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Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, Tanzania: Local fishermen identified a discrepancy relating to payments for their use of a fish market. Photograph: Nick Greaves/Alamy

In the Ileje district of southern Tanzaniaexpectant mothers about to give birth had to cross a crocodile-infested river into Malawi because a local medical centre did not have enough money to pay for a midwife.

It took a campaign by civil society organsations and citizens to uncover that there was money available, but that it had somehow been diverted. Once it became clear there was a staff budget, remedial action was taken. Now the women of Ileje receive pregnancy and birth delivery services without risking their lives on a needless, long and hazardous journey.

In Tanzania, civil society groups stress the importance of transparent and inclusive government budgets to improve service delivery, reduce poverty and achieve social and economic rights. But often it takes active and brave citizens using their “right to know” to have a positive influence on what governments do on their behalf.

A year of persistent questions from Lake Victoria fishermen was needed to discover a serious discrepancy between the levies they paid to use a fish market and the amount the council reported receiving. Scrutiny prevented a potentially ruinous and unnecessary 100% levy hike for the market premises.

Though the Tanzanian economy has been growing by an average of 7%annually for more than a decade, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Approximately a quarter of the adult population cannot read,life expectancy is 58 years, and just 14% of the country’s 48 million people have access to electricity.

With African countries’ budgets under continual strain, civil society organisations increasingly have to understand how they can ensure tax revenue is spent wisely – and even that it is collected.

In Tanzania, this has meant raising the issue of curtailment of cross-border illicit financial flows. Governments cannot afford to ignore this if they truly want to make a difference. Not with the ratio of illicit money flowing out of poor nations to the amount of foreign aid standing at roughly $10:$1.

Yet authorities are sometimes bewildered when citizens request budgettransparency. “Why would anyone outside government want to see boring technical details about how public money is intended for use?” they ask.

Budget information can be presented as relevant and useful to the public, however. For instance, our organisation managed to persuade the government to issue a “citizens’ budget” (pdf) – a simplified digest of the national budget. We can extend this by also producing simplified versions that show how revenue will be generated, including how much will come from domestic taxes, natural resource extraction and foreign aid, which accounts for about 30% of national spending.

Although tax justice is only being tackled by a few urban civil society organisations in Tanzania, it will become increasingly prominent once massive potential revenues from recently discovered gas deposits begin flowing in a decade.

Increasingly, the public is recognising the potential for the Tanzanian gas sector to play a huge part in the country’s rapid economic growth. But concerns remain that the lives of the poor – particularly those in local communities close to existing resources – will not improve, due to budget and tax mismanagement.

Solving these problems is a much bigger fight, requiring co-ordinated international efforts by governments and civil society across the globe. But national civil society organisations can play their part. They can press their governments to introduce mechanisms that will help improve global financial transparency and implement suitable regulation to check the murky system that limits the mobilisation of resources for poor countries. If all governments adopt high standards for transparency, we will be closer to seeing greater domestic resource mobilisation and economic growth among poor countries.

But there is even more at stake than ensuring poor countries receive their fair share of revenue. The focus on efficient tax collection allows for a fresh debate on fairness. When we talk about curtailing illicit financial flows, we move beyond asking how we share resources equitably. We begin to tackle how we ensure the collection of public money in a manner that is just and bridges the gap between rich and poor countries. This means we are fighting for inclusive economic growth.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/sep/30/tanzania-civil-society-economic-justice

Edward Snowden für Sacharow-Preis nominiert

17. September 2013, 08:12

Sieben Nominierte in der Endauswahl – Darunter auch Malala Yousafzai aus Pakistan

Das EU-Parlament hat über die Nominierungen für die diesjährige Vergabe des Sacharow-Preises entschieden. Insgesamt sieben Anwärter für den Menschenrechtspreis gibt es, darunter auch NSA-Whistleblower Edward Snowden. Er wurde von grünen und linken Fraktionen des EU-Parlaments vorgeschlagen.

Unter den Nominierten sind außerdem das pakistanische Mädchen Malala Yousafzai, das sich für den Zugang zu Bildung einsetzte und deshalb zum Ziel der Taliban wurde, der russische Unternehmer und Regimekritiker Michail Chodorowski sowie die äthiopischen Journalisten Reeyot Alemu und Eskinder Negam. Auch die “stehenden” Demonstranten vom Taksim-Platz haben es neben dem “CNN Freedom Project” zur Beendingung von moderner Sklaverei und den weißrussischen Oppositionelllen Ales Bialatski, Eduard Lobau und Mykola Statkewitsch in die Endauswahl geschafft. Der Menschenrechtspreis wird am 20. November in Straßburg überreicht werden. (red, derStandard.at, 17.9.2013)

ussbush1

This GRTV production by James Corbett was first released in January 2012. In the light of the recent media disinformation campaign in relation to Syria, we bring this carefully researched video-documentary report to the attention of GR readers. 

As the drums of war begin to beat once again in IranSyria, the South China Sea, and other potential hotspots and flashpoints around the globe, concerned citizens are asking how a world so sick of bloodshed and a population so tired of conflict could be led to this spot once again.

To understand this seeming paradox, we must first understand the centuries-long history of how media has been used to whip the nation into wartime frenzy, dehumanize the supposed enemies, and even to manipulate the public into believing in causes for war that, decades later, were admitted to be completely fictitious.

As the US and Iranian governments escalate tensions in the already volatile Straits of Hormuz, and China and Russia begin openly questioning Washington’s interference in their internal politics, the world remains on a knife-edge of military tension. Far from being a dispassionate observer of these developments, however, the media has in fact been central to increasing those tensions and preparing the public to expect a military confrontation. But as the online media rises to displace the traditional forms by which the public forms its understanding of the world, many are now beginning to see first hand how the media lies the public into war.…

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The term “yellow journalism” was coined to describe the type of sensationalistic, scandal-driven, and often erroneous style of reporting popularized by newspapers like William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. In one of the most egregious examples of this phenomenon, Hearst’s papers widely trumpeted the sinking of the Maine as the work of the Spanish. Whipped into an anti-Spanish frenzy by a daily torrent of stories depicting Spanish forces’ alleged torture and rape of Cubans, and pushed over the edge by the Maine incident, the public welcomed the beginning of the US-Spanish war. Although it is now widely believed that the explosion on the Maine was due to a fire in one of its coal bunkers, the initial lurid reports of Spanish involvement stuck and the nation was led into war.

In many ways, the phrase infamously attributed to Hearst in reply to his illustrator “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war,” apocryphal as the story may be, nevertheless perfectly encodes the method by which the public would be led to war time and again through the decades.

The US was drawn into World War I by the sinking of the Lusitania, a British ocean liner carrying American passengers that was torpedoed by German U-boats off the coast of Ireland, killing over 1,000 of its passengers. What the public was not informed about at the time, of course, was that just one week before the incident, then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill had written to the President of the Board of Trade that it was “most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hopes especially of embroiling the United States with Germany.” Nor did reports of the attack announce that the ship was carrying rifle ammunition and other military supplies. Instead, reports once again emphasized that the attack was an out-of-the-blue strike by a maniacal enemy, and the public was led into the war.

The US involvement in World War II was likewise the result of deliberate disinformation. Although the Honolulu Advertiser had even predicted the attack on Pearl Harbor days in advance, the Japanese Naval codes had already been decipheredby that time, and that even Henry Stimson, the US Secretary of War, had noted in his diary the week before that he had discussed in a meeting with Roosevelt “how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves,” the public were still led to believe that the Pearl Harbor attack had been completely unforeseen. Just last month, a newly-declassified memo emerged showing that FDR had been warned of an impending Japanese attack on Hawaii just three days before the events at Pearl Harbor, yet the history books still portray Pearl Harbor as an example of a surprise attack.

In August 1964, the public was told that the North Vietnamese had attacked a US Destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin on two separate occasions. The attacks were portrayed as a clear example of “communist aggression” and a resolution was soon passed in Congress authorizing President Johnson to begin deploying US forces in Vietnam. In 2005, an internal NSA study was released concluding that the second attack in fact never took place. In effect, 60000 American servicemen and as many as three million Vietnamese, let alone as many as 500,000 Cambodians and Laotians, lost their lives because of an incident that did not occur anywhere but in the imagination of the Johnson administration and the pages of the American media.

In 1991, the world was introduced to the emotional story of Nayirah, a Kuwaiti girl who testified about the atrocities committed by Iraqi forces in Kuwait.

What the world was never told was that the incident had in fact been the work of a public relations firm, Hill and Knowltown, and the girl had actually been the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador. Once again, the public was whipped into a frenzy of hatred for the Hussein regime, not for the documented atrocities that it had actually committed on segments of its own population with weapons supplied to them by the United States itself, but on the basis of an imaginary story told to the public via their televisions, orchestrated by a pr firm.

In the lead-up to the war on Iraq, the American media infamously took the lead in framing the debate about the Iraqi government’s weapons of mass destruction NOT as a question of whether or not they even existed, but as a question of where they had been hidden and what should be done to disarm them. The New York Times led the way with Judith Miller‘s now infamous reporting on the Iraqi WMD story, now known to have been based on false information from untrustworthy sources, but the rest of the media fell into line with the NBC Nightly News asking “what precise threat Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction pose to America”, and Time debating whether Hussein was “making a good-faith effort to disarm Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” Reports about chemical weapons stashes were reported on before they were confirmed, although headlines boldly asserted their existence as indisputable fact. We now know that in fact the stockpiles did not exist, and the administration premeditatedly lied the country into yet another war, but the most intense opposition the Bush administration ever received over this documented war crime was some polite correction on the Sunday political talk show circuit.

Remarkably, the public at large has seemingly learned nothing from all of these documented historical manipulations. If anything, the media has become even bolder in its attempts to manipulate the public’s perceptions, perhaps emboldened by the fact that so few in the audience seem willing to question the picture that is being painted for them on the evening news.

Later that year, CNN aired footage of a bombed out Tskhinvali in South Ossetia, falsely labeling it as footage of Gori, which they said had been attacked by the Russians.

In 2009, the BBC showed a cropped image of a rally in Iran which they claimed was a crowd of protesters who assembled to show their opposition to the Iranian government. An uncropped version of the same photograph displayed on the LA Times’ website, however, revealed that the photo in fact came from a rally in support of Ahmedinejad.

In August of 2011, the BBC ran footage of what they claimed was a celebration in Tripoli’s Green Square. When sharp-eyed viewers noticed that the flags in the footage were in fact Indian flags, the BBC was forced to admit that they had “accidentally” broadcast footage from India instead of Tripoli.

Also that month, CNN reported on a story from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claiming that eight infants in incubators had died in a hospital in Hama when Syrian authorities cut off power in the area. Some news sites evencarried pictures of the infants. The images were later admitted to have been taken in Egypt and no evidence has ever emerged to back up the accusations.

As breathtaking as all of these lies, manipulations and so-called “mistakes” are, they in and of themselves don’t represent the only functions of the media for the war machine. Now, the US government is taking the lead in becoming more and more directly involved with the shaping of the media message on war propaganda, and the general public is becoming even more ensnared in a false picture of the world through the Pentagon’s own lens.

In 2005, the Bush White House admitted to producing videos that were designed to look like news reports from legitimate independent journalists, and then feeding those reports to media outlets as prepackaged material ready to air on the evening news. When the Government Accountability Office ruled that these fake news reports in fact constituted illegal covert propaganda, the White House simply issued a memo declaring the practice to be legal.

In April 2008, the New York Times revealed a secret US Department of Defense program that was launched in 2002 and involved using retired military officers to implant Pentagon talking points in the media. The officers were presented as “independent analysts” on talk shows and news programs, although they had been specially briefed beforehand by the Pentagon. In December of 2011, the DoD’s own Inspector General released a report concluding that the program was in perfect compliance with government policies and regulations.

Earlier this year, it was revealed the the US government had contracted with HBGary Federal to develop software that create fake social media accounts in order to steer public opinion and promote propaganda on popular websites. The federal contract for the software sourced back to the MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

As the vehicle through which information from the outside world is captured, sorted, edited and transmitted into our homes, the mass media has the huge responsibility of shaping and informing our understanding of events to which we don’t have first-hand access. This is an awesome responsibility in even the most ideal conditions, with diligent reporters guided by trustworthy editors doing their level best to report the most important news in the most straightforward way.

But in a media landscape where a handful of companies own virtually all of the print, radio and television media in each nation, the only recourse the public has is to turn away from the mainstream media altogether. And that is precisely what is happening.

As study after study and report after report has shown, the death of the old media has accelerated in recent years, with more and more people abandoning newspapers and now even television as their main source of news. Instead, the public is increasingly turning toward online sources for their news and information, something that is necessarily worrying for the war machine itself, a system that can only truly flourish when the propaganda arm is held under monopolistic control.

But as citizens turn away from the New York Times and toward independent websites, many run and maintained by citizen journalists and amateur editors, the system that has consolidated its control over the minds of the public for generations seems to finally be showing signs that it may not be invincible.

Surely this is not to say that online media is impervious to the defects that have made the traditional media so unreliable. Quite the contrary. But the difference is that online, there is still for the time being relative freedom of choice at the individual level. While internet freedom exists, individual readers and viewers don’t have to take the word of any website or pundit or commentator on any issue. They can check the source documentation themselves, except, perhaps not coincidentally, on the websites of the traditional media bastions, which tend not to link source material and documentation in their articles.

Hence the SOPA ActProtect IP, the US government’s attempts to seize websites at the domain name level, and all of the other concerted attacks we have seen on internet freedoms in recent years.

Because ultimately, an informed and engaged public is far less likely to go along with wars waged for power and profit. And as the public becomes better informed about the very issues that the media has tried to lie to them about for so long, they realize that the answer to all of the mainstream media’s war cheerleading and blatant manipulation is perhaps simpler than we ever suspected: All we have to do is turn them off.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/faking-it-how-the-media-manipulates-the-world-into-war/5336838

Protest gegen einen möglichen Militäreinsatz in Syrien vor dem Weissen Haus in Washington.

http://de.euronews.com/2013/08/30/haende-weg-von-syrien-anti-kriegs-proteste-in-mehreren-laendern/

In mehreren Ländern hat es Proteste gegen den drohenden Militäreinsatz in Syrien gegeben. So etwa in den USA vor dem Weißen Haus in der Hauptstadt Washington. Präsident Barack Obama hatte in den vergangenen Stunden erneut von einem gezielten Einsatz in dem Bürgerkriegsland gesprochen.

Brian Becker von der Anti-Kriegs-Organisation The Answer Coalition: “Die Syrer gehen in Scharen über die Grenzen. Und warum? Weil sie fürchten, dass die Amerikaner Damaskus bombardieren werden.

“Hände weg von Syrien”, riefen Demonstranten in New York. Auf dem Times Square hatten sie sich versammelt, viele sagten, sie hätten nach Afghanistan und Irak schlicht genug vom Krieg. Auch sagen einige, die Regierung lüge und habe keine wirklichen Beweise..

In der griechischen Hauptstadt Athen liefen Hunderte Anti-Kriegs-Demonstranten zur US-Botschaft. Organisiert wurde der Protest von der kommunistischen Partei Griechenlands. Entsprechend oft waren deren Flaggen zu sehen. Von der Partei hieß es, Griechenland solle sich in keiner Weise an einem möglichen Militärschlag beteiligen.

In der Türkei demonstrierten Mitglieder der Arbeiterpartei vor den Militärflughafen Incirlik, wo auch die US-Luftwaffe Kampfjets stationiert hat. Von hier aus könnten Angriffe gegen Syrien geflogen werden.

Ein Demonstrant meinte: “Wir sollten es der Türkei nicht erlauben, Syrien anzugreifen, nur um US-Interessen zu schützen. Es wäre schlimm, wenn Tausende Zivilisten getötet würden, wie es im Irak passiert ist.”

Von Incirlik aus sind es nur rund 120 Kilometer bis Syrien. Vor der Irak-Invasion 2003 starteten hier Jets der Briten und Amerikaner, die die Flugverbotszone über dem Irak überwachten.

Mit Reuters, dpa

Zusatzlinks

Homepage der Anti-Kriegs-Organisation Answer Coalition
Homepage des Nato-Stützpunkts Incirlik

Misstrauisches Grossbritannien

Die Schatten des Irakkriegs

Auslandnachrichten Dossier: Angedrohte Intervention in Syrien Gestern, 22:33
Cameron schien zunächst keine Rücksicht darauf nehmen zu wollen, dass die Uno-Inspektoren laut Generalsekretär Ban Ki-Moon noch einige Tage Zeit benötigten, um ihren Bericht abzuliefern.
Cameron schien zunächst keine Rücksicht darauf nehmen zu wollen, dass die Uno-Inspektoren laut Generalsekretär Ban Ki-Moon noch einige Tage Zeit benötigten, um ihren Bericht abzuliefern. (Bild: Reuters)
Das Vorgehen von Premierminister Cameron gegen Syrien ruft schlechte Erinnerungen an den Irakkrieg wach. Die Bevölkerung ist misstrauisch.
Peter Rásonyi, London

Die Erinnerung an den Eintritt Grossbritanniens in den Irakkrieg vor zehn Jahren lastet schwer auf der Entscheidung des Landes, allenfalls an einem amerikanischen Bombenangriff auf Syrien teilzunehmen. Die Debatte am Donnerstag im Unterhaus über eine Antwort auf den mutmasslichen Giftgasangriff in Damaskus war gespickt mit Reminiszenzen an den Krieg. Der Oppositionsführer Miliband ermahnte Premierminister Cameron, die Lehren aus der Geschichte zu ziehen und das Vorgehen gegen Syrien mit Ruhe und Gründlichkeit abzuwägen, bevor ein Entscheid getroffen werde.

Wenig durchdacht

Im März 2003 hatte die damalige Labourregierung unter Premierminister Tony Blair das Parlament trotz verbreiteten Bedenken und Massendemonstrationen in London zur Zustimmung bewegen können, an der Seite der USA in den Irak einzumarschieren. Das Ziel der Mission war angeblich die Beseitigung der Bedrohung durch Massenvernichtungswaffen in der Hand des Diktators Saddam. Bei den als Entscheidungsgrundlage verwendeten, von Blair gegenüber dem Parlament als unzweifelhafte Belege bezeichneten Geheimdienstinformationen handelte es sich, wie man heute weiss, um höchst bruchstückhafte, damals von den Diensten selbst angezweifelte Hinweise. Später erwiesen sie sich als falsch; die Bedrohung hat es nie gegeben. Die völkerrechtliche Grundlage für den Angriff war höchst fragwürdig. Mehrere öffentliche Untersuchungen, die letzte unter dem ehemaligen Beamten Chilcot ist immer noch nicht abgeschlossen, haben Indizien dafür hervorgebracht, dass Blair das Parlament und die Medien gezielt manipuliert haben könnte, um einen bereits viel früher eigenmächtig gefassten Entscheid zur Kriegsbeteiligung durchzusetzen.

Die Schmach, von der eigenen Regierung unter Angabe falscher Informationen in einen möglicherweise rechtswidrigen Krieg geführt worden zu sein, schmälert das Vertrauen der Bevölkerung in die politische Führung des Landes bis heute. Das bekommt nun Premierminister Cameron zu spüren. Zwei Drittel der Briten lehnen laut Umfragen jegliche Intervention in Syrien ab. Camerons forsches Vorgehen wurde durch die Erinnerung an den in mancher Hinsicht ähnlichen Fall Irak gebremst. Cameron schien zunächst keine Rücksicht darauf nehmen zu wollen, dass die den Schauplatz des Giftgasangriffs in Damaskus untersuchenden Uno-Inspektoren laut Generalsekretär Ban Ki-Moon noch einige Tage Zeit benötigten, um ihren Bericht abzuliefern. Auch 2003 räumten Blair und Präsident Bush den Uno-Inspektoren im Irak nicht genügend Zeit ein, um Belege für die angeblichen Massenvernichtungswaffen zu finden. Ähnlich wie damals Blair schien sich auch Cameron wenig Gedanken darüber zu machen, welche nichtintendierten Folgen ein Angriff in der Region haben könnte.

Lähmende Gespenster

Cameron räumte am Donnerstag ein, es gebe keine hundertprozentigen Gewissheiten, doch die Politiker müssten einen Ermessensentscheid treffen. Er mahnte, die Gespenster des Irakkriegs dürften das Land nicht lähmen. Doch Miliband hat zusammen mit zahlreichen Skeptikern aus allen Parteien just unter Berufung auf jene schmerzhaften Erfahrungen erreicht, dass es noch nicht zu einem Entscheid über einen britischen Militäreinsatz gekommen ist.

http://www.nzz.ch/aktuell/international/auslandnachrichten/die-schatten-des-irakkriegs-1.18141529

salvadordeathsquad

 Image: El Salvador Death squads

The recruitment of death squads is part of a well established US military-intelligence agenda. There is a long and gruesome US history of covert funding and support of  terror brigades andtargeted assassinations going back to the Vietnam war. 

As government forces continue to confront the self-proclaimed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA),  the historical roots of  the West’s covert war on Syria –which has resulted in countless atrocities– must be fully revealed.

From the outset in March 2011, the US and its allies have supported the formation of death squads and the incursion of  terrorist brigades in a carefully planned undertaking.

The recruitment and training of terror brigades in both Iraq and Syria was modeled on the “Salvador Option”,  a “terrorist model” of mass killings by US sponsored death squads in Central America. It was first applied in  El Salvador, in the heyday of resistance against the military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths.

The formation of death squads in Syria builds upon the history and experience of US  sponsored terror brigades in Iraq, under the Pentagon’s “counterinsurgency” program.

The Establishment of Death Squads in Iraq

US sponsored death squads were recruited in Iraq starting in 2004-2005 in an initiative launched under the helm of the US AmbassadorJohn Negroponte, [image: right] who was dispatched to Baghdad by the US State Department in June 2004.

Negroponte was the “man for the job”. As US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. Negroponte played a key role in supporting and supervising the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras as well as overseeing the activities of the Honduran military death squads.

“Under the rule of General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, Honduras’s military government was both a close ally of the Reagan administration and was “disappearing” dozens of political opponents in classic death squad fashion.”

In January 2005, the Pentagon, confirmed that it was considering:

” forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency [Resistance] in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago”.

Under the so-called “El Salvador option”, Iraqi and American forces would be sent to kill or kidnap insurgency leaders, even in Syria, where some are thought to shelter. …

Hit squads would be controversial and would probably be kept secret.

The experience of the so-called “death squads” in Central America remains raw for many even now and helped to sully the image of the United States in the region.

Then, the Reagan Administration funded and trained teams of nationalist forces to neutralise Salvadorean rebel leaders and sympathisers. …

John Negroponte, the US Ambassador in Baghdad, had a front-row seat at the time as Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85.

Death squads were a brutal feature of Latin American politics of the time. …

In the early 1980s President Reagan’s Administration funded and helped to train Nicaraguan contras based in Honduras with the aim of ousting Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. The Contras were equipped using money from illegal American arms sales to Iran, a scandal that could have toppled Mr Reagan.

The thrust of the Pentagon proposal in Iraq, … is to follow that model …

It is unclear whether the main aim of the missions would be to assassinate the rebels or kidnap them and take them away for interrogation. Any mission in Syria would probably be undertaken by US Special Forces.

Nor is it clear who would take responsibility for such a programme — the Pentagon or the Central Intelligence Agency. Such covert operations have traditionally been run by the CIA at arm’s length from the administration in power, giving US officials the ability to deny knowledge of it.  (El Salvador-style ‘death squads’ to be deployed by US against Iraq militants – Times Online, January 10, 2005, emphasis added)

While the stated objective of the “Iraq Salvador Option” was to “take out the insurgency”, in practice the US sponsored terror brigades were involved in routine killings of civilians with a view to fomenting sectarian violence. In turn, the CIA and MI6 were overseeing “Al Qaeda in Iraq”  units involved in targeted assassinations directed against the Shiite population. Of significance, the death squads were integrated and advised by undercover US Special Forces.

Robert Stephen Ford –subsequently appointed US Ambassador to Syria– was part of Negroponte’s team in Baghdad in 2004-2005. In January 2004, he was dispatched as U.S. representative to the Shiite city of Najaf which was the stronghold of the Mahdi army, with which he made preliminary contacts.

In January 2005, Robert S. Ford’s was appointed Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte. He was not only part of the inner team, he was Negroponte’s partner in setting up the Salvador Option.  Some of the groundwork had been established in Najaf prior to Ford’s transfer to Baghdad.

John Negroponte and Robert Stephen Ford were put in charge of recruiting the Iraqi death squads. While Negroponte  coordinated the operation from his office at the US Embassy, Robert S. Ford, who was fluent in both Arabic and Turkish, was entrusted with the task of establishing strategic contacts with Shiite and Kurdish militia groups outside the “Green Zone”.

Two other embassy officials, namely Henry Ensher(Ford’s Deputy) and a younger official in the political section, Jeffrey Beals, played an important role in the team “talking to a range of Iraqis, including extremists”. (See The New Yorker, March 26, 2007).  Another key individual in Negroponte’s team was James Franklin Jeffrey, America’s ambassador to Albania (2002-2004). In 2010, Jeffrey was appointed US Ambassador to Iraq (2010-2012).

Negroponte also brought into the team one of his former collaborators Colonel James Steele (ret) from his Honduras heyday:

Under the “Salvador Option,” “Negroponte had assistance from his colleague from his days in Central America during the 1980′s, Ret. Col James Steele. Steelewhose title in Baghdad was Counselor for Iraqi Security Forces supervised the selection and training of members of the Badr Organization and Mehdi Army, the two largest Shi’ite militias in Iraq, in order to target the leadership and support networks of a primarily Sunni resistance. Planned or not, these death squads promptly spiralled out of control to become the leading cause of death in Iraq.

Intentional or not, the scores of tortured, mutilated bodies which turn up on the streets of Baghdad each day are generated by the death squads whose impetus was John Negroponte. And it is this U.S.-backed sectarian violence which largely led to the hell-disaster that Iraq is today. (Dahr Jamail, Managing Escalation: Negroponte and Bush’s New Iraq Team,. Antiwar.com, January 7, 2007)

“Colonel Steele was responsible, according to Rep. Dennis Kucinich for implementing  “a plan in El Salvador under which tens of thousands Salvadorans “disappeared” or were murdered, including Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American nuns.”

Upon his appointment to Baghdad, Colonel Steele was assigned to a counter-insurgency unit known as the “Special Police Commando” under the Iraqi Interior Ministry” (See ACN, Havana,  June 14, 2006) 

Reports confirm that “the US military turned over many prisoners to the Wolf Brigade, the feared 2nd battalion of the interior ministry’s special commandos” which so happened to be under supervision of  Colonel Steele:

“US soldiers, US advisers, were standing aside and doing nothing,” while members of the Wolf Brigade beat and tortured prisoners. The interior ministry commandos took over the public library in Samarra, and turned it into a detention centre, he said.  An interview conducted by Maass [of the New York Times] in 2005 at the improvised prison, accompanied by the Wolf Brigade’s US military adviser, Col James Steele, had been interrupted by the terrified screams of a prisoner outside, he said. Steele was reportedly previously employed as an adviser to help crush an insurgency in El Salvador.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

Another notorious figure who played a role in Iraq’s counter-insurgency program was Former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik  [image: Bernie Kerik  in Baghdad Police Academy with body guards] who in 2007 was indicted in federal court on 16 felony charges.

Kerik walks amidst a phalanx of bodyguards during visit to the Police Academy in Baghdad, July 2003.

Kerik had been appointed by the Bush administration at the outset of the occupation in 2003 to assist in the organization and training  of the Iraqi Police force. During his short stint in 2003, Bernie Kerik –who took on the position of interim Minister of the Interior– worked towards organizing terror units within the Iraqi Police force: “Dispatched to Iraq to whip Iraqi security forces into shape, Kerik dubbed himself the “interim interior minister of Iraq.”British police advisors called him the “Baghdad terminator,” (Salon, December 9, 2004, emphasis added)

Under Negroponte’s helm at the US Embassy in Baghdad, a  wave of covert civilian killings and targeted assassinations had been unleashed. Engineers, medical  doctors, scientists and intellectuals were also targeted.

Author and geopolitical analyst Max Fuller has documented in detail the atrocities committed under the US sponsored counterinsurgency program.

The appearance of death squads was first highlighted in May this year [2005], …dozens of bodies were found casually disposed … in vacant areas around Baghdad. All of the victims had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head and many of them also showed signs of having been brutally tortured.  …

The evidence was sufficiently compelling for the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni organisation, to issue public statements in which they accused the security forces attached to the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Badr Brigade, the former armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), of being behind the killings. They also accused the Ministry of the Interior of conducting state terrorism (Financial Times).

The Police Commandos as well as the Wolf  Brigade were overseen by the US counterinsurgency program in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior:

The Police Commandos were formed under the experienced tutelage and oversight of veteran US counterinsurgency fighters, and from the outset conducted joint-force operations with elite and highly secretive US special-forces units (ReutersNational Review Online).

A key figure in the development of the Special Police Commandos was James Steele, a former US Army special forces operative who cut his teeth in Vietnam before moving on to direct the US military mission in El Salvador at the height of that country’s civil war. …

Another US contributor was the same Steven Casteel who as the most senior US advisor within the Interior Ministry brushed off serious and well-substantiated accusations of appalling human right violations as ‘rumor and innuendo’. Like Steele, Casteel gained considerable experience in Latin America, in his case participating in the hunt for the cocaine baron Pablo Escobar in Colombia’s Drugs Wars of the 1990s …

Casteel’s background is significant because this kind of intelligence-gathering support role and the production of death lists are characteristic of US involvement in counterinsurgency programs and constitute the underlying thread in what can appear to be random, disjointed killing sprees.

Such centrally planned genocides are entirely consistent with what is taking place in Iraq today [2005] …It is also consistent with what little we know about the Special Police Commandos, which was tailored to provide the Interior Ministry with a special-forces strike capability (US Department of Defense). In keeping with such a role, the Police Commando headquarters has become the hub of a nationwide command, control, communications, computer and intelligence operations centre, courtesy of the US. (Max Fuller, op cit)

This initial groundwork established under Negroponte in 2005 was implemented under his successor Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.  Robert Stephen Ford ensured the continuity of the project prior to his appointment as US Ambassador to Algeria in 2006,  as well as upon his return to Baghdad as Deputy Chief of Mission in 2008.

Operation “Syrian Contras”: Learning from the Iraqi Experience

The gruesome Iraqi version of the “Salvador Option” under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte has served as a “role model” for setting up the “Free Syrian Army” Contras. Robert Stephen Ford was, no doubt, involved in the implementation of the Syrian Contras project, following his reassignment to Baghdad as Deputy Head of Mission in 2008.

The objective in Syria was to create factional divisions between Sunni, Alawite, Shiite, Kurds, Druze and Christians. While the Syrian context is entirely different to that of Iraq, there are striking similarities with regard to the procedures whereby the killings and atrocities were conducted.

A report published by Der Spiegel pertaining to atrocities committed in the Syrian city of Homs confirms an organized sectarian process of mass-murder and extra-judicial killings comparable to that conducted by the US sponsored death squads in Iraq.

People in Homs were routinely categorized as   “prisoners” (Shia, Alawite) and “traitors”.  The “traitors” are Sunni civilians within the rebel occupied urban area, who express their disagreement or opposition to the rule of terror of the Free Syrian Army (FSA):

“Since last summer [2011], we have executed slightly fewer than 150 men, which represents about 20 percent of our prisoners,” says Abu Rami. … But the executioners of Homs have been busier with traitors within their own ranks than with prisoners of war. “If we catch a Sunni spying, or if a citizen betrays the revolution, we make it quick,” says the fighter. According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.” (Der Spiegel, March 30, 2012)

The project required an initial program of recruitment and training of mercenaries. Death squads including Lebanese and Jordanian Salafist units entered Syria’s southern border with Jordan in mid-March 2011.  Much of the groundwork was already in place prior to Robert Stephen Ford’s arrival in Damascus in January 2011.

Ambassador Ford in Hama in early July 2011

Ford’s appointment as Ambassador to Syria was announced in early 2010. Diplomatic relations had been cut in 2005 following the Rafick Hariri assassination, which Washington blamed on Syria. Ford arrived in Damascus barely two months before the onset of the insurgency.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA)

Washington and its allies replicated in Syria the essential features of the “Iraq Salvador Option”, leading to the creation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and its various terrorist factions including the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra brigades.

While the creation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was announced in June 2011, the recruitment and training of foreign mercenaries was initiated at a much an earlier period.

In many regards, the Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen. It is upheld by the Western media as abona fide military entity established as a result of mass defections from government forces.  The number of defectors, however, was neither significant nor sufficient to establish a coherent military structure  with command and control functions.

The FSA  is not a professional  military entity, rather it is a loose network of separate terrorist brigades, which in turn are made up of numerous paramilitary cells operating in different parts of the country.

Each of these terrorist organizations operates independently. The FSA does not effectively exercise command and control functions including liaison with these diverse paramilitary entities. The latter are controlled by US-NATO sponsored special forces and intelligence operatives which are embedded within the ranks of selected terrorist formations.

These (highly trained) Special forces on the ground (many of whom are employees of private security companies) are routinely in contact with US-NATO and allied military/intelligence command units (including Turkey). These embedded Special Forces are, no doubt, also involved in the carefully planned bomb attacks directed against government buildings, military compounds, etc.

The death squads are mercenaries trained and recruited by the US, NATO, its Persian Gulf GCC allies as well as Turkey.  They are overseen by allied special forces (including British SAS and French Parachutistes), and private security companies on contract to NATO and the Pentagon. In this regard, reports confirm the arrest by the Syrian government of some 200-300 private security company employees who had integrated rebel ranks.

The Jabhat Al Nusra Front

The Al Nusra Front –which is said to be affiliated to Al Qaeda– is described as the most effective “opposition” rebel fighting group, responsible for several of the high profile bomb attacks. Portrayed as an enemy of America (on the State Department list of terrorist organizations), Al Nusra operations, nonetheless, bear the fingerprints of US paramilitary training, terror tactics and weapons systems. The atrocities committed against civilians by Al Nusra (funded covertly by US-NATO) are similar to those undertaken by the US sponsored death squads in Iraq.

In the words of Al Nusra leader Abu Adnan in Aleppo: “Jabhat al-Nusra does count Syrian veterans of the Iraq war among its numbers, men who bring expertise — especially the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) — to the front in Syria.”

As in Iraq, factional violence and ethnic cleansing were actively promoted. In Syria, the Alawite, Shiite and Christian communities have been the target of the US-NATO sponsored death squads.  The Alawite and the Christian community are the main targets of the assassination program. Confirmed by the Vatican News Service:

Christians in Aleppo are victims of death and destruction due to the fighting which for months, has been affecting the city. The Christian neighborhoods, in recent times, have been hit by rebel forces fighting against the regular army and this has caused an exodus of civilians.

Some groups in the rugged opposition, where there are also jiahadist groups, “fire on Christian houses and buildings, to force occupants to escape and then take possession [ethnic cleansing] (Agenzia Fides. Vatican News, October 19, 2012)

“The Sunni Salafist militants – says the Bishop – continue to commit crimes against civilians, or to recruit fighters with force. The fanatical Sunni extremists are fighting a holy war proudly, especially against the Alawites. When terrorists seek to control the religious identity of a suspect, they ask him to cite the genealogies dating back to Moses. And they ask to recite a prayer that the Alawites removed. The Alawites have no chance to get out alive.”  (Agenzia Fides 04/06/2012)

Reports confirm the influx of Salafist and Al Qaeda affiliated death squads as well as brigades under the auspices of the Muslim Brotherhood into Syria from the inception of the insurgency in March 2011.

Moreover, reminiscent of  the enlistment of  the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO and the Turkish High command, according to Israeli intelligence sources, had initiated”

“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011).

Private Security Companies and the Recruitment of Mercenaries

A Secret Army of Mercenaries for the Middle East and North AfricaAccording to reports, private security companies operating out of Gulf States are involved in the recruiting and training of mercenaries.

Although not specifically earmarked for the recruitment of mercenaries directed against Syria, reports point to the creation of  training camps in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Zayed Military City (UAE), “a secret army is in the making” operated by Xe Services, formerly Blackwater.  The UAE deal to establish a military camp for the training of mercenaries was signed in July 2010, nine months before the onslaught of the wars in Libya and Syria.

In recent developments, security companies on contract to NATO and the Pentagon are involved in training “opposition” death squads in the use of chemical weapons:

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report,December 9, 2012)

The names of the companies involved were not revealed.

Behind Closed Doors at the US State Department

Robert Stephen Ford was part of a small team at the US State Department team which oversaw the recruitment and training of  terrorist brigades,  together with Derek Chollet  and Frederic C. Hof, a former business partner of Richard Armitage, who served as Washington’s “special coordinator on Syria”. Derek Chollet has recently been appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA).

This team operated under the helm of  (former) Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern AffairsJeffrey Feltman.

Feltman’s team was in close liaison with the process of recruitment and training of mercenaries out of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya (courtesy of the post-Gaddafi regime, which dispatched six hundred Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) troops to Syria, via Turkey in the months following the September 2011 collapse of the Gaddafi government).

Assistant Secretary of State Feltman was in contact with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim. He was also in charge of a  Doha-based office for “special security coordination” pertaining to  Syria, which included representatives from Western and GCC intelligence agencies well as a representative from Libya. Prince Bandar bin Sultan. a prominent and controversial member of Saudi intelligence was part of this group. (See Press Tv, May 12, 2012).

In June 2012, Jeffrey Feltman (image: Left) was appointed UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, a strategic position  which, in practice, consists in setting  the UN agenda (on behalf of Washington) on issues pertaining to “Conflict Resolution” in various “political hot spots” around the world (including Somalia, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Mali). In a bitter irony, the countries for UN “conflict resolution” are those which are the target of  US covert operations.

In liaison with the US State Department, NATO and his GCC handlers in Doha and Riyadh, Feltman is Washington’s man behind UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahmi’s “Peace Proposal”.

Meanwhile, while paying lip service to the UN Peace initiative, the US and NATO have speeded up the process of recruitment and training of  mercenaries in response to the heavy casualties incurred by “opposition” rebel forces.

The US proposed “end game” in Syria is not regime change, but the destruction of Syria as a Nation State.

The deployment of “opposition” death squads with a mandate to kill civilians is part of this criminal undertaking.

“Terrorism with a Human Face” is upheld by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which constitutes a mouthpiece for NATO “Humanitarian Interventions” under the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

The atrocities committed by the US-NATO death squads are casually blamed on the government of Bashar Al Assad. According to UN Human Rights Council High Commissioner Navi Pillay:

“This massive loss of life could have been avoided if the Syrian Government had chosen to take a different path than one of ruthless suppression of what were initially peaceful and legitimate protests by unarmed civilians,” (quoted in Stephen Lendman, UN Human Rights Report on Syria: Camouflage of US-NATO Sponsored Massacres, Global Research, January 3, 2012)

Washington’s “unspeakable objective” consists in breaking up Syria as a sovereign nation –along ethnic and religious lines– into several separate and “independent” political entities

http://www.globalresearch.ca/terrorism-with-a-human-face-the-history-of-americas-death-squads/5317564

Global Research, August 24, 2013
RT Op-Edge 15 August 2013
Kurdish flag

The targeting of Kurdish civilians in Syria by US-supported armed thugs is part of a deliberate attempt to galvanize the Kurds and pit them in a resurgent struggle against the non-Kurd regions.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party and other sources are now  reporting that Kurdish men, women, and children are  systematically being tortured, raped, and executed. Fighting has  broken out between Syrian Kurds and the insurgent forces  supported by the US, UK, France, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia,  and Qatar.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Iranian Parliament  have condemned the targeting of Syrian Kurds while the Obama  Administration and its cohorts have remained mostly silent.  Lavrov’s insistence that the United Nations Security Council  condemns the violence has also been to no avail.

One of the reasons that the Obama Administration has been silent  is because they are supporting the butchers behind the massacre  and are trying to avoid more embarrassment. The US and its  allies, however, will make supportive noise for the Kurds once  they get the result they are seeking.

Caught in the crossfire of geopolitical games

The geopolitical importance of the Kurds lies in their geography.  Kurdistan sits at the heart of the contemporary Middle East. The  mountainous region intersects the boundaries of Syria, Turkey,  Iraq, Iran, and Armenia. Its position makes it the main point of  convergence in the Middle East. This has distinguished Kurdistan  as a place where regional rivalries and intrigues are played out.  It also means that Kurdistan can be used to create upheaval and  instability in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran.

The contemporary states of the Middle East have all used the  Kurds in their rivalries against one another. Time and time  again, however, the Kurds have been manipulated in the  geopolitical calculi of the Middle East. They have regularly  found themselves to be expendable and effectively dropped as  partners by those players that their leaders made ill-conceived  alliances with. In the past this took place during the  centuries-long conflict between the Ottoman and Iranian Empires.  Kurdish chieftains proved to be especially decisive in ensuring  an Ottoman victory in the Battle of Chaldiran against the  Safavids in 1514. Centuries later, Kurdish militias would be  recruited by the Ottoman government in its hostilities with the  Armenians of Anatolia in the 1890s, only for Kurdish leaders to  mistakenly side with the British and face the wrath of the  newborn Republic of Turkey. They would incidentally be betrayed  by the British in Iraq a few decades later. The Kurds have been  oppressed in Turkey ever since.

Relatives visit a Syrian Kurdish man who was injured during an airstrike on the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern city of Aleppo (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff) Relatives visit a Syrian Kurdish man who was injured during an airstrike on the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern city of Aleppo (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff) 

 

Mohammed-Reza Shah supported the Iraqi Kurds against the Iraqi  government until 1975. When he received the concessions he wanted  over control of the Shatt Al-Arab from Baghdad, he ended his  support of the Iraqi Kurds, leaving them to face the Iraqi  military. The alliance between Tehran and the Iraqi Kurds would  only be rekindled during the Iran-Iraq War and after the Shah was  ousted.

The Israelis, on the other hand, became interested in the Kurds  as part of their policy of forming alliances with ethnic groups,  such as the Berbers, who live in the sea of Arabs stretching from  Morocco to Iraq. Tel Aviv has used Iraqi Kurdistan as a regional  base against friends, such as Turkey, and foes, such as Iran and  Syria. Yet, Israel has never hesitated to drop the Kurds either.

Using their contacts with the Kurds, it was Tel Aviv that helped  the Turkish government capture the Kurdish guerilla leader  Abdullah Ocalan.

Turkey in the last decade has slowly loosened its repressive  policies against the Kurds as part of its neo-Ottoman bid to  expand its economic and political influence in the Middle East.  Ankara’s government has even instigated the Iraqi Kurds to clash  with the Iraqi federal government, whereas it has been  unsuccessful in its attempts to entice the Syrian Kurds into its  orbit. It is even alleged that Prime Minister Erodogan had  devised a Turkish-Kurdish federation of some sort that would  eventually incorporate Iraqi Kurdistan and Syrian Kurdistan with  Turkey.

The US government has constantly changed its position on the  Kurds. In coordination with the Shah of Iran, Washington actually  armed the Iraqi Kurds and led them on. The moment that the Shah  got his concessions, the US dropped the Iraqi Kurds by ending its  support. The US then started to support Saddam Hussein against  the Iraqi Kurds and, under the guise of giving agricultural  credits, effectively armed him with the chemical weapons that he  used against them and Iran. After America turned its back on  Saddam Hussein, the US pushed the Kurds to rebel against Baghdad,  only to abandon them once more by leaving them during their hour  of need in a position of deadlock. The US and UK would go on to  use the Kurds as a convenient excuse for establishing their  illegal no-fly zones over Iraq and later to support their  invasion in 2003.

Ironically, while Washington condemned Saddam Hussein for  mistreating the Kurds, it actually supported and helped the  Turkish government against the Kurds in both Turkey and Iraq. Now  the Obama Administration is mutely trying to manipulate the  Kurds, in Syria and elsewhere, into destabilizing Syria and the  Middle East.

A Syrian Kurdish refugee from the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, holds her baby in a school used as a refugee camp in the northern city of Afrin (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff) A Syrian Kurdish refugee from the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, holds her baby in a school used as a refugee camp in the northern city of Afrin (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff) 

 

Militarizing the Kurds to Fragment Syria

When the troubles in Syria began in 2011, there was an attempt to  recruit the Syrian Kurds. The Syrian Kurds were cautious and the  recruitment attempts failed. Despite the best attempts of the  Syrian National Council and the other puppet opposition groups  outside of Syria, the Syrian Kurds were not drawn into the ranks  of the insurgency. Instead the Syrian government gave the Kurds a  new level of autonomy.

The systematic massacres of Syrian Kurds mark the start of a new  strategy to entangle the Kurds in the fighting inside Syria. The  targeting of the Syrian Kurds by insurgent groups like Al-Nusra  is premeditated and strategically executed precisely with the  intention of galvanizing the Kurds in Syria and elsewhere into  forming more armed groups and segregating themselves from  non-Kurds. In what looks like the momentum towards a broader  regional conflagration, the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional  Government of Iraqi Kurdistan have also threatened to intervene.

There is actually an old and saturnine proverb which is linked to  what is happening and, at the same time, speaks to the memory of  the Kurdish people about their perception of a tragic history.

The proverb avers that the Kurds have no friends except for the  mountains. The most important thing about this proverb is that it  is the axiom for what has been a mentality of besiegement among  the Kurds: they have no one to rely on but themselves. This is  exactly what the mandarins and strategists conducting the  operations against Syria want to exploit the Kurds to feel; they  want the Kurds to “have no friends except for the mountains” and  to “fight the rest.”  The Arabs, the Turks, and the  mixture of ethnic groups that comprise the population of Iran are   “the rest.”

While Israeli and US analysts and experts keep parroting the same  propaganda talking points that Syria will be divided into  sectarian mini-states based on faith and ethnicity, the Syrians  themselves are refuting this. What these experts are saying will  happen is a goal that Washington and Tel Aviv are in fact  struggling to achieve in Syria. In this context, the ultimate aim  of dragging the Kurds into fighting is to divide Syria and  fragment the Middle East via resurgent and militant Kurdish  ethno-nationalism that shouts that the Kurds have no friends. The  Kurds should not be fooled into becoming the cannon fodder of  those who seek to divide the Middle East.

They have more friends than just the mountains. Kurdish history,  like the history of the world’s other peoples, is one filled with  both tragedy and exultation. The long story of the Kurds has not  been one of exclusion and discrimination alone. It has been one  of inclusion and regional leadership too. It says something when  the great eagle that is on Egypt’s flag and used as a pan-Arab  symbol and coat of arms by a number of different Arab states is  the emblem of the great Kurdish leader Saladin and that many of  the Middle East’s leaders have been Kurds.

This article was originally published on RT.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/no-friends-but-the-mountains-washington-seeks-to-ensnare-kurds/5346859

middleeast

Western media has accused the Syrian government of launching a chemical attack in an area east of Damascus that killed hundreds of civilians.  It is the same accusations they had on Saddam Hussein who allegedly ordered a chemical attack in the town of Halabja in Southern Kurdistan, a Kurdish territory killing more than 3000 people and more than 7000 injured.  U.S President George H.W. Bush used the incident to justify an invasion when he said “The dictator who is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.”  Many doubts surfaced including a former Central Intelligence Agency senior political analyst and professor at the Army War College, Stephen C. Pelletiere who wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times in 2003 called ‘A War Crime or an Act of War?, he said:

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq’s main target.

US media is receiving reports from the Western backed rebels that accuse Assad for the atrocities committed by his government.  They are using the information to justify an invasion of Syria.  However, RT news reported that there was evidence the attack was pre-planned according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich who said “We’re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature,” he stressed. “In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action.” Ironically, the Kurds (who Saddam Hussein was accused of murdering) are targeted by the same rebels in the north of Syria by Al-Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda front group and the Free Syrian Army.  RT news and other international news outlets reported that more than 450 Kurdish people including women and children were killed in the village of Tal Abyad near the Turkish border.

Western governments and their media outlets accuse the Assad government of a chemical attack that allegedly killed hundreds of people, but the claim was made by the Western-backed rebels. Russia says the evidence suggests that the weapons were fired from Rebel-held territory.  Last March, The US and Israel claimed that Syrian forces launched a chemical attack in the Khan al-Assal village, located north from the city of Aleppo. A Russian-led investigation declared militants were behind the attack.  The U.S., Israel and now France want to invade Syria and remove President Assad and divide Syria into several small territories.  They are interested in the Balkanization of Syria, the same method that was used to break up Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. The rebels are supported and have been trained by the West to start a war against Syria.  It started in 2011 where demonstrations (inspired by the Arab Spring) were either for or against President Assad.  Those that were against Assad demanded his resignation.  That is what started the civil war.  Now the West is capitalizing on the situation that is tearing Syria apart.  France is now on board with the United States and Israel to invade Syria.  In a New York Times report called ‘France Urges ‘Force’ in Syria if Chemical Attacks are Confirmed’ states that France wants a full scale invasion if chemical weapons were used:

As Western powers pressed the Syrian authorities to permit United Nations inspectors to examine the site of a claimed poison gas attack outside the capital, Damascus, France said on Thursday that outside powers should respond “with force” if the use of chemical weapons was confirmed.

The recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon are to create divisions among the Sunni and Shiites as well.  Is it a coincidence that Lebanon is now experiencing more terror attacks in recent weeks as Egypt and Syria are facing civil wars and sectarian violence?  On Friday more than 42 people were killed and hundreds more injured as car bombs explode targeting 2 mosques in Tripoli, the largest city in Northern Lebanon.  There was also a car bomb explosion that targeted Southern Lebanon where Hezbollah members and supporters live.  It killed more than 20 people and injured well over 200.  The Lebanon based Daily Star reported that Lebanese President Michel Sleiman blamed Israel for the attack:

President Michel Sleiman said the car bomb attack in the Beirut southern suburbs was a “terrorist act” that bore the fingerprints of Israel. 

The car bomb attack in the Beirut southern suburb of Ruwaiss –  a stronghold of Hezbollah- claimed the lives of at least 16 people and wounded over 200. Security sources earlier put the death toll at 22.  

“This is a criminal act that bears the fingerprints of terrorism and Israel and is aimed to destabilize Lebanon and deal a blow to the resilience of the Lebanese,” Sleiman said.

President Sleiman is blaming Israel for the attack which would make sense because it would benefit Israel if Lebanon was in a civil war.  The Israeli online newspaper Haaretz reported that a group calling itself the ‘Brigades of Aisha’ was responsible for the attack:

A Sunni Islamist group calling itself the Brigades of Aisha claimed responsibility for a deadly explosion in southern Beirut, saying it targeted the militant group Hezbollah and promising more attacks.

The powerful car bomb ripped through a neighborhood that is a stronghold of the militant group Hezbollah on Thursday, killing at least 14 people, wounding 120 and trapping many others in burning buildings, witnesses and emergency officials said.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said Israel was behind the blast. “The fingerprints of the Israeli terrorism are all over it. Their goal is to destabilize the region and undermine the steadfastness of the Lebanese people.” Druze leader Walid Jumblatt also attributed the blast to Israel, as did former Hezbollah MP.

It’s the second such blast in just over a month in south Beirut. Groups opposed to Syria’s President Bashar Assad have threatened to retaliate against Hezbollah for intervening on behalf of his regime in the Syrian civil war.

It is perfect timing that a newly formed rebel group out of the Syrian conflict emerged to strike Southern Lebanon, a Hezbollah dominated territory while Egypt and Syria are fighting internal conflicts.

Egypt is a country that has largest population in the Middle East with over 80 million people.  It also benefits Israel if Egypt was ruled by a military dictatorship to control the people.  Why does Israel prefer a military dictatorship in Egypt?  According to the Pew Research Center poll in 2012 say that 61% of Egyptians want to end the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.  The Los Angeles Times reported that Israel would prefer a Military government.  Why?  The answer is obvious:

Worried about its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, Israel is skirting a fine line between maintaining its usual silence on the unrest in its neighbor and openly supporting Egypt’s military-led government, which many in Israel view as the best bet for keeping a quiet border.

On July 3rd, General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi and the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi in a coup that suspended the Egyptian constitution after ongoing public protests against the government of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.  The British based newspaper The Independent reported that General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for mass demonstrations to crack down on terrorists.  It was to justify military rule in wake of the overthrow of President Morsi.  The report said that “A decisive confrontation may be looming between Egypt’s military and the Muslim Brotherhood after General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the country’s top commander, issued an unprecedented call for mass demonstrations on Friday to grant his forces a “mandate” to crack down on “terrorism”.  Many opposition groups and human rights organizations opposed this move because it reinstated the military over civilian rule on the Egyptians.  Israel wants to make sure that the military would remain in power with unlimited Western support.   An Israeli official clarified its position to the Los Angeles Times on the ongoing violence in Egypt:

The official said that Israel would begin lobbying Western governments with the message that the military is the only actor in Egypt that can prevent a civil war. “Like it or not, no one else can run the country right now,” the official said.

This concerns the Israeli government, but if the Egyptian military remains in power, then Israel can continue to destabilize and then prepare military interventions against their enemies, namely Syria, Lebanon and then Iran.

The civil war in Egypt will continue to escalate as the Western sponsored Military Junta takes control of the country.  Egypt has been receiving close to 1.5 billion dollars in Military Aid from the US since 1981, only behind Israel who receives close to 3 billion dollars per year.  Israel is the top recipient of US military aid since 1976.

The United States, Great Britain, France and Israel are preparing the region for the next war.  Iran is the ultimate target in the Middle East.  Israel wants to topple Iranian influence and its power.  Israel is confident that if it were to attack Iran, its response would last a few days at most.  The Times of Israel released a report stating that “Iran is unlikely to unleash a war in response to a military strike on its nuclear facilities” according to Strategic Affairs and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz.  The article titled ‘Iran would barely retaliate if its nuclear program were attacked’ states that Steinitz estimates that Iran would retaliate with “two or three days of missile fire” against the State of Israel and other Western targets in the region, including US military bases.  He says that it will only cause“very limited damage.” The Israeli government has no faith in Iran’s new President Hasan Rouhani because he will “offer minor goodwill steps” according to the Times.  Israel wants to strike Iran while the US is aiming towards a confrontation with Syria with new claims that the Assad government used chemical weapons.  It is also convenient that Egypt’s civil war will continue to create chaos in the country. In an interview with the Times of Israel, Steinitz mentioned what would happen after an attack on Iran:

And I don’t think the result would be a world war or even a regional war,” the Likud minister added. “I think Iran’s possibilities to retaliate are very limited. It’s also not in their interest to start a drawn-out war with the US. After all, their relations in the region are rather sensitive. I suppose there would be a response of two or three days of missile fire, perhaps even on Israel, on American bases in the Gulf. But I don’t think it would be more than that — very limited damage

But the Times of Israel admits that statement is a contradiction:

Steinitz’s assessment contradicted previous estimations of some Israeli government ministers, who said they expected hundreds of casualties in an Iranian retaliatory response if Israel attacked Iran.

Former home front defense minister Matan Vilnai last year spoke about possibly hundreds of rockets and missiles falling on Israeli population centers each day, with anticipated 500 deaths. “It could be that there will be fewer fatalities, but it could be there will be more,” he said. Former defense minister Ehud Barak made similar assessments.

Iran would retaliate.  If Iran were to be attacked by Israel, the Iranian people would no doubt rally behind the flag in defense of their country. “There is no third way, there is nothing in the middle, there is no more room to maneuver. Enough is enough.”  Steinitz is pushing for war with Iran because it is confident several Western powers including Saudi Arabia would back its attack on the Islamic Republic.

He believes that an Israeli attack on Iran could cripple Iran “within a few hours.”  The report also said that Israel does not need permission to attack Iran from the U.S.:

Steinitz refused to talk about potential Israeli plans for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, but he did reject reports about Washington vetoing an attack. “Israel doesn’t need a green light or a red light,” he said, noting that US President Barack Obama has said the Jewish state needs to be able to defend itself by itself. “Between Israel and the US there is a relationship of mutual respect.”

The Times of Israel also stated:

Promises by American leaders that Tehran will not be allowed to get an atomic bomb, and their statements “that all options are on the table,” are insufficient, he said. Rather, the US or NATO need to issue an explicit ultimatum, with a deadline, that makes plain that if Tehran does not comply with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, Iran “shouldn’t be surprised” if its nuclear facilities are attacked.

It is misleading to think that Iran and other Middle Eastern nations would not be able to retaliate militarily.  Iran and Hezbollah are prepared for such a confrontation with Israel, a nation that has one of the most advanced military capabilities in the Middle East with US support.  However, the 2006 confrontation did not prove the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were capable of defeating the Guerilla tactics of Hezbollah.  Steinitz and the Likud party are dishonest to the Israeli people.  A war with Iran would be a catastrophe to the entire region especially Israel.  All of the people in the Middle East would be outraged that would result in a “blowback” of unlimited proportions against Israel and the United States.  Iran also has the capability of closing the Strait of Hormuz.  The Strait of Hormuz is where close to 40% of the world’s petroleum ships through.  In a report conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration called ‘World Oil Transit Chokepoints’ clearly defines the strategic importance of the Strait of Hormuz:

Located between Oman and Iran, the Strait of Hormuz connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important oil chokepoint due to its daily oil flow of about 17 million bbl/d in 2011, up from between 15.7-15.9 million bbl/d in 2009-2010. Flows through the Strait in 2011 were roughly 35 percent of all seaborne traded oil, or almost 20 percent of oil traded worldwide. More than 85 percent of these crude oil exports went to Asian markets, with Japan, India, South Korea, and China representing the largest destinations. In addition, Qatar exports about 2 trillion cubic feet per year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the Strait of Hormuz, accounting for almost 20 percent of global LNG trade. Furthermore, Kuwait imports LNG volumes that travel northward through the Strait of Hormuz. These flows totaled about 100 billion cubic feet per year in 2010.

An attack on Iran would be an economic disaster for the world.  Remember, oil exports from Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia must go through the Strait of Hormuz on a daily basis.  Iran’s oil output would stop immediately effecting oil prices overnight.  China and India’s economic growth would be disrupted because they depend on Iranian oil.  But the US and Israel will continue its march to war.  They want to control the Middle East.  They already control the Gulf States including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar.  All ruled by corrupt Monarchies with an ‘Iron Fist’ under the direction of the US, Israel and British governments.  Turkey and Jordan is also under Western control.  Iraq has been invaded and destroyed with frequent atrocities committed by both Sunnis and Shiites every month through sectarian violence.  Under Israeli occupation Palestine has broken up into two main areas the West Bank and the Gaza Strip where Palestinians live under constant tyranny and discrimination.

What stands in the way of the Western powers and Israel from taking control of the entire Middle East that has valuable resources that includes petroleum and water? Lebanon, Syria and Iran are the main obstacles for total domination of the region.  Russia and China can prevent the West from expanding a war in the Middle East.  They understand what serious consequences this would have politically and economically. Both countries have economic interests in the Middle East for trade, oil and other investments that they need to grow economically.  Divide and Conquer has been used since the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar when the Roman army invaded Macedonia and ousted King Perseus.  Macedonia was then divided into four regions that were not allowed any political or economic relationships with one another.  That is how Rome ruled the people.  Syria, Lebanon and Iran are the last obstacles for Western domination of the region.  ‘Divide and Conquer’ is the strategy, and then perpetual war will follow.  War in the Middle East will affect all nations on the planet.  The world must stop this war.  If Israel and the United States attack Iran, then Russia and China would be the next targets.  It is obvious with U.S. military bases surrounding both countries.  The United States is an empire who wants to dominate the world and its resources.  The question is when will the world say “enough is enough” to Imperial powers trying to start another world war?  The US is now in preparation to strike Syrian military targets if UN inspectors declare chemical weapons were used.  If Syria is defeated, then it could become another Iraq or Libya.  Then a future attack on Iran is inevitable.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-crises-in-syria-lebanon-and-egypt-the-plan-to-divide-and-conquer-the-middle-east-and-why-all-roads-lead-to-tehran/5346864