Category Archives: Middle East & North Africa

Why Brian Williams is a Distraction From True War Propagandists

‘Abby Martin juxtaposes the outrage over Brian Williams’ lie about his experience in Iraq with the lack of concern with lies peddled by journalists like Judith Miller in the lead up to the Iraq War.’ (Breaking the Set)

The Fight Against ISIS On Social Media

IDEX 2015: Arms exporters eye deals at Middle East’s largest defense show

Stanley Carvalho reports for Reuters:

‘International firms will scramble for new orders at the Middle East’s largest arms show which opens in Abu Dhabi next week as oil-rich Gulf states load up on weapons in a region rocked by instability and violence.

The Middle East is the largest market driver in the industry with billions of dollars spent annually on buying military equipment, from drones and jet fighters to guided missiles.

Around 1,200 companies from 55 countries are showcasing their latest military wares and technologies at the biennial International Defense Exhibition (IDEX), starting Sunday in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.’

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Libya: Hillary Clinton’s WMD Moment?

Oil-rich Libya, torn by conflict, may be going broke

Missy Ryan reports for The Washington Post:

‘To the many existential threats facing Libya, it is now possible to add another: the oil-rich nation may be going broke.

Four years after its uprising against dictator Moammar Gaddafi, the North African country is buffeted from all sides: two competing governments vie for power and resources; militias and armed gangs impose their own capricious justice; targeted attacks have driven away investors and diplomats.

[…] Economists and Libyan and U.S. officials say Libya is burning through its international reserves at an alarming rate as the country scrambles to pay a huge bill for wages and subsidies without the benefit of normally ample oil revenues, virtually the country’s only source of income.’

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Egypt’s Sisi: It’s Time to Correct NATO’s Mistakes in Libya

All Africa reports:

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said on Monday that it is time to correct the mistakes made by the NATO in Libya.

“The NATO operation in Libya was not complete, which led the North African country to fall under the control of militant and extremist groups,” Sisi said during his meeting with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Sisi’s remarks came after the Egyptian air force carried out earlier on Monday airstrikes on Daesh hotbeds in Libya in retaliation to the beheading of 21 Egyptian nationals who had been kidnapped in the Libyan city of Sirte.’

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Libyan Chaos and the Un-Islamic State: Interview with Vijay Prashad

Editor’s Note: Vijay Prashad is a historian, journalist and commentator. He is the author of many books including “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter” ( which you can download here). In this interview, recorded Feb 17/18th, Prashad states that the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya destroyed the Libyan state and created the conditions for radical Islamist groups to thrive. He also says that Libya today reminds him of Afghanistan 25 years ago after the Soviet withdrawl which was awash with weapons and fighters jostling for control of the country

Obama, Republicans and the media concur: It’s time for war with ISIS

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

After more than six months of virtually ignoring the fact that the war against Isis was illegal by almost anyone’s standards – given Congress’s cowardly refusal vote on it and the White House’s refusal to ask them first – the Obama administration has finally submitted a draft war authorization against Isis to Congress.

That means the media can go back to doing what it does best: creating a “debate” over how many countries we should invade, without any discussion of how our invasions created the very situation in which we feel we have to contemplate more invasions. It’s like the early Bush years all over again.’

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Drug Addiction In Iran

U.S. Ships $25m of Weapons to Lebanon to Aid Fight Against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra

Jason Ditz reported recently for Antiwar:

A ship loaded down with $25 million worth of US weaponry, mostly artillery, has arrived in Beirut today, the first shipment of US military aid to Lebanon to fight against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

[…] The US has been unwilling to give any official show of support to Syria, which is bearing the brunt of the ISIS fight, but seems to feel more comfortable bankrolling Iraq and Lebanon as a way of getting more involved in the war while keeping its distance from Syria.

Lebanon’s involvement in the war is fairly minor, with only intermittent clashes along the Syrian border. Despite this, the war has also fueled sectarian tensions inside Lebanon, and US weaponry also risks getting involved in that.’

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Hezbollah acknowledges battling the Islamic State in Iraq

Liz Sly and Suzan Haidamous report for The Washington Post:

‘The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement acknowledged for the first time Monday that the Shiite militia has sent fighters to Iraq, and he urged Arab states throughout the region to set aside sectarian rivalries to confront the threat posed by the Islamic State.

In a videotaped speech delivered to followers in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Hasan Nasrallah called on the region’s traditional American allies to abandon their reliance on the United States and instead align with Hezbollah — and by implication with its sponsor Iran — to defeat the Sunni extremists.

“He who relies on the Americans relies on an illusion. You rely on someone who is stealing from you and conniving against you,” he said.’

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Gen. Wesley Clark: “ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies to destroy Hezbollah”

Hailed as a Model for Successful Intervention, Libya Proves to be the Exact Opposite

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

‘[…] Since 2011, Libya has rapidly unraveled in much the way Iraq did following that invasion: swamped by militia rule, factional warfare, economic devastation, and complete lawlessness. And to their eternal shame, most self-proclaimed “humanitarians” who advocated the Libya intervention completely ignored the country once the fun parts — the war victory dances and mocking of war opponents — were over. The feel-good “humanitarianism” of war advocates, as usual, extended only to the cheering from a safe distance as bombs dropped.

The unraveling of Libya is now close to absolute. Yesterday, the same New York Times editorial page that supported the intervention quoted the U.N.’s Libya envoy Bernardino León as observing: “Libya is falling apart. Politically, financially, the economic situation is disastrous.” TheNYT editors forgot to mention that they supported the intervention, but did note that “Libya’s unraveling has received comparatively little attention over the past few months.” In other words, the very same NATO countries that dropped bombs on Libya in order to remove its government collectively ignored the aftermath once their self-celebrations were over.

Into the void of Libya’s predictable disintegration has stepped ISIS, among other groups.’

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Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Its Base Raising Fears of Unending War

Eric Schmitt and David D Kirkpatrick report for The New York Times:

‘The Islamic State is expanding beyond its base in Syria and Iraq to establish militant affiliates in Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt and Libya, American intelligence officials assert, raising the prospect of a new global war on terror.

Intelligence officials estimate that the group’s fighters number 20,000 to 31,500 in Syria and Iraq. There are less formal pledges of support from “probably at least a couple hundred extremists” in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen, according to an American counterterrorism official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information about the group.

[…] But it is unclear how effective these affiliates are, or to what extent this is an opportunistic rebranding by some jihadist upstarts hoping to draft new members by playing off the notoriety of the Islamic State.’

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A Libyan front in the war on ISIS may not be all it seems

Mary Dejevsky writes for The Guardian:

[…] For a government led by a former general, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who took power in what was essentially a military coup and faces seething discontent at home, the temptations of engaging in an external conflict are obvious. Yet this would be to jump ahead, perhaps much further and faster than is justified.

Indeed, the least reliable conclusion from the events of the weekend is probably the most obvious one: the claim that the perpetrators represent the same Islamic State that has cut a swath through northern Iraq and Syria. If anything, the claim underlines rather the nature of Isis as a collection of affiliates, a forbidding – and thus useful – brand name designed to scare enemies with its invocation of a larger cause. Its fundamentalist objectives may be shared, but its geographical sweep is not what it might appear: the actual territory held by Isis, and its degree of organisation, should not be exaggerated.’

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Libya and Egypt launch air strikes against ISIS after militants post beheadings video

Jared Malsin and Chris Stephen report for The Guardian:

Egypt reported that its war planes had struck Isis targets in Libya, shortly after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed revenge for the release by Isis-affiliated militants of a video of a mass killing of Christians.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces General Command announced the strikes on state radio Monday, marking the first time Cairo had publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighbouring Libya.

The statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the strikes were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers”.’

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Egypt Releases Two Al Jazeera Reporters After 411 Days in Jail

‘Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Cairo as Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are ordered released on bail after over a year in prison. Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian citizen, was the acting bureau chief for Al Jazeera English when he was arrested in December 2013 along with Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed. All three were charged with spreading false news and aiding terrorists. They were sentenced last June to between seven and 10 years in prison, a ruling struck a severe blow to press freedom in Egypt and sparked condemnation from around the world. The court said the case against Fahmy and Mohamed is still pending.’ (Democracy Now!)

Brian Williams Suspended for False Iraq Tale, But Media’s Real Scandal is the War Lies Spun Daily

‘NBC News has suspended anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay for making false statements about a 2003 incident in Iraq. Williams apologized last week after it emerged he had wrongly claimed he was on board a U.S. helicopter downed by rocket fire. American soldiers publicly challenged Williams’ account, saying he was nowhere near the aircraft that came under attack. Williams has blamed the “fog of memory” for his mistake. But in a statement, NBC said Williams’ claims were “wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.” We are joined by Norman Solomon, author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”‘ (Democracy NOW!)

Setting people on fire is barbaric and uncivilised… unless you’re doing it with drone missiles

The Warmongering Record of Hillary Clinton

Gary Leupp writes for CounterPunch:

‘If reason and justice prevailed in this country, you’d think that the recent series of articles in the Washington Times concerning the U.S.-NATO attack on Libya in 2011 would torpedo Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects.

Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State at that time knew that Libya was no threat to the U.S. She knew that Muammar Gadhafi had been closely cooperating with the U.S. in combating Islamist extremism. She probably realized that Gadhafi had a certain social base due in part to what by Middle Eastern standards was the relatively equitable distribution of oil income in Libya.

But she wanted to topple Gadhafi. Over the objections of Secretary of “Defense” Robert Gates but responding to the urgings of British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, she advocated war.’

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Russian anthem FAIL during Putin’s visit to Egypt

Congressional Opposition Mobilizes Against Obama’s ISIS War Bill

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

After several months of escalating war, President Obama has finally gotten around to putting forward a draft version of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against ISIS.

The bill is facing growing opposition from both sides, with complaints not only that its vagueness amounts to no limitation at all, but from hawks that wanted the massiveness of the war more explicitly stated.

The White House was quick to try to quiet the hawks by bragging about how they left the language deliberately vague so the president could unilaterally escalate at will. That’s only adding to the problems.’

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Obama aide: ISIS war powers language ‘intentionally’ vague

Justin Sink reports for The Hill:

Language in President Obama’s proposed authorization for use of military force (AUMF)against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is “intentionally” fuzzy, the White House acknowledged on Wednesday.

Press secretary Josh Earnest said some of the language in the bill submitted to Congress on Wednesday was not specifically defined “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander in chief.”

Obama “needs the flexibility to be able to respond to contingencies that emerge in a chaotic military conflict like this,” Earnest argued.

The proposed legislation limits Obama from the use of “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”’

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Former head of UK army: We’re reaping what we sowed in Iraq

Matthew Champion reports for i100:

Lord DannattThe former head of the army has said British troops may need to be deployed in Iraq and Syria to fight Isis, and admitted the West is “reaping a little bit of what we sowed”.

Lord Dannatt, the former chief of the general staff, told Sky News that Britain may need to go beyond committing to air strikes and reconnaissance flights in the coalition against Isis.

In an appearance on the Murnaghan programme, he said the UK and other countries that forced Saddam Hussein from power after the 2003 invasion of Iraq had to bear some of the responsibility for what had happened since.’

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Former UN chief Kofi Annan blames US invasion of Iraq for rise of ISIS

Rudaw reports:

The former UN chief speaking at the Munich conference. AFP photo.‘Former UN chief Kofi Annan blamed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq for the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), warning that the Middle East must evolve and adapt for lasting peace.

Annan, who was speaking Sunday at the Munich Security Conference where many world leaders and ministers have been discussing global issues that include the wars in Iraq and Syria, said he had always opposed the US invasion of Iraq.

“The folly of that fateful decision was compounded by post-invasion decisions,” he said in a speech. “The wholesale disbandment of the security forces, among other measures poured hundreds of thousands of trained and disgruntled soldiers and policemen onto the streets,” he noted.

“The ensuing chaos has proved an ideal breeding ground for the Sunni radical groups that have now coalesced around the Islamic State label,” he said.’

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ISIS war to extend far beyond Iraq and Syria under Obama’s proposed plan

Spencer Ackerman and Dan Roberts report for The Guardian:

US air force raptorsBarack Obama’s proposed framework for the US-led war against the Islamic State will not restrict the battlefield to Iraq and Syria, multiple congressional sources said on Tuesday, placing the US into a second simultaneous global war that will outlast his presidency.

Several congressional sources familiar with the outlines of the proposal, all of whom expected the White House to formally unveil it on Wednesday, told the Guardian the so-called Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) would bless the anti-Isis war for three years.

Congressional language to retroactively justify the six-month-old US war against Isis will not, they said, scrap the broad 9/11-era authorities against al-Qaida, as some congressional Democrats had proposed, meaning the two war authorizations will coexist.

Asked if the anti-Isis AUMF opens the US to a second worldwide war against a nebulous adversary, one congressional aide answered: “Absolutely.”’

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General Allen: Iraq’s Anti-ISIS Ground Offensive to Begin Within Weeks

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘After several months of sort of spinning its wheels in the war against ISIS, retired Gen. John Allen, who’s become sort of the global ambassador to the war, says the Iraqi “ground offensive” will begin in a matter of weeks.

Gen. Allen, whose comments were made to Jordan’s state media, said the coalition intends to provide “major firepower” for the offensive, and that the goal is to “take back Iraq.”’

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Somalia: The careless, astonishing cruelty of Barack Obama’s government

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian:

Illustration by Sebastien ThibaultLet me introduce you to the world’s most powerful terrorist recruiting sergeant: a US federal agency called the office of the comptroller of the currency. Its decision to cause a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the poorest, most troubled places on Earth could resonate around the world for decades.

Last Friday, after the OCC had sent it a cease-and-desist order, the last bank in the United States still processing money transfers to Somalia closed its service. The agency, which reports to the US treasury, reasoned that some of this money might find its way into the hands of the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. It’s true that some of it might, just as some resources in any nation will find their way into the hands of criminals (ask HSBC). So why don’t we shut down the phone networks to hamper terrorism? Why don’t we ban agriculture in case fertiliser is used to make explosives? Why don’t we stop all the clocks to prevent armed gangs from planning their next atrocity?’

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The Shame of US Journalism Is the Destruction of Iraq, Not Fake Helicopter Stories

Christian Christensen writes for Common Dreams:

[…] Given that Williams works for NBC, his participation in the construction of a piece of fiction during the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is apt. US network news, together with outlets such as CNN, aggressively cheer-led an invasion predicated on a massive falsehood: the Iraqi possession of WMD. What is jarring, however, is the fact that Williams’ sad attempt to inject himself into the fabric of the violence is getting more ink and airplay than the non-existence of WMD did back in the early-to-mid 2000s: a lie that provided the justification for a military action that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.’

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Libya: The Humanitarian War (Documentary)