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The US, Israel & The Middle East

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Russia responds to Il-20 downing: S-300 to be sent to Syria within 2 weeks
RT


Published on Sep 24, 2018
Within two weeks Russia will deliver to Damascus an S-300 air defense system, previously suspended on a request by Israel. It comes as part of response to the downing of a Russian Il-20 plane amid an Israeli air raid on Syria. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9evq
 

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Syrian War Report – September 24, 2018: Rift Grows Among Militant Groups In Idlib
South Front


Published on Sep 24, 2018
 

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Trump says he won't meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani but lays on the flattery amid tough relations, saying he's sure his counterpart is 'an absolutely lovely man'

  • Relations are tense between the U.S. and Iran after President Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cited a hostile atmosphere created by the U.S. as a reason he didn't want to meet with Trump
  • 'Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Maybe someday in the future,' Trump wrote on Twitter
  • 'Mr. Trump did not create conditions necessary to bring about the atmosphere conducive to a meeting,' Rouhani told NBC News
  • Iran is also a factor in Trump's policy on Syria
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...n-President-Hassan-Rouhani-lays-flattery.html
 

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EU to Create Special Payment Channel With Iran
RT America


Published on Sep 25, 2018
The U.K, Germany, France, China and Russia are working to create special payment channels to do business with Iran legally, at a time when US is looking to stifle Tehran’s oil exports with sanctions. European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini says the EU signatories remain committed to the nuclear deal with Iran that the US has quit. RT America’s Sara Montes de Oca reports.
 

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Syrian War Report – Sept. 25, 2018: Syrian Military To Get S-300, Other Assistance From Russia
South Front


Published on Sep 25, 2018
 

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Syrian War Report – September 26, 2018: Russia Boosts Its EW Capabilities In Syria
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Published on Sep 26, 2018
 

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Syrian War Report – Sept. 27, 2018: European States Deliver Chemical Weapons Components To Idlib
South Front


Published on Sep 27, 2018
 

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Russian IL-20 Shootdown And S-300 Supplies To Syria. What To Expect?
South Front


Published on Sep 27, 2018
 

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Syrian War Report – Sept. 28, 2018: U.S. Says Russia, Assad Turned Idlib Into Terrorist Stronghold
South Front


Published on Sep 28, 2018
 

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Palestine, Israel & Alison Weir
RT America


Published on Sep 28, 2018
Jesse Ventura and Brigida Santos discuss the history of the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel. Independent journalist and author Alison Weir talks about her book, “Against Our Better Judgement: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel,” and shares insight from her travels to the Israeli occupied territories.
 

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Netanyahu Brings More Props to U.N.
RT America


Published on Sep 28, 2018
RT correspondent Rachel Blevins reports on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim at the UNGA that Iran maintains a secret nuclear warehouse in Tehran, despite producing no evidence to prove the assertion. She asks whether or not Netanyahu is acting as ‘the boy who cried wolf’ and reflects on his history of using props to target Iran.
 

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'Lavrov's patience tested one time too many': Russian FM blasts Western policy in UN speech
RT


Published on Sep 29, 2018
READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9ffm

If the US cares as much about the concept of sovereignty as President Donald Trump claims, it should stop interfering in the affairs of other countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.
 

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Kavanaugh hearings might be a cover for this important stuff that is going on over there. May the great Syrian leader Basher Al Assad Kill all israel supported ISIS scum !
 

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EU, UK, Russia, & China Join Together To Dodge US Sanctions On Iran


by Tyler Durden
Fri, 09/28/2018 - 23:30


Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York is a place where world leaders are able to hold important meetings behind closed doors. Russia, China, the UK, Germany, France, and the EU seized that opportunity on Sept. 24 to achieve a real milestone.



The EU, Russia, China, and Iran will create a special purpose vehicle (SPV), a “financially independent sovereign channel,” to bypass US sanctions against Tehran and breathe life into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is in jeopardy. "Mindful of the urgency and the need for tangible results, the participants welcomed practical proposals to maintain and develop payment channels, notably the initiative to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate payments related to Iran's exports, including oil," they announced in a joint statement. The countries are still working out the technical details. If their plan succeeds, this will deliver a blow to the dollar and a boost to the euro.

The move is being made in order to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. According to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the SPV will facilitate payments for Iran’s exports, such as oil, and imports so that companies can do business with Tehran as usual. The vehicle will be available not just to EU firms but to others as well. A round of US sanctions aimed at ending Iranian oil exports is to take effect on November 5. Iran is the world's seventh-largest oil producer. Its oil sector accounts for 70% of the country's exports. Tehran has warned the EU that it should find new ways of trading with Iran prior to that date, in order to preserve the JCPOA.

The SPV proposes to set up a multinational, European, state-backed financial intermediary to work with companies interested in trading with Iran. Payments will be made in currencies other than the dollar and remain outside the reach of those global money-transfer systems under US control. In August, the EU passed a blocking statute to guarantee the immunity of European companies from American punitive measures. It empowers EU firms to seek compensation from the United States Treasury for its attempts to impose extra-territorial sanctions. No doubt the move will further damage the already strained US-EU relationship. It might be helpful to create a special EU company for oil exports from Iran.

Just hours after the joint statement on the SPV, US President Trump defended his unilateral action against Iran in his UNGA address. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the EU initiative, stating:

“This is one of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional global peace and security.”
To wit, the EU, Russia, and China have banded together in open defiance against unilateral steps taken by the US. Moscow and Beijing are in talks on how to combine their efforts to fend off the negative impacts of US trade tariffs and sanctions. A planned Sept 24-25 visit by Chinese Vice-Premier Liu, who was coming to the United States for trade talks, was cancelled as a result of the discord and President Trump added more fuel to the fire on Sept. 24 by imposing 10% tariffs on almost half of all goods the US imports from China. “We have far more bullets,” the president said before the Chinese official’s planned visit. “We’re going to go US$200 billion and 25 per cent Chinese made goods. And we will come back with more.” The US has recently imposed sanctions on China to punish it for the purchase of Russian S-400 air-defense systems and combat planes. Beijing refused to back down. It is also adamant in its desire to continue buying Iran’s oil.

It is true, the plan to skirt the sanctions might fall short of expectations. It could fail as US pressure mounts. A number of economic giants, including Total, Peugeot, Allianz, Renault, Siemens, Daimler, Volvo, and Vitol Group have already left Iran as its economy plummets, with the rial losing two-thirds of its value since the first American sanctions took effect in May. The Iranian currency dropped to a record low against the US dollar this September.

What really matters is the fact that the leading nations of the EU have joined the global heavyweights — Russia and China — in open defiance of the United States.

This is a milestone event.

It’s hard to underestimate its importance. Certainly, it’s too early to say that the UK and other EU member states are doing a sharp pivot toward the countries that oppose the US globally, but this is a start - a first step down that path. This would all have seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago - the West and the East in the same boat, trying to stand up to the American bully!

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-28/eu-uk-russia-china-join-together-dodge-us-sanctions-iran
 

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Philosophy of Kemalism
CaspianReport


Published on Sep 30, 2018
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Take this one fwiw and dyodd.

When Is The World Going to Tell This Man 'Enough Is Enough' - The David Icke DotConnector Videocast
David Icke


Published on Sep 21, 2018
 

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Is Erik Prince Pointing The Way Out Of Afghanistan?


by Tyler Durden
Sun, 09/30/2018 - 23:35


Authored by James Durso via RealClearDefense.com,

The tab to date: over $840 billion for military operations, $126 billion for reconstruction, probably another $1 trillion for veterans’ health care, over 2,400 dead, and over 20,000 wounded.



In August, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis kiboshed Erik Prince’s plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan which Prince called “an expensive disaster for America.” But with Mattis’s tenure in doubt, we may not have seen the last of the Prince plan, which is forthrightly titled “An Exit Strategy for Afghanistan.”

U.S. forces arrived in Afghanistan two weeks after the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. and are still there seventeen years later. The tab to date: over $840 billion for military operations, $126 billion for reconstruction, probably another $1 trillion for veterans’ health care, over 2,400 dead, and over 20,000 wounded. The annual cost is $50 billion, more than the defense budget of the U.K.

Despite the cost in dollars and lives, there hasn’t been much progress. The Afghan central government controls or influences under 60% of the country and “opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 percent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons in 2017 compared with 2016 levels” according to the latest report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

President Trump was channeling many Americans when he asked his national security advisor, “What the f**k are we doing there?” Though Trump didn’t promise to leave Afghanistan during the campaign, his advisors, some of them mired in the conflict for the past two decades, convinced him to authorize an additional 4000 troops for training and counter-terrorism missions.

In parallel with the troop increase, the administration slashed assistance to Pakistan, the state sponsor of the Taliban. This won’t change Pakistan’s behavior in Afghanistan, but at least America won’t be insulting itself by funding its enemy.

U.S. diplomats have started direct talks with the Taliban while reiterating that the end to the conflict will only come through an intra-Afghan settlement. At the same time, Uzbekistan’s diplomats hosted talks with Taliban representatives as part of Tashkent’s initiative to include Afghanistan in Central Asia, and to give the Taliban an interlocuter other than Pakistan.

Trump’s pro-intervention advisors probably want to block him from deciding to withdraw and upsetting the Afghan presidential election on 20 April 2019 (parliamentary elections are on 20 October 2018), and to give the new NATO commander time to make progress (known as “calendar creep”). But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s opponents in the Coalition for the Salvation of Afghanistan may hand Trump an opportunity to break out.

The Coalition, an assembly of the minority Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazara, with Pashtun leadership, will be a serious challenge to Ghani in the April 2019 election, but it may try to invalidate the October 2018 parliamentary election and call a traditional Loya Jirga to unseat Ghani. If the Coalition uses the extra-legal Loya Jirga to oust Ghani, Trump has the justification he needs to go to the American people with his decision to quit and cut America’s considerable losses, especially if he is bolstered by a pessimistic National Intelligence Estimate.

So now comes Erik Prince, the man everyone loves to hate, with a plan to privatize and streamline the tasks now being performed by about 14,000 American and 8,000 NATO troops and over 26,000 contractors. Prince earned his notoriety in Iraq when his security company, Blackwater Worldwide, was involved in a shooting incident at Baghdad’s Nisour Square that left seventeen innocent bystanders dead and caused Blackwater’s expulsion from the country. Prince, in his defense, claims he never lost a client which, if you were protected by his teams, is probably the most significant criterion.

Prince proposes to replace the NATO forces and their support contractors with 6,000 contractors, all special operations veterans, and 2,000 U.S. special operations troops, who will provide QA for the contractors, and unilateral direct-action capability. The mentor-contractors will stay with their assigned Afghan National Army battalions for a minimum of three years. 2,000 contractors will operate aircraft for medical evacuation and close air support and will staff two western-style combat surgical hospitals that would also treat wounded Afghan soldiers. The contractors and U.S. forces would be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Afghan law, and contractor medical care would be provided by Defense Base Act insurance, which is current practice for contingency contracts.

The plan includes a governance support unit that will provide logistics to the force and, very importantly, prevent payment to Afghanistan’s “ghost soldiers” and the skimming of soldiers’ pay by their commanders, perennial corruption problems in Afghanistan’s military.

The most remarked upon feature of the plan was Prince’s suggestion that the effort be led by a “viceroy” who would answer directly to the President and command all military, diplomatic, and intelligence assets in Afghanistan. This is known as “unity of command,” and has never existed in America’s long project in Afghanistan. That person would need experience with the military and intelligence agencies, but no candidate may satisfy all the bureaucracies so the President (and Congress) will have to back it up by giving the viceroy hire-and-fire authority and control of the budgets.

Another noted feature was contracting the effort under Title 50 of the United States Code which is the authority for the security services, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, but also for most military operations. This may expedite the contract award process, but particular attention will be required for “contract administration,” that is, ensuring the vendor completes the terms and conditions of the contract. As the military, the diplomats, and the reconstruction officials have been unable to define “success” in Afghanistan, the contracting officer and the vendor may be left to their own devices.

And using contractors has one big benefit for a government: their deaths are pretty much off the radar, especially if they aren’t American (and a share of Prince’s force will be non-American). The media reports the death of every deployed military member, even if he dies in a vehicle accident on base, but dead contractors go unnoticed. 257 American contractors died in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 but received far less attention than the soldiers they supported.

The opportunity to mine Afghanistan’s trove of rare earth elements was highlighted in Prince’s plan which immediately drew accusations of plunder. Yes, there is wealth to be had: Russian, British, and American geologists have found that Afghanistan has enormous untapped mineral resources, possibly valued at $3 trillion. The minerals are there, but there’s no way to mine them, so they’re effectively worthless. And there’s no way to get them out because the country is violent and corrupt which scares away investors. Outsourcing may be the last chance to recover Afghanistan’s mineral wealth for its people. It will also chip away at China’s control of a significant share of the world’s rare earths.

Moreover, Afghanistan’s government has some concerns the U.S. must address:

  1. Is the plan legal under international law?
  2. Will using foreign contractors encourage local warlords to circumvent the newly-formed democratic institutions in the country?
  3. Who will be accountable for the success or failure of outsourcing a military campaign? How will the government of Afghanistan provide oversight of military operations on its territory?
  4. Will outsourcing be seen as a for-profit corporation taking control of the conflict and selling war as a product, dooming prospects for peace and reconciliation in the country?
  5. The regional powers, China and Russia, and the active neighbors such as Pakistan and Uzbekistan, may stop their support to the peace process if they interpret outsourcing as indicative of the waning interest by the U.S.


Criticism of Prince’s plan runs up against the ticking clock that is close to chiming “20 years” so Trump may soon run out of patience and present Kabul (and U.S. officials) with a “take it or leave it” proposal. There’s no voting constituency in the U.S. for continued loitering in Afghanistan and Trump won’t lose any votes in 2020 if he says he gave it his best shot but getting out now is best for America. Secretary Mattis is concerned that outsourcing may make NATO allies jump ship, but how many American lives and dollars should we pay for Latvia’s thirty-seven troops?

Detractors of a new approach may say the sacrifice of our GIs will be dishonored by resorting to “mercenaries,” but the sunk cost of the dollars, dead, and wounded shouldn’t stop us from examining alternatives after 17 years fighting a war we are “not winning according to Secretary Mattis.

Prince has suggested a “test drive” of his proposal which would see contractor deployments to Nangarhar and Helmand provinces. Nangarhar is an egress route to and from safe havens in Pakistani, and Helmand is the Taliban’s financial center of gravity where one-third of the arable land is used for poppy cultivation. That would give the U.S. some interesting lessons learned whatever the outcome but, given internal resistance in the U.S. government, it will require an impartial evaluator who will also consider Afghan concerns.

Another test drive option was suggested by Gary Anderson, a former reconstruction advisor in Iraq and Afghanistan: “the provision of construction security for the Ring Road in the remote northwestern region.” The Ring Road would like it possible to travel from the western city of Herat, which borders Iran and Turkmenistan, to Mazar e-Sharif in the north of the country and close to Uzbekistan. It would spur economic activity, increase access to education, and allow Kabul to extend its writ to the far north and west of the country, and thus be more consequential to “winning” than killing another bunch of Taliban. It would also mute “plunder” allegations and encourage Afghanistan’s Central Asia neighbors to continue their effort to integrate the country into the region.

Erik Prince’s plan gives the U.S. the opportunity to try a new strategy in Afghanistan instead of spending another year while yet another new NATO commander get acquainted with his job. It may prompt Washington to consider three options: Prince’s original plan, Anderson’s infrastructure-focused plan, or the “decent interval” option, providing mentoring and training to the Afghan army so, if worse comes to worst, the U.S. will be several years removed from a Taliban takeover.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-29/erik-prince-pointing-way-out-afghanistan
 

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Insider Attacks, Blowback, and a Generation of American Folly in the Middle East

Posted on October 1, 2018 by Lambert Strether

Lambert here: Even if we withdrew all our troops from the Middle East tomorrow, would that prevent any blowback to come?

By Danny Sjursen, a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Originally published at TomDispatch.

He was shot in the back, the ultimate act of treachery. On September 3rd, a U.S Army sergeant major was killed by two Afghan police officers — the very people his unit, the new Security Force Assistance Brigade, was there to train. It was the second fatal “insider attack,” as such incidents are regularly called, this year and the 102nd since the start of the Afghan War 17 long years ago. Such attacks are sometimes termed “green-on-blue” incidents (in Army lingo, “green” forces are U.S. allies and “blue” forces Americans). For obvious reasons, they are highly destructive to the military mission of training and advising local military and security forces in Afghanistan. Such attacks, not surprisingly, sow distrust and fear, creating distance between Western troops and their supposed Afghan partners.

Reading about this latest tragic victim of Washington’s war in Afghanistan, the seventh American death this year and 2,416th since 2001, I got to thinking about those insider attacks and the bigger story that they embodied. Considered a certain way, U.S. policy across the Greater Middle East has, in fact, produced one insider attack after another.

Short-term thinking, expedience, and a lack of strategic caution (or direction) has led Washington to train, fund, and support group after group that, soon enough, turned its guns on American soldiers and civilians. It’s a long, sordid tale that stretches back decades — and one that, unlike the individual instances of treachery that kill or maim American servicemen, receives next to no attention. It’s worth thinking about, though, because if U.S. policies had been radically different, such green-on-blue incidents might never have occurred. So let’s consider the last decades of American war-making in the context of insider attacks.

The Ground Zero of Insider Attacks: Afghanistan (1979-present)
In 1979, the Washington foreign policy elite saw everything through the prism of a possible existential Cold War clash between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Such a focus tended to erase local context, nuance, and complexity, leading the U.S. to back a range of nefarious actors as long as they were allies in the struggle against communism.

So in December 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded neighboring Afghanistan, Washington knew just what to do. With the help of the Saudis and the Pakistanis, the CIA financed, trained, and armed — eventually with sophisticated anti-aircraft Stinger missiles, among other weapons — a range of anti-Soviet militias. And it worked! Eight years later, having suffered more than 10,000 combat deaths in its own version of Vietnam, the Red Army left Afghanistan in defeat (and, soon after, the Soviet Union itself imploded).

The problem was that many of those anti-Communist Afghans were also fiercely Islamist, often extreme in their views, and ultimately anti-Western as well as anti-Soviet — and among them, as you undoubtedly remember, was a youthful Saudi by the name of Osama bin Laden.

It was, then, an easy-to-overlook reality. After all, the Islamist mujahideen (as they were generally called) were astute enough to fight one enemy at a time and knew where their proverbial bread was being buttered. As long as the money and arms kept flowing in and the more immediate Soviet threat loomed, even the most extreme of them were willing to play nice with Americans. It was a marriage of convenience. Few in Washington bothered to ask what they would do with all those guns once the Soviets left town.

Recent scholarship and newly opened Russian archives suggest that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was driven as much by defensiveness and insecurity as by any notion of triumphal regional conquest. Despite the fears of officials in the administrations of presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, the Soviets never had the capacity or the intent to march through Afghanistan and seize the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. Like so much Cold War-era thinking, this was pure fantasy and the meddling that went with it anything but necessary.

After the Soviet exit, Afghanistan fell into a long period of chaos, as various mujahideen leaders became local warlords, fought with one another, and terrorized average Afghans. Frustrated by their venality, former mujahideen, aided by students radicalized in madrassas in Pakistani refugee camps (schools that had often been financed by America’s stalwart partner, Saudi Arabia), formed the Taliban movement. Many of its leaders and soldiers had once been funded and armed by the CIA. By 1996, it had swept to power in most of the country, implementing a reign of Islamist terror. Still, that movement was broadly popular in its early years for bringing order to chaos and misery.

And let’s not forget one other small but influential mujahideen group that the U.S. had backed: the “Afghan Arabs,” as they were called — fiercely Islamist foreigners who flocked to that country to fight the godless Soviets. The most notable among them was, of course, Osama bin Laden — and the rest, as they say, is history.

Bin Laden and other Afghan War veterans would form al-Qaeda, bomb American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, blow up the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and take down the Twin Towers and part of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. These, though, were only the most well known acts of those anti-Soviet war vets. Thousands of Afghan Arabs left that war zone and returned to their own countries with plenty of zeal and fight still in them. Those veterans would then form local terror organizations that would challenge or help destabilize secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa.

After 9/11, the question on many American minds was simple enough: “Why do they hate us?” Too few had the knowledge or the sense of history that might have led to far more relevant questions: How did the U.S. contribute to what happened and to what extent was it blowback from previous American operations? Unfortunately, few such questions were raised as the Bush administration headed into what would become a 17-year, still-spreading regional war not on a nation or even a set of nations, but on a tactic, “terror.”

Still, it’s worth reflecting on America’s complicity in its own 9/11 devastation. In a strange fashion, given Washington’s history in Afghanistan, 9/11 could be seen as the most devastating insider attack of all.

The Many Iraq Wars (1980-present)
The 2003 invasion of Iraq — Operation Iraqi Freedom as it was optimistically named — may go down as one of the more foolish wars in American history — and many of the attacks on U.S. troops that followed from it over the years might be considered green-on-blue ones. After all, Washington would, in the end, train and back so many diffuse groups that a number of the members of various terror and insurgent outfits were once on the U.S. payroll.

It began, of course, with Saddam Hussein, the brutal Iraqi dictator whom the American people would be assured (in 1990 and again in 2003) was the “next Hitler.” In the 1980s, however, the U.S. government had backed him in his invasion of Iran (then as now considered a mortal enemy) and the eight-year stalemated war that followed. The U.S. even gave his forces crucial targeting intelligence for the use of his chemical weapons against Iranian troop formations, embittering the Iranians for years to come.

The Reagan administration also took Iraq off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror and even allowed the sale of components vital to Saddam’s production of those chemical weapons. Nearly a million people died in that grim war and then, just two years after it ended, the U.S. found that, for its efforts, Saddam would send his troops into neighboring Kuwait and threaten to roll over America’s key ally in the region (then as now), Saudi Arabia. That, of course, kicked off another major Iraqi conflagration, again involving Washington: the First Persian Gulf War.

At the end of that “victory,” President George H.W. Bush encouraged Iraq’s oppressed Shia and Kurdish populations to rise up and overthrow Saddam’s largely Sunni regime. And rebel they did until, bereft of the slightest meaningful support from Washington, they were defeated and massacred. More than a decade later, in 2003, when the U.S. again invaded Iraq — this time under the false pretense that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction — Americans were assured that most civilians (especially the embattled Shia majority) would cheer the arrival of Uncle Sam’s military machine.

In reality, it took less then a year for Shia militias to form and begin openly attacking U.S. troops (with a helping hand later from the Iranians, who had their own bitter American legacy to recall). You see, those Shia — unlike most Americans — still remembered how Washington had betrayed them in 1991 and so launched their own versions of insider attacks on U.S. soldiers.

However, from 2003 to 2007 (including the period when I served as part of the U.S. occupation force in Baghdad), the main threat came from Sunni insurgents. They were a diverse lot, including former Saddam loyalists and military officers (whom the U.S. had thrown out onto the street when it disbanded his army), Islamist jihadis, and Iraqi nationalists who simply opposed a foreign occupation of their country. As Iraq fell into chaos — I was there to see it happen — Washington turned to a savior general, David Petraeus, armed with a plan to “surge” U.S. troops into key Sunni regions and lower the violence there before Democrats in Congress lost patience and started calling for an end to the American role in that country.

In the years that followed, the statistics seemed to vindicate the Petraeus “miracle.” Using divide-and-conquer tactics, he paid off the tribal leaders, who became known as the “Sunni Awakening” movement, to turn their guns on more Islamist-focused Sunni groups. Many of his new allies had only recently been insurgents with American blood on their hands.

Still, the gamble seemed to work — until it didn’t. In 2011, after the Obama administration withdrew most American troops from the country, the Shia-dominated (and U.S.-backed) government in Baghdad failed to continue to pay the “awakened” Sunnis or integrate them into the official security forces. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Sunni grievances led to mass protests, which led to a Shia crackdown, which led to the explosion of a new insurgent terror group: the Islamic State, or ISIS, whose origins — talk about “insider” — can be traced back to the inspiration of al-Qaeda and to a group initially known as al-Qaeda in Iraq.

In fact, it was a dirty secret that many of the Awakening veterans either joined or tacitly supported ISIS in 2013 or thereafter, seeing that brutal group as the best bet for protecting Sunni power from Shia chauvinism and American deceit. Soon enough, the U.S. military was back in action (as it still is today) in response to ISIS conquests that included some of Iraq’s major cities. And if all of that doesn’t qualify as a tale of blowback, what does?

Yemen, Syria, and Beyond (2011-forever)
Syria is a humanitarian disaster area and no U.S. administration has demonstrated anything resembling a coherent or consistent strategy when it comes to that country. Torn between Iraq War fatigue and military overstretch, the Obama team waffled on what its policy there should even be and ultimately failed to achieve anything of substance — except to potentially sow the seeds for future insider attacks. Indeed, a paltry (yet startlingly expensive) CIA attempt to arm “moderate” rebels opposed to the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad turned out to be wholly counterproductive. Some of those arms were ultimately reported to have made their way into the hands of extremist groups like the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda franchise in Syria. In a situation where truth proved more farcical than fiction, the $500 million effort to train anti-ISIS rebels managed to train “four or five” of them, according to the top U.S. military commander overseeing the Syrian effort.

In Yemen, in a Saudi-led war in which the U.S. has been shamelessly complicit, a brutal bombing campaign waged largely against civilians and a blockade of rebel ports have undoubtedly sown the seeds for future insider attacks. Beyond the staggering humanitarian toll — a minimum of 10,000 civilian deaths, mass starvation, and the outbreak of the world’s worst cholera epidemic in modern memory — there is already strategic blowback that could harm future American security. As the U.S. military provides in-flight refueling of Saudi planes, smart bombs for them to drop, and vital intelligence, it is also undoubtedly helping its future enemies. The chaos, violence, and ungoverned spaces that war has created are, for instance, empowering the al-Qaeda franchise there, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active and dangerous jihadist crews around. When, however, AQAP inevitably succeeds in some future strike aimed at Americans or their property, precious few pundits and policymakers will call it by its proper name: an insider attack.

So, as we lament the death of yet another soldier in a green-on-blue strike in Afghanistan, it’s worth thinking about the broader contours of U.S. policy across the Greater Middle East and Africa in these years. Is anything the U.S. doing, anyone it is empowering or arming, likely to make the Middle East or America any safer? If not, wouldn’t a different, less interventionist approach be the essence of sober strategy?

It may, of course, be too late. Washington’s military policies since 9/11 have alienated tens of millions of Muslims across the Greater Middle East and elsewhere. Grievances are gestating, plots unfolding, and new terror outfits gaining recruits due to the very presence of the U.S. military, its air power, and the CIA’s drone force in a “war” that is about to enter its 18th year. Seen in this light, it’s hard not to believe that more anti-U.S. “insider” attacks aren’t on the way.

The question is only where and when, not if.

This entry was posted in Banana republic, Guest Post, Middle East, Politics on October 1, 2018 by Lambert Strether.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/201...ck-generation-american-folly-middle-east.html
 

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Israel-Iran Conflict Escalates Further As Netanyahu Comes With New Accusations Against Tehran
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Published on Oct 1, 2018
 

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Syrian War Report – Oct. 1, 2018: Damascus To Evacaute People From On Al-Rukban Camp In US-held Area
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Counterstrike: Iran Hits Militant Targets in Syria
RT America


Published on Oct 1, 2018
Iran has launched a ballistic missile attack on ISIS-held positions in eastern Syria. Iranian officials claim they targeted militants responsible for a terrorist attack last month which hit a military parade and killed at least 25 people in the Iranian city of Ahvaz. For analysis, RT America’s Scottie Nell Hughes is joined by former Pentagon official, Michael Maloof.
 

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Counterstrike: Iran Hits Militant Targets in Syria
RT America


Published on Oct 1, 2018
Iran has launched a ballistic missile attack on ISIS-held positions in eastern Syria. Iranian officials claim they targeted militants responsible for a terrorist attack last month which hit a military parade and killed at least 25 people in the Iranian city of Ahvaz. For analysis, RT America’s Scottie Nell Hughes is joined by former Pentagon official, Michael Maloof.
Woo hoo kill those ISIS scum!
 

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Insider Attacks: Retired Army Major Laments US Middle East Policy Blowback


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/02/2018 - 23:25


Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via TomDispatch.com,

He was shot in the back, the ultimate act of treachery.



On September 3rd, a U.S Army sergeant major was killed by two Afghan police officers - the very people his unit, the new Security Force Assistance Brigade, was there to train. It was the second fatal “insider attack,” as such incidents are regularly called, this year and the 102nd since the start of the Afghan War 17 long years ago. Such attacks are sometimes termed “green-on-blue” incidents (in Army lingo, “green” forces are U.S. allies and “blue” forces Americans). For obvious reasons, they are highly destructive to the military mission of training and advising local military and security forces in Afghanistan. Such attacks, not surprisingly, sow distrust and fear, creating distance between Western troops and their supposed Afghan partners.



Reading about this latest tragic victim of Washington’s war in Afghanistan, the seventh American death this year and 2,416th since 2001, I got to thinking about those insider attacks and the bigger story that they embodied.

Considered a certain way, U.S. policy across the Greater Middle East has, in fact, produced one insider attack after another.

Short-term thinking, expedience, and a lack of strategic caution (or direction) has led Washington to train, fund, and support group after group that, soon enough, turned its guns on American soldiers and civilians. It’s a long, sordid tale that stretches back decades — and one that, unlike the individual instances of treachery that kill or maim American servicemen, receives next to no attention. It’s worth thinking about, though, because if U.S. policies had been radically different, such green-on-blue incidents might never have occurred. So let’s consider the last decades of American war-making in the context of insider attacks.

The Ground Zero of Insider Attacks: Afghanistan (1979-present)
In 1979, the Washington foreign policy elite saw everything through the prism of a possible existential Cold War clash between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Such a focus tended to erase local context, nuance, and complexity, leading the U.S. to back a range of nefarious actors as long as they were allies in the struggle against communism.​
So in December 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded neighboring Afghanistan, Washington knew just what to do. With the help of the Saudis and the Pakistanis, the CIA financed, trained, and armed — eventually with sophisticated anti-aircraft Stinger missiles, among other weapons — a range of anti-Soviet militias. And it worked! Eight years later, having suffered more than 10,000 combat deaths in its own version of Vietnam, the Red Army left Afghanistan in defeat (and, soon after, the Soviet Union itself imploded).​
The problem was that many of those anti-Communist Afghans were also fiercely Islamist, often extreme in their views, and ultimately anti-Western as well as anti-Soviet — and among them, as you undoubtedly remember, was a youthful Saudi by the name of Osama bin Laden.​
It was, then, an easy-to-overlook reality. After all, the Islamist mujahideen (as they were generally called) were astute enough to fight one enemy at a time and knew where their proverbial bread was being buttered. As long as the money and arms kept flowing in and the more immediate Soviet threat loomed, even the most extreme of them were willing to play nice with Americans. It was a marriage of convenience. Few in Washington bothered to ask what they would do with all those guns once the Soviets left town.​
Recent scholarship and newly opened Russian archives suggest that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was driven as much by defensiveness and insecurity as by any notion of triumphal regional conquest. Despite the fears of officials in the administrations of presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, the Soviets never had the capacity or the intent to march through Afghanistan and seize the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. Like so much Cold War-era thinking, this was pure fantasy and the meddling that went with it anything but necessary.​

After the Soviet exit, Afghanistan fell into a long period of chaos, as various mujahideen leaders became local warlords, fought with one another, and terrorized average Afghans. Frustrated by their venality, former mujahideen, aided by students radicalized in madrassas in Pakistani refugee camps (schools that had often been financed by America’s stalwart partner, Saudi Arabia), formed the Taliban movement. Many of its leaders and soldiers had once been funded and armed by the CIA. By 1996, it had swept to power in most of the country, implementing a reign of Islamist terror. Still, that movement was broadly popular in its early years for bringing order to chaos and misery.​

And let’s not forget one other small but influential mujahideen group that the U.S. had backed: the “Afghan Arabs,” as they were called — fiercely Islamist foreigners who flocked to that country to fight the godless Soviets. The most notable among them was, of course, Osama bin Laden — and the rest, as they say, is history.​

Bin Laden and other Afghan War veterans would form al-Qaeda, bomb American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, blow up the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and take down the Twin Towers and part of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. These, though, were only the most well known acts of those anti-Soviet war vets. Thousands of Afghan Arabs left that war zone and returned to their own countries with plenty of zeal and fight still in them. Those veterans would then form local terror organizations that would challenge or help destabilize secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa.​

After 9/11, the question on many American minds was simple enough: “Why do they hate us?” Too few had the knowledge or the sense of history that might have led to far more relevant questions: How did the U.S. contribute to what happened and to what extent was it blowbackfrom previous American operations? Unfortunately, few such questions were raised as the Bush administration headed into what would become a 17-year, still-spreading regional war not on a nation or even a set of nations, but on a tactic, “terror.”​

Still, it’s worth reflecting on America’s complicity in its own 9/11 devastation. In a strange fashion, given Washington’s history in Afghanistan, 9/11 could be seen as the most devastating insider attack of all.​

The Many Iraq Wars (1980-present)
The 2003 invasion of Iraq — Operation Iraqi Freedom as it was optimistically named — may go down as one of the more foolish wars in American history — and many of the attacks on U.S. troops that followed from it over the years might be considered green-on-blue ones. After all, Washington would, in the end, train and back so many diffuse groups that a number of the members of various terror and insurgent outfits were once on the U.S. payroll.​

It began, of course, with Saddam Hussein, the brutal Iraqi dictator whom the American people would be assured (in 1990 and again in 2003) was the “next Hitler.” In the 1980s, however, the U.S. government had backed him in his invasion of Iran (then as now considered a mortal enemy) and the eight-year stalemated war that followed. The U.S. even gave his forces crucial targeting intelligence for the use of his chemical weapons against Iranian troop formations, embittering the Iranians for years to come.​
The Reagan administration also took Iraq off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror and even allowed the sale of components vital to Saddam’s production of those chemical weapons. Nearly a million people died in that grim war and then, just two years after it ended, the U.S. found that, for its efforts, Saddam would send his troops into neighboring Kuwait and threaten to roll over America’s key ally in the region (then as now), Saudi Arabia. That, of course, kicked off another major Iraqi conflagration, again involving Washington: the First Persian Gulf War.​

At the end of that “victory,” President George H.W. Bush encouraged Iraq’s oppressed Shia and Kurdish populations to rise up and overthrow Saddam’s largely Sunni regime. And rebel they did until, bereft of the slightest meaningful support from Washington, they were defeated and massacred. More than a decade later, in 2003, when the U.S. again invaded Iraq — this time under the false pretense that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction — Americans were assured that most civilians (especially the embattled Shia majority) would cheer the arrival of Uncle Sam’s military machine.​

In reality, it took less then a year for Shia militias to form and begin openly attacking U.S. troops (with a helping hand later from the Iranians, who had their own bitter American legacy to recall). You see, those Shia — unlike most Americans — still remembered how Washington had betrayed them in 1991 and so launched their own versions of insider attacks on U.S. soldiers.​

However, from 2003 to 2007 (including the period when I served as part of the U.S. occupation force in Baghdad), the main threat came from Sunni insurgents. They were a diverse lot, including former Saddam loyalists and military officers (whom the U.S. had thrown out onto the street when it disbanded his army), Islamist jihadis, and Iraqi nationalists who simply opposed a foreign occupation of their country. As Iraq fell into chaos — I was there to see it happen — Washington turned to a savior general, David Petraeus, armed with a plan to “surge” U.S. troops into key Sunni regions and lower the violence there before Democrats in Congress lost patience and started calling for an end to the American role in that country.​

In the years that followed, the statistics seemed to vindicate the Petraeus “miracle.” Using divide-and-conquer tactics, he paid off the tribal leaders, who became known as the “Sunni Awakening” movement, to turn their guns on more Islamist-focused Sunni groups. Many of his new allies had only recently been insurgents with American blood on their hands.​

Still, the gamble seemed to work — until it didn’t. In 2011, after the Obama administration withdrew most American troops from the country, the Shia-dominated (and U.S.-backed) government in Baghdad failed to continue to pay the “awakened” Sunnis or integrate them into the official security forces. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Sunni grievances led to mass protests, which led to a Shia crackdown, which led to the explosion of a new insurgent terror group: the Islamic State, or ISIS, whose origins — talk about “insider” — can be traced back to the inspiration of al-Qaeda and to a group initially known as al-Qaeda in Iraq.​

In fact, it was a dirty secret that many of the Awakening veterans either joined or tacitly supported ISIS in 2013 or thereafter, seeing that brutal group as the best bet for protecting Sunni power from Shia chauvinism and American deceit. Soon enough, the U.S. military was back in action (as it still is today) in response to ISIS conquests that included some of Iraq’s major cities. And if all of that doesn’t qualify as a tale of blowback, what does?​

Yemen, Syria, and Beyond (2011-forever)
Syria is a humanitarian disaster area and no U.S. administration has demonstrated anything resembling a coherent or consistent strategy when it comes to that country. Torn between Iraq War fatigue and military overstretch, the Obama team waffled on what its policy there should even be and ultimately failed to achieve anything of substance — except to potentially sow the seeds for future insider attacks. Indeed, a paltry (yet startlingly expensive) CIA attempt to arm “moderate” rebels opposed to the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad turned out to be wholly counterproductive. Some of those arms were ultimately reported to have made their way into the hands of extremist groups like the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda franchise in Syria. In a situation where truth proved more farcical than fiction, the $500 million effort to train anti-ISIS rebels managed to train “four or five” of them, according to the top U.S. military commander overseeing the Syrian effort.​

In Yemen, in a Saudi-led war in which the U.S. has been shamelessly complicit, a brutal bombing campaign waged largely against civilians and a blockade of rebel ports have undoubtedly sown the seeds for future insider attacks. Beyond the staggering humanitarian toll — a minimum of 10,000 civilian deaths, mass starvation, and the outbreak of the world’s worst cholera epidemic in modern memory — there is already strategic blowback that could harm future American security. As the U.S. military provides in-flight refueling of Saudi planes, smart bombs for them to drop, and vital intelligence, it is also undoubtedly helping its future enemies. The chaos, violence, and ungoverned spaces that war has created are, for instance, empowering the al-Qaeda franchise there, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active and dangerous jihadist crews around. When, however, AQAP inevitably succeeds in some future strike aimed at Americans or their property, precious few pundits and policymakers will call it by its proper name: an insider attack.​

So, as we lament the death of yet another soldier in a green-on-blue strike in Afghanistan, it’s worth thinking about the broader contours of U.S. policy across the Greater Middle East and Africa in these years. Is anything the U.S. doing, anyone it is empowering or arming, likely to make the Middle East or America any safer? If not, wouldn’t a different, less interventionist approach be the essence of sober strategy?

It may, of course, be too late. Washington’s military policies since 9/11 have alienated tens of millions of Muslims across the Greater Middle East and elsewhere. Grievances are gestating, plots unfolding, and new terror outfits gaining recruits due to the very presence of the U.S. military, its air power, and the CIA’s drone force in a “war” that is about to enter its 18th year. Seen in this light, it’s hard not to believe that more anti-U.S. “insider” attacks aren’t on the way.

The question is only where and when, not if.

* * *

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...-major-laments-us-middle-east-policy-blowback
 

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Trump To Saudi King: Pay Up For US Military Protection!
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Annoyed that the Saudis refuse to increase oil production, President Trump yesterday threatened Saudi Arabia that US military protection could be withdrawn and that the Saudi regime wouldn't last without it. Is the US military a mercenary force? And what's really behind spiking oil prices?
 

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Trump To Saudi King: Pay Up For US Military Protection!
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Annoyed that the Saudis refuse to increase oil production, President Trump yesterday threatened Saudi Arabia that US military protection could be withdrawn and that the Saudi regime wouldn't last without it. Is the US military a mercenary force? And what's really behind spiking oil prices?
I’ve been waiting to see if trump would really play this card or not. The cia could take down Saudi Arabia in short order.
 

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UN Orders US to Lift Iran Sanctions
RT America


Published on Oct 3, 2018
Anya Parampil reports on a recent International Court of Justice ruling which ordered the US to drop certain sanctions targeting Iran. Anya explains that the US responded by pulling out of yet another treaty, the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran. Vijay Prashad, Director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research, joins the show to discuss this news, saying sanctions are an act of war.

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Syrian War Report – October 4, 2018: Israeli Minister Says F-35 Jets To Be Used Against S-300
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Lawmaker: It’s time to end the war in Afghanistan
By: Leo Shane III   10 hours ago



WASHINGTON — To mark the 17th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, Rep. Ruben Gallego wants to finally end the conflict.

Gallego, D-Ariz. and a Marine Corps veteran who served in combat in Iraq, has been a vocal critic of the “perpetual war” in the recent years. In a statement this weekend, he said military and political leaders need to find a way to put a stop to America’s longest military fight.

“It’s clear that continuing on the current course is not in our national interest,” he said. “American troops should come home.

“Our objectives following (the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks) were to destroy al-Qaida, kill Osama bin Laden, and prevent a recurrence of an ungoverned space in Afghanistan that allowed for terrorists to plot and plan attacks on Americans and our allies. We accomplished all of those objectives years ago.”

Last week, Defense Department officials announced the death of a U.S. service member in Afghanistan, the seventh so far this year. About 14,000 American troops are current deployed in the country in training and advisory roles, as well as some special forces conducting combat missions.

At an appearance before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in July, President Donald Trump said U.S. forces “for the first time in years are making a lot of progress in Afghanistan” because of recent changes by his administration in U.S. strategy there. That included an increase in the number of American troops in the country.

Gallego said any withdrawal of troops must be done “responsibly” but also without additional delays.

“Over the past 17 years, almost 25,000 Americans have been killed or wounded in Afghanistan. Many thousands more bear the mental and emotional scars of combat,” Gallego said.

“We must remember their sacrifice as we seek the best interests of our country, which involves the return of their comrades still in Afghanistan to their friends, family, and a grateful nation.”

Operation Enduring Freedom launched on Oct. 7, 2001, in response to the al-Qaida attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania a month earlier.

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/...maker-its-time-to-end-the-war-in-afghanistan/
 

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'Operation Endless War'? 17 Years In Afghanistan
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Yesterday marked the 17th year of what they called "Operation Enduring Freedom," the invasion of Afghanistan. But the longest war in US history has not produced freedom. It has only been enduring. It's a slow-motion lost cause, but Washington keeps pumping money and military in.
 

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Syrian War Report – October 8, 2018: Clashes Between Militant Groups Onoing In Western Aleppo
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Syrian War Report – October 9, 2018: Syria Got 24 S-300 Launchers, Over 300 Missiles
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US TO GIVE ISRAEL MORE F-35S TO FACE S-300S, DEPLOY A SQUADRON IN EMIRATES || WARTHOG 2018
Warthog Defense


Published on Oct 10, 2018
This video is made under fair use policy, also this material is made from public published domain for people with hearing and seeing disability

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'He was interrogated, tortured and then murdered': Arabic audio handed to the U.S. 'proves Saudi critic WAS killed at consulate before 15-man assassination squad sneaked his body to consul general's home'

  • The Washington Post reports journalist Jamal Khashoggi was beaten, killed and dismembered October 2 at the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Audio recording reportedly lays out the story as voices are heard speaking Arabic but Turkish authorities are reluctant to release it
  • Sources believe the man who split his time between the US and Istanbul was victim of a plan to lure him to KSA for punishment after his critiques
  • John R. Bradley says Khashoggi 'had dirt' on Saudi ties to Osama bin Laden
  • He also says Crown Prince considered him a threat to his vision for the kingdom
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...late-Istanbul-15-man-assassination-squad.html
 

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The dark side of Saudi's Crown Prince: How royal's carefully managed rise to power has failed to overshadow arrests of activists, businessmen and his own family members

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has a dark side to his rise
  • As defence minister, he pursued a war in Yemen which is still ongoing
  • Arrested women's rights activists in May, who are still being held without trial
  • Imprisoned businessmen and members of royal family in 'corruption crackdown'
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6268255/The-two-sides-Crown-Prince-Saudi-Arabia.html
 

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Missing Saudi journalist 'recorded his own death on his Apple Watch with moments of his interrogation, torture and killing sent to his phone and the iCloud'

  • He reportedly switched on recording function before going into Saudi embassy
  • It is claimed his 'interrogation, torture and killing' were captured in an audio file
  • Security forces said to have found the file on phone he had left with his fiancée
  • CCTV shows Khashoggi going into the embassy on October 2 but not emerging
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...di-journalist-recorded-death-Apple-Watch.html
 

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Syrian War Report – October 10, 2018: YPG Cells Attack Turkish-backed Forces In Afrin
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Syrian War Report - Oct 11, 2018: ISIS Seizes Chlorine Intended To Be Used For Provocations In Idlib
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Syrian War Report – October 12, 2018: 'S-300 Elimination' Delayed - Israel Grounds F-35 Fleet
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Published on Oct 12, 2018