middle east

What I Learned from “Professor” Scott Horton About the War on Terror

Recently I had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar given by Scott Horton for Thaddeus Russell’s Renegade University program. Horton’s topic was the history of the War on Terror. Now, I listen to every interview Horton does, and spend a good amount of time reading everything at Antiwar.com. So I thought I knew all I could know about the War on Terror. I was wrong.

Horton provided a Powerpoint along with a Q & A. I decided to take notes over the three hours and see if Horton provided anything I hadn’t heard before that I could research or read in my spare time. Thought I would share what I found here.

“Islamic Terror” Not Just About Islam

Horton provided a bunch of examples showing that just because a country or people are Muslim, or even have issues with American policy, doesn’t mean that they will take to blowing themselves up to kill Americans.

In Bin Laden’s 1998 “Declaration of War Against Jews and Crusaders”, he speaks to the reasons for declaring war on the West. While the language includes talk of religion, the main argument is the American support for violent dictators in the Arab world, support for Israel, and the decade long bombing campaign on Iraq.

It’s when innocent people are being killed that groups like Al Qeada begin to gain support and popularity. For example, Iran has been in the cross-hairs of the United States for half a century now. Within that time, the only events in which Iranian citizens took arms against Americans include Americans on Iranian soil. Even with the sanctions, threats of war, insults by Western leaders and dozens of bases (and a full naval fleet) surrounding the country, Iranians are not looking for ways to sneak into America and kill innocent people.

Horton points to the writing of Robert Pape, the author of Dying to Warand the idea of “Credible Belief” as a main cause of terrorism. Remember, there were zero suicide bombing in Iraq before the United States invasion in 2003. To take it as far as suicide vests, there has to be a feeling that there can be victory. Whatever that is defined as. Bin Laden’s goal was never to defeat the United States army on the battlefield, but to bankrupt America, financially and emotionally. Without being invested at the highest level, no amount of convincing can make a population resist the way the people of Middle East have. We sa this with the Shite Iraqi army turning tail and running when ISIS was riding into Mosul in 2014. The Sunni tribal areas of northern Iraq are not the home of these Shites. They feel no connection to them or have any sense of urgency to keep them under Baghdad control. Horton provided another such example. The Spanish during the Iraq War refused to send troops to help it’s American allies. Why? Not their fight. How was assisting the United States in occupying Iraq going to protect the Spanish homeland?

You only need to look at the major leaders inside Al Qeada and ISIS to understand that occupation and domination are the driving factors of terrorism. Before 2004, there were no Al Qeada in Iraq. The leaders of this group, Ayman al-Zawahri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were both radicalized by seeing family members tortured by the US or its puppet dictators (the Egyptian government for example), or by being tortured themselves. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself spent time in Abu Ghraib. Growing up in an environment of occupation lent itself to young men growing up ready to turn to terrorism and militancy. Must like growing up in a gang infected neighborhood leads to most young boys joining up at a young age.

In current events we see this also. The current “Knife Intifada” in the West Bank is a prime example given by Horton. Western, “millennial” Palestinians have taken to knifing Israeli settlers and checkpoint guards. Is this for the glory of Muhammad? Or is it more likely that it is because they have lived under occupation their whole lives? Resisting the only way they know how.

It is not like the talking heads and policy makers in Washington D.C. haven’t done everything but admitted in the past that terrorism is the “price of empire”. In the 1990s the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the threat of Terrorism is a “small price to pay for being a Superpower”. In their arrogance they blind themselves from the reactions and results of their stupid policies. Like Paul Wolfowitz said when discussing the reasons for 9/11, it’s not like the United States had troops in Afghanistan prior to that day. His hubris allows him to ignore the fact that there were troops in Saudi Arabia for a full decade before, one of the major reasons Bin Laden sites for declaring war.

Blowback is a Hell of A Term

The idea of “blowback” is one I’ve been aware of since Ron Paul dropped the mic on Rudy Guliani’s face back in 2008. Chalmers Johnson helped expand my understanding of it, and I thought I had all the points I’d ever need to get the theory across to people.

Horton gave a laundry list of examples of “we should have seen this coming” moments. He sites Eric Margolis in his book “War at the Top of the World”. Margolis was on the ground in Afghanistan during the fight against the USSR in the 1980s. He was around members of the Mujaheddin like Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Azzam told Margolis that once they were done kicking the invading Soviets out of Afghanistan, they would “come for the Americans”. The leaders in that movement understood the reasons they were being helped by the Americans, and it wasn’t out of the goodness of Reagan’s heart.

Horton even brings Rambo III into the discussion. Pointing to a scene in which an officer to told by a fellow solder that Afghans have been invaded throughout their history. Fighting occupation is what they do, and no amount of firepower will stop them from resisting.

The same can be said about Clinton and Bosnian Muslims during the 1990s. Clinton provided aid to a number of different Sunni radical groups during that time. Muslims in Chechyna, Bosnia, Kosovo and even the Ughurs in China accepted weapons from the Pentagon to help with their cause. All the while never seeing America as a true friend to the cause. Clinton enjoyed using these Sunni radicals as covert forces so much, that he missed on at least ten opportunities to kill/capture Bin Laden throughout the 1990s according to Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit.

It should not have taken until 2008 for Americans to be introduced to the idea of Blowback. But once the troops began coming back home, along with the stories and evidence of what was being done, a slow burn of war fatigue began to set in.

War for Empire and Nothing Else

Horton provided a number of examples when the regime in Washington showed their true colors and I have included those below for your viewing pleasure:

The clip below is pretty famous. Madeline Albright in 1997 all but admits on camera that the Gulf War and the Clinton policy of sanctions, no-fly zones and bombings throughout the 90s had no root in humanitarianism. The opposite is more accurate.

I will leave you with the most damning evidence of “Empire First, America Second”. But before the video, let me lay out some quick connections that Horton opened by eyes to.

The invasion of Afghanistan was sold to the American people as an action to get the people responsible for 9/11. But it should have quickly became clear that this invasion was just another chess move in the game of geopolitical hegemony. Afghanistan sits in the middle of the Eurasian continent, mineral rich and strategically important. It’s the reason the Soviets invaded in the 80s in the first place. It’s the reason the British and the Russians have been racing towards the country for centuries.

The Korengal Valley is a place we can point to for proof that the mission is not about the security of America. The valley is a place that is impossible to control, but it is an important transportation route for weapons in and out of Afghanistan towards Pakistan. The documentary “Restrapo” details the complete stupidity of the mission, providing you with two hours of opportunities to say “what the fuck are those troops there for?”. Whether its the pointless patrols of the US troops through the villages within the valley, or listening to the interviews with the Marines stuck there fighting for the brother next to them, the whole movie exposes the idiotic mission.

So again, I leave you with the most jaw-dropping example of clear disregard for the wants and needs of the American people in the name of Empire and Pentagon bank accounts, President Bush only 6 MONTHS after the towers fell admitting to reporters that he doesn’t consider Bin Fucking Laden a major point of interest in the newly declared War on Terror.

 

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The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Biblical Proporations

Sinai

This episode is focused mostly on the recent attack on a Sufi Islamic mosque in the Egyptian village of Biral-Abud. The village is located on the Sinai Peninsula, an area of Egypt that the central government in Cairo has little control over. What has grown in place of the military dictatorship Sinai has been Al Qeada, and more recently ISIS.

This attack was carried out by an regional ISIS cell which the newspapers call “Sinai Province”. Lead by Muhammad al-Iswai, this group has been expanding their control over the northern part of the Sinai. This is the area closest to the Gaza Strip, and of course Israel. An attack this one, or the more shocking downing of a Russian jetliner, definitely gets the attention of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

It is important to remember the Sinai Peninsula borders the Red Sea, which has a large tourism economy. The eastern coast of the Suez Canal also sits in on the Peninsula. An unstable Sinai is an international issue. Since Al Qeada began operating in the region in 2011, gas pipelines, the Canal and US troops have been in danger of attacks by Al Qeada and now ISIS.

Because of the disfranchisement of the Bedouin tribes of the Sinai, Cairo is dealing with a situation much like the tribal areas of Iraq or Afghanistan. Tribal leadership is the law of the land, and tribes either cooperate with the extremist groups or they fight them. The Sinai is no different. Stories of violence by Bedouin tribes against ISIS men in Sinai is not uncommon.

The reasons we can draw for the attack are many. Sufi Islam was founded in this small village, which groups like ISIS see as a crime against Islam. A more secular reason could be that that the Sufis have been working with the central authorities in Cairo to stop the growth of ISIS. This seems to me to make more sense, with religion has the cover. Further still, ISIS has been moving into tribal gang turf, as the Bedouins are in control of the smuggling of goods in Gaza. Attacks have taken place on both sides over these smuggling operations.

Israel has taken special interest in the Sinai, going back to the wars of the late 60s and 70s. The results of the Camp David Accords of 1979 still hold, as Egypt has to get Israeli approval for troop numbers within the Sinai. Israel has had talks about purchasing the Sinai Penensula from Egypt, helping to bring the right-wing in Israel it’s “fix” for the Gaza situation. The “Greater Gaza” idea is a real one, and includes moving the Arab population from Gaza to the Sinai, or at least expand the Strip south. By expanding Gaza, the hope is for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem to relocate, giving Israel full open range to settle the West Bank.

The “Greater Gaza” plan has the blessing of the United States. As does closer cooperation with Egypt and Israel. Joining this group more publicly then previously has been Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been working more closely with Israel, and with MSB at the head of the royal family, he is cracking down on the extremist element within his Kingdom. This has to be at the request of Washington and Tel Aviv.

The attack has been used by MSB to help sell his new counter-terrorism group, which includes 40 Muslim countries.

Quick Hits

  • The Pentagon has been caught trying to cover up child abuse by Afghan security forces. Troops had admitted in an Inspector General’s report that they had been ordered to “ignore” the sexual abuse of children by the security forces they train.
  • Also in Afghanistan, the Trump administration has decided to start bombing opium production in the country. Once a crop our troops protected, recently the Taliban has taken over the trade from US allies, making the Pentagon have to make a 180 on heroin production in Afghanistan. This does give the military another excuse to continue the occupation that has gone on for over a decade.
  • Peace talks in Geneva about the war in Syria went “nowhere” this week. With the West still pushing for Assad to step down, there is no chance for any agreement on terms while Assad holds a major upper hand on the ground in Syria.
  • News has surfaced confirming what most already knew, the Pentagon has been lying about the number of troops in Iraq & Syria. The “official” numbers showed 500 troops in Syria, with another 5000 in Iraq. In reality, the numbers in Syria total 1700, with over 9000 in Iraq. This should be bigger news, but with CNN busy “getting” Trump, this story won’t become a scandal.

Content

Episode can be found here…The full episode archive can be found here and on ITunes.

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The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Arabian Nights

This is the story of a major shift in Saudi Arabian policy abroad. I think.

Background

The purge that took place last week has to be seen through the viewpoint of it’s geopolitical ramifications. Saudi Arabia is doubling-down on it’s “shadow” war with Iran, this time in a more public way. From blaming a missile strike from Yemen on Iran, or actively working with the Israelis to isolate Hezbollah in Lebanon (to cripple Iran).

The Saudi regime dates back to WWI, when the house was one of many clans that worked with the British is its fight against the Turks. Later on, FDR made a deal a the end of WWII to protect the Saudi Royal Family if the US had access to Saudi oil. This deal stands to this day.

The Crown Prince selected the “corruption” purge with a purpose. Beginning at a meeting in 2014, elements of the Royal Family planned to oust the current king, King Abdullah. At that meeting, Prince Bandar was relieved of his duties. This might not have been evident at the time, but this was the start of the Saudis separating even more from the radical, Islamist elements of the family. Prince Bandar was shown to have helped fund the 9/11 hijackers, and has been known as one of the links between the royal family and the jihadists they fund outside of The Kingdom.

The plan was for a power-sharing to take place between three power groups:

  • King Salman & Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman

King Salman took over after the death of King Abdullah. Earlier this year, the crown prince, Prince Nayef, was replaced by King Salman’s favorite son, Mohammed Bin Salman. Recently, King Salman created an “anti-corruption” committee and placed his son in charge. This purge is a result of this committee, with the Crown Prince focusing on the family of former King Abdullah and the former Crown Prince.

  • Prince Nayef

The previous Crown Prince, Prince Nayef and his son have become targets by Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).

  • Prince Miteb

Prince Miteb is the favorite son of King Abdullah. The head of the National Guard, he is supported by the ultra-conservative, old guard of the family. The National Guard in Saudi Arabia is seen as a “parallel” force to the military. To some, the military is seen as a puppet force of the US puppet regime. This is the same element that supports Al Qeada and pushes Wahhabism. The National Guard itself was created by the fonder of the House of Saad. The original members were former tribal warriors or “Mujahedeen”.

Prince Miteb has been arrested in the current purge.

Outside of the “power-sharing” agreement that went to hell, another name you will see in the coverage is Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal. Bin Talal has major stockholdings in Twitter, Lyft, Citi, 4 Seasons and previously Newscorp. He has been arrested along with other members of the media.

The Crown Prince has had the bank accounts of the arrested frozenprivate jets grounded, and in some cases physically assaulted. There has been two dead princes since the purge, one in a helicopter crash, another in a fire-fight.

Bin Salman has been busy outside of the Saudi Arabia also. His recent visit to Israel helped plan the recent breakdown of politics in Lebanon. The Prime Minister there stepped down live from Riyadh, stating that Hezbollah has taken over the country and “declared war on Saudi Arabia”. The president of Lebanon is seen has in Hezbollah’s pocket, so things in Lebanon will escalate.

The Prince also has been in charge of the war in Yemen, and his US overlords have made it clear that they want Iran isolated. This moves in Lebanon by Saudi & Israel and the double-down in Yemen are the two moves to keep in mind moving forward. The second part of this new policy is the attempt to marginalize the extremist elements within the family and the habit of funding terrorist groups. This was most likely asked of the new Crown Prince by Trump and Tel Aviv.

The upcoming tension in Lebanon and the blowback of any policy to crackdown on Wahhabism locally should be the storylines readers (and listeners) following in the months ahead.

Episode can be found here. The full episode archive can be found here and on ITunes.

Sources:

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There Is A Coup Taking Place in Yemen

The Shia Houthi rebels from the northern tribal areas of Yemen have finally had their moment. Today they stormed the state-run media and surrounded the presidential palace in the capital city of Sana’a. While their presence in the capital city is nothing new, today marked the first time time the international (western) media took notice. The prime minister’s convoy was surrounded and a cease fire was arranged. The cease fire turned out to be sort lived. CNN confirmed the news early this afternoon on Twitter (#Yemen) and Bloomberg covered the story.

The geopolitical ramifications of this are interesting as AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) claim responsibility for the attacks in France. With a full on coup taking place in a gulf state that is historically supported by the Saudis and it’s allies (US), the threat of Iran taking the reign is worry for western imperialists. I’m sure Israel, the neo-con wing of the Republican party and rank-in-file western globalists will be demanding intervention to quell the revolt and bring “stability” back to the country quickly. The ongoing drone operations in Yemen will be ignored or seen as not “tough” enough as the threat of Islamist terrorism fills the news cycle.

The sell will be tricky, as this is secretarial conflict mixed with the endless proxy war between the Saudis & the Iranians. The Saudis will not take this lightly.

The Telegraph article linked above includes a history of the involved factions.

What Happened to the “Khorasan” Threat?

I guess the Pentagon got it’s airstrikes in Syria and now the “threat” used as pretext for them isn’t needed anymore:

“As the Obama Administration prepared to bomb Syria without congressional or U.N. authorization, it faced two problems. The first was the difficulty of sustaining public support for a new years-long war against ISIS, a group that clearly posed no imminent threat to the “homeland.” A second was the lack of legal justification for launching a new bombing campaign with no viable claim of self-defense or U.N. approval.

The solution to both problems was found in the wholesale concoction of a brand new terror threat that was branded “The Khorasan Group.” After spending weeks depicting ISIS as an unprecedented threat — too radical even for Al Qaeda! — administration officials suddenly began spoon-feeding their favorite media organizations and national security journalists tales of a secret group that was even scarier and more threatening than ISIS, one that posed a direct and immediate threat to the American Homeland. Seemingly out of nowhere, a new terror group was created in media lore.”

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Same can be said about the “Save the Yezidis” campaign that crashed and burned once it was revealed that:

1) There weren’t hundreds of thousands of Yezidis stuck on a mountain.

2) They didn’t want to leave. They lived there.

3) It wasn’t ISIS, but their Sunni neighbors that were attacking them.

None of this means the campaign didn’t do it’s job. The majority of the American people saw the headlines on CNN and that was enough to convince them (along with a beheading) that America HAD to come to the aid of the poor Yezidis. This is one of the ethnic groups which only found themselves in danger once the 2003 invasion took place and any stability in the country was aborted.

After Pretending to Care About Egyptian Democracy, the U.S. Back to Openly Supporting Tyranny.

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept does a great job summing up the last 3 years of US policy towards Egypt, and how the wishes of the Egyptian people are the last thing on the list.

Grayson Asks Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Other Nations for Multilateral Forces to Fight ISIS

House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-09) wants to know if any of Iraq’s regional neighbors would be willing each to commit 5,000 soldiers or more to a multilateral force, in an effort to fight and defeat ISIS in Iraq. Grayson sent inquiries to the U.S. Ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, and Morocco today.

“Right now, there is no clear plan that would lead to the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq,” Grayson explained. “I think that some plan is better than no plan, particularly if it means that we could avoid U.S. military intervention. If these nations band together to create a multinational force, they could defeat ISIS, and they could do it without U.S. military intervention. This plan would put troops in the field who share the same religion as the local population, can (in most cases) speak the same language, and understand the local culture, rather than troops that would be perceived as a hostile occupying force.”

Grayson’s letter, which requests a response by Wednesday, September 10th, reads, in-part:

“I would like to know whether your nation would be willing to contribute a substantial military force of at least 5,000 soldiers to a multilateral, regional force to fight and defeat ISIS forces within Iraq, subject to the consent of the Government of Iraq.”

Grayson also wrote Iraqi Ambassador and asked whether the country would accept or reject such soldiers to fight ISIS. Congressman Alan Grayson represents Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which includes Osceola County, as well as parts of Orange and Polk counties. He previously served as the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 8th Congressional District in the 111th Congress.

 

Click here to view the letter.

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USA Overtakes Saudi Arabia As World’s Largest Oil Producer

So why are we intervening in the Middle East?

 Oil extraction is soaring at shale formations in Texas and North Dakota as companies split rocks using high-pressure liquid, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The surge in supply combined with restrictions on exporting crude is curbing the price of West Texas Intermediate, America’s oil benchmark. The U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer, still imported an average of 7.5 million barrels a day of crude in April, according to the Department of Energy’s statistical arm.”

 Why aren’t prices lower?

 “The shale production story is bigger than Iraqi production, but it hasn’t made the impact on prices you would expect,” said Blanch. “Typically such a large energy supply growth should bring prices lower, but in fact we’re not seeing that because the whole geopolitical situation outside the U.S. is dreadful.”

 It’s news like this that should make more and more people realize our adventures in the Middle East have less to do with “American Interests” with each added day. If you included invading countries for oil control “American Interests”. I believe this new round of intervention in the Middle East is more about our ally Israel. In truth, the list of reasons for the last round begins with Israel. The difference this time is it will be sold as such. It won’t be a hidden agenda. No masking this time. In true 1984 fashion, America has to fight in the Middle East because America has always fought in the Middle East.

The world is a scary place when the liberal narrative (partially correct I might add) that the War in Iraq was fought for oil is no longer relevant. We have truly moved into a new stage in the struggle to keep imperial control of the Middle East.

The Age of Blowback.

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William Polk’s Take on Iraq 3.0

“The diplomat and scholar William R. Polk (right) first wrote about the Middle East in The Atlantic back in 1958, in an article called “The Lesson of Iraq.”… Now he is back with an assessment of how the United States ended up in the situation it now confronts throughout the Middle East, and what if anything it might do to improve—or at least avoid worsening—its and the region’s prospects.”

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