out of Syria, they will still have a physical presence in over 70 nations on any given day. Although the public has an often vague and incomplete, unofficial explanation of the reasons behind these deployments, the Pentagon seems totally unwilling to explain the national defense rational or legality of these missions to anyone, including the U.S. Congress or the White House. Not only has SOCOM expanded in numbers, funding and weaponry since 2001 and the advent of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), but has acquired no small amount of political influence as well.

The U.S. special operations forces have become the darling of the military, praised by Congress, the White House, and the Media. They have willingly adopted a mythos that has been formulated and propagated by Hollywood on many levels. The U.S. public seems to worship this new class of soldier, while having little to no understanding of exactly what they do, nor any concept of how their actions might aid or hinder national security. An act has even been proposed by one state Representative to afford special income tax breaks to all SOF members.

Amidst all the praise about their prowess and successes on the battlefield, the media purposefully steers clear of reporting on their many failures. Although the U.S. has built the largest force of special operations in the world, this very fact has arguably proven to have only weakened the U.S. military as a whole. The White House, State Department and Pentagon have increasingly relied on special operations forces to bear the brunt of any and all military operations or covert actions in both acknowledged and secret areas of conflict across the globe. This over-emphasis on special operations as a military solution to all challenges has only weakened traditional, conventional forces.

While most of the public assumes that these new Spartans act to protect U.S. interests and “freedom and democracy” whenever and wherever it is deemed necessary, they have little to no understanding of how the SOF have changed since 2001, nor the increasing military and political influence that they now hold. Even fewer Americans have stopped to ponder the illegality of much of what this expanding military force is doing on a global scale, not to mention the constitutional implications of a new Praetorian class in its midst that is growing in power and influence. If history teaches us anything, it is that shadowy and unaccountable paramilitary forces do not strengthen societies that embrace democratic or constitutional governments.

The Expansion of SOF and the Rise of SOCOM

Since the inception of the “Global War on Terror” shortly following September 11, 2001, U.S. SOF have more than doubled from approximately 33,000 to almost 70,000 today. Today, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has roughly twice the personnel at its disposal, but also four times the budget as it did in 2001. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), comprising perhaps the most elite and specialized of the SOF forces, numbered some 1,800 in 2001. Although quite secretive in nature, it is surmised by many analysts that JSOC may have grown to the size of SOCOM circa 2001, over the same 18 year period. If realistic, this estimation means that JSOC added its original number of 1,800 men each year, for eighteen years.

What reason was given by the U.S. DOD to justify such an expansion in a traditionally small and highly selective sub-set of conventional military forces? Special operations forces have existed since at least the Second World War. All major military powers, and even smaller nations that have not historically prioritized robust national defense postures, have invested in special operations forces to complement conventional military establishments. Special operations units are useful as a significant force multiplier in any conventional conflict, and are vital in responding to special circumstances such as anti-terrorism, hostage rescue, reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines, sabotage, and kill or capture missions.

The Pentagon has argued that terrorism has grown, with the number of internationally recognized terrorist organizations roughly doubling from 2001 to today, mostly due to the explosion of both al Qaeda and ISIS. Regardless of the facts that point to the CIA origins of al Qaeda, there is little argument that the organization has grown in concert with U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and Africa. The same can be said for the origin and spread of ISIS. There is also ample circumstantial evidence to support the theory that the CIA and SOCOM have both directly and indirectly supported both of these terrorist organizations in Syria. Regardless of whether SOCOM is directly or indirectly complicit in aiding the Islamic terrorist organizations it declares it is defending the nation against, there is a clear correlation between the growths of both, and surely SOCOM has benefitted on many levels from this relationship.

The annual declared budget for SOCOM is in the range of $12.3 billion today, up from just $3.1 billion in 2001. There is little doubt that a healthy slice of the annual Overseas Contingency Operations and Support (OCO) budget is consumed by SOCOM, as the organization is the most heavily engaged in operations on foreign soil. In 2018, U.S. Congress approved $67 billion USD for OCO, and a further $7 billion USD in mandatory appropriations. It is unclear how much funding SOCOM receives on an annual basis, as the Pentagon has proven to be largely beyond financial questioning or audit by any office of the civilian government. After failing its first audit in decades in 2018, the Pentagon shrugged off the event with humor, and no one seemed to notice.

SOCOM numbers roughly 70,000 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors and has a declared budget of at least $12.3 billion USD. To put these numbers in perspective, SOCOM has more personnel than the entire national militaries of 120 of the 193 UN member states. Only 20 nations (including the U.S.) have a greater total defense budget than that of SOCOM. A simple cost benefit analysis would reveal that the U.S. is not making much headway in “winning” the GWOT militarily. The growth of SOCOM has done little to reduce the prevalence of terrorism in the world. It begs the question, is there any correlation at all, or is there another agenda afoot entirely?

Global Reach and Integration

The expansion in numbers and funding of America’s special operations forces is alarming in its own right, but their growing international footprint may be even more alarming. Not only were U.S. SOF deployed to at least 150 nations last year, but they have established professional alliances with national militaries in a majority of those nations. Nick Turse has documented and reported on the growing influence of SOCOM over the past few years, with his articles being widely published in major mainstream periodicals as well as online alternative media. He has established many reliable sources within the SOF community. In regular articles posted on Tom’s Dispatch, Nick has documented the growing influence of SOCOM, its expanding power, and it’s establishing of close ties to the special operations forces of nations across the globe.

The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations

U.S. Special Forces NCO instructing Malian counter-terrorism forces in patrolling and ambush small unit tactics in that West African nation.

It seems quite logical that the main area of focus for these forces immediately prior to the declaration of GWOT in 2001 would be in the Middle East; however, since as early as 2014 the United States began refocusing its deployment of special operations personnel to the African continent. More recently, since the coup in Ukraine and the civil war that erupted as a result, SOCOM has shifted much of its efforts to Europe. Although the DOD and State Department have stated that such deployments are directly connected to terrorist activities in Africa, in Europe the goal is confronting an “increasingly aggressive and assertive” Russia. In reality, deployments to Africa are largely responsive to an increased Chinese presence on the continent. Not publicly acknowledged until the official publication of the National Defense Strategy of the United States for 2018, the U.S. establishment had already come to view both Russia and China as the major threats to U.S. global hegemony.

The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations

U.S. special operations forces were deployed to an overwhelming majority of African nations in 2017.

In 2006, deployments to Africa accounted for a mere 1% of U.S. special operations foreign deployments. By the end of 2017 this number had jumped to almost 17%. What could account for such an increase? Spokesmen for the DOD have sighted the increased threat of Islamic militant groups such as Boko Haram and al Shabaab and their capability to disrupt and weaken local governments; however, SOCOM has not just deployed forces to Somalia, Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cameroon, the traditional territories of operation of Boko Haram and African offshoots of al Qaeda. U.S. commandos deployed to 33 African countries in 2017. 61% of the nations of Africa hosted a U.S. special operations military presence to some degree. There is little doubt that terrorist groups such as Boko Haram present a destabilizing threat to African governments whom are hanging on by a threat in their efforts to govern in the best of times, yet there is little evidence to support the idea that the U.S. military is in Africa for altruistic purposes. The U.S. military, just like the French Military, is increasing its activities in Africa to protect their respective financial interests and maintain influence over African nations, and to increasingly confront the growing influence of China in the region.

The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations

The Chinese and Afghan governments have been engaged in the highest level negotiations regarding infrastructure development, transit rights and even the establishment of a Chinese military facility on the Afghan side of the Wakhan Corridor since at least late 2018.

Between the years 2009 and 2012, Chinese overseas foreign direct investment (OFDI) grew at an annual rate of 20.5%. Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion USD in investments in Africa at the 4th Annual Investing in China Forum held in Beijing last September. The United States has often claimed that Chinese financial practices in Africa are predatory in nature. This is quite ironic coming from the country that has a controlling influence over the IMF and World Bank, two financial entities that have been responsible for indebting most of the developing world for the past half century. Neither nation is in Africa to help poor Africans, but to enrich themselves. The African continent is rich in rare earth minerals and metals used in the manufacture of modern electronics, batteries, cell phones and computers. China opened its first and largest overseas military base in Djibouti in August of 2017, located in the strategic Horn of Africa. It is just a stones throw from Camp Lemonnier, the largest U.S. military base on the continent. In a similar move, China is seeking to build a military base in Afghanistan, another nation rich in rare earth minerals where the U.S. military has struggled to maintain a viable presence for over 18 years. China plans to base at least one battalion of troops at a newly constructed facility in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, ostensibly to train Afghan security forces. Located close to the Wakhan Corridor, the base will help provide security to the One Belt One Road trade corridor through the region, and help solidify growing economic and security ties with the Central Asian nation. Coupled with the base in Djibouti and a planned PLAN naval base at Gwadar, Pakistan, China is establishing a viable defense infrastructure in the region. This directly undercuts long established U.S. interests in the region.

The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations

The Wakhan Corridor is a strategically important mountain pass, the control of which is of utmost importance to the Chinese government in securing the One Belt One Road logistics network.

While SOCOM has maintained a sizeable presence in Afghanistan and Africa to confront a growing Chinese presence in Central Asia and Africa, it has also increased operations in the European theatre as well. In 2006 only 3% of all SOF units were deployed to nations in Europe. By 2018 that percentage had grown to almost 17%. According to a statement made to Tom’s Dispatch, a spokesman for SOCEUR, Major Michael Weisman stated,

“Outside of Russia and Belarus we train with virtually every country in Europe either bilaterally of through various multinational events. The persistent presence of U.S. SOF alongside our allies sends a clear message of U.S. commitment to our allies and the defense of our NATO alliance.”

Since the disastrous failure of Petro Poroshenko’s Anti-terrorism Operation (ATO) to subdue the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, SOF deployments to nations bordering the Russian Federation have increased notably. As it was detailed in a previous article, SOCOM has established very close ties with Ukrainian special operations forces.

Over the past four years SOCOM has repeatedly deployed forces to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Georgia, and even Finland. In 2016 alone, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) conducted no less than 37 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) exercises on the European continent, with 18 such exercises in nations bordering Russia. Is SOCOM sending a reassuring message to allies, or an ominous message to Russia, the holder of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal? Is it wise defense policy to increasingly surround Russia, and back it into an increasingly tight corner? If Russian political and military leaders have learned one lesson throughout the centuries, it is that the concentration of foreign belligerent military forces on their national borders eventually leads to conflict and invasion.

The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations

Not only has SOCOM positioned itself in a majority of the nations across the globe, but increasingly along the borders of the Russian Federation and China.

The United States has become deeply entrenched in the conflict in Ukraine, having increased military aid to the ruling regime incrementally from 2014 to the present. After the disastrous Ukrainian Armed Forces winter offensive of 2015, culminating in the encirclement battle of Debaltseve, U.S. military aid kicked into high gear. Regular rotations of U.S. Army trainers teach UAF troops at the Yavoriv International Peace Keeping and Security Center modern combat skills with an increased emphasis on making the force more NATO interoperable. Ukrainian Special Forces have undergone a clear and striking transformation, and are now nearly indistinguishable from their U.S. and NATO counterparts. They are now wearing U.S. military issue Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) “multicam” battle dress uniforms and gear, and are increasingly using western manufactured firearm accessories, optics, and night vision equipment. More notably, the UAF special operations units have adopted a number of small arms and sniper weapons systems that utilize NATO standard ammunition such as the 5.56x45mm intermediate rifle round and the 7.62x51mm rifle round. Sniper rifles chambered in .308 Winchester and .338 Lapua have also been adopted in limited numbers.

The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations

U.S. Navy SEALs conducted a number of exercises with the Bulgarian military in the Black Sea in 2018, a clear message to Russia that the U.S. was prepared to escalate asymmetrical warfare targeting the Crimean Peninsula.

Speaking at a GEOInt (Geospatial Intelligence) annual symposium in 2014, former head of SOCOM, General Joseph Votel opined that “We want to be everywhere, know everything.” Clearly, SOCOM has increasingly pushed for the first part of his stated goal in the intervening years; however, the increased focus and funding of special operations over the past 18 years has left the U.S. military’s conventional forces in a state of atrophy and decline. The U.S. political establishment and military leadership have come to see SOCOM as the go-to solution provider for just about any scenario where military force is seen as an option. This has increased the reputation and clout of SOCOM, but this has increasingly come at the expense and detriment to more traditional conventional forces that chiefly serve the national interests of deterrence and defense.

Conventional Warfare Atrophy

In a detailed analysis posted late last year, “Why the U.S. Military is Woefully Unprepared for a Major Conventional Conflict”, I outlined the causes and effects of the decline in U.S. conventional warfare capabilities. There is undoubtedly a direct correlation between the reliance upon and exponential growth of U.S. special operations forces, and the decline in conventional force readiness and capability. This is evident in all service branches and has had a negative effect on the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to carry out future offensive and defensive combat operations against peer adversaries. The U.S. military will have very little hope of achieving decisive military victories in either Russia’s or China’s backyard. Any assertion to the contrary is delusory.

The U.S. military obsession with counterinsurgency and occupation stemming from one U.S. invasion or regime change operation after another, has left a once cutting edge, combined-arms conventional force gutted materially and low in morale. Special operations forces were leveraged in a fight against popular uprisings, Islamic terrorist organizations, and often an alliance between the two. The overwhelming majority of the growing names on the U.S. enemies list found their genesis as a result of U.S. military adventurism. These various insurgencies were a direct reaction to heavy-handed U.S. “foreign policy” delivered at the barrel of a gun. The resulting struggles in the so called GWOT depended greatly on an ever expanding pool of special operations forces. SOF were prioritized over other traditional, conventional forces not meant for occupation and not skilled in counterinsurgency.

While the troops at the disposal of SOCOM ballooned to almost 70,000, the U.S. Army has struggled to replace armored vehicles first fielded in the 1960’s, the Navy witnessed the utter deterioration and exhaustion of its carrier air wings, and the Air Force struggled to retain pilots to fly aircraft that fell deeper into a state of disrepair. Although achieving battlefield successes, the Armed Forces of the United States have yet to decisively win any of the numerous conflicts embarked upon since 2001. The intervening years have revealed the U.S. military of today to be an organization riddled with major material shortcomings and inferiorities, while plagued with a leadership lacking sound judgement and brimming with both hubris and an unfounded superiority complex. This leadership has repeatedly decided to invest in special operations forces that are unable to win wars on their own, at the expense of conventional forces designed solely for that purpose.

Growing Political Power

SOCOM has not restricted its influence to the many battlefields across the globe, or the forging of ties with foreign militaries through training and advisory programs. Just as the CIA has stationed personnel at most U.S. embassies oversees, SOCOM has followed suit. Special Operations Liaison Officers (SOLO) are stationed at a growing number of embassies, including the NATO member countries the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Italy, Turkey and Canada. SOLOS can also be found in U.S. embassies in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, Israel, Jordan, and Kenya. SOCOM’s former head, General Joseph Votel, had announced the intention of putting a SOLO is at least forty U.S. embassies around the globe by 2019. This statement should be viewed with some skepticism, as SOCOM rarely speaks publicly about the extent of their operations and planning, so it is likely that SOLOs are already serving in many more U.S. embassies, especially those located in flash points or trouble spots in Africa, the Middle East, South America, and nations bordering the Russian Federation and China.

Not only should this development be worrying to host nations who may not be inclined to look at a foreign military presence on their soil as acceptable, but it also clearly exhibits closer ties between SOCOM and the Department of State. Not only has SOCOM fostered closer ties with the Department of State, but with the monolithic U.S. security apparatus as a whole. In an attempt to “be everywhere and know everything”, SOCOM has moved further away from its subordinate position in the Department of Defense, and pursued a more independent and unaccountable path, similar to that of the CIA or NSA, two organizations that it has increasingly worked closely with. SOCOM has even forged close ties with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose prevue is supposed to be limited to U.S. domestic crime investigations and the enforcement of federal laws.

There should be some apprehension at both the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress, of the growing power of this new military within the military. In a constitutional republic that clearly delineates, compartmentalizes, and limits government power, the growth of a largely unaccountable, secretive and influential new military organization should be viewed as a threat to the very foundations of political and social order. A number of former special operations members have run for political office in recent years and won. While electing retired soldiers into Congress and gubernatorial office will most likely bring a level of restraint to government military adventurism, with those individuals having seen and paid the price for war, there is also a chance that they will steer policy to aid the military industrial complex. The cautionary tale of Governor Eric Greitens is one such example that also signals another problem effecting the special operations community as a whole.

Scandals Tarnish the Mythology

A number of scandals involving U.S. special operations soldiers have hit the headlines in recent years, corresponding with the exponential growth of the force. In an attempt to expand the SOF, the Pentagon seems to have lowered physical, cognitive and moral standards in order to fill the ranks. The Hollywood-Pentagon alliance that has worked tirelessly to create and perpetuate the image of the invincibility of the Navy Seals, presenting them as modern day Spartans or Praetorians, has run into a minor set-back in recent years. The criminal conduct of the elite of the elite has recently tarnished a once proud and silent fraternity of soldiers.

On June 4, 2017 an Army Special Forces NCO was murdered by two Navy SEALs and two Marines “Raiders” in Mali. The original story put forward was that the soldiers accidentally killed their compatriot in an attempt to scare him into silence. The Green Beret, Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar, had uncovered gross criminal conduct by Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews and Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph. The two SEALs had been embezzling money meant to pay off local informants, and had also been bringing local prostitutes back to the small unit’s “secret” safe house . Staff Sergeant Melgar was ambushed in the safe house, beaten and choked to death. It took military investigators roughly a year and a half to finally charge all four perpetrators with felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary. The investigation found that the men killed Staff Sergeant Melgar while engaged in an act of burglary; however, it is not known if they were attempting to steal back or destroy evidence that the Army Staff Sergeant had collected against them.

Perhaps no better example of the meteoric rise and fall of a former Navy SEAL exists as a greater cautionary tale than that of disgraced former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. Greitens had ridden the reputation of the SEALs into fame and political office, only to fall victim to his own despicable criminal mind. Greitens never served in combat and was not highly regarded by most rank and file SEAL members with combat experience. Many such members speaking off the record, regarded him as an overly ambitious ladder climber that intended to ride the SEAL reputation as far as it would take him. It was largely theorized that before accusations of criminal conduct started coming to the fore, that he fully intended to launch a U.S. presidential campaign. Thankfully, investigations revealed gross corruption in his political dealings and his personal life. Geitens had been listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2013, and made the list of Fortune Magazine’s 50 greatest leaders in 2014. By May 29, 2017 he had resigned from political office in disgrace.

The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations

A still shot from a gubernatorial commercial promoting Eric Greitens in 2016. He ran on the collective reputation of the SEAL teams, much to the chagrin of many rank and file members.

A vocal critic of the new trend in special operations personnel seeking the spotlight and financial gain is Navy SEAL Lieutenant Forrest Crowell, who even wrote his post graduate thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School regarding the issue. While writing a detailed story on Governor Greitens in The New Yorker, Phil Klay summarized Lt. Crowell’s opinion put forward in his thesis:

“In it, he argued that the SEALs’ celebrity status had diverted their culture “away from the traditional SEAL Ethos of quiet professionalism to a Market Ethos of commercialization and self-promotion.” Crowell warned that the new approach incentivized “narcissistic and profit-oriented behavior” and undermined healthy civil-military relations by using “the credibility of special operations to push partisan politics. “The people of this nation should be suspicious of SEALs who speak too loudly about themselves,” Crowell wrote.”

Reversing the Trend

Although it remains to be seen whether or not U.S. special operations troops will be withdrawn from Syria or not, it is highly unlikely. The timetable for withdrawal continues to stretch into the future. It is also highly unlikely that SOCOM will reduce its global footprint, slow the tempo of joint military training with foreign militaries, or request a smaller budget for 2020. Like all U.S. federal government entities, it will promote itself at the expense of all others, and will resist any demands to lessen its power and influence.

President Trump has proven himself either incapable of challenging the military industrial complex, or totally complicit in the aim of that complex to perpetuate endless military conflict. There is very little sign that anyone in either the civilian government or the military leadership of the United States has the integrity or is willing to make the political sacrifice to alter the current course that the U.S. Armed Forces are embarked upon. The U.S. military has misallocated funds and priorities for the past two decades, engaged in misguided and disastrous regime change operations that have cost the nation trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. These military adventures have gutted the armed forces materially and morally. A generation of Americans have been left scarred physically and mentally. Hundreds of thousands of combatants and civilians in countries across the Middle East and Africa have lost their lives, while millions of refugees have fled the resultant chaos.

By 2019, SOCOM has reached a pinnacle in power and influence within the military industrial complex. It has garnered and fostered an almost mythical status in U.S. society. Yet it has not won and is incapable of winning any conflict that the government of the United States has seen fit to employ it in. Perhaps that is the very point. Special operations forces deployed across the globe, in almost every country you can imagine can help initiate, maintain and perpetuate conflict as long as the United States stays in a position of relatively unrivaled power in the world. The U.S. military industrial complex does not desire large winnable wars, but “low-intensity” conflicts that last as long as possible. That is how the system retains power, maintains profits, and remains relevant.

A strengthened SOCOM, deployed across the planet, establishing relationships with the foreign militaries of most of the world’s nations, and stationed in an ever growing number of U.S. embassies is a dream come true for the Deep State. There is little chance that SOCOM will reverse its course of expansion and accumulation of power at the expense of U.S. national security anytime in the immediate future. Just as the FBI, NSA and CIA have grown in power, influence and unaccountability since their creation, SOCOM seems poised to follow the same model to the detriment of the Republic that it was created to serve.

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