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  1. Been saying this for the last year and half, another manufactured crisis for profit. Competing Gas Pipelines Are Fueling The Syrian War & Migrant Crisis 09/10/2015 14:42 -0400 Afghanistan European Union France Greece headlines Iran Iraq Israel Kuwait Middle East Mohammad Natural Gas Reality Saudi Arabia Turkey United Kingdom Submitted by Mnar Muhawesh via MintPressNews.com, Don’t let anyone fool you: As we have detailed since 2013, sectarian strife in Syria has been engineered to provide cover for a war for access to oil and gas, and the power and money that come along with it. Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect recent Wikileaks revelations of US State Department leaks that show plans to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Syrian government as early as 2006. The leaks reveal that these plans were given to the US directly from the Israeli government and would be formalized through instigating civil strife and sectarianism through partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to break down the power structue in Syria to essentially to weaken Iran and Hezbolla. The leaks also reveal Israeli plans to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration and military expansion. * * * Images of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up dead on Mediterranean shores in his family’s attempt to flee war-torn Syria, have grabbed the attention of people around the world, sparking outrage about the true costs of war. The heart-wrenching refugee crisis unfolding across the Middle East and at European borders has ignited a much needed conversation on the ongoing strife and instability that’s driving people from their homes in countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq. It’s brought international attention to the inhumane treatment these refugees are receiving if — and it is a major “if” — they arrive at Europe’s door. In Syria, for example, foreign powers have sunk the nation into a nightmare combination of civil war, foreign invasion and terrorism. Syrians are in the impossible position of having to choose between living in a warzone, being targeted by groups like ISIS and the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown, or faring dangerous waters with minimal safety equipment only to be denied food, water and safety by European governments if they reach shore. Other Syrians fleeing the chaos at home have turned to neighboring Arab Muslim countries. Jordan alone has absorbed over half a million Syrian refugees; Lebanon has accepted nearly 1.5 million; and Iraq and Egypt have taken in several hundred thousand. Although it’s not an Arab nation or even part of the Middle East, Iran sent 150 tons of humanitarian goods, including 3,000 tents and 10,000 blankets, to the Red Crescents of Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon via land routes to be distributed among the Syrian refugees residing in the three countries last year. Turkey has taken in nearly 2 million refugees to date. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan made international headlines for opening his nation’s arms to migrants, positioning himself as a kind of savior in the process. A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi after he drowned when the boat he and his family members were in capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Nilüfer Demir/DHA) Meanwhile, Gulf Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have provided refuge to zero Syrian refugees. While there’s certainly a conversation taking place about refugees — who they are, where they’re going, who’s helping them, and who isn’t — what’s absent is a discussion on how to prevent these wars from starting in the first place. Media outlets and political talking heads have found many opportunities to point fingers in the blame game, but not one media organization has accurately broken down what’s driving the chaos: control over gas, oil and resources. Indeed, it’s worth asking: How did demonstrations held by “hundreds” of protesters demanding economic change in Syria four years ago devolve into a deadly sectarian civil war, fanning the flames of extremism haunting the world today and creating the world’s second largest refugee crisis? While the media points its finger to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s barrel bombs and political analysts call for more airstrikes against ISIS and harsher sanctions against Syria, we’re four years into the crisis and most people have no idea how this war even got started. This “civil war” is not about religionCiting a lack of access on the ground, the United Nations stopped regularly updating its numbers of casualties in the Syrian civil war in January 2014. Estimates put the death toll between 140,200 and 330,380, with as many as 6 million Syrians displaced, according to the U.N. While there is no question that the Syrian government is responsible for many of the casualties resulting from its brutal crackdown, this is not just a Syrian problem. Foreign meddling in Syria began several years before the Syrian revolt erupted. Wikieaks released leaked US State Department cables from 2006 revealing US plans to overthrow the Syrian government through instigating civil strife, and receiving these very orders straight from Tel Aviv. The leaks reveal the United State’s partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to use sectarianism to divide Syria through the Sunni and Shiite divide to destabilize the nation to weaken Iran and Hezbolla. Israel is also revealed to attempt to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration. According to major media outlets like the BBC and the Associated Press, the demonstrations that supposedly swept Syria were comprised of only hundreds of people, but additional Wikileaks cables reveal CIA involvement on the ground in Syria to instigate these very demonstrations as early as March 2011. FILE – In this Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Syrians hold a large poster depicting Syria’s President Bashar Assad during a rally in Damascus, Syria. Some activists expressed regret that one year later their “revolution” against President Bashar Assad’s rule had become mired in violence. (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman, File) Just a few months into the demonstrations which now consisted of hundreds of armed protesters with CIA ties, demonstrations grew larger, armed non-Syrian rebel groups swarmed into Syria, and a severe government crackdown swept through the country to deter this foreign meddling. It became evident that the United States, United Kingdom, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would be jumping on the opportunity to organize, arm and finance rebels to form the Free Syrian Army as outlined in the State Department plans to destabilize Syria. (Just a few months ago, WikiLeaks confirmed this when it released Saudi intelligence that revealed Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been working hand in hand to arm and finance rebels to overthrow the Syrian government since 2012.) These foreign nations created a pact in 2012 called “The Group of Friends of the Syrian People,” a name that couldn’t be further from the truth. Their agenda was to divide and conquer in order to wreak havoc across Syria in view of overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad. A Free Syrian Army soldier carries his weapon at the northern town of Sarmada, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. (AP Photo) The true agenda to hijack Syria’s revolt quickly became evident, with talking heads inserting Syria’s alliance with Iran as a threat to the security and interests of the United States and its allies in the region. It’s no secret that Syria’s government is a major arms, oil and gas, and weapons ally of Iran and Lebanon’s resistance political group Hezbollah. But it’s important to note the timing: This coalition and meddling in Syria came about immediately on the heels of discussions of an Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline that was to be built between 2014 and 2016 from Iran’s giant South Pars field through Iraq and Syria. With a possible extension to Lebanon, it would eventually reach Europe, the target export market. Perhaps the most accurate description of the current crisis over gas, oil and pipelines that is raging in Syria has been described by Dmitry Minin, writing for the Strategic Cultural Foundation in May 2013: “A battle is raging over whether pipelines will go toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria, or take a more northbound route from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Syria and Turkey. Having realized that the stalled Nabucco pipeline, and indeed the entire Southern Corridor, are backed up only by Azerbaijan’s reserves and can never equal Russian supplies to Europe or thwart the construction of the South Stream, the West is in a hurry to replace them with resources from the Persian Gulf. Syria ends up being a key link in this chain, and it leans in favor of Iran and Russia; thus it was decided in the Western capitals that its regime needs to change. It’s the oil, gas and pipelines, stupid!Indeed, tensions were building between Russia, the U.S. and the European Union amid concerns that the European gas market would be held hostage to Russian gas giant Gazprom. The proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline would be essential to diversifying Europe’s energy supplies away from Russia. Turkey is Gazprom’s second-largest customer. The entire Turkish energy security structure relies on gas from Russia and Iran. Plus, Turkey was harboring Ottoman-like ambitions of becoming a strategic crossroads for the export of Russian, Caspian-Central Asian, Iraqi and Iranian oil and even gas to Europe. The Guardian reported in August 2013: Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO’s acquiescence on Erdogan’s politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That’s because Bashar al-Assad didn’t support the pipeline and now we’re seeing what happens when you’re a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done. (Map: ZeroHedge.com) “Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar and Turkey that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was ‘to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.’” Knowing Syria was a critical piece in its energy strategy, Turkey attempted to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to reform this Iranian pipeline and to work with the proposed Qatar-Turkey pipeline, which would ultimately satisfy Turkey and the Gulf Arab nations’ quest for dominance over gas supplies. But after Assad refused Turkey’s proposal, Turkey and its allies became the major architects of Syria’s “civil war.” Much of the strategy currently at play was described back in a 2008 U.S. Army-funded RAND report, “Unfolding the Future of the Long War”: “The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized. … For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources. … The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.” In this context, the report identifies the divide and conquer strategy while exploiting the Sunni-Shiite divide to protect Gulf oil and gas supplies while maintaining a Gulf Arab state dominance over oil markets. “Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces. … the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace. … U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the ‘Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world…. possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.” The report notes that another option would be “to take sides in the conflict, possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.” This framework crafted an interesting axis: Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S., Britain and France vs. Syria, Iran and Russia. Divide and conquer: A path to regime changeWith the U.S., France, Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — aka, the new “Friends of Syria” coalition — publicly calling for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad between 2011 and 2012 after Assad’s refusal to sign onto the gas pipeline, the funds and arms flowing into Syria to feed the so-called “moderate” rebels were pushing Syria into a humanitarian crisis. Rebel groups were being organized left and right, many of which featured foreign fighters and many of which had allied with al-Qaida. Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the League of Arab States Ahmad al-Qattan, center, attends the Arab League summit in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March, 29, 2012. (AP Photo) The Syrian government responded with a heavy hand, targeting rebel held areas and killing civilians in the process. Since Syria is religiously diverse, the so-called “Friends of Syria” pushed sectarianism as their official “divide and conquer” strategy to oust Assad. Claiming that Alawites ruled over a majority Sunni nation, the call by the “moderate” U.S.-backed rebels became one about Sunni liberation. Although the war is being sold to the public as a Sunni-Shiite conflict, so-called Sunni groups like ISIS, the Syrian al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front) and even the “moderate” Free Syrian Army have indiscriminately targeted Syria’s Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Jews. At the same time, these same foreign nations supported and even armed the Bahraini government, which claims to be Sunni, in its violent crackdown on the majority Shiite pro-democracy demonstrations that swept the nation. The Syrian government army itself is over 80 percent Sunni, which indicates that the true agenda has been politically — not religiously — motivated. In addition to this, the Assad family is Alawite, an Islamic sect that the media has clumped in with Shiites, though most Shiites would agree that the two are unrelated. Further, the Assad family is described as secular and running a secular nation. Counting Alawites as Shiites was simply another way to push a sectarian framework for the conflict: It allowed for the premise that the Syria-Iran alliance was based on religion, when, in fact, it was an economic relationship. This framework carefully crafted the Syrian conflict as a Sunni revolution to liberate itself from Shiite influence that Iran was supposedly spreading to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But the truth is, Syria’s Sunni community is divided, and many defected to join groups like the Free Syrian Army, ISIS and al-Qaida. And as mentioned earlier, over 80 percent of Assad’s military is Sunni. As early as 2012, additional rebels armed and financed by Arab Gulf nations and Turkey like al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, declared all-out war against Shiites. They even threatened to attack Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s government after they had overthrown the Assad government. Soon after, the majority of the Muslim Brotherhood rebels became part of al-Qaida-affiliated groups. Together, they announced that they would destroy all shrines — not just those ones which hold particular importance to Shiites. Hezbollah entered the scene in 2012 and allied itself with the Syrian government to fight al-Nusra and ISIS, which were officially being armed and financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And all the arms were actively being sold to these nations by the United States. Thus, US arms were falling into the hands of the same terror group the US claims to be fighting in its broader War on Terror. Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Hezbollah member Mohammad Issa who was killed in an airstrike that killed six members of the Lebanese militant group and an Iranian general in Syria, during his funeral procession, in the southern village of Arab Salim, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Hezbollah has accused Israel of carrying out Sunday’s airstrike, which occurred on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Issa was the highest-ranking among the group, and was among the senior cadres who headed the group’s operations in Syria against the Sunni-led rebellion. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari) According to reports, Hezbollah was and has been been active in preventing rebel penetration from Syria to Lebanon, being one of the most active forces in the Syrian civil war spillover in Lebanon. Despite this, the U.S. sanctioned both the Syrian government and Hezbollah in 2012. Also that year, Russia and Iran sent military advisers to assist the Syrian government in quelling the terror groups, but Iranian troops were not on the ground fighting during this time. What was once a secular, diverse and peaceful nation, was looking more like it was on its way to becoming the next Afghanistan; its people living under Taliban-style rule as jihadists took over more land and conquered more cities. Effects of foreign meddling outweigh self-determinationIf you think that was hard to follow, you’re certainly not alone. Most sectarian civil wars are purposely crafted to pit sides against one another to allow for a “divide and conquer” approach that breaks larger concentrations of power into smaller factions that have more difficulty linking up. It’s a colonial doctrine that the British Empire famously used, and what we see taking place in Syria is no different. So, let’s get one thing straight: This is not about religion. It might be convenient to say that Arabs or Muslims kill each other, and it’s easy to frame these conflicts as sectarian to paint the region and its people as barbaric. But this Orientalist, overly simplistic view of conflict in the Middle East dehumanizes the victims of these wars to justify direct and indirect military action. If the truth was presented to the public from the perspective that these wars are about economic interests, most people would not support any covert funding and arming of rebels or direct intervention. In fact, the majority of the public would protest against war. But when something is presented to the public as a matter of good versus evil, we are naturally inclined to side with the “good” and justify war to fight off the supposed “evil.” The political rhetoric has been carefully crafted to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. Ultimately, no matter the agendas, the alliances or instability brought on by foreign meddling, the calls for freedom, democracy and equality that erupted in 2011 were real then and they’re real today. And let’s not forget that the lack of freedom, democracy and equality have been brought on more by foreign meddling to prop up brutal dictators and arm terror groups than by self-determination. Refugee’s assist a fellow Refugee holding a boy as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and refugees during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of refugees stuck on a no-man’s land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of refugees heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) The people in the Middle East once stood united and strong together against foreign meddling, exploitation and colonialism no matter their religious or cultural background. But today, the Middle East is being torn to shreds by manipulative plans to gain oil and gas access by pitting people against one another based on religion. The ensuing chaos provides ample cover to install a new regime that’s more amenable to opening up oil pipelines and ensuring favorable routes for the highest bidders. And in this push for energy, it’s the people who suffer most. In Syria, they are fleeing en masse. They’re waking up, putting sneakers on their little boys and girls, and hopping on boats without life jackets, hoping just to make it to another shore. They’re risking their lives, knowing full well that they may never reach that other shore, because the hope of somewhere else is better than the reality at home.
  2. I don't want to be pessimistic about the RV happening, but it seems that it is looking less and less likely every day. http://www.ammoland.com/2015/05/what-the-fall-of-ramadi-means/#axzz3bG9di9KO USA – -(Ammoland.com)- The fall of Ramadi, capital of Anbar, largest province in Iraq, after a rout of the Iraqi army by a few hundred ISIS fighters using bomb-laden trucks, represents a stunning setback for U.S. policy. When President Obama declared that we shall “degrade and defeat” the Islamic State, he willed the ends, but not the means. The retreat from Ramadi makes clear that the Iraqi army, even backed by 3,000 U.S. troops, cannot drive ISIS out of Anbar and Mosul and back into Syria. Baghdad cannot alone reunite Iraq. Republicans are almost gleeful in charging that Obama’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq created the vacuum the Islamic State has now filled. Blaming Obama for ISIS in Iraq is shaping up to be the 2016 GOP attack line. But when it comes to the critical question — do Republicans favor reintroducing U.S. ground troops to retake Ramadi and Mosul and drive ISIS back into Syria? — no credible GOP presidential candidate is clamoring for a return to Mesopotamia. None of the mice wants to bell that particular cat. Yet, absent American leadership and U.S. troops, who is going to expel the Islamic State? The only forces in Iraq able to attempt that are the Shiite militias whose sectarian barbarity is exceeded only by that of ISIS itself. For the Sunnis of Anbar to be liberated by Shiite militias is like the Catholic Poles being liberated by the Red Army in 1945. Many Sunnis fear a rescue by Shiite militias more than they do the domination of the Islamic State. America’s choices in Iraq, none good, come down to these: One: Reintroduce 10,000 ground troops and Marines to retake Ramadi and Anbar, and thousands more to retake Mosul and cleanse Iraq of ISIS. Another surge, like 2007.Yet that does not solve the problem of the Islamic State, which would retreat to Syria and wait for the Americans to leave Iraq again. Two: Adopt a policy of degrade-and-contain by continuing air strikes on the Islamic State in Iraq, while training and backing the Iraqi army and Kurds in keeping ISIS out of Baghdad and Irbil. Three: Accept the inevitable — that the Shiite-led Iraq we created by dethroning Saddam and smashing his Baathist state and army is going to be in the orbit of Iran. For we cannot now, without a major and indefinite reintroduction of U.S. forces, alter the existing balance of military and political power in Iraq. Before the United States replicates the epochal blunder Bush II and the neocons committed, we should look hard at the realities of Iraq and the region, as we failed to do before we invaded. The relevant realities are these. First, the Iraqis are incapable of reuniting and pacifying their country themselves. To hold Iraq together and keep it out of Iran’s sphere would require a large and indefinite presence of U.S. forces. How much more American blood and treasure is that worth? Second, while the reintroduction of U.S. ground forces may be cheered by our Western allies, no NATO troops will be there beside us. As far as the West is concerned, Iraq is America’s problem. Nor will the Turks, Jordanians, Saudis or Gulf Arabs be sending troops to fight ISIS in Iraq or Syria. For them, the greater long-term dangers are: Iran, Hezbollah, Bashar Assad’s Syria, Shiite Baghdad, and the Houthi rebels of Yemen, the so-called Shiite Crescent. Another reality is that neither Syria, nor Iraq, nor Libya, nor Yemen is likely, soon, to be brought together as a unified nation-state under a government supported by a great majority of its people. Any regimes that rise in the capitals of these four nations seem certain to be seen by a significant slice of the population as illegitimate, and valid targets for revolutionary violence. The Middle East is becoming a basket of failed states. And as we look around that region, every country is looking out for No. 1. The Turks looked the other way as volunteers entered Syria to join ISIS. The Turks then let Kurds cross into Syria to keep ISIS out of Kobane. Now, according to Assad, the Turks are aiding al-Qaida (the Nusra Front) in establishing its own caliphate in Idlib. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs also, says Assad, aided the Nusra Front in taking Idlib. And what of us? Considering the millions of dead, wounded, uprooted, homeless, sick and suffering, American-born and native-born, have our wars and bombings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen been, on balance, more a blessing than a curse to the people we went to help? Before we plunge back into these Middle East wars from which, at long last, we have begun to extricate ourselves, we ought to recall the words of that anonymous U.S. officer in Vietnam: “We had to destroy the village — in order to save it.” Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.“ Read more: http://www.ammoland.com/2015/05/what-the-fall-of-ramadi-means/#ixzz3bG9peTdK Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Follow us: @Ammoland on Twitter | Ammoland on Facebook
  3. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-24/us-propaganda-enters-insane-irrational-overdrive-attempt-sell-war-syria US Propaganda Enters Into Insane, Irrational Overdrive In Attempt to "Sell" War In Syria Thanks to a dizzying barrage of lies, mainstream media fear-mongering and a couple of beheadings, the Obama Administration finally achieved its long sought after war in Syria. The tactic that proved most effective in mobilizing the American public back into a shivering, post-9/11 fetal position, was the same tactic used by elites in the UK to convince Scotland against voting for independence. That tactic, as I detailed in a recent post, is fear. However, fear in itself is not enough. It must be coupled with endless slogans and misdirection by the mainstream media and politicians. It must lead the public to subconsciously embrace a thought process that is completely irrational. Such tactics can be labeled propaganda, and it results in a public suddenly supporting a war it strongly opposed only a year ago. All it takes is a little repackaging. Propaganda allows those who profit from war to push the American public into a tizzy of trepidation based on a couple of beheadings from ISIS, while not batting an eye over the daily beheadings that were simultaneously occurring in Saudi Arabia. So the power structure and its impotent puppet, Barack Obama, intentionally pushed the American public into a frenzy of fear and finally got their little war. Nevertheless, serious people immediately began to call into question two very significant issues with respect to the aggression. First, it appeared clear to almost everyone without a biased penchant for overseas death and destruction, that the war is completely unconstitutional and illegal no matter how you slice it. As I highlighted in the post, Obama’s ISIS War is Not Only Illegal, it Makes George W. Bush Look Like a Constitutional Scholar: But the 2001 authorization for the use of military force does not apply here. That resolution — scaled back from what Mr. Bush initially wanted — extended only to nations and organizations that “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 attacks. Not only was ISIS created long after 2001, but Al Qaeda publicly disavowed it earlier this year. It is Al Qaeda’s competitor, not its affiliate. Mr. Obama may rightly be frustrated by gridlock in Washington, but his assault on the rule of law is a devastating setback for our constitutional order. His refusal even to ask the Justice Department to provide a formal legal pretext for the war on ISIS is astonishing. Senators and representatives aren’t eager to step up to the plate in October when, however they decide, their votes will alienate some constituents in November’s midterm elections. They would prefer to let the president plunge ahead and blame him later if things go wrong. But this is precisely why the War Powers Resolution sets up its 60-day deadline: It rightly insists that unless Congress is willing to stand up and be counted, the war is not worth fighting in the name of the American people. So that’s glaring problem number one. The second problem, which I highlighted in the post, The American Public: A Tough Soldier or a Chicken Hawk Cowering in a Cubicle? Some Thoughts on ISIS Intervention, is that: Did you know that the US government’s counterterrorism chief Matthew Olson said last week that there’s no “there’s no credible information” that the Islamic State (Isis) is planning an attack on America and that there’s “no indication at this point of a cell of foreign fighters operating in the United States”? Or that, as the Associated Press reported, “The FBI and Homeland Security Department say there are no specific or credible terror threats to the US homeland from the Islamic State militant group”? So as quickly as it began, Obama’s little war had some serious PR issues. So what did the chicken-hawks do? They repackaged and resold the entire thing. Enter Khorosan. Yep, just as quickly as ISIS spontaneously generated like maggots on meat from the sands of Mesopotamia to open the door to another Middle East quagmire, another existential threat nobody had ever heard of suddenly emerged. Not only that, but this group supposedly posed an imminent threat to America. How incredibly convenient. Here’s ABC News compliantly pushing the latest propaganda to its lobotomized readership in the article, US Averts ‘Active Plotting Against Homeland’ By Hitting Al Qaeda Cell Khorasan in Syria: American airstrikes in Syria have taken out members of a shadowy al Qaeda unit known as the Khorasan Group who were planning “imminent” attacks against targets including the U.S., the Pentagon said today. Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby declined to go into specifics, but told ABC News’ George Stephanopolous, “We had very good indications that this group, which is a very dangerous group, was plotting and planning imminent attacks against Western targets to include the U.S. homeland and it was on that basis that we struck targets, Khorasan targets inside Syria.” The Khorasan Group — consisting of about 50 or so hardened fighters of mixed past and current jihadi affiliations — has been holed up in Aleppo, Syria under the protection of al Qaeda’s official wing in the country, Jabhat al-Nusra, developing cutting edge weapons of terror with the help of al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate to strike Western civilian aviation targets, according to a half-dozen officials with knowledge of the group who spoke to ABC News. So all of a sudden the Pentagon identifies and targets a group of 50 fighters in Syria, which happens to be conveniently tied to al-Qaeda (thus justifying strikes under the 2001 AUMF), planning an imminent attack on the “homeland.” There are two reasons I distrust this meme. First of all, the U.S. government employs an extremely bizarre definition when using the word imminent. As Trevor Timm noted earlier today in the Guardian: Take, for example, this definition from a Justice Department white paper, which was leaked last year, intended to justify the killing of Americans overseas: An “imminent” threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons will take place in the immediate future. To translate: “imminent” can mean a lot of things … including “not imminent”. Fascinating, and all this time I thought “imminent” meant “imminent.” Someone should let Merriam-Webster know they’ve got it all wrong. The employment of this new definition of imminent was further solidified in my mind after reading an article from the New York Times titled: In Airstrikes, U.S. Targets Militant Cell Said to Plot an Attack Against the West. In it, we learn that: American military and intelligence analysts were still studying damage reports from the initial air assault, but senior Obama administration officials expressed hope that they had killed Muhsin al-Fadhli, the leader of Khorasan and a onetime confidant of Osama bin Laden. The officials said they had been contemplating military action against Khorasan in recent months, but President Obama’s decision to hit the Islamic State’s forces inside Syria provided a chance to neutralize the other perceived threat. You’ve got to wonder what other unrelated opportunities the ISIS campaign might allow. But I digress. The air campaign against Khorasan and the Islamic State got underway even as Mr. Obama flew to New York to meet with world leaders gathering at the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Obama did not seek United Nations permission for the military campaign, but he presented the strikes as the collaboration of a multinational coalition that included five Arab nations: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. Yeah, well he didn’t seek approval from Congress either. Now here’s the money shot. Most officials speaking publicly on Tuesday characterized the Khorasan threat as imminent. Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., who is in charge of operations for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, said the terrorist group was nearing “the execution phase of an attack either in Europe or the homeland.” But one senior counterterrorism official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the group might not have chosen the target, method or even the timing for a strike. An intelligence official said separately that the group was “reaching a stage where they might be able to do something.” Wait, come again? An attack is imminent, yet you don’t know which gigantic continent with hundreds of millions of inhabitants straddling opposing sides of the Atlantic ocean they were going to hit? Furthermore, they “might not have chosen the target, method or even the timing for a strike,” and they are “reaching a stage where they might be able to do something.” Sure sounds imminent to me. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. So with Americans back to shivering in corners filled with nightmares of Islamists under their beds, the military-industrial complex is set to do what it does best. Get paid. For some details on who will be raking in the big bucks, I turn to Tim Shorrock’s piece earlier today in Salon: A massive, $7.2 billion Army intelligence contract signed just 10 days ago underscores the central role to be played by the National Security Agency and its army of private contractors in the unfolding air war being carried out by the United States and its Gulf States allies against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Under its terms, 21 companies, led by Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, will compete over the next five years to provide “fully integrated intelligence, security and information operations” in Afghanistan and “future contingency operations” around the world. INSCOM announced the global intelligence contract two days after President Obama, in a speech to the nation, essentially declared war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria and outlined a campaign of airstrikes and combat actions to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the terrorist group. The top contractors on the INSCOM contract are already involved in the war. Lockheed Martin, for example, makes the Hellfire missiles that are used extensively in U.S. drone strikes (in 2013, it also won a three-year contract to train INSCOM’S “Army intelligence soldiers” in “analytical and operational disciplines”). Northrop Grumman makes the Global Hawk surveillance drone, one of the most formidable weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Both companies have large intelligence units. The role of contractors at the command is spelled out by BAE Systems, which has its own INSCOM website. “We enhance the U.S. Army’s ability to detect, decide, and act on vital intelligence in real-time,” BAE says. “From Intelligence Analysis to Persistent Surveillance, BAE Systems is proud to provide essential and sustainable end-to-end solutions and support to the warfighter.” As I first reported in Salon in 2007 and later chronicled in my book “Spies for Hire,” 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget is spent on private contractors. Much of this spending – estimated at around $70 billion a year – winds up at the NSA, where SIGINT operations, particularly for collection and analysis, were heavily outsourced at the turn of the century. “Hayden started the privatization, but it was really Alexander who built it,” said Drake. Alexander’s ties with INSCOM are extensive. One of the winning bidders on the new INSCOM contract is Sotera Defense Solutions. Russell Richardson, its former CEO and a former INSCOM commander, is now one of Alexander’s partners at IronNet and, under Alexander’s command of INSCOM, was its “chief architect.” Before that, Richardson was a vice president of NSA contractor SAIC, where he ran INSCOM’s so-called Information Dominance Center. INSCOM’s ties with Booz Allen, the company that employed Edward Snowden at its top secret site in Hawaii, are equally close. Robert Noonan, who directs the company’s “military intelligence account,” served for 35 years in the military, including a stint as INSCOM’s commanding general and the US Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence. Roberto Andujar, the INSCOM contract leader at Invertix Corp., another contract winner, once served as the command’s chief information officer (CIO). The revolving door between INSCOM and its contractors bothers Shaffer. “It’s a cash-and-carry program,” he said. “You go in there and get the knowledge, then you carry it out and get cash.” The Pentagon press office referred all calls on the contract to INSCOM. The command did not comment by press time. Wake up America. You will continue to be raped, pillaged and economically strip-mined until you stand up for yourselves, but for now, it appears the fetal position suits you just fine.
  4. http://rt.com/usa/congress-derails-arming-syrian-rebels-865/ Congress derails Obama plans to arm Syrian rebels Get short URL Published time: July 10, 2013 04:07 Though the Obama administration has authorized military aid to the rebel opposition currently engaged in a civil war with the government of Bashar Assad, it now appears that the US Congress has essentially blocked that move over terrorism fears. Members of both the House and Senate intelligence committees have moved to enact stringent restrictions on funding the Syrian rebels, a move sufficient to prevent the White House from delivering on arms shipments according to sources who spoke with The Hill. In mid-June, following allegations from the White House that the Assad government had used chemical weapons against opposition forces moving to depose him, the Obama administration authorized arms shipments in a marked escalation of US involvement in the region. "This is going to be different in both scope and scale in terms of what we are providing," said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser at the time. Now, according to sources familiar with committee activity, restrictions on that increased aid to Syria’s opposition may have essentially stopped the administration in its tracks. According to The Hill, lawmakers moved to block the military aid out of fears that weapons would fall into the hands of terrorist groups. US analysts are in particular concerned over the strengthening of the Syrian al-Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. Though the Obama administration had long stated that the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s government constituted a “red line,” it seems that lawmakers on the intelligence committees are more worried about the regional threat posed by Islamist elements now engaged against Syrian government forces. Syrian rebel fighters gather around a former Syrian army tank as rebels prepare to attack positions held by the Syrian army areas in the Salaheddine neighborhood of Aleppo, on July 8, 2013. (AFP Photo / Abo Mhio) Jabhat al-Nusra is thought to control as many as 10,000 supporters within Syria. Meanwhile, it is also believed that Iran is currently training Hezbollah fighters within Syria, in growing tension against the Sunni-backed al-Qaeda affiliates of the Syrian opposition forces. “Whatever we do, we have to make sure we do it right,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Tuesday. “If we are going to arm, we have to make sure we have control of what arms are out there and how people are trained to use those arms so they don’t fall into the hands of our enemy al-Qaeda,” added Ruppersberger. Since the mid-June announcement that the Obama administration would seek to funnel military aid to Syria’s insurgency, it had set out to sell that plan to members of Congress. Both Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden briefed the intelligence panels in June. Despite efforts by the White House to increase momentum for its new Syria policy, support appeared to be splintered on Tuesday, even amongst members of Congress who were in favor of arming the opposition. “It’s not clear to me that the administration has a workable policy,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee. Beyond the key House and Senate intelligence committees, which hold funding oversight, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, accused the Obama administration of covertly pushing military aid behind the closed doors of the Intelligence Committee. “They should come and talk about this openly,” Corker told reporters Tuesday. “It puts the Intelligence Committee in a very awkward place. All of a sudden, they own it,” he added. According to The Hill, though Obama administration officials stopped just shy of saying efforts to arm the Syrian opposition had been thwarted, congressional opposition was not likely to make it any easier. The Associated Press had first reported last month that the congressional intelligence panels had rejected the administration’s initial plans to arm Syria’s rebels.
  5. http://rt.com/usa/ron-paul-syria-iraq-890/ Ron Paul: ‘Obama’s Syria policy looks a lot like Bush’s Iraq policy’ Get short URL Published time: June 18, 2013 18:07 Former US Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) (AFP Photo / Joe Raedle) Share on tumblr Trends Syria unrest Tags Bashar Assad, Iraq, Obama, Syria, USA,War Did the White House’s remarks about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons sound familiar? Former congressman Ron Paul says the build up to a likely strike on Syria reminds him of the days before the invasion of Iraq. Paul, the longtime Republican lawmaker from Texas who retired last year following an unsuccessful attempt to gain the GOP nomination for the presidency, published a statement on his website this week criticizing the White House for their latest remarks regarding Syria. US President Barack Obama said months ago that any proof of Assad using chemical weapons against Syrians would constitute the crossing of a “red line” that would spur American intervention. Last week, the White House said evidence linked Assad’s government to using chemical warfare to kill as many as 150 opposition fighters during the bloody civil war that has so far costs more than 90,000 Syrians their lives, according to United Nation estimates. Washington is now likely to begin arming Syrian rebel fighters and is pondering a possible no-fly zone over Syria. According to Paul, the latest rhetoric from the White House is something he’s seen before. “Because of this use of gas, the president claimed, Syria had crossed his ‘red line’ and the US must begin to arm the rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian government,” Paul wrote. But at the same time, Paul called into question a previous report from the Washington Post, in which the paper cited White House officials as having decided “weeks ago” to arm Syrian rebels. “[I]n other words, it was made at a time when the intelligence community did not believe ‘with high confidence’ that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons,” Paul said of that decision. “Further, this plan to transfer weapons to the Syrian rebels had become policy much earlier than that, as the Washington Post reported that the CIA had expanded over the past year its secret bases in Jordan to prepare for the transfer of weapons to the rebels in Syria.” On his website, Paul wrote that things are starting to seem all too similar to what preceded the invasion of Baghdad in 2003. “The process was identical to the massive deception campaign that led us into the Iraq War,” Paul claimed. Just like under President George W. Bush, Paul said the Obama administration is “fixing the intelligence and facts” so it can justify an already determined policy. “And Congress just goes along, just as they did the last time,” Paul wrote. Congress has not formally decided how it will heed any calls to arm Syrian rebels just yet, but a number of influential politicians on the Hill have raised their voices already, particularly in light of the White House’s recent claim. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), an outspoken supporter of the efforts to aid the rebels, said last week that the United States’ failure to act already in the civil war is “disgraceful.” “For us to sit by, and watch these people being massacred, raped, tortured in the most terrible fashion, meanwhile, the Russians are all in, Hezbollah is all in, and we’re talking about giving them more light weapons? It’s insane,” he said. “Frankly, every day that goes by and we don’t get rid of Bashar Assad, it becomes more and more complicated and difficult.” Indeed, even Pres. Obama has said that removing Assad from office has been a priority within Washington for quite some time now. But just as with a decade earlier, he’s already finding some opponents in Washington uninterested in opening up another war. Speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation over the weekend, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) equated the news coming out of the White House as a lot of huff. "It seems to me they have a great media strategy," Rogers said. "They don't have a great Syrian strategy, and I don't believe any of our members - and we had both Republicans and Democrats on the committee - express concern about where they think we are today, and where we think the administration wants to go.” "What is the plan? Where are we going in Syria? And what do you want to accomplish?" Rogers asked. "Some of the things that they've told us - told the Intelligence Committee - in the past doesn't comport with what they're presenting as the direction they want to go. So we've asked them to come up and say if we're going to move in this direction, you're going to have to come up with a more comprehensive plan." "They've got a lot of explaining to do to come up and say, 'Here's our comprehensive plan on how we move forward on what is a catastrophic situation that's getting worse every single day in Syria,'" Rogers said. Speaking to PBS host Charlie Rose in an interview that aired late Monday, Pres. Obama dismissed the claims from the likes of Mr. Paul that the unrest in Syria would spark another war for his administration to be entwined in. "It is very easy to slip slide your way into deeper and deeper commitments," Obama told Rose, referring to the possibility of another war in the Middle East. "Now, on the other side there are folks who say, you know, 'we are so scarred from Iraq. We should have learned our lesson. We should not have anything to do with it,'" Obama said. "Well, I reject that view as well because the fact of the matter is, is that we've got serious interests there." "The goals are a stable, non-sectarian, representative Syrian government that is addressing the needs of its people through political processes and peaceful processes," added the president. "We're not taking sides in a religious war between Shi'a and Sunni. Really, what we're trying to do is take sides against extremists of all sorts and in favor of people who are in favor of moderation, tolerance, representative government - and, over the long-term, stability and prosperity for the people of Syria." Mr. Obama is currently overseas discussing the Syrian situation with other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Russian parliament’s International Affairs Committee, said in a tweet last week that the White House’s information about the usage of chemical weapons by the Assad regime “is fabricated in the same way as the lie about Hussein's weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.
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