As Western powers use ISIS to rearrange the Middle East, Moscow preemptively moves military assets into Syria - September, 2015

The so-called war against ISIS, the continuing carnage in Syria and the nuclear deal reached between Washington and Tehran were the three main political news items this summer. In my opinion, the Iran nuclear deal was a desperate measure by Uncle Sam to, at least temporarily, avoid a major war that it knew would have been disastrous for Western powers and its allies in the region. Moreover, the final stage of the war in Syria may be finally upon us and the Middle East stands on the verge of a major remodeling. I'd like to also add that the historic  refugee crisis that continental Europe is facing today is a direct by-product of Jewish and Western meddling in the Middle East and North Africa, although Jews predictably don't want to deal with its consequences and Western news media is more than ready to blame Russia. But make no mistake about it, the human tragedy playing out in front of our eyes was directly caused by Western powers and their allies in the Middle East, but continental Europe is being expected to deal with its consequences. Those who broke Syria (as well as Libya, Iraq and Yemen) by arming and financing genocidal fanatics in an ill-conceived effort to overthrow the legitimate government of the country must be held directly responsible for this human tragedy. It is therefore the responsibility of Westerners, Gulf Arabs, Israelis and Turks to provide food and shelter to the millions displaced due to the wars they instigated. Moreover, the leadership of the aforementioned nations responsible for the current carnage in the region should also be punished for their crimes against humanity.

The horrible situation we currently have in the Middle East (as well as eastern Europe) is essentially the by-product of imperial hyper-ambition, imperial hubris and a lot of recklessness emanating from the desperation Western powers feel about gradually losing their long held prominence in global affairs to Russian and Chinese upstarts. Western powers are thus playing with fire in an already volatile region and causing misery for millions around the world essentially because they feel insulated from it all by vast oceans and great distances. As long as the political West is not made to suffer serious consequences for their criminal acts overseas, they will continue sowing unrest around the world.

A lot of what we are seeing in the Middle East is painfully reminiscent of what occurred in the same region almost exactly one hundred years ago. Back then it was millions of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians that were caught in a merciless geopolitical tug-of-war. Today, it's Shi'ites, Alawites, Kurds and the region's Christian Arabs facing a similar situation. If the Western desire to overthrow the Alawite government in Damascus is ever realized, we will no doubt see the first genocide of the twenty-first century take place in Syria, ironically on the centennial of the first genocide of the twentieth century.

It can therefore be said that Russia's military presence in Syria is preventing a new genocide, although Western-financed monkeys like Gary Kasparov would beg to differ.

Although we may be nearing the final stages of the bloody war in the Levant, it may yet take a few more years, a few more hundred thousand casualties and a few million more displaced people before things settle. But the destruction that Western powers and its regional allies have brought to the region is so thorough, so severe that new borders in the Middle East is now all but inevitable. I would now like to further reflect on these interrelated topics with the current blog entry. To begin with, I'd like to take another look at the Islamic terror organization known as ISIS and the important role it plays within the strategic calculus of Western powers and their regional allies. In my opinion, understanding ISIS is important for understanding what is happening throughout the region today.

For centuries it has been recognized that "all warfare is based on deception". Less recognized however is the following realization: A leadership must deceive not only its enemy but also its citizenry. This is because history has taught us that when a government - be it in a kingdom, a dictatorship or a democracy - wages war without the enthusiastic support of its subjects, it is a recipe for defeat.

In modern times making war by deception has become a highly refined art form. In fact, it has become an exact science. High level state officials continue to seek ways to make their subjects want to fight enemies both real and imagined. Depending on what civilization a particular nation finds itself in, religion, nationalism, tribalism or fear are the most  effective tools in making a people want to go to war. And the catalyst upon which the aforementioned tools travel upon is a nation's educational system, internet, news agencies, radio programming, television programming and cinema.


For the elite of any ambitious political entity, having an enemy is important because it helps governing bodies focus resources and rally the sheeple. After all, if all's well and the country is not threatened, how would they excuse the expenditure of a nation's fortune on arms procurement? How would they explain the need to maintain hundreds of military bases around the world? How would they explain why troops had to kill and be killed in remote lands Americans cannot pronounce let alone locate on the map? If there was no imminent threat to the nation how would they question the citizenry's patriotism and stifle dissent? Without a very imminent threat facing the nation how would they explain tampering with the nation's constitution? None of what I am saying here is a new revelation - 


Having an enemy is very important for an ambitious nation-state. But Washington and friends have had a problem in this regard because for the past twenty-five years the Western political order has not had any serious enemies on the global stage. This was a fundamental problem for Western policymakers because during times when the state does not have an enemy at the gate and the people living in the given state are enjoying a good standard of living, it becomes very difficult to entice the masses into imperial wars around the world and justify the spending of a nation's fortune on weapons procurement. So, in the absence of enemies, what do state officials do? They create an enemy - maybe even two, or three, or four. The bigger you are, the more manageable enemies you have the better. In a nutshell: Washington and friends are so powerful, so self-assured - and so blinded by gluttony and arrogance - that they actually have the need to create enemies in today's world. And they are actually excelling at it. They have in recent years managed to turn Venezuela, Russia, Syria, Iran, North Korea and China into enemies, and they have quite literally created the terror group ISIS as yet another archenemy to focus the American cattle's attention on for the next few years. I guess the following political cartoon does a much better job of explaining what I am trying to convey to the reader with regards to Islamic terrorism in the Middle East -
 

The process pictured above is more-or-less what took place in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria. This process is what's behind the genocide of Christians and Yezidis in Syria and Iraq and atrocities currently being committed against Yemenis. Western powers and their regional Wahhabi friends have turned the Middle East into a bloodbath from which it will not recover for generations. Similar to how they have turned Russia into the new enemy to protect Europe from, as they pursue their self-serving imperial agenda of curbing the rise of Russian influence in the region, ISIS will henceforth be the new enemy to protect the Middle East from, as they pursue their self-serving imperial agenda of curbing the rise of Iranian influence in the region. For Washingtonian reptiles, Russophobic racists in eastern Europe and Iranophobic Wahhabists in the Middle East therefore essentially serve the exact same geostrategic purpose: To reconfigure borders. Exactly one hundred years after similar geopolitical dynamics led to the genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians in Asia Minor, we are seeing the genocide of Christians, Shi'ites and Yezdis from the same region essentially by the same political players.

Islamic wing of the imperial war machine

For several decades now Wahhabist and Salafist extremist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere have essentially operated as the Islamic wing of the Anglo-American-Zionist war machine in various hot-spots around the world. Ever since the CIA made a pact with Saudi-backed Islamic radicals in Pakistan starting around 1979, the Islamic factor has been an important component of Western policy formulations throughout Eurasia. Seeing how successful they were against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s, Western powers have been utilizing Islamic extremists in various theaters of operation around the world with increasing frequency in recent years. The following picture is essentially how it all started over thirty years ago -


As many of us know now, the Islamic terror group known as Al Qaeda was the offshoot of the above noted "gentlemen" seen in the White House with President Reagan in 1985. In the 1990s, American officials (US envoy Richard Holbrooke seen below sitting next to a KLA terrorist) took under their arms other groups of Islamic terrorists, this time in the Balkans -
 Richard Holbrooke

And the following picture show us where we are today: Republican Senator John McCain meeting with Islamic extremists in an undisclosed location in Syria or Turkey -

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/130527175644-mccainsyria-story-top.jpg

Sunni Muslim militants have been the Islamic military wing of the Western war machine for decades now. From the Caucasus to north Africa, from the Balkans to Central Asia, Islamic hordes have been advancing one Western interest after another. Similar to how Albanian, Libyan and Syrian "rebel" groups have had front offices in Western nations, even Turkic Uyghurs of China who have been periodically carrying-out horrible attacks against civilians there have a noticeable presence inside Washington -
"Democracy, Human Rights and Self-Determination for the Uyghur People in East Turkestan": http://uyghuramerican.org/
If one day the Turkic/Islamic agenda gains traction inside China you can bet the project will have been masterminded and put into effect right from Washington. As we have been seeing in recent years Western imperialists have been using "democracy" as a tool to encourage and empower radicals in targeted nations around the world and Islamic groups are often utilized towards this purpose.

Needless to say, notions such as "democracy" and "self-rule" are used selectively for in the eyes of Western imperialists not all people deserve freedom. For example: Western powers granted Muslim Albanians their independence in Kosovo a land  which is historically part of Serbia, but the same are opposing the self-determination of Armenians in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). Another example: In stark contrast to Washington's stance with regards to south-eastern Ukraine, where the sentiments of the pro-Russia population there is utterly disregarded and crimes against it is totally ignored, when it comes to Sunnis in Iraq, Washington wants an "all-inclusive" government in Baghdad. I'd like to point out here that the term "all-inclusive" is a code word for stopping the further growth of Shi'ite power in Iraq. In fact, most of the American political pundits, newspaper op-eds or US officials that I have seen addressing the political situation in Iraq is now primarily concerned about assisting minority Sunnis share government with majority Shi'ites.

Historically, Western support for Islamic extremists in the Middle East has sought to solve two geostrategic problems: 1) Curbing the growth of Shi'ite and Russian influence. 2) Preventing the formation of pan-Arab nationalism. Similarly, Western support for Muslim peoples such as Turks, Tatars, Albanians, Azeris, Chechens and Afghans in Eurasia has primarily meant to undermine the growth of Russian power as well as preventing the formation of Christian Orthodox unity.

Nevertheless, two years ago this month the Western war plan against Syria was foiled at the last minute by Moscow. Many at the time hoped that the war's end was finally in sight. It was not to be. The war in Syria was too geostrategically important for the political West and its allies to abandon quite that easily. Western powers may have taken a step back in September 2013 but they surely did not give up on their greater agenda for Syria. Enter ISIS. Within a year after the Western setback in Syria, ISIS began making news headlines for their brutality. With the sudden rise of ISIS, Western powers and their allies were quite literally presented with a backdoor reentry into Syria. With the need to fight ISIS "headhunters" consequently becoming a desperate rallying cry in the Western world, warmongers in the West conveniently resumed beating the drums of war against Syria once more - because in the convoluted, bloodstained world of the Anglo-American-Zionist global order and their Islamic friends in the region: Defeating the Islamic State will require attacks against the Assad regime, and in the case for Ankara, attacks against Syria's Kurds.

Initially, as many of my readers may remember, Uncle Sam's desire to attack Syria was met with an antiwar outcry throughout the US. Needless to say, the emergence of ISIS quickly solved that problem. With the appearance of such genocidal extremists in Syria, Uncle Sam was presented with a way to get the American cattle to support the Western aggression against Bashar Assad's government. Basically, the American people were shocked into compliance. It was in my opinion an amazing feat of social engineering and mind control. As the reader can see, the power of nightmares continues to  work wonders for Western warmongers because western civilization today is devoid of ethics, spirituality, genuine patriotism, critical thinking and rationale. Fear is what seems to work best with westerners: Scare the sheeple and then herd them towards where you want them to go. Deception and conflict management at its ugliest. 

Today, ISIS is playing a major role for Western powers. With the overused and now ineffective name "Al-Qaeda" no longer able to keep the American cattle awake at nights, ISIS headhunters with their black flags will henceforth be the convenient excuse to continue Western crimes against humanity and keep the strategic region in question embroiled in bloody conflict for the foreseeable future - so that the region may never have the strength or the time to stand up and oppose Western/Israeli interests. Nevertheless, similar to what Al-Qaeda was before its terror value for the American cattle expired several years ago when they put the no longer scary Osama Bin Laden scarecrow to rest, ISIS is now the new, even nastier monster Western powers want to save the world from. ISIS is the tool Western powers are using today to advance their imperial agenda not only in the Middle East but also in Africa, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Consequently, the hype about ISIS throughout the mainstream news press in the Western world in recent times has been breathtakingly thorough. We the sheeple have been bombarded by horrific images of ISIS atrocities on consistent basis. Who in their right minds would now dare speak publicly against what is now perceived to be a valiant, humanitarian Western effort to fight bloodthirsty barbarians that go around blowing up historic monuments, beheading westerners and genociding locals? Yet, unbeknownst to the sheeple, ISIS can be stopped with just two phone calls to two close allies: One to Riyadh, one to Ankara. But stopping ISIS is not what Uncle Sam is concerned about. Fighting ISIS is not something Western powers are really interested in. And Western arms deliveries to ISIS are most probably not blunders or mishaps, as the Western press would like you to believe. Of course they didn't want you to know any of this. Make no mistake about it, ISIS is their asset on the ground. Even Western observers are willing to admit that ISIS can actually be a useful tool against Russia, China and Iran.

For added perspective on regional geopolitics, the Western role in the Middle East and ISIS or Islamic terrorism in general, please revisit previous blog commentaries listed below -
September 11, 2001 (September 11, 2011): http://whatreallyhappenedonseptember112001.blogspot.com/

Washington finally closing the chapter on the Osama Bin Laden fairytale (May, 2011): http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/05/osama-bin-laden-assassination-cia.html

U.S. ambassador to Libya killed in rocket attack (September, 2012): http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/09/chris-stevens-us-ambassador-to-libya.html

Tsarnaev brothers, secret services and Islamic terrorism (April, 2013): http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2013/04/tsarnaev-brothers-secret-services-and.html

Driving a Sunni wedge in the Shi'ite Arc (July, 2014):
http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2014/07/driving-sunni-wedge-in-shiite-arc-june_18.html
To summarize: With the existence of ISIS terrorists throughout the Levant and Mesopotamia, they have once more given their so-called "war on terror" a whole new life. With ISIS, they have once more terrified the Anglo-American cattle into actually wanting their militaries to return to Iraq and carryout military operations inside Syria. With the appearance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, American officials have also managed to contain Bashar Assad's military and stop the further Iranification of Iraq by essentially forcing the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government to grant Iraqi Sunnis more political power. As they use ISIS to dissect the Shi'ite Arc of influence in the region, they are also creating a north-south Sunni axis between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Similar to what Western forces did in Baghdad in 2003, ISIS was meant to "shock and awe" its enemies on the ground into retreating without resisting. ISIS was meant to literally slaughter its way into the people's consciousness and dwell in their darkest nightmares. ISIS was meant to turn the typical antiwar pacifist in the Western world into a bloodthirsty warmonger. ISIS provides the perfect opportunity to undermine Iranian/Shi'ite influence by breaking up Syria and Iraq and pull imperial forces from the West back into the strategic Middle East. And in the case for Turks, ISIS is also a good opportunity to attack the Kurdish PKK. As said, this is Western style deception, manipulation and conflict management at its ugliest.

Using ISIS as a scalpel to remake the Middle East

Through the use of military power and the utilization of Islamic-Wahhabist-Salafist extremists such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, Anglo-American-Turco-Jewish-Saudi interests have meticulously created conditions in the region within which the nations of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Lebanon cannot remain whole any longer. This is ultimately what they were seeking. They have created such a terrible situation on the ground, particularly in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, that many around the world are now calling for an immediate end to the uncontrolled violence and the start of a new beginning, with new borders. The bloody situation they have created in the region is key for keeping the masses compliant with their agenda to remake the Middle East and cast a hue of legitimacy on their crimes against humanity.

In their social engineering effort to remake the Middle East Islamic extremists groups such as ISIS thus plays a pivotal role. In fact, if you listen closely to their rhetoric you will clearly see them acknowledging a role for ISIS in the Middle East. Make no mistake about it. In the grand scheme of things ISIS is the surgical scalpel they are using to give the Middle East a brand new look. The current geopolitical landscape is changing fast. It is only a matter of time before borders are officially redrawn. If you can read between the lines of what they are saying you will come to the realization that they are actually not hiding their plans from the public. The following excerpts are a few examples -
"Camp Bucca was a detention facility in southern Iraq. And Camp Bucca was a facility where anybody who was arrested because of activities against the [American led] coalition and against the Iraqi government, they used to take them and put them there in that detention facility. And there were a disproportionate number of people who were loyal to Saddam Hussein and the Baathist regime. Baathist and Islamists. So what happened is the Baathist and the Islamists met and we have a new brand of terrorism. We have new brand of terrorism that [is] half Saddam, half bin Laden. One of the detainees [in] Bucca is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And if you look at the No. 1 tier type leaders, the tier one leadership of [ISIL], most of these individuals were Baathists who met each other and met al-Baghdadi in Bucca. So basically, the oil and the fire got to know each other in Bucca, and we have the new brand, explosive brand of terrorism is [ISIL]. It was rebranded with Baathists giving strategy to Islamic ideologues." - Ali Velshi's interview with Ali Soufan
ISIS leadership are former secular Iraqi Bathists who the US military turned to by 2009 to help them stop the unintended Iranification of Iraq. As Ali Soufan states in his interview at Al Jazeera, ISIS was created as a result of a merger that took place between secular Bathists and Islamists - and this happened right under the watchful eyes of the US military in Iraq. Careful monitoring of Western news reports and analysis makes this quite obvious. More indicators -
"What we are witnessing is the demise of the post-Ottoman order, the demise of the legitimate states... ISIS is a piece of that, and it is filling in a vacuum of the collapse of that order" - Francis Ricciardone, Former US Ambassador to Turkey and Egypt and a member of the Washington based think tank, Atlantic Council
"The map of 1919 which the British and French drew was wrong. [The new map of a partitioned Syria and Iraq] is the map that reflects the realities of sectarianism and is possibly more stable... [The state that ISIS has created stretching] from the edges of Baghdad all the way to Aleppo today is a Sunni state and it's already emerged. And what America is doing by bombing it is trying to destroy this state that is there and it is going to be a very hard thing to do... Accept reality, accept that state but try to get better rulers for it, not ISIS" - Joshua Landis, Director of the Center of Middle East Studies, Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma’s College of international Studies
"Khorasan is a region that encompasses much of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran. To ISIS [ISIL], Khorasan represents the first battleground of its end-of-days scenario. To regional powers, Khorasan represents the future of energy," Dr. Crosston noted in his article for New Eastern Outlook. War is not just politics but economics by another means. The Caspian region, or Khorasan, is now playing host to a Gordian knot of great power politics and economics. ISIS (ISIL) is a dialectical challenge for the United States, existing both as a US foreign policy failure in the present and presenting a unique strategic opportunity in the near future… I expect that as ISIS looks to Khorasan the US will look the other way," the professor suggested" - Dr. Matthew Crosston, Professor of Political Science, Director of the International Security and Intelligence Studies Program, and the Miller Chair at Bellevue University
Israel’s main strategic threat is Iran. Not Syria, not Hamas. Therefore, strategically, Israel should examine things from the perspective of what harms Iran and what serves Israel’s agenda in confronting it. If Bashar remains in power, that would be a huge achievement for Iran. A weakened Assad [remaining in power] would be completely dependent on Iran. In my opinion that’s the worst thing that can happen to Israel... “Bashar Assad must not remain in power. Period. What will happen later? God only knows. The alternative, whereby [Assad falls and] Jihadists flock to Syria, is not good. We have no good options in Syria. But Assad remaining along with the Iranians is worse. His ouster would exert immense pressure on Iran” - Sima Shine, Times of Israel - June 23, 2013
"The risks of a jihadist victory in Damascus are real, at least in the short-term, but they are containable by Turkey and Israel. The far greater risk to Middle East stability and U.S. interests is a victorious arc of Iranian terror from the Gulf to the Mediterranean backed by nuclear weapons" - Wall Street Journal - May 6, 2013
From reading the above, what becomes quite obvious is that "jihadists" in Syria are really not much of a concern for the Anglo-American-Jewish global order. It also becomes quite obvious that borders in the Middle East will be changing in the coming years and more blood will be spilled as a result. How drastic the changes and how cruel the bloodshed will remain to be seen. I would like to point out here that Syria, Iraq and Iran are not their only targets and their agenda to remake the Middle East is nothing new. A sinister plan for the entire region was first hatched three decades ago by an Israeli Jew named Oded Yinon. The following is his “Strategy for Israel in the 1980s” as summarized by anti-Zionist political activist, Israel Shahak -
"The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation." - Oded Yinon
A lot of what's happening is about Israel's survival. As the reader can see, plans to fragment the Middle East into smaller, more manageable states is in fact decades old. They were basically emboldened when one of their strategic obstacles against this agenda, the Soviet Union, collapsed in 1991. Nevertheless, more recent calls to smash Syria and other regional nations into smaller pieces could be heard even before the Western-backed Islamic uprisings began in Syria three years ago. The following chilling words from another Jew was first published in 2010 -
"The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional, localized governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world... The dissolution of Syria, and later Iraq, into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is Israel's main long-rage objective on the Eastern Front. The present military wreaking of these states is the short-range objective. Syria will disintegrate into several states along the lines of its ethnic and sectarian structure... As a result there will be a Shiite Alawi state, the district of Aleppo will be a Sunni state, and the district of Damascus another state which will be hostile to the northern one. The Druze-even those in Golan - should form a state in Huaran and in northern Jordan... The oil rich but very divided and internally strife-ridden Iraq is certainly a candidate to fit Israel's goal... Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation... will hasten the achievement of the supreme goal, namely breaking up Iraq into elements like Syria and Lebanon. There will be there states or more around the three major cities, Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, while Shiite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni north, which is mostly Kurdish...The entire Arabian Peninsula is a natural candidate for (dissolution)... Israel's policy in war or peace should be to bring about the elimination of Jordan..." - Beware of small states, David Hirst, p. 125-126
As the reader can see, their intent has always been to divide and conquer. It is now painfully clear that there have been serious designs on the much troubled region. Therefore, claims that Western/Zionist policymakers are conspiring against Syria is not merely a "conspiracy theory" as some foolishly thought. Western/Jewish leaders are conspiring against targeted nations in the Middle East and elsewhere. Consequently, for sound geostrategic reasons, Bashar Assad's enemies would like to, at the very least, see the Lebanonization of Syria and the containment of Iran. This Western/Zionist plan to remake the Middle East should bring to mind former US general/war criminal Wesely Clark's troubling public confession some years ago -
War criminal General Wesley Clark tells of how Middle East destabilization was planned as far back as 1991: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7NsXFnzJGw
As the reader can see, we are in the very midst of a forced remodeling of the Middle East. The old format put together by England and France between the two world wars less than a century ago no longer seems suitable for them in the twenty-first century. While they normally use grants, opposition politicians, news media, rights activists, financial sanctions, economic blackmail and cultural invasion as a way of undermining or subduing nations that are not enslaved by them, the political West has resorted to remodeling the Middle East at the tip of a very sharp bayonet.

The violence brought to the region has been so disturbing and on such a large scale that the Wall Street Journal, one of the main propaganda outlets of the Western political/financial order is curiously asking - "would new borders mean less conflict in the Middle East?" The insinuation is obvious: New borders in the Middle East will supposedly lessen future conflict. That is almost exactly what they were suggesting a century ago as they were arbitrarily creating the same borders they are currently attempting to destroy. As said: The old format so hastily put together by the British and the French no longer seems to be serving its purpose. And organizations such as ISIS are being used towards this goal.

If anyone still thinks ISIS is not part of the Western-Israeli-Turkish-Saudi plan to fragment Syria and Iraq, please go and have your head checked. ISIS is the monster intentionally created by the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance with the help of their regional allies for one purpose: To remodel the Middle East. This is what we need to recognize about ISIS. Everything else we hear about them in the mainstream news is stuff worthy only for a tacky Hollywood movie. Sunni Islamist groups in the region are first and foremost serving a Western agenda. What is happening in Iraq and Syria is first and foremost an anti-Iranian agenda. Yemen has also become a victim of this anti-Iranian agenda. Tens-of-thousands of people have died in Yemen in recent years. More recently, a coalition of Western-backed powers are conducting a merciless aerial bombing of the country. Not much is being made of the situation in Yemen precisely because the Houthi rebels in Yemen are Shi'ites and the dictatorial government in Sanaa that was ousted by the Houthis was a Saudi-backed Sunni government. The aforementioned agenda to purge the Middle East of Iranian influence is why fighters from Al Qaeda and ISIS are also present in Yemen today.

In the big picture: ISIS was needed to help Western powers and their regional allies to invade Syria and reestablish a military presence in Iraq. What is happening in Syria and Iraq is ultimately a fight over spoils of war. Syria and Iraq, as we knew them, are now dead. Their deaths will spawn a new birth. A new nation, or nations, are meant to emerge from the ashes of what was once Syria and Iraq. All political players are now currently maneuvering to get a piece of the territorial pie once its ready. In other words: The fighting now is more or less about who will get what piece of territory after the final bomb explodes. In essence, all political players involved (i.e. Western powers, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia and Iran) are currently maneuvering for the best seat in the house. It may take a few more years and a few more hundred thousand casualties, but a new Middle East is nevertheless in the process of being recreated at the tip of a very sharp and bloody bayonet. 

Ultimately, however, the Syrian tragedy will prove to be a stalemate because Bashar Assad and his allies around the world have proved to be more than a match for Syria's enemies. But there will not be any clear winners in the Syrian tragedy. Western, Israeli, Saudi and Turkish interests were not able to defeat the Shi'ite front in Syria. With that said, Shi'ite-Alawite-Hezbollah interests have not been able to win either. Due to their national interests that often conflict with that of their allies, Turkey and Israel will be the wild cards in the geopolitical formulation process in all this. Ankara still wants a final say in how Syria will look after the war ends, Ankara still wants leverage over Iraqi Kurds. Israel, for its part, still wants to see Hezbollah defeated or disarmed and it still wants to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. Therefore, going forward, Turkish and Israeli actions will remain unpredictable and thus pivotal.

The final chapter in Syria

The following is the link to an interview I saw some months ago on CNN. Watching it felt somewhat awkward because the whole thing looked and sounded like a rehearsed infomercial, not much unlike much of the news reporting we see all across the US because mainstream news media in the US falls very much in-line with CIA guidelines. The CNN interview was in my opinion a signal that they currently are in the process of finalizing the final chapter on the nation formerly known as Syria. So, with that in mind, please watch CNN's Farid Zakaira's interview with Professor Joshua Landis (who according to Farid is the "top Syria scholar in the US") very carefully and try to read in between the lines of what's being said -

Is backing Syria [home grown] rebels a mistake?

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/141107205532-exp-gps-landis-sot-syria-00025421-horizontal-gallery.jpg

The following are revealing excerpts from the interview that tells it all -


The West was never serious about supporting Syria's homegrown, independently raised anti-Assad rebel factions simply because the rebel groups in question proved too disorganized and were not willing to serve or take direct orders from foreign powers. In other words, Western officials never took Syrian rebels seriously because they could not effectively control the situation on the ground with so many independent groups vying for power and influence. If you listen closely - and if you know how to read in between lines of what they write, you will hear Western officials more-or-less admitting that they are not serious about combating ISIS or supporting the "moderate" Islamist factions in Syria -

Top American commander in the Middle East: Few U.S.-Trained Syrians Still Fight ISIS:http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/world/middleeast/isis-isil-syrians-senate-armed-services-committee.html?_r=0
The Western military effort against ISIS is only a show, a show meant to convince the western cattle that their governments are fighting ISIS. There is no Western agenda to destroy ISIS. The real agenda in Syria from day one has been to partition the nation and form a new Western-backed Sunni state in its territory as a counterbalance to growing Iranian and Russian influence in the region. Western powers therefore needed a reliable partner for this long term, geostrategic agenda and ISIS has been that partner. ISIS is the rabid dog they created and then set loose in Iraq and Syria. Now, ISIS headhunters have managed to carve out a Sunni state between Damascus and Baghdad thereby effectively cutting off Alawite Syria from Shi'ite Iraq. With that said, there may yet come a time when ISIS will be put back into its cage, but it will have by then served its purpose.

Although I am not surprised, it is nevertheless very interesting that Professor Landis - who, allow me to remind the reader, is "the top Syria scholar in the US" - even suggests that Washington wants Turkey to act as the guarantor of the new Sunni state being formed in Syria by having Ankara put in there a "good government" so that the US can thereafter "pour money into [its] development". Put aside everything you have seen and heard from the CIA controlled news media: Washington's desire to see Ankara play a direct role in Syria is ultimately the reason why Turkey has been tasked with assisting ISIS operations in Syria from day one. We didn't need CNN telling us any of this. I had more-or-less pointed all this out in previous blog commentaries years ago. But I thought it would be better if you heard it right from the source.

And regarding the "news" source in question: It is noteworthy to mention that the Pakistani native, Farid Zakaria is one of the Council for Foreign Relation's many high paid lapdogs working throughout the Anglo-America-Jewish world. Individuals like Farid Zakaria, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour, Dan Rather, Geraldo Rivera, Peter Jennings, etc., are not journalists in the traditional sense of the word because they serve as cogs in the imperial war machine.

Yes, ISIS is indeed the monster they created and the terrible carnage we are seeing in Syria and Iraq is indeed caused by the Western world's imperial aspirations in the Middle East. Consequently, the political West and their Jewish, Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari friends are in fact responsible for the genocide of Yezdis, Middle Eastern Christians and Alawites and a series of other crimes against humanity in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
Ironically, all this bloodshed comes exactly one hundreds years after Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians were similarly genocided by Turkish-Jewish interests with Western culpability.


To reiterate: ISIS is the monster intentionally created by the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance with the help of their regional allies: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan. ISIS has been doing the preparatory ground work for the above mentioned evil partnership for the past few years. Geostrategically, ISIS is tasked with carving a territory for Wahhabist Sunnis in Syria and Iraq, thereby putting in place a powerful buffer against the growth of Iranian influence in the region. ISIS atrocities are meant to enrage public sentiment around the world. ISIS will be the convenient excuse to invade Syria with “peace keeping” troops from Turkey and Jordan. And ISIS will be the convenient excuse to officially fragment Syria and Iraq at a later date. I say convenient because they made sure to terrify the Western sheeple with ISIS atrocities aired on television on a 24/7 basis. ISIS atrocities are meant to enrage public sentiment around the world. Now, those who have plotted against Bashar Assad's government will, at least theoretically, have an easy time selling to the Western public the eventual invasion and partition of Syria and Iraq.

Turkey and Jordan to play a major role

Recent events regarding Jordan and Turkey are in my opinion part of the final chapter in Syria. I do not think that a Jordanian pilot was burned to death some months ago. I personally think the whole thing, like the beheadings of Westerners before it, may have been faked. Even the timing of the announcement of the pilot's death, which came while Jordan's puppet king was in Washington, was suspicious. But whether the pilot died or not is really not the issue here for he may very well have been killed. As with all ISIS acts, be it real or fake, the purpose of the pilot's "burning" was to "shock and awe" the public. What's more poignant and revealing was the political reaction that came out of Amman and Washington to the alleged killing. The spontaneous anti-ISIS protests in Amman (mostly by military age men) looked anything but spontaneous. The reaction by the Jordanian government felt very orchestrated. Jordan's American style war fever and the "tough" rhetoric coming out of Amman seemed formulated to primarily appeal to Western sentiments. I mean silly "badass" stuff like this -
The king of Jordan sent out this badass photo in response to ISIS: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/photo-king-jordan-looking-badass-132100812.html
Bordering Syria on the south, Jordan and its puppet king has been playing a major role in the agenda against Syria from day one. But Jordan is a nation of very limited capabilities. In other words, Jordan can be a strategic staging area for operations inside Syria, it cannot however play a major military role. Enter Turkey. Bordering Syria on the north and wielding the second largest military in NATO, Turkey as come center stage in recent weeks. After a deadly bombing in south-eastern Turkey that was blamed on ISIS by Turkish and Western state officials, Turkish and Western forces begun military operations inside Syria -
US begins manned airstrikes against ISIS from Turkey into Syria: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/08/12/us-begins-manned-counter-isis-airstrikes-out-turkey-into-syria/

Turkey has sent troops to Syria: http://rusarminfo.ru/from-words-to-deeds-turkey-has-sent-troops-to-syria-will-russia-intervene/

Turkey and U.S. Plan to Create Syria ‘Safe Zone’ Free of ISIS: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/world/middleeast/turkey-and-us-agree-on-plan-to-clear-isis-from-strip-of-northern-syria.html?_r=0

US, Turkey Ignore Russian Warning, Move into Syria: http://journal-neo.org/2015/08/17/us-turkey-ignore-russian-warning-move-into-syria/

U.S., Turkey Agree to Keep Syrian Kurds Out of Proposed Border Zone: http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-turkey-agree-to-keep-syrian-kurds-out-of-proposed-border-zone-1438641577

Erdogan vows to continue offensive until PKK's end: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/08/turkey-carries-fresh-air-strikes-pkk-targets-150811085229832.html
What is happening in Turkey in recent weeks has nothing to do with ISIS or an uprising by Kurds. What is happening in Turkey is part of the greater agenda for Syria. The deadly bomb explosion in south-eastern Turkey this summer, blamed on ISIS, was most definitely carried-out by individuals tied to Ankara (which does not rule out ISIS involvement). An uptick in activity by the Kurdish PKK is a reaction to Ankara's designs against Syria, which also includes designs against Syrian Kurds. The alleged ISIS bombing in Turkey was meant to draw Ankara directly into the Syrian conflict and also provide it with an opportunity to attack the PKK. As we have seen, the plan has succeeded. Ankara is currently conducting bombing air raids against the PKK inside Turkey and Syria in conjunction with Western powers. Nevertheless, Syria's border with Turkey and Jordan are now in the process of becoming fully militarized and ready for war. When the time is right and a green light is given, Syria will be invaded by ground forces from the north and from the south and a coalition of other nations will be providing the necessary military intelligence and air cover to the invasion force. The excuse for such an invasion will naturally be ISIS. The Kremlin of course fully understands all this as well as the role Ankara is playing in Syria, which is why Putin's meeting with Erdogan over the summer was reported to be unproductive to say the least.

Turkey today finds itself on the front-lines of various geopolitical tectonic plates that has been constantly shifting since the end of the Cold War. Ankara today faces on its very borders the growing influence of Iran, a resurgent Russia, an Arab world that is in utter chaos and the rise of militant Islam. Moreover, with a booming population and a robust economy, Ankara feels destined to play a bigger regional role, which is why Turkish officials have been pursuing neo-Ottoman dreams.

While Turks are for the most part collaborating with their Anglo-American-Jewish partners, it should also be pointed out that they are pursuing their national agenda as well. Although Turkey is in a very tight strategic alliance with the West, its desire to revive its Ottoman era influence in the region may place Ankara into conflict with some of its traditional allies. The conflict in question is about Kurdistan. In other words: From Ankara's perspective, there is room for cooperation with Western powers and Israel in places such as the Black Sea region, south Caucasus, Syria and Iran but at the same time there is room for potential conflict when it comes to matters concerning Kurdistan. Needless to say, Ankara would not like to see an independent Kurdistan anywhere on its border, whereas as some of its most important allies do. The US and Israel have been instrumental in creating a Kurdistan in the north of Iraq since their invasion of country in 2003. Some of the tensions we have been seeing between Ankara and Washington and Tel Aviv in recent years have their roots precisely in this matter.

A future Kurdistan will most probably be founded on Iraqi and/or Syrian territory. But Ankara sees such a state as a potential problem for Turkey in the long term, they may therefore look for ways to sabotage its creation. This may put Ankara into direct conflict with Western powers and Israel. The potential of a clash between Ankara and its allies over Kurdistan is making some Armenians hopeful. It's all in vain. It's just not going to happen. It would be utterly foolish to think that Western powers will risk loosing Turkey as a strategic ally over a bunch of unreliable and disorganized Kurds. Turkey's geostrategic value as a military buffer against Russians, Iranians and Arabs is so important to the Western elite and Israel that they will seek ways to reach a compromise with Turks over any matter. The West seems only concerned about preserving a territory for Kurds in northern Iraq. As long as Ankara keeps its attacks confined to Kurdish groups such as the PKK, who arguably are the only Kurdish organization not currently under Western/Israel control, I think Western powers will look the other way. Seeing the writing on the wall, the PKK has gone on the offensive. The BP operated Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipeline was blown up couple of weeks ago at a location near Kars. This was the second time that a Western operated energy pipeline was targeted in the region. The PKK is suspect -
A second US-backed energy pipeline has been attacked, this time in Turkey: http://qz.com/471737/a-second-us-backed-energy-pipeline-has-been-attacked-this-time-in-turkey/
As the reader can see, pipeline politics is very much part of the war calculus throughout the region -
Once more I'd like to remind the reader that Washington's recent problems are not with Turkey per se but with the belligerent government of Erdogan. Western powers may want to see Erdogan's clique out of power but they would not want to hurt Turkey in the process. Nevertheless, disagreements over Kurdistan will ultimately prove to be the Achilles' Heel of the Western-Israeli-Turkish-Saudi agenda in Syria and Iraq. Erdogan's Ankara will therefore continue being the wild card in regional politics. Nevertheless, a new Middle East is systematically being created and some form of a Western and Israel backed Kurdistan is definitely part of that agenda. In fact, they have already been acting as if Iraqi Kurdistan is a separate country, with its very own "American University".

No nuclear deal with Iran meant war they were not prepared to fight

Because of its political independence, energy potential, size strategic location and growing influence in the greater Middle East, Iran has been a major geostrategic problem for the political West for the past 35 years. In its efforts to punish and/or subdue Tehran, Western powers have resorted to all kinds of measures, including financial blackmail, economic sanctions - as well as the sanctioning of terror operations inside Iran. With Tehran nearing nuclear weapons capability in recent years, the calculus suddenly become even more desperate for Western powers, as well as for Israel and Saudi Arabia. In a nutshell: Iran's existence as an independent regional power is seen as a long term threat to Western interests, Sunni Arab monarchies in the gulf and the Zionist state.

Iran proved to be more than a match for its antagonists. Tehran has in recent years embarked on forging working alliances with Russia and China; Tehran has spared no effort in modernizing its armed forces; and Tehran made it clear to all that if attacked it would shutdown the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a narrow water passage that is estimated to supply 40% of the world's energy. Therefore, from a Western perspective, no nuclear deal with Iran meant war they were not prepared to fight. Had Western powers known for sure that they could defeat Tehran militarily and roll back its nuclear program without suffering dire consequences in the process, they would have attacked Iran many years ago.

Tehran's steady approach to nuclear weapons capability coupled with the Western world's inability to safely wage war against Iran thus placed Western policymakers into a very serious predicament: Risk a major war that had the potential of proving disastrous for all involved or accept reality and seek an agreement?

Iran had deployed some powerful chess pieces during their recent negotiations with Western powers. Those pieces in question were: Iran's Russian and Chinese allies; EU nations such as France and Germany who want normalized trade relations with Iran; Hezbollah's military potential in Lebanon; Bashar Assad's resilience in Syria; the Houthi uprising in Yemen; Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq; Iran's formidable military; Iran's potential nuclear weapons capability; Iran's ability to shutdown the Strait of Hormuz at any given time; and Iran's large oil and gas reserves.  In my opinion, Uncle Sam was maneuvered by Tehran into a very difficult corner where the best option for Washington was to stay in the game by lessening tensions with Iran.

Senior policymakers in the US realized they had three options on the table: 1) Sit back and watch Iran forge forward in its nuclear pursuits. 2) Start a war that Western powers knew would be very costly for them and their allies and a war that was not guaranteed to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions. 3) Make a deal with Tehran and hope to manage the situation by staying in the game. Wisely, they chose the latter.  

Thankfully, American officials decided to put down the saber, at least for now, and reach a deal with Tehran. Tehran, for its part, was more than willing to negotiate because it wanted to free itself from the crippling sanctions. But let's not be foolish enough to believe that Iran and Uncle Sam will now simply kiss and makeup. There are too many obstacles getting in the way of normalizing Iran's relations with the West. The main three are Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Iranian mullahs' desire to survive in a very unforgiving geopolitical landscape. Moreover, Tehran realizes Uncle Sam is simply looking for others way to control Iran. In other words, for Tehran, the West will remain the Great Satan.

Since their military threats and economic sanctions against Tehran failed, they are trying the proverbial "carrot on a stick" approach. This approach will also fail because Iranians are not stupid. Iranians know that they have suffered decades of pain and anguish as a result of Anglo-American-Jewish conspiracies against Tehran. Iranians know that their antagonists are just looking for different ways to subdue them because Washington and friends still see the submission of Iran as an ultimate geostrategic prize because, as noted above, Iran is fast becoming a major regional power and because Iran has good relations with Russia and China. Iran has therefore got to be contained and/or controlled.

We obviously do not know what Western strategists are actually thinking or planning, we also do not see any of the behind-the-doors deals and negotiations that go on regularly between powers, even between enemies. We the sheeple just see how governments behave and what policies they implement, and we then try to use our reasoning abilities as well as our understanding of regional politics to figure out why. This process is what ultimately gives birth to speculation and conspiracy theories. So, allow me to speculate and delve a bit into a conspiracy theory of my own: Was the Iran nuclear deal actually meant to set the stage in the region for an eventual military clash between Saudi Arabia and Iran? In other words, by giving Iran a little maneuvering room and an economic boost, are Western powers actually forcing Saudi Arabia's hand by putting Riyadh into a position where it has to get more aggressive with Tehran? It's just a thought. But such a clash between arguably the region's two main Islamic powers could reap great benefits for Anglo-American-Jewish interests. After all, didn't they encourage Iraq's Saddam Hussein to go to war against Iran back in the 1980s? Getting Saudi Arabians and Iranians to fight now would actually be the climax of the Western/Jewish agenda in the Middle East. At the very least, by taking some pressure off Iran, the West is putting pressure on Sunni powers in the region. There are Western observers who think similarly -
The nuclear deal with Iran will stoke more Sunni-Shiite violence: http://www.wsj.com/articles/obama-pours-gas-on-the-mideast-fire-1437087768
Nevertheless, as long as Iran remains an independent geopolitical power in the region, it will be conspired against by its antagonists. Since I don't see the Mullahs giving up all that they created during the past 35 years merely for promises of better relations with entities that they know want them dead, the recent nuclear deal between Tehran and Washington will ultimately prove futile.

In my opinion, normalization of Iranian relations with the political Western will prove elusive in the long-term due to the current global political climate, as well as the pro-Israel war camp in Washington. But if the nuclear deal reached between Washington and Tehran somehow proves a bit resilient in the short-term and economic sanctions are indeed lifted, it will prove most beneficial for Iran because Tehran will get some economic breathing room and still maintain its nuclear capability. All in all, the nuclear deal holds promises for Iran as well as for Armenia and Russia. Although American agents such as Richard Giragosian are attempting to portray the matter as if Moscow is nervous about the Iran deal, it was in fact Moscow that made the Iran deal possible. The following picture perhaps says it all -

http://sputnik.co.am/images/15/08/150820.jpg

It is no secret that Iran wants better relations with the Western world simply because Iran wants to boost its stagnant economy. With that said, Iran will also seek to have close economic relations with Russia - its large and wealthy neighbor who has no designs on Iranian territory, who is not seeking to lessen Iranian influence in the Middle East and who does not seek to topple the mullahs in Tehran. Economically, politically and militarily speaking, better relations with Russia is potentially more beneficial and thus more important for Tehran - especially when fledgling entities such as SCO BRICS and EEU begins bearing fruit.

Moscow has begun preemptive military preparations in Syria

Despite
Russian and Iranian objections, I think we will eventually see an invasion of territories in Syria that are currently occupied by ISIS by Western-backed forces currently stationed on Syria's northern and southern borders. As noted earlier in this commentary, after Russia stopped the initial Western-led invasion attempt of Syria exactly two years ago, Western powers and their regional allies have since found a backdoor entry into the country - via ISIS. Now, with the world community coerced into demanding an end to the refugee crisis and wholesale bloodshed, Western powers and their allies are gradually preparing the ground for an eventual invasion. Moscow will not be able to stop them this time because unlike last time, when Western powers sought to use naval air power stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to attack Syria, this time they will be using Turkey and Jordan as staging areas for an eventual invasion. But there still is something that Moscow can do to preserve its presence in Syria and prevent the genocide of Syria's Alawites and Christians.
 

Kremlin officials should be ready to counter Western moves in the region by preemptively inserting combat troops and military hardware into Syria. Similar to how Russian paratroopers, despite direct threats by US General Wesley Clark, rushed to secure a political role for Moscow in Kosovo back in 1999, Russia's troops have to be ready to carryout a similar operation in Syria as well because Syria holds great strategic significance for Moscow. Besides, this is not 1999 and a Western-backed drunk is not in power in the Kremlin. Itself now under constant attacks by Western powers, Russia has a lot of geostrategic interests at stake in Syria, not the least of which is power projection in the region. The Russian military has to therefore be on the ground and ready to protect Russian assets in Syria for when Western powers finally decide to make their move. At the very least, Alawite populated regions along Syria's Mediterranean coast, members of Bashar Assad's government and the Russian naval facility at the city of Tartus should be placed under Moscow's direct protection. Such an action by Moscow will secure Russia's military and political presence in the Middle East for the time when new borders are drawn. Such an action by Moscow will also prevent the near certain genocide of Alawites and Chrsitians in Syria at the hands of Wahhabist/Salafist maniacs. Moreover, such an action by Moscow will also show the rest of the world that Russia is a global superpower who's allies can truly rely on. According is recent news reports, Moscow has already begun military preparations inside Syria -
Russia gearing up to be first world power to insert ground forces into Syria: http://www.debka.com/article/24858/Russia-gearing-up-to-be-first-world-power-to-insert-ground-forces-into-Syria
The White House is monitoring reports that Russia is carrying out military operations in Syria: http://www.businessinsider.com/white-house-monitoring-russian-intervention-in-syria-2015-9
Russian jets in Syrian skies: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4696268,00.html
Exposing Russia’s Secret Army in Syria: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/05/exposing-russia-s-secret-army-in-syria.html
Putin's Military Build-up in Syria Could Be a Game-changer for Israel: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.674779
Russian troops 'fighting alongside Assad's army against Syrian rebels': http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11840713/Russian-troops-fighting-alongside-Assads-army-against-Syrian-rebels.html
I think it's now obvious that the Russian military in Syria is on full alert and is currently preparing for the inevitable. And Syria is not the only place where Russia's military is currently active. Russia's Southern Military District, which also encompasses the 102nd base in Armenia, has seen a significant rise in military activity in recent times. This heightened state of military readiness by Russian forces stationed in the region is indeed a direct response to Western and Turkish actions in the Middle East as well as in the south Caucasus where there has been growing military cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Recent combat readiness drills conducted by the Russian military on Armenia's border facing Turkey and combat readiness drills conducted by the Armenian military on Armenia's border facing Azerbaijan is an unmistakable sign that Armenia today is on the front lines -
‘Agile Spirit’: NATO military exercises kick off in Georgia: http://www.rt.com/news/272518-nato-military-exercises-georgia/
Turkish Military Cooperation Prompts Russian Military Moves in the Caucasus: https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/turkish-military-cooperation-prompts-russian-military-moves-caucasus
Russia’s military base in Armenia alerted in snap combat readiness check: http://tass.ru/en/russia/806491
Some 9,000 Artillery Forces Take Part in South Russia Drills: http://sputniknews.com/military/20150817/1025828638.html
Movses Hakobyan: “Shant-2015” Military Command and Staff Exercises reach their goal: http://armenpress.am/eng/news/817664/movses-hakobyan-“shant-2015”-military-command-and-staff-exercises-reach-their-goal.html
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Start Drills As Border Tension Mounts: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/74966
Here we again see the paramount importance of Armenia's strategic alliance with the Russian Bear. Here we again see Moscow ensuring the survival of the Armenian state in a very volatile political environment. Our little homeland in the south Caucasus is on the front lines of a potential world war. Consequently, Shant 2015 was specifically designed to send Ankara, Washington, Brussels, London, Tel Aviv and Baku the message that Armenia and Russia are militarily prepared for any scenario. Make no mistake about it: If a major war breaks out, Armenia can expect a fight on two fronts: Its eastern and western borders. Without Russia's military presence on Armenia's western border, Armenia would be doomed from day one. As I have said on countless previous occasions: Had it not been for the Russian factor in the south Caucasus, Armenia would have been erased from the political map by regional predators a long time ago. Our delirious Qaj Nazars somehow need to understand this and the rest of us need to understand that Armenia desperately needs to develop better, deeper and more efficient relations with the Russian Federation - lest we also become a failed state as a result of our blind flirtations with Western powers in a very explosive environment.

Failed states are preferable for the West

History of the Middle East during the past seventy-plus years has taught us that the biggest threat the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance faces in the region is the rise of secular pan-Arab nationalism. More recently, the growth of Iranian influence is also seen as a strategic threat. Nevertheless, from Gamal Abdel Nasser and Mohammad Mosaddegh to Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi and Bashar Assad, secular forms of independent nationalism in the region have been seen as a serious danger to Western designs for the region. As a result, senior Western policymakers see Wahhabist/Salafist Islamic extremism as an effective antidote to Arab nationalism and the spread of Iranian (as well as Russian) influence in the region.

Of course there are other reasons why Sunni fundamentalism is being promoted throughout the region: Islamic societies tend to be tribal, backward, oppressive, economically primitive, culturally stagnant, militarily incompetent and thus easily manipulated and/or controlled. As noted above, Wahhabi or Salafist forms of Sunni Islam is an effective way to curb the growth of Iranian Shi'ism. Anyone familiar with the region knows that Sunni Arabs and Shi'ites have an almost instinctual disdain towards each other. In fact, the historic rivalry between Sunni and Shi'ite sects of Islam are much deeper and much bloodier than Islam's rivalry against Christianity or Judaism.

The sudden and massive political vacuum created by the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War - and the utter backwardness of Arab/Islamic society - allowed victorious Western powers to  set deep roots throughout the region. The political West is the creator of the modern Middle East. And as creators, they are doing as they please throughout the region. As they go on pitting one group against the other, as they replace one leader with another, as they form and reform nations, as they divide and conquer... it could be said that the West is, simply put, managing the much troubled region.


Failed states or fragmented states are the Anglo-American-Zionist global order's best friend, not only in the Middle East but everywhere.

Generally speaking, failed states are much easier to deal with than intact nations that don't want to cooperate with Western powers. Failed states are easier to control and they pose no serious threat, militarily or economically. Failed states are also good sources for cheep energy, cheep labor, narcotics, loot and "rebuilding" contracts. Moreover, failed states (i.e. Ukraine) at the door of your competitors (i.e. Russia) is a very good way to keep your competitor preoccupied for a long time. And what better way to create failed states than by democracy?!?!?!

The strategic thinking in the imperial homeland is ultimately this: They know they are insulated by oceans and great distances. They therefore have the strategic depth that keeps them immune to the fires they set around the world. They don't necessarily need to outright win any of the wars they start. They only need to figure out ways to destroy nations they are targeting without suffering any serious blow-back. The more places they ruin in such manner the better it will be for them at home. It's all simply part of their age old "divide and control" and "order through chaos" approach to geopolitical matters.

Examples of this are many: When the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia fell into utter disarray, where did most of Russia's most wealthy people hide their money? In Western banks. Where did most Soviet scientists, doctors and skilled laborers go searching for work to after the Soviet collapse? To the Western world. Who took control over Iraq's and Libya's national wealth and oil industry? Western powers. By turning Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen into a bloodbath, what have they accomplished? They have destroyed nations that posed a threat to them, weakening other enemies like Hezbollah, Iran and Russia in the process. And by plunging Ukraine into a civil war, they have managed to undermine Russia's growing influence throughout Europe and promote themselves as the protectors of Europe in the process.

As the reader can see, they don't have to outright win any wars. They only have to break things in such a way that will pay them geopolitical and/or financial dividends. 

As long as the Western world's political and financial establishments are not seriously threatened with destruction (i.e. as long as the Western world does not suffer dire consequences for their actions around the world) they will continue treating the rest of the world as a far way, exotic land where to safely carryout toxic experiments. As long as this now centuries old process continues, the Western order, which thrives on being the world's top predator, will enjoy superiority in global affairs. A vivid example of how Western powers are insulated from the chaos they cause around the world is the current refugee crisis in Europe, where nations like Germany, Hungary, Italy and Greece, who have absolutely nothing to do with the tragedy in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen are being expected to bear the brunt. And take a look at the depth of their arrogance and indifference to the human suffering they cause around the world: They exploit resources (both human and natural) around the world, they manipulate the global financial system to their benefit, they ruin entire nations and they destroy the lives of tens-of-millions, and when those people who's lives they have destroyed seek Western lands for the relative safety and opportunity it provides, they say, look at how wonderful we are - 
Question: Are the millions of people on the move today yearning to be "free" or simply trying to find a safe place where they can provide for their families without the constant threat of bombs and bullets? Having sown so much unrest in so many corners of the world, it is only natural that people displaced by wars and financial ruin will seek refuge in Western nations. This is what I mean whan I say as long as Western powers don't suffer dire consequences for their actions around the world, they will remain indifferent, arrogant and ignorant.

Once more: As long as Western countries are not ravaged with destruction as a result of destructive policies they keep pushing upon humanity, they will continue setting fires around the world. If nations like Russia and China do not figure out a way of making Western aggression costly for the Western world, Western policymakers will continue playing with fire and humanity will continue suffering as a result. With that said, the only nation today that is able - and willing - to stand up to the West is Russia.

The importance of Putin's Russia in global politics
 

The Western instigated wars in Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine as well as Western aggression against nations like Venezuela and Iran should be a wake up call to all of humanity. Western aggression around the world also underscores the great importance of the Russian Bear on the global political stage. Ask yourselves: Where would Syria and Iran be today had it not been for the Russian factor in the Middle East? Where would Armenia be today had it not been for the Russian factor in the south Caucasus? It's a very frightening proposition. We Armenians in particular see the paramount importance of having Russian boots on the ground in Armenia.

In a world reeling under a uni-polar political paradigm that has served Western interests for well over twenty years now, Russia's rise as a superpower projecting its interests upon the global stage is a very, very welcome relief. The global community has long been brutalized under the boot of the Anglo-American-Zionist political order. The rise of Russia is thus providing the bipolarity in global politics that humanity desperately needs. I also hope to see one day nations such as China, India and Iran rise to global prominence as well. For now, however, we must realize that it's only the Russian Federation that is able - and willing - to stand up to the political West. 

Russia today has the moral authority as more-and-more nations are beginning to see the US as the greatest threat to world peace. Moscow has to capitalize on this newly found calling. And it is. At the tenth annual gathering of the Valdai Club back in 2013, President Putin gave perhaps the most important speech of his career - 
Vladimir Putin's Speech at the Valdai Club's Plenary Meeting (full video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PtsodE-ZkY
The timing, coming on the heels of Moscow's success in stopping the Western war effort against Syria back in September, 2013 was highly significant. The venue, at the tenth anniversary of the Valdai Club (where Russian experts and guests from around the world meet to discuss political matters) was highly significant. And also highly significant was President Putin's profound message to the world: He spoke candidly about the dangers of Western Globalism, ultraliberalism, multiculturalism and uni-polarity in global politics, and he underscored the importance of traditional Christian values and national revival.

Recent global developments should again be reminding us Armenians of the cruel and unforgiving nature of the region in which Armenia is unfortunately located. We Armenians should be reminded that the obsessive pursuit of "democracy" (as per Western demands nonetheless) is a dangerous red-herring for there are much more important tasks that our underdeveloped and inexperienced nation needs to take on before it can afford to play around with such nonsense. Recent years should also have shown us that Western institutions (e.g. IMF, World Bank, USAID, NED) are a grave threat for politically inexperienced, underdeveloped and economically vulnerable nations like Armenia. While Western officials keep our Democracy Now(!) idiots preoccupied with silly things like "gay rights", "civil society" and "free elections", keeping Armenia politically isolated and economically stagnant has been their ultimate goal. Therefore, it would be wise to look past the lofty rhetoric of Washingtonian street whores such as Raffi Hovannisian, Vartan Oskanian, Richard Giragosian, Jirayr Sefilian and Paruyr Hayrikian and assess their role in Armenia within the following geostrategic context -
George Friedman: “Russian presence in Armenia is bad for Turkey”: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/11/arye-gut-israeli-jewish-expert-in.html

Turkish Advice: Armenian diaspora, focus on Russia rather than Turkey! http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/armenian-diaspora-focus-on-russia-rather-than-turkey

Russian General Leonid Ivashov: Turkey Seeks Separation Between Russia, Armenia: http://news.am/eng/news/36696.html

USA trying to break up Armenian-Russian military relations, general says: http://www.eurasianet.org/resource/a...0005/0040.html
First, Armenians must somehow be made to understand that the Russian military's presence in Armenia is Armenia's only deterrence against Turkey. Second, Armenians must somehow be made to understand that expelling Russia from Armenia is precisely what Turkish and Anglo-American-Jewish interests are seeking. Therefore, the ultimate goal of Western powers continues to be either the strangling of Armenia (through their NATO member's economic blockade) or severing Armenia from Russia (through their political activists inside Armenia). After all, the main reason why Western powers are interested in the south Caucasus in the first place is their desire to exploit Central Asian energy and contain Moscow and Tehran. Thus, it could be said that the West's ultimate intention is to either destroy Armenia altogether or place it under the mercy of their Turkic and Islamic allies. Therefore, by extension, political activists that push a Western agenda inside Armenian society today are ultimately working against the Armenian state whether they realize it or not.

We truly live in a world turned upside-down where a little bit of Western financing goes a long way to deforming reality and twisting truth out of recognition. Consequently, we have today an army of mentally disturbed individuals, pseudo-historians, mercenary journalists and outright traitors roaming about Armenian society trying to convince ever gullible Armenians that Russia is in reality an enemy of Armenia. The following are some examples -
Rafael Hambartsumyan: "Turkey and Russia Equally Guilty of Armenian Genocide": http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/society/news/17494/
Haykak Arshamyan: Russophilia Hinders Us: http://www.lragir.am/index/eng/0/interview/view/23126
Hakob Badalyan: Tricolor Under Russian Boot: http://www.lragir.am/index/eng/0/comments/view/23413
Paruyr Hayrikyan: Russian imperialism fighting against Armenian self-determination: http://lurer.com/?p=74000&l=en
Richard Giragosian: Armenia can't count on Russia any more: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/01/armenia-can-count-russia-any-mo-201511852934497678.html
Raffi Hovannisian: Russian Power, Armenian Sovereignty, and a Region at Risk: http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/08/13/russian-power-armenian-sovereignty-and-a-region-at-risk/
Լեւոն Շիրինյան: Թուրքիան կործանումից միշտ փրկել է ռուսը: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QSbWnRmBBA
We can't continue making the tragic mistakes of our foolish and self-destructive forefathers. Armenians need to sober up and realize that without a strong Russian presence in the south Caucasus there won't be an Armenian presence in the south Caucasus. While Armenia's military is its tactical advantage in the south Caucasus, Armenia's alliance with the Russian Federation must be utilized as its strategic advantage on the global stage. Armenian lobbyists, activists, politicians, businessmen and military leaders must therefore be a constant presence within the walls of the Kremlin. We need to deepen our alliance with the Russian Bear, especially at a time like this when the region where Armenia is unfortunately located in is on the verge of exploding. Our "patriotic" lunatics and money-grubbing politicians with a Western fetish somehow must be made to understand all this. 

In the following two television interviews we see Chairman of Union of Armenians in Russia Ara Abrahamyan and former Armenian National Security Council Secretary Arthur Baghdasaryan raising the alarm about the lack of Armenian lobbying efforts inside Moscow and the inability of Armenia today to efficiently exploit its strategic relationship with Russia -
Արթուր Բաղդասարյան (watch from 48:30): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GARDQ9WCcko
It's high time for the Armenian house cat to stop seeing a wild lion when looking in the mirror. In other words: We Armenians would do well to put aside our empty bravado and come to the sobering realization that Armenia exists today due to Yerevan's close ties with the Russian Bear and nothing else. Armenians should also realize that Russia's 102nd base in Armenia is Armenia's only deterrence against Turkey's military, one of the world's largest and most aggressive militaries. If Armenia has not suffered the fate of Cyprus, Serbia, Georgia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen or the Ukraine, it's not because of Armenia's tiny military or the big talking Diaspora - it's because of the Russian military presence in Armenia. Armenia is untouchable by regional predators today because of the Russian factor. Unfortunately, however, due to twenty-plus years of Western propaganda, a growing number of Armenians today are either too arrogant or too politically illiterate to realize any of this. 

In this dog-eat-dog world, we Armenians need to be very grateful that we have a very powerful ally like the Russian Federation. We must be very grateful that a neighboring superpower like Russia is sincerely interested in Armenia's survival as a nation-state in a very hostile and unforgiving environment. Russia is the only nation on earth that would be adversely impacted if Armenia disappeared from the map. Russia is the only nation on earth where Armenia plays an important geopolitical role. Russia's alliance with Armenia is therefore natural and genuine. We Armenians must therefore do everything in our power to exploit this historic opportunity. And we must also understand that whatever flaws that currently exists in Armenia's relationship with Russia is primarily due to our politician's counterproductive flirtations with Western powers and due to the lack of Armenian lobbying efforts in Moscow.

In closing, I'd like to once more reiterate some of the main points of this blog commentary: A new and perhaps a bloodier chapter is being opened in global affairs and major powers are once more converging over historic Mesopotamia; The current fighting in Syria is essentially about who will control what after the final bomb explodes; Weak militarily and economically, Western powers are using Islamic terrorists to fight for Western interests; The Middle East is on the verge of restructuring; The Western instigated civil war in Ukraine was meant to spoil Europe's increasingly good relations with Russia and use it as an excuse to militarize the European continent once again; The nuclear deal with Iran was meant to keep Washington in the game as Western powers think of other ways to undermine Tehran's government. 

Nevertheless,  Syria's fate was decided a very long time ago by Western, Israeli, Turkish and Saudi interests. Bashar Assad's enemies wanted to neuter Syria politically (as they had done with Iraq and as they would later do with Libya and Yemen) because Syria was backed by Iran and Russia and because Syria was a vital bloodline for Lebanon's Hezbollah. But Syria's enemies had a problem: Russia's military presence in the country. Thus, when Moscow began broadening its military ties with Damascus between 2008 and 2010, Syria's enemies panicked and went into action. In my opinion, the Syrian tragedy began five years ago when Russian General Yuri Ivanov, the GRU's second in command was mysteriously murdered while on an official trip to the country. The current Western, Turkish, Israeli and Saudi backed Islamic uprising began in Syria merely a year after General Ivanov's murder. Thus, began one of the bloodiest episodes in the region's history.

Two years ago this month they used the false flag serin gas attacks to psychologically prepare the western sheeple for a full scale war against Assad's government. They were on the verge of beginning an aerial bombardment campaign against Assad's military assets but Moscow managed to put a stop to it essentially at the last minute. Assad's enemies pulled back and began thinking of alternative ways to realize their agenda in the Levant: Enter ISIS; enter the refugee crisis. They have since meticulously created conditions in the region that are extremely dire, which they are now using as an excuse to militarily intervene in Syria once more. This time, however, they will violate Syrian territory from Turkey and Jordan so as not to go over Russian military assets along Syria's western sea coast as they had sought to do back in 2013. Ultimately, Assad's enemies are too deep in the bloody mess they created in Syria during the past four years. Pulling back now will be a total victory for Russia, Iran, Assad's Alawites and Lebanon's Hezbollah. They are therefore stuck in a situation where they have to push forward with their plan. Best case scenario in all this is what I suspect has already begun to take place behind closed doors: A negotiated partitioning of Syria, one that will preserve a territory for Syria's Russian and Iranian backed Alawites. But there is also a worst case scenario: With so many powers in such close proximity to each other, the unintentional start of a world war is very real. Even FM Sergei Lavrov recently raised this very serious concern. Nevertheless, seeing that a military invasion of Syria is imminent once again, Moscow's recent military buildup in the country, which is specifically designed to preserve Assad's government, has essentially forced Western powers to talk to Russia and face the prospect of negotiating with Bashar Assad. A brilliant move by Moscow if I may say. The West has been checked once again by grossmeisters in Moscow, and not only in Syria -
America's New Nightmare: How to Cope With Russia on the Ground in Syria: http://sputniknews.com/world/20150912/1026918344/us-russia-syria-assad.html
95,000 Russian Troops Begin Massive Military Drill: http://news.yahoo.com/95-000-russian-troops-massive-military-drill-093902596.html
It remains to be seen how all this will play out in eastern Europe and the Middle East in the coming months and years.  There are too many potentially explosive and unpredictable variables at play, which makes accurate forecasts nearly impossible. Nevertheless, everything you see happening in eastern Europe and the Middle East today is in preparation of a new reality. It may take another few years and another few hundred thousand casualties, but the destruction that has been sown in the two regions is so severe that a new eastern Europe and a new Middle East is inevitable. Ukraine and Syria, as we knew them, is dead. Since separatists in Novorossiya and Bashar Assad's government proved resilient thanks to Russia and Iran, Russian speaking Novorossians and Syria's Alawites will most likely be allowed to have some form of a state under the protection of its patrons.  The birth of a new Syria is more imminent. As noted above, I suspect that a deal has already been reached or is in the process of being reached with Bashar Assad's government. I think Syria's final partition has been decided by all powers involved in the civil war, including Russia, including Iran.

We are indeed living in times of great peril. We are again living in a time period of great geopolitical changes. Much of what we are seeing in recent years are in fact eerily reminiscent to political events that led to the First World War almost exactly one hundred years ago. With so many competing powers maneuvering in close proximity to each other in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, we may again be merely one unfortunate or unintended incident away from a major global conflagration. The good news, if there is one, is that Russia, unlike one hundred years ago, is not a vulnerable power in decline. Russia today is a rising global power, so is China. While circumstances of the First World War propelled the West to the top of the world, what we are witnessing around the world today may yet prove to be the birth-pangs of a post Anglo-American-Jewish political order and the end of the current unipolar political paradigm. Much of the misery we are thus seeing around the world is essentially the by-product of a desperate Anglo-American-Jewish effort to preserve prominence in global affairs against upstarts like Russian, Chinese and Iran. Nevertheless, a new, multi-polar political order is on the verge of birth. But its birth will no doubt be in a lot of pain and anguish. While Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia and Libya were the prelude, Syria and Ukraine may very well be the opening acts of what will eventually prove to be a very long and bloody play that will ultimately end with the death of the Anglo-American-Jewish world order.

Arevordi
September, 2015

***

Would New Borders Mean Less Conflict in the Middle East?

The region is living with the combustible legacy of states artificially carved from the remains of the Ottoman Empire

Shortly after the end of World War I, the French and British prime ministers took a break from the hard business of redrawing the map of Europe to discuss the easier matter of where frontiers would run in the newly conquered Middle East. Two years earlier, in 1916, the two allies had agreed on their respective zones of influence in a secret pact—known as the Sykes-Picot agreement—for divvying up the region. But now the Ottoman Empire lay defeated, and the United Kingdom, having done most of the fighting against the Turks, felt that it had earned a juicier reward.

“Tell me what you want,” France’s Georges Clemenceau said to Britain’s David Lloyd George as they strolled in the French embassy in London. “I want Mosul,” the British prime minister replied. “You shall have it. Anything else?” Clemenceau asked. In a few seconds, it was done. The huge Ottoman imperial province of Mosul, home to Sunni Arabs and Kurds and to plentiful oil, ended up as part of the newly created country of Iraq, not the newly created country of Syria.

The head of the Turkish delegation, Damad Ferid Pasha, arrives in Vaucresson, France, in 1920, to sign the Treaty of Sèvres, which abolished the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War I. Photo: Maurice Branger/Roger-Viollet/The Image Works

The Ottomans ran a multilingual, multireligious empire, ruled by a sultan who also bore the title of caliph—commander of all the world’s Muslims. Having joined the losing side in the Great War, however, the Ottomans saw their empire summarily dismantled by European statesmen who knew little about the region’s people, geography and customs. The resulting Middle Eastern states were often artificial creations, sometimes with implausibly straight lines for borders. They have kept going since then, by and large, remaining within their colonial-era frontiers despite repeated attempts at pan-Arab unification. The built-in imbalances in some of these newly carved-out states—particularly Syria and Iraq—spawned brutal dictatorships that succeeded for decades in suppressing restive majorities and perpetuating the rule of minority groups. But now it may all be coming to an end. Syria and Iraq have effectively ceased to function as states. Large parts of both countries lie beyond central government control, and the very meaning of Syrian and Iraqi nationhood has been hollowed out by the dominance of sectarian and ethnic identities.

The rise of Islamic State is the direct result of this meltdown. The Sunni extremist group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has proclaimed himself the new caliph and vowed to erase the shame of the “Sykes-Picot conspiracy.” After his men surged from their stronghold in Syria last summer and captured Mosul, now one of Iraq’s largest cities, he promised to destroy the old borders. In that offensive, one of the first actions taken by ISIS (as his group is also known) was to blow up the customs checkpoints between Syria and Iraq.

“What we are witnessing is the demise of the post-Ottoman order, the demise of the legitimate states,” says Francis Ricciardone, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Egypt who is now at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. “ISIS is a piece of that, and it is filling in a vacuum of the collapse of that order.”

In the mayhem now engulfing the Middle East, it is mostly the countries created a century ago by European colonialists that are coming apart. In the region’s more “natural” nations, a much stronger sense of shared history and tradition has, so far, prevented a similar implosion.

A map attached to the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 divvied up the Middle East between Britain and France. Photo: The National Archives of the UK

“Much of the conflict in the Middle East is the result of insecurity of contrived states,” says Husain Haqqani, an author and a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. “Contrived states need state ideologies to make up for lack of history and often flex muscles against their own people or against neighbors to consolidate their identity.”

In Egypt, with its millennial history and strong sense of identity, almost nobody questioned the country’s basic “Egyptian-ness” throughout the upheaval that has followed President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in a 2011 revolution. As a result, most of Egypt’s institutions have survived the turbulence relatively intact, and violence has stopped well short of outright civil war. Turkey and Iran—both of them, in bygone eras, the center of vast empires—have also gone largely unscathed in recent years, even though both have large ethnic minorities of their own, including Arabs and Kurds.

The Middle East’s “contrived” countries weren’t necessarily doomed to failure, and some of them—notably Jordan—aren’t collapsing, at least not yet. The world, after all, is full of multiethnic and multiconfessional states that are successful and prosperous, from Switzerland to Singapore to the U.S., which remains a relative newcomer as a nation compared with, say, Iran.


In all these places, a social compact—usually based on good governance and economic opportunity—often makes ethnic and religious diversity a source of strength, not an engine of instability. In the Middle East, by contrast, “in the cases where the wheels have come off, there was not good governance—there was in fact execrable governance,” says Mr. Ricciardone. A century ago, many hoped that Syria and Iraq, too, would follow Switzerland’s path. At the time, President Woodrow Wilson sent a commission to the Middle East to explore what new nations should rise from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire.

Under Ottoman rule, neither Syria nor Iraq existed as separate entities. Three Ottoman provinces—Baghdad, Basra and Mosul—roughly corresponded to today’s Iraq. Four others—Damascus, Beirut, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor—included today’s Syria, Lebanon and much of Jordan and Palestine, as well as a large strip of southern Turkey. All were populated by a hodgepodge of communities—Sunni and Shiite Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans and Christians in Iraq, and in Syria, all these groups as well as Alawites and Druse.

President Wilson’s commissioners, Henry King and Charles Crane, reported back their findings in August 1919. In Europe at the time, the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires was leading to the birth of new ethnic-based nation-states. But the U.S. officials had different ideas: They advised Wilson to ignore the Middle East’s ethnic and religious differences. What is now Iraq, they suggested, should stay united because “the wisdom of a united country needs no argument in the case of Mesopotamia.” They also argued for a “greater Syria”—an area that would have included today’s Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The end of Ottoman rule, King and Crane argued, “gives a great opportunity—not likely to return—to build…a Near East State on the modern basis of full religious liberty, deliberately including various religious faiths, and especially guarding the rights of minorities.” The locals, they added, “ought to do far better under a state on modern lines” than under Ottoman rule.  The hopes of the Americans didn’t pan out.

In Syria, the French colonial authorities—faced with a hostile Sunni majority—courted favor with the Alawites, a minority offshoot of Shiite Islam that had suffered discrimination under Ottoman rule. The French even briefly created a separate Alawite state on what is now Syria’s Mediterranean coast and heavily recruited Alawites into the new armed forces.

In Iraq, where Shiites make up the majority, the British administrators—faced with a Shiite revolt soon after their occupation began—played a similar game. The new administration disproportionately relied on the Sunni Arab minority, which had prospered under the Ottomans and now rallied around the new Sunni king of Iraq, whom Britain had imported from newly independent Hijaz, a former Ottoman province since conquered by Saudi Arabia.

Those decisions helped to shape the future of Iraq and Syria once the colonial order was gone. The Assad family has ruled Syria since 1970; Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq in 1979. Notwithstanding their lofty rhetoric about a single Arab nation, both regimes turned their countries into places where the minority ruling communities (Alawites in Syria, Sunni Arabs in Iraq) were decidedly more equal than others.

Attempts by the Sunni majority in Syria or the Shiite majority in Iraq to challenge these harshly authoritarian orders were put down without mercy. In 1982, the Syrian regime bulldozed the largely Sunni city of Hama after an Islamist revolt, and Saddam unleashed his wrath to crush a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq after the Gulf War in 1991.

In Syria today, many Alawites are backing President Bashar al-Assad against largely Sunni rebels out of fear that the regime’s collapse could wipe out their entire community—a threat reinforced by Islamic State, whose Sunni extremists offer Alawites and mainstream Shiites a stark choice between conversion and death.

In Iraq, the Shiite-dominated governments that have ruled since the U.S. invasion in 2003 have turned the tables on the country’s former rulers by discriminating against the minority Sunnis. As a result, Islamic State managed to seize Sunni parts of Iraq last year largely unopposed because the group was often seen by the locals as a lesser evil.

“It’s not just the territorial boundaries that are an issue—it’s the map of governance that was contrived by Europe,” says Vali Nasr, dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University and a former State Department adviser. “Colonial powers within the states created colonial administrations that educated, recruited and empowered minorities. When they left, they left the power in the hands of those minorities—they left the dictatorship of the minorities.”

“Power was so out of alignment in Iraq, Syria and many of these countries, and there is no proper formula of how to make this right. The winners don’t want to share, the losers don’t want to give up power,” Dr. Nasr added. “The Middle East is going through a period of big turmoil, after which it will end up with a very different political configuration and perhaps also a different territorial configuration.”

But how much appetite is there in the Middle East to change these territorial configurations? And if they were changed, what might a new map of the region look like?

One obvious possibility involves the Kurds, whose desire to win an independent state in what is now eastern Turkey and northern Iraq was endorsed by the short-lived Treaty of Sèvres, a 1920 pact among the Western allies and the Ottomans. That treaty was promptly repudiated by Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state. Until recently, in fact, Turkey has denied the very existence of a separate Kurdish ethnicity.

The Kurds, who live scattered across Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran, have already enjoyed decades of virtual independence under an autonomous government in northern Iraq—the mountainous part of what was once the Ottoman province of Mosul. They have now established three autonomous “cantons” in northern Syria.

“I’d be surprised if, in 20 years, there won’t be a country called Kurdistan,” said Karim Sadjapour, a Middle East analyst at the Carnegie Endowment. “It already exists, de facto.”

With their separate language and culture, the Kurds in Iraq already control their borders and security, limiting entry by Arab Iraqis. As civil war has raged in Syria, Kurdish militias there have come to identify, by and large, with a different national project. “The other rebels fight for Syria, but we have our own Kurdistan, and that is what we care about,” said Farid Atti, an official with a secular Kurdish militia combating Islamic State near the town of Kobane, which is one of the three autonomous Kurdish “cantons” in Syria.

Beyond Kurdistan, however, the case for separate new nations becomes much less clear, despite the ethnic and sectarian horrors that torment the region today.

For one, no matter how artificial they originally were, the post-Ottoman states have proven surprisingly resilient. Consider Lebanon, a country of some 18 squabbling religious communities that survived a bloody, multi-sided civil war from 1975 to 1990 and has repeatedly defied predictions of its imminent demise. Despite—or perhaps because of—that strife-filled history, Lebanon remains an island of relative stability amid the current regional upheaval, even as it is being overwhelmed by more than a million Syrian refugees fleeing the chaos next door.

“The rulers of those countries that were formed along admittedly artificial borders initially have put plenty of effort into building a sense of nationalism. The question is how much it took?” says Michele Dunne, a former senior State Department official who is now a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “It may not be as strong as in a country that had a sense of itself for centuries, but it still may be there.”

Indeed, even in battered and tattered Iraq and Syria, nationalist feelings remain very much alive. “If any country passed through what Iraq has passed through in the last 12 years, it would have been dismembered by now,” said Ayad Allawi, Iraq’s vice president and a former prime minister. “What kept the country going was the will of the people.”

In Syria, a 19-year-old student Mohammed Ali recently recalled the way that locals reacted to the arrival of Islamic State in his hometown of al-Boukamal, near the Iraqi border. As part of its campaign to erase colonial frontiers, the new rulers detached al-Boukamal from the Syrian province to which it belongs and incorporated it into Islamic State’s new “Province of Euphrates,” governed from the Iraqi city of Qaim.

At first, Mr. Ali said, the locals were excited by the destruction of the nearby border. “For 30 years, we have not been able to cross and visit our relatives on the other side,” Mr. Ali said. Since then, however, the mood has turned to patriotic backlash amid resentment of Iraqis flooding the area, lording over al-Boukamal and trucking “stolen” Syrian oil across the frontier. “We don’t want them here; we now want the border back,” he said.

Standing in the way of possible new partitions in the region is another set of issues: Where exactly would you draw the lines? And at what cost?

Despite the ethnic cleansing of recent years, Sunnis and Shiites still live together in many parts of Iraq, including Baghdad, and a great many Syrian Sunnis would still rather live in cities controlled by the Assad regime than in war-ravaged areas under rebel sway. Mr. Allawi, the Iraqi vice president, points out that many of the country’s traditional tribal groups include both Shiites and Sunnis—and that many Iraqi families, especially in the larger cities, are mixed too. “You’d have to go through the bedrooms of people to separate the country,” he quips. And in Iraq as elsewhere, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are hardly unitary, consensus-driven groups; rivalries abound within them.

The only recent partition of an Arab country—the split of Sudan into the Arab north and the new, largely non-Arab Republic of South Sudan in 2011—doesn’t provide an encouraging precedent for would-be makers of new borders. South Sudan quickly slid into a civil war of its own that has killed tens of thousands and uprooted two million people.

“There is no alternative to replace the state system,” says Fawaz Gerges, who teaches Middle East studies at the London School of Economics. “Otherwise, you might replace one civil war with multiple civil wars, and that’s exactly what can happen in Syria or Iraq. This is a catastrophic cycle.”

Forging a new bottom-up social compact within the region’s existing borders—something likely to happen only after populations tire of endless wars—is the only way forward, says Stephen Hadley, who served as President George W. Bush’s national security adviser and now chairs the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace. The real problem in the Middle East, he says, “is a collapse not of the borders but of what was happening inside the borders: governments that did not have a lot of legitimacy to start with and did not earn legitimacy with their people. You’re not going to solve these problems by redrawing the borders.”

Finding those solutions, Mr. Hadley acknowledges, won’t be easy. “It may be past redeeming,” he says. “Getting out of this is going to be the work of a generation.”


Forget Sykes-Picot. It’s the Treaty of Sèvres That Explains the Modern Middle East

Forget Sykes-Picot. It’s the Treaty of Sèvres That Explains the Modern Middle East.
Ninety-five years ago today, Europe carved up the Ottoman empire. That treaty barely lasted a year, but we're feeling its aftershocks today

Ninety-five years ago today, European diplomats gathered at a porcelain factory in the Paris suburb of Sèvres and signed a treaty to remake the Middle East from the ashes of the Ottoman empire. The plan collapsed so quickly we barely remember it anymore, but the short-lived Treaty of Sèvres, no less than the endlessly discussed Sykes-Picot agreement, had consequences that can still be seen today. We might do well to consider a few of them as the anniversary of this forgotten treaty quietly passes by.

In 1915, as British troops prepared to march on Istanbul by way of the Gallipoli peninsula, the government in London printed silk handkerchiefs heralding the end of the Ottoman empire. It was a bit premature (the battle of Gallipoli turned out to be one of the Ottomans’ few World War I victories) but by 1920 Britain’s confidence seemed justified: With allied troops occupying the Ottoman capital, representatives from the war’s victorious powers signed a treaty with the defeated Ottoman government that divided the empire’s lands into European spheres of influence. Sèvres internationalized Istanbul and the Bosphorus, while giving pieces of Anatolian territory to the Greeks, Kurds, Armenians, French, British, and Italians. Seeing how and why the first European plan for dividing up the Middle East failed, we can better understand the region’s present-day borders, as well as the contradictions of contemporary Kurdish nationalism and the political challenges facing modern Turkey.

Within a year of signing the Treaty of Sèvres, European powers began to suspect they had bitten off more than they could chew. Determined to resist foreign occupation, Ottoman officers like Mustafa Kemal Ataturk reorganized the remnants of the Ottoman army and, after several years of desperate fighting, drove out the foreign armies seeking to enforce the treaty’s terms. The result was Turkey as we recognize it today, whose new borders were officially established in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

Sèvres has been largely forgotten in the West, but it has a potent legacy in Turkey, where it has helped fuel a form of nationalist paranoia some scholars have called the “Sèvres syndrome.” Sèvres certainly plays a role in Turkey’s sensitivity over Kurdish separatism, as well as the belief that the Armenian genocide — widely used by European diplomats to justify their plans for Anatolia in 1920 — was always an anti-Turkish conspiracy rather than a matter of historical truth. Moreover, Turkey’s foundational struggle with colonial occupation left its mark in a persistent form of anti-imperial nationalism, directed first against Britain, during the Cold War against Russia, and now, quite frequently, against the United States.

But the legacy of Sèvres extends well beyond Turkey, which is precisely why we should include this treaty alongside Sykes-Picot in our history of the Middle East. It will help us challenge the widespread notion that the region’s problems all began with Europeans drawing borders on a blank map.

There’s no doubt that Europeans were happy to create borders that conformed to their own interests whenever they could get away with it. But the failure of Sèvres proves that that sometimes they couldn’t. When European statesmen tried to redraw the map of Anatolia, their efforts were forcefully defeated. In the Middle East, by contrast, Europeans succeeded in imposing borders because they had the military power to prevail over the people resisting them. Had the Syrian nationalist Yusuf al-‘Azma, another mustachioed Ottoman army officer, replicated Ataturk’s military success and defeated the French at the Battle of Maysalun, European plans for the Levant would have gone the way of Sèvres.

Would different borders have made the Middle East more stable, or perhaps less prone to sectarian violence? Not necessarily. But looking at history through the lens of the Sèvres treaty suggests a deeper point about the cause-and-effect relationship between European-drawn borders and Middle Eastern instability: the regions that ended up with borders imposed by Europe tended to be those already too weak or disorganized to successfully resist colonial occupation. Turkey didn’t become wealthier and more democratic than Syria or Iraq because it had the good fortune to get the right borders. Rather, the factors that enabled Turkey to defy European plans and draw its own borders — including an army and economic infrastructure inherited from the Ottoman empire — were some of the same ones that enabled Turkey to build a strong, centralized, European-style nation-state.

Of course, plenty of Kurdish nationalists might claim that Turkey’s borders actually are wrong. Indeed, some cite Kurdish statelessness as a fatal flaw in the region’s post-Ottoman borders. But when European imperialists tried to create a Kurdish state at Sèvres, many Kurds fought alongside Ataturk to upend the treaty. It’s a reminder that political loyalties can and do transcend national identities in ways we would do well to realize today.

The Kurdish state envisioned in the Sèvres Treaty would, crucially, have been under British control. While this appealed to some Kurdish nationalists, others found this form of British-dominated “independence” problematic. So they joined up to fight with the Turkish national movement. Particularly among religious Kurds, continued Turkish or Ottoman rule seemed preferable to Christian colonization. Other Kurds, for more practical reasons, worried that once in charge the British would inevitably support recently dispossessed Armenians seeking to return to the region. Some subsequently regretted their decision when it became clear the state they had fought to create would be significantly more Turkish — and less religious — than anticipated. But others, under varying degrees of duress, chose instead to accept the identity the new state offered them.

Many Turkish nationalists remain frightened by the way their state was destroyed by Sèvres, while many Kurdish nationalists still imagine the state they might have achieved. At the same time, today’s Turkish government extolls the virtues of Ottoman tolerance and multiculturalism, while Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan, apparently after reading the sociologist Benedict Anderson in prison, claims to have discovered that all nations are merely social constructs. The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the pro-Kurdish HDP spent much of the last decade competing to convince Kurdish voters that a vote for their party was a vote for peace — competing, that is, over which party was capable of resolving Turkey’s long-simmering conflict by creating a more stable and inclusive state. In short, as many Americans still debate the “artificial” nature of European-made states in the Middle East, Turkey is fitfully transcending a century-long obsession with proving how “real” it is.

Needless to say, the renewed violence Turkey has seen in the past several weeks threatens these fragile elements of a post-national consensus. With the AKP calling for the arrest of Kurdish political leaders and Kurdish guerrillas shooting police officers, nationalists on both sides are falling back into familiar, irreconcilable positions. For 95 years, Turkey reaped the political and economic benefits of its victory over the Treaty of Sèvres. But building on this success now requires forging a more flexible political model, one that helps render battles over borders and national identity irrelevant.

Source: https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/08/10/sykes-picot-treaty-of-sevres-modern-turkey-middle-east-borders-turkey/

Imagining a Remapped Middle East

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The map of the modern Middle East, a political and economic pivot in the international order, is in tatters. Syria’s ruinous war is the turning point. But the centrifugal forces of rival beliefs, tribes and ethnicities — empowered by unintended consequences of the Arab Spring — are also pulling apart a region defined by European colonial powers a century ago and defended by Arab autocrats ever since.

A different map would be a strategic game changer for just about everybody, potentially reconfiguring alliances, security challenges, trade and energy flows for much of the world, too.

Syria’s prime location and muscle make it the strategic center of the Middle East. But it is a complex country, rich in religious and ethnic variety, and therefore fragile. After independence, Syria reeled from more than a half-dozen coups between 1949 and 1970, when the Assad dynasty seized full control. Now, after 30 months of bloodletting, diversity has turned deadly, killing both people and country. Syria has crumbled into three identifiable regions, each with its own flag and security forces. A different future is taking shape: a narrow statelet along a corridor from the south through Damascus, Homs and Hama to the northern Mediterranean coast controlled by the Assads’ minority Alawite sect. In the north, a small Kurdistan, largely autonomous since mid-2012. The biggest chunk is the Sunni-dominated heartland.

Syria’s unraveling would set precedents for the region, beginning next door. Until now, Iraq resisted falling apart because of foreign pressure, regional fear of going it alone and oil wealth that bought loyalty, at least on paper. But Syria is now sucking Iraq into its maelstrom.

The battlefields are merging,” the United Nations envoy Martin Kobler told the Security Council in July. “Iraq is the fault line between the Shia and the Sunni world and everything which happens in Syria, of course, has repercussions on the political landscape in Iraq.”

Over time, Iraq’s Sunni minority — notably in western Anbar Province, site of anti-government protests — may feel more commonality with eastern Syria’s Sunni majority. Tribal ties and smuggling span the border. Together, they could form a de facto or formal Sunnistan. Iraq’s south would effectively become Shiitestan, although separation is not likely to be that neat.

The dominant political parties in the two Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq have longstanding differences, but when the border opened in August, more than 50,000 Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, creating new cross-border communities. Massoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, has also announced plans for the first summit meeting of 600 Kurds from some 40 parties in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran this fall.

“We feel that conditions are now appropriate,” said Kamal Kirkuki, the former speaker of Iraq’s Kurdish Parliament, about trying to mobilize disparate Kurds to discuss their future.

Outsiders have long gamed the Middle East: What if the Ottoman Empire hadn’t been divvied up by outsiders after World War I? Or the map reflected geographic realities or identities? Reconfigured maps infuriated Arabs who suspected foreign plots to divide and weaken them all over again. I had never been a map gamer. I lived in Lebanon during the 15-year civil war and thought it could survive splits among 18 sects. I also didn’t think Iraq would splinter during its nastiest fighting in 2006-7. But twin triggers changed my thinking.
 
The Arab Spring was the kindling. Arabs not only wanted to oust dictators, they wanted power decentralized to reflect local identity or rights to resources. Syria then set the match to itself and conventional wisdom about geography. New borders may be drawn in disparate, and potentially chaotic, ways. Countries could unravel through phases of federation, soft partition or autonomy, ending in geographic divorce.

Libya’s uprising was partly against the rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. But it also reflected Benghazi’s quest to separate from domineering Tripoli. Tribes differ. Tripolitanians look to the Maghreb, or western Islamic world, while Cyrenaicans look to the Mashriq, or eastern Islamic world. Plus, the capital hogs oil revenues, even though the east supplies 80 percent of it.

So Libya could devolve into two or even three pieces. The Cyrenaica National Council in eastern Libya declared autonomy in June. Southern Fezzan also has separate tribal and geographic identities. More Sahelian than North African in culture, tribes and identity, it could split off too. Other states lacking a sense of common good or identity, the political glue, are vulnerable, particularly budding democracies straining to accommodate disparate constituencies with new expectations.
 
After ousting its longtime dictator, Yemen launched a fitful National Dialogue in March to hash out a new order. But in a country long rived by a northern rebellion and southern separatists, enduring success may depend on embracing the idea of federation — and promises to let the south vote on secession.
 
A new map might get even more intriguing. Arabs are abuzz about part of South Yemen’s eventually merging with Saudi Arabia. Most southerners are Sunni, as is most of Saudi Arabia; many have family in the kingdom. The poorest Arabs, Yemenis could benefit from Saudi riches. In turn, Saudis would gain access to the Arabian Sea for trade, diminishing dependence on the Persian Gulf and fear of Iran’s virtual control over the Strait of Hormuz.
 
The most fantastical ideas involve the Balkanization of Saudi Arabia, already in the third iteration of a country that merged rival tribes by force under rigid Wahhabi Islam. The kingdom seems physically secured in glass high-rises and eight-lane highways, but it still has disparate cultures, distinct tribal identities and tensions between a Sunni majority and a Shiite minority, notably in the oil-rich east.

Social strains are deepening from rampant corruption and about 30 percent youth unemployment in a self-indulgent country that may have to import oil in two decades. As the monarchy moves to a new generation, the House of Saud will almost have to create a new ruling family from thousands of princes, a contentious process.

Other changes may be de facto. City-states — oases of multiple identities like Baghdad, well-armed enclaves like Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, or homogeneous zones like Jabal al-Druze in southern Syria — might make a comeback, even if technically inside countries.

A century after the British adventurer-cum-diplomat Sir Mark Sykes and the French envoy François Georges-Picot carved up the region, nationalism is rooted in varying degrees in countries initially defined by imperial tastes and trade rather than logic. The question now is whether nationalism is stronger than older sources of identity during conflict or tough transitions.

Syrians like to claim that nationalism will prevail whenever the war ends. The problem is that Syria now has multiple nationalisms. “Cleansing” is a growing problem. And guns exacerbate differences. Sectarian strife generally is now territorializing the split between Sunnis and Shiites in ways not seen in the modern Middle East.

But other factors could keep the Middle East from fraying — good governance, decent services and security, fair justice, jobs and equitably shared resources, or even a common enemy. Countries are effectively mini-alliances. But those factors seem far off in the Arab world. And the longer Syria’s war rages on, the greater the instability and dangers for the whole region. Robin Wright is the author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World” and a distinguished scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and the Wilson Center.


Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”



This article first published by GR in November 2006 is of particular relevance  to an understanding of the ongoing process of destabilization and political fragmentation of Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
“Hegemony is as old as Mankind…” -Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor
The term “New Middle East” was introduced to the world in June 2006 in Tel Aviv by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was credited by the Western media for coining the term) in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the “Greater Middle East.” This shift in foreign policy phraseology coincided with the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Terminal in the Eastern Mediterranean. The term and conceptualization of the “New Middle East,” was subsequently heralded by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Israeli Prime Minister at the height of  the Anglo-American sponsored Israeli siege of Lebanon. Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary Rice had informed the international media that a project for a “New Middle East” was being launched from Lebanon.

This announcement was a confirmation of an Anglo-American-Israeli “military roadmap” in the Middle East. This project, which has been in the  planning stages for several years, consists in creating an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan. The “New Middle East” project was introduced publicly by Washington and Tel Aviv with the expectation that Lebanon would be the pressure point for realigning the whole Middle East and thereby unleashing the forces of “constructive chaos.” This “constructive chaos” –which generates conditions of violence and warfare throughout the region– would in turn be used so that the United States, Britain, and Israel could redraw the map of the Middle East in accordance with their geo-strategic needs and objectives.

New Middle East Map

Secretary Condoleezza Rice stated during a press conference that “[w]hat we’re seeing here [in regards to the destruction of Lebanon and the Israeli attacks on Lebanon], in a sense, is the growing—the ‘birth pangs’—of a ‘New Middle East’ and whatever we do we [meaning the United States] have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the New Middle East [and] not going back to the old one.”1 Secretary Rice was immediately criticized for her statements both within Lebanon and internationally for expressing indifference to the suffering of an entire nation, which was being bombed  indiscriminately by the Israeli Air Force.

The Anglo-American Military Roadmap in the Middle East and Central Asia 

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s speech on the “New Middle East” had set the stage. The Israeli attacks on Lebanon –which had been fully endorsed by Washington and London– have further compromised and validated the existence of the geo-strategic objectives of the United States, Britain, and Israel. According to Professor Mark Levine the “neo-liberal globalizers and neo-conservatives, and ultimately the Bush Administration, would latch on to creative destruction as a way of describing the process by which they hoped to create their new world orders,” and that “creative destruction [in] the United States was, in the words of neo-conservative philosopher and Bush adviser Michael Ledeen, ‘an awesome revolutionary force’ for (…) creative destruction…”2

Anglo-American occupied Iraq, particularly Iraqi Kurdistan, seems to be the preparatory ground for the balkanization (division) and finlandization (pacification) of the Middle East. Already the legislative framework, under the Iraqi Parliament and the name of Iraqi federalization, for the partition of Iraq into three portions is being drawn out. (See map above)

Moreover, the Anglo-American military roadmap appears to be vying an entry into Central Asia via the Middle East. The Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are stepping stones for extending U.S. influence into the former Soviet Union and the ex-Soviet Republics of Central Asia. The Middle East is to some extent the southern tier of Central Asia. Central Asia in turn is also termed as “Russia’s Southern Tier” or the Russian “Near Abroad.”

Many Russian and Central Asian scholars, military planners, strategists, security advisors, economists, and politicians consider Central Asia (“Russia’s Southern Tier”) to be the vulnerable and “soft under-belly” of the Russian Federation.3

It should be noted that in his book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geo-strategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. National Security Advisor, alluded to the modern Middle East as a control lever of an area he, Brzezinski, calls the Eurasian Balkans. The Eurasian Balkans consists of the Caucasus (Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Armenia) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan) and to some extent both Iran and Turkey. Iran and Turkey both form the northernmost tiers of the Middle East (excluding the Caucasus4) that edge into Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The Map of the “New Middle East”

A relatively unknown map of the Middle East, NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, and Pakistan has been circulating around strategic, governmental, NATO, policy and military circles since mid-2006. It has been causally allowed to surface in public, maybe in an attempt to build consensus and to slowly prepare the general public for possible, maybe even cataclysmic, changes in the Middle East. This is a map of a redrawn and restructured Middle East identified as the “New Middle East.”

MAP OF THE NEW MIDDLE EAST

Note: The following map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006). Although the map does not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it has been used in a training program at NATO’s Defense College for senior military officers. This map, as well as other similar maps, has most probably been used at the National War Academy as well as in military planning circles.

This map of the “New Middle East” seems to be based on several other maps, including older maps of potential boundaries in the Middle East extending back to the era of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and World War I. This map is showcased and presented as the brainchild of retired Lieutenant-Colonel (U.S. Army) Ralph Peters, who believes the redesigned borders contained in the map will fundamentally solve the problems of the contemporary Middle East.

The map of the “New Middle East” was a key element in the retired Lieutenant-Colonel’s book, Never Quit the Fight, which was released to the public on July 10, 2006. This map of a redrawn Middle East was also published, under the title of Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would look, in the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Journal with commentary from Ralph Peters.5 It should be noted that Lieutenant-Colonel Peters was last posted to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, within the U.S. Defence Department, and has been one of the Pentagon’s foremost authors with numerous essays on strategy for military journals and U.S. foreign policy.

It has been written that Ralph Peters’ “four previous books on strategy have been highly influential in government and military circles,” but one can be pardoned for asking if in fact quite the opposite could be taking place. Could it be Lieutenant-Colonel Peters is revealing and putting forward what Washington D.C. and its strategic planners have anticipated for the Middle East? The concept of a redrawn Middle East has been presented as a “humanitarian” and “righteous” arrangement that would benefit the people(s) of the Middle East and its peripheral regions. According to Ralph Peter’s:

International borders are never completely just. But the degree of injustice they inflict upon those whom frontiers force together or separate makes an enormous difference — often the difference between freedom and oppression, tolerance and atrocity, the rule of law and terrorism, or even peace and war.
The most arbitrary and distorted borders in the world are in Africa and the Middle East. Drawn by self-interested Europeans (who have had sufficient trouble defining their own frontiers), Africa’s borders continue to provoke the deaths of millions of local inhabitants. But the unjust borders in the Middle East — to borrow from Churchill — generate more trouble than can be consumed locally.
While the Middle East has far more problems than dysfunctional borders alone — from cultural stagnation through scandalous inequality to deadly religious extremism — the greatest taboo in striving to understand the region’s comprehensive failure isn’t Islam, but the awful-but-sacrosanct international boundaries worshipped by our own diplomats.
Of course, no adjustment of borders, however draconian, could make every minority in the Middle East happy. In some instances, ethnic and religious groups live intermingled and have intermarried. Elsewhere, reunions based on blood or belief might not prove quite as joyous as their current proponents expect. The boundaries projected in the maps accompanying this article redress the wrongs suffered by the most significant “cheated” population groups, such as the Kurds, Baluch and Arab Shia [Muslims], but still fail to account adequately for Middle Eastern Christians, Bahais, Ismailis, Naqshbandis and many another numerically lesser minorities. And one haunting wrong can never be redressed with a reward of territory: the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians by the dying Ottoman Empire. Yet, for all the injustices the borders re-imagined here leave unaddressed, without such major boundary revisions, we shall never see a more peaceful Middle East.
Even those who abhor the topic of altering borders would be well-served to engage in an exercise that attempts to conceive a fairer, if still imperfect, amendment of national boundaries between the Bosphorus and the Indus. Accepting that international statecraft has never developed effective tools — short of war — for readjusting faulty borders, a mental effort to grasp the Middle East’s “organic” frontiers nonetheless helps us understand the extent of the difficulties we face and will continue to face. We are dealing with colossal, man-made deformities that will not stop generating hatred and violence until they are corrected. 6
(emphasis added)
“Necessary Pain”

Besides believing that there is “cultural stagnation” in the Middle East, it must be noted that Ralph Peters admits that his propositions are “draconian” in nature, but he insists that they are necessary pains for the people of the Middle East. This view of necessary pain and suffering is in startling parallel to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s belief that the devastation of Lebanon by the Israeli military was a necessary pain or “birth pang” in order to create the “New Middle East” that Washington, London, and Tel Aviv envision. Moreover, it is worth noting that the subject of the Armenian Genocide is being politicized and stimulated in Europe to offend Turkey.7

The overhaul, dismantlement, and reassembly of the nation-states of the Middle East have been packaged as a solution to the hostilities in the Middle East, but this is categorically misleading, false, and fictitious. The advocates of a “New Middle East” and redrawn boundaries in the region avoid and fail to candidly depict the roots of the problems and conflicts in the contemporary Middle East. What the media does not acknowledge is the fact that almost all major conflicts afflicting the Middle East are the consequence of overlapping Anglo-American-Israeli agendas.

Many of the problems affecting the contemporary Middle East are the result of the deliberate aggravation of pre-existing regional tensions. Sectarian division, ethnic tension and internal violence have been traditionally exploited by the United States and Britain in various parts of the globe including Africa, Latin America, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Iraq is just one of many examples of the Anglo-American strategy of “divide and conquer.” Other examples are Rwanda, Yugoslavia, the Caucasus, and Afghanistan.

Amongst the problems in the contemporary Middle East is the lack of genuine democracy which U.S. and British foreign policy has actually been deliberately obstructing.  Western-style “Democracy” has been a requirement only for those Middle Eastern states which do not conform to Washington’s political demands. Invariably, it constitutes a pretext for confrontation. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are examples of undemocratic states that the United States has no problems with because they are firmly alligned within the Anglo-American orbit or sphere.

Additionally, the United States has deliberately blocked or displaced genuine democratic movements in the Middle East from Iran in 1953 (where a U.S./U.K. sponsored coup was staged against the democratic government of Prime Minister Mossadegh) to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, the Arab Sheikdoms, and Jordan where the Anglo-American alliance supports military control, absolutists, and dictators in one form or another. The latest example of this is Palestine.

The Turkish Protest at NATO’s Military College in Rome

Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters’ map of the “New Middle East” has sparked angry reactions in Turkey. According to Turkish press releases on September 15, 2006 the map of the “New Middle East” was displayed in NATO’s Military College in Rome, Italy. It was additionally reported that Turkish officers were immediately outraged by the presentation of a portioned and segmented Turkey.8 The map received some form of approval from the U.S. National War Academy before it was unveiled in front of NATO officers in Rome. The Turkish Chief of Staff, General Buyukanit, contacted the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, and protested the event and the exhibition of the redrawn map of the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.9 Furthermore the Pentagon has gone out of its way to assure Turkey that the map does not reflect official U.S. policy and objectives in the region, but this seems to be conflicting with Anglo-American actions in the Middle East and NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.

Is there a Connection between Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “Eurasian Balkans” and the “New Middle East” Project?

The following are important excerpts and passages from former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geo-strategic Imperatives. Brzezinski also states that both Turkey and Iran, the two most powerful states of the “Eurasian Balkans,” located on its southern tier, are “potentially vulnerable to internal ethnic conflicts [balkanization],” and that, “If either or both of them were to be destabilized, the internal problems of the region would become unmanageable.”10 It seems that a divided and balkanized Iraq would be the best means of accomplishing this. Taking what we know from the White House’s own admissions; there is a belief that “creative destruction and chaos” in the Middle East are beneficial assets to reshaping the Middle East, creating the “New Middle East,” and furthering the Anglo-American roadmap in the Middle East and Central Asia:

In Europe, the Word “Balkans” conjures up images of ethnic conflicts and great-power regional rivalries. Eurasia, too, has its “Balkans,” but the Eurasian Balkans are much larger, more populated, even more religiously and ethnically heterogenous. They are located within that large geographic oblong that demarcates the central zone of global instability (…) that embraces portions of southeastern Europe, Central Asia and parts of South Asia [Pakistan, Kashmir, Western India], the Persian Gulf area, and the Middle East.
The Eurasian Balkans form the inner core of that large oblong (…) they differ from its outer zone in one particularly significant way: they are a power vacuum. Although most of the states located in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East are also unstable, American power is that region’s [meaning the Middle East’s] ultimate arbiter. The unstable region in the outer zone is thus an area of single power hegemony and is tempered by that hegemony. In contrast, the Eurasian Balkans are truly reminiscent of the older, more familiar Balkans of southeastern Europe: not only are its political entities unstable but they tempt and invite the intrusion of more powerful neighbors, each of whom is determined to oppose the region’s domination by another. It is this familiar combination of a power vacuum and power suction that justifies the appellation “Eurasian Balkans.”
The traditional Balkans represented a potential geopolitical prize in the struggle for European supremacy. The Eurasian Balkans, astride the inevitably emerging transportation network meant to link more directly Eurasia’s richest and most industrious western and eastern extremities, are also geopolitically significant. Moreover, they are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.
The world’s energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia’s economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy, and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.
Access to that resource and sharing in its potential wealth represent objectives that stir national ambitions, motivate corporate interests, rekindle historical claims, revive imperial aspirations, and fuel international rivalries. The situation is made all the more volatile by the fact that the region is not only a power vacuum but is also internally unstable.
(…)
The Eurasian Balkans include nine countries that one way or another fit the foregoing description, with two others as potential candidates. The nine are Kazakstan [alternative and official spelling of Kazakhstan] , Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia—all of them formerly part of the defunct Soviet Union—as well as Afghanistan.
The potential additions to the list are Turkey and Iran, both of them much more politically and economically viable, both active contestants for regional influence within the Eurasian Balkans, and thus both significant geo-strategic players in the region. At the same time, both are potentially vulnerable to internal ethnic conflicts. If either or both of them were to be destabilized, the internal problems of the region would become unmanageable, while efforts to restrain regional domination by Russia could even become futile. 11
(emphasis added)
Redrawing the Middle East

The Middle East, in some regards, is a striking parallel to the Balkans and Central-Eastern Europe during the years leading up the First World War. In the wake of the the First World War the borders of the Balkans and Central-Eastern Europe were redrawn. This region experienced a period of upheaval, violence and conflict, before and after World War I, which was the direct result of foreign economic interests and interference. The reasons behind the First World War are more sinister than the standard school-book explanation, the assassination of the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo. Economic factors were the real motivation for the large-scale war in 1914. Norman Dodd, a former Wall Street banker and investigator for the U.S. Congress, who examined  U.S. tax-exempt foundations, confirmed in a 1982 interview that those powerful individuals who from behind the scenes controlled the finances, policies, and government of the United States had in fact also planned U.S. involvement in a war, which would contribute to entrenching their grip on power. The following testimonial is from the transcript of Norman Dodd’s interview with G. Edward Griffin;

We are now at the year 1908, which was the year that the Carnegie Foundation began operations.  And, in that year, the trustees meeting, for the first time, raised a specific question, which they discussed throughout the balance of the year, in a very learned fashion.  And the question is this:  Is there any means known more effective than war, assuming you wish to alter the life of an entire people?  And they conclude that, no more effective means to that end is known to humanity, than war.  So then, in 1909, they raise the second question, and discuss it, namely, how do we involve the United States in a war?
Well, I doubt, at that time, if there was any subject more removed from the thinking of most of the people of this country [the United States], than its involvement in a war.  There were intermittent shows [wars] in the Balkans, but I doubt very much if many people even knew where the Balkans were.  And finally, they answer that question as follows:  we must control the State Department.

And then, that very naturally raises the question of how do we do that?  They answer it by saying, we must take over and control the diplomatic machinery of this country and, finally, they resolve to aim at that as an objective.  Then, time passes, and we are eventually in a war, which would be World War I.  At that time, they record on their minutes a shocking report in which they dispatch to President Wilson a telegram cautioning him to see that the war does not end too quickly.  And finally, of course, the war is over.

At that time, their interest shifts over to preventing what they call a reversion of life in the United States to what it was prior to 1914, when World War I broke out. (emphasis added)
The redrawing and partition of the Middle East from the Eastern Mediterranean shores of Lebanon and Syria to Anatolia (Asia Minor), Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and the Iranian Plateau responds to broad economic, strategic and military objectives, which are part of a longstanding Anglo-American and Israeli agenda in the region. The Middle East has been conditioned by outside forces into a powder keg that is ready to explode with the right trigger, possibly the launching of Anglo-American and/or Israeli air raids against Iran and Syria. A wider war in the Middle East could result in redrawn borders that are strategically advantageous to Anglo-American interests and Israel.

NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan has been successfully divided, all but in name. Animosity has been inseminated in the Levant, where a Palestinian civil war is being nurtured and divisions in Lebanon agitated. The Eastern Mediterranean has been successfully militarized by NATO. Syria and Iran continue to be demonized by the Western media, with a view to justifying a military agenda. In turn, the Western media has fed, on a daily basis, incorrect and biased notions that the populations of Iraq cannot co-exist and that the conflict is not a war of occupation but a “civil war” characterised by domestic strife between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

Attempts at intentionally creating animosity between the different ethno-cultural and religious groups of the Middle East have been systematic. In fact, they are part of a carefully designed covert intelligence agenda. Even more ominous, many Middle Eastern governments, such as that of Saudi Arabia, are assisting Washington in fomenting divisions between Middle Eastern populations. The ultimate objective is to weaken the resistance movement against foreign occupation through a “divide and conquer strategy” which serves Anglo-American and Israeli interests in the broader region.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes in Middle Eastern and Central Asian affairs. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/plans-for-redrawing-the-middle-east-the-project-for-a-new-middle-east/3882

John Bolton: To Defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/11/25/opinion/25bolton/25bolton-blog427.jpg

America is debating how to respond to the terrorist attacks in Paris. Unfortunately, both President Obama’s current policy and other recent proposals lack a strategic vision for the Middle East once the Islamic State, or ISIS, is actually defeated. There are no answers, or only outmoded ones, to the basic question: What comes after the Islamic State?

Before transforming Mr. Obama’s ineffective efforts into a vigorous military campaign to destroy the Islamic State, we need a clear view, shared with NATO allies and others, about what will replace it. It is critical to resolve this issue before considering any operational plans. Strategy does not come from the ground up; instead, tactics flow deductively once we’ve defined the ultimate objectives. Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan.

If, in this context, defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Mr. Assad in Syria and Iran’s puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.

This “Sunni-stan” has economic potential as an oil producer (subject to negotiation with the Kurds, to be sure), and could be a bulwark against both Mr. Assad and Iran-allied Baghdad. The rulers of the Arab Gulf states, who should by now have learned the risk to their own security of funding Islamist extremism, could provide significant financing. And Turkey — still a NATO ally, don’t forget — would enjoy greater stability on its southern border, making the existence of a new state at least tolerable.

The functional independence of Kurdistan reinforces this approach. The Kurds have finally become too big a force in the region for Baghdad or Damascus to push them around. They will not be cajoled or coerced into relinquishing territory they now control to Mr. Assad in Syria or to Iraq’s Shiite militias. The Kurds still face enormous challenges, with dangerously uncertain borders, especially with Turkey. But an independent Kurdistan that has international recognition could work in America’s favor.

Make no mistake, this new Sunni state’s government is unlikely to be a Jeffersonian democracy for many years. But this is a region where alternatives to secular military or semi-authoritarian governments are scarce. Security and stability are sufficient ambitions. As we did in Iraq with the 2006 “Anbar Awakening,” the counterinsurgency operation that dislodged Al Qaeda from its stronghold in that Iraqi province, we and our allies must empower viable Sunni leaders, including tribal authorities who prize their existing social structures. No doubt, this will involve former Iraqi and Syrian Baath Party officials; and there may still be some moderate Syrian opposition leaders. All are preferable to the Islamist extremists.

The Arab monarchies like Saudi Arabia must not only fund much of the new state’s early needs, but also ensure its stability and resistance to radical forces. Once, we might have declared a Jordanian “protectorate” in an American “sphere of influence”; for now, a new state will do. This Sunni state proposal differs sharply from the vision of the Russian-Iranian axis and its proxies (Hezbollah, Mr. Assad and Tehran-backed Baghdad). Their aim of restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli and friendly Arab state interests. Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib.

In Syria, Moscow wants to dominate the regime (with or without Mr. Assad) and safeguard Russia’s Tartus naval base and its new Latakia air base. Tehran wants a continuing Alawite supremacy, with full protection for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria.

As for Iraq, Russia and Iran want the Sunni territories returned to Baghdad’s control, reinforcing Iran’s regional influence. They may wish for the same in Kurdistan, but they lack the capability there. Sunnis today support the Islamic State for many of the same reasons they once supported Al Qaeda in Iraq — as a bulwark against being ruled by Tehran via Baghdad. Telling these Sunni people that their reward for rising against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq will be to put them back in thrall to Mr. Assad and his ilk, or to Shiite-dominated Baghdad, will simply intensify their support for the jihadists. Why would they switch sides?

This is why, after destroying the Islamic State, America should pursue the far-reaching goal of creating a new Sunni state. Though difficult in the near term, over time this is more conducive to regional order and stability. Creating an American-led anti-Islamic State alliance instead of Moscow’s proposed coalition will require considerable diplomatic and political effort. American ground combat forces will have to be deployed to provide cohesion and leadership. But this would be necessary to defeat the Islamic State even if the objective were simply to recreate the status quo ante.

The Anbar Awakening and the American military’s 2007 “surge” provide the model, as do Kurdish successes against the Islamic State. Local fighters armed, trained and advised by the United States would combine with Arab and American conventional forces. The military operation is not the hardest part of this post-Islamic State vision. It will also require sustained American attention and commitment. We cannot walk away from this situation as we did from Iraq in 2011.

The new “Sunni-stan” may not be Switzerland. This is not a democracy initiative, but cold power politics. It is consistent with the strategic objective of obliterating the Islamic State that we share with our allies, and it is achievable.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/25/opinion/john-bolton-to-defeat-isis-create-a-sunni-state.html?_r=0

“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East

http://www.jewishjournal.com/images/featured/isr_slideshow-IDF-flag_1000.jpg
The Infamous "Oded Yinon Plan". Introduction by Michel Chossudovsky
The following document pertaining to the formation of “Greater Israel” constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government (which has recently been re-elected), the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment. The election was fought by Netanyahu on a political platform which denies Palestinian statehood. According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” According to Rabbi Fischmann, “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.” When viewed in the current context, the war on Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing war on Syria and Iraq, the war in Yemen, the process of regime change in Egypt, must be understood in relation to the Zionist Plan for the Middle East. The latter consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of an Israeli expansionist project.“Greater Israel” consists in an area extending from the Nile Valley to the Euphrates. The Zionist project supports the

Jewish settlement movement. More broadly it involves a policy of excluding Palestinians from Palestine leading to the eventual annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza to the State of Israel. Greater Israel would create a number of proxy States. It would include parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Sinai, as well as parts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (See map).
According to Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya in a 2011 Global Research article, The Yinon Plan was a continuation of Britain’s colonial design in the Middle East:
“[The Yinon plan] is an Israeli strategic plan to ensure Israeli regional superiority. It insists and stipulates thatIsrael must reconfigure its geo-political environment through the balkanization of the surrounding Arab states into smaller and weaker states. Israeli strategists viewed Iraq as their biggest strategic challenge from an Arab state. This is why Iraq was outlined as the centerpiece to the balkanization of the Middle East and the Arab World. In Iraq, on the basis of the concepts of the Yinon Plan, Israeli strategists have called for the division of Iraq into a Kurdish state and two Arab states, one for Shiite Muslims and the other for Sunni Muslims. The first step towards establishing this was a war between Iraq and Iran, which the Yinon Plan discusses. The Atlantic, in 2008, and the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Journal, in 2006, both published widely circulated maps that closely followed the outline of the Yinon Plan. Aside from a divided Iraq, which the Biden Plan also calls for, the Yinon Plan calls for a divided Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria. The partitioning of Iran, Turkey, Somalia, and Pakistan also all fall into line with these views. The Yinon Plan also calls for dissolution in North Africa and forecasts it as starting from Egypt and then spilling over into Sudan, Libya, and the rest of the region.
Greater Israel” requires the breaking up of the existing Arab states into small states.
“The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation… This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme.” (Yinon Plan, see below) Viewed in this context, the war on Syria and Iraq is part of the process of Israeli territorial expansion. Israeli intelligence working hand in glove with the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and NATO is directly supportive of the crusade directed against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), which ultimately seeks to destroy both Syria and Iraq as nation states.
Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, September 06, 2015

The Zionist Plan for the Middle East

Translated and edited by
Israel Shahak
The Israel of Theodore Herzl (1904) and of Rabbi Fischmann (1947)

In his Complete Diaries, Vol. II. p. 711, Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, says that the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” Rabbi Fischmann, member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared in his testimony to the U.N. Special Committee of Enquiry on 9 July 1947: “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.”

from Oded Yinon’s

“A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”

The Association of Arab-American University Graduates finds it compelling to inaugurate its new publication series, Special Documents, with Oded Yinon’s article which appeared in Kivunim (Directions), the journal of the Department of Information of the World Zionist Organization. Oded Yinon is an Israeli journalist and was formerly attached to the Foreign Ministry of Israel. To our knowledge, this document is the most explicit, detailed and unambiguous statement to date of the Zionist strategy in the Middle East. Furthermore, it stands as an accurate representation of the “vision” for the entire Middle East of the presently ruling Zionist regime of Begin, Sharon and Eitan. Its importance, hence, lies not in its historical value but in the nightmare which it presents.
2
The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation.
3
This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme. This theme has been documented on a very modest scale in the AAUG publication,  Israel’s Sacred Terrorism (1980), by Livia Rokach. Based on the memoirs of Moshe Sharett, former Prime Minister of Israel, Rokach’s study documents, in convincing detail, the Zionist plan as it applies to Lebanon and as it was prepared in the mid-fifties.
4
The first massive Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978 bore this plan out to the minutest detail. The second and more barbaric and encompassing Israeli invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982, aims to effect certain parts of this plan which hopes to see not only Lebanon, but Syria and Jordan as well, in fragments. This ought to make mockery of Israeli public claims regarding their desire for a strong and independent Lebanese central government. More accurately, they want a Lebanese central government that sanctions their regional imperialist designs by signing a peace treaty with them. They also seek acquiescence in their designs by the Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian and other Arab governments as well as by the Palestinian people. What they want and what they are planning for is not an Arab world, but a world of Arab fragments that is ready to succumb to Israeli hegemony. Hence, Oded Yinon in his essay, “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980′s,” talks about “far-reaching opportunities for the first time since 1967″ that are created by the “very stormy situation [that] surrounds Israel.”
5
The Zionist policy of displacing the Palestinians from Palestine is very much an active policy, but is pursued more forcefully in times of conflict, such as in the 1947-1948 war and in the 1967 war. An appendix entitled  ”Israel Talks of a New Exodus” is included in this publication to demonstrate past Zionist dispersals of Palestinians from their homeland and to show, besides the main Zionist document we present, other Zionist planning for the de-Palestinization of Palestine.
6
It is clear from the Kivunim document, published in February, 1982, that the “far-reaching opportunities” of which Zionist strategists have been thinking are the same “opportunities” of which they are trying to convince the world and which they claim were generated by their June, 1982 invasion. It is also clear that the Palestinians were never the sole target of Zionist plans, but the priority target since their viable and independent presence as a people negates the essence of the Zionist state. Every Arab state, however, especially those with cohesive and clear nationalist directions, is a real target sooner or later.
7
Contrasted with the detailed and unambiguous Zionist strategy elucidated in this document, Arab and Palestinian strategy, unfortunately, suffers from ambiguity and incoherence. There is no indication that Arab strategists have internalized the Zionist plan in its full ramifications. Instead, they react with incredulity and shock whenever a new stage of it unfolds. This is apparent in Arab reaction, albeit muted, to the Israeli siege of Beirut. The sad fact is that as long as the Zionist strategy for the Middle East is not taken seriously Arab reaction to any future siege of other Arab capitals will be the same.

Khalil Nakhleh
July 23, 1982

Foreward
by Israel Shahak
1
The following essay represents, in my opinion, the accurate and detailed plan of the present Zionist regime (of Sharon and Eitan) for the Middle East which is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states. I will comment on the military aspect of this plan in a concluding note. Here I want to draw the attention of the readers to several important points:
2
1. The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the “best” that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: “The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part” (Ha’aretz 6/2/1982). Actually, this aspect of the plan is very old.
3
2. The strong connection with Neo-Conservative thought in the USA is very prominent, especially in the author’s notes. But, while lip service is paid to the idea of the “defense of the West” from Soviet power, the real aim of the author, and of the present Israeli establishment is clear: To make an Imperial Israel into a world power. In other words, the aim of Sharon is to deceive the Americans after he has deceived all the rest.
4
3. It is obvious that much of the relevant data, both in the notes and in the text, is garbled or omitted, such as the financial help of the U.S. to Israel. Much of it is pure fantasy. But, the plan is not to be regarded as not influential, or as not capable of realization for a short time. The plan follows faithfully the geopolitical ideas current in Germany of 1890-1933, which were swallowed whole by Hitler and the Nazi movement, and determined their aims for East Europe. Those aims, especially the division of the existing states, were carried out in 1939-1941, and only an alliance on the global scale prevented their consolidation for a period of time.
5
The notes by the author follow the text. To avoid confusion, I did not add any notes of my own, but have put the substance of them into this foreward and the conclusion at the end. I have, however, emphasized some portions of the text.

Israel Shahak
June 13, 1982


A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties

by Oded Yinon
This essay originally appeared in Hebrew in KIVUNIM (Directions), A Journal for Judaism and Zionism; Issue No, 14–Winter, 5742, February 1982, Editor: Yoram Beck. Editorial Committee: Eli Eyal, Yoram Beck, Amnon Hadari, Yohanan Manor, Elieser Schweid. Published by the Department of Publicity/The World Zionist Organization, Jerusalem.
1
At the outset of the nineteen eighties the State of Israel is in need of a new perspective as to its place, its aims and national targets, at home and abroad. This need has become even more vital due to a number of central processes which the country, the region and the world are undergoing. We are living today in the early stages of a new epoch in human history which is not at all similar to its predecessor, and its characteristics are totally different from what we have hitherto known. That is why we need an understanding of the central processes which typify this historical epoch on the one hand, and on the other hand we need a world outlook and an operational strategy in accordance with the new conditions. The existence, prosperity and steadfastness of the Jewish state will depend upon its ability to adopt a new framework for its domestic and foreign affairs.
2
This epoch is characterized by several traits which we can already diagnose, and which symbolize a genuine revolution in our present lifestyle. The dominant process is the breakdown of the rationalist, humanist outlook as the major cornerstone supporting the life and achievements of Western civilization since the Renaissance. The political, social and economic views which have emanated from this foundation have been based on several “truths” which are presently disappearing–for example, the view that man as an individual is the center of the universe and everything exists in order to fulfill his basic material needs. This position is being invalidated in the present when it has become clear that the amount of resources in the cosmos does not meet Man’s requirements, his economic needs or his demographic constraints. In a world in which there are four billion human beings and economic and energy resources which do not grow proportionally to meet the needs of mankind, it is unrealistic to expect to fulfill the main requirement of Western Society, 1 i.e., the wish and aspiration for boundless consumption. The view that ethics plays no part in determining the direction Man takes, but rather his material needs do–that view is becoming prevalent today as we see a world in which nearly all values are disappearing. We are losing the ability to assess the simplest things, especially when they concern the simple question of what is Good and what is Evil.
3
The vision of man’s limitless aspirations and abilities shrinks in the face of the sad facts of life, when we witness the break-up of world order around us. The view which promises liberty and freedom to mankind seems absurd in light of the sad fact that three fourths of the human race lives under totalitarian regimes. The views concerning equality and social justice have been transformed by socialism and especially by Communism into a laughing stock. There is no argument as to the truth of these two ideas, but it is clear that they have not been put into practice properly and the majority of mankind has lost the liberty, the freedom and the opportunity for equality and justice. In this nuclear world in which we are (still) living in relative peace for thirty years, the concept of peace and coexistence among nations has no meaning when a superpower like the USSR holds a military and political doctrine of the sort it has: that not only is a nuclear war possible and necessary in order to achieve the ends of Marxism, but that it is possible to survive after it, not to speak of the fact that one can be victorious in it.2
4
The essential concepts of human society, especially those of the West, are undergoing a change due to political, military and economic transformations. Thus, the nuclear and conventional might of the USSR has transformed the epoch that has just ended into the last respite before the great saga that will demolish a large part of our world in a multi-dimensional global war, in comparison with which the past world wars will have been mere child’s play. The power of nuclear as well as of conventional weapons, their quantity, their precision and quality will turn most of our world upside down within a few years, and we must align ourselves so as to face that in Israel. That is, then, the main threat to our existence and that of the Western world. 3 The war over resources in the world, the Arab monopoly on oil, and the need of the West to import most of its raw materials from the Third World, are transforming the world we know, given that one of the major aims of the USSR is to defeat the West by gaining control over the gigantic resources in the Persian Gulf and in the southern part of Africa, in which the majority of world minerals are located. We can imagine the dimensions of the global confrontation which will face us in the future.
5
The Gorshkov doctrine calls for Soviet control of the oceans and mineral rich areas of the Third World. That together with the present Soviet nuclear doctrine which holds that it is possible to manage, win and survive a nuclear war, in the course of which the West’s military might well be destroyed and its inhabitants made slaves in the service of Marxism-Leninism, is the main danger to world peace and to our own existence. Since 1967, the Soviets have transformed Clausewitz’ dictum into “War is the continuation of policy in nuclear means,” and made it the motto which guides all their policies. Already today they are busy carrying out their aims in our region and throughout the world, and the need to face them becomes the major element in our country’s security policy and of course that of the rest of the Free World. That is our major foreign challenge.4
6
The Arab Moslem world, therefore, is not the major strategic problem which we shall face in the Eighties, despite the fact that it carries the main threat against Israel, due to its growing military might. This world, with its ethnic minorities, its factions and internal crises, which is astonishingly self-destructive, as we can see in Lebanon, in non-Arab Iran and now also in Syria, is unable to deal successfully with its fundamental problems and does not therefore constitute a real threat against the State of Israel in the long run, but only in the short run where its immediate military power has great import. In the long run, this world will be unable to exist within its present framework in the areas around us without having to go through genuine revolutionary changes. The Moslem Arab World is built like a temporary house of cards put together by foreigners (France and Britain in the Nineteen Twenties), without the wishes and desires of the inhabitants having been taken into account. It was arbitrarily divided into 19 states, all made of combinations of minorites and ethnic groups which are hostile to one another, so that every Arab Moslem state nowadays faces ethnic social destruction from within, and in some a civil war is already raging. 5 Most of the Arabs, 118 million out of 170 million, live in Africa, mostly in Egypt (45 million today).
7
Apart from Egypt, all the Maghreb states are made up of a mixture of Arabs and non-Arab Berbers. In Algeria there is already a civil war raging in the Kabile mountains between the two nations in the country. Morocco and Algeria are at war with each other over Spanish Sahara, in addition to the internal struggle in each of them. Militant Islam endangers the integrity of Tunisia and Qaddafi organizes wars which are destructive from the Arab point of view, from a country which is sparsely populated and which cannot become a powerful nation. That is why he has been attempting unifications in the past with states that are more genuine, like Egypt and Syria. Sudan, the most torn apart state in the Arab Moslem world today is built upon four groups hostile to each other, an Arab Moslem Sunni minority which rules over a majority of non-Arab Africans, Pagans, and Christians. In Egypt there is a Sunni Moslem majority facing a large minority of Christians which is dominant in upper Egypt: some 7 million of them, so that even Sadat, in his speech on May 8, expressed the fear that they will want a state of their own, something like a “second” Christian Lebanon in Egypt.
8
All the Arab States east of Israel are torn apart, broken up and riddled with inner conflict even more than those of the Maghreb. Syria is fundamentally no different from Lebanon except in the strong military regime which rules it. But the real civil war taking place nowadays between the Sunni majority and the Shi’ite Alawi ruling minority (a mere 12% of the population) testifies to the severity of the domestic trouble.
9
Iraq is, once again, no different in essence from its neighbors, although its majority is Shi’ite and the ruling minority Sunni. Sixty-five percent of the population has no say in politics, in which an elite of 20 percent holds the power. In addition there is a large Kurdish minority in the north, and if it weren’t for the strength of the ruling regime, the army and the oil revenues, Iraq’s future state would be no different than that of Lebanon in the past or of Syria today. The seeds of inner conflict and civil war are apparent today already, especially after the rise of Khomeini to power in Iran, a leader whom the Shi’ites in Iraq view as their natural leader.
10
All the Gulf principalities and Saudi Arabia are built upon a delicate house of sand in which there is only oil. In Kuwait, the Kuwaitis constitute only a quarter of the population. In Bahrain, the Shi’ites are the majority but are deprived of power. In the UAE, Shi’ites are once again the majority but the Sunnis are in power. The same is true of Oman and North Yemen. Even in the Marxist South Yemen there is a sizable Shi’ite minority. In Saudi Arabia half the population is foreign, Egyptian and Yemenite, but a Saudi minority holds power.
11
Jordan is in reality Palestinian, ruled by a Trans-Jordanian Bedouin minority, but most of the army and certainly the bureaucracy is now Palestinian. As a matter of fact Amman is as Palestinian as Nablus. All of these countries have powerful armies, relatively speaking. But there is a problem there too. The Syrian army today is mostly Sunni with an Alawi officer corps, the Iraqi army Shi’ite with Sunni commanders. This has great significance in the long run, and that is why it will not be possible to retain the loyalty of the army for a long time except where it comes to the only common denominator: The hostility towards Israel, and today even that is insufficient.
12
Alongside the Arabs, split as they are, the other Moslem states share a similar predicament. Half of Iran’s population is comprised of a Persian speaking group and the other half of an ethnically Turkish group. Turkey’s population comprises a Turkish Sunni Moslem majority, some 50%, and two large minorities, 12 million Shi’ite Alawis and 6 million Sunni Kurds. In Afghanistan there are 5 million Shi’ites who constitute one third of the population. In Sunni Pakistan there are 15 million Shi’ites who endanger the existence of that state.
13
This national ethnic minority picture extending from Morocco to India and from Somalia to Turkey points to the absence of stability and a rapid degeneration in the entire region. When this picture is added to the economic one, we see how the entire region is built like a house of cards, unable to withstand its severe problems.
14
In this giant and fractured world there are a few wealthy groups and a huge mass of poor people. Most of the Arabs have an average yearly income of 300 dollars. That is the situation in Egypt, in most of the Maghreb countries except for Libya, and in Iraq. Lebanon is torn apart and its economy is falling to pieces. It is a state in which there is no centralized power, but only 5 de facto sovereign authorities (Christian in the north, supported by the Syrians and under the rule of the Franjieh clan, in the East an area of direct Syrian conquest, in the center a Phalangist controlled Christian enclave, in the south and up to the Litani river a mostly Palestinian region controlled by the PLO and Major Haddad’s state of Christians and half a million Shi’ites). Syria is in an even graver situation and even the assistance she will obtain in the future after the unification with Libya will not be sufficient for dealing with the basic problems of existence and the maintenance of a large army. Egypt is in the worst situation: Millions are on the verge of hunger, half the labor force is unemployed, and housing is scarce in this most densely populated area of the world. Except for the army, there is not a single department operating efficiently and the state is in a permanent state of bankruptcy and depends entirely on American foreign assistance granted since the peace.6
15
In the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt there is the largest accumulation of money and oil in the world, but those enjoying it are tiny elites who lack a wide base of support and self-confidence, something that no army can guarantee. 7 The Saudi army with all its equipment cannot defend the regime from real dangers at home or abroad, and what took place in Mecca in 1980 is only an example. A sad and very stormy situation surrounds Israel and creates challenges for it, problems, risks but also far-reaching opportunities for the first time since 1967. Chances are that opportunities missed at that time will become achievable in the Eighties to an extent and along dimensions which we cannot even imagine today.
16
The “peace” policy and the return of territories, through a dependence upon the US, precludes the realization of the new option created for us. Since 1967, all the governments of Israel have tied our national aims down to narrow political needs, on the one hand, and on the other to destructive opinions at home which neutralized our capacities both at home and abroad. Failing to take steps towards the Arab population in the new territories, acquired in the course of a war forced upon us, is the major strategic error committed by Israel on the morning after the Six Day War. We could have saved ourselves all the bitter and dangerous conflict since then if we had given Jordan to the Palestinians who live west of the Jordan river. By doing that we would have neutralized the Palestinian problem which we nowadays face, and to which we have found solutions that are really no solutions at all, such as territorial compromise or autonomy which amount, in fact, to the same thing. 8 Today, we suddenly face immense opportunities for transforming the situation thoroughly and this we must do in the coming decade, otherwise we shall not survive as a state.
17
In the course of the Nineteen Eighties, the State of Israel will have to go through far-reaching changes in its political and economic regime domestically, along with radical changes in its foreign policy, in order to stand up to the global and regional challenges of this new epoch. The loss of the Suez Canal oil fields, of the immense potential of the oil, gas and other natural resources in the Sinai peninsula which is geomorphologically identical to the rich oil-producing countries in the region, will result in an energy drain in the near future and will destroy our domestic economy: one quarter of our present GNP as well as one third of the budget is used for the purchase of oil. 9 The search for raw materials in the Negev and on the coast will not, in the near future, serve to alter that state of affairs.
18
(Regaining) the Sinai peninsula with its present and potential resources is therefore a political priority which is obstructed by the Camp David and the peace agreements. The fault for that lies of course with the present Israeli government and the governments which paved the road to the policy of territorial compromise, the Alignment governments since 1967. The Egyptians will not need to keep the peace treaty after the return of the Sinai, and they will do all they can to return to the fold of the Arab world and to the USSR in order to gain support and military assistance. American aid is guaranteed only for a short while, for the terms of the peace and the weakening of the U.S. both at home and abroad will bring about a reduction in aid. Without oil and the income from it, with the present enormous expenditure, we will not be able to get through 1982 under the present conditions and we will have to act in order to return the situation to the status quo which existed in Sinai prior to Sadat’s visit and the mistaken peace agreement signed with him in March 1979. 10
19
Israel has two major routes through which to realize this purpose, one direct and the other indirect. The direct option is the less realistic one because of the nature of the regime and government in Israel as well as the wisdom of Sadat who obtained our withdrawal from Sinai, which was, next to the war of 1973, his major achievement since he took power. Israel will not unilaterally break the treaty, neither today, nor in 1982, unless it is very hard pressed economically and politically and Egypt provides Israel with the excuse to take the Sinai back into our hands for the fourth time in our short history. What is left therefore, is the indirect option. The economic situation in Egypt, the nature of the regime and its pan- Arab policy, will bring about a situation after April 1982 in which Israel will be forced to act directly or indirectly in order to regain control over Sinai as a strategic, economic and energy reserve for the long run. Egypt does not constitute a military strategic problem due to its internal conflicts and it could be driven back to the post 1967 war situation in no more than one day. 11
20
The myth of Egypt as the strong leader of the Arab World was demolished back in 1956 and definitely did not survive 1967, but our policy, as in the return of the Sinai, served to turn the myth into “fact.” In reality, however, Egypt’s power in proportion both to Israel alone and to the rest of the Arab World has gone down about 50 percent since 1967. Egypt is no longer the leading political power in the Arab World and is economically on the verge of a crisis. Without foreign assistance the crisis will come tomorrow. 12 In the short run, due to the return of the Sinai, Egypt will gain several advantages at our expense, but only in the short run until 1982, and that will not change the balance of power to its benefit, and will possibly bring about its downfall. Egypt, in its present domestic political picture, is already a corpse, all the more so if we take into account the growing Moslem-Christian rift. Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel in the Nineteen Eighties on its Western front.
21
Egypt is divided and torn apart into many foci of authority. If Egypt falls apart, countries like Libya, Sudan or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt. The vision of a Christian Coptic State in Upper Egypt alongside a number of weak states with very localized power and without a centralized government as to date, is the key to a historical development which was only set back by the peace agreement but which seems inevitable in the long run. 13
22
The Western front, which on the surface appears more problematic, is in fact less complicated than the Eastern front, in which most of the events that make the headlines have been taking place recently. Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precendent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unqiue areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today. 14
23
Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization. 15
24
The entire Arabian peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia. Regardless of whether its economic might based on oil remains intact or whether it is diminished in the long run, the internal rifts and breakdowns are a clear and natural development in light of the present political structure. 16
25
Jordan constitutes an immediate strategic target in the short run but not in the long run, for it does not constitute a real threat in the long run after its dissolution, the termination of the lengthy rule of King Hussein and the transfer of power to the Palestinians in the short run.
26
There is no chance that Jordan will continue to exist in its present structure for a long time, and Israel’s policy, both in war and in peace, ought to be directed at the liquidation of Jordan under the present regime and the transfer of power to the Palestinian majority. Changing the regime east of the river will also cause the termination of the problem of the territories densely populated with Arabs west of the Jordan. Whether in war or under conditions of peace, emigration from the territories and economic demographic freeze in them, are the guarantees for the coming change on both banks of the river, and we ought to be active in order to accelerate this process in the nearest future. The autonomy plan ought also to be rejected, as well as any compromise or division of the territories for, given the plans of the PLO and those of the Israeli Arabs themselves, the Shefa’amr plan of September 1980, it is not possible to go on living in this country in the present situation without separating the two nations, the Arabs to Jordan and the Jews to the areas west of the river. Genuine coexistence and peace will reign over the land only when the Arabs understand that without Jewish rule between the Jordan and the sea they will have neither existence nor security. A nation of their own and security will be theirs only in Jordan. 17
27
Within Israel the distinction between the areas of ’67 and the territories beyond them, those of ’48, has always been meaningless for Arabs and nowadays no longer has any significance for us. The problem should be seen in its entirety without any divisions as of ’67. It should be clear, under any future political situation or military constellation, that the solution of the problem of the indigenous Arabs will come only when they recognize the existence of Israel in secure borders up to the Jordan river and beyond it, as our existential need in this difficult epoch, the nuclear epoch which we shall soon enter. It is no longer possible to live with three fourths of the Jewish population on the dense shoreline which is so dangerous in a nuclear epoch.
28
Dispersal of the population is therefore a domestic strategic aim of the highest order; otherwise, we shall cease to exist within any borders. Judea, Samaria and the Galilee are our sole guarantee for national existence, and if we do not become the majority in the mountain areas, we shall not rule in the country and we shall be like the Crusaders, who lost this country which was not theirs anyhow, and in which they were foreigners to begin with. Rebalancing the country demographically, strategically and economically is the highest and most central aim today. Taking hold of the mountain watershed from Beersheba to the Upper Galilee is the national aim generated by the major strategic consideration which is settling the mountainous part of the country that is empty of Jews today. l8
29
Realizing our aims on the Eastern front depends first on the realization of this internal strategic objective. The transformation of the political and economic structure, so as to enable the realization of these strategic aims, is the key to achieving the entire change. We need to change from a centralized economy in which the government is extensively involved, to an open and free market as well as to switch from depending upon the U.S. taxpayer to developing, with our own hands, of a genuine productive economic infrastructure. If we are not able to make this change freely and voluntarily, we shall be forced into it by world developments, especially in the areas of economics, energy, and politics, and by our own growing isolation. l9
30
From a military and strategic point of view, the West led by the U.S. is unable to withstand the global pressures of the USSR throughout the world, and Israel must therefore stand alone in the Eighties, without any foreign assistance, military or economic, and this is within our capacities today, with no compromises. 20 Rapid changes in the world will also bring about a change in the condition of world Jewry to which Israel will become not only a last resort but the only existential option. We cannot assume that U.S. Jews, and the communities of Europe and Latin America will continue to exist in the present form in the future. 21
31
Our existence in this country itself is certain, and there is no force that could remove us from here either forcefully or by treachery (Sadat’s method). Despite the difficulties of the mistaken “peace” policy and the problem of the Israeli Arabs and those of the territories, we can effectively deal with these problems in the foreseeable future.
Conclusion
1
Three important points have to be clarified in order to be able to understand the significant possibilities of realization of this Zionist plan for the Middle East, and also why it had to be published.
2
The Military Background of The Plan
The military conditions of this plan have not been mentioned above, but on the many occasions where something very like it is being “explained” in closed meetings to members of the Israeli Establishment, this point is clarified. It is assumed that the Israeli military forces, in all their branches, are insufficient for the actual work of occupation of such wide territories as discussed above. In fact, even in times of intense Palestinian “unrest” on the West Bank, the forces of the Israeli Army are stretched out too much. The answer to that is the method of ruling by means of “Haddad forces” or of “Village Associations” (also known as “Village Leagues”): local forces under “leaders” completely dissociated from the population, not having even any feudal or party structure (such as the Phalangists have, for example). The “states” proposed by Yinon are “Haddadland” and “Village Associations,” and their armed forces will be, no doubt, quite similar. In addition, Israeli military superiority in such a situation will be much greater than it is even now, so that any movement of revolt will be “punished” either by mass humiliation as in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or by bombardment and obliteration of cities, as in Lebanon now (June 1982), or by both. In order to ensure this, the plan, as explained orally, calls for the establishment of Israeli garrisons in focal places between the mini states, equipped with the necessary mobile destructive forces. In fact, we have seen something like this in Haddadland and we will almost certainly soon see the first example of this system functioning either in South Lebanon or in all Lebanon.
3
It is obvious that the above military assumptions, and the whole plan too, depend also on the Arabs continuing to be even more divided than they are now, and on the lack of any truly progressive mass movement among them. It may be that those two conditions will be removed only when the plan will be well advanced, with consequences which can not be foreseen.
4
Why it is necessary to publish this in Israel?
The reason for publication is the dual nature of the Israeli-Jewish society: A very great measure of freedom and democracy, specially for Jews, combined with expansionism and racist discrimination. In such a situation the Israeli-Jewish elite (for the masses follow the TV and Begin’s speeches) has to be persuaded. The first steps in the process of persuasion are oral, as indicated above, but a time comes in which it becomes inconvenient. Written material must be produced for the benefit of the more stupid “persuaders” and “explainers” (for example medium-rank officers, who are, usually, remarkably stupid). They then “learn it,” more or less, and preach to others. It should be remarked that Israel, and even the Yishuv from the Twenties, has always functioned in this way. I myself well remember how (before I was “in opposition”) the necessity of war with was explained to me and others a year before the 1956 war, and the necessity of conquering “the rest of Western Palestine when we will have the opportunity” was explained in the years 1965-67.
5
Why is it assumed that there is no special risk from the outside in the publication of such plans?
Such risks can come from two sources, so long as the principled opposition inside Israel is very weak (a situation which may change as a consequence of the war on Lebanon) : The Arab World, including the Palestinians, and the United States. The Arab World has shown itself so far quite incapable of a detailed and rational analysis of Israeli-Jewish society, and the Palestinians have been, on the average, no better than the rest. In such a situation, even those who are shouting about the dangers of Israeli expansionism (which are real enough) are doing this not because of factual and detailed knowledge, but because of belief in myth. A good example is the very persistent belief in the non-existent writing on the wall of the Knesset of the Biblical verse about the Nile and the Euphrates. Another example is the persistent, and completely false declarations, which were made by some of the most important Arab leaders, that the two blue stripes of the Israeli flag symbolize the Nile and the Euphrates, while in fact they are taken from the stripes of the Jewish praying shawl (Talit). The Israeli specialists assume that, on the whole, the Arabs will pay no attention to their serious discussions of the future, and the Lebanon war has proved them right. So why should they not continue with their old methods of persuading other Israelis?
6
In the United States a very similar situation exists, at least until now. The more or less serious commentators take their information about Israel, and much of their opinions about it, from two sources. The first is from articles in the “liberal” American press, written almost totally by Jewish admirers of Israel who, even if they are critical of some aspects of the Israeli state, practice loyally what Stalin used to call “the constructive criticism.” (In fact those among them who claim also to be “Anti-Stalinist” are in reality more Stalinist than Stalin, with Israel being their god which has not yet failed). In the framework of such critical worship it must be assumed that Israel has always “good intentions” and only “makes mistakes,” and therefore such a plan would not be a matter for discussion–exactly as the Biblical genocides committed by Jews are not mentioned. The other source of information, The Jerusalem Post, has similar policies. So long, therefore, as the situation exists in which Israel is really a “closed society” to the rest of the world, because the world wants to close its eyes, the publication and even the beginning of the realization of such a plan is realistic and feasible.

Israel Shahak
June 17, 1982 Jerusalem

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/greater-israel-the-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east/5324815

Syrian military official: There’s been a ‘big shift’ in Russian military support for Assad

kerry lavrov russia syria

While the desperate flight of Syrians from their country's war was dominating news bulletins this summer, yet another diplomatic push to end the four-year-old conflict was quietly running into the sand. That largely unnoticed failure has reinforced the view amongst Syria experts that there is no solution in sight, with one of the biggest obstacles a seemingly unbridgeable international divide over President Bashar al-Assad's future. As a consequence, Syria looks set for ever greater fragmentation into a patchwork of territories, one of them the diminishing Damascus-based state where Assad appears confident of survival with backing from his Russian and Iranian allies.

While some Western officials say even Assad's allies now recognize he cannot win back and stabilize Syria, Moscow is setting out its case for supporting him in ever more forthright terms. Russia's foreign minister in recent days reiterated the Russian view that Assad is a legitimate leader, slammed the U.S. position to the contrary as "counterproductive", and likened the west's approach to Syria to its failures in Iraq and Libya. Russia meanwhile continues to supply Assad with weapons. A Syrian military official told Reuters there has recently been a "big shift" in Russian military support, including new weapons and training.

“Our ties are always developing but in these days a qualitative shift has happened. We call it a qualitative shift in Arabic, which means big,” the Syrian official said.

Such assertions are difficult to verify, but U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his concern over reports of increased Russian involvement in a telephone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday. The New York Times said Russia had sent a military advance team to Syria, citing American intelligence analysts. Reflecting the logjam over Assad, some of the ideas being tabled for advancing a political process sidestep the question of his future altogether - at least for now, according to a diplomat tracking the conflict. Yet this remains the biggest single obstacle to breaking a diplomatic impasse around a war whose repercussions are being felt like never before in Europe, which faces a migration crisis fueled by Syrian refugees.

In turn, it is a big complication for efforts to fight the Islamic State group that has flourished in the bloodshed of a conflict that has killed a quarter of a million people and driven another 11 million from their homes. Despite a U.S.-led bombing campaign against the jihadist group, Islamic State (ISIS) still holds wide areas of Syria and is poised for further moves toward the big, Assad-controlled cities in the west: Islamic State already has a presence in the southern suburbs of Damascus. "I don't see a tremendous amount of change out of the Iranians or Russians. There is some talk of them being tired, but their positions are pretty firm," said Andrew Tabler, a Middle East specialist with the Washington Institute.

"They think that Assad's immediate departure would lead to a collapse of the regime. Washington also sees a rapid collapse of the regime as something that would be a boon for ISIS. They are in a conundrum: if Assad goes right away, it would help ISIS, but if he doesn't go at all, you have no hope of putting the pieces of Syria back together again," he said. "This recent outburst of diplomacy is because everyone was becoming concerned, and rightfully so. But the results of that process were remarkably poor. They seem to cement the earlier political positions of the region when it comes to Syria."

The recent flurry of diplomatic activity followed the conclusion of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and included high-level meetings between states with a stake in the conflict, with Russia taking the lead. 

Unlimited Support

Assad has wagered on the West rehabilitating him as a partner in the war against Islamic State. But while the priority for U.S. policy in Syria today is battling Islamic State, not unseating Assad, Washington has stuck by its position that he is part of the problem, saying his brutality has fueled extremism. The 49-year-old who assumed power 15 years ago upon the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, has shown no appetite for negotiations despite losing more ground to rebels this year and admitting the Syrian army faces a manpower problem.

The military support from backers in Tehran and Moscow has allowed him to absorb the advances by insurgents who, while better equipped than before, still remain mostly defenseless against the Syrian government air strikes. "So far, there is no real political solution because of the unlimited support from Russia and Iran," said Bashar al-Zoubi, head of one of the biggest rebel groups fighting Assad in southern Syria, speaking to Reuters via Whatsapp from Syria. Assad, who describes all the groups fighting him as terrorists, has poured cold water on the idea of imminent political progress. In a recent interview, he said the war would only be near its end when states "conspiring against Syria" ceased doing so - a reference to Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

A steady flow of Iranian officials to Damascus has also underlined Tehran's support for an ally who has safeguarded its interests in the Levant in alliance with Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed group fighting alongside Assad in Syria. Since concluding its nuclear deal, Iran says it is trying to launch a new push to resolve the Syrian war. But there is no sign of Tehran giving ground on Assad. 

No Alternative?

Moscow and Tehran's backing for Assad is underpinned by the fact they see no alternative who can guarantee their interests. While Assad may control a fifth or even less of Syria, they still see him as the cornerstone of what remains of the state, including the military and security forces which many Syria experts believe would fragment were he gone. Russia is pushing for the Syrian government to be included in international efforts to fight Islamic State. Saudi Arabia is one of the states to have rejected the idea. A senior Russian diplomatic source said: "Proposals by our partners for the change of regime in Damascus are illegitimate. They only say Assad must go - and then what? I don't think they have any idea."

"There used to be no terrorists in Iraq, the same in Libya. And now the Libyan state has fallen apart and the terrorists are roaming there." The new U.S. special envoy for Syria, Michael Ratney, gave the polar opposite view after his Aug. 28 visit to Moscow. "We are cognizant that Assad’s continued tenure fuels extremism and inflames tensions in the region. That is why a political transition is not only necessary for the good of the people of Syria, but an important part of the fight to defeat the extremists," a U.S. statement said.

Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesSyrians gather at the Damascus district of Douma after barrel bombs dropped to residential areas from the warcraft by Syrian Airforces, killing a number of civilians, including women and children on Jan. 8, 2014. While insisting Assad must go, U.S. officials are not specific about when or how. That leaves open the possibility of a transition that begins with him still in office - an almost impossible sell to the rebels fighting him. In any case, Russia has rejected the idea of any pre negotiated exit for Assad. In comments closest in weeks to outlining what Moscow might see as an acceptable way forward on dealing with Assad, Russia said on Friday the Syrian president was ready to hold early parliamentary elections and share power with moderate opposition.

The U.N. mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has invited warring parties to take part in U.N.-led working groups to address matters including political and constitutional issues, and military and security issues. One of the big complications he faces is dealing with the vast number of rebel factions. While some are getting better organized on the political front, disunity in opposition ranks is still seen as a major challenge to the diplomatic track. A Western diplomat tracking the conflict said de Mistura's plan would be "very slow". "At the moment no one is talking about (Assad) departing or not."

"The Syrians are loving it ... Damascus is calm."

 Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/syrian-military-official-theres-been-a-big-shift-in-russian-military-support-for-assad-2015-9?r=UK&IR=T

In Syria, Putin Calls Obama’s Bluff, Russia Joins War Against the “Islamic State” (ISIS)

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According to German Economic News (September 1st, based on reports from ynetnews and others), Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has apparently decided to establish in Syria a military base with thousands of soldiers and sufficient air power to do in Syria what the Obama Administration won’t, which is to defeat ISIS and the other jihadists.

On the same day, washingtonsblog bannered, “Former CIA Boss and 4-Star General: U.S. Should Arm Al Qaeda,” and linked to several sources indicating that not only David Petraeus favors arming Al Qaeda, but much of the American establishment (who have sponsored Petraeus’s entire career) also does. The British aristocracy likewise does. In fact, that academic propaganda-piece, The Russia Challenge, discusses “the stark choices Western governments face in their policies towards Russia,” while it says nothing about “the stark choices” that Russia now faces in its policies toward the U.S. aristocracy, and toward Britain’s and other U.S-allied aristocracies.

That British academic propaganda-piece comes from Chatham House, otherwise called the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which, since early in the 20th Century, has been allied in the U.S. with the Rockefellers’ and Morgans’ Council on Foreign Relations, and, post-WWII, also with the Bilderberg group, and with the Rockefellers’ Trilateral Commission (which brought the Japanese aristocracy into the overall U.S.-led plan for global conquest).

However, there are additionally many other front-organizations for this operation, such as the Brookings Institution. Brookings has always championed American empire, and I reported even recently on a Brookings ‘study’ of this type, by headlining “Brookings Wants More Villages Firebombed in Ukraine’s ‘Anti Terrorist Operation’.”(It’s actually an operation against the residents of the part of Ukraine that had voted 90%+ for the Ukrainian leader whom the Obama Administration had just overthrown. The residents there had refused to accept Obama’s imposed regime.) The intended defeat of Russia is to come not only in the competition over oil and gas (such as between the Arabic oil potentates and Russia), but also by extending NATO right up to Russia’s borders, such as by installing next-door in Ukraine a rabidly anti-Russian government, via a coup in February 2014. (John Fitzgerald Kennedy didn’t like it when Nikita Khrushchev tried something similar against the United States in 1962. It was called “the Cuban Missile Crisis.”) The evidence is clear and overwhelming, though almost entirely absent in U.S. ‘news’ media, that America’s aristocracy place vastly higher priority upon defeating Russia than upon defeating Islamic jihad. (The implicit message to the families of America’s 9/11 victims is: “Just get lost.” But that subtle message from the aristocrats isn’t on America’s ‘news,’ either. Only their PR is.)

In fact, I provided essential background for this development, on August 16th, headlining “How & Why the U.S. Media Do Propaganda Against Russia.” This is a position by the U.S. “Establishment,” which is the entire network of think tanks and other fronts that are financed by the U.S. aristocracy (tax-free, moreover, to the aristocrats who finance these operations) so as to conquer Russia in order that the U.S. aristocracy will win unchallengeable global control, over every other nation’s aristocracy. I documented there that not only the Republican Party but the Obama-Clinton or “Establishment” wing of the Democratic Party, have been fully in agreement with Mitt Romney’s infamous 2012 statement against Russia, which Obama publicly condemned at the time, that, “this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe”; and Obama’s very public attack against that statement helped him win the 2012 election, though Obama’s second Administration has actually been carrying out Romney’s policy there.

Obama has many cheerleaders in this global-conquest program, such as his advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who is proud to have helped start today’s Islamic jihad movement in order to defeat the Soviet Union. After the Soviet Union ended, Brzezinski’s hatred of Russians drove him to continue on as if it hadn’t. The war against “communism” has turned out to have been just a cover-story for these aristocrats’ war for global control, somewhat like the war against Islamic jihadists later morphed into a war against the residents of Ukraine’s pro-Russian far-east. Brzezinski was born to Polish nobility, and he retains that hatred from his childhood, which is why he has been so useful to America’s aristocrats, in order to help make the defeat of Russia into a “bipartisan” issue, and not merely an issue for Romney and the great bulk of America’s aristocrats, who are Republicans.

Basically, what Putin is apparently doing here is to go beyond the theatrics of Western aristocracies, the aristocracies that are led by America’s, and finally now to lay down the gauntlet, in Syria, against Islamic jihad. As I have previously documented, Islamic jihad is financed virtually entirely by multimillion-dollar individual contributions not only by the Saudi royal family, but also by the royals of the other Arabic oil countries.

Without that constant flow of funds, the Sauds’ operation on their own side for global empire would collapse. Theirs is to be an Islamic global empire, much like America’s Dominionist Christions have (though far less successfully) aspired to creating a global Christian empire. Ever since 1945, the U.S. aristocracy and the Saudi royal family have been united together. Increasingly in the decades after the end of communism, the only thing that remains after the beast of “The Cold War” is the skeleton of expanding the American aristocracy’s empire, still married to the skeleton of the Sauds’ imperial ambitions. It could become an Earth-killing embrace: skeletons all-around and everywhere.

In one of the rare mainstream U.S. news reports about the unity between Arabic royals and the international Islamic jihad movement, America’s PBS “Frontline” documented that Islamic jihad is taught in schools that are financed by the Saudi royal family. If the current report in German Economic News is true, then America’s President Obama will need to reassess his entire foreign policy, which has — overtly now, during his second Administration (after he had successfully fooled the American public to think that he didn’t agree with Romney) — been virtually obsessed with defeating Russia.


America’s alliance with the Islamic jihad movement seems now to be directly challenged by Putin. If Obama is to continue his effort to replace the secular Shiite Syrian regime by an Islamic Sunni regime (one that will be controlled by the Sauds, and/or by the Qatari royal family the Thanis), the U.S. will then face the prospect of war against Russia, much as Obama has already built in Ukraine via his 2014 coup there, which is still prohibited from being reported about in the West — except via a few independent authentic news media (the few that aren’t controlled by aristocrats), which few (such as you are now reading) are allowed because they have only small audiences. As with the samizdat literature during the former Soviet Union, the truth is thus marginalized in the now overwhelmingly fascist-controlled,U.S.-dominated, West.


Russia Puts Boots on the Ground in Syria


The numbers are small, but Moscow may be looking at its own version of mission creep in the treacherous Middle East. The end of summer. It means back-to-school shopping, tearfully ended beach-borne romances, Labor Day barbecues—and, it would seem, the increased likelihood of new Russian adventurism. As if Moscow weren’t satisfied with the game in Ukraine, the last month has seen a flurry of reports about its ever-expanding military involvement in Syria. One report has even alleged that Russian pilots are gearing up to fly missions alongside the Syrian air force, dropping bombs not just on ISIS but on anti-Assad rebels who may or may not be aligned with the United States or its regional allies.

Several sources consulted for this story said the Pentagon is being unusually cagey about Russia’s reinvigorated role in Syria. A former U.S. military officer told The Daily Beast, “I’m being told things like, ‘We really can’t talk about this.’ That indicates to me that there’s some truth to these allegations.”

Some of them are verifiable. On August 22, the Bosphorus Naval News website showed the Alligator-class Russian ship Nikolai Filchenkov, part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, two days earlier passing through Istanbul’s famed waterway en route to an unknown location in the Mediterranean (hint, hint). But what was remarkable about the Filchenkov was that military equipment was visible on deck—namely, Kamaz trucks and, judging by the tarpaulin outlines, at least four BTR infantry fighting vehicles. (This doesn’t include any matériel that might have been stored in the ship’s below-deck cargo hold.)  On August 24, the Oryx Blog, which tracks military dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa, discovered that at least one BTR-82A had turned up in the coastal province of Latakia, where Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s family hails from and which has lately been contested, impressively, by Jaysh al-Fatah, or the Army of Conquest, a collection of Islamist rebels groups including Jabhat al Nusra, the official al Qaeda franchise in Syria.

So important to Assad is fortifying Latakia against rebel assault that his regime has mounted a significant counteroffensive made up of the Syrian Arab Army, the praetorian Republican Guard, and the National Defense Force, a consortium of sectarian militias constructed, trained, and financed by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force.

Unlike other BTR-80s previously dispatched by Russia to Syria—including a number that arrived as part of the chemical arms removal agreement brokered between Moscow and Washington—the BTR-82A spotted in Latakia has a bort number (“111”) and camouflage. As Oryx notes, the BRT-80s sent for the chemical deal had no tactical marks and were “all painted olive drab.” The BTR-82A is also very new: It first came into service in 2013. But what’s most intriguing is what the National Defense Force’s official media arm might have accidentally disclosed in one of its broadcast “news reports” from the Latakia front. The channel exhibited the fighting vehicle in action but also captured unmistakable Russian spoken in the background; Russian that was giving military instruction to the crew of the BTR-82A. Here’s a translation:

2:03: “Come on, quickly!
2:06: “Throw!”
2:10: “Again! Do it again!
2:30: “Peacock, Peacock, we are moving out.

Peacock” likely refers to a call sign for a Russian soldier; i.e., whoever’s operating the armored vehicle. Given that the BTR-82A was firing in the video, this was either a training exercise caught on tape or (more likely) footage from active combat. It’s certainly compelling evidence that Russians have embedded with the Syrian military. As early as 2012, Russia’s then-Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov admitted that Russia had “military and technical advisers” in Syria, although these designations don’t necessarily mean what they do in the West. “In American terms, there’s a bright dividing line between a technical adviser, a military guy, a CIA guy,” says Chris Harmer, a former U.S. Navy officer now at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. “Russia blurs the divisions.” One active U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast that while no one is “surprised to see reports of new Russian military equipment in the region—which would also suggest Russian forces training on that equipment—the line between training and taking part in combat is fuzzy. But the intelligence community also hasn’t seen anything to indicate that Russians are not taking part in the fight.”

Much discussed in U.S. defense circles is what the Israeli news portal YNet reported Monday: that a new “expeditionary force” of the Russian military has arrived in Damascus and converted a Syrian air force installation into its own forward-operating base. Russian pilots will also apparently start flying their own combat missions. “In the coming weeks,” YNet’s Alex Fishman wrote, citing Western diplomatic sources, “thousands of Russian military personal [sic] are set to touch down in Syria, including: Advisors, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and the pilots who will operate the aircraft.”

The goal is said to be purely counterterrorist in nature and conforms to a new period of bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in salvaging a common ally—Assad—while also amplifying the fight against ISIS. That war, as prosecuted by a U.S.-fronted coalition for a year now, has not been going so swimmingly. These are just the most recent reports. On August 12, the opposition-linked website Syria Net reported that a Russian “militia” was now situated in the city of Salfana in Latakia, sent there as part of a growing number of foreign fighting units meant to fortify Latakia. “The Russian crew is tasked with overseeing the project to organize defensive lines in a professional manner,” the site stated, “and are equipped with modern equipment to detect and monitor progress of opposition forces if any villages are attacked in rural Latakia, which includes supporters of the regime. And defensive lines start from the city of Salfana ending near the city of Masyaf in Hama.”

Photographs published by Syria Net purport to show these Russian legionnaires holed up in the “Big Salfana,” also known as the Park Plaza Hotel, in the Salfana Arena. None of this can be confirmed, although back in May, Colonel General Vladimir Shamanov, the head of Russia’s elite Airborne Troops, said he’d gladly deploy them if “there [was] a task at hand” and such was decided by the Russian leadership—a comment immediately downplayed by Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov. Pro-Russian sources, too, are now trafficking in speculation that Moscow may be seriously considering sending soldiers to Syria. On August 26, the pro-Assad newspaper Al-Watan claimed that Russia plans to construct a second military base in Jableh, a seaside town about 25 kilometers south of Latakia. (It maintains its own warm-water naval base at Tartous, although that facility, built by the Soviets in the 1980s, is really more akin to a floating atoll.)

Al-Watan further alleged that Russia is now providing satellite imagery to the regime and “gathering a large amount of information that will make it possible to study the potential deployment of international forces under the patronage of the United Nations.” And the Kremlin is considering whether to launch “a separate Russian operation as well as another joint [operation] with the Collective Security Treaty Organization [Russia and Central Asia’s answer to NATO], which will convene in Tajikistan’s Dushanbe on September 15.” Al-Watan may be a notorious propaganda outlet, but what makes this article somewhat more plausible is that Russia has already been caught spying on international actors from Syrian soil.

In October 2014, the Free Syrian Army sacked a Russian listening post in Tel al-Hara, south of the Quneitra border crossing with Israel. Its location was key. A YouTube video showed a Syrian officer giving the rebels a guided tour of the office building attached to the facility. Documents hanging on the wall, in both Arabic and Russian, including the symbols for Syrian intelligence and 6th Directorate of Russia’s military intelligence agency (GRU), and photos showed spies from both countries hard at work deciphering intercepts. Maps displayed rebel positions; they also showed coordinates of Israel Defense Force units. In the past few years, the Israelis have not only downed Syrian aircraft, obliterated Syrian artillery-fire targets following shelling into the occupied Golan Heights, and quietly armed and liaised with Syrian rebels; they have also bombed expensive Russian-made weaponry housed by the Assad regime, including Yakhont anti-ship missiles and, quite possibly, S-300 anti-aircraft systems.

Russia has also sent intelligence operatives into Syria. In January 2013, for instance, Sergey Alexandrovich Berezhnoy, a Russian judge, was shot in the face by rebels in the Daraya district of Damascus while “vacationing” in Syria and accompanying a pro-regime Russian-language news outlet called the Abkhazian Network News Agency (ANNA). Except His Honor was also a former GRU officer and veteran of several post-Soviet separatist wars, including the one in Abkhazia, the breakaway region of Georgia that today is illegally occupied by Russia. The chances of Berezhnoy having merely gone on holiday in a Mideast war zone, in other words, were slim to none. 

Moreover, ANNA, which has embedded extensively with the Syrian military, has obvious ties to Russian intelligence. Not long ago, a hacker collective known as Shaltai Boltai (“Humpty Dumpty”) intercepted emails belonging to Igor Strelkov (aka Igor Girkin), once the military commander of all pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass and a former Russian spy himself. Depending on whom you consult, Strelkov was either affiliated with the Federal Security Service (FSB), as he once boasted in Ukraine, or with the GRU, as the Ukrainian government and European Union believe. Whatever the case, one of his regular correspondents was Olga Kulygina, a Russian “journalist.”

In an intercepted missive, Kulygina asks Strelkov to vet a possible “volunteer” to act as a bodyguard in Syria for her friend “Marat.” This almost certainly refers to Marat Musin, a reporter for ANNA with whom Kulygina had previously written a series of pro-Assad articles for a Russian news portal. (Remarkably, in September 2014, Kulygina was captured by pro-government forces in Ukraine and accused of being a Russian agent. She was even famously photographed by a Dutch newspaper carrying an AK-47 in Slavyansk.) The most definitive proof of Russians fighting in Syria, however, arrived in November 2013 when Fontanka, a St. Petersburg-based newspaper, published an exposé on the “Slavonic Corps,” a risible gang of mercenaries deployed to protect Assad’s infrastructure, namely his oil wells.

The Slavonic Corps had been contracted by the Moran Security Group, a Petersburg-headquartered company run by Vyacheslav Kalashnikov, a lieutenant colonel in the FSB reserves, and so undoubtedly connected to Russian intelligence. The entire mission was a fiasco: 267 Slavonic Corps legionnaires were besieged by 2,000-6,000 Syrian rebels in Sukhnah, a town east of Palmyra on the road connecting Homs and Deir Ezzor. Six were injured, two of them badly, before the entire Russian regiment skedaddled back to its base, a large field somewhere between Latakia and Tartous. So what makes the latest reports about redoubled Russian hard power in Syria more interesting? A much-altered geopolitical context. In early August, Fox News reported that in late July Quds Force command Major General Qasem Soleimani flew to Moscow aboard a commercial Iranian airliner for a weekend visit filled with meetings mixed with R&R—in clear violation of a U.N.-imposed travel ban. U.S. officials could only meekly object and vow to raise Soleimani’s visit with the Russians at the UN General Assembly in New York this month.

But as those U.S. officials well know, Soleimani and a host of his Quds Force underlings and proxies are due to have international and EU sanctions lifted on their involvement in Iran’s supposedly now-resolved nuclear program, thanks to the contentious, American-spearheaded Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), more commonly known as the Iran deal. Sanctions relief, commingled with the $150 billion “signing bonus” Iran is set to get upon implementation of the JCPA, means an inevitable cash infusion for the Quds Force, enabling it to better prop up whatever’s left of the House of Assad, not to mention its other proxies, from Hezbollah to the Yemeni Houthis. But what better time for Iran’s silver-fox spymaster to be meeting with Putin’s Chekists about pushing through an endgame in the Levant, now tied to what the Americans acknowledge is the only regional interest: countering the head-loppers of ISIS?

Citing Putin’s help in solidifying the Iran deal, the Obama administration has been seeking any way to resurrect the dead Syrian peace initiative. The usual suspects have suggested that this time it’s different: Moscow may be finally thinking about abandoning Assad to save its client state and may be ready to cut another grand bargain with the U.S. to do so. Only Assad doesn’t agree. A week ago he told the Hezbollah-controlled TV station al-Manar, “We have strong confidence in the Russians, as they have proven throughout this crisis, for four years, that they are sincere and transparent in their relationship with us.” The latest disclosures, assuming they’re accurate, substantiate his appraisal above the State Department’s. “Russia wants Assad to stay alive, and by putting the focus on ISIS, it gives him another lifeline,” says Harmer, the ex-Navy war analyst.

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/01/russia-puts-boots-on-the-ground-in-syria.html

Russia Embarks on Expansion of its Military Presence in Syria

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Despite doubts and denials, Russia is about to embark on an ambitious expansion of its Syrian presence, likely to change the game in the war-torn country. Russia’s small and dated naval repair facility in Tartous will be enlarged, while Jableh near Latakia (Laodicea of old) will become the Russian Air Force base and a full-blown Russian Navy base in the Eastern Mediterranean, beyond the narrow Bosphorus straits. The jihadi multitudes besetting Damascus are likely to be beaten into obedience and compliance, and the government of President Assad relieved from danger and siege. The war with Da’esh (ISIS) is to provide the cover for this operation. This is the first report of this fateful development, based on confidential and usually reliable Russian sources in Moscow.

The knowledgeable and Damascus-based French investigative journalist and dissident Thierry Meyssan noted the arrival of many Russian advisers. Russians began to share satellite imagery in real time with their Syrian allies, he added. An Israeli news site said “Russia has begun its military intervention in Syria” and predicted that “in the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria”. Russians promptly denied that.

President Bashar al Assad hinted at that a few days ago expressing his full confidence of Russian support for Damascus. First six MiG-31 fighter jets landed in Damascus a couple of weeks ago, as reported in the official RG newspaper. Michael Weiss in the far-right Daily Beast presented a flesh-creeping picture of a Russian penetration of Syria. Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper referred to Jableh as the second-base location.

Now we can confirm that to the best of our knowledge, despite denials (remember Crimea?) Russia has cast its lot and made a very important decision to enter the Syrian war. This decision may yet save Syria from total collapse and incidentally save Europe, too, from being swept by refugee waves. The Russian air force will ostensibly fight Da’esh, but probably (as Michael Weiss guessed) they will also bomb not just Da’esh but the US-allied opposition of al-Nusra (formerly al-Qaeda) and other non-Da’esh Islamic extremists for the simple reason that they can’t be distinguished from Da’esh.

The Russian Foreign Minister Mr Sergey Lavrov proposed to organise a new coalition against Da’esh including Assad’s army, Saudis and some opposition forces. The US envoy visiting Russia said that there is no chance that the Saudis or other Gulf states would agree to join forces with Bashar Assad. Russia still plans to build this coalition, but in the view of the American rejection, apparently President Putin decided to act. Russia is worried by successes of Da’esh, as this force fights and displaces Christians in Syria, while Russia considers itself a traditional protector of these people. Russia is also worried that Da’esh may begin operations in Muslim areas of Russia, in the Caucasus and on the Volga River. And the US-led anti-Da’esh coalition didn’t do the trick.

The US and Turkey ostensibly fight Da’esh, but they have their own interests, quite different from those of Syrians, Europeans and Russians. Turkey fights the Kurds who are staunch opponents of Da’esh. The US uses the war with Da’esh as a smokescreen to fight the legitimate government of Bashar Assad who was recently re-elected by vast majority of the Syrians. Da’esh does not suffer much from the US raids, as opposed to the Syrian Army. Moreover, the US sent hundreds of trained terrorists to Syria after providing them with a military upgrade in Jordan and elsewhere. Recently David Petraeus called for the arming of Jabhat an Nusra so they would fight Da’esh. This silly idea was laughed out of court but it is far from dead.

The US and its allies have wreaked havoc in Syria. The US is far away and can enjoy the show. Europe is a loser once removed as it gets the flood of refugees. Turkey is a direct loser, as it gets refugees, terrorism, the rapid decline of President Erdogan’s popularity, and a drop of living standards, all this being due to its erroneous policies in Syria.

Now Russia has taken over the difficult task of saving the situation. If Erdogan, Obama, Kerry, and the Saudis had thought that Putin would drop Assad, now they are having a rude awakening from such delusions. The Russian position is rather nuanced. Russia will not fight for Assad, as it did not fight for [the Ukrainian President] Yanukovych. Russia thinks it is up to Syrians to decide who will be their president. Assad or somebody else – that’s an internal Syrian affair. On the other hand, Obama and his allies do fight against Assad. He had “lost his legitimacy”, they say. They have a problem with Assad, as they admit. Russia has no problems with Assad. As long as he is popular with his people, let him rule, Russians say. If some members of the opposition will join him, fine.
Russia does not intend to fight the armed opposition per se, as long as this opposition is ready for peaceful negotiations and does not demand impossible (say, Assad’s head). In real life, nobody can distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate groups and Da’esh. All of them are likely to suffer when the Russians will begin to do the job seriously. They’d better negotiate with the government and come for some arrangement. The alternative (destruction of Syria, millions of refugees, uprooting of Middle Eastern Christendom, jihadi attack on Russia proper) is too horrible to contemplate.

The War in Syria is fraught with dangers for Russia; that’s why Putin steered clear of direct involvement since 2011. The adversary is well armed, has some support on the ground, it has the wealth of the Gulf states and fanatic warriors likely to unleash a wave of terror attacks in Russia. The US position is ambiguous: Obama and his staff does not react on the growing Russian involvement. Thierry Meyssan thinks that Obama and Putin came to agreement regarding the need to defeat Da’esh. In his view, some American officials and generals (Petraeus, Allen) would like to undermine this agreement; so do the Republicans and the Neo-Cons.

Some Russian officials are worried. Perhaps Obama keeps mum in order to lure Putin into the Syrian War. Remember, the US enticed Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait. Russian and American planes in the air over Syria could come to hostile encounters. Others say: shouldn’t Russia get involved in the Ukraine, rather than in Syria? But the apparent decision of Putin to enter war in Syria makes sense.

A war far away from home presents logistic challenges, as the US experienced in Vietnam and Afghanistan, but there is much less danger of war spilling into Russia proper. In the distant theatre of war, Russian army, navy and air force will be able to show their pluck.

If they will succeed, Syria will regain peace, refugees will return to their homes, while Russia will remain forever in the Eastern Mediterranean. Russian success will cool the warmongers in Washington, Kiev, Brussels. However, if they will fail, NATO will think that Russia is ripe for reaping and may try to move war close to home. We can compare it with military campaigns on 1930s. The Russians under brilliant Marshal Zhukov soundly trashed the Japanese at Khalkhyn Gol in 1939, and the Japanese signed Neutrality pact with Russians and refrained from attacking Russia during the Soviet-German war. But the Red Army managed poorly against Marshal Mannerheim in Finland in 1940, and this encouraged Hitler to begin the war.

This time Russia will act within the international law framework, as opposed to Saddam Hussein’s adventure in Kuwait. While the US and Turkey bomb and strafe Syria without as much as ‘by your leave’ from the legitimate government of the state, Russia is coming by permission and by invitation of the Syrian authorities as their ally. There is a Mutual Defence Treaty between Russia and Syria. Syrian government offered Russians its facilities, airports and harbours for the defence purposes.

The Christian Churches of the Middle East welcome Russia and ask for its assistance in the face of the jihadi onslaught. The ancient Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem welcomed Russian involvement. The most high-ranking and politically active Palestinian clergyman, Archbishop Theodosius Atallah Hanna expressed his hope the Russians will bring peace to Syria and the refugees will return home.

For the Europeans, this is the chance to wean themselves from blind support of the US policies, to return millions of refugees home from European railway stations and hostels. If it will work, this Putin’s initiative in Syria will count with his greatest achievements. He is playing his hand keeping cards very close to his chest, and this report is the first emanating from his vicinity.

Israel Shamir reports from Moscow and can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/russia-embarks-on-expansion-of-its-military-presence-in-syria/5473633

White House 'monitoring' reports Russian military is in Syria

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad answers questions during an interview with al-Manar's journalist Amro Nassef, in Damascus, Syria, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA on August 25, 2015.  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he was open to the idea of a coalition against Islamic State but indicated there was little chance of it happening with his enemies, casting further doubt on a Russian plan to forge an alliance against the militant group. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTX1POV8

The White House on Thursday said it was closely monitoring reports that Russia is carrying out military operations in Syria, warning such actions, if confirmed, would be "destabilizing and counter-productive." "We are aware of reports that Russia may have deployed military personnel and aircraft to Syria, and we are monitoring those reports quite closely," said spokesman Josh Earnest.

"Any military support to the Assad regime for any purpose, whether it's in the form of military personnel, aircraft supplies, weapons, or funding, is both destabilizing and counterproductive." The comments come after images appeared on a social media account linked to Syrian fighters purporting to show Russian aircraft and drones near Idlib province. Unconfirmed reports suggested the aircraft may have included a Russian Sukhoi 34 advanced strike fighter, which Syria is not thought to own. A US official confirmed that "Russia has asked for clearances for military flight to Syria," but added "we don't know what their goals are."

"Evidence has been inconclusive so far as to what this activity is." Other reports have suggested Russia has targeted Islamic State group militants, who have attacked forces loyal to Russian-backed Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Both the White House and the Pentagon refused to say whether they had intelligence suggesting the reports were accurate. "It's up to the Russians to explain exactly what they are doing," said Peter Cook, Pentagon spokesman. The United States and its allies have repeatedly called for Assad's ouster, and are likely to oppose any effort that would have the effect of supporting him.

The White House said, however, that it would welcome Russia's involvement in the international coalition established to counter Islamic State and in diplomatic efforts to end the brutal civil war.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/white-house-monitoring-reports-russian-military-syria-213836626.html

Putin's Military Build-up in Syria Could Be a Game-changer for Israel

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Several media reports over the last week have indicated a significant increase in the military aid that Russia is offering Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, including even the use of air crews and Russian fighter jets – all as part of efforts by Russia to sustain that regime. Although the latest efforts are drawing some feeble criticism from the United States, it seems more like lip service as compared to the original American stance that demanded Assad's ouster.

After four-and-a-half years of vicious civil war and despite the heavy blows he has sustained, it seems that for now Assad – who cannot currently hope to regain control of more than half of the territory of Syria that he’s lost – can continue clinging to power, propped up by Russian and Iranian aid, as well as by the West’s focus on the struggle against the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL.

Specifically, The New York Times reported over the weekend that Russia has sent a new delegation of military experts to Syria, with the intention of stationing 1,000 advisers in the port city of Latakia. This is thought to be a sign that construction is beginning on a Russian military base in the Alawite enclave, along the northern Syrian coast, which is under Assad’s control. The U.S. expressed concern over this report, and Secretary of State John Kerry warned his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that this move could further escalate the Syrian civil war.

Last week, several media outlets including the Daily Beast website, basing themselves on sources within opposition forces in Syria, reported the appearance of new armored personnel carriers supplied by Russia, and possibly Russian soldiers, in areas in which the fighting is going on. In Israel, the daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Russian aircraft have been stationed in Syria and have recently been involved in combat there.

In June, “Haaretz” reported that Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence estimates that, despite a string of defeats suffered by the Syrian army in the preceding months, Russia and Iran were determined to ensure the regime’s survival. According to that assessment, the two countries decided to transfer more weapons to Assad and to provide him with intelligence that will help his struggle against the multiple rebel militias that are trying to topple him.

The two countries operated separately in the past but recently, since the signing in Vienna of the nuclear accord between Iran and the six powers in early July, there are signs of new coordination between Moscow and Tehran.

Last month there were reports of a visit to Moscow by General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who involved in helping the Assad regime, Hezbzollah and a host of terrorist and guerrilla groups in the Middle East. One can assume that this is further evidence of an attempt at increasing coordination between the two countries.

Moscow has supported Assad throughout the war. In the summer of 2013, at a critical juncture for the Syrian tyrant, when U.S. President Barack Obama was planning an aerial attack – in retaliation for the killing of more than 1,000 civilians near Damascus by the regime, which involved the use of chemical weapons – Russia initiated a last-minute agreement to destroy the regime’s chemical stockpiles in exchange for calling off the attack.

Over the last year, Obama and Western leaders have meanwhile softened their rhetoric against Assad in light of the rise of ISIS, and due to concerns that toppling Assad will allow a takeover of Damascus by extremist Sunni groups. That would likely lead to large-scale massacres of civilians belonging to sects loyal to the regime, mainly the Alawites.

The American-led military assault against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has indirectly helped Assad by weakening one of his major rivals, forcing it to spend time defending itself rather than continuing full-force attacks on the regime. Now that the Americans aren’t striving to topple him, and Russia and Iran are increasing their support, Assad has better chances of stabilizing his defense despite the heavy losses he’s sustained, the poor morale in the army, and the continuing erosion by rebels of territory controlled by the regime.

For Israel, which for several years has not really supported the downfall of the Assad regime, preferring the present situation with a weakened president controlling a “small Syria” (covering less than half of the country's original territory) – the new developments are not encouraging.

According to foreign media reports to which Jerusalem rarely responds, every few months the Israel Air Force attacks arms convoys carrying Syrian war materiel to Hezbollah in Lebanon. These attacks, attributed to Israel and designed to prevent the terror group from acquiring advanced weapons systems, rarely provoke a response, given the weakness of Syria’s air force and the relatively limited capabilities of that country's, and Hezbollah’s, air defense systems.

However, if Russia is dispatching its jet fighters and establishing a new military base in Syria, Israel will have to deal with new and different kinds of constraints, especially if the aircraft are equipped with Russian air-to-air missiles. In recent years there has been much talk in Israel about a campaign conducted between wars: i.e., a low-profile military and intelligence effort aimed at preventing the empowerment of terrorist groups in the area, and at reducing the risk of another war. The entry of Russia into the Syrian arena changes the rules of this game.

In the early 1970s, when Russia sent military advisers to Egypt and Syria, a new division was set up hastily in the Military Intelligence’s central intelligence-gathering unit (known as unit 8200). This unit eavesdropped on Russian activity in the region. Israel’s relations with Russia have improved since then, but increased Russian military presence in the region may demand that Israel’s military intelligence undertake more forceful efforts to deal with this development.
 
Source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.674779

Russia tells Washington: talk to us over Syria or risk 'unintended incidents'

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Russia called on Friday for Washington to restart direct military-to-military cooperation to avert "unintended incidents" near Syria, at a time when U.S. officials say Moscow is building up forces to protect President Bashar al-Assad's government. The United States is leading a campaign of air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syrian air space, and a greater Russian presence would raise the prospect of the Cold War superpower foes encountering each other on the battlefield. Both Moscow and Washington say their enemy is Islamic State. But Russia supports the government of Assad, while the United States says his presence makes the situation worse.

In recent days, U.S. officials have described what they say is a buildup of Russian equipment and manpower. Lebanese sources have told Reuters that at least some Russian troops were now engaged in combat operations in support of Assad's government. Moscow has declined to comment on those reports. At a news conference, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was sending equipment to help Assad fight Islamic State. Russian servicemen were in Syria, he said, primarily to help service that equipment and teach Syrian soldiers how to use it.

Russia was also conducting naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, he said, describing the drills as long-planned and staged in accordance with international law. Lavrov blamed Washington for cutting off direct military-to-military communications between Russia and NATO over the Ukraine crisis, saying such contacts were "important for the avoidance of undesired, unintended incidents".

"We are always in favor of military people talking to each other in a professional way. They understand each other very well," Lavrov said. "If, as (U.S. Secretary of State) John Kerry has said many times, the United States wants those channels frozen, then be our guest."

U.S. officials say they do not know what Moscow's intentions are in Syria. The reports of a Russian buildup come at a time when momentum has shifted against Assad's government in Syria's 4-year-old civil war, with Damascus suffering battlefield setbacks this year at the hands of an array of insurgent groups. Moscow, Assad's ally since the Cold War, maintains its only Mediterranean naval base at Tartous on the Syrian coast, a strategic objective. In recent months NATO-member Turkey has also raised the prospect of outside powers playing a greater role in Syria by proposing a "safe zone" near its border, kept free of both Islamic State and government troops.

COMMON ENEMY

The four-year-old multi-sided civil war in Syria has killed around 250,000 people and driven half of Syria's 23 million people from their homes. Some have traveled to European Union countries, creating a refugee crisis there.

Differences over Assad's future have made it impossible for Moscow and the West to take joint action against Islamic State, even though they say the group, which rules a self-proclaimed caliphate on swathes of Syria and Iraq, is their common enemy. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday it was too early to judge what exactly Russia's motivations at present were in Syria, but ‎that "adding war to war" would not help resolve the Syrian conflict. "If it's about defending the base in Tartous why not? But ‎if it's to enter the conflict ...." he said, without finishing the thought.

BARGAINING POWER

Diplomats in Moscow say the Kremlin is happy for the West to believe it is building up its military in Syria, calculating that this will give it more bargaining power in any international talks about whether Assad stays in power. Western and Arab countries have backed demands from the Syrian opposition that Assad must give way under any negotiated settlement to the war. Assad refuses to go and so far his enemies have lacked the capability to force him out, leaving the war grinding on for years. All diplomatic efforts at a solution have collapsed. Assad’s supporters have taken encouragement this week from an apparent shift in tone from some European states that suggests a softening of demands he leave power. Britain, one of Assad’s staunchest Western opponents, said this week it could accept him staying in place for a transition period if it helped resolve the conflict. France, another fierce Assad opponent, said on Monday he must leave power “at some point or another”. Smaller countries went further, with Austria saying Assad must be involved in the fight against Islamic State and Spain saying negotiations with him were necessary to end the war. The pro-Syrian government newspaper al-Watan saw Britain’s position as “a new sign of the changes in Western positions that started with Madrid and Austria”.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/russia-says-seeks-coordination-over-syria-avoid-incidents-100728012--business.html

Putin is turning the Syrian coast into another Crimea

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After weeks of dancing around the issue, the Obama administration has expressed concern about “heightened military activity” by Russia in Syria. But what if we are facing something more than “heightened military activity?” What if Moscow is preparing to give Syria the full Putin treatment? For years, Russia has been helping Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad cling to a diminishing power structure in a shrinking territorial base without trying to impose an overall strategy. Now, however, there are signs that Russia isn’t content to just support Assad. It wants to control Syria.

The Putin treatment is reserved for countries in Russia’s “near neighborhood” that try to break out of Moscow’s orbit and deprive it of strategic assets held for decades. In such cases, unable to restore its past position, Russia tries to create a new situation in which it keeps a sword dangling above the head of the recalcitrant nation. Russia’s military intervenes directly and indirectly, always with help from a segment of the local population concerned. Russia starts by casting itself as protector of an ethnic, linguistic or religious minority that demands its military intervention against a central power vilified with labels such as “fascist” and “terrorist.” The first nation to experience the Putin treatment was Georgia in 2008, when Russian tanks moved in to save the Persian-speaking Ossetian minority and the Turkish-speaking Abkhazians from “the fascist regime” in Tbilisi.

Initially, Putin had feared that the US or the European Union might not let his war of conquest go unpunished. But nothing happened. President Obama talked of “reset” with Moscow, agreed to set up a joint committee to look into the matter and then allowed the whole thing to fade away. Tested in Georgia with success, the Putin treatment was next applied to Ukraine, where a pro-West regime was talking of joining the European Union and even NATO. Russia intervened in Crimea to “save” its Russian-speaking majority from oppression.

Facing no opposition, Putin simply annexed Crimea before giving the Donetsk area of eastern Ukraine the same treatment, this time with the help of “Russian volunteers” coming to help fellow Russian-speakers. In Ossetia, Putin gained control of key passages to Chechnya and upper Caucasus. In Abkhazia, he extended Russian presence on the Black Sea. In Crimea, he saved the Russian Navy’s largest base. In Donetsk he obtained a political pistol aimed at the temple of the government in Kiev. Pro-West Azerbaijan, meanwhile, is threatened after Putin helped Armenia snatch the enclave of Upper Qarabagh (Nagorno Karabakh) in Transcaucasia.

The Soviet Union had a military presence in Syria since 1971, when Hafez al-Assad, father of the present despot, signed a defense pact with Moscow. The pact gave Russia mooring rights in two of Syria’s ports, Latakia and Tartus on the Mediterranean. The older Assad, however, shied away from granting Russians permanent bases. Last year, Putin asked Bashar to let Russia build aero-naval assets on the Syrian coast to facilitate support for the regime in Damascus. Then still hopeful of surviving the civil war, Bashar managed to dodge the issue with help from his allies in Tehran.

Now, however, both Assad and the mullahs of Tehran know that they cannot fight this war much longer. Assad has publicly admitted he does not have enough men to keep the territory he still controls let alone recapture what he has lost amounting to 60% of the Syrian landmass. Reluctant to risk Iranian lives, the mullahs have sent Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and “volunteers” from Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight for Assad. But they, too, have suffered irreparable losses.

After weeks of talks between Assad and the Russians with the mullahs also engaged by both sides, it now seems that Russia has obtained what it wanted: the right to build permanent aero-naval bases on the Syrian coast. Recent satellite images show that massive construction work has already started. At the same time, Russia has won control of Bassel al-Assad airport, the second-largest in Syria, transforming it into a hub for its “air-bridge” operations spanning Iranian and Iraqi air spaces.

Russia is bringing in new aircraft and surface-to-surface missile ostensibly for transfer to Syrian forces but in reality under direct Russian control. According to estimates in the Iranian media, Russia now has some 20,000 military “technicians and advisors” in Syria. The stage is set for the full Putin treatment. Russia no doubt looks to the 1920s scheme under which Syria was divided into five segments, with France, then the colonial power, retaining direct control only of the area between the mountains west of Damascus and the Mediterranean coast. The French called that “la Syrie utile” (useful Syria) allowing the rest of the country, much of it thinly inhabited desert to morph into ungoverned territory.

Accounting for about 15% of territory, “Useful Syria” is now home to more than half of the population, partly thanks to influx of displaced people from other parts of the country. The strip between the coast and the mountains has the added advantage of being the principal base of the Alawite community to which Assad and his clan belong. Get ready for Russia to cast itself as the protector, not only of the Alawites but also of other minorities such as Turcoman, Armenians and, more interestingly for Moscow, Orthodox Christians who have fled Islamist terror groups such as ISIS. Russia has always seen itself as the “Third Rome” and the last standard-bearer of Christianity against both Catholic “deviation” and Islamist menace.

By controlling a new mini-state, as a “safe haven for minorities,” Russia could insist that if Syria returns to some normality it be reconstituted as a highly decentralized state. This is what Putin is also demanding in Georgia and Ukraine. The Syrian coast will become another Crimea, if not completely annexed, at least occupied. Unless stopped, the Putin treatment will not end in Syria. The two next candidates could be Moldova and Latvia, both of which have large Russian-speaking minorities.

On Friday, Russian fighter jets arrived in Syria. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter responded by saying he had a “constructive conversation” with his Russian counterpart, who insisted the buildup was “defensive in nature.” Carter said discussions would continue. In other words, Russia will continue to carve a foothold on the Mediterranean. While President Obama practices a postmodern diplomacy of perceptions — in other words window-dressing — Putin perfects his pre-modern power play. Putin has arranged it so that no matter what happens in Syria, he wins — and we lose.

America's New Nightmare: How to Cope With Russia on the Ground in Syria

Unrest in Syria. File photo

No matter how persistent Russia is in insisting that it supports not the mere regime of the Syrian President Assad but rather its fight against the Islamic State, Washington won’t listen: the US media is abuzz with fearmongering over Russia’s military aid to Damascus, trying to guess what it could mean and what to do next.

The US seems to have absolutely no clue how to react to the Russian activity in Syria. While some of its media sources opt to resort to hysteria, such as Fox News, which claims Damascus will soon be occupied by the Russian army, others prefer to look at different options, and are trying to compile something resembling an action plan. The US-based financial agency Bloomberg has come up with two relatively adequate responses, and examines all the pros and cons for each one. 

“The options are to try to confront Russia inside Syria or, as some in the White House are advocating, cooperate with Russia there in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIL),” it said. “For some in the White House, the priority is to enlist more countries to fight against the Islamic State, and they fear making the relationship with Russia any more heated. They are seriously considering accepting the Russian buildup as a fait accompli, and then working with Moscow to coordinate US and Russian strikes in Northern Syria, where the US-led coalition operates every day,” the agency says.
Others, however, seem to be so obsessed with the idea of toppling President Assad, that they are paying no attention to the IS threat; they will regard any cooperation with Moscow as a real failure.

“For many in the Obama administration, especially those who work on Syria, the idea of acquiescing to Russian participation in the fighting is akin to admitting that the drive to oust Assad has failed. Plus, they fear Russia will attack Syrian opposition groups that are fighting against Assad, using the war against the Islamic State as a cover.” However, the real fear for the aforementioned group is that “the US has no real leverage to fight back”. If “Obama decides not to accept the Russian air force presence in Syria”, the outlet elaborates, he will face another set of options. “The US could impose new sanctions on Russia, although the current punishments related to Ukraine have not changed Putin’s calculus, and there’s little chance the European countries would join in on a new round.”

“The US might warn Russia that its base is fair game for the opposition to attack, but that could spur Putin to double down on the deployment.”

“The US could try to stop the flow of Russian arms, but that would mean pressuring countries such as Iraq to stand up to Putin and Iran, which they might not agree to.”

“The White House’s concerns about escalating tensions with Russia inside Syria are legitimate, but cooperating with Russian forces on the ground or in the air would undermine whatever remaining credibility the US has with the Syrian opposition and the Gulf States that support it.”

“The US may not be able to stop Russia’s entry into fighting the Syrian civil war, but at a minimum America shouldn't be seen as colluding with Moscow. If that happens, the suspicion that Obama is actually working to preserve the Assad regime will have been confirmed.”

5 Messages Russia Is Sending to the World via Syria

Meanwhile, The National Interest, another US outlet, has come up with its own list of what Russia is trying to tell the world. First, it says, “the Kremlin is clearly signaling that it plans to take an active role in setting the agenda in the Middle East — and not to passively accept an American vision for how the future should unfold”. Second, “Putin is making it clear that he will not accept Washington's default position that the removal” of President Assad “is a path to greater long-term stability in the Middle East.” Third, “Russia is more confident of its position in Ukraine”, with “Moscow retaining most of the leverage.” Fourth, “the Kremlin enforces its red lines. Just as Moscow would not permit the Donbass separatists to face catastrophic defeat last summer in Ukraine, Russia has signaled that it will not sit by and allow Bashar Assad to be overthrown or removed by outside military action.”And, finally, fifth, “for Middle Eastern countries, like Egypt and Azerbaijan, that have opposed Russian policy in Syria, Putin's decision to up the ante may lead them to reassess whether the path to a viable settlement resides not in Washington, soon to be increasingly distracted by an election campaign, but through Moscow.”

Israeli official: Iran's military mastermind went to Russia to talk to Putin about saving Assad

Israeli official: Iran's military mastermind went to Russia to talk to Putin about saving Assad

The increased presence of Russian and Iranian troops in Syria is the "result of a meeting between [Iranian military mastermind Qasem] Soleimani with Russian President Vladimir Putin" and is due to "Assad's crisis," a senior Israeli security official told Israeli outlet Ynet news Thursday. In August, two unnamed Western intelligence sources told Fox News that Soleimani had violated a travel ban and sanctions to meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu and Putin in Moscow. The official added that cooperation between Russia and Iran has resulted in a significant military buildup in Latakia Province in western Syria.


"Russia ... has teamed up with Iran in an unprecedented attempt to protect the embattled regime of Bashar Assad from falling to rebel groups, including the Islamic State," Ynet reported.


Soleimani — a major general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and commander of the powerful Quds force — has reportedly sent hundreds of ground soldiers into Syria over the past few days. Meanwhile, Russian drones and fighter planes have been surveilling non-ISIS rebels in the country's north. Russian armored-personnel carriers with Russian-speaking troops have also apparently been involved in fighting, and Russia has set up an air-traffic-control tower and brought housing units for up to 1,000 personnel to Latakia in the country's west. Two tank-landing ships and additional aircraft have arrived, Reuters reported. "It's hard to forecast whether Russia's presence will decide the fate of Syria, but it will lengthen the fighting and bloodletting for at least another year because ISIS won't give up," the Israeli source told Ynet.

Iran, under Soleimani's purview, has long since taken over Assad's fight in crucial parts of Syria. In May, Soleimani traveled to Syria to "organize the entry of Iranian officials to supervise and aid" Iranian proxy forces in coastal Syria, according to Now Lebanon. One month later, a Free Syrian Army commander told the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi that "the regime has handed over the operations room to Iranian officers and leadership." "Syrian officers, among them Alawites, have become secondary members, whose tasks can sometimes be reduced to handing out tea and coffee," he added.

Al Qaeda-linked rebels took full control of Idlib Province last week, which Iran-backed militias had failed to secure during a counterattack in June. Idlib borders Latakia and is the second province no longer under government control — along with ISIS-controlled Raqqa. Now it appears that Iran is upping the ante in coordination with Russia. "Assad has lost significant territory over the past months; Putin is not about to tolerate his ouster," geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, told Business Insider in an email. Iran is not about to tolerate it, either. It is making "an effective play for regional hegemony," Michael Gerson of The Washington Post has written, and needs Assad to remain in power to maintain its bridge to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Russia, too, has its own interests to look after: control over its naval base at Tartus is at stake, and along with it Putin's ability to project power into the Mediterranean. As a result, Russia's incursion into Syria has less to do with fighting ISIS and more to do with countering Western actions that have bolstered rebel forces in the north and threaten to weaken Assad further. "If the West succeeds in turning the tide of the war while Assad is vulnerable, the political outcomes in Syria are more likely to be dictated by the US," Bremmer said. "Which means Putin needs to bolster Assad now."

Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/israeli-official-irans-military-mastermind-165000575.html

Putin to Turkish ambassador: "tell your dictator President he can go to hell along with his ISIS terrorists, I will make Syria a 'Big Stalingrad' for him!"


The Russian president Vladimir Putin broke the accepted diplomatic protocols and has personally summoned the Turkish ambassador to Moscow, Mr Ümit Yardim, and warned him that the Russian Federation shall sever the diplomatic relations immediately unless the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stops supporting ISIS rebels in Syria, where Russia holds its last navy base in the Mediterranean sea. The Russian president purportedly went into a long diatribe criticizing the Turkish foreign policy and its malevolent role in Syria, Iraq and Yemen by supporting Saudi-backed al-Qaeda terrorists, reported the Moscow Times, which escalated the conversation with the Turkish ambassador to a fierce polemic.

According to The leaked information obtained by The Moscow Times, the meeting between the Mr.Purin and Turkish ambassador was imbued with intense mutual resentment where Mr. Yardim has repudiated all Russian accusations, laying blame on Russia for Syria's bitter and protracted civil war.  "..then tell your dictator president he can go to hell along with his ISIS terrorist and I shall make Syria to nothing but a 'Big Stalingrad' , for Erdoğan and his Saudi allies are no vicious than Adolf Hitler," replied Vladimir Putin in the 2-hour closed door meeting with Turkish emissary.

How hypocrite is your president as he advocates democracy and lambaste the military coup d'état in Egypt, added Mr. Putin, and he simultaneously condones all terrorist activities aimed to overthrow Syrian president!  The Russian president continued by saying that his country won't abandon Syrian legitimate administration and will cooperate with its allies ,namely Iran and China , to find a political solution to Syria's interminable civil war which descended the 23-million Arab nation to an utter ethnic and religious anarchy.


Why Syria is Winning: Advancing Towards a Strategic Victory that will Transform the Middle East?

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Syria is winning. Despite ongoing bloodshed and serious economic pressure, Syria is advancing steadily towards a military and strategic victory that will transform the Middle East. There is clear evidence that Washington’s plans – whether for ‘regime change’, for rendering the state dysfunctional or for dismembering the country on sectarian lines – have failed. That failure will fatally wound the US dream, announced a decade ago by Bush junior, for a subservient ‘New Middle East’. Syria’s victory is a combination of coherent popular support for the national army, in face of a vicious sectarian Islamists (takfiris), firm backing by key allies, and fragmentation of the international forces lined up against them.

The economic hardships, including regular blackouts, are now worse but have not broken the Syrian people’s will to resist. The government ensures basic foods are affordable and maintains education, health, sports, cultural and other services. A string of formerly hostile states and UN agencies are resuming their relations with Syria. An improved security situation, the recent big power agreement with Iran and other favourable diplomatic moves are all signs that the Axis of Resistance has strengthened.

You wouldn’t know much of this by reading the western media, which has lied persistently about the character of the conflict and developments in the crisis. Key features of that deception have been to hide NATO’s backing for the takfiri groups, yet trumpet their advances and ignore the Syrian Army roll-backs. In fact, these western-backed terrorists have made no real strategic advance since a flood of foreign fighters helped them take parts of northern Aleppo, back in mid-2012.

In my second visit to Syria during the crisis, in July 2015, I could see how security had improved around the major cities. In my first visit in December 2013, although NATO’s throat-cutters had been ejected from much of Homs and Qsayr, they were in the ancient village of Maloula and along the Qalamoun Mountains, as well as attacking the road south to Sweida. This year we were able to travel freely by road from Sweida to Damascus to Homs to Latakia, with just one minor detour around Harasta. In late 2013 there was daily mortaring of eastern Damascus; this year it was far less common. The army seems to control 90% of the heavily populated areas.

Fact check one: there never were any ‘moderate rebels’. A genuine political reform movement was displaced by a Saudi-backed Islamist insurrection, through March-April 2011. In the first few months of the crisis, from Daraa to Homs, key armed groups like the Farouq brigade were extremists backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who practised public atrocities and blew up hospitals, using genocidal slogans and practising sectarian ethnic cleansing (1). Syrians these days call them all ‘Daesh’ (ISIL) or just ‘mercenaries’, not bothering too much with the different brand names. The recent statement by ‘moderate rebel’ leader Lamia Nahas that Syria’s ‘minorities are evil and must be disposed of’, just as Hitler and the Ottomans disposed of minorities (2), only underlines that fact. The character of the armed conflict has always been between a confrontation between an authoritarian but pluralist and socially inclusive state, and Saudi-style sectarian Islamists, acting as proxy armies for the big powers.

Fact check two: almost all the atrocities blamed on the Syrian Army have been committed by western-backed gangs, as part of their strategy to attract deeper western intervention. That includes the discredited chemical weapons claims (3) and the collateral damage claims of the so-called ‘barrel bombing’. US journalist Nir Rosen wrote back in 2012, ‘Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation … Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters but … described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces’ (4). Those opposition reports are still relied on by partisan groups such as Amnesty International (US) and Human Rights Watch, to bolster the war propaganda. The Syrian Army has indeed executed captured terrorists, and the secret police continue to detain and mistreat those suspected of collaborating with those terrorists. But this is an army which enjoys very strong public support. The Islamist gangs, on the other hand, openly boast of their atrocities and have minimal public support.

Fact check three: while there is a terrorist ‘presence’ in large parts of Syria, neither Daesh/ISIL nor any other armed group ‘controls’ much of the populated Syrian territory. Western agencies (such as Janes and ISW) regularly confuse presence with control. Notwithstanding the Daesh/ISIL offensives in Daraa, Idlib and Eastern Homs, the heavily populated areas of Syria are under noticeably stronger army control than they were in 2013. Only a few areas have been held for months or years. In any sustained confrontation, the Army generally wins; but it is under pressure and not infrequently makes a tactical retreat, because it is fighting on dozens of fronts.

The Syrian Army has tightened its cordon around northern Aleppo, Douma and Harasta, and has had recent victories in Hasaka, Idlib and Daraa. With Hezbollah forces the Army has virtually eliminated Daesh/ISIL and its squabbling partners from the Qalamoun mountains, along the border with Lebanon.

Despite years of mass terrorism and western sanctions the Syrian state is functioning surprisingly well. In July 2015 our group visited large sports centres, schools and hospitals. Millions of Syrian children attend school and hundreds of thousands still study in mostly fee-free universities. Unemployment, shortages and power blackouts plague the country. Takfiri groups have targeted hospitals for demolition since 2011. They also regularly attack power plants, leading to government rationing of electricity, until the system is back up. There are serious shortages and widespread poverty but, despite the war, everyday life goes on.

For example, there was controversy in 2014 over building the ‘Uptown’ complex in New Sham, a large satellite city outside Damascus. The facility comprises restaurants, shops, sports facilities and, at the centre, children’s rides and other entertainment. ‘How could the state spend so much money on this, when so many people were suffering from the war?’ one side of the argument ran. On the other side it was said that life goes on and families have to live their lives. After Ramadan, during Eid, we saw thousands of families making use of this very child-friendly complex.

Security procedures have become ‘normal’. Frequent army checkpoints are met with remarkable patience. Syrians know they are for their security, especially against the car and truck bombs used by the Islamists. Soldiers are efficient but human, often exchanging friendly chat with the people. Most families have members in the Army and many have lost loved ones. Syrians do not endure curfews or cower from soldiers, as so many did under the US-backed fascist dictatorships of Chile and El Salvador, in the past.

In the north, the Mayor of Latakia told us that this province of 1.3 million now has over three million, having absorbed displaced people from Aleppo, Idlib and other northern areas affected by incursions of sectarian terrorists. Most are in free or subsidised government housing, with family and friends, renting or in small businesses. We saw one group of about 5,000, many from Hama, at Latakia’s large sports complex. In the south, Sweida has been hosting 130,000 displaced families from the Daraa area, doubling the population of that province. Yet Damascus holds the greater part of the six million internally displaced people and, with a little help from the UNHCR, the government and army are the main ones organising their care. The western media only tells you about the refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, facilities mostly controlled by the armed groups.

The ‘regime attacking civilians’ or ‘indiscriminately’ bombing civilian areas only has a basis in the Islamist propaganda on which much of the western media relies. The fact that, after three years, Syrian planes and artillery have not flattened hold-out areas like Jobar, Douma and parts of northern Aleppo, gives the lie to claims against the Army. You can be almost certain that the next time western media say ‘civilians’ are being killed by ‘indiscriminate’ Syrian government bombing, it is the Islamist sources themselves who are under attack.

This war is being fought on the ground, building to building, with many army casualties. Many Syrians we spoke to said they wished the government would indeed flatten these ghost towns, saying that the only civilians left there are the families of and collaborators with the extremist groups. The Syrian Government proceeds with greater caution.

Regional states see what is coming, and have begun to rebuild ties with Syria. Washington still pushes its chemical weapons lies (in face of the independent evidence), but lost its stomach for any major escalation back in late 2013, after the confrontation with Russia. There is still much sabre rattling (5), but it is noteworthy that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), enemies of Syria just a little while back, are now normalising their diplomatic relations with Damascus.

The UAE, perhaps the most ‘flexible’ of the Gulf monarchies, but also linked by Vice President Joe Biden to support for Daesh/ISIL (6), has its own worries. It recently arrested dozens of Islamists over a plot to turn the absolutist monarchy into an absolutist caliphate (7). Egypt, back in military hands after a short-lived Muslim Brotherhood Government that wanted to join in the attacks on Syria, is now dealing with its own sectarian terrorism, from that same Brotherhood. The largest of Arab countries now defends the territorial integrity of Syria and backs (at least verbally) the Syrian campaigns against terrorism. Egyptian analyst Hassan Abou Taleb calls this message ‘a condemnation and rejection of Turkey’s unilateral moves’ against Syria (8).

The Erdogan Government tried to position Turkey at the head of a Muslim Brotherhood region, but has lost allies, is often at odds with its anti-Syrian partners and faces dissent at home. Washington has tried to use the separatist Kurds against both Baghdad and Damascus, while Turkey sees them as key enemies and the Saudi-backed Islamists slaughter them as ‘apostate’ Muslims. For their part, the Kurdish communities have enjoyed greater autonomy and acceptance under Iran and Syria.

Washington’s recent agreement with Iran is an important development, as the Islamic Republic remains the most important regional ally of secular Syria and a firm opponent of Saudi-style Islamists. Affirmation of Iran’s role in the region upsets the Saudis and Israel, but bodes well for Syria. All commentators see a diplomatic jockeying for position after the Iran deal and – despite Iran’s recent exclusion from a meeting between Russian, US and Saudi foreign ministers – there can be little doubt that Iran’s hand has been strengthened in regional affairs. An unusual meeting between Syria’s intelligence chief, Brigadier-General Ali Mamlouk, and the Saudi Defence Minister, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (9), also shows that the Syrian Government has resumed direct discussions with the major sponsor of terrorism in the region.

Syria is winning because the Syrian people have backed their army against sectarian provocations, mostly fighting their own battles against NATO and Gulf Monarchy sponsored multi-national terrorism. Syrians, including most devout Sunni Muslims, will never accept that head-chopping, vicious and sectarian perversion of Islam promoted by the Gulf monarchies.

Syria’s victory will have wider implications. It spells an end to Washington’s roller coaster of ‘regime change’ across the region, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya. Out of the death and misery caused by this dirty war we are seeing the emergence of a stronger ‘Axis of Resistance’. Syria’s victory will also be that of Iran and of the Lebanese Resistance, led by Hezbollah. Further, the conflict has helped built significant measures of cooperation with Iraq. The gradual incorporation of Baghdad into this Axis will seal the humiliating defeat of plans for a US-Israel-Saudi dominated ‘New Middle East’. This regional unity comes at a terrible cost, but it is coming, nonetheless.

Source: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article42596.htm

US Warmongers Drop Bombs, But EU Gets Trapped in Migrant Crisis

US flag waves while displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community cross the Syria-Iraq border on Feeshkhabour bridge over Tigris River at Feeshkhabour border point, northern Iraq

Millions of refugees have crossed into Europe in the last five years from Middle East and Africa. Starting from 2011 in Libya, the United States dropped bombs in order to replace Muammar Gaddafi. Since then the chaos has not stopped from escalating, wrote US author Eric Zuesse.

The American-sponsored bombing campaign has been creating terror in many countries in the last few years, more recently, in eastern Ukraine which has led to refugees escaping to Europe. The current war in Syria also has its roots starting in Washington, analyst Eric Zuesse believes. And yet, despite millions of US-displaced refugees flooding into Europe, European nations still permit US troops to remain stationed on European soil.
"The current refugee-crisis was, in fact, caused by America’s continuing obsession to destroy Russia — an obsession that the EU goes along with, and now suffers greatly from, not only because of loss of their Russian trading-partner, but because of the influx into Europe of millions of refugees that were displaced by this New Cold War," Zuesse wrote for the Strategic Culture Foundation.
He further explained that the crisis was not caused by Russia’s defensive measures against an increasingly aggressive NATO. It was caused by US aggressions, which the EU continues to ratify. The analyst refers to the investigative journalist Christof Lehmann who published an investigative piece on 7 October, 2013, at his MSNBC news site, “Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria,” and he opened:
“Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry,” The US has been allied with the Saudi royal family since 1945.
Lehmann said that the chemical-weapons attack “in the Eastern Ghouta Suburb of Damascus on 21 August 2013,” which attack US President Barack Obama was citing as his reason for planning to bring down Syria’s pro-Russian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, whom Obama was blaming for the chemical attack. However, much like another great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh subsequently reported (using different sources) in the London Review of Books on 17 April 2014, Lehmann’s even-earlier investigation found that the US had set up the chemical attack, and that it was actually carried out by Islamic jihadists that the US itself was supplying in Syria, through Turkey. Lehmann reported:
“After the defeat of the predominantly Qatar-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces, which were reinforced by Libyans in June and July 2012, the US —Saudi Axis was strengthened. Uncooperative Qatari-led brigades which rejected the new command structure had to be removed. The influx of Salafi-Wahhabbi fighters to Syria was documented by the International Crisis Group in their report titled ‘Tentative Jihad.’”
Hersh’s report added to Lehmann’s, a powerful confirmation by British intelligence, which found that the source of the chemical-weapons attack couldn’t possibly have been Assad’s forces.
"Journalist John Pilger provided the best summary description of the horrific and intentional catastrophe that Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton perpetrated upon the Libyan people," Zuesse wrote.
The international war crimes that have been done by US together with the Saudi and other Arabic royal families have resulted in the massive influx of refugees into Europe. The decision that the EU leaders have made in relation to supporting US in their war crimes have resulted in the current crisis.
Germany’s own leader, Merkel is complicit in helping to cause the surge of Syrians who are trying to find safe haven in Germany and other European countries, Global Research reported.
The European public suffers much from them. Europe is being destroyed by them — by US agents. Why are there not enormous public displays in the EU against America, instead of against the refugees, etc.? Real compassion for those refugees would be a demand to get the US out of the EU, concluded Zuesse.


Iranian and Russian foreign ministers present united front on mediating Syrian conflict

The Associated Press

The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran said after talks in Moscow that their two countries have a united position on Syria, with both diplomats warning against any outside attempt to dictate a resolution to the Syrian civil war. The nuclear deal reached last month between Iran and world powers has led to a series of diplomatic moves aimed at achieving some sort of breakthrough in Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met last week with members of the Syrian opposition, while his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was in Damascus to discuss ways of ending the war with Syrian President Bashar Assad. "Our states hold a common position on regulating the Syrian crisis," Zarif, speaking through a translator, said at a joint news conference with Lavrov. "The Syrians must themselves decide their fate and their future, and foreign states should only make this easier. "Moscow and Tehran have both supported Assad in the conflict, which has left more than 250,000 people  dead since it began in 2011. The nuclear deal, which lifts sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, also has raised expectation in Russia for expanded trade with Iran, including in nuclear energy and defense. Zarif and Lavrov said they discussed the construction of new nuclear reactors and other projects. Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Vladimir Yevseyev: “The overthrow of Assad is fraught with the first genocide of the XXI century”

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A day before in Qatar, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Adel Al-Dzhubeyr discussed ways to step up the fight against terrorists from the “Islamic State”. During the talks, Lavrov presented to his colleagues the details of the plan of Vladimir Putin to neutralize the Islamists. The plan is to build a broad coalition with the participation of the Syrian and Iraqi armies, Kurds, as well as the countries in the region. The new format of struggle against the IS proposed by Sergey Lavrov in the interview to RUSARMINFO analyzed Vladimir Yevseyev, the director of the Center for Civil and Political Researches. The expert believes that the project will succeed only if the United States withdraw from the agenda the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“In view of the fact that Barack Obama has been very pleased with the fact that Russia helped the United States to resolve the issue with Iran, it will be reasonable if the United States cease to destabilize Syria. In principle, the coalition is possible, as now a difficult situation has occurred in Turkey – the U.S. ally. The events have acquired internal political character, the Kurdish problem has aggravated.”

Yevseyev believes that in such a situation, the United States should adjust their policy on Syria not to repeat the Libyan scenario.

“If somehow the power of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus is overthrown, in Syria the Libyan scenario will be repeated in its worst manifestation: all the religious minorities will be subjected to the physical destruction. In the context of radicals’ takeover, there will be a genocide of the peoples living in Syria, following the example of the Armenian Genocide in the Western Armenia in the early XXth century. ”

Vladimir Yevseyev assures that if the United States reconsider their position, a further step will be the imposition of the U.S. pressure on Turkey to limit the financial support of the IS. And if the current support remains, it will be extremely difficult to win the IS. But in parallel, besides the U.S., it is important to engage in dialogue with other countries, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which, in fact, are the sponsors of terrorism in the face of radical Islamists.

Source: http://rusarminfo.ru/vladimir-yevseyev-the-overthrow-of-assad-is-fraught-with-the-first-genocide-of-the-xxi-century/

‘Unacceptable’: Lavrov blasts Biden idea on splitting Iraq into parts

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov © Maxim Shemetov

The idea of partition for Iraq would never be agreed by Moscow, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said, stressing that this kind of ‘state structure manipulation’ is obsolete and Iraqis should define the future of their country themselves  “We would never adopt a position voiced without any constraint by US Vice President Joe Biden, who said directly that Iraq should be split into Shia and Sunni parts and that the Kurds should be given what they want,” Lavrov told the participants of the youth forum ‘Territory of meanings’ near Moscow.

Lavrov labeled Biden’s position as “highly irresponsible and what’s more important – unacceptable,” because someone from overseas is lecturing Iraqi people on what to do with their country.  “We won’t commit to such things, telling Sunnis to get out today and urging Shia to move on next time. This is ‘social engineering,’ state structure manipulation from far outside,” Lavrov said, stressing that the destructiveness of such a plan is obvious.  “We believe that Iraqis – Shia, Sunnis and Kurds – should decide for themselves how to live together,” said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Lavrov’s remarks come following reports that Vice President Joe Biden is “seriously deciding whether to jump into the Democratic presidential race.”  The idea of decentralizing Iraq was voiced by Biden as early as 2006, in his ‘Unity Through Autonomy in Iraq’ article for the New York Times In this article, Biden proposed the idea of Iraq’s federalization and autonomous regions in Iraq for Sunnis, Shia and Kurds. In April 2015, the Office of the Vice President published Biden’s article ‘Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden on Iraq’ on the White House’s official website.

“We want what Iraqis want: a united, federal, and democratic Iraq that is defined by its own constitution where power is shared among all Iraqi communities, where a sovereign government exercises command and control over the forces in the field. And that's overwhelmingly what the Iraqis want,” Biden wrote.

The US together with an international coalition waged war in Iraq in 2003, under the pretext of eliminating weapons of mass destruction developed by Saddam Hussein’s regime. After the regime was brought down, WMD were never found and the former ruler was hanged by the new Iraqi authorities on December 30, 2006. The Iraqi war lasted until 2011 and claimed the lives of nearly 1.5 million Iraqis and at least 6,000 coalition soldiers. Many more were wounded on each side.  The civil war in Iraq that started immediately after the withdrawal of the occupation forces is still going on. Many thousands have perished in terror acts and skirmishes. Today the situation in Iraq is deeply aggravated by the advancement of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

The militant group is steadily capturing Iraqi territory. A significant part of Islamic State’s military backbone reportedly consists of former high-ranking Iraqi soldiers, who lost their careers and jobs following the fall of the former regime.

Source: http://www.rt.com/news/313274-lavrov-splitting-iraq-biden/

Pentagon: Iraq Likely to Split Into Three States


After plunging a functioning country into war and ostensibly pushing for a unified new government, Pentagon officials are now beginning to accept that the country they helped unravel may ultimately settle into three separate nations. "Iraq is fractured," House Armed Services Ranking Member Representative Adam Smith said during a hearing on Wednesday. "You can make a pretty powerful argument, in fact, that Iraq is no more."

Smith joins a growing chorus of officials – including US Defense Secretary Ash Carter – who are starting to recognize that merging multi-sectarian Iraq into a single, inclusive government may have been a Pentagon pipedream all along.

While newly elected Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has promised to unite his nation, some suggest that other government officials are less interested in that goal. Al-Abadi’s Shiite-majority central government may be less inclined to welcome Sunnis into their power circle, and the Sunni population already distrusts the central government, which many feel has not played an active enough role in protecting Sunni communities from the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.

"How do we offer the Sunnis, you know, a reasonable place to be if they don’t have some support from Baghdad?" Smith asked.

When you consider the Kurdish population in the north, which has felt removed the rest of Iraq since long before the fall of Saddam Hussein, the future could see the nation broken into three territories governed independently by Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds.

"What if a multi-sectarian Iraq turns out not to be possible? That is an important part of our strategy now on the ground," Defense Secretary Carter said during the hearing. "If that government can’t do what it’s supposed to do, then we will still try to enable local ground forces, if they’re willing to partner with us, to keep stability in Iraq, but there will not be a single state of Iraq."


In recent months, the Defense Department has ratcheted up its military efforts in Iraq – a country in which it is no longer at war. Over the past ten months, the Pentagon has deployed an additional 3,000 US ground troops back into Iraq, despite President Obama’s promise to wind-down America’s foreign wars. While Washington pledges "no boots on the ground," these troops are officially being sent in an advisory capacity.

Most recently, Obama ordered the deployment of 450 troops to move back into Iraq, and that order even comes with the possibility of new US military bases being constructed in the country. Senior officials in Washington told the New York Times that these training operations are aimed at drawing Sunni tribes into the stabilization effort.

"The Sunnis want to be part of the fight," an official speaking on condition of anonymity said. "This will help empower them, creating more recruits and more units to fight ISIL."

In light of Wednesday’s hearing, these latest deployments can be seen as a last ditch effort to fix a nation Washington was largely responsible for breaking.

"We could drop 200,000 US troops in the middle of this," Smith said during the hearing. "It wouldn’t solve the problem, and I sincerely hope we’ve learned that lesson and that we don’t go deeper and deeper into that, you know, costing more lives and more treasure while only making the problem worse."


Given that the US is currently spending approximately $9 million a day on airstrikes in Iraq, officials are likely still a few more years away from learning that lesson. Still, Iraq’s future may be inevitable at this point.

"It’s a fractured country with the Kurds in the north. The Shias have their stronghold in Baghdad, essentially, and you have the Sunni territories largely to the west," Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard said on Wednesday. "Even as we hear rhetoric from Prime Minister Abadi, the reality is that experts, both who wear the uniform and those who have studied the Middle East for a very long time, all say for practical purposes, you have three regions in Iraq."

Source: http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20150618/1023546838.html

ISIL Serves as Pretext for US Regime Change Agenda in Syria – Analyst

Commenting on the former DIA head's recent admission that US intelligence had known that Jihadi groups which have since metastasized into the Islamic State had been present Syria since 2012, geopolitics analyst Eric Draitser told Sputnik that Washington's use of radical militants to overthrow the Syrian government comes as no surprise to anyone.

Commenting on the former DIA head's recent admission that US intelligence had known that Jihadi groups which have now metastasized into ISIL have been active in Syria since at least 2012, geopolitics analyst Eric Draitser told Sputnik that the US use of Islamist militants to attempt to overthrow the Syrian government comes as no surprise to anyone.

Draitser, founder and editor of stopimperialism.org, noted that "the United States has been pursuing a regime change agenda in Syria really since 2011, but the agenda they were following has not panned out as it did in Libya." The analyst noted that while "in Libya [the US and its allies] were able to use their proxies connected with Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi…in Syria it's been a very different scenario. The Syrian government has managed to withstand these attacks; they've managed to carry on the war more than four years now, and so the United States has needed a new [strategy] in order to achieve that geopolitical objective."

"Make no mistake about it: the removal of Assad's government in Damascus is really what this is all about," Draitser noted. "The emergence of the Islamic State in the last two years has provided a convenient pretext for the United States to be able to continue to pursue the same agenda."

Citing retired former Defense Intelligence Agency director Michael Flynn's recent interview for Al Jazeera, where the official admitted that the US did not interfere with the rise of Jihadist groups in Syria, despite knowledge of their existence dating back to at least August 2012, Draitser noted that "we [now] have documented evidence from the Defense Intelligence Agency –the memo which is now public information, that the United States knew about the rise of the Islamic State all the way back to 2012, and that they were willing to allow this extremist Salafist group to develop for the purposes of capitalizing on it in Syria. That's what the United States has known from the beginning, and that continues to be the strategy."

Moving on to comment on Turkey's ever-growing role in the Syrian conflict, Draitser noted that the US has benefited from Ankara's involvement, saying that the idea of the buffer zone merely serves to create a series of "safe havens for their proxies in northern Syria." The expert explained that Ankara itself has "capitalized on this in other ways, by using it to extend their fight against the Kurdish Workers Party –the PKK, and other elements in that area." 

Draitser has absolutely no faith in the buffer zone, telling Sputnik that "it will work [only] in the sense that it will prolong the war, preventing the Syrian Arab Army and their Hezbollah allies from being able to mop up any remaining opposition," while providing "continuing support for the so-called [moderate] rebels –the non-Islamic State extremists that the Saudis, the US and others have been financing and supporting."

As to whether the buffer zone will assist Assad's enemies in deposing the Syrian government, Draitser does not believe that this will be likely either, noting that Turkey has in fact "now waded into open conflict, and are now reaping the rewards of that –that is to say the terror attacks in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, which is the quite predictable blowback of Turkey's direct involvement in this conflict."

Draitser recalled that "Turkey has been involved in this conflict from the very beginning…providing safe havens to the extremists, and funneling arms across the border, working with the Syrian Muslim brotherhood, as the New York Times reported, and with others, but now that they're openly involved in a shooting war inside Syria, they will now face the consequences, as we've seen in the headlines in recent days."

Asked about the future of Syria, and how much longer the bloody conflict can possibly last, Draitser explained that "Syria is not going to be able to simply end this militarily…There's going to need to be some kind of political solution." The expert praised "the Syrian Arab Army, to Hezbollah and their allies, who have now fought this war for four years to a standstill, to the point where the United States and its regional allies who have been backing terrorist elements in Syria are simply unable to win militarily."  

Draitser believes that the Syrian government will now need to continue "to fight until a political solution can be reached," noting that hope in this regard can be found in Moscow. The expert argues that Russia's "diplomatic drive with the Saudis, with Syria and Iran, trying to unite all of these elements and using the Islamic State as the galvanizing force –this is really for the purposes of getting some kind of a lasting solution for Syria." 

Noting that it will be impossible for the Syrian government to be deposed by military means alone, Draitser believes that "what the Saudis and their allies in Washington would like to do is to force Russia into a diplomatic corner so that they abandon Assad and move toward some form of 'transitional government' or 'transitional stage'." The expert does not believe this to be a likely outcome, noting that it would serve as a "tremendous diplomatic defeat for Moscow."

Ultimately, Draitser believes that "the most likely scenario is that this conflict will continue, with the Saudis continuing to play their diplomatic double game, while Moscow continues to back Damascus and their allies in Tehran, until such time that the Saudis are willing to abandon the fanciful notion that Assad is not going to be part of a diplomatic and political solution…Once that happens, there could be an end to this war."

Boris Dolgov: The Turkish leadership goals coincide with those of the IS


Boris Dolgov: PhD in history, Senior Researcher at the Center of Arabic and Islamic Studies of the Oriental Studies Institute, the Russian Academy of Sciences

Erdogan Islamizes the Turkish society

The attack and further actions of the Turkish government, and what is happening in Turkey now – is the result pursued by the Turkish government, both in their internal and external policies. I should remind that the Turkish government led by Erdogan and his entourage are from the medium of moderate Islamists. The internal policy pursued by Erdogan is based on the “creeping islamization” of the Turkish society, development of Turkey’s Islamic way that is contrary to the foundations on which the Turkish state was created.

The Turkish leadership goals coincide with those of the IS

Now Turkey, attacking on the armed units of the PKK, which in some countries are recognized as terrorist organizations, weakens the front against the IS. We know that Turkey, under the guise of the fight against the IS, actually supports the IS, which is fighting against the Kurdish national movement, Assad, the Iraqi government and Iran. All of these goals coincide with the goals of the Turkish leadership.

Turkey – the heir of the Ottoman Empire

Currently, Turkey can not be an ally of Russia due to the historical peculiarities. Yes, there are politicians, businessmen who want to develop relations with Russia, but historically, Turkey has identified himself as the heir to the Ottoman Empire, and all the territory that once belonged to the Ottoman Empire, to some extent is in the scope of Turkey’s interests.  The historical relations between Armenia and Turkey, of course, also affect the Russian-Turkish relations. Armenia is Russia’s partner, a member of various organizations, where Russia is present. Our president has recognized the Armenian Genocide, this has clearly disappointed Erdogan.

Source: http://rusarminfo.ru/boris-dolgov-the-turkish-leadership-goals-coincide-with-those-of-the-is/

Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS
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A declassified secret US government document obtained by the conservative public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. The document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, and that these “supporting powers” desired the emergence of a “Salafist Principality” in Syria to “isolate the Syrian regime.” According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of this strategy, and warned that it could destabilize Iraq. Despite anticipating that Western, Gulf state and Turkish support for the “Syrian opposition” — which included al-Qaeda in Iraq — could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the document provides no indication of any decision to reverse the policy of support to the Syrian rebels. On the contrary, the emergence of an al-Qaeda affiliated “Salafist Principality” as a result is described as a strategic opportunity to isolate Assad.





 
Hypocrisy

The revelations contradict the official line of Western governments on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home. Among the batch of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, released earlier this week, is a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document then classified as “secret,” dated 12th August 2012.

The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the US Department of Defense and intelligence community. So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria. Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria. Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said:
“Given the political leanings of the organisation that obtained these documents, it’s unsurprising that the main emphasis given to them thus far has been an attempt to embarrass Hilary Clinton regarding what was known about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. However, the documents also contain far less publicized revelations that raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”

The West’s Islamists

The newly declassified DIA document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies. Noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” the document states that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” while Russia, China and Iran “support the [Assad] regime.”

The 7-page DIA document states that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the ‘Islamic State in Iraq,’ (ISI) which became the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,’ “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.” The formerly secret Pentagon report notes that the “rise of the insurgency in Syria” has increasingly taken a “sectarian direction,” attracting diverse support from Sunni “religious and tribal powers” across the region. In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.”

The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.” In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’).

‘Supporting powers want’ ISIS entity

In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.” Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:
“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.” The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”

Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway. The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, it says, would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.” Last summer, ISIS conquered Mosul in Iraq, and just this month has also taken control of Ramadi. Such a quasi-state entity will provide:
“… a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of territory.”
The 2012 DIA document is an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), not a “finally evaluated intelligence” assessment, but its contents are vetted before distribution. The report was circulated throughout the US intelligence community, including to the State Department, Central Command, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, among other agencies. In response to my questions about the strategy, the British government simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said:
“AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.”
The DIA did not respond to request for comment.

Strategic asset for regime-change

Security analyst Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations:
“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”
According to Brad Hoff, a former US Marine who served during the early years of the Iraq War and as a 9/11 first responder at the Marine Corps Headquarters Battalion in Quantico from 2000 to 2004, the just released Pentagon report for the first time provides stunning affirmation that:
“US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”
Hoff, who is managing editor of Levant Report—  an online publication run by Texas-based educators who have direct experience of the Middle East — points out that the DIA document “matter-of-factly” states that the rise of such an extremist Salafist political entity in the region offers a “tool for regime change in Syria.” The DIA intelligence report shows, he said, that the rise of ISIS only became possible in the context of the Syrian insurgency — “there is no mention of US troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits.” The report demonstrates that:
“The establishment of a ‘Salafist Principality’ in Eastern Syria is ‘exactly’ what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as ‘the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey’) in order to weaken the Assad government.”
The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely — but nevertheless strategically useful — blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”

Complicity

Critics of the US-led strategy in the region have repeatedly raised questions about the role of coalition allies in intentionally providing extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups in the drive to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria. The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported.

However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency. Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.

As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion” — namely, the emergence of ISIS — “but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’” Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer who blew the whistle in the 1990s on MI6 funding of al-Qaeda to assassinate Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, similarly said of the revelations:
“This is no surprise to me. Within individual countries there are always multiple intelligence agencies with competing agendas.”
She explained that MI6’s Libya operation in 1996, which resulted in the deaths of innocent people, “happened at precisely the time when MI5 was setting up a new section to investigate al-Qaeda.” This strategy was repeated on a grand scale in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, said Machon, where the CIA and MI6 were:
“… supporting the very same Libyan groups, resulting in a failed state, mass murder, displacement and anarchy. So the idea that elements of the American military-security complex have enabled the development of ISIS after their failed attempt to get NATO to once again ‘intervene’ is part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”

Divide and rule

Several US government officials have conceded that their closest allies in the anti-ISIS coalition were funding violent extremist Islamist groups that became integral to ISIS. US Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, admitted last year that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamist rebels in Syria that metamorphosed into ISIS. But he did not admit what this internal Pentagon document demonstrates — that the entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers. The strategy appears to fit a policy scenario identified by a recent US Army-commissioned RAND Corp report.

The report, published four years before the DIA document, called for the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.” The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance. The RAND report confirmed that the “divide and rule” strategy was already being deployed “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.”

The report observed that the US was forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years in the form of “weapons and cash.” Although these nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.”

The 2012 DIA document, however, further shows that while sponsoring purportedly former al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda, Western governments were simultaneously arming al-Qaeda insurgents in Syria. The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers.

In the wake of the rise of ISIS, intrusive new measures to combat extremism including mass surveillance, the Orwellian ‘prevent duty’ and even plans to enable government censorship of broadcasters, are being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic, much of which disproportionately targets activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, especially Muslims. Yet the new Pentagon report reveals that, contrary to Western government claims, the primary cause of the threat comes from their own deeply misguided policies of secretly sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.


Gen. Wesley Clark: 'ISIS Got Started With Funding From Our Closest Allies'

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Many remember General Wesley Clark as the man who almost started World War III by ordering the British to fire on Russian peacekeepers who landed in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, before the Americans. British commander of the international KFOR peacekeeping force, General Sir Mike Jackson, is reported to have replied, "I'm not going to start the third world war for you."

One of the most interesting things about Gen. Clark, however, is his propensity to blurt fascinating things out every now and again. Who can forget his interview with Amy Goodman back in 2007 where he revealed that one of the top generals in the Pentagon had showed him a memo from then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld not long after the 9/11 attack outlining US global war plans. According to Clark at the time, the general said:
[W]e’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!” Well Clark is back with another very interesting blurt. Far from a spontaneously-arising root-of-all-evil organization, at least according to General Wesley Clark, ISIS was created and funded by our "closest allies." As the General said:
ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies... to fight to the death against Hezbollah. Which friends and allies, he did not say. But he did suggest that it has become a "Frankenstein monster." So the insider, Gen. Wesley Clark, informs us that our closest allies in the Middle East have helped create ISIS -- the organization we are spending billions of dollars to fight. We do know that Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf States have long been obsessed with fighting Hezbollah and Assad, and that both are keen to keep the US fighting on their behalf in the region. Could these be who he was thinking about? Maybe rather than continue to expand the US military presence in the region to fight ISIS, it's time for the US to have a really good talk with its "allies" in the Middle East.


General Petraeus: The Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem in Iraq


Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq during the 2007-2008 surge, was back in that country last week for the first time in more than three years. He was attending the annual Sulaimani Forum, a get-together of Iraqi leaders, thinkers and academics, at the American University of Iraq - Sulaimani in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region. In his most expansive comments yet on the latest crisis in Iraq and Syria, he answered written questions from The Post’s Liz Sly, offering insights into the mistakes, the prosecution and the prospects of the war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which he refers to by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.

How does it feel to be back in Iraq after four years away?

Iraq is a country I came to know well and the place where I spent some of the most consequential years of my life. So it has been a bit of an emotional experience to return here after my last visit in December 2011 as director of the CIA.  I was very grateful for the chance to be back to see old friends and comrades from the past.

That said, it is impossible to return to Iraq without a keen sense of opportunities lost. These include the mistakes we, the U.S., made here, and likewise the mistakes the Iraqis themselves have made. This includes the squandering of so much of what we and our coalition and Iraqi partners paid such a heavy cost to achieve, the continuing failure of Iraq's political leaders to solve longstanding political disputes, and the exploitation of these failures by extremists on both sides of the sectarian and ethnic divides.

Having said that, my sense is that the situation in Iraq today is, to repeat a phrase I used on the eve of the surge, hard but not hopeless. I believe that a reasonable outcome here is still achievable, although it will be up to all of us — Iraqis, Americans, leaders in the region and leaders of the coalition countries — to work together to achieve it.

You oversaw the gains of the surge in 2007-08. How does it make you feel to see what is happening today, with ISIS having taken over more of Iraq than its predecessor, AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq], ever did?

What has happened in Iraq is a tragedy — for the Iraqi people, for the region and for the entire world. It is tragic foremost because it didn't have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the Surge was sustained for over three years.  What transpired after that, starting in late 2011, came about as a result of mistakes and misjudgments whose consequences were predictable. And there is plenty of blame to go around for that.

Yet despite that history and the legacy it has left, I think Iraq and the coalition forces are making considerable progress against the Islamic State. In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.

These militia returned to the streets of Iraq in response to a fatwa by Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani at a moment of extreme danger. And they prevented the Islamic State from continuing its offensive into Baghdad. Nonetheless, they have, in some cases, cleared not only Sunni extremists but also Sunni civilians and committed atrocities against them. Thus, they have, to a degree, been both part of Iraq's salvation but also the most serious threat to the all-important effort of once again getting the Sunni Arab population in Iraq to feel that it has a stake in the success of Iraq rather than a stake in its failure. Longer term, Iranian-backed Shia militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran.

Beyond Iraq, I am also profoundly worried about the continuing meltdown of Syria, which is a geopolitical Chernobyl. Until it is capped, it is going to continue to spew radioactive instability and extremist ideology over the entire region. Any strategy to stabilize the region thus needs to take into account the challenges in both Iraq and Syria. It is not sufficient to say that we’ll figure them out later.

What went wrong?

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki. As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don't know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

For that matter, should we have pushed harder for an alternative to PM Maliki during government formation in 2010? Again, it is impossible to know if such a gambit might have succeeded. But certainly, a different personality at the top might have made a big difference, depending, of course, on who that individual might have been.

Where I think a broader comment is perhaps warranted has to do with the way we came to think about Iraq and, to a certain extent, the broader region over the last few years. There was certainly a sense in Washington that Iraq should be put in our rearview mirror, that whatever happened here was somewhat peripheral to our national security and that we could afford to redirect our attention to more important challenges. Much of this sentiment was very understandable given the enormous cost of our efforts in Iraq and the endless frustrations that our endeavor here encountered.

In retrospect, a similar attitude existed with respect to the civil war in Syria — again, a sense that developments in Syria constituted a horrible tragedy to be sure, but a tragedy at the outset, at least, that did not seem to pose a threat to our national security. But in hindsight, few, I suspect, would contend that our approach was what it might — or should — have been. In fact, if there is one lesson that I hope we’ve learned from the past few years, it is that there is a linkage between the internal conditions of countries in the Middle East and our own vital security interests.

Whether fair or not, those in the region will also offer that our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East. This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches. This has been all the more frustrating because, of course, in objective terms, we remain deeply engaged across the region and our power here is still very, very significant. Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are 10 feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now.

What are your thoughts when you see Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC's Quds Force commander who funded and armed the militias who blew up U.S. troops and shelled the U.S. Embassy while you were in it, taking battlefield tours like you used to?

Yes, "Hajji Qasem," our old friend. I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren't suitable for publication in a family newspaper like yours. What I will say is that he is very capable and resourceful individual, a worthy adversary. He has played his hand well. But this is a long game, so let’s see how events transpire. It is certainly interesting to see how visible Soleimani has chosen to become in recent months — quite a striking change for a man of the shadows.

Whatever the motivations, though, they underscore a very important reality: The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. While the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh, our interests generally diverge. The Iranian response to the open hand offered by the U.S. has not been encouraging.

Iranian power in the Middle East is thus a double problem. It is foremost problematic because it is deeply hostile to us and our friends. But it is also dangerous because, the more it is felt, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests — Sunni radicalism and, if we aren't careful, the prospect of nuclear proliferation as well.

You have had some interactions with Qasem Soleimani in the past. Could you tell us about those?

In the spring of 2008, Iraqi and coalition forces engaged in what emerged as a decisive battle between the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iranian-supported Shiite militias. In the midst of the fight, I received word from a very senior Iraqi official that Qasem Soleimani had given him a message for me. When I met with the senior Iraqi, he conveyed the message: "General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qasem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan." The point was clear: He owned the policy and the region, and I should deal with him. When my Iraqi interlocutor asked what I wanted to convey in return, I told him to tell Soleimani that he could "pound sand."

If you look back at what happened when the surge of U.S. troops under your command turned the tide of the war, is there anything you would have done differently? What are your regrets?

There are always actions that, with the benefit of hindsight, you realize you misjudged or would have done differently. There are certainly decisions, in the course of my three deployments to Iraq, that I got wrong. Very candidly, there are several people who are causing enormous harm in Iraq today whom I wish we had taken off the battlefield when we had the chance to do so. Beyond that, there certainly were actions taken in the first year in Iraq, in particular, that made our subsequent effort that vastly more difficult that it needed to be. But those are well known.

What would be (or is, assuming people must be asking) your main advice on how best to prosecute the war against ISIS now?

In general terms, what is needed in Iraq at this point is all of the elements of the comprehensive, civil-military counterinsurgency campaign that achieved such significant progress during the Surge, with one huge difference — that Iraqis must perform a number of the critical tasks that we had to perform. Iraqis must, for example, provide the "boots on the ground," albeit enabled by advisers and U.S. air assets, with tactical air controllers if necessary.

If the Iraqis cannot provide such forces, we should increase efforts to develop them. Iraqis must also be the ones who pursue reconciliation with Sunni leaders and the Sunni Arab community. We may help in various ways, but again, sustainable results can only be achieved by Iraqis — who clearly have the ability to do so, even if the will is sometimes not fully evident. In more specific terms, I would offer the following:

First, it is critical that Iraqi forces do not clear areas that they are not able or willing to hold. Indeed, the "hold" force should be identified before the clearance operation begins. This underscores the need for capable, anti-Daesh Sunni forces that can go into Sunni-majority areas and be viewed as liberators, not conquerors or oppressors.

Second, the Iraqi forces that conduct(s) operations have to demonstrate much greater care in their conduct. I am deeply concerned by reports of sectarian atrocities — in particular by the Shiite militias as they move into Sunni areas previously held by the Islamic State. Kidnappings and reprisal killings, mass evictions of civilians from their homes — these kinds of abuses are corrosive to what needs to be accomplished. Indeed, they constitute Daesh’s best hope for survival — pushing Sunnis to feel once again the need to reject the Iraqi forces in their areas. The bottom line is that Daesh’s defeat requires not just hammering them on the battlefield, but simultaneously, revived political reconciliation with Sunnis. Iraq’s Sunnis need to be brought back into the fold. They need to feel as though they have a stake in the success of Iraq, rather than a stake in its failure.

Third, as I explained earlier, we need to recognize that the #1 long term threat to Iraq’s equilibrium — and the broader regional balance — is not the Islamic State, which I think is on the path to being defeated in Iraq and pushed out of its Iraqi sanctuary. The most significant long term threat is that posed by the Iranian-backed Shiite militias. If Daesh is driven from Iraq and the consequence is that Iranian-backed militias emerge as the most powerful force in the country — eclipsing the Iraqi Security Forces, much as Hezbollah does in Lebanon — that would be a very harmful outcome for Iraqi stability and sovereignty, not to mention our own national interests in the region.

Fourth, as long as we are talking about difficult problems, there is Syria. Any acceptable outcome [in Syria] requires the build-up of capable, anti-Daesh opposition forces whom we support on the battlefield. Although it is encouraging to see the administration's support for this initiative, I think there are legitimate questions that can be raised about the sufficiency of the present scale, scope, speed, and resourcing of this effort. It will, for example, be impossible to establish a headquarters inside Syria to provide command and control of the forces we help train and equip as long as barrel bombs are dropped on it on a regular basis.

The Phony War Against ISIS: The U.S. and its allies mostly harass, unwilling to strike decisively

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The “Phony War”: That’s how history recalls the meager Allied effort in Western Europe early in World War II. Despite having declared war on Germany in September 1939, the Allies shrank from a major offensive for months. They considered real war too painful and themselves unprepared. Nonetheless, what quickly followed was France’s capitulation on June 22, 1940—75 years ago last week. Today, another phony war is being waged, this time in the Middle East. Those opposed to Islamic State—the Saudis, Iraqis, Kurds, Turks and, yes, Americans—mostly squat and occasionally harass, unable or unwilling to strike decisively.

On the other side of the battlefield, Islamic State and Iran, though from rival sects and opposed in their ultimate ends, are matched in violence, ambition and immediate aims. Tehran seeks to attain nuclear weapons; to dominate oil-rich, Arab-Shiite southern Iraq; and to preserve its Syrian ally, Bashar Assad. These three purposes advance its dream of controlling the region and becoming the knife’s edge of Islam’s penetration into the West. For now, Islamic State advances these goals, which limits direct conflict between the two powers. Each sees the other as a most useful enemy, helping consolidate support and hold the U.S. at bay.

In Syria, Islamic State only spars with Mr. Assad, even abetting his efforts to gut the “moderate” opposition. Fearful that Islamic State would dominate a post-Assad era, the U.S. largely stays its hand, unwilling to aid Mr. Assad or depose him. Thus, Mr. Assad and Islamic State preserve each other. As a bonus, U.S. inaction discourages the Turks from assisting anti-Assad Sunnis in Syria or anti-Islamic State Sunnis in Iraq.
 
Baghdad’s Shiite leaders, under threat from Islamic State and seeing U.S. hesitation, embrace Iranian support. Tehran stages anti-Islamic State forays but mostly defends Baghdad and the Shiite south. In turn, this increased role of Shiite militias and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps prevents Sunnis in the western Anbar Province from turning on their Islamic State masters. Better to be enslaved by Islamic State, these Sunnis reason, than to fall into the hands of a Shiite militia. The resulting centrifugal forces tear the country apart and press Iraqis toward one camp or the other. Neither helps us.

Tehran knows that the Obama administration dreams of a nuclear deal and, unwilling to act in Iraq, hopes that Iran will slay the Islamic State beast. So the U.S. cedes ground in the nuclear talks and temporizes.

The Obama administration lately projects an anti-Islamic State campaign of three to five years at best, or a decade perhaps at worst. Meanwhile, U.S. leaders hope to tame Iran’s nuclear hunger and bloody misdeeds with inspections and respect, a coin that must be paid in years of restraint. Maybe the administration believes regional powers can be goaded into not just pricking, but, with limited U.S. aid, defeating Islamic State and Iranian ambitions.

Whatever the reasoning the net consequence is the same: Iran and Islamic State have won years to gather weapons and riches, inflame hatreds, reap recruits and plot. The time will come, Islamic State and Iran know, to settle scores between them. But that will be another day. In the interim, both prosper.

The administration preserves its focus on preferred domestic goals. President Obama proclaims that he envisions a benign equilibrium taking hold in the region in the mid to long term. But it isn’t hard to envision the Middle East, bereft of U.S. leadership and awash in blood, with its hatreds and violence spilling ever westward. Herein lies the great gamble of the phony war.

To be successful, Mr. Obama’s strategy must judge rightly the enemies’ future strategies and America’s own. If the enemies defy his expectations, or if future administrations reject the risks he has accepted, we will regret having dallied as the first lines of defense eroded. Historians recognize that, having long misplayed their hands, the Allies had few choices at the onset of World War II. They used their phony war to rearm. Future generations may not be so kind toward ours.

Mr. Fradkin is director of the Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World at the Hudson Institute. Mr. Libby, a senior vice president at the Hudson Institute, served in the George W. Bush administration as assistant to the president and assistant to the vice president for national-security affairs.


Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB11091212670656464670804581058451367149150

Top US General: Few U.S.-Trained Syrians Still Fight ISIS

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Only four or five Syrian individuals trained by the United States military to confront the Islamic State remain in the fight, the head of the United States Central Command told a Senate panel on Wednesday, a bleak acknowledgment that the Defense Department’s $500 million program to raise an army of Syrian fighters has gone nowhere. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the top American commander in the Middle East, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States would not reach its goal of training 5,000 Syrian fighters anytime soon.

His comments came during a testy hearing in which a succession of senators from both parties criticized the American-led effort in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State, the Sunni militancy also known as ISIS or ISIL. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, questioned why the United States had not set up a no-fly zone over Syria to help protect civilians from bombardment by the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said that despite all the “good news” talk from American military officials about how well the war effort was going, “the practical realities aren’t being embraced.”

In May, the Defense Department began its training program for up to 5,400 fighters a year, in what White House officials described as a necessary component of President Obama’s strategy to use local troops on the ground against the Islamic State, combined with American air power. Mr. Obama has been loath to send American ground troops into Iraq or Syria, and has insisted that ground combat against the Islamic State be handled by forces within the countries fighting to rid their territories of the group. In Iraq, that strategy has had limited success. Iraqi security forces and Kurdish pesh merga fighters have retaken some territory that had been seized by the Islamic State, and the group has stalled in its expansion there. But in recent weeks the campaign to retake Ramadi has stalled, and efforts to take back Mosul and Falluja have taken a back seat.

In Syria, the effort to use local ground forces has yet to take off. General Austin told the Senate committee that many fighters in the first class of 54 graduates of the training program for Syrians were attacked in July by an offshoot of Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front, and either fled or were killed, leaving only a “small number” of rebels still in the fight. He acknowledged that the program was behind schedule, and said that the military was reviewing it. Asked how many fighters were still in Syria, General Austin said that “it’s a small number.” He added, “We’re talking four or five.” Defense officials said that only 100 to 120 Syrian fighters were in training right now. “So we’re counting on our fingers and toes at this point when we had envisioned 5,400 by the end of the year,” Ms. McCaskill said.

The White House acknowledged that the program had not succeeded. “The administration knew on the front end that this would be a quite difficult task, and it’s proved to be even more difficult than we thought,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday. Mr. Earnest tried to turn the tables on critics of the administration by noting that they had long argued in favor of American training of Syrian rebels. “Many of our critics had proposed this specific option as the cure-all for all of the policy challenges we’re facing in Syria right now,” he said.

General Austin also told the committee that he could not comment on an internal Pentagon investigation into whether senior military officers manipulated the conclusions of reports on the war against the Islamic State, because the investigation was in progress. He said that “once the investigation is completed, based on the findings, you can be assured that I will take appropriate actions.” Separately on Wednesday, France’s defense minister said that French forces would join the coalition of Western and Middle Eastern countries carrying out airstrikes on the Islamic State in Syria, with the first strikes likely to come in the next couple of weeks.

The airstrikes would represent an expansion of France’s military activity in the region, where it has already been involved in bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and began reconnaissance flights in Syria last week. The Islamic State has control of much of the territory that extends from northern Syria across the Iraqi border to Mosul and south to within about 30 miles of Baghdad.


Exclusive Leak: 50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked

50 Spies Say ISIS Intel Is Cooked

It’s being called a ‘revolt’ by intelligence pros who are paid to give their honest assessment of the ISIS war—but are instead seeing their reports turned into happy talk. More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned. The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.

“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said. Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.

That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

The accusations suggest that a large number of people tracking the inner workings of the terror groups think that their reports are being manipulated to fit a public narrative. The allegations echoed charges that political appointees and senior officials cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons program in 2002 and 2003. The two signatories to the complaint were described as the ones formally lodging it, and the additional analysts are willing and able to back up the substance of the allegations with concrete examples.

Some of those CENTCOM analysts described the sizeable cadre of protesting analysts as a “revolt” by intelligence professionals who are paid to give their honest assessment, based on facts, and not to be influenced by national-level policy. The analysts have accused senior-level leaders, including the director of intelligence and his deputy in CENTCOM, of changing their analyses to be more in line with the Obama administration’s public contention that the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda is making progress. The analysts take a more pessimistic view about how military efforts to destroy the groups are going.

The large number of analysts who complained to the Pentagon inspector general hasn’t been previously reported. Some of them are assigned to work at CENTCOM, the U.S. military’s command for the Middle East and Central Asia, but are officially employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The complaints allege that in some cases key elements of intelligence reports were removed, resulting in a document that didn’t accurately capture the analysts’ conclusions, sources familiar with the protest said. But the complaint also goes beyond alleged altering of reports and accuses some senior leaders at CENTCOM of creating an unprofessional work environment. One person who knows the contents of the written complaint sent to the inspector general said it used the word “Stalinist” to describe the tone set by officials overseeing CENTCOM’s analysis.

Many described a climate in which analysts felt they could not give a candid assessment of the situation in Iraq and Syria. Some felt it was a product of commanders protecting their career advancement by putting the best spin on the war. Some reports crafted by the analysts that were too negative in their assessment of the war were sent back down the chain of the command or not shared up the chain, several analysts said. Still others, feeling the climate around them, self-censored so their reports affirmed already-held beliefs.

“While we cannot comment on the specific investigation cited in the article, we can speak to the process. The Intelligence Community routinely provides a wide range of subjective assessments related to the current security environment. These products and the analysis that they present are absolutely vital to our efforts, particularly given the incredibly complex nature of the multi-front fights that are ongoing now in Iraq and Syria,” said Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, U.S. CENTCOM spokesman. “Senior civilian and military leadership consider these assessments during planning and decision-making, along with information gained from various other sources, to include the insights provided by commanders on the ground and other key advisors, intelligence collection assets, and previous experience.”

Two of the officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said that analysts began airing their complaints in October in an effort to address the issue internally and only went to the inspector general when that effort failed. Some of those who complained were urged to retire, one official familiar with the report told The Daily Beast. Some agreed to leave. In recent months, members of the Obama administration have sought to paint the fight against ISIS in rosy hues—despite the terror army’s seizure of major cities like Mosul and Fallujah.

“ISIS is losing,” John Allen, the retired Marine general charged with coordinating the ISIS campaign, said in July. “I am confident that over time, we will beat, we will, indeed, degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in March, using the government’s preferred acronym for the group. “No, I don’t think we’re losing,” President Obama said in May. Yet a growing group of intelligence analysts persisted with their complaints. For some, who have served at CENTCOM for more than a decade, scars remained from the run-up to the 2003 war in Iraq, when poorly written intelligence reports suggesting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, when it did not, formed the basis of the George W. Bush administration’s case for war.

“They were frustrated because they didn’t do the right thing then” and speak up about their doubts on Iraq’s weapons program, the defense official told The Daily Beast.


Delivery of US Weapons and Ammunition to ISIS: Iraqi Commander Wiretaps ISIS Communications with US Military

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A commander of Iraq’s popular forces disclosed that wiretapping of ISIL’s communications has confirmed the reports that the US planes have been airdropping food and arms supplies for the Takfiri terrorists.

“The wiretapped ISIL communications by Iraqi popular forces have revealed that the US planes have been dropping weapons and foodstuff for the Takfiri terrorist group,” Commander of Iraq’s Ali Akbar Battalion told FNA on Wednesday. He noted that tapping on ISIL disclosed the terrorist group’s regular contacts with the US army, and said,
“They exchanged sentences like if they would have a share of the ammunition dropped near (Spiker Military Base) or responses such as ‘you will also receive your share’.”
“The US forces by dropping weapons and ammunition for ISIL, specially in Yassreb, Al-Ramadi and near Spiker Base in Hay al-Qadessiya have provided a lot of help to the ISIL,” he added. Many similar reports by Iraqi officials and forces have surfaced in the last few months. In February, an Iraqi provincial official lashed out at the western countries and their regional allies for supporting Takfiri terrorists in Iraq, revealing that the US airplanes still continue to airdrop weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL terrorists.

“The US planes have dropped weapons for the ISIL terrorists in the areas under ISIL control and even in those areas that have been recently liberated from the ISIL control to encourage the terrorists to return to those places,” Coordinator of Iraqi popular forces Jafar al-Jaberi told FNA. He noted that eyewitnesses in Al-Havijeh of Kirkuk province had witnessed the US airplanes dropping several suspicious parcels for ISIL terrorists in the province. “Two coalition planes were also seen above the town of Al-Khas in Diyala and they carried the Takfiri terrorists to the region that has recently been liberated from the ISIL control,” Al-Jaberi said.

Meantime, Head of Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee Hakem al-Zameli also disclosed that the anti-ISIL coalition’s planes have dropped weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL in Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces. In January, al-Zameli underlined that  the coalition is the main cause of ISIL’s survival in Iraq. “There are proofs and evidence for the US-led coalition’s military aid to ISIL terrorists through air(dropped cargoes),” he told FNA at the time. He noted that the members of his committee have already proved that the US planes have dropped advanced weaponry, including anti-aircraft weapons, for the ISIL, and that it has set up an investigation committee to probe into the matter.

“The US drops weapons for the ISIL on the excuse of not knowing about the whereabouts of the ISIL positions and it is trying to distort the reality with its allegations. He noted that the committee had collected the data and the evidence provided by eyewitnesses, including Iraqi army officers and the popular forces, and said, “These documents are given to the investigation committee … and the necessary measures will be taken to protect the Iraqi airspace.” Also in January, another senior Iraqi legislator reiterated that the US-led coalition is the main cause of ISIL’s survival in Iraq. “The international coalition is only an excuse for protecting the ISIL and helping the terrorist group with equipment and weapons,” Jome Divan, who is member of the al-Sadr bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said.

He said the coalition’s support for the ISIL is now evident to everyone, and continued, “The coalition has not targeted ISIL’s main positions in Iraq.” In Late December, Iraqi Parliamentary Security and Defense Commission MP disclosed that a US plane supplied the ISIL terrorist organization with arms and ammunition in Salahuddin province. MP Majid al-Gharawi stated that the available information pointed out that US planes are supplying ISIL organization, not only in Salahuddin province, but also other provinces, Iraq TradeLink reported. He added that the US and the international coalition are “not serious in fighting against the ISIL organization, because they have the technological power to determine the presence of ISIL gunmen and destroy them in one month”.

Gharawi added that “the US is trying to expand the time of the war against the ISIL to get guarantees from the Iraqi government to have its bases in Mosul and Anbar provinces.” Salahuddin security commission also disclosed that “unknown planes threw arms and ammunition to the ISIL gunmen Southeast of Tikrit city”. Also in Late December, a senior Iraqi lawmaker raised doubts about the seriousness of the anti-ISIL coalition led by the US, and said that the terrorist group still received aids dropped by unidentified aircraft. “The international coalition is not serious about air strikes on ISIL terrorists and is even seeking to take out the popular (voluntary) forces from the battlefield against the Takfiris so that the problem with ISIL remains unsolved in the near future,” Nahlah al-Hababi told FNA. “The ISIL terrorists are still receiving aids from unidentified fighter jets in Iraq and Syria,” she added.

Hababi said that the coalition’s precise airstrikes are launched only in those areas where the Kurdish Pishmarga forces are present, while military strikes in other regions are not so much precise. In late December, the US-led coalition dropped aids to the Takfiri militants in an area North of Baghdad. Field sources in Iraq told al-Manar that the international coalition airplanes dropped aids to the terrorist militants in Balad, an area which lies in Salahuddin province North of Baghdad. In October, a high-ranking Iranian commander also slammed the US for providing aid supplies to ISIL, adding that the US claims that the weapons were mistakenly airdropped to ISIL were untrue.

“The US and the so-called anti-ISIL coalition claim that they have launched a campaign against this terrorist and criminal group – while supplying them with weapons, food and medicine in Jalawla region (a town in Diyala Governorate, Iraq). This explicitly displays the falsity of the coalition’s and the US’ claims,” Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said.

The US claimed that it had airdropped weapons and medical aid to Kurdish fighters confronting the ISIL in Kobani, near the Turkish border in Northern Syria. The US Defense Department said that it had airdropped 28 bundles of weapons and supplies, but one of them did not make it into the hands of the Kurdish fighters. Video footage later showed that some of the weapons that the US airdropped were taken by ISIL militants. The Iranian commander insisted that the US had the necessary intelligence about ISIL’s deployment in the region and that their claims to have mistakenly airdropped weapons to them are as unlikely as they are untrue.


US to Buy Arms for Sunni Tribes in Anbar Province

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A Pentagon document sent to Congress detailing plans to spend $1.6 billion of additional “training and arming” money on the ISIS war includes a plan to buy AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades to give to assorted Sunni tribes in Anbar Province. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey has talked up arming the tribes for some time, but with many of the tribes not on particularly good terms with the Iraqi central government, the decision was controversial. The Pentagon is arguing for arming them anyhow, on the grounds that “not arming tribal fighters” will make them reluctant to fight against ISIS, which controls over 80 percent of Anbar. Only one Sunni tribe in Anbar was on good terms with the central government, Albu Nimr, but ISIS has massacre hundreds of its members since then. Other tribes have so far been more or less willing to accept ISIS rule as at the very least no worse than living under the central government, and it’s not clear who these other tribes even might be.


US Policy Strategists Aware That ISIL Poses Threat to Russia, China, Iran
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The Islamic State poses a serious threat to Russia, China, and Iran and the United States is strategically aware of it, American scholar Dr. Matthew Crosston stresses.

Washington is strategically aware that the rise of ISIL (Islamic State) poses a significant threat to Eurasia's geopolitical players, most notably Iran, China and Russia, according to Dr. Matthew Crosston, a professor of Political Science and Director of the International Security and Intelligence Studies program at Bellevue University and Evan Thomsen. The professor stressed that the popular conspiracy theory that the Islamic State was created by the United States bears no relation to reality. However, it is obvious that Washington realizes that ISIL is in some sense playing directly into America's hands in the region, the scholar adds. The professor envisages that ISIL will continue its advance, targeting Khorasan, Eurasia's new geopolitical battleground.


"Khorasan is a region that encompasses much of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran. To ISIS [ISIL], Khorasan represents the first battleground of its end-of-days scenario. To regional powers, Khorasan represents the future of energy," Dr. Crosston noted in his article for New Eastern Outlook. China, Russia and Iran have relatively free access to this "pie." However, the United States is unwilling to allow Eurasia's geopolitical competitors to develop their energy infrastructures further.

"[T]he US can try to increase NATO presence through security commitments and public displays of force, seeking to undermine the Russian regional energy hegemony. We have already seen the public march of NATO throughout Europe. We are in the midst of developing a simultaneously overt and covert strategy of economic and energy subversion. It seems likely such a strategy would seek to align military and economic power rather than detach them," the professor remarked. At the same time "the US has a geopolitical interest in acting as at least a partial impediment" to China's plans to explore natural resources in the Caspian region, the professor noted. On the other hand, while negotiating with Iran, Washington keeps in mind that ISIL's growing threat in the region could make Tehran more tractable, since the Islamic State undermines Iran's economic stability and security.


"War is not just politics but economics by another means. The Caspian region, or Khorasan, is now playing host to a Gordian knot of great power politics and economics. ISIS (ISIL) is a dialectical challenge for the United States, existing both as a US foreign policy failure in the present and presenting a unique strategic opportunity in the near future… I expect that as ISIS looks to Khorasan the US will look the other way," the professor suggested.
 
So, maybe that is why Washington is not rushing to exterminate the Islamic State, prompting fierce criticism from Tehran and Baghdad? The US is not the only power that is benefitting from the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, instigated by the rise of the Islamic State. The Gulf monarchies are also interested in containing their energy rivals and Shia neighbors. Thus far, it comes as no surprise that the Gulf States, which have repeatedly been accused of sponsoring al-Qaeda affiliates and terrorist insurgents in the Middle East, turn a deaf ear to the pleas of Syrian refugees. Ian Bremmer, the president and founder of US-based Eurasia Group, has pointed out that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait have not raised a finger to support Syrian shelter-seekers.

Source: http://sputniknews.com/analysis/20150828/1026316572.html

One of top ISIS commanders was a 'star pupil' of US-special forces training in the country of Georgia

One of ISIS' top commanders was a 'star pupil' of US-special forces training in the country of Georgia

This image made from undated video posted during the weekend of June 28, 2014, shows Omar al-Shishani standing next to the group's spokesman among a group of fighters as they declare the elimination of the border between Iraq and Syria. Aside from ISIS' 'caliph' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Georgian ex-commando Omar al-Shishani might be the most recognizable and popular of the powerful militant group's leaders. Sporting a recognizable red beard and happy to pose for photos, Shishani has acted as a very public face for some of ISIS' most notorious successes.

It was Shishani who posed with the stolen US Humvees that ISIS had seized from Mosul and brought back into Syria. And it was Shishani who had led successful ISIS military campaigns throughout Syria as well as a blitz through western Iraq that put the group within 100 miles of Baghdad. These military successes are not simply the result of any innate military capabilities. Instead, Shishani spent years conducting military campaigns against the Russians, first as a Chechen rebel and then as a soldier in the Georgian military. During Shishani's four years in the military, from 2006 to 2010, his unit received some degree of training from American special forces units.

“He was a perfect soldier from his first days, and everyone knew he was a star,” an unnamed former comrade who is still active in the Georgian military told McClatchy DC. “We were well trained by American special forces units, and he was the star pupil.”

“We trained him well, and we had lots of help from America,” another anonymous Georgian defense official told McClatchy about Shishani. “In fact, the only reason he didn’t go to Iraq to fight alongside America was that we needed his skills here in Georgia.”

In 2008, when Russia and Georgia briefly went to war over the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia, Shishani reportedly was a star soldier. Although Russia quickly won the war, Shishani and his special forces unit caused asymmetrical damage to the invading Russian forces, including the wounding of the Russian commander of the 58th Army. Shishani ultimately fell out of favor with the Georgian military and was arrested for 15 months for illegally harboring weapons. In 2012, after serving his sentence, Shishani fled Georgia and went to Syria via Turkey. However, his history of asymmetrical fighting against the Russians in the Caucasus, both before and after having received American training, has played a key role in defining Shishani's military and command style.

"Shishani is somewhat unique among ISIS’s commanders. Shishani is fighting like an insurgent," Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Musings on Iraq. "He’s using a complex style in Anbar [province in western Iraq], relying on a very small force ... Shishani’s forces emphasize speed and agility."
 
"They’ll hit multiple targets on the same day, and engage in harassing attacks to try to draw out the enemy, the Iraqi Security Forces or the Sahwa [Sunni tribes aligned against ISIS in Iraq]. Then he loves trapping the people he’s able to draw out that are in pursuit of him."

These tactics have worked extremely well for Shishani throughout Iraq. Despite US-led coalition airstrikes and the combined forces of the Iraqi Security Forces and Iranian-backed militias, ISIS has continued to seize territory and embed itself deeper into Iraq's Anbar province. And more concerning is that even if ISIS were to lose ground, there is no clear indication that it would make Shishani any less dangerous. Having trained and specialized in insurgent-like, asymmetrical warfare, Shishani would be just as much of a danger to Iraq even should ISIS begin to lose territory.


Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/one-isis-top-commanders-star-165700972.html  

Chechen Jihadis Leave Syria, Join the Fight in Ukraine

Chechen Jihadists Join Ukraine’s Fighters

Just an hour’s drive from this city under siege, at an old resort on the Azov Sea that’s now a military base, militants from Chechnya—veterans of the jihad in their own lands and, more recently, in Syria—now serve in what’s called the Sheikh Mansur Battalion. Some of them say they have trained, at least, in the Middle East with fighters for the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.

Among the irregular forces who’ve enlisted in the fight against the Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, few are more controversial or more dangerous to the credibility of the cause they say they want to serve. Russian President Vladimir Putin would love to portray the fighters he supports as crusaders against wild-eyed jihadists rather than the government in Ukraine that wants to integrate the country more closely with Western Europe. Yet many Ukrainian patriots, desperate to gain an edge in the fight against the Russian-backed forces, are willing to accept the Chechen militants on their side.

Over the past year, dozens of Chechen fighters have come across Ukraine’s border, some legally, some illegally, and connected in Donbas with the Right Sector, a far-right-wing militia. The two groups, with two battalions, have little in common, but they share an enemy and they share this base. The Daily Beast spoke with the Chechen militants about their possible support for the Islamic State and its affiliate in the Northern Caucasus region of Russia, which is now called the Islamic State Caucasus Emirate and is labeled a terrorist organization by both Russia and the United States.
“Mansur came here from Syria. He used ISIS as a training base to improve his fighting skills.”
The Chechen fighters said they were motivated by a chance to fight in Ukraine against the Russians, whom they called “occupiers of our country, Ichkeriya,” another term for Chechnya. Indeed, they were upset that Ukrainian authorities did not allow more Chechen militants to move to Ukraine from the Middle East and the mountains of the Caucasus. The Sheikh Mansur Battalion, founded in Ukraine in October 2014, “needs re-enforcement,” they said.

The man the Chechens defer to as their “emir,” or leader, is called “Muslim,” a common forename in the Caucasus. He talked about how he personally crossed the Ukrainian border last year: “It took me two days to walk across Ukraine’s border, and the Ukrainian border control shot at me,” he said. He lives on this military base here openly enough but is frustrated that more of his recruits can’t get through. “Three of our guys came here from Syria, 15 more are waiting in Turkey,” he told The Daily Beast. “They want to take my path, join our battalion here right now, but the Ukrainian border patrol is not letting them in.”

Muslim pulled out a piece of paper with a name of another Chechen heading to join the battalion. The handwritten note said that Amayev Khavadzhi was detained on September 4, 2014, in Greece and now could be deported to Russia. (Khayadzhi’s lawyer in Greece told The Daily Beast on the phone that there was a chance that his defendant would be transferred to his family in France instead.)

“Two more of our friends have been detained, and are threatened with deportation to Russia, where they get locked up for life or Kadyrov kills them,” Muslim told The Daily Beast, referring to the pro-Putin strongman of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The commander pointed at a young bearded militant next to him: “Mansur came here from Syria,” Muslim said. “He used ISIS as a training base to improve his fighting skills.” Mansur stretched out his right hand, which was disfigured, he said, by a bullet wound. Two more bullets were still stuck in his back, he said. “No photographs,” Mansur shook his head when a journalist tried to take his picture. Not even of his hand, not even from the back: “My religion does not allow that.”

In fact, to demonstrate they were tough, armed, and that their numbers were growing these Chechens posted their photographs on the Russian social network Vkontakte, which actually is controlled by the Russian government. But several had their faces blanked out, presumably to avoid prosecution, whether in Russia or the West. “Kadyrovtsy [Kadyrov] knows my face and my hand too well,” Mansur explained to The Daily Beast.

Mansur said he did not have to run across the border under a hail of of bullets like Muslim. “We managed to reach an agreement with the Ukrainians,” he said. The arrival of pro-Ukrainian Chechen fighters from abroad helped relieve some of the immigration problems of Chechens already living in Ukraine, the militants explained. Kadyrov had sent some of his Chechens to fight on the Russian side of the conflict last year, said Muslim, and as a result “there was a temporary danger that Chechen families might be deported from Ukraine… But as soon as we started coming here last August, no Chechen in Ukraine had reasons to complain.” Were former fighters coming to Ukraine from Syria because they were disappointed (or appalled) by the ideology of ISIS?

“We have been fighting against Russia for over 400 years; today they [the Russians] blow up and burn our brothers alive, together with children, so here in Ukraine we continue to fight our war,” the commander said. Many in Ukraine remembered the Chechen war of the mid-1990s as a war for independence, which briefly was given, then taken away. Since then the war in the Caucasus has morphed into terrorism, killing about 1,000 civilians, many of them children, in a series of terror attacks. And whatever the common enemy, that poses a serious problem for Kiev if it embraces such fighters

“The Ukrainian government should be aware that Islamic radicals fight against democracy,” says Varvara Pakhomenko, an expert at the International Crisis Group. “Today they unite with Ukrainian nationalists against Russians, tomorrow they will be fighting against liberals.”

Pakhomenko says something similar happened in Georgia in 2012 when the government there found itself accused of cooperation with Islamic radicals from Europe, Chechnya, and the Pankisi Gorge, an ethnic Chechen region of Georgia. For international observers covering terrorism in Russia and Caucasus in the past 15 years, the presence of Islamic radicals in Ukraine sounds “disastrous,” monitors from the International Crisis Group told The Daily Beast. But many ordinary Ukrainians and officials in Mariupol support the idea of retaining more Chechen militia fighters. “They are fearless fighters, ready to die for us, we love them, anybody who would protect us from death,” said Galina Odnorog, a volunteer supplying equipment, water, food, and other items to battalions told The Daily Beast. The previous night Ukrainian forces reported six dead Ukrainian soldiers and over a dozen wounded.

“ISIS, terrorists—anybody is better than our lame leaders,” says local legislative council deputy Alexander Yaroshenko. “I feel more comfortable around Muslim and his guys than with our mayor or governor.”

The Right Sector battalion that cooperates with the Chechen militants is a law unto itself, often out of control, and tending to incorporate anyone it wants into its ranks. In July two people were killed and eight wounded in a gun and grenade battle between police and Right Sector militia in western Ukraine. On Monday, Right Sector militants triggered street battles in the center of Kiev that left three policemen dead and over 130 wounded. Yet the government in Kiev has been considering the transfer of the Right Sector into a special unit of the SBU, Ukraine’s security service, which has made many people wonder whether the Chechen militia will be joining the government units as well. So far, neither the Right Sector battalion nor the Chechen battalion have been registered with official forces.

In Ukraine, which is losing dozens of soldiers and civilians every week, many things could spin out of control but “it would be unimaginable to allow former or current ISIS fighters to join any government-controlled or -sponsored military unit,” says Paul Quinn-Judge, senior adviser for International Crisis Group in Russia and Ukraine. “It would be politically disastrous for the Poroshenko administration: No Western government in its right mind would accept this, and it would be an enormous propaganda gift for the Kremlin. The Ukrainian government would be better served by publicizing their decisions to turn ISIS vets back at the border.”


Western special services might be behind ISIS terrorists – intelligence veteran

Reuters / Rodi Said

The leaders of Islamic terrorists could be under the direct influence of NATO and Western powers using their movements to threaten Russia’s territorial integrity, says a former general of Russian military intelligence service.

There are some grounds to suspect that American and British special services could support the Islamic extremists in order to target the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation,” Lieutenant-General Nikolai Pushkaryov, formerly of the Central Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff said in an interview with the RIA-Novosti news agency. “The top of these movements can be under the influence of NATO agents,” he added.

The general also commented on the statement by the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, who promised to destroy any Islamic terrorist who voiced threats against Russia. Kadyrov also told reporters that Chechen special services intended to hunt down and kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the head of the Islamic State group (also known as ISIL and ISIS), adding that this man had been recruited to work for the US by General David Petraeus, the former director of the CIA, and former commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back then, Kadyrov claimed the Islamic State “was acting on orders from the West and Europe.”

Pushkaryov said in his interview that he took Kadyrov’s words very seriously and believed that the head of the Chechen Republic could bring his plans to fruition. “I have a great respect towards Ramzan Kadyrov. If he and his men want to find this man, they would be capable of doing it,” he stated.

The head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Aleksandr Bortnikov named the Islamic State as a primary threat at the meeting of the heads of special services of the CIS states on Wednesday. Bortnikov said that IS terrorists receive combat training and experience in Iraq and Syria and then return to their home countries, including the CIS nations, as instructors, recruiters and experts in the terrorist underground. He added that the Taliban and other radical groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan were ready to adopt these methods and this carried additional threats to the CIS countries.

Russia has acknowledged the threat that comes from the Islamic State and promised to support countries and groups fighting against the organization. However, when in September US Secretary of State John Kerry said that in his view Russia must join the international fight against the IS terrorists, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for New Challenges and Threats, Ilya Rogachev, said that the country “did not expect any invitations and was not going to buy entry tickets,” into the US-led anti-IS coalition. Rogachev added that Russia was ready to help all IS opponents, including members of the coalition being formed by the US, but under the condition that they stop using double standards and remain within the framework of international law.


How The West Created ISIS... with a little help from our friends 


https://www.popularresistance.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Screen-Shot-2014-09-18-at-11.31.24-AM.png

Part 1 – OUR TERRORISTS
“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated,” Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon press conference in August.
Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS/IS “cancer,” said President Obama. Yesterday, in his much anticipated address, he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.

“The only way to defeat [IS] is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,” declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.”
Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.

Now despite Pentagon denials that there will be boots on the ground – and Obama’s insistence that this would not be another “Iraq war” – local Kurdish military and intelligence sources confirm that US and German special operations forces are already “on the ground here. They are helping to support us in the attack.” US airstrikes on ISIS positions and arms supplies to the Kurds have also been accompanied by British RAF reconnaissance flights over the region and UK weapons shipments to Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Divide and rule in Iraq

“It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs,” said one US government defense consultant in 2007. “It’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
Early during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US covertly supplied arms to al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents even while ostensibly supporting an emerging Shi’a-dominated administration. Pakistani defense sources interviewed by Asia Times in February 2005 confirmed that insurgents described as “former Ba’ath party” loyalists – who were being recruited and trained by “al-Qaeda in Iraq” under the leadership of the late Abu Musab Zarqawi – were being supplied Pakistan-manufactured weapons by the US. The arms shipments included rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry. These arms “could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them”, a source told Syed Saleem Shahzad – the Times’ Pakistan bureau chief who, “known for his exposes of the Pakistani military” according to the New Yorker, was murdered in 2011. Rather, the US is playing a double-game to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement,” said the Pakistani defense source.

This was not the only way US strategy aided the rise of Zarqawi, a bin Laden mentee and brainchild of the extremist ideology that would later spawn ‘ISIS.’ According to a little-known November report for the US Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and Strategic Studies Department, Dividing Our Enemies, post-invasion Iraq was “an interesting case study of fanning discontent among enemies, leading to ‘red-against-red’ [enemy-against-enemy] firefights.” While counterinsurgency on the one hand requires US forces to “ameliorate harsh or deprived living conditions of the indigenous populations” to publicly win local hearts and minds:

“… the reverse side of this coin is one less discussed. It involves no effort to win over those caught in the crossfire of insurgent and counterinsurgent warfare, whether by bullet or broadcast. On the contrary, this underside of the counterinsurgency coin is calculated to exploit or create divisions among adversaries for the purpose of fomenting enemy-on-enemy deadly encounters.”
In other words, US forces will pursue public legitimacy through conventional social welfare while simultaneously delegitimising local enemies by escalating intra-insurgent violence, knowing full-well that doing so will in turn escalate the number of innocent civilians “caught in the crossfire.” The idea is that violence covertly calibrated by US special operations will not only weaken enemies through in-fighting but turn the population against them.

In this case, the ‘enemy’ consisted of jihadists, Ba’athists, and peaceful Sufis, who were in a majority but, like the militants, also opposed the US military presence and therefore needed to be influenced. The JSOU report referred to events in late 2004 in Fallujah where “US psychological warfare (PSYOP) specialists” undertook to “set insurgents battling insurgents.” This involved actually promoting Zarqawi’s ideology, ironically, to defeat it: “The PSYOP warriors crafted programs to exploit Zarqawi’s murderous activities – and to disseminate them through meetings, radio and television broadcasts, handouts, newspaper stories, political cartoons, and posters – thereby diminishing his folk-hero image,” and encouraging the different factions to pick each other off. “By tapping into the Fallujans’ revulsion and antagonism to the Zarqawi jihadis the Joint PSYOP Task Force did its ‘best to foster a rift between Sunni groups.’”

Yet as noted by Dahr Jamail, one of the few unembedded investigative reporters in Iraq after the war, the proliferation of propaganda linking the acceleration of suicide bombings to the persona of Zarqawi was not matched by meaningful evidence. His own search to substantiate the myriad claims attributing the insurgency to Zarqawi beyond anonymous US intelligence sources encountered only an “eerie blankness”.

The US military operation in Fallujah, largely justified on the claim that Zarqawi’s militant forces had occupied the city, used white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and indiscriminate air strikes to pulverise 36,000 of Fallujah’s 50,000 homes, killing nearly a thousand civilians, terrorising 300,000 inhabitants to flee, and culminating in a disproportionate increase in birth defects, cancer and infant mortality due to the devastating environmental consequences of the war.

To this day, Fallujah has suffered from being largely cut-off from wider Iraq, its infrastructure largely unworkable with water and sewage systems still in disrepair, and its citizens subject to sectarian discrimination and persecution by Iraqi government backed Shi’a militia and police. “Thousands of bereaved and homeless Falluja families have a new reason to hate the US and its allies,” observed The Guardian in 2005. Thus, did the US occupation plant the seeds from which Zarqawi’s legacy would coalesce into the Frankenstein monster that calls itself “the Islamic State.”
Bankrolling al-Qaeda in Syria

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business,” he told French television: “I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”

Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway. The goal was to elicit the “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

Since then, the role of the Gulf states – namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan (as well as NATO member Turkey) – in officially and unofficially financing and coordinating the most virulent elements amongst Syria’s rebels under the tutelage of US military intelligence is no secret. Yet the conventional wisdom is that the funneling of support to Islamist extremists in the rebel movement affiliated to al-Qaeda has been a colossal and regrettable error. The reality is very different. The empowerment of the Islamist factions within the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) was a foregone conclusion of the strategy.

In its drive to depose Col. Qaddafi in Libya, NATO had previously allied itself with rebels affiliated to the al-Qaeda faction, the Islamic Fighting Group. The resulting Libyan regime backed by the US was in turn liaising with FSA leaders in Istanbul to provide money and heavy weapons for the anti-Assad insurgency. The State Department even hired an al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan militia group to provide security for the US embassy in Benghazi – although they had links with the very people that attacked the embassy.

Last year, CNN confirmed that CIA officials operating secretly out of the Benghazi embassy were being forced to take extra polygraph tests to keep under wraps what US Congressman suspect was a covert operation “to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.”

With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.”

The National thus confirmed the existence of another command and control centre in Amman, Jordan, “staffed by western and Arab military officials,” which “channels vehicles, sniper rifles, mortars, heavy machine guns, small arms and ammunition to Free Syrian Army units.” Rebel and opposition sources described the weapons bridge as “a well-run operation staffed by high-ranking military officials from 14 countries, including the US, European nations and Arabian Gulf states, the latter providing the bulk of materiel and financial support to rebel factions.”

The FSA sources interviewed by The National went to pains to deny that any al-Qaeda affiliated factions were involved in the control centre, or would receive any weapons support. But this is difficult to believe given that “Saudi and Qatari-supplied weapons” were being funneled through to the rebels via Amman, to their favoured factions.

Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that “most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups… are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

Lest there be any doubt as to the extent to which all this covert military assistance coordinated by the US has gone to support al-Qaeda affiliated factions in the FSA, it is worth noting that earlier this year, the Israeli military intelligence website Debkafile – run by two veteran correspondents who covered the Middle East for 23 years for The Economist – reported that: “Turkey is giving Syrian rebel forces, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, passage through its territory to attack the northwestern Syrian coastal area around Latakia.”

In August, Debkafile reported that “The US, Jordan and Israel are quietly backing the mixed bag of some 30 Syrian rebel factions”, some of which had just “seized control of the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, the only transit point between Israeli and Syrian Golan.” However, Debkafile noted, “al-Qaeda elements have permeated all those factions.” Israel has provided limited support to these rebels in the form of “medical care,” as well as “arms, intelligence and food…

“Israel acted as a member, along with the US and Jordan, of a support system for rebel groups fighting in southern Syria. Their efforts are coordinated through a war-room which the Pentagon established last year near Amman. The US, Jordanian and Israeli officers manning the facility determine in consultation which rebel factions are provided with reinforcements from the special training camps run for Syrian rebels in Jordan, and which will receive arms. All three governments understand perfectly that, notwithstanding all their precautions, some of their military assistance is bound to percolate to al-Qaeda’s Syrian arm, Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is fighting in rebel ranks. Neither Washington or Jerusalem or Amman would be comfortable in admitting they are arming al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in southern Syria.”
This support also went to ISIS. Although the latter was originally founded in Iraq in October 2006, by 2013 the group had significantly expanded its operations in Syria working alongside al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra until February 2014, when ISIS was formally denounced by al-Qaeda. Even so, experts on the region’s Islamist groups point out that the alleged rift between al-Nusra and ISIS, while real, is not as fraught as one might hope, constituting a mere difference in tactics rather than fundamental ideology.

Officially, the US government’s financial support for the FSA goes through the Washington DC entity, the Syrian Support Group (SSG), Syrian Support Group (SSG) which was incorporated in April 2012. The SSG is licensed via the US Treasury Department to “export, re-export, sell, or supply to the Free Syrian Army (‘FSA’) financial, communications, logistical, and other services otherwise prohibited by Executive Order 13582 in order to support the FSA.”

In mid-2013, the Obama administration intensified its support to the rebels with a new classified executive order reversing its previous policy limiting US direct support to only nonlethal equipment. As before, the order would aim to supply weapons strictly to “moderate” forces in the FSA. Except the government’s vetting procedures to block Islamist extremists from receiving US weapons have never worked.

A year later, Mother Jones found that the US government has “little oversight over whether US supplies are falling prey to corruption – or into the hands of extremists,” and relies “on too much good faith.” The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through “handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,” and the judgement of its allies. Countries supporting the rebels – the very same which have empowered al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists – “are doing audits of the delivery of lethal and nonlethal supplies.”

Thus, with the Gulf states still calling the shots on the ground, it is no surprise that by September last year, eleven prominent rebel groups distanced themselves from the ‘moderate’ opposition leadership and allied themselves with al-Qaeda.

By the SSG’s own conservative estimate, as much as 15% of rebel fighters are Islamists affiliated to al-Qaeda, either through the Jabhut al-Nusra faction, or its breakaway group ISIS. But privately, Pentagon officials estimate that “more than 50%” of the FSA is comprised of Islamist extremists, and according to rebel sources neither FSA chief Gen Salim Idris nor his senior aides engage in much vetting, decisions about which are made typically by local commanders.

Part 2 – THE LONG WAR 

Follow the money 

Media reports following ISIS’ conquest of much of northern and central Iraq this summer have painted the group as the world’s most super-efficient, self-financed, terrorist organisation that has been able to consolidate itself exclusively through extensive looting of Iraq’s banks and funds from black market oil sales. Much of this narrative, however, has derived from dubious sources, and overlooked disturbing details.

One senior anonymous intelligence source told Guardian correspondent Martin Chulov, for instance, that over 160 computer flash sticks obtained from an ISIS hideout revealed information on ISIS’ finances that was completely new to the intelligence community. “Before Mosul, their total cash and assets were $875m [£515m],” said the official on the funds obtained largely via “massive cashflows from the oilfields of eastern Syria, which it had commandeered in late 2012.” Afterwards, “with the money they robbed from banks and the value of the military supplies they looted, they could add another $1.5bn to that.” The thrust of the narrative coming from intelligence sources was simple: “They had done this all themselves. There was no state actor at all behind them, which we had long known. They don’t need one.”

“ISIS’ half-a-billion-dollar bank heist makes it world’s richest terror group,” claimed the Telegraph, adding that the figure did not include additional stolen gold bullion, and millions more grabbed from banks “across the region.”
This story of ISIS’ stupendous bank looting spree across Iraq made global headlines but turned out to be disinformation. Senior Iraqi officials and bankers confirmed that banks in Iraq, including Mosul where ISIS supposedly stole $430 million, had faced no assault, remain open, and are guarded by their own private security forces. How did the story come about? One of its prime sources was Iraqi parliamentarian Ahmed Chalabi – the same man who under the wing of his ‘Iraqi National Congress’ peddled false intelligence about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda. In June, Chalabi met with the US ambassador to Iraq, Robert Beecroft, and Brett McGurk, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran. According to sources cited by Buzzfeed in June, Beecroft “has been meeting Chalabi for months and has dined at his mansion in Baghdad.”

Follow the oil

But while ISIS has clearly obtained funding from donors in the Gulf states, many of its fighters having broken away from the more traditional al-Qaeda affiliated groups like Jabhut al-Nusra, it has also successfully leveraged its control over Syrian and Iraqi oil fields. In January, the New York Times reported that “Islamist rebels and extremist groups have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources”, bolstering “the fortunes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and the Nusra Front, both of which are offshoots of al-Qaeda.” Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels had “seized control of the oil and gas fields scattered across the country’s north and east,” while more moderate “Western-backed rebel groups do not appear to be involved in the oil trade, in large part because they have not taken over any oil fields.”

Yet the west had directly aided these Islamist groups in their efforts to operationalise Syria’s oil fields. In April 2013, for instance, the Times noted that al-Qaeda rebels had taken over key regions of Syria: “Nusra’s hand is felt most strongly in Aleppo”, where the al-Qaeda affiliate had established in coordination with other rebel groups including ISIS “a Shariah Commission” running “a police force and an Islamic court that hands down sentences that have included lashings.” Al-Qaeda fighters also “control the power plant and distribute flour to keep the city’s bakeries running.” Additionally, they “have seized government oil fields” in provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasaka, and now make a “profit from the crude they produce.”

Lost in the fog of media hype was the disconcerting fact that these al-Qaeda rebel bread and oil operations in Aleppo, Deir al-Zour and Hasaka were directly and indirectly supported by the US and the European Union (EU). One account by the Washington Post for instance refers to a stealth mission in Aleppo “to deliver food and other aid to needy Syrians – all of it paid for by the US government,” including the supply of flour. “The bakery is fully supplied with flour paid for by the United States,” the Post continues, noting that local consumers, however, “credited Jabhat al-Nusra – a rebel group the United States has designated a terrorist organisation because of its ties to al-Qaeda – with providing flour to the region, though he admitted he wasn’t sure where it comes from.”

And in the same month that al-Qaeda’s control of Syria’s main oil regions in Deir al-Zour and Hasaka was confirmed, the EU voted to ease an oil embargo on Syria to allow oil to be sold on international markets from these very al-Qaeda controlled oil fields. European companies would be permitted to buy crude oil and petroleum products from these areas, although transactions would be approved by the Syrian National Coalition. Due to damaged infrastructure, oil would be trucked by road to Turkey where the nearest refineries are located.

“The logical conclusion from this craziness is that Europe will be funding al-Qaeda,” said Joshua Landis , a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.
Just two months later, a former senior staffer at the Syria Support Group in DC, David Falt, leaked internal SSG emails confirming that the group was “obsessed” with brokering “jackpot” oil deals on behalf of the FSA for Syria’s rebel-run oil regions.

“The idea they could raise hundreds of millions from the sale of the oil came to dominate the work of the SSG to the point no real attention was paid to the nature of the conflict,” said Falt, referring in particular to SSG’s director Brian Neill Sayers, who before his SSG role worked with NATO’s Operations Division. Their aim was to raise money for the rebels by selling the rights to Syrian oil.
Tacit complicity in IS oil smuggling

Even as al-Qaeda fighters increasingly decide to join up with IS, the ad hoc black market oil production and export infrastructure established by the Islamist groups in Syria has continued to function with, it seems, the tacit support of regional and western powers. According to Ali Ediboglu, a Turkish MP for the border province of Hatay, IS is selling the bulk of its oil from regions in Syria and Mosul in Iraq through Turkey, with the tacit consent of Turkish authorities: “They have laid pipes from villages near the Turkish border at Hatay. Similar pipes exist also at [the Turkish border regions of] Kilis, Urfa and Gaziantep. They transfer the oil to Turkey and parlay it into cash. They take the oil from the refineries at zero cost. Using primitive means, they refine the oil in areas close to the Turkish border and then sell it via Turkey. This is worth $800 million.” He also noted that the extent of this and related operations indicates official Turkish complicity. “Fighters from Europe, Russia, Asian countries and Chechnya are going in large numbers both to Syria and Iraq, crossing from Turkish territory. There is information that at least 1,000 Turkish nationals are helping those foreign fighters sneak into Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) is allegedly involved. None of this can be happening without MIT’s knowledge.”

Similarly, there is evidence that authorities in the Kurdish region of Iraq are also turning a blind eye to IS oil smuggling. In July, Iraqi officials said that IS had begun selling oil extracted from in the northern province of Salahuddin. One official pointed out that “the Kurdish peshmerga forces stopped the sale of oil at first, but later allowed tankers to transfer and sell oil.”

State of Law coalition MP Alia Nasseef also accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of secretly trading oil with IS: “What is happening shows the extent of the massive conspiracy against Iraq by Kurdish politicians… The [illegal] sale of Iraqi oil to ISIS or anyone else is something that would not surprise us.” Although Kurdish officials have roundly rejected these accusations, informed sources told the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraqi crude captured by ISIS was “being sold to Kurdish traders in the border regions straddling Iraq, Iran and Syria, and was being shipped to Pakistan where it was being sold ‘for less than half its original price.’” An official statement in August from Iraq’s Oil Ministry warned that any oil not sanctioned by Baghdad could include crude smuggled illegally from IS:

“International purchasers [of crude oil] and other market participants should be aware that any oil exports made without the authorisation of the Ministry of Oil may contain crude oil originating from fields under the control of [ISIS].”
“Countries like Turkey have turned a blind eye to the practice” of IS oil smuggling, said Luay al-Khateeb, a fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, “and international pressure should be mounted to close down black markets in its southern region.” So far there has been no such pressure. Meanwhile, IS oil smuggling continues, with observers inside and outside Turkey noting that the Turkish government is tacitly allowing IS to flourish as it prefers the rebels to the Assad regime. According to former Iraqi oil minister Isam al-Jalabi, “Turkey is the biggest winner from the Islamic State’s oil smuggling trade.” Both traders and oil firms are involved, he said, with the low prices allowing for “massive” profits for the countries facilitating the smuggling.

Buying ISIS oil?

Early last month, a tanker carrying over a million barrels in crude oil from northern Iraq’s Kurdish region arrived at the Texas Gulf of Mexico. The oil had been refined in the Iraqi Kurdish region before being pumped through a new pipeline from the KRG area ending up at Ceyhan, Turkey, where it was then loaded onto the tanker for shipping to the US. Baghdad’s efforts to stop the oil sale on the basis of its having national jurisdiction were rebuffed by American courts.

In early September, the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybášková, told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee that “several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organisation that has been brutally conquering large portions of Iraq and Syria,” according to Israel National News. She however “refused to divulge the names of the countries despite being asked numerous times.”

A third end-point for the KRG’s crude this summer, once again shipped via Turkey’s port of Ceyhan, was Israel’s southwestern port of Ashkelon. This is hardly news though. In May, Reuters revealed that Israeli and US oil refineries had been regularly purchasing and importing KRG’s disputed oil. Meanwhile, as this triangle of covert oil shipments in which ISIS crude appears to be hopelessly entangled becomes more established, Turkey has increasingly demanded that the US pursue formal measures to lift obstacles to Kurdish oil sales to global markets. The KRG plans to export as much as 1 million barrels of oil a day by next year through its pipeline to Turkey.

Among the many oil and gas firms active in the KRG capital, Erbil, are ExxonMobil and Chevron. They are drilling in the region for oil under KRG contracts, though operations have been halted due to the crisis. No wonder Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker that Obama’s air strikes and arms supplies to the Kurds – notably not to Baghdad – effectively amount to “the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal – as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example – are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company.” The Kurds are now busy working to “quadruple” their export capacity, while US policy has increasingly shifted toward permitting Kurdish exports – a development that would have major ramifications for Iraq’s national territorial integrity. To be sure, as the offensive against IS ramps up, the Kurds are now selectively cracking down on IS smuggling efforts – but the measures are too little, too late.

A new map

The Third Iraq War has begun. With it, longstanding neocon dreams to partition Iraq into three along ethnic and religious lines have been resurrected. White House officials now estimate that the fight against the region’s ‘Islamic State’ will last years, and may outlive the Obama administration. But this ‘long war’ vision goes back to nebulous ideas formally presented by late RAND Corp analyst Laurent Muraweic before the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board at the invitation of then chairman Richard Perle. That presentation described Iraq as a “tactical pivot” by which to transform the wider Middle East.

Brian Whitaker, former Guardian Middle East editor, rightly noted that the Perle-RAND strategy drew inspiration from a 1996 paper published by the Israeli Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, co-authored by Perle and other neocons who held top positions in the post-9/11 Bush administration.

The policy paper advocated a strategy that bears startling resemblance to the chaos unfolding in the wake of the expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ – Israel would “shape its strategic environment” by first securing the removal of Saddam Hussein. “Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and ‘roll back’ Syria.” This axis would attempt to weaken the influence of Lebanon, Syria and Iran by “weaning” off their Shi’ite populations. To succeed, Israel would need to engender US support, which would be obtained by Benjamin Netanyahu formulating the strategy “in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war.”

The 2002 Perle-RAND plan was active in the Bush administration’s strategic thinking on Iraq shortly before the 2003 war. According to US private intelligence firm Stratfor, in late 2002, then vice-president Dick Cheney and deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz had co-authored a scheme under which central Sunni-majority Iraq would join with Jordan; the northern Kurdish regions would become an autonomous state; all becoming separate from the southern Shi’ite region. The strategic advantages of an Iraq partition, Stratfor argued, focused on US control of oil:

“After eliminating Iraq as a sovereign state, there would be no fear that one day an anti-American government would come to power in Baghdad, as the capital would be in Amman [Jordan]. Current and potential US geopolitical foes Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria would be isolated from each other, with big chunks of land between them under control of the pro-US forces.

Equally important, Washington would be able to justify its long-term and heavy military presence in the region as necessary for the defense of a young new state asking for US protection – and to secure the stability of oil markets and supplies. That in turn would help the United States gain direct control of Iraqi oil and replace Saudi oil in case of conflict with Riyadh.”
The expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ has provided a pretext for the fundamental contours of this scenario to unfold, with the US and British looking to re-establish a long-term military presence in Iraq in the name of the “defense of a young new state.” In 2006, Cheney’s successor, Joe Biden, also indicated his support for the ‘soft partition’ of Iraq along ethno-religious lines – a position which the co-author of the Biden-Iraq plan, Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, now argues is “the only solution” to the current crisis.

Also in 2006, the Armed Forces Journal published a map of the Middle East with its borders thoroughly re-drawn, courtesy of Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters, who had previously been assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence where he was responsible for future warfare. As for the goals of this plan, apart from “security from terrorism” and “the prospect of democracy”, Peters also mentioned “access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself.” In 2008, the strategy re-surfaced – once again via RAND Corp – through a report funded by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command on how to prosecute the ‘long war.’ Among its strategies, one scenario advocated by the report was ‘Divide and Rule’ which would involve:

“… exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts.”
Simultaneously, the report suggested that the US could foster conflict between Salafi-jihadists and Shi’ite militants by:

“… shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes… as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.”
One way or another, some semblance of this plan is in motion. Last week, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Leiberman told US secretary of state John Kerry:

“Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.”
The rise of the ‘Islamic State’ is not just a direct consequence of this neocon vision, tied as it is to a dangerous covert operations strategy that has seen al-Qaeda linked terrorists as a tool to influence local populations – it has in turn offered a pretext for the launch of a new era of endless war, the spectre of a prolonged US-led military presence in the energy-rich Persian Gulf region, and a return to the dangerous imperial temptation to re-configure the wider regional order.


2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”

https://levantreport.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/dia-2012-syria-islamic-state1.jpg?w=864&h=634
On Monday, May 18, the conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch published a selection of formerly classified documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department through a federal lawsuit. While initial mainstream media reporting is focused on the White House’s handling of the Benghazi consulate attack, a much “bigger picture” admission and confirmation is contained in one of the Defense Intelligence Agency documents circulated in 2012: that an ‘Islamic State’ is desired in Eastern Syria to effect the West’s policies in the region.

Astoundingly, the newly declassified report states that for “THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY [WHO] SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION… THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…”.

The DIA report, formerly classified “SECRET//NOFORN” and dated August 12, 2012, was circulated widely among various government agencies, including CENTCOM, the CIA, FBI, DHS, NGA, State Dept., and many others. The document shows that as early as 2012, U.S. intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a U.S. strategic asset. While a number of analysts and journalists have documented long ago the role of western intelligence agencies in the formation and training of the armed opposition in Syria, this is the highest level internal U.S. intelligence confirmation of the theory that western governments fundamentally see ISIS as their own tool for regime change in Syria. The document matter-of-factly states just that scenario.

Forensic evidence, video evidence, as well as recent admissions of high-level officials involved (see former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford’s admissions here and here), have since proven the State Department and CIA’s material support of ISIS terrorists on the Syrian battlefield going back to at least 2012 and 2013 (for a clear example of “forensic evidence”: see UK-based Conflict Armament Research’s report which traced the origins of Croatian anti-tank rockets recovered from ISIS fighters back to a Saudi/CIA joint program via identifiable serial numbers). The newly released DIA report makes the following summary points concerning “ISI” (in 2012 “Islamic State in Iraq,”) and the soon to emerge ISIS:
  • Al-Qaeda drives the opposition in Syria
  • The West identifies with the opposition
  • The establishment of a nascent Islamic State became a reality only with the rise of the Syrian insurgency (there is no mention of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits; see section 4.D. below)
  • The establishment of a “Salafist Principality” in Eastern Syria is “exactly” what the external powers  supporting the opposition want (identified as “the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey”) in order to weaken the Assad government
  • “Safe havens” are suggested in areas conquered by Islamic insurgents along the lines of the Libyan model (which translates to so-called no-fly zones as a first act of ‘humanitarian war'; see 7.B.)
  • Iraq is identified with “Shia expansion” (8.C)
  • A Sunni “Islamic State” could be devastating to “unifying Iraq” and could lead to “the renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi Arena.” (see last non-redacted line in full PDF view.)
_____________________________________________

The following is excerpted from the seven page DIA declassified report

THE GENERAL SITUATION:
 A. INTERNALLY, EVENTS ARE TAKING A CLEAR SECTARIAN DIRECTION.
B. THE SALAFIST [sic], THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, AND AQI ARE THE MAJOR FORCES DRIVING THE INSURGENCY IN SYRIA.
C. THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY SUPPORT THE OPPOSITION; WHILE RUSSIA, CHINA AND IRAN SUPPORT THE REGIME.
3. (C) Al QAEDA – IRAQ (AQI):… B. AQI SUPPORTED THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION FROM THE BEGINNING, BOTH IDEOLOGICALLY AND THROUGH THE MEDIA
4.D. THERE WAS A REGRESSION OF AQI IN THE WESTERN PROVINCES OF IRAQ DURING THE YEARS OF 2009 AND 2010; HOWEVER, AFTER THE RISE OF THE INSURGENCY IN SYRIA, THE RELIGIOUS AND TRIBAL POWERS IN THE REGIONS BEGAN TO SYMPATHIZE WITH THE SECTARIAN UPRISING. THIS (SYMPATHY) APPEARED IN FRIDAY PRAYER SERMONS, WHICH CALLED FOR VOLUNTEERS TO SUPPORT THE SUNNI’S [sic] IN SYRIA.
7. (C) THE FUTURE ASSUMPTIONS OF THE CRISIS:
A. THE REGIME WILL SURVIVE AND HAVE CONTROL OVER SYRIAN TERRITORY.
B. DEVELOPMENT OF THE CURRENT EVENTS INTO PROXY WAR: …OPPOSITION FORCES ARE TRYING TO CONTROL THE EASTERN AREAS (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), ADJACENT TO THE WESTERN IRAQI PROVINCES (MOSUL AND ANBAR), IN ADDITION TO NEIGHBORING TURKISH BORDERS. WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES AND TURKEY ARE SUPPORTING THESE EFFORTS. THIS HYPOTHESIS IS MOST LIKELY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DATA FROM RECENT EVENTS, WHICH WILL HELP PREPARE SAFE HAVENS UNDER INTERNATIONAL SHELTERING, SIMILAR TO WHAT TRANSPIRED IN LIBYA WHEN BENGHAZI WAS CHOSEN AS THE COMMAND CENTER OF THE TEMPORARY GOVERNMENT.
8.C. IF THE SITUATION UNRAVELS THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME, WHICH IS CONSIDERED THE STRATEGIC DEPTH OF THE SHIA EXPANSION (IRAQ AND IRAN)
8.D.1. …ISI COULD ALSO DECLARE AN ISLAMIC STATE THROUGH ITS UNION WITH OTHER TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA, WHICH WILL CREATE GRAVE DANGER IN REGARDS TO UNIFYING IRAQ AND THE PROTECTION OF ITS TERRITORY.


US, Once Again, Will Be Complicit in Turkey’s Crimes Against Humanity

Turkish war planes that were used to attack Kurds

The United States’ “brilliant” foreign policy move over the weekend to strike a deal with Turkey to engage Ankara in its so-called fight against the Islamic State has quickly shown Turkey’s motives to finally back down and allow the US the use of its own airbase and to actively engage in the fight against what is also known as ISIS or ISIL. Of course, this was prompted by what is being called an ISIS attack last week in Suruc, Turkey on the border with Syria as Ankara began enlisting the help of its NATO allies and the US to combat what it called terrorism on its territory.

It didn’t take long for Ankara to use this carte blanche provided to it by the US deal to turn its guns and warheads against the Kurdish population in Iraq. After staging a bombing attack on what was supposedly ISIS territory in Syria, Turkey attacked a Kurdish stronghold in Iraq, prompting the Kurds to call an end to the tenuous cease-fire with the Turks.

Turkey, which according to a former US Ambassador to Ankara, was facilitating the flow of Al-Qaeda and Islamic militants into Syria for a long time, also allowed its fluid border with the war-torn country to serve as a transport route for weapons and materials for ISIS, when its NATO ally, the US, had declared war on the Islamic State. Turkey’s apprehension to side with the US was its insistence that Syrian President Bashar al Assad should be removed from power in order to, according to Turkish officials, bring back stability, when in reality Turkey’s policy to extend its reach into Syria was the dominant factor in its posturing.

Furthermore, Turkey’s aiding and abetting of Islamist militants has had its immediate and intended impact on the Armenian population there—the invasion of Kessab, destruction of Der Zor and now the complete blockade of Aleppo. Now, only days after the deal with the US, talk in Turkey has turned from how to fight ISIS to how to silence the Kurds, both within and outside Turkey—a long standing policy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As a follow-up to its military attack on Kurdish bases in Iraq, Erdogan is now looking to outlaw the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) by ordering a terrorism investigation into the party’s activities and calling for the revoking of the party’s parliamentary mandate.

The HDP, which won enough seats in parliament in last month’s elections to end the AKP’s absolute control of the Turkish legislature, has criticized official Ankara for inciting civil war and exposed Erdogan’s intentions to ice the Kurds from having any role in a future coalition government or the political stage in general. Erdogan’s actions against the HDP also undermine the democratic progress seen in Turkey after the June elections, a factor that was highly praised by the US. So, what is the US to do when its ally is brazenly forfeiting its commitment to the intended aims of an agreement and is in fact using it to start a war against its own minority and continue its streak of crimes against humanity for which it is well known?

It is hard to believe that the seasoned US policymakers who thought of this disastrous deal did not see this coming. Since the US’ declared war on ISIS, the Kurdish population in both Iraq and Syria has proven to be a critical component of the fight on the ground, and has, according to the US military, been able to repel the threat from key positions in that area. If the US does not take swift action, it will become complicit in another one of Turkey’s crimes against humanity. However, history has shown that the US does not mind being Ankara’s puppet, as was clear this past April when the world stood in recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and the US, once again, bowed out, continuing its complicity in that century-old crime against humanity.

Kurdish Leader Stresses America Is Supporting Terrorists in Syria

800px-PYD_funeral_2_Afrin_Syria

Syrian Kurdish Leader Sherkoh Abbas calls on the U.S. to stop supporting the PYD and the Islamists in Syria. He rejects the replacement of one dictator for another and emphasized that the U.S. needs to stand behind those that support democracy and human rights within the country.

In an interview with JerusalemOnline, Sherkoh Abbas, chairman of the Kurdish National Assembly of Syria (Kurdnas), stressed that the U.S. is making a mistake by supporting the PYD in Syria because they are linked to the PKK, which the United States, EU and their allies considers to be a terrorist organization due to their history of committing suicide bombings in Turkey and they also have ties to the Assad regime. “It is wrong for the US not to support the Kurds and we welcome the recent shift in US policy but they need to support the right people in Syria who want a federal model, democracy, human rights and not people who are against those values. The US always chooses the wrong people, whether the Islamists or people they themselves call terrorists.”

“I hope that they prove us wrong and delink themselves from the PKK and Assad,” Sherkoh Abbas told JerusalemOnline. “There are many leaders in the PYD that are trying to change the organization from within, but there are key people within the PYD who are blocking this because they aren’t Syrian Kurds and have allegiances to the PKK. Those people don’t allow the Syrian Kurds to flourish like in Iraqi Kurdistan. The PYD needs to show they are not against the US, the west, Israel and don’t support terror. More importantly, they need to work within the Kurdish front. Then, they can be supported.”

Until then, he stressed the U.S. should only support the Kurdish National Assembly of Syria and the Kurdish National Council: “There are about 21 Kurdish political parties between these two assemblies. They proscribe to federalism, good relations with the west and Israel, support democracy and the free market economy. Most of the Kurds proscribe to these groups. However, the PYD gets all the weapons and assistance in the region. They block these groups from creating a Kurdish regime in Syria and at the same time deny the Kurdish issue according to Ocalan’s speech (Ocalan only seeks to create a Kurdish state in Turkey and not in Syria, Iraq and Iran). Most of the Kurds are allied with the KRG, the west, and have the same values as Americans and western people, except for the PYD.”

Sherkoh Abbas noted that the U.S. is also making a grave mistake by supporting Turkey in the framework of the struggle against ISIS: “Turkey will never support the western agenda, Israel and the Kurds. They want to change the regime in Syria as part of their neo-Ottoman ambitions which is more Islamist. They want to crush Kurdish self-determination, for they don’t want the Kurds in Turkey to ask for the same. They are more interested in protecting the memorial for an Ottoman sultan than hundreds of thousands of women and children’s lives. They don’t have any value for that, if they view a memorial as more important than the elderly, women and children. It’s a nation going in the wrong direction if they are not going in a humanistic way.”

“The US administration still thinks they are in the Cold War,” he noted. “They need to think beyond it, about what America stands for: democracy and human rights. We only ask for that; we are the only engine for that change, but the US is not helping us because the petrol-dollar influences the decisions in Washington, DC. A lot of the issues, such as the Palestinian and Kurdish ones, could have been solved years ago without the interference of the Gulf States and Iran. But yet again, they still work with the failed regimes instead of working with the people to bridge the gap between them.”

“Qatar funds a lot of Islamists in Palestine,” Sherkoh Abbas stressed. “This leads to proxy wars and never peace. It is time to allow chaos so there will be order. There is no stability; only more radicalism and more terror. It is unbelievable that these horrific things are going on. The US needs to support the alternative groups. The very same people the US trains are no better than Assad. Syria should not remove one dictator for another. Syria as Kissinger stated is a failed state and it needs to be broken down, with independence or federalism. The Christians and Yazidis are fearful what will happen, but in the future, they can have autonomy in their own areas. Don’t prescribe to the Wahhabis for help. We need a lose federation and then to see the alternatives. This is how to stop the bloodshed: to break large chunks into small ones to have each managed by one group.”

“The US administration wants to bury their head in the sand and bring another dictator. Israel needs to get out of their hibernation,” Sherkoh Abbas stated in conclusion, while calling upon both countries to change their Syria policy. “We need to be a federation where the Sunnis, Druze, and Kurds have all their rights in Syria and become an oasis in the Middle East, but bringing another dictator will never work and this will bring more bloodshed; Iran is two steps ahead of the US in managing Syrian and ISIS affairs, as are a lot of terror groups.”

Source: http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2014/10/24/kurdish-leader-stresses-america-is-supporting-terrorists-in-syria/

Turkey Wins NATO Support as It Steps Up Fight in Syria


Turkey turned to its allies in NATO on Tuesday for political backing, after it agreed to step up efforts against the Islamic State but also renewed its conflict with Kurdish militants. “All allies expressed their strong support for Turkey, and we stand all together, united in solidarity with Turkey,” Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, told reporters at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels after a meeting of ambassadors of the 28 NATO allies. But Turkey, which has the second-largest army in NATO after the United States, did not request any additional military assistance.

Its new stance has raised thorny questions for its allies, especially in Europe, about whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is more interested in smashing his Kurdish opponents than he is in defeating the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq. The Kurds are the largest minority in Turkey, and have chafed under Turkish rule. A separatist militant group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the P.K.K., fought a 30-year insurgency there that ended in a fragile cease-fire two years ago, and Kurdish politicians now make up an important opposition bloc in the Turkish Parliament.

Kurdish forces also control large areas of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria, where they have cooperated effectively with the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State. But Turkey insists that P.K.K. fighters camped there are a terrorist threat, and its warplanes have mounted airstrikes against them in northern Iraq in recent days. Mr. Erdogan said on Tuesday that it was impossible to continue a peace process with Kurdish militants. “No steps back will be taken in our fight against terrorism,” he told reporters before embarking on a state visit to China.

He also called on the Turkish Parliament to strip politicians who have links to terrorist groups of their immunity from prosecution. His statement appeared to be directed at the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, which some members of the government consider to be the political wing of the P.K.K. The endorsement by NATO allies on Tuesday represents welcome moral support for the government in Ankara. For now, at least, Turkey’s decision to take a more active role in the fight against the Islamic State, also know as ISIS or ISIL, has won broad backing.

Most importantly, Turkey has given the United States the green light to use its Incirlik air base for manned airstrikes against the Islamic State. The idea is that American and Turkish operations will help forces in Syria that the United States considers relatively moderate to take territory from the Islamic State. Turkey apparently dropped its reluctance to focus its military forces on Syria after a deadly bombing last week in the eastern town of Suruc that killed 32 people. The government has blamed the Islamic State for the attack.

Closer cooperation between Turkey and the United States could help shut down some of the Islamic State’s most important supply lines. But Turkey also could use its military actions on its southern border to keep a Syria-based Kurdish militia force that it considers a threat from making inroads. Mr. Stoltenberg did not comment on Tuesday about the Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish targets. A spokeswoman for the European Commission, Mina Andreeva, said on Tuesday that Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission’s president, spoke with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey over the weekend and stressed to him the need for “proportionality” in actions against the P.K.K.

In the closed NATO meeting on Tuesday, the ambassadors also urged Turkey not to use excessive force against the Kurds and to continue peace talks with them, a NATO official told journalists afterward, speaking on condition of anonymity under the alliance’s rules. In a statement after the meeting, the ambassadors said they “strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against Turkey, and express our condolences to the Turkish government and the families” of victims killed in recent terrorist actions. “Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of NATO countries and to international stability and prosperity,” the NATO statement said.

Turkey called the meeting under Article 4 of the NATO charter, which allows a member to invoke consultation when there is a pending threat to its security. Article 4 has only been invoked four times before, three of them by Turkey — in 2003 over the Iraq war, and twice in 2012 over the Syrian civil war, when a Turkish jet was shot down and a mortar shell landed on Turkish soil. Poland invoked the article last year after Russia annexed Crimea.


Turkey summons NATO session amid airstrike campaign against Kurdish PKK

© Umit Bektas

After launching a second wave of airstrikes against the positions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, effectively ending a fragile two-year truce, Turkey has announced that it is calling a NATO meeting next week to discuss regional security concerns. Ankara sent bombers on a mission for a second night on Sunday to annihilate logistics positions, warehouses, barracks and PKK bases in northern Iraq. Ankara has claimed it is retaliation for PKK attacks against security forces and police last week. The country has subsequently called a NATO meeting to discuss its security concerns not only about Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) but the PKK as well. Four Turkish F-16 fighters took off from the Diyarbakir air base and hit PKK targets in Hakurk in northern Iraq, the sources told Reuters. Local media reports confirmed the airstrikes.

“At around 9:00pm (6:00pm GMT), Turkish planes started bombing some of our positions in two areas [north of Dohuk and north of Arbil]”, a spokesman for the PKK in Iraq, Bakhtiar Dogan, told AFP.

Some media reports claim that around 50 PKK camps were struck in three separate air operations and up to 300 bombs were dropped on PKK positions. Sunday airstrikes came as a military vehicle was struck by a car bomb and roadside explosives on a highway near Diyarbakir overnight on Sunday. According to the army, Kurdish militants then opened fire, wounding four soldiers. Six people were detained following the attack.

According to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey, which launched its air campaign on Friday, is trying to tackle all “terrorist organizations,” not just Islamic State. For now however, Turkey does not intend to send ground troops into Syria to fight IS, Davutoglu said. Turkey is seeking to impose a “no-fly zone” or “safe zone” in northern Syria to secure its borders and stop refugees from flooding the country. “We have always defended safe zones and no-fly zones in Syria. People who have been displaced can be placed in those safe zones,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a news conference on Sunday.

Overall tensions have been flaring in Turkey the whole week after a suicide bombing in the mainly Kurdish town of Suruc killed 32 people and injured 100 last Monday. The terror attack caused a new eruption of violence, and protests engulfed the country with Kurdish groups blaming the government for not making enough of an effort to prevent the IS threat. On Saturday, the Turkish PM’s office announced their military campaign not only against IS but also against PKK – which Ankara considers a terrorist organization – but whose Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have been helping to curb the jihadist advances.

Turkey fought against the PKK guerrillas, based in northern Iraq, for almost 30 years until reaching a fragile ceasefire in 2013. The PKK said the airstrikes had rendered the truce practically meaningless. “It seems Erdogan wants to drag us back into war,” PKK spokesman in Iraq Bakhtiar Dogan told FP. “When things reach this level and when all of our areas are bombed, I think by then the ceasefire has no meaning anymore.” But the Turkish government insists that negotiations continue despite air campaign. “We will continue the peace process… But everyone should know we will use both power and compassion,” said PM Davutoglu as quoted by Wall Street Journal. According to Davutoglu, since June the PKK has carried out some 280 terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

“These elements needed to be responded to, and so they were. We will not allow anyone [to] threaten our democracy and public security,” he said.

Just hours after Turkish warplanes pounded IS positions in Syria on Friday morning, Turkey approved the full use of its air bases by the US-led coalition against the Islamic State. Meanwhile Washington, despite its having relied on the Kurdish fighting militia as a fighting force on the ground, has supported Turkey's fight against the PKK. “The US of course recognizes the PKK specifically as a terrorist organization. And so, again, Turkey has a right to take action related to terrorist targets. And we certainly appreciate their interest in accelerating efforts against ISIL [ISIS],” White House spokesman Ben Rhodes, told a news conference in Nairobi.

Meanwhile Turkey has equested a NATO ambassadorial meeting, as the country continues to simultaneously bomb Islamic State group positions near its border with Syria and Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq. “NATO Allies follow developments very closely and stand in solidarity with Turkey,” NATO said. At the same time, European leaders expressed their support for Turkey’s role in fighting terrorism, but cautioned for the need to continue the investigation. European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, expressed Brussels’ support for Turkey's endeavor, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel assured the Turkish PM of “Germany's solidarity and support in the fight against terrorism.”

In Focus: Turkey's airstrikes on Isis 'just a cover to hit PKK' warns top Kurd activist

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Turkey is using the cover of its Nato-backed airstrikes on Isis to target Kurdish militants in Iraq as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan steps up his response to a series of recent attacks by PKK fighters at home. Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) says the airstrikes are part of Erdogan's toughening stance against the Kurds as well as in retaliation for the party's strong showing at the polls in June which prevented his Justice and Development Party from gaining a majority. IBTimes UK spoke to activist and editor at the Kurdish Question Memed Aksoy about the plight of the Kurds as well as Erdogan's warning to them that peace talks will not take place until they lay down their arms. Turkey has recently joined the fight against Isis after it was hit by attacks including one that left 32 people dead in the town of Suruc earlier in July. Nato backed the country's request to participate in the fight against Isis, but urged it not to undermine the Kurdish peace process. Other reports also warned that a recent plan to establish a buffer zone along Turkey's border with Syria to counter Isis is also another cover-up to stop Kurdish rebels from forming their own state.

Source: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/focus-turkeys-airstrikes-isis-just-cover-hit-pkk-warns-top-kurd-activist-1513491

The nuclear deal with Iran will stoke more Sunni-Shiite violence

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While President Obama hopes his nuclear deal with Iran will burnish his presidential legacy as a great peacemaker, the near-term consequence will be more—and even bloodier—sectarian violence in the Middle East. In particular, security threats will escalate for Saudi Arabia and Israel, until now America’s two major Mideast allies.

The Israelis and Saudis, longtime adversaries, in recent years have joined in vehement opposition to Mr. Obama’s attempts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Tehran. For the Israelis the concern was entirely about an Iranian atomic weapon. But for the Saudis the fear was less about future nuclear capability than about the real and present threat that a deal would further enhance Iran’s regional stature and its capability to ratchet up the regime’s exploitation of regional sectarian divisions. 

That nightmare has arrived. The immediate threat to Saudi Arabia far exceeds that to Israel, which (without saying so) already possesses nuclear weapons and in a real crisis can almost surely be more confident of U.S. support—from future American presidents, if not the current one—than can Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Sunni Saudi Arabia, not Jewish Israel, is Shiite Iran’s primary rival for regional hegemony.

Opinion Journal Video

American Enterprise Institute Critical Threats Project Director Frederick Kagan on how the nuclear deal will reshape the Middle East.

Under the deal announced Tuesday, Iran stands to have $100 billion of assets unfrozen by late this year. That, coupled with the bizarre U.S. decision to unfreeze the ban on selling Iran conventional weapons and ballistic missiles down the road, means that Tehran can use those billions of freshly available assets not to enhance its economy, as the Iranians promised negotiators, but rather to buy deadly new arms for its nefarious partners across the region. These include Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria’s Bashar Assad, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

 A cocky, conventionally armed Iran increasing regional mischief-making puts Saudi Arabia in the cross hairs—of Iran, but also of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). As Iranian-backed Shiites across the region increase efforts to exploit turmoil in failing Mideast states for Tehran’s benefit, so too will their Sunni opponents in ISIS, who are no friends of the Saudis.

The expansion of Iran and ISIS also means ever-greater internal threats to Saudi stability. Some 60% of the Saudi population is under 30 years old, and unemployment among those young Saudis is about 30%. Saudi Arabia has made it a crime for its citizens to join ISIS, but the Saudi Interior Ministry has acknowledged that in recent years some 2,200 young Saudis have gone to Syria to fight. As Saudi Sunnis watch their Sunni coreligionists being killed by Iranian-backed Shiites across the region with little opposition from any force other than ISIS, that terror organization’s appeal grows, especially among deeply religious young Saudis.

But what are Saudi Arabia’s choices? The short, subdued statement this week by Riyadh’s embassy in Washington again calling for “strict, sustainable” inspections speaks volumes about the kingdom’s precarious position and its lack of good options. The deal obviously comes as no surprise to the Saudis, who have watched the Obama administration fervently court Iran at Saudi expense. Given that the kingdom already has taken any number of actions to try to protect itself, few remain. So don’t expect any significant Saudi action in the short term, not even openly lobbying Congress against the deal.

Already, Riyadh has reached out to a broader range of countries, sending its top officials to China last year and Russia last month. Only last week, the kingdom’s young deputy crown prince boarded a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to keep alive the impression, however dubious, that Saudi Arabia still can count on the U.S. for protection.

The kingdom has become more assertive on its own behalf, though this can easily be overstated. Saudi efforts to confront Syria’s Assad have been mostly unsuccessful, and as Iran gains the freedom under the nuclear deal to buy and share new conventional armaments, overthrowing the Assad regime will be ever harder. Riyadh’s bombing campaign against what it sees as an Iranian-backed insurgency by Houthi tribesmen in Yemen has killed more than a thousand civilians but failed to achieve the Saudi goal of restoring Yemen’s deposed president.

One semi-successful action by the Saudis: increasing their oil production to put pressure on an Iranian economy already staggering under economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe. This month the Saudis have been pumping 10.6 million barrels of oil a day, a historic high.

A final option open to the Saudis: Get a nuclear weapon as soon as possible. Prince Turki al Faisal, the kingdom’s former head of intelligence, vowed in the spring that “whatever the Iranians have, we will have.” The kingdom doesn’t have the technological ability to build its own nuclear program and is more likely to lobby Pakistan—whose nuclear development the Saudis helped fund—to establish a weapons program on Saudi soil. But Pakistan’s nonproliferation commitments make that solution less likely than many Saudis like to pretend.

So, while the nuclear agreement is being cheered in Tehran, while Obama aides are fist-pumping in the White House, while Europeans are salivating at the prospect of doing business in Iran, and while the Israelis are trying to lobby the U.S. Congress against the deal, the Saudis are left grinding their teeth in Riyadh, surveying a bleak future and no good options to change it.

Ms. House, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal who won a Pulitzer Prize as a reporter for her coverage of the Middle East, is the author of “On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future” (Knopf, 2012).

Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/obama-pours-gas-on-the-mideast-fire-1437087768

Saudi Arabia Finds Common Ground With Israel About Iran

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After launching into a tirade about the malicious designs of their perfidious foe, three Saudi academics and analysts on separate recent occasions began by pronouncing “Israel”—and then, catching their error of habit mid-word, corrected themselves to say “Iran.” The custodian of Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia has long preached the message of Islamic unity, albeit on its own terms. That message has traditionally included hostility to Israel, widely seen as the usurper of Islam’s third holiest shrine, in Jerusalem. 

Now, however, the Saudis are finding themselves in an unusual and somewhat uncomfortable position of, if not empathizing with Israel, at least relating to it. Years of sectarian carnage in Syria and Iraq have turned public opinion in Saudi Arabia and many other Arab countries solidly against Iran and against its most powerful Arab ally, the Shiite Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. These days, official government spokesmen in the Saudi capital Riyadh frequently draw a parallel between the pro-Iranian Houthi militia that Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen and Hezbollah. They say one Saudi objective in the war is to prevent the Houthis in Yemen from establishing a state-within-a-state like the one Hezbollah has carved out in southern Lebanon. Responding to the Saudi bombing campaign, the Houthis have repeatedly fired cross-border rockets at Saudi towns, just as Hezbollah has done against Israel.


“Wherever the Iranians are present, they create militias against these countries,” said Saudi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed al Aseeri. “In Lebanon they have created Hezbollah, which is blocking the political process and has conducted wars against Israelis, destroying Lebanon as a result. And in Yemen, they have created the Houthis.”


The Houthis, for their part, have accused Saudi Arabia of launching airstrikes against them “on the order of Israel” and claimed that Israeli pilots are flying Saudi jets—allegations routinely reported as fact by Iranian media. It isn’t just about Yemen. Saudi Arabia—like Israel—is also concerned by Tehran’s pending nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers. Fearing that the agreement, and the accompanying lifting of economic sanctions, would embolden Iran to expand its regional sway, some Saudis even hope—not so secretly—that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would use his country’s air force to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations.

“Israel is an enemy because of its origin, but isn’t an enemy because of its actions—while Iran is an enemy because of its actions, not because of its origin,” said Abdullah al Shammari, a Riyadh academic who served as a senior Saudi diplomat. “This means that Iran is more of a threat. If I were a Saudi decision maker, I would not hesitate for a second to coordinate with Israel against Iran’s nuclear program.”

While Israeli officials are equally eager and say that secret contacts have taken place, this doesn’t mean that a diplomatic breakthrough will happen soon. “There is a confluence of interests between Israel and Saudi Arabia and there is a lot of room for cooperation,” said Joshua Teitelbaum, an expert on Gulf states at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel. “But as far as overt cooperation, it is still too early for that without progress on the Palestinian issue.”

For now, the two countries don't have diplomatic relations and Israel still technically classifies the kingdom an enemy state. Unlike some other Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia hasn't allowed Israeli officials, athletes and other representatives to visit publicly. Last month, the kingdom severed a contract with a Portuguese aircraft leasing company after a social-media storm that erupted once the company flew one of the jumbo jets of Saudia, the state-owned airline, to Tel Aviv for maintenance. Even on the nuclear issue, while both Israel and Saudi Arabia fear Iran’s plans, many Saudis allege that it was Israel that introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East first, precipitating proliferation.


“This whole nuclear race can be blamed on the country that began it—Israel. They gave the Iranians the excuse,” said Hussein Shobokshi, a prominent businessman and political commentator in Jeddah. Israel neither confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons. Still, the yearning to build ties with Israel is palpable in the kingdom’s foreign-policy establishment.


“Saudi Arabia would like Israel to be part of the Middle East, as a state in the Middle East. We can’t take it out, and we can use their technology while they can use our money,” said retired Saudi Maj. Gen. Anwar Eshqi, chairman of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in the Saudi city of Jeddah. Mr. Eshqi—who recently held a public meeting in Washington with Dore Gold, the incoming director-general of Israel’s foreign ministry—added in an interview that he had one particular complaint about Israel.

Israel, he said, was too soft in 2006. That year, responding to a cross-border kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, it launched a massive air and land war against Hezbollah, devastating many Shiite-majority areas of Lebanon. “Israel attacked Hezbollah, but it didn’t finish them,” Mr. Eshqi said. “We have to finish the Houthis.”

Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-reluctantly-finds-common-cause-with-israel-in-suspicions-about-iran-1434627043

Why Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Neocons Hate the Iran Deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement in his office in Jerusalem on July 14, 2015, after world powers reached a historic nuclear deal with Iran.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind about most critics of the Iran nuclear deal that was signed Tuesday morning: Their objections have nothing to do with the details of the deal. The most diehard opponents—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi King Salman, and a boatload of neocons led by the perennial naysayer John Bolton—issued their fusillades against the accord (“an historic mistake,” “diplomatic Waterloo,” to say nothing of the standard charges of “appeasement” from those with no understanding of history) long before they could possibly have browsed its 159 pages of legalese and technical annexes.

What worries these critics most is not that Iran might enrich its uranium into an A-bomb. (If that were the case, why would they so virulently oppose a deal that put off this prospect by more than a decade?) No, what worries them much more deeply is that Iran might rejoin the community of nations, possibly even as a diplomatic (and eventually trading) partner of the United States and Europe. European leaders, especially Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, and Philip Hammond, Great Britain’s finance minister, have said that the deal holds out hope for the reopening of broad relations with Iran—and that is precisely these critics’ fear.

The fear is hardly without reason. The lifting of sanctions, which this deal will trigger in the next few years, will certainly enrich Iran. This might embolden the government’s expansionist tendencies and its support of militant movements across the Middle East—or it might moderate the country’s stance, as the population (much of it literate and pro-Western) interacts more with the rest of the world and the reigning mullahs die off. There is some basis for this hope of transformation. How long can the mullahs sustain their cries of “Death to America” and their claims of Western encirclement—the rationale for their oppressive domestic policies—when the country’s president and foreign minister, clearly with the approval of the supreme leader, are shaking hands and signing deals with the Great Satan’s emissaries? Nonetheless, the hope is a gamble, and one can’t blame Israelis for refusing to stake too much on its payoff.

The Saudi royal family is another matter. King Salman sees the entire Middle East through the prism of a grand Arab cold war between Sunnis and Shiites—with the Shiites led by Iran and all Shiite movements, for instance the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as nothing more than Iranian proxies. It’s a zero-sum game: American diplomacy with Iran, in this view, amounts to an American betrayal of Saudi Arabia. What Netanyahu and King Salman want Obama to do is to wage war against Iran—or, more to the point, to fight their wars against Iran for them. That is why they so virulently oppose U.S. diplomacy with Iran—because the more we talk with Iran’s leaders, the less likely we are to go to war with them. Their view is the opposite of Winston Churchill’s: They believe to war-war is better than to jaw-jaw.

President Obama needs to be (and clearly is) sensitive to these parochial views of the region and the world, but he shouldn’t (and clearly isn’t) holding American interests hostage to them. Netanyahu is sure to lobby against this deal on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks, just as he lobbied against the negotiations in his dreadful but politically potent speech before Congress in March. Republicans—keen to cheer the Israeli prime minister and to pummel their own president—probably won’t realize that they’re being played as pawns in someone else’s game.

It may be that Netanyahu is overplaying his hand this time. In a speech on Tuesday, he described Iran’s aggression as “several times more dangerous than that of ISIS” and claimed that Iran’s “ultimate true aim” was “taking over the world.” Does anyone believe this? Does Netanyahu, really? I’m not saying Republican senators and presidential candidates should roll over and endorse this Iran deal without serious scrutiny. But maybe they should read the document, attend some informed briefings, and analyze all the players’ political motives before endorsing a foreign leader’s claim that their own country’s president and secretary of state have surrendered their interests and “capitulated” to Tehran’s.

Source: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2015/07

In Iran today the Great Satan is no longer the United States: it's Saudi Arabia

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It is over three decades since Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran crying, “Death to America!” The embassy complex still stands, but it now serves as a training complex for the Revolutionary Guard. Next to memorials to Ayatollah Khomeini and the “martyrs of the revolution” is the “Den of Spies” museum. One highlight on display there is the “glassy room” – a room US diplomats would go to for top-secret conversations. It is a suspended box made of Plexiglas, with transparent walls, floors and ceiling that make it impossible to conceal bugs. The hope of the great powers is that the historic deal struck with Iran on 13 July will make the country’s nuclear programme as transparent and as contained as this.

If the agreement is ratified by the US Congress – given Republican hostility, this cannot be taken for granted – it will, it is hoped, stop Iran from covertly developing nuclear weapons and avert a bombing raid by Washington or Tel Aviv. However, even if the deal is passed, there will be little hope for peace in a region that is already in flames: witness Libya, Syria and Yemen. How will a nuclear deal affect this instability?

The nightmare scenario is one of “Tehran unbound”: a situation where all constraints are lifted and an emboldened Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard are allowed to wreak havoc in the region with impunity. The question is whether the EU and the US – which have successfully negotiated the deal that lifts sanctions on Iran but places strict limits on its nuclear programme – can influence Iran’s regional policies more effectively with engagement than they have done with containment. Or could Iran eventually even play a constructive role in the region?

It is an open question. Visitors to Tehran are always struck by the dizzying complexity of Iranian politics and society. The paradox of 1979’s religious revolution is that it has given birth to the most secular society in the region. More than 70 per cent of Iranians were not even born when the revolution took place, and they are self-consciously more pragmatic, moderate and open to the west than any of their peers in the Middle East. But in terms of its role within the region, Iran is one of the leaders of a violent sectarian conflict; and its leaders are enjoying the new space that has been accorded to them by the toppling of Saddam, the Taliban, and by western mistakes in the region.

George W Bush’s war on terror set off a chain of events that is now putting irresistible pressure on the states created after the First World War. Borders that the US has guaranteed in the post-colonial era are now dissolving and new units – such as Kurdistan and Islamic State – are emerging from the ruins. If you want to find out about the decline of US power in the Middle East, go to Tehran. Few chant “Death to America” these days, and when such chants are heard they come across as more of a nostalgic echo than a rallying cry for Iran’s future.

When I talked to Iranian policymakers last year, they told me US hegemony in the Middle East and global affairs is giving way to a multipolar order. The Great Satan for them is no longer the United States – it is Saudi Arabia. Iranians complain about the Saudis drilling more to reduce oil prices and weaken Tehran; they are concerned about the enhanced military co-operation between members of the Gulf Co-operation Council, oriented against Iran; and about Saudi Arabia challenging them in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

In Riyadh I find an exact mirror image of those suspicions. Saudis are obsessed with Iranian activism in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. The geopolitical tussle between these two nations is emblematic of a new Middle East where emancipated local powers are battling it out. Order is no longer defined and defended by Washington. Instead, the US is seen as a resource that Tehran and Riyadh can manipulate in their struggle against one another.

So, what role can the US and EU hope to play in this new Middle East? For the US, the challenge of getting the deal through Congress will demand that Obama go to great lengths to reassure Riyadh and Tel Aviv it is not abandoning them in its links to Tehran or its pivot to Asia. It can continue to co-ordinate its strikes against Isis with Tehran but will be wary about being seen to be getting too cosy with Ayatollah Khamenei.

But Europe, for which the stakes are even higher than for the US, is less constrained in its ability to reach out to different players. As Ellie Geranmayeh argues in an interesting policy paper, Engaging With Iran: a European Agenda, there is a unique chance to construct a regional strategy on the foundations of the Iran nuclear deal.

The EU high representative Federica Mogherini has an opportunity to build on the nuclear talks by quickly opening an EU embassy in Tehran and exploring how economic links could lead to a bilateral détente. More importantly, she should explore whether the “E3+1” grouping – of France, Germany, the UK and the EU – could be reconfigured from having a nuclear focus to one pushing for regional peace. The agenda should be to try, over time, to find ways of reducing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This could involve confidence-building on Yemen, co-ordination of the anti-Isis campaign in Iraq and Syria, and discussing other thorny issues such as Hezbollah’s role, or even relations with Israel.

There are limits to what can be achieved in the short term. Both Tehran and Riyadh are enjoying their moment in the sun and for both sides the rewards outweigh the risks. However, the successful conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal showed the power of strategic patience. The challenge now will be to show the same level of diplomatic creativity in a quest for peace. For Europe and the US – as well as for the regional powers locked in a conflict that neither side can win – the hope must be to contain the conflict before the whole region gets sucked into a Thirty Years War.
 
Mark Leonard is the co-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations

Source: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/07/iran-today-great-satan-no-longer-united-states-its-saudi-arabia

WikiLeaks Shows a Saudi Obsession With Iran

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For decades, Saudi Arabia has poured billions of its oil dollars into sympathetic Islamic organizations around the world, quietly practicing checkbook diplomacy to advance its agenda. But a trove of thousands of Saudi documents recently released by WikiLeaks reveals in surprising detail how the government’s goal in recent years was not just to spread its strict version of Sunni Islam — though that was a priority — but also to undermine its primary adversary: Shiite Iran. The documents from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry illustrate a near obsession with Iran, with diplomats in Africa, Asia and Europe monitoring Iranian activities in minute detail and top government agencies plotting moves to limit the spread of Shiite Islam.

The scope of this global oil-funded operation helps explain the kingdom’s alarm at the deal reached on Tuesday between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program. Saudi leaders worry that relief from sanctions will give Iran more money to strengthen its militant proxies. But the documents reveal a depth of competition that is far more comprehensive, with deep roots in the religious ideologies that underpin the two nations.

The documents indicate an extensive apparatus inside the Saudi government dedicated to missionary activity that brings in officials from the Foreign, Interior and Islamic Affairs Ministries, the intelligence service and the office of the king. Recent initiatives have included putting foreign preachers on the Saudi payroll, building mosques, schools and study centers, and undermining foreign officials and news media deemed threatening to the kingdom’s agenda. At times, the king got involved, ordering an Iranian television station off the air or granting $1 million to an Islamic association in India.

“We are talking about thousands and thousands of activist organizations and preachers who are in the Saudi sphere of influence because they are directly or indirectly funded by them,” said Usama Hasan, a senior researcher in Islamic studies at the Quilliam Foundation in London. “It has been a huge factor, and the Saudi influence is undeniable.”

While the documents do not show any Saudi support for militant activity, critics argue that the kingdom’s campaign against Shiites — and its promotion of a strict form of Islam — have eroded pluralism in the Muslim world and added to the tensions fueling conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. The Saudi government has made no secret of its international religious mission, nor of its enmity toward Iran. But it has found the leaks deeply embarrassing and has told its citizens that spreading them is a crime. It said last month that the documents were related to an electronic attack in March on the Foreign Ministry that was claimed by the Yemeni Cyber Army, a little-known group believed to be backed by Iran. WikiLeaks mentioned the attack when it released the documents.

While Saudi Arabia says some documents were fabricated, many contain correct names and phone numbers, and a number of individuals and associations named in them verified their contents when reached by reporters from The New York Times. The trove mostly covers the period from 2010 to early 2015. It documents religious outreach coordinated by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, an interministerial body that King Salman dissolved in a government overhaul after his ascension this year.

The Foreign Ministry relayed funding requests to officials in Riyadh, the Interior Ministry and the intelligence agency sometimes vetted potential recipients, the Saudi-supported Muslim World League helped coordinate strategy, and Saudi diplomats across the globe oversaw projects. Together, these officials identified sympathetic Muslim leaders and associations abroad, distributed funds and religious literature produced in Saudi Arabia, trained preachers and gave them salaries to work in their own countries.

One example of this is Sheikh Suhaib Hasan, an Indian Islamic scholar who was educated in Saudi Arabia and worked for the kingdom for four decades in Kenya and in Britain, where he helped found the Islamic Sharia Council, according to a cable from the Saudi Embassy in London whose contents were verified by his son, Mr. Hasan of the Quilliam Foundation. Clear in many of the diplomatic messages are Saudi fears of Iranian influence and of the spread of Shiite Islam.

The Saudi Embassy in Tehran sent daily reports on local news coverage of Saudi Arabia. One cable suggested the kingdom improve its image by starting a Persian-language television station and sending pro-Saudi preachers to tour Iran. Other cables detailed worries that Iran sought to turn Tajikistan into “a center to export its religious revolution and to spread its ideology in the region’s countries.” The Saudi ambassador in Tajikistan suggested that Tajik officials could restrict Iranian support “if other sources of financial support become available, especially from the kingdom.”

The fear of Shiite influence extended to countries where Muslims are small minorities, like China, where a Saudi delegation was charged with “suggesting practical programs that can be carried out to confront Shiite expansion in China.” And documents from the Philippines, where only 5 percent of the population is Muslim, included suggested steps to “restrict the Iranian presence.”

In 2012, Saudi ambassadors from across Africa were told to file reports on Iranian activities in their countries. The Saudi ambassador to Uganda soon filed a detailed report on “Shiite expansion” in the mostly Christian country. A cable from the predominantly Muslim nation of Mali warned that Iran was appealing to the local Muslims, who knew little of “the truth of the extremist, racist Shiite ideology that goes against all other Islamic schools.”

Many of those seeking funds referred to the Saudi-Iranian rivalry in their appeals, the cables showed. One proposal from the Afghan Foundation in Afghanistan said that it needed funding because such projects “do not receive support from any entities, while others, especially Shiites, get a lot of aid from several places, including Iran.” Reached in Kabul, the Afghan capital, one of the center’s founders, Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil, acknowledged that the group had appealed for Saudi funding but said that it had received none. The kingdom has at times interfered directly with Iran’s outreach.

From 2010 to 2013, it tried to force an Iranian Arabic-language satellite television station, Al Alam, off the air. These efforts included issuing royal decrees aimed at stopping the broadcast, pressuring the Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat to drop the channel, and using “technical means” to weaken the channel’s signal so it did not reach Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia, where Shiites complain of discrimination by their Sunni monarchs.
A Beirut-based manager of Al Alam acknowledged that the channel had faced Saudi pressure since 2010, which had succeeded in getting two Arab satellite providers to drop the channel.“We are broadcasting normally” via European satellites, the manager said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private company matters. “The only disruption we have is when we broadcast a show about Bahrain.”

Some of the cables reported on seemingly mundane events. The Saudi Embassy in Sri Lanka reported a meeting between the Iranian ambassador and a group of religious scholars, noting that it began at 7:30 p.m. Elsewhere, the kingdom intervened against foreign officials it perceived as threats. After the president of the International Islamic University of Islamabad in Pakistan, Mumtaz Ahmad, invited the Iranian ambassador to a cultural week on campus, the Saudi Embassy called Mr. Ahmad to express “its surprise,” according to one cable, suggesting that he invite the wife of the Saudi ambassador instead.

Mr. Ahmad refused to disinvite the Iranian ambassador, so Saudi diplomats suggested having Suliman Aba al-Khail, a Saudi academic with a position in the university’s administration, convene a board meeting and “choose a president for the university who is consistent with our orientation,” the cable said. A faculty member at the university said that Mr. Ahmad, a political science professor with a doctorate from the University of Chicago, had clashed with conservative faculty members for trying to reduce Saudi influence on campus.

After Mr. Ahmad resigned as president in 2012, the Saudi ambassador worked with the president of Pakistan at the time, Asif Ali Zardari, to have a Saudi citizen named as university president, according to the faculty member. “In the end they won,” said the faculty member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to anger his employer.

Saudi Arabia has long invested in training foreign preachers, providing scholarships to international Muslim students to study Shariah at Saudi universities. The documents show that the kingdom gives some of them government salaries to work in their home countries. The cables named 14 new preachers to be employed in Guinea and said contracts had been signed with 12 others in Tajikistan.

Another cable said the Foreign Ministry was studying a request from an Islamic association near the Iranian border in Afghanistan to pay local preachers to spread Sunni Islam. Some of the costliest projects were in India, which Saudi Arabia sees as a sectarian battleground. Cables indicated that $266,000 had been granted to an Islamic association to open a nursing college; $133,000 had been used for an Islamic conference; and another grant went to a vocational training center for girls.

King Abdullah, who died in January, signed off on a $1 million gift to the Khaja Education Society, and a smaller amount went to a medical college run by Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen. A member of the first group, Janab Moazam, confirmed that it had been granted the money and said that half had already been delivered. An official from the second group, Abdullah Koya Madani, confirmed that the group had received Saudi funding.

Even humanitarian relief is sometimes sectarian. In 2011, the Saudi foreign minister requested aid for flood victims in Thailand, noting that “it will have a positive impact on Muslims in Thailand and will restrict the Iranian government in expanding its Shiite influence.”

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia sees its religious work as a way to improve its reputation. The Saudi ambassador to Hungary requested $54,000 per year for an Islamic association as well as for authorization to found a cultural center. O ne cable said such aid would undermine extremism and “play a positive role in portraying the beautiful and moderate image of the kingdom.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/17/world/middleeast/wikileaks-saudi-arabia-iran.html?_r=0

Saudi Arabia, Iran and the 'Great Game' in Yemen
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The Yemen card is a strategic bargaining chip that Iran may now be holding vis-a-vis the sudden rise of the Houthis

It would be an understatement to say that the internal power politics at play in Yemen are among the oldest, most complex and most dynamic in the Middle East. What heretofore was a struggling and weak Sunni led central government barely holding on to power while engaged in simultaneous and perpetual conflicts with a myriad of actors, has crumbled as of a week ago. Ongoing tribal disputes with no resolution in sight, secessionist movements in both the north and south, and being in the unfortunate position of serving as home base for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have all fed fuel to the fire. Two of those conflicts, however, one internal and the other external, are closely related, and have come to the forefront

It would be an understatement to say that the internal power politics at play in Yemen are among the oldest, most complex and most dynamic in the Middle East.

What heretofore was a struggling and weak Sunni-led central government barely holding onto power while engaged in simultaneous and perpetual conflicts with a myriad of actors, has crumbled as of a week ago. Ongoing tribal disputes with no resolution in sight, secessionist movements in both the north and south, and being in the unfortunate position of serving as home base for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have all fed fuel to the fire. Two of those conflicts, however, one internal and the other external, are closely related, and have come to the forefront of both domestic and regional politics in light of recent events.

The first is the decade-long insurgency fought against the Houthi rebels, a Shia minority in the north who just last week toppled the central government and appear set, at least for now, to assume much greater power. However, many unanswered questions remain as to how the country will ultimately be governed, and by whom. The second, and more significant clash from a geopolitical standpoint involves two external actors, and has potentially far reaching regional repercussions that can alter the balance of power equation in the Middle East for years to come.

Strategic rivalry

Reminiscent of the "Great Game" played out in Afghanistan between Great Britain and Russia more than a hundred years ago, Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in their own decades-long strategic rivalry for power and influence in the Middle East, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf and Arabian Sea. It is built mostly along sectarian and ideological lines - Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, and Iran as the leader of the Shia Muslim world. 

While recent high-level discussions between the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers would suggest a possible thawing in their cold relations, the fact of the matter is, too much bad blood exists between them for any meaningful, long-term rapprochement, at least in the near-term. The more likely state of affairs is that they are simply reassessing their strategies, taking into account all the events in the region, and preparing their next moves on the Middle East chessboard.

In playing their Great Game, Saudi Arabia and Iran have engaged in a series of proxy wars to undermine each other, some hot and some cold, throughout the Middle East. In Lebanon, it's the Iran-backed Hezbollah. In Syria, it's the longtime Iran-backed Assad regime. In Iraq, it's an Iran-backed Shia government which was, prior to the US invasion in 2003, solidly in the Sunni camp.

In Bahrain and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, Iran works behind the scenes to undermine those governments through the Shia communities, a threat Saudi Arabia takes so seriously that they sent military forces into Bahrain in 2011 to help quell the Shia uprising there. And then there is Yemen. While it is debatable as to how involved they were in supporting the Houthi uprising, the sudden turn of events on the ground there does play favourably into Iran’s hand. But why?

Iran's long-term strategic interest in Yemen is simple. Located on the southwestern tip of the Gulf peninsula, Yemen is a poorly governed, fractious country straddling Saudi Arabia's southern border, which can be likened to a sieve in terms of ancient smuggling routes still used by those wanting to covertly enter the kingdom. And with a population that is 35 percent Shia, Yemen could serve as a potentially friendly base of operations in Iran's rivalry against Saudi Arabia. For Iran, easier access to Yemen means easier access to Saudi Arabia. But is that really Iran's intent?

Weapons smuggling

In a March 2012 article, The New York Times cited claims by unnamed US military and intelligence officials that the Quds Force, an elite arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) was smuggling significant quantities of AK-47, rocket propelled grenades, and other arms to Houthi rebels in Yemen. And in January 2013, a cache of weapons seized from a ship off the coast of Yemen was reported by CNN to have Iranian markings. It included surface-to-air missiles, C-4 explosives, and other weapons, all allegedly destined for the Houthis.

For Saudi Arabia, which shares a porous 1,770km southern border with Yemen, the stakes there are high. According to a November 2013 article by Middle East Voices, Saudi intelligence officials consider Yemen to be the weakest security link in the Gulf and "easy prey for Tehran to penetrate and manipulate".

The Saudi-Yemen border also serves as the primary point of infiltration for AQAP, which is still considered the biggest terrorist threat to the kingdom. For both those very reasons, the Saudis have been providing significant financial and military support to Yemen’s central government, and even conducted their own ground and air strikes against the Houthis and AQAP on the Yemen side of the border. The Saudis are still reeling from the loss of their of long time ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to step down as Yemen's president in 2011. From the Saudi perspective, Yemen has been on a downward spiral ever since.

Last week, a New York Times article on the recent rebel gains in Yemen, quoted Ibrahim Sharqieh, a researcher at the Brookings Institute in Doha, as saying: "In the regional cold war, this has strengthened the position of the Iranians. For the Saudis, the Houthis arriving in Sanaa is definitely not good news."

As an indication of Iran's newfound influence in Yemen, Reuters reported last week that three IRGC and two Lebanese Hezbollah operatives held captive there had been released since the Houthis came to power. And just yesterday, Asharq Al-Awsat reported that IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives are actively engaged with Houthi rebels to boost their control in Yemen's capital city of Sanaa.

Line in the sand

So what does this mean? Is Yemen really that important to Saudi Arabia and Iran? The short answer is yes, and each side seems prepared to draw their proverbial line in the sand. For Saudi Arabia, what happens south of their border is a matter of grave national security, particularly now that the future of Yemen is in question. They cannot allow instability there to give Iran a solid foothold on the peninsula or AQAP free movement northwards. 

Iran's line in the sand is Iraq and Syria. Both those countries serve as buffers between Iran and the Sunni Middle East, so having stable and dependable Shia-led governments in each serves as a strategic objective that is non-negotiable for Iran. Which brings up the Yemen card, a strategic bargaining chip that Iran may now be holding vis-a-vis the sudden rise of the Houthis and anticipated domestic chaos that is sure to plague the country for the foreseeable future. 

By playing it, Iran would seek to pressure the Saudis to tread lightly in Iraq and Syria or risk a concerted effort to further undermine them from their southern border. The question now is, will the Saudis make their stand in Yemen or blink? And so the Great Game goes on. 

Martin Reardon is a Senior Vice President with The Soufan Group, a New York-based strategic security and intelligence consultancy, and Senior Director of Qatar International Academy for Security Studies. He is a 21-year veteran of the FBI, and specialised in counterterrorism operations.

Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/09/saudi-arabia-iran-great-game-ye-201492984846324440.html

Turkey-Iran Tensions on Rise

Demonstrators wave Turkish flags as they shout nationalist slogans during a protest against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in central Istanbul, August 16, 2015.

The cancellation of a visit to Turkey last week by Iran's foreign minister has brought increasingly tense relations between Ankara and Tehran into sharper focus. The two countries back opposite sides in the Syrian civil war and accuse each other of heightening sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. Bilateral tensions between Iran and Turkey are increasingly being fought by the two countries' pro-government media outlets. Iranian reports targeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his daughter, Sumeyye, recently proved too much for Ankara, resulting in the abrupt cancellation of Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif's planned visit to Turkey. "It's serious. I think the reporting in Iranian media, particularly the state-controlled media, about Erdogan and his family, did upset the presidency," said international relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University. "There is no doubt in Iraqi Kurdistan and in Syria they are at loggerheads, so maybe because of the presidency [criticism] this is now being made much more public than was the case before."

PKK adds to tensions


In addition to bilateral tensions and a deepening rivalry for influence in the Iraqi Kurdish region, the resumption of Ankara’s war against the main Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, could add to those tensions, says retired Turkish ambassador Murat Bilhan. "Iran, from time to time, used the PKK issue as a tool to threaten Turkey. But presently Iran wants to use the PKK and other elements in Syria against the Islamic State. They are fighting successfully against ISIS. That is why Iran seems to be showing the picture that Turkey should not hit hard on the PKK movement," said Bilhan. Ankara has in the past accused Tehran of failing to prevent the PKK from using its border to attack Turkey. Analyst Ozel warns that threat remains. "Well if they cannot use the Iraqi one, it's good for them to use any path that they can use. So if the Iranian helps them use it, then it’s an asset for them. But I think it's really incumbent on Turkey to make sure it's not vulnerable ... that it does not give Iran any tools to play against it," said Ozel. The threat of Iran tacitly, if not directly, supporting the PKK is another factor being cited by growing calls for a resumption of the peace process with the PKK. But for now those calls are being dismissed by Ankara.

Source: http://www.voanews.com/content/turkish-iranian-tensions-on-the-increase/2923792.html

Obama Frames Choice as Iran Deal or War
Editorial cartoon on Iran nuclear arms race
On Sept. 27, 2013, President Barack Obama issued a historic announcement about the U.S.-Iran relationship. For the first time in more than 30 years, a United States president had just chatted, via phone, with an Iranian president. The conversation, Obama said, indicated “the prospect of moving beyond” a “difficult history.” He spoke of a “basis for a resolution.” He trumpeted “the unique opportunity to make progress.” He proclaimed his “deep respect for the Iranian people.” And he noted Iran’s right “to access peaceful nuclear energy.” Two months later, the president made history once again. Upon announcing the signing of the interim agreement with Iran known as the Joint Plan of Action, Obama confidently announced that his “diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.”

In both instances, the American president spoke sincerely. He no doubt sought to persuade his Iranian interlocutors that his genuine goodwill justified reciprocal comity on their part. Perhaps more notably, he sought to convey a simple message to the American people: Unlike my predecessor, I seek to resolve problems through diplomacy — and hopefully the Iranians will appreciate my goodwill, and respond in kind.

But Obama then went further. In the coming weeks, he argued that his approach constituted the only thing standing between war and peace with Tehran. Thus, when Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., first introduced conditional sanctions legislation at the end of 2013, the White House called the bill a “march toward war.” Critics of the president's deal with Iran, Obama said, are guilty of “tough talk and bluster.” Essentially, the president framed the debate as a binary choice: Either accept my strategy or accept responsibility for dragging America into war. This rhetorical hand grenade ultimately succeeded in detonating the Menendez-Kirk bill. Yet with the recent Republican takeover of the Senate, the latest extension of talks in late 2014, and the absence of any discernible progress in reaching an agreement, the political dynamic has changed. And suddenly, the president’s arguments seem even less persuasive than they did last year.

The reason is simple. Fourteen months of American goodwill, which included billions of dollars in sanctions relief and stunning compromise offers that would have allowed Tehran to maintain the bulk of its nuclear infrastructure, have not generated any Iranian goodwill. Instead, the Iranians have refused to offer any meaningful concessions and repeatedly insisted that they have no intention of ever dismantling their nuclear program. Why should they compromise, after all, when the other side seems willing to make concessions unilaterally? Moreover, Tehran has backed its words with actions. While Obama has argued that the Joint Plan of Action froze progress on Iran’s nuclear program, the regime in fact has accelerated it by engaging in nuclear activities that the interim agreement irresponsibly fails to address, including the development of advanced centrifuges and the acquisition of parts for the Arak heavy water reactor.

Obama responded to these acts of bad faith by effectively ignoring them and asking for more time to negotiate — lots of time. The latest extension set a new deadline of June 30, 2015, giving the post-plan of action talks a total of 19 months to succeed. And administration officials indicated this week that yet another extension may prove necessary thereafter. 

In essence, the administration’s strategy seems to rest on the hope that Iran, for no apparent reason, will eventually moderate its demands. But Tehran’s behavior offers no rationale for such an assumption. On the contrary, the regime’s actions in the past 14 months suggest that it welcomes continued, and preferably unending, negotiations as a means to wait out the clock in order to develop its nuclear program while enjoying more and more sanctions relief along with the guarantee of no new sanctions.

This unhappy reality underlies newly revived congressional efforts to impose conditional sanctions on Iran. The proposed legislation, authored once again by Kirk and Menendez, would not impose sanctions during the negotiations, but would send Tehran a simple message: Compromise, or pay the price. In other words, by demonstrating that Tehran stands to suffer severe consequences as a result of its intransigence rather than chasing the illusion of Iranian goodwill, the bill seeks to improve prospects for diplomacy and reduce the possibility of war — precisely the outcome that President Obama seeks.

Unfortunately, the president has responded to the new sanctions campaign the same way he responded to last year’s effort. Substantively, he threatened to veto any new sanctions legislation during this year’s State of the Union address, just as he did in last year’s. And rhetorically, he is claiming that the alternative to his approach is war, just as he did last year.
“Congress should be aware,” Obama declared last week, “that if this diplomatic solution fails, then the risks and likelihood that this ends up being at some point a military confrontation is heightened, and Congress will have to own that as well, and that will have to be debated by the American people.”

As a tactical matter, tarring his opponents as warmongers once again may still succeed in persuading vacillating Democratic lawmakers to double down on the president’s approach and uphold his threatened veto of new sanctions legislation. This time, however, Congress can debate the strategy with the benefit of more than a year of evidence that it has brought no progress. Eventually, with or without another extension, the negotiations will come to an end. Yet the president’s current trajectory offers little room for optimism that America will emerge with an agreement that actually eliminates the Iranian nuclear threat. Instead, Obama would likely emerge either with no deal or with a face-saving agreement that effectively submits to the Iranian position, which would constitute a de facto policy of containment. At that point, Obama would have to make a binary choice between two highly unattractive options: military action and simply letting Iran have the bomb. And he would own it.


Iran deal not a panacea, but a pragmatic necessity

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The nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany) will remain a point of contention in Washington for many years to come. Supporters of the deal claim that it will effectively constrain and roll back Iran's nuclear efforts while providing space for meaningful change in Iran. Critics claim that the deal leaves most of Iran's nuclear infrastructure intact and does not compel the Iranian government to change its regional policies and behavior at home. The nuclear agreement is not perfect and certainly does not attain the ideals of either side. However, on balance, it prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability in the near future while giving some space for Iranian proponents of change. The nuclear deal is a pragmatic necessity rather than a panacea.

The nuclear agreement, nearly 100 pages, is long on technical details that will be parsed by highly experienced non-proliferation experts. But it has several components that diminish and limit Iran's nuclear capabilities. According to the agreement, Iran has decided to drastically cut back on its number of centrifuges. The Fordow facility, built under a mountain and impervious to most military options, will be turned into a research and science facility, a smart compromise between Iran and the P5+1. The Arak heavy water reactor will be modified so it cannot be used for production of nuclear weapons. And Iran agrees to keep its stockpile of enriched uranium to a minimum. The Iranian nuclear program will also come under the close scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Critics have claimed that Iran should be subjected to "anytime, anywhere" inspections, but it is completely unrealistic to expect any sovereign country undefeated in war to accept such measures. Iran may object to IAEA requests for inspections, but a majority of the P5+1 can overrule its objections. This is a formula that gives a clear advantage to the United States.

Iran must comply with the agreement before it receives sanctions relief; it will not receive a "signing bonus" for signing the agreement, as critics have claimed. Over time, Iran may repatriate nearly $150 billion of its own funds, which have been "frozen" within the international financial system due to nuclear sanctions. This is a reasonable quid pro quo. Iran rolls back its nuclear program for sanctions relief. President Hassan Rouhani seeks to spend much of this money and any future oil proceeds on Iran's ailing economy; he was elected on a platform of improving living standards for the average Iranian. However, Iran's highly corrupt political establishment, including the Revolutionary Guards, is likely to take its cut of the economic windfall. Some of Iran's sanctions relief may also be spent on Iran's regional activities, although Iran's domestic needs are likely to outweigh expenditures for foreign adventures.

The nuclear deal will not transform Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards will maintain control and attempt to prevent any meaningful changes. Rouhani, while pragmatic enough to sign a nuclear deal, is also cautious enough not to make any sudden moves that could jolt the political system and undermine his own political authority. But millions of Iranians that seek change will be given more space to breath. The 2009 mass Green Movement demonstrated a thirst for change in Iran. Iranians have been waiting for a deal for years, but they, more than anyone, are realistic enough to realize its limitations.

The deal is not perfect. The strongest limitations on Iran's nuclear program will last 10 to 15 years. Iran will be more free to expand its nuclear program after that period, but it will still remain under international inspections. And a deal will not change the Iranian regime or its support for anti-American forces in the Middle East. However, the nuclear deal is a first step for change in Iran. Change may be slow to come, as Iranians have long expected. After all, the 1979 revolution, seemingly sudden and full of promise, transformed Iran forever and for the worse as many Iranians are concerned. So slow changes may be the best option for them. Washington, for now, has come to the same conclusion. Positive change in Iran cannot be achieved through war, sanctions, and unending pressure. It will take incremental steps. The nuclear deal, while not perfect, is a step in the right direction.

Alireza Nader is a senior international policy analyst at the non-profit, non-partisan RAND Corporation.


Obama: Iran deal would not have been reached without Russia

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The US President Barack Obama said he was surprised by the way Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government treated the problem. The group of international mediators would not have achieved an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program had it not been for Russia’s willingness to insist on a strong deal, US President Barack Obama told The New York Times on Wednesday. “Russia was a help on this. I’ll be honest with you. I was not sure given the strong differences we are having with Russia right now around Ukraine, whether this would sustain itself”, - Obama said. “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russian government compartmentalized on this in a way that surprised me, and we would have not achieved this agreement had it not been for Russia’s willingness to stick with us and the other P5-plus members in insisting on a strong deal”, - the US president added. On July 14, Iran and P5+1 group (US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) reached a final agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program which envisages guaranteeing the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear dossier in exchange for gradual removal of sanctions.


The U.S. Is Still Iran’s Great Satan

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Even with the Iran nuclear deal, the anti-Americanism of the Islamic regime runs deep

Three days before Iran and world powers announced a nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with university students at his official residence. A video of the event on Mr. Khamenei’s website shows male students sitting cross-legged at the center of the floor and female students, covered from head to toe in black cloth, on the side. One student asked Mr. Khamenei what would become of Iran’s stance against estekbar—the Persian word for arrogance—after the deal was signed?

“Do you think our battle with estekbar will ever rest? This is an essence of the revolution. It’s one of our principal tasks,” replied Mr. Khamenei, who promptly clarified that by “arrogance,” he meant “America.” Changing course, he told the students, would be sacrilegious. 

As the historic nuclear deal is discussed in the weeks ahead, the debate will return repeatedly to a crucial underlying question: Is there any real prospect for Iran and the U.S. to move toward cooperation and diplomatic relations? Inside and outside Iran, observers are predicting that trade will naturally lead to the reopening of embassies in Tehran and Washington. “The nuclear deal is the beginning of the end for ‘Death to America’ ” wrote Sadegh Zibakalam, a political analyst based in Tehran, on his Facebook page this week. 

But such predictions are premature. They overlook how central the hatred of the U.S. has been to the Islamic Republic’s identity and ideology. Anti-Americanism allows Iran to claim leadership among all Muslims, even Sunnis, and it is the core of its policies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

“Anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric is the only way that a Shiite regime can claim any legitimacy and hope to coalesce Shiites and less radical Sunnis,” said Abbas Milani, a historian and director of the Iranian studies program at Stanford University.

There are reformist factions in Iran that genuinely support a shift of policy toward the U.S. and have called for putting an end to the practice of burning the American flag and calling for the demise of the U.S. at public gatherings. The majority of the Iranian public—60% of the 75 million population is under 35—is out of sync with its government views of the U.S., as evident in the nationwide celebration in the wake of the nuclear deal. But these popular currents have very little traction, and Mr. Khamenei has the last word in all state matters and foreign policy.

The roots of Iranian animosity toward the U.S. predate the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In the early 1950s, the country’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, fought Britain and its oil company, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, for control over Iran’s oil assets. He succeeded in nationalizing the oil industry and called for independence from foreign powers.

Britain asked for the Eisenhower administration’s help to oust Mosaddegh, and in 1953, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and British intelligence orchestrated a coup. Mosaddegh was toppled, and Shah Mohamad Reza Pahlavi was reinstated on the throne. He ruled for 26 years—a staunch ally of the West but as a despised dictator at home.

For Iran’s Islamists, communists and secular pro-democracy groups, the coup against Mosaddegh laid the foundation for resentment and discontent. As early as 1963, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, the founding father of the Islamic revolution, was branding the shah a “slave to Americans.” 

The 1979 revolution caught the world by surprise. Iran had been an ally of the U.S., a friend of Israel, a secular nation seemingly devoted to Western ideals. At a state dinner in Tehran in December 1977, President Jimmy Carter toasted his host country as “an island of stability.”

When Mr. Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in 1979, the first order of the day was consolidating power and eliminating revolutionary rivals from non-Islamic factions. The cleric also institutionalized anti-Americanism, coining the term “Great Satan” to refer to the U.S. Anti-Americanism was also on the rise in the Arab world in the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israel war, and Mr. Khomeini capitalized on these sentiments. By offering a counternarrative, Iran aimed to export its revolution and widen its influence in the Muslim world.

“Then and now, Iran wants to be the No. 1 power in the region, and it does so by positioning itself as the No. 1 challenger of the U.S.,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that promotes normalizing ties between Iran and the U.S.

Diplomatic ties between Iran and U.S. were severed when revolutionary students climbed the walls of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and took American diplomats and staff hostage for 444 days. The embassy is now a museum labeled “den of spies,” its walls painted with graffiti that depicts the Statue of Liberty as a skeleton and the American flag as a machine gun. 

The recent history of relations