Ameria’s Guns: Secret Pipeline to Syria

America’s Guns: Secret Pipeline to Syria

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This documentary concerns a recent investigation into a gun smuggling operation in which the Pentagon contracts with Miami arms dealers to procure Soviet-style weapons from Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia and secretly ship them to “moderate” rebels in Syria. Once they arrive in Syria, the “moderate” rebels frequently hand the weapons on to Al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) and ISIS militants who fight alongside them.

The investigation reveals that the US Department of Defense has a preference for old Soviet-style weapons because a) they are cheaper and easier to operate and b) they are harder to trace back to the US government. Thus it would appear the US government is fully aware their weapons are ending up in the hands of ISIS terrorists. The US government even has a technical term – “operational necessity” – for this type of subterfuge.

The Pentagon also uses private companies to train the Syrian rebels in the use of these weapons.

This secret arms smuggling network first came to public attention after one the private special operations contractors (involved in training Syrian rebels) sued the US government for injuries he received in a freak explosion.

 

Inside Afghanistan’s Opium Trade

Afghan Overdose: Inside the Opium Trade

RT (2015)

Film Review

Afghan Overdose is an RT documentary that seems more geared for Russian than foreign consumption. Although the narrator is dubbed in English, actual dialogue is Russian or Farsi with subtitles.

As its northern neighbor, Russia is one of the primary destinations of Afghan heroin smugglers – roughly 30,000 Russians die of heroin overdose annually. The Russian government is so concerned about their heroin epidemic that they routinely provide the Afghan government with satellite imagery of the country’s heroin labs.

Segments from so-called opium “raids” leave no doubt the government’s heroin eradication efforts are purely cosmetic. Because the 15 1/2 year war with the US has totally destroyed the nation’s infrastructure, opium production is the only source of livelihood open to tens of thousands of residents

The arrival of ISIS in Afghanistan – who oppose the Taliban – only contributes to the overall chaos and instability.

The film’s only weakness is its lack of historical or political perspective. According to RT, opium production is the primary source of revenue for the Taliban (who control most of the country outside of Kabul). However it’s not clear how the Taliban switched over from being adamantly anti-opium prior to the US invasion to relying on it as their primary source of revenue.

It’s intriguing to hear to anti-Taliban locals talking about the US/CIA creating the Taliban as a cover for their heroin trafficking, about NATO soldiers fighting alongside the Taliban against anti-Taliban warlords and about US troops that directly engage in various aspects of opium production. I think this would have been a better documentary were some of these lines of inquiry pursued.

 

The June 6 US Airstrike Against Syria

Anonymous Hackivists Flood ISIS Twitter Accounts with Gay Porn

isis-hacker

According to Newsweek, after ISIS claimed responsibility for the Orlando shootings, an Anonymous hacker began flooding ISIS twitter accounts with LGBT pride messages, soft gay porn and links to gay porn websites.

The hacker, only known as WauchulaGhost, has tweeted several photos of hijacked ISIS accounts which had been promoting jihadist ideology and sharing images of mutilated bodies.

Their profile pictures have been changed to images containing slogans like “I’m gay and proud” or semi-naked men.

In the twisted version of Islam followed by ISIS supporters, mutilated bodies are okay, but gay pride messages are deeply offensive.

The vigilante hacker claims to have taken over 200 Twitter accounts belonging to ISIS supporters. However, many have since been taken down by Twitter*

WauchulaGhost plans to continue the campaign with two other hackers who go by the name Ebony and Yeti.

isis-gay-hackers


*There has been a year long campaign to get Twitter to shut down ISIS accounts depicting mutilated bodies. Apparently WauchulaGhost and his friends have found the secret. Interesting to see the honchos in charge of Twitter share the same sensitivities as ISIS.

Reducing Foreign Policy to Good vs Evil

Bitter Lake

by Adam Curtis (BBC) 2015

Film Review

By now, people will have noticed I’m a bit of an Adam Curtis fanatic (Curtis also produced The Century of the Self). Like all his documentaries, Bitter Lake focuses on propaganda and ideological manipulation by the political elite. This film traces how fanatical Muslim sects like the Taliban and ISIS are the direct result of western colonization of the Middle East – and how US and British leaders deliberately deceive their citizens by reducing foreign policy to a simple metric of good and evil.

In Afghanistan, this oversimplification created an extraordinary dilemma for US and British troops and confronting the spontaneous Afghan insurgency that opposed the occupation. They naively believed they were bringing democracy to Afghanistan. In reality, they were substantially increasing the power and brutality of corrupt, heroin-trafficking war lords. The documentary artfully intersperses great footage of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan with video from the more recent US occupation. The parallels between the two are uncanny.

Roosevelt’s Meeting with the Saudi King

The film takes its title from a 1945 meeting Roosevelt had with Ibn Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia, at Bitter Lake on the Suez Canal. The purpose of the meeting was to draw up a mutual security agreement that would keep Saudi oil fields under US control.

Curtis goes on to trace the rise of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, starting with the Wahhabist Bedouins who first brought the House of Saud to power in 1932. There was constant tension between the Saudi princes, who sought to modernize Saudi Arabia, and the Whahhabists, who opposed all imperialist development and sought to transform the country into a seventh century caliphate.

In 1964, King Faisal sought to alleviate this tension by sending the Wahhabists abroad to fight the growing influence of communism in the Muslim world. With US support, he used them to set up up madrassa throughout the Muslim world to train low income boys in Wahhabism.

The Economic Impact of Higher Oil Prices

In 1973 the US-Saudi relationship experienced a major breakdown when the US sided with Israel in its war against its Arab neighbors. By quintupling the price of oil, King Faisal forced the US and Israel to agree to a ceasefire.

The higher oil prices led to a total transformation of the global economic system. It caused mucho petrol dollars to flood into the Middle East, which the Saudis and other Mid East governments turned over to US and British banks to invest for them. This would provide the impetus for the “financialization” of the global economy, in which western capitalism would abandon manufacturing to focus on creating and selling financial products.

Higher prices for all commodities would also result in massive economic instability in the western world over the next seven years. A steep reduction in manufacturing jobs and wages would led to widespread popular unrest, which would bring right wing governments to power in most western democracies.

The Soviet Invasion

Curtis carefully outlines the historical events in Afghanistan that would lead to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1973, the Marxist revolution in 1978, the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the US/Saudi collaboration to recruit Saudi Wahhabists to defeat the Soviet occupation. The most prominent of these freedom fighters, known as the Mujahideen, was a Saudi highway engineer and CIA asset known as Osama bin Ladin.

Reducing Foreign Policy to Good vs Evil

Like Ronald Reagan, George W Bush attempted to reduce the US role in Afghanistan to a simple battle of good vs evil. The political reality was far more complex. US and Saudi intervention during the Soviet occupation brought corrupt warlords to power who supported their fiefdoms through Afghanistan’s heroin trade.

The Taliban, consisting mainly of Afghan orphans raised in Pakistani Madrassa, were primarily driven by a desire to end the heroin trade and this endemic corruption, which they (rightly) blamed on the interference of western imperialists in their country’s domestic affairs.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2hdcji_bitter-lake-2015-adam-curtis-documentary-1-of-3-720p_shortfilms

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2hdd54_bitter-lake-2015-adam-curtis-documentary-2-of-3-720p_shortfilms

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2hde2l_bitter-lake-2015-adam-curtis-documentary-3-of-3-720p_shortfilms

The Global Refugee Scandal

Europe or Die

VICE News (2015)

Film Review

According to UNHCR (the UN High Commission for Human Rights), more than 50 million people have been permanently displaced through wars in the Middle East, political persecution, climate change and grinding poverty. Of these, hundreds of thousands face such life threatening conditions at home that they risk death by crossing the Mediterranean in rusty, leaky, overcrowded boats.

Refugees typically take one of four routes in their desperation to reach Europe: illegal entry into one of the two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, a short choppy boat trip from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos or across the Avros River into mainland Greece, jumping a wire fence from Greece into Bulgaria or crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Europe or Die is a four part documentary follows some of these migrants on their dangerous voyage and closely examines their treatment by EU countries on their arrival.

This documentary was a real eye opener for me. Given the majority of these refugees are the helpless victims of proxy wars started and funded by the US and wealthy EU countries, their refusal of to adopt consistent and humane immigration policies is clearly a crime against humanity under international law.

Part I: For most sub-Saharan refugees seeking illegal entry to Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves on the Moroccan coast, the best option is to jump three high razor wire topped fences. Under EU law, the first fence demarcates the Spanish border. Refugees who make it past the first fence (it’s really a kind of game) are home free and must be given the option of moving to mainland Spain. They’re also entitled to legal assistance and an interpreter to help them apply for asylum.

The most common is for thousands to storm the fence simultaneously and overwhelming the border guards. Typically two out of 1,000 will get through. It’s illegal, under EU law, for Spanish police to forcibly return them. However “pushbacks,” as they are called are common. As is shooting their hands and feet to make it harder to climb the fence. This is also against the rules.

Part 2: A second common route for migrants is to take the “death boat” from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos or across the Avros River to mainland Greece. Refugees can pay smugglers several thousand dollars to cram them into shabby, overcrowded boats that frequently capsize.

Greece is experiencing a five-fold increase in illegal migration as a direct result of the civil war in Syria. Recently they have experienced a big influx of Iraqi refugees (mainly Yazidis*) with the rise of ISIS. As part of the game, the EU has another law, called the Dublin rule, that political refugees become the responsibility of the country where they are first picked up, irregardless of the country’s ability to provide jobs or social services.

Part 3: A third route is to cross the razor wife fence separating Turkey from Bulgaria, the poorest country in the EU. Bulgaria keeps political refugees in unheated tents without access to clean water. Once they are granted asylum they are forced to leave the camp and end up homeless on the streets.

Part 4: The final, most common method of reaching Europe is to cross from Libya to the Italian Island of Lampedusa. Up until a few months ago, the Italian Navy operated the only search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean. Called Mare Nostrum, it was made up of 900 personnel and 26 naval vessels – at a cost of $9 million euros a month.

In 2013, Mare Nostrum saved 150,000 migrants from boats that had capsized. Owing to the refusal of the EU to support this fantastically expensive program, it had to be cancelled in 2014.

It’s been replaced by Triton, an air surveillance program that requests nearby merchant vessels (if there are any) to rescue migrants in leaky votes.

In 2014, 170,000 migrants made it safely to Italy and 3,000 drowned.


*Yazidis are a Kurdish ethnic group ISIS attempted to exterminate in August 2014.

Iranian “Terrorist” Commands Assault on ISIS

soleimani

Our Man in Tikrit

According to Reuters, Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite militia fighters (with the support of Canadian special forces and US weapons, trainers and air strikes) are presently engaged in a major assault to retake the Iraqi city of Tikrit from ISIS. Until recently, the western media rarely mentioned the figure commanding these forces.

His name is Major General Qasem Soleimani, and he’s the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force. This creates an embarrassing situation for Obama because the US still officially designates Soleimani as a terrorist for his alleged role in a 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US

Given all the saber rattling against Iran by congressional Republicans (cheered on by Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu), the US media has been loathe to acknowledge that Iran has been spearheading the offensive against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. In Syria, Soleimani is widely credited with helping President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide against rebel forces and recapture key cities and towns.

The US political elite prefers to spoon feed Americans the cartoon version of US foreign policy, in which Americans only go to war against evil doers. For this reason, they have greatly downplayed the role of Soleimani and other Iranian military “advisers” in the battle against ISIS. A recent explosion of interest in General Soleimani on Twitter and Facebook has forced them to come clean.

According to the BBC, this isn’t the first time Soleimani has aided US military efforts in the Middle East. In 2001, he provided military intelligence to the US to support its invasion to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan, and in 2007 in participated in US-led talks in Baghdad over the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

As best I can ascertain, Soleimani has been a prominent figure in containing Iraqi sectarian violence since 2011

He has commanded Iranian forces active in the Syrian civil war since the latter half of 2012.

photo credit: www.yjc.ir

Also posted at Veterans Today

Obama Forced to Address Israel’s Oil Smuggling

oil tanker

US Backs Russian UN Resolution Targeting ISIS

According to Bloomberg’s, on Feb 10 the UN Security Council adopted a binding Russian resolution threatening economic and diplomatic sanctions against countries and individuals that help ISIS and other terrorist groups profit from trading oil, antiquities or hostages. As the US vetoes most Russian Security Council resolutions, this was an historic event.The resolution requires governments to ensure that they aren’t engaged in direct or indirect trade with ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups such as the al-Nusra Front in Syria. According to Bloomberg’s, the resolution will significantly impact Turkey and Syria, which allow the purchase of oil from the militant group.Facts the article omits are probably more significant than the omissions.

First Bloomberg’s neglects to mention that the US initially opposed the resolution and spent three days frantically trying to counter and/or change the draft language.  Presumably this relates to inconvenient truth that Israel is one of the main destinations of the smuggled oil

Second it fails to comment on an extremely odd scenario in which the Assad government is purchasing smuggled oil from ISIS:

Thirdly it (deliberately?) leaves Israel and unnamed EU nations off the list of countries buying oil from ISIS.

The text of the resolution, which stops short of threatening the use of force, urges governments to share information on ISIS  financing networks, bans exports of all antiquities from Syria and reiterates the call on countries to prevent ISIS from benefiting from political concessions or ransom payments made to secure the release of hostages.

It also requires countries to block aircraft, auto and truck traffic, including oil tankers, traveling to or from areas in Syria and Iraq where the extremist groups operate.

ISIS earns about $1 million a day from oil sales.

In addition, according to a recent BBC investigation, ISIS also receives substantial income from looting and smuggling of antiquities from historical and archaeological sites in both Iraq and Syria. The primary market for the stolen objects is Europe and the Gulf states. Ten thousand year old artifacts can bring in as much as $1 million each. An Iraqi intelligence official told the Daily Mail that ISIS earned £23 million in early 2014 alone by selling 800 items stolen from the ancient city of Al-Nabk near Damascus.

In 2014, ISIS also brought in approximately $45 million in 2014 from kidnapping for ransom.

The resolution doesn’t spell out specific penalties for countries found guilty of helping ISIS. It would require the Security Council to debate whether any violations have occurred and what punitive measures it would order. The resolution requires all 193 members of the UN to report within 120 days on measures they’ve taken to comply with it. The UN’s existing al-Qaeda sanctions committee will monitor and report on any progress.

All in all, it looks like a pretty shrewd move by Russia. Obama now has 120 days to report back how he plans to sanction US allies Turkey and Israel – or face a UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on the US. While the US would surely veto such a resolution, it provides an excellent opportunity for Russia to embarrass Obama and Israel by exposing their financial and military ties to ISIS.

This past week, the US also backed a Russian resolution to the UN Security Council supporting the Minsk Ceasefire.

photo credit: Seniority via photopin (license)

Also posted at Veterans Today

Obama Gives Republicans (and Israel) the Finger

Khamenei

 “The F***s Up Everything”

There’s an article on the Fox News site this morning entitled “Source Says Reported Letter from Obama to Ayatollah F***s Up Everything.”

It quotes a pre-election article from the Wall Street Journal that Obama secretly wrote Ayatollah Khameni in mid-October stressing that any cooperation on dealing with the Islamic State, or ISIS, was tied to Iran striking a deal over its nuclear program. The U.S., Iran and other negotiators are facing a Nov. 24 deadline for such a deal.

The congressional source told Fox News that the letter would upset the inroads they’ve tried to make with “the Sunni league,” noting that the president should have informed Congress of this back-channel if it was in fact going on.

“This f***s up everything,” the source said.

Just to clarify “the Sunni league” refers to the despotic dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Qatar that stone people for blasphemy and behead even more people than ISIS. And which have been the primary funders and arms suppliers for ISIS and the jihadist mercenaries attempting to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a joint statement Thursday night saying it was “outrageous that, while the cries of moderate Syrian forces for greater U.S. assistance fall on deaf ears in the White House, President Obama is apparently urging Ayatollah Khamenei to join the fight against ISIS.”

The move will also anger AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israeli lobby group. Israel seems really keen on provoking an all-out war between the US and Iran.

It’s gratifying to see the President show some backbone. The move, in my view, is long overdue.

Read more here:  Reportedly letter fs up everything

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Also posted at Veterans Today

US Begins Airstrikes in Syria

cruise missile

According to NBC, the United States and Arab partner nations launched massive airstrikes in Syria against ISIS targets for the first time Monday, the Pentagon said. In a major escalation of the U.S. war against ISIS, the U.S. military plans to strike up to 20 targets in and around Raqqa, Syria — logistics, fuel and weapons depots; training sites; troop encampments; command and control sites; and headquarters for the Sunni fighters. The bombing began at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET Monday, a senior U.S. defense official told NBC News.

Read more here http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/u-s-arab-allies-strike-isis-syria-n209286

photo credit: Defence Images via photopin cc