Re-starting Iraq war helps ISIS terrorism


This video from the USA says about itself:

“Insanity”: CodePink‘s Medea Benjamin on Obama Plan to Bomb Syria, Expand Iraq Attacks

12 September 2014

The Pentagon has announced it will soon start flying bombing missions out of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq as part of an expanded U.S.-led military campaign against militants from the Islamic State. But it remains unclear when the U.S. will begin launching airstrikes in Syria. According to McClatchy, President Obama has not yet authorized the U.S. Central Command to conduct offensive combat operations in Syria as many questions over U.S. strategy remain unresolved. To talk more about President Obama’s plans to expand U.S. military operations in Iraq and to bomb Syria, we are joined by one of the nation’s leading peace activists, Medea Benjamin, founder of CodePink which held a protest outside the White House on Wednesday during President Obama’s speech. She is the author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.”

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Another western war won’t end terror in Iraq or Syria. It will only spread it

Bombing and more intervention can’t destroy Isis. The US is at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East

Seumas Milne

Thursday 18 September 2014

Barely a month into the latest American bombing campaign in Iraq, and they’re already talking escalation. Last week Barack Obama promised that his plans to destroy the so-called Islamic State (Isis) would “not involve American combat troops”. This week General Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said that’s exactly what he would be “recommending” if air power didn’t work.

If “work” means destroy Isis’s grip on western Iraq and eastern Syria, it won’t. So expect the new war that Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, says will last several years to ramp up in the months ahead. Yesterday Obama stuck to his formula. But there are already 1,600 US military “advisers” on the ground. Special forces will no doubt be back in serious numbers before long.

The final cue was given by the repulsive video beheading of US and British journalists and aid workers by the sectarian fundamentalist group. Their Isis executioner declared that the atrocities were in retaliation for 160-odd American air attacks since early August, and Britain’s arming of their Kurdish opponents.

Forget the sobering fact that the western-backed Saudi regime has beheaded dozens in public in recent months, including for “sorcery”, or that British troops infamously had themselves photographed with the severed heads of guerrillas during the Malayan war in the 1950s.

Such calculated acts of gruesome cyberterror softened up the US public for the renewed bout of western warmaking in the Middle East they have until now resisted – which appears to have been exactly Isis’s aim. Now the US president has bowed to relentless pressure to go back to war in Iraq – the country he was elected to withdraw from. Of course, it’s supposed to be different this time: “surgical strikes” and covert forces in support of Iraqi and Kurdish troops instead of invasion and occupation.

But Isis’s main base is in Syria, not Iraq. So Obama is also gearing up for an illegal bombing campaign in Syria and the training of an extra 5,000 “moderate rebels” – who US officials privately concede “don’t really exist”. Naturally, it’s all been nodded through by another coalition of the more-or-less willing to bypass the UN security council.

So a year after the US and its allies planned to bomb Bashar al-Assad’s forces, they’re now planning to bomb his enemies. David Cameron is preparing to ratchet up Britain’s role in the campaign as soon as the Scottish referendum is out of the way – with the Australians and French chafing to join up too. There’s even talk of setting up new UK military bases in Gulf states such as the UAE, Oman and Bahrain to bolster the war against Isis.

What has been launched by the US and its allies this week is in effect their third Iraq war in a generation. It follows the US-led war to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991 and the cataclysmic US-British invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Now Obama has launched yet another intervention to rid the country of the direct consequences of the last one.

It doesn’t take a strategic mastermind to grasp that it is energy wealth that has made Iraq the object of such unparalleled military force. But the results haven’t been disastrous in terms of carnage and destruction only.

Even in its own terms, western warmaking has failed. Bush and Blair’s invasion demonstrated the limits, rather than the extent, of US power. Obama’s war on Isis looks more like the Afghanistan war launched in 2001, supposedly to destroy al-Qaida and the Taliban. The result spread al-Qaida across the region and turned the Taliban into a guerrilla army of resistance.

Thirteen years later, the Taliban controls large parts of Afghanistan and most Nato troops are on their way out. Al-Qaida has been eclipsed by the even more extreme Isis, which mushroomed out of the western-sponsored destruction of the Iraqi and Syrian states. Something similar is happening in the chaos bequeathed by Nato intervention in Libya three years ago.

We’re now witnessing a replay of the war on terror, more than a decade after it was demonstrated to fuel terrorism rather than fight it. Since 9/11 the US has launched 94,000 air strikes: most against Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process.

Obama refers approvingly to the drone and special-forces campaigns in Yemen and Somalia as a model for his new war in Iraq. But they haven’t just killed large numbers of civilians. They have been a recruiting machine for al-Qaida and al-Shabab, and fanned civil war. And that’s what’s happening in Iraq, where US-backed attacks by government forces this month killed 31 civilians, including 24 children, in a school near Tikrit.

Right now Isis is a threat to Iraqis and Syrians and offers them no viable future. But as Obama has conceded, a group that’s more interested in controlling territory as a fantasy caliphate than al-Qaida-style global jihad poses no direct threat to the US, or Britain for that matter. As a result of renewed intervention, however, it could become one.

The crisis in the Arab world doesn’t just reflect the Shia-Sunni schism inflamed by the Iraq occupation, but the continuing western-backed rule of dictators in both the Gulf and north Africa, from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. Last year’s bloody US-indulged coup against Egypt’s elected Islamist president has paved the way for Isis-style violence.

The alternative to Obama’s new Middle East war is concerted pressure for UN-backed agreement between the main regional powers, including Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, to wind down the Syria conflict and back a genuine unity government in Iraq. An end to western support for the Egyptian dictatorship would also help.

Bombing will not destroy Isis, but win it sympathy – or even cause it to mutate into something worse. Only Iraqis and Syrians can defeat Isis. But the US remains determined to keep control of the Middle East, while being unable to find a stable way of doing it. So its response to every failure of intervention is more intervention. The US and its allies are at the heart of the problem in the Middle East, not the solution.

One Bahraini human rights activist freed, but …


This video is called Interview: Maryam Al-Khawaja, Feb 2013.

From Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain:

NGOs Express Cautious Optimism over Release of Maryam al-Khawaja

18 SEPTEMBER 2014—GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) note with cautious optimism the release of prominent Bahraini human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja from detention. However, we remain concerned that the Government of Bahrain has yet to drop charges against the human rights activist and has imposed a travel ban on Maryam. Bahraini authorities arrested Maryam at the Manama airport on 30 August and have accused her of assaulting a lieutenant and a policewoman.

Please click here for a PDF of this statement.

“We are very pleased with Maryam’s release and sincerely thank the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights for its coordination on the matter,” said Husain Abdulla, ADHRB’s Executive Director. “We also thank the United Nations missions who expressed concern over the human rights situation in Bahrain, including the detention of the al-Khawajas, during the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council, including Ireland, Norway and Denmark.”

Maryam, whose imprisonment garnered international attention, returned to Bahrain from exile to visit her ailing father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a human rights defender held as a prisoner of conscience serving a life sentence delivered in 2011. Abdulhadi’s has greatly deteriorated since he began a hunger strike on 25 August.

“While I am overjoyed for Maryam, I remain concerned over the condition of my friend, Abdulhadi,” said Nabeel Rajab, who cofounded BCHR with the imprisoned rights activist. “The government may have responded to international pressure in Maryam’s case, but officials still refuse to release Abudlhadi, Ibrahim Sharif, Naji Fateel, and many other prisoners of conscience from arbitrary imprisonment.”

“Maryam’s release is a positive step, but we remain troubled that the government has not dropped the unfounded charges against her,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaie, Advocacy Director of BIRD. “We fear that she will, like so many other released detainees caught in Bahrain’s unjust legal system, live under the constant fear of re-arrest.”

ADHRB, BIRD and BCHR reiterate their call for Bahrain’s government to release all political prisoners and end the practices of torture and arbitrary detention.

###

For additional information or comment, please contact Rachel Peterson at rpeterson@adhrb.org

This video is about Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, speaking at the recent United Nations conference on human rights.

World War I poets on stage


This theatre video from England is called Pat Barker‘s Regeneration adapted by Nicholas Wright.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Anthem for souls in conflict

Thursday 18th September 2014

Peter Frost recommends Regeneration, a dark vision of the psychological horrors endured by soldiers in WWI

Regeneration, Royal and Derngate Theatre, Northampton

4/5

Novelist Pat Barker won a Booker prize for The Ghost Road, the third book in her Regeneration trilogy set in the first world war.

Now Nicholas Wright has adapted the novels for the stage and the result is thought-provoking and disturbing.

Virtually all the action takes place in the Craiglockhart war hospital in Scotland — a sombre asylum for officers with shell-shock — in 1917.

Soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon (Tim Delap) has been sent there ostensibly because he is insane but in reality the War Office has put him away to discredit his anti-war poems and pronouncements.

Army psychiatrist Doctor William Rivers, beautifully played by Stephen Boxer, has the job of curing the shell-shocked officers, suffering from what is now understood to be post-traumatic stress disorder — or at least getting them fit enough to return to the trenches.

His sessions with Sassoon force him to consider the morality of what he is doing in the name of medicine. Some of the treatments employed are little short of torture.

We witness Sassoon and Wilfred Owen (Garmon Rhys) tussling over one of the latter’s poems — Anthem for Doomed Youth — before both men decide to return to the front.

Sassoon, Rivers and Owen are all drawn from history but the one individual who provides a more realistic view of the madness of war is the fictional character of grammar school boy Billy Prior (Jack Monaghan) from the “lower orders.”

A compelling look at the futility of war, the play is a reminder too that even in the horror of an asylum the officer class still get a round of golf in or take dinner at the Conservative club.

Sassoon, wounded by friendly fire, would live until the 1960s while Owen died exactly one week before the war ended.

His mother received the fateful telegram just as the church bells in her village started ringing out to celebrate victory.

A bitter irony, entirely in keeping with this commendable production.

Runs until September 20, box office: royalandderngate.co.uk, then tours nationwide.

Korean religious cults’ pseudo-peace movements


This video from Britain says about itself:

15 February 2003: The day the world said no to war

15 February 2012

15 February 2003 was the biggest protest in human history. In Britain there were two million on London’s streets. In Rome there were even more. Tens of millions of people in over 800 cities across the world said Not in My Name. We didn’t stop the war in Iraq but the protest that day has shaped the politics of a whole generation. Now a feature length film titled We Are Many is being made by Amir Amirani which will document a momentous day. This is the inspiring trailer for the film, which captures the spirit of that day – a spirit which has been shown time and again since, not least by the Arab Spring uprisings.

The world more than ever needs a strong, massive pro-peace movement. A worldwide grassroots movement of people with diverse views on religion and politics. Like the movement against the Iraq war with its many millions of demonstrators in February 2013. Against the warmongering of Rupert Murdoch and his ilk. Against wars for the profits of arms dealers or of Big Oil. Against the bloody war in Ukraine. Against re-starting the Iraq war and even more international escalation of the Syria war.

Many people are looking for peace movements to join to promote their desire for peace. Unfortunately, some ‘peace organisations’ are peace organisations more in name than in reality.

An infamous example of this is the ‘Unification Church’, also known as ‘Moonies’, founded by the late self-appointed ‘Messiah’ Sun Myung Moon from South Korea. Well, the official name is neither ‘Unification Church’ nor ‘Moonies’, but Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. This religious cult also has a satellite organisation, the Universal Peace Federation. There, one can hear nice-sounding, but abstract and vague, speeches about how good peace is. However, concrete action against wars and preparations for wars are hardly ever mentioned.

The Moon organisation has this in common with quite some politicians, who in their speeches support peace in the abstract, while supporting one or more concrete wars. Even Adolf Hitler, the worst war criminal in history, professed vague, abstract notions of peace in beautiful sounding speeches sometimes.

The Moonie church does not go beyond praising peace in abstract terms, as they get much of their income in concrete terms from arms deals.

And there is the Unification Church’s support for racist parties in various countries, like Le Pen’s Front National in France; and the Centrumdemocraten in the Netherlands. Racism does not bring peace.

Also, the Moonies’ links to the World Anti-Communist League which included neo-nazis. And which helped to stoke Cold War flames, with more profit opportunities for Unification Church weapons deals.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Moon organisation supported the bloody Vietnam war.

Ever since George W Bush started war on Iraq in 2003, the Unification Church supported that war.

According to a Moonie media mouthpiece, the Iraq war should be the start of a hundred years of war without democratic control.

Moonie cult publication, cartoon

That Moonie media mouthpiece, the Washington Times, publishes propaganda for the torturing dictatorship in Bahrain; a regime which helps to fan the flames of religious fanaticism and war in Syria.

Now, Messiah Sun Myung Moon is dead. However, there is at least one similar ‘god-man’ in South Korea still alive. Using similar vague abstract words about ‘world peace’ as Moon, while doing nothing to stop concrete wars, like Moon.

From the Korea Observer in South Korea yesterday:

Alleged cult leader Lee Man-hee hosts world peace summit in Seoul

By Jon Twich

This week, Korea plays host to a major world peace summit which will be chaired by a “renowned Korean peace activist.” But if you’re in Korea, you won’t be hearing much about it in the news.

Why? Because that big-name activist is none other than Lee Man-hee, leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ), which is known as one of the country’s most controversial religious groups.

From Sept. 17 to 19, the World Alliance of Religions Peace Summit (or WARP Summit, not to be mistaken for the UN-affiliated NGO Religions for Peace which held an interfaith conference in Songdo, Incheon last month) will bring together world leaders, major religious figures, and political activists, all in the name of peace.

Or at least that’s what they’re told. The event is officially hosted by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG), the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD), three of which are allegedly controlled by SCJ’s leadership.

And the odd one out, the Berlin-based ICD, pulled their affiliation from HWPL and the WARP Summit on Tuesday, just one day before its opening day (Korea time).

Now, as the countdown to what one SCJ Facebook group called “the biggest peace-event the world has seen” reaches its end, more and more participants are getting cold feet and bailing out on their intercontinental flights.

This 16 September 2014 video is called Korean Cult 신천지 at the Airport.

“We didn’t know the chairman of the peace summit is accused of being a cult leader who claims to be immortal,” a Muslim participant of the event told The Korea Observer upon his arrival at Incheon International Airport Tuesday.

MBC’s PD Notebook, an investigative program, claimed that SCJ makes its followers believe Lee is immortal. Lee, however, didn’t admit it, saying this is a matter that God should decide, not him.

Meanwhile, another Muslim participant claimed that he was disappointed about the organizers because he would no longer be able to give a speech for one of the debate sessions.

“I was initially invited as a panelist, but the organizers later told me that they simply have too many panel members and cannot give me a slot to make a short presentation,” he said. “I will only participate as an observer.”

Yet still more were arriving by the hour, greeted at the by white-shirted SCJ members cheering and waving welcoming signs.

“I took an early leave to come here to greet religious leaders,” one high school volunteer said asking for anonymity. “We are here for world peace.”

They claim to have successfully invited former heads of state of Romania, Croatia, Kosovo, Ecuador, Peru, Nepal, Mongolia, South Africa, Jordan, Argentina, Armenia, and Albania. They also claim to have the Grand Muftis of Egypt, Macedonia, and Kosovo.

They even invited former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin publicly online through Twitter.

Sarah Palin, an even worse warmonger than George W Bush.

And they posted a video congratulatory message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which was quickly taken offline shortly after.

“Without fail, every leader we have spoken with has pledged themselves in support of our cause, demonstrating their desire to be a part of HWPL’s work through a signed agreement of solidarity,” Lee says in his greetings message on the organizers’ official website.

This 14 September 2014 video is called Korean Cults – Shincheonji 신천지 2014.

For many foreign residents who have been in Korea for over two years, this is all too familiar. In 2012, SCJ ran an aggressive recruiting campaign targeting foreigners under the front group Mannam Volunteer Association. Through Mannam, they organised numerous activities, from sports teams and a running club to a photography group and charity events.

They pulled in thousands of foreigners, but once word got out of SCJ’s role, participation was decimated. Still, they managed to bring in thousands of unaware foreigners to a large event filling Jamsil Olympic Stadium past capacity on Sept. 16, 2012.

The event was advertised in English as the World Peace Festival, but to Koreans it was the SCJ 6th National Olympiad, an event held every four years to coincide with Lee Man-hee’s birthday on Sept. 15. The fallout from this “large-scale deception” was fierce, filling the expat blogosphere with condemnations and first-hand accounts.

Following that, Mannam went silent. Burned in Korea, they focused their efforts abroad. Under a bevy of new banners, they went abroad to meet with world leaders and engage in diplomacy. They signed an interfaith peace agreement on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Lee Man-hee was appointed honorary ambassador of the International Romani Union National Assembly. He spread the legend of Lee Man-hee, 83-year-old peace activist, divorced from his infamy as a cult leader at home.

So now, many of the friends that have been made overseas are coming to Korea, where they may be exposed to a very different narrative of Lee and SCJ’s place in Korean society. At this year’s WARP Summit, once again taking place in the same week as Lee Man-hee’s birthday, internal memos went out instructing SCJ participants not to mention SCJ or Mannam.

This 214 September 2014 video from South Korea is called An Interview with the Father of a Shinchonji Member.

Outside of a few organized protests by family members of SCJ followers, most people in Korea are unaware that the WARP Summit is happening. There is a media blackout on all things SCJ, which the church used to its advantage. As well, it blocked out its own websites for HWPL, IPYG, and IWPG in Korea to limit the information available, only lifting the block at the commencement of the summit.

The Korea Observer tried but was unable reach the WARP Summit for official comments over the past two days. If you call the number listed on the official website (warpsummit2014.org), you get the response message that the phone is turned off. Nevertheless, despite obvious connections, several volunteers of the summit denied any involvement with Shincheonji.

One of the foreign organisations at ‘Messiah’ Lee Man-hee’s conference is the pro-Bahraini absolute monarchy organisation, the Bahrain Association for Religious Co-existence and Tolerance. So, Moon’s Unification Church are not alone in their friendship with this regime. The Bahrain Association for Religious Co-existence and Tolerance has a sinister, Orwellian Newspeak name, considering the religious INtolerance practiced by the Bahraini dictatorship.

The BARCT tells about ‘Messiah’ Lee Man-hee’s conference in the Bahraini pro-regime paper Gulf Daily News, which especially sent a reporter to Korea for this ‘peace conference’. They would like to have ‘Messiah’ Lee Man-hee’s next conference in Bahrain.

The Bahrain government’s official news agency sent a reporter to Lee Man-hee’s Korea conference as well. They write that there are foreign guests ‘from about twelve countries’.

Though, as Jon Twich’s report says, many pre-announced foreign guests failed to turn up at the conference, the Gulf Daily News report says at least some of them did come:

Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawqi Abdel Karim Allam was among the list of high profile speakers set to deliver an opening address yesterday, but he was replaced at the last minute by Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue chairman Dr Ibrahim Saleh Al Naimi.

The Qatari official stressed the importance of dialogue in his speech, describing it as the only way to address conflict among communities.

This official of the dictatorship in Qatar should say that to his own regime, stoking war in Libya and in Syria.

The Gulf Daily News mentions another speaker at this ‘peace conference': ‘Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic’.

When Mr Mesic was still president, in 2010, he almost managed to re-start the bloody Yugoslavian civil wars by threatening to invade Bosnia.