Saudi Arabia, Israel Resort to Terrorism to Derail Iran Nuclear Talks

Muhammad Sahimi

Ever since Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran’s President on 14 June 2013 and promised that he will lead a government of “hope and prudence,” the United States’ most important allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia and Israel – and their lobbies here have been doing their best to prevent any agreement between Iran and the Obama administration regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Israel and its lobby in the United States have succeeded in persuading Washington to impose the most crippling economic sanctions on Iran, disrupting and threatening the lives of tens of millions of ordinary Iranians. But that has not been enough for Israel. It wants Iran to surrender its national sovereignty and its rights under Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that gives Iran the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Thus, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been on an increasingly desperate diplomatic offensive to “prove” that Iran is not sincere in its effort to reach a nuclear agreement. After cynically calling the efforts by Iran’s new administration “a charm offensive;” referring to President Rouhani “a wolf in sheep’s clothing;” mentioning Iran 70 times and Rouhani – not Mr. Rouhani or President Rouhani – 25 times in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly meeting (while barely mentioning Israel’s war on the Palestinians); foolishly becoming an advocate of “democracy” for the Iranian people by declaring that if the Iranian youth were free,they would wear jeans and listen to Western music – which created a huge backlash by the Iranians (see here, here, and here), telling Netanyahu to first address democracy for the Palestinian people – and repeating his absurd claim that “Iran is preparing for another Holocaust,” Netanyahu threatened once again that if forced to,Israel will attack Iran alone.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also let the world know that it is angry at the Obama administration for not attacking Syria, for imposing military sanctions on the military junta in Egypt even though they are insignificant, and for trying to reach a diplomatic resolution of the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. Never mind that Secretary of State John Kerry just said the other day that “Egyptians are following the right path.” This is a path that was paved by the junta overthrowing Egypt’s democratically-elected government and President Mohamed Morsi. Never mind that President Obama changed his mind about attacking Syria after the huge worldwide backlash against his threats of military attacks.

The opposition to U.S.-Iran rapprochement by Saudi Arabia and Israel, and the support of the former for the most extreme forces in Syria that have committed countless number of atrocities, have brought to the fore the real axis of evil consisting of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the War Party in the United States, as opposed to George W. Bush’s bogus “axis of evil.” The same Saudi Arabia that has always supposedly been the grand marshal of defending the rights of the oppressed Palestinian people, has now made an “unholy alliance” with Israel, ignoring the fact that much of Israel’s saber rattling over Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapon program is for distracting attention from the fact that it continues to devour the Palestinians’ lands, water, and other natural resources, and has made practically impossible the two-state solution for the problem.

The second round of negotiations between Iran and P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – began on Thursday November 7 in Geneva, and the initial reports have indicated that progress has been made. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has even declared that the main framework for a long-term agreement may be reached during the two days of negotiations between the two parties. That is not the news that Israel and Saudi Arabia want to hear.

Thus, in addition to pressuring the Obama administration through their lobbies in Washington, another way of derailing the negotiations and killing any potential agreement between Iran and the U.S. that the unholy alliance has put in place is provoking Iran’s hardliners that are deeply suspicious of the West and oppose any rapprochement with the U.S. The hardliners have made their opposition clear, with the latest manifestation of which being the demonstrations that they staged in front of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran on Monday on the 34th anniversary of the hostage crisis. And the best way to provoke Iranian hardliners is by terrorist attacks inside Iran, although such attacks are nothing new.

The United States and its allies have been trying for decades to destabilize Iran by supporting small groups among Iran’s ethnic minorities that have secessionist tendencies and have been carrying out terrorist attacks inside Iran. These groupsinclude Jundallah, a Sunni extremist group that operated from Pakistan and for years carried out many terrorist attacks in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province on the border with Pakistan. Another group is the Kurdish Party of Free Life of Kurdistan,known as PJAK, the Iranian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party – usually referred to as PKK – in Turkey that has been listed as a terrorist group by both the European Union and the US PJAK is a secular group. A third group consists of Iranian Arabs in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan in southwest Iran, which is widely believed to besupported by Britain.

As the author described in detail in October 2009, Jundallah was supported for years by the United StatesSaudi Arabia, and Israel. Then, in December 2009 Selig Harrisonof Center for International Policy reported in the New York Times that the George W. Bush administration provided support to Jundallah through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate – the infamous ISI – and to PJAK through CIA and Israel’s Mossad, which has had long-term relations with the Kurds in both Iraq and Iran. Documents released by WikiLeaks in November 2010 indicated that Israel has tried to use Kurdish dissidents against Iran. Then, in an important article in January 2012 Mark Perry described how Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran.

In February 2010, Iran arrested Jundallah’s leader Abdolmalek Riggi, and executed him in June 2010. A month earlier, Iran had executed his brother, Abdolhamid Rigggi. The two executions were severe blow to Jundallah. Then, another Riggi, Abdolrauf Riggi, took over the leadership of Jundallah, but he was arrested by Pakistan in December 2010. Execution of the Riggis, the arrest of the third one, and lack of popular support due to ruthless tactics, such as beheading of Iran’s border guards, and revelations about foreign support for the group, eventually led to the demise of Jundallah. But, while the Iranian branch of the group formally disappeared (its Pakistani branch still operates within Pakistan, attacking Shiites), its offshoots have emerged and are just as brutal and deadly, and supported by the same foreign powers. This became abundantly clear in the latest terrorist attacks on Iran.

The latest terrorist attacks on Iran occurred on October 25, perfectly timed in advance of the Geneva negotiations. The Sunni terrorist group, Jaish al-adl (army of justice),attacked Iran from Pakistan, killing 14 Iranian border guards (12 of whom were conscripts), wounding six, and taking three guards as hostage. Jaish al-adl is a Salafi group, of the same type as those fighting in Syria against Syrian government and supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In an apparent retaliation, Iran executed 16 prisoners, although the Iranian government claimed that the sixteen, at least half of whom were members of the terrorist groups, had already received death sentences, but their sentences had not been carried out under a deal whereby in return for not executing them, their groups will not carry out any terrorist operations. Jaish al-adl has carried out many attacks in Iran; see herehere, and here. The statement that the group issued after its most recent attack has striking similarities with those of extremist Sunni group in Syria. In fact, in its statement Jaish al-adl declared that the attacks were in retaliation for alleged Iranian “massacre” in Syria and the “cruel treatment” of Sunnis in Iran. In addition, its flag and its style of attacks are very similar to those of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group that is deeply involved in fighting in Syria. Similar to all other Sunni extremist groups, Jaish al-adl uses children in its operations, and carries out suicide bombing. Interestingly, no Western nation, including the United States, condemned the terrorist attacks. On November 7 the public prosecutor in city of Zabol in Sistan was assassinated, and for which Jaish al-adl took responsibility.

Jaish al-adl is led by Abdolrahim Mollazadeh, although he uses the pseudonym Salaheddin Faroughi. He was a prominent member of Jundallah. His brother, Abdolmalek Mollazadeh, was executed in January 2012 by the Iranian government, after he was arrested and charged with the assassination of a local Sunni leader, Molavi Mostafa Jangizehi, who had worked with the government and its paramilitary group, the Basij. After 12 other people were arrested in April 2012 in connection with the assassination, Mollazadeh fled Iran and moved to Pakistan, where he set up Jaish al-adl. Jaish al adl’s spokesman is Mohsen Mohammadi. Its first terrorist operation occurred in August 2012.

Jaish al-adl operates in a far more sophisticated manner than did Jundallah. It has aFacebook page (although it was recently blocked), and issues its statements not just in Farsi, but also in Arabic, English and other languages, in an apparent effort to put itself within the global movement of the Sunni groups. It has three military branches, named after three of its prominent “martyrs,” including Abdolmalek Mollazadeh. Based on its various statements since its first operation in 2012 and what has been reported in the Iranian press, it is estimated that Jaish al-adl has killed at least between 100-150 military personnel and policemen in Sistan and Baluchestan.

There is another Sunni terrorist group in Iran in the same province of Sistan and Baluchestan, called Harakat Ansar Iran (HAI). It too has carried out many terrorist attacks in Iran; see here and here, for example. HAI also works with a Sunni extremist group, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, which currently operates under a new name,Ahlesunnat wal Jamaat, an anti-Shiite group that has been waging a low-intensity war in Pakistan for decades, and has murdered thousands of Shiites.

Both Jaish al-adl and HAI are offshoots of Jundallah. Although its current leader isAbu Yasir Muskootani, HAI still considers Abdolmalek Riggi as its “Amir” (religious/political leader). As mentioned earlier, Mollazadeh was a prominent member of Jundallah. HAI has declared that its aim is to “liberate” Iran and set up a government run based on the Sharia. Its emblem has striking similarities with that of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Since August, PJAK has been attacking Iran’s military, hence ending the unofficial ceasefire that it had with Iran for some time. After executing the sixteen prisoners in connection with Jaish al-adl attacks, Iran also executed two people that it had accused of membership in PJAK. The two had denied the allegation, although there is evidence that at least one of the two had received military training by PJAK. Both PJAK and Iran’s military accuse the other side of breaking the ceasefire. PJAK’s leader, Abdolrahman Haji-Ahmadi has taken the same position as Netanyahu’s,warning the West that it should not be “fooled” by Rouhani.

In supporting such terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia and Israel pursue different, but complementary goals. Saudi Arabia’s goal, first and foremost, is bringing the Shiite-Sunni sectarian war that it has been supporting in Syria to Iran, hence hitting it back for its support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime that Saudi Arabia’s-supported terrorist forces have not only not been able to topple, but are actually losing the war to. One goal of Israel is having allies that are willing to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities, and assassinating its nuclear scientists.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia seek to destabilize Iran and its government, keeping it tied up with internal problems. And, both hope that the terrorist attacks will provoke the hardliners in Tehran to react strongly, retaliate militarily and, hence, not only give an excuse to the two countries and the United States to attack Iran, but also block any diplomatic resolution of the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. Thus, both President Rouhani and Obama must control their hardliners, and give diplomacy a chance.

UN’s Syria Inspection Led By NATO Shill

Yoichi Shimatsu

Instead of a non-politicized investigation and lab analysis, the UN investigation of alleged nerve-gas attacks inside Syria was led by Professor Ake Sellstrom, a man of mystery who keeps a veil of secrecy around his research and political-military relationships.

Sellstrom’s report on Syria for the UN and his prior inspections record in Iraq are dubious, to say the least. In the eyes of laymen, his seeming objectivity and non-partisanship is based on the myth of Sweden’s neutrality. The public assumes – wrongly- that Sweden never takes sides in wars or geopolitical conflicts.

Fraud of Neutrality

This cosmetic veneer of Swedish neutrality has been deftly exploited by Israel and NATO to perpetrate falsehoods throughout Sellstrom’s work for the UN, including denial of the chemical-and-biological causes for “Gulf War Syndrome” and the shipments of U.S. chemical weapons to the Saddam Hussein regime.

The Hans Blix-Ake Sellstrom inspection teams in Iraq did not investigate the special-weapons bunkers that were bombed by American warplanes in the U.S. invasion.

Sellstrom also never made any attempt to probe the U.S.-produced 20-foot-long cannisters of VX nerve gas discovered at Balad Air Base by American National Guardsmen. His mission was not to prove Iraqi guilt but to get Washington off the hook for supplying tons of nerve gas to Baghdad. Saving U.S. officials like Donald Rumsfeld from disgrace and treason charges is far more important to imperial power that disclosing any facts in a theater of war.

The salient critique of the UN inspections in Iraq was made by American inspector Scott Ritter who accused the team of spying for Washington and NATO. The same question hangs over Sellstrom’s report on Syria. Is Sellstrom acting on behalf of Washington and Tel Aviv?

NATO Front Man

What is publicly known about Sellstrom is that the biochemist heads the European CBRNE Center [Center for advanced Studies of Societal Security and Vulnerability, in particular major incidents with (C)hemical, (B)iological, (R)adiological, (N)uclear and (E)xplosive substances], at Umea University in northern Sweden, which is sponsored by the Swedish Defense Ministry (FOI). Though not a NATO member, the Swedish military and police have a leading role in European security affairs as drafters of the repressive 2009 EU action plan based on the Stockholm Counterterrorism Programme.

Major funding for the CBRNE multidisciplinary research projects at Umea comes from the EU budget for the war on terrorism. These projects include: defense strategy for large-scale terrorist attacks (notice the term “relatively large scale” in his just-released Syria report); recommendations for EU medical emergency responses; and specialized training at Umea for experts, including military officers attached to NATO.

Sweden’s military-industrial complex, which includes Saab and Bofors, is anything but peace-loving and neutral. The kingdom’s cloak of neutrality is most useful for Israeli interests, which have exploited Scandinavia’s clean image to skew international policy against the Palestinians and Arab states, as demonstrated in the half-baked Oslo Accords.

Israeli Infiltration of Scandinavia

Umea University is deeply involved in joint research with Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), the Haifa-based university that provides state-of-art technology to the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and its intelligence agencies. Several departments, which are involved in joint Israeli research, participate in multidisciplinary studies at Sellstrom’s CBRNE center. These include: the computer department, which has cooperated with Technion on control systems since 2004; the medical faculty; and chemistry, his own field of studies.

The Israeli-Swedish research cooperation is fostered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which provides scholarships and awards to bind together the industries and universities of the two countries. This year the State of Israeli is sponsoring the Start Tel Aviv program for expanded cultural ties, in its relentless campaign to subvert Scandinavia. The political agenda and military links behind the bilateral cooperation has prompted an anti-Israel boycott by conscientious Swedish academics.

No Credibility on Syria

The term “relatively large scale” chemical-weapons attack used in the introduction to the UN report on Syria is hyperbole, since any major attack with sarin would have resulted in tens of thousands of fatalities, especially if dispersed by military rockets. The first videos from Ghouta showed residents pouring out of their homes onto the street, gasping for fresh air. If indeed highly efficient rockets had been used, every one of them would have been killed instantaneous. The gassing, therefore, must have been an accidental release indoors, probably from a hidden rebel arsenal.

Chemical residues from the alleged rockets would have been oxidized by the heat of impact and certainly no intact organophosphate traces would be detectable, since sarin is designed to decompose after 20 minutes. Rockets are designed to use a binary system by which two chemical precursors are mixed during mid-air dispersal. Thus, there is no need for stabilizers or dispersants, meaning an absence of any identifying chemicals. The UN inspectors arrived long after the expiration period for sample testing. There is a possiblity also that the site and rocket parts may have been tampered with falsified evidence by the rebels and their foreign military advisers.

The casualty figures are unverifiable, and certainly not any of the videos showed more than a dozen corpses at a time. The scenes of swaddled infants is typical of war propaganda, certainly not believable when only a few faces were visible. The sum effect of these images is closer to theater than credible reporting.

Sellstrom’s strategy is to point fingers of guilt at the Syrian regime, while avoiding all possibility of alternative and more probable scenarios.

Hidden Agenda

American ambassador to the UN Samantha Power made emphatically clear that the “nerve gas used in Syria was more concentrated than the nerve gas in Iraqi.” Her statement should be rephrased as: “Saddam may have trans-shipped U.S.-supplied nerve gas into Syria, but it wasn’t our nerve gas used against Syrian civilians.”

That is the essential point of the Sellstrom report: To take Washington off the hook for being the major supplier of nerve gas precursors, formulations, delivery technology and storage systems to the Middle East, incluing Israel, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and very possibly Syria (during the Clinton era of good will).

The UN report of chemical weapons on Syria lacks basic credibility due to the duplicitous record of its chief inspector, Ake Sellstrom, who is politically and financially compromised at every level. An impartial fact-finding mission of credible international experts is required, but it would have no chance of conducting a fair investigation so long as Washington provides weapons and political support to the insurgency, including its Al Qaeda faction.

The geopolitical objective underlying the White House orchestrated hystrionics over Syria is to strip Damascus of its limited deterrence capability against Israel’s nuclear forces. Nerve gas may not be much of a counter-strike response compared with atomic warheads, but it seems Israel’s goal is absolute strategic supremacy against the Arab states and Iran. With the new UN report on Syria, Tel Aviv is a giant step closer to the dream of rendering all its neighbors defenseless and divided.

Yoichi Shimatsu, a science journalist based in Hong Kong, led a team of investigative reporters for the Japan Times Weekly and served as consultant to Takarajima 30 magazine during the Tokyo subway gassing in 1995.

North Dakota Town Braces for Neo-Nazi Takeover

Ed Pilkington

The tiny town of Leith in North Dakota is bracing itself for a potentially turbulent weekend. Its 24-strong population is set to be overrun by opposing busloads of neo-Nazis attempting to create a white supremacist community there and their anti-racist detractors.

Jeff Schoep, commander of the American National Socialist Movement (NSM), is preparing to travel from Detroit to Leith to hold a town-hall meeting and press conference on Sunday afternoon. On the NSM website, he describes the trip as a “gesture of goodwill”, but goes on to say ominously that the aim is to “plant the seeds of National Socialism in North Dakota”.

Anti-racist activists are also expected to descend on Leith from other parts of North Dakota and neighbouring Minnesota. “We cannot accept this racist hatred they are bringing here – Leith is in crisis and is crying out for help,” one of the organisers, Jeremy Kelly, told the Bismarck Tribune.

For the residents of Leith, the prospect of a weekend filled with white supremacist grandstanding is highly unwelcome. The town mayor, Ryan Schock, told the Guardian “people are very concerned. They do not want people to come to this town who have hate in them.”

Leith’s conundrum began when a newcomer called Paul Craig Cobb began buying up deserted plots of land two years ago, accumulating 12 plots in total. Last month it was revealed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors right-wing extremism, that Cobb, 61, is in fact a white supremacist wanted in Canada for promoting hatred in a blog.

It was also disclosed that he had moved to Leith in the hope of quietly constructing a neo-Nazi community along with allies in the National Socialist Movement and White Aryan Resistance (WAR). He is in the process of transferring some of the properties to Schoep, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard called Tom Metzger, and to April Gaede, founder of the neo-Nazi group National Vanguard.

Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center said Cobb’s attempt to form an extremist community was in line with previous efforts to set up such collectives in Idaho and Montana. “Cobb has probably gone further than anyone before him in pursuing this white supremacist dream,” she said.

The publicity surrounding Cobb’s plans in Leith is likely to put a stop to his acquisition of any further land in the area, as local property owners are now wary of dealing with him. But there is little that can be done, Beirich said, to force him to give up the plots he already owns.

Leith residents are trying a variety of different moves to encourage him to leave town and have created a defence fund to pay for legal fees. One potential tactic is to have his house condemned under local amenity laws – Cobb’s property is not linked up to water or sewer services.

A more extreme move that is being discussed would be to abandon Leith’s status as a town before neo-Nazi supporters get close to outnumbering the other residents and thus controlling the town hall.

In a statement, Schoep accused “far left extremists” of trying to drive Cobb from his home. “Craig Cobb is not alone,” he said, “and will not be driven out, or forced to leave. Legal paperwork is being drafted to insure the civil rights of Mr Cobb, and other new residents of Leith will not be violated.”

USA Maneuvering for UN-Sanctioned Attack vs. Syria

Richard Becker

Having been forced to back off from a threatened military attack on Syria by intense international and domestic opposition, the Obama administration is now seeking to lay the basis for a UN Security Council-sanctioned assault.

On Sept. 13, an agreement was reached between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a plan to dismantle Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. The government of Syria expressed support for the agreement, while the Syrian armed opposition has condemned it.

Having been delayed in carrying out a direct military attack, the United States, Britain and France are seeking to use any UN Security Council resolution as the basis for a renewed push toward a Pentagon bombing campaign. Russia and China, which hold the two other seats in the Security Council, are attempting to word any Syria resolution in a way that prevents it from being used or interpreted as a rationale for such an intervention.

France was the colonial power over Lebanon and Syria. Britain was the other major colonial power in the Middle East until the end of World War II. The United States took their place as the major imperial power in the region in the post-World II era.

The ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which organized protests around the country in the weeks prior to Obama’s announcement that he was pulling back from an imminent military attack on Syria, stated: “We believe that the issue of chemical weapons is being used as a pretext for greater intervention by the United States, Britain and France to carry out a larger but unstated agenda in the Middle East, which is to destroy every single independent, nationalist government in this oil-rich region.”

The United States has more than 5,000 nuclear weapons and is providing more than $3 billion each year to Israel, which has a large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and, even more importantly, a large number of nuclear weapons. When the United States demanded last week that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile be destroyed, they made sure to avoid language calling for a regional ban on such weapons since it would have highlighted the fact that the U.S. government’s principal ally, Israel, possesses these weapons.

Maneuvers at the United Nations

The plan agreed to by Syria calls for the Syrian government to turn over a list of its chemical weapons and where they are stored by Sept. 21. UN weapons inspectors are to arrive in Syria by mid-November and the weapons are supposed to be destroyed by the middle of 2014.

The agreement is being turned into a UN Security Council resolution. Kerry is demanding that the resolution include authorization for military strikes on Syria if it is deemed to not having sufficiently complied with the resolution. But the Russian government opposes this provision, and Russia is one of the five states that have veto power in the Security Council.

Both Obama and Kerry have repeatedly threatened that the United States could still carry out a unilateral attack on Syria, regardless of the wording of a UNSC resolution.

Chemical weapons report—More questions

The rationale for the U.S. threats of military action was a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and the surrounding area east of Syria’s capital Damascus on Aug. 21. Obama and Kerry have blamed the Syrian government for the attack from the start. More than a year ago, the President Obama declared that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line,” triggering a U.S. military response.

A team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had arrived in Syria on Aug. 18 to investigate an earlier alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo.

That the Syrian government would launch a large-scale chemical weapons attack immediately after the arrival of the OPCW team in the country seems illogical, even more so given that the government forces have been making major gains in the war over the past several months.

The OPCW team conducted an investigation of the Aug. 21 attack and issued its report to the UN on Sept. 16 confirming that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, but not assigning responsibility. While the United States, Britain, France and Turkey have all blamed the Syrian government, the Syrian government has adamantly denied using chemical weapons and accused the opposition of staging a provocation to justify a U.S./NATO assault.

On Sept. 18, the Agence France Presse reported that the Syrian government had forwarded “new evidence showing it was opposition forces were behind the sarin attack” to the UN.

Besides responsibility for the Aug. 21 attack, the OPCW report leaves other unanswered questions. The Ghouta area is in Syrian opposition hands and the report states, regarding evidence the OPCW was collecting: “During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

The OPCW report does not include the estimated death toll. While the United States claims that at least 1,429 were killed, Britain and France have reported far lower figures, 350 and 281 respectively.

The report states that a deadly nerve gas, sarin, was delivered by M14 artillery rockets. But the question of whether the armed opposition possesses such munitions and sarin gas itself is not addressed.

There have been numerous reports of rebel forces possessing and seeking to produce sarin. On Sept. 13, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Turkish prosecutor had indicted six members of the Syrian opposition for attempting to procure precursor materials for creating sarin. The government of Turkey, it should be noted, has been strongly supporting the opposition.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition and “Free Syrian Army” have expressed bitter disappointment that the U.S./NATO air strikes they were hoping for did not materialize. They were counting on foreign intervention to tip the military balance in their favor, as it has become clear that they cannot win without it.

While it is worthwhile to skeptically examine the claims of those who are set on attacking Syria, the people’s opposition to a new imperial war against Syria should not be premised on whether or not chemical weapons were used either by pro-government forces or by the armed Syrian opposition. Rather it is necessary to expose the imperial motives of the United States, Britain and France, who are seeking any pretext to carry out their semi-colonial designs on the peoples of the region. These same imperialist forces have used nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Imperialist powers do not go to war because of “moral outrage” about the use of any particular weapon.

While the Obama administration was forced to pull back from military strikes, it has not given up on the objective it shares with the 11 other presidencies dating back to World War II: domination of the oil-rich and strategic Middle East. That means the anti-war movement must stay on alert.

Syria: Empire’s Last Gasp

IMPERIAL CRUSADE AGAINST SYRIA

Oscar Sánchez Serra

WHY is the United States attacking Syria?

Brazil, Russia – reborn as a superpower and an uncomfortable one – India and China – are emerging economies that are already acting as leaders on the world geopolitical stage. It is said that India and China, also the most populated nations of the world, will mark the rate of development during the 21st century. In other words, one has to be prepared for a global transfer of power. The current empire will not be the most powerful.

For Viktor Burbaki of the U.S. Strategic Culture Foundation, mathematical models of the global geopolitical dynamic have led to the conclusion that a grand-scale victory in a war utilizing conventional means is the only option for the United States being able to reverse the rapid collapse of its geopolitical status. Burbaki affirms that if the current geopolitical dynamic persists, a change in global leadership could be expected by 2025, and the only way in which the United States can derail this process is by unleashing a war on a grand scale.

Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 have already endured imperial attacks, utilizing the same argument based on a pack of lies. The tactic of the world gendarme has never been to challenge states that could dispute its global supremacy, for which reason Burbaki considers that Iran, Syria and Shi’ite groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, face the greatest danger of suffering strikes in the name of a new world redistribution of power. The specialist did not state this the other day, but more than 12 months ago, in February of 2012.

In other words, to get rid of Syria and Iran, obstacles on the route to U.S. global domination, would be Washington’s next natural step.

Paul Farrell, U.S. columnist and financial analyst, stated last April that the United States needed a new war, in order for capital to thrive. He ironically commented then, in a brief note which appeared in Russia Today, “Didn’t WWII get us out of the Great Depression?” He capped this statement off with data which informs his thesis that wars benefit capitalists above all. The Forbes list of world billionaires skyrocketed from 322 in 2000 to 1,426 recently, 31% of them being American.

Marcelo Colussi, Argentine psychologist, professor, writer, journalist and full-time activist for social justice and global dignity, has one of the most convincing answers to the question as to why the United States would attack Syria. When, at the beginning of the 20th century, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge said that his country’s business consisted of doing business, this has today been transformed into doing business with war. Let others do the fighting and here we are to sell them weapons.

In this context, the Argentine intellectual passes his verdict that today, U.S. power is based on wars, always those in other nations, never on its own territory. In any event, war is its axis; its domestic economy is nourished to a large extent by the arms industry and its planetary hegemony (appropriation of raw materials and imposition of the rules of the economic and political game on a global scale, with primacy of the dollar. Today, Washington needs wars. Without wars, the power would not be a power.

What we are seeing now with a besieged Syria, what is leading the Middle East into a war of unforeseeable consequences, with the real target, Iran, following behind and with Israel, which is waiting, pressuring and coercing the master to the North to fulfill its promise of punishing that Persian country, is not a chance operation.

The first victim of war is the truth. While in Iraq the most obscene fallacies were its possession of weapons of mass destruction and its close links with Al Qaeda, and in Iran, the manufacture of powerful nuclear armaments, in Syria the lie is chemical weapons utilized by President Al-Assad against his own people, although nobody with the most elemental common sense believes it, because Syria would be the least to benefit by creating a pretext such as this.

But lies are part of the plan, and this one did not come into existence overnight, nor was it improvised in a bar over a few beers, but in the White House, in 1997, when a group of fevered minds of the alienated ultra-right created a project for the New American Century, with the objective of sustaining the United States as the hegemonic superpower of the planet, at any and all costs.

The objectives of the project are the opening up, stability, control and globalization of markets, as well as security and freedom of trade; unrestricted access to energy sources and raw materials needed to dynamize the U.S. economy and those of its allies; the monitoring and control in real time of people and all significant political and social movements opposed to its interests; the expansion and domination of the financial and industrial capital of its companies and transnational corporations; and the assuring of control over the means of communication and world information.

To that end it has not even stinted on mercenaries, who abound in Syria – well paid and armed – nor in the deployment of U.S. military might, as well as creating situations within nations, such as the manufacture and unveiling of the so-called Arab Spring in North Africa, which ended with the assassination, recorded live, of Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Who thought up and armed this insanity based on the industry of death, the real sustenance of the U.S. economy? Illustrious neo-cons with senior positions in the administrations of Reagan, George Bush (father and son); in other words: Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton and Richard Perle, among others. Who sheltered them politically? The Republican Party, the Democratic Party, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), or the pro-Israeli lobby in the nation of the stars and stripes; and many powerful organizations on Wall Street, in the media and in the powerful military-industrial complex. It would seem that it is not important who the President happens to be.

The Twin Towers were brought down, but this provided the basis for the rising up of the Project, sowing the divine fundamentalist idea that the United States is the only nation capable of combating the terrible evils of Islamist terrorism, drug trafficking, or organized crime, even though it is within its own territory that most terrorists are harbored, where the highest quantity of drugs are consumed, and where criminals enjoy impunity. An implacable media crusade was launched which fixed fear and danger in the mentality of citizens of the world.

It has reached the extent that, even the UN, in its investigation into the existence of chemical weapons in Syria – the key pretext for the aggression – has stated that its research is only to confirm whether they were used or not, and not who utilized them.

A variant of the of the Arab Spring was already tested out in Syria, but failed in destabilizing the country, hence the recourse of destroying the nation and leaving it without a government, and without order, because social anarchy there would justify a U.S. presence, plus that of its allies with all their troops and even a coalition. This would provide a gateway to Iran, additionally keeping a close watch on the dangerous Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a commitment to Israel which, since its defeat by this force in 2006, has not been able to heal its wounds.

Who can be left in any doubt that all of this is an orchestrated plot, and that the United States and its allies are not bothered as to whether or not chemical weapons enter the equation?

What does interest it is the geo-strategic situation of Damascus and imperial power, even if this involves a bloodbath in this nation of heroic people, and world peace is once again trampled by the nation and government which sets itself up as the paradigm of human rights. But it should be careful. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

Israel Still Angling for Attack on Syria and Iran

israel-war-sign-syria

Jonathan Cook

President Barack Obama may have drawn his seemingly regretted “red line” around Syria’s chemical weapons, but it was neither he nor the international community that turned the spotlight on their use. That task fell to Israel.

It was an Israeli general who claimed in April that Damascus had used chemical weapons, forcing Obama into an embarrassing demurral on his stated commitment to intervene should that happen.

According to the Israeli media, it was also Israel that provided the intelligence that blamed the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, for the latest chemical weapons attack, near Damascus on August 21, triggering the clamour for a US military response.

It is worth remembering that Obama’s supposed “dithering” on the question of military action has only been accentuated by Israel’s “daring” strikes on Syria – at least three since the start of the year.

It looks as though Israel, while remaining largely mute about its interests in the civil war raging there, has been doing a great deal to pressure the White House into direct involvement in Syria.

That momentum appears to have been halted, for the time being at least, by the deal agreed at the weekend by the US and Russia to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

To understand the respective views of the White House and Israel on attacking Syria, one needs to revisit the US-led invasion of Iraq a decade ago.

Israel and its ideological twin in Washington, the neoconservatives, rallied to the cause of toppling Saddam Hussein, believing that it should be the prelude to an equally devastating blow against Iran.

Israel was keen to see its two chief regional enemies weakened simultaneously. Saddam’s Iraq had been the chief sponsor of Palestinian resistance against Israel. Iran, meanwhile, had begun developing a civilian nuclear programme that Israel feared could pave the way to an Iranian bomb, ending Israel’s regional monopoly on nuclear weapons.

The neocons carried out the first phase of the plan, destroying Iraq, but then ran up against domestic opposition that blocked implementation of the second stage: the break-up of Iran.

The consequences are well known. As Iraq imploded into sectarian violence, Iran’s fortunes rose. Tehran strengthened its role as regional sponsor of resistance against Israel – or what became Washington’s new “axis of evil” – that included Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Israel and the US both regard Syria as the geographical “keystone” of that axis, as Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, told the Jerusalem Post this week, and one that needs to be removed if Iran is to be isolated, weakened or attacked.

But Israel and the US drew different lessons from Iraq. Washington is now wary of its ground forces becoming bogged down again, as well as fearful of reviving a cold war confrontation with Moscow. It prefers instead to rely on proxies to contain and exhaust the Syrian regime.

Israel, on the other hand, understands the danger of manoeuvring its patron into a showdown with Damascus without ensuring this time that Iran is tied into the plan. Toppling Assad alone would simply add emboldened jihadists to the troubles on its doorstep.

Given these assessments, Israel and the US have struggled to envision a realistic endgame that would satisfy them both. Obama fears setting the region, and possibly the world, ablaze with a direct attack on Iran; Israel is worried about stretching its patron’s patience by openly pushing it into another catastrophic venture to guarantee its regional hegemony.

In his interview published yesterday by the Jerusalem Post, Michael Oren claimed that Israel had in fact been trying to oust Assad since the civil war erupted more than two years ago. He said Israel “always preferred the bad guys [jihadist groups] who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys [the Assad regime] who were backed by Iran.”

That seems improbable. Although the Sunni jihadist groups, some with links to al-Qaeda, are not natural allies for either the Shia leaders of Iran or Hizbollah, they would be strongly hostile to Israel. Oren’s comments, however, do indicate the degree to which Israel’s strategic priorities are obsessively viewed through the prism of an attack on Iran.

More likely, Israel has focused on using the civil war as a way to box Assad into his heartlands. That way, he becomes a less useful ally to Hizbollah, Iran and Russia, while the civil war keeps both his regime and the opposition weak.

Israel would have preferred a US strike on Syria, a goal its lobbyists in Washington were briefly mobilised to achieve. But the intention was not to remove Assad but to assert what Danny Ayalon, a former deputy Israeli foreign minister, referred to as “American and Israeli deterrence” – code for signalling to Tehran that it was being lined up as the next target.

That threat now looks empty. As Silvan Shalom, a senior government minister, observed: “If it is impossible to do anything against little Syria, then certainly it’s not possible against big Iran.”

But the new US-Russian deal to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons can probably be turned to Israel’s advantage, so long as Israel prevents attention shifting to its own likely stockpiles.

In the short term, Israel has reason to fear Assad’s loss of control of his chemical weapons, with the danger that they pass either to the jihadists or to Hizbollah. The timetable for the weapons destruction should help to minimise those risks – in the words of one Israeli commentator, it is like Israel “winning the lottery”.

But Israel also suspects that Damascus is likely to procrastinate on disarmament. In any case, efforts to locate and destroy its chemical weapons in the midst of a civil war will be lengthy and difficult.

And that may provide Israel with a way back in. Soon, as Israeli analysts are already pointing out, Syria will be hosting international inspectors searching for WMD, not unlike the situation in Iraq shortly before the US-led invasion of 2003. Israel, it can safely be assumed, will quietly meddle, trying to persuade the West that Assad is not cooperating and that Hizbullah and Iran are implicated.

In a vein Israel may mine later, a Syrian opposition leader, Selim Idris, claimed at the weekend that Damascus was seeking to conceal the extent of its stockpiles by passing them to Lebanon and Iraq.

Obama is not the only one to have set a red line. Last year, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, drew one on a cartoon bomb at the United Nations as he warned that the world faced an imminent existential threat from an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Israel still desperately wants its chief foe, Iran, crushed. And if it can find a way to lever the US into doing its dirty work, it will exploit the opening – regardless of whether such action ramps up the suffering in Syria.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

Syria: Backing Away from War?

New Worker

US president Barack Obama has suspended his threat to rain death and destruction on Syria following a week of intense diplomatic efforts by Russia and China to prevent the Syrian crisis escalating into a general war in the Middle East. Obama has asked Congress to postpone a vote authorising the use of force to destroy Syria’s stockpile of poison gas that the Americans claim was used in an attack that killed hundreds in Damascus in August.

There is little doubt that Obama’s U-turn was forced on the leader of US imperialism by the wave of anti-war protests that have swept America and world, opposition from senior officers in the US armed forces and amongst America’s ruling circles and the growing fear that his war motion would be defeated in Congress.

Last Saturday over 100,000 people filled the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square for a peace vigil and to hear Pope Francis call war a “defeat for humanity”. The next day the Pope denounced the proposed US attack as a “commercial war to sell arms” while the Americans failed to win any significant support at the G20 summit talks in St Petersburg.

Only four countries — France, Turkey, Canada and Saudi Arabia (plus a British prime minister rebuffed by his own Parliament) backed America at a working dinner set aside to discuss the Syria crisis.

On Monday American foreign minister John Kerry said Assad could avert an attack by surrendering all his chemical weapons stocks to the international community within a week following talks with the British government in London. This was immediately taken up by the Russians who kicked the proposal into the international arena. Though Kerry initially claimed he was only speaking rhetorically it appears that Obama had raised the face-saving formula with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on the side-lines of the G20 talks.

Accepted

Obama has now accepted a Russian plan to put all Syria’s chemical weapons under international control which has been welcomed by leaders of most of the Third World. Syria, which has vigorously denied any involvement in last month’s atrocity, has endorsed the plan while their army has driven out the rebels from the key Christian village of Maaloula, which was briefly occupied by the Al Qaeda terror gangs earlier in the week.

The Syrian government maintains that the poison gas attack was a rebel ”false-flag” provocation designed to provide a pretext for open imperialist intervention. This has been backed by the Russians who have provided proof of rebel held chemical weapons to the United Nations. Russian Duma international affairs committee head Alexei

Pushkov told the Russian parliament that “There are reasons to presume that not only the Syrian government but also the militants possess [chemical weapons]” and that these weapons have been used against the Syrian army. Pushkov said that rebels used chemical weapons near Aleppo in March and that this was acknowledged by Carla Del Ponte, a member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The TUC in congress this week in Bournemouth said that it “strongly [opposes] external military intervention” in Syria and is committed to “work with civil society organisations” including “Stop the War Coalition, in pursuit of [preventing such action]”. This was welcomed by Stop the War national convener, Lindsey German, as “A great step forward and reflects massive public opposition to David Cameron or President Obama’s plans for a new war in the Middle East.”

But the war-mongers on both sides of the Atlantic are already trying to recover lost ground. Russia has already had to block new French efforts to get a new UN Security Council mandate that would sanction force à la Libya if Syria does not comply with the chemical weapons demands. Now the spotlight has moved from the UN to Geneva where Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Secretary John Kerry will meet this week to hammer out the details of the Russian proposal and hopefully move on to take concrete steps to convene the Geneva Peace Conference that has been stalled through American intransigence.

The drive to war against Syria has been halted for the moment. We must make sure it’s stopped for good. Mass pressure must continue throughout the labour and peace movement to prevent any new American move to attack Syria or any other country in the Middle East that dares to stand in the way of big oil corporations, the feudal Arab oil princes, and the overall strategic interests of US-led imperialism.