Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes on Yemen kill civilians, help ISIS


This video says about itself:

26 March 2015

Saudi-led air strikes against the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen. Anti-aircraft fire over Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Heavy destruction in a civilian neighborhood of Sanaa. Some pictures are too graphic to show.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 29 March 2015

Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf’s fire

World View: Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis

Foreign states that go to war in Yemen usually come to regret it. The Saudi-led military intervention so far involves only air strikes, but a ground assault may follow. The code name for the action is Operation Decisive Storm, which is probably an indication of what Saudi Arabia and its allies would like to happen in Yemen, rather than what will actually occur.

In practice, a decisive outcome is the least likely prospect for Yemen, just as it has long been in Iraq and Afghanistan. A political feature common to all three countries is that power is divided between so many players it is impossible to defeat or placate them all for very long. Saudi Arabia is backing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi but the humiliating speed of his defeat shows his lack of organised support.

The threat of further intervention by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council may be intended to redress the balance of power in Yemen and prevent the Houthis winning a total victory. But Saudi actions and those of the Sunni coalition will be self-fulfilling if the Houthis – never previously full proxies of Iran – find themselves fighting a war in which they are dependent on Iranian financial, political and military backing.

Likewise, the Houthis, as members of the Zaidi sect, were not always seen by Shia in other countries as part of their religious community. But by leading a Sunni coalition Saudi Arabia will internationalise the Yemen conflict and emphasise its sectarian Sunni-Shia dimension.

The US position becomes even more convoluted. Washington had sought to portray its campaign in Yemen against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as a success. Drone attacks were supposedly wiping out important AQAP operatives, but the humiliating end result of America’s covert war in Yemen came last week when US Special Operations personnel blew up their heavy equipment and fled the country for the US base at Djibouti. AQAP is becoming a stronger force as the shock troops of the Sunni.

US policy across the Middle East looks contradictory. It is supporting Sunni powers and opposing Iranian allies in Yemen but doing the reverse in Iraq. On Thursday US aircraft for the first time started pounding Islamic State (Isis) positions in Tikrit, 87 miles north of Baghdad. The city has been under assault for four weeks, with 20,000 Shia militia and 3,000 Iraqi soldiers pitted against a few hundred Isis fighters. The Shia militiamen are now reported to have withdrawn but they do not appear to have gone far. Effectively, the battle for Tikrit is being waged by Iranian-directed Shia militia backed by US air power, even if the two sides are rivals as well as allies.

Ultimately, the US may not have much choice. If it refuses to back anti-Islamic State combatants for whatever reason it will be to the benefit of Isis. The numbers tell the story: there are between 100,000 and 120,000 Shia militiamen in Iraq compared with only 12 brigades in the Iraqi army capable of fighting, about 48,000 soldiers, although this total may be inflated. Isis has been conscripting young men across its self-declared caliphate since last October and may have over 100,000 fighters. If the US relies on Iraqi government and Kurdish Peshmerga ground forces alone to put Isis out of business, it will be difficult.

Why did the US finally use its air power at Tikrit, formerly a city of 200,000? First, it was the only help the Baghdad government formally asked for this week. The US may have concluded, as it did with the 134-day siege of the town of Kobani last year, that it could not allow Isis to succeed in Tikrit. Second, if the city did fall, Washington did not want Iran and the Shia militia to get all the credit.

A further motive is that both the US and Iran want to restore some credibility to the Iraqi government and army after their crushing defeats by Isis forces last year. So far the Iraqi army has not recaptured a single city or substantial town from Isis since the fall of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad in January 2014. Such limited military successes as there have been were won by the militias in the provinces neighbouring Baghdad.

The US-led international coalition opposing Isis also needs to do something to bolster its own credibility. Despite some 2,500 coalition air strike launched against it since last August, the Islamic State has lost little territory. Isis may be battered but it shows no signs of being anywhere near to defeat.

The Independent conducted a series of interviews in February and March with people who had recently left Isis and, while none were sympathetic to it, there was nobody who believed it was going to be destroyed by mounting internal discontent or external military pressure. A prime reason for this is that the Sunni Arab communities in Iraq and Syria are not being offered an acceptable alternative to Isis rule. They are all terrified of becoming the victims of a pogrom that does not distinguish between Isis supporters and ordinary Sunni.

A further feature of life in the Isis caliphate that emerged from these interviews is that it is well organised: it taxes salaries and sales, it conscripts young men of military age, controls education and mercilessly strikes down any opponents. Its stability might be shaken if it suffered a string of military defeats but so far this has not happened.

Air strikes have made it revert to semi-guerrilla tactics, not holding ground against superior forces backed by airpower but counter-attacking briskly when they have moved on or their lines of communication have become longer and more vulnerable. Given the difficulty in capturing Tikrit, it does not look as if an assault on Mosul will be possible for a long time. There seems to be no enthusiasm on the government side [to] retake Fallujah, although it is so much closer to the capital.

Whatever happens in Iraq and Yemen, the political temperature of the region is getting hotter by the day. Looked at from a Saudi and Gulf monarchy point of view, Iran and the Shia are on the advance, becoming either the dominant or the most powerful influence in four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq and Syria have linked their futures inextricably and fatally to Isis and other al-Qaeda type organisations. These have military strength, but they make many powerful enemies.

The confrontations between Sunni and Shia, and between Saudi Arabia and its allies and Iran and its allies, is becoming deeper and more militarised. Conflicts cross-infect and exacerbate each other, preventing solutions to individual issues. Thus Saudi intervention in Yemen reduces the chance of a US-Iranian agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme and sanctions. As these conflicts and divisions spread, the chances of creating a common front that is capable of destroying the Islamic State are getting fewer by the day.

Saudi bombing ‘worst ever’, Yemeni civilians say


This video says about itself:

25 March 2015

Saudi Arabian forces, joined by nine other countries, have launched a military operation in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels. READ MORE: here.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“This was bad bombing”

Today, 08:17

“Residents of the Yemeni capital Sanaa speak of the heaviest bombardments that they have ever experienced,” says correspondent Sander van Hoorn. The past few days Houthi rebels progressed in ever larger parts of the country. Saudi Arabia began therefore tonight, along with allies, a military operation in which some 150 bombings were carried out.

“The Saudis are supported by the United Arab Emirates and Jordan says they also sent fighter jets,” says Van Hoorn. …

US support

The support of the Americans, according to Van Hoorn, is more important. “They say they were aware of the operation. They do not actively participate in the bombing, but give, in their own words, information and logistical support.”

Already in 2009, the Saudi air force attacked Yemen.

United States military base in Okinawa, Japan damages coral


This video is about diving at the coral reefs around Okinawa, Japan.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Japan: Onaga demands air base plans halted

Tuesday 24th March 2014

OKINAWA governor Takeshi Onaga instructed Japan’s Defence Ministry yesterday to suspend work at the proposed site of a US air base.

Mr Onaga claimed a concrete anchor thrown into the sea for a drilling survey of a reef at the designated site had damaged coral.

He took office four months ago after winning an election over a predecessor who had allowed the Henoko site to be developed to relocate the base.

Mr Onaga said the prefecture needed to conduct an independent survey to assess the damage and demanded the ministry stop activity in a week.

The central government’s effort to gain Okinawa’s understanding had been “insufficient,” he said.

But Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the survey should proceed regardless of the order.

The relocation is intended to address safety and nuisance concerns.

But Okinawans want the Futenma air base moved off the island completely and warn the construction would endanger marine life.

Bikini nuclear warmongering survivors now threatened by climate change


This video from the USA says about itself:

“Paradise Lost” with Lijon EknilangMarshall Islands

29 September 2012

This 15-minute segment was produced by ABC TV’s investigative program “Prime Time,” and aired in December 1990. The piece features Lijon Eknilang, a Marshallese woman who was 8-years old at the time of the U.S.’ largest and dirtiest H-bomb at Bikini in March 1954, a fission-fusion-fission bomb 1,000 times the Hiroshima A-bomb.

Caught in the high-level radioactive fallout downwind from Bikini and the H-bomb [Bravo], Lijon subsequently contracted many radiation-induced disorders along with seven miscarriages leading to her eventual sterility.

Lijon Eknilang died last month after leading a life dedicated to both educating the global community about the inherent dangers of nuclear weapons, and also of working tirelessly for the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons.

Lijon Eknilang will be dearly missed.

– Glenn Alcalay

P.S. A more recent interview of Lijon Eknilang can be found in Adam Horowitz‘s excellent new documentary “Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1.“.

And go here for Lijon’s “Nuclear Survivor Stories” video and photo archive.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bikini community demands US relocation amid flooding

Tuesday 24th March 2015

A TINY Pacific community forced to evacuate their homes because of US nuclear testing is demanding refuge in the United States.

“We want to relocate to the US,” said Bikini atoll mayor Nishma Jamore at the weekend, as Pacific waters continued to eat away at the small Kili and Ejit islands in the Marshall Islands archipelago.

This 13 September 2013 video is called Climate change impact on the Marshall Islands: One island has all ready gone as sea levels rise.

Mr Jamore heads a community of about 1,000 islanders who have lived in exile on the islands for decades because their original Bikini home remains too radioactive for resettlement.

There were 24 nuclear tests conducted on the atoll in the 1950s, including the largest hydrogen bomb detonation ever conducted by the US.

Unable to return to Bikini, the islanders are now faced with increasing flooding from high tides and storms hitting their tiny island refuges, with waves washing over the islands and wiping out food crops.

“Kili has been repeatedly flooded since 2012 and we’ve asked the Marshall Islands government for help with no response,” said Mr Jamore.

There is also serious concern over a recent attempt by the Marshalls’ parliament, known as the Nitijela, to take authority for Ejit island away from the Bikinians.

This is the second time that the islanders have asked to be resettled in the US because of their plight.

In the 1980s, following an aborted resettlement on Bikini that ended with the islanders exposed to high levels of radiation, they attempted in vain to buy a tract of land on Maui in Hawaii.

Racism in United States Army causes soldier’s suicide


This video from the USA about the Rupert Murdoch media says about itself:

Bob Beckel Earns His Pay As Fox News‘ Clown ‘Liberal’ Racist

11 July 2014

Fox News‘ token liberal host Bob Beckel used a racial slur Thursday on “The Five” to refer to Chinese hackers.

“The Chinese are the single biggest threat to the national security of the U.S.,” Beckel said. “They have been, they will be and they can wait, they’re very patient. You know what they just did? As usual, we bring them over here and we teach a bunch of Chinamen — uh, Chinese people — how to do computers. They go back to China and they hack into us, right?”

Beckel then made a vulgar arm gesture to drive his point home.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

US army platoon investigated for ‘Racial Thursdays’ tradition of soldiers yelling racist insults at one another

Reports claim commanding officer supported tradition as he believed it helped camaraderie

Andrew Buncombe

Friday 20 March 2015

The US army is investigating claims that a platoon where a soldier of Chinese origin took his own life after allegedly receiving racist taunts, has been holding “racial Thursdays” where soldiers hurl epithets at one another without any reprimand.

Reports said officials had launched an investigation into the “tradition”, after receiving complaints from a black sergeant who said a superior officer had supported the practice as he believed it helped build camaraderie.

The Army Times said the platoon being investigated – the Alaska-based 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division – is the group that Pvt Danny Chen belonged to.

Mr Chen, who was of Chinese ethnic background, is said to have killed himself in October 2011 in Afghanistan after what prosecutors alleged was physical and emotional abuse from his fellow soldiers. Eight soldiers were charged following Mr Chen’s suicide.

“It’s degrading to the soldiers,” a staff sergeant who was not identified, told the newspaper. “We’ve had soldiers almost fight over the crap that’s going on here.”

He added: “When I first got to my unit, someone said we should do Racial Thursdays because it’s been a tradition. It’s something they made up where you can say any racist remark you want without any consequences. The platoon sergeant said no, but the shit is still going on.”

The army did not immediately respond to The Independent’s inquiries on Friday. However, Lt Col Alan Brown, a spokesman for the  army’s Alaska command, confirmed to the Army Times that an inquiry was underway.

Pentagon-Al Qaeda alliance in Syria war?


This video says about itself:

Syria: Christian village Maaloula raided by Al Nusra rebels

7 September 2013

Heavy fighting between rebels and regime forces continues in Syria’s predominately Christian village of Maaloula, which was earlier partially destroyed by Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Washington stokes Middle East bloodbath

6 March 2015

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chief of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a congressional committee Wednesday that US troops may be sent into Syria to fight alongside so-called rebels who are seeking the overthrow of the Damascus government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“If the commander on the ground approaches either me or the secretary of defense and believes that the introduction of special operations forces to accompany Iraqis or the new Syrian forces … if we believe that’s necessary to achieve our objectives, we will make that recommendation,” Dempsey told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel.

Dempsey’s testimony was preceded by that of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who allowed that Washington’s strategy in relation to the “Syria piece” is to “create a third force that can combat ISIL [the administration’s preferred acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-ISIS] and set the conditions for the eventual removal of Bashar Assad.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was on Thursday in the midst of a trip to Saudi Arabia to reassure the Sunni potentates of the Persian Gulf that US nuclear negotiations with Shiite Iran would not erode Washington’s counterrevolutionary alliance with these monarchical oil states, spoke along similar lines.

Kerry reiterated Washington’s commitment to regime change in Syria. “Ultimately a combination of diplomacy and pressure will be needed to bring about a political transition,” he told reporters, adding that “military pressure may be needed.”

There is a growing sense that, six months after President Barack Obama announced the new US war in both Iraq and Syria, this intervention has reached a turning point that threatens to unleash yet another massive bloodletting on the peoples of the region.

In Iraq, this threat is imminent with the mounting of a major siege of the city of Tikrit, the former hometown of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was toppled by the US invasion of 2003 and executed by hanging under the American occupation.

Some 30,000 troops—reportedly two thirds of which are comprised of Iraqi Shia militias operating with Iranian support—have sought to encircle the predominantly Sunni city, which lies approximately 100 miles north of Baghdad on the Tigris River. The siege is preparation for an even bigger onslaught against Iraq’s second city, Mosul.

Roughly 30,000 civilians have reportedly fled Tikrit in fear for their lives, while tens of thousands more remain trapped in the face of mounting artillery bombardment. Shia militia leaders, meanwhile, have openly proclaimed that the assault will be the occasion for revenge for massacres carried out by ISIS.

The US military has stayed out of the Tikrit siege, claiming that the regime in Baghdad had not asked for its aid. In reality, Washington has ruled out any direct military collaboration with Iran, which itself is still a potential target for US intervention.

US officials have warned Iran and the Shia-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi not to fuel sectarianism. “That would tear at the fabric of the country, and weaken the ability of the Iraqis to confront this threat to their country,” declared White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

What hypocrisy! The sectarian tensions are the direct product of the US war and occupation, which killed over a million Iraqis, tore the county’s social fabric to shreds and provoked internecine conflicts as part of a deliberate tactic of divide and rule.

ISIS, the purported target of the US intervention, is a Frankenstein’s monster spawned by both the Iraq intervention and US imperialism’s promotion of a war for regime change in neighboring Syria, where it and other Sunni Islamist militias received funding, arms and logistical support from Washington’s regional allies, all under the guiding hand of the CIA.

Washington’s stated policy of fostering, arming and training so-called moderate rebels to both combat ISIS and serve as a proxy force in the war to topple the Assad regime has become an increasingly criminal and cynical operation.

Last weekend, the last of the ostensible Syrian “moderates,” whose members were armed, equipped and even paid by the CIA—the Hazm, or “steadfastness” movement—officially disbanded after being routed in the northern province of Aleppo by the Al-Nusra front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. Advanced US weapons, including TOW missiles, were all surrendered to Al Nusra, while many of the surviving Hazm members joined it.

In the wake of this debacle, there are indications that Washington is preparing to seal a pact with Al Nusra, effectively allying with Al Qaeda itself in opposition to ISIS, a split-off from Al Qaeda. The government of Qatar, a key source of funding for Al Nusra, has reportedly been pressuring the group to drop its formal affiliation with Al Qaeda to facilitate this shift.

The sheer cynicism with which the military-intelligence apparatus and its front man, Barack Obama, wage their “war on terror” found the clearest expression in statements made by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this week.

Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who is not affiliated to ISIL,” he said. He indicated that US intelligence and military officials had “picked people that not only are moderate, whatever that is, but also we have to be sensitive to complying with the international rules of law, which in this environment is a pretty tough order.”

Of course US imperialism has operated for more than a decade in the Middle East—from Iraq, to Libya to Syria—in naked contempt for the bedrock provisions of international law, which, since the Nazis were tried at Nuremberg, has banned aggressive war as an instrument for pursuing state interests.

What Clapper is referring to is the international prohibition against arming Al Qaeda, a provision that can be evaded by having Al Nusra drop its formal affiliation.

Anyone attempting to deduce the logic of US policy in the Middle East from the claims made by US officials runs into a mind-boggling maze of contradictions. In Iraq, Washington is effectively in alliance with Iran and Shia sectarian militias to defeat ISIS. In Syria, it is forging ties to Sunni Islamist militias to supposedly fight both ISIS and topple the Syrian government, which is backed by Iran. Nearly 14 years into the “war on terror,” the US military-intelligence apparatus is preparing to turn an affiliate of Al Qaeda into its frontline “anti-terror” and “pro-democracy” fighters.

To the extent that any coherent policy emerges, it is one of stoking the fires of war and political instability everywhere, promoting a struggle of each against all with the aim of weakening every country and government so as to facilitate the US drive to assert its hegemony over the energy-rich region. In turn, this regional policy is directed toward the preparation of even more horrific wars against the allies of Damascus—Iran and Russia.

For the people of the Middle East, this translates into another deadly and tragic phase in their drawn-out encounter with US imperialism. For American working people, this policy—developed behind their backs, with no real debate, much less popular support—also holds the threat of catastrophe.

Libya war based on lies


This video says about itself:

Libya War 2014: Government warplanes bomb Greek-operated oil tanker ARAEVO

5 January 2015

Libyan warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on a Greek-operated oil tanker on Monday.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

Libya and the ‘stupid, stupid facts’

Just as Libya turns a very dark corner, with Isis setting up its bloody camp, comes news that the intervention which hurried the nation into chaos was based on a false prospectus.

The Washington Times has got hold of tapes of conversations between Saif Gadaffi and US officials from summer 2011.

Back then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton — the US equivalent of the foreign secretary — was lobbying hard for more intervention.

She argued that, faced with a revolution, Muammar Gadaffi’s government would launch a massacre of the rebels and their families, justifying Nato bombing.

But it turns out the US joint chiefs of staff distrusted Clinton so much they opened their own negotiations with people around Gadaffi. The talks show that the Pentagon did not believe this massacre was coming.

The Pentagon intermediary told Gadaffi’s government: “You should see these internal State Department reports … that go out to the Congress. They’re just full of stupid, stupid facts,”

The State Department was Clinton’s department. The “stupid, stupid facts” were the arguments for war.

The Pentagon’s intermediary told the Gadaffi government that the adviser to the chair of the joint chiefs of staff — the US’s highest ranking officer — “does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it.”

The Pentagon’s negotiator told Gadaffi’s people that “I can tell you that the president is not getting accurate information, so at some point someone has to get accurate information to him,” suggesting other intermediaries for negotiations.

Lots of “cruise missile liberals” got overexcited and had a kind of Iraq flashback during the Libyan intervention, backing the bombing as some kind of “liberation.”

But, like Iraq, it was based on a false premise.

The Washington Times files make this case, but it was known at the time. I wrote a series of articles (again, for the Independent) based on conversations with Libyan government figures and intermediaries.

They were, in truth, shocked and surprised that Western governments that had been so friendly to Gadaffi had now turned 180 degrees and were rushing to war against him.

The Libyan government was suing for peace with the revolution.

It was looking for a deal to edge Gadaffi out of power and bring the rebels into government.

Ultimately the decision on any negotiations with the dictator’s regime had to be one for the Libyan rebels themselves. But Nato’s decision to start bombing wiped out any chance for compromise.

It did not, however, prepare the ground for a new Libya. Bombers can’t build anything, let alone a new society.

The bombing meant that neither Libyan group — rebel or government — had to try build a new consensus or create a national coalition.

Unsurprisingly the result is a dark, chaotic country which is fragmenting and creating space for Isis, just like Iraq.

Algiers — Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra reaffirmed Thursday in Algiers that military intervention in Libya and the supply of weapons to the conflicting parties will not promote the expected consensual solution: here.