People of Iraq, Syria suffer from war


This video is called Turkish Soldiers Shoot Another Child From Rojava [north Syria] On Border.

Residents of besieged Kabane have claimed that Turkey has been collaborating with Isis in a bid to “crush” Kurds in the Rojava region, even allowing Qatari support to Isis to cross the border: here.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US war against the people of Syria and Iraq

2 October 2014

US air strikes in Iraq and Syria will kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians, and the White House and Pentagon are fully aware of this fact. That is the only conclusion to be drawn from a remarkable public statement Tuesday by a top White House aide.

The statement coincided with the heaviest attacks so far in the air war in Syria and Iraq, with US and allied countries launching 24 strikes, 12 in each country on Tuesday, with British warplanes making their first attacks.

National Security Council press spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, in an e-mail to Yahoo News, confirmed that the targeting restrictions announced by President Obama for US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen do not apply to the war launched against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Obama announced those restrictions in a speech to the National Defense University, claiming that the US would only conduct drone strikes against supposed Al Qaeda targets if there was a “near certainty” of no civilian casualties, which he called “the highest standard that we can meet.”

“The specific standards at issue in the NDU speech apply only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as was noted at the time,” Hayden wrote. “That description—outside areas of active hostilities—simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”

Hayden was responding to concerns over casualties in the village of Kafr Daryan in Idlib Province, in northwestern Syria, where a Tomahawk cruise missile killed as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children. The US Central Command confirmed the September 23 strike, saying it targeted the “Khorasan group,” the US-invented label for members of the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra Front, one of the main Syrian “rebel” groups fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Pentagon’s top spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, confirmed the more permissive standard for air strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq when questioned by reporters Tuesday. “When we say we’re going to go after them, we mean it,” Kirby said.

The restrictions that Obama claimed he was applying to drone missile strikes did not significantly limit the carnage inflicted by 500-pound warheads smashing into the huts of tribal villagers in rural Pakistan and Yemen. Pakistani officials and outside organizations like Amnesty International estimated the civilian death toll from more than 300 drone strikes in these areas as ranging from the high hundreds to many thousands.

After a series of studies on civilian casualties in drone missile strikes were published last year, the WSWS wrote, “The reports, in fact, provide prima facie evidence for a future war crimes tribunal whose defendants would include Obama and top officials at the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.” (see: Report documents US slaughter of civilians in drone strikes).

In addition to the direct toll of dead and wounded, there is the effect of such constant attacks on the whole society. An April 2014 article in Rolling Stone observed: “The people of Yemen can hear destruction before it arrives. In cities, towns and villages across this country, which hangs off the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, the air buzzes with the sound of American drones flying overhead. The sound is a constant and terrible reminder … Over half of Yemen’s 24.8 million citizens—militants and civilians alike—are impacted every day.”

The statements of the White House and Pentagon spokesmen indicate that the death and destruction inflicted on the people of Iraq and Syria will dwarf the horrific impact of drone warfare on Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia. And not a single voice of protest against such mass killing has been raised in official Washington, in either the Democratic or Republican parties.

Representatives of US-backed Syrian groups allied to al-Nusra briefed members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Kafr Daryan strike. One Republican congressman who attended the briefing, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, dismissed concerns about civilian deaths, telling Yahoo News, “Nothing is perfect,” and arguing that any collateral damage from US strikes was “much less than the brutality of the Assad regime.”

The death toll from bombs and missiles is only the beginning. As US officials were at pains to emphasize this week—most prominently Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations—the main goal of American imperialism in Syria remains that of the overthrow of Assad and his replacement by a US-backed puppet regime in Damascus.

That goal inevitably requires the deployment of tens of thousands of ground troops—whether American, British, French, Turkish, Saudi or some combination—and the military conquest of Syria. The invasion and occupation of Iraq led to a million deaths from 2003 to 2011. A crime of even greater dimensions now looms in both Iraq and Syria.

Obama has become the fourth consecutive U.S. president to launch a war in Iraq: here.

CAR bombs targeted a school in the central Syrian city of Homs yesterday, killing at least 22 people including 10 children. The Ekremah al-Makhzoumi primary school is in an Alawite area of the city and the attack is assumed to have been the work of Sunni Islamist terror groups fighting to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad government: here.

UN: 13.6 MILLION DISPLACED BY IRAQ AND SYRIA CONFLICTS “About 13.6 million people, equivalent to the population of London, have been displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq, many without food or shelter as winter starts, the U.N. refugee agency said UNHCR on Tuesday.” [Reuters]

United States Marines in Kuwait; Turkey joins US coalition. New steps to wider war in Middle East: here.

United States woman jailed for photographing pro-peace protest


This 11 July 2014 video from the USA is called Grandmother Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison After Protest at U.S. Drone Base.

From Alternet in the USA:

By Alyssa Figueroa

Woman Sentenced to Prison for Photographing a War Protest

‘We are losing a generation because of drones’ says activist Mary Anne Grady Flores.

July 26, 2014

Warplanes have long been based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY. But in 2009, something new arrived: MQ-9 Reaper drones that were flown remotely over Afghanistan, dropping missiles and bombs and unleashing terror.

Organizers in Upstate New York started protests soon after the drones arrived and founded Upstate Drone Action in 2010. In 2011, one longtime activist and member of the Catholic Worker movement, Mary Anne Grady Flores, 57, joined the struggle. As part of the “Hancock 38” in April that year, she was arrested for protesting at the base’s main entrance by participating in a die-in to illustrate the indiscriminate killing of civilians overseas by drones.

She was arrested again in October 2012 for another act of “civil resistance,” as she puts it, not “civil disobedience,” to uphold the U.S. Constitution and international treaties the U.S. signed. That led to Grady Flores and the 16 others being placed under court orders restricting their protest rights. Frustrated by the protesters’ persistence, a base commander, Col. Earl Evans, sought and received an orders of protection — usually reserved for domestic violence victims — which was used over time to bar approximately 50 protesters from the base’s grounds.

In February 2013, Grady Flores stood in the public intersection beyond the driveway leading to the air base taking pictures of the eight protesters participating in an Ash Wednesday action. Those witnessing were asking for forgiveness for what we as American citizens are doing with killer drones. She was later arrested across the street and down the road for “violating the order of protection.” A higher court has found the use of the order invalid.

But on July 10, DeWitt Town Court Judge David Gideon gave Grady Flores the maximum sentence of one year in jail for a second-degree criminal contempt charge, leaving a courtroom of supporters in shock. He defended his harsh sentence by claiming that she “would simply thumb her nose at the law once again.” DeWitt Town judges are planning on holding 20 upcoming trials from August 2014 through 2015, threatening to send each activist to one year in jail.

On Wednesday, July 23, eight protesters went back to the air base to issue their own “people’s order of protection” on behalf of drone victims around the world. Seven were arrested and charged with trespass. Two of the protesters — Grady Flores’ sister Clare and Martha Hennessey, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker — were charged with violating their orders of protection and are being held on $10,000 bail. All of them refuse to post bail and remain in jail pending their Aug. 6 court dates.

“These judges are out to try to stop the protests on behalf of the base,” Grady Flores said, who is out on $5,000 bail pending her appeal.

Grady Flores spoke to AlterNet about what motivates her to protest against drones, the connections she sees between our foreign and domestic policies, and what gives her hope.

Alyssa Figueroa: You joined these anti-drone protests in 2011. What made you start?

Mary Anne Grady Flores: Drones are a critical issue for people in the countries that are under attack, and it’s important for those of us in the States to make the connections between poverty, racism and colonialism. As many black and Native feminists have pointed out, the violence that has historically and continues to be perpetrated inside the so-called borders of the United States sustains American imperialism abroad.

CIA drone strike in Pakistan criminal investigation


This video from Pakistan says about itself:

Karim Khan submits application to file FIR against Jonathan Banks

13 December 2010

Karim Khan, whose brother and son were killed in a drone strike, on Monday submitted an application for the registration of a First Investigation Report (FIR) against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Station Chief Jonathan Banks. More here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

PAKISTAN: The High Court in Islamabad ordered police today to begin criminal investigation of CIA involvement in a drone strike that killed three people on December 31 2009.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui told officers to examine whether former CIA Islamabad station chief Jonathan Banks and former CIA general counsel John Rizzo were guilty of committing murder, waging war against Pakistan and offences under the Terrorism Act 1997 for their involvement in authorising the strike.

Are US drone strikes in Pakistan war crimes? Only 12% of those killed are known militants. The numbers don’t lie, except when they do: here.

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NSA spies on all mobile phone calls in Afghanistan


This video is called WikiLeaks reveals NSA records all cellphone calls in Afghanistan.

So, the United States NSA is not only spying on all mobile phone calls in the Bahamas

By Thomas Gaist:

US collecting all cell phone calls in Afghanistan

24 May 2014

WikiLeaks on Friday revealed that the US has been surveilling all cell phone conversations in Afghanistan as part of its SOMALGET mass data collection program. SOMALGET is one component of a broader NSA effort, including a program called MYSTIC, which collect communications data in Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, Iraq and elsewhere.

Millions of voice clips and reams of telephone metadata are collected and stored as part of the SOMALGET/MYSTIC program, which taps into entire national cellular networks. Three days ago, Glenn Greenwald‘s The Intercept revealed that SOMALGET was being used to collect phone calls made from the Bahamas and an unknown country, now revealed to be Afghanistan.

Greenwald said at the time that revealing the second country would “lead to deaths,” and complied with demands from top US security officials that he not publicize the information. The Washington Post also chose to preserve the secrecy of the surveillance against Afghanistan.

In a “statement on the mass recording of Afghan telephone calls by the NSA” published Friday, WikiLeaks rejected the “national security” rationale for concealing the country’s identity. A statement from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated, “The Intercept stated that the US government asserted that the publication of this name might lead to a ‘rise in violence’. Such claims were also used by the administration of Barack Obama to refuse to release further photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq… WikiLeaks has years of experience with such false or overstated claims made by US officials in their attempts to delay or deny publication.”

“WikiLeaks has confirmed that the identity of the victim state is Afghanistan. This can also be independently verified through forensic scrutiny of imperfectly applied censorship on related documents released to date and correlations with other NSA programs,” the statement said.

The mass spying against Afghanistan underscores that a primary function of the spying apparatus is to identify and target opponents of the neocolonial agenda being pursued by the US ruling elite, while terrorizing the civilian population into submission. As noted by the WikiLeaks statement, the US government’s targeted drone program relies heavily on information gathered from NSA surveillance operations.

“We know from previous reporting that the National Security Agency’s mass interception system is a key component in the United States’ drone targeting program. The US drone targeting program has killed thousands of people and hundreds of women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in violation of international law. The censorship of a victim state’s identity directly assists the killing of innocent people,” the WikiLeaks statement said.

Previous reports have provided ample documentation that data gleaned from the surveillance programs is used for tracking individuals selected by the US command structure for death by drone. As the NSA documents published by The Intercept enthusiastically note, SOMALGET and related programs “make possible remarkable new ways of performing both target development and target discovery.”

NSA analysts work alongside CIA agents at US embassies and military bases worldwide to facilitate the targeted killings. According to a former drone operator at the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) High Value Targeting task force, who spoke to The Intercept anonymously, targets are selected using cell phone tracking and data analysis technologies.

Strikes are ordered based on the activity pattern of the target as assessed by these surveillance methods, without visual confirmation from agents in the area. Using “geolocation” technology codenamed GILGAMESH, the NSA’s “Geo Cell” section enables drones to carry out strikes against a particular SIM card believed to be held by a target. The JSOC operator acknowledged that targets sometimes lend their SIM card to a friend or relative, resulting in strikes against unintended targets.

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people. It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people—we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy,” the JSOC member said.

Within the NSA’s Geo Cell section, this practice was summarized by the motto, “We Track ’Em, You Whack ’Em.”

Once they are given the go-ahead, drones launch Hellfire missiles, originally designed for strikes against Soviet armor, as well as GBU laser-guided bombs. These devastating weapons are typically deployed against mud-brick homes in small villages and other unarmored structures.

A report published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) found that at least 555 victims of US drone strikes have been civilians. The BIJ found that at least 8 drone strikes have targeted mosques and madrasas, killing an average of 2.7 civilians per strike.

Together, the US and Britain carried out at least 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2012, according to the BIJ. A report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that drone strikes account for a third of all civilian deaths from air strikes, and that civilians deaths from drone bombings increased threefold from 2012 to 2013. NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces occupying Afghanistan killed at least 3,000 Afghan non-combatants in 2013, UNAMA found.

The US drone war against the population of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which has killed at least 3,000 people, has also been enabled by extensive NSA surveillance of northwest Pakistan. A Washington Post report last October reported that the NSA has “draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan,” adding that “NSA threw the kitchen sink at FATA.”

A report issued by Pakistan’s government confirmed that at least 94 children have been killed by US drone strikes in the FATA. The BIJ found that drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration have killed at least 273 civilians in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

A top-secret NSA document leaked by Snowden revealed that NSA surveillance “played a key supporting role” in the 2011 assassinations of US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan.

On Thursday, the United States House of Representatives passed the “USA Freedom Act,” a piece of legislation that has been presented as a National Security Agency (NSA) “reform” bill. In reality, the bill, which was modified after the intervention of the Obama administration, would allow for the continued bulk collection of telephone records, while doing nothing to address other illegal NSA spy programs: here.

In a New Zealand television interview last week, American investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill said in that the National Party government is “extremely aware” of US drone attacks, including one which killed NZ citizen Daryl Jones (also known as Muslim bin John) in Yemen last year. Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, who was in Auckland at a writers’ festival, also implicated the Australian government: here.

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