Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video – By RT

 

Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video
The Northern Fleet, which is arguably the most powerful Russian naval force, is celebrating 285 years of operations. Its anniversary video shows state-of-the-art vessels and unique installations in the Russian Arctic region.

Established back in 1733, the Northern Fleet comprises some of Russia’s most remarkable military hardware, with 41 submarines, 37 surface vessels and ground troops making it a “cross-branch strategic force”, as the Russian Defense Ministry puts it in a Twitter post. Its anniversary video shows various military exercises staged by the Northern Fleet forces, including submarines firing cruise and ballistic missiles, Tu-95 strategic bombers flying training sorties and military divers holding underwater firing drills.

The flagship of the fleet is a nuclear-powered battlecruiser the ‘Pyotr Velikiy,’ one of the biggest nuclear-propelled ships in the world. The ‘Admiral Kuznetsov,’ Russia’s only serving aircraft carrier, which took part in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria in 2016, is also part of the Northern Fleet.

The naval force also has some of Russia’s most advanced nuclear-powered multipurpose submarines equipped with cruise and ballistic missiles. Two state-of-the-art submarines – a Yasen-M class vessel the Severodvinsk, carrying as many as 32 Onyx and Kalibr supersonic cruise missiles, and a Borei-class submarine the Yury Dolgorukiy, equipped with 16 Bulava nuclear ballistic missiles – are already in service in the fleet, while another Yasen-M class submarine, the Kazan, is currently undergoing sea trials.

The strategic force, which is particularly tasked with “defending Russia’s national interests in the Arctic,” also controls some unique military bases within the Polar circle. Of particular interest is Russia’s northernmost military base, called Arctic Shamrock.

The unique base is the world’s only permanent infrastructure facility built in the area located 80 degrees of latitude north of the Equator. The autonomous complex, which occupies an area of 14,000 square meters, allows up to 150 people to live and work there for as long as 18 months without any external support.

The Russian infrastructure in the Polar region is “unmatched” by any other country, the country’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, in December 2017.

Like this story? Share it with a friend!

 
 

After Years of US-Led ‘Nation-Building’, Afghanistan Faces a Human Rights Disaster – By Brian CLOUGHLEY (Strategic Culture Foundation)

After Years of US-Led ‘Nation-Building’, Afghanistan Faces a Human Rights Disaster

 

After over sixteen years of foreign military occupation, Afghanistan, the fourth most corrupt country in the world, continues to be battered and blasted by war. Its citizens are victims of suicide attacks by insane savages and, according to the magazine Stars and Stripes, the number of US bombs dropped on Afghanistan in March 2018 “was the highest for that month in five years. While ISIS is being pushed underground in Iraq and Syria, the number of fighters pledging loyalty to the group appears to be growing in Afghanistan.”

But it isn’t only the ravages of war that are destroying the country. The social fabric is being terminally torn asunder by human rights violations that are either ignored or condoned by both the government and the US-NATO  military alliance amongst whose “key functions” is “Supporting the adherence to the principles of rule of law and good governance.”

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Mr John Sopko, has for eight years carried out his duties in an exemplary fashion, being responsible for “independent and objective oversight of the $117.26 billion the US has provided to implement reconstruction programs in Afghanistan,” but has been frequently deflected and misled by the US Department of Defence and the Afghan government.

SIGAR’s Report of July 2017 recorded that “Afghan officials remain complicit… in the sexual exploitation of children by Afghan security forces,” but as noted by the Washington Post, “the Pentagon tried to block an independent assessment of child sex abuse crimes committed by Afghan soldiers and police, instead insisting on the creation of its own report offering a far less authoritative review of human rights violations perpetrated by US allies.”

It is now public knowledge that there is a culture of sodomy in Afghanistan and that Afghan men in positions of power at all levels enjoy immunity from prosecution for abusing young boys.  The practice of bacha bazi, or “boy play” is revolting, and the word “play” is entirely inappropriate. Foreign Policy magazine states that “Demeaning and damaging, the widespread subculture of paedophilia in Afghanistan constitutes one of the most egregious ongoing violations of human rights in the world. The adolescent boys who are groomed for sexual relationships with older men are bought — or, in some instances, kidnapped — from their families and thrust into a world which strips them of their masculine identity. These boys are often made to dress as females, wear makeup, and dance for parties of men. They are expected to engage in sexual acts with much older suitors, often remaining a man’s or group’s sexual underling for a protracted period.”

But the Pentagon doesn’t want us to know anything about this, and has in the past actually punished US soldiers for taking action against bullying perverts.  The New York Times reported in 2015 that after special forces Captain Dan Quinn “beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave” he was relieved of his command.  He said later that “We were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did,” which is absolutely correct, because even the barbaric Taliban did not permit such criminal obscenity to go unpunished.  

Sexual abuse of boys in Afghanistan continues unchecked in spite of the SIGAR’s criticisms and regardless of the international “Convention on the Rights of the Child” which requires nations who ratify the agreement to “undertake to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”

The United States, however, has not ratified the Convention, which means that it is not legally bound by any of its requirements.  As The Economist observes, the US lawmakers who oppose the treaty “say it would usurp American sovereignty, a long-standing fear about the UN among some conservative Republicans. There is a fear that the social and economic rights established by the treaty could provoke lawsuits demanding that the government pay for these things.”   It is not surprising that the Pentagon has done nothing at all to oppose gross abuse of children in Afghanistan.

Then there is the scandalous treatment of women in that corrupt and shattered country, where in 2009 a law was passed permitting men to starve their wives to death if they deny them sex. In 2014, after another five years of US-NATO support of “adherence to the principles of rule of law and good governance” the Kabul parliament approved a law which allows men “to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called ‘honour’ killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse.” 

Amnesty International’s 2017-2018 Report informs us that “In the first half of [2017] the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission reported thousands of cases of violence against women and girls across the country, including beatings, killings and acid attacks. Against the backdrop of impunity for such crimes and a failure to investigate, cases of violence against women remained grossly under-reported due to traditional practices, stigmatization and fear of the consequences for the victims.” 

There is no sign whatever that women in Afghanistan are being treated better than before the US invaded in late 2001. In all its years of operations and “Supporting the adherence to the principles of rule of law and good governance” in Afghanistan the US-NATO military alliance has not made the slightest difference to the appalling way in which Afghan males conduct themselves towards females.

Since 1979 there has been an international ‘Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,’ which has been ratified by 187 of the UN’s 194 nations (including Afghanistan). It specifies that “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations” and the countries refusing to agree to its enforcement are Iran, Palau, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tonga — and the United States of America.

Afghanistan’s Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) was passed by presidential decree in 2009. It laid down “criminal penalties for various abuses including rape, child marriage, forced marriage, domestic violence, sale of women and girls, and baad, the giving of girls to resolve disputes between families,” and seemed to be a major step forward in attempts to improve the way in which women are treated. 

Human Rights Watch notes that in March 2017 a revised penal code was adopted by presidential decree. “It incorporated all the provisions of the EVAW law, while strengthening the definition of rape. However, because a number of conservative members of parliament have opposed the EVAW law, some activists campaigned to preserve the law in its stand-alone form decreed in 2009. In response to their efforts, in August President Ghani ordered the Ministry of Justice to remove the EVAW chapter from the new penal code. The controversial reversal has left the status of the law in limbo.”  In other words, women in Afghanistan are back where they started: without rights, without protection, without hope.

The Afghan government and the US-NATO military alliance disregard or even condone some of the most horrendous human rights’ violations in the world.  The people of Afghanistan are suffering from a combination of the civil war’s devastation and the mediaeval mindset of many of its primitive legislators and officials. Yet foreign money continues to pour in, while the suicide detonations are echoed by B-52 bombs all over the country.

The human rights calamity in Afghanistan will not be alleviated while the US-NATO “adviser” nations continue their present policy. 

They shouldn’t have been in Afghanistan in the first place, but it is now time that the foreigners who have contributed to the catastrophe in Afghanistan brought pressure to bear on the Kabul government to pass and enforce legislature that enforces penalties for abuse of human rights, especially those of women and children. That would be one modest step towards bring the place into the 21st Century. 

Save

Afghanistan: Why Won’t the Taliban Just Go Away? – By Seth Ferris (EASTERN OUTLOOK)

Author: Seth Ferris

 

 

AF46546342342

Billions have been spent on the conflict in Afghanistan. First the object was to liberate the country from the Soviets, at a time no one really thought that would happen as touch upon in Charlie Wilson’s War. But at least would at least make them bleed as the Americans and French had in Vietnam.

Then it was to remove the Taliban, the logical consequence of the sane groups who had been funded and armed before. Now it is to support the Afghan government to construct a virtual reality – pretending there is a functioning administration in a country the government can only partially control, whilst still depending on periodic US airstrikes to keep the Taliban at bay.

Like Al-Qaeda, whose presence in Afghanistan was the original ostensible reason for the US presence there, the Taliban claims responsibility for any act of terrorism to make itself look all-powerful. However it is, as it claims, the most probable suspect in the recent Kabul hotel bombing, which has claimed over 100 lives

Hotels attract international visitors, even in Afghanistan, and the presence of foreigners is the issue the Taliban has with the Afghan government. The bombing is exactly the sort of symbolic gesture which would satisfy the Taliban’s own supporters and embarrass the Afghan government, which should be guaranteeing the guests’ safety. It also demonstrates to a worldwide audience that the Taliban is still news: and they of all people should know the value of such publicity.

It is unlikely that many ordinary Afghans want the Taliban back in power. But many things the organisation represents, in default of anyone else representing them, do resonate with Afghans. The US probably thought, as the Soviets did in the 1970s, that importing their own vision would give people something new and better to believe in. But they ignored one vital lesson from history: that Afghanistan has never been permanently conquered by any other country, including the great powers who have flocked to it to secure trade routes.

Go into Afghanistan and you take on the whole identity of every Afghan, past and present. Successive military personnel and prospective conquerors have found that this is not a turn of phrase but a concrete reality. As long as the Taliban still represents that identity, however unpalatable many of its actions and teachings are, it cannot be defeated and Afghanistan cannot prosper. But can any of the powers which want to help the country move on make that happen?

Don’t play in our backyard

We were all brought up on stories coming out of Afghanistan. Few noticed or cared when it turned Communist in 1973, when the mighty Soviet Empire was thought to be too tightly controlled to ever disappear. Then the Soviets themselves intervened and removed the local Communists, an action few in the West, and increasingly fewer in the Soviet Union, could explain.

This coup was described at the time as the “will of the people”, as they usually are. But like the rise of the Taliban, it was popular will by default. The 1973 coup which overthrew the monarchy had not achieved many of its aims, and people had begun feeling let down and distrustful of the spate of murders and arrests. So when the Communists took action, where else could the public turn for a saviour? In this sense, the Communist takeover was indeed the “will of the people”

Afghan Communism was essentially secularist. It declared women’s rights and introduced severe repression designed to reduce the influence of Islam. Most Afghans objected to these things because they were foreign, and foreigners can’t tell Afghans what to do and get away with it.

The greatest ever British military defeat was in Afghanistan, and the Duke of Wellington was Commander-in-Chief of the British Army at the time. In spite of three wars, the British had been driven out each time because Afghans make their own rules, they do not respect those imposed from outside.

When various armed groups rose in revolt in 1979 the Afghan government respected the “will of the people” by remaining in power but murdering the president, so the one-party regime could distance itself from Moscow. For the West, this did not signify a political change in the country. But the Soviets objected to this win-win situation and intervened to put a Soviet loyalist in power. Thus began nearly forty years of continuous war, which anyone, at least in policy positions, who knew the history of the place could have seen coming.

Afghans always claim that their ultimate victory over the Soviet Union, with considerable Western material help, was the factor which led to the downfall of the entire Soviet empire. Unfortunately the West then made the same mistake the Soviets had—forgetting the end game and what would come next.

The US stated it would organise free elections to choose the next government but then allowed the particular mujahedeen faction which controlled the part of Kabul where the government buildings are, and few other places, to declare itself the Afghan government. This government was then recognised around the world, without the people being consulted, which was seen as another foreign takeover.

None of the other many groups the West had happily armed had a better claim to run the country, but all disagreed with Burhan Rabbani’s group claiming to be the whole government. As the fighting continued, and alliances between different groups were made and broken weekly, the people lost faith in any of the combatants, who continued their campaigns without popular support, often targeting whole civilian populations due to political changes those populations had not made or even known about.

This is why the Taliban was able to advance on Kabul without fighting a major battle. Rather than preaching radical Islam and further terrorism, it upheld the system of Pashtunwali – the traditional code of values of the Pashtun community, which had been historically dominant. Even if people aren’t Pashtuns, they understand and respect this code. In effect it was Margaret Thatcher’s concept of “Victorian Values” – a morally superior system from a better age which would restore the country to its former glory.

Afghans soon realised that the Taliban is an amoral and corrupt gang of thugs whose radical interpretation of Islam is that of a psychopath justifying his behaviour by quoting scripture. But the alternative is foreigners, or those perceived as taking orders from the foreigners who put them there and have constructed the contemporary virtual state. The Taliban itself is used by the US for its own purposes, as all terrorist groups ultimately are, being part of the drug supply chain which funds ISIS as well as the Taliban itself. But no one else has come along to give Afghans another set of values they can support, shorn of the unacceptable extremes which characterise the Taliban in the West.

The further we get from the days of Taliban rule, the more persuasive its support for Afghan independence and traditional values will seem. These things still are, and always will be, the “will of the people”. The West will not be able to counter them by offering blue jeans and milkshakes in return for joining the Afghan army. It will have to make the preservation and promotion of Afghan values the centrepiece of its own policy – but as we have seen in many other countries, it cannot do that simply because it is the West.

I’ve always spelt it that way and always will

Every great empire thinks that its own way of doing things is better than anyone else’s, simply because it rules so many other people. If it wants to conquer more people, it does the same things it always does because those ways are demonstrably superior, simply because it has a larger territory.

When empires start to decline, as Russians remember, their leaders start to question those ways of doing things at look at other models. But this is an internal process: in foreign policy the old ways are promoted with ever greater vigour, to justify the country in the eyes of the world. Belgians always objected to what their King Leopold was doing in the Belgian Congo, which was his own private business, and took it into state hands to stop those abuses, but many of those crimes against humanity continued because Belgium couldn’t admit it was wrong and remain in charge.

The US empire is now in decline due to its economic weakening and military overstretching. Americans themselves are questioning the long-held belief that The American Way is the one every other country would freely choose to follow, given the chance. So how does the US defend itself? By being even more insistent that the US model must be introduced into every nation.

It is this, rather than what Western troops have done, which has led to the Taliban remaining a force in Afghanistan. Afghans respect democracy, but not one they are told to have by a foreign power, structured the way a foreign power wants it. Traditionally they have had different systems of their own, such as the institution of the Loya Jirga, roughly equivalent to the House of Lords. Similarly, though a Pashtun will not be a tenant of another Pashtun they have no problem being a tenant of a representative of one of the hundreds of other ethnic groups in the country, and this spills over into political relations, making a flat universal franchise a nonsense.

Similarly, Afghans have sophisticated trading relationships with each other, and the rest of the world, based on Islamic monetary principles which have been around for centuries longer than the ideas of Adam Smith and David Ricardo which form the basis of modern free trade. Most also pay voluntary taxes under the Zakat system, which has an effect on governmental use of taxation. Above all, if they see a moral case for taking a welfare action they just do it, without seeing the need to do things like register charities and record how the money is used. They will not be told what they can and cannot do by an aid programme, however well intentioned.

The way to defeat the Taliban is to institutionalise the traditional Afghan systems, which are understood even by those who do not like or practice them, in the same way the Orthodox Church and its teachings and practices are understood by non-Orthodox in Russia. If these are made the basis of government practice, and then protected by foreign troops for that reason, this will turn foreign occupiers with their infidel Western ways into friends.

But it will also mean that the US doesn’t have as much to offer as it thinks it has, and call its role in all other countries into question. The US is capable of riding this storm by adopting the same policy everywhere, and encouraging a more diverse global order based on partnership. But there are very few signs the US is thinking in this way – indeed, quite the opposite has been the policy for generations, whatever the complexion of the White House.

As has been pointed out, the countries the US has recently taken a shine to invading, such as Libya, Iraq and Syria, all made one decision prior to the US intervention – abandoning the dollar, and thus becoming more independent of US financial control. Similarly, the Western model, which is the US one coloured differently depending which country is preaching it, is still the only one its friends are allowed to accept. Viktor Yanukovych had his own plans for Ukraine, which needed both Western and Russian help to be realised. However he was told to choose, which meant his plans would have to fit the model of the chosen donor rather than being Ukraine’s, and we all know what happened there.

The West cannot become the guardians of all Afghans think is good, because the West has no respect for those things and cannot develop that respect. However bad the Taliban is in practice, it still defends those values in theory. The good deeds done by the West in Afghanistan only work for as long as people do not see, or care about, the strings attached. But every time the West makes any false step, even in faraway countries, Afghans see the strings and not the good deeds, and they find themselves agreeing with the Taliban, however reluctantly.

Sold out by yourselves

The West’s failure to respect Afghans presents opportunities to both Russia and China. Both of these countries are positioned, either directly or via proxy Muslim states, to do both the things the US won’t do – support a government and system based on Afghan traditions, and remove the radical element from the Taliban whilst leaving its positive values in place. Russia is unlikely to try, given its previous history in Afghanistan. But China will have no qualms becoming the new protector of Afghanistan, provided the price is right.

Evil Red China is as Red as ever. But the West can’t do without its funds, so suddenly this doesn’t matter. If China wants something which is in Afghanistan, like roads, minerals or licorice, the Afghan national plant which isn’t used to make confectionery there, it will pay for it provided it sees the benefit. As it has found, it will not need to tell the government what to do to obtain the influence it needs to achieve its goals, and the West’s kowtowing to it has set the template for how other countries respond to Chinese economic co-operation proposals, which are made by the state-owned companies US economics is determined to destroy as a matter of faith.

The Chinese would approach Afghanistan the way the West can’t – by supporting the locals and their culture from behind the scenes to pursue their own interests. But this also creates a problem for the West. Such is its desire to impose its own ways of thinking that everything good which comes out of Afghanistan must be a Western achievement. The West will be treading a dangerous path if it helps Afghanistan get back on its feet and then flogs off vast array of the new infrastructure to the Chinese, making Beijing the senior partner in any such geopolitical arrangement.

The Taliban found out the hard way that it cannot murder its way into the hearts of the Afghan people. But some of its values are still, unfortunately, the best available from an Afghan viewpoint. Treating it as an irredeemable enemy, which has bombed its way to the negotiating table, won’t solve that. Only a change of political approach and winds would remove the Taliban from the scene, but if the West makes that change, Afghanistan might ultimately be responsible for the death of another Great Empire.

Seth Ferris, investigative journalist and political scientist, expert on Middle Eastern affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
https://journal-neo.org/2018/01/31/afghanistan-why-wont-the-taliban-just-go-away/

Pentagon Falsifies Paperwork To Keep Syrian Rebels Armed With Quasi-Covert Program – by Whitney Webb

 

On July 19, the Trump administration announced that it would end the CIA’s covert program aimed at arming and training terrorist-linked “moderate rebels” in Syria, sparking hope among some Trump supporters that he was finally enacting the anti-interventionist rhetoric of his campaign.

However, a recently released report shows that the Pentagon has picked up the slack left by the end of the CIA’s program — pumping billions of dollars worth of weapons into the hands of Syrian “rebels,” while attempting to mask the paper trail and their suppliers’ ties to organized crime.

The report, published Tuesday by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), provides conclusive evidence that the Pentagon plans to provide up to $2.2 billion in weapons to Syrian “rebel” groups, particularly Kurdish militant groups like the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). While the Pentagon has been arming “rebels” since 2015, the Department of Defense began requesting increased funding for the program once the CIA covert arms program was ostensibly slated to shut down

While the Pentagon has been arming “rebels” since 2015, the Department of Defense began requesting increased funding for the program once the CIA covert arms program was ostensibly slated to shut down.

The Pentagon has requested an additional $322.5 million for the financial year ending October 2017 and $261.9 million for the following 12 months. For fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the budget for the program has been set at $584 million while another $900 million has been earmarked to continue the program through 2022.

 

Working the Balkan arms pipeline

Weapons were shipped from Eastern-Europe via Silk Way airlines, who offered security-free diplomatic flights to clients ranging from Saudi Arabia, Israel to US Central Command.

The program utilizes the Pentagon’s so-called “Balkan arms pipeline,” a network first exposed by Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva. The arms-supply chain involves the U.S. purchasing vast amounts of Soviet-Era weaponry from Eastern Europe, from which it is then shipped to air bases in Turkey and Kuwait, via the Azerbaijan commercial airline Silk Way, and later sent into Syria. The BIRN/OCCRP report adds, notably, that several of the Pentagon’s weapons suppliers in these countries share links to organized crime organizations and other unsavory actors.

In addition, the report details how this Pentagon program to arm “rebels” has essentially sidestepped long-established checks on international weapons trafficking that are intended to curb illicit deals. Many of these safety checks are included in the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, which the U.S. has yet to ratify but ostensibly supports.


Related | Journalist Interrogated For Linking CIA Weapons Shipments To Syrian Jihadists


Patrick Wilcken, an arms researcher at Amnesty International, told BIRN that the Pentagon’s actions are undermining the treaty in its entirety.

 

Masking the recipients

Syrian militants are seen with a Serbian made MO2 Coyote machine gun, a weapon which was shipped to Syria via Saudi Arabia and Turkey on diplomatic flights a few months earlier.

The specific “sidesteps” the Pentagon has been taking involve the alleged removal of documentation regarding who or what groups ultimately receive the purchased weapons. By removing this documentation, the Pentagon enables weapon transfers to any armed group within Syria it chooses – including Syrian rebels – without providing documentation as to who received what.

“The Pentagon is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition,” Ivan Angelovski, who co-wrote the report, told Foreign Policy. Indeed, when the report authors contacted authorities in Romania, Bulgaria, and other nations involved in the program, several of the governments responded that they had granted export licenses for the weapons where the U.S., not Syria, was listed as the final destination. They claimed to have been unaware that the weapons were destined for Syria.

Thus, the Pentagon’s alteration of documentation is, in fact, illegal, given the U.S.’ membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which requires that end-user certificates include the final destination country.

 

Exhausting the Balkan weapons’ supplies

A visitor looks at assault rifles made by the Serbian company Zastava Arms, during a defense fair, in Belgrade, Serbia. (AP/Darko Vojinovic)

Furthermore, the report notes that the arms transfers are so massive that they are fundamentally altering the economies of the Eastern European nations that are supplying the weapons. The report notes that factories in Serbia and Bulgaria have been drastically increasing arms and ammunition production in order to keep up with demand. In order to meet the increasing demand to be generated by the program over the next several years, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic promised in July to turn “meadows and forests” into arms factories and almost double Serbia’s arms exports to $750 million by 2020.

Increased production alone has proven insufficient, however, with the Pentagon being forced to lower its standards for weapons and ammunitions to meet demand, while also forcing the U.S. to procure even more arms from “non-traditional” countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.

While the U.S. has ostensibly accepted that Syria’s government will remain in power and even reclaim most, if not all, of its territory, it seems the Pentagon – along with its regional ally, Israel – are unwilling to let the billions already spent on arming the Syrian “rebels” go for naught, spending billions more in hopes that the situation will finally favor their long-standing goal of regime change.

Top photo | Free Syrian Army militants clean their weapons and check ammunition at their base on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Russia deploys MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria – Deterring Israel? – By Alexander Mercouris

MiG-29SMT

Russia air force deployment of advanced MiG fighter to Syria may precede its transfer to Syria’s air force

The Russian Ministry of Defence has unexpectedly confirmed the deployment of MiG-29SMT fighters to Russia’s Khmeimim air base in north east Syria.

The MiG-29SMT should not be confused with the new MiG-35, which has yet to enter service with the Russian Aerospace Forces, and which is an essentially new aircraft with new electronics and engines and a new airplane structure, though one which uses the old MiG-29’s planform. By contrast the MiG-29SMT is essentially a heavily modernised MiG-29, an aircraft that entered service with the Russian air force in the 1980s.

It is nonetheless a potent aircraft which however is designed for air to air combat against enemy fighters rather than for strike roles or ground attack. In this it differs from the SU-35 and SU-30 fighters also deployed by the Russian Aerospace Forces to Syria, which though exceptionally effective air combat fighters are nonetheless true multirole fighters, which are also very effective when used for ground strikes.

What explains the deployment of the MiG-29SMT to Syria?

Ever since the start of the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015 the Russians have openly and frankly spoken of Syria as a testing ground for their military systems. It would be in keeping with this approach to use Syria to test the combat performance of the MiG-29SMT, making it incidentally the first MiG fighter deployed by the Russians to Syria on a sustained basis, though four much more advanced naval MiG-29K fighters were also briefly deployed to Syria last autumn on board Russia’s carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

However a more likely reason for the deployment to Syria of the MiG-29SMT is that the Russians are preparing a delivery of MiG-29SMT aircraft to Syria and the deployment of some examples of this aircraft to Khmeimim air base is intended to familiarise the Syrians with it.

In 2009 the Russians confirmed that a contract had been agreed between Russia and Syria for the supply of 24 MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria. The sale was however postponed in 2012 because of the Syrian war. However with most of western Syria now pacified and under the Syrian government’s control, and with ISIS just weeks away from final defeat in eastern Syria, it is now possible to speak of the Syrian war finally winding down, making it possible for the supply of the 24 MiG-29SMTs to proceed.

When the Syrian war is finally over the Syrian air force – which has experienced heavy equipment losses because of the war, and whose aircraft are anyway largely obsolete Soviet designs delivered to Syria by the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s – will need modern new aircraft to re-equip itself, especially in light of the increasing threats to Syria from Israel.

At that point the transfer of the 24 MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria may finally take place, with the deployment of some of these aircraft to Syria being intended to prepare the ground for this.

Save

The Limelight Defeat of America’s “Assad Must Go” Policy – by Salman Rafi Sheikh

 

36432412312

As the events of war in Syria have emphatically shown, the self-styled Islamic State and the US-supported “moderate” jihadi groups have been defeated, and with it has died down the cornerstone of America’s direct and indirect military intervention i.e., “Assad must go” in Syria. This is evident not only from the way the Syrian army, supported by its Iranian and Russian allies, has rolled back the destroyers of Syria, but also how Assad has started to re-assert his standing as a legitimate ruler of Syria, representing Syria’s interests in major international forums and setting rules of engagement with regard to discussing Syria’s future and the role other countries can play in it. This assertion came to full limelight in a recent speech that Assad made in the second half of the month of August and outlined his vision for Syria’s post-war reconstruction. Of particualr importance were his words with regard to the role some foreign powers have been playing in Syria since the beginning of the so-called “civil war” as he said that he expects those foreign powers, the US and its Arab allies, who have pushed a regime change agenda – an agenda that has caused a lot of destruction and yet failed spectacularly –to abandon their residual links with rebel groups. Until this is done, Assad said further, “there will be neither security cooperation, nor the opening of embassies.”

Clearly, Assad is setting his terms of engagement with the powers that have sought to oust him in the last five years or so. What is equally evident here is the way Assad himself has set his own position as the ruler at the helm of Syrian affairs, intending to extend his control on the whole of Syria and deciding both its domestic and foreign policies. As such, while Assad was explicit in chiding some foreign powers for their role in Syria, he was equally explicit in setting his country’s future foreign policy orientation towards “the East.” He said, the “strategic future of Syria must be towards the East.”

Assad’s speech coincided with the defeat of one of the most powerful “rebel groups” in Syria, Ahrar-al-Sham. Not only was this group one of the West’s “moderate elements” but also played an instrumental role in a number of “rebel” victories against government troops during the years 2013-2015. Many in the West pinned high hopes on it, seeing it as a potential player in the future of Syria, especially after its troops joined in the fight against the IS and also agreed to support a political endgame to the Syrian conflict. Its defeat has, as such, turned out to be the last nail in the coffin of America’s “Assad must go” policy. With Ahrar’s fighters now fleeing and joining other group and with Syrian and Russian elements controlling Syria’s geo-political terrain, the West is left with minimum options to enliven the war through some other groups. Therefore, it is not surprising to see some influential policy makers in the US coming to terms with a Syria under Assad’s control.

“Bashar Assad’s government has won the war militarily,” said Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Damascus, who is said to have played an instrumental role in fomenting the crisis in Syria back in 2011-12, adding further that “I can’t see any prospect of the Syrian opposition being able to compel him to make dramatic concessions in a peace negotiation.”

And while raw material i.e., human element to sustain these groups exit, sources of support for them have dried. The Syrian “rebels” have been frustrated by the way Europe, for instance, has become more interested in stanching the flow of Syrian refugees and stabilizing the country enough to send many of those already in Europe back. Continuation of war, therefore, doesn’t suit Europe.

Persian Gulf is squabbling, and due to that internal rift, flow of support to previously supported groups has shrunk dramatically, adding to the opposition group’s sense of frustration. Therefore, the directions they’re now receiving are markedly different from that of past 2 years. “The nations who supported us the most … they’re all shifting their position,” told Osama Abu Zaid, an opposition spokesman, to an American newspaper. “We’re being pressured from all sides to draw up a more realistic vision, to accept Assad staying.”

While the US has established a number of military establishments in Kurdish dominated northern parts of Syria, indicating its intentions to prolong its stay in Syria, the speed of the Syrian forces’ recovery of the lost ground and the fact that regional powers, Turkey and Iran, have joined hands to prevent the establishment of Kurdistan show that the US plan is increasingly looking like a pipe dream. The US, realistically speaking, apparently has no source on the ground to sustain itself or influence the final outcome. With direct military intervention out of the question, it is much more than even an uphill task of cobbling together a fresh “rebel force” to be able to challenge the combined forces of Syria and Iran backed militias, including Hizbollah, in the southern and eastern regions of Syria.

What is adding more problems is the fact that the US-backed groups and the US-led coalition have miserably failed to give a positive message to the masses they are supposedly protecting against a “brutal” regime. The so-called “unfortunate” incidents of civilian deaths at the hands of these forces are furthering the distance between these groups and the people who might have supported them in the past. In a latest incident of this nature, the US led coalition fighting the IS militants said on last Friday that its strike had caused at least 61 civilian deaths. Much for the erosion of “popular support” these forces and powers claimed to have in the country!

All in all, it is clear that the ground has been cleared of any possibility of Assad’s exit from Syria. The only hope left for the US to realize its erstwhile agenda is through massive mobilization of Kurdish forces. However, were this to happen, the US would end up unwittingly cementing the Turkish-Iranian and Syrian alliance further and increase the likelihood that the Iranian militias and Assad’s forces, duly supported by Turkey, would start an offensive against the Kurds. In such a scenario, the Americans won’t use troops to defend the Syrian Kurds. There is no appetite for this among the American public, and the Syrian Kurds would be making a terrible mistake thinking the US will come and save them.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
https://journal-neo.org/2017/09/07/the-limelight-defeat-of-america-s-assad-must-go-policy/

 

Syria’s victory at Deir ez-Zor turns the tide on US regime-change plans – By Finian Cunningham (RT )

© Ammar Safarjalani / Global Look Press

The breaking of the siege of Deir ez-Zor by the Syrian army and its Russian ally marks the defeat of not just foreign-backed anti-government militants. It signals victory over the regime-change plot orchestrated by the US and its partners.

For three years, the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor had been besieged by militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terror network. This week the Syrian army broke the stranglehold and liberated the city with crucial help from Russian air power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly sent a letter of congratulations to Syria’s Bashar Assad, a measure of the strategic significance of the event.

Deir ez-Zor on the Euphrates River had been the main terror hub in the country, serving as a supply corridor for IS between neighboring Iraq and Syria, according to Russia’s Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi. Now with the vanquishing of that hub, the terrorist remnants in Syria “face a crushing defeat.”

Last week, a headline in Britain’s Guardian newspaper put it succinctly, if not mendaciously. “Victory for Assad looks increasingly likely as world loses interest in Syria.”

The report went on to say: “States that were until recently committed to toppling the Syrian leader are now resigned to him staying.”

What the Guardian meant by its anodyne phrase “the world losing interest in Syria” is that the US and its NATO and regional allies have given up the ghost of overthrowing the Syrian government.

For more than six years since conflict broke out in March 2011, Syria has been the victim of an international criminal conspiracy led by the United States to topple President Assad and the Syrian state. The regime-change operation has been instrumented by the US and its allies sponsoring terrorist mercenary armies, while the Western mainstream news media served to distort the criminal enterprise by depicting it as a civil war.

It was Russia’s military intervention at the end of 2015 in support of the Syrian state that turned the tide. Military support from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah also played a crucial role in turning the war in favor of the Syrian Arab Army.

The liberation of the northern city of Aleppo at the end of 2016 by Syrian and Russian forces was the beginning of the end for the US-backed covert war. Now the liberation of Deir ez-Zor spells the definitive defeat.

What The Guardian coyly calls “world losing interest in Syria” is attested to by several recent developments.

The general dropping by Western corporate news media of coverage on the war in Syria is a telltale signal that the geopolitical agenda of Western governments had shifted. Before the liberation of Aleppo in December, there were shrill, hysterical Western media reports of Syrian-Russian war crimes. The hysteria proved to be a complete fabrication as the liberated citizens of Aleppo and returning refugees began to rebuild their lives.

Over the past nine months, Western media coverage on Syria has steadily declined. To the point where this week’s momentous military victory by Syrian and Russian forces in Deir ez-Zor was bizarrely under-reported. Tellingly, instead of reporting on the liberation of the former ISIS stronghold, Western media tried to focus on a dubious report from the UN claiming that Assad’s forces had used sarin chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in April. Those hackneyed claims have been largely debunked by Russia and other independent sources, which said the CW attack was most likely a propaganda stunt by the Al Nusra terror group occupying the town, along with their White Helmets confederates.

Increasingly, the Western narrative on Syria has been shown to be a fraud. The reality of the US and its British and French allies, as well as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel attempting to topple a sovereign state, has become too transparent to continue concealing. Same too for the reality of Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah liberating a country from Western-backed terrorist mercenaries. Therefore, Western media have, by necessity, had to drop their mendacious coverage.

The decision two months ago by US President Donald Trump to end CIA militant training programs in Syria was a de facto acknowledgment by Washington that the game was up. That has been followed by British Special Forces withdrawing from training camps for militants in Syria, as well as reports that the Saudi regime has terminated its bankrolling of the terror proxies.

The Kremlin’s confirmation this week that Saudi King Salman is to visit Moscow at the end of October is another indicator that the Saudis are trying to stem their losses in Syria.

Trump has backed off earlier US demands President Assad had to step down. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have also reportedly resigned to accepting that the Syrian government is secure from being forcibly removed.

Reports of Jordan and Turkey lately trying to reestablish bilateral relations with Syria are further admissions that the regime-change plot against Assad has failed. Those two neighboring countries were vital conduits for US and NATO training camps, and Saudi-financed arms supplies to the militant proxies in Syria.

When Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu made his surprise trip to Moscow at the end of last month, his reported appeal to President Putin over Iran’s forces in Syria was another data point for the strategic sea-change.

It’s not totally clear-cut, however. The US-backed Kurdish forces assailing the other last remaining IS-held city of Raqqa in Syria’s northeast has seen relentless American air power deployed with horrendous civilian slaughter. US forces in Syria are of course illegal without any mandate from the Syrian government or the UN. While the US-led regime-change covert war in Syria appears to be all but lost, US military intervention still poses a threat to Syrian territorial integrity.

Nevertheless, Syria and its Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies are emerging as the victors. The historical significance cannot be overstated. For the past two decades, the US and its allies have been on a roll of criminal regime-change wars across the Middle East – with impunity.

That roll has now hit a strategic dead-end in Syria, largely because of Russia’s principled military intervention under President Putin.

Syria has been saved from a fate of failed state unlike so many other victims of America’s Orwellian “nation-building.” Or, to put it more accurately, Russia has saved Syria from US state-sponsored terrorism.

It is a seminal historical victory. But American imperialism will not give up there. We should expect the global battlefield to shift. The West’s contempt for Russia and Putin will doubtless intensify because of the strategic setback in Syria.

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Washington has turned to stoking war with North Korea as a way to create problems for Russia. The Pentagon’s proposed stepping up of lethal weapons to the anti-Russian Kiev regime in Ukraine, as well as provocations from the seizure of Russian diplomatic properties in the US, are also acts of revenge for Putin’s successes in Syria.

Comment: Over three years under siege, Deir-ez-Zor joins Aleppo and Homs as some of the longest besieged cities in all history.

And now it’s (almost) liberated, thanks to Russian and Syrian allied forces. With it, the last remaining substantial pocket of ISIS forces is removed from Syria.

Hurrah!

Agents of Terror on Government Payroll – Part II: Ali Mohamed – By Sibel Edmonds (Newsbud)

Editor’s note: Read this article and extrapolate to many other alleged ‘Muslim terror masterminds’. Most likely, all of them were, in one way or another, assets of US intelligence agencies, tasked with creating the ‘reality’ of a terror threat to the USA in order that the US government could respond by invading and occupying nations around the world as part of the long war against Russia and China and securing the Middle East in particular for the ‘new American century’.

A Notorious Terrorist, a Major in Egypt’s Army Intelligence, a CIA Operative, a Member of the Elite Green Berets & an FBI Informant

Let’s say a script writer approaches a Hollywood production company with a proposal for a realisticspy-action thriller that features a dark action hero who is a Major in the Egyptian Army’s Military Intelligence Unit, who is selected by an Elite Special Forces Unit in the United States Army, simultaneously gets recruited by the CIA as an operative, teaches courses at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and is on the FBI Payroll. Then he triple crosses the Elite U.S. military Forces, the CIA and the FBI, uses his U.S. military information to train al-Qaeda and other radical Muslim militants, becomes Bin Laden’s bodyguard (all this while he is still on the payroll of the U.S. military, the CIA and the FBI), blows up U.S. embassies around the world (while still on the triple payroll) – is the most dangerous man in the world according to the U.S. Justice Department. Then he gets caught, is tried and indicted in a secret U.S. court behind closed doors, yet manages to evade sentencing, skips jail, and continues his terror operations around the globe.

What do you think the production company’s response would be? An unrealistic, far-fetched delirium, probably imagined and written while under some sort of psychedelic drug?

What if I were to tell you that everything in the script above, and some more, is a well-documented, government-confirmed, real life case?

Meet Ali Abdul Saoud Mohamed. One of the highest-ranking Al Qaeda terrorists. A man known to and marketed by the U.S. government and Mainstream media as a notorious Triple Agent Terrorist. A man described by U.S. Justice Department Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, as the most dangerous man in the world I’ve ever met.

Are you dizzy yet? Let’s breakdown Ali Mohamed’s background in a more orderly fashion:

Mohamed was a Major in the Egyptian Army’s Military Intelligence Unit.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was selected by U.S. Army Special Forces, who sent him to Special Warfare School and encouraged him to pursue a doctorate in Islamic Studies and teach courses on the Middle East.

He was highly educated and spoke fluent English, French, and Hebrew in addition to his native Arabic.

In 1984 the CIA recruited him to be a junior intelligence officer.

The FBI publicly used him as an informant for years.

While in the United States, working for at least three government agencies, including the U.S. Army, he helped train a number of Jihadis, including El Sayyid Nosair and Mahmud Abouhalima, who assisted Ramzi Yousef in his 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

During the 1980s, while in these three U.S. government entities, he was involved in the training of Anti-Soviet forces, which included members of the mujahideen, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and terrorist members responsible for the bombings of two U.S. embassies.

In 1992 he made at least 58 trips to Afghanistan to participate in the training of terrorist cells, while under the surveillance of the CIA, and the FBI.

In 1998 he was charged with the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to kill nationals of the United States and to destroy U.S. property.

Although indicted, secretly, behind closed court doors, Ali Mohamed was never sentenced.

Just as in the case of Awlaki, all court sessions and documents, all reports and all investigations pertaining to Ali Mohamed are highly classified and not available to even those with TS clearance. Unlike Awlaki, who was fried and turned into ashes by a U.S. drone, Mohamed was allegedly jailed in a high-security prison, and has not been interviewed or seen by any outsiders. Because he is nowhere near any U.S. jail! He has been continuing his work and travel for CIA-NATO Operation Gladio B.

Okay, now let’s begin laying out the facts with links, documents and witnesses…

Early Years …

Ali Mohamed was born in Kafr El Sheikh, Lower Egypt, in 1952. His father was a career soldier in the Egyptian Army. Following in his father’s footsteps, Mohamed attended the Cairo Military Academy after his graduation from high school in 1970, and then went on to attend university near his hometown, obtaining two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Alexandria. In addition to his native Arabic, in the course of his post-secondary education he learned and became fluent in English, Hebrew and French. He joined the Egyptian Army around 1971, eventually rising to the rank of major:

He worked as an intelligence officer in the Egyptian Special Forces, with duties including the recruitment and training of intelligence assets. He was also frequently assigned to protect Egyptian diplomats abroad, and he volunteered for a number of clandestine special operations, including a raid on a Libyan prison. In 1981, while Islamist members of his Egyptian Army unit carried out the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in Cairo, Mohamed took part in a foreign officer training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; at the end of the four-month course he was given a diploma bearing a green beret.

Pretty speedy rise so far, but wait, it will get better.

The Egyptian Army deemed Mohamed too religious and potentially radical and eventually discharged him in March of 1984.For the next 18 months, on the orders of Zawahiri, Mohamed worked for the Egyptian national airline as a counterterrorism security advisor, a position that enabled him to acquire sensitive information about air piracy countermeasures.

Mohamed’s next assignment from Zawahiri was to infiltrate a security agency of the U.S. government. In early 1984, following the kidnapping of its Beirut station chief, the CIA began to significantly increase its efforts to recruit Middle Eastern

assets. Thus, when Mohamed – who had already been contacted by the CIA while at Fort Bragg in 1981 – approached the Cairo office of the CIA offering his services, the Cairo station chief sent out an Agency-wide cable to see if there were any operations into which Mohamed could be inserted. The Bonn station responded, and Mohamed was sent to Hamburg, Germany.

Mohamed was subsequently placed on a State Department watch list intended to bar him from entering the United States. When it learned that Mohamed was seeking a visa in 1985, the CIA says that it warned other federal agencies at that time as well not to allow him entry. Mohamed was allowed entry, however, and moved to the U.S. in September of 1985. According to a 1995 Boston Globe report, his entry into the country was made possible by “clandestine CIA sponsorship.”

That’s right. Despite being on the so-called Watch List, Mohamed sailed into, more like flew into, the United States, thanks to the cover and protection provided him by the United States Central Intelligence Agency-CIA.

Joining the Elite U.S. Army Forces and Beyond …

In 1995, after Mohamed’s name publicly surfaced at the trial of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, the Boston Globe reported that:

Mohamed had been admitted to the U.S. under a special visa program controlled by the CIA’s clandestine service. This will contradict the CIA’s later claims of disassociating themselves from Mohamed and attempting to stop him from entering the U.S..”

As soon as he arrived he married an American Woman, became a U.S. Citizen, and lo and behold, in 1986, he joined the U.S. Army as an enlisted man:

He was posted to Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the elite Special Forces. There he worked as a supply sergeant for a Green Beret unit, then as an instructor on Middle Eastern affairs in the John F. Kennedy special warfare school.

Here is what Mohamed’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Anderson, had to say about his supposed infiltration of elite U.S. military forces:

I think you or I would have a better chance of winning Powerball, than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California … getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit …That just doesn’t happen!

Anderson repeatedly wrote detailed reports urging Army intelligence to investigate Mohamed — and have him court-martialed and deported — but the reports were ignored. Or were they, really?

It was equally unthinkable that an ordinary American GI would go unpunished after fighting in a foreign war!

Anderson astutely concluded that all this convinced him that Mohamed was “sponsored” by a U.S. intelligence service. “I assumed the CIA,” he said.

According to court records and Intelligence sources, for almost as long as Ali Mohamed was a notorious terrorist, he was also in contact with (and employed by) U.S. intelligence.

In 1990, FBI agents raided the home of El Sayyid Nosair, the Egyptian born Islamic militant, right after his arrest in the shooting of Rabbi Meir Kahane:

Among the many items found in Nosair’s possession were sensitive military documents from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The documents, some of which were classified Secret, contained the locations of U.S. military Special Operations Forces exercises and units in the Middle East, military training schedules, U.S. intelligence estimates of Soviet forces in Afghanistan, a topographical map of Fort Bragg, U.S. Central Command data and intelligence estimates of Soviet force projection in Afghanistan. Appended throughout the documents were Arabic markings and notations believed to be that of Ali Mohammed. Some documents were marked “Top Secret for Training otherwise unclassified”. Other documents were marked “sensitive.”

An FBI prepared inventory contains the entire listing of materials seized from Nosair’s residence. Beyond the U.S. military documents, the raid on Nosair’s residence produced a veritable treasure trove of terrorist documents, publications and materials. Included were actual plans for destroying skyscrapers in New York.

According to Steven Emerson, a terrorism expert and author who has written about the case, Mohamed by the early 1990s had also established himself as an FBI informant:

He agreed to serve (the FBI) and provide information, but in fact he was working for the bad guys and insulating himself from scrutiny from other law enforcement agencies.

Simultaneously A CIA-FBI-Pentagon-Al Qaeda Man …

In 1991, Mohammed was the person in charge of Osama Bin Laden’s move from Afghanistan to the Sudan:

From his base in Santa Clara, Mohammed soon emerged as a top aide to Osama Bin Laden. Federal officials say that Mohammed traveled regularly to and from Pakistan and Afghanistan, having helped oversee Bin Laden’s terrorist bases in Khost and other terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

Mohammed helped Bin Laden set up his new home and terrorist base in Khartoum, Sudan where 2000 “Arab Afghans” the name given to the Arab veterans of the Afghanistan jihad – were headquartered in Bin Laden terrorist camps. Mohammed continued to travel between the terrorist camps in Afghanistan, Bin Laden’s base in the Sudan and the United States.

Even the discredited 9/11 Commission’s final report concluded that the WTC bombing had been crafted in Afghanistan during the summer of 1992, when Ramzi Yousef and Ali Mohamed were both in the region:

Yousef’s support network when he arrived in the United States consisted almost entirely of figures with links to Ali Mohamed. But when the Brooklyn cell was finally indicted in 1993, Ali A. Mohamed was not one of the defendants. He wasn’t a witness. Through a tangle of intrigues, negotiations and apparent investigative oversights, Mohamed escaped prosecution until after the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

“Mohamed escaped prosecution until after the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa” — But Mohamed did escape sentencing. He’s never been sentenced, and he’s not in prison.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew Mohamed intimately. In 1994 he had named him as an unindicted co-conspirator in the New York landmark case, yet allowed him to remain free:

This was because, as Fitzgerald knew, Ali Mohamed was an FBI informant, from at least 1993 and maybe 1989.Thus, from 1994 “until his arrest in 1998 [by which time the 9/11 plot was well under way], Mohamed shuttled between California, Afghanistan, Kenya, Somalia and at least a dozen other countries.”

In 1993 Ali Mohamed had been detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada, when he inquired at an airport after an incoming al Qaeda terrorist who turned out to be carrying two forged Saudi passports. Mohamed immediately told the RCMP to make a phone call to the United States, and the call secured his release. We’ve since been told that it was Mohamed’s West coast FBI handler, John Zent, “who vouched for Ali and got him released.” This release enabled Ali to go on to Kenya, take pictures of the U.S. Embassy, and deliver them to bin Laden for the Embassy bombing plot.

Fitzgerald and his FBI counterpart on the Bin Laden task force, John Cloonan, learned shortly after 9/11 that Mohamed “knew every twist and turn of” the 9/11 plot. Within days of 9/11 Cloonan rushed backed from Yemen and interviewed Ali, whom the Feds had allowed to slip into witness protection, and demanded to know the details of the plot. At that point Ali wrote it all out – including details of how he’d counseled would-be hijackers on how to smuggle box cutters on board aircraft and where to sit, to affect the airline seizures.

Interestingly this same Patrick Fitzgerald has described Ali Mohamed as “the most dangerous man I’ve ever met”!

Despite all this, for over four years Mohamed moved freely in and out of the United States as an unindicted conspirator. Further, he was allowed to plea-bargain, and was never sentenced for any of his well-established and documented criminal and terrorist activities:

Peter Lance has charged that Fitzgerald had evidence before 1998 to implicate Mohamed in the Kenya Embassy bombing, yet did nothing and let the bombing happen. In fact, the FBI was aware back in 1990 that Mohamed had engaged in terrorist training on Long Island; yet it acted to protect Mohamed from arrest, even after one of his trainees had moved beyond training to an actual assassination.

Since 2002 no one knows what happened to Mohamed and/or where he is, the general belief is that he is in the U.S and has not been sentenced in payment for providing information about Al-Qaeda and their senior hierarchy.

Mohamed’s relationship with the CIA and FBI is wrapped in secrecy. His plea agreement is sealed, as are many of the court documents and much of the testimony:

Mohamed was expected to testify — but did not — at the trial where the four others were convicted. Mohamed and his lawyer have declined all interview requests.”

Since his arrest in 1998, Mohamed has been hidden away in a federal “witness protection” program, with most of his court records sealed. As Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times put it:

Ali Mohamed has been buried “under a cloak of secrecy rarely seen in the public courts.”

In an interview with the National Geographic Channel, Ali Mohamed’s defense attorney makes a very chilling prophecy. “I think the most likely thing that will happen,” says attorney David Ruhnke, “is he’ll be released and he’ll be given a new name, a new identity, and he’ll pick up a life some place.”

“Mohamed has made some kind of deal with the government, that will surely have him out of prison on some date certain that he knows about,” says attorney David Ruhnke.

To recap, the terms of Mohamed’s deal with the government, including not being sentenced, have never been made public. All classified. All secret.

For almost two decades Ali Abdelsaoud Mohamed served Osama bin Laden and his number one lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri as their highest al-Qaeda operative in the United States. During this period Mohamed traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and many other ‘hot-spot’ countries and provided al-Qaeda with top-level intelligence, planned terrorist events, assisted in fundraising, and trained al-Qaeda terrorists – including bin Laden himself.

The most amazing thing about Ali Mohamed is not his linguistic, educational or IQ pedigree, but his story, and his high-level backers within the FBI, CIA and the U.S. Military. He carried out his deadly role as globe-trotting spy master and terrorist while working with, and inside, the very U.S. government organizations that are supposedly at war with terrorists like him: the CIA, the U.S. Army Special Forces, and the FBI. And the fact that he was able, and allowed to, carry out all his terror operations for nearly two decades, in spite of numerous. tip-offs from foreign governments and warnings from personnel within these agencies. The most troubling and important question being:

How is it that this notorious terror operative and facilitator happened to be on the payroll of three U.S. government agencies before, during and after the September 11 attacks? Whether with the Pentagon’s Special Forces, the CIA, or the FBI, wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, he be considered The U.S. Government’s Man? And if that’s the case, whose attack did we suffer on September 11, 2001?

Comment: Previously: Agents of Terror on Government Payroll – Part I: Anwar Al-Awlaki

Syrian army, allies break 3-year ISIS siege in Deir ez-Zor city, Russia fires more Kalibr cruise missiles, soldiers celebrate – By RT

© Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Sputnik

The Islamic State blockade of Deir er-Zor has been breached by Syrian government forces, Syrian state television and activist groups reported on Tuesday. The jihadist group has blockaded the provincial capital for almost 3 years.

The government troops defending the city and those advancing from the west have met, Syrian media reported.

The garrison of Deir ez-Zor has been holding out against Islamic State forces in rural parts of the governorate, sustained by airdrops of crucial supplies.

An estimated 93,000 civilians remain under the protection of Damascus’ forces within the city limits.

In the past few days, the advancing government forces have repeatedly moved swiftly to break through jihadist lines.

Russian frigate fires Kalibr cruise missiles at ISIS targets in Deir ez-Zor – Defense Ministry

A Russian warship in the Mediterranean Sea has fired a salvo of Kalibr cruise missiles at a group of jihadists stationed near the city of Deir ez-Zor in western Syria, the Russian military reported. The targeted militants were mainly from Russia and countries of the CIS.

The frigate Admiral Essen of the Russian Black Sea fleet fired the missiles on Tuesday morning, a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said. The barrage destroyed a communications center, weapons depots and a repair workshop used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants, it said.

“The missile strikes supported the advance of Syrian government forces, and have foiled the plans of the ISIL militants to regroup and strengthen terrorist positions near the city of Deir ez-Zor,” the ministry said.

Damascus forces supported by Russian warplanes are currently trying to lift a years-long blockade of the provincial capital Deir ez-Zor. Moscow says that the success of the operation would amount to a strategic defeat of the terrorist group in Syria.

Earlier on Tuesday the importance of the campaign in Deir ez-Zor governorate was stressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is currently in China at the BRICS summit.

“The situation [in Syria] is changing dramatically, and that is an obvious fact. I hope that our partners will follow through with their effort in Raqqa. And Deir ez-Zor is a strategic military stronghold for the entire radical opposition – radical in the worst sense of the word, the ISIS-affiliated opposition.”

“As soon as the operation in Deir ez-Zor is finished, the terrorists will suffer a very serious defeat and the government forces will get an obvious advantage. Then the next step would be to foster the ceasefire and the de-escalation zones and to fully establish the political process,” he added.

The Admiral Essen is one of Russia’s most modern warships, the second of the Admiral Grigorovich class to set sail. It carries 8 vertically-launched Kalibr cruise missiles and previously fired them at IS forces in May and June.

The Deir ez-Zor governorate is located in the western part of Syria on the border with Iraq and is one of the few remaining pockets of territory remaining under the control of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Moscow, which supports Damascus’ offensive against the jihadist groups, believes the full lifting of the siege of the provincial capital will amount to the strategic defeat of IS in Syria.

Comment: Update: Syrian soldiers embrace after breaking 3-year ISIS siege of Deir ez-Zor

Syrian Arab Army soldiers joyously embraced their brothers in arms in the Deir ez-Zor area on Tuesday after the three-year Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) siege of the city was breached by government forces on the ground with Russia’s air support.

Exclusive footage obtained by Ruptly shows units of the Syrian Arab Army reunite with their comrades from Brigade 137, whose base in west Deir ez-Zor had been surrounded by IS since 2014.

The Conflict In Syria Was Always Israel’s War Because Israel has staked first its survival and ultimately its growth into a dominant regional power on the disunity of its neighboring nations – By Whitney Webb

ISRAELHONDURASCRIMES

4 Comments

AddThis Sharing Buttons

Share to SkypeSkypeShare to RedditRedditShare to MoreMore502

After years of fomenting the Syrian conflict from the shadows, the U.S. has recently seemed to back away from its push to militarily intervene in the embattled nation, instead choosing to focus its saber-rattling and destabilization efforts on other theaters. The consequence of this has seemingly been the winding down of the long-running conflict, now entering its seventh year.

Buoyed by Russia, Iran and Lebanon, the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad has managed to retake vast swaths of territory, all while surviving and growing stronger over the course of a largely foreign-funded onslaught. As a result, many of the governments that were instrumental in funding and arming the so-called “moderate” opposition have begun to extricate themselves, unwilling to further test the resilience of Assad or the Syrian people.

With some anticipating the long-awaited conclusion of the Syrian conflict, recent threats from Israel’s government to assassinate Assad by bombing his residence seemed to appear out of the blue. According to the Jerusalem Post, a senior Israeli official accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a recent visit to Russia warned the Kremlin that if Iran continues to “extend its reach” in Syria, Israel would bomb the presidential palace in Damascus.

 

Israel’s comments should come as no surprise, however, as the foreign-funded and manufactured conflict in Syria was always Israel’s war. The only real surprise is Israel’s growing isolation in pushing for the further escalation of the conflict.

 

WikiLeaks sheds light on the origins of the war

Though it has successfully avoided being labeled a major player in the effort to oust Assad, Israel has long been the mastermind of the plan, which stems in large part from the long-standing hostilities between the two nations as well as Israel’s own regional ambitions. State Department diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have shown that in 2006, five years before the conflict in Syria manifested, the government of Israel had hatched a plan to overthrow the Assad government by engineering sectarian strife in the country, creating paranoia within the highest-ranks of the Syrian government, and isolating Syria from its strongest regional ally, Iran.

Israel then passed this plan along to the United States, which would then involve Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt in fomenting the “breakdown” of the Assad regime as a way of weakening both Iran and Hezbollah — with the effect of empowering both Israel and the Gulf monarchies, two seemingly disparate forces in the region that are becoming increasingly allied.


Related | As Syria Nears Victory Against Rebels, Israel Begins To Panic


Leaked emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton further reveal Israel’s role in covertly creating the conflict and its clear role in securing the involvement of the U.S. and other nations in executing its plan for Assad’s removal. One email, forwarded by Clinton to her advisor Jacob Sullivan, argues that Israel is convinced that Iran would lose “its only ally” in the region were Assad’s government to collapse.

It further stated that “The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies.” This possible sectarian war was perceived as a potential “factor in the eventual fall of the current government of Iran.”

Another Clinton email released by WikiLeaks stated”

The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad,”

Adding

Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.”

The email also notes:

A successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States” and states that “arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.”

Read the full Wikileaks release below:

Stated plainly, the U.S.’ decision to spend over $1 billion until 2015 to arm Syria’s terrorist-linked “rebels” — and to invoke the assistance of Wahhabi terrorism exporters like Saudi Arabia and Qatar in funneling weapons and funds to these same groups — was spurred by Israel, which not only drafted the original blueprint for the Syrian conflict but guided U.S. involvement by exerting its powerful influence over the foreign policy of that country.

 

Aiding the Rebels

Two men, not specified which group of rebels, ride a motorcycle towards an abandoned UN base at Syria's Quneitra border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel did more, however, than covertly instigate and guide the funding of opposition “rebels” — having secretly funded and aided opposition groups, including ones with overt terrorist affiliations, over the course of the six-year-long conflict.

Israeli involvement in direct funding and aiding the Syrian “rebels” was suspected for years before being officially made public by the Wall Street Journal in June of this year. The report revealed that Israel, since the beginning of the conflict, had been “supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel, and medical supplies for years, a secret engagement in the enemy country’s civil war aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces.” Israel has also frequently brought wounded “rebels” into Israel for medical treatment, a policy it often touts as a “humanitarian effort.”

These “friendly” forces were armed groups that formed part of or were allied with al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, known for committing atrocities against thousands of Syrian civilians and slaughtering religious and ethnic minorities. Since 2013, al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups have dominated the “eight-square-kilometer separation zone on the Golan.” Israel has stated officially that these fighters are part of the U.S. coalition-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA). However, it has long been known that the vast majority of the groups comprising FSA have pledged allegiance to the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, and that those who still fight under the FSA banner meet with al-Nusra on a daily basis.

Netanyahu looks at a Syrian rebel fighter being treated in an IDF field hospital. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel’s support for terrorist groups went far beyond medical treatment, food supplies and cash. The Israeli army was also found to have been in regular communication with these terrorist groups and even helped “pay salaries of fighters and buy ammunition and weapons.” In addition, when the positions of the “rebel” groups it funded, armed and paid were in danger of being overtaken by Syrian government forces, Israel stepped in to directly bomb Syrian targets. For instance, in June, Israel attacked several Syrian military positions after claiming a stray mortar had landed within the boundaries of the Golan Heights, part of Syria that has long been occupied by Israel. However, the attack tellingly coincided with Syrian army advancements against the “rebel” groups that Israel has long cultivated as part of the so-called “buffer zone.”

Furthermore, Israel has launched attacks inside Syria “dozens and dozens of times,” according to a recent admission by Netanyahu. Earlier this year, Israel also threatened to “destroy” Syrian air defenses after the Syrian army fired missiles at Israeli warplanes striking targets within Syria.

Also very telling has been Israel’s position on Daesh (ISIS). In June of last year, Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Herzi Halevi, openly stated that Israel does not want to see Daesh defeated in Syria — expressing concern about the offensives against Daesh territory and lamenting their “most difficult” situation. Prior to Halevi’s comments, Israeli officials had regularly noted that Daesh conquering the whole of Syria would be preferable to the survival of the Assad government. These comments have been echoed by Israeli and NATO-affiliated think tanks, one of which called Daesh “a useful tool in undermining” Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Russia — despite Daesh’s barbaric tactics, war crimes, enslavement of women and ethnic cleansing efforts.

 

Israel’s larger geopolitical agenda

An old Israeli tank sits in a position in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria,Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.

Though Israel’s support of Wahhabi terrorists like Daesh (ISIS) and al-Nusra may seem counter-intuitive, Israel’s overarching purpose in expelling Assad from power is based on strategic geopolitical and economic goals that Israel is determined to meet at any cost. While Israel frequently mentions Iran as the pretext for its involvement in Syria, the strongest motivators for Israel’s participation in the destruction of its northern neighbor are oil and territorial expansion.

One of Israel’s clearest reasons for being interested in the destabilization of Syria is its ability to assert further control of the Golan Heights, an area of Syria that Israel has illegally occupied since 1967 and annexed in 1981. Despite filling the area with illegal settlements and military assets, Israel has been unable to convince the international community, and even its close allies such as the U.S., to recognize its sovereignty over the territory. However, the conflict in Syria has proven beneficial to this end, allowing Israel to send even more settlers into the Golan, an estimated 100,000 over five years.


Related | Nearly 3,500 Israeli Settlement Homes Built On Private Palestinian Land


Israel is largely interested in gaining control over the Golan for economic reasons, owing to the occupied territory’s oil reserves, which are estimated to contain “billions of barrels.” Under the cover of the Syrian conflict, the Israeli branch of an American oil company — whose investors include Dick Cheney, Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — has been drilling exploratory wells throughout the region, as the Heights’ uncertain territorial status prevents Israel from financially exploiting the resource.

Despite the prohibitions of international law, Israel is eager to tap into those reserves, as they have the potential to “make Israel energy self-sufficient.” Israel has even offered, per the Galant plan, to “rebuild” Syria with billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars in exchange for the Golan Heights — though the plan received a tepid reception from all involved parties other than Israel itself.

As its stands, Assad’s removal and replacement with a government friendly to Israeli and Western interests is Israel’s only real means of claiming the Golan Height’s energy resources for itself.

 

Pawns blocking Israel’s endgame

An Iraqi Kurd reads a copy of the magazine Israel-Kurd on a street in Irbil, Iraq in 2009. (Azad Lashkari/Reuters)

Aside from the oil and the territory it seeks to gain in the Golan Heights, Israel is also seeking to expand well beyond that territory in order to more widely exert its influence and become the region’s “superpower.” This ambition is described in the Yinon Plan, a strategy intended to ensure Israel’s regional superiority in the Middle East that chiefly involves reconfiguring the entire Arab world into smaller and weaker sectarian states. This has manifested in Israel’s support for the partition of Iraq as well as Syria, abetted by its support for the establishment of a separatist Kurdish state within these two nations.


Related | Israel Calls For Partition Of Iraq, Creation Of New Kurdish State


This goal, in particular, largely explains Israel’s obsession with curbing Iranian influence in the Middle East, whether in Syria or elsewhere. Iran – more than any other nation in the region – is the most likely to threaten the “superpower” status that Israel seeks to gain for itself, as well as Israel’s loss of monopoly as the region’s only nuclear power.

Given Israel’s compound interests in seeing the removal of Assad and the partition of Syria, it is hardly surprising that Israeli political rhetoric has reached new heights of saber-rattling as Tel Aviv becomes increasingly concerned that the conflict it masterminded could backfire. Prior to the explosive comments regarding Israeli threats to bomb Assad’s residence, an anonymous Israeli government minister blamed the U.S. for backing out of Syria, a move he argued sacrificed Israeli interests:

The United States threw Israel under the bus for the second time in a row. The first time was the nuclear agreement with Iran, the second time is now that the United States ignores the fact that Iran is obtaining territorial continuity to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel’s northern border [through Syria].”

Not only that but Israel has recently vowed to “nullify” the ceasefire deal brokered between Russia and the U.S. with Syrian and Iranian support if it fails to comply with Israel’s needs — an ultimatum based on rather subjective terms given that “Israel’s needs” are hardly static. Israel’s response again shows the perception among officials in Tel Aviv that the Syrian conflict is of primary importance to Israeli geopolitical interests.

Furthermore, given that the response suggested so far by Israeli officials – on more than one occasion – has been to assassinate Syria’s democratically-elected President – the contemplated means of Israel “nullifying” the ceasefire deal will likely have explosive implications. Israel — apparently refusing to accept that the conflict it orchestrated is not going, and may not end, as planned — is now willing to escalate the situation militarily, with or without allies, resorting to dangerous brinkmanship with global implications.

Top photo | Israeli tourists watch smoke rising near the Syrian-Israeli border as the fighting Syrian army fights to regain control of the Quneitra border crossing from rebel groups. (Atef Safadi/EPA)

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

4 Comments

AddThis Sharing Buttons

Share to SkypeSkypeShare to RedditRedditShare to MoreMore502

%d bloggers like this: