Category Archives: Middle East & North Africa

Vijay Prashad on the ‘Ruthless’ Bombing of Yemen and Palestine, How Libya Mirrors Iraq, and the U.S. Election

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez are joined by Vijay Prashad to discuss a number of issues covered in his latest book: The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. Prashad briefly covers the conflicts in Yemen and Palestine, how the regime change operation in Libya mirrors what happened in Iraq, and whether there are any differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to the outside world. (Democracy Now!)

Why Celtic Fans Flew the Flag for Palestine

Kevin McKenna writes for The Guardian:

[…] During the fascist regime of General Franco in Spain, to display the Catalan flag was to risk death or imprisonment. The only place where the Catalans could safely fly these fags was Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium. Barcelona FC now embodies Catalan identity and pride. Wherever there is oppression in the world, football, by its very nature, can provide a vehicle for expressing pride in a national cause. It was never only ever about football.

Celtic supporters know this too. Their club was founded in 1887 and played its first game in 1888 to raise funds for the relief of the poor Irish who had gathered in the East End of Glasgow. When they arrived in the city they initially faced resentment, discrimination and squalor. Every time Celtic won a game their suffering was eased a little.

In Scotland, those days are long departed. In Palestine, though, another oppressed people is suffering. Perhaps now because of a simple act of solidarity and generosity, they will know that they don’t suffer alone.

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Journalist Andrew Cockburn on the U.S. Role in Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen

Amy Goodman speaks to Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor for Harper’s magazine, about America’s role in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. His latest piece for Harper’s is headlined Acceptable Losses: Aiding and Abetting the Saudi Slaughter in Yemen. He is author of a number of books, his latest is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. (Democracy Now!)

Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

As the numerous and obvious ethical conflicts surrounding the Clinton Foundation receive more media scrutiny, the tactic of Clinton-loyal journalists is to highlight the charitable work done by the foundation, and then insinuate — or even outright state — that anyone raising these questions is opposed to its charity. James Carville announced that those who criticize the foundation are “going to hell.” Other Clinton loyalists insinuated that Clinton Foundation critics are indifferent to the lives of HIV-positive babies or are anti-gay bigots.

That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in its name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for president.

The claim that this is all just about trying to help people in need should not even pass a laugh test, let alone rational scrutiny. To see how true that is, just look at who some of the biggest donors are. Although it did not give while she was secretary of state, the Saudi regime by itself has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, with donations coming as late as 2014, as she prepared her presidential run. A group called “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” co-founded “by a Saudi Prince,” gave an additional amount between $1 million and $5 million. The Clinton Foundation says that between $1 million and $5 million was also donated by“the State of Qatar,” the United Arab Emirates, and the government of Brunei. “The State of Kuwait” has donated between $5 million and $10 million.

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The Drone Presidency

David Cole reviews four new books on Obama’s drone wars for The New York Review of Books:

Anti-drone graffiti in Sanaa, Yemen, November 2013On March 5, the United States used unmanned drones and manned aircraft to drop bombs on a group of what it described as al-Shabab militants at a camp about 120 miles north of Mogadishu, Somalia, killing approximately 150 of them. The administration claimed that the militants presented an imminent threat to African Union troops in the region with whom US advisers have been working, although it produced no evidence to support the claim. The news that the United States had killed 150 unnamed individuals in a country halfway around the world with which it is not at war generated barely a ripple of attention, much less any protest, here at home. Remote killing outside of war zones, it seems, has become business as usual.

This is a remarkable development, all the more noteworthy in that it has emerged under Barack Obama, who came to office as an antiwar president, so much so that he may be the only person to win the Nobel Peace Prize based on wishful thinking. Our Peace Prize president has now been at war longer than any other American president, and has overseen the use of military force in seven countries—Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. In the latter four countries, virtually all the force has come in the form of unmanned drones executing suspected terrorists said to be linked to al-Qaeda or its “associated forces.”

That an antiwar president has found the drone so tempting ought to be a warning sign. As Hugh Gusterson writes in Drone: Remote Control Warfare:

If targeted killing outside the law has been so attractive to a president who was a constitutional law professor, who opposed the war in Iraq from the very beginning, who ended the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program, and who announced his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp on assuming office, it is unlikely that any successor to his office will easily renounce the seductions of the drone.

And it is not only President Trump or Clinton we need to worry about. Other countries are unlikely to be reticent about resort to unmanned aerial warfare to “solve” problems beyond their borders. Already, Israel, the United Kingdom, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan have joined the US in deploying armed drones. China is selling them at a list price of only $1 million. In short order, most of the developed world will have them. And when other nations look for precedents, Obama’s record will be Exhibit A.

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The Forgotten U.S. Government Plan to Round Up Muslims

Ben Wofford reports for Politico Magazine:

TFC-8-19-lede.jpeg[…] The 40-page memo described a government contingency plan for rounding up thousands of legal alien residents of eight specified nationalities: Libya, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan and Morocco. Emergency legal measures would be deployed—rescinding the right to bond, claiming the privilege of confidential evidence, excluding the public from deportation hearings, among others. In its final pages, buried in a glaze of bureaucratese, the memo struck its darkest note: A procedure to detain and intern thousands of aliens while they awaited what would presumably become a mass deportation. Van Der Hout read the final pages carefully. The details conjured a vivid image of a massive detainment facility: 100 outdoor acres in the backwoods of Louisiana, replete with specifications for tents and fencing materials, cot measurements and plumbing requirements.

Four decades had passed since the U.S. closed its World War II-era internment camps, a disgraceful chapter when, without cause, the federal government forcibly relocated 120,000 Japanese Americans, imprisoning them across an archipelago of camps pocking the American South and West. Now, a working group in the Reagan administration was grasping for a similar-sounding measure. In 1987, the targets would not be Japanese Americans, but Middle Eastern aliens, lawful U.S. residents without the protection of green cards.

This wasn’t the far-fetched fever dream of an INS hothead; it was the product of careful deliberation, a process that had begun months earlier in the White House. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan, jarred by images of Americans killed on foreign soil at the hands of terrorists, sought a more aggressive tack to an emerging threat. It was the beginning of a shift from the twilight calm of the Cold War to a hotter, all-encompassing federal fixation on terrorism.

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The U.S. Is Promoting War Crimes In Yemen

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Saudi Arabia resumed its appalling war in Yemen last week and has already killed dozens more civilians, destroyed a school full of children and leveled a hospital full of sick and injured people. The campaign of indiscriminate killing – though let’s call it what it is: a war crime – has now been going on for almost a year and a half. And the United States bears a large part of the responsibility.

This US-backed war is not just a case of the Obama administration sitting idly by while its close ally goes on a destructive spree of historic proportions. The government is actively selling the Saudis billions of dollars of weaponry. They’re re-supplying planes engaged in the bombing runs and providing “intelligence” for the targets that Saudi Arabia is hitting.

Put simply, the US is quite literally funding a humanitarian catastrophe that, by some measures, is larger than the crisis in Syria. As the New York Times editorial board wrote this week: “Experts say the coalition would be grounded if Washington withheld its support.” Yet all we’ve heard is crickets.

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Hillary Clinton’s Syria War Plans

Kelley B. Vlahos writes for The American Conservative:

Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper / FlickrIn a seemingly full-throated promise to voters in Scranton, Pa. on Monday, Hillary Clinton said adding “American ground troops” in the war against ISIS in Syria “is off the table.”

But every message coming from her surrogates in the media and in the Washington defense establishment has been that she will “lean in” harder in Syria, and whether you want to call it “added ground troops” or something else, everyone in her orbit is calling for expanded U.S. intervention—including personnel and firepower—in the region, even at the risk of confrontation with Russia.

For weeks, a parade of high-stepping national-security officials—some barely out of government service—have been rattling their sabers passionately for a Hillary Clinton presidency. From Michael Vickers, a former intelligence official most celebrated for his promotion of hunt-to-kill operations in the War on Terror, to (Ret.) Gen. John Allen and ex-CIA Chief Mike Morrell, there is a growing backbench of Washington establishment macho men—and women—who testify to Clinton’s “run it up the gut” security chops, and more than one has noted her well-publicized break with President Obama on Syria. She, of course, having been more hawkish than the other from the start.

Her advisors say Syria will take top priority in her first days in office, and, in addition to ISIS, President Bashar Assad must go. So it is important to examine what a real Clinton Syria policy might look like despite her rhetoric on the campaign trail.

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Inside Assad’s Brutal Saydnaya Prison

Oliver Wainwright reports for The Guardian:

[…] A black spot on the human rights map, the high-security prison has been off limits to journalists and monitoring groups in recent years. It stands 25km north of Damascus, near the ancient Saydnaya monastery where Christians and Muslims have prayed together for centuries. A mute concrete trefoil is discernible from Google Earth, standing in the centre of a 100-hectare desert compound. Nothing has been known about what goes on inside until now.

To coincide with the launch of a damning new report, which estimates that 17,723 people have died in custody in Syria since the crisis began in March 2011, Amnesty has collaborated with the Forensic Architecture agency at Goldsmiths, University of London, to reconstruct the site.

“As we pieced together the model, we realised the building isn’t only a space where incarceration, surveillance and torture take place,” says Eyal Weizman, director of Forensic Architecture, “but that the building is, itself, an architectural instrument of torture.”

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Nearly 18,000 have died in Syria state jails, says Amnesty

BBC News reports:

Syrian victim of tortureNearly 18,000 people have died in government prisons in Syria since the beginning of the uprising in 2011, according to Amnesty International.

A new report by the charity, based on interviews with 65 “torture survivors”, details systematic use of rape and beatings by prison guards.

Former detainees described so-called welcome parties – ritual beatings using metal bars and electric cables.

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied such allegations.

The report estimates that 17,723 people died in custody across Syria between March 2011, when the uprising against President Bashar Assad began, and December 2015 – equivalent to about 10 people each day or more than 300 a month.

According to the report, new detainees are subjected to “security checks” that often involve women being sexually assaulted by male guards.

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Manchester leaders flag UAE rights concerns on anniversary of Peterloo Massacre

Jamie Merrill reports for Middle East Eye:

A powerful coalition of Manchester’s political and civic leaders have used the anniversary of the bloody Peterloo Massacre on 16 August to confront Manchester City Football Club’s Emirati owners over human rights abuses in the oil-rich kingdom.

In an open letter published on Tuesday, Manchester-based politicians, legal experts and campaign groups wrote to the club’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, demanding the UAE release political prisoners, investigate allegations of torture and commit to respecting human rights.

The UAE has had close financial ties to Manchester since Mansour purchased the football club in 2008. He has since invested more than £1bn ($1.3bn) in the team, as UAE-backed firms signed a string of deals in the city, including a $1.3bn regeneration partnership with Manchester City Council.

However, rights groups and senior figures in Manchester, including local MPs and two high-profile barristers who represented some of the families in the inquiry into the Hillsborough football disaster, are increasingly concerned about the financial ties to one of the city’s Premier League clubs, given the deteriorating human rights situation in the UAE.

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Did Companies and Countries Buy State Dept. Access by Donating to Clinton Foundation? Interview with James Grimaldi

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal, who has covered the Clinton Foundation for years, looks at the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and what it would be if she became president. (Democracy Now!)

How the Arab World Came Apart: Interview with Scott Anderson

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Scott Anderson about his in-depth new report, Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart. Occupying the entire print edition of this week’s New York Times Magazine, it examines what has happened in the region in the past 13 years since the the U.S. invaded Iraq through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Anderson is also author of the book, Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East(Democracy Now!)

Investors Unfazed by Instability in Turkey

Landon Thomas Jr. reports for The New York Times:

On the face of it, this might not seem the right time to be investing in Turkey.

Terrorists attacked the main airport in Istanbul, a foiled coup raised questions about political stability, and the country’s debt is being downgraded by rating agencies — all of this happening within a span of two weeks.

So what were the best-performing investments in the global economy last week?

You guessed it: Turkish stocks and bonds — up 6.6 and 3.8 percent in dollar terms, according to Merrill Lynch.

Emerging markets are known for their wild, discordant swings, but this mini-rally in Turkey, brief as it may be, highlights just how much risk yield-starved investors are willing to take on when $11 trillion worth of bonds of governments around the world are offering up negative returns.

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U.S. Declines to Acknowledge Afghanistan’s Child Soldiers, Experts Complain

Lauren Chadwick reports for Public Integrity:

Investigators for the United Nations found 48 child soldiers in Afghanistan last year, with more than one-fourth working for government-backed forces such as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Local and National Police. But that news somehow never made an impact in Washington.

In an annual report released on June 30 that names 10 foreign countries known to use and recruit child soldiers, the State Department didn’t include Afghanistan — a country with forces labeled as “persistent perpetrators” by the United Nations in a report issued just two months earlier.

The discrepancy is partly a matter of legal interpretation but mostly one mired in international politics, it turns out.

Countries that employ child soldiers in their armed forces are barred from receiving specific types of U.S. military assistance or weapons, under a U.S.law enacted in 2008. But the Obama administration says Afghanistan is not subject to the law because its Local Police force — which uses child soldiers, and experts say operates like a militia or a paramilitary group — is not part of the armed forces.

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What $150 Million In Taxpayers’ Cash Buys You In Afghanistan

Matthew Gault reports for War Is Boring:

In 2009, the Pentagon shipped American business experts to Afghanistan to help jump-start the war-torn country’s economy. To that end, the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations spent more than $800 million from 2009 until the Pentagon shut it down in March 2015.

During that time, TFBSO staff lived large in an Afghan villa one former employee described as “a five-star hotel paid for by the [Defense Department].” It cost the task force almost $150 million, around 20 percent of its budget, to keep up appearances while it operated in Afghanistan.

Frustrated task force employees blew the whistle on the big spending and party atmosphere in the TFBSO villas back in 2015. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, demanded answers — and the project collapsed under the scrutiny.

Now, War Is Boring has obtained pictures of the lavish lodgings from a former employee.

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US ‘Owns’ Afghanistan, Says Ex-President Hamid Karzai

TeleSUR reports:

Children sit in the back of a truck as they prepare to return to Afghanistan, at a U.N. refugee repatriation center in Peshawar, Pakistan August 2, 2016.Former president Hamid Karzai said foreign forces, led by the U.S., are doing more harm than good in Afghanistan and must leave.

The U.S., NATO and Western forces in Afghanistan have been doing more harm than good for the country in its fight against the Taliban and other extremists as the country struggles with stability some 14 years since the U.S-led invasion, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview Thursday.

“I have asked the Afghan government not to ask the U.S. for aerial bombings of our country,” Karzai told The Guardian in an interview. “This is chemicals thrown on the country every day. This is killing our fields, spreading disease, and not bringing an end to the war.”

Karzai, who was supported by the U.S. and its allies in ruling the country after the end of Taliban rule, is now Washington’s biggest critic. In 2013, he refused to sign a security agreement allowing foreign troops to stay in the country.

“NATO has been here for 14 years,” Karzai, who served 13 years as the president of Afghanistan, said. “Are we better off? Do we have more security? No.”

 

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Needing an Exit from the Afghan Quagmire

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir writes for Consortium News:

President Barack Obama shakes hands with U.S. troops at Bagram Airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)Two weeks ago, President Obama announced that the U.S. will draw down its troops in Afghanistan from 9,800 to 8,400, altering his original plan to reduce the number to 5,500. His decision suggests that conditions on the ground are not as promising as he expected them to be, and maintaining a larger number of troops is important as he believes “it is in our national security interests … that we give our Afghan partners the best opportunities to succeed.”

The President, however, did not spell out what success actually means. If he meant that Afghanistan will eventually become a stable and functioning democracy, he is fundamentally mistaken. Indeed, even if the U.S. stations three times as many troops for another 15 years or more, given the multiple conflicts, ruthlessness and duplicity of the players involved and the country’s long history, the U.S. cannot rescue Afghanistan from the quagmire in which it finds itself.

The President’s concluding remarks strongly suggest that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is essentially open-ended, saying: “given the enormous challenges they face, the Afghan people will need the partnership of the world, led by the United States, for many years to come.”

The facts on the ground remind us of the Vietnam War — a needlessly prolonged conflict with no prospect of victory — except that the war in Afghanistan is even more complicated and becoming increasingly intractable. o understand what the U.S. strategy should be to end a war that has lasted more than any other in U.S. history, consider the following.

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More US Troops Headed to Iraq, Will Deploy Near Mosul

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Adding to the ever-growing number of US ground troops in the “no boots on the ground” war in Iraq, Army officials announced yet another significant deployment from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, from which some 400 troops will be sent to Qayara, just south of Mosul.

The idea is that the troops will be part of the logistics effort to prop up the Iraqi military in Nineveh Province, with an eye toward them eventually attacking Mosul, though there is no timeline for when such an offensive will begin, and Pentagon officials have gone on record doubting Iraq’s military is anywhere near ready for such an attack.

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Syria Faces Many Fights, But Few Signs of Resolution

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Aleppo may get the lion’s share of the coverage in Syria’s Civil War recently, but the presentation of the conflict by both sides (ironically as they have been for years) as the decisive battle for Syria, the reality is that Syria has no shortage of different  conflicts, with myriad different factions fighting largely independent wars.

Five years ago, Syria may have been a loose collection of rebels against a government, but today it’s common for two rebel factions to end up fighting one another, and there are several wholly distinct battles across the country, from the US-backed rebels at the Tanf border crossing to the fight between Nusra and the Syrian military over Idlib and Latakia Province.

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The Sham Rebrand of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front

Gareth Porter reports for Middle East Eye:

The Nusra Front’s adoption of the new name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and claim that it has separated itself from al-Qaeda was designed to influence US policy, not to make the group any more independent of al-Qaeda.

The objective of the manoeuvre was to head off US-Russian military cooperation against the jihadist group, renamed last week, based at least in part on the hope that the US bureaucratic and political elite, who are lining up against a new US-Russian agreement, may block or reverse the Obama administration’s intention to target the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria.

The leader of the Syrian jihadist organisation Mohammad al-Golani and al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri both made a great deal of the public encouragement that Zawahiri gave to separation from the parent organisation. The idea was that the newly rebranded and supposedly independent jihadist organisation in Syria would be better able to fulfill its role in the Syrian revolution.

But to anyone who has followed the politics of Nusra Front’s role in the Syrian war, the idea that Zawahiri would actually allow its Syrian franchise to cut loose from the central leadership and function with full independence is obviously part of a political sham.

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US-Led Coalition Accused of Killing Civiliains Using ‘Scorched Earth Policy’ in Syria

Lizzie Dearden reports for The Independent:

kobani-air-strikes.jpgMembers of the US-led coalition have been accused of deploying a “scorched earth policy” in Syria by activists who claim to have documented scores of civilian deaths.

One group of anti-Isis activists, called Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, has said air strikes supporting a key offensive in Manbij are killing innocent families.

“The international coalition is using a scorched earth policy in the city and supporting the Syrian Democratic forces that have been surrounding the city for two months,” the group said.

“The attacking militias and the international coalition have dealt with Manbij civilians, who are estimated to be around 3,000 in number, as if they were terrorists or Isis supporters,” it added.

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A Gloomy Egypt Sees Its International Influence Wither

Liam Stack reports for The New York Times:

In a televised speech, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a general turned president, warned Egyptians that they lived in a broken country surrounded by enemies who would never leave them alone.

“Take a good look at your country,” he said during the speech in May. “This is the semblance of a state, and not a real state.”

Egypt needed law and order and strong institutions if it was to reverse its downward spiral and become “a state that respects itself and is respected by the world,” he said.

While rare in its bluntness, Mr. Sisi’s assessment is widely shared by Egyptians.

After five years of political and economic turmoil, a sense of gloom hangs over the country. Traditionally a leader of the Arab world, politically and culturally, and home to a quarter of its population, Egypt has become inward-looking and politically marginalized in a way not seen for generations.

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The CIA’s Top Spy in Syria Knew Nothing About Syria

Brad Hoff reports for The Canary:

Douglas Laux claims he was the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) top spy operative in Syria, tasked with drawing up plans for regime change during the crucial early years (2012-2013) of Syria’s grinding civil conflict. He was considered the CIA’s “eyes and ears on the ground” in war-torn Syria. Yet it turns out he knew very little, if anything, about the country.

Laux spent most of his eight year career as a CIA operative in Afghanistan, where he was lauded by superiors for his ability to “go native” with his scraggly beard and fluency in Pashto. His attempts to develop an Afghan spy network capable of infiltrating the Taliban and tracking al-Qaida are the focus of his memoir, written after leaving the CIA and entitled Left of Boom: How a Young CIA Case Officer Penetrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda (St. Martin’s Press, 2016).

The book went through the CIA’s review process prior to publication, standard procedure for former employees wishing to write about their work, which left entire pages of what the CIA deemed sensitive or classified material blacked out. Laux and co-author Ralph Pezzullo left the thick black lines in place throughout the book, perhaps to underscore the authenticity of Laux’s narrative.

But it’s what Laux chooses to tell readers regarding his role in Syria that is most shocking.

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America’s Misadventures in the Greater Middle East

Stephen Kinzer reviews two recent books on America’s role in the Middle East for The Future Freedom Foundation:

New Bitmap ImageFew forces in American public life are as powerful as the one that pulls people in Washington into the foreign policy mainstream. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, the press, think tanks — all seem ready and indeed eager to be sucked into the deadening consensus that prevents the United States from adapting its foreign policies to a changing world. They treat original thinking as the germ of a frightful plague. Those who offer new ideas are stigmatized as — in John McCain’s wonderful phrase — “wacko birds.”

To make one’s way in the American foreign-policy world, it is essential to work from what Barack Obama has called the “playbook.” Accepting hoary assumptions is required. Among them are: the world is locked in an eternal struggle between good and evil; the United States leads the forces of good; people around the world are half-formed Americans eager for U.S. guidance; and this guidance often requires the use or threat of military force, since evil cannot be confronted any other way. Challenging those assumptions is a career-killer.

A few brave souls dare to dissent. As we sink into what seems like endless war, especially in the Islamic world, a small group of experienced national-security experts has emerged to urge a different path. These veterans do not agree that the United States must base its foreign policy on confrontation, threats, sanctions, bombing campaigns, invasions and occupations. Instead they offer a “less is more” alternative that could lead to a more peaceful world and advance American security interests. Given the climate in Washington, there is little prospect that their advice will be heeded. Americans cannot complain, however, that no one has plotted a path that could take them out of the Middle East and away from militarism.

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U.S. Says New Bombing Campaign Against ISIS in Libya Has No “End Point at This Particular Moment”

Alex Emmons reports for The Intercept:

The U.S. launched a major new military campaign against ISIS on Monday when U.S. planes bombed targets in Libya, responding to requests from the U.N.-backed Libyan government. Strikes took place in the coastal town of Sirte, which ISIS took in June of last year.

The strikes represent a significant escalation in the U.S. war against ISIS, spreading the conflict thousands of miles from the warzones in Syria and Iraq.

All of these attacks took place without Congressional authorization or even debate.

“We want to strike at ISIL anywhere it raises its head,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. “Libya is one of those places.” He said the airstrikes “would continue as long as [the Libyan government] is requesting them,” and that they do not have “an end point at this particular moment in time.”

The U.S. has long planned to spread its military campaign to Libya. In January, General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the U.S. was preparing to take “decisive military action against ISIL” in Libya.

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U.S. Announces New Front Against ISIS in Libya: Interview with Phyllis Bennis

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror, about the U.S. military carrying out two airstrikes in Libya against ISIS fighters on Monday in the latest escalation of the U.S. war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. (Democracy Now!)

Hillary Clinton and Her Hawks

Gareth Porter writes for Consortium News:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at NATO conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 4 (Official Defense Department photo)As Hillary Clinton begins her final charge for the White House, her advisers are already recommending air strikes and other new military measures against the Assad regime in Syria.

The clear signals of Clinton’s readiness to go to war appears to be aimed at influencing the course of the war in Syria as well as U.S. policy over the remaining six months of the Obama administration. (She also may be hoping to corral the votes of Republican neoconservatives concerned about Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.)

Last month, the think tank run by Michele Flournoy, the former Defense Department official considered to be most likely to be Clinton’s choice to be Secretary of Defense, explicitly called for “limited military strikes” against the Assad regime.

And earlier this month Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director, who has been advising candidate Clinton, declared in an interview that the next president would have to increase the number of Special Forces and carry out air strikes to help “moderate” groups against President Bashal al-Assad. (When Panetta gave a belligerent speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, he was interrupted by chants from the delegates on the floor of “no more war!”

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Are ISIS’ Online Terror Guides Really Training ‘Lone Wolves’?

Jamie Tarabay with Amit Weiss and Gilad Shiloach report for Vocativ:

[…] ISIS is only the latest group to flood the internet with “how-to” guides, yet the plethora of material has not led to more terrorist bombings abroad.

The manuals and instruction guides and lists of chemicals and equipment needed to create explosives have been online and accessible for decades. They’ve been put there by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Abdullah Azzam, who led resistance fighters in Peshawar in the 1980s.

Many have tried to construct booby traps, mix chemicals to make improvised explosive devices, connect detonators and test them remotely with mobile phones. Most have failed. Those who have succeeded, were trained, at least in part, by others in person.

“One likely reason why al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists have not made better use of the Internet’s training potential is that its value as a source of real-life terrorism knowledge is, at least to date, quite limited,” wrote Michael Kenney in 2010, when he was a fellow at the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State University Park. He is now an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

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France to send heavy artillery to Iraq in fight against ISIS

Al Jazeera reports:

French President Francois Hollande has said that France will send heavy artillery to Iraq to support the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Hollande announced the plan on Friday, saying the artillery equipment “will be in place next month”.

Ground forces will not be deployed in the country, Hollande said, following a high-level security meeting in Paris, his fourth since the ISIL-claimed lorry attack in Nice on July 14, which killed 84 people.

The president also reiterated that the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle would be deployed in the region in late September to help in ongoing operations against ISIL, also known as ISIS.

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