Saturday, June 6, 2015

تقدم للمعارضة السورية وخسائر فادحة للنظام

الاسد يتفنن بجرائمه - الرسام اسامة حجاج

ما وراء الخبر-هل يشكل حزب الله مليشيا لمهاجمة عرسال؟

Iraqi Attempt to Retake Ramadi Stalls Well Outside of City

Pentagon Touts 'Successful' Airstrikes Against ISIS Forces

Just a little over a week into Iraq’s much-vaunted “counteroffensive” against ISIS, aimed at retaking the Anbar Province capital of Ramadi, the whole operation appears to have stalled, leaving the military with a handful of villages, and ISIS still in full control of Ramadi.
Iraqi forces lost Ramadi in a surprisingly decisive defeat, despite a major numerical superiority. Iraq has since turned to Shi’ite militias to try to turn the tide of battle, but thousands of such forces appear to have done little in changing the situation on the ground.
As usual, everyone is making it someone else’s fault. Iraq is complaining that US airstrikes against Ramadi aren’t nearly numerous enough to change the tide of battle, while Pentagon forces maintain that there are no friendly troops in Ramadi to support with strikes at any rate. Pentagon officials likewise touted their “successful” air campaign, and bragged about their dubious claims of no civilian deaths.
At any rate, officials see any major counteroffensive against Ramadi as hinging on new US training, though years of training under the US occupation did nothing to prevent ISIS from taking much of the country’s west.


BDS incites panic in Israel

By Said Arikat
BDS incites panic in Israel
The BDS movement is modelled on the South African anti-apartheid campaigns [Anadolu]


Comment: As the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement gathers international momentum, attempts by Israel to delegitimise it, are akin to McCarthyism in 1950s America, writes Said Arikat.
A few days ago, Wednesday 3 June to be exact, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and members of his government turned on the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The Israeli prime minister - always echoed in the Halls of US Congress as in AIPAC - used language normally reserved for Hamas, or the Iranian nuclear program.

Describing BDS as a "strategic threat" Netanyahu was reacting to the a vote by the national leadership of the United Kingdom's "National Union of Students" on Tuesday 2 June 2015 to align themselves with the BDS movement. This prompted him to tweet: "A national student group in Britain that voted to boycott Israel - refused to boycott ISIS. This is BDS."

Of course Netanyahu was smearing BDS by articulately spewing lies. What he did not mention is that the NUS national executive council adopted a resolution on 3 December 2015 condemning the Islamic State group "as a reactionary terrorist organisation that carries out atrocities" against people in the areas it operates in.
    BDS has steadily picked up momentum because it is a moral movement.
On the same day - Wednesday - Israeli president Reuven Rivlin echoed the same sentiment about how BDS poses a strategic threat to Israel. He told a group of Israeli academics: "I didn't think Israeli academia would face any real danger, but the atmosphere around the world is changing, and creating a situation in which it is impossible to deal with the issue as anything but a first-rate strategic threat."

However, it seems Netanyahu, Rivlin and Israel's supporters in the US have good reasons to worry.

First, with the Iranian nuclear deal looming at the end of this month, Netanyahu and apologists for the continued Israeli occupation and the crazy level of settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories, will likely lose the world's trumped-up preoccupation with Iran's potential for a nuclear bomb. It is probable there will be closer scrutiny by an otherwise complacent world of Israel's horrific occupation and apartheid policies against the Palestinians.

Second, BDS has steadily picked up momentum because it is a moral movement. It shows what the illegal and racist Israeli occupation is actually doing to Palestinians. It highlights the crimes against humanity Israel has systematically carried out against the Palestinians for over 67 years. It gives people around the world with moral fiber  a clear choice, either to stand up for human values or be aligned with a racist military occupation.

Netanyahu and Rivlin know this. Academically, where BDS is making a real difference relates to international academia withholding Israeli academic promotions. This would significantly decrease cooperation with Israeli enterprises and could lead to academic journals rejecting submissions by Israelis. This looming reckoning is among the wide-ranging list of ramifications that Israeli researchers already face, and brings back echoes of South Africa under apartheid.

In fact the non-violent grassroots movement founded by the Palestinians almost ten years ago in July 2005, is modelled on the South African anti-apartheid campaigns. It calls for an end to the occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens in Israel, and a resolution for Palestinian refugees of 1948.

One of its founders, Omar Barghouti, explains that BDS was launched by much of Palestinian civil society, "as a qualitatively new phase in the global struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice, and self-determination".

Barghouti says more than 170 leading Palestinian political parties, trade union federations, women's unions, refugee rights groups, NGOs, and grassroots organisations called for "a boycott against Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law".

After years in which Israeli officials and commentators have loftily dismissed the impact of BDS, it seems that Netanyahu, Rivlin, AIPAC and the US Congress have taken notice.

Congress is erratically tying the passage of legislation that impacts on the lives of Americans across the US to banning BDS. At the same time, Netanyahu and AIPAC are redundantly and explicitly seeking to link the boycott movement to historic "anti-semitism". The Israeli prime minister made remarks in his keynote address to AIPAC predicting that BDS would fail because it was "on wrong side of the moral divide".

They ceaselessly point to those who call for the Palestinians' right of return to their homeland, or those who have given up on the moribund two-state option (euthanised by Israel's greed for Palestinian land), as evidence that BDS is equal to anti-semitism.

This panic is beginning to spread among Israel's settler colonialism on a level only seen in the final years of apartheid in South Africa.

Recent comments by senior Israeli politicians and their amplification in the Israeli media have given this assessment added credibility.
    BDS is all about Palestinians' rights, human rights, civil rights and national rights.
One only needs to look at the front page of the mass-circulated Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahoronth, which pressed the panic button a few days ago by allying itself with those "Fighting the boycott" and others sounding the alarm. Its main columnist, rightwing writer Ben-Dror Yemeni warned: "The success of BDS is particularly impressive because it's a movement that uses the language of rights."

Indeed, BDS is all about Palestinians' rights, human rights, civil rights and national rights.

But of course the fight remains uphill. Israel and its many lobbies in the US are using their bottomless financial resources and arm-twisting tactics to blackmail BDS supporters on US college campuses into submission. 

A website called Canary Mission has been launched to create a "blacklist" of pro-Palestinian students and academics. Its homepage says: "The Canary Mission database was created to expose individuals and groups that are anti-Freedom, anti-American and anti-Semitic in order to protect the public and our democratic values." 

The sites aims to damage the future economic prospects of the groups and individuals it profiles: "It is your duty to ensure that today's radicals are not tomorrow's employees," a narrator says on a video on the site.

No matter how you size-it up, this harkens back to McCarthyism in the 1950s when making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence was the trend for being a "Good American". It is Israel and its supporters that harangue everyone with their claims of occupying the high moral ground that are in the thick of this twisted blackmailing logic. 

For years, under the cover of the phony peace process that was aided by a complacent Palestinian Authority, and the equally phony Iranian nuclear threat, Israel and its apologists have managed to conflate BDS with separate initiatives by the Palestinians to garner international support to end the occupation. That cover is slowly but surely is blown away. - 

The Daily Show' Jon Stewart Instructs Muslims How to be More ‘America-Loving’; 6/4/15

Friday, June 5, 2015

DNA 05/06/2015: حزب الله..وعرسال

Let The Stupid Arabs Kill Each Other!

ذكرى النكسة - الرسام علاء اللقطة

Real News Video: Without Arms Embargo, No Political Solution Possible in Iraq and Syria

Institute for Policy Studies Fellow Phyllis Bennis argues that collateral damage from military strikes and corrupt governance are only strengthening the Islamic State

Video: Ali Abunimah on Israel’s national panic about BDS

Israel Fears the Boycott Movement as an 'Existential Threat'

I spoke to The Real News Network about the mobilization by the Israeli government and media against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Among the questions we talked about: what is BDS? Why is Israel reacting to it now? Is it really bringing effective pressure for Palestinian rights on Israel?

Assad nears the tipping point

By David Ignatius
The Washington Post


The regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria is facing what U.S. experts say is the most intense pressure since the early days of the four-year conflict . This new squeeze poses some stark choices for the United States, Russia, Iran and Syria’s neighbors.
“Based on current trend lines, it is time to start thinking about a post-Assad Syria,” argues a U.S. intelligence official. Until recently, U.S. analysts had characterized the situation there as more of a stalemate. But over the past month, rebel gains in northern and southern Syria have begun to tip the balance.
David Ignatius writes a twice-a-week foreign affairs column and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. View Archive
U.S. officials see mounting pressure on Assad from four directions. A potent new rebel coalition known as Jaish al-Fatah, or the Army of Conquest, backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, seized the capital of Idlib province late last month. Fighting ferociously alongside this coalition is Jabhat al-Nusra, or the al-Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda. Moderate rebels known as the “Southern Front,” backed by the United States and Jordan, are finally gaining some ground in southern Syria. And the Islamic State, the most fearsome group of all, is rampaging across northern, central and eastern Syria.
Assad faces hard choices as battlefield losses mount,” says the U.S. intelligence analyst. As the pressure increases, some Assad supporters are taking precautions. Russia is reportedly evacuating some personnel from Assad’s ancestral homeland of Latakia, in northwest Syria. Meanwhile, some members of Assad’s circle are said to be seeking visas abroad and otherwise preparing for the possibility that the regime may fall.
A sense of the escalating battle came in a telephone interview Thursday with Capt. Islam Alloush, the spokesman for a group known as the Islamic Army, which is coordinating with the Jaish al-Fatah coalition. Reached at what he said was a location near Aleppo, he explained that the rebels are now moving toward the two key Assad strongholds — Latakia and Damascus. “There is no doubt that the Assad army is weaker,” he said.
But a word of caution about this “endgame” talk. Assad has seemed in trouble before, but he has been rescued by Iran and its proxies. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seemingly doubled down this week, declaring that he stood with Assad’s government “until the end of the road.” This suggests that Tehran recognizes the new pressure but doesn’t intend to buckle. Sources say additional Iranian proxy forces have recently entered Syria to help bolster the lines.
The rebel squeeze on Assad poses some vexing problems for the United States, too. That’s because many of the recent battlefield gains have been made by jihadist groups the United States regards as extremist, such as the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Some officials fear that if Assad collapses, these extremist groups will rush to fill the vacuum — making the region even more unstable.
The United States refuses to work with Jabhat al-Nusra, regarding it as a band of unrepentant al-Qaeda followers, even though the group is said to receive indirect support from Turkey and Qatar. U.S. officials weren’t persuaded by an interview broadcast last week by Al Jazeera with al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Joulani, in which he offered conciliatory statements toward Syrian minority groups and said his fight isn’t with the United States.
Joulani didn’t disavow al-Qaeda, as some had hoped, which might have opened the way for a tactical alliance. U.S. experts continue to regard him as a dangerous foe and to warn against cooperation with his fighters. This complicates planning in the north, where the al-Nusra Front shares operations rooms in Idlib and Aleppo with Jaish al-Fatah.
The Islamic State has gained so much ground in Syria and Iraq recently that some Middle Eastern strategists argue for allying now with a lesser evil, the al-Nusra Front faction and other jihadists, to stop the Islamic State. The logic, explains one official, is “First you defeat Hitler, then you defeat Stalin.” Other analysts argue that the only good knockout punch is Turkish military intervention, backed by U.S. air support.
The Obama administration’s focus remains a diplomatic settlement. Officials argue that Moscow and Tehran will eventually see so much pressure on Assad, from so many dangerous jihadist groups, that they will embrace negotiations for a political transition away from the current regime.
U.S. officials keep hoping for such a change of heart by Russia and Iran. But four years into this gruesome war, hope is not a strategy. The United States, sadly, still hasn’t built a reliable, moderate force that could push Assad over the tipping point and govern Syria after he goes.

How Saleh Danced on the Head of the CIA

By David Hearst

The claims that Hani Muhammad Mujahid makes cannot be verified. What he said about his time as a foot soldier for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Waziristan "tracks" with what a former director of counter-terrorism for the CIA knew at the time. But no one can confirm the claim itself. But neither can they ignore it.
For if just part of the investigation carried out by Al Jazeera's Clayton Swisher is true, it throws a rather large spanner into the works of the war on terror.
Mujahid was an al-Qaeda operative (and probably a bomb maker, too) turned informant. Returning to his native Yemen, he joined al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) while on the payroll of two counter-intelligence agencies of then Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh -- the National Security Bureau and Political Security Organization.
The informant claims he did his job. In 2008, he gave his handlers three warnings, three months, one week and finally three days before an attack on the US Embassy in Sanaa. He claims he gave them the house in which the bombs were being prepared, the fact that they would use two cars, and where they came from. The attack went ahead and 12 died, including an 18-year-old Yemeni American.
There were other troubling aspects to this hit. A road running past the embassy entrance, which had been closed for security reasons, opened unexpectedly three days before the attack. When an embassy official ran around the perimeter wall to alert a Yemeni quick reaction force at the back of the compound, they did not react or even give him a weapon to fight back with. An FBI investigation into the attack got no help from their Yemeni counterparts.
The same thing happened with an attack on a group of Spanish tourists visiting a temple in the Maarib desert on July 2, 2007, which went ahead despite an explicit and imminent warning. The car bomb killed ten and injured 12.
Mujahid's story does not stop there. He claims Colonel Ammar Saleh, the president's nephew and then deputy at the National Security Bureau, helped al-Qaeda receive the money and the explosives needed for the attack on the US embassy. Ammar used him as a courier for money and arms intended for Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of AQAP.
Let us just pause there. An informant is claiming that Saleh's nephew was financing the leader of AQAP, while Saleh himself was using the AQAP's attacks as a lever to get more US military aid. Saleh frequently met the head of the CIA John Brennan.
AQAP is not just any branch of al-Qaeda but its most active franchise, which narrowly failed to bring planes down over the Atlantic, and developed the liquid explosives which have changed the face of airport security around the world. The US's most active drone program is in Yemen. Brennan's relationship with Saleh was an integral part of GWOT, the Global War on Terror. They met many times.
Other incidents reaked of collusion between Saleh's government and al-Qaeda. Over a year before AQAP started operations, 23 al-Qaeda operatives dug a tunnel 120 metres long from a maximum security prison in Sanaa to a nearby mosque. They reportedly did it with spoons and plates -- a tale which no one believed. The tunnel could not have been dug without the knowledge of the prison authorities.
Saleh's home is now being bombed by his former Saudi and Emirati backers, while the US and Britain attempt to mediate in Oman between the Houthis and the Saudis.
The actors frequently change sides. Little, however, has changed with the concept of the Global War on Terror itself. This is a Kafkaesque notion which successive US, British, and French administrations cling to, despite the havoc it wreaks on the frail states on which it is practiced.
It is used to justify giving dictators the license to crush the democratic demands of their people, while insisting there was a higher purpose, a vital western interest in doing so. With Sisi in Sinai, it's Camp David Accord with Israel. It's from this policy that dictators draw what little legitimacy they can salvage. They use their membership of GWOT both to validate torture, mass arrest, summary execution, and impunity from prosecution and to extort more money from their donors. They have, in fact, a financial interest in chaos and failure. GWOT rewards both.
The path which Saleh trod in Yemen has been well-worn by other thugs, western-backed or not. Maliki in Iraq, Sisi in Egypt, Haftar in Libya, Dahlan in Palestine. It was trod, too, by Putin in Chechnya and Assad in Syria.
The chief beneficiary in all this is al-Qaeda. How much bigger does it have to grow from its birth in a cave complex in Afghanistan before the CIA realises that all dictators double deal as Saleh did with them? For how much longer will the conflicts that dictators themselves help to create, work as leverage for demands for more military aid? How much longer do we have to wait before a White House incumbent realises that autocracy is the prime cause of instability in the Arab world, not its solution? How many more states have to fail, as a consequence of "state-building" efforts? In how many more countries does al-Qaeda have to rise phoenix-like from the ashes before the realisation dawns that the dictators who sign up to GWOT have gone AWOL?
If Saleh danced on the heads of snakes, he must have danced, too, all over the head of Brennan and the CIA. No wonder they have shown scant interest in Mujahid's story. Hopefully a Spanish judge will show more.

This article was first published by huffingtonpost.

Circle of deceit: Hani Mujahid's path to Al Jazeera

Clayton Swisher


How a former al-Qaeda fighter turned informer for Yemen's government, only to conclude it was duping Washington.
Hani Mujahid chose to tell his story to Al Jazeera because he felt trapped: When the al-Qaeda operative-turned Yemeni government informant tried to brief the CIA on his allegations that Yemen had been playing a double game in the fight against al-Qaeda, he found himself detained and badly beaten by Yemeni security personnel.
No longer able to trust any of the stakeholders, he turned to the media to tell his story. If his allegations prove true, they will be deeply embarrassing to the US.
But the testimony of men like Mujahid, erstwhile foot soldiers of al-Qaeda, is valuable in itself, offering the world unique insights into the motivations of the young men who answered Osama bin Laden's call to arms.
By his account, he became an insider at the highest levels of both al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Yemeni security services - and concluded that those two entities had more in common than was generally known.
Hani Mujahid, former al-Qaeda operative turned informant:
Consider me a suicide attacker of another type. My bombing will be the information I shall divulge.

Fall out with al-Qaeda

The story of Mujahid's remarkable interview with the network began on December 5, 2013, when fighters from AQAP wearing Yemeni military fatigues shot their way past security inside the Ministry of Defence complex and mounted a prolonged and gruesome rampage that killed 52 people, most of them unarmed civilians and medics.
That attack prompted unprecedented unanimity in condemning AQAP among all of Yemen's political and religious factions, outraged by the targeting of innocent Muslims in a hospital. It also appears to have prompted Mujahid to reach out to 42-year-old lawyer Abdul Rahman Barman.
Barman had not yet taken on Mujahid as a client, but as the director of HOOD, Yemen's only NGO that specialises in assisting Yemenis harassed by government security agencies, he had met many men like him, developing a reputation as a man willing to help young men from poor families whose harassment by the authorities made them more likely to join al-Qaeda.
Describing families victimised in night raids and men detained without charge for years at a time by Yemeni authorities, Barman felt obliged to intervene. "I realised there was a great risk that those subjected to these oppressive measures might consider joining al-Qaeda," he said. "I took up their cases and volunteered to defend these families because no other lawyer agreed to defend them."
The hospital attack prompted al-Qaeda to reach out to Barman with a new offer.
"Brother Abdul Rahman," Mujahid's text message to Barman read, "consider me a suicide attacker of another type. My bombing will be the information I shall divulge". Barman closed his phone, unsure of whether his correspondent was just suffering from the high emotion of the day.
"I believe that the American counterterrorism policy in Yemen is a failed policy," the lawyer says. "It has bolstered al-Qaeda. Whenever this organisation seems to be fading away the erroneous American policy revives the organisation because it incites many young men to join al-Qaeda."

Joining a 'global jihad'

Mujahid had previously met Barman through some of his other clients facing harassment by the security services of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Mujahid's story was not unfamiliar to the lawyer. Bin Laden's message of "global jihad" as a response to the problems of the Muslim world had resonated with many young men in Yemen, and in 1998, Mujahid - unemployed, and with only a high school education at age 20 - decided to act on it.
He travelled to Afghanistan for training at al-Qaeda's al-Farouk and Aynak camps, where he later taught others what he had learned. The US invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks saw Mujahid and his al-Qaeda brethren retreat to Pakistan's tribal areas in 2002, from where they staged cross-border attacks against the US and its allies before being arrested in September 2004 in Quetta by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Following weeks of separate ISI and CIA interrogation and four months in detention, Mujahid was flown back to Yemen, where he was jailed until 2006.
Mujahid says that while imprisoned at Sanaa's squalid prison, he was tapped to work as an informer for Yemen's two most powerful security services - the National Security Bureau (NSB) and the Political Security Organisation (PSO). The initial approach came from his uncle, himself a PSO officer, who convinced the al-Qaeda man to switch sides, appealing to his patriotism.
Mujahid's appeal to any security official looking to penetrate al-Qaeda was obvious: He was known and trusted by the senior leadership of the emerging local chapter, AQAP, with whom he had worked in Afghanistan. But once he began providing information to Yemeni security agents, he says, he soon began to doubt how serious they were about fighting al-Qaeda.
The first incident that troubled him, Mujahid explained, was a July 2, 2007, AQAP ambush that killed 10, including eight Spanish tourists. Mujahid says he warned his handlers of the preparations one week before the operation and then again on the morning of the attack, but that it went ahead without any interference.
He was even more alarmed by the September 17, 2008, attack against the US embassy in Sanaa, which resulted in 19 deaths, most of whom were Yemeni citizens. In Al Jazeera's documentary - Al-Qaeda Informant - Mujahid alleges that Colonel Ammar Mohammed Saleh, the then-president's nephew who was second in command at the National Security Bureau, provided AQAP with money and arrangements to receive the explosives they needed for the attack.
Abdul Rahman Barman, Hani Mujahid's lawyer:
The former regime used al-Qaeda as a scarecrow aimed at the Americans and at the Europeans to obtain support under the pretext of confronting al-Qaeda. In the meantime, it was the regime that directed some of the operations.

Approaching the CIA

Mujahid says that he tried to bring his concerns to the CIA in November 2010, reaching out directly to the US embassy in Sanaa. The CIA agreed over the phone to see him alone at the Movenpick Hotel, but seems to have referred his request to the Yemeni authorities. The Movenpick meeting didn't happen, because - Mujahid says - he was snatched from the street by NSB officers as he walked to the rendezvous, bundled into a van, beaten and blindfolded, and held in solitary confinement for over a week. Mujahid says that experience broke him.
Colonel Ammar visited him in hospital, he says, later agreeing to release him and even arranging a meeting with the CIA after his hospital discharge. But Mujahid no longer trusted either the Yemeni authorities or the CIA.
By his account, Mujahid tried to come in from the cold and seek a new life, only to find himself a pawn in a double game being played by Yemeni security agencies against their US allies. As his lawyer, Barman, put it, "The former regime used al-Qaeda as a scarecrow aimed at the Americans and at the Europeans to obtain support under the pretext of confronting al-Qaeda. In the meantime, it was the regime that directed some of the operations."
The only way out of his dilemma, Mujahid concluded after extensive consultation with his lawyer, was to take his case to the media. Barman met with Mujahid and a number of fellow current and former al-Qaeda colleagues in early 2014 to discuss a plan to reveal all to the media, but ultimately only Mujahid was willing to proceed.

Mujahid speaks to Al Jazeera

At a location outside the Gulf region, Barman was present at all times during the three days of Mujahid's interviews with Al Jazeera in the fall of 2014, and later agreed to be separately interviewed himself.
By then, Yemen was well on its way to war.
In September 2014, the president of the US had memorably described Yemen as a counterterrorism success story. "This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us," said President Barack Obama, "while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years".
Abdul Rahman Barman, Hani Mujahid's lawyer:
I believe that the American counterterrorism policy in Yemen is a failed policy. It has bolstered al-Qaeda. Whenever this organisation seems to be fading away the erroneous American policy revives the organisation because it incites many young men to join al-Qaeda.
Barman and Mujahid tell a different story. "I believe that the American counterterrorism policy in Yemen is a failed policy," the lawyer says. "It has bolstered al-Qaeda. Whenever this organisation seems to be fading away the erroneous American policy revives the organisation because it incites many young men to join al-Qaeda."
Barman highlights unrelenting drone strikes inside Yemen as counterproductive. Conservative estimates by the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism put the confirmed number of civilians killed in more than 97 drone strikes at somewhere between 65 and 97.
Barman says these drone attacks have "prompted many ordinary citizens to say that the Americans are targeting all the people [indiscriminately] and that the Americans are killing us because we are Muslims - therefore, whoever is fighting America is the one on the right track. Many young men joined the al-Qaeda organisation because of this policy."
Mujahid did not mince words, neither for the Americans nor for al-Qaeda, the organisation he once loved and says he would have died for. I asked him about how bin Laden would have seen AQAP today as, like the Americans, it too has evolved into carrying out attacks inside Yemen, his ancestral homeland. "Sheikh Osama bin Laden did not see at all [the need for] any jihadi action in Yemen," Mujahid answered. "He had conviction of that. He believed that the youth of Yemen and the people of Yemen are people of [logistical] support for his jihadi work in the countries of the rest of the world. But for Yemen he did not believe in this at all."
Mujahid's testimony offers rare insight into the thinking of young men who have chosen to fight for al-Qaeda - a perspective vital to international efforts to understand and counter the organisation. And their perspective potentially reveals some truths inconvenient to the post-9/11 US narrative of a "Global War on Terror", posing the question of whether a key ally in the fight against al-Qaeda was, in fact, playing a double game in order to manipulate Washington.
This article was first published by Aljazeera.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

إيرانيون وأفغان يدعمون حزب الله بمعارك سهل الغاب


كشف مصدر مقرب من حزب الله اللبناني عن استعانة الحزب بمقاتلين أجانب من أفغانستانوإيران لخوض المعارك في سهل الغاب بريفحماة وسط سوريا.
وقال المصدر للجزيرة إن المعركة في سهل الغاب في الفترة المقبلة تستوجب أعدادا كبيرة جدا من المقاتلين، وأشار إلى أن رقعة المعركة كبيرة وهي على أكثر من محور، ولذلك ستتم الاستعانة بمقاتلين من إيران وأفغانستان من المتوقع وصولهم في القريب العاجل.
وأوردت صحيفة العربي الجديد تأكيد مصدر عسكري معارض توافد آلاف المقاتلين إلى منطقة سهل الغاب، مرجحا أن يكون هناك تحضير لهجوم معاكس بقيادة إيرانية، انطلاقا من منطقة جورين في سهل الغاب، بهدف استعادة المناطق التي خسرها النظام في محافظة إدلببدءا من جسر الشغور.
وكانت وكالة الصحافة الفرنسية نقلت عن مصدر أمني سوري القول إن نحو سبعة آلاف مقاتل إيراني وعراقي وصلوا إلى سوريا، وهدفهم الأول الدفاع عن العاصمة السورية دمشق.
وأوضح المصدر أن الهدف هو الوصول إلى عشرة آلاف مقاتل لمؤازرة الجيش السوري والمسلحين الموالين له في دمشق أولاً، واستعادة السيطرة على  مدينة جسر الشغور في مرحلة ثانية، بشكل يفتح الطريق إلى المدن الساحلية ومنطقة حماة.
وخسرت قوات النظام في 25 أبريل/نيسان الماضي سيطرتها على مدينة جسر الشغور الإستراتيجية في محافظة إدلب، بعد اشتباكات عنيفة خاضتها ضد جيش الفتح الذي شكلته مجموعة فصائل للمعارضة من بينها جبهة النصرة، تبع ذلك خسارة النظام معسكرات مهمة ومدينة أريحا معقله الأخير في إدلب.
وقال مصدر سياسي مقرب من النظام السوري لوكالة الصحافة الفرنسية إن المسؤولين السوريين وبعد سلسلة الخسائر التي مني بها النظام في الأسابيع الأخيرة، دعوا حلفاءهم إلى ترجمة دعمهم بأفعال.

Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq

The sectarian terror group won’t be defeated by the western states that incubated it in the first place


Eva Bee illustration

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.
The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition.
That didn’t only include the “non-lethal assistance” boasted of by the government (including body armour and military vehicles), but training, logistical support and the secret supply of “arms on a massive scale”. Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a “rat line” of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.
Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much. But it’s only the latest of a string of such cases. Less fortunate was a London cab driver Anis Sardar, who was given a life sentence a fortnight earlier for taking part in 2007 in resistance to the occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Armed opposition to illegal invasion and occupation clearly doesn’t constitute terrorism or murder on most definitions, including the Geneva convention.
But terrorism is now squarely in the eye of the beholder. And nowhere is that more so than in the Middle East, where today’s terrorists are tomorrow’s fighters against tyranny – and allies are enemies – often at the bewildering whim of a western policymaker’s conference call.
For the past year, US, British and other western forces have been back in Iraq, supposedly in the cause of destroying the hyper-sectarian terror group Islamic State (formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq). This was after Isis overran huge chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and proclaimed a self-styled Islamic caliphate.
Some Iraqis complain that the US sat on its hands while all this was going on. The Americans insist they are trying to avoid civilian casualties, and claim significant successes. Privately, officials say they don’t want to be seen hammering Sunni strongholds in a sectarian war and risk upsetting their Sunni allies in the Gulf.The campaign isn’t going well. Last month, Isis rolled into the Iraqi city of Ramadi, while on the other side of the now nonexistent border its forces conquered the Syrian town of Palmyra. Al-Qaida’s official franchise, the Nusra Front, has also been making gains inSyria.
A revealing light on how we got here has now been shone by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, written in August 2012, which uncannily predicts – and effectively welcomes – the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaida in Iraq (which became Isis) and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” – and states that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria.
Raising the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”, the Pentagon report goes on, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)”.
Which is pretty well exactly what happened two years later. The report isn’t a policy document. It’s heavily redacted and there are ambiguities in the language. But the implications are clear enough. A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” – despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity – as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.
That doesn’t mean the US created Isis, of course, though some of its Gulf allies certainly played a role in it – as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, acknowledged last year. But there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the US and Britain invaded. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of Isis against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.
The calculus changed when Isis started beheading westerners and posting atrocities online, and the Gulf states are now backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. But this US and western habit of playing with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them, goes back at least to the 1980s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which fostered the original al-Qaida under CIA tutelage.
It was recalibrated during the occupation of Iraq, when US forces led by General Petraeus sponsored an El Salvador-style dirty war of sectarian death squads to weaken the Iraqi resistance. And it was reprised in 2011 in the Nato-orchestrated war in Libya, where Isis last week took control of Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte.
In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Middle East is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule. American forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria, and mount what are effectively joint military operations with Iran against Isis in Iraq while supporting Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. However confused US policy may often be, a weak, partitioned Iraq and Syria fit such an approach perfectly.
What’s clear is that Isis and its monstrosities won’t be defeated by the same powers that brought it to Iraq and Syria in the first place, or whose open and covert war-making has fostered it in the years since. Endless western military interventions in the Middle East have brought only destruction and division. It’s the people of the region who can cure this disease – not those who incubated the virus.

Petraeus: US ‘Probably Losing’ ISIS War, Needs New Strategy

Says Allying With Shi'ite Militias Is 'Last Resort'

In a far-reaching interview with CBS, former US General David Petraeus, the commander during much of the last US war in Iraq, insisted that the US is “probably losing” the war against ISIS right now, and needs to reevaluate its strategy going forward.
Petraeus declared the loss of Ramadi “both an operation and strategy setback, a significant one, adding that he believes that US needs to deploy more troops on the ground, including embedding advisers with Iraqi troops, a plan other Pentagon officials have recently been talking up.
Petraeus added that putting more troops on the ground “is risk, but there is also risk of losing the fight.” He also warned against backing Shi’ite militias inside Iraq, saying that should be “a very last resort.He insisted the US could win militarily in Iraq, but only with changes in strategy.
Active Pentagon and administration officials have refused to address the prospect of losing the war, insisting that despite mounting losses, they have a winning strategy. Today they bragged of killing over 10,000 ISIS fighters in the last nine months, saying this would obviously have a big effect in the long run.