Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘War on Terror

Cash rolls?
PATRICK COCKBURN. Tuesday 15 January 2013

As long as the cash rolls in, the West appears untroubled by Gulf monarchies’ ideology

Note: Remember this article was published in 2013. The world parties engaged in the war in Syria all knew the financial resources of the funding for terrors. The Western nations just delivered the purchased weapons and training and logistical support.

The West has portrayed Gulf leaders as natural allies in promoting democratic revolutions.

France is expecting the “Arab” monarchies of the Gulf to help the campaign against jihadi Islamist rebels in Mali, its Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (a Zionist) said today.

On a visit to the UAE, Mr Fabius outlined different ways of helping; through materials, or through financing – an ironic request given that private donors from these countries are believed to be the main supporters of  al-Qa’ida in Iraq and Syria.

The US and Western states have long looked to the Gulf monarchies to fund their actions in the Muslim world and beyond. Sometimes the funding has been direct, such as the financial and material aid Qatar gave the Libyan rebels in 2011.

At others, it has been indirect subsidies to groups, such as the Afghan mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets, with whom the West did not want to be quite so publicly associated.

Mr Fabius said that donors would meet towards the end of January in Addis Ababa, to finance an African push against al-Qa’ida. He said: “Everybody has to commit to fighting against terrorism. We are pretty confident that the Emirates will go in that direction as well.”

Relations between the US and its West European allies on the one side and the absolute monarchies of the Gulf on the other have been highly contradictory since the “Arab” Spring began two years ago. The West has portrayed the kings and emirs of the Gulf, ruling some of the most undemocratic states in the world, as natural allies in promoting and financing democratic revolutions in Libya and Syria.

A further contradiction is that Saudi Kingdom and the Sunni rulers have encouraged the salafis across the Muslim world – fundamentalist militants advocating a literal interpretation of the Koran – through paying for schools and mosques. While most of the salafi are non-violent, their ideology is similar to that of al-Qa’ida. (From where did Cockburn get this statement?)

Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya was an important donor and investor in sub-Saharan Africa and it is unlikely that the Gulf Arabs will be prepared to spend as much money.

Even Syrian rebels say the funds they receive come episodically and are inadequate, leading to widespread looting by rebel commanders.

While France is justifying its intervention in Mali by claiming it is all part of the “war on terror” its action may stir up further turmoil in the region. Interestingly, one rebel group in the north, the separatist MNLA that wants a homeland for Tuareg in northern Mali, is reported to have backed the French intervention

Note: As the Syrian army has practically re-conquered most of Syria and reached the Golan Heights and all the southern border with Jordan, Qatar, The Emirates and even Saudi Kingdom are conducting secret negotiations to re-open their embassies in Damascus.

Part 9. Ten Myths on Israel: Not how a “Democratic State” behave (by Ian Pappe)

No, Israel Is Not a Democracy

Destroying Palestinians’ Houses Is Not Democratic

Imprisoning Palestinians Without Trial Is Not Democratic (A mandated British law of administrative detention applied by Israel since its inception)

By lan Pappe

From Ten Myths About Israel, out now from Verso Books.

June 12, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –  Israel is not the only democracy in the Middle East. In fact, it’s not a democracy at all.

In the eyes of many Israelis and their supporters worldwide — even those who might criticize some of its policies — Israel is, at the end of the day, a benign democratic state, seeking peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing equality to all its citizens.

Those who do criticize Israel assume that, if anything went wrong in this democracy, then it was due to the 1967 war.

Imprisoning Palestinians Without Trial Is Not Democratic

Another feature of the “enlightened occupation” is imprisonment without trial. Every fifth Palestinian in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has undergone such an experience.

(Actually 60% of youths have gone through this humiliating revolving prison door. As most Black people in the USA can testify to this apartheid treatment)

It is interesting to compare this Israeli practice with similar American policies in the past and the present, as critics of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement claim that US practices are far worse.

In fact, the worst American example was the imprisonment without trial of one hundred thousand Japanese citizens during World War II, with thirty thousand later detained under the so-called “war on terror.

(In Israel, it is a systematic practice. Every night, a dozen Palestinian youths are hoarded out of their bed)

Neither of these numbers comes even close to the number of Palestinians who have experienced such a process: including the very young, the old, as well as the long-term incarcerated.

Arrest without trial is a traumatic experience.

Not knowing the charges against you, having no contact with a lawyer and hardly any contact with your family are only some of the concerns that will affect you as a prisoner.

More brutally, many of these arrests are used as means to pressure people into collaboration.

Spreading rumors or shaming people for their alleged or real sexual orientation are also frequently used as methods for leveraging complicity.

As for torture, the reliable website Middle East Monitor published a harrowing article describing the 200 methods used by the Israelis to torture Palestinians. The list is based on a UN report and a report from the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.

Among other methods it includes beatings, chaining prisoners to doors or chairs for hours, pouring cold and hot water on them, pulling fingers apart, and twisting testicles.

(Actually, the majority of these torture techniques were borrowed from the British mandated power that applied them during the first Palestinian civil disobedience (Intifada) in 1935 and that lasted 3 years. The Palestinians have been demanding democratic elections in municipalities. Britain had to dispatch 100,000 troops and enlisted the Jews in that horror campaign)

A reflection on the Prince’s (Harry) version of a boy’s own adventure in Afghanistan
The author refused to serve a second tour in Afghanistan on legal and moral grounds, reflects on the Prince’s version of a boy’s own adventure. He later spending five months in military prison. His book, ‘Soldier Box‘, is published by Verso in May

Winter has come and over the last few days leading figures in the War on Terror, unwilling to wait for Season Three of Game of Thrones to hit screens, have been re-watching past episodes to the point that it’s colored their rhetoric.

Between Cameron’s assurances of a war against sundry evil-doers that will last ‘decades’ and French Defence Minister Le Driand’s frankly crackpot calls for a ‘total reconquest’ of Mali, the only question is: how long until we replace drones with halberds?

Joe Glenton published in The Independent on Jan. 22,  2013 under “Prince Harry was positively tame when talking about the brutal reality of war in Afghanistan”

Martial cant

The latest bit of martial cant has come from one dashing Captain Harry Wales; fighter, lover, occasional exhibitionist and warrior-prince of the House of Saxe-Gotha-Coburg.

Having had his first tour of Afghanistan cut short, he has just finished his latest stint, where he has been fighting astride Apache helicopters: the British Army’s multi-million pound engines of destruction.

The poor lad’s been having a hard time, even Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – a man whose admirable turn of phrase just can’t make up for his human rights records – called him a ‘shameless, drunken jackal’ recently.

In all honesty, and I include a younger version of myself in this, that’s not a completely inaccurate description for young soldiers out on the town: hit the bars and clubs of Colchester on a Saturday night if you doubt me.

We didn’t generally take our disco-dancing shoes on operational tour, and Harry doesn’t kill Afghans while intoxicated as Hekmatyar suggested.

Apaches are too precious and expensive to be flown by drunkards, regardless of their pedigree. In fact, given that we aren’t doing at all well in Afghanistan, even with our potent technology, Apache may be even more of a burden on taxpayers then Harry himself.

While a number of Household Cavalry veterans have informed me that young Mr Wales was okay ‘as officers go’, which is a pretty glowing assessment in soldier-speak, his latest public comments do make him sound for the all the world like a gun-horny adolescent playing a pricey version of Call of Duty.

Mind you that squaddie culture and humour is close to the bone because the tasks soldiers are given are the grimmest imaginable and are often carried out, as in Afghanistan, without a mandate and with little public support.

Brutal humour is often the only kind of armour a soldier can get hold of easily, I recall an expression brought back from Bosnia by older members of my own unit that seems to capture it: If you don’t laugh you’ll only cry.

Captain Wales does come across as fairly casual when he talks about taking lives to save lives, stopping people doing ‘bad stuff’ and ‘taking people out of the game’.

In his defence though, and given his much publicized record as the royal social hand grenade, he may be politically naïve, or it could be that he’s a young man who’s been strapped into an attack helicopter for 20 weeks.

One of the best arguments against war is the effects it has on the people fighting – though clearly Harry is, unlike many of the infantrymen he’s supporting, a soldier by way of choice not economics, I would not wish sleepless nights on anyone, even as a republican.

Just a job

This trivialisation of violence is not new thing; it is part of the process of dehumanisation which is central to modern warfare. It seems to have taken on new forms in the post 9/11 campaigns.

During his short-lived first tour as a tactical air controller – calling in air strikes – Wales and his colleagues watched the bombs hit from their bunker on a live-feed monitor nicknamed ‘Kill TV’.

This notion of a kind of professional distance from the killing you are involved in is also expressed in the US military term for an Afghan, Pakistani or whoever is killed by a drone strike; a kill is referred to humorously – and officially – as a ‘bugsplat’ after a children’s computer game.

Harry’s comments are hardly revelatory and are tame compared to those I’ve heard from soldiers away from the media. To operate against and kill other humans, it helps to view this process as simply a job, however intellectually dishonest that is.

Military training is sophisticated social engineering and wartime experience has the effect of ingraining a certain type of callousness.

While war is a toxic institution, for a few of those who conduct it, particularly privileged young princes who find themselves in the vanguard of US power, it can appear to be a latter-day boy’s own adventure.

The author refused to serve a second tour in Afghanistan on legal and moral grounds, later spending five months in military prison. His book, ‘Soldier Box‘, is published by Verso in May

Note: Prince Harry married lately. He seems more at peace with himself and very well liked in Britain

Is it true that All revolutions are born in terror?

How can current terror attacks be stopped?

‘Virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue…’  Maximilien Robespierre, On the Principles of Political Morality (1794)

(We can justify anything with resounding nonsense)

As pundits and politicians stoked the recent shootings in California into an existential threat; as French troops were deployed in Paris; as Belgian police locked down Brussels, and US and Russian planes intensified air attacks in Syria following yet another slaughter perpetrated in the name of the so-called Islamic State, it was easy to lose sight of a central fact.

Amid the bullets, bombs and bluster, we are not only failing to stop the spread of radical Islam, but our efforts often appear to contribute to it.

(That’s exactly the purpose of the US, France and England: to extend terrors overseas)

“The war with ISIS is a battle of ideas and values. The youth that radicalise seek to be subsumed in something bigger than themselves and a world they’ve come to see as meaningless and material.

Fomenting violence and belittling their rhetoric only fuels the fire.

In this sweeping essay, Scott Atran, the foremost expert on the psychology of radicalisation, analyses ISIS in the context of past revolutions. An absolute must-read: ow.ly/VSgjr

World-altering revolutions are born in danger and death, brotherhood and joy.…
aeon.co|By Aeon

What accounts for the failure of ‘The War on Terror’ and associated efforts to counter the spread of violent extremism?

The failure starts with reacting in anger and revenge, engendering more savagery without stopping to grasp the revolutionary character of radical Arab Sunni revivalism.

(If we have to fool ourselves by calling Wahhabism as an Islamic revival)

This revival is a dynamic, countercultural movement of world-historic proportions spearheaded by ISIS, (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

In less than two years, it has created a dominion over hundreds of thousands of square kilometres and millions of people. And it possesses the largest and most diverse volunteer fighting force since the Second World War (And spreading everywhere people have felt subjugated and treated with indignity).

What the United Nations community regards as senseless acts of horrific violence are to ISIS’s acolytes part of an exalted campaign of purification through sacrificial killing and self-immolation:

Know that Paradise lies under the shade of swords, says a hadith, (third parties hearing of what the Prophet might have said); this one comes from the Sahih al-Bukhari, a collection of the Prophet’s sayings considered second only to the Qu’ran in authenticity and is now a motto of ISIS fighters.

(Almost most Islamic teaching are extracted from the collection of Hadith stories, and most of these stories are unreliable)

This is the purposeful plan of violence that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-anointed Caliph, outlined in his call for ‘volcanoes of jihad’: to create a globe-spanning jihadi archipelago that will eventually unite to destroy the present world and create a new-old world of universal justice and peace under the Prophet’s banner.

A key tactic in this strategy is to inspire sympathisers abroad to violence: do what you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are, whenever possible.

To understand the revolution, my research team has conducted dozens of structured interviews and behavioural experiments with youth in Paris, London and Barcelona, as well as with captured ISIS fighters in Iraq and members of Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria).

We also focused on youth from distressed neighbourhoods previously associated with violence or jihadi support – for example, the Paris suburbs of Clichy-sous-Bois and Épinay-sur-Seine, the Moroccan neighbourhoods of Sidi Moumen in Casablanca and Jamaa Mezuak in Tetuán.

While many in the West dismiss radical Islam as simply nihilistic, our work suggests something far more menacing: a profoundly alluring mission to change and save the world.

In the West, the seriousness of this mission is denied.

Olivier Roy, usually a deep and subtle thinker, wrote last month in Le Monde that the Paris plotters represent most who flock to ISIS; they are marginal misfits largely ignorant of religion and geopolitics, and bereft of real historical grievances.

They ride the wave of radical Islam as an outlet for their nihilism because it’s the biggest and baddest countercultural movement around. And how else could one explain a mother who abandons her baby to die butchering innocents in San Bernadino who never did her harm?

But the worldwide ISIS revolution is hardly just a bandwagon for losers.

Although attacked on all sides by internal and external foes, the Islamic State has not deteriorated to any appreciable degree, while rooting ever stronger in areas it controls and expanding its influence in deepening pockets throughout Eurasia and Africa.

Despite recent White House reassurances, US intelligence tells us that ISIS is not being contained. Repeated claims that ISIS is being degraded and on the way to inevitable defeat ring hollow for almost anyone who has had direct experience in the field.

Only Kurdish frontline combatants and some Iranian-led forces have managed to fight ISIS to a standstill on the ground, and only with significant French and US air support. (Trying to forget the Russian massive engagement?)

Despite our relentless propaganda campaign against the Islamic State as vicious, predatory and cruel – most of which might be right – there is little recognition of its genuine appeal, and even less of the joy it engenders.

The mainly young people who volunteer to fight for it unto death feel a joy that comes from joining with comrades in a glorious cause, as well as a joy that comes from satiation of anger and the gratification of revenge (whose sweetness, says science, can be experienced by brain and body much like other forms of happiness).

But there is also a subliminal joy felt across the region for those who reject the Islamic State’s murderous violence yet yearn for the revival of a Muslim Caliphate and the end to a nation-state order that the Great Powers invented and imposed.

It is an order that has failed, and that the US, Russia and their respective allies are trying willy-nilly to resurrect, and it is an order that many in the region believe to be the root of their misery.

What the ISIS revolution is Not, is a simple desire to return to the ancient past. The idea that ISIS seeks a return to medieval times makes no more sense than the idea that the US Tea Party wants to return to 1776.

‘We are not sending people back to the time of the carrier pigeon,’ Abu Mousa, ISIS’s press officer in Raqqa, has said. ‘On the contrary, we will benefit from development. But in a way that doesn’t contradict the religion.’

(Total nonsense: The results on the ground are not promising that development is on the rise)

The Caliphate seeks a new order based on a culture of today. Unless we recognise these passions and aspirations, and deal with them using more than just military means, we will likely fan those passions and lose another generation to war and worse.

Treating the Islamic State as merely a form of terrorism or violent extremism masks the menace. All novel developments are ‘extremist’ compared with what was the norm before.

What matters for history is whether these movements survive and thrive against the competition.

For our singularly self-predatory species, success has depended on willingness to shed blood, including the sacrifice of one’s own, not merely for family and tribe, wealth or status, but for some greater cause. (Mostly deep belief in myths)

This has been especially true since the start of the Axial Age more than two millennia ago. At that time, large-scale civilisations arose under the watchful gaze of powerful divinities, who mercilessly punished moral transgressors – thus ensuring that even strangers in multiethnic empires would work and fight as one.

Call it ‘god’ or whatever secular ideology one prefers, including any of the great modern salvational -isms: colonialism, socialism, anarchism, communism, fascism and liberalism.

In Leviathan (1651), Thomas Hobbes deemed sacrifice for a transcendent ideal ‘the privilege of absurdity to which no creature but man is subject’. Humans make their greatest commitments and exertions, for ill or good, for the sake of ideas that give a sense of significance.

In an inherently chaotic universe, where humans alone recognise that death is unavoidable, there is an overwhelming psychological impetus to overcome this tragedy of cognition: to realise ‘why I am’ and ‘who we are’.

In The Descent of Man (1871), Charles Darwin cast this devotion as the virtue of ‘morality… the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy’ with which winning groups are better endowed in history’s spiralling competition for survival and dominance.

It is the sacred values, immune to material tradeoffs, that bind us most.

In any culture, an unwillingness to sell out one’s kin or religious and political brotherhoods and motherlands is the line we usually will not cross. Devotion to these values can drive successes which are out of all proportion to expected outcomes.

Asymmetric operations involving spectacular killings to destabilise the social order is a tactic that has been around as long as recorded history

Often these values, tethered to beliefs such as our ‘God is great, bodiless but omnipotent’ or our ‘free markets are always wise’, are attributed to Providence or Nature.

They can never be verified by empirical evidence, and their meaning is impossible to pin down.

The term ‘sacred values’ intuitively denotes religious belief, as when land is holy, but can also include the ‘secularised sacred’ such as the ‘hallowed ground’ of Gettysburg or the site of the attacks on New York City of 11 September 2001 (9/11).

The foundational beliefs of the great ideologicalisms and the quasi-religious notion of the Nation itself have been ritualised in song and ceremony and sacrifice.

‘Nothing human is alien to me,’ said Terence, the Roman slave who became a playwright and gave my own field of anthropology an enduring credo: to empathise with those most different from one’s own moral culture, without necessarily sympathising.

This is our call to comprehend. If we can only grasp why otherwise normal humans would want to die killing masses of other humans who have harmed no one, we might ourselves better avoid killing and being killed.

In our liberal democracy, intentional mass bloodshed is considered evil, an expression of human nature gone awry. But across most of human history and cultures, violence against other groups was considered a moral virtue, a classification necessary for killing masses of people innocent of harming others.

Besides, brutal terror scares the hell out of enemies and fence-sitters.

Kurdish leaders told my research group that when 350-400 Islamic State fighters came in a convoy of some 80 trucks to free Sunni captives (and massacre more than 600 Shia inmates) from Badoush prison in Iraq’s second largest city Mosul, a relatively well-equipped Iraqi army of some 18,000 troops under US-trained leaders immediately disappeared or ran away.

When I asked one Arab Sunni soldier embedded with a Kurdish Peshmerga force on the Mosul-Erbil front why fellow soldiers fled, he simply said: ‘They wanted to keep their heads.’ (Head beheading practices by ISIS and Saudi Kingdom)

The shutdown of Brussels in the wake of the Paris attacks, or of Boston in the aftermath of the marathon bombings in 2013, speaks to a comparable fear, and contributes to an underlying lack of faith in our own societies and values, something that terror attacks are designed to promote.

During the Second World War, not even the full might of the German Luftwaffe at the height of the Blitz could compel the UK government and the people of London to cower so (falling into the propaganda trap again: They cowered but Hitler spared them the indignity by stopping the bombing campaign).

Today, mere mention of an attack on New York in an ISIS video has US officials scurrying to calm the public.

Media exposure, which is the oxygen of terror in our age, not only amplifies the perception of danger but, in generating such hysteria, makes the bloated threat to society real.

This is especially true today because the media is mostly designed to titillate the public rather than inform it. Thus, it has become child’s play for ISIS to turn our own propaganda machine, the world’s mightiest, into theirs – boosting a novel, highly potent jujitsu style of asymmetric warfare that we could counter with responsible restraint and straight-up information, but we won’t.

The outcome is dangerous and preposterous. The US Justice Department, with overwhelming support from Congress and the media, now considers the common kitchen pressure cooker to be a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ if used for terrorism.

This ludicrously levels a cooking pot with a thermonuclear bomb that has many billions of times greater destructive power. It trivialises true weapons of mass destruction, making their acceptance more palatable and their use more conceivable.

In this present hyper-reality, messaging is war by other means. ISIS’s manipulation of our media creates a sense of foreboding of mass destruction where it isn’t really possible, and at the same time obscures any real future threat.

Asymmetric operations involving spectacular killings to destabilise the social order is a tactic that has been around as long as recorded history. Violent political and religious groups routinely provoke their enemies into overreacting, preferably by committing atrocities to get the others to drive in the sheep and collect the wool.

When the Romans occupied Judea following the death of Christ, the first revolts involved Jewish youths throwing stones.

The Jewish Zealots and especially their most extreme variant, the Sicarii (‘dagger men’), amped things up, attacking Roman soldiers and Greek underlings in self-sacrificial acts during public ceremonies, cranking the wheels of revenge and retribution.

(The occupied Palestinians are adopting the only weapon they have: kitchen knives)

 

Empire’s Election Extravaganza

Noam Chomsky & Abby Martin

World renowned linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, joins Abby Martin to discuss the so-called War on Terror, the warped political spectrum in the United States, and how power functions in the Empire.

Chomsky argues that both the Democratic and Republican party have shifted to the right, with Republicans going “off the spectrum”, dedicating themselves to the interests of the extremely wealthy and powerful, and today’s Democrats becoming what used to be called moderate Republicans.

“What right do we have to kill somebody in another country we don’t like?”

ICYMI ‪#‎NoamChomsky‬ debunks the absurd logic of the “War on Terror” and dissects The Empire’s fascist shift on Media Roots: http://bit.ly/1IbUSlR

Media Roots is a citizen journalism project that reports the news from outside of party lines while providing a collaborative forum for conscious citizens, artists and…
mediaroots.org

Delving into libertarianism and the role of predatory capitalism, Chomsky discusses the institution of neoliberal policies, which have pushed for things like major financial institution bailouts, and government subsidies to energy corporations.

The contention that markets provide choices is farcical, argues Chomsky, as the market focuses you on individual consumption of consumer goods.

“New libertarians”, according to Chomsky, are deeply confused as to the meaning and history behind classical libertarianism, and what they propose would lead to society collapsing,

Describing the Iraq war as of one of the last century’s greatest atrocities, Chomsky asks what right the United States has in bombing or invading a country, for whatever reason. (And encouraging Israel to launch successive pre-emptive wars since 1956)

While there is a lot of criticism in regards to the US killing civilians inside Kunduz hospital, “what about killing [Taliban members]”, asks Chomsky. “What right do we have to kill somebody in some other country?”

Abby Martin once again takes up beyond the headlines and brings us to the very heart of the issues in this episode of The Empire Files.

posted on November 7, 2009

‘US foreign policy is straight out of the mafia’

Noam Chomsky is the closest thing in the English-speaking world to an intellectual superstar. A philosopher of language and political campaigner of towering academic reputation, who as good as invented modern linguistics, he is entertained by presidents, addresses the UN general assembly and commands a mass international audience.

When he spoke in London last week, thousands of young people battled for tickets to attend his lectures, followed live on the internet across the globe, as the 80-year-old American linguist fielded questions from as far away as besieged Gaza.

But the bulk of the mainstream western media doesn’t seem to have noticed.

His books sell in their hundreds of thousands, he is mobbed by students as a celebrity, but he is rarely reported or interviewed in the US outside radical journals and websites. The explanation, of course, isn’t hard to find. Chomsky is America’s most prominent critic of the US imperial role in the world, which he has used his erudition and standing to expose and excoriate since Vietnam.

Like the English philosopher Bertrand Russell, who spoke out against western-backed wars until his death at the age of 97, Chomsky has lent his academic prestige to a relentless campaign against his own country’s barbarities abroad – though in contrast to the aristocratic Russell, Chomsky is the child of working class Jewish refugees from Tsarist pogroms.

Not surprisingly, he has been repaid with either denunciation or, far more typically, silence. Whereas a much slighter figure such as the Atlanticist French philosopher Bernard Henri-Lévy is lionised at home and abroad, Chomsky and his genuine popularity are ignored.

Indeed, his books have been banned from the US prison library in Guantánamo. You’d hardly need a clearer example of his model of how dissenting views are filtered out of the western media, set out in his 1990’s book Manufacturing Consent, than his own case. But as Chomsky is the first to point out, the marginalisation of opponents of western state policy is as nothing compared to the brutalities suffered by those who challenge states backed by the US and its allies in the Middle East.

We meet in a break between a schedule of lectures and talks that would be punishing for a man half his age. At the podium, Chomsky’s style is dry and low-key, as he ranges without pausing for breath from one region and historical conflict to another, always buttressed with a barrage of sources and quotations, often from US government archives and leaders themselves.

But in discussion he is warm and engaged, only hampered by slight deafness. He has only recently started travelling again, he explains, after a three-year hiatus while he was caring for his wife and fellow linguist, Carol, who died from cancer last December.

Despite their privilege, his concentrated exposure to the continuing injustices and exorbitant expense of the US health system has clearly left him angry. Public emergency rooms are “uncivilised, there is no health care”, he says, and the same kind of corporate interests that drive US foreign policy are also setting the limits of domestic social reform.

All three schemes now being considered for Barack Obama’s health care reform are “to the right of the public, which is two to one in favour of a public option. But the New York Times says that has no political support, by which they mean from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.”

Now the American Petroleum Institute is determined to “follow the success of the insurance industry in killing off health reform,” Chomsky says, and do the same to hopes of genuine international action at next month’s Copenhagen climate change summit.

Only the forms of power have changed since the foundation of the republic, he says, when James Madison insisted that the new state should “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority”.

Chomsky supported Obama’s election campaign in swing states, but regards his presidency as representing little more than a “shift back towards the centre” and a striking foreign policy continuity with George Bush’s second administration.

“The first Bush administration was way off the spectrum, America’s prestige sank to a historic low and the people who run the country didn’t like that.” But he is surprised so many people abroad, especially in the third world, are disappointed at how little Obama has changed. “His campaign rhetoric, hope and change, was entirely vacuous. There was no principled criticism of the Iraq war: he called it a strategic blunder. And Condoleezza Rice was black – does that mean she was sympathetic to third world problems?”

 The veteran activist has described the US invasion of Afghanistan as “one of the most immoral acts in modern history”, which united the jihadist movement around al-Qaida, sharply increased the level of terrorism and was “perfectly irrational – unless the security of the population is not the main priority”.
Which, of course, Chomsky believes, it is not. “States are not moral agents,” he says, and believes that now that Obama is escalating the war, it has become even clearer that the occupation is about the credibility of Nato and US global power.

This is a recurrent theme in Chomsky’s thinking about the American empire. He argues that since government officials first formulated plans for a “grand area” strategy for US global domination in the early 1940s, successive administrations have been guided by a “godfather principle, straight out of the mafia: that defiance cannot be tolerated. It’s a major feature of state policy.” “Successful defiance” has to be punished, even where it damages business interests, as in the economic blockade of Cuba – in case “the contagion spreads”.

The gap between the interests of those who control American foreign policy and the public is also borne out, in Chomsky’s view, by the US’s unwavering support for Israel and “rejectionism” of the two-state solution effectively on offer for 30 years. That’s not because of the overweening power of the Israel lobby in the US, but because Israel is a strategic and commercial asset which underpins rather than undermines US domination of the Middle East.

“Even in the 1950s, President Eisenhower was concerned about what he called a campaign of hatred of the US in the Arab world, because of the perception on the Arab street that it supported harsh and oppressive regimes to take their oil.”

Half a century later, corporations like Lockheed Martin and Exxon Mobil are doing fine, he says: America’s one-sided role in the Middle East isn’t harming their interests, whatever risks it might bring for anyone else.

Chomsky is sometimes criticised on the left for encouraging pessimism or inaction by emphasising the overwhelming weight of US power – or for failing to connect his own activism with labour or social movements on the ground. He is certainly his own man, holds some idiosyncratic views (I was startled, for instance, to hear him say that Vietnam was a strategic victory for the US in southeast Asia, despite its humiliating 1975 withdrawal) and has drawn flak for defending freedom of speech for Holocaust deniers.

He describes himself as an anarchist or libertarian socialist, but often sounds more like a radical liberal – which is perhaps why he enrages more middle-of-the-road American liberals who don’t appreciate their views being taken to the logical conclusion.

But for an octogenarian who has been active on the left since the 1930s, Chomsky sounds strikingly upbeat. He’s a keen supporter of the wave of progressive change that has swept South America in the past decade (“one of the liberal criticisms of Bush is that he didn’t pay enough attention to Latin America – it was the best thing that ever happened to Latin America”).

He also believes there are now constraints on imperial power which didn’t exist in the past: “They couldn’t get away with the kind of chemical warfare and blanket B52 bombing that Kennedy did,” in the 1960s. He even has some qualified hopes for the internet as a way around the monopoly of the corporate-dominated media.

But what of the charge so often made that he’s an “anti-American” figure who can only see the crimes of his own government while ignoring the crimes of others around the world? “Anti-Americanism is a pure totalitarian concept,” he retorts. “The very notion is idiotic. Of course you don’t deny other crimes, but your primary moral responsibility is for your own actions, which you can do something about. It’s the same charge which was made in the Bible by King Ahab, the epitome of evil, when he demanded of the prophet Elijah: why are you a hater of Israel? He was identifying himself with society and criticism of the state with criticism of society.”

It’s a telling analogy. Chomsky is a studiedly modest man who would balk at any such comparison. But in the Biblical tradition of the conflict between prophets and kings, there’s not the slightest doubt which side he represents

More war on Terror? Why is  that the only recurring alternative for mankind?

Call me selfish, but I don’t want to get killed in a terrorist attack at a gig.

So perhaps we could try something different from the War on Terror spiral?

After all, it’s not going so well.

In 2001, when 9/11 happened, the jihadis were a small group of Saudi ex-pats in the mountains of Afghanistan. Now jihadi groups control more than half of Syria, a third of Iraq, and large swathes of Libya. They’re fighting in Yemen, in Afghanistan (still), in Pakistan, in Somalia and in Nigeria.

They’ve attacked in Paris (twice), Sousse (Tunisia), Sharm el-Sheikh, Beirut and other places just this year.

If the West has been trying to stop jihadis since 9/11, it hasn’t worked. (It created ISIS)

But it’s much worse than that. The aim of jihadis is to shock Muslims in order to wake them up and get them to join their struggle.

Bin Laden was explicit about it. One tactic to do that is to provoke an over-reaction from the West – and the West has been willing to oblige.

Invading and occupying Iraq is the most obvious example, which led directly to the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2007.

But terrorist attacks also provoke increased government surveillance on all of us, the targeting of Muslim communities and social division.

The jihadis’ great allies are the politicians and journalists who shut down any attempt to understand this.

The airwaves are full today of facile people saying that what happened in Paris is an attack on Western freedom and culture, so there’s no point in thinking any more deeply about it. But on Thursday ISIS killed 43 people in Beirut with two suicide bombs – because they hate Arab culture?

 Andrew Bossone shared this link

“I know people’s first impulse when a terrorist attack happens is to want to hit back in a direct way, to punish the people who did it and deter others.

But that impulse has been tested to destruction since 2001. Jihadis bank on it, it’s a central part of their strategy.

I don’t know why we always go along with it. It’d be better to do things that might work instead.”

Provoking retaliation is a key part of the jihadists’ strategy, writes Alex Nunns

Pulling up the roots

I expect we’ll carry on acting out the cycle that has worked so successfully for the jihadis since 2001.

But personally, out of a sense of self-interest, I’d prefer it if we tried something different.

Like: tackling the problem of Saudi Arabia, where the jihadi ideology comes from, and which prefers ISIS and the other jihadi groups to succeed if it means Shia Muslims can’t live.

Like: withdrawing support from Turkey while its intelligence agencies help the Nusra Front and turn a blind eye to ISIS, all because it hates the Kurds more than the jihadis and bombs them with NATO’s blessing.

Like: trying to refrain from destroying countries, their infrastructure, their institutions like in Iraq and Libya, both now overrun by jihadis.

Like: actually attempting to end the war in Syria, which is complicated and difficult, but Britain could help by at least not blocking negotiations as it did in the Geneva I and II peace conferences in 2012 and 2014.

The British, French and American governments thought for a few years that it was in their strategic interests for the Syrian war to go on, weakening Syria’s ally Iran and knocking out an enemy of Israel.

But it wasn’t in the interests of us, the people, and certainly not of the thousands of Syrians who have died as a result.

Like: helping refugees who are fleeing from horror, mostly because we should obviously help people in need but also because it’s not wise to have millions of people languishing in squalid camps building up resentment.

I know people’s first impulse when a terrorist attack happens is to want to hit back in a direct way, to punish the people who did it and deter others. But that impulse has been tested to destruction since 2001. Jihadis bank on it, it’s a central part of their strategy. I don’t know why we always go along with it. It’d be better to do things that might work instead.

U.S. State Department “Welcomes” News That Saudi Arabia Will Head U.N. Human Rights Panel

On the basis that this worst State in Human Rights records will desist and improve?

Last week’s announcement that Saudi Arabia — easily one of the world’s most brutally repressive regimes — was chosen to head a U.N. Human Rights Council panel provoked indignation around the world.

That reaction was triggered for obvious reasons.

  1. Not only has Saudi Arabia executed more than 100 people already this year, mostly by beheading (a rate of 1 execution every two days), and
  2. not only is it serially flogging dissidents,
  3. but it is reaching new levels of tyrannical depravity as it is about to behead and then crucify the 21-year-old son of a prominent regime critic, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted at the age of 17 of engaging in demonstrations against the government.
Glenn Greenwald posted this Sept. 23 2015

Most of the world may be horrified at the selection of Saudi Arabia to head a key U.N. human rights panel, but the U.S. State Department most certainly is not.

Quite the contrary: its officials seem quite pleased about the news.

At a State Department briefing yesterday afternoon, Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner was questioned by the invaluable Matt Lee of AP, and this is the exchange that resulted:

QUESTION: Change topic? Saudi Arabia.

MR. TONER: Saudi Arabia.

QUESTION: Yesterday, Saudi Arabia was named to head the Human Rights Council, and today I think they announced they are about to behead a 21-year-old Shia activist named Muhammed al-Nimr. Are you aware of that?

MR. TONER: I’m not aware of the trial that you — or the verdict — death sentence.

QUESTION: Well, apparently, he was arrested when he was 17 years old and kept in juvenile detention, then moved on. And now, he’s been scheduled to be executed.

MR. TONER: Right. I mean, we’ve talked about our concerns on the capital punishment cases in Saudi Arabia in our Human Rights Report, but I don’t have any more to add to it.

QUESTION: So you —

QUESTION: Well, how about a reaction to them heading the council?

MR. TONER: Again, I don’t have any comment, don’t have any reaction to it. I mean, frankly, it’s — we would welcome it. We’re close allies. If we —

QUESTION: Do you think that they’re an appropriate choice given — I mean, how many pages is — does Saudi Arabia get in the Human Rights Report annually?

MR. TONER: I can’t give that off the top of my head, Matt. (What does Toner keeps in his Top?)

QUESTION: I can’t either, but let’s just say that there’s a lot to write about Saudi Arabia and human rights in that report. I’m just wondering if you — that it’s appropriate for them to have a leadership position.

MR. TONER: We have a strong dialogue, obviously a partnership with Saudi Arabia that spans, obviously, many issues. We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it’s an occasion for them to look at human rights around the world but also within their own borders.

QUESTION: But you said that you welcome them in this position. Is it based on [an] improved record? I mean, can you show or point to anything where there is a sort of stark improvement in their human rights record?

MR. TONER: I mean, we have an ongoing discussion with them about all these human rights issues, like we do with every country. We make our concerns clear when we do have concerns, but that dialogue continues. But I don’t have anything to point to in terms of progress.

QUESTION: Would you welcome as a — would you welcome a decision to commute the sentence of this young man?

MR. TONER: Again, I’m not aware of the case, so it’s hard for me to comment on it other than that we believe that any kind of verdict like that should come at the end of a legal process that is just and in accordance with international legal standards. (And if there is no such legal progress? No defense lawyers…)

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. TONER: Sure.

That’s about as clear as it gets.

The U.S. government “welcomes” the appointment of Saudi Arabia to a leadership position on this Human Rights panel because it’s a “close ally.”

As I documented two weeks ago courtesy of an equally candid admission from an anonymous “senior U.S. official”: “The U.S. loves human-rights-abusing regimes and always has, provided they ‘cooperate.’ …

The only time the U.S. government pretends to care in the slightest about human rights abuses is when they’re carried out by ‘countries that don’t cooperate.’”

It’s difficult to know whether Mark Toner is lying when he claims ignorance about the case of al-Nimr, the regime critic about to be beheaded and crucified for dissident activism, which he engaged in as a teen.

Indeed, it’s hard to know which would be worse: active lying or actual ignorance, given that much of the world has been talking about this case.

The government of France formally requested that the Saudis rescind the death penalty.

Is it really possible that the deputy spokesperson of the U.S. State Department is ignorant of this controversy?

Either way, the reluctance of the U.S. government to utter a peep about the grotesque abuses of its “close ally” is in itself grotesque.

But it’s also profoundly revealing. The close U.S./Saudi alliance and the massive amount of weapons and intelligence lavished on the regime in Riyadh by the West is one of the great unmentionables in Western discourse.

(The Guardian last week published an editorial oh-so-earnestly lamenting the war in Yemen being waged by what it called the “Saudi-led coalition,” yet never once mentioned the rather important fact that the Saudis are being armed in this heinous war by the U.S. and U.K.)

It took a letter to the editor from an Oxfam official to tell The Guardian that the West is not being “complacent” about the war crimes being committed in Yemen, as The Guardian misleadingly claimed, but rather actively complicit.

It’s not hard to understand why so many of the elite sectors of the West want everyone to avert their eyes from this deep and close relationship with the Saudis. It’s because that alliance single-handedly destroys almost every propagandistic narrative told to the Western public about that region.

As the always-expanding “War on Terror” enters its 14th year, the ostensible target — radical, violent versions of Islam — is fueled far more by the U.S.’s closest allies than any of the countries the U.S. has been fighting under the “War on Terror” banner.

Beyond that, the alliance proves the complete absurdity of believing that the U.S. and U.K.’s foreign policies, let alone their various wars, have anything to do with protecting human rights or subverting tyranny and fanaticism.

And it renders a complete laughingstock any attempts to depict the U.S. government as some sort of crusader for freedom and democracy or whatever other pretty goals are regularly attributed to it by its helpful press.

Note: over 1,000 Hajj died trampled and 2,000 injured. The real cause was that the son of the monarch was going counter to traffic in this narrow lane leading to Mena, escorted by 200 soldiers and 150 police officers. They had closed entrances and exits for the convoy safety.

 

Americans have yet to grasp the horrific magnitude of the ‘war on terror’

New report documents unspeakable humanitarian and political toll

April 10, 2015

Even as the U.S. expands its military involvement in the Middle East and delays the troop drawdown from Afghanistan, the staggering human toll of the U.S. “war on terrorism” remains poorly understood.

A new report (PDF), whose release last month coincided with the 12th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, attempts to draw attention to civilian and combatant casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yet the study, authored by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other humanitarian groups, barely elicited a whisper in the media.

Washington’s preoccupation with the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other regional conflicts has largely obscured the humanitarian, economic and political toll of its “war on terrorism.”

But ISIL’s resurgence is Not unrelated to Washington’s military campaign.

“ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion,” President Barack Obama told Vice News last month.

Until the U.S. comes to grips with the aftereffects of its counterterrorism policies, it will continue to pursue counterproductive strategies that cause incalculable damage.

The report estimates that at least 1.3 million people have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan from direct and indirect consequences of the U.S. “war on terrorism.”

One million people perished in Iraq alone, a shocking 5% of the country’s population.

The staggering civilian toll and the hostility it has engendered erodes the myth that the sprawling “war on terrorism” made the U.S. safer and upheld human rights, all at an acceptable cost.

As the authors point out, the report offers a conservative estimate. The death toll could exceed 2 million.

Those killed in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere from U.S. drone strikes were not included in the tally.

Besides, the body count does not account for the handicapped, thewounded, the grieving and the dispossessed.

There are 3 million internally displaced Iraqis and nearly 2.5 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, and 4 million in Syria

The U.S. tracks its own military deaths and physical injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Its involvement in Pakistan has been more sporadic and secretive.)

Unsurprisingly, there are no conclusive government statistics on casualties and deaths among enemy combatants and civilians. This omission is by design.

In fact, authorities have sometimes deliberately falsified details about the carnage that the U.S. has wrought.

This isn’t the first accounting on the suffering unleashed by U.S. counterterrorism efforts, but the American public remains woefully misinformed.

A 2007 poll found that Americans estimated the Iraqi death toll at 10,000.

And it is not just the body count that has been obscured.

A 2011 study by the University of Maryland found that 38% of Americans still believe that the U.S. uncovered clear evidence that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al-Qaeda, though the claim is patently untrue.

The failure to reckon with past miscalculations bodes ill for avoiding the same mistakes in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where Washington is providing logistical support for the Saudi-led intervention.

The U.S. has evinced shocking indifference to the suffering its policies have caused.

The report admonishes policymakers and the public to avoid historical amnesia about the war’s costs — a phenomenon not unique to the recent past.

A flawed understanding of the toll of the Vietnam War still persists.

The death toll of 58,000 U.S. soldiers in Vietnam may be etched into our national consciousness, but those psychologically harmed from the war faded from view (It is reported that 60,000 veterans committed suicide).

And few can correctly cite the 2 million dead Vietnamese noncombatants, the lives lost and devastation from bombings in Laos and Cambodia or the war’s enduring legacy of health and environmental harms caused by defoliants. (Three generation later, Vietnamese are born with horrible disfiguring due to Orange gas)

There are other haunting parallels as well.

The Vietnam War had a destabilizing effect in the region that allowed the Khmer Rouge to thrive in Cambodia, where it committed genocide, for which there has been no real reckoning.

It is all too easy to dismiss the fighting in the Middle East as ancient and inevitable internecine conflicts that are wholly independent of U.S. intervention.

But that account precludes a reflective and critical assessment of how the region’s disintegration unfolded.

The “war on terrorism” is not over in Afghanistan.

In December the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that 2014 saw the highest rate of civilian deaths and injuries in the five years the organization has kept statistics.

After announcing plans to wind down U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Obama recently said nearly 10,000 U.S. soldiers would remain in the country through the end of 2015.

The use of private military contractors, for which statistics are intentionally vague, clouds the full scope of the U.S. presence there. (Recently, the US court convicted 4 contractors to a life sentence for crimes in Iraq)

Obama maintains that the target date for the final drawdown remains unchanged, but anti-war activists who hoped his election would herald the end of the George W. Bush–era aggression have reined in their relief.

The “war on terrorism” costs the U.S. not only blood but also treasure.

The Costs of War project at Brown University estimated in June 2014 that the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan would cost taxpayers “close to $4.4 trillion, not including future interest costs on borrowing for the wars,” through the end of 2014.

Last year 18% of the federal budget, or $615 billion, went to defense spending.

About 27% of 2014 tax payments went directly to the military, and an additional 18% went toward paying for past military actions. Interest costs will be at least $7.9 trillion by 2054 (PDF), unless Washington changes the way it pays its war debt. (With increased preemptive wars)

Despite the costs and inefficacy of Washington’s military interventions, support for the use of force has grown:

In three surveys by the Pew Research Center over the last decade, fewer than 40% of Americans believed in the use of force as the best strategy to combat terrorism, but recent Pew poll found that nearly half the Americans surveyed believed that military force is the best way to combat global terrorism.

The threat of terrorism has not receded in the wake of U.S. interventions.

Sanitizing the effect of Washington’s past military campaigns leads to a flawed and inhumane cost-benefit analysis for future missions.

And it provides political cover for leaders who should answer for the turmoil the U.S. has engendered.

The failure to reckon with previous miscalculations bodes ill for avoiding the same mistakes in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where Washington is providing logistical support for the Saudi-led intervention.

This will not only cause unspeakable human suffering beyond our borders but also may come back to haunt us once more.

Lauren Carasik is a clinical professor of law and the director of the international human rights clinic at the Western New England University School of Law.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

Andrew Bossone shared this link and comments on FB

The staggering civilian toll and the hostility it has engendered erodes the myth that the sprawling “war on terrorism” made the U.S. safer and upheld human rights, all at an acceptable cost.

As the authors point out, the report offers a conservative estimate. The death toll could exceed 2 million. Those killed in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere from U.S. drone strikes were not included in the tally. Besides, the body count does not account for the wounded, the grieving and the dispossessed.

There are 3 million internally displaced Iraqis and nearly 2.5 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.

See More

New report documents unspeakable humanitarian and political toll
america.aljazeera.com

 

Double game: The circus of British intelligence on War on Terror

Every time there’s a terrorist attack that makes national headlines, the same talking heads seem to pop up like an obscene game of “whack-a-mole”.

Often they appear one after the other across the media circuit, bobbing from celebrity television pundit to erudite newspaper outlet.

A few years ago, BBC Newsnight proudly hosted a “debate” between Maajid Nawaz, director of counter-extremism think-tank, the Quilliam Foundation, and Anjem Choudary, head of the banned Islamist group formerly known as al-Muhajiroun, which has, since its proscription, repeatedly reincarnated itself.

One of its more well-known recent incarnations was “Islam4UK“.

The circus: How British intelligence primed both sides of the ‘terror war’ #Religion

Author Info Wrap Nafeez Ahmed. 27 February 2015

Both Nawaz and Choudary have received huge mainstream media attention, generating press headlines, and contributing to major TV news and current affairs shows.

But unbeknown to most, they have one thing in common: Britain’s security services. And believe it or not, that bizarre fact explains why the Islamic State’s (IS) celebrity beheader, former west Londoner Mohammed Emwazi – aka “Jihadi John” – got to where he is now.

A tale of two extremists

After renouncing his affiliation with the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), Maajid Nawaz co-founded the Quilliam Foundation with his fellow ex-Hizb member, Ed Husain.

The Quilliam Foundation was set-up by Husain and Nawaz in 2008 with significant British government financial support. Its establishment received a massive PR boost from the release of Ed Husain’s memoirs, The Islamist, which rapidly became an international bestseller, generating hundreds of reviews, interviews and articles.

‘Jihadi John’ was able to join IS for one simple reason: from Quilliam to al-Muhajiroun, Britain’s loudest extremists have been groomed by the security services

– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/circus-how-british-intelligence-primed-both-sides-terror-war-55293733#sthash.Y7Gc02Mv.dpuf

In Ed Husain’s book – much like Maajid Nawaz’s tome Radical released more recently to similar fanfare – Husain recounts his journey from aggrieved young Muslim into Islamist activist, and eventually his total rejection of Islamist ideology.

Both accounts of their journeys of transformation offer provocative and genuine insights.

But the British government has played a much more direct role in crafting those accounts than either they, or the government, officially admit.

Government ghostwriters

In late 2013, I interviewed a former senior researcher at the Home Office who revealed that Husain’s The Islamist was “effectively ghostwritten in Whitehall”.

The official told me that in 2006, he was informed by a government colleague “with close ties” to Jack Straw and Gordon Brown that “the draft was written by Ed but then ‘peppered’ by government input”.

The civil servant told him “he had seen ‘at least five drafts of the book, and the last one was dramatically different from the first.’

The draft had, the source said, been manipulated in an explicitly political, pro-government manner. The committee that had input into Ed Husain’s manuscript prior to its official publication included senior government officials from No. 10 Downing Street, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, the intelligence services, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Home Office.

When I repeatedly put the question to Ed Husain as to the veracity of these allegations, he did not respond.

I also asked Nawaz whether he was aware of the government’s role in “ghostwriting” Husain’s prose, and whether he underwent a similar experience in the production of Radical. He did not respond either.

While Husain was liaising with British government and intelligence officials over The Islamist from 2006 until the book’s publication in May 2007, his friend Nawaz was at first in prison in Egypt.

Nawaz was eventually released in March 2006, declaring his departure from HT just a month before the publication of Husain’s book.

Husain took credit for being the prime influence on Nawaz’s decision, and by November 2007, had joined with him becoming Quilliam’s director with Husain as his deputy.

Yet according to Husain, Nawaz played a role in determining parts of the text of The Islamist in the same year it was being edited by government officials. “Before publication, I discussed with my friend and brother-in-faith Maajid the passages in the book,” wrote Husain about the need to verify details of their time in HT.

This is where the chronology of Husain’s and Nawaz’s accounts begin to break down.

In Radical, and repeatedly in interviews about his own deradicalisation process, Nawaz says that he firmly and decisively rejected HT’s Islamist ideology while in prison in Egypt.

Yet upon his release and return to Britain, Nawaz showed no sign of having reached that decision. Instead, he did the opposite.

In April 2006, Nawaz told Sarah Montague on BBC Hardtalk that his detention in Egypt had “convinced [him] even more… that there is a need to establish this Caliphate as soon as possible.”

From then on, Nawaz, who was now on HT’s executive committee, participated in dozens of talks and interviews in which he vehemently promoted the Hizb.

I first met Nawaz at a conference on 2 December 2006 organised by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) on the theme of “reclaiming our rights”.

I had spoken on a panel about the findings of my book, The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry, on how British state collusion with Islamist extremists had facilitated the 7/7 attacks.

Nawaz had attended the event as an audience member with two other senior HT activists, and in our brief conversation, he spoke of his ongoing work with HT in glowing terms.

By January 2007, Nawaz was at the front of a HT protest at the US embassy in London, condemning US military operations in Iraq and Somalia. He delivered a rousing speech at the protest, demanding an end to “colonial intervention in the Muslim world,” and calling for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate to stand up to such imperialism and end Western support for dictators.

Yet by his own account, throughout this very public agitation on behalf of HT from mid-2006 onwards, Nawaz had in fact rejected the very ideology he was preaching so adamantly.

Indeed, in the same period, he was liaising with his friend, Ed Husain – who at that time was still in Jeddah – and helping him with the text of his anti-HT manifesto, The Islamist, which was also being vetted at the highest levels of government.

The British government’s intimate, and secret, relationship with Husain in the year before the publication of his book in 2007 shows that, contrary to his official biography, the Quilliam Foundation founder was embedded in Whitehall long before he was on the public radar.

How did he establish connections at this level?

MI5’s Islamist

According to Dr Noman Hanif, a lecturer in international terrorism and political Islam at Birkbeck College, University of London, and an expert on Hizb ut-Tahrir, the group’s presence in Britain likely provided many opportunities for Western intelligence to “penetrate or influence” the movement.

Dr Hanif, whose doctoral thesis was about the group, points out that Husain’s tenure inside HT by his own account occurred “under the leadership of Omar Bakri Mohammed,” the controversial cleric who left the group in 1996 to found al-Muhajiroun, a militant network which to this day has been linked to every major terrorist plot in Britain.

Bakri’s leadership of HT, said Dr Hanif, formed “the most conceptually deviant period of HT’s existence in the UK, diverting quite sharply away from its core ideas,” due to Bakri’s advocacy of violence and his focus on establishing an Islamic state in the UK, goals contrary to HT doctrines.

When Bakri left HT and set-up al-Muhajiroun in 1996, according to John Loftus, a former US Army intelligence officer and Justice Department prosecutor, Bakri was immediately recruited by MI6 to facilitate Islamist activities in the Balkans. And not just Bakri, but also Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was recently convicted in the US on terrorism charges.

When Bakri founded al-Muhajiroun in 1996 with the blessings of Britain’s security services, his co-founder was Anjem Choudary. Choudary was intimately involved in the programme to train and send Britons to fight abroad, and three years later, would boast to the Sunday Telegraph that “some of the training does involve guns and live ammunition”.

Historian Mark Curtis, in his seminal work, Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, documents how under this arrangement, Bakri trained hundreds of Britons at camps in the UK and the US, and dispatched them to join al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya.

Shortly before the 2005 London bombings, Ron Suskind, a Wall Street Journal Pulitizer Prize winning investigative reporter, was told by a senior MI5 official that Bakri was a longtime informant for the secret service who “had helped MI5 on several of its investigations”. Bakri, Suskind adds in his book, The Way of the World, reluctantly conceded the relationship in an interview in Beirut – but Suskind gives no indication that the relationship ever ended.

A senior terrorism lawyer in London who has represented clients in several high-profile terrorism cases told me that both Bakri and Choudary had regular meetings with MI5 officers in the 1990s. The lawyer, who works for a leading firm of solicitors and has regularly liaised with MI5 in the administration of closed court hearings involving secret evidence, said: “Omar Bakri had well over 20 meetings with MI5 from around 1993 to the late 1990s. Anjem Choudary apparently participated in such meetings toward the latter part of the decade. This was actually well-known amongst several senior Islamist leaders in Britain at the time.”

According to Dr Hanif of Birkbeck College, Bakri’s relationship with the intelligence services likely began during his “six-year reign as HT leader in Britain,” which would have “provided British intelligence ample opportunity” to “widely infiltrate the group”. HT had already been a subject of MI6 surveillance abroad “because of its core level of support in Jordan and the consistent level of activity in other areas of the Middle East for over five decades.”

At least some HT members appear to have been aware of Bakri’s intelligence connections, including, it seems, Ed Husain himself. In one passage in The Islamist (p. 116), Husain recounts: “We were also concerned about Omar’s application for political asylum… I raised this with Bernie [another HT member] too. ‘Oh no’, he said, ‘On the contrary. The British are like snakes; they manoeuvre carefully. They need Omar in Britain. More likely, Omar will be the ambassador for the khilafah here or leave to reside in the Islamic state. The kuffar know that – allowing Omar to stay in Britain will give them a good start, a diplomatic advantage, when they have to deal with the Islamic state. Having Omar serves them well for the future. MI5 knows exactly what we’re doing, what we’re about, and yet they have in effect, given us the green light to operate in Britain.”

Husain left HT after Bakri in August 2007. According to Faisal Haque, a British government civil servant and former HT member who knew Ed Husain during his time in the group, Husain had a strong “personal relationship” with Bakri. He did not leave HT for “ideological reasons,” said Haque. “It was more to do with his close personal relationship with Omar Bakri (he left when Bakri was kicked out), pressure from his father and other personal reasons which I don’t want to mention.”

Husain later went on to work for the British Council in the Middle East. From 2003 to 2005, he was in Damascus. During that period, by his own admission, he informed on other British members of HT for agitating against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, resulting in them being deported by Syrian authorities back to Britain. At this time, the CIA and MI6 routinely cooperated with Assad on extraordinary rendition programmes.

Husain then worked for the British Council in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from late 2005 to the end of 2006.

Throughout that year, according to the former Home Office official I spoke to, Husain was in direct contact with senior Whitehall officials who were vetting his manuscript for The Islamist. By November, Husain posted on DeenPort, an online discussion forum, a now deleted comment referring off-hand to the work of “the secret services” inside HT: “Even within HT in Britain today, there is a huge division between modernisers and more radical elements. The secret services are hopeful that the modernisers can tame the radicals… I foresee another split. And God knows best. I have said more than I should on this subject! Henceforth, my lips are sealed!”

Shortly after, Maajid Nawaz would declare his departure from HT, and would eventually be joined at Quilliam by several others from the group, many of whom according to Nawaz had worked with him and Husain as “a team” behind the scenes at this time.

The ‘ex-jihadists’ who weren’t

Perhaps the biggest problem with Husain’s and Nawaz’s claim to expertise on terrorism was that they were never jihadists. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a non-violent movement for the establishment of a global “caliphate” through social struggle, focusing on the need for political activism in the Muslim world. Whatever the demerits of this rigid political ideology, it had no relationship to the phenomenon of al-Qaeda terrorism.

Nevertheless, Husain and Nawaz, along with their government benefactors, were convinced that those personal experiences of  “radicalisation” and “deradicalisation” could by transplanted into the ongoing “war on terror” – even though, in reality neither of them had any idea about the dynamics of an actual terrorist network, and the radicalisation process leading to violent extremism. The result was an utterly misguided and evidence-devoid obsession with rejecting non-violent extremist ideologies as the primary means to prevent terrorism.

Through the Quilliam Foundation, Husain’s and Nawaz’s fundamentalist ideas about non-violent extremism went on to heavily influence official counter-terrorism discourses across the Western world. This was thanks to its million pounds worth of government seed-funding, intensive media coverage, as well as the government pushing Quilliam’s directors and staff to provide “deradicalisation training” to government and security officials in the US and Europe.

In the UK, Quilliam’s approach was taken up by various centre-right and right-wing think-tanks, such as the Centre for Social Cohesion (CCS) and Policy Exchange, all of which played a big role in influencing the government’s Preventing Violent Extremism programme (Prevent).

Exactly how bankrupt this approach is, however, can be determined from Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to express his understanding of the risk from non-violent extremism, a major feature of the coalition government’s Orwellian new Counter-Terrorism and Security Act. The latter establishes unprecedented powers of electronic surveillance and the basis for the “Prevent duty,” which calls for all public sector institutions to develop “risk-assessment” profiles of individuals deemed to be “at-risk” of being drawn into non-violent extremism.

In his speech at the UN last year, Cameron explained that counter-terrorism measures must target people who may not “encourage violence, but whose worldview can be used as a justification for it.” As examples of dangerous ideas at the “root cause” of terrorism, Cameron pinpointed “conspiracy theories,” and most outrageously, “The idea that Muslims are persecuted all over the world as a deliberate act of Western policy.”

In other words, if you believe, for instance, that US and British forces have deliberately conducted brutal military operations across the Muslim world resulting in the foreseeable deaths of countless innocent civilians, you are a non-violent extremist.

In an eye-opening academic paper published last year, French terrorism expert and Interior Ministry policy officer Dr Claire Arenes, noted that:

By definition, one may know if radicalisation has been violent only once the point of violence has been reached, at the end of the process. Therefore, since the end-term of radicalisation cannot be determined in advance, a policy intended to fight violent radicalisation entails a structural tendency to fight any form of radicalisation.”

It is precisely this moronic obsession with trying to detect and stop “any form of radicalisation,” however non-violent, that is hampering police and security investigations and overloading them with nonsense “risks”.

Double game

At this point, the memorable vision of Nawaz and Choudary facing off on BBC Newsnight appears not just farcical, but emblematic of how today’s national security crisis has been fuelled and exploited by the bowels of the British secret state.

Over the last decade or so – the very same period that the British state was grooming the “former jihadists who weren’t” so they could be paraded around the media-security-industrial complex bigging up the non-threat of “non-violent extremism” – the CIA and MI6 were coordinating Saudi-led funding to al-Qaeda affiliated extremists across the Middle East and Central Asia to counter Iranian Shiite influence.

From 2005 onwards, US and British intelligence services encouraged a range of covert operations to support Islamist opposition groups, including militants linked to al-Qaeda, to undermine regional Iranian and Syrian influence. By 2009, the focus of these operations shifted to Syria.

As I documented in written evidence to a UK Parliamentary inquiry into Prevent in 2010, one of the recipients of such funding was none other than Omar Bakri, who at the time told one journalist: “Today, angry Lebanese Sunnis ask me to organise their jihad against the Shiites… Al-Qaeda in Lebanon… are the only ones who can defeat Hezbollah.” Simultaneously, Bakri was regularly in touch with his deputy, Anjem Choudary, over the internet and even delivered online speeches to his followers in Britain instructing them to join IS and murder civilians. He has now been detained and charged by Lebanese authorities for establishing terror cells in the country.

Bakri was also deeply involved “with training the mujahideen [fighters] in camps on the Syrian borders and also on the Palestine side.” The trainees included four British Islamists “with professional backgrounds” who would go on to join the war in Syria. Bakri also claimed to have trained “many fighters,” including people from Germany and France, since arriving in Lebanon. Was Mohammed Emwazi among them? Last year, Bakri disciple Mizanur Rahman confirmed that at least five European Muslims who had died fighting under IS in Syria had been Bakri acolytes.

Nevertheless in 2013, it was David Cameron who lifted the arms embargo to support Syria’s rebels. We now know that most of our military aid went to al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists, many with links to extremists at home. The British government itself acknowledged that a “substantial number” of Britons were fighting in Syria, who “will seek to carry out attacks against Western interests… or in Western states”.

Yet according to former British counterterrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge, despite this risk, authorities “turned a blind eye to the travelling of its own jihadists to Syria, notwithstanding ample video etc. evidence of their crimes there,” because it “suited the US and UK’s anti-Assad foreign policy”.

This terror-funnel is what enabled people like Emwazi to travel to Syria and join up with IS – despite being on an MI5 terror watch-list. He had been blocked by the security services from traveling to Kuwait in 2010: why not Syria? Shoebridge, who was a British Army officer before joining the Metropolitan Police, told me that although such overseas terrorism has been illegal in the UK since 2006, “it’s notable that only towards the end of 2013 when IS turned against the West’s preferred rebels, and perhaps also when the tipping point between foreign policy usefulness and MI5 fears of domestic terrorist blowback was reached, did the UK authorities begin to take serious steps to tackle the flow of UK jihadists.”

The US-UK direct and tacit support for jihadists, Shoebridge said, had made Syria the safest place for regional terrorists fearing drone strikes “for more than two years”. Syria was “the only place British jihadists could fight without fear of US drones or arrest back home… likely because, unlike if similar numbers of UK jihadists had been travelling to for example Yemen or Afghanistan, this suited the anti-Assad policy.”

Having watched its own self-fulfilling prophecy unfold with horrifying precision in a string of IS-linked terrorist atrocities against Western hostages and targets, the government now exploits the resulting mayhem to vindicate its bankrupt “counter-extremism” narrative, promoted by hand-picked state-groomed “experts” like Husain and Nawaz.

Their prescription, predictably, is to expand the powers of the police state to identify and “deradicalise” anyone who thinks British foreign policy in the Muslim world is callous, self-serving and indifferent to civilian deaths. Government sources confirm that Nawaz’s input played a key role in David Cameron’s thinking on non-violent extremism, and the latest incarnation of the Prevent strategy; while last year, Husain was, ironically, appointed to the Foreign Office advisory group on freedom of religion or belief.

Meanwhile, Bakri’s deputy Choudary continues to inexplicably run around as Britain’s resident “terror cleric” media darling. His passport belatedly confiscated after a recent pointless police arrest that avoided charging him, he remains free to radicalise thick-headed British Muslims into joining IS, in the comfort that his hate speech will be broadcast widely, no doubt fueling widespread generic suspicion of British Muslims.

If only we could round up the Quilliam and al-Muhajiroun fanatics together, shove them onto a boat, and send them all off cruising to the middle of nowhere, they could have all the fun they want “radicalising” and “deradicalising” each other to their hearts content. And we might get a little peace. And perhaps we could send their handlers with them, too.

– Nafeez Ahmed PhD, is an investigative journalist, international security scholar and bestselling author who tracks what he calls the ‘crisis of civilization.’

He is a winner of the Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian reporting on the intersection of global ecological, energy and economic crises with regional geopolitics and conflicts.

He has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist. 

His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Abu Hamza al-Masri speaks at a rally in Trafalgar Square in London 25 August, 2002 (AFP)

– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/circus-how-british-intelligence-primed-both-sides-terror-war-55293733#sthash.Y7Gc02Mv.dpuf

 

Is Yemen On the brink of civil war?

As if Yemen ever stopped being on the verge of civil wars for over a century.

If the problems were just fighting among themselves.

The collapse of the US-backed government in the 2,500-year-old capital city of Sanaa, and the takeover by a Shiite-like sect, Houthi rebels from the north, has left the country in turmoil, amidst the threat of yet another regional conflagration along sectarian lines.

Britain, the United States and France have already closed down their embassies, but less clear is how they can respond to a crisis that looks ready to spiral out of control.

Most Gulf Emirate States and Saudi Arabia have transferred their embassies to Aden, to where the deposed President Hadi fled and is seeking support to his position.

Yemen’s collapse is a taste of things to come #InsideYemen

Author Info Wrap Nafeez Ahmed, Friday 20 February 2015

The war pundits have been out in force offering all manner of stale recommendations, largely rehashed from the last decade of failed counter-terrorism policies.

We are running out of options, but the reason for this is more nuanced than some might assume.

The core drivers of state failure in Yemen are neither Islamists, al-Qaeda jihadists, nor Houthis: they are structural, systemic, and ultimately, civilisational.

Yemen’s crisis serves as a grave warning for the looming risks to states in coming years and decades, not just in the region, but around the world

Welcome to the post-oil future

Yemen’s story is one of protracted, inexorable collapse.

Around 2001, Yemen’s oil production reached its peak, since then declining from 450,000 barrels per day (bbd), to 259,000 bpd in 2010, and as of last year hitting 100,000 bpd. Production is expected to plummet to zero in two years.

This has led to a drastic decline in Yemen’s oil exports, which has eaten into government revenues, 75% of which depend on oil exports.

Oil revenues also account for 90 percent of the government’s foreign exchange reserves. The decline in post-peak Yemen revenues has reduced the government’s capacity to sustain even basic social investments. (And how the former dictator managed to stash $9 bn in overseas banks?)

Things are looking bad now: but when the oil runs out, with no planning or investment in generating another meaningful source of government revenue, the capacity to sustain a viable state-structure will completely collapse.

Water woes

It’s not just oil that’s disappearing in Yemen: it’s water.

Yemen is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world.

In 2012, the average Yemeni had access to just 140 cubic metres of water a year for all uses, compared to the regional average of less than 1,000 cubic metres – which is still well below adequate levels.

Now in 2015, Yemenis have as little as 86 cubic metres of renewable water sources left per person per year.

The water situation in Yemen today is catastrophic by any reasonable standard. In many cities people have only sporadic access to running water every other week or so. In coming years, Sanaa could become the first capital in the world to effectively run out of water.

Climate change has already played a role in aggravating regional water scarcity.

From 1974 to 2004, the Arab world experienced rises in surface air temperature ranging from 0.2 to 2 degrees Celsius (C). Forecasting models generally project a hotter, drier, less predictable climate that could produce a 20-30% drop in water run-off in the region by 2050, mainly due to rising temperatures and lower precipitation.

According to the World Bank, while “climate change-induced alterations of rainfall” have worsened Yemen’s aridity, this has been compounded by the rapid growth in demand due to the “extension and intensification of agriculture; and fast growth in urban centres.”

Demographic disaster

At about 25 million people, Yemen has a relatively small population. But its rate of growth is exorbitantly high. More than half the population is under the age of 18 and by mid-century its size is expected to nearly double.

Last year, at a conference organised jointly by the National Population Council in Sanaa and the UN Population Fund, experts and officials warned that within the next decade, these demographic trends would demolish the government’s ability to meet the population’s basic needs in education, health and other essential public services.

But that warning is transpiring now.

Over half the Yemeni population live below the poverty line, and unemployment is at 40 percent generally, and 60 percent for young people. Meanwhile, as these crises have fuelled ongoing conflicts throughout the country, the resulting humanitarian crisis has affected some 15 million people.

A major impact of the high rate of population growth has been in the expansion of qat cultivation. With few economic opportunities, increasing numbers of Yemenis have turned to growing and selling the mild narcotic, which has accelerated water use to around 3.9 billion cubic metres (bcm), against a renewable supply of just 2.5 bcm.

The 1.4 bcm shortfall is being met by pumping water from underground water reserves. As these run dry, social tensions, local conflicts and even mass displacements are exacerbated, feeding into the dynamics of the wider sectarian and political conflicts between the government, the Houthis, southern separatists and al-Qaeda affiliated militants.

This has also undermined food security. As around 40 percent of Yemen’s irrigated areas are devoted to qat, rain-fed agriculture has dropped by about 30 percent since 1970.

Like many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Yemen has thus become evermore dependent on food imports, and its economy increasingly vulnerable to global food price volatility.

The country now imports over 85% of its food, including 90 percent of its wheat and all of its rice.

Between 2000 and 2008, the year of the global banking collapse, global food prices rose by 75 percent, and wheat in particular by 200 percent. Since then, food prices have fluctuated, but remained high.

But rampant poverty means most Yemenis simply cannot afford these prices.

In 2005, the World Bank estimated that Yemeni families spend an average of between 55 and 70 percent of their incomes just on trying to obtain food, water and energy.

And while 40 percent of Yemeni households have got into food-related debt as a result, most Yemenis are still hungry, with the rate of chronic malnutrition as high as 58 percent, second only to Afghanistan.

Slow collapse

For more than the last decade, then, Yemen has faced a convergence of energy, water and food crises intensified by climate change, accelerating the country’s economic crisis in the form of ballooning debt, widening inequalities and the crumbling of basic public services.

Epidemic levels of government corruption, contributing to endemic levels of government mismanagement and incompetence, have meant that what little revenues the government has acquired have mostly disappeared into Swiss bank accounts.

Meanwhile, much-needed investments in new social programs, development of non-oil resources, and infrastructure improvements have languished.

With revenues plummeting in the wake of the collapse of its oil industry, the government has been forced to slash subsidies while cranking up fuel and diesel prices.

This has, in turn, cranked up prices of water, meat, fruits, vegetables and spices, leading to food riots.

There can be no doubt, then, that the rise of violent and separatist movements across Yemen, including the emergence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has been largely enabled by the protracted collapse of the Yemeni state.

That process of collapse has been driven primarily by trends that are at play across the world: the peak of conventional oil production, intensifying extreme weather events due to climate change, the impacts on water and food scarcity, and deepening economic crisis.

As the government has failed to deliver even the most basic goods and services, it has lost legitimacy – and the vacuum left behind has been exploited by militants.

The ‘war’ on starved, thirsty and unemployed Yemenis

The US “war on terror” in Yemen is thus an ideal case study in failure: the failure of the “war on terror” as a strategy; the failure of the Yemeni state; the failure of neoliberal economic prescriptions; and, ultimately, the naval-gazing failure to understand how and why we are failing.

For the last few decades, successive US administrations have subsidised these failures by propping up corrupt, authoritarian regimes. Instead of recognising the fundamental drivers of state collapse, the approach has been to deal with the surface symptoms by propping up the police and military powers of a doomed and illegitimate state-structure.

The previous government of Abdullah Saleh was effectively toppled under popular protests in 2011, which forced Saleh to hand over the reigns of power to his vice-president, Mansour Hadi.

But Saleh, now blacklisted by Washington for sponsoring “terrorism” and “destabilising” Yemen by conspiring with the Houthis, was a staunch US ally, who even voluntarily took the blame for US drone strikes in the country, which have killed large numbers of civilians.

Saleh saw his main task as consolidating state coffers at the expense of the rest of Yemen, and deploying overwhelming indiscriminate military force to put down popular rebellions.

Throughout his rule, Saleh was supported by tens of millions of dollars in US aid annually – which reached a height of $176 million for military training and counter-terrorism assistance in 2010.

Yet as documented by groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW), US military aid was used to ruthlessly crush secessionist and opposition movements. Massive aerial bombardment and artillery shelling regularly inflicted consistently “high civilian casualties,” according to HRW. Government forces routinely opened fire on unarmed protestors years before 2011, usually “without warning” and from short-range.

Why do our friends love al-Qaeda?

Our blossoming love affair with Saleh was justified by the need to fight al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which of course recently claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris.

But Saleh’s regime had harboured al-Qaeda terrorists for decades, and largely with US knowledge. Since 1996 at latest, the National Security Agency (NSA) had been intercepting all of Osama bin Laden’s communications with his al-Qaeda operations hub in Yemen, based in Sanaa, which functioned as a logistics base to coordinate terrorist attacks around the world, including the US embassy bombings in East Africa and the bombing of the USS Cole.

But much of this terrorist activity also occurred under the patronage of the Saleh regime, as candidly described by a US Congressional Research Service report in 2010.

The report explains how in 1994, “President Saleh dispatched several brigades of ‘Arab Afghans’ to fight against southern late secessionists,” with US backing. In the same period, al-Qaeda-linked militants “began striking targets inside the country.”

Despite this, the Congressional report points out that “Yemen continues to harbor a number of al-Qaeda operatives and has refused to extradite several known militants on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists” – including people who had been convicted of targeting Yemeni oil installations.

Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan said: “If Yemen is truly an ally, it should act as an ally. Until it does, US aid to Yemen should be reevaluated. It will be impossible to defeat al-Qaeda if our ‘allies’ are freeing the convicted murderers of US citizens and terrorist masterminds while receiving direct US financial aid.’”

The rabbit hole goes much deeper than this, though. Almost immediately after AQAP formally declared its existence through a partnership between al-Qaeda operatives based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Saleh “struck a deal with Ayman Zawahiri,” al-Qaeda’s incumbent emir, according to Yemen analyst Jane Novak.

“In the latest round of negotiations, Saleh reportedly asked the militants to engage in violence against the southern mobility movement,” wrote Novak, whose blog www.armiesofliberation.com was banned by the Yemeni government in 2007.

“The deal has reportedly included the supply of arms and ammunition to al-Qaeda paramilitary forces by the Yemen military.”

A copy of an internal AQAP communiqué obtained by a Yemeni news publication revealed that al-Qaeda legitimised fighting for the state by referencing the 1994 war.

“Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula explained to its followers that President Saleh wants jihadists to fight on behalf of the state, especially those who did already in 1994, against the enemies of unity – southern oppositionists,” reported Novak. “AQAP in return will gain prison releases and unimpeded travel to external theatres of jihad, the letter explained.”

Protecting our oil

US support for Yemen’s authoritarian, terror-toting state structure continues. Since the arrival of Saleh’s successor, Mansour Hadi – deposed in the wake of the recent Houthi coup – Obama had authorised nearly $1 billion in aid to the Yemeni government. The support was supposed to be a model success for political transition, offering a blueprint for how to take on the “Islamic State” (IS).

Yet Hadi, like his predecessor, was no reformer. He came to power in a phony “democratic” election in which he was the only candidate, a US-backed process brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) consisting of some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Now, in the wake of the GCC powers threatening a joint invasion to remove the Shiite Houthis, the Houthis have agreed to form a “people’s transitional council” with rival parties to resolve the political crisis.

For the US, the real issue in Yemen is its strategic position in relation to the world’s oil supply. Yemen controls the Bab el-Mandeb strait, through which 8 percent of global trade travels including 4 percent of global oil products. The Houthi coup threatens the Yemeni government’s ability to control the strait, and could even force it to close if violence worsens.

The closure of the strait would increase transit times and costs with severe implications for global oil prices that could potentially trigger an economic crash.

The biggest problem with the strategy in Yemen, then, is its obsession with sustaining business-as-usual, no matter how defunct. Our global chronic dependence on fossil fuels is driving climate change, which in turn is accelerating regional water and food scarcity.

But it also means that we must maintain a pliant authoritarian regime in Yemen to ensure that an anti-US government cannot come to power, undermine our access to this strategic region and destabilise the global economy.

Yet it is precisely the execution of this very strategy that has intensified instability in Yemen; fuelled the grievances that feed dissent, rebellion and even terrorism, and culminated in the Houthi coup that we are now desperate to find a way to quell and accommodate.

Until all actors in the crisis are willing to recognise and address its deeper causes, the new “transition council” in Yemen will solve nothing. In coming years, Yemen’s state will crumble, and US-led efforts to shore it up by empowering its most repressive structures will merely accelerate the collapse.

Yemen’s crisis, in that respect, serves as a grave warning for the looming risks to states in coming years and decades, not just in the region, but around the world.

Yet there is an alternative. If we want a stable government in Yemen, we would do well to re-think the efficacy of focusing so much of our aid on corrupt and repressive regimes in the name of countering terrorism, a process that has contributed to the wholesale destruction of Yemeni society.

We need a new model, one that is based on building grassroots community resilience, facilitating frameworks for mutual inter-tribal political and economic cooperation, and empowering communities to implement best practices in clean energy infrastructure, local water management and sustainable food production.

That we would rather shoot, bomb and kill our way to victory instead, in cahoots with regimes that sponsor terrorism under our noses and with our support, reveals how neck-deep in self-induced delusion we really are about the unsustainable nature of our chosen course.

– Nafeez Ahmed PhD, is an investigative journalist, international security scholar and bestselling author who tracks what he calls the ‘crisis of civilization.’

He is a winner of the Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian reporting on the intersection of global ecological, energy and economic crises with regional geopolitics and conflicts.

He has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Armed Yemeni tribesmen from the Awlaki tribe, the largest clan in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province (AFP)

– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/yemen-s-collapse-taste-things-come-456530551#sthash.wRIy07vW.dpuf


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