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  • Syria: The American War on Civilians
    • It sounds as if the US is doing to Raqqa what North Korea threatens to do to Seoul. And that's a fraction of what they've already visited upon Mosul.

  • Trump hands Putin gift, cancels Support for Syrian Rebels
  • Syria: Russians alarmed, Washington Befuddled, by White House threats
    • The Russians already have S-300 and S-400 missiles in place around Syria and this is sufficient to cover much of the country. More of them would be superfluous.

      Then there is the point that the Russians haven't used the existing missiles to stop egregious US and Israeli attacks against Assad's forces. That is, the missiles are utterly useless without the political will to employ them.

      Putin's bluff has been well and truly called.

    • The White House announcement was a lame attempt to counter the Seymour Hersh article debunking the putative April gas attack. I'd suggest the WH thought the article would get wider circulation than it did.

      By suppressing the Hersh article the media (and certain academics) have unwittingly done Trump a service.

  • Trump’s Escalations of War in Syria—Sleepwalking into a Global Confrontation
    • It will be interesting what excuse the coalition will use to keep bombing Syria after Assad has defeated the rebels and is free to attack IS. With IS no longer attacking Iraq the current rationale of collective self-defence will no longer apply.

  • All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran
    • The US has been arming only Sunnis for decades. It may be an attempt to divide and conquer Islam in general but it sure seems like a never ending war on Shiites.

  • Putin offers Comey Asylum, likens him to Snowden
    • It is reasonable to assume that Russia had serious concerns about Clinton's war-mongering in the run up to the election. It is therefore reasonable for them to run a disinformation campaign in an effort to stop nukes from flying.

  • How Long can Qatar defy its powerful neighbors? It depends on Trump
    • It's entirely incidental of course that 6 months ago Qatar acquired 20% of Russia's Rosneft. That is, the planet's top 2 gas exporters are now allies at a time when the US is trying to lever open the European market and bring Russia to it's knees.

  • In 3 months, Trump has Charged into 4 Mideast Wars, to no Avail
  • Risk of Mass Starvation Rising Rapidly in Africa, Yemen
    • A million or more Yemeni babies starving to death due to the US-backed Saudi war vs maybe ten babies in Syria being gassed. Seems to me that Trump's priorities are somewhat distorted. Regime change for Saudi Arabia anyone?

  • Washington's Supreme Hypocrisy on Chemical Weapons and Civilian Deaths
    • It defies reason that the Syrian government would drop CW bombs on a warehouse in a rural town with no strategic or tactical significance for the sole purpose of killing civilians and with the knowledge that it would rabidly inflame the West. The Russians claim that the Syrian government hit chemical stockpiles held by the rebels.

      It's a no-brainer that the Russian version of the story is accurate which is probably why Trump doesn't believe it.

      BTW, Prof Cole, you forgot the 300 civilians killed by a US bomb in Mosul just a couple of weeks ago. It seems that conventional weapons are more deadly than the CW versions when used in in civilian areas which is probably why the US favours them.

  • Iraqis Weigh in on Airstrike That Killed Hundreds In Mosul
    • The following is from and adds a different perspective to the US airstrike:

      Facing growing criticism over an attack earlier this month that killed hundreds of civilians in Mosul, the Pentagon today confirmed that it has video footage of ISIS forcing hundreds of civilians into the destroyed buildings, which they presented as “provoking the attack.”

      While this is designed to shift some of the blame away from the Pentagon for bombing buildings full of civilians, it appears to actually do the exact opposite: it confirms that the Pentagon knew before the attacks that those buildings were full of civilians, and attacked them anyhow.

      link to

  • As 100,000 Rally in Yemen, Houthis Defy Trump, Saudis
    • "The conflict began in March 2015 in efforts to reinstall toppled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi ..."

      When originally elected to a 2 year term in 2012, Hadi was the sole candidate in a UN-imposed process in which no opposition was allowed.

      Hadi extended his own term an additional year in 2014, and this was due to expire in February of 2015. This never happened, however, because Hadi resigned in January 2015, and the Saudis launched the war to reinstall him in March of 2015.

      There is no way Hadi is the legitimate president of Yemen.

  • Hard Truth: Aleppo Rebels weren't defeated by Main Force but b/c they alienated Syrians
    • Cole: "... in West Aleppo ... 800,000 to a million people ... took occasional mortar fire from the slums of East Aleppo."

      This random rocket and mortar fire killed over 1,000 civilians in West Aleppo this year alone. Many, many more were wounded.

      IMHO, indiscriminate shelling of the civilian majority may have had some bearing on the loss of support for the rebels.

  • US Goes to War with Houthis in Yemen (Openly)
    • In 2012 Hadi was "elected" to a 2-year term via a UN-imposed process in which no other candidates were allowed. He extended his own term an additional year in 2014 and it was scheduled to end February of 2015. This never happened, however, because Hadi resigned in January 2015, and the Saudis launched their war to reinstall him in March of that year.

      Unbelievably, the international community not only considers this fair, they deem it worth the lives of thousands of innocent civilians.

  • Syria, Russia push to take East Aleppo pocket as airstrikes kill 66, wound 200
  • Tzipi Livni Refuses Police War Crimes Interview; UK Government Provides Last-minute Immunity
  • Saudi Arabia's intervention in Yemen is Morphing into Major War
    • It's remarkable the military resources that the coalition can muster against Yemen but that for some strange reason cannot be used against Daesh.

  • US "War on Drugs" ruined Mexico even worse than it did Afghanistan
    • The following was e-mailed to Tomdispatch a couple of months ago. It's great that it was taken seriously.

      Please, please, please add some perspective to the Daesh (IS/ISIL/ISIS) debate. For example:

      - Daesh reportedly has about 35,000 fighters which is less than half the crowd at an Australian regional weekend football match. They are far from a threat to the world.

      - Mexican cartels behead victims just over the US border and have murdered 111,000 to date, far more than Daesh. The brutality is ongoing and worsening. Everything that Daesh is supposed to be doing, massacres, slaving, human trafficking, drug trafficking, bribery, prostitution, etc, with US citizens _far_ more likely to be victims of cartels than terrorists.

      - The US spent $1.1 billion over just a few days bombing Daesh to little effect. Consider what could be done with the same money if it was used to fight the cartels on their own turf. It would actually be in the national interest and we'd even have a chance of actually winning, unlike the crackpot campaign against Daesh.

  • Could Sunni-Shiite Rift make Tikrit a Pyrrhic Victory? Al-Azhar & Shiite Militias
    • The Shiite militia will of course keep going, eventually into Syria. That will do interesting things to the civil war dynamics. The question is whether the US will keep up airstrikes against Daesh when Assad receives these 50,000 battle hardened, Iranian-led reinforcements.

  • Paying the Piper: How America's Iraq War haunts its Failed Syria Policy
    • Don't forget that Syria took in millions of Sunnis escaping Iraq during the US occupation. Assad received no international financial assistance for this endeavour. That these refugees turned on him is a disgrace.

  • 7 Surprising Reasons Turkey is entering war on ISIL
    • Turkey has done far more than back the SNC and FSA.

      "Turkey has directly supported al-Qaeda's wing in Syria, in defiance of America, the former US ambassador has disclosed.
      ... this is the first time a senior American official - albeit one no longer in service - has said openly that Turkey was working with al-Qaeda. Ironically, the Turkish policy has been effective in one way - Jabhat al-Nusra is now seen as relatively moderate compared with its splinter group, Islamic State."

      link to

  • Obama needs Europe in responding to MH17 Crash, but NSA Spying a Bar
    • If Russia is responsible for MH17 because they _may_ support Ukrainian rebels then the US is responsible for 200,000 dead civilians because they support Syrian rebels.

  • Who are Iraq's Sunni Arabs and What did we Do to them?
    • I.

      The modern penalty for attacking neighbours,
      you live by the sword, you die by the sabres,
      the death of more than a thousand cuts:
      sanctions that eviscerated Iraq's guts.
      Killed countless kids, untold slaughter
      by sanctioning chlorine that purified the water.
      Sanctions killed Iraq's military as well
      (tanks lacked tracks, some even a shell).

      Only when Iraq was so very weak
      did the US attack and havoc wreak.
      They killed the tanks for the media you see,
      the men within them they killed for free.
      Bremer's diktats then sowed the seed,
      marginalised Sunnis without any heed.
      Sunni disquiet, the Fallujah bloodbath
      mere mileage markers on histories path.

      Divide and conquer, the USual thought,
      pressure relief through sectarian sport.
      A fundamental divide thoughtlessly ignited,
      occupying generals no doubt delighted.
      Muqtada al-Sadr's army defeated
      Sunnis who've since been badly mistreated.
      The Saddam / Maliki democratic illusion
      behind a lot of the current confusion.

      Fundamental fratricide made to order
      and refugees took it across the border.
      Syria absorbed over a million Sunnis
      at its own cost, no outside monies.
      The refugees bit the hand that fed them
      rebelling to cause the current problem.
      The "arab spring" Nato supported in Libya
      easily transported by sea to Syria.


      Some pundits claim the US is at fault
      for this latest crisis - this ISIS assault.
      Sunnis are now back with a vengeance,
      Maliki part blamed for ISIS transcendence.
      "if you break it, you own it" quipped Colin Powell
      just before Saddam threw in the towel.
      "Fix it or pay" the world now demands
      as usual the US only issues commands.

      The fault really lies with those who gave arms
      to Syrian rebels without any qualms,
      weapons now flowing over the borders
      into Iraq in the hands of marauders.
      Iraqi Sunnis are providing support,
      adding to weapons the jihadis brought.
      Depending: it's either justice in action
      or widespread terrorism with local traction.

      So we are left with the latest emergency
      ISIS are terrorists not an insurgency,
      funded to wreck the Syrian nation
      they've managed to damage US reputation.
      Now pouring out of the Sunni enclaves
      blowback coming in hurricane waves.
      Payback in spades used to dig graves
      not of the chiefs, only the braves.

      An exigency made in the USA,
      Bremer's old acts reversing today?
      Saudi support for Syrian terrorism
      opposed in Iraq with Shia heroism?
      Blame and counter-claim to distraction,
      or just a picture of Ouroboros in action
      - take a snake by the tail, a US farce
      when it turns and bites them on the arse.


      ISIS intend to create a caliphate.
      State sanctioned stonings there await,
      second class females hand and foot,
      illiterate, who'll stay where they're put.
      Amputations, flogging in stadiums of sport
      and religious courts for crimes of thought.

      The funding for all of this utter madness,
      the blood and oil and utter badness,
      comes from outright monarchies
      with intelligence arms that rival the nazis.
      Know to the shekel who's paying what
      to who, why and precisely the spot.

      The General inflammation of Sunnis / ISIS
      in medical terms would be Saudiitis.
      Iran-like sanctions should be prescribed
      for preventing eruptions as above described.
      That must happen to stop a caliphate,
      it's probably already way too late.

      The US fawns on its oily soulmate
      but draws the line at creating a caliphate.
      Private Saudi funding still takes place,
      the caliphate is coming at headlong pace.
      Costing just a few lousy billion
      they're creating conditions for making a zillion.

  • London Riots: Its the Economy, Stupid (Not a Clash of Civilizations)
  • 32 Nations Recognize Free Libya
    • According to a 2009 Gallup poll only 39% of Americans say they believe in the theory of evolution. How can anyone in their right mind believe that there aren't "radical Christian" tendencies afoot in the US?

      What this has to do with Libya eludes me.

  • Clinton: al-Asad has lost Legitimacy after Mobs Storm US, French Embassies
    • Fluster, I would call "strengthening freedom of expression" a euphasim for stirring up trouble in a country like Syria.

      U.S. admits funding Syrian opposition
      CBC News Posted: Apr 18, 2011 3:14 AM ET

      The U.S. State Department acknowledged Monday it has been funding opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, following the release of secret diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks that document the funding.

      The files show that up to $6.3 million US was funnelled to the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based dissident organization that operates the Barada TV satellite channel, which broadcasts anti-government news into Syria. Another $6 million went to support a variety of initiatives, including training for journalists and activists, between 2006 and 2010.

      Asked point-blank by reporters whether the United States is funding Syrian opposition groups, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a news conference Monday, "We are — we're working with a variety of civil society actors in Syria with the goal here of strengthening freedom of expression."
      "Some programs may be perceived, were they made public, as an attempt to undermine the Assad regime.… The Syrian Arab Republic government would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change."
      link to

      and from Israel:

      Russia building naval base in Syria - report
      Vera Yadidya Latest Update: 06.02.06, 23:42

      Russian magazine Kommersant reported Friday that the Russian army is laying the groundwork for building the Syrian port of Tartus, in the north of the country.
      link to

    • Prof Cole stated "... the Obama administration came into power determined to improve relations with Syria ...".

      Who's idea was it then for the US to fund anti-Government broadcasts that may have precipitated the current crisis? How do these "improved relations" relate to the the expansion of the Russian naval base in Tartus?

      There were many questions to be raised about US involvement in the troubles before the embassy attacks. These must be answered before any sense can be made of Syrian response.

  • Today's Top 5 Crises in the 2011 Arab Revolutions
    • Longuet also said: 'They can talk to each other because we’ve shown there is no solution through force.’

      Golly, and it's only taken 3 months and 6,000 bombing runs which killed 700 Libyan civilians for the French to work it out. One wonders what it will take before a certain Nobel peace prize winner catches on.

  • Israeli Troops kill 20, wound Hundreds at Golan
    • "Israeli officials charge that Syria is promoting the protests ...". Wrong: note the date on this e-mail to Dr Franklin Lamb in Lebanon.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: .
      Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 5:02 PM
      Subject: Take back the Golan

      Take back the Golan? ... easy.

      a) Bus one million ordinary, unarmed Syrians to the border on a particular day, maybe next Yom Kippur.

      b) In front of as many of the world's television cameras as can be assembled, the people march over the border and reclaim their territory - peacefully.

      Spread the idea around ... who knows, velvet revolutions aren't the only use for people power.

      Love your work.

  • NATO Strike on Command Center kills Qaddafi Son
    • Nato bombed a "known command and control centre" which the media call "a single storey house in an upscale residential area". The bombing killed at least 3 children under twelve yet Nato's ambit is supposedly to protect civilians.

      The Guardian put it: "...the deaths of Gaddafi's three grandchildren, if confirmed, will reinforce the doubts of alliance members uncomfortable with Nato's six-week bombing campaign and generate criticism from countries such as Russia that Nato is pushing beyond its UN security council mandate.

      "Statements by participants in the coalition that the strikes on Libya are not aimed at the physical destruction of ... Gaddafi and members of his family raise serious doubts," the Russian foreign ministry said. "The disproportionate use of force ... is leading to detrimental consequences and the death of innocent civilians." The ministry called for "an immediate ceasefire and the beginning of a political settlement process without preconditions." ...

      Yet Nato has rejected a proposed Libyan government ceasefire and amnesty for rebels who lay down arms. This is the second proposed ceasefire to have been rejected and, all the while, ever increasing numbers of civilians are dying in what is undoubtedly a civil war.

      In other news, "Army chiefs from Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Algeria are on alert as the crisis in nearby Libya deteriorates, placing the entire region at risk, a military source said on Saturday.
      "Moreover, because of the Libyan crisis, the security situation in the Sahel has deteriorated, so it is necessary to be careful. We are all on alert and we keep each other informed," he added.

      According to a document from one of the participating countries, seen by AFP, "there is now no doubt, several Al-Qaeda fighters are involved in the Libya fighting." ...

      link to

      In summary, Nato:
      - bombed a residential area knowing it would likely injure kids;
      - continually rejects diplomatic efforts to end all killing;
      - is destabilising a vast chunk of North Africa thereby bolstering, indeed arming, al-Qaeda in the area.

      Nato is well on the way to losing the moral high ground to Gadaffi - a truly remarkable effort.

  • Saif admits Qaddafis are Brutal Foreign Occupiers
    • Engaging in a little revisionist history, Prof Cole?

      (Extract: Remembering Srebrenica, Thinking of Fallujah by Ghali Hassan
      Global Research, July 27, 2005)

      The Srebrenica "massacre" was universally condemned in Europe and the US as "genocide" and crimes against humanity. The Serbs who have been accused of the killings were described by Western governments and Western media as "Serb evils". They are indicted for war crimes and promises have been made to bring them to "justice", that is, Western justice. However when something worse than the Srebrenica "massacre" happened in Fallujah, it was described by Western leaders and their media accomplices as a "necessary step to hold elections and bring freedom and democracy" to Iraq.

      The Iraqi city was the subject of heavy US bombardments before and after the 2003 Occupation. In November 2004, US occupying forces embarked on "pacifying" the city of Fallujah in order to make an "example" of Western brutality. Water, food and electricity were cut off to the city of 300,000 citizens - in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The aim was to empty the city of its women, children, and the elderly while preventing the departure of able-bodied males from leaving, then US forces bombed the city with all the remaining civilians. Many people were able to leave, but others stayed in their homes and massacred by US forces.

      For several weeks, US forces bombed the city continuously, with deliberate violence that has been described as "war crimes". ...

      link to

  • Torpey: Support the Libyans but Don't Arm Them!
    • Morzer, my issue with this "intervention" is that the US was far too quick to drop the pen and pick up the sword.

      Countries with oil concessions in Libya have decreed that Qaddafi MIGHT conduct a massacre some time in future. Ergo, they reason, he has to be stopped before he gets the chance. Yet some towns between Benghazi and Tripoli are reported to have changed hands at least four times during the current fighting. One would think that if citizens in rebel area were going to be massacred then it would have occurred by now.

      Any government has the duty to protect it's constituents in accordance with the prevailing law. It is the Libyan government's DUTY to fight protestors who forego the political process and take up arms. Likewise any government, including the US, will probably have summary execution provisions in its Military Code for mutineers and those who desert under fire.

      Pre-emptive war to stop the use of non-existant WMD is one thing. Pre-emptive war to stop a non-existent massacre is just plain ridiculous (and a testament to the credulity of the public). I predict that Chavez will order a massacre in 17 years when rebels try to oust him. Should we invade now to prevent it? If not, when? How is my whimsical prediction any different to the chicken-entrail prophecies for Qaddafi?

      There are non-destructive uses for the biliions this intervention is costing. For example, offer the funds that would have been spent bombing Libya to Qaddafi along with a "take the money or die" ultimatum. As the Bishop of Tripoli put it "... a diplomatic solution is the principal way to put an end to the spilling of blood among Libyans: offering Gaddafi a dignified exit".

      This was the same Bishop who reported the massacre of at least 40 civilians by Western aircraft when they bombed Tripoli. The BBC reported further civilian deaths of 7 under 20's.

      Bahrain, Yemen, the Ivory Coast and Syria are all shooting down protestors but it's only Libya that is being attacked. Stripping all the flowery rhetoric from Obama's speech last week, a basic message emerges: "we're attacking Libya because we can".

      I don't know what suddenly made Qaddafi such a pariah, probably the allegation that he personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing, but the boys club don't like him any more so he must go. I certainly wouldn't be sad to see the last of him so all the hypocrisy and spin used to mask this operation is utterly senseless when the public would probably be more adamant that Qaddafi must go if told the unvarnished (unshellacked?) truth.

      It's too late for Libya but give diplomacy a chance next time.

  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed
    • Sigil

      Please don't get me wrong. I think Qaddafi is despicable and he may well have contemplated undertaking massacres. But other Mid East countries allied to the US definitely have killed protestors and they don't have no fly zones.

      My issue is that once protestors take up weapons against the State then they become legitimate targets. The Libyan government has the right to defend itself and obviously many Libyans believe so too.

      As for al-Qaeda, this is from Britain's Telegraph newspaper:

      "Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links"

      Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
      Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against "the foreign invasion" in Afghanistan, before being "captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan".
      link to

    • With respect Sigil, how do you know there was going to be a "gigantic massacre"? Qaddafi may appear unbalanced, and he has plenty of like-minded followers, but there has been more than a touch of media demonization in play.

      Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia all shot down protesting civilians, the difference in Libya is that the protestors took up arms against the government. I am neither an apologist nor an appeaser but I believe that ANY government has the right to use its military to defend itself - ideally that's what military SHOULD be used for, not invasions aka "interventions".

      I think Qaddafi should either hold elections or go. I further believe that it is deeply wrong for Nato to be blatantly assisting the rebels (because they ARE "rebels" not "protestors").

    • Prof Cole asked "what next?".

      A reminder to all those war advocates: there is nothing in the rule book that says Libya can't fight back, maybe by launching terrorist attacks in the US. People should remember that if they make their military so strong it becomes untouchable then they put themselves in the firing line because that's the ONLY way left for an enemy to fight back.

      Then again, as (the utterly repugnant) Qaddafi said "what would the US do if armed rebels were marching on Washington?" Or what about when the military massacred anti-war protestors at Kent State University? Should the international community have declared a no fly zone over the US to protect innocent civilians?

      Hypocrisy can be a dangerous thing.

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