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.

ARAB LEADERS ANNOUNCE JOINT TASK FORCE FOR ‘ARMED INSURGENCIES’ “Arab leaders announced Sunday that they would form a joint military force to intervene in neighboring states grappling with armed insurgencies. It is a dramatic step to quell the unrest that has broken out in the wake of the region’s uprisings, but some analysts warned it could exacerbate the conflicts that have polarized countries and left hundreds of thousands dead.” [WaPo]

Saudi invasion kills Yemeni civilians


This video from Yemen says about itself:

Saudi Arabian bombing on helpless civilians

22 November 2009

Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s dictators, Jordanian commandos and Al-Qaeda jointly attacking the people of north Yemen.

The only fault of these poorest people of the Arabian peninsula is they refuse to follow the Wahhabi cult imposed by Saudis.

That was over five years ago; when pro-Pentagon, pro-Saudi regime dictator Saleh was still in power in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.

As for now; from AFP news agency:

07:17 AM (Last updated: March 26, 2015 | 07:39 AM)

At least 13 civilians killed in Sanaa during Yemen offensive: civil defence

SANAA: At least 13 civilians were killed early Thursday in Saudi air strikes against Huthi rebels in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a civil defence source said.

“Thirteen civilians, including women and children, were killed in the Saudi raids overnight,” the source told AFP. Witnesses said residents were helping civil defence officials to search for any more victims under the rubble of seven houses damaged in the raids.

By the way, the Saudi Arabian government and its Gulf allies in this invasion of Yemen like Bahrain (and, implicitly, its NATO allies like the USA) are now fighting in the war in Yemen on the same side as al-Qaeda and ISIS. While the al-Qaeda presence in Yemen for years has been the pretext for drone warfare killing Yemeni civilians, for supporting dictatorship in Yemen, etc. by the Pentagon.

ISIS Claim Responsibility for Yemen Attacks Which Killed 137: here.

Terrorists in Tunisia trained in ‘new’ Libya


This video says about itself:

18 March 2015

Gunmen opened fire at a leading museum in Tunisia’s capital. Tunisian security forces have surrounded the museum while tourists run for cover.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

The terrorists who perpetrated a massacre Wednesday in Tunisia were trained in neighbouring Libya. The Tunisian Interior Minister Rafik Chelli said this. The two are said to have traveled to Libya in December.

In the final analysis, the atrocity in Tunis was the result of the spillover from the catastrophes created by the US wars in Iraq and Libya and the proxy war Washington has waged in Syria, backing Islamist militias in an attempt to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad: here.

British government charges anti-ISIS girl with terrorism


This video from Syria is called 2014 International Women’s Day in Qamishlo – Rojava Kurdistan.

NATO, Saudi, Bahraini, etc. armed forces fight wars in Iraq and Syria. Officially ‘against ISIS terrorism’, but in practice more about oil.

However, when Kurds in, eg, Syria really fight ISIS, then the government of NATO member Turkey helps ISIS in various ways; and declares the Kurdish anti-ISIS people to be ‘terrorists’. The government of the Netherlands and other NATO countries follow Mr Erdogan’s government in calling anti-ISIS Kurds ‘terrorists’.

So, it seems, does David Cameron’s British government, also NATO allies of Erdogan‘s Turkish government.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

British teenage girl charged with trying to join Kurdish forces fighting Isis

Shilan Ozcelik, 18, becomes first Briton to be arrested for trying to fight against Islamic State in Syria

Owen Bowcott

Friday 13 March 2015 18.34 GMT

A teenager from London, who was allegedly trying to join a Kurdish military women’s unit fighting Isis in Syria, has been charged with a terrorist offence.

Shilan Ozcelik, who is of Kurdish descent, was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport. She is believed to be the first British citizen to be arrested for trying to join the campaign against the jihadis who control eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Ozcelik, from Holloway, north London, faces one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism under the 2006 Terrorism Act.

Her supporters say she travelled to Brussels in an attempt to join the women’s protection units, also known as YPJ, that are based in Rojava – the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria under attack by Isis.

She was arrested by on 16 January at as she returned from Brussels. Neither the YPJ nor the YPG, the main men’s Kurdish peshmerga militia in northern Syria, are banned organisations in the UK. …

Ozcelik appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Wednesday and was charged with a terrorist offence. She was remanded in custody and is due to appear at the Old Bailey next month. Her supporters are planning a demonstration outside Holloway prison in north London, where she has been remanded.

Earlier this month a former British Royal Marine, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, died fighting for Kurdish YPG forces in northern Syria.

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.

British ISIS terrorist ‘Jihadi John’ and MI5 intelligence service


This video from the USA says about itself:

It’s Time to Talk About GW Bush’s Role in Creating ISIS

4 February 2015

Thom Hartmann says we need to have a conversation about how U.S. foreign policy under Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan has led to extremist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

By Bill Van Auken:

“Jihadi John,” imperialism and ISIS

28 February 2015

On Thursday, the Washington Post revealed the identity of “Jihadi John,” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operative featured in grisly videos depicting the beheading of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning.

The Post named the ISIS member as Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old who was born in Kuwait and raised in London. He is described in a CNN report as “a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.”

The media reporting on this identification has been dominated by discussions of the psychology of terrorism and the role of Islamist ideology, along with speculation as to why someone from such a background would choose to engage in such barbaric acts.

All of these banalities are part of a campaign of deliberate obfuscation. Purposefully left in the shadows is the central revelation to accompany the identification of “Jihad John”—the fact that he was well known to British intelligence, which undoubtedly identified him as soon as his image and voice were first broadcast in ISIS videos.

Not only did Britain’s security service MI5 carefully track his movements, it carried out an active campaign to recruit him as an informant and covert agent. As the British daily Guardian put it Thursday, MI5 has “serious questions” to answer about its relations with Emwazi.

Chief among these questions is whether the intelligence agency was successful in its recruitment efforts. In other words, did Emwazi go to Syria with MI5’s foreknowledge and blessings?

If there is doubt as to whether Emwazi was recruited, it is clear that other ISIS jihadists have been. The BBC reported that British intelligence has refused to name Emwazi for “operational reasons.” It adds: “The practice by intelligence agencies of approaching jihadist sympathisers to work for them is likely to continue. It’s believed both Britain and the US have informers inside the Islamic State ‘capital’ of Raqqa. Yet this seems to have been little help in stopping the actions of Mohammed Emwazi, or bringing him to justice.”

At its heart, the case of “Jihadi John” is of significance because of what it says about the real relationship between Western imperialism and ISIS. In the final analysis, ISIS is a product of the interventions by Washington and its allies in the region.

Armed Islamist movements existed in neither Iraq nor Syria—nor, for that matter, in Libya—before US imperialism intervened to topple secular Arab governments in all three countries.

It is not only a matter of these movements emerging out of the mayhem, death and destruction unleashed by the US military and CIA in these countries at the cost of well over a million lives and wholesale social devastation.

Like Al Qaeda before it, ISIS is a creation of US and Western imperialism, unleashed upon the peoples of the region in pursuit of definite strategic aims. In Libya, Islamists now affiliated with ISIS provided the principal ground forces for the US-NATO war to topple Muammar Gaddafi. In Syria, ISIS, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front and similar Islamist militias have played a similar role in a war for regime-change that has been backed by Washington and its allies.

By all accounts, so-called “foreign fighters” comprise the largest component of the “rebels” who have sought to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the past three-and-a-half years. Estimates have put their number at over 20,000, with recruits drawn from throughout Europe, North America, Central Asia and elsewhere.

While the media presents the flow of these fighters into Syria as something of a mystery, the question of how they have gotten there can be easily answered. The CIA, MI5 and other Western intelligence agencies have not merely turned a blind eye to Islamists traveling from their respective countries to the Syrian battlefield, it has offered them active encouragement. Turkey, a key US ally, has facilitated the flow of these elements across its border into Syria.

It should be recalled that Western governments and media painted forces like ISIS in Syria as democratic “revolutionaries” waging a progressive struggle against a tyrant. The war, which was stoked through orchestrated provocations, was cited as a justification for “humanitarian” intervention.

Arms and funding poured in to back the largely Islamist “rebels,” even as Washington and its allies steadily escalated the threat of direct intervention. The Obama administration went to the brink of launching a savage bombardment of Syria in September 2013, only to beat a tactical retreat in the face of unexpected opposition.

The Islamist forces on the ground in Syria felt themselves the victims of a double-cross. Much like the CIA’s Cuban counterrevolutionaries at the Bay of Pigs a half-century earlier, their promised US air support did not come and they lashed out in retribution. Ultimately, this took the form not only of the serial beheadings of Western hostages, but also the debacle inflicted upon the US-trained security forces in Iraq.

Washington has hypocritically seized upon the beheadings in an attempt to whip up support for its new intervention in the Middle East. But when similar atrocities were carried out by ISIS and its cohorts against Syrian Alawites, Christians and captured conscripts, the Obama administration looked the other way.

In the wake of the revelations about “Jihadi John,” Britain’s Tory Prime Minister David Cameron issued a ringing defense of the country’s security services, describing its members as “incredibly impressive, hard-working, dedicated, courageous.” He declared his sympathy for their “having to make incredibly difficult judgments.” He insisted that “the most important thing is to get behind them.”

If Britain were a functioning democracy, the revelations about the role of MI5 and its relations with Mohammed Emwazi and ISIS generally would be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry that could spell the fall of the government.

However, in London, as in Washington, the government has been largely taken over by the military and intelligence apparatus, whose crimes are systematically covered up with the aid of a complicit corporate-controlled media.

For workers in Britain, the US and internationally, these revelations only underscore the necessity to build up a genuine antiwar movement based on a socialist and internationalist program and in intransigent opposition to all attempts to exploit the crimes of ISIS—the Frankenstein’s monster created by imperialism—to justify the escalation of war abroad and repression at home.

In the case of the unmasking of Jihadi John, one of the perspectives that was excluded from the ‘spectrum of thinkable thought’ was the view that Britain’s aggressive foreign policy has been a key driver of ‘radicalisation’, leading young British Muslims towards armed struggle or ‘jihadism': here.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, three U.S. allies that have dual agendas in the war on terror: here.

ISIS is proof of the failed “war on terror”: here.

Presenting Isis as iconic demons obscures the symbiotic relationship between jihadis and the west: here.

How the FBI Created a Terrorist: here.

USA: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, speaking Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an ultra-right political conference held in suburban Washington DC, compared the working class and student protesters who thronged the streets of Madison in 2011 to ISIS terrorists. “If I could take on 100,000 protestors, I could do the same across the world,” he said, boasting that his defeat of the unions in Wisconsin qualified him to wage war in the Middle East: here.

US trade unions have reacted angrily to Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker comparing trade union workers to IS terrorists: here.