Category Archives: Middle East & North Africa

Blackwater Founder: We Could Stop ISIS

Asawin Suebsaeng reports for The Daily Beast:

Erik Prince has a message for ISIS: You’re lucky Blackwater is gone. On Friday night, the controversial founder of the private military company had plenty to say about what the organization he once ran could be doing in the fight against the so-called Islamic State—and also why Republicans need to stop being such losers.

“It’s a shame the [Obama] administration crushed my old business, because as a private organization, we could’ve solved the boots-on-the-ground issue, we could have had contracts from people that want to go there as contractors; you don’t have the argument of U.S. active duty going back in there,” Prince said in an on-stage discussion featuring retired four-star Gen. James Conway. “[They could have] gone in there and done it, and be done, and not have a long, protracted political mess that I predict will ensue.”’

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El-Sissi: Had I stood by, radical Islam would have sparked Egypt civil war

Hamza Hendawi, Ian Phillips, and Lee Keath report for The Associated Press:

‘Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told The Associated Press on Saturday he is prepared to give whatever support is needed in the fight against the Islamic State group but called for a “comprehensive strategy” to tackle the roots of extremism across the region

In his first interview with a foreign media outlet since taking office in June, el-Sissi sought to present himself and Egypt as at the vanguard of confronting militancy, citing it as the reason for his ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president more than a year ago — a move that brought international criticism and strained ties with top ally the United States.

He told AP that Egyptians had realized the danger of “political Islam” and that if he had not acted, the Arab world’s most populous nation would have faced “civil war” and bloodshed now seen in Iraq and Syria.’

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Iranian FM: US ‘obsessed’ with sanctions against Tehran

AFP reports:

‘Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday accused the United States of being “obsessed” with sanctions against his country, on the eve of new bilateral talks on a nuclear deal.

“We are committed to resolving this issue,” Zarif told a Washington think-tank, but he argued the US was “infatuated” with sanctions and Congress was objecting to any deal “because they would have to lift the sanctions.”

“Iran has shown that we will live up to every agreement,” Zarif argued at a discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, just hours before the Iranian delegation was to meet in New York with US counterparts for fresh talks.’

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Israeli envoy: Nuclear Iran ‘a thousand times’ more dangerous than Islamic State

Ron Kampeas reports for The Times of Israel:

‘Saying a nuclear Iran would be a “thousand times” greater threat to the world than the Islamic State, Israel’s ambassador to the United States warned against including Iran in any coalition to derail the jihadist group.

Ron Dermer, speaking Wednesday to guests at a pre-Rosh Hashanah reception at his residence in suburban Maryland, also cautioned the US against accommodating Iran during the current effort to degrade IS.His urgent tone was the latest sign of a split between the Obama and Netanyahu governments over how to deal with Iran’s role in stopping IS, which is seizing swaths of Iraq and Syria.’

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Libya meeting rejects military intervention

Al Jazeera reports:

‘Libya’s struggling elected government and representatives of 15 neighbouring nations have unanimously rejected the idea of military intervention as a way to restore stability in the oil-rich North African nation, which some say is on the brink of civil war. Meeting in Madrid on Wednesday, officials from countries surrounding Libya and to its north across the Mediterranean concluded “there is no military solution to the current crisis”.

Libya currently has two competing parliaments and governments. The government and elected House of Representatives last month relocated to Tobruk after an armed Islamist group from the western city of Misrata seized the capital Tripoli and most government institutions, as well as the eastern city of Benghazi. The rival previous parliament remains in Tripoli and is backed by Islamist militias.’

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Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

James Bamford reports for The New York Times:

‘In Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.’

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John Pilger: Breaking the last taboo – Gaza and the threat of world war

John Pilger recently delivered a speech at the Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Australia:

C2t.jpg‘”There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”

For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.

The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.’

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Gideon Levy: ‘Holocaust makes Israelis think international law doesn’t apply’

Lara Marlowe writes for The Irish Times:

‘Gideon Levy is preaching in the wilderness. Week after week, the columnist for Haaretz newspaper tells his compatriots what they do not want to hear: that the siege of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank are immoral and counter-productive; that the continued seizure of Palestinian land and the construction of settlements is a “criminal enterprise” intended to foil any chance for peace.

[...] Levy is grateful to Amos Schocken, the third-generation owner of Haaretz, for standing by him. Some 2,000 readers cancelled subscriptions because of his July 14th column criticising Israeli air force pilots who bombed Gaza… During the war, Levy was threatened, heckled and spat upon. Haaretz hired bodyguards to protect him. Yariv Levin, the leader of the Likud Yisrael Beiteinu coalition in the Knesset, said he should be tried for treason, which carries the death penalty in time of war.’

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Jerusalem teachers warn of increase in racism after Gaza war

Yarden Skop reports for Haaretz:

‘Teachers in Jerusalem say they are concerned about facing more racism than ever before in the capital’s schools, especially following Operation Protective Edge. As the school year opens, the Education Ministry has published lesson plans on racism to be taught during the first two weeks, but many teachers say that is not enough.’

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Losing the Plot: Israel’s Premier to Face New Gaza Reality

Ramzy Baroud writes for The Palestine Chronicle:

‘Netanyahu’s war-turned-genocide in Gaza has backfired badly – his strategy has helped resurrect Hamas, the very movement he tried desperately to crush

Aside from being a major military setback, Israel’s war on Gaza has also disoriented the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like never before. Since the announcement of a ceasefire on 26 August, his statements appear erratic and particularly uncertain, an expected outcome of the Gaza war.’

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Netanyahu eyes big increase in Israel’s defense spending

Xinhua reports:

‘Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he supports largely increasing defense spending in the upcoming 2015 budget in opposition to the stance of the finance minister, which may lead to the collapse of his political coalition.

“The billions we’ve invested in Israel’s defense in recent years saved the Israeli economy … Due to the threats in our area we need a substantial increment of billions in the defense budget, and we must do so in a responsible way without a great deficit,” Netanyahu said at the fourth international cyber convention held at the Tel Aviv University.’

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War is a racket: $6 billion Gaza reconstruction aid will be ‘made in Israel’

EurActiv reports 

How did we miss that one? Destruction in Gaza, July 2014. Photo: Oxfam International via Flickr.‘As the world gears up to finance Gaza’s $6bn reconstruction after Operation Protective Edge, an EU source has revealed that Israel will earn billions of euros by making sure that all the steel, concrete and other materials and other aid are sourced in Israel and benefit Israeli companies.

At least 65,000 people in the Gaza Strip are homeless after the recent seven-week conflict. Infrastructure ranging from water desalination centres to power plants lies in ruins.

No formal Israeli ban prevents the import of reconstruction materials that were not made in Israel, but EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity say that in practice, Israeli security demands present them with a fait accompli.’

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The Untold Story of the Shejaiya Massacre in Gaza: A Former Israel Soldier Speaks Out

Yemen: A Failed State

‘Since 2011, when Yemeni youths took to the streets and sparked the eventual demise of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, the country has fallen to pieces. The new embattled government is now struggling to cope with a bevy of issues, including sectarian rivalries, CIA drone strikes, and one of al Qaeda’s most sophisticated branches. It now risks presiding over the failure of one of the world’s most fragile countries. In “Yemen: A Failed State,” VICE News visits some of Yemen’s most dangerous and hard-to-reach places and groups, including the national Army in the country’s lawless East, the Houthis in Sana’a, and the Popular Committee in the South, to find out how both the government and the West’s policy toward Yemen have gone wrong.’ (VICE News)

Justice Department Memo Provides the CIA’s Legal Justification to Kill a US Citizen in Yemen

Jason Leopold reports for VICE News:

‘”This white paper sets forth the legal basis upon which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could use lethal force in Yemen against a United States citizen who senior officials reasonably determined was a senior leader of al-Qaida or an associated force of al-Qaida.”

So begins a 22-page, heavily redacted, previously top-secret document titled “Legality of a Lethal Operation by the Central Intelligence Agency Against a US Citizen,” which provides the first detailed look at the legal rationale behind lethal operations conducted by the agency. The white paper [pdf below] was turned over to VICE News in response to a long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department.

It’s one of two white papers the Justice Department prepared in 2011 after lawmakers demanded to know what the administration’s legal rationale was for targeting for death the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen.’

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Obama’s Mobilization Could Have Sights on Failed State Libya

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘President Obama’s announcement of a major new expansion of the ISIS war into Syria came along with talk of an increased US commitment nationwide, and he explicitly mentioned the need for “vigilance” in Northern Africa.

That suggests that the administration has its sights set squarely on the increasingly failed state of Libya, which grows more failed by the day, and where Gen. Khalifa Hifter, long funded by the CIA, is aiming to secure territory from various Islamist factions.’

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iRAQ WAR 3.0

The Geopolitics of World War III

Will America Always Be at War?

Trevor Trimm writes for The Guardian:

‘In a speech that would make Dick Cheney proud, the president told us (and the Pentagon repeated) this week that we are  at war with Islamic State (Isis) “in same way we are at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates” – a war that will go on indefinitely, is based on a strategy that’s been failing for over a decade and will never legally be called a war.

What Obama really did, however, was confirm for everyone what the late Hunter S Thompson recognized, shortly after 9/11, when  he wrote, “We are At War now – with somebody – and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.”‘

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Al-Qaeda India branch’s first attack ends in dismal failure as jihadists ‘raid wrong ship’

Dean Nelson reports for The Telegraph:

 Pakistani sailors stand on the Tipu Sultan warship during the multinational naval exercise 'AMAN 07' (Peace) in the Arabian Sea off Karachi, 08 March 2007.‘Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, the new group announced last week by Ayman al-Zawahiri to bolster his flagging fortunes, suffered a setback when three of its fighters were killed and seven arrested in its first ever terror attack.

Heavily armed militants attacked a naval dock in Karachi’s sea port on Saturday night and targeted what they believed was an American aircraft carrier, but instead found a Pakistan Navy frigate and were overwhelmed before they could cause any damage, investigators said.’

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How the west created the Islamic State… with a little help from our friends

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Medium:

‘Missing from the chorus of outrage… has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

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

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Perpetual War, and Shame, Is Our Policy

Matthew Hoh writes for The Huffington Post:

‘The United States’ official policy in the Middle East is now perpetual war. What has been known for some time, including by those of us who have served overseas, by the millions who have suffered through our bombs and our bullets, and, of course, by the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been ripped from their families and from any promised futures, President Obama solidified last night.

The United States, by agreeing to airstrikes without end in support of a corrupt and sectarian government in Baghdad; by championing a Shia and Kurdish invasion of Sunni lands; and by promising arms, munitions and money to rebel groups in the middle of the Syrian Civil War, the same groups that sold Steven Sotloff to his beheading, has adopted a policy that will exacerbate the civil wars in both Iraq and Syria and deepen the nightmare existence of their people. President Obama’s speech will be remembered as a mark of moral shame on the United States, so very opposite and so very contradictory to the courage shown by the president five years ago in Cairo, Egypt.’

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Perpetual War Is Fine With the New York Times After All

Normon Solomon writes for The Huffington Post:

‘The editorial board of the New York Times has an Orwellian knack for war. Sixteen months ago, when President Obama gave oratorical lip service to ending “perpetual war,” the newspaper quickly touted that end as a democratic necessity. But now — in response to Obama’s speech Wednesday night announcing escalation of war without plausible end — the Times editorial voice is with the endless war program.’

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The Barbaric World The United States Has Shaped Since 9/11: Interview with Michael Ratner

Editor’s Note: Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and U.S. attorney for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He is also the author of a number of books including ‘The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq‘ and ‘Guantanamo: What the World Should Know‘.

America’s ‘successful’ counter-terror campaigns in Somalia and Yemen

Editor’s Note: You can’t fight terror with terror. The more you terrorise people, especially innocent people, the more you run the risk of aiding terror groups recruitment process and ultimately creating revenge attacks. It’s quite simple but those in the U.S. military establishment are either too stupid to understand, or maybe they know exactly what they are doing? Terror begets terror which ends up creating a perpetual war. Perpetual war means constant flow of money and fear with which to control populations. Interventions Watch has produced a great report below on the unsuccessful terror war America has waged in Yemen and Somalia, a policy which is now going to be applied in Iraq and potentially Syria too. 

From Interventions Watch:

‘On Wednesday 10th September, Barack Obama made a major foreign policy speech, in which he set out how the U.S. and anyone who cares to tag along plan to ‘degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy’.

As was widely expected, Obama announced that as part of this ‘strategy’, the U.S. will not ‘hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq’. And by ‘action’ he means, of course, bombing.

He compared the newly announced ‘strategy’ for destroying ISIS in Iraq and Syria to the strategy that has been pursued by the U.S. in recent years in Somalia and Yemen, saying that:

This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

But I just want to take a quick look at how ‘successful’ that strategy has actually been.’

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Ex-Egyptian minister: We warned US ahead of 9/11

Gavriel Fiske reports for The Times of Israel:

‘In the weeks ahead of the September 11 attacks in 2001, Egypt warned the Bush administration repeatedly about an imminent large-scale terror attack to be carried out by al-Qaeda operatives on US soil, but the message was ignored, a former high-ranking Egyptian government official said

Habib al-Adly, who served from 1997 to 2011 as minister of the interior for the Mubarak government, said in court testimony that Egypt received intelligence “from inside the al-Qaeda den” that “America would be subject to a huge terror attack.” In testimony last month that was translated and posted online Tuesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Adly said the intelligence was verified and analyzed, and then president Hosni Mubarak gave the order to pass it on to the US in May of 2001.

The information was passed to both the CIA and FBI several times, Adly said, as Egyptian intelligence received word that the terror attack was moving from the planning to operation stage.’

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Did Certain Foreign Governments Facilitate the 9/11 Attacks?

Justin Raimondo writes for Antiwar:

‘Some thirteen years after the event, the shadow of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon still darkens our world. The legacy of that terrible day has impacted not only our foreign policy, bequeathing to a new generation an apparently endless “war on terrorism,” it also has led directly to what is arguably the most massive assault on our civil liberties since the Alien and Sedition Acts. Getting all the information about what happened that day – and why it happened – is key to understanding the course we have taken since.

This was supposed to have been the purpose of the 9/11 Commission, whose massive report is now looked to as the primary source on the subject. Yet there is another, far more specific investigative report, the one issued by the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress, entitled “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

If you actually take the time to read the report, all goes along swimmingly (except for occasional redactions) until you get to p. 369, whereupon the text is blacked out for the next twenty-eight pages.

What is in the twenty-eight censored pages? You aren’t allowed to know that, but members of Congress can read them provided they write to the heads of the Senate and House intelligence committees and get permission. If such is granted, they are escorted into a soundproof carefully guarded room in the company of various spooks, where they get to read the material: they aren’t allowed to take notes.

Do you get the impression someone has something to hide?’

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Official: Report of missing planes from Libya untrue

Oren Dorell reports for USA Today:

‘A report that 11 planes were stolen or missing days after Libya’s Tripoli International Airport was overtaken by Islamist militias is unfounded, a State Department official told Washington lawmakers Wednesday while defending U.S. policy in the war-torn country.

[...] The report first appeared in the conservative website Washington Free Beacon, which cited an unnamed U.S. official. It alleged that intelligence agencies had warned that Islamist militias working in concert with al-Qaeda affiliates could use the airliners to launch attacks on U.S. allies in North Africa or Europe. And the attacks would be timed to the 9/11 anniversary.’

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The Power of Love Versus the Love of Power

Mel King and Reverend William E. Alberts write for CounterPunch:

‘We have developed the scientific technology to reach outer space, but have yet to discover the empathy to reach each other.  We have learned how to walk on the moon, but remain unable to walk in each other’s shoes.  We now control the heavens with drones that instill fear in the human heart, but lack the humanness to transform our own hearts.  We profess faith in the goodness of “God,” but trust in military power as the real “force for good.”  We pledge allegiance to “liberty and justice for all,” but the bottom line for many is “American exceptionalism.”  An “exceptionalism” that allows our government to commit horrible war crimes against The Other in our name.  An “exceptionalism” that also excludes The Other in America’s white-controlled hierarchy of access to political, economic and legal power.  We profess the power of love, but practice the love of power.’

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Despite ISIS Getting US Arms, Obama Wants to Send More to Syria Rebels

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Yesterday’s big report was that much of the weaponry that ISIS is using, both small arms and anti-tank missiles, were actually provided by the US, for the “moderate” Syrian rebels.

It wasn’t a big surprise that this was going to happen, though the White House tried to spin this as vindication for their decision not to send even more weapons to the rebels, because they had to be super careful to avoid the arms falling into ISIS hands. Which they did anyway.’

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