Search

LIBYA 360°

Category

MIDDLE EAST

Libya, Racism and Anti-imperialism : Discussion with Gerald A. Perreira

Featured post

Kurdish Women’s Radical Self-Defense: Armed and Political

The Women Combatants of Rojava

Millennium Development Goals vs Imperialist Wars, World Capitalism

Gender, Resistance and Radical Democracy : Meet the Women of the HDP

By Elif Genc

“We are women; We are youth; We are the rainbow; We are children; We are defenders of democracy; We are representatives of all identities; We are defenders of a free world; We are protectors of nature; We are builders of a safe life economy; We are workers; We are labourers; We are the guarantors of social rights.”

— from the election manifesto of the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), declared by the co-presidents Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

HDP Co-Presidents Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

Following a period of increased political violence in the Kurdish regions of Turkey leading up to the federal elections of 2015, the worst being a recent bombing of the HDP rally in Diyarbakir (Amed) which left at least three people dead and hundreds wounded, there has been a watershed of party politics in Turkey. For the first time since 2002, there is evidence of the demise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s despotic rule over the country since he was not able to form a majority government. More importantly, the radical left-wing, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), passed the threshold of 10 per cent (a barrier implemented during the 1980 military coup, with the precise purpose of keeping the Kurds out of parliament), thereby becoming the first pro-Kurdish party to enter the Turkish parliament.

Furthermore the fact that 32 out of 82 HDP members of parliament (MPs) are women marks a radical shift in the political culture of the country. The significance of this nearly trumps the actual results of the election – or so it would appear. HDP recently has been likened to the Turkish version of SYRIZA or Podemos in their anti-capitalist platforms; however as of recently, it had essentially received no international media attention. Given that Greece and Turkey are neighbours, this oversight illustrates the euro-centric focus surrounding politics of the Left. In fact, in many respects HDP is more progressive than either of these European parties, particularly regarding women and minority rights. With roots in the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK), a platform composed of various groups including leftist parties, feminist groups, LGBTQ groups, trade unions and groups representing Alevis, Armenians, and other ethnic minorities, HDP aims to create an alternative radical democratic space and culture as an alternative to global capitalism and neoliberalism, regardless of race, gender or religion in Turkey.

Transformative Class Aspirations

Though representation as a party in parliament is essential, there remains a lot of scepticism, toward the ability of originally socially progressive movements to maintain their transformative class aspirations once they enter party politics. However in the case of HDP, since its formation in 2013, there is a lot of evidence indicating that it may actually be capable of realizing or fostering substantive social change in Turkey. This can be attributed to many factors that are distinctive to the HDP compared to any other party in Turkey, stemming from a decades long tradition of the radical feminist Kurdish social movement which they have come to represent in parliament. Though recently there has been an outpouring of analysis of the HDP, there has yet to be a thorough examination of the role that radical feminist politics in the Kurdish social movement have played in the development of the party.

Any understanding of this case must take into account the interrelated oppression that Kurdish women face through their direct lived experiences, which predisposes them to a political consciousness evident in the women of the HDP. As a result of their ethno-cultural identity, Kurdish women have undergone especially harsh levels of class oppression, patriarchal violence, and subordination to the state; in response, they have developed their own unique forms of political agency (Wilson 2013). Nothing illustrates this transformative process better than HDP’s embrace of egalitarian principles, gender equality, and radical democracy.

These elements are mirrored in the cultural revolution of Rojava (Western Kurdistan) in Syria which claims to have overcome the reproduction of statist patriarchal relations altogether (Ocalan 2011). Currently in Rojava power is equally distributed between one woman and one man at all political levels from party presidencies to neighbourhood councils through its co-chair principle. The women’s movement is autonomously organized, socially, politically, and militarily. Similar to this framework, the HDP has created a popular grassroots feminist movement which provides a political platform for women’s rights groups, and signals a commitment to gender equality. The party is led by female and male co-chairs – Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag respectively – and the party charges female candidates half what it does men to run for office. Around 40 per cent of the HDP’s newly elected members of parliament are women – a remarkably large percentage in comparison to the other Turkish parties, where women hold only 17 per cent of the seats.

Many of the elected prominent Kurdish women figures of the HDP have been themselves political prisoners associated with feminist armed resistance as a result of their interlinked oppression and direct lived experiences. Leyla Zana, the newly elected MP of Agri, was imprisoned for 10 years for her political activism, and in 1991 she became the first Kurdish woman to win a seat in the Turkish parliament. She created a scandal when she spoke Kurdish on the floor of the parliament after being sworn in, even though it was illegal at that time. In 1994, she was arrested and charged with treason and membership in the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK – Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan). The former co-chair of the party, Sebahat Tuncel, went on trial for being a member of the armed guerrilla group PKK in 2006, accused of making frequent trips to PKK camps, and was subsequently imprisoned. She ran for parliament from prison and after winning a seat in Istanbul was released from custody in 2007. She is the first person in Turkish history to be elected to parliament from prison and the youngest woman to serve in the Turkish parliament. These women’s political struggle as representatives of the Kurdish social movement, and subsequent involvement in party politics, was often met with state violence, centered around a combination of racism and sexism, used to delegitimize their cause.

Dilek Ocalan, recently elected to represent the HDP in Urfa, is the niece of the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, whose conceptions of “democratic confederalism” seem to be emulated in the party’s platform. He claims that the root to overcoming capitalism and state oppression are through female emancipation:

“All the power and state ideologies stem from sexist attitudes and behaviour[…]. Without women’s slavery none of the other types of slavery can exist let alone develop. Capitalism and nation-state denote the most institutionalized dominant male. Capitalism and nation-state are the monopolism of the despotic and exploitative male.”

He further claims:

“Nothing in the Middle East is as gruesome as the social status of the woman. The enslavement of the woman is similar to the enslavement of the peoples, except it is even older… The project of women’s liberation goes far beyond the equality of the sexes, but moreover describes the essence of general democracy, of human rights, of harmony with nature and communal equality,” (Öcalan 2010).

In addition, the party appears to embrace Öcalan’s ideas of “social ecology.” A significant part of the party’s platform is focused on environmental protocol, stemming from the original initiatives of the Occupy Gezi movement, which entailed massive protests against the ruling party and state authoritarianism during the summer of 2013.

Radical Pluralism

Lastly, seemingly as a result of living various forms of oppression, the Kurdish women of the HDP are predisposed to being more sympathetic to other oppressed peoples of Turkey. The HDP moves beyond the dichotomy of Turkish and Kurdish ethnic and national identity politics and homogeneous religious or ethnic identities by embracing politics and practices embodying a “radical pluralism.” Among the HDP there are members of parliament that are from Armenian, Roma, Aramean and Yezidi minority groups, as well as the first openly queer MP in Turkish history. The HDP has also called for a new constitution that enshrines minority rights for Kurds, Alevis and other religious and ethnic minorities. The HDP has also been unwavering in their fight for the rights and support of the LGBTQ community in Turkey – by far one of the most oppressed groups of the Turkish state.

Clearly the elements accounting for the success of the HDP in the recent elections are many, among them the aftermath of the Occupy Gezi social movement, AKP’s lack of response to the battle for Kobane and the social conservatives switching their allegiance from AKP to HDP in their determination to see an end to Erdogan’s reign over Turkey. Still, as far as the representation and tradition of the party are concerned, the role that radical feminist politics represented by the Kurdish social movement has played should not be overlooked. The women of the HDP, through their direct lived experiences and political consciousness in the Kurdish social movement, show promise of many of these principles and practices being translated into Turkish party politics for the future. •

Elif Genc is a graduate student from York University and will be doing her Ph.D. in Politics at the New School for Social Research in New York. She is also an activist of the Kurdish social movement in Toronto and her research interests include the women of Rojava and the movement.

References:

  • Bookchin, Murray. The Ecology of Freedom: The Rise and Dissolution of Hierarchy (Palo Alto, Calif.: Cheshire Books, 1982); and The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship [later retitled Urbanization Against Cities] (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1986).
  • Öcalan, Abdullah. Prison Writings: The Roots of Civilization, trans. Klaus Happel (London: Pluto Press, 2007); and Prison Writings: The PKK and the Kurdish Question in the 21st Century, trans. Klaus Happel (London: Transmedia, 2011). Neither Bookchin nor Öcalan was an archaeologist or anthropologist; rather, in their accounts of prehistory and early history, they use such professionals’ published findings.
  • Wilson, Angelia R., and Ebscohost E-Books – York University. Situating Intersectionality: Politics, Policy, and Power, 2013.

Related:

Liberating Life: Woman’s Revolution
Democratic Confederalism
The Road Map to Democratization of Turkey
The Roots of Civilisation
The Ocalan Case
War And Peace In Kurdistan
Why Jineology? Re-Constructing the Sciences Towards a Communal and Free Life
Peacebuilding as Counter-Insurgency | Self-Determination vs Global ‘Counter-Terror’ Operations
The Kurdistan Woman’s Liberation Movement
Kurdish Women’s Unknown History of Struggle
Stateless Democracy : How the Kurdish Women’s Movement Liberated Democracy from the State
The Double Standards of the Western World According to PKK
ISIS Seen Through the Eyes of PKK Guerrilla Forces
Killing the Dominant Male
Revolutionary Women: Zapatista and YPJ-STAR Embrace New Gender Politics
Feminism and the Kurdish Freedom Movement

United States Foreign Policy a Reflection of the Legacy of Racism and National Oppression

Charleston massacre represents a long line of crimes against humanity that expand the globe

Author’s Comment: This presentation was delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) which was held on Thurs. June 18, 2015 at the Our Lady of Fatima Church located in Oak Park, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Azikiwe serves as an executive board member of the organization having previously occupied the positions of both chairperson of the board of directors and president during 2007-2014. Also speaking at this event was Dr. Saaed Khan, a professor at Wayne State University and also a member of the MCHR Board of Directors.
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

We are here for our annual meeting in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR). Our yearly dinner was a resounding success in April with hundreds in attendance under the theme of the need to link various struggles against racism, economic exploitation and for social justice and self-determination for the majority of people who live within this society and the world.

The topic this evening focuses is on the relationship between United States foreign and domestic policy. Why is the government constantly at war with one enemy or another abroad and at the same time failing to foster peace and stability here inside the country?

Today we witnessed the arrest of a suspect in the gruesome massacre of nine African Americans in one of the leading historic churches in the U.S. Even those within law-enforcement and the corporate media have characterized this incident as a hate crime.

Obviously this mass killing was politically motivated. The most prominent person killed in the massacre was Pastor Clementa Pinckney who is also a State Senator in South Carolina. He was in a prayer meeting and bible study at the church when a white 21-year-old male entered and stayed for some time before declaring that he was there to kill Black people.
Charleston Massacre: Yet another terrorist act against Blacks in AmericaReports indicate that he had a criminal record for drugs and other offenses. His links to white supremacist organizations is being examined with each passing hour. He has been shown in a photograph wearing a jacket with the insignia of the former apartheid regime in South Africa and the previous settler-colony of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Ongoing problems of racist violence and other hate crimes are consistently ignored or played down in the corporate media. The administration of President Barack Obama has been rightly criticized for not addressing the continuing, and many would say, escalating phenomenon of racist violence, hate speech and institutional racism.

History of Mother Emmanuel AME Church and Struggle Against National Oppression

This church where the shooting took place occupies a proud history in the legacy of African people in the U.S. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) was founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen, Sara Allen, Absalom Jones and others in 1787 beginning as the Free Africa Society.

When the church was formed the United States was in its infancy as a nation. The country had inherited the institution of slavery as an economic system. Slavery existed in the Northeast as well as the South. Africans who had accepted Christianity were still subjected to racism and sought to set up their own independent places of worship.

In the Southeast during the later decades of the 18th Century an African Baptist Church was formed. Later in Philadelphia the AME Church went in the same direction. These places of worship did not just deal with the spiritual needs of the people but the desire for genuine freedom. The formation of the early African churches was in themselves acts of self-determination and defiance against slavery.

Perhaps the most famous co-founder of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church was Telemaque, better known as Denmark Vesey. He was born in the Denmark colony of St. Thomas in the Caribbean and later lived as a slave in Saint Domingo (Haiti). Reports of his life say that he was influenced by Africans in Haiti when the revolution erupted in 1791. He along with his master Vesey, had re-located to South Carolina by the late 1790s. He was able to win his freedom from slavery remaining in South Carolina and serving as a co-founder of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in 1818.

In 1822 Denmark Vesey was the engineer of an elaborate plot to liberate his people from slavery. He had tried for many years to purchase the freedom of his wife and children yet the white slave masters would not free his spouse or children who were automatically placed in bondage following the rules of the system where the offspring would inherit the status of the mother.

Vesey was influenced by developments in Haiti. The Charleston County revolt was scheduled to take place on July 14, Bastille Day in France. However, a decision was made by Vesey and his comrades at the Church to move the date forward to June 16.

Demographically as a result of the slave system of agricultural production in Charleston, Africans far outnumbered whites in the area. Such a slave revolt would have sent shockwaves throughout the South and shaken the system to its core. Nonetheless, the plans for the revolt were leaked to the slave masters and Vesey along with many others were arrested, tried in a secret court and hung.

Many others were deported to Caribbean islands and other U.S. states. Morris Brown, another early leader of the AME Church was forced out of the state. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that this horrendous act of hate last evening took place just one day after the 193rd anniversary of the plans for the Charleston Rebellion.

Later in August 1831, Nat Turner in South Hampton County, Virginia led another revolt which was not uncovered until the actual day of the uprising. Turner was also motivated by the Bible and notions of the fulfillment of prophecy.

The Nat Turner Revolt led to the deaths of numerous slaveholders. Turner and other were eventually apprehended and brutally executed. Nonetheless, this rebellion created a reaction on the part of the slavocracy in the South resulting in the Abolitionist Movement being born. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was a desperate measure to maintain what even many slave masters knew was a dying system of exploitation.

When John Brown attacked Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859, it represented the initial skirmishes of the Civil War which began in earnest in 1861 extending to 1865, breaking the back of the antebellum slave system and ushering in Reconstruction. The failure to build democracy in the aftermath of the dissolution of slavery and the defeat of the Confederacy is still with us today. It would take another century for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act to be passed.

Nonetheless, today much of the turmoil inside the U.S. is related to the inability of the American system to eradicate institutional racism and national oppression.

Direct Relations of Domestic and Foreign Policy

How do these historical developments rooted in slavery provide insight into modern U.S. foreign policy? Is there a direct link between the ongoing racial oppression and the character of Washington’s relations to the former colonial, semi-colonial and socialist states?

All modern wars waged whether Cold or Hot have been directed against the states within the regions of the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the former socialist countries of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since the conclusion of World War II. Today we witness the re-emerge of another Cold War with the escalation of tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Yemen and other geo-political areas.

In Yemen today, the Saudi Arabian monarchy is bombing the country, the most underdeveloped in the region. The Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance war against Yemen is in actuality a proxy war against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which had a popular revolution in 1979 in response to the U.S. support of a monarchy which repressed its people for decades. The nationalist government of Mohamed Mossadegh was overthrown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1953 simply because he sought to take control of Iran’s oil resources.

In Palestine, the U.S. has supported the State of Israel which maintains its occupation after 67 years. The people of Gaza and the West Bank are daily subjected to the armed might of the Israeli Defense Forces and the police.

These wars in Yemen and Palestine are supported through direct U.S. tax dollars and weapons. The F-16 fighter planes now bombing Yemeni residential, communications, transport and port facilities are produced in the U.S. The same is true of the Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), phosphorous bombs and other ordinances utilized by the IDF against the people of Gaza in Operation Protective Edge during 2014 right through additional attacks in recent weeks.

U.S. Imperialism Escalates Its Interference in North Africa

In North Africa the situation is growing more desperate every week. Many of us have followed the tragedy of mass migrations where thousands have died just this year off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean in desperate attempts to reach Malta and Sicily.

The current situation in Libya is a direct result of the CIA-Pentagon and NATO war of regime-change in 2011. There were over 26,000 sorties flown over Libya in 2011 and some 10,000 bombs were dropped on the North African state, previously the most prosperous on the continent under the Gaddafi government.

In Libya today there are two contending regimes claiming legitimacy as the government. Human traffickers take advantage of the chaos to funnel migrants fleeing the impact of wars in Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Syria, and as far away as South Asia. The European Union and the U.S., which have initiated these wars, act now as if they have nothing to do with the current crisis. The EU response has been a military one which will only result in more deaths and displacement.

Also in the region, the militarized regime in Egypt is another case of failed U.S. foreign policy. Since the late 1970s, Washington and Wall Street have funded the Egyptian government under the former President Hosni Mubarak right through the present junta led by military-turned-civilian ruler Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Thousands of Egyptians have been killed since the military coup in July 2013. The former elected President Mohamed Morsi has been sentenced to death by a court that makes a mockery of due process.

However, these failed policies continue unabated. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, the impact of U.S. foreign policy is still very much in evidence. Iraq is still at war and the administration of President Barack Obama is carrying out bombing operations against the Islamic State and re-deploying Pentagon forces ostensibly as advisers and trainers. This is the same president who ran for office in 2008 saying he would end the war in Iraq.

The U.S. support of the armed rebels in Syria led to the formation of the Islamic State which has spread into Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Despite the spending of hundreds of billions during the Iraq war by U.S. tax payers carrying out a campaign of regime-change that met popular opposition, the country is still in deep crisis.

The billions spent on weapons to arm the new Iraqi army which was crafted in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, have mainly been wasted through the capturing of these guns, tanks and other equipment by the Islamic State. At present U.S. warplanes are bombing their own weapons sent into the theater based upon untruths and psychological warfare against both the people of Iraq and the U.S.

Which Way Forward in Domestic and U.S. Policy?

Therefore, we have much work to carry out in the upcoming year. Our organization faces the challenge of both addressing the need to cherish both lives here in the U.S. as well as throughout the world.

Since August 2014 with the unrest in Ferguson, the incomplete revolution in racial equality has been further exposed for the world to see. The reluctance of the Obama administration to discuss race and to develop policies that specifically address the continuing disparate class and social divide in the U.S. has borne an ever worsening situation.

Comments by Obama at the White House on events in Charleston seemed to focus more on the need for gun control. Although gun control is important, the underlying racial hatred and hostility is not fully explored.

At the same time there is almost no debate over the redeployment of military forces in Iraq. There is almost no information about the ongoing war in Syria. Most people in the U.S. who watch the news originating from inside the country are barely aware of the war in Yemen and the role of Washington in this genocidal process.

Consequently, we need to intensify our activism aimed at ending racism domestically and imperialist militarism around the world. These two imperatives merge when we look at the growing militarization of the police in the U.S. and the vast prison industrial complex.

Many of the same weapons and tactics utilized in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia and Palestine are being unleashed against African Americans and others inside this country. Police kill African Americans and Latinos at an alarming rate and in most cases the authorities go unpunished.

The massive impending evictions by Wayne County due to property tax foreclosures and the renewed water shut-offs of thousands in Detroit indicate clearly that the rebuilding of Detroit is taking place in contravention to the majority of people who live there. We must continue our vocal opposition to these crimes against humanity.

We look forward to our new members of the board of directors. This is a working board that seeks to make a difference in the broader movement for social change in the U.S. and internationally. Let us move forward into the coming year with the necessary vigor and vision that will ensure the fundamental change that is needed in the present period.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.


Related:
Charleston Massacre and the Revolutionary Legacy of Denmark Vesey

Imperialism and the Making of the Migration Crisis

The unprecedented scale of global migration and migrant deaths are deliberate, not coincidental.

By Harsha Walia

Leading up to World Refugee Day on Saturday, the United Nations unveiled a devastating and damning report on the scale of global displacement. The U.N.’s Refugee Agency data reveals a total of 59.5 million people are displaced around the world. With one in every 122 people being internally displaced or seeking asylum in a new country, this is the highest level of displaced people ever recorded. It is also the largest leap recorded within a single year, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres calls it “a staggering acceleration” that will only worsen.

This 56-page report illuminates the context for Angela Davis’ remarks in Germany last month, when she declared that the “refugee movement is the movement of the 21st century.” Patterns of displacement and migration reveal the unequal relations between rich and poor, between North and South, between whiteness and its racialized others.

Roots of the Migration Crisis

Aptly titled “World at War,” the U.N. report names wars and persecution as the drivers of forced displacement. Almost 14 million of the 59.5 million are newly displaced people over the past year, with an average of 42,500 people becoming refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every single day primarily due to military conflicts.

The four-year civil war in Syria has created 11.6 million refugees, giving Syria the unfortunate honor of being the leading source country of refugees. Turkey, which neighbors Syria to the north, has become host to the world’s largest refugee population with almost 2 million refugees within its borders. Due to the ongoing occupation of Palestine by Israel, there are an estimated 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with a separate U.N. agency, UNRWA, in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

While militarization and persecution are typically understood as primary forces of migration, forces of economic violence, climate change and gendered violence are all also causing displacement. The forced privatization and neoliberalization of subsistence farming has resulted in the loss of rural land for millions, particularly women peasants, across Asia, Africa, and South and Central America.

Though the U.N. report does not tackle displacements due to corporate interests and free trade deals, a recent study by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Huffington Post found that over the last decade, World Bank-funded projects physically or economically displaced 3.4 million people, forcing them from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods.

According to statistics by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by the year 2020 there will be 50 million climate refugees. A day after the U.N. report on displacement, Pope Francis released his encyclical on climate change in which he articulates the connection between the climate, capitalist, and migration crises. He writes:

“Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry … There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world.”

Border Militarization

“you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you”
– Nayyirah Waheed

Despite the popular myth of First World benevolence toward refugees, 86 percent of refugees are actually in countries of the global South. Yet some of the most intense border enforcement policies – informed by long-standing racial fears of brown and Black migrants – are being undertaken by countries in the global North.

Immigration detention centers are the most visible sites of border enforcement policies, with migrant detainees forming one of the fastest growing prison populations around the Western world. In Canada, an immigration detainee being held in a maximum-security facility died June 11 in a local hospital after being restrained by officers. There have been at least 11 documented deaths in immigration detention custody in Canada since 2000. This week in Arizona over 200 migrant detainees at the Eloy Detention Center launched a hunger strike in response to the death of Jose de Jesus Deniz-Sahagun, who was beaten by guards. In the U.S., 106 people have died in immigration detention centers since 2003, and since 1998, more than 6,000 migrants have died trying to cross the U.S.–Mexico border.

Geographer Reece Jones documents how three countries alone, including the U.S. and Israel, have built over 3,500 miles of walls on their borders. An estimated half of all displaced people are children and a fraction of these children – around 50,000 children – traveling as unaccompanied minors primarily from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border last year.

Other countries, such as those in Western Europe, have pushed their border outwards to create  “Fortress Europe.” The EU spent about US$2.2 billion between 2007-2013 to fortify its external borders through naval surveillance. Such “prevention-by deterrence” strategies have received international condemnation, with Amnesty International declaring, “The human tragedies unfolding every day at Europe’s borders are neither inevitable, nor beyond the EU’s control. Many are of the EU’s making. EU member states must, at last, start putting people before borders.”

The International Organization for Migration has recorded 40,000 migration-related deaths around the world since 2000. Since that year, over 22,000 migrants have lost their lives trying to reach Europe. In the 2014 alone, over 3,000 migrants died in the Mediterranean, while this year over 800 died off the coast of Libya in a devastating boat wreck in April.

Recently, some European politicians suggested military operations to intercept and destroy boats transporting migrants and refugees off the coast of Libya. Perversely, these interventions were justified as humanitarian ones to target human smugglers, deemed modern-day slave-traders. Hundreds of academics immediately challenged this putatively progressive rhetoric, writing: “To attempt to crush [people-smuggling] with military force is not to take a noble stand against the evil of slavery, or even against ‘trafficking’. It is simply to continue a long tradition in which states, including slave states of the 18th and 19th century, use violence to prevent certain groups of human beings from moving freely.”

Indeed, border militarization policies make migrants’ journeys precarious and perilous. Bodies battering onto the shores and blistering in deserts may invoke sympathy and international discussions on how to “manage” the fatalities, but rarely do they invoke our collective sense of complicity and responsibility for migrant displacement and death. Geographer Mary Pat Brady describes migrant deaths as “a kind of passive capital punishment” where “immigrants have been effectively blamed for their own deaths.”

It is not a coincidence that migrant deaths are increasing every year, or that they happen at all. Migrants are dying at borders and in detention centers precisely because militarized borders and exclusionary immigration policies are intended to make their bodies, journeys and humanities vulnerable and expendable.

Harsha Walia (@HarshaWalia) is a South Asian activist and writer based in Vancouver, unceded Indigenous Coast Salish Territories in Canada. She has been involved in community-based grassroots migrant justice, feminist, anti-racist, Indigenous solidarity, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements for 15 years. She is the author of Undoing Border Imperialism.

From Africa, Middle East, Latin America to Ukraine – Snowden & Human Rights : Theatre vs Reality

By Tortilla Con Sal

Recent legislative theatricals in the US Congress once again brought the issue of mass surveillance into the corporate media headlines and with it the continuing hype around Edward Snowden. Ever since Snowden made his revelations, his supporters have claimed his actions constitute a heroic defence of fundamental civil rights in the United States and countries of the European Union.

The latest corporate media reports argue that Snowden has been largely responsible for a major change in Western country legislation defending fundamental civil rights. But the reality behind this extraordinary campaign of exaggeration and illusion looks very different in the light of actual events and a critical look at their media diffusion.

Whatever Edward Snowden’s own intentions may have been, his revelations have been exploited by the psychological warfare apparatus of the United States government and its allies. The media and political management of his revelations have helped the US government consolidate and legitimize existing covert mass surveillance practices in the United States and overseas.

USA Today reported on June 2nd, “The Senate overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to end the controversial bulk collection of the phone data of millions of Americans who have no ties to terrorism.” The USA Today report included a tweet from President Obama “Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I’ll sign it as soon as I get it.”

However, Barack Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any President before him. So it seems rational to infer that he will sign off on what is nothing more than a procedural administrative tweak. Let’s face it: substantially, it changes nothing. Even the New York Times reported the day before the vote “Even if Congress ultimately restricts domestic surveillance, it will leave intact the vast majority of the post-Sept. 11 programs authorized by two presidents.

Numerous writers have correctly noted that the new law merely places the formality of a routine administrative procedure – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) tribunal – between the US government’s spies and the mass data they previously collected unhindered. The corporate media and non-governmental Edward Snowden industry spin this as a vindication of Snowden’s revelations.

But Edward Snowden’s support network is almost completely compromised, one way or another, by most of its members’ relations with the the political and corporate establishment of the US and its NATO allies. For example, film-maker Laura Poitras in 2012 received a US$500,000 fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, whose then President Robert Gallucci was previously a very high level strategic adviser to the US government.

Glenn Greenwald has been the main proselytizer managing what in many ways is a Snowden cult. Greenwald moved swiftly from his work managing Edward Snowden’s material for the Guardian to working for billionaire Pierre Omidyaar, whose own business empire has corporate links to the US government intelligence network, in particular Booz Allen Hamilton, for whom Snowden used to work.

Edward Snowden himself is an espionage professional, so what he says or does should certainly not be taken at face value. That said, it does seem clear that far from having radical progressive politics he is very much a US patriot with staunch libertarian views, not at all opposed to US foreign policy as such.

While the North American and European progressives who promote Edward Snowden congratulate themselves on their commitment to human rights, almost everywhere else in the world their human rights agenda has been made to look hollow, self-serving and hypocritical. The psy-warfare exploitation of Edward Snowden’s revelations categorically confirms the truism that human rights concerns derive from political, not humanitarian concerns, as events in Palestine, Libya, Syria, Ukraine demonstrate

In Libya, among many other even more extreme examples, hundreds of former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya have been tortured and abused prior to the sinister farce of judicial process under the control of ISIL terrorists who make a mockery of Islam. Those Libyans, including Saif Gaddhafi, face the death sentence. But Western human rights advocates have nothing to say about these phony trials or their governments’ destruction of Libya because they were cheerleaders for it.

In Palestine, the UN General Secretary has just decided not to include the Israeli government on the list of governments harming children through armed conflict, despite overwhelming evidence including the repeated genocidal massacres in Gaza. Western human rights advocates tend to play down this kind of shameful, indefensible decision and other examples like it, because they fear zionist accusations of “anti-semitism”.

In Ukraine, the fascist regime there has overseen the murder of dozens of journalists, like Oles Buzyna, and anti-regime activists like Oleg Kalashnikov under cover of almost complete silence from the US government and its European Union allies. Western human rights organizations too have next-to-nothing to say beyond ritual denunciations because they are reluctant to seem “pro-Russian”.

In Syria, as in Libya, Western human rights organizations and liberal and progressive NATO country media outlets have vociferously promoted one falsehood after another, that government military arbitrarily murdered large numbers of “peaceful demonstrators”, that “Assad” used chemical weapons in Ghouta or that “Assad” deliberately targets civilians.

It is hard to believe mere coincidence leads the same corporate media and human rights networks to promote Edward Snowden’s revelations ostensibly against government policy, alongside the propaganda line of those same governments targeting Syria, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia and China and so on. That only adds up if one goes to sleep each night listening to the fairy tale of “objective reporting” as read by the BBC or CBS, or Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – an organization funded (and founded) by George Soros, the same man who destabilized the Ukraine and is a close associate to President Petró Poroshenko.

Edward Snowden’s revelations can be looked at in any number of ways, some more plausible than others. A credible view on the available evidence to date is that the material he has made available has been managed to legitimize long standing covert practice by Western intelligence gathering agencies while also providing a handy human rights and democracy alibi to Western media.

Western government support for their corporate oligarchies following the crash of 2008 compounded Western media embarrassment at their governments’ well-documented human rights abuses, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Guantanamo and the US corporate industrial penal system. The Snowden revelations have been exploited by Western corporate media so as to offer a theatrical human rights and democracy distraction from past and current crimes by the US government and its NATO allies.

Those governments are guilty of murdering many hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Libya, as well as more current support for genocidal Nazi militias in Ukraine and for takfiri terrorists across the Arab world and Central Asia. Not surprisingly, they are also determined enemies of the emancipatory processes of change in Latin America and the Caribbean, targeting especially the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

Now the same corporate media and human rights networks that attack Venezuela and its allies are falsely reporting, with all the unison of an accomplished choir, an important civil rights victory thanks to Edward Snowden. That should give decisive pause for thought, because by now few will disagree that the underlying reality of the management of Edward Snowden’s revelations is very different from their superficial appearance.
https://i2.wp.com/stopimperialism.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Syria-Civil-War.jpg


Related:
Psy-warfare and NATO Country Terrorism – Ukraine, Venezuela, Snowden
Snowden: Overlooking the Obvious
Snowden Revisited
Inculcating Stupidity: Syria and Edward Snowden
Reflections on the category “journalism” and the revelations by Edward Snowden
Snowden: Behind NATO’s propaganda outlet for progressives – the Guardian’s board members
Mr. Snowden, It’s Time to Come Out and Take a Stand Publicly as to Your Intentions
The Risks of Trusting the Snowden Story

African American and Palestine Liberation

A Response to Newsweek and Their Imperialist Masters
Opinion makers continue to apologize for Washington’s foreign policy in the Middle East

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

A series opinion articles have been published recently in Newsweek contradictorily condemning and praising the Obama administration’s efforts to reassure the State of Israel that United States imperialism is on their side all the way in suppressing and eliminating the Palestinian people.

The authors go as far as to caution Obama against drawing any comparison between the plight of African Americans and the Palestinian struggle for national liberation. Such an editorial slant reveals that the shapers of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East are concerned about growing support for Palestine in the U.S., especially among African Americans and their allies.

Israeli foreign policy is a by-product of the overall imperialist designs of Washington and Wall Street in the region. Not only is it necessary to maintain the settler-colonial state in Palestine as bulwark of the Pentagon and NATO military strategy but it is also important to continue the domination of Egypt and other states in North Africa and the Middle East.

Successive U.S. administrations have waged wars against the people of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Libya. Consequently, any notion of a lessening of support for Israel flies in the face of the continued multi-billion dollar subsidy to Tel Aviv annually along with the transferal of arms and other military technology which is tested on the Palestinian people in Gaza and the other occupied territories.

Efforts are underway to make the recent national elections in Israel as a representation of the uncertainty of the domination by the conservative forces centered-around Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu over the political future of the regime. Nonetheless, the uneasiness of the administration of President Barack Obama about Democratic and U.S. policy in general towards Israel is partly to blame for the appearance of differences of approach to the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to a Newsweek magazine article written by Marc Shulman under the title “Tel Aviv Diary”, “The one person who seems unwilling to accept the results of the election here appears to be the current occupant of the White House and other members of his administration. President Barack Obama has been exceptionally harsh in his criticism, which is starting to create a backlash among Israelis.” (May 24)

The question is backlash against what? Obama has continued the same imperialist agenda throughout the region and is providing firm support to the current war against Yemen waged by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance.

Public opinion in the U.S. is increasingly in favor of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and statehood. Demonstrations during the summer of 2014 against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) massive bombing and ground incursion into Gaza were the largest protests against these repeated genocidal acts in history.

African Americans and U.S. Foreign Policy

Both the African American and Palestinian peoples suffer from national oppression and efforts aimed at genocidal removal by the racist governmental structures operating in both states.

During 2014 when the U.S. witnessed the largest Palestine solidarity demonstrations ever in response to the bombing and ground invasion of Gaza, African American youth played a prominent role in these actions. Both Palestinians and African Americans spoke out clearly of their common struggle from Gaza and the West Bank to Ferguson and Baltimore.

In Detroit the demonstrations during “Operation Protective Edge” where the IDF pounded Gaza as well as escalated repressive measures against the Palestinians living in the West Bank, signs appeared demanding water for both the people of Gaza and Detroit. Weekly protests at the Detroit Water Sewerage Department (DWSD) known as “Freedom Fridays” during the summer of 2014 often joined rallies and marches taking place outside the Federal Court House in solidarity with Palestine. At this same time the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings were still being litigated at the federal court. This was the most significant municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Expressing concern about the more vocal opinion in support of Palestine among African Americans and its potential impact on electoral politics in the U.S. with a national election looming during 2016, the same author Marc Shulman wrote in the June 3 issue of News week that “Of course, if Obama wants to have any chance of swaying Israeli opinion, he needs to decouple his view of the ‘plight’ of the Palestinians from that of African-Americans in the United States. It is true that both groups have been, and are, discriminated against, and certainly both groups have suffered. However, the historic analogy between the two is very weak. African-Americans were taken as captives from their homes and kept as slaves until a civil war freed them. Many African-Americans endured a century or more of discrimination, even after the Civil War ended.”

Weren’t the Palestinians driven from their homes by the Israeli state with the full backing of the U.S. and the imperialist nations? Both Africans in the U.S. and the Palestinians have been subjected to national oppression involving mass killings and forced removal from urban and rural areas.

In a failed attempt to draw such a distinction between the history and conditions of Africans and Palestinians, the same author says “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a traditional nationalistic conflict, with two peoples claiming the same land. This conflict would have ended long ago if Palestinians had agreed to any of the previously offered compromise solutions.”

Such an argument is reminiscent of the racist newspaper editorials which blame Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and others for their own deaths. Not to mention those reports which describe African Americans involved in militant demonstrations against police terrorism and judicial impunity as “thugs” for engaging in the destruction of property and self-defense tactics against law-enforcement agencies.

These victims of settler-colonialism and institutional racism are somehow expected to acquiesce to oppression in favor to the continuation and worsening of their social plight.

There is a firm political basis for the analogy between Apartheid, Jim Crow and Zionism in its present and historic forms. Israel has inflicted racist treatment on the Palestinians but also those from Africa who have migrated to the country.

In recent years attacks against African immigrants from Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia have gotten international media attention. Netanyahu recently met with an African IDF soldier who was attacked by police for racist reasons. Yet what Netanyahu and his cohorts do not mention is that his political coalition has deliberately exploited racist attitudes and social policies towards Palestinians and Africans in order to maintain control over a settler state that is losing support even within the U.S., and of course throughout the broader international community.

Both the U.S. and Israel are facing growing opposition internally and globally. These racist and national oppressive states can only rely on military might and the economic dominance of the imperialism to provide any semblance of a secured future.

Greater solidarity between Palestine and African Americans will be an important factor in the burgeoning struggle against imperialism. Whether the White House, Congress and Wall Street recognizes or accepts this shifting situation it is evitable and will change the course of history in support of the oppressed and working people of the world.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.

War, Imperialism and the People’s Struggle in the Middle East and Africa

United States continues its occupation of the region

Author’s Comment: This paper was presented at the Left Forum held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY) during May 29-31, 2015. The panel was chaired by Bill Dores of the International Action Center. Kazem Azin of Solidarity Iran was also a participant.

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

Since March 26 the Saudi Arabian monarchy along with its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been waging war on the nation of Yemen. Daily bombing raids against residential areas and infrastructure are ostensibly designed to push back the Ansurallah (Houthis) movement which has taken over large sections of the country, one of the most underdeveloped in the region.

This war has been largely hidden from the view of people inside the United States. Nonetheless, this is a U.S. war aimed at maintaining Washington’s dominant position within the Arabian Peninsula extending to the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden.

Prior to the beginning of the airstrikes by the Saudi-GCC Coalition, the administration of President Barack Obama withdrew its diplomatic personnel along with Special Forces operating inside the country. For many years the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has viewed Yemen as a key area for its so-called “war on terrorism.”

Regular drone strikes have killed many Yemenis along with at least three of whom were U.S. citizens. Washington has said that the Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is major threat to American interests in an attempt to justify the drone attacks which have killed more civilians than supposed “armed combatants.”

However, in recent months the Islamic Republic of Iran has been designated by Washington and its allies as the principal threat in Yemen. The Ansurallah, which is a Shiite branch of Islam, is supported politically by Tehran. The Saudi monarchy views Iran as its major impediment in controlling the region on behalf of U.S. oil and financial interests.

The current hostilities in Yemen have been described as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the GCC on one side and Iran and its allies on the other. The total war strategy against Yemen consists of the banning of humanitarian assistance from Iran and others who oppose the bombing and ground offensive by militias which are financed by Riyadh.

According to an article published by the Telegraph in Britain, it says that “As Saudi Arabia has maintained an air and naval blockade on Yemeni territory, gas supplies have run perilously low. Even a five day humanitarian pause was not enough to bring in the necessary aid. Fuel prices have spiked as the casualty count mounts, and some hospitals have been forced to close altogether because they are unable to keep medical supplies refrigerated or perform operations since they can’t run backup generators.”

Reports of the number of Yemenis killed in the fighting range from 2,000-4,000 with many more injured and displaced. Yemeni-Americans who have been attempting to leave the country since late March have been abandoned by Washington.

Many Yeminis have taken refuge across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden into Djibouti where the U.S. has its largest military base in Africa. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is expanding its operations at Camp Lemonnier which is utilized as a staging ground for military strikes inside Somalia and other countries on the continent.

This same above-mentioned Telegraph article also notes that “The UNHCR says a total of 5,000 Yemeni refugees have made it to Djibouti, including 3,000 in the capital, Djibouti city, and 1,000 in Obock, 300 kilometers (187 miles) to the north — making it currently the biggest Yemeni refugee population. The influx has hiked up local prices, with markets, hotels, and drivers trying to make the most of the situation in an already struggling economy.”

Yemen and the Imperialist Regional War

The war in Yemen is part and parcel of a broader regional war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, occupied Palestine and Iran. In Iraq where the U.S. occupied the country for over eight years, the Pentagon has redeployed 3,100 troops to the area. These troops are purportedly training Iraqi military forces although the Defense Department cannot claim any real successes.

When Islamic State fighters confronted Iraqi units in Mosul and other cities they fled. A similar situation was reported in Ramadi in Anbar Province. The Obama administration played down these events in order to deflect the attention of the U.S. public away from its failures in Iraq.

The Kurdish fighters seem to have fought with far greater commitment and vigor yet they are not privy to the military assistance in their struggle against IS. Fierce battles in Kobane on the border with Turkey revealed that the Kurds were a force to be reckoned with in the regional war against IS.

In neighboring Syria, the U.S. is behind efforts to destabilize and overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Since 2011, an estimated 200,000 people have died and several million dislocated both inside and outside of Syria.

The U.S. is bombing both Iraq and Syria under the guise of degrading and destroying IS bases. However, the impact of this aerial war is to create broader avenues of operation for the IS forces which were built up during the initial years of the destabilization campaign against Syria. At present IS military units have seized large areas of territory within Syria and Iraq, while the strategy of the White House is to continue the bombing targeting Daesh but at the same time opposing the continued existence of the Assad government in Damascus.

A massive air assault on Syria was planned for August-September 2013. However, public outrage in Britain and the U.S. stopped the president in his tracks. The effect of recent wars waged by Washington through successive administrations has resulted in greater instability and dislocation.

In Lebanon Hezbollah has maintained its strength against the Zionist regime occupying Palestine. The party and mass movement have also intervened in solidarity with the people of Syria and may escalate its involvement based upon developments taking place inside the country.

The plight of Palestinians has been negatively impacted by the wars in Syria and Iraq. In Syria, many Palestinian refugees were divided over support for the Assad government. A major camp housing Palestinians has been the focal point of IS attacks seeking to gain control of the area.

Israel is supported to the tune of billions every year from the tax dollars of the American people. U.S. warplanes and other defense technology are given to Tel Aviv where it is tested against the people of Gaza and other occupied territories.

Although the U.S. administration has signed an agreement on Iran nuclear energy program, the Obama White House is continuing the 36 years of hostility towards Tehran since the popular revolution of 1979. Washington’s coordination of the Saudi-GCC war in Yemen is a clear testament to the ongoing war against Iran.

Africa and the Middle East

As we mentioned earlier, Djibouti, the pivotal staging ground for AFRICOM on the continent is located right across from Yemen. Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt and Kenya are in close proximity. The artificial divisions between Africa and the so-called Middle East are merely constructs of colonialism and imperialism for the purpose dividing the regions in regard to spheres of influence for western powers.

Peoples who reside on either side of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden fundamentally want the U.S. out of their countries. They desire to live in peace and to determine their own destiny in the quest for development and unity. Washington and Wall Street dominate through their military prowess and economic machinations that bribe leaders making them dependent upon U.S. and European patronage and privilege.

The fueled hostility between various branches of Islam is indispensable in the imperialist strategy for the Middle East and Africa. Only when the peoples of Africa and the Middle East unite on an anti-imperialist basis will there be a genuine atmosphere of lasting peace and social stability.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.

Peace Negotiations or War Preparations? Colombia, Iran, China, Cuba, Ukraine, Yemen and Syria

By James Petras
Libya 360°

Jairo-Fabian.jpg
IN REMEMBRANCE OF JAIRO MARTINEZ AND ROMAN RUIZ
FIGHTERS AND VICTIMS OF “WAR THROUGH PEACE NEGOTIATIONS”


Introduction

On May 21, 2015, the Colombian Air Force (FAC) bombed the base camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) killing 26 guerrillas. Three days later the FAC bombed other FARC bases killing 14 more guerrillas. This was part of an official offensive, launched by President Juan Manuel Santos, the US’s most loyal client in Latin America. Among the victims were FARC Commanders Jairo Martinez, a participant in the ongoing peace negotiations in Havana and Roman Ruiz.

Colombia works closely with the US, through Bernard Aronson, a very intrusive neo-conservative ‘overseer’, who is Washington’s coordinator in the Colombian counter-insurgency war. The US maintains seven military bases and has stationed over one thousand US ‘advisers’ in the field and within the Colombian Defense Ministry. The military offensive was launched by the Santos regime precisely when it was officially engaged in two and a half year-long ‘peace negotiations’, during which three of five items on the ‘peace agenda’ had been agreed to and the FARC had ordered a unilateral cease fire. Two months earlier, President Santos treacherously set-up the FARC to lower their defenses by appearing to ‘reciprocate’ when he ordered “the suspension of air force bombing of FARC field camps”. In other words, the Santos government and US adviser Aronson used the ‘cover of peace negotiations’ and the FARC’s unilateral ‘cease fire’ to launch a major military offensive. The FARC ended its cease fire and resumed combat in ten regional ‘departments’, as the regime intensified its offensive by bombing villages in FARC-controlled regions. While Santos and Aronson escalated their military offensive in Colombia, the FARC negotiators in Havana continued their “peace” negotiations….

President Santos and Aronson have used the cover of “peace negotiations” as a propaganda ploy to launch a full scale military offensive. Concessions and agreements served to lower the FARC’s guard, identify its officials and secure intelligence on FARC base camps. US adviser Aronson’s role is to ensure that the Colombian government destroys the popular armed resistance, and forces the FARC to accept a ‘peace accord’ that does not change the status of US bases, lucrativecontracts with international mining companies and promotes ‘free trade’. The Santos regime announced that the ‘peace negotiations’ would continue in Havana . . . even as it intensifies the war in Colombia, killing FARC members and supporters. Aronson and Santos pursue a ‘peace of the cemetery’.

The Colombia and Washington regimes are conducting a two-pronged ‘peace negotiations and brutal war policy’ against the FARC as part of a general world-wide politico-military campaign against mass popular movements that oppose neo-liberal economic policies, US-initiated wars and military bases and onerous ‘free trade’ agreements.

In each region the US has developed a very ‘special relation’ with key governments that serve as ‘strategic allies’. These include Israel in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf and southwest Asia, Japan in the Far East and Colombia in Latin America.

For the past two decades Colombia has served as the key US operational base for US naval and air surveillance in the Caribbean, Central America and the Andean countries and the launching pad for destabilization campaigns and intervention against the governments of Venezuela, Ecuador and Honduras. Washington’s use of ‘peace negotiations’ as a prelude to a military offensive in Colombia is the prototype of US strategic policy in several other contentious regions of the world.

In the essay, we will identify the countries where the US is engaged in ‘peace negotiations’ as a prelude to military aggression and political subversion and we will describe in detail the strategy and implementation of this policy in the most ‘advanced case’ of Colombia. We will focus on how erstwhile leftist governments, eager to improve relations with the US, contribute to furthering Washington’s strategic goals of subversion and ‘regime change’.

Finally, we will evaluate the possible outcomes of this strategy both in terms of advancing US imperial interests and in developing effective anti-imperialist politics.

Peace Negotiations: the New Face of Empire-building

Throughout the world, Washington is engaged in some sort of direct or indirect ‘peace negotiations’ even as it expands and intensifies its military operations.

US and Iran: Unilateral Disarmament and Military Encirclement

The mass media and official Washington spokespersons would have us believe that the US and Iran are within reach of a ‘peace accord’, contingent on Teheran surrendering its nuclear capability (repeatedly proven to be non-military in nature) and the US lifting its ‘economic sanctions’. The media’s ‘narrow focus approach’ to the Persian Gulf conveniently ignores contradictory regional developments.

First, the US has embarked on devastating wars against key Iranian regional allies: The US funds and supplies arms to terrorists who have invaded and bombed Syria and Yemen. Washington is expanding military bases surrounding Iran while increasing its naval presence in the Persian Gulf. President Obama has expanded military agreements with the Gulf monarchies. Congress is increasing the flow of offensive arms to Israel as it openly threatens to attack Iran. In reality, while engaged in ‘peace negotiations’ with Teheran, Washington is waging war with Iran’s allies and threatens its security.

Equally important, the US has vetoed numerous attempts to finally rid the Middle East of nuclear arms. This veto safeguards the far-right, militarist Israeli regime’s enormous offensive nuclear stockpile, while outlawing any possibility of an Iranian deterrent.

The so-called ‘peace negotiations’ allows the US to engage in pervasive and frequent espionage of Iranian military installations (so-called ‘inspections’ by the US controlled International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) with no reciprocal inspection of US or Israeli military bases or that of any of its Gulf client states. Furthermore, and crucial to a sudden military assault, Washington assumes in its ongoing ‘peace negotiations’, the unilateral ‘right’ to suspend the talks at a moment’s notice under any pretext and launch a military attack.

In sum, the US ‘negotiates peace’ with Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland, while it supplies Saudi Arabia with bombs and intelligence in its war against Yemen and finances armed Jihadi terrorists seizing half of Syria and large contiguous parts of Iraq.

The Iranian officials, ensconced in Switzerland while negotiating with the US, have played down the military threat to their country resulting from the massive re-entry of US armed forces in Iraq and the installation of the new puppet Haider Abidi regime.

How will the US conclude a ‘peace settlement’ with Iran while it engages in wars against Iran’s neighbors and allies and when Iranian negotiations are framed in military terms?

Are the ‘peace negotiations’ merely a ploy designed to destroy Iran’s regional allies, isolate and weaken its military defenses and set it up for attack ‘down the road’? How does this fit into Obama’s global strategy?

US-China Diplomatic Negotiations: Military Encirclement and Encroachment

Over the past decade, President Obama and top State and Treasury Department officials have met with Chinese leaders, promising greater economic co-operation and exchanging diplomatic niceties.

Parallel to these conciliatory gestures, Washington has escalated its military encirclement of China by enlarging its military presence in Australia, Japan, and the Philippines and increasing its aggressive patrols of adjoining airspace and vital maritime routes.

The State Department has been inciting border-states, including Vietnam, Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, to contest Chinese maritime borders and its transformation of off-shore atolls into military bases.

The White House has proposed the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, which specifically excludes China. It has signed off on nuclear weapons agreements with India, hoping to secure an Indo-American military pact on China’s southwestern flank.

Obama’s so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ is best understood as a rapid escalation of military threats and exclusionary trade pacts designed to provoke, isolate, weaken and degrade China and push back its rise to economic supremacy in Asia.

So far the US strategy has failed. Washington’s diplomatic gestures have lacked the necessary economic substance and incentives to its ‘allies’; its much-ballyhooed trade agreements have floundered in the face of far superior and inclusive Chinese initiatives, including its new $100 billion-dollar Infrastructure Investment Bank and its more than $40 billion dollar economic agreements with the government of India.

In the face of its economic failures the Pentagon has opted for flagrant military encroachments on Chinese airspace. Specifically, US warplanes are directed to overfly China’s ongoing construction of military installations on atolls in the South China Sea. The Chinese Foreign Office and Defense Ministry have vigorously protested these violations of its sovereignty. The Obama regime has brashly rejected China’s diplomatic protests and affirmed Washington’s ‘right’ to encroach on Chinese territorial waters.

After a quarter of a century of failing to dominate China via economic penetration by US multi-nationals and through the liberalization of its financial system, Washington has discarded its ‘softer’ diplomatic approach and adopted a ‘proto-war’ stand. This policy uses economic boycotts, military encirclement and encroachment on Chinese maritime, aerial and land sovereignty in the hope of provoking a military response and then evoking a second ‘Pearl Harbor’ as a pretext for a full scale war engulfing its Asian allies (and Australia) in a major war in the Asia-Pacific region.

China’s market successes have replaced the US as the dominant economic power in Asia, Latin America and Africa. In the face of this ‘usurpation’ the US has dropped the velvet glove of diplomacy in favor of the iron fist of military provocation and escalation. The US military budget is five times greater than China’s, whereas China’s investments and financing of economic projects throughout Asia, Latin America and the BRIC countries are ten times greater than those of the US.

China’s ‘economic pivot’ will clearly enhance Beijing’s global position over the medium and long-run, if the US’s reckless and short-term military superiority and territorial aggression does not lead to a devastating world war!

In the meantime, China is developing its military capacity to confront the ‘US pivot to war’. China’s leaders have devised a new defensive strategy, boosting its naval capacity and shifting from strictly territorial defense to both defense and offense on land, air and sea. Off shore defense is combined with open sea protection to enhance China’s capability for a strategic deterrent and counter-attack. China’s annual military spending had increased on average ten percent per annum in anticipation of the Pentagon shifting 60% of its fleet to the Pacific over the next five years.

US-Cuba Diplomatic Negotiations: The ‘Trojan Horse’ Approach

For over fifty years the US has mounted a concerted terrorist-sabotage campaign, economic embargo and diplomatic war against its Caribbean neighbor, Cuba. In the face of near total diplomatic isolation in the United Nations (185 to 3 against the US-imposed blockade), universal opposition to belligerent US policy toward Cuba at the Summit of the Americas and in the Organization of American States and surprisingly favorable public opinion toward Cuba among the domestic US citizenry, Washington decided to open negotiations to establish diplomatic and commercial relations with Havana.

On the surface, the apparent shift from military confrontation and economic sanctions to diplomatic negotiations would register as a move toward peaceful co-existence between opposing social systems. However, a closer reading of Washington’s tactical concessions and strategic goals argues for a mere ‘change of methods’ for reversing advances of the socialist revolution rather than a diplomatic accommodation.

Under the cover of a diplomatic agreement, the US will directly or indirectly channel millions of dollars into Cuba’s private sector, strengthening its weight in the economy, and forming partnerships with Cuban public and private sector counter-parts. The US Embassy’s economic policy will be directed toward expanding the business sectors open to US capital. In other words, Washington will pursue a strategy of incremental privatization to create economic and political allies.

Secondly, the US embassy will greatly expand its role as financial backer, recruiter and protector of counter-revolutionary, self-styled Cuban ‘dissidents’ in its ‘civil society.

Thirdly, the vast influx of US-controlled telecommunications, cultural programs and exchanges, and commercial sales will have the effect of de-radicalizing the Cuban public (from socialism and egalitarianism to gross consumerism) and reducing Cuba’s fraternal ties to Latin America. Anti-imperialist solidarity with popular Latin American movements and governments will diminish as the Cubans adopt the ‘Miami mentality’.

Fourthly, Cuba’s economic and political ties with Venezuela will remain but the US efforts to subvert or ‘moderate’ the Bolivarian government may face less opposition from Havana.

Fifth, Washington will foster cheap mass tourism in order to promote a one-sided dependent economy, which over time will replace socialist consciousness with a ‘comprador consciousness’ – a decadent mentality, which encourages the emergence of a class of intermediaries or ‘brokers’ engaged in economic exchanges between the ‘sender’(the US) and ‘receiver’(Cuba) country. Cuban ‘intermediaries’ between the imperial US and dependent Cuba could become strategic political actors in Havana.

In other words, the concessions Washington have secured via diplomatic politics will form the ‘Trojan Horse’ to facilitate a ‘subversion from within approach’ designed to subvert the social economy and to secure Cuban co-operation in de-radicalizing Latin America.

Fidel Castro has rightly expressed his distrust of the new US approach. Castro’s pointed criticisms of Washington’s highly militarized interventions in the Middle East, the Ukraine and the South China Sea is designed to influence Cuban policymakers, who are overzealous in conceding political concessions to the US.

Libya, Ukraine, Syria and Yemen: Negotiations as Prelude to Wars

Negotiations between Libyan President Gadhafi and Washington led to a dismantling of the country’s advanced military defense programs. Once essentially defenseless from NATO attack, the US and its European and Gulf allies embarked on a full-scale bombing campaign for ‘regime change’ in support of tribal and sectarian warlords destroying the country’s infrastructure, ending the life of its leader and tens of thousands of Libyans and driving hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers from sub-Sahara Africa into exile as refugees.

Negotiations between the democratically-elected leader of the Ukraine and the US-NATO based opposition led to political concessions that were quickly exploited by US funded foreign NGOs and domestic neo-Nazis. Street mobs took over government buildings in Kiev leading to a putsch and ‘regime change’, as well as detonating a brutal ethnic war against eastern Russian speaking Ukrainians, opposed to NATO and favoring continued traditional ties with Russia. Despite ‘negotiations’ between the NATO-backed regime and Donbass federalists leading to a European-brokered cease fire, the government in Kiev continues to bomb the self-governing regions.

The US, EU, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (the “Quartet”) back armed Islamist mercenaries and jihadist terrorists seeking to overthrow the Bashar Assad government in Damascus and rebel Houthi government coalition in Yemen. Under the guise of seeking a ‘negotiated political solution’, the ‘Quartet’ has consistently pursued a military solution.

Negotiations and diplomacy have become chosen tactical ploys in Washington’s repertory for pursing war.

Wars are preceded by or accompany diplomacy and negotiations which act to weaken the target adversary, as was the case in Libya, the Ukraine and Colombia.

Diplomatic overtures to China are accompanied by a ‘military pivot’, aggressive military encirclement, and provocative acts such as the recent arrest of visiting Chinese scholars and repeated violations of Chinese airspace.

The diplomatic overtures to Cuba are accompanied by demands for greater “access” to proselytize and subvert Cuban officials,and its people .

US negotiators demand the unilateral demilitarization and pervasive oversight of Iran’s strategic military defenses even as the US expands its proxy wars against Teheran’s allies in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile Washington rejects the comprehensive ending of economic sanctions against the Iranians.

Negotiations, under the Obama regime, are simply tactics to intensify and expand the strategy of war. The “peace negotiations” between the US-backed Santos regime and the FARC follows the global script outlined above.

Through phony ‘partial agreements’, which are never seriously intended to be implemented, the US-backed Colombian military and their paramilitary allies continue to ravage the countryside. Displaced peasants and farmers attempting to return and reclaim farmland continue to be assassinated. Human rights lawyers and workers are still murdered.

The Santos regime escalates its military offensive against the FARC, taking full advantage of the “unilateral ceasefire” declared by FARC leaders in Havana.

The true intentions of the Santos regime toward the FARC were revealed in the aftermath of the assassination of 40 guerrilla combatants: The regime demonized the FARC, justifying the offensive by criminalizing the insurgents, linking them to drug and human traffickers.

The gap between what the regime negotiators say in Havana and what the military commanders do in the Colombian countryside has never been greater. The disconnect between the peace talks in Havana and the military offensive in Colombia is the best indicator of what can be expected if an agreement is signed.

Santos and the US adviser Aronson envision a highly militarized state advised by thousands of US agents and mercenaries. The disarmament of the FARC will be followed by the persecution of former guerrilla combatants and the expansion of mining contracts in former guerrilla controlled territory. The military command will increase its sponsorship of cross border paramilitary attacks on Venezuela. The Santos regime will find a pretext to continue the incarceration of the majority of political prisoners. There will be no agrarian reform or repossession of illegally seized land. There will be no reversal of the US-Colombian free trade agreement. The hundreds of thousands of displaced peasants will remain without land or justice.

Very little of what is agreed in Havana will be implemented. FARC leaders will be confined to playing the electoral game, providing that they are not assassinated by ‘sicarios on motorcycles’. Guerrilla militants without land, employment or security may join the drug traffickers – in a re-play of the so-called “Peace Accords” in El Salvador.

Under these circumstances why does the FARC’s current leadership proceed toward a suicidal agreement and its own extinction? In past conversations with leading Cuban foreign policy officials, including former Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, I was told that the Cuban government was deeply hostile to FARC and was eager to end hostilities in order to improve Cuban relations with the US. Likewise members of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry told me that they co-operated with the Colombian government in arresting and deporting FARC officials and sympathizers in order “to secure their borders from Colombian military and paramilitary incursions”.

In other words, there are valid grounds for viewing the FARC negotiators as operating under intense pressure from its supposed allies to continue ‘talks’ and reach a ‘peace agreement’, even if the results will be neither peace or justice!

Conclusion

The US strategy of “war through peace negotiations” is an ongoing process. So far the US military build-up against China has failed to intimidate China. Beijing has responded by launching its own strategic military response and by financing a huge number of Asian economic projects which, in the long-run, will isolate the US and undermine its offensive capacity.

The ‘war through negotiation’ strategy succeeded in destroying a nationalist adversary in Libya, while also devastating a profitable oil and gas producer, creating a ‘failed state’ on the Mediterranean and unleashing jihadist groups throughout North Africa. The NATO-Obama campaign for ‘regime change’ in Libya led to the mass exodus of millions of sub-Saharan workers formerly employed in Libya with untold thousands drowning in the Mediterranean in their desperate flight.

The US ‘war and negotiations policy’ toward Iran remains inconclusive: Washington has encircled Iran with proxy wars against Yemen and Syria but Iran continues to gain influence in Iraq. The US has spent $40 billion on arms and training on an Iraqi army whose soldiers refuse to fight and die for US interests, allowing the neo-Baathist- ‘ISIS’ coalition of Sunni insurgents to seize one-third of the country. The more serious and motivated militia defending Baghdad is composed of the Shia volunteers, influenced by Teheran. The horrific break-up of what was once sovereign secular republic continues.

Washington’s dual strategy of negotiating with the Rohani regime while encircling the country is intended to degrade Teheran’s defense capability while minimizing any relief from the economic sanctions. Whether this one-sided process will lead to a ‘final agreement’ remains to be seen. In the final analysis, the US relations with Iran are subject to the power and influence of the Zionist power configuration in the US, acting on behalf of Israel, over and against the European Union’s interest to develop trade with the 80 million strong Iranian market.

The US “subversion via negotiations” approach to Cuba has moved forward slowly. The Cuban security apparatus, military, and, especially, important contingents of Fidelista officials, militants and intellectuals serve as an important counter-weight to the zealous liberal “modernizers” who envision “market solutions”. Washington does not expect a rapid transition to capitalism. It is banking on a ‘war of positions’, securing joint ventures with state officials; a massive infusion of consumerist propaganda to counter socialist values; funding private capitalists as potential strategic political allies; encouraging Cuban foreign policy officials to cut off support for leftist movements and governments. Cuba’s leaders, at all costs, must not return to an economically dependent relation with the US – which is the strategic goal of the US. Washington is seeking through diplomacy to secure what 50 years of warfare failed to achieve: a regime change and a reversal of the gains of the Cuban Revolution.

The US strategy of war through negotiations has mixed results. Where it confronts a burgeoning world power, such as China, it has failed. With a weak, disarmed state like Libya, it succeeded beyond its wildest dreams (or nightmares). With “middle level powers” like Cuba and Iran, it has secured political concessions but has not yet eroded the security and defense capabilities of the governments. In the case of Colombia, Washington is deeply embedded in the regime and has openly embraced a naked military solution.

The FARC’s ‘inner leadership’ cannot continue with the unilateral ‘cease fire’ unless it wishes for suicide; the ‘outside leadership’ appears committed to negotiations even as the war escalates. The results are uncertain, but what is obvious is that the Aronson – Santos regime have no tolerance for a ‘peace with social justice’. Their goal for the long struggling Colombian people is the ‘peace of the cemetery’, as the historic FARC leader Manual Marulanda declared in the aftermath of the broken peace negotiations of 1999-2002.

France : Surveillance Law and Government-backed Terrorism

France’s new surveillance laws will not stop terrorism at home nor quell the legions of terror they are backing, ravaging lands abroad – instead – they will ensure the uncontested expansion of terror used to coerce the French population at home while justifying and carrying out extraterritorial conquest abroad.

By Tony Cartalucci

France has announced that in the wake of the so-called “Charlie Hebdo Shooting,” it will be passing a controversial new bill granting security agencies unprecedented powers to tap the communications of France’s population without judicial overview.

Impossible to pass without having first provoked fear, hatred, division, and hysteria across the French population, and still facing stiff resistance from civil liberty activists, the bill’s passage raises further suspicions regarding the fatal January 2015 shooting in regards to who organized the incident and who stood most to benefit.

The Guardian in its article, “France passes new surveillance law in wake of Charlie Hebdo attack,” would report:

The French parliament has overwhelmingly approved sweeping new surveillance powers in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris in January that killed 17 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in Paris. 

The new bill, which allows intelligence agencies to tap phones and emails without seeking permission from a judge, sparked protests from rights groups who claimed it would legalise highly intrusive surveillance methods without guarantees for individual freedom and privacy.

The Guardian would also claim that:

The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, defended the bill as “necessary and proportionate”, saying that to compare it to the mass surveillance Patriot Act introduced in the United States after the 9/11 attacks was a lie.  He said that the previous French law on wiretapping dated back to 1991, “when there were no mobile phones or internet,” and the new bill was crucial in the face of extremist threats.

Not a Lack of Surveillance 

As seen in nearly every recent terror attack both in Europe and North America including the “Charlie Hebdo shooting” and the more recent Garland, Texas attack, the alleged suspects behind the attacks all have one thread in common – they were all already under the watch of security agencies for years, some even imprisoned one or more times for terror-related and/or other violent offenses, some even having traveled overseas to fight alongside Western-backed terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and beyond.

The Guardian itself admits that the French government alone has over 1,400 people under watch, including hundreds of terrorists who have recently returned from fighting alongside Western-backed terrorists including Al Qaeda and its regional franchise, the “Islamic State” (ISIS) in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Among these monitored potential risks were in fact the suspects behind the “Charlie Hebdo shooting.”

Slate Magazine would report in their article, “The Details of Paris Suspect Cherif Kouachi’s 2008 Terrorism Conviction,” that:

Kouachi was arrested in January 2005, accused of planning to join jihadists in Iraq. He was said to have fallen under the sway of Farid Benyettou, a young “self-taught preacher” who advocated violence, but had not actually yet traveled to Iraq or committed any acts of terror. Lawyers at the time said he had not received weapons training and “had begun having second thoughts,” going so far as to express “relief” that he’d been apprehended.

Kourachi and his brother would be reported to have traveled to the Middle East to receive training from Al Qaeda, then to have fought in Syria in a war backed in part by France, before returning home and carrying out their grisly terror attack, all while being tracked by French intelligence. If Kouachi previously could be arrested for “association with wrongdoers with the intention of committing a terrorist act,” why wasn’t he arrested immediately upon his return to France for having received and employed military training by a terrorist organization?

CNN would report in an article titled, “France tells U.S. Paris suspect trained with al Qaeda in Yemen,” that:

Western intelligence officials are scrambling to learn more about possible travel of the two Paris terror attack suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, with new information suggesting one of the brothers recently spent time in Yemen associating with al Qaeda in that country, U.S. officials briefed on the matter told CNN. Additional information from a French source close to the French security services puts one of the brothers in Syria.

To explain how terrorists well-known to France’s legal system and intelligence community could simply “disappear,” the Wall Street Journal in an article titled, “Overburdened French Dropped Surveillance of Brothers,” would attempt to claim:

The terror attacks in Paris that have killed 17 people over three days this week represent one of the worst fears—and failures—of counterterrorist officials: a successful plot coordinated by people who had once been under surveillance but who were later dropped as a top priority.  The U.S. provided France with intelligence showing that the gunmen in the Charlie Hebdo massacre received training in Yemen in 2011, prompting French authorities to begin monitoring the two brothers, according to U.S. officials. But that surveillance of Said and Chérif Kouachi came to an end last spring, U.S. officials said, after several years of monitoring turned up nothing suspicious.

Image: Terrorists waging the West’s proxy war in Syria have been provided cash, weapons, and equipment by several European nations, chief among them, France. 

It is a narrative that begs to be believed – considering the brothers had already tangled with the law, already traveled to Yemen to receive training from Al Qaeda, and with evidence suggesting they were indeed still being tracked since it is now known they have recently returned from Syria. The Wall Street Journal would also claim that France depends heavily on US intelligence, contradicting US intelligence officials who have said their information came from their French counterparts.

France reportedly has over 1,000 citizens under surveillance who have recently traveled to Iraq and Syria, believed to have fought alongside terrorists France itself has been arming. In an NBC article titled, “French Intelligence Is Tracking 1,000 Who Have Been to Iraq, Syria: Expert,” it is reported that:

“French intelligence is mostly focused today on more than 1,000 French citizens that traveled to Syria and Iraq since 2012,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, the author of “Zarqawi: The New Face of Al-Qaeda.” He added that one-fifth of them were being tracked around the clock. “This is a problem of resources,” he added. “We cannot follow everyone.” Brisard said the brothers had been “well known to French intelligence [for] several years now.”

The problem that led up to the “Charlie Hebdo shooting” was clearly not a lack of intelligence or surveillance. French security agencies more than adequately identified the “Charlie Hebdo shooting” perpetrators as potential threats and tracked them for years beforehand. The problem was what appears to be a deliberate effort to keep these terrorists roaming freely among society. Free to join French-backed mercenary forces abroad, and free to commit heinous acts of terror at home, both serving the singular agenda of expanding Western hegemony abroad while preserving the primacy of select special interests at home.
10922747_815465935167064_4729968512703258929_n

New Surveillance is For Crushing Freedom, Not Terror

As already explained in painstaking detail, had the French government been interested in actually stopping terrorism, including the flight of its own citizens to the Middle East to participate in a war the French government itself is backing, it could have done so easily. Existing laws and France’s current security agencies successfully identified the impending threat that led to the “Charlie Hebdo shooting,” but willfully failed to stop it – with certain factions of French intelligence having even played a potential role in executing it.
Image: French planes took part in the utter devastation of Libya in 2011, leaving the nation in ruins and handing it over to Al Qaeda, whom NATO, with French assistance, provided air cover and even weapons, cash, and political backing to. 

Therefore, clearly the solution to stopping terrorism is in fact evicting the criminal special interests occupying power throughout the French government, and more broadly, from across the Western World. However, such an eviction will now become exponentially more difficult to execute, thanks to France’s new surveillance laws that give them virtually unhindered access to their citizenry’s data, granting them an unparalleled strategic advantage.

Indeed, France’s new surveillance laws will not stop terrorism at home nor quell the legions of terror they are backing, ravaging lands abroad – instead – they will ensure the uncontested expansion of terror used to coerce the French population at home while justifying and carrying out extraterritorial conquest abroad.

The Geopolitics Behind the War in Yemen

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

PART I

YEMEN
The United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia became very uneasy when the Yemenese or Yemenite movement of the Houthi or Ansarallah (meaning the supporters of God in Arabic) gained control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa/Sana, in September 2014. The US-supported Yemenite President Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi was humiliatingly forced to share power with the Houthis and the coalition of northern Yemenese tribes that had helped them enter Sana. Al-Hadi declared that negotiations for a Yemeni national unity government would take place and his allies the US and Saudi Arabia tried to use a new national dialogue and mediated talks to co-opt and pacify the Houthis.

The truth has been turned on its head about the war in Yemen. The war and ousting of President Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi in Yemen are not the results of «Houthi coup» in Yemen. It is the opposite. Al-Hadi was ousted, because with Saudi and US support he tried to backtrack on the power sharing agreements he had made and return Yemen to authoritarian rule. The ousting of President Al-Hadi by the Houthis and their political allies was an unexpected reaction to the takeover Al-Hadi was planning with Washington and the House of Saudi.

The Houthis and their allies represent a diverse cross-section of Yemeni society and the majority of Yemenites. The Houthi movement’s domestic alliance against Al-Hadi includes Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims alike. The US and House of Saud never thought that they Houthis would assert themselves by removing Al-Hadi from power, but this reaction had been a decade in the making. With the House of Saud, Al-Hadi had been involved in the persecution of the Houthis and the manipulation of tribal politics in Yemen even before he became president. When he became Yemeni president he dragged his feet and was working against the implement the arrangements that had been arranged through consensus and negotiations in Yemen’s National Dialogue, which convened after Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to hand over his powers in 2011.

Coup or Counter-Coup: What Happened in Yemen?

At first, when they took over Sana in late-2014, the Houthis rejected Al-Hadi’s proposals and his new offers for a formal power sharing agreement, calling him a morally bankrupt figure that had actually been reneging previous promises of sharing political power. At that point, President Al-Hadi’s pandering to Washington and the House of Saud had made him deeply unpopular in Yemen with the majority of the population. Two months later, on November 8, President Al-Hadi’s own party, the Yemenite General People’s Congress, would eject Al-Hadi as its leader too.

The Houthis eventually detained President Al-Hadi and seized the presidential palace and other Yemeni government buildings on January 20. With popular support, a little over two weeks later, the Houthis formally formed a Yemense transitional government on February 6. Al-Hadi was forced to resign. The Houthis declared that Al-Hadi, the US, and Saudi Arabia were planning on devastating Yemen on February 26.

Al-Hadi’s resignation was a setback for US foreign policy. It resulted in a military and operational retreat for the CIA and the Pentagon, which were forced to remove US military personnel and intelligence operatives from Yemen. The Los Angeles Times reported on March 25, citing US officials, that the Houthis had got their hands on numerous secret documents when the seized the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was working closely with the CIA, that compromised Washington’s operations in Yemen.

Al-Hadi fled the Yemeni capital Sana to Aden n February 21 and declared it the temporary capital of Yemen on March 7. The US, France, Turkey, and their Western European allies closed their embassies. Soon afterwards, in what was probably a coordinated move with the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates all relocated the embassies to Aden from Sana. Al-Hadi rescinded his letter of resignation as president and declared that he was forming a government-in-exile.

The Houthis and their political allies refused to fall into line with the demands of the US and Saudi Arabia, which were being articulated through Al-Hadi in Aden and by an increasingly hysteric Riyadh. As a result, Al-Hadi’s foreign minister, Riyadh Yaseen, called for Saudi Arabia and the Arab petro-sheikdoms to militarily intervene to prevent the Houthis from getting control of Yemen’s airspace on March 23. Yaseen told the Saudi mouthpiece Al-Sharg Al-Awsa that a bombing campaign was needed and that a no-fly zone had to be imposed over Yemen.

The Houthis realized that a military struggle was going to begin. This is why the Houthis and their allies in the Yemenite military rushed to control as many Yemeni military airfields and airbases, such as Al-Anad, as quickly as possible. They rushed to neutralize Al-Hadi and entered Aden on March 25.

By the time the Houthis and their allies entered Aden, Al-Hadi had fled the Yemeni port city. Al-Hadi would resurface in Saudi Arabia when the House of Saud started attacking Yemen on March 26. From Saudi Arabia, Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi would then fly to Egypt for a meeting of the Arab League to legitimize the war on Yemen.

Yemen and the Changing Strategic Equation in the Middle East

The Houthi takeover of Sana took place in the same timeframe as a series of success or regional victories for Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and the Resistance Bloc that they and other local actors form collectively. In Syria, the Syrian government managed to entrench its position while in Iraq the ISIL/ISIS/Daesh movement was being pushed back by Iraq with the noticeable help of Iran and local Iraqi militias allied to Tehran.

The strategic equation in the Middle East began to shift as it became clear that Iran was becoming central to its security architecture and stability. The House of Saud and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began to whimper and complain that Iran was in control of four regional capitals—Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Sana – and that something had to be done to stop Iranian expansion. As a result of the new strategic equation, the Israelis and the House of Saud became perfectly strategically aligned with the objective of neutralizing Iran and its regional allies. «When the Israelis and Arabs are on the same page, people should pay attention», Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer told Fox News about the alignment of Israel and Saudi Arabia on March 5.

The Israeli and Saudi fear mongering has not worked. According to Gallup poll, only 9% of US citizens viewed Iran as a greatest enemy of the US at the time that Netanyahu arrived t Washington to speak against a deal between the US and Iran.Shi'ite Muslim rebels hold up their weapons during a rally against air strikes in Sanaa

The Geo-Strategic Objectives of the US and Saudis Behind the War in Yemen

While the House of Saudi has long considered Yemen a subordinate province of some sorts and as a part of Riyadh’s sphere of influence, the US wants to make sure that it could control the Bab Al-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands. The Bab Al-Mandeb it is an important strategic chokepoint for international maritime trade and energy shipments that connects the Persian Gulf via the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea via the Red Sea. It is just as important as the Suez Canal for the maritime shipping lanes and trade between Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Israel was also concerned, because control of Yemen could cut off Israel’s access to Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and prevent its submarines from easily deploying to the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran. This is why control of Yemen was actually one of Netanyahu’s talking points on Capitol Hill when he spoke to the US Congress about Iran on March 3 in what the New York Times of all publications billed as «Mr. Netanyahu’s Unconvincing Speech to Congress» on March 4.

Saudi Arabia was visibly afraid that Yemen could become formally align to Iran and that the evens there could result in new rebellions in the Arabian Peninsula against the House of Saud. The US was just as much concerned about this too, but was also thinking in terms of global rivalries. Preventing Iran, Russia, or China from having a strategic foothold in Yemen, as a means of preventing other powers from overlooking the Gulf of Aden and positioning themselves at the Bab Al-Mandeb, was a major US concern.

Added to the geopolitical importance of Yemen in overseeing strategic maritime corridors is its military’s missile arsenal. Yemen’s missiles could hit any ships in the Gulf of Aden or Bab Al-Mandeb. In this regard, the Saudi attack on Yemen’s strategic missile depots serves both US and Israeli interests. The aim is not only to prevent them from being used to retaliate against exertions of Saudi military force, but to also prevent them from being available to a Yemeni government aligned to either Iran, Russia, or China.

In a public position that totally contradicts Riyadh’s Syria policy, the Saudis threatened to take military action if the Houthis and their political allies did not negotiate with Al-Hadi. As a result of the Saudi threats, protests erupted across Yemen against the House of Saud on March 25. Thus, the wheels were set in motion for another Middle Eastern war as the US, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait began to prepare to reinstall Al-Hadi.

The Saudi March to War in Yemen and a New Front against Iran

For all the talk about Saudi Arabia as a regional power, it is too weak to confront Iran alone. The House of Saud’s strategy has been to erect or reinforce a regional alliance system for a drawn confrontation with Iran and the Resistance Bloc. In this regard Saudi Arabia needs Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan —a misnamed so-called «Sunni» alliance or axis — to help it confront Iran and its regional allies.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE’s military, would visit Morocco to talk about a collective military response to Yemen by the Arab petro-sheikhdoms, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt on March 17. On March 21, Mohammed bin Zayed met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to discuss a military response to Yemen. This was while Al-Hadi was calling for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to help him by militarily intervening in Yemen. The meetings were followed by talk about a new regional security pact for the Arab petro-sheikdoms.

Out of the GCC’s five members, the Sultanate of Oman stayed away. Oman refused to join the war on Yemen. Muscat has friendly relations with Tehran. Moreover, the Omanis are weary of the Saudi and GCC project to use sectarianism to ignite confrontation with Iran and its allies. The majority of Omanis are neither Sunni Muslims nor Shiite Muslims; they are Ibadi Muslims, and they fear the fanning of sectarian sedition by the House of Saud and the other Arab petro-sheikdoms.

Saudi propagandists went into over drive falsely claiming that the war was a response to Iranian encroachment on the borders of Saudi Arabia. Turkey would announce its support for the war in Yemen. On the day the war was launched, Turkey’s Erdogan claimed that Iran was trying to dominate the region and that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the GCC were getting annoyed.

During these events, Egypt’s Sisi stated that the security of Cairo and the security of Saudi Arabia and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms are one. In fact, Egypt said that it would not get involved in a war in Yemen on March 25, but the next day Cairo joined Saudi Arabia in Riyadh’s attack on Yemen by sending its jets and ships to Yemen.

In the same vein, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif released a statement on March 26 that any threat to Saudi Arabia would «evoke a strong response» from Pakistan. The message was tacitly directed towards Iran.

The US and Israeli Roles in the War in Yemen

On March 27, it was announced in Yemen that Israel was helping Saudi Arabia attack the Arab country. «This is the first time that the Zionists [Israelis] are conducting a joint operation in collaborations with Arabs,» Hassan Zayd, the head of Yemen’s Al-Haq Party, wrote on the internet to point out the convergence of interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Israeli-Saudi alliance over Yemen, however, is not new. The Israelis helped the House of Saud during the North Yemen Civil War that started in 1962 by providing Saudi Arabia with weapons to help the royalists against the republicans in North Yemen.

The US is also involved and leading from behind or a distance. While it works to strike a deal with Iran, it also wants to maintain an alliance against Tehran using the Saudis. The Pentagon would provide what it called «intelligence and logistical support» to House of Saud. Make no mistakes about it: the war on Yemen is also Washington’s war. The GCC has been on Yemen unleashed by the US.

There has long been talk about the formation of a pan-Arab military force, but proposals for creating it were renewed on March 9 by the rubberstamp Arab League. The proposals for a united Arab military serve US, Israeli, and Saudi interests. Talk about a pan-Arab military has been motivated by their preparations to attack Yemen to return Al-Hadi and to regionally confront Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Resistance Bloc.

PART II

«Battle lines are being drawn in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and the Middle East’s latest candidate for state failure. If, as looks increasingly probable, open warfare breaks out soon, it will only be made worse by the contest for regional supremacy between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both powers have proven eager to arm groups they believe they can control, despite the legacy this destructive rivalry has already wrought in Syria and Iraq», the magazine Foreign Policy claimed on March 6.

The Houthi Alliance with Iran: Pragmatism or Sectarianism?

The Houthis are not Iranian proxies whatsoever. The Houthi movement is an independent political actor that emerged as a result of repression. To call the Houthis Iranian proxies is unempirical and ignores the history and politics of Yemen. «If a war breaks out along sectarian lines, it will not be because that is where historical divisions have lain in Yemen; it will be because the war’s foreign funders are inflaming previously unimportant divisions», Foreign Policy even admits.

Houthi leaders have admittedly rejected claims that they take orders from Tehran. This has not stopped Saudi and Khaliji (Gulf) officials and media have used and manipulated the statements of Iranian officials, like the comparison of the Houthis to Iran’s Basij, to portray the Houthis as Iranian agents or clients.

Just like how the Houthis are not Iranian proxies, there is no Shia alliance between Tehran and them in Yemen either. Talk that focuses on this simplistic sectarian narrative hides the political nature and motivations of the conflict in Yemen and insultingly obfuscated the struggle of the Houthis against repression. Until the 1970s the House of Saud had actually been a major supporter of the royalist factions in Yemen, which were predominately Shiite Muslims.

Moreover, the Shiite Muslims in Yemen are not Jaffaris (Twelvers) like the majority of Shia Muslims in Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Persian Gulf region. Aside from pockets of Ismaili Shiites – which can arguably be called Seveners – in the governorates of Saada, Hajja, Amran, Al-Mahwit, Sana, Ibb, and Al-Jawf most the Shia Muslims in Yemen are Zaidis/Zaydis. The Ismailis in Yemen are mostly members of the Dawoodi (Davidian) and Sulaimani (Solomonian) sects of Mustali Ismailism that moved away from the larger Nizari Ismailis.

The US and Saudi hostility towards the Houthi movement is what has inadvertently made the Houthis pragmatically turn to Iran for help as a counterbalance. In the words of the Wall Street journal, «Houthi militants controlling Yemen’s capital are trying to build ties with Iran, Russia and China to offset Western and Saudi support for the country’s ousted president.» «The Houthis’ interim government has sent delegations to Iran in search of fuel supplies and to Russia to look for investment in energy projects, according to two senior Houthi officials. Another delegation is planning to visit China in the coming weeks, they said», the Wall Street journal also reported on March 6.

As a result of the Houthi movement’s reaching out, Iran and Yemen announced that daily flights would take place between Tehran and Sana on March 2. This is an important lifeline of support for the Houthi movement.

The Sectarian Narrative and Sectarian Card

The instability in Yemen is being caused not by Iran or the Houthis, but by US and Saudi interference in Yemen — from Saudi Arabia’s 2009 invasion to US drone attacks — and the decades of support that Saudi Arabia has provided for authoritarian and unpopular rule in Yemen.

Yemen is not an inherently divided country. Aside from the nurturing of Al-Qaeda by Saudi Arabia and the US, there is no real Shia-Sunni split or tensions. To pre-empt Yemen from being independent, the Saudis and US have supported sectarianism with the hope of creating a Shia-Sunni divide in Yemen.

Unlike the false narrative, Iran’s alliances in the Middle East are actually not sectarian. All of Tehran’s Palestinian allies are predominately Sunni Muslims while in Iraq and Syria, aside from the governments, Iran supports a cross-section of ethnic and faith groups that include non-Arabs and Christians. This includes the predominately Sunni Muslim Syrian and Iraqi Kurds and the Assyrian Sutoro wing of the Syriac Union Party (SUP) in Syria. In Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah, the Iranians are also allied to Sunni Muslim, Druze, and Christian parties, including Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement—which is the largest Christian party in Lebanon.

If anyone is engaged in sectarianism as a policy, it is the US and its Arab petro-sheikdom allies. Both the US and Saudi Arabia had engaged the Houthis earlier and used them against the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. Additionally, during the Cold War both Washington and the House of Saud tried to use the Yemeni Shiites against the republicans in North Yemen and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in the south. It is when the Houthi movement demonstrated that it was not going to be a client to Washington or Riyadh, that the US ad Saudi Arabia became hostile towards it.

Preparing the Invasion of Yemen

On 20 March, suicide bombers attacked the Al-Badr and Al-Hashoosh mosques during asr salat (afternoon prayers). Over three hundred people were killed. Abdul Malik al-Houthi accused the US and Israel of supporting the terrorist attacks and both the ISIL/ISIS/Daesh and Al-Qaeda in Yemen. Saudi Arabia was also blamed.

While there was silence in Morocco, Jordan, and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham condemned the terrorist attacks in Yemen. In one way or another, Syria, Iraq, Russia, and China all condemned the terrorist attacks in Yemen too. To show Tehran’s support for Yemen, two Iranian cargo plans with humanitarian aid were sent to Yemen and the Iranian Red Crescent Society flew over fifty Yemenis victims of the terrorist attacks to hospitals inside Iran for medical treatment.

The House of Saud’s Failure in Yemen

The Houthis movement is the result of Saudi Arabia’s policies in Yemen and its support for authoritarian rule. In this regard, the Houthis are a reaction to Saudi brutality and the House of Saud’s support for Yemeni authoritarianism. They emerged as part of a rebellion that was led by Hussein Badreddin Al-Houthi in 2004 against the Yemenite government.

The Yemeni and Saudi regimes falsely claimed that the Houthis wanted to establish a Zaidi imamate in Arabia as a means of demonizing the movement. This, however, failed to stop them from getting stronger. The Yemeni military would not be able to handle them in 2009, which resulted in a Saudi intervention called Operation Scorched Earth being launched on August 11, 2009.

Saudi Arabia failed to defeat the Houthis when it sent its military into Yemen to fight them in 2009 and 2010. It has failed to force Yemen and the Houthi movement to kneel in obedience. When it demanded that the Houthis and Yemeni transitional government play to the Saudi tune and go to Riyadh for negotiations, it was flatly rejected by the Houthis and Yemen’s Revolutionary Committees, because the negotiations and any Saudi-supported power sharing scheme would really sideline the Houthis and other political forces in Yemen. This is why the Popular Forces Union, Al-Hadi’s own General People’s Congress, and the Baath Party of Yemen have all supported the Houthi position against Saudi Arabia.

Dividing Yemen?

Yemen has seen numerous insurrections, military intervention by the US and Saudi Arabia, and a separatist movement strengthen in its southern governorates. Yemen’s military has become fragmented and tribal tensions exist. There has been increasing talk about it becoming an Arab failed state.

In 2013, the New York Times proposed that Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen be split. In the case of Yemen, the proposition was that it divided into two again. The New York Times said that this could or would happen following a potential referendum in the southern governorates. The New York Times also proposed that «all or part of South Yemen could then become part of Saudi Arabia. Nearly all Saudi commerce is via sea, and direct access to the Arabian Sea would diminish dependence on the Persian Gulf — and fears of Iran’s ability to cut off the Strait of Hormuz».

Saudi Arabia and Al-Hadi are now courting the southern separatists in Yemen, which have the support of about one-tenth of the population. The next option for the US and Saudi Arabia may be to divide Yemen as a means of mitigating the strategic shift from a Houthi victory. This would ensure that Saudi Arabia and the GCC have a southern transit point to the Indian Ocean and that the US would maintain a foothold in the Gulf of Aden.


Related:

Yemen, Ukraine, and the Hypocrisy of ‘Aggression’

By Eric Draitser

The military intervention in Yemen by a US-backed coalition of Arab states will undoubtedly inflame the conflict both in Yemen, and throughout the region. It is likely to be a protracted war involving many actors, each of which is interested in furthering its own political and geopolitical agenda.

However, it is the international reaction to this new regional war which is of particular interest; specifically, the way in which the United States has reacted to this undeniable aggression by its Gulf allies. While Washington has gone to great lengths to paint Russia’s reunification with Crimea and its limited support for the anti-Kiev rebels of eastern Ukraine as “aggression,” it has allowed that same loaded term to be completely left out of the narrative about the new war in Yemen.

So it seems that, according to Washington, aggression is not defined by any objective indicators: use of military hardware, initiation of hostilities, etc. Rather, the United States defines aggression by the relationship of a given conflict to its own strategic interests. In Crimea and Ukraine, Russia is the aggressor because, in defending its own interests and those of Russian people, it has acted against the perceived geopolitical interests of the US. While in Yemen, the initiation by Saudi Arabia and other US-backed countries of an unprovoked war with the expressed goal of regime change, this is not aggression as it furthers Washington’s interests.

Language Versus Reality

On March 25, 2015 a coalition of Arab states initiated an aerial bombardment (as of writing there has yet to be a ground invasion, though it is expected) of Yemen for the purposes of dislodging the Houthi rebel government which had weeks before toppled the US and Saudi-backed puppet government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The war initiated by Saudi Arabia, along with its fellow Gulf monarchies and Egypt, was motivated purely by Saudi Arabia’s, and by extension the United States’, perceived interests.

Within hours of the commencement of the bombardment, reports from Yemen indicated that dozens, if not scores, of Yemenis had been killed in the airstrikes. Despite the immediate loss of life, to say nothing of the destruction of infrastructure, buildings, homes, and communities, the United States praised the operation as necessary for regional security. Indeed it has been confirmed that, while not providing direct military support in the form of troops or air support, the United States has been intimately involved in the operation.

Speaking directly on behalf of the White House and the Obama administration, the National Security Council spokesperson announced:

Saudi Arabia, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, and others will undertake military action to defend Saudi Arabia’s border and to protect Yemen’s legitimate government…In support of GCC actions…President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations.  While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support…the violent takeover of Yemen by an armed faction is unacceptable and that a legitimate political transition…can be accomplished only through political negotiations and a consensus agreement among all of the parties.

So, in Washington’s own words, the aggressive military intervention into Yemen is both legitimate and supported by the US. Moreover, the US has openly acknowledged their direct participation in the campaign in the form of intelligence and logistical support. Exactly what is entailed in “intelligence” and “logistical support” is certainly open to interpretation. Undoubtedly, the US has its covert forces involved in the operation, likely on the ground in Yemen, to say nothing of its vast presence throughout the region.

In fact, it is universally recognized that the CIA has been intimately involved in Yemen for at least the last several years, with CIA Director Brennan having been integral in fostering the relationship. As the NY Times reported in 2012, the Obama administration’s approach in Yemen was “to employ small numbers of Special Operations troops, Central Intelligence Agency paramilitary teams and drones.” It should be further remembered that Hadi himself was handpicked by Washington in the wake of the fall of former President Saleh’s government, and that Hadi, described by the US as the “legitimate” president ran unopposed in a farcically described “democratic transition” sponsored by the US.

Taken in total then, it is objectively true that the United States has been involved militarily in Yemen since at least 2012, propping up their man in Sanaa in order to bolster their geopolitical and strategic position in the region, naturally under the aegis of “fighting terrorism.” So it stands to reason that the White House would refer to the Saudi aggression as legitimate, and praise it as such. It is equally true that the so called “legitimacy” of the military operation, and the Hadi government itself, is dependent on US interests, nothing less.

Now compare the language employed by the US vis-à-vis this war against Yemen, with the talking points endlessly repeated by all US officials, and nearly all media pundits, regarding Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine. Everyone from Republican warmongers like John McCain, to State Department spokesperson (and unwitting comedic icon) Jen Psaki, have all described Moscow’s moves as “Russian aggression.” Indeed, it seems that phrase alone has become something of a mantra in Washington, and on the airwaves of its servile and compliant corporate media, framing the narrative as “clear and unmistakable aggression against Ukraine’s territorial integrity” and other such vacuous phrases.

But consider for a moment the objective facts. Russia’s direct military interests in Crimea, not to mention the safety and freedom of Russian-speakers, was under direct threat after the US-sponsored coup in Kiev toppled the corrupt, but democratically elected, government in February 2014. In response, Russia launched a limited military operation to secure Crimea and its interests. This is critical because this operation was carried out with no bloodshed, no airstrikes, and not a single shot fired. While this aspect may be forgotten amid the din of belligerent shouts and incredulousness from Washington, it must not be forgotten by keen political observers. In point of fact, Russia’s “aggression” in Crimea was entirely peaceful, and as is self-evident, entirely defensive.

On the other hand, the “legitimate” actions of the US, Saudi Arabia and its allies do not constitute aggression. Well, it is clear that the dozens (by now likely far more) of families who have lost fathers and sons, wives and daughters in the airstrikes would certainly call it aggression.

It should also be noted that, unlike in Crimea where the people were given the opportunity to decide their own fate democratically, the people of Yemen are being given no such opportunity. There has been a domestic insurgency for years in the wake of the civil wars and reunification of North and South Yemen, and whatever stability might have been provided by the new Houthi-led dispensation has now fallen by the wayside. Moreover, the notion that Yemen was a functioning country under Hadi would be like saying that France was a functioning country under the Vichy regime. The overthrow of Hadi opened the possibility for a truly independent nation to emerge. This Saudi Arabia and its allies simply could not abide, as it would set a dangerous precedent for its own domestic opposition which, quite correctly, sees the House of Saud as little more than a proxy of the US and Israel.

Consider also the rhetoric of “aggression” regarding Russia’s very limited support for the anti-Kiev rebels of Donetsk and Lugansk. Listening to western media, one would think that Russian military had invaded en masse in those regions and was fighting a war against Kiev’s military. The reality is that, despite dozens of accusations and hundreds of news stories, there is still no evidence of any direct Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine. It is true that there are Russian volunteers and some Russian hardware, but these are hardly evidence of any invasion, let alone even military support of the scale that the US has just authorized sending to Kiev. Even a Russophobic perspective would have to admit, however reluctantly, that Russia’s presence in eastern Ukraine is minimal and indirect.

Now compare that to the outright bombardment using massive military capabilities being carried out by the Saudis and their allies in Yemen. In a matter of hours, this US-backed alliance has employed more military hardware, and wreaked more devastation, than Russia has in more than 12 months. The question of scale is critical. Russia quite correctly perceives a threat to its own borders and interests from the US-sponsored Kiev regime, and it has acted with a great degree of restraint. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, which also perceives a Houthi-controlled Yemen as a threat to its borders and interests, has unleashed a massive military campaign to destroy the movement and effect its own regime change to reinstall Hadi.

It could not be clearer the level of hypocrisy from the US, its allies, and the compliant media. Russia is an “aggressor” while Saudi Arabia is a “defender.” Iran is sponsoring regime change in Yemen, while the US merely supported “democratic forces” in Ukraine. Assad must go, but Hadi must stay. Not to belabor the point, as it is obvious on its face, but legitimacy and illegitimacy is conferred by the US based on its interests, not international law or objective facts.

That this is well known in the non-Western world is undeniably true. However here in the US, and in the West more broadly, the narrative is shaped by those in power who seek to further their own agendas. They choose the words, and they dictate what is and is not acceptable. They are the Ministry of Truth, and the thought-criminals who question their narratives are dangerous subversives and propagandists. In truth however, those who question those narratives are the ones who have consistently been on the right side of history, from Vietnam to Iraq to Libya, Syria, and Yemen. And I, for one, am proud to count myself among them.



Debating the Saudi War on Yemen


Related:

 



Communication Security Establishment’s Cyberwarfare Toolbox Revealed

1297423615318_ORIGINALMexico, North Africa, Middle East among targets of cyber-spy hacking

By Amber Hildebrandt, Michael Pereira and Dave Seglins
CBC News

Top-secret documents obtained by the CBC show Canada’s electronic spy agency has developed a vast arsenal of cyberwarfare tools alongside its U.S. and British counterparts to hack into computers and phones in many parts of the world, including in friendly trade countries like Mexico and hotspots like the Middle East.

The little known Communications Security Establishment wanted to become more aggressive by 2015, the documents also said.

Revelations about the agency’s prowess should serve as a “major wakeup call for all Canadians,” particularly in the context of the current parliamentary debate over whether to give intelligence officials the power to disrupt national security threats, says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, the respected internet research group at University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

“These are awesome powers that should only be granted to the government with enormous trepidation and only with a correspondingly massive investment in equally powerful systems of oversight, review and public accountability,” says Deibert.

Details of the CSE’s capabilities are revealed in several top-secret documents analyzed by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, a U.S. news website co-founded by Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who obtained the documents from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The CSE toolbox includes the ability to redirect someone to a fake website, create unrest by pretending to be another government or hacker, and siphon classified information out of computer networks, according to experts who viewed the documents.

The agency refused to answer questions about whether it’s using all the tools listed, citing the Security of Information Act as preventing it from commenting on such classified matters.

In a written statement, though, it did say that some of the documents obtained by CBC News were dated and do “not necessarily reflect current CSE practices or programs.”

Hacking spans globe

Canada’s electronic spy agency and the U.S. National Security Agency “cooperate closely” in “computer network access and exploitation” of certain targets, according to an April 2013 briefing note for the NSA.

Their targets are located in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Mexico, plus other unnamed countries connected to the two agencies’ counterterrorism goals, the documents say. Specific techniques used against the targets are not revealed.

Deibert notes that previous Snowden leaks have disclosed that the CSE uses the highly sophisticated WARRIORPRIDE malware to target cellphones, and maintains a network of infected private computers — what’s called a botnet ​— that it uses to disguise itself when hacking targets.

Other leaked documents revealed back in 2013 that the CSE spied on computers or smartphones connected to Brazil’s mining and energy ministry to get economic intelligence.

But the latest top-secret documents released to CBC News and The Intercept illustrate the development of a large stockpile of Canadian cyber-spy capabilities that go beyond hacking for intelligence, including:

  • destroying infrastructure, which could include electricity, transportation or banking systems;
  • creating unrest by using false-flags — ie. making a target think another country conducted the operation;
  • disrupting online traffic by such techniques as deleting emails, freezing internet connections, blocking websites and redirecting wire money transfers.

It’s unclear which of the 32 cyber tactics listed in the 2011 document are actively used or in development.

‘In Canada’s interests’

Some of the capabilities mirror what CSE’s U.S. counterpart, the NSA, can do under a powerful hacking program called QUANTUM, which was created by the NSA’s elite cyberwarfare unit, Tailored Access Operations, says Christopher Parsons, a post-doctoral fellow at the Citizen Lab, one of the groups CBC News asked to help decipher the CSE documents. QUANTUM is mentioned in the list of CSE cyber capabilities.

A 2011 presentation by a CSE analyst outlines 32 tactics that the spy agency has developed. Click on the photo to see an explainer on some of them.

Publicizing details of QUANTUM’s attack techniques fuelled debate south of the border about the project’s constitutionality, says Parsons, who feels a debate is needed here in Canada as well.

“Our network has been turned into a battlefield without any Canadian being asked: Should it be done? How should it be done?” says Parsons.

National security expert Christian Leuprecht says the wide spectrum of cyber capabilities should come as no surprise, considering Canada’s stature as an industrialized country and partner in the influential Five Eyes spying network, which also includes the U.S., U.K., New Zealand and Australia.

“I think it’s in Canada’s interest to have full-spectrum capability, because if or when the issue does arise, then we want to make sure we can be a major player in taking our collective security interest into our hands,” says Leuprecht, a fellow at Queen’s University’s Centre for International and Defence Policy and professor at the Royal Military College.

Leuprecht adds, however, that “simply having that capability doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to deploy” it.

He also claims Canada has “very explicitly” decided — for now — not to become embroiled in a dangerous cyberwar by using its most destructive tools to attack other countries, citing the example of the mysterious shutdown of North Korea’s internet following that country’s alleged hacking of Sony Pictures.

Canada also faces practical limitations in deploying some of these tools, such as money and strict laws, he says.

Seeking approval for more disruption

According to the documents, the CSE wanted more aggressive powers for use both at home and abroad.

In 2011, the Canadian agency presented its vision for 2015 to the Five Eyes allies at a conference.

CSE CASCADE presentation

“We will seek the authority to conduct a wide spectrum of Effects operations in support of our mandates,” the top-secret presentation says.

Effects operations refer to manipulating and disrupting computers or devices.

CSE said in a written statement: “In moving from ideas or concepts to planning and implementation, we examine proposals closely to ensure that they comply with the law and internal policies, and that they ultimately lead to effective and efficient ways to protect Canada and Canadians against threats.”

Experts say the Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-51, currently being debated, could legalize use of some of the capabilities outlined in these classified documents.

Though the act would give CSIS, Canada’s domestic intelligence agency, the power to disrupt threats to the security of Canada both at home and abroad, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service relies on its sister service, the CSE, for technical help with surveillance and infiltration of cellphones and computers.

“With Bill C-51, we’re seeing increased powers being provided to CSIS, and that could mean that they would be able to more readily use or exploit the latent domestic capabilities that CSE has built up,” says Parsons.

A ‘perimeter around Canada’

In an increasingly hostile cyberspace, Canada has also turned its attention to figuring out ways to better protect itself against such attacks.

‘If we wish to enable defence, we must have intelligence to know when attacks enter our national infrastructure.’- CSE presentation

Back in 2011, CSE envisioned creating a “perimeter around Canada” to better defend the country’s interests from potential threats from other countries and criminals, raising the prospect the agency was preparing a broad surveillance program to target Canadians’ online traffic.

At the time, “full visibility of our national infrastructure” was among its goals, according to a planning document for 2015. Security analysts wanted the means to detect an attack before it hit a target like a government website.

“If we wish to enable defence, we must have intelligence to know when attacks enter our national infrastructure,” the 2011 top-secret CSE presentation says.

The agency would not answer how far it got with the 2015 plan. A spokesman called some of the documents obtained by CBC dated and said they “explored possible ideas.”

As a result, the information “does not necessarily reflect current CSE practices or programs,” the agency said in a written statement.

“Logically, it makes perfect sense” that CSE wanted to monitor all traffic coming in and out of the country, says Deibert.

“The problem is the techniques they have at their disposal, the capabilities, if they are indeed in place, are dual use and could be abused.”

List of documents:


CBC is working with U.S. news site The Intercept to shed light on Canada-related files in the cache of documents obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The CBC News team — Dave Seglins, Amber Hildebrandt and Michael Pereira —collaborated with The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher to analyze the documents.

With files from The Intercept’s Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald


Related:
Canada’s Orwellian C-51 Anti-Terrorist Act of 2015 Criminalizes Dissent (Update)
Canadian Terror Wave a Modern-Day Gladio
Canadian Government and Media Creating a Moral Panic as ISIL Attacks Ottawa
CSIS Agent Helped British Girls Join ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Empire and ISIS: A Tale of Two Death Cults

Turkey, Terrorism, and the Global Proxy War

Brutalized by Decades of Violence, Many Iraqi Youth Seek Suicide to Escape

Washington’s Secret Negotiations with Havana and Tehran

Da’esh : Washington’s Proxy Army Trained to “Occupy” Syria

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Smoke rises from the the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, after a strike from the US-led coalition as it seen from the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on October 14, 2014. (AFP Photo/Aris Messinis)

Is the US planning the occupation of Syria by training an unconventional insurgent invasion force?

Think regime change in Syria is off the drawing board? Think again. The bombing of the ISIL or ISIS in Syria is part of a brinkmanship campaign leading up to a potential non-conventional invasion, parallel to the re-introduction of the US military to Iraq.

The ISIL and the other anti-government forces in Iraq and Syria are not the only ones to disregard the Iraqi-Syrian border drawn by the British and French by Sykes-Picot in 1916. The US also disregarded the border and international law when it began to illegally bomb Syria.

The bombing campaign was not enough for some in the US Congress. In a joint statement on September 23, the arch-hawks US Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for US troops to be sent into Syria too. Both of them praised the Pentagon’s illegal airstrikes in Syria and then argued for US ground troops as well.

Although McCain and Graham went out of their way to say that this would not be an occupation of either Syria or Iraq, this is almost exactly what they were calling for when they said that the military campaign had to also be directed against the Syrian government.

Since, and even before the calls for an invasion of Syria by McCain and Graham different suggestions have circulated about an invasion of Syria.

The dilemma is that Washington does not want the Pentagon to directly invade Syria itself. It wants to pull the strings while another force does the work on the ground. Candidates for an outsourced invasion of Syria include the Turkish military or other US regional allies. There, however is also an impasse here as Washington’s allies are also afraid of the consequences of an invasion of Syria.

This is where a third opinion comes into the picture: the construction of a multinational insurgent army by the US.

Using non-state actors to invade and occupy Syria

While there seems to be no consensus on a Syrian strategy within the US political, intelligence, and military establishments, the objective of regime change is universally adhered to across the board. Regardless of the existence of a consensus, the US is moving ahead with the creation of an anti-government invasion force.

The third option is slowly emerging.

A few days after the US began the bombing of Syria, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey made it clear that the Pentagon also planned on creating a viable anti-government army in Syria consisting of 12,000 to 15,000 insurgents.

There also seems to be a growing consensus among the realist and neocons for US President Obama’s preference of using a rebel army to invade Syria. The Brookings Institute has been a major cheerleader for this.

During this same timeframe, the Brookings Institute released an opinion piece clearly calling for US intervention. The text, authored, by former CIA analyst for monitoring the Persian Gulf and US National Security Council official Kenneth Pollack, stipulated that Washington’s “strategy cannot require sending U.S. troops into combat. Funds, advisers, and even air power are all fair game — but only insofar as they do not lead to American boots on the ground.”

Pollack played an influential role in getting support for the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq. He worked at the Council of Foreign Relations as its director of national security studies. He made the above statement as the director of research for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and goes well beyond it by publishing a drawn-out October 2014 proposal for creating a US-made rebel invasion force as a means of taking over Syria and eventually conducting regime change in Damascus.

The Brookings Institute proposal suggests that a rebel Syrian army “is best not done in Syria itself. At least not at first” (p.9). The report points to the US and NATO success in “covertly” creating armed forces around the world, including the assembly of a Croat military, and deduces that these experiences would make it “entirely realistic for the United States to build a new Syrian opposition army” (p.8). It also says that the ideology of the fighters does not matter by stating the following: “A great many of those recruited may well be religious, even highly religious, including Salafist. That is not the issue” (p.9).

Welcome to the Brookings Institute and its Saban Center

What is the Brookings Institute exactly and why do suggestions from this think tank and others like it, matter?

The Brookings Institute is an influential think tank that has a revolving door of personnel with the US government and major corporations. All that one needs to do is look at its trustees and executives, which include interlocked directorships with the Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase.

Brookings also has ties to Israel and a full branch dedicated to Washington’s Middle East strategies and policies called the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy. Martin Indyk – the former US ambassador to Israel, a former high-level lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and the founder of AIPAC’s research arm (the Washington Institute for Near East Policy) – is the Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. Like Indyk, Kenneth Pollack was involved in shaping the Middle East policies of the Clinton Administration.

It is also worth noting that the Brookings Institute’s Saban Center is named after US-Israeli businessman and media mogul Haim Saban. Saban himself is on the board of trustees for Brookings.

There is a Qatari connection too. One may remember that Washington was hostile towards Al Jazeera when it first emerged as a news broadcaster, because of its coverage of US actions in the Middle East.

Saban tried to buy half of the Al Jazeera network from Qatar in 2004 and 2009, but failed. In the same timeframe as the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the first set of negotiations happened when he went to Qatar with Bill Clinton in 2003.

It is possible that Brookings may have played a role in pacifying Al Jazeera. In 2009, the Institute setup an overseas branch in Qatar called the Brookings Doha Center. The new chapter in Doha included Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family alongside people like Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Fareed Zakaria as chairs and advisors.

It was in the same year that the Brookings Institute published a report, which included Pollack and Indyk as authors, called Which Path to Persia? The report outlined a map for confronting Iran and alluded to the neutralization of Syria, in one way or another (including the procurement of a peace agreement with Damascus by Israel), to “mitigate blowback” from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinians, specifically Hamas, as a prerequisite for an enabling an attack on Iran.

All in all, the ideas that come out of the Brookings Institute are discussed at the highest levels within policymaking and corporate circles.

Is the Syrian Invasion Force Slowly Emerging?

Is a rebel invasion force emerging to attack Syria? In no uncertain terms, Brookings argues that it is.

Pollack’s report stipulates the following: “Adopting such a strategy would mean first and foremost that Washington would have to commit itself to building a new Syrian army that will rule Syria when the war is over. Although [Obama’s] description of his new Syria policy was more modest and tepid than his explanation of the Iraq piece of the strategy, he does appear to have committed the United States to just that course. More than that, it will mean putting the resources, prestige and credibility of the United States behind this effort. The $500 million now appropriated is a good start, but it is only a down payment on a much larger project” (p.8).

The US goal of training rebels in Saudi Arabia and Turkey is an indication of this too. On September 10, about two weeks before it started bombing Syria, Washington declared that Saudi Arabia had given it the green light to train a rebel army in the Arabian Peninsula. “We now have the commitment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be a full partner in this effort — the train-and-equip program — to host that program,” one official was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

The Brookings Institute in its proposal for an invasion of Syria: “The Saudi offer to provide facilities to train 10,000 Syrian opposition fighters is one of reasonable possibility, although one of Syria’s neighbors would probably be preferable. Jordan already serves as a training ground for America’s current training program and it would be an ideal locale to build a real Syrian army. However, Turkey could also conceivably serve that purpose if the Turks were willing” (p.10).

About two months later, in November, after US Vice President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, it was announced that Kirsehir would be used by Turkey to train Syrian anti-government forces that the US would equip against Damascus.

The report also makes it clear that building the new opposition army “should not mean bolstering the existing ‘Free Syrian Army’” (p.10). Instead, the existing US-backed insurgent groups will slowly be swallowed or destroyed by the new opposition force that the US and its allies are constructing.

In mid-November, the Pentagon also presented a proposal to the US Congress, saying that it wants to arm Iraqi tribesmen with Kalashnikov rifles, rocked propelled grenades, and mortars. What is omitted is the cross-border dispersion of these tribes in both Iraq and Syria and the possibility that these weapons could be used in an attack on the Syrian government.

What moderates?

The talk about supporting “moderates” is very misleading. It is already clear that the ideology of the proposed insurgent army is not a key issue in practice for many US officials. There is also enough evidence to show that the Free Syrian Army, Al-Nusra, the ISIL, and the other insurgent forces are also collaborating and trading fighters.

The Telegraph, for example, had this to say on November 10 about Saddam Jamal, a US-backed Free Syrian Army commander that became an ISIL commander: “Before joining ISIL, Jamal had been a drug dealer, then a commander in the western-backed Free Syrian Army, claiming contacts in the CIA.

It is also clear that religion is a mask for the ISIL too. The same British article writes the following testimony from Saddam Jamal’s body guard about his massacre of a Syrian family: “The ISIL commander felt no remorse for killing this Syrian family, his bodyguard said, nor did he believe he was fulfilling a God-given creed: for him being a member of the extremist group was a matter of business, not religion.

In the end the ISIL may be used to incubate fighters or collapse, like the Free Syrian Army, into the proposed invasion force to occupy Syria.

Invasion army or armies?

General Dempsey said that “the anti-ISIL campaign could take several years to accomplish.” Leon Panetta, the former head of the CIA and Pentagon, has also claimed that this war will turn into a thirty-year US military project that will extend to North Africa, West Africa, and the Horn of Africa.

According to Brookings: “At some point, such a new Syrian army would have to move into Syria, but only when it was ready. Only when a force large enough to conquer and hold territory – something on the order of two to three brigades -were ready should it be sent in” (p.11).

A war of attrition that that will take years of fighting is underway. This matches up with the ideas about training an insurgent invasion force over the years.

In their joint statement Senators McCain and Graham said that President Bashar Assad will not stop fighting the so-called “moderate” US-backed insurgents “that remain committed to his ousting- especially when the United States and [its] partners still, correctly, share the same goal and will now be arming and training Assad’s moderate opponents.” In other words, the US-trained Syrian forces will ultimately target the Syrian government.


Related:
The War in Rojava: The US and Turkish Roles in the Battle of Kobani
The War in Rojava: Kobani’s Fall is a Prerequisite to an Invasion of Syria

School of the Americas Goes Global

Blog at WordPress.com. | The Baskerville Theme.

Up ↑