A long history of the US involvement in the Middle East

Syria: Another Pipeline War

 Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. | ecowatch.com

During the 1950’s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers rebuffed Soviet treaty proposals to leave the Middle East a cold war neutral zone and let Arabs rule Arabia.

The fossil fuel industry’s business model is to externalize its costs by clawing in obscene subsidies and tax deductions—causing grave environmental costs, including toxic pollution and global warming. Among the other unassessed prices of the world’s addiction to oil are social chaos, war, terror, the refugee crisis overseas, and the loss of democracy and civil rights abroad and at home.

As we focus on the rise of ISIS and search for the source of the savagery that took so many innocent lives in Paris and San Bernardino, we might want to look beyond the convenient explanations of religion and ideology and focus on the more complex rationales of history and oil, which mostly point the finger of blame for terrorism back at the champions of militarism, imperialism and petroleum here on our own shores.

America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria—obscure to the American people yet well known to Syrians—sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic Jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIS. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely to only compound the crisis. Moreover, our enemies delight in our ignorance.

As the New York Times reported in a Dec. 8, 2015 front page story, ISIS political leaders and strategic planners are working to provoke an American military intervention which, they know from experience, will flood their ranks with volunteer fighters, drown the voices of moderation and unify the Islamic world against America.

To understand this dynamic, we need to look at history from the Syrians’ perspective and particularly the seeds of the current conflict. Long before our 2003 occupation of Iraq triggered the Sunni uprising that has now morphed into the Islamic State, the CIA had nurtured violent Jihadism as a Cold War weapon and freighted U.S./Syrian relationships with toxic baggage.

 Wall Street shill John Foster Dulles (and his brother Allen, helming the CIA) dominated US foreign policy in the aftermath of World War 2, with utterly nefarious results. [2CC BY-NC by Wofford Archives]

During the 1950’s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers rebuffed Soviet treaty proposals to leave the Middle East a cold war neutral zone and let Arabs rule Arabia. Instead, they mounted a clandestine war against Arab Nationalism—which CIA Director Allen Dulles equated with communism—particularly when Arab self-rule threatened oil concessions. They pumped secret American military aid to tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon favoring puppets with conservative Jihadist ideologies which they regarded as a reliable antidote to Soviet Marxism. At a White House meeting between the CIA’s Director of Plans, Frank Wisner, and Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, in September of 1957, Eisenhower advised the agency, “We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect. ”The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949—barely a year after the agency’s creation. Syrian patriots had declared war on the Nazis, expelled their Vichy French colonial rulers and crafted a fragile secularist democracy based on the American model. But in March of 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Kuwaiti, hesitated to approve the Trans Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. In his book, Legacy of Ashes, CIA historian Tim Weiner recounts that in retaliation, the CIA engineered a coup, replacing al-Kuwaiti with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, 14 weeks into his regime. Following several counter coups in the newly destabilized country, the Syrian people again tried democracy in 1955, re-electing al-Kuwaiti and his Ba’ath Party. Al-Kuwaiti was still a Cold War neutralist but, stung by American involvement in his ouster, he now leaned toward the Soviet camp. That posture caused Dulles to declare that “Syria is ripe for a coup” and send his two coup wizards, Kim Roosevelt and Rocky Stone to Damascus. Two years earlier, Roosevelt and Stone had orchestrated a coup in Iran against the democratically elected President Mohammed Mosaddegh after Mosaddegh tried to renegotiate the terms of Iran’s lopsided contracts with the oil giant, BP. Mosaddegh was the first elected leader in Iran’s 4,000 year history, and a popular champion for democracy across the developing world. Mosaddegh expelled all British diplomats after uncovering a coup attempt by UK intelligence officers working in cahoots with BP. Mosaddegh, however, made the fatal mistake of resisting his advisors’ pleas to also expel the CIA, which they correctly suspected, and was complicit in the British plot. Mosaddegh idealized the U.S. as a role model for Iran’s new democracy and incapable of such perfidies. Despite Dulles’ needling, President Truman had forbidden the CIA from actively joining the British caper to topple Mosaddegh.

The CIA admitted carrying out the 1953 coup that toppled Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, Prime Minister and first elected leader in Iran’s 4000 year history. Much of the ugliness that has ensued stems from this criminal and arrogant act.

When Eisenhower took office in January 1953, he immediately unleashed Dulles. After ousting Mosaddegh in “Operation Ajax,” Stone and Roosevelt installed Shah Reza Pahlavi, who favored U.S. oil companies, but whose two decades of CIA sponsored savagery toward his own people from the Peacock throne would finally ignite the 1979 Islamic revolution that has bedeviled our foreign policy for 35 years.

 Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America. His presidency is remembered as one of social peace and almost mythical happiness for the expanding new middle class, but the reality was far tawdrier than that.

Flush from his Operation Ajax “success” in Iran, Stone arrived in Damascus in April 1956 with $3 million in Syrian pounds to arm and incite Islamic militants and to bribe Syrian military officers and politicians to overthrow al-Kuwaiti’s democratically elected secularist regime. Working with the Muslim Brotherhood, Stone schemed to assassinate Syria’s Chief of Intelligence, its Chief of the General Staff and the Chief of the Communist Party and to engineer “national conspiracies and various strong arm” provocations in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan that could be blamed on the Syrian Ba’athists.

The CIA’s plan was to destabilize the Syrian government, and create a pretext for an invasion by Iraq and Jordan, whose governments were already under CIA control. Roosevelt forecasted that the CIA’s newly installed puppet government would “rely first upon repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power.”

But all that CIA money failed to corrupt the Syrian military officers. The soldiers reported the CIA’s bribery attempts to the Ba’athist regime. In response, the Syrian army invaded the American Embassy taking Stone prisoner. Following harsh interrogation, Stone made a televised confession to his roles in the Iranian coup and the CIA’s aborted attempt to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government.

The Syrians ejected Stone and two U.S. Embassy staffers—the first time any American State Department diplomat was barred from an Arab country. The Eisenhower White House hollowly dismissed Stone’s confession as “fabrications and slanders,” a denial swallowed whole by the American press, led by the New York Times and believed by the American people, who shared Mosaddegh’s idealistic view of their government.



In 1994 Stone lost his sight to macular degeneration. Refusing to be sidelined, he continued to work on behalf of others with hearing losses until his death in August, 2004. Howard E. Stone was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on March 3, 1925. He grew up during the depression. When he was seven, his father deserted the family; and Howard had to help support his mother and two sisters. For a time, he ran a corner newsstand. At age 14, he managed a dairy bar said to have been one of the busiest in town. When World War II broke out, Stone enlisted in the U. S. Army. His military career ended suddenly when he suffered a bilateral hearing loss (in both ears) from exposure to explosions during basic training. Subsequently he was given a discharge from the service.

 In 1945 Stone entered the University of Southern California as a business student. He found he was missing a lot of class discussions and lectures and realized his hearing loss was more extensive than he thought. Deciding he hated business, Stone switched to international affairs and graduated with an honors degree in International Relations. He won a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and completed one year in their Master Studies program. Stone also eventually received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Gallaudet University in Washington, D. C. While he was in Washington, Stone was signed up by the fledgling Central Intelligence Agency.

 His first foreign assignment was to Iran. He arrived there in time to take part in the events that restored Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to the throne. The Shah (king) had been forced to leave Iran (1953) after Prime Minister Mossadegh nationalized (took over) the British-controlled Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Loss of the oil fields combined with a fear of increasing Communist influence brought together British intelligence and the CIA. They gave “overt support” to the Iranian army when it attempted to take control of the government later that same year (1953). They called it “Operation Ajax.”

 A critical meeting between two American reporters and the son of Fazlollah Zahedi, the general who was leading the rebels, was held in Stone’s residence. Mrs. Stone sat in a rocking chair near Zahedi with a pistol hidden beneath her knitting. She was “internal security” for that encounter. Later General Zahedi was in Stone’s basement when he learned of the revolt’s imminent successful climax. Tanks arrived to take him to his temporary headquarters. Stone had to help the general button the tunic of his dress uniform when Zahedi was too nervous to do it himself. During a victory party at the CIA office that same night, two overjoyed Zahedis (father and son) came up to Stone and said: “We’re in … We’re in … What do we do now?”

 Here is a partial list of places where Stone was employed by the C.I.A along with a few career highlights: (1) 1957–Chief of Station in Damascus, Syria Here he tried to arrange a coup (rebellion) against the government. When it failed, he and his family had to leave the country in a hurry. (2) 1960s (early)–Chief of Station in Katmandu, Nepal He heard rumors of a possible coup against the king by a former government minister so he arranged to have a gift sent to that man: a miniature replica of a cannon. In its base was a microphone and a battery-powered transmitter. Stone was able to listen in to “the plot”; as a result, there was no coup. (3) 1966 Deputy Station Chief and Chief of Intelligence in Saigon, South Vietnam Stone tried to gain a “negotiated settlement” instead of a military solution to the problem there. He was able to make contact with the Viet Cong but couldn’t work out a peaceful answer. (4) Pakistan (5) Sudan– Chief of Station in Khartoum (6) Stone was Chief of Operations of the Soviet Bloc Division (Eastern Europe)–based at CIA headquarters. (7) Italy–Chief of Station in Rome

 This was Stone’s last C.I.A. post. It was there he fell down a flight of stairs and lost what was left of his hearing. He was forced to retire (1975) and received the Agency’s highest honor: the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. Describing “Rocky” Stone, his supervisors and co-workers used the following words and phrases: “Intellectually brilliant … (with) superior concentration, … a tenacious personality … (and) a relentless work ethic … “His intelligence assessments were accurate and blunt but responsible.”

 Howard E. “Rocky” Stone died on August 13, 2004 at Washington Hospital Center (Bethesda, MD), of adult respiratory distress syndrome. He was survived by his wife, four children, and ten grandchildren.

 Syria purged all politicians sympathetic to the U.S. and executed them for treason. In retaliation, the U.S. moved the Sixth Fleet to the Mediterranean, threatened war and goaded Turkey to invade Syria. The Turks assembled 50,000 troops on Syria’s borders and only backed down in the face of unified opposition from the Arab League whose leaders were furious at the U.S. intervention. (The Turks have been imperial accomplices for a long time, as we see here.—Els.]

Even after its expulsion, the CIA continued its secret efforts to topple Syria’s democratically elected Ba’athist government. The CIA plotted with Britain’s MI6 to form a “Free Syria Committee” and armed the Muslim Brotherhood to assassinate three Syrian government officials, who had helped expose “the American plot.” (Matthew Jones in The ‘Preferred Plan’: The Anglo-American Working Group Report on Covert Action in Syria, 1957). The CIA’s mischief pushed Syria even further away from the U.S. and into prolonged alliances with Russia and Egypt.

Following the second Syrian coup attempt, anti-American riots rocked the Mid-East from Lebanon to Algeria. Among the reverberations was the July 14, 1958 coup, led by the new wave of anti-American Army officers who overthrew Iraq’s pro-American monarch, Nuri al-Said. The coup leaders published secret government documents, exposing Nuri al-Said as a highly paid CIA puppet. In response to American treachery, the new Iraqi government invited Soviet diplomats and economic advisers to Iraq and turned its back on the West.

 Scion to an illustrious plutocratic clan, Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. saw (like most men of his class and generation) the CIA as a private playground for their antics, albeit always dedicated to the advancement of their class interests.

Having alienated Iraq and Syria, Kim Roosevelt fled the Mid-East to work as an executive for the oil industry that he had served so well during his public service career. Roosevelt’s replacement, as CIA Station Chief, James Critchfield attempted a failed assassination plot against the new Iraqi president using a toxic handkerchief. Five years later the CIA finally succeeded in deposing the Iraqi president and installing the Ba’ath Party to power in Iraq.

A charismatic young murderer named Saddam Hussein was one of the distinguished leaders of the CIA’s Ba’athists team. The Ba’ath Party’s Interior Minister, Said Aburish, who took office alongside Saddam Hussein, would later say, “We came to power on a CIA train.” Aburish recounted that the CIA supplied Saddam and his cronies a “murder list” of people who “had to be eliminated immediately in order to ensure success.”

Critchfield later acknowledged that the CIA had, in essence, “created Saddam Hussein.” During the Reagan years, the CIA supplied Hussein with billions of dollars in training, Special Forces support, and weapons and battlefield intelligence knowing that he was using poisonous mustard and nerve gas and biological weapons—including anthrax obtained from the U.S. government—in his war against Iran.

Reagan and his CIA Director, Bill Casey, regarded Saddam as a potential friend to the U.S. oil industry and a sturdy barrier against the spread of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Their emissary, Donald Rumsfeld, presented Saddam with a pair of pearl-handled revolvers and a menu of chemical/biological and conventional weapons on a 1983 trip to Bagdad. At the same time, the CIA was illegally supplying Saddam’s enemy—Iran—with thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to fight Iraq, a crime made famous during the Iran Contra scandal. Jihadists from both sides later turned many of those CIA supplied weapons against the American people.

Even as America contemplates yet another violent Mid-East intervention, most Americans are unaware of the many ways that “blowback” from previous CIA blunders [actually crimes] has helped craft the current crisis. The reverberations from decades of CIA shenanigans continue to echo across the Mid-East today in national capitals and from mosques to madras schools over the wrecked landscape of democracy and moderate Islam that the CIA helped obliterate.

In July 1956, less than two months after the CIA’s failed Syrian Coup, my uncle, Senator John F. Kennedy, infuriated the Eisenhower White House, the leaders of both political parties and our European allies with a milestone speech endorsing the right of self-governance in the Arab world and an end to America’s imperialist meddling in Arab countries. Throughout my lifetime, and particularly during my frequent travels to the Mid-East, countless Arabs have fondly recalled that speech to me as the clearest statement of the idealism they expected from the U.S.

Kennedy’s speech was a call for recommitting America to the high values our country had championed in the Atlantic Charter, the formal pledge that all the former European colonies would have the right to self-determination following World War II. FDR had strong-armed Churchill and the other allied leaders to sign the Atlantic Charter in 1941 as a precondition for U.S. support in the European war against fascism.

Thanks in large part to Allen Dulles and the CIA, whose foreign policy intrigues were often directly at odds with the stated policies of our nation, the idealistic path outlined in the Atlantic Charter was the road not taken. In 1957, my grandfather, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, sat on a secret committee charged with investigating CIA’s clandestine mischief in the Mid-East. The so called “Bruce Lovett Report,” to which he was a signatory, described CIA coup plots in Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Egypt, all common knowledge on the Arab street, but virtually unknown to the American people who believed, at face value, their government’s denials.

The report blamed the CIA for the rampant anti-Americanism that was then mysteriously taking root “in the many countries in the world today.” The Bruce Lovett Report pointed out that such interventions were antithetical to American values and had compromised America’s international leadership and moral authority without the knowledge of the American people. The report points out that the CIA never considered how we would treat such interventions if some foreign government engineered them in our country. This is the bloody history that modern interventionists like George W. Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio miss when they recite their narcissistic trope that Mid-East nationalists “hate us for our freedoms.”

The Syrian and Iranian coups soiled America’s reputation across the Mid-East and ploughed the fields of Islamic Jihadism which we have, ironically, purposefully nurtured. A parade of Iranian and Syrian dictators, including Bashar al-Assad and his father, have invoked the history of the CIA’s bloody coups as a pretext for their authoritarian rule, repressive tactics and their need for a strong Russian alliance. These stories are therefore well known to the people of Syria and Iran who naturally interpret talk of U.S. intervention in the context of that history.

While the compliant American press parrots the narrative that our military support for the Syrian insurgency is purely humanitarian, many Syrians see the present crisis as just another proxy war over pipelines and geopolitics. Before rushing deeper into the conflagration, it would be wise for us to consider the abundant facts supporting that perspective.

A Pipeline War
In their view, our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000 when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500km pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

 Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO’s acquiescence on Erdogan’s politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That’s because Bashar al-Assad didn’t support the pipeline and now we’re seeing what happens when you’re a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done. (Map: ZeroHedge.com via MintPress News)

Qatar shares with Iran, the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo, until recently, prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad and ensured that Qatar’s gas could only reach European markets if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs.

The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey which would pocket rich transit fees. The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would have given the Sunni Kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mid-East headquarters.

The EU, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, was equally hungry for the pipeline which would have given its members cheap energy and relief from Vladimir Putin’s stifling economic and political leverage. Turkey, Russia’s second largest gas customer, was particularly anxious to end its reliance on its ancient rival and to position itself as the lucrative transect hub for Asian fuels to EU markets. The Qatari pipeline would have benefited Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni Monarchy by giving them a foothold in Shia dominated Syria.

The Saudi’s geopolitical goal is to contain the economic and political power of the Kingdom’s principal rival, Iran, a Shiite state, and close ally of Bashar Assad. The Saudi monarchy viewed the U.S. sponsored Shia takeover in Iraq as a demotion to its regional power and was already engaged in a proxy war against Tehran in Yemen, highlighted by the Saudi genocide against the Iranian backed Houthi tribe.

Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”

Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian approved “Islamic pipeline” running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shia Iran instead of Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Mid-East and the world. Israel also was understandably determined to derail the Islamic pipeline which would enrich Iran and Syria and presumably strengthen their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria.

Bashar Assad’s family is Alawite, a Muslim sect widely perceived as aligned with the Shia camp. “Bashar Assad was never supposed to be president,” says journalist Sy Hersh. “His father brought him back from medical school in London when his elder brother, the heir apparent, was killed in a car crash.”

Before the war started, according to Hersh, Assad was moving to liberalize the country—“They had internet and newspapers and ATM machines and Assad wanted to move toward the west. After 9/11, he gave thousands of invaluable files to the CIA on Jihadist radicals, who he considered a mutual enemy.”

Assad’s regime was deliberately secular and Syria was impressively diverse. The Syrian government and military, for example, were 80 percent Sunni. Assad maintained peace among his diverse peoples by a strong disciplined army loyal to the Assad family, an allegiance secured by a nationally esteemed and highly paid officer corps, a coldly efficient intelligence apparatus and a penchant for brutality which, prior to the war, was rather moderate compared to other Mideast leaders, including our current allies.

According to Hersh, “He certainly wasn’t beheading people every Wednesday like the Saudis do in Mecca.” Another veteran journalist, Bob Parry, echoes that assessment. “No one in the region has clean hands but in the realms of torture, mass killings, civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis.”

No one believed that the regime was vulnerable to the anarchy that had riven Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia. By the spring of 2011, there were small, peaceful demonstrations in Damascus against repression by Assad’s regime. These were mainly the effluvia of the Arab Spring which spread virally across the Arab League states the previous summer. However, Huffington Post UK reported that in Syria the protests were, at least in part, orchestrated by the CIA. WikiLeaks cables indicate that the CIA was already on the ground in Syria.

But the Sunni Kingdoms wanted a much deeper involvement from America. On Sept. 4, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional hearing that the Sunni kingdoms had offered to foot the bill for a US. invasion of Syria to oust Bashar al-Assad. “In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing, the way we’ve done it previously in other places [Iraq], they’ll carry the cost,” he stated. Kerry reiterated the offer to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL27): “With respect to Arab countries offering to bear the costs of [an American invasion] to topple Assad, the answer is profoundly Yes, they have. The offer is on the table.”

Despite pressure from Republicans, Barack Obama balked at hiring out young Americans to die as mercenaries for a pipeline conglomerate. Obama wisely ignored Republican clamoring to put ground troops in Syria or to funnel more funding to “moderate insurgents.” But by late 2011, Republican pressure and our Sunni allies had pushed the American government into the fray.

In 2011, the U.S. joined France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and England to form the “Friends of Syria Coalition,” which formally demanded the removal of Assad. The CIA provided $6 million to Barada, a British T.V. channel, to produce pieces entreating Assad’s ouster. Saudi intelligence documents, published by WikiLeaks, show that by 2012, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were arming, training and funding radical Jihadist Sunni fighters from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere to overthrow the Assad’s Shia allied regime. Qatar, which had the most to gain, invested $3 billion in building the insurgency and invited the Pentagon to train insurgents at U.S. bases in Qatar. U.S. personnel also provided logistical support and intelligence to the rebels on the ground. The Times of London reported on Sept. 14, 2012, that the CIA also armed Jihadists with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons from Libyan armories that the agency smuggled by ratlines to Syria via Turkey. According to an April 2014 articleby Seymour Hersh, the CIA weapons ratlines were financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The idea of fomenting a Sunni-Shia civil war to weaken the Syrian and Iranian regimes so as to maintain control of the region’s petro-chemical supplies was not a novel notion in the Pentagon’s lexicon. A damning 2008 Pentagon funded Rand report proposed a precise blueprint for what was about to happen. That report observes that control of the Persian Gulf oil and gas deposits will remain, for the U.S., “a strategic priority” that “will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.”

Rand recommends using “covert action, information operations, unconventional warfare” to enforce a “divide and rule” strategy. “The United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch a proxy campaign” and “U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the sustained Shia-Sunni conflict trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world … possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”

WikiLeaks cables from as early as 2006 show the U.S. State Department, at the urging of the Israeli government, proposing to partner with Turkey, Qatar and Egypt to foment Sunni civil war in Syria to weaken Iran. The stated purpose, according to the secret cable, was to incite Assad into a brutal crackdown of Syria’s Sunni population.

As predicted, Assad’s overreaction to the foreign made crisis—dropping barrel bombs onto Sunni strongholds and killing civilians—polarized Syria’s Shia/Sunni divide and allowed U.S. policymakers to sell Americans the idea that the pipeline struggle was a humanitarian war. [Note: Bobby Kennedy is here buying the “barrel bomb” trope depicting Assad as a bloodthirsty tyrant, but this has been exposed by several experts in the Syria conflict, particularly Prof. Tim Anderson, whose meticulous research indicates this has been and continues to be a lie sustained by false flags and propaganda. See Dr. Tim Anderson: The Dirty War on Syria, Chapter 3: Barrel Bombs, Partisan Sources and War Propaganda].

When Sunni soldiers of the Syrian Army began defecting in 2013, the Western Coalition armed the “Free Syrian Army” to further destabilize Syria. The press portrait of the Free Syria Army as cohesive battalions of Syrian moderates was delusional. The dissolved units regrouped in hundreds of independent militias most of whom were commanded by or allied with Jihadi militants who were the most committed and effective fighters. By then, the Sunni armies of Al Qaeda Iraq (AQI) were crossing the border from Iraq into Syria and joining forces with the battalions of deserters from the Free Syria Army, many of them trained and armed by the U.S.

Despite the prevailing media portrait of a moderate Arab uprising against the tyrant Assad, U.S. Intelligence planners knew from the outset that their pipeline proxies were radical jihadists who would probably carve themselves a brand new Islamic caliphate from the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq. Two years before ISIS throat cutters stepped on the world stage, a seven-page Aug. 12, 2012 study by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), obtained by the right wing group Judicial Watch, warned that thanks to the ongoing support by U.S./Sunni Coalition for radical Sunni Jihadists, “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (now ISIS), are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”

Using U.S. and Gulf State funding, these groups had turned the peaceful protests against Bashar Assad toward “a clear sectarian (Shiite vs Sunni) direction.” The paper notes that the conflict had become a sectarian civil war supported by Sunni “religious and political powers.” The report paints the Syrian conflict as a global war for control of the region’s resources with “the west, Gulf countries and Turkey supporting [Assad’s] opposition, while Russia, China and Iran support the regime.”

The Pentagon authors of the seven-page report appear to endorse the predicted advent of the ISIS caliphate:

“If the situation continues unravelling, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” The Pentagon report warns that this new principality could move across the Iraqi border to Mosul and Ramadi and “declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Of course, this is precisely what has happened. Not coincidentally, the regions of Syria occupied by ISIS exactly encompass the proposed route of the Qatari pipeline.

But then in 2014, our Sunni proxies horrified the American people by severing heads and driving a million refugees toward Europe. “Strategies based upon the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend can be kind of blinding,” says Tim Clemente, who chaired the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force between 2004 and 2008 and served as liaison in Iraq between the FBI, the Iraqi National Police and the U.S. Military. “We made the same mistake when we trained the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The moment the Russians left, our supposed friends started smashing antiquities, enslaving women, severing body parts and shooting at us.”

When ISIS’ “Jihadi John” began murdering prisoners on TV, the White House pivoted, talking less about deposing Assad and more about regional stability. The Obama Administration began putting daylight between itself and the insurgency we had funded. The White House pointed accusing fingers at our allies. On Oct. 3, 2014, Vice President Joe Biden told students at the John F. Kennedy, Jr. forum at the Institute of Politics at Harvard that “Our allies in the region are our biggest problem in Syria.” He explained that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were “so determined to take down Assad” that they had launched a “proxy Sunni-Shia war” funneling “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons to Jihadists of the al-Nusra front and al-Qaeda”—the two groups that merged in 2014 to form ISIS.

Biden seemed angered that our trusted “friends” could not be trusted to follow the American agenda. “ISI[S] is a direct outgrowth of al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion,” declared Obama, disassociating himself from the Sunni rebellion, “which is an example of unintended consequences which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.” As if to demonstrate their contempt for America’s new found restraint, our putative allies, the Turks, responded to the U.S. rebukes by shooting down a plane belonging to our other putative ally, the Russians—probably to spoil a potential deal between Russia and the U.S. that would leave Assad in power.

Across the Mid-East, Arab leaders routinely accuse the U.S. of having created ISIS. To most Americans immersed in U.S. media perspective, such accusations seem insane. However, to many Arabs, the evidence of U.S. involvement is so abundant that they conclude that our role in fostering ISIS must have been deliberate. On Sept. 22, 2014, according to the New York Times, Iraqi leader, Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, told Baghdad demonstrators that “the CIA created ISIS.” Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bahaa Al-Araji, echoed al-Sadr’s accusation. “We know who made Daesh,” Iraq’s Treasury Secretary, Haidar al-Assadi, told the Digital News Aggregate, “The Islamic State is a clear creation of the United States, and the United States is trying to intervene again using the excuse of the Islamic State.”

In fact, many of the ISIS fighters and their commanders are ideological and organizational successors to the Jihadists that the CIA has been nurturing for 30 years. The CIA began arming and training the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in 1979 to fight the Soviets. Following the Soviet withdrawal, the CIA’s Afghan Mujahedeen became the Taliban while its foreign fighters, including Osama bin Laden, formed Al-Qaeda. In 2004, then British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that Al-Qaeda took its name—meaning “database” in Arabic—from the voluminous CIA database of Jihadists—Mujahedeen foreign fighters and arms smugglers trained and equipped by the CIA during the Afghan conflict.

Prior to the American invasion, there was no Al-Qaeda in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Bush destroyed Saddam’s secularist government and his viceroy, Paul Bremer, in a monumental act of mismanagement, effectively created the Sunni Army, now named ISIS. Bremer elevated the Shiites to power and banned Saddam’s ruling Ba’ath Party laying off some 700,000, mostly Sunni, government and party officials from ministers to school teachers. He then disbanded the 380,000 man army, which was 80 percent Sunni.

Bremer’s actions stripped a million of Iraq’s Sunnis of rank, property, wealth and power; leaving a desperate underclass of angry, educated, capable, trained and heavily armed Sunnis with little left to lose. General Petraeus’ decision to import dirty war tactics, including torture and death squads, from the CIA’s El Salvador conflict in order to shock and awe the Sunni resistance, instead ignited a shockingly bloody spiral of sectarian violence that devolved quickly into escalating atrocities topped finally by the Sunni Army signature head cutting. The Sunni insurgency named itself Al-Qaeda Iraq (AQI).

 Syria’s Dair Ez Zor—a pile of rubble. Would you live here? This is what US foreign policy does wherever it casts its criminal shadow.

Beginning in 2011, our allies funded the invasion by AQI fighters into Syria. In June 2014 having entered Syria, AQI changed its name to ISIS. According to the New Yorker, “ISIS is run by a council of former Iraqi Generals … many are members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’ath Party, who converted to radical Islam in American prisons.” The $500 million in U.S. military aid that Obama did send to Syria almost certainly ended up benefiting these militant Jihadists. On Sept. 16, 2015, incredulous senators from the Armed Services Committee listened to U.S. General Lloyd Austin, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, explain that the Pentagon had spent $500 million to train and arm “moderate” insurgents in Syria and had only “four or five reliable moderate fighters” to show instead of the promised 5,000. The remainder apparently deserted or defected to ISIS.

Tim Clemente told me that the incomprehensible difference between the Iraq and Syria conflicts are the millions of military aged men who are fleeing the battlefield for Europe rather than staying to fight for their communities. “You have this formidable fighting force and they are all running away. I don’t understand how you can have millions of military aged men running away from the battlefield. In Iraq, the bravery was heartbreaking—I had friends who refused to leave the country even though they knew they would die. They’d just tell you it’s my country, I need to stay and fight,” Clemente said.

The obvious explanation is that the nation’s moderates are fleeing a war that is not their war. They simply want to escape being crushed between the anvil of Assad’s Russian backed tyranny and the vicious Jihadi Sunni hammer that we had a hand in wielding in a global battle over competing pipelines. You can’t blame the Syrian people for not widely embracing a blueprint for their nation minted in either Washington or Moscow. The super powers have left no options for an idealistic future that moderate Syrians might consider fighting for. And no one wants to die for a pipeline.

What is the answer? If our objective is long-term peace in the Mid-East, self-government by the Arab nations and national security at home, we must undertake any new intervention in the region with an eye on history and an intense desire to learn its lessons. Only when we Americans understand the historical and political context of this conflict will we apply appropriate scrutiny to the decisions of our leaders.

Using the same imagery and language that supported our 2003 war against Saddam Hussein, our political leaders led Americans to believe that our Syrian intervention is an idealistic war against tyranny, terrorism and religious fanaticism. We tend to dismiss, as mere cynicism, the views of those Arabs who see the current crisis as a rerun of the same old plots about pipelines and geopolitics. But, if we are to have an effective foreign policy, we must recognize the Syrian conflict is a war over control of resources indistinguishable from the myriad clandestine and undeclared oil wars we have been fighting in the Mid-East for 65 years. And only when we see this conflict as a proxy war over a pipeline do events become comprehensible.

It’s the only paradigm that explains why the GOP on Capitol Hill and the Obama administration are still fixated on regime change rather than regional stability, why the Obama administration can find no Syrian moderates to fight the war, why ISIS blew up a Russian passenger plane, why the Saudi’s just executed a powerful Shia cleric only to have their embassy burned in Tehran, why Russia is bombing non-ISIS fighters and why Turkey went out of its way to down a Russian jet. The million refugees now flooding into Europe are refugees of a pipeline war and CIA blundering.

Clemente compares ISIS to Colombia’s FARC—a drug cartel with a revolutionary ideology to inspire its foot soldiers. “You have to think of ISIS as an oil cartel,” Clemente said. “In the end, money is the governing rationale. The religious ideology is a tool that inspires its soldiers to give their lives for an oil cartel.”

Once we strip this conflict of its humanitarian patina and recognize the Syrian conflict as an oil war, our foreign policy strategy becomes clear. Instead, our first priority should be the one no one ever mentions—we need to kick our Mid-East oil jones, an increasingly feasible objective, as the U.S. becomes more energy independent. Next, we need to dramatically reduce our military profile in the Middle East and let the Arabs run Arabia. Other than humanitarian assistance and guaranteeing the security of Israel’s borders, the U.S. has no legitimate role in this conflict. While the facts prove that we played a role in creating the crisis, history shows that we have little power to resolve it.

As we contemplate history, it’s breathtaking to consider the astonishing consistency with which virtually every violent intervention in the Middle East since World War II by our country has resulted in miserable failure. The long list of CIA and military adventures has each cost us dearly in national treasure, in liberty at home, in our moral authority abroad and in our national security. Without any memorable exception, every violent intervention has resulted in a catastrophic blowback far more costly to our country than any problems the authors our meddling intended to solve. Our mischief has neither improved life in the Middle East nor has it made America safer.

A 1997 U.S. Department of Defense report found that “the data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement abroad and an increase in terrorist attacks against the U.S.” Let’s face it, what we call the “war on terror” is really just another oil war. We’ve squandered $6 trillion on three wars abroad and on constructing a national security warfare state at home since oilman Cheney declared the “Long War” in 2001. The only winners have been the military contractors and oil companies who have pocketed historic profits. We have compromised our values, butchered our own youth, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, subverted our idealism and squandered our national treasures in fruitless and costly adventures abroad. In the process, we have turned America, once the world’s beacon of freedom, into a national security surveillance state and an international moral pariah.

America’s founding fathers warned Americans against standing armies, foreign entanglements and, in John Adams’ words, “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Those wise men understood that imperialism abroad is incompatible with democracy and civil rights at home. They wanted America to be a “city on a hill”—a model of democracy for the rest of the world.

The Atlantic Charter echoed their seminal American ideal that each nation should have the right to self-determination. Over the past seven decades, the Dulles brothers, the Cheney Gang, the neocons and their ilk have hijacked that fundamental principle of American idealism and deployed our military and intelligence apparatus to serve the mercantile interests of large corporations and particularly, the petroleum companies and military contractors who have literally made a killing from these conflicts. It’s time for Americans to turn America away from this new imperialism and back to the path of idealism and democracy. We should let the Arabs govern Arabia and turn our energies to the great endeavor of nation building at home. We need to begin this process, not by invading Syria, but by ending our ruinous addiction to oil.

 About the Author

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. Kennedy was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. The group’s achievement helped spawn more than 190 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe.


Kennedy serves as Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and President of Waterkeeper Alliance. He is also a Clinical Professor and Supervising Attorney at Pace University School of Law’s Environmental Litigation Clinic and is co-host of Ring of Fire on Air America Radio.


Earlier in his career he served as Assistant District Attorney in New York City. He has worked on environmental issues across the Americas and has assisted several indigenous tribes in Latin America and Canada in successfully negotiating treaties protecting traditional homelands. He is credited with leading the fight to protect New York City’s water supply. The New York City watershed agreement, which he negotiated on behalf of environmentalists and New York City watershed consumers, is regarded as an international model in stakeholder consensus negotiations and sustainable development. Among Kennedy’s published books are the New York Times’ bestseller Crimes Against Nature(2004), The Riverkeepers (1997) and Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr: A Biography (1977) and two children’s books St Francis of Assisi (2005), American Heroes: Joshua Chamberlain and the American Civil War and Robert Smalls: The Boat Thief (2008). His articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Nation, Outside Magazine, The Village Voice and many other publications. His award winning articles have been included in anthologies of America’s Best Crime Writing, Best Political Writing and Best Science Writing. Kennedy is a graduate of Harvard University. He studied at the London School of Economics and received his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. Following graduation he attended Pace University School of Law, where he was awarded a Masters Degree in Environmental Law.


 Bobby Kennedy, Jr’s historical summation is commendable on several grounds, beginning with the unusual fact his statements come from the lips of a member of one of the great political clans still very much embedded in the plutocratic and mythological fabric of America. That said, although it seems clear Bobby Kennedy Jr is totally sincere in his embrace of ecological defense and even, we might say, a left interpretation of history (which by definition aligns itself far closer with truth than the self-serving establishment narratives or the rightwing tropes), I very much doubt his activism goes beyond the boundaries of left-liberalism’s visions. While that is eminently welcome and salutary for the planet, as his record shows, it is probable that Kennedy is still not quite prepared to disavow his allegiance to capitalism, as the reigning global paradigm. This is a grave handicap for any champion of environmental causes. As any serious environmentalist will attest, to denounce the ills and crimes of the corporations without advancing the view that the capitalist system itself produces such crimes, that it is irrefutably on a collision course with nature, is grossly insufficient. Corporate crime in regard to the environment (and all other major areas of social interest) is not aberrational but both intrinsic and inevitable. And as history shows, this system is not amenable to reform, no matter how grand and well intentioned. As far as humanity is concerned, the moment is past for reform, and to endorse such a position is at best naive and conducive to further delays and delusions.

 Indeed, the problem may even transcend capitalism, making it something bigger, something that spans the entire behavior and consciousness of our species at this moment. Thus, a theoretical victory of socialism without an ethical ecological platform would be a hollow victory. As the case of China and Russia illustrate, the environment is not treated there much more kindly than in the Western bloc (the reasons for this are however somewhat different than those that obtain in the West, and in large measure precipitated by the desperate need of these nations to attain economic and military sufficiency to defend their sovereignty from US-led assault and threats). In any case, these nations have something of a mixed system, with many more economic sectors socialized, and the drift seems to be toward more socialism than capitalism, while the opposite is seen in America, where global finance capital has its main citadel.

 Sadly, Kennedy’s current liberal blinders cause him to make statements that sound very much like those of a mainstream anti-communist and even anti-Russian politician:

“The Syrian and Iranian coups soiled America’s reputation across the Mid-East and ploughed the fields of Islamic Jihadism which we have, ironically, purposefully nurtured. A parade of Iranian and Syrian dictators, including Bashar al-Assad and his father, have invoked the history of the CIA’s bloody coups as a pretext for their authoritarian rule, repressive tactics and their need for a strong Russian alliance…”

There’s a great deal of ignorance in the above pronouncement. What reputation, except that manufactured by our own propaganda system is Bobby talking about here? First, US imperialism and international meddling is not that new, it did not start in the postwar, (1) although it did invest itself with a new more ambitious and deceptive dimension. The US was manufacturing false flags to promote “wars of choice” (i.e., the blowing up of the Maine in 1898 and ensuing war with Spain) by the turn of the 20th century, and later, once in the shoes of the former colonial master, using brutal methods to subdue the native patriots. Some of the earliest photos of people being waterboarded do not come from the Middle East but from the Philippines, and they show US marines waterboarding filipino rebels.

Second, Kennedy restricts the genesis of the Syrian mess to a superpower rivalry over pipelines. Th conflict is much broader and its undercurrents run much deeper. While the pipeline angle no doubt carries significance, a great deal of the conflict stems from the unrelenting, neocon-inspired agenda demanding that America maintain its long-held global hegemony, a policy guaranteeing friction in a world with rising powers pushing for multipolarism. More specifically, while US planners see China as a rising threat, they see Russia as a much bigger and more immediate one, a fact complicated by these two nations increasing international symbiosis, chiefly as  arrest of Washington’s imperialist pressures.

Thus, much of Washington’s aggressive, interventionist policies issue from this fount, a desire to see Russia broken up and converted into a second-rate, subjugated nation, incapable of braking America’s drive for total and permanent global dominance. Naturally, if the Yeltsin/Atlanticist faction—the conservatives’ wet dream— had continued in office to this day, that is probably what we might be seeing at this juncture. Instead, Russia (and the world) were fortunate enough to witness the emergence of a new type of independent-minded capable nationalist leader, Putin, whose faction—the Eurasian-integrationists— has quickly restored Russia to a position of rough parity with the United States in terms of strategic power. This has forced Washington again into a policy of constant proxy wars, of which Syria and the Ukraine are two recent examples. The latter fact has not stopped the saber-rattling, however, as the US continues to provoke Russia and China in a variety of reckless ways.

Lastly, it is arrogant to assume that America ever enjoyed a genuine democracy, instead of a corporate plutocracy in varying degrees of virulence, or that such a system could be regarded as an exportable model for other nations, regardless of historical and cultural factors. While America and its partners in crime did “plough the fields of Islamic jihadism”, it is somewhat sloppy to classify all strong lay leaders in the Arab nation as “dictators”. Nations exist at any historical moment in varying degrees of politico-cultural evolution; as in their economic development, they are “uneven”. The real test is what the “dictator” does. Even the Greeks who debated and created the notion of democracy also considered other models of governance, including enlightened despotism, tyranny, etc. In each of them they found pluses and minuses, the upshot being there was no firm consensus on what constituted the best system of rule. Plato and Aristotle define a tyrant as “one who rules without law, and uses extreme and cruel tactics—against his own people as well as others”, but a tyranny may not be limited to an individual. Tyranny can also apply to a collective structure, like a corporation. Considering the lengthening list of abominable crimes committed by the US, a nation controlled by an unelected corporate class, it is clear that America today is far closer to a global hegemonist tyranny than a democracy. This record makes it hard to speak with any moral authority about the flaws in other systems and governments, or (however mildly) imply that an alliance with Russia is something inherently evil or misguided.—PG

(1) See John Gerassi, Violence, Revolution, and Structural Change in Latin America









Russia, Europe’s Scapegoat for All Seasons

Unlike the US and EU, Russia does not seek to remake the world in its image. That doesn’t stop the EU from blaming Russia for its own problems.

James Carden recently reported in these pages on Washington’s powerful bastions of resistance to a pragmatic rapprochement with Russia over Syria. Europe’s own brand of neocons are in agitation on the other side of the Atlantic too. Earlier in March, The Guardian reported that Jānis Sārts, director of NATO’s Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Latvia, “believed there was now evidence” that Russia was “trying to topple Angela Merkel by waging an information war designed to stir up anger in Germany over refugees.”

What that evidence was, the paper didn’t say, knowingly stating instead that Sārts “has access to intelligence briefings.” But lack of evidence did little to prevent Europe’s most widley read English-language daily from reporting, as more or less unquestioned fact, Moscow’s angling for regime change in Berlin. Russia, it quoted Sārts as saying, is “establishing a network that can be controlled. You can use it as they have tried to do in Germany…to undercut political processes in a very serious way…and create a momentum where there is political change in Germany.”

The accusation seems to be that Russia is capitalizing on domestic opposition to Merkel’s open-door immigration policies by directing funds to the contrarian Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD) party, whose support has surged as disenchantment with Merkel has grown (as seen in its success in recent state elections).

But if evidence of such money flows exists, why not simply confront the leadership of AfD with it? This is what happened when it emerged that France’s Front National had received a 9.4 million-euro-loan from a Russian bank in 2014.

But Sārts’s “revelation” wasn’t meant to inform the public; it was meant to scare it. It’s best seen as the latest act in a joint NATO-EU “information war” against Russia.

This reached absurd heights when US Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO supreme commander in Europe, two weeks ago told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve.”

Breedlove was undeterred by the lack of evidence to support what soon emerged as a supposition based on “the non-precision use of weapons by Russia.”

“I can’t find any other reason for them,” Breedlove reassured his audience, “other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else’s problem.”

Talk of “weaponization” and “regime change” increasingly bears the hallmarks of a strategy intended to shift responsibility for Europe’s “refugee crisis” from the shoulders of an EU leadership that has proved unable to stop the flow of migrants, to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s. Eerily, Sārts and Breedlove are merely repeating claims that European Council President Donald Tusk (prime minister of Poland from 2007 to 2014) has been putting about for almost six months.

Tusk, who has often appeared to sideline Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, revealed his lack of realism and underlying hostility toward Russia in his first interview as president, when he told journalists, “I know—it’s not my intuition, but my knowledge—that Putin’s policy is…simply to have enemies, to be stronger than them, to destroy them, and to be in conflict.”

And so at last November’s G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, Tusk condemned Russia’s deployment of its air force to Syria, claiming that this would “only result [in] a new wave of refugees. And we have some signals that in fact it’s started.” (The ISIS-linked attacks in Paris had taken place only a few days before.) He repeated this in February. “As a direct consequence of the Russian military campaign,” he told Brussels reporters, “thousands more refugees are fleeing toward Turkey and Europe.”

Like most EU leaders, Tusk is silent on the deeper causes driving this sea of humanity: state failure in Afghanistan and Iraq after more than a decade of misguided Western wars and abortive “nation-building,” and, in Syria’s case, ISIS’s dramatic advances last spring against previously government-held areas, even as Western governments and their Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari allies funneled arms, money, and diplomatic support to antigovernment rebels in other parts of the country—a confused and irresponsible strategy that has only advanced ISIS’ cause.

When Russia’s Syria air campaign began on September 30, migrant arrivals had long since overwhelmed frontline states like Greece. Indeed, Russia’s military support for government forces in Syria may turn out in the long run to have played a crucial role in stemming refugee flows to Europe. Heading off the possibility of Damascus’ fall to ISIS last autumn, Russia laid the groundwork for the recent cease-fire agreements that hopefully foreshadow the conflict’s long-overdue political resolution. This has now allowed Moscow to announce the withdrawal of the bulk of its forces.

Rightly or wrongly, the “migrant crisis” has become emblematic of the European Union’s inability to guarantee the safety and security of its citizens. Even after its recent agreement with Turkey, the flow of refugees seems likely to continue.

The EU-NATO “information war” absolves both of responsibility for this, usefully creating the impression that Russia has manufactured the arrival of Middle Eastern refugees to split the EU as a step toward reviving its old Eastern European empire, with Ukraine the first piece of a reconstituted Soviet puzzle. (Never mind that a long list of respected Western scholars—Stephen Cohen, Richard Sakwa, Rajan Menon, and Eugene Rumer, among others—have long since concluded that this is fantasy. For NATO and the EU, it remains a convenient specter to frighten the European public.)

That the Kremlin stands behind all the EU’s ills has in recent years become a commonplace. A year ago, the talk, in which Tusk featured prominently, was that Moscow was trying to lure the highly indebted Greek and Cypriot governments into breaking ranks with its European partners and NATO allies. Austerity policies imposed by Greece’s EU partners had created depression-like conditions unseen since the 1930s. Yet blame for Athens’s opening to Moscow somehow shifted instead to Moscow’s largely imagined blandishments. (Like the “breach,” none materialized.)

The same is true of events in Ukraine. Brussels’ determination to draw that country into an Association Agreement ultimately led to armed revolution in the capital and civil war in the provinces. But the EU has never acknowledged any share of responsibility for the tragedy. Ukraine’s “European choice,” which has so far cost some 5,000 lives and billions of dollars of damage in the Donbass and precipitated a dramatic plunge in living standards across the country, is Moscow’s sinister fault alone.

In fact, the push behind the EU’s wooing of Ukraine and other former Soviet republics came from Poland, brain child of former Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Euphemistically named the “Eastern Partnership” [EaP], its purpose, as a 2008 US cable approvingly acknowledged, was to “counter Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe.” Though Russia would be “officially welcome to take part in the Partnership,” the EaP would, in practice, be directed against it.

Significantly, the cable recognized the so-called Sikorski doctrine “could elicit a sharp Russian reaction,” but advised that Washington support the EaP regardless, “as an excellent complement [to our own policy]…as we look for ways to enhance Western influence beyond NATO’s eastern borders.”

That gamble has since spectacularly awry. Are Tusk’s friends in NATO now covering him and the national leaders who supported his elevation to the EU’s top job? These would include Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s David Cameron, whose rhetoric on Russia has often been as tough as Tusk’s.

Today, Moscow has been accused of both deliberately bombing residential areas of Aleppo to force inhabitants to flee to Turkey and thence to Europe with the aim of breaking EU unity and providing unspecified support for Europe’s far-right or contrarian parties, with Moscow’s overriding aim being to stoke euro-skeptic views to paralyze the EU, if not break it up.

This would seem to misread the conservative mood of Russia’s leadership and foreign policy realism. Unlike the United States and EU, Russia does not seek to remake the world in its image. At the United Nations last September, President Putin condemned open-ended Western military campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, often justified in the name of “democracy promotion.” These had resulted, he said, in a “flow of people forced to leave their native land” that “has literally engulfed…Europe. It is essentially, a new, tragic Migration Period.” He did not see this as something to be celebrated.

On realist grounds, Russia opposes EU policies in Eastern Europe that attempt to exclude it from a region with unparalleled historical, cultural, religious, economic and strategic significance to it. It would love EU sanctions lifted. But it doesn’t follow that Putin seeks the subversion, let alone the “destruction,” of the EU as a trade zone or a peace project (something in any case beyond Moscow’s power). If EU unity breaks over refugees, the euro, Ukraine, or sanctions, it will be on the rocks of that organization’s own contradictions and members’ conflicting interests, which it’s often lazily forgotten they still have.

In an ideal world, EU leaders like Tusk would take responsibility for the destabilizing consequences of the EU’s array of increasingly ambitious projects, including the EaP. Instead, through the reinflation of anachronistic Cold War tropes, they attribute to Russia a revolutionary foreign policy, though there is very little evidence of this.

Can it be realistically believed that Moscow is “weaponizing” refugee flows or seeking to “topple” Merkel’s government? Merkel has, after all, proved in practice willing to support the Minsk agreements. On the other hand, if the Kremlin is funding parties opposed to Merkel, then this would represent Russia’s (rather late) conversion to practices Western governments have long employed in support of Russia’s so-called opposition. What’s good for the NATO-EU goose is surely good for the Russian gander.

Hostility toward both national governments and the supranational EU bureaucracy is rising in many European countries. But it does so independently of Russia, which has (once again) been made the scapegoat for Europe’s failings. These include a widespread sense of blockage in national political life (that change, no matter who is in government, is no longer really possible) and the crushing absence of realism in the EU’s conception and practice of international politics. How was it that the foreign relations of the EU’s 28 sovereign members, and the peace of Europe, were allowed to become hostage to the geopolitical ambitions of Poland?

Thoughtful Europeans, on left and right, have concluded that revitalization of democratic politics in Europe demands not “ever closer union” (and the further transferal of powers from national parliaments to the Brussels bureaucracy) but the reanimation of those nation-states with a primary claim upon citizens’ loyalties and civic engagement. Russia’s complaints intersect with these sentiments but are grossly misrepresented as their cause.

In early March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated: “History doesn’t confirm the widespread belief that Russia has always camped in Europe’s backyard and has been Europe’s political outsider.” He’s right. For centuries an essential part of the European balance and dazzling center of European high culture, Russia cannot be excluded from Europe forever. In an important sense, the “new Cold War” is a “clash of Europes,” a struggle not to destroy Europe, but define it.

How in recent years the EU, once the world’s most ambitious peace project, became, from the pauperization of Greece to the confrontation of nuclear powers over Ukraine, a force for sweeping economic and geopolitical destabilization is a story best told elsewhere. For the moment, like their counterparts in Washington, many European leaders seem to lack any vision for the EU’s relationship with Russia other than as a convenient scapegoat for its own ills.

It’s time that changed.

European establishment, complacent, hypocritical, passive as usual, is once again failing to see other shore beyond its nose.

The Arab Weekly
Martin Sieff

US President Barack Obama’s comments to The Atlantic magazine that British Prime Minister David Cameron and then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy failed to recognise the responsible role they needed to play in rebuilding Libya after toppling its longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi have soured relations between the countries.

Obama’s comments were perfectly true. But he neglected to note he had even more responsibility for the anarchic chaos that Libya has suffered since Qaddafi’s ouster.

The United States has vastly more resources than Britain and France, and Obama and his top policymakers failed to show any adequate interest in Libya after 2011.

Instead, the same pattern of reckless use of US military force followed by inept bungling we saw in Iraq after 2003 was repeated in Libya. The Islamic State (ISIS) took advantage of the chaos to terrorise and exploit the Libyan people as they never could have while Qaddafi was alive.

London and Paris have nothing to pride themselves on in this same old, sorry story. Their failure to show even cursory interest or responsibility for Libya acquires new urgency today in light of the growing crisis in Tunisia.

Le Monde rightly pointed out on March 10th that the European nations were repeating their familiar pattern of selfishness and irresponsibility in failing to come to the support of Tunisia when it was threatened by terror and economic crises.

In other words, the European establishment, complacent, hypocritical and passive as usual, is once again failing to see the other shore beyond its nose.

The Americans are no better and arguably worse. But that does not absolve the Europeans of their responsibility, especially as the anarchy spreading from Libya to Tunisia directly threatens them.

Europe now faces the threat of collapsed states that are havens for jihadist and criminal groups actively spreading violence and terror across the southern Mediterranean region on a scale not seen since before the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Cameron has even admitted that he stopped paying attention to Tunisia soon after the 2011 air operations because he became “distracted by a range of other things”.

But admitting to the affliction of attention deficit disorder is no excuse for the leader of a major nation.

Revealingly all of the media attention in Britain and the United States on Obama’s comments has focused on what they did or did not do to the venerable US-British “special relationship”.

US Ambassador to Britain Matthew Barzun memorably tweeted that the row was just a “storm in a teacup”.

Tell that to the people of Libya.

As Le Monde rightly observed, since 2011, the Libyan people have endured unprecedented suffering and fear: No “storm in a teacup” for them.

Trying to defend the indefensible, a Cameron spokesman told Agence France- Presse: “As the prime minister has said many times before, coming to the aid of innocent civilians who were being tortured and killed by their leader was the right thing to do.”

Then why isn’t he doing it now?

Obama, Cameron and current French President François Hollande need to take an honest, hard look at the mess they made of Libya and start taking urgent action to support the beleaguered government of Tunisia.

The last thing they should do is to seek to undermine Tunisia in the name of saving it by trying to yet again force their “democratic values” on a hapless country. They need to strengthen Tunis, not fatally weaken it.

But as the old American folksong says: “Oh, when will they ever learn?

“Oh, when will they ever learn?”

Only Ukraine could bring down MH17

The deputy of the parliament of the Netherlands Pieter Omtzigt (CDA) reported that during the closed hearings concerning the investigation of Malaysian Boeing MH17 crash in Donbass, there was declared that only Ukraiane could had shot down the plane.

On January 22 this year in the parliament of the Netherlands there have taken place the closed hearings on investigation of the causes of MH17 crash. The Dutch deputies were addressed by the head of the special commission which is engaged in supervision of intelligence agencies and Defense Ministries, so-called CTIVD (the supervisor of secret services) Harm Brouwer.

This Dutch official told the deputies that, according to the investigation of the causes of MH17 crash, the passenger plane had been shot down from ”BUK” surface-to-air missile system. At the same time, according to investigation, as of July 17 when the plane was shot down, only the Ukrainian party had an efficient “BUK” system in Donbass.

The deputy Omtzigtt, being at the closed hearings in the parliament, published this information on the twitter account on the same day, on January 22. It is remarkable that this information wasn’t widely popularized.

The first who paid attention to this information was the Ukrainian political scientist, the director of the Center of the Euroasian researches Vladimir Kornilov. Besides this really sensational tweet,which for some reason remained unnoticed, Kornilov also gives a surprising illustration from the Dutch newspapers and the websites which publish pages from an official crash report of MH17.

The fact is that most of these pages were simply deleted. What kind of information was on these pages and why investigation was afraid to publish it, remains unclear.

As for the deputy Omtzigt, it is difficult to suspect him of support of Russia. In due time he actively supported release of Yulia Tymoshenko from prison. He demanded in the name of PACE to release Tymoshenko, and also one more arrested politician — Yury Lutsenko who directs now the faction of Poroshenko’s party in the Verkhovna Rada.

Regnum (Russia)

Swedish Doctors for Human Rights Chairman Interviewed on Case Assange & Amnesty Sweden

By SWEDHR Staff                  Text originally published at SWEDHR R&R

Journalist Eric Sandberg, KILTR, Scotland, interviewed the Chairman of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights and Editor-in-Chief of The Indicter magazine, Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli. The subject of the interview being the Swedish case vs Assange, and the debate with Amnesty Sweden that recently SWEDHR and The Indicter held. The interview was conducted from Scotland with Skype connection to Sweden on the 17 of March.

KILTR had prior the interview also asked Amnesty Sweden and the Swedish government for statements on The Indicter article-series. The government replied mailing a document containing the official statement of Sweden on the UNWGAD ruling ref. the arbitrary detention of Julian Assange. For its part, Amnesty sent a comment on the article in The Indicter.

In rebutting the position of the government and that of the Swedish prosecutors, the professor put forward the essential criticism about the management of the case, which he characterized as having a political content. At this same occasion, Ferrada de Noli rebutted thoroughly the terms against The Indicter. He restated that the SWEDHR criticism was purely based on facts and that both the statement of Amnesty Sweden (16 April) and the comment sent to KILTR avoided to met the real criticism raised by the article series in the Indicter.

IndependenceLive also uploaded in YouTube the interview in its original, live-version; but it is given here in a shorter edition containing only the main statements.

SWEDHR Research and Reports publishes here a summary with the content of the replies to principal questions in the interview. This summary reflects the main contents of the statements in the interview and it should not be tenable as a transcription. The interview  can be seen here.

Question: Do you think that the Swedish prosecutors have failed the women in this case?

Well, insofar the Swedish prosecutors have failed in carry forward the investigation of this case; naturally they have failed the women too. But above all, they have failed Sweden and its international prestige as a decent country where the rule of law has been considered being paramount.

The Swedish prosecutor in the case had consequently missed opportunity after opportunity to implement the interrogation of Assange.

Firstly, while he was still in Swedish territory; he was not interrogated then;

Second, when Mr Julian Assange himself approached in person the British police about the European Arresting Warrant issued by the Swedish prosecutor, he was held a full week, incommunicado. There could have the prosecutor have interrogated Assange, unstoppable. What problem she could have had to do so? I mean, the prosecutor had Assange there, in isolation cell, and heavily guarded in a secure imprisonment facility; she had him in, sort to say, trapped in an “inescapable” situation. Why the prosecutor did not carry on her work?

Lastly, as associate professor Brita Sundberg-Weitman has mentioned recently, why the prosecutor did not interrogate Assange in any of the 550 days that passed between the above and the opportunity he sought political asylum in the Ecuador embassy?

Would Mr. Assange really receive a fair trial in Sweden if he was to travel there?

In the first place there is no indication that a trial would ever exist against Julian Assange in Sweden based on the allegations hat the media has put forward. And do observe that it is the media that – in the best of cases – insists on “accusations of rape”; while some others outlets in the Western media persist in repeating the disinformation, “Assange is charged” for this and that.

Secondly, it seems to be a consensus in Sweden, including in juridical circles, that the “case against Assange” – still under prosecutor’s investigation after over five years – will never make it to court because it lacks of any substantial ground. For example, that was the message delivered by the former Minister of Justice Mr Thomas Bodström in declarations to the Swedish TV after the UNWGAD ruling became known. He also meant that Swedish courts are not under UN jurisdiction.

With regard to your article dated 6th March in the Indicter, that a Former paid agent of Swedish Security Police dictated Amnesty Sweden’s stance against Assange the response I received from Amnesty Sweden was: “that the claim in the article is complete nonsense and without any substance. No individual external to Amnesty International have had any influence on our policy whatsoever – the accusations made entirely misrepresent our policy-making process.”

It is true the article’s tittle referred that a former paid agent of Swedish Security services dictated Amnesty Sweden’s about their stance against Assange. But, to the best of my knowledge, to dictate means, in English, to give instructions, or to request. And that it was exactly what Mr Martin Fredriksson – the ex-informant paid by the Security services did in his communication wit h Amnesty. That is all what we said. Then, we also remarked in the article that the declarations made the day after by the representative of Amnesty Sweden to the news outlet The Local were in consistence with both what the ex-agent has requested in his email to Amnesty, and the position held by the Foreign Minister Carl Bildt some weeks ago that occasion, on the same issue. If that was a “coincidence”, if the fact that what Amnesty said is exactly what the agent requested, what the government was requesting, if all that is a pure coincidence…Well that is to reader to assess. We don’t back on the statement on the article regarding to what was requested by the ex-agent to Amnesty.

Further, that is not the central issue here. The central issue is not this about who talks or not with Amnesty or whatever coincidence. The central issue is what is in fact the output of their “decision-policy making process”.

The central issue is 1) that the position of Amnesty Sweden, in our opinion, infringes the human rights of the arbitrarily detained Julian Assange for the full implementation of his political asylum. 2) A central issue is also that the Swedish section of Amnesty International is in frank contravention with the parent organization AI based in London.

And let me add something here. Please notice that in that that particular article I am signing on behalf of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights. Well, most members in this organization, particularly the board of directors are professors or doctors in a variety of fields. We therefore share a common, basic methodological approach: we do not judge after the only one time occurrence of only one symptom. Any person, or any organization may once have incur a less fortunate statement, once. But this is not an assessment based on one episode. As we said in our profession, is a series of similar episodes what it constitutes behaviour.

The episode that Amnesty now is trying to explain occurred in September 2012, but in 2014 they repeat the same hostile stance against the human rights of Assange, and, by the way, also against Edward Snowden. Amnesty Sweden says, you told me here now, that we are misrepresenting their policy-making process. We are not. That happened in the middle of their policy-making process, in their annual conference. The leadership of Amnesty Sweden opposed a proposition from the ranks to initiate a human activity on behalf of Edward Snowden and Julisn Assange. An now again, in this statement they produced on the 16 of March, they repeat the same position, which is the government’s positions, that the prosecutor has to carry on with this remarkable so-called investigation against Mr Assange – in spite that the UN WGAD has clearly ruled that Mr Assange shall be released – an that he is even entitled to compensation from Sweden.

How could Amnesty Sweden possibly deny their support to the Swedish government official stances in the case Assange? They do this no matter the high embarrassment that it entails. For instance, in their last statement of 16 March they say “Sweden is a state under the rule of law who respects its international obligations.” And they say that precisely after Sweden has received substantial international criticism for refusing to respect the UNGWAD ruling on Assange. They say “Sweden respects its international obligations”, but everybody knows at this stage that those decisions taken by the UN body were based on international conventions signed by Sweden, for instance the International Declarations of Human Rights or the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights.

The statement of Amnesty Sweden of 16 March also exhibits, as we said, a central contradiction of terms: On the one hand hopes that the UK and Swedish governments would “find the way” to comply with the UNWGAD ruling on Assange. But this ruling calls unequivocally for the release of Mr Julian Assange, the ending of the applicability in this case of the EAW issued by the Swedish prosecutor. Well, The statement of Amnesty Sweden of March 2016 insists on the same stance of the one in September 2012: that the prosecutor’s investigation against Assange should be completed. But this means that such an arrest, or similar, would continue to be under enforcement. And that is the opposite of what the UNWGAD is saying in their conclusion. Where is Assange’s freedom here?

we proudly pritect goverment's rights

U.S Control Over Crimea – the Aim of the Coup in Kiev

“The coup d’état in Kiev in February of this year had a specific goal: to neutralize the Russian black sea fleet based in Sevastopol, and replace it with the U.S. fleet”, said Maurizio Blondet, in a sensational article published on the website www.effedieffe.com on  29.05.2014:
“On 22nd February, the day when Yanukovych was deprived of power, the American group hastily entered the Black sea through the Bosporus Strait. This fleet was to take the place of the Russian black sea fleet based in Crimea.
The degree of threat to the vital interests of Moscow clarifies to us why Putin was quick to take Crimea and declare the Peninsula to the Russians. He had irrefutable evidence that the coup in Kiev in February of this year had a specific goal: to neutralize the Russian black sea fleet based in Sevastopol, and replace it with U.S Navy.
On 18th February this year, the Ukrainian Parliament was raided by armed activists of the Svoboda party and Right Sector. On February 22nd, President Yanukovych was forced to leave Kiev, the Pro-Western authorities took power. At the same time, the head of the secret services of Ukraine (SBU) had been appointed – Valentyn Nalyvaichenko. Who is this? An American citizen.
Of course, “accidentally”, on February 13th, one of the four American marine groups led by the aircraft carrier George Bush (CSG-2) left the naval base in Norfolk and was sent to the Aegean sea. George Bush is 102 thousand tons, with 90 aircraft and helicopters onboard. It was accompanied by 16 warships, including the cruiser USS Philippine Sea, destroyers Truxtun and Roosevelt and three nuclear submarines.
On 22nd February, the day when Yanukovych was deprived of power, the American group hastily entered the Black sea through the Bosporus Strait. This is a direct violation of the Treaty of Montreux of 1936, allowing only warships up to 45 thousand tons to pass through the Dardanelles. But, as was reported by the Turkish magazine Hurriyet, citing a source from the Defense Ministry of Turkey, the authorities gave secret permission for the passage of the valiant American Navy. This fleet was to take the place of the Russian black sea fleet based in Crimea.
Of course, it was expected that Crimea would also “choose democracy” and will happily welcome the star-spangled fleet. However, crowds of people came to the square of Sevastopol, and after a couple of days of siege of the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the Prime Minister Anatolii Mohyliov was driven out, who declared his loyalty to the coup in Kiev (despite the fact that he was brought to power by Yanukovych, giving him a luxury Villa in Yalta). Sergey Aksyonov was chosen to replace Mohyliov, the leader of Pro-Russian forces.
On 6th March, the Parliament of the autonomy of Crimea refused to submit to Kiev and chose to hold a March 16th referendum on the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Motherland. It complicated the American plans.
On March 5th, the original orders sent to the aircraft carriers were canceled. New orders were given to turn from the Greek city of Piraeus to Antalya, to arrive at the Turkish base and wait there. Only destroyers USS Truxtun, USS Donald Cook and the frigate USS Taylor were sent to explore the shores of North Crimea from the 7th to 22nd March under the pretext of joint exercises with Bulgaria and Romania.
The Russian air force announced through the media that the USS Donald Cook had arrived to disrupt the action of the antennas associated with the Mission control space center of the black sea fleet and a network of military satellites ELINT, working in the electromagnetic spectrum. This sophisticated modern system allows them to receive data on U.S. Navy aircraft aboard and launch vehicles from Crimean electronic surveillance radar and navigation systems.
Russian military planes were forced to block the actions of Cook: two su-24MR across eleven visits (!) circled the American ship at the lowest possible altitude, using an onboard system to lock the frequencies of 12-18 Hz in order to neutralize the radar of the USA cruiser.
In addition, the Russian secret services were convinced of the presence onboard the American ship of six groups of commandos, each with 16 people ready to swim unnoticed underwater to reach the shore with the purpose of carrying out acts of sabotage in Crimea and of creating an atmosphere of panic among the local population. This could be via explosions on public transport during rush hour, damaging state buildings, etc. Injection of fear and terror before the referendum would lead to a decrease in the number of voters and would invalidate the results. To exclude such actions, “Russian had to have a hard preventive and impenetrable method of control.”
In fact, there was information about the capture by some commandos from NATO countries of one of the sites of Crimea, as was indicated by the urgent request of the General Prosecutor of Crimea Natalia Poklonskaya to translators from the language of one of the landlocked NATO countries neighboring Ukraine. Our conclusion: Cossacks who were sent there, who were able to understand the Romanian language.
Based on the results of the referendum in Crimea (83% of the population voted, 99.7% of voters chose Russia), the American fleet, headed by the aircraft carrier George Bush, was ordered to stop their mission, and duly left the Aegean sea and went to Bahrain.
It is clear to everyone that the Russian military base in Sevastopol is essential. Confirmation of this comes from the recent modernization of the black sea fleet, enhancing its collection to 20 modern ships, including six submarines, frigate-launchers, specializing in protection and locking the opponent in an electronic field, as well as the newest class of helicopter carrier – Mistral, built in French shipyards (deal collapsed -OR). The Navy has a large group of fast reaction forces consisting of paratroopers and Marines. They are supported by the fourth air force division and air defense.
In addition, separate air cargo fleet transportation, consisting of 135 aircraft An-22, An-124, Il- 76MD and An-12, guarantees the transfer of 80 thousand soldiers of the 49th and 58th military corps. This grouping of rapid reaction forces, directly subordinate to the black sea fleet, has a common goal — protection from terrorism in the Mediterranean basin, Eastern Africa and the Middle East up to the Persian Gulf.
But even more powerful is the invisible, or nearly invisible, part of the fleet. It is the Center of space mission control, which has existed since Soviet times. Its written history lists the ships ‘Salut’, ‘Soyuz’, ‘Apollo-Soyuz’ and ‘Lunokhod’. Today the Space center receives data from missile-radar systems such as the Voronezh-M (within 6 thousand km), established in Lekhtusi in the Leningrad region, in the city of Pionersky of the Kaliningrad region and in the city of Armavir. The centre receives information from satellites’ early warning alarm KMO/K, capable of detecting the launch of missiles of any type — cruise or ballistic. Disruption of the functioning of the center (a serious obstacle to US hegemony and expansion towards Central Asia) or complete withdrawal due to its failure is one of the main goals of the Pentagon.
Based on the aforementioned, we believe that the coup in Kiev, bringing to power a “democratic” puppet government, had as its primary objective the elimination of the Space Center.
Ukraine’s entry into NATO is already a secondary objective. With the help of the presidential elections and the strengthening of  a “democratic” government, the Pentagon had hoped to force Putin to leave the military base in Crimea in order to replace it later with an American one. But haste cost the Americans, who consider themselves masters in these situations, as they prematurely launched a squadron of drones (unmanned aircraft) into Dnepropetrovsk for reconnaissance flights.
It was flying drones over the Crimean territory before the referendum that revealed to the Russian side, who was using an antenna for eavesdropping, the true plans of the United States”.


Western Media Ignoring Putin’s Progress In Syria – OpEd

The UN-sponsored Syrian peace talks, which began on Friday in Geneva, will be boycotted by the main Syrian opposition group which has insisted that Russia stop bombing its positions while negotiations are conducted. To appreciate how ridiculous these demands are, one would have to imagine a similar scenario taking place in the United States. Let’s say, for example, that Ammon Bundy, the crackpot leader of the armed militia that seized the federal wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, demanded that the FBI and all other federal agents vamoose while the UN convened negotiations between his representatives and the Obama administration for the establishment of a transitional government that would remove Obama from power after 18 months while rewriting the constitution so it better reflected the far-right political and religious convictions of Bundy and his gaggle of ne’er-do-well followers.

Does that seem like a reasonable proposition to you?

This is the context in which the current “talks” are being held. Is it any wonder why Moscow doesn’t take this charade seriously? It’s a joke.

In what other country are armed militias allowed to occupy cities, kill civilians, destroy critical infrastructure, create total mayhem and threaten to overthrow the elected government?

None. And yet, the Obama team thinks this is a perfectly acceptable way for citizens and even non citizens (most of the ‘rebels’ are foreign nationals or jihadis) to act, provided their political objectives coincide with those of Washington. Which they do. From the very beginning, Washington’s sole aim has been to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad so the oil fields and pipeline corridors could be secured by the western oil giants and protected by new US military bases sprinkled across the country. This has been the basic gameplan since Day 1, and this is why Obama and Co are so eager to slow the Russian-led offensive by any means possible even if it means engaging in meaningless negotiations that have no other purpose than to implement a ceasefire so these same US-backed terrorists can regroup and fight at some future date when they are better prepared.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sees through this ruse but–all the same–he’s dispatched diplomats to Geneva to play along and go-through-the-motions. But will he cave in and agree to a ceasefire so Obama’s “rebels” can live to fight another day? Don’t bet on it.

What Americans are not reading in the western media is that, after months of slow but steady progress, the Russian-led coalition (Syrian Arab Army, Iranian Quds Forces, and Hezbollah) has broken through the sluicegate and is advancing on all fronts while enemy positions are crumbling. Key cities and towns in Latakia province along the Turkish border that used to be jihadi strongholds have buckled under Russia’s relentless bombing raids and been liberated by the Syrian Army. Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city to the north, has been surrounded by loyalist forces that have cut off supplylines to Turkey leaving fighters from Salafi groups like Ahrar al Sham, Jabhat al Nusra, Jaish al Islam, ISIS and the other al Qaida-linked groups to either surrender or hunker down while they await the final desperate confrontation. The momentum has shifted in favor of Assad’s forces which now clearly have the upper hand. What the western media characterizes as a “quagmire” has all the makings of a stunning victory for the Russian-led coalition that is gradually reestablishing security across Syria while sending the invaders running for cover. This is from Reuters:

“Three months into his military intervention in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has achieved his central goal of stabilizing the Assad government and, with the costs relatively low, could sustain military operations at this level for years, U.S. officials and military analysts say.

That assessment comes despite public assertions by President Barack Obama and top aides that Putin has embarked on an ill-conceived mission in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that it will struggle to afford and that will likely fail…

since its campaign began on Sept. 30, Russia has suffered minimal casualties and, despite domestic fiscal woes, is handily covering the operation’s cost, which analysts estimate at $1-2 billion a year. The war is being funded from Russia’s regular annual defense budget of about $54 billion, a U.S. intelligence official said…


“An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work,” (President) Obama said on Oct. 2. On Dec. 1, he raised the prospect of Russia becoming “bogged down in an inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict.”

The senior administration official denied any contradiction between Obama’s statements and private assessments that Russia’s campaign has been relatively effective so far.

“I think the president’s point has been…it’s not going to succeed in the long run,” the official said. The Russians “have become bound up in a civil war in a way that’s going to be extremely difficult to extricate themselves from.”….

Vasily Kashin, a Moscow-based analyst, said the war is not financially stressing Russia.

“All the available data shows us that the current level of military effort is completely insignificant for the Russian economy and Russian budget,” said Kashin, of the Center for Analyses of Strategies and Technologies. “It can be carried on at the same level year after year after year,” he said.”


Americans are so conditioned to believe that every military intervention ends in a quagmire that they are surprised when the outcome is different. That’s understandable given the fact that the so called “best military on earth” has been unable to defeat a ragtag collection of goat-herding fundamentalists for more than 15 years. (Afghanistan) No wonder Americans expect failure. The fact is, however, that Putin has no intention of getting “bogged down” in Syria for a decade or two.. What he plans to do is to defeat the enemy and move on. Recent reports from the frontlines suggest that that is precisely what he is doing. This is from a post at Sic Semper Tyrannis:

“The Fall of Salma”

Things had started to move early last week, when the SAA (Syrian Arab Army), NDF (National Defense Force) and local militias moved into Salma, the rebel stronghold that was key to defensive positions South of the M4 highway linking Latakia to Idlib. After weeks of preparations and softening up defences, R+6 finally moved in and there was not much the various rebel groups could have done at that point to stop or reverse this trend…

… Once the strategic breaking point is reached though, the side having gained the upper hand usually pushes through, which results in the opponent’s posture crumbling under the pressure. This is what happened with Salma, a former mountain resort North-East of Latakia… When R+6 went for their final assault, Salma had already become untenable. Its loss meant that the whole defensive line South of the M4 highway was compromised and both SAA advances and “tactical” retreat by the rebels made for a very quick correction of the frontline in the area…

The inroads made by the SAA… again proved decisive against a rebel frontline that had already been destabilized by the loss of Salma and the prospect of being cut off from their LOCs with Jisr al-Shughur.” (Rebel Defences Crumbling In Latakia Province, Sic Semper Tyrannis)

Get the picture? The jihadi misfits are getting the holy hell beat out of them by a superior army that is recapturing critical cities and strategic territory along the Turkish border and across the southern and eastern parts of the country. As a result, Assad will not be removed from office nor will the country become a “Salafi-jihadi principality” governed by Islamic freaks who rule through terror.

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of potential pitfalls ahead. There are, in fact there’s a situation developing right now that could explode into a regional conflict involving Turkey, NATO, the US and Russia. You see, Russia plans to use its Kurdish allies in the YPG to seize a stretch of land along the Syrian side of the Turkish border to reestablish Syria’s territorial sovereignty and to stop the flow of terrorists from Turkey into Syria. Turkish President Erdogan has promised that if the YPG pursues that course, Turkey will invade, in which case, Putin will come to the defense of the Kurds. There’s no telling how this powderkeg situation will play out, but there’s no doubt that the next few weeks are going to be extremely tense as the main players rattle sabers and jockey for position while edging closer to a full-blown conflagration. Will cooler heads prevail?

I can’t answer that, but I can tell you that Washington has already backed off its “Assad must go” campaign and moved on to Plan B, which is seizing territory and establishing bases in Northeastern Syria that the US plans to occupy for as long as they can. Check it out from South Front website:

“As SouthFront: Analysis and Intelligence predicted month ago the NATO allies are urgently trying to implement a new plan to hold control at least of the northern oil corridor from Iraq and try to take advantage of this opportunity to involve Russia in a long expensive war. This plan includes an occupation of the crucial infrastructure including oilfields by the NATO contingent and establishing of anti-government, meaning anti-Russian and anti-Iranian, forces in parts of divided Syria.

Implementing of this plan could easily lead to a global war launched by military escalation over the Syrian crisis. The stakes of the global geopolitical standoff have been raised again.” (Escalation in Syria, South Front)

So even though Washington has scrapped its plan to topple Assad (temporarily), it has deepened its commitment to creating Sunnistan, a new state comprised of eastern Syria and western Iraq controlled by US-clients who will allow western oil giants to connect the pipeline grid from Qatar to Turkey in order to replace Russia as the EU’s primary supplier of natural gas. It’s all part of the imperial strategy to “pivot” to Asia by controlling vital resources and making sure they remain denominated in US dollars. It’s an ambitious plan for global rule that is now being openly challenged by Russia, the emerging power that threatens to derail the lethal US juggernaut and put an end to the malign unipolar world order.

Mike Whitney

Mike Whitney writes on politics and finances and lives in Washington state. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com


The New York Times Paints a Devastating Picture of Hillary Clinton’s Foreign-Policy Incompetence By David French — February 29, 2016

The Syrian Endgame, “A Lost War is Dangerous”. US-NATO, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, “Losers on The Rampage”

It should be clear by now that every single anti-government armed group in Syria has been created by Washington and its allies. Several senior US officials have admitted the fact. Regime change has always been the goal.The Geneva process over Syria is in many respects different, because it is a charade. The NATO and Gulf monarchy sponsors pretend to support Syrian ‘opposition’ groups and pretend to fight the same extremist groups they created.

Yet the dangers are very real because the Saudis and Turkey might react unpredictably, faced with the failure of their five year project to carve up Syria. Both countries have threatened to invade Syria, to defend their ‘assets’ from inevitable defeat from the powerful alliance Syria has forged with Russia, Iran, Iraq and the better party of Lebanon.

It should be clear by now that every single anti-government armed group in Syria has been created by Washington and its allies. Several senior US officials have admitted the fact. Regime change has always been the goal. Nevertheless, the charade of a ‘War on ISIS’ goes on, with a compliant western media unwilling to point out that ‘the emperor has no clothes’.

Geneva 3 has actually brought some results. First, none of the NATO-backed ‘opposition’ groups managed to show a credible face. Second, and more importantly, the US and Russia kept talking and actually developed another de-escalation plan. It is not conclusive but it is encouraging.

The ‘moderate rebel’ masks are down, we now know who they are: the internationally proscribed terrorist group Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) and its long term Salafist allies Jaysh al Islam (the Army of Islam) and Ahrar as Sham. The latter two are the remnants of the Syrian Salafist groups. In northern Syria they are also welded together by Turkey and the Saudis into the very non-moderate-sounding Jaysh al Fatah (the Army of Conquest).

These extremist groups represent very few in Syria, as MINT Press journalist Mnar Muhawesh pointed out in her editorial piece ‘The Syrian Opposition’s NATO Sponsored Apocalyptic Vision For Syria’: In ideology they are no different to ISIS.

(See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvq0JmzqR_8).

It may be stating the obvious to say that al Qaeda groups have poor negotiating skills. In any event, they proved it in Geneva. Losing on the battlefield they demanded capitulation in Geneva, then stormed out.

Foreign backed terrorists aside, who are the real Syrian opposition?

Firstly, they are the groups that created the 2005 Damascus Declaration but who sided with the state and the army in early 2011, when the Salafist insurrection hijacked the reform demonstrations.

Some of them like Haytham Manna and former minister Qadri Jamil appeared in Geneva. Others like the powerful Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) backed Bashar al Assad’s government, back in 2011.

Still others sat on the sidelines, frustrated at the Muslim Brotherhood’s violent hijacking of the reform movement. Sharmine Narwani’s piece at RT ‘Will Geneva talks lead right back to Assad’s 2011 reforms?’ illustrates this very well. As the Damascus Declaration made plain, most of the Syrian opposition rejected both foreign sponsorship and violent attacks on the state.

Second are the Syrian Kurds, who were open to foreign assistance but rejected attacks on the Syrian Army and state. They have received most of their arms from Damascus. Preferring to side with the Syrian Army than the Salafists, their presence in Geneva was not tolerated by Erdogan or his clients.

That shift, in turn, threatens to derail the Bush plan for a ‘New Middle East’. The US wanted to control the entire region, now it faces losing it all.

Russia for its part has pursued its own interests in the region, backing its allies in accordance with international law. Its use of air power in Syria followed the Syria-Iran-Iraq-Hezbollah accord on ground power forces. That is the force currently prevailing on Syrian soil.

The good news is that, despite these widely differing aims, Washington and Moscow have kept talking and managed a provisional agreement at Geneva, with three heads.

The first agreement is over humanitarian aid, which faces serious obstacles due to the series of sieges taking place. Some of these are al Qaeda groups’ sieges, such as that on Foua and Kafraya in the north; but increasingly they are becoming Syrian Army sieges on al Qaeda fighters who hole up in towns and cities, such as Madaya and Eastern Aleppo. Most ground aid is going in through the Government-supervised Syria Arab Red Crescent, but air drops are being organised for Deir eZorr, and some other places.

Second, there is a political process which (it has been agreed) must be exclusively between Syrians, unconditional and inclusive. Contrary to many outside reports, there is not yet any framework for this, nor plans for early elections. The Syrian position, backed by Russia, is that the Syrian constitution (and the legally mandated schedule of elections) prevails until the Syrian people vote to change it.

HYPOCRISY RULES— “The Obama administration has always approached the Syrian conflict in an arms-length way, reminiscent of the CIA’s ‘plausible deniability’ over its death squads in Latin America…”

Finally the agreement on ‘cessation of hostilities’, due almost immediately, has a task force to oversee the details. This ceasefire does not apply to any group identified by the UN Security Council as a terrorist group. That immediately rules out ISIS or Jabhat al Nusra. The major obstacle here is that Russia wants Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar as Sham (which have both collaborated with al Nusra for many years) added to the UNSC list. If Washington agrees to this, they will virtually abandon their ‘moderate rebel’ option. There is no other force of substance on the ground. The Saudis and Erdogan would be furious.

How will the US manage these tensions? The Obama administration has always approached the Syrian conflict in an arms-length way, reminiscent of the CIA’s ‘plausible deniability’ over its death squads in Latin America. But credibility problems have grown and Washington does seem more concerned at finding a way out rather than risking a new desperate gambit. That would certainly lead to serious escalation, and without any guarantee of success.

Would Washington allow Erdogan and the Saudis to initiate a major escalation, without US approval? I think not. Obama resisted Saudi and Israeli provocations, when the Iran deal was imminent. Even Bush could not be provoked into a confrontation with Russia, when invited by Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili.

For its part, Russia is well prepared for a provocation across the Turkish border. Logic suggests that the losers must lose. But this is a dangerous time.

About the Author
Tim Anderson has degrees in economics and international politics, and a doctorate on the political economy of economic liberalisation in Australia. His current research interests relate to (i) Development strategy and rights in development, (ii) Melanesian land and livelihoods, and (iii) Economic Integration in Latin America. Dr Anderson is a senior lecturer attached to the University of Sydney. 

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Prof. Tim Anderson, Global Research, 2016

The IMF forgives Ukraine’s debt to Russia

On December 8, the IMF’s Chief Spokesman Gerry Rice sent a note saying:

“The IMF’s Executive Board met today and agreed to change the current policy on non-toleration of arrears to official creditors. We will provide details on the scope and rationale for this policy change in the next day or so.”

Since 1947 when it really started operations, the World Bank has acted as a branch of the U.S. Defense Department, from its first major chairman John J. McCloy through Robert McNamara to Robert Zoellick and neocon Paul Wolfowitz. From the outset, it has promoted U.S. exports – especially farm exports – by steering Third World countries to produce plantation crops rather than feeding their own populations. (They are to import U.S. grain.) But it has felt obliged to wrap its U.S. export promotion and support for the dollar area in an ostensibly internationalist rhetoric, as if what’s good for the United States is good for the world.

The IMF has now been drawn into the U.S. Cold War orbit. On Tuesday it made a radical decision to dismantle the condition that had integrated the global financial system for the past half century. In the past, it has been able to take the lead in organizing bailout packages for governments by getting other creditor nations – headed by the United States, Germany and Japan – to participate. The creditor leverage that the IMF has used is that if a nation is in financial arrears to any government, it cannot qualify for an IMF loan – and hence, for packages involving other governments.

This has been the system by which the dollarized global financial system has worked for half a century. The beneficiaries have been creditors in US dollars.

But on Tuesday, the IMF joined the New Cold War. It has been lending money to Ukraine despite the Fund’s rules blocking it from lending to countries with no visible chance of paying (the “No More Argentinas” rule from 2001). With IMF head Christine Lagarde made the last IMF loan to Ukraine in the spring, she expressed the hope that there would be peace. But President Porochenko immediately announced that he would use the proceeds to step up his nation’s civil war with the Russian-speaking population in the East – the Donbass.

That is the region where most IMF exports have been made – mainly to Russia. This market is now lost for the foreseeable future. It may be a long break, because the country is run by the U.S.-backed junta put in place after the right-wing coup of winter 2014. Ukraine has refused to pay not only private-sector bondholders, but the Russian Government as well.

This should have blocked Ukraine from receiving further IMF aid. Refusal to pay for Ukrainian military belligerence in its New Cold War against Russia would have been a major step forcing peace, and also forcing a clean-up of the country’s endemic corruption.

Instead, the IMF is backing Ukrainian policy, its kleptocracy and its Right Sector leading the attacks that recently cut off Crimea’s electricity. The only condition on which the IMF insists is continued austerity. Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, has fallen by a third this years, pensions have been slashed (largely as a result of being inflated away), while corruption continues unabated.

Despite this the IMF announced its intention to extend new loans to finance Ukraine’s dependency and payoffs to the oligarchs who are in control of its parliament and justice departments to block any real cleanup of corruption.

For over half a year there was a semi-public discussion with U.S. Treasury advisors and Cold Warriors about how to stiff Russia on the $3 billion owed by Ukraine to Russia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. There was some talk of declaring this an “odious debt,” but it was decided that this ploy might backfire against U.S. supported dictatorships.

In the end, the IMF simply lent Ukraine the money.

By doing so, it announced its new policy: “We only enforce debts owed in US dollars to US allies.” This means that what was simmering as a Cold War against Russia has now turned into a full-blown division of the world into the Dollar Bloc (with its satellite Euro and other pro-U.S. currencies) and the BRICS or other countries not in the U.S. financial and military orbit.

What should Russia do? For that matter, what should China and other BRICS countries do? The IMF and U.S. neocons have sent the world a message: you don’t have to honor debts to countries outside of the dollar area and its satellites.

Why then should these non-dollarized countries remain in the IMF – or the World Bank, for that matter. The IMF move effectively splits the global system in half,between the BRICS and the US-European neoliberalized financial system.

Should Russia withdraw from the IMF? Should other countries?

The mirror-image response would be for the new Asian Development Bank to announce that countries that joined the ruble-yuan area did not have to pay US dollar or euro-denominated debts. That is implicitly where the IMF’s break is leading.

by Michael Hudson