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US And Israel Quietly Provide Military Support And Parts To Iran, Which In Turn Is Arming Syria | Zero Hedge

US And Israel Quietly Provide Military Support And Parts To Iran, Which In Turn Is Arming Syria | Zero Hedge.

Before the Ukraine, there was Syria. Before Syria, there was Iran. For over 30 years, Iran was the perpetual strawman of every attempt to escalate hostilities in the middle east. One only needs to recall that the original “red line” was not Obama’s but that of Israel’s PM Netanyahu referring to Iran’s nuclear program (which most likely was under the control of Stuxnet, and thus the NSA, more than it was Iran’s to begin with).

What is surprising in recent months, is how quickly in the aftermath of the Syrian failed escalation script from last summer, Iran quickly dropped off the axis of America’s worst enemies, and from the biggest bogeyman, has rapidly become a nation with which the US is eager to resume diplomatic and trade relations. Sure, Israel pretended to be angry about Iran’s ascent in the ranks of US foreign allies-to-be, and issued a few angry press releases, but that’s all it was – posturing, fit only for the front page of tabloids. It is what was happening behind the scenes that is noteworthy.

And what is happening behind the scenes is the same thing that happens every time the US (or Israel, or any other western nations) finds a surprising new ally: said ally proceeds to purchase military equipment from the US (or other western nations), using loans from the US (or other western nation banks).

Enter bizarre twist #1 – US companies selling military parts to none other than the formerly country non grata (at least until mid-2013): Iran. Reuters reports:

U.S. aerospace companies are seeking permission to sell airliner parts to Iran for the first time in three decades, in a key test of the temporary relief on sanctions given under talks to curtail Iran’s nuclear activities.

 

At least two leading manufacturers, Boeing and engine maker General Electric, have applied for export licenses in a six-month window agreed by Iran and six world powers in November, industry officials and other sources familiar with the matter said.

 

If approved, the sales would be the first acknowledged dealings between U.S. aerospace companies and Iran since the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis led to sanctions that were later broadened during the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities.

 

A source familiar with the matter said that Boeing, the world’s biggest manufacturer of passenger jets, had also filed a request for permission to export parts to Iran.

 

Boeing declined to comment, referring questions to the U.S. State Department, which in turn referred queries to the U.S. Treasury. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which enforces international sanctions, declined to comment on specific license requests or applications.

Enter bizarre twist # 2 – “GE is doing it for the kids.”

A GE spokesman said his company had been asking since 2004 for permission to provide parts and maintenance for engines for safety reasons, without profiting from the scheme. GE, the world’s largest maker of jet engines by sales, refiled its request after the sanctions relief came into force, he added.

 

“We don’t want to make a penny on it. It’s entirely for flight safety,” Rick Kennedy said, adding that GE would donate any proceeds to charity.

But of course, because when one thinks suing the US to get tax refunds corporate generosity (if not bailouts), one thinks GE.

Enter bizarre twist # 3 – it is not only the US that is seeking to promptly capitalize on this “temporary” elimination of Iran sanctions. It is Iran’s perpetual nemesis, Israel, that is not only planning to supply weapons to Iran, but is already doing so. However, unlike the US which at least has clumsily stumbled upon a detente whose only purpose is logically to get Iran to buy Made in America weapons, with Israel the hypocrisy takes on a whole new meaning. Quote the Telegraph:

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, called for increased pressure on Iran to force it to abandon a programme that Israel regards as a front for building an atomic bomb and a threat to its existence.

 

Visiting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, he accused Iran of “arming those who are carrying out the slaughter” in neighbouring Syria.  “I would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character. Iran is continuing to support the Assad regime, which is slaughtering its own people,” Mr Netanyahu said.

And this is where it gets embarrassing for Bibi: it was Israel that was arming Iran.

[A] court in Athens has told The Telegraph that parts appearing on an American list of forbidden military-grade materials had been shipped from Israel on two occasions, apparently destined for Iran.

 

The seized items comprised spare parts for military aircraft: a constant speed drive designed for the F-4 Phantom jet, and a voltage output sensor used in the F-14 Tomcat. The parts were confiscated by Greece’s financial crimes squad and were being sent to the US for investigation, court officials said.

 

 

Israeli arms dealers twice tried to send spare parts for fighter planes to Iran, The Telegraph has established, flouting an international arms embargo and openly contradicting the bitter enmity between the Jewish state and the Islamic regime.

 

The illegal shipments are now being investigated by the US Homeland Security Department after they were intercepted by authorities in Greece.

 

The shipments – one in Dec 2012 and the other last April – were sent by courier from the Israeli town of Binyamina-Givat Ada, near Haifa, via a company in Greece, the newspaper reported. The firm was later established to be a ghost company. Its contact number was said to belong to a British national in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, who could not be traced.

Was Mossad involved? But of course.

A blogger, Richard Silverstein pointed the finger at two possible culprits who he said were well-known arms dealers living in Binyamina-Givat Ada. The pair had come to the attention of Israeli and US authorities on suspicion of violating the arms embargo on Iran in the past, Silverstein wrote, but had never been charged or prosecuted. “There can be no doubt that they are colluding with Israeli intelligence,” he added.

For those who are not convinced, “The defence and foreign ministries in Israel declined to comment on the seizures, which were first revealed by Kathimerini, a Greek newspaper. 

Finally, tying it all together, is another report from Reuters. in which we learn that “as Syria’s war nears the start of its fourth year, Iran has stepped up support on the ground for President Bashar al-Assad, providing elite teams to gather intelligence and train troops, sources with knowledge of military movements say.

This further backing from Tehran, along with deliveries of munitions and equipment from Moscow, is helping to keep Assad in power at a time when neither his own forces nor opposition fighters have a decisive edge on the battlefield.

Assad’s forces have failed to capitalize fully on advances they made last summer with the help of Iran, his major backer in the region, and the Hezbollah fighters that Tehran backs and which have provided important battlefield support for Assad.

 

But the Syrian leader has drawn comfort from the withdrawal of the threat of U.S. bombing raids following a deal under which he has agreed to give up his chemical weapons.

 

Shi’te Iran has already spent billions of dollars propping up Assad in what has turned into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states. And while the presence of Iranian military personnel in Syria is not new, military experts believe Tehran has in recent months sent in more specialists to enable Assad to outlast his enemies at home and abroad.

 

Assad’s forces have failed to capitalize fully on advances they made last summer with the help of Iran, his major backer in the region, and the Hezbollah fighters that Tehran backs and which have provided important battlefield support for Assad.

 

But the Syrian leader has drawn comfort from the withdrawal of the threat of U.S. bombing raids following a deal under which he has agreed to give up his chemical weapons.

 

Shi’te Iran has already spent billions of dollars propping up Assad in what has turned into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states. And while the presence of Iranian military personnel in Syria is not new, military experts believe Tehran has in recent months sent in more specialists to enable Assad to outlast his enemies at home and abroad.

To summarize: in an act of complete disregard for the official diplomatic song and dance, both Israel and the US are now providing military support to Iran, which in turn is providing military support to Syria, which is also getting military support from Russia. And now, just to make things more interesting, the same labyrinth of “military support” is about to be unleashed in the Ukraine, whose western half is just as likely getting arms and military equipment (not to mention funding)from the West under the table, while Russia, whose main Black Sea port is in the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, is arming the Eastern part of the Ukraine.

What can possibly go wrong?

US steps back towards its original Syria Policy | The Daily Sheeple

US steps back towards its original Syria Policy | The Daily Sheeple.

Janet Phelan
janetphelan.com
February 18th, 2014

syria

Recent statements attributed to Secretary of State John Kerry show him again positioning the US to attack Syria. In a leaked report to the Washington Post, Kerry was quoted as saying that Obama’s Syria policy is failing and that it is time to change the strategy.

These are remarks that deserve further scrutiny. As it turns out, Kerry is dismayed that Syria has not destroyed its estimated 1300 tons of chemical weapons in a scant six months.

Syria has responded by stating that the actions of the rebels in that war torn country have disrupted the conveyance of the weapons to the appointed place.

It should be noted that when the United States joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, it pledged to destroy all its chemical weapons within ten years.

The deadline came and went and the US did not comply. The US received another deadline, for 2012. And once again, failed to achieve this deadline.

And now, the US, which reportedly still has about 3000 tons of chemical weapons in its stockpiles, has stated it will not be able to comply with the treaty mandate until 2023.

What’s wrong with this picture? The US can’t but Syria must?

Obama initially responded dramatically to the report of the alleged gas attack near Damascus, an attack which was said to have taken place on August 21, 2013. He announced that he would make a targeted military strike on Syria, a decision which was subsequently derailed by Russian President Putin, who suggested that Syria join the CWC and move to destroy its chemical weapons cache.

Questions arose immediately as to the veracity of the report of the alleged gas attack.Hacked emails surfaced which incurred grave questions as to whether or not the alleged gas attack even took place. These emails showed one Army Colonel Anthony J. MacDonald chatting with a DoD employee, Eugene Furst, and others in a manner which raised some questions as to possible military or defense contractor involvement in the alleged gas attack.

Here is a partial thread between MacDonald and Furst. In the MacDonald/Furst exchange, we see Furst congratulating MacDonald on August 22, 2013, referencing the gas attack:

“By the way, saw your latest success, my congratulations. Good job.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrian-activists-accuse-government-of-deadly-chemical-attack-near-damascus/2013/08/21/aea157e6-0a50-11e3-89fe-abb4a5067014_story.html

On the same date, MacDonald replied:

As you see I’m far from this now, but I know our guys did their best.”

Further hacked emails between MacDonald’s wife and a friend raise questions as to whether or not the alleged attack was staged, “for the cameras,” as Jennifer MacDonald wrote to her friend, Mary Shapiro.

When the Army was contacted about its response to these hacked emails, the reply was firm but somewhat evasive. Press Officer Lt Col Donald Peters told this reporter that the matter was under investigation and therefore no further comment could be tendered at that time.

As it turned out, the issues surrounding the hacked emails were not investigated. Peters attempted to persuade this reporter that as MacDonald allegedly retired from the military on August 15, right before the incident, that the Army had no cause to investigate.

However, according to his Linked in page, MacDonald is still with the Army and is now serving as a Supervisory Intelligence Specialist.

When confronted with this, Army Press Officer Peters issued a No Comment.

Various sources, including the Sunshine Project, have stated that the US repeatedly violated the CWC and used these illegal weapons in its war against Iraq.

The Iraqi war was also found to have been launched on bogus intelligence. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq. They were, however, used against the Iraqis by the US government.

The massive destabilization of the region through the US’s repeated and spurious declarations of threat will have a blow back that few can predict. Syria has promised to attack Israel should Obama launch a military action against that country. Is Obama so foolish as to put his purported ally, Israel, at this elevated a risk?

Or was this the plan, all along? In the shadowy world of intelligence and propaganda, little is what it appears to be. The US government and corporate accommodation of the Nazi extermination programs is a matter of historical record. The only question left is whether or not the US’s “special interest” in eugenics is still ongoing.

This scenario is not what we have been led to believe would occur. But history supports this perception. And history, as we know, also has a nasty way of repeating itself.

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple

UAE, Egypt plotting coup in Libya, say Libyan RoR rebels | StratRisks

UAE, Egypt plotting coup in Libya, say Libyan RoR rebels | StratRisks.

Source: WB

Libya Shield

The Libyan “Revolutionaries Operations Room” (ROR) said that it acquired “documented information” regarding plots by the UAE and Egyptian military-led authorities to meddle in Libyan affairs and to abort the Libyan revolution.

According to the Middle East Monitor, in a Facebook statement the ROR claimed that UAE’s security agencies has recently formed two “cells” to circumvent the Libyan revolution and to stop Libyan oil exports.

The statement read: “We received information that UAE’s security apparatus has formed two high level cells. The first aims at overthrowing the new Libyan regime, the Libyan National Congress, and confronting the rise of Islamists. The second cell is a specialized media one based in Amman, Jordan.”

According to the statement, the “media cell” is primarily tasked with disseminating news that would serve the agenda of the “security cell”. Part of its agenda is to distort the image of Islamists, particularly with their rising popularity in Libya, the statement claims.

The ROR claimed that it obtained all information related to the “security cell” in Libya, and that it is led and funded by the UAE. It claimed that the cell has been operating in Libya since January 26, 2013.

“A high level Libyan source told ROR that a group affiliated with Mahmoud Gebril abducted Abu Anas Al-Libi based on a request from the UAE which immediately handed him over to the American CIA.”

The statement claimed that Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan leads the security cell, while the members of the cell are counter-revolutionary figures in Libya, including Al-Saadi Al-Ghadhafi who managed to escape from the rebels, and a Libyan close to the Egyptian coup leader Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

The ROR affirmed that the “security cell” is based in Abu Dhabi, and convenes regularly with the protection of UAE security.

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Saudi Regime Working to Lure the Arab League into Attacking Syria | Global Research

Saudi Regime Working to Lure the Arab League into Attacking Syria | Global Research.

Global Research, February 17, 2014
Fars News Agency
obama saudi arabia
After its failure in coaxing the US into war on Syria, Saudi Arabia is now attempting to persuade the Arab League (AL) to issue permission for military attack against the crisis-hit country, Arab media reports said.

“The Saudi regime is now making extensive contacts with a number of Arab governments to call for an Arab League ministerial meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Syria,” sources told the Palestinian al-Manar weekly.

According to the sources, Riyadh is seeking to persuade the League to approve a resolution which would call on the UN Security Council to use Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to launch a military attack on Syria to be led by the US and France in partnership with certain regional states and Israel as well as Saudi Arabia’s financial support.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the western powers anad their regional allies – specially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

According to the United Nations, more than 120,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million of others displaced due to the violence in Syria.

Riyadh is considered as the main supporter of the terrorist Takfiri and Salafi groups fighting in Syria.

Late in December, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad said Damascus views Saudi Arabia as its number one enemy, accusing Riyadh of trying to destroy the country by arming extremists and militants fighting in Syria.

Miqdad told AFP that Saudi Arabia was providing unfettered support for “terrorist groups” in Syria, while other nations had reviewed their positions.

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : America and the Arab Awakening: Déjà Vu?

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : America and the Arab Awakening: Déjà Vu?.

wednesday february 12, 2014
Arabspringegypt

Three years ago, Washington experienced its own dose of “shock and awe” — the PR phrase used to sanitise its brutal invasion of Iraq — when hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ordinary Arabs took to the streets to demand the overthrow of leaders more interested in Washington’s approval than that of their own peoples. But American policy elites’ professed surprise was primarily a function of their own self-imposed amnesia and delusion.

No one in Washington seemed to realise or care that Egyptians forced their pro-American dictator from power on February 11, 2011 — 32 years to the day after the Shah of Iran’s military conceded to the will of the Iranian people, giving birth to the Islamic Republic of Iran and bringing down a pillar of American dominance in the region. On the eve of Iran’s revolution, as a deep and abiding thirst for independence was sweeping through Iran, President Jimmy Carter toasted the shah, in “great tribute…to your leadership and to the respect and the admiration and love which your people give to you.”

Thirty-two years later, US foreign policy elites seemed to have learned little. When similar revolutionary fervour threatened another pillar of US dominance in the Middle East — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — the Obama administration appeared to be following the example of its 1970s predecessor. Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed that Mubarak wasn’t “a dictator” because he was an American ally and a friend of Israel — thereby highlighting that the only way an Arab leader can be those things is by being a dictator. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already declared “President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family.”

But with security forces marauding through Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square, killing nearly 1,000 people by the time Mubarak finally resigned — and drawing more people to protest, instead of repelling them — alarm set in among Washington’s foreign policy elite. Could the US really lose the Egyptian pillar it had so assiduously co-opted after its Iranian pillar was tossed out in 1979?

When Washington finally understood that Mubarak’s days were numbered, as Carter had finally understood with the shah, the Obama administration tried to orchestrate a “transition” to Mubarak’s reviled intelligence chief. Omar Suleiman was the man responsible for “rendering” Egyptians to be tortured for the CIA and for collaborating with Israel to keep the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza under siege. When that did not work, Washington set out to co-opt and then abort what it termed the Arab Spring — a Western phrase meant to depict movement toward secular liberalism rather than toward participatory Islamist governance.

Unchanging foreign policy

Mubarak’s departure brought into uncomfortably stark relief a reality that US policymakers had denied since the overthrow of the shah thirty-two years before. US efforts to use cooperative autocrats — autocrats willing to facilitate US military aggression, to torture alleged “terrorists” (their own citizens) for the CIA’s benefit, and to tolerate a militarily dominant Israel engaged in open-ended occupation of Arab populations — to promote American hegemony over the Middle East were unacceptable to the vast majority of people there.

As protests unfolded in Egypt, large numbers of demonstrators in Yemen demanded that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh — a major US counter-terror collaborator — resign. Three days after Mubarak’s removal, large-scale protests paralysed Bahrain — home of the US Fifth Fleet — underscoring the threat to America’s regional hegemony even more dramatically.

US foreign policy elites were not just concerned about a precipitous erosion of the US strategic position in the Middle East. They also worried about what the spread of popular demand for leaderships accountable to their peoples, not to Washington, would mean for the hegemonic house of cards the US had imposed on the region.

It was clear — and has become ever clearer over the past three years — that the majority of population in the Middle East want to vote for their leaders and to have a voice in decision-making on issues affecting their daily lives and social identities. But they also want that to happen in an explicitly Islamic framework — not in some secular, liberal “Spring” context, divorced from their identities and ability to assert real independence.

When given the chance to express preferences about their political futures, Middle Eastern Muslims do not embrace the sort of secular liberalism that America might be able to countenance as an alternative to pro-Western autocracy. Rather, they vote for Islamists espousing the integration of participatory politics and elections with Islamic principles — and with a commitment to foreign policy independence.

Thus, in early 2011, Washington was anxious that the Arab Awakening would ultimately benefit the Islamic Republic of Iran. For the Islamic Republic is the Middle East’s only political system that, since 1979, has actually tried to integrate participatory politics and elections with principles and institutions of Islamic governance. It has also been an exemplar of foreign policy independence, embodied in its consistent refusal to submit to the imperatives of a pro-US regional order.

Three US goals in the Middle East

Faced with these risks to its hegemonic ambitions, the US could not simply declare its opposition to popular sovereignty in the Middle East. Instead, the Obama administration crafted a policy response to the Arab Awakening that had three major goals. In the course of pursuing these goals, the administration — with strong bipartisan backing in Congress — has imposed even more instability and violence on the region. It has also set the stage for further erosion of the credibility and effectiveness of US policy in a vital part of the world.

The Obama administration’s first goal was to prevent the Arab Awakening from taking down any more US allies. To that end, the administration tacitly (but happily) acquiesced to the Saudi-led military intervention in Bahrain on March 14, 2011 to sustain the Khalifa monarchy. As a result, the monarchy continues to hold on to power (for now) and US naval forces continue operating out of Bahrain.

At the same time, Washington’s support for suppressing popular demands for political change there through Saudi Arabia’s armed intervention has helped fuel a dangerous resurgence of sectarian tensions across the Middle East. This, in turn, has given new life to al-Qaeda and similar jihadi movements around the region.

The Obama administration’s second goal was to co-opt the Arab Awakening for US purposes, by showing that, somewhere in the Middle East, the US could put itself on the “right” side of history. So, when Saudi Arabia offered the Arab League “cover” to intervene in Libya and arm anti-Gaddafi rebels, President Barack Obama overrode objections by his defence secretary and military leaders to order US forces into action.

On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council narrowly adopted a resolution authorising use of force to protect civilian populations in Libya. In short order, Team Obama distorted it to turn civilian protection into coercive regime change. The results have been disastrous for US interests and for the region: Worsening violence in Libya, a growing jihadi threat in North Africa, a dead US ambassador, and more polarised US relations with Russia and China.

The Obama administration’s third goal was to show that, after the loss of pro-Western regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and near-misses in Bahrain and Yemen, it wasn’t just authoritarian regimes willing to subordinate their foreign policies to the US that were at risk from popular discontent. In particular, Washington wanted to demonstrate that it was also possible to bring down regimes with clear commitments to foreign policy independence — and, in the process, weaken not just Iran’s strategic position but that of Islamists across the region promoting participatory Islamist governance.

Soon after unrest started in Syria in March 2011, the Obama administration saw an opening, declaring that President Bashar al-Assad “must go” and goading an externally supported “opposition” to undermine him — if not bring him down. It was clear from the start that arming a deeply divided opposition would not bring down the Syrian government. Nevertheless, Washington joined with its so-called allies in Riyadh, Paris, and London in an almost desperate attempt to roll back Iran’s rising power.

Almost three years on, Iraq, as well as Iran, have been hurt by this misadventure — but the American and the Syrian people have paid a much higher price. Washington has paid in terms of its regional standing, intensification of the regional resurgence of violent extremists, and further polarisation of relations with Russia and China; Syria, of course, has paid with over 100,000 Syrians killed (so far) and millions more displaced.

More recently, the Obama administration’s tacit backing for the military coup that overthrew Egypt’s democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president in July 2013 has removed any residual doubt that the US, intent on clinging to its hegemonic prerogatives in the Middle East, can endorse moves toward real democracy in the region. Putting US strategy in the Middle East on a more positive and productive trajectory will require Washington to accept the region on its own terms, to deal straightforwardly with all relevant (and authentic) actors, and to admit that trying to coercively micromanage political outcomes in Muslim-majority societies isn’t just incompatible with claims to respect popular sovereignty — it is unsustainable and counter-productive for long-term US interests.

Reprinted with permission from author’s Going to Tehran blog.

Flickr/AK Rockefeller

14 Turkish Protesters Jailed For 2 Years For “Insulting” Prime Minister | Zero Hedge

14 Turkish Protesters Jailed For 2 Years For “Insulting” Prime Minister | Zero Hedge.

Forget throwing Molotov cocktails; don’t worry about throwing stones or hand to hand combat with the Police… the real trouble for Turkish protesters appears to be “insults” and “tree-hugging”:

  • *TURKEY PROSECUTOR REQUESTS JAIL FOR TREE-PLANTING STUDENTS: NTV
  • *Turkey Protesters Given Jail for Insults to Erdogan

The punishments vary from 2-years to 14 years in jail!!

So it seems sticks and words can hurt one after all…

If you can’t do the time, don’t plant a tree…

Prosecutor asks for jail time for students protesting the construction of a road at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, NTV news reports.

Three students detained after planting trees as part of protest and charged with obstructing public works

Prosecutor asks for jail sentences ranging from 2 yrs, 6 months to 14 yrs, 6 months

or dare to insult the Prime Minister…

 Court in Eskisehir gives 17 suspects jail terms for insulting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a demonstration, state-run Anatolia news agency reports.

14 suspects get two-year jail sentences each, 3 other suspects get 1 year imprisonment each, Anatolia says

All seems very “fair”…

The Corporate Media’s Dubious Syria Coverage | Global Research

The Corporate Media’s Dubious Syria Coverage | Global Research.

Global Research, February 11, 2014
In-depth Report: 

Western news media reportage on the rampant criminal activities of foreign-backed paramilitary groups operating within Syria still relies heavily on unreliable sources frequently referred to as “activists.” Such spokespersons routinely claim the Syrian military are committing atrocities against the Syrian population. The reports are often disputed by the Bashar al-Assad government and proven suspect or false when additional information is unearthed by independent researchers and alternative news media.

In July 2012 UK journalist Charlie Skelton reported that Western news outlets remain willing accomplices in a propaganda campaign being carried out by public relations practitioners. According to Skelton, “the spokespeople, the ‘experts on Syria’, the ‘democracy activists’ … The people who ‘urge’ and ‘warn’ and ‘call for action’” against the Assad regime are themselves part of a sophisticated and well-heeled propaganda campaign to allow NATO forces to give Syria the same medicine administered to Libya in 2011. “They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change,” Skelton reports,

and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the “activists” and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in many cases financially) interlinked with the US and London – the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn’t necessarily pure news – it’s a sales pitch, a PR campaign.[1]

One needn’t look far for current examples of such uncertain reportage and sourcing from eminent news organizations. For example, a prominent February 8, 2014 story from Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, titled, “Aleppo Bombings Kill 23, Activists Say,” carries the lead, “At least 23 people have been killed as a regime helicopter dropped barrel bombs on an opposition-controlled district in Syria’s largest city Aleppo on Saturday, activists said.”[2]

The New York Times reports, “Rebel and government groups have each been accused of massacring civilians, and the government has stepped up air attacks on Aleppo with barrages of improvised ”barrel bombs” packed with high explosives that activists say have killed more than 200 people.[3]

Similarly influential papers such as the Washington Post also remain unabashedly forthright in their reliance on such sourcing. A recent Associated Press piece carried in the paper, titled, “Activists: Syrian Forces Launch New Aleppo Strikes,” quotes the Aleppo Media Center, a self-described “anti-Bashar Assad activist group.” Post readers are assured the entity “has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting.”[4]

Likewise, in November 2013 the BBC, whose Syria coverage tilts strongly toward “activist” observations, cites the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to break the story of Syrian government air strikes “kill[ing] dozens in Aleppo.“ As Skelton noted in his 2012 exposé, “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is commonly used as a standalone source for news and statistics” which are taken at face value and parroted by corporate media. While SOHR sounds like a credible and non-partisan human rights outfit, “’They’ are Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdel Rahman), who lives in Coventry,” Skelton observes. In 2011 Reuters reported that when Abdulrahman “isn’t fielding calls from international media, [he] is a few minutes down the road at his clothes shop, which he runs with his wife.”[5]

The analysis suggests how despite the fact that those regularly quoted as authorities on Syria are often far-removed from what is transpiring on the ground and thus involved in a more far-reaching disinformation program to confuse the public on the calculated murder and chaos being carried out throughout Syria by Western-financed mercenary forces.

With the foreign-backed destabilization of Syria now well over two years old, major corporate-owned and government-backed news media, perhaps amazingly, continue to rely on such questionable entities as sources. Indeed, a Google search of “activists say” and “Syria” yields 919,000 results.

A more careful LexisNexis database search for “Syria,” “Assad,” “government” and the phrases “activists say” or “activists report” in the subject headings or text of news items for conventional print outlets indexed for June 1, 2012 to February 7, 2014 yields a data set consisting of close to 2,000 pieces—1,638 newspaper articles, 205 BBC broadcast transcripts, and 148 web-based articles.[6] A total 134 articles appeared in the New Zealand Herald, 52 in the Washington Post, 38 in the New York Times, 30 in the Financial Times, and 28 in the International New York Times.

The following table breaks down the news outlets that, based on the above search parameters, appear to have used so-called “activists” as sources 20 or more times since June 1, 2012.

News Outlet News Articles / Transcripts Referencing “Associated Press”
British Broadcasting Corporation 205
New Zealand Herald 134 43
Belfast Telegraph Online 97  –
Washington Post 52 26
Daily Star (Lebanon) 38  –
New York Times 38 5
Today’s Zaman (Turkey) 36  –
The National (UAE) 34 21
Anadolu Agency 32  –
Bismarck Tribune 30  –
Financial Times 30 15
Scotsman 29  –
Guardian 28  –
International New York Times 28 8
The Capitol (Annapolis MD) 26 13
McClatchey Tribune 26  –
Times of Oman 26  –
Salt Lake City Tribune 25 23
Times & Transcript 24 5
Times (London) 23  –
The Mirror 22  –

About 13.5% of the sample (270) either reference the Associated Press as a source or are AP wire stories. A search for “Associated Press” within the search results yields 270 articles, including a significant number appearing in the New Zealand Herald (43), the Washington Post (26), The National (21), the Bismarck Tribune (15), and the International New York Times (8). A far smaller number of the overall sample (33) reference “Reuters.”

Combined with an acquiescent news media that are arguably complicit in such deception, the end result amounts to sheer propaganda selling the “Syrian revolution” and further conditioning world public opinion for the inevitability of gradual regime change or even more direct military intervention.

After over two decades of phony atrocity stories and tall tales involving Middle Eastern bogeymen and their legion hordes—from babies being thrown out of incubators in Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait to bin Laden’s alleged 9/11 attacks, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, and Muammar Gaddafi’s fabricated “crackdown” on his people—the public should well understand that much of corporate news media merely function as a well-oiled propaganda machine where “special interests” pull the strings. This is particularly the case when the true powers that be seek to undermine sovereign governments and carry out programs of wholesale terrorism and destruction against their populations.

Notes

[1] Charlie Skelton, “The Syrian Opposition: Who’s Doing the Talking?” Guardian, July 12, 2012.

[2] “Aleppo Bombings Kill 23, Activists Say,” Anadolu Agency, February 8, 2014.

[3] Anne Barnard and Mohammad Ghannam, “Dozens Are Killed in Syrian Violence, Even Amid Preparations for Peace Talks,” New York Times, December 23, 2013, 12.

[4] “Activists: Syrian Forces Launch New Aleppo Strikes,” Associated Press / Washington Post, February 1, 2014.

[5] Skelton, “The Syrian Opposition”; “Coventry: An Unlikely Home to Prominent Syria Activist,” Reuters, December 8, 2011.

[6] A search including the past tense phrases “activists said” or “activists reported” would have likely retrieved an even larger sample.

Washington’s “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT): Violence, War and Instability in an “Arc of Terror” | Global Research

Washington’s “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT): Violence, War and Instability in an “Arc of Terror” | Global Research.

Global Research, February 09, 2014
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Twelve years into America’s “war on terror,” it is time to admit that it has failed catastrophically, unleashing violence, war and instability in an “arc of terror” stretching from West Africa to the Himalayas and beyond.  If we examine the pretext for all this chaos, that it could possibly be a legitimate or effective response to terrorism, it quickly becomes clear that it has been the exact opposite, fueling a global explosion of terrorism and a historic breakdown of law and order.

The U.S. State Department’s “terrorism” reports [3] present a searing indictment of the “war on terror” on its own terms.  From 1987 to 2001, the State Department’s “Patterns of Global Terrorism” reports had documented a steady decline in terrorism [4] around the world, from 665 incidents in 1987 to only 355 incidents in 2001.  But since 2001, the U.S. “war on terror” has succeeded in fueling the most dramatic and dangerous rise in terrorism ever seen.

The State Department reports seem, at first glance, to show some short-term success, with total terrorist incidents continuing to decline, to 205 incidents in 2002 and 208 in 2003.  But the number of more serious or “significant” incidents (involving death, serious injury, abduction, kidnapping, major property damage or the likelihood of such results) was already on the rise, from 123 incidents in 2001 to 172 in 2003.

But then the 2004 report [5], due to be published in March 2005, revealed that the number of incidents had spiked to an incredible 2,177, including 625 “significant” incidents, even though the report excluded attacks on U.S. occupation forces in Iraq.  Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice took decisive action, not to urgently review this dangerous failure of U.S. policy, but to suppress the report.  We only know what it said thanks to whistleblowers who leaked it to the media, and to Larry Johnson [6], an ex-CIA and State Department terrorism expert and a member of Ray McGovern’sVeteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity [7].

Rice eventually released a reformatted version of the 2004 report, ostensibly replacing “Patterns of Global Terrorism” with a new report titled “Country Reports on Terrorism” that excluded all statistical data.  The State Department has continued to publish “Country Reports on Terrorism” every year, and was forced to include a “statistical annex” beginning with the report for 2005.  The reports also include disclaimers that this data should not be used to compare patterns of terrorism from one year to the next because of the “evolution in data collection methodology”.  In other words, a report that used to be called “Patterns in Global Terrorism” should not be used to study patterns in global terrorism!

So, what is the State Department afraid we might find if we used it to do just that?  Let’s take a look.  The politicization of these reports certainly undermines their reliability, but, as Secretary Rice understood verywell, the dramatic rise in global terrorism that they reveal is undeniable.

The numbers obviously spiked in Iraq and Afghanistan while under U.S. occupation, so we’ll exclude the figures for those periods in those countries.  The rationale for the “war on terror” was always that, by “fighting them there”, we wouldn’t have to “fight them here”, so we’ll just look at the effect “here” and everywhere else.

On that limited basis, the State Department reports nonetheless document an explosion of terrorism, from 208 incidents in 2003 to 2,177 in 2004 to 7,103 incidents in 2005. Since then, the total has fluctuated between a high of 7,251 incidents in 2008 and a low of 5,029 incidents in 2009, after President Obama’s election temporarily raised hopes of a change in U.S. policy.  The State Department has not issued a report for 2013 yet, but the number of “terrorist” incidents in 2012 remained at 5,748, documenting an intractable crisis that is the direct result of U.S. policy.

The ineffectiveness of the war on terror is intricately entwined with its illegitimacy.  In my book,Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq, I argued that the illegitimacy of the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq was at the root of all its other problems.  The U.S. forces who illegally invaded the country lacked any real authority to restore the rule of law and order that they themselves had destroyed.  Even today, two years after expelling U.S. forces, the Iraqi government installed by the U.S. occupation remains crippled by fundamental illegitimacy in the eyes of its people.

The United States’ “war on terror” faces the same problem on a global scale.  The notion of fighting “terror with terror” or a “war on terror” was always fundamentally flawed, both legally and in its prospects for success.  As Ben Ferencz [8], the only surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg war crimes trials, explained to NPR on September 19th 2001 [9], a week after the mass murders of 2,753 people in his hometown, New York City:

“It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done.  We must make a distinction between punishing the guilty and punishing others.  If you simply retaliate en masse by bombing Afghanistan, let us say, or the Taliban, you will kill many people who don’t approve of what has happened.  I wouldn’t say there is no appropriate role (for the military), but the role should be consistent with our ideals… our principles are respect for the rule of law, not charging in blindly and killing people because we are blinded by our tears and our rage.  We must first draw up an indictment and specify what the crimes were, calling upon all states to arrest and detain the persons named in the indictment so they can be interrogated by U.S. examiners… I realize that (the judicial process) is slow and cumbersome, but it is not inadequate… We don’t have to rewrite any rules.  We have to apply the existing rules.”

Ferencz took issue with the use of terms like “war”, “war crimes” and “terrorism.”

“What has happened here is not war in its traditional sense…  War crimes are crimes that happen in wartime.  There is confusion there…  Don’t use the term “war” crimes, because that suggests there is a war going on and it’s a violation of the rules of war.  This is not in that category.  We are getting confused with our terminology in our determination to put a stop to these terrible crimes… To call them “terrorists” is also a misleading term.  There’s no agreement on what terrorism is.  One man’s terrorism is another man’s heroism…  We try them for mass murder.  That’s a crime under every jurisdiction and that’s what’s happened here and that is a crime against humanity.”

British military historian Michael Howard told NPR that U.S. leaders were making “a very natural but a terrible and irrevocable error” in declaring a “war on terrorism.”  He elaborated in a lecture in London [10] a few weeks later:

“…to use, or rather to misuse the term “war” is not simply a matter of legality, or pedantic semantics.  It has deeper and more dangerous consequences.  To declare that one is “at war” is immediately to create a war psychosis that may be totally counter-productive for the objective that we seek.  It will arouse an immediate expectation, and demand, for spectacular military action against some easily identifiable adversary, preferably a hostile state…”

In the U.S. Congress in 2001, Barbara Lee stood alone [11] against a sweeping Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), giving the president the authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons” whom he judged to have “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the mass murders of September 11th.

Barbara Lee implored her colleagues not to “become the evil we deplore,” but she was the only Member with the clarity and courage to vote “No” to the AUMF.  Twelve years later, she has 31 co-sponsors forH.R. 198 [12], a bill to finally repeal the 2001 AUMF.  They include former civil rights leader John Lewis, who said recently [13], “If I had to do it all over again, I would have voted with Barbara Lee. It was raw courage on her part. So, because of that, I don’t vote for funding for war. I vote against preparation for the military. I will never again go down that road.”

From the outset, few Americans understood that the “war on terror” was not legally a real war in which the civilian rule of law was suspended.  Elizabeth Wilmshurst resigned as Deputy Legal Advisor to the British Foreign Office in protest at the U.K.’s “crime of aggression” [14]against Iraq in 2003.  A year later, she told theIndependent [15], “This rather extraordinary war on terror, which is a phrase that all lawyers hate… is not really a war, a conflict against terror, any more than the war on obesity means that you can detain people.”

As the Obama administration took office in 2009, an Eminent Jurists Panel [16] convened by the International Commission of Jurists, and headed by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson issued a report on the U.S. response to terrorism since 2001.  The report concluded that the U.S. government had confused the public by framing its counter-terrorism activities within a “war paradigm.”  It explained,

“The U.S.’ war paradigm has created fundamental problems.  Among the most serious is that the U.S. has applied war rules to persons not involved in situations of armed conflict, and, in genuine situations of warfare, it has distorted, selectively applied and ignored otherwise binding rules, including fundamental guarantees of human rights laws.”

Like Ben Ferencz, the ICJ panel insisted that established principles of law “were intended to withstand crises, and they provide a robust and effective framework from which to tackle terrorism.”

But Barack Obama was an unlikely candidate to restore the rule of law to U.S. policy, to demilitarize the “war on terror” or to derail the gravy train of the largest military budget since World War II.  Hislong-term ties to General Dynamics CEO Lester Crown [17] and his thorough vetting by Crown and other military-industrial power-brokers ensured that the 2008 election was the first in 14 years in which Democrats raised more campaign cash from the weapons industry than Republicans, even after the Republicans almost doubled the military budget in 8 years and nominated industry darling John McCain for president.

A persistent part of the Obama myth is his description of himself as a “constitutional law professor.”  While serving as an Illinois State Senator, Mr. Obama did have a part-time job as a lecturer teaching 3 two-hour seminars per year at the University of Chicago in a program that brought politicians and other prominent people into the law school to give students a taste of the “real world.”  Most of the seminars were on public interest law or racism, not constitutional law [18], but in the looking-glass world of Obama mythology, this has transformed him into a “constitutional law professor” for political purposes.

Obama has failed to close Guantanamo, escalated the longest and most unpopular war [19] in U.S. history in Afghanistan, maintained the largest military budget since World War II [20], conducted23,000 air strikes [21] (mostly in Afghanistan [22]), launched or expanded covert and proxy wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria, and deployed U.S. special forces to 120 countries [23].

But perhaps the signature initiative of Obama’s war policy has been the expansion of assassination operations [24] using unmanned drones and JSOC death squads.  These operations violate still-standing executive orders [25] by previous presidents that prohibit assassination by U.S. forces or officials.  They are not legally covered by the 2001 AUMF, because very few of the people he is killing were involved in the crimes ofSeptember 11th, as former State Department Legal AdviserJohn Bellinger pointed out to the Washington Post [26] in 2010.

Just as Bush administration lawyers wrote memos claiming that torture was not torture, Obama’s have reportedly written memos claiming that assassination is not assassination and that innocent civilians in half-a-dozen countries are somehow implicated in September 11th and therefore legitimate targets under the 2001 AUMF.  But after Bush’s torture memos were widely ridiculed as legal fig-leaves to justify war crimes, the Obama administration has drawn a veil of secrecy over its assassination memos.  If Obama’s legal training has taught him nothing else, it’s that he can’t afford to expose his illegitimate cover for war crimes to public scrutiny and global outrage.

As the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston wrote in June 2010 [27],

“Targeted killings pose a rapidly growing challenge to the international rule of law, as they are increasingly used in circumstances which violate the rules of international law… The most prolific user of targeted killings today is the United States, which primarily uses drones for attacks… the United States has put forward a novel theory that there is a “law of 9/11″ that enables it to legally use force in the territory of other states as part of its inherent right to self-defense on the basis that it is in an armed conflict with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and “associated forces,” although the latter group is fluid and undefined.  This expansive and open-ended interpretation of the right to self-defense goes a long way towards destroying the prohibition on the use of armed force contained in the UN Charter.”

The prohibition against the threat or use of force in Article 2.4 of the UN Charter [28] is the foundation of peace in the modern world.  As Alston implied, it is either an unintended victim or an intended target of the “war on terror.”  The history of U.S. war policy since the end of the Cold War suggests the latter.  U.S. officials came to see the Charter’s prohibition on the threat or use of force as a constraint on their ability to exploit the “power dividend [29]” they gained from the collapse of the Soviet Union.  For ten years, they struggled to sell the world on new interventionist doctrines of “reassurance [30]“, “humanitarian intervention [31]“, “responsibility to protect [32]” and “information warfare [33].”  In the Clinton administration’s 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) [34], itclaimed the right to use unilateral military force to “defend vital national interests,” including “preventing the emergence of a hostile regional coalition…(and) ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources.”

As the British Foreign Office’s top Legal Adviser [35] told his government during the Suez Crisis in 1956, “The plea of vital interest, which has been one of the main justifications for wars in the past, is indeed the very one which the U.N. Charter was intended to exclude.”  So the implicit threat in Clinton’s QDR was a violation the U.N. Charter, and his attack on Yugoslavia in 1999 was a flagrant violation and a crime of aggression.  When British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Secretary Albright the U.K. was having difficulty “with its lawyers” over the plan to attack Yugoslavia, she told him the U.K. should “get new lawyers.”

When planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, counter-terrorism still seemed an unlikely pretext for overturning the U.N. Charter. But, within hours, according to Under-secretary Cambone’s notes [36] obtained by CBS News, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told a meeting at the Pentagon, “Judge whether good enough hit S.H. (Saddam Hussein) at same time – not only UBL (Usama Bin Laden)… Go massive.  Sweep it all up.  Things related and not.”

Twelve years later, as Michael Howard predicted, it is much harder to unscramble the consequences of America’s “natural but terrible” embrace of open-ended aggression and militarism.  But underlying all the crimes and atrocities committed in our names is the fiction that we are at “war” with “terror”, whatever that can possibly mean.  What it means in practice is that the U.S. government has applied an opportunistic soup of peacetime and wartime rules to justify whatever it wants to do, to use force anywhere in the world, to kill or maim anybody, to spy on anybody, to violate any treaty or human rights law and to project power anywhere, to effectively place itself beyond the rule of law.  To paraphrase Richard Nixon [37], “When the United States does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

The analysis of international lawyers like Ben Ferencz and other experts gives us a clear road-map to ending the war on terror and starting to undo its terrible consequences. There is a surprisingly clear consensus across the political spectrum on what needs to be done.

On the one hand, we have Noam Chomsky saying [38], on October 18th 2001, that, “The only way we can put a permanent end to terrorism is to stop participating in it.”  On the other hand we have Eliza Manningham-Buller, the first woman to head MI5, the U.K.’s domestic intelligence agency, describing a meeting at the British Embassy [39] in Washington on September 12th 2001, where “there was one thing we all agreed on: terrorism is resolved through politics and economics, not through arms and intelligence… I call it a crime, not an act of war… I have never thought it helpful to refer to a “war” on terror any more than a war on drugs.”

Ending the failed war on terror means restoring the rule of law to U.S. policy – not by secret interpretations of extraordinary laws granting unconstitutional emergency powers, but by genuine compliance with U.S. law and international treaties like the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions.  If we allow our government to persist in this failed and disastrous policy, it will continue to corrupt and erode its own authority, it will destabilize the entire world and it will leave us defenseless in the face of real existential dangers like climate change and nuclear war.

Nothing could be more urgent than ending the failed war on terror (FWOT).  These are the practical steps we must demand of the President and Congress:

1) Pass Barbara Lee’s bill, H.R.198 [40], to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

2) Close the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay.  Transfer accused criminals to stand trial in legitimate courts under fair trial standards, and release and compensate people wrongly imprisoned and/or tortured.

3) Halt all drone strikes, assassinations and military or paramilitary operations that violate the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions or other established principles of international law.

4) Substantially cut the U.S. military budget to end the most expensive and destabilizing unilateral arms build-up in the history of the world.

5) Acknowledge that the U.S. has committed aggression, torture and other war crimes during the past 12 years.  Restore legal accountability and compensate victims.

6) Make a new commitment to good faith diplomacy and cooperation with other countries to deal with the world’s pressing political, economic, social and environmental problems, including the explosion of terrorism caused by the war on terror.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is author of Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He wrote the chapter on “Obama At War” for the just released book, Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

 Notes:

[1] http://alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/nicolas-js-davies
[3] http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/
[4] http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/33889.pdf
[5] http://seattletimes.com/html/politics/2002243262_terror16.html
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_C._Johnson
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veteran_Intelligence_Professionals_for_Sanity
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_B._Ferencz
[9] http://benferencz.org/index.php?id=4&article=53
[10] http://english.pravda.ru/news/russia/01-11-2001/29465-0/
[11] http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2001/09/14_lee-speech.htm
[12] http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:H.R.198:
[13] http://www.democracynow.org/2013/7/5/rep_john_lewis_civil_rights_icon
[14] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4377605.stm
[15] http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0705-06.htm
[16] http://www.un.org/en/sc/ctc/specialmeetings/2011/docs/icj/icj-2009-ejp-execsumm.pdf
[17] http://www.zcommunications.org/investing-in-weapons-war-and-obama-by-nicolas-j-s-davies.html
[18] http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/12/former-univ-of-chicago-law-school-dean-obama-was-never-offered-tenure/2/
[19] http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/30/cnn-poll-afghanistan-war-most-unpopular-in-u-s-history/
[20] http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/ERP-2012/pdf/ERP-2012-table80.pdf
[21] http://www.alternet.org/world/bomber-chief-20000-airstrikes-presidents-first-term-cause-death-and-destruction-iraq-somalia
[22] http://www.afcent.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-140113-009.pdf
[23] http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175426/
[24] http://www.zcommunications.org/americas-death-squads-by-nicolas-j-s-davies.html
[25] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_12036
[26] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/03/AR2010060304965.html
[27] http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10094&LangID=E
[28] http://https//www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter1.shtml
[29] http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/1001PDABR20.pdf
[30] http://www.salon.com/2005/03/17/wolfowitz_nomination/
[31] http://www.globalpolicy.org/qhumanitarianq-intervention.html
[32] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/opinion/r2p-rip.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
[33] http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/articles/97summer/peters.htm
[34] http://www.dod.mil/pubs/qdr/sec3.html
[35] http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/The%20World%20Today/2006/wt100616.pdf
[36] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/plans-for-iraq-attack-began-on-9-11/
[37] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejvyDn1TPr8
[38] http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2001/chomsky-1024.html
[39] http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/radio4/transcripts/2011_reith3.pdf
[40] http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:H.R.198.IH:
[41] http://www.alternet.org/tags/war-terror
[42] http://www.alternet.org/tags/obama-0
[43] http://www.alternet.org/tags/bush-1
[44] http://www.alternet.org/tags/afghanistan-pakistan-relations
[45] http://www.alternet.org/tags/iraq-0
[46] http://www.alternet.org/tags/drones-0
[47] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

Will Asia Ignite a Second Arab Spring? | The Diplomat

Will Asia Ignite a Second Arab Spring? | The Diplomat.

Will Asia Ignite a Second Arab Spring?
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Will Asia Ignite a Second Arab Spring?

Asia’s economic slowdown threatens to disrupt the Persian Gulf monarchies that were able to weather the Arab Spring.

zachary-keck_q
February 06, 2014

One of the more interesting aspects of the Arab Spring is that it largely spared the Gulf monarchies. To be sure, the monarchies in Bahrain and Jordan had to contend with a degree of unrest. Still, the core of the Arab Spring protests occurred in the Arab Republics, some of which fell from power. By comparison, the monarchies in the region—many of which are located in the Persian Gulf—were spared the worst of the unrest.

Still, the past is often a poor indicator of the future, and the fact that the region’s monarchies were able to weather the Arab Spring does not necessarily mean they are stable. In fact, many fear that the violence in Syria will destabilize monarchies like Jordan, much as the civil war in Syria is already destabilizing countries like Lebanon and Iraq that had previously not witnessed much Arab Spring unrest.

Although this possibility cannot be discounted, the Persian Gulf and other Arab monarchies face a much graver threat to their stability, and that threat originates in Asia. Specifically, the economic slowdowns in Asia in general, and China and India in particular, could very well ignite a second Arab Spring, and this one would not spare the monarchies.

One of the major global developments over the past few decades has been the shift of economic power from Europe and North America to the Asia-Pacific. In few places has this shift been felt more intensely than in the Persian Gulf. In the span of a few years Asia has surpassed the West as the region’s largest trading partner.

Although this development is frequently discussed from the vantage point of Asia’s growing dependence on Middle Eastern oil, the flip-side of the equation—the Middle East’s growing dependence on Asia—usually gets short shrift. This is unfortunate, as the Middle East’s dependence on Asia is nearly as substantial. Take the six countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), for example. Asia makes up no less than 57 percent of the GCC’s total trade. Asia also purchases an incredible two-thirds of the GCC’s most important export—oil. This figure will continue to rise substantially in the years ahead. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2035 Asian nations will purchase 90 percent of the Persian Gulf’s oil exports.

Asia’s willingness and ability to meet these projections are vital to the Persian Gulf’s stability. For the most part, Persian Gulf states like Saudi Arabia maintain stability by buying off their populations. They do this in at least two major ways. First, by maintaining excessively large bureaucracies that keep the population employed doing unproductive and unnecessary work. Additionally, many Persian Gulf states and Arab monarchies provide substantial subsidies to ensure low prices. For example, according to the Financial Times, Saudi Arabia subsidizes water to the tune of $50 billion a year.

The regimes use these subsidies of labor and goods to safeguard their rule, including by increasing wages and subsidies on various household staples when they fear potential unrest. For example, when unrest began afflicting Egypt in early 2011, Saudi Arabia quickly announced a $36 billion increase in subsidies. Jordan similarly authorized a $125 million subsidy package for its population, while Kuwait introduced both higher direct stipends and over a year of free food for its citizens.

This is a shrewd move, as it ties the population’s livelihood to the regime’s survival (much like the Chinese Communist Party’s 80 million person membership roll helps ensure support for the CCP). However, it is also prohibitively expensive to maintain these subsidies, and once they are so given, any government will find it difficult to eliminate them.

The Persian Gulf regimes, of course, use their extensive oil wealth to pay for these subsidies, which is what makes Asia’s slowdown so dangerous to the Persian Gulf states. Since Asia figures to purchase such a larger percentage of the Persian Gulf’s oil exports, if it proves unable to do so the price of oil is likely to plummet. Should this decline in oil prices persist for too long, depleting the monarchies’ treasuries, it would leave them unable to continue buying their populations’ loyalty.

China’s economic course in the coming years will be particularly crucial to Middle East stability. Not only does China directly purchase a greater proportion of Persian Gulf oil than other Asian nations, but China is the top trading partner of most of these other states.  Therefore, a significant downturn in the Chinese economy will greatly disrupt the economies of other important Middle East oil consumers like Japan and South Korea, further reducing petroleum demand.

Especially when combined with rising oil production in the Western Hemisphere, it’s hardly unimaginable that global energy prices could decline sharply in the years ahead. This would be disastrous for many Middle Eastern monarchies, particularly those in the Persian Gulf (as well as other so-called petrol states like Russia and Venezuela). Notably, this process could easily become self-sustaining as instability in the Persian Gulf is likely to cause a spike global energy prices. While this may temporarily help some of the Middle Eastern regimes, it would also further dampen the prospects of an economic recovery in Asia. This in turn would further soften global demand for oil.

Despite the perception in the West that the Arab Spring was largely a movement for greater negative freedoms like the right to vote and limited government, it in fact was principally driven by demands for greater positive freedoms like more economic opportunity. The second Arab Spring would be no different.

Global Defense Spending to Grow After Years of Decline – Bloomberg

Global Defense Spending to Grow After Years of Decline – Bloomberg.

Photographer: Julian Abram Wainwright/Bloomberg

The U.S. remained the top spender last year, at an estimated $582.4 billion, followed… Read More

Defense spending globally will increase this year for the first time since 2009 military budgets surge in Russia, Asia and the Middle East, according to an annual defense budget review by IHS Jane’s.

Four of the five fastest-growing defense markets last year were in the Middle East, the study found, according to a statement by the company. The defense budgets of Russia and China combined will exceed total defense spending of the European Union by 2015.

“Russia, Asia and the Middle East will provide the impetus behind the growth in global military spending expected this year and will drive the recovery projected from 2016 onwards,” Paul Burton, director of IHS Jane’s Aerospace, Defence and Security, said in the statement.

Russia, which is projected to increase defense spending by more than 44 percent in the next three years, now ranks as the third-largest military spender, pushing the U.K. into fourth place, the study showed.

The U.S. remained the top spender last year, at an estimated $582.4 billion, followed by China, with $139.2 billion. Russia spent $68.9 billion.

No region has seen a faster surge in defense spending than the Middle East, where Oman and Saudi Arabia have increased their military budgets by more than 30 percent in the last two years, the study said. Saudi Arabia’s budget has tripled in 10 years.

“We have seen a rapid acceleration of defense spending in the Middle East since 2011,” said Fenella McGerty, a senior IHS analyst, in the statement.

China’s Spending

China, already the No. 2 spender, will spend more than the U.K., France and Germany combined by 2015, McGerty said. China is forecast to spend $159.6 billion that year, compared with $149 billion for the three largest markets in Western Europe.

Total global defense spending this year is projected to reach $1.547 trillion, a 0.6 percent increase from last year’s $1.538 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, the study said.

That increase is the first since 2009.

“The decline in global defense spending over the past five years or so has been heavily influenced by the decline of the U.S. defense budget,” which was cut as part of the drawdown from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said Guy Eastman, a senior analyst.

“Combined with decreases in Western Europe, the portion of global defense represented by the West has and will continue to decrease over the near term,” Eastman said in the company statement.

U.S. Contractors

Major U.S. defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) and Raytheon Co., are expecting to increase their international sales — especially to the Middle East — for everything from jet fighters to missile defense, said Kevin Brancato, a Bloomberg Government defense analyst.

Even so, the global market for these companies may be unchanged or decline slightly this year, particularly if Russia and China are driving the overall growth, Brancato said.

The study also identified long-term opportunities for defense companies in sub-Saharan Africa, where military spending rose by 18 percent last year. Angola’s spending grew 39 percent last year.

While the African market is expanding, “it still accounts for less than 2 percent of defense spending globally, so growth will need to continue in order for more opportunities to arise in the long term,” McGerty said.

IHS Jane’s is part of IHS Inc. (IHS), based in Englewood, Colorado.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Lerman in Washington at dlerman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

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