Category Archives: Jordan

Jordan Sends Riot Troops to Bahrain to Help Al Khalifa in Suppressing Protests

Jordan Sends Riot Troops to Bahrain to Help Al Khalifa in Suppressing ProtestsFrom Fars News Agency:

Speaking to FNA, Bahraini opposition activist Ebrahim Al-Aradi said that the Jordanian riot forces have already arrived in the Persian Gulf country via Manama International Airport. “Eyewitnesses have approved the news reports by media sources and it seems that they will join the Bahraini security forces to suppress the upcoming February 14 protests,” he added.

He underlined that it is not the first time that the Al Khalifa regime seeks help from foreign forces to suppress the popular protests as the Saudi and other Persian Gulf Arab troops joined the Bahraini security forces in suppressing the people at the onset of protests more than two years ago. Yet, Al-Aradi underlined that the Bahraini people will mark the third anniversary of their revolution on February 14 irrespective of all suppressive measures.


Syria: Where key countries stand

Click on the above image to view the BBC report


Family of alleged Al Qaeda-linked cleric Abu Qatada ‘plans to move to Jordan’ ~ AFP


The wife and children of cleric Abu Qatada, who faces trial on terror charges in Jordan following his deportation from Britain, are planning to move to Amman from London, a family friend said yesterday.

“Abu Qatada’s wife and five children want to leave Britain and come to Jordan. They are currently preparing for that,” the family friend said, asking not to be named.

Military prosecutors on Sunday charged Abu Qatada, 53, with “conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts,” just hours after his deportation from Britain. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.


As Abu Qatada leaves, Theresa May vows to change human rights law ~ Guardian

by  and Hamza Al Soud
The Guardian

Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, celebrated the successful deportation of Abu Qatada to Jordan on Sunday by saying the long-running saga meant there would have to be “wholesale changes” in Britain’s human rights laws.

The home secretary, Theresa May, also promised she would remove “the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport”.

Liberal Democrat sources accepted the need to change “the phenomenally long deportation procedures in this country”, but said it was perverse to call for withdrawal from the European convention on human rights on the day it had been shown the ECHR was not incompatible with Abu Qatada’s deportation.

The radical cleric was finally flown out of Britain under police guard in the small hours of Sunday morning and has spent his first night in a Jordanian prison cell facing terrorism charges.

[...] The charges of conspiring to carry out terror attacks in Jordan relate to a foiled plot against an American school in Amman, and the alleged targeting of Israeli and American tourists and western diplomats.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the House of Commons home affairs select committee, said it had taken Home Office lawyers too long to conceive of the treaty with Jordan to allay Abu Qatada’s fears that evidence extracted through torture would be used against him. “Only 446 days after the home secretary said Abu Qatada would be on a plane shortly, he has finally reached the end of the runway,” Vaz said.

It was recently disclosed that the fight has cost the taxpayer more than £1.7m since 2005, including £647,658 for Abu Qatada’s legal aid costs and more than £1m in Home Office legal costs. May said she would be proposing reforms to the immigration bill in the autumn and restricting appeals linked to the right to family life in the ECHR. She said longer-term work was also under way on a British bill of rights for inclusion in the Tory manifesto, so opening the way for UK withdrawal from the convention, something she has backed.


Jordan blocks 254 news websites ~ AFP

Two Jordanian university students surf the web at an internet cafe in Irbid, on January 23, 2001. The Jordanian government has blocked 254 unlicensed news websites, 16 of them in the previous two days, using powers under a 2012 law criticised as a threat to freedom of expression.AFP

The Jordanian government said on Tuesday that it had blocked 254 unlicensed news websites, 16 of them in the previous two days, using powers under a 2012 law criticised as a threat to freedom of expression.

Fayez Shawabkeh, head of the Press and Publication Department said: “16 local news websites were blocked in the past two days after carefully examining their situation.

“This brings the total number of sites the PPD blocked recently to 254, while 111 sites have obtained licences.”


Jordanian public opinion against US military presence ~ Press TV

SEE ALSO: Jordan air force pilot joins Syrian rebels (Ynet)

Press TV

A Jordanian political analyst says public opinion in his country is against US military presence in the kingdom.

“Public opinion here does not welcome the Americans, even if they say they want to protect the country,” said political analyst and head of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, Oraib Rintawi.

“For Jordanians, the US military presence is linked to plots and conspiracies against their neighbours, which would impact the country itself,” Rintawi added.

Experts further said Jordanians are suspicious about the presence of US troops and weapons in their country.

Jordanian lawmakers have also voiced opposition to US presence.


Russia voices alarm over US troops in Jordan ~ FT

by John Reed
Financial Times

Russia has expressed alarm over the deployment of US troops and military equipment in Jordan, in an indication of the widening diplomatic fallout from the internationalisation of Syria’s civil war.

“We think more troops in the region doesn’t help, especially now when we agreed with the Americans to bring the conflicting parties to the table to start to launch a dialogue,” Alexander Kalugin, Russia’s ambassador in Amman, told the Financial Times.

Abdullah Ensour, prime minister of Jordan, on Saturday said that the country was hosting 900 US military personnel, the first such public acknowledgment by a Jordanian official.


US to Leave 1,000 Combat Troops Along Syria’s Border ~ Antiwar

by Jason Ditz

The “Eager Lion” military exercise in Jordan was already used as a shoehorn to get US Patriot missile batteries and warplanes into the country, but with the drill finally coming to an end, the US dropped the revelation that 700 combat troops, supposedly sent there just for the two weeks, aren’t leaving either.

Instead, President Obama has announced that those 700 troops are just going to stay in Jordan, along with the about 300 that were already there, right along the Syrian border, until some unspecified future date when the “security situation will allow for their departure.


U.S. gives Syrian rebels missile training in secret camps ~ Daily Mail

Military maneuvers: An air and ground exerciise in south Jordan, where rebels are allegedly being trainedDaily Mail

CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since last year, it has been revealed.

Covert training bases were set up in Jordan and Turkey months before President Obama approved plans to arm the opposition fighting to oust Syria’s President Assad, U.S. officials and rebel leaders claim.

White House officials refused to comment on the Los Angeles Times revelations, but said the U.S. had increased its help to rebels.


US troop buildup in Jordan after Turkey shuts US-NATO arms corridor to Syrian rebels ~ DEBKAfile

Tayyip Erdogan's U-turn on SyriaDEBKAfile

The US decision to upgrade Syrian rebel weaponry has run into a major setback:DEBKAfile reveals that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan phoned President Barack Obama in Berlin Wednesday, June 19, to report his sudden decision to shut down the Turkish corridor for the transfer of US and NATO arms to the Syrian rebels.

Against this background, the US President informed Congress Friday, June 22, that 700 combat-equipped American military personnel would remain in Jordan at the end of a joint US-Jordanian training exercise.

They would include crews of two Patriot anti-aircraft missile batteries and the logistics, command and communications personnel needed to support those units. The United States is also leaving behind from the war maneuver a squadron of 12 to 24 F-16 fighter jets at Jordan’s request. Some 300 US troops have been in Jordan since last year.

Erdogan’s decision will leave the Syrian rebels fighting in Aleppo virtually high and dry. The fall of Qusayr cut off their supplies of arms from Lebanon.


Congressional Hawks Press Syria No-Fly Zone ~ Antiwar

SEE ALSO: Jordan’s King Tells Soldiers: We’ll Emerge Victorious From Syria ‘Threat’ (Antiwar)

by Jason Ditz

The Obama Administration is all set to start arming Syrian rebels, putting aside the ethical concerns and moving forward with that plan after a decision was made weeks ago to do so. There’s still no word on the no-fly zone out of the White House however.

And that’s got the hawks in Congress enraged, because having finally got the US sucked into at least directly arming combatants in the Syrian Civil War, they see a “no-fly zone” as the next logical step toward a full invasion and regime change.


U.S. to send Patriot missiles, F-16s to Jordan ~ UPI


Deployment of a Patriot missile battery and F-16 fighter jets to Jordan was approved over the weekend, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said.

Delivery of the weaponry, as part of a multinational training exercise, was approved by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, CNN said Monday, noting a broader message is being sent.

“In order to enhance the defensive posture and capacity of Jordan, some of these assets may remain beyond the exercise at the request of the government of Jordan,” said Lt. Col. T.G. Taylor, a spokesman at the U.S. Central Command.


Jordan to host major 18-nation military drill ~ Press TV

Press TV

‘Citing an official speaking on condition of anonymity, Jordan’sPetra news agency reported on Saturday that troops from countries including the US, Britain, Bahrain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen will take part in the military exercise, dubbed “Eager Lion 2013.”

The official added that troops from “friendly countries” will come to Jordan in the coming weeks to participate in the war games.

He noted that the maneuver, which will last for two weeks, would follow a “successful” similar drill in 2012.’


Syrian refugees ‘sold for marriage’ in Jordan ~ BBC

by Beth McLeod
BBC News

‘[...] Andrew Harper, the Representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan, is concerned that some of the 500,000 Syrian refugees in the country are increasingly turning to such desperate measures.

“We don’t have enough resources to give aid to all those who need it. The vast majority of refugees are women and children. Many of them are not used to going out to work, so survival sex becomes an option.”

His office in central Amman is surrounded by hundreds of newly arrived refugees, waiting in long lines to register for aid. He says the UNHCR has intervened with some families who have been offering their daughters up for early marriage.’


Jordan ‘opens airspace for Israeli drones’ ~ Haaretz


Jordan 'opens airspace for Israeli drones'Jordan has opened two corridors of its air space to allow unmanned Israeli drones through to monitor the situation in Syria, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Sunday.

The report is based on an interview with a Western military source based in the Middle East. There has been no official confirmation from any other source.

The source told Le Figaro that King Abdullah of Jordan decided to open the air space in an unusual gesture, following U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the region last month. With such permission, Israeli would not have to fly over southern Lebanon en route to monitoring Syria.

Le Figaro said that only a restricted group of Western intelligence sources were aware of the Jordanian decision.


Patriot missiles to be deployed along Jordan-Syria border ~ Times of Israel

Times of Israel

An illustrative photo of a Patriot missile system (photo credit: CC-BY-SA Darkone/Wikimedia Commons)US Army officials have agreed to deploy two Patriot missile batteries along the Jordan-Syria border, London-based paper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Friday.

According to the report, the decision came after Jordanian officials requested that the US assist in protecting and securing the kingdom’s borders.

Citing a Jordanian source, the report also claimed that the two Patriot missile batteries will be transferred from Qatar and Kuwait.

Earlier this year, several Patriot batteries were redeployed along the Turkey-Syria border after Ankara requested protection from stray mortar shells.


U.S. military to step up presence in Jordan in light of Syria civil war ~ CNN

by Barbara Starr

In a critical indication of growing U.S. military involvement in the civil war in Syria, CNN has learned Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering the deployment of up to 200 troops to Jordan, according to two Defense Department officials.

The troops, which will come from the headquarters of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, “creates an additional capability” beyond what has been there, one official said.

The group will give the United States the ability to “potentially form a joint task force for military operations, if ordered,” he said.

The new deployment will include communications and intelligence specialists who will assist the Jordanians and “be ready for military action” if President Barack Obama were to order it, the official said.

This comes as the Pentagon has recently reviewed military options for Syria although Obama has not ordered any to be put into action.

There have been several dozen American troops, mainly special forces, in Jordan for the past year assisting the Jordanians.

But that group has been very ad hoc, the official said. This new deployment makes the U.S. military presence more official and is the first formalized ongoing presence of an American military unit in the Kingdom in recent years.


Jordan to Head Syria Rebel Arms Program ~ Antiwar

by Jason Ditz

The Jordanian government has reportedly agreed to be in charge of the huge Saudi Arabia-funded push to arm Syrian rebels, a move that inserts the nation into an even more direct role in the rebellion.

Jordan already hosts a major US military training effort for the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), and is hoping to parlay its existing ties with the rebel movement into more direct influence on where the weapons go.

The Hashemite Kingdom seems to be resigned to having no ties with the Assad government, but is said to view the growing prospect of an al-Qaeda-backed Islamist regime in Syria as an even bigger threat, and is hoping to prop up more “moderate” portions of the rebellion. In the end though, those moderates are still fighting arm in arm with the Jabhat al-Nusra and others, and it remains to be seen if arming one group but not the other will really keep arms from getting spread around.

Meanwhile, Britain is looking to up its own “aid” in rebel held portions of northern Syria. That’s been a problem in the past, with rebels stealing much of the aid, but the British government is looking to eliminate the middle man by sending all the aid to the rebels directly.


Iraq, Jordan ink $18 billion oil deal ~ AFP

Agence France-Presse

Spherical tanks are seen at Jordan Petroleum Refinery in the city of Zarqa, 25 km northeast of Amman April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed Amman and Baghdad have signed a deal to extend an $18-billion pipeline to the Red Sea city of Aqaba to export Iraqi crude and supply Jordan with oil and gas, an Iraqi official has said.

“The two countries have signed an agreement to build a 1,700-kilometer pipeline from Basra to Aqaba,” Nihad Musa, director of the State Company for Oil Projects, told Jordan’s official news agency, Petra, in Amman on April 9. “The designs and technical studies, which are currently being conducted by a Canadian company, are scheduled to be done by the end of this year.”


Syrian Rebel Seize Jordan Border Garrison, Dozens Killed ~ Antiwar

by Jason Ditz

Capping a week-long round of reports about increased activity training Syrian rebels in Jordan, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has captured a major army garrison in southeastern Syria, along the Jordan border.

Syrian rebel sources say “dozens” of people were killed in the capture of the Um al-Mayathen garrison, the center of Syrian Army defenses in the Daraa Province charged with controlling the border area.

Jordan’s Information Minister commented earlier on the matter, saying that they are making sure the US is only training “secular” rebels in their country, adding “Jordan can’t sit idle and watch al-Qaeda and other militants seizing control of its common border.”

Backing the secular portion of the rebellion as a counter to al-Qaeda is a strategy a lot of regional officials have backed, but with the al-Qaeda-backed portions doing much of the heavy lifting across Syria, they seem to be either propping up secular auxiliaries for them or setting the stage for yet another religious civil war if and when the current one ends.


Lights go out in Jordan as energy crisis bites ~ Reuters

by Suleiman Al-Khalidi

A general view shows Central Electricity Generating Co., Hussein Thermal Power Station in the city of Zarqa, 25 km (15 miles) northeast of Amman April 2, 2013. REUTERS-Muhammad HamedAfter midnight on one of Jordan’s busiest highways, only the beaming headlights of vehicles driving between the capital Amman and the Dead Sea pierce the gloom.

The highway is lined with street lights as it weaves down from Amman to the valley floor below sea level, but none are switched on. The government can no longer afford the bill.

The resource-poor kingdom, which imports 97 percent of its energy, has in the past two years seen the annual cost of those purchases soar above $5 billion (3.3 billion pounds) – equivalent to about 15 percent of its gross domestic product – after supplies of cheap Egyptian gas were disrupted by sabotage of a pipeline to Jordan.

Dependent now on costly diesel and fuel oil, Jordan is considering wider electricity rationing and is preparing a hike in electricity prices in June, a politically fraught move in a country which saw street protests last year over fuel subsidy cuts imposed as a condition for a $2 billion IMF loan.

“Energy is the Achilles heel of the Jordanian economy, it’s a huge vulnerability for Jordan…the biggest drain on the economy,” Nemat Shafik, deputy head of the International Monetary Fund, said during a visit to Jordan last month.

It is not just cost but capacity which the government is struggling to manage.

Jordan’s failure to modernise its decades-old oil refinery, which handles 140,000 barrels per day of crude imports but has only a limited ability to refine high-quality diesel, has worsened the crisis, experts say.


Syria warns Jordan over aiding rebels ~ AP

FILE - In this Thursday March 28, 2013 file image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows fighters from the Syrian Free Army fire on a Syrian army position in Deal less than 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the Jordanian border in Daraa province, Syria. Syrian rebels captured a military base in the south and may be poised to seize control a strategically important region along the border with Jordan, something that would give them a critical gateway to attempt an attack on the capital Damascus. With foreign aid and training of rebels in Jordan ramping up, the opposition fighters have recaptured momentum and may also soon control Syria's side of the Golan Heights along a sensitive border with Israel. (AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video, File)Syria’s regime sternly warned neighboringJordan on Thursday that it was “playing with fire” by allowing the U.S. and other countries to train and arm rebels on its territory.

Jordan, America’s closest ally in the Arab world, has long been nervous that President Bashar Assad’s hard-line regime could retaliate for supporting the rebels. The warning carried on state media may add to those jitters, though Jordanian government officials publicly downplayed it as “mere speculation by the Syrian media.”

Syrian state television said leaks in U.S. media show Jordan “has a hand in training terrorists and then facilitating their entry into Syria.” State radio accused Jordan of “playing with fire.”

A front-page editorial in the government daily al-Thawra accused Amman of adopting a policy of “ambiguity” by training the rebels while at the same time publicly insisting on a “political solution” to the Syrian crisis.

“Jordan’s attempt to put out the flame from the leaked information will not help as it continues with its mysterious policy, which brings it closer to the volcanic crater,” the paper said.


US Training Syrian Rebels in Jordan ~ Antiwar

by John Glaser

Anonymous American officials have told The Associated Press that there is an ongoing effort to train “secular Syrian fighters in Jordan” and aiding so-called “moderates” in the rebel forces trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

6831722184_1f2e10d2bc_zThe press has reported these clandestine activities for several months now, but the official reiteration signals the Obama administration’s intention to make the policy known, perhaps to placate voices in Washington urging more decisive action in Syria’s long, bloody civil war.

“The training has been taking place since late last year at an unspecified location, concentrating largely on Sunnis and tribal Bedouins who formerly served as members of the Syrian army,” according to The Associated Press. The trainees are not current members of the Free Syrian Army, officials said, because the US “fear[s] the growing role of extremist militia groups in the rebel ranks, including some linked to al-Qaida.”

The military training has coincided with a sharp increase in the CIA’s effort to coordinate the delivery of weapons to Syria’s rebels from countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and others. This, despite the Obama administration’s continuing claims to stop short of directly arming the rebels.

While Washington claims its efforts are meant to stem the rise of Islamic extremists in the rebel forces, some with links to al-Qaeda, their ability to properly vet rebels is extremely limited and has failed in the past, according to intelligence officials.

In October, The New York Times published an article confirming that, “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists,” despite so-called vetting processes by the US.

Not only are the rebel groups receiving aid, but they face increasing allegations of war crimes and just last week appear to have used chemical weapons, an act President Obama has deemed a “red line” for the Assad regime.

Besides the poor capacity to direct arms to supposedly moderate elements of the rebel opposition, the meddling in Syria’s civil war is prolonging the conflict, pushing it towards stalemate by boosting the fighting confidence of the rebels, while Assad maintains his backing from other allies.


CIA aids huge arms smuggling to Syria ~ RT

Reuters / Larry DowningThe CIA reportedly has a hand in clandestine supply of arms to Syrian rebels by Gulf States. At least 3,500 tons of have been delivered – some ending up on the black market, with the Turkish government an active player, a media report says.

The flow of arms continues with the help of US agents as Washington criticizes Iran and Russia for delivering weapons to the Syrian regime, the New York Times says. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq on Sunday to close its airspace to Iranian flights just as the latest arms delivery from Qatar for Syrian rebels was landing in Turkey, according to the daily’s report.

The newspaper cites air traffic data, US and foreign officials and rebel commanders in its investigation.

The airlift reportedly began in early 2012 with a Qatari Emir Air Force C-130 transport aircraft flight. Saudi Arabia and Jordan have joined in in November, when it became a major operation. More than 160 military flights have landed in Turkey over the time. Esenboga Airport near Ankara was the prime destination, but others were also involved, the newspaper claims.

“A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment,” Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told the newspaper. He added that it appears as a “well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation.”

Indeed, CIA agents have a direct input on the deliveries, albeit mostly consultative, NYT says. The spy agency reportedly helps with procurement of weapons in Croatia and vets Syrian rebel groups, which would receive the weapons.

The involvement was supposedly motivated by the fact that the Arab states would supply arms to the Syrian militants anyway. The hopes CIA its can steer away the arms from Islamists’ hands and prevent weapons which can potentially be used by terrorist against civilian targets from being delivered, a former US official told the newspaper.

The operation was a limited success apparently, NYT says, citing two Islamist commanders.


US-British Al Qaeda Airlift: 3,000 Tons of Weapons Fuel Syria’s Destruction ~ Land Destroyer

by Tony Cartalucci

The primary reason, we are told, that the West must immediately begin wider operations to support the so-called Syrian rebels is to head off extremists – namely Al Qaeda, from overrunning Syria. This narrative has been sold for nearly a year now as it has become evidently clear that all major offensives in Syria against the Syrian people and their government have been led by Al Qaeda terrorist fronts, including most notoriously, Jabhat al-Nusra.

It turns out, however, according the London Telegraph, that the US and Britain have already been arming terrorists operating in Syria for some time, including a massive airlift of 3,000 tons of weapons, sent across Syria’s borders with Jordan and NATO-member Turkey. In the Telegraph’s article titled, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’,” it is reported:

It claimed 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November
The story confirmed the origins of ex-Yugoslav weapons seen in growing numbers in rebel hands in online videos, as described last month by The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, but suggests far bigger quantities than previously suspected.
The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours. But the report added that as well as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.
British military advisers however are known to be operating in countries bordering Syria alongside French and Americans, offering training to rebel leaders and former Syrian army officers. The Americans are also believed to be providing training on securing chemical weapons sites inside Syria.

With so much admitted involvement in the violence aimed at overthrowing Syria’s government by the West, it is inconceivable that Al Qaeda could be “overrunning moderate forces” in Syria, unless of course, no such moderate forces exist, and the West had planned from the beginning to use Al Qaeda as a mercenary force. And indeed, that is precisely what is happening. It has been established with documented evidence since at least 2007, and reaffirmed with this latest report.

Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?“stated explicitly that:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Is there any doubt that the US has executed this plot in earnest, arming and funding sectarian extremists “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” on both Syria’s northern and southern border? Where else, if not from the West and its regional allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, could extremists be getting their weapons, cash, and logistical support from?

And of course, Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey have been long-ago identified by the US Army’s own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) as hotbeds of sectarian extremist/Al Qaeda activity – hotbeds that the West is purposefully funneling thousands of tons of weaponry through, while disingenuously claiming it is attempting to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of extremists.

The CTC’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” identified Syria’s southeastern region near Dayr Al-Zawr on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the northwestern region of Idlib near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border, as having produced the majority of fighters found crossing over into Iraq throughout the duration of the Iraq War.

Image: (Left) West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from during the US invasion/occupation. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria’s southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called “pro-democracy fighters.” 


These areas are now admittedly the epicenters of fighting, and more importantly, despite being historical hotbeds of Al Qaeda activity, precisely where the West is flooding with cash, weapons, and military “advisers.” Just like in Libya where the West literally handed an entire nation to sectarian extremists, we are watching a verbatim repeat in Syria – where we are told Al Qaeda terrorists are “pro-democracy” “freedom fighters” that deserve US cash, weapons, and support, when it couldn’t be any clearer they aren’t.

Not only has the US and UK lied to the world about their policy toward Syria and their current level of support for increasingly overt terrorists committing an array of atrocities – their latest act including the taking of over 20 UN peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights - but have revealed once again the manufactured facade that is the “War on Terror.”


West training Syrian rebels in Jordan ~ Guardian

by  and 

Jordanian soldiers stand guard on Syria borderWestern training of Syrian rebels is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, and to begin building security forces to maintain order in the event of Bashar al-Assad’s fall.

Jordanian security sources say the training effort is led by the US, but involves British and French instructors.

The UK Ministry of Defence denied any British soldiers were providing direct military training to the rebels, though a small number of personnel, including special forces teams, have been in the country training the Jordanian military.

But the Guardian has been told that UK intelligence teams are giving the rebels logistical and other advice in some form.

British officials have made it clear that they believe new EU rules have now given the UK the green light to start providing military training for rebel fighters with the aim of containing the spread of chaos and extremism in areas outside the Syrian regime’s control.

According to European and Jordanian sources the western training in Jordan has been going on since last year and is focused on senior Syrian army officers who defected.

“As is normal, before any major decision is taken on this issue, the preparations are made so that when that decision is taken, everything is in place for it to go smoothly. That is what these groups [special forces] do. They go in in advance,” a European diplomat said.

A Jordanian source familiar with the training operations said: “It’s the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected. But we’re not talking about a huge operation.”

He added that there had so far been no “green light” for the rebel forces being trained to be sent into Syria. But they would be deployed if there were signs of a complete collapse of public services in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, which could trigger a million more Syrians seeking refuge in Jordan, which is reeling under the strain of accommodating the 320,000 who have already sought shelter there.

The aim of sending western-trained rebels over the border would be to create a safe area for refugees on the Syrian side of the border, to prevent chaos and to provide a counterweight to al-Qaida-linked extremists who have become a powerful force in the north.

British officials say new European guidelines on the Syrian arms embargo, formally adopted by the EU at the beginning of March, allow military training as long as the ultimate aim of that training is “the protection of civilians”.

Paris takes an identical view of the EU rules.

Officials in Brussels say the language of the guidelines is less than clear-cut. “It’s deliberately hazy,” said one. “When it comes to technical assistance, what it means in practice depends on who you ask. The Brits and the French, for example, are much more forward-leaning than others. The principle is that the assistance should be for the protection of civilians, but as we saw in Libya, that can be interpreted in different ways.”

British officials argue that training of Syrian forces to fill the security vacuum as the Assad regime collapses would be help safeguard civilian lives.


The CIA Is Training Syria’s Rebels: Uh-Oh, Says a Top Iraqi Leader ~ Robert Dreyfuss

by Robert Dreyfuss

The United States is slipping and sliding down that proverbial “slippery slope” in Syria toward something that looks increasingly like war.

Most worryingly, according to The New York Times, the CIA is training Syrian fighters in Jordan. Buried in its story today about Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that the United States will increase aid to the rebels, including medical supplies and those always tasty MREs (“Meals Ready to Eat”), was this previously unreported nugget:

A covert program to train rebel fighters, which State Department officials here were not prepared to discuss, has also been under way. According to an official in Washington, who asked not to be identified, the CIA since last year has been training groups of Syrian rebels in Jordan.

The official did not provide details about the training or what difference it may have made on the battlefield, but said the CIA had not given weapons or ammunition to the rebels. An agency spokesman declined to comment.

Now, let us not be shocked, shocked that the CIA is doing this; in fact, it’s very likely that this is the tip of a very large iceberg. Undoubtedly, the CIA, and the Pentagon, is coordinating a regional effort involving the Sunni bloc involving Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Qatar to topple the Assad government in Damascus. That, folks, is called “regime change.” And we’ve seen it before.

The additional $60 million in US aid to Syria’s rebels is headed to the coffers of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) and to the Syrian Military Council (SMC), a newly created body that purports to represent the so-called Syrian Free Army. Interestingly enough, although Egypt has pretty much stayed out of the fray in Syria officially, the SOC and the SMC are based in Cairo, Egypt, whose Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni secret society, is backing the Muslim Brotherhood–led rebels in Syria. At a background briefing yesterday, a State Department official said this:

The United States will be sending technical advisors through our implementing partners to support the SOC’s staff at their Cairo headquarters in the execution of this assistance. This will ensure that the assistance continues to comply with U.S. rules and regulations on the use of foreign assistance, including vetting, oversight, and monitoring. To remind that this additional $60 million for the SOC is in addition to the more than $50 million in nonlethal support we have already provided to help Syrian activists organize opposition efforts across the country and to amplify their message to Syrians and to the world through communications and broadcasting equipment.

There’s a long analysis of the Syrian Free Army and the SMC published by the Institute for the Study of War, a neoconservative think tank in Washington. Here’s an excerpt:

The Supreme Military Council was created on the heels of a three day conference held in Antalya, Turkey, from December 5-7, 2012. During this conference, rebel leaders from across Syria announced the election of a new 30-member unified command structure called the Supreme Military Command (SMC). The SMC is led by Chief of Staff Major General Salim Idriss and includes 11 former officers and 19 civilian leaders.

The SMC differs from previous efforts to unify the military opposition because more groups and support networks are included. It could prove to be a more sustainable organization than its predecessors. The SMC includes all of Syria’s most important field commanders, and its authority is based on the power and influence of these rebel leaders including: Abdel Qadir Salah, head of the Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo; Mustafa Abdel Karim, head of the Dara al-Thawra Brigade; Ahmed Issa, head of Suqour al-Sham Brigade in Idlib; Jamal Marouf, head of the Syrian Martyrs Brigade in Idlib; Osama al-Jinidi, head of the Farouq Battalions; and General Ziad al-Fahd, head of the Damascus Military Council.

The SMC was organized to incorporate the supply chains and networks that already existed inside Syria and eventually channel them through the centralized units of the SMC. In order to achieve this goal, the command is divided into five geographic fronts with six elected members each: the Eastern front, the Western/Middle front, the Northern front, the Southern front, and the Homs front.

That all sounds organized enough, but on the ground, inside Syria, the lines of authority and the lines of command are less than clear, and many of the anti-Assad fighters are radical and extreme Islamists and Al Qaeda types. Although the United States would like to “vet” the recipients of its aid, and although the people that the CIA is training in Jordan are probably from the more-moderate rather than less-moderate part of the anti-Assad spectrum, there’s just no telling what Syria after the fall of Assad might look like.

One person who’s worried about exactly that is Faleh al-Fayyah, the national security adviser of Iraq, who spoke yesterday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. In his talk, he was asked about recent comments from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who worried about Syria spinning out of control. Iraq, of course, ruled by a Shiite coalition, is petrified at the idea that a bunch of Sunni radicals and Muslim Brotherhood types might take over in Damascus, leading to civil war, partition and a spillover into Iraq. As Fayyah said:

I believe that the statement by his excellency, Prime Minister al-Maliki, yesterday was an analysis for the potential and possible repercussions that would happen given the developments in Syria. And if it’s a bad, negative end to the – to the issue in Syria, then you will see the partition of the country, you would see a civil – a civil war, you would see a potentially a – (inaudible) – and also you would see – and also if the extremist factions come into power in a new regime, in a new order in Syria, then this will export an array of problems to Iraq.

He went on:

We have also started to see that some of these problems started being shipped to Lebanon, exported to Lebanon, and the ripple effect is now being seen in Lebanon. The prime minister’s analysis is an accurate and correct one. And if the situation keeps going in that direction that it is taking today, we feel there might be a civil war, there might be a sectarian partition of the – of the country and also we feel that terrorist groups may try to get the upper hand in that environment. Therefore, we feel if the situation goes into that direction, the future of the Middle East will witness tension, will witness further problems, and in that effect, the analysis of his excellency the prime minister, Prime Minister Maliki, was accurate and correct.

So what are we looking at? The very regime that the United States installed in Baghdad, now closely aligned with Iran, is fearful that the regime we are now trying to install in Damascus might be a bitter enemy—which, naturally, will drive Baghdad into the waiting arms of Tehran.

Given the rhetoric in Washington, Barack Obama won’t be able to resist the drumbeat of war in Syria for long, Robert Dreyfuss predicts.


Jordan Elections: Empty Pageant? ~ Breaking the Set

Abby Martin talks to RT Correspondent Lucy Kafanov about the recent parliamentary elections in Jordan and the public sentiment toward a reform process that critics call ‘cosmetic’.

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Jordanians elect new parliament with 57% turnout ~ AP

Jordanians voted Wednesday for a parliament with wider authority as the monarchy cedes some of its powers to try to prevent simmering dissent from boiling over into a full blown Arab uprising.

Most notably, the new legislature will be able to choose the prime minister, one of a series of reforms King Abdullah II has undertaken over the past two years to try to keep the lid on rising anger at home as political turmoil has swept across the Middle East. The reforms also make the elected legislature responsible for much of the nation’s day-to-day affairs, and allow for greater freedom of opinion and assembly. Foreign policy and security matters, however, remain — at least for now — in the hands of the king.

The 2011 Arab Spring uprisings in the region set off a wave of demonstrations in Jordan, although nothing on the scale of the protests that toppled autocratic leaders in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, let alone the revolt in neighboring Syria that has descended into a bloody civil war. Mindful of the turmoil around him, Abdullah has introduced the reforms at home in a measured manner, trying to manage the pace of change.

To that end, the king has touted the election as the first step on the path to greater democracy. His critics, however, have dismissed the vote as little more than a political ploy, and argue that the monarchy will still retain its absolute powers. The country’s main opposition group, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, boycotted the election.


Most Russians and Pakistanis say they prefer a ‘strong ruler’ over democracy ~ Washington Post

by Max Fisher

Pew asked people in seven countries whether they prefer democratic government or one with a “strong” leader. The latter choice was more popular in only two countries: Pakistan and Russia. In the other five, democracy is most popular among polled respondents.

Source: Pew Global Attitude

People in these seven countries, generally speaking, seem to have the kind of government they want. The one exception is Pakistan, where people seem to want less democracy, based on this poll. The other results suggest bad news for Russia’s opposition and good news for public pressure keeping Egypt’s new government in check. Here’s the poll question as it was read:

Some feel that we should rely on a democratic form of government to solve our country’s problems. Others feel that we should rely on a leader with a strong hand to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your opinion?

Democracy is most popular in Lebanon, at 80 percent, perhaps because of the turmoil in neighboring dictatorships but despite the many ups and downs of Lebanon’s tumultuous parliamentary system. Democracy is also popular in three countries that are in the slow process of instituting their own: Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt. That’s probably not a coincidence, given that building a democratic system requires enormous popular buy-in as well as, often, overwhelming public pressure against the old ways.