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Reporting on Blackwater Operations in Iraq: Journalist James Risen Must Be Shielded from Department...
ISIS is marching through city after city in Iraq, and they are doing it with American weapons. Thanks to a series of stunning victories in recent months, ISIS has captured a vast array of U.S. military equipment including trucks, Humvees, rockets, artillery pieces and Stinger missiles. When the U.S. was pulling out of Iraq, we were [...]
GUEST: David Swanson, author, activist, and blogger. His books includes Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union and War is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War. Follow him on Twitter.
TOPIC: David reacts to the news that Bowe Bergdahl has been released— and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.
ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Friday, June 6, 2014.
There is much evidence to suggest that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government have politically and economically marginalized the country’s Sunni minority, using punitive measures to violently crackdown on protests and engage in mass arrests. While its true that there exists a broad Sunni opposition to Maliki’s rule, this alone cannot explain the recent developments in Iraq.
The unraveling security situation in the region, as well as the overtly sectarian nature of post-Saddam Iraqi politics, cannot be divorced from legacy of the US occupation of Iraq and policies undertaken since by the Obama administration in Syria, in coordination with partners such as Saudi Arabia. Despite the trillions spent by Washington to fight terrorism, ISIS has emerged as the most efficient, discipline, and well-funded jihadist group in history.
ISIS, the organization now making rapid advances toward Baghdad, formed following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The group likens itself as an ideologically superior alternative to al-Qaeda, due in part to its efficiency and gains on the Syrian battlefield. The group’s central purpose is the creation of an Islamic state that encompasses both Syria and Iraq into a borderless caliphate.
ISIS is said to have around 7,000 to 10,000 fighters, many who previously fought with al-Qaeda, and others who are former Ba'athists and soldiers of the Saddam-era army that fought against the US occupation. The organization is known for targeting Shiites, Christians, and other religious minorities, garnering a brutal reputation for carrying out crucifixions, beheadings and amputations.
According to the Iraqi government, ISIS has looted banks and captured military supplies since taking the northern city of Mosul, and now controls around $2 billion in cash and assets. The jihadist group has also produced professional propaganda videos and a sleek public relations campaign designed to attract private investors and new recruits.
Iraq’s Sunni community has long felt alienated by the Shiite-dominate government in Baghdad, and its true that a wider Sunni revolt against Maliki is taking place, with ISIS serving as the strongest component. Voices from the US political establishment accuse the Obama administration of contributing to the crisis in Iraq by formally withdrawing occupation troops from the country in 2011, under an agreement made during the Bush administration.
These problems are not a product of a hasty withdrawal from Iraq, but rather the results of Washington’s flawed attempt at nation building by the notorious neoconservatives following the toppling of Saddam Hussein. The US occupation that began in 2003 entirely dismantled Iraq’s central government, state institutions, and armed forces. To offset the influence of Sunnis loyal to the Ba’athist establishment, the US empowered the Shiites.
The Bush administration’s nation building efforts fueled sectarian divisions by favoring certain groups and religious sects that were seen to be more advantageous and amenable to US interests, effectively restructuring Iraqi society based on the suggestions of intelligence analysts and think-tanks in Washington. Tribal groups and sects were armed by the US to fight forces that resisted the US occupation. It is essential to note that al-Qaeda didn’t exist in Iraq prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein.
A similar argument being made is that the Obama administration failed to do enough to aid the ‘moderate’ elements of the armed opposition in Syria since the war began in 2011, which empowered radical forces like ISIS. The proponents of this argument clearly overlook the millions spent by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sanctioned by the Obama administration to bolster various rebel groups inside of Syria.
Wealthy donors from the Gulf countries have also fuelled the growth of jihadist groups, but the backing from US-aligned Sunni monarchies has been significant enough to warrant warnings against doing so from the Obama administration, which is now somewhat more cognizant of the blowback that such policies incur. The brutal rise of ISIS and the unraveling of Iraq and Syria are principally the result of outside attempts to shape the politics and resources of the region through force and covert operations.
Some disillusioned members of Iraq’s Sunni population, who are a majority in the northwestern regions of Baghdad, view the advance of ISIS as a positive development, but any further advances into the Shiite-dominated south and the semi-autonomous Kurdish regions in the north – where three-quarters of Iraq’s strategic oil fields lay – will be met with stiff resistance by Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
In Syria, the black flag of ISIS hangs over the northern provincial capital of Raqqa, from where it has secured several key oilfields in the eastern regions, providing further revenue. The jihadist organization, by attempting to capture the key oil refinery in Baiji, is attempting a similar strategy in Iraq. The fighting has caused oil prices to shoot up to a nine-month high, trading above $114 a barrel. If fighting bleeds further south, oil markets will experience even more radical price volatility, which some analysts suggest will see crude trading at above $120 a barrel.
The ironic miscalculation of US policy in the region is that Damascus and Baghdad look towards Iran for assistance, and in truth, Washington may need to collaborate with Tehran if it intends to contain the spread of ISIS and radical Sunni militias. Iran may provide Baghdad with the kind of training and assistance that allowed the Syrian army to consolidate and make gains against ISIS across large swathes of Syria.
This crisis now unfolding may the be catalyst that forces Maliki and the Shiites to work more closely with the Kurds and nationalist forces, as both the Iranians and Americans have been suggesting. Rather than more overt foreign intervention, all elements of Iraqi society must come together under the banner of a multi-sectarian force to face the menace now attempting to redefine borders and radically reshape the region.
Listen to Lila Garrett's Connect the Dots on KPFK: AUDIO.
David Swanson organizer of WORLD BEYOND WAR does an in depth analysis of our intervention in this civil war in Iraq including its connection to those interests in the US determined to feed and maintain our permanent war economy.
Former Congressman Bob Filner served as Chair of the Congressional Com. On Veteran Affairs from 2006-2010. As chairman, Filner increased spending on veterans healthcare, and a new GI bill for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. Filner describes the serious cut backs by this Congress on those benefits. This includes the 50,000 vets on medical lists waiting to see a doctor for months…even years.
Senate Candidate Shenna Bellows, Democrat from Maine, whom journalist John Nichols has called “possibly the future of progressive politics in America”, describes Maine’s extreme rightwing leadership. About Bellows' opposition, Republican Susan Collins, author Stephen King writes: “Senator Susan Collins is considered a moderate who compromises a lot. Sounds good, but when it comes down to casting votes that serve Mainers, she always seems to end up with her Republican colleagues, led by Mitch McConnell.”
Lila Garrett (Host of CONNECT THE DOTS)
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The Obama Administration Views Iraq and Syria as a “Single Challenge”, Reconsidering “Air Strikes”...
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The Obama administration is considering treating the crisis in Iraq and Syria in regards to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a “single challenge.” The Obama administration sees an opportunity by exploiting the crisis in Iraq since it failed to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. First, Washington’s plan to remove Assad by supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda failed when the Syrian forces defeated the rebels forcing them to withdraw. Then with Assad’s recent election victory, the international community (Except the US and its allies of course) has welcomed the results paralyzing Washington’s push to oust the Syrian government from power. The Washington Post published an article titled “White House beginning to consider conflicts in Syria and Iraq as single challenge” states that the situation overlaps between both Iraq and Syria, therefore, the US can possibly approach the situation with one strategy:
The Obama administration has begun to consider the conflicts in Syria and Iraq as a single challenge, with an al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency threatening both countries’ governments and the region’s broader stability, according to senior administration officials. At a National Security Council meeting this week, President Obama and his senior advisers reviewed the consequences of possible airstrikes in Iraq, a bolder push to train Syria’s moderate rebel factions, and various political initiatives to break down the sectarian divisions that have stirred Iraq’s Sunni Muslims against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The Obama administration is contemplating whether to use “air strikes” against Syria and arm “moderate” rebels. “Although spreading faster in Iraq, the advance of ISIS could also force the administration to reconsider its calculations in Syria, where Obama has taken a cautious approach, declining to arm moderate rebel factions or conduct airstrikes on government airstrips, as some advisers have recommended” according to the Washington Post report.
Washington says that the threat imposed by ISIS erases the borders between Iraq and Syria so any military or political action taken for both countries would have a separate strategy. The report stated how Iraq and Syria would be treated differently according to the Obama administration:
Administration officials are also weighing a set of strategic and legal complications that in key ways will force U.S. policymakers to plan as if the border between the countries still exists, even though for the insurgency’s purposes it does not.
“Everybody here recognizes that you can’t silo what is happening in Iraq from what is happening in Syria,” said one administration official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal thinking. “There’s no doubt the border is melting away. But while we look at the two in tandem, our responses in each place will be very different”
If the border between Iraq and Syria does not exist, then “airstrikes” in either country would be justified since ISIS does not recognize any border that currently does exist.
Is the Obama Administration Following the Council of Foreign Relation’s Advice on Syria?
Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) member Eliot Abrams, a neoconservative and war criminal is calling for action against Syria with a ‘New Policy’ guideline recommending air strikes and rearming and training rebels. Abrams served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and one of the officials involved in the Iran-Contra Affair and El Salvador’s El Mozote Massacre that resulted in the deaths of more than 500 civilians wrote an article for the CFR titled ‘Syria: Humanitarian Disaster—and Security Threat’ Abrams proposes that the United States should reconsider training and arming rebels who are “anti-Assad” and “anti-jihadi” who are “composed of nationalist Syrian Rebels “since diplomacy has failed. Abrams even suggests training those who come from other forces. Abrams says that “The balance of forces will change when anti-jihadi groups can arm and train all the men they can attract, including attracting them from other forces to which they have gone because those forces were able to feed and clothe them and supply modern weapons”. Abrams also suggests that the United States should use air strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons depots. He states his case for military action on Syria:
Second, the United States should punish Assad for the continuing use of chemical warfare. This means an air strike robust enough to damage CW targets, including units that have used CW and any air assets ever used to deliver them. Any strike should at this point be broad enough to greatly restrict Assad’s ability to use air power as an instrument of terror. More broadly, punitive air operations should be considered to force the regime to allow humanitarian aid to quickly reach those who need it. And even more broadly, air strikes can both change the military balance on the ground and affect the political and psychological dimensions of the conflict by demonstrating a new American policy and new determination
It is no surprise that Eliot Abrams solution to the Syrian crisis (instigated by the West) is for Washington to continue to arm the rebels even those from other forces (perhaps ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra) and for the US military to conduct air strikes. First, let’s be clear, Abrams “new policy” is not new. They have been arming and funding the rebels since Syria’s civil war began. Abrams was a State Department official for human rights and Humanitarian Affairs then as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs under the Reagan administration. Abrams’s was behind a US organized a counterrevolutionary army to carry out terrorist attacks against Nicaragua and supported right-wing dictatorships in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. He was a propagandist for US interests in Central America where he excused Nicaragua of human rights violations against the Miskito Indians. It was a campaign to portray the Sandinista government as Human rights violators in order to justify support for the contra army, which killed more than 10,000 Nicaraguans. US actions have devastated Central America. Today, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala suffer from extreme poverty and crime with the highest murder rates in the world. Elliot Abrams is now advising what Washington should do in the case of Syria. The Council on Foreign Relations is a think tank for the Western establishment or what US Vice-President Joe Biden would call the “New World Order.”
Elliot Abrams is working for a well funded organization that advises powerful members of Washington and its allies on foreign and domestic issues. In a speech at the CFR, Hillary Clinton acknowledged the CFR and its acting President Richard Haass has contributed to Washington’s policy makers over the years. She said “We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.” Well, Elliot Abrams is trying to ensure Washington follows a path to war against Syria which would destabilize the region even further. It is insanity. Abrams says that Syria is a threat to the US as “The refugee flows and the jihadi presence, which are both growing, constitute a threat to Syria, its neighbors, and the interests of the United States.” The Washington Post says that Iraqi President Maliki has asked for the United States to intervene in Iraq making it legal under international law:
Maliki has asked the administration to carry out airstrikes against Islamist insurgents in Iraq, an invitation that administration officials say would make intervention legal under international law. Obama has yet to decide if such strikes would be effective inside Iraq and what the consequences would be in Syria. The report also said that “No such invitation exists in Syria, even though moderate rebel groups fighting Assad would welcome U.S. military support”
Of course they would welcome US military support, after all, the US has been funding them from the beginning. The report clearly defines that there are no differences between the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan where President Obama has authorized numerous drone strikes on both sides resulting in mass civilian casualties:
The U.S. training program for Syria’s moderate rebel forces, also at odds with ISIS, is taking place in Jordan under CIA supervision. That could expand under legislation pending before Congress, which would authorize the administration to allow the military to take over training, greatly expanding its scope, and potentially locating some of it inside Syria.
Officials have concluded that, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, where a porous border provided Islamist fighters with a refuge from U.S. military pursuit for years, the boundary between Iraq and Syria presents a similar challenge
For the Obama administration, they see it as a new opportunity to intervene in Syria. It is a perfect excuse for Washington’s “humanitarian intervention.” ISIS provides a cover for Washington’s long awaited objective to remove Assad and his government and regain a foothold into Syrian territory. The crisis will result in a US/NATO style intervention as they did in Libya. Obama recently sent in military advisors to Iraq escalating the crisis. The next step would be to set up drone strikes across Iraq, then eventually finding their way into Syrian territory. ISIS is a crisis for Iraq’s oil exports effecting world markets, but it is also an opportunity for Washington’s Middle East Agenda. Fox News reported that “Syrian and Iraqi terrorist forces obtained significant numbers of tanks, trucks, and U.S.-origin Humvees in recent military operations in Iraq and those arms are being shipped to al Qaeda rebels in Syria, according to U.S. officials.” ISIS is moving towards Syria’s border with newly acquired weapons they seized from Iraqi forces as Fox news stated what Pentagon Spokesman Commander Bill Speaks had said:
We’re aware of reports of some equipment—namely Humvees—and the pictures that have been posted online,” Speaks said in an email. “We are certainly concerned about these reports and are consulting with the Iraqi government to obtain solid confirmation on what assets may have fallen into ISIL’s hands
This is an opportunity for the US to launch drone strikes in Iraq and Syria. The Obama administration is currently weighing military options in the region. Will there be a war against Syria? Will Washington seize the opportunity because ISIS is now moving towards the Syrian border? It is a likely scenario, since Washington was running out of options concerning Syria. With ISIS in the picture, Washington’s hopes of removing Assad is back in full circle.
The Iraq War Ten Years Later: Declassified Documents Show Failed Intelligence, Policy Ad Hockery,...
Iraq’s not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement
US President Barack H. Obama
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extreme fascist Islamic terrorist organization has taken control of Mosul and Tikrit and now they’re on their way to Bagdad. The Washington Post reported what had occurred in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul:
Death was everywhere in the sacked the city of Mosul, a strategically vital oil hub and Iraq’s largest northern city. One reporter said an Iraqi woman in Mosul claimed to have seen a “row of decapitated soldiers and policemen” on the street. Other reports spoke of “mass beheadings,” though The Washington Post was not able to confirm the tales. But the United Nations Human Rights chief, Navi Pillay, said the summary executions “may run into the hundreds” and that she was “extremely alarmed
Iraq is a monumental failure for US foreign policy. The US-led war to “spread democracy” and freedom to the people of Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom was a farce. The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 for two main reasons according to the Bush administration and Congress. First, they claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems capable of striking the United States. Second, they publically lied to the world that Iraq had been involved in the 9/11 terror attacks with Al-Qaeda through its “credible” intelligence services. Both claims were completely fabricated. The Pentagon and CIA (although there were some members that did not agree with the assessment) knew that the case was being made for war and eventually went along with the Bush administration’s plan to invade Iraq. The US government wanted absolute control over the production and transport of oil for US markets and for the military-industrial complex war machine. The result is catastrophic. More than 1.4 million Iraqis, 4,800 US soldiers and 3,400 International occupation forces were killed. The total cost of the war exceeds $1.5 trillion.
The US exploited differences between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds since Iraqi society was already deeply divided. These divisions were manipulated by coalition forces to subdue the population. Between 2006 and 2008, a sectarian conflict erupted which resulted in over 60,000 deaths most of them civilians. Now there is the threat of Iraq becoming even more divisive, one of them becoming an Islamic state based on Sharia law under the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Since the US invasion, Iraqi population has constantly witnessed terrorist attacks resulting in numerous deaths including women and children. Divisions between Sunni and Shite are even greater today than under Saddam Hussein.
US Vice-President Joe Biden wanted to systematically divide Iraq along ethnic-lines into three states. He wrote a New York Times opinion editorial in 2006 with Council of Foreign Relations member Leslie H. Gelb how the plan would work:
The idea, as in Bosnia, is to maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group — Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab — room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests. We could drive this in place with irresistible sweeteners for the Sunnis to join in, a plan designed by the military for withdrawing and redeploying American forces, and a regional nonaggression pact
Well Biden’s wish is might be coming true. Iraq is becoming increasingly more divided and even more dangerous since the US withdrew its forces in 2011. Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish groups remain divided. Now with a situation involving al-Qaeda and its splinter groups such as ISIS forming their own organization whether Western-funded or not, the Iraqi government is losing control. According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) the Syrian government is blaming the West and Saudi Arabia for its ties to ISIS:
Syrian state media on Thursday accused Saudi Arabia and the West of complicity with the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) that has captured swathes of Iraqi territory. Echoing claims often made by the regime and its supporters, state media said Saudi and other allies of the Syrian opposition were funding and arming jihadist groups like ISIS. “Terrorism is spreading in front of the eyes of the western world… and alongside it are the fingers of Saudi Arabia, providing money and arms,” the Al-Thawra daily wrote
Iraqi President Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also believes that Saudi Arabia and Qatar has funded terrorist groups in Iraq according to a report by Patrick Cockburn of The Independent:
Iraq has long suspected the hidden hand of Wahhabism, the variant of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia, as being behind many of its troubles. But it was only this month that Mr Maliki, in an interview with France 24 television, put the blame squarely on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, saying that “these two countries are primarily responsible for the sectarian, terrorist and security crisis in Iraq
The United States and the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar support of ISIS seems accurate since Iraq has been divided along ethnic lines and the attempt to further destabilize Syria has been part of the US foreign policy. Cockburn says:
How much truth is there in Mr Maliki’s accusations? A proportion of aid from the Gulf destined for the armed opposition in Syria undoubtedly goes to Iraq. Turkey allows weapons and jihadist volunteers, many of them potential suicide bombers, to cross its 500 mile-long border into Syria and inevitably some of the guns, fighters and bombers will go to Iraq. This is hardly surprising given that Isis operates in both countries as if they were one
The Guardian reported on what Wikileaks cables had revealed Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s memo on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in financing terrorist organizations “Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton”.
The BBC reported in 2013 that Al-Nusra and ISIS are the majority of foreign fighters in Syria:
According to a recent estimate by Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, there could be up to 11,000 of these fighters. It raises the questions of which groups they join, and what the relations between these groups are. By far the two most popular banners for these foreign fighters are al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
ISIS is the result of a unilateral attempt by the leader of Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to merge his group with al-Nusra. The move was rejected al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, and by al-Qaeda overall leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but Baghdadi refused to disband ISIS
Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Leader of ISIS?
The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Dua. ISIS was created in Iraq after the Bush Administration’s orchestrated a US-led invasion. Who is al-Baghdadi? According to Patrick Cockburn, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS was a former prisoner in an American run facility called the Bocca Camp in Southern Iraq:
There are disputes over his career depending on whether the source is ISIS itself, US or Iraqi intelligence but the overall picture appears fairly clear. He was born in Samarra, a largely Sunni city north of Baghdad, in 1971 and is well educated. With black hair and brown eyes, a picture of al-Baghdadi taken when he was a prisoner of the Americans in Bocca Camp in southern Iraq between 2005 and 2009, makes him look like any Iraqi man in his thirties.
His real name is believed to be Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, who has degrees in Islamic Studies, including poetry, history and genealogy, from the Islamic University of Baghdad. He may have been an Islamic militant under Saddam as a preacher in Diyala province, to the north east of Baghdad, where, after the US invasion of 2003, he had his own armed group. Insurgent movements have a strong motive for giving out misleading information about their command structure and leadership, but it appears al-Baghdadi spent five years as prisoner of the Americans
The US has offered a $10 million reward for leads that can either capture or kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2011. That offer still stands. The US has destabilized Iraq, and now terrorist organizations threaten all nations across the Middle East, including Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Syria. It is no coincidence that the Obama administration is taking advantage of Iraq’s situation. Last month, Obama gave a speech in a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. It signified how Washington is planning to topple the Syrian government. He said:
A critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in Syria. As frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers there, no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering anytime soon. As president, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian civil war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people. And in helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos.
So with the additional resources I’m announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support Syria’s neighbors — Jordan and Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq — as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share of support to the Syrian people
Syria is part of the US Imperial agenda. Now with ISIS expanding its base and launching attacks across Iraq creating an uncertain future for the war torn country, Syria will experience the same fate if President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power. The Syrian government and the people will prevent ISIS and Washington’s so called “moderate rebels” from destabilizing their country. ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are all Western backed terrorist groups seeking to gain power across the region. The consequence of the US invasion has destabilized Iraq with no hope of re-establishing itself as a united country as it once was under Saddam Hussein. The US, Turkey, Israel and the Gulf states are attempting to do the same to Syria by funding terrorist organizations in hopes of installing a puppet regime that will remain loyal to Western interests. Iraq is a failed state because of Western intervention, so why would they attempt the same policy towards Syria knowing what happened to Iraq? Do they believe this time would be successful? I certainly doubt it. But then again do they really want success? Or do they want to divide the region in order to control all sides?
Washington’s Iraq “Victory” Paul Craig Roberts The citizens of the United States still do not know why their government destroyed Iraq. “National Security” will prevent them from ever knowing. “National Security” is the cloak behind which hides the crimes of…
Iraq: “Devastating” Dossier Alleging British War Crimes Lodged with the International Criminal Court.
Iran Nuclear Talks: Remembering the Israeli Attack on Iraq’s Peaceful Nuclear Reactor Osirak. Will...
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News - On June 7th, 1981, Israel launched a surprise attack in the Southeast of Bagdad, Iraq that destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor under construction. It was known as Operation Opera, an Israeli plan to destroy Iraq’s proposed nuclear reactor that was intended for peaceful scientific research. Iraq originally purchased the “Osiris”-class nuclear reactor from France in 1976. Richard Wilson, a Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics at Harvard University at the time spoke to The Atlantic, an American based magazine and said that Osirak was “unsuitable for making bombs”. He said:
First, the Osirak reactor that was bombed by Israel in June of 1981 was explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit. Many physicists and nuclear engineers have agreed. Much evidence suggests that the bombing did not delay the Iraqi nuclear-weapons program but started it
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin claimed that Iraq’s nuclear reactor was ready for operational use and that it can produce nuclear weapons at any given moment. The Israeli government declared Iraq’s Nuclear program a threat to its national security. Iraq was also a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that allowed international inspections of its nuclear facilities. Today Iran is also a signatory to the NPT. It is interesting to note that both countries signed on to the NPT which under international law allows them to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and prevents the spread of nuclear weapons and technology. Israel on the other hand is not a member of the NPT and has never admitted nor denied that they have nuclear weapons launched a surprise attack on Iraq’s facilities and is now threatening Iran with the same consequences over its nuclear program. It was reported that the Israeli air strikes killed more than 10 Iraqi soldiers and a French citizen. Israel released a statement following their actions and claimed that Iraq wanted to produce atomic bombs to attack Israel because they were Saddam Hussein’s main target. The statement read as follows:
On Sunday, 7 June, the Israeli air force launched a raid on the atomic reactor “Ossirac”, near Baghdad. Our pilots carried out their mission fully. The reactor was destroyed. All our aircraft returned safely to base.
The Government feels duty-bound to explain to enlightened public opinion why it took this decision.
For a long time we have been watching with growing concern the construction of the atomic reactor “Ossirac”. From sources whose reliability is beyond any doubt, we learn that this reactor, despite its camouflage, is designed to produce atomic bombs. The target for such bombs would be Israel. This was clearly announced by the ruler of Iraq. After the Iranians had inflicted slight damage on the reactor, Saddam Hussein stressed that the Iranians had attacked the target in vain, since it was being constructed against Israel alone. The atomic bombs which that reactor was capable of producing whether from enriched uranium or from plutonium, would be of the Hiroshima size. Thus a mortal danger to the people of Israel progressively arose.
Again, from most reliable sources we learned of two dates when the reactor would be completed and put into operation. One: the beginning of July 1981; Two: the beginning of September 1981. In other words, within a short period of time, the Iraqi reactor would have been operational and “hot”. Under such circumstances no government of Israel could contemplate bombing the reactor. Such an attack would have brought about a massive radioactive lethal fallout over the city of Baghdad and tens of thousands of its innocent residents would have been hurt. We would thus have been compelled to passively observe the process of the production of atomic bombs in Iraq, whose ruling tyrant would not hesitate to launch them against Israeli cities, the centers of its population. Therefore, the government of Israel decided to act without further delay to ensure our people’s existence. The planning was exact. The operation was timed for Sunday on the assumption that the 100-150 foreign experts employed at the reactor would be absent on the Christian day of rest. This assumption proved to have been correct. No foreign experts were hurt.
Two European governments, in return for oil, have assisted the Iraqi tyrant in the construction of atomic weapons. We again call upon them to desist from this horrifying, inhuman deed. Under no circumstances will we allow an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against our people.
We shall defend the citizens of Israel in time, and with all the means at our disposal.
Even the New York Times admitted that Israel was not in “Mortal Danger” in an Opinion article on June 9th, 1981 called ‘Israel’s Illusion’:
Even assuming that Iraq was hellbent to divert enriched uranium for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, it would have been working toward a capacity that Israel itself acquired long ago. Contrary to its official assertion, therefore, Israel was not in ”mortal danger” of being outgunned. It faced a potential danger of losing its Middle East nuclear monopoly, of being deterred one day from the use of atomic weapons in war. And while that danger may now be delayed, it is also enhanced – by Iraq’s humiliation
Is history about to repeat itself? Israel says that Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to their existence. Why? They say that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Numerous experts have declared that it was taken out of context. Even Dan Meridor, an Israeli politician who previously served as minister of intelligence and atomic energy and a deputy prime minister admitted in an Al Jazeera interview in 2012 that Ahmadinejad’s statement on wiping Israel off the map was misunderstood when he said “They [Iranian leaders] all come basically ideologically, religiously with the statement that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive,” Meridor says. “They didn’t say ‘we’ll wipe it out’, you are right, but ‘it will not survive, it is a cancerous tumour, it should be removed’. They repeatedly said ‘Israel is not legitimate, it should not exist’.”
The French-Israeli Nuclear Connection
The attack on Osirak should be a history lesson on what Israel is capable of. The Times of Israel reported that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was warned by a member of the French parliament that Israel would launch an attack on Iran if the present deal was passed. The report titled ‘Israel will attack Iran if you sign the deal, French MP told Fabius’. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu wanted the deal to have as he would say in the past regarding Iran’s sanctions to “Have Teeth.” The report said:
“French member of parliament telephoned French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Geneva at the weekend to warn him that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if the P5+1 nations did not stiffen their terms on a deal with Iran, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Sunday.”
“I know [Netanyahu],” the French MP, Meyer Habib, reportedly told Fabius, and predicted that the Israeli prime minister would resort to the use of force if the deal was approved in its form at the time. “If you don’t toughen your positions, Netanyahu will attack Iran,” the report quoted Habib as saying. “I know this. I know him. You have to toughen your positions in order to prevent war.”
Israel’s influence in French politics is obvious. But then again, France and Israel’s extensive relationship regarding nuclear weapons dates back to 1949 with the development of the Negev Nuclear Research Center in the Negev Desert, in the southeast of the city of Dimona. In 1949 nuclear physicist Francis Perrin of the French Atomic Energy Commission who was also a friend of Dr. Earnst David Bergmann of the Weizmann Institute located in Israel invited Israeli scientists to a newly built French nuclear research facility at Saclay. Both France and Israel agreed to a joint research effort that would eventually lead to nuclear weapons production at the Negev Nuclear Research Center. Perrin ended up providing Israel with nuclear data. Throughout the 1950’s Israel and France developed a business relationship that included Arms deals that benefitted French weapons manufacturers.
The Tripartite Pact and the Invasion of Egypt
France and Israel collaborated in joint military and political operations with the United Kingdom for the control of the Suez Canal-Sinai against Egypt in October 1956 with a secret agreement called the Protocol of Sevres. Israel, France and Great Britain had planned a military invasion of Egypt in what was known to become the Suez War because Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser had nationalized the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal was owned by the France (who built the route in 1869) and Great Britain which connects the Mediterranean and Red seas across Egypt. The Suez Canal is an important shipping route that connects Middle East oil exports to European markets. The Czech-Egyptian arms agreement in 1955 added to Israel’s worries that would have increased the strength of the Egyptian military which challenged Israel’s power in the region. When Egypt’s President Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran back in 1953, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had ordered the development of chemical and nuclear weapons for its national security objectives. Israeli government officials including Shimon Peres and Ernst David Bergmann met with members of the CEA (France’s Atomic Energy Commission) and reached an agreement in 1956 that would allow France to sell Israel a ”research reactor”. The Suez war began on October 29, 1956. Israel, France and Great Britain launched an attack on Egypt over the Suez Canal. It ended up as a political disaster for France and Great Britain in relations to the Middle East. Israel’s military attack was a success for a short time because they ended up occupying the entire Sinai Peninsula. However, France and Great Britain’s attempt to advance along the southern border along the Suez Canal was stopped through a cease-fire agreement under Soviet and U.S. pressures. Both nations pulled out of the conflict by the end of December. Israel faced pressures from Soviet Premier Bulganin and President Khrushchev with a threat of a nuclear attack if Israel did not withdraw from the Sinai. The United States Government under the Eisenhower administration supported a UN resolution that called for the withdrawal of all invading forces. By March 1957 Israeli forces completed their withdrawal from the Sinai. Israel was concerned over Soviet threats to launch a nuclear attack on the Jewish state.
Minister of Defense Shimon Peres secured an agreement from France to assist Israel in developing a nuclear deterrent which lead to the development of the Negev Nuclear Research Center at Dimona. On March 20, 1957 Israel and France began to construct a “small swimming-pool research reactor” but the real plan was the construction of Dimona’s Nuclear Reactor which began around 1957 and 1958 and then completed in 1962. Why did France help Israel develop nuclear technology? They both had strategic interests in two regions of the world. France was fighting a colonial war in Algeria in Northern Africa and Israel had ambitions to control the Middle East militarily, politically and economically. In terms of historical and religious beliefs Israel wanted to also establish Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. France also wanted nuclear weapons as a deterrent against any “Blowback” from their colonial possessions in North Africa and the Middle East. Israel and France collaborated on a number of programs including the early design on the Mirage fighter jets intended to deliver nuclear bombs. French experts secretly built the Israeli reactor underground at Dimona with Hundreds of French engineers and technicians with many stationed at Beersheba, the largest town in the Negev. A French firm called SON also helped build plutonium separation plants in both France and Israel. The ground was broken for the reactor in early 1958 known as the EL-102. Israel concealed its secret activities at Dimona by camouflaging it as a manganese and textile plants. By the end of 1958 the US had taken pictures of the project from U-2 spy plane and identified the site as a reactor complex. The French engineers and technicians were difficult to hide from international observers. In 1960, under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle France decided to suspend the project. After several months of negotiations France and Israel reached an agreement that allowed the reactor to proceed if Israel promised not to make nuclear weapons and make the project known to the international community.
On December 2nd, 1960, the U.S. State Department issued a statement that Israel had a secret nuclear installation and became public knowledge with its appearance in the New York Times. Then on December 21st, David Ben-Gurion announced to the world that Israel was building a 24-megawatt reactor “for peaceful purposes.” The French government’s collaboration with Israel to produce weapons of mass destruction was a disservice to world peace.
France also has a powerful Zionist organization in France that has as much influence as AIPAC (the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) in the United States called CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France), a group that unites Jewish organizations. The Times of Israel reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu said back in May that “I have known Meyer Habib for many years and he is a good friend to me and to Israel,” the report continued “He fights a lot for Israel, for public opinion, and cares intensely about the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, and he has helped me over the years deepen Israeli-French relations” Natanyahu said in Hebrew.
France stepping in on behalf of Israel is no surprise looking back on their historical relationship. Iran’s nuclear talks were going to fail. I am pessimistic about the new round of talks scheduled for November 20th. Can history repeat itself with an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israeli Defense Forces in the future? The parallels between Iraq and Iran concerning Israel’s determination to start a war with its neighbors are eerily similar. Israel wants to dominate the Middle East in every aspect, but Iran is in the way. Israel’s Western partners will back Israel one way or another. US President Barack Obama agreed to continue sanctions on Iran. It seems like the Western powers and Israel are really not interested in a peaceful solution with Iran, no matter what the new leadership of Hassan Rouhani does to ease tensions with the West and its neighbors including the Gulf States. The same goes for Israel’s so-called peace talks with the Palestinians. Every time the peace talks resume, Israel continues to build new “Jewish only settlements” in Palestinian territories. In other words, there are no peace talks. The same unfortunate truth with Iran’s nuclear program, there will be no peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear program unless Russia, China and the rest of the world prevent an Israeli strike on Iran’s facilities. It would be a disaster for the Middle East and the rest of the world. Many would die in this long predicted war scenario. The Middle East would explode in anger against Israeli aggression. It is true that the world is a different place today in comparison to 1981. The world is in a more fragile state today with several countries suffering from foreign interventions such as Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Mali and many others. The world’s volatile economy would lead to a global depression allowing oil prices to double even triple as a result. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself. If it does, then history will tell us that World War III was the most catastrophic moment in our time.
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The Justice Department on Thursday announced new manslaughter charges against four Blackwater mercenaries involved in the 2007 Nisour Square massacre in Iraq that left dozens of innocent civilians dead or severely wounded.
Ali Kinani, only nine years old at the time, was among the victims in the 2007 killings in Nisoor Square. The deadly incident in many ways began the unraveling of Blackwater, founded by a wealthy, ex-Navy Seal named Eric Prince. Subsequent to Nisour Square, Blackwater changed its name twice—first to Xe and then to its current name, Academi—and Prince ultimately severed ties with his company following a stream of bad press.
Justice for the victims of the killings, however, remained illusive as earlier charges against the for-profit militants were dropped and coverage of the story dimmed as the U.S. media turned its attention away from the damage wrought by the bloody and extended damage caused by the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
As The Washington Post reports:
A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia returned a fresh indictment charging the four guards with voluntary manslaughter and other crimes in the shooting in Nisour Square.
The guards were providing security under a State Department contract for diplomats in Iraq at the time of the shooting. On Sept. 16, 2007, they were part of a four-vehicle convoy that was securing an evacuation route for U.S. officials fleeing a bombing. The guards told U.S. investigators that they opened fire on the crowd in self-defense.
In a long investigation after the attack, the FBI and federal prosecutors concluded that the shooting was an “unprovoked illegal attack” on civilians.
“Today’s indictment charges four Blackwater guards with killing or wounding 32 defenseless Iraqi citizens, including women and children, in a Baghdad traffic circle in September 2007,” U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement. “These defendants abused their power through a relentless attack on unarmed civilians that recklessly exceeded any possible justification.”
And Al-Jazeera adds:
The original US charges filed against the men in 2008 were thrown out in December 2009, about a month before a scheduled trial.
The dismissal outraged many Iraqis, who said it showed Americans considered themselves above the law. Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in Baghdad in 2010, expressed his "personal regret" for the shootings and declared that the US would appeal the court decision.
The case ran into trouble because the State Department promised the guards that their statements explaining what happened would not be used in a criminal case.
The guards told investigators that they fired their weapons, a crucial admission because forensic evidence could not determine who fired.
Because of a limited immunity deal, prosecutors had to build their case without those statements, a high legal hurdle.
The case was reinstated in 2011 and prosecutors began a lengthy review of what charges they could prove in court.
The new indictment returned by a grand jury in Washington charges 33 counts, including voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and using a firearm in a crime of violence.
The men, Paul Slough, Nicholas Slatten, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard had pleaded not guilty to the nearly identical charges brought five years ago.
Writing in The Nation in 2010, journalist Jeremy Scahill recounted the story of the massacre's youngest victim, Ali Kinani, who was just nine years old when he was gunned down by the Blackwater soldiers. Scahill concludes his story about Kinani and the events of that day by quoting Ali's father, Mohammed, who said: "I wish the US Congress would ask [Erik Prince] why they killed my innocent son, who called himself Allawi. Do you think that this child was a threat to your company? This giant company that has the biggest weapons, the heaviest weapons, the planes, and this boy was a threat to them?"
"I want Americans to know that this was a child that died for nothing."
And Democracy Now! now hosted this exclusive report by Scahill and filmmaker and journalist Rick Rowly about Kinani and Nisour Square:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Four former contractors with a notorious US private security firm, formerly known as Blackwater, are facing new charges over a deadly 2007 shooting which left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.
On September 16, 2007, Blackwater guards, who were hired to guard US diplomats, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad and killed 17 civilians including women and children.
According to prosecutors, the heavily-armed Blackwater guards carried out an unprovoked attack, using heavy machine guns and grenades, which also wounded at least 20 other people.
Washington rejected Iraqi officials’ demands that the US guards face trial in Iraq.
One year after the deadly attack in Baghdad, the guards were charged with manslaughter and weapons violations.
However, in 2009, a federal trial judge in Washington, Ricardo Urbina, threw out the case saying the US Department of Justice withheld evidence from a grand jury and violated the guards' constitutional rights.
Urbina’s dismissal of the case outraged the Iraqi people.
In 2011, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals reinstated the case, ruling Urbina had wrongly interpreted the law.
Four Blackwater guards have been charged with counts of voluntary manslaughter and of attempting to commit manslaughter.
Initially, US prosecutors charged five guards with counts of manslaughter and took a guilty plea from a sixth. However, last month, they dismissed their case against the fifth guard, Donald Ball, and the sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, is awaiting sentencing.
Blackwater is currently called Academi, and is based in the US state of Virginia.
Generally, the US is slow to convict its troops or US-based security contractors of war crimes and when a punishment is imposed for such crimes, it usually takes the form of life in prison or house arrest.
In August, a US soldier who murdered 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting spree last year, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, was sentenced to life in prison.
Meanwhile, Washington is insisting that any US troops left in Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal of foreign forces from the country must enjoy legal immunity from Afghan courts.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that US troops must remain under Washington’s jurisdiction, and it is the US courts where American troops would stand trial.
Russia has begun shipping arms to Iraq under a historic multi-billion-dollar contract signed between Baghdad and Moscow last year.
Ali al-Musawi, top media advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, told Russia Today on Thursday that the agreement “entails primarily weapon shipments to combat terrorism.”
Baghdad and Moscow signed the $4.3-billion contract in October 2012, making Russia Iraq’s largest arms supplier after the US, but Iraqi authorities announced a month later that the deal had been annulled over Prime Minister Nouri Maliki concerns about "corruption" within his own team.
However, Anatoly Isaykin, the director general of Russia’s state-run arms trader Rosoboronexport, said in February that the agreement was not canceled, but it has not come into effect yet.
Musawi went on to say, “We really did have suspicions about this contract,” adding, “But in the end the deal was signed. We have currently started the process of implementing one of the stages of this contract.”
The Iraqi official also stated that Baghdad does not have any plan to acquire “offensive weapons” and said, “Bagdad only strives for securing its own sovereignty, defense of its wealth and fight against terrorism.”
Reports at the time of inking the deal indicated that it involved Iraq’s purchase of 30 Mi-28 attack helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems.
Musawi said Iraq was primarily interested in possessing helicopters in an effort to enable its army to hunt down the terrorists staging attacks across the country.
Iraq has been grappling with a spike in bombings and shooting attacks over the past months.
A car burns in flames after a bomb attack in Baghdad on October 7, 2013.
A series of car bombings and other attacks in Iraq, mostly targeting Shia Muslims, have killed at least 66 people and injured scores more, according to security and hospital sources.
A total of 11 car bombs went off in eight Shia majority-areas in and around Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 44 people and injuring over 120 others.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but police officials say the prime suspects are al-Qaeda-linked militants, who have carried out similar attacks in the past.
Earlier in the day, a vehicle full of explosives was detonated by a bomber in a residential area of the eastern village of Muwaffaqiyah, killing 15 people and wounding 50 others.
In other attacks on Thursday in northern Iraq, seven people died and several others were injured.
The incidents are the latest in a string of attacks across Iraq that have left about 6,000 people dead since the beginning of 2013.
According to the United Nations, a total of 1,057 Iraqis, including 928 civilians, were killed and another 2,326 were wounded in terrorist attacks throughout the country in July -- the deadliest month since 2008.
And about 800 Iraqis lost their lives in August in the deadly attacks, a third of which took place in Baghdad.
According to an academic study published in the United States on Tuesday, more than 460,000 people in Iraq lost their lives between 2003 and 2011 as a result of the US-led invasion of the country.
The study was conducted at the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, Simon Fraser University and Mustansiriya University.
Researchers conducted the survey based on interviews with 2,000 households in 100 geographical clusters across Iraq’s 18 provinces between May 2011 and July 2011.
The study found that more than 60 percent of deaths were directly attributable to violence, with the rest associated with the collapse of infrastructure and other indirect causes.
“In a war situation, people can’t leave their homes to get medical care. When they do leave their homes to get medical care, they arrive at institutions overwhelmed with violent injuries,” said Amy Hagopian, the associate professor of Global Health at the University of Washington and lead author of the study.
“The water is compromised. Stress is elevated. The power is out. The distribution networks for medical supplies are compromised,” Hagopian added.
Iraq’s Interior Ministry has said that militants have launched an open war in Iraq and they want to push the Middle Eastern country into chaos.
“The country is currently facing an open war from bloodthirsty sectarian forces that aim to plunge the country into chaos,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement issued on July 30.