Category Archives: Arab Spring / Middle East Conflicts

EU’s billion-euro influence to Egypt

The EU allows Europeans politicians to behave more like their US counterparts. From today’s Open Europe news summary:

The European Court of Auditors has concluded that the €1bn of EU aid to Egypt over the last seven years under the European Neighbourhood Policy has been “well-intentioned, but ineffective” in terms of improving human rights and democracy.
ECA press release Le Figaro FT

When U.S. drones kill civilians, Yemen’s government tries to conceal it

open quoteThe Yemeni government initially said that those killed were al-Qaeda militants and that its Soviet-era jets had carried out the Sept. 2 attack. But tribal leaders and Yemeni officials would later say that it was an American assault and that all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen. U.S. officials last week acknowledged for the first time that it was an American strike.

“Their bodies were burning,” recalled Sultan Ahmed Mohammed, 27, who was riding on the hood of the truck and flew headfirst into a sandy expanse. “How could this happen? None of us were al-Qaeda.”

More than three months later, the incident offers a window into the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults. In this case, the deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network’s Yemen affiliate, which has tried to stage attacks on U.S. soil several times.

Furious tribesmen tried to take the bodies to the gates of the presidential residence, forcing the government into the rare position of withdrawing its assertion that militants had been killed.close quote (Read more)

Rachel Maddow, War Propagandist

open quote The Moment had arrived! I’m talking about that Benghazi Moment, when the axis of elite opinion turns and the Forces of Righteousness come to the rescue — Syria’s internet was down!

Rachel Maddow had one of those “Oh, This is Serious” looks on her face as she solemnly warned us that Something Was Up: that nasty old critter Bashar al-Assad was about to commit Hair-Raising Atrocities “in the dark”! Think of those poor jihadists “rebels” who would have to construct their suicide bombs without downloading the instructions — why, that could be dangerous!

Of course, Maddow knew who was behind this outage, because the US government told her what to believe, and she believed it. So in place of reporting, you know, actual news, she channeled US government officials accusing the Syrian government of this dastardly act.

. . . .

Two days later, our Rachel was “reporting” the imminence of yet another Benghazi Moment — the Syrians, she breathlessly recounted, have Weapons of Mass Destruction! Without referencing her previous false alarm, Maddow once again solemnly informed us the evil Syrian government was about to visit Death and Destruction “on its own people” — you know, just like Saddam Hussein, that other possessor of Weapons of Mass Destruction.close quote (Read more)

Neo-con behind Petraeus character assassination?

open quoteThere have been three major developments in this fast-moving story since my last column on this subject: 1) The stunning revelation by Broadwell in a speech given at the University of Denver that there were detainees in the Benghazi “consulate” — really a CIA station — and that the attack may have been an attempt to free them, and 2) the rising visibility of the “shirtless guy,” the Tampa FBI agent whose impatience with the progress of the investigation led him to go to the House GOP leadership, an act that sealed Petraeus’s fate — and, perhaps, Gen. Allen’s. Which brings us to 3) the ensnaring of Gen. Allen in the Broadwell-Petraeus net, which adds much fuel to an already raging fire.

The Benghazi angle may help bring the “why” of this whole imbroglio into sharper focus. First, let’s set the context: Fox News and the Republicans had been making a full-bore effort to turn the Benghazi attack into a “scandal” that would bring down the Obama administration, an “October surprise” that would make short work of the anti-colonialist Kenyan. They spun a narrative that had the President of the United States — and his CIA Director — ordering a rescue team to “stand down” while Ambassador Chris Stevens, and three others, were murdered by Islamists. Broadwell’s “by the way there were detainees in there” remark, uttered almost offhand, was pushback, no doubt encouraged by Petraeus.

The “shirtless guy,” who earned this description because he reportedly sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley — the recipient of Broadwell’s “harassing” emails — enters the picture as the key catalyst who set the anti-Petraeus coup in motion. We are told he is a friend of someone with a connection to Rep. Reichert (R-WA), who brought the matter to Rep. Cantor’s office. But hold on, wait a minute here …

Since when does the FBI investigate “harassing” emails sent to an ordinary American citizen? Sure, Kelley had a friend in the FBI — the Shirtless Guy — but the question is why did the FBI’s cybercrimes section agree to launch a lengthy and costly investigation into emails that, by some accounts, weren’t that big a deal? The Shirtless Guy, who is said to have become so obsessed with the case that he was taken off it, must have developed some suspicion of who was behind the emails, and the nature of Broadwell’s connection to Petraeus. Whose instrument was he?

I gave my own view of the answer to this question in my last column, and the attempt to take down Gen. Allen seems to confirm my analysis. Who, you ask, would want Allen’s scalp? Well, consider the General’s comments after the latest blue-green attack in Afghanistan:

“ISAF commander General John Allen told US 60 Minutes program in an interview recorded before the latest incident, and scheduled to be aired today, that insider attacks were unacceptable.

“’I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,’ he said. ‘We’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.’

“Gen. Allen said that just as homemade bombs had become the signature weapon of the Iraq war, he believed that in Afghanistan, “the signature attack that we’re beginning to see is going to be the insider attack.”

Insider attacks make up the great majority of US casualties in Afghanistan, these days, and with the Obama administration about to undergo a general review of our troop levels in that country, Allen’s open hostility to the mission would not sit well with the more hawkish faction in the national security apparatus, i.e. the neocons and their fellow travelers. So, he had to go, too — and it’s a “nice” touch that they managed to get him in the course of the same investigation, without having to bother cooking up another scandal. Good work, boys!

One aspect of the Great Pentagon Purge that has gone almost completely unnoticed is this offhand little tidbit in a Washington Post story about the scandal,

“Prominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at [Petraeus’s] headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.

“Some of Petraeus’s staff officers said he and the American mission in Afghanistan benefited from the broader array of viewpoints, but others complained that the outsiders were a distraction, the price of his growing fame.”

So the neocons were right there looking over Petraeus’s shoulder, and his successor’s shoulder, giving “advice” that went against orders from the top, i.e. they were undermining the mission as conceived by the Pentagon, and no doubt actively subverting the planned withdrawal. Did Gen. Allen throw them out? That he’s been caught in the honey trap along with Petraeus should come as no surprise.

The military is quite a distinct entity from the War Party, and this should be obvious to anyone who has been alert to the internal debates in the national security bureaucracy over the course of the past decade or so.close quote (Read more)

US waterboarded Libyan Islamists (before we helped them)

open quoteThe United States waterboarded Libyan Islamists opposed to Moamer Kadhafi and handed them over to his regime for further torture during the Bush administration, a rights group said Thursday.

A new report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch said a former detainee claimed to have been waterboarded and another described a form of water torture, indicating wider use of the method than is officially claimed.

“Not only did the US deliver Kadhafi his enemies on a silver platter, but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first,” said Laura Pitter, the author of the report.close quote (Read more)

Former CIA torture detainee led attack on Libyan Embassy

open quoteA Salafi Jihadist tied to Al Qaeda has been named as playing a key role in the attacks on the Benghazi compound that claimed the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Despite claiming for over a week that the attack on the Benghazi compound in Libya was a spontaneous escalation of violence new details have emerged countering the Obama administration’s official narrative.

Former CIA torture detainee Sufyan Ben Qumu has been named as being involved in the attack and even may have led the attack, according to top Fox News intelligence sources.

Qumu is reported to have been released from the CIA torture site in Guantanomo Bay Cuba in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody after which he was released in 2008 by the now deposed Qaddafi regime in an attempt to reconcile with the Islamic Jihadists conducting terror attacks.close quote (Read more)

US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude

open quoteOne prominent strain shaping American reaction to the protests in the Muslim world is bafflement, and even anger, that those Muslims are not more grateful to the US. After all, goes this thinking, the US bestowed them with the gifts of freedom and democracy – the very rights they are now exercising – so how could they possibly be anything other than thankful? Under this worldview, it is especially confounding that the US, their savior and freedom-provider, would be the target of their rage.

On Wednesday, USA Today published an article with the headline “After attacks in Egypt and Libya, USA Today asks: Why?” The paper appeared to tell its readers that it was the US that freed the Egyptian people from tyranny:

“Attacks in Libya that left four US diplomats dead – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens – and a mob invasion of the US Embassy in Cairo, in which the US flag was torn to shreds, have left many to wonder: How can people the USA helped free from murderous dictators treat it in such a way?”

Did you know that the “USA helped free” Egyptians from their murderous dictator? On Thursday night, NBC News published a nine-minute report on Brian Williams’ “Rock Center” program featuring its foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, reporting on the demonstrations in Cairo, which sounded exactly the same theme. Standing in front of protesting Egyptians in Tahrir Square, Engel informed viewers that this was all so very baffling because it was taking place “in Cairo, where the US turned its back on its old friend Hosni Mubarak”, and then added:

“It is somewhat ironic with American diplomats inside the embassy who helped to give these demonstrators, these protesters, a voice, and allowed them to actually carry out these anti-American clashes that we’re seeing right now.”

That it was the US who freed Egyptians and “allowed them” the right to protest would undoubtedly come as a great surprise to many Egyptians. That is the case even beyond the decades of arming, funding and general support from the US for their hated dictator (to his credit, Engel including a snippet of an interview with Tariq Ramadan pointing out that the US long supported the region’s dictators).

Beyond the long-term US support for Mubarak, Egyptians would likely find it difficult to reconcile Engel’s claim that the US freed them with the “made in USA” logos on the tear gas cannisters used against them by Mubarak’s security forces; or with Hillary Clinton’s touching 2009 declaration that “I really consider President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family”; or with Obama’s support for Mubarak up until the very last minute when his downfall became inevitable; or with the fact that the Obama administration plan was to engineer the ascension of the loathed, US-loyal torturer Omar Suleiman as Mubarak’s replacement in the name of “stability”.

Given the history of the US in Egypt, both long-term and very recent, it takes an extraordinary degree of self-delusion and propaganda to depict Egyptian anger toward the US as “ironic” on the ground that it was the US who freed them and “allowed” them the right to protest. But that is precisely the theme being propagated by most US media outlets.close quote (Read more)

Bernard-Henri Lévy v. Abdel al-Bari Atwan on Libya intervention

Warmonger from France.

open quoteApparently, a few months ago, at a convention organised by the notoriously right wing French Zionist Council of Jewish Organizations (CRIF), Bernard-Henri Levy announced “it is as a Jew“ that I “participated in the political adventure in Libya”, no kidding. “I would not have done it if I had not been Jewish,” added the immoral interventionist.close quote

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White House Press Secretary: Protests not directed at the United States

Clueless. Idiot. Arrogance.

open quoteWhite House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday the violent protests throughout the Middle East are not directed at the United States or U.S. policy but are a response to a YouTube video:

CARNEY: We also need to understand that this is a fairly volatile situation and it is in response not to United States policy, and not to, obviously, the administration, or the American people, but it is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be be reprehensible and disgusting. That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it, but this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy, this is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.

close quote (Read more)

Producer Of Anti-Islam Film Was Fed Snitch

open quoteIn remarks stressing that the U.S. government had “absolutely nothing to do with” the anti-Islam film that has touched off violence in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday sought to quash Arab concerns that the “disgusting and reprehensible” movie was somehow produced or condoned by American officials.

However, Clinton’s attempt to distance the U.S. from “Innocence of Muslims”–and, by extension, its felonious producer–may be complicated by the revelation that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula became a government informant after his 2009 arrest for bank fraud, The Smoking Gun has learned.

Though many key documents from the U.S. District Court case remain sealed, a June 2010 sentencing transcript provides an account of Nakoula’s cooperation with federal investigators in Los Angeles (and how his prison sentence was reduced as a result).

Nakoula, 55, was arrested in June 2009 for his role in a check-kiting ring that stole nearly $800,000 from six financial institutions by using stolen Social Security numbers and identities. Nakoula was named in a six-count felony indictment accusing him and unnamed “co-schemers” of perpetrating the bank fraud.close quote (Read more)

Can Turkey Pull NATO into war with Syria?

From Air Force Magazine: open quoteShoot First, Question Now: Turkey invoked its right as a NATO member to have the alliance convene an emergency meeting on June 26 to judge whether Syria’s shootdown of a Turkish military jet is sufficient to trigger allied military response. Syrian forces downed a Turkish RF-4 Phantom in international waters on June 22, 13 miles off the Syrian coast, announced Turkey’s foreign ministry June 24. The pilot and copilot were still missing as of June 25. “This aggressive act, which runs against all the principles of good faith and good neighborliness, is a flagrant and grave violation of international law,” states the foreign ministry release. Instead of scrambling fighters to intercept the Phantom, Syrian air defenses shot the aircraft down “without any warning,” breaching peacetime protocol, stressed the Turks. The shootdown is “yet another reflection of the Syrian authorities’ callous disregard for international norms, human life, and peace and security,” said State Secretary Hillary Clinton in a statement June 24. (See also NATO release.)close quote