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US Interference: From Afghanistan to Syria

US interference in the Middle East and Asia did not start in 2001

Ziad Alzoghbi

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Long before Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria were attacked by the US Empire and its allies, these countries had something very important in common: They all had secular progressive nationalist sovereign governments with long established ties with the former Soviet Union, which is one of the reasons why the US has long planned to destroy them and turn them into client states.

They had an all inclusive society that respected and protected religious and ethnic minorities and women’s rights. Their economies were necessarily state controlled in order to protect against predatory western corporations that have destroyed and still are destroying national economies around the world in the name of the so-called free trade and open market policies.

After nearly four decades of war, death and destruction, it is now difficult to imagine Afghanistan before its tragic recent history. Up until the Soviet invasion of 1979 the country was indeed a secular country with a nationalist government and long proud history, where people lived their normal lives in peace. Contrary to current perception, women then had access to university education and pursued varied professional careers like their counterparts in any other twentieth century modern country.

Thanks to the overwhelmingly biased mainstream media there are many other myths about Afghanistan long held in the West, however, it is worth reading Jonathan Steele’s article in The Guardian in which he tries to dispel some of them.

kabulWell before the Soviet invasion the Afghan Mujaheddin were supplied with arms by the US and funded by the Saudis in order to topple the pro-Moscow government in Kabul. Furthermore, the US had an even bigger plan to drag the Soviet Union into a quagmire in Afghanistan where “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War”, according to Brzezinski the national security adviser to President Carter. His aim was to break up the Soviet Union at any cost and the Mujaheddin were merely tools used to that end. He called them “Some stirred-up Moslems” who have over the years morphed into today’s terrorists, with more support and aggression from the Empire of chaos.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-1991, the US found itself the only superpower in an uncertain and rapidly-changing world. Instead of showing leadership on tackling poverty, health, education and climate change, the US, driven by its entrenched Neo-cons and Neo-liberals, chose to embark on a campaign of unprecedented aggression starting with the Middle East, where the world’s largest gas and oil reserves lie. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the US refused outright to accept the Taliban’s offer to hand over Bin Laden on condition the US did not invade Afghanistan.

The mainstream media did not even mention this crucial fact because the propaganda machine in the West was spinning out of control after 9/11/2001.The hawks in Washington were intent on invading Afghanistan under the false pretext of capturing Bin Laden and destroying Al-Qaeda, the very jihadist group they set up years earlier.

Iraq was another example of US Empire projecting its military power. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the American administration did not spare any effort in encouraging and supporting Saddam Hussein to engage in a catastrophic conflict with Iran. The result was an 8 year long bloody war which killed an estimated one million people and crippled the economies of both countries.

iraq iran war

This left the Iraqi government no option but to ask the Saudi, Kuwaitis and other Gulf states to help Iraq by raising the price of oil, which they refused under American pressure. Intriguingly, American connivance tricked Saddam Hussein into thinking that he could invade Kuwait and put further pressure on the Saudis and others to see matters from his point of view. But this was a grave miscalculation by Saddam Hussein and a well planned American trap for him and one that resulted in yet another catastrophe for Iraq.

The usual propaganda spun its lies about the Iraqi Army’s barbaric atrocities in Kuwait and the valiant resistance there, all of which mobilised public opinion in the so-called civilised world. Consequently, much of the Iraqi Army was pulverised in what was called “Desert Storm” and most of Iraq’s infrastructure was systematically attacked from the air and destroyed. A no-fly zone was declared through the United Nations; nominally over the north of the country but effectively over the whole of Iraq.

Contrary to what was reported in the media at the time, this gave licence to the US and its allies to bomb targets anywhere in Iraq on a daily basis which went on for 12 years. Sanctions had been imposed immediately after Iraq invaded Kuwait and also lasted for 12 years until 2003. The government could not even import essential items such as food and medicine, “As many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council” according to The New York Times in 1995.

As if this humanitarian tragedy of enormous proportions was not enough to satisfy the neo-con hawks who pulled the levers of power behind Bush junior they used the events of September 2001 in America to whip up such frenzy around the world so as to silence any dissenting voice, not that the mainstream media showed any signs of being critical or even tried to question what the US administration was doing- interesting in a country that claims to be the land of democracy and freedom of speech. The Bush administration even concocted “evidence” from various questionable sources showing falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (“WMD”), this despite the fact that the UN weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix were reporting that there were no WMD, having been dealt with and disposed of many years before. Among such sources were an Iraqi exile’s PhD thesis and the infamous dossier that led Blair to tell parliament in September 2002 that Saddam Hussein had “chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes”.

Fourteen years later the Chilcot Report found that the “Supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction identified in an intelligence dossier resembled an inaccurate portrayal of such weapons in a fictional Hollywood movie”.

All the protest around the world by millions of people could not prevent the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. The fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the attack of September 2001 on America, had no connection whatsoever with Al-Qaeda and more importantly posed no threat to any western countries, all of this did not make any difference to the US administration already intent on invading Iraq. Apart from the oil, there were arguably other reasons why the Americans were so determined to invade Iraq:

  1. Iraq was already a weak state without significant allies and therefore with no hope of defending itself against the military might of the US who counted on minimal casualties.
  2. America had long wanted to banish once and for all the nightmare of Vietnam that had been weighing heavily on the American psyche for a long time.
  3. The military industrial complex had huge stockpiles of arms that needed to be tested and used in a “fireworks” show to project its might as the only superpower in the world.
  4. To make huge fortunes for the arms manufacturers and other big corporations.
  5. To intimidate and bully other countries and demonstrate literally what it could do to them if they do not fall in line with US imperialist policies.
  6. To satisfy Israel’s unquenchable thirst for security by destroying a major Arab country.
  7. To confirm itself as the only superpower in the world.

The well planned and executed US invasion of Iraq saw the complete destruction of a sovereign state: Its army, civil service, ministries, power stations, hospitals, schools, bridges, museums, archives and much more of the Iraqi state’s administrative, social and civil structure. Some have always argued that the vacuum and chaos that ensued represents the failure of the invasion as the planners had no plans for the aftermath. Seen from a different perspective, it could well be argued that the lack of plans for the post-invasion period was, in an undeclared way, deliberate and as such the invasion was indeed a big success. Its real objective was to plunge Iraq and the entire region into endless sectarian wars for years or even decades, leading ultimately to Balkanising the Middle East.

Until 1991, Iraq was a modern secular country with an excellent free health care system and a first class free education system up to university level. Art, science and music flourished and were enjoyed by all citizens irrespective of their religious or ethnic affiliation.

Libya too had free health care and education systems with an economy considered to be the best in Africa to the extent that it provided employment for thousands of Africans from across the whole continent. After the Western invasion of Libya those workers who survived the killing spree by the NATO-backed death squads had no option but to head for Europe as migrants. Gaddafi was always portrayed by the West as the “madman of Libya”, though in fact he was helping to develop African countries and their economies in many ways, hardly the work of a madman. Moreover, Gaddafi had huge quantities of gold and silver with a plan to”establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar” which would threaten western currencies and lead many African countries to more economic and political independence, according to recently disclosed emails.

gaddafi love

This clearly was the real reason behind NATO’s military campaign in Libya, which was not reported at all in the West. Instead the public were fed with the usual fabricated images of civilians about to be massacred by Gaddafi‘s forces and that NATO had to intervene to prevent a humanitarian disaster, using the UN Security Council resolution as a fig-leaf. Consequently Libya’s weapons were looted by extremists and soon went to various African countries, a destabilising factor and a major contributor to the on-going migrant crisis in Europe. Following the collapse of the Libyan state, the US oversaw the transfer of significant quantities of Libya’s weapons to the jihadists in Syria. According to Seymour Hersh, “The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition.”

For years Syria has been refusing to become a client state of the US Empire. Since independence from the French colonisers in April 1946, the Syrian people have built a modern secular inclusive society with free education and health care for all citizens. The Syrian economy needed to be controlled by the government in order to protect it from hostile western multinationals. Unsurprisingly, such an independent stance always angered the US who never ceased to plot and scheme to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs over the past seven decades.

What is happening in Syria these days is not a civil or sectarian war but a war of aggression by the US and its regional proxies to dismantle the state and tear apart the very fabric of Syrian society and culture.

In its July 5th-11th 2014 issue, The Economist bemoans the failure of the so-called “Arab spring” completely ignoring western meddling behind it, through their supply of funding and weapons as well as their hired agitators and saboteurs who operated among innocent protesters.  The vast majority of the Syrian people did not participate in such protest and were appalled by the armed violence and the atrocities committed at the start of the conflict by the mercenaries sent by the Wahhabi machine. The Economist also questions the failure of Arab countries to create democracy and prosperity for their people. Again there is no mention of the constant and relentless aggression from western powers throughout the past one hundred years or more. Even after independence colonial powers never stopped interfering in the whole region covertly or otherwise, not to mention the illegal creation of Israel in Palestine at the heart of the Arab world. Imagine if these countries were left alone to develop and build their economies free of bullying or threat of regime change, the world would be in a better state than it is now.

isis beac

After a quarter of a century of America’s campaign of continuous destruction and military adventurism in the Middle East, US aggression has now hit a hard obstinate rock in Syria. It is the rock of resistance that has its roots deep in Syrian history. It is the unshakeable rock on which all foreign invaders were defeated; the people of Syria refuse to be subjugated.  Syria and its allies have shown the world their legendary resistance over the last 6 years and the Syrian people will eventually emerge united and triumphant from this neo-colonial-manufactured crisis.

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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