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America’s “Secret Wars” in Over 100 Countries Around the World: Empire Under Obama, Part 3
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
Originally posted at The Hampton Institute
Obama’s global terror campaign is not only dependent upon his drone assassination program, but increasingly it has come to rely upon the deployment of Special Operations forces in countries all over the world, reportedly between 70 and 120 countries at any one time. As Obama has sought to draw down the large-scale ground invasions of countries (as Bush pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq), he has escalated the world of ‘covert warfare,’ largely outside the oversight of Congress and the public. One of the most important agencies in this global “secret war” is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC for short.
JSOC was established in 1980 following the failed rescue of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran as “an obscure and secretive corner of the military’s hierarchy,” noted the Atlantic. It experienced a “rapid expansion” under the Bush administration, and since Obama came to power, “appears to be playing an increasingly prominent role in national security” and “counterterrorism,” in areas which were “traditionally covered by the CIA.” One of the most important differences between these covert warfare operations being conducted by JSOC instead of the CIA is that the CIA has to report to Congress, whereas JSOC only reports its most important activities to the President’s National Security Council.
During the Bush administration, JSOC “reported directly” to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to award-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh (of the New Yorker), who explained that, “It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on.” He added: “Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.”
In 2005, Dick Cheney referred to U.S. Special Forces as “the silent professionals” representing “the kind of force we want to build for the future… a force that is lighter, more adaptable, more agile, and more lethal in action.” And without a hint of irony, Cheney stated: “None of us wants to turn over the future of mankind to tiny groups of fanatics committing indiscriminate murder and plotting large-scale terror.” Not unless those “fanatics” happen to be wearing U.S. military uniforms, of course, in which case “committing indiscriminate murder and plotting large-scale terror” is not an issue.
The commander of JSOC during the Bush administration – when it served as Cheney’s “executive assassination ring” – was General Stanley McChrystal, whom Obama appointed as the top military commander in Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, JSOC began to play a much larger role in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. In early 2009, the new head of JSOC, Vice Admiral William H. McRaven ordered a two-week ‘halt’ to Special Operations missions inside Afghanistan, after several JSOC raids in previous months killed several women and children, adding to the growing “outrage” within Afghanistan about civilian deaths caused by US raids and airstrikes, which contributed to a surge in civilian deaths over 2008.
JSOC has also been involved in running a “secret war” inside of Pakistan, beginning in 2006 but accelerating rapidly under the Obama administration. The “secret war” was waged in cooperation with the CIA and the infamous private military contractor, Blackwater, made infamous for its massacre of Iraqi civilians, after which it was banned from operating in the country.
Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince, was recruited as a CIA asset in 2004, and in subsequent years acquired over $1.5 billion in contracts from the Pentagon and CIA, and included among its leadership several former top-level CIA officials. Blackwater, which primarily hires former Special Forces soldiers, has largely functioned “as an overseas Praetorian guard for the CIA and State Department officials,” who were also “helping to craft, fund, and execute operations,” including “assembling hit teams,” all outside of any Congressional or public oversight (since it was technically a private corporation).
The CIA hired Blackwater to aid in a secret assassination program which was hidden from Congress for seven years. These operations would be overseen by the CIA or Special Forces personnel. Blackwater has also been contracted to arm drones at secret bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan for Obama’s assassination program, overseen by the CIA. The lines dividing the military, the CIA and Blackwater had become “blurred,” as one former CIA official commented, “It became a very brotherly relationship… There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually become an extension of the agency.”
The “secret war” in Pakistan may have begun under Bush, but it had rapidly expanded in the following years of the Obama administration. Wikileaks cables confirmed the operation of JSOC forces inside of Pakistan, with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani telling the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson (who would later be appointed as ambassador to Egypt), that, “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”
Within the first five months of Obama’s presidency in 2009, he authorized “a massive expansion of clandestine military and intelligence operations worldwide,” granting the Pentagon’s regional combatant commanders “significant new authority” over such covert operations. The directive came from General Petraeus, commander of CENTCOM, authorizing Special Forces soldiers to be sent into “both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa.” The deployment of highly trained killers into dozens of countries was to become “systemic and long term,” designed to “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” enemies of the State, beyond the rule of law, no trial or pretenses of accountability. They also “prepare the environment” for larger attacks that the U.S. or NATO countries may have planned. Unlike with the CIA, these operations do not report to Congress, or even need “the President’s approval.” But for the big operations, they get the approval of the National Security Council (NSC), which includes the president, as well as most other major cabinet heads, of the Pentagon, CIA, State Department, etc.
The new orders gave regional commanders – such as Petraeus who headed CENTCOM, or General Ward of the newly-created Africa Command (AFRICOM) – authority over special operations forces in the area of their command, institutionalizing the authority to send trained killers into dozens of countries around the world to conduct secret operations with no oversight whatsoever; and this new ‘authority’ is given to multiple top military officials, who have risen to the top of an institution with absolutely no ‘democratic’ pretenses. Regardless of who is president, this “authority” remains institutionalized in the “combatant commands.”
The combatant commands include: AFRICOM over Africa (est. 2007), CENTCOM over the Middle East and Central Asia (est. 1983), EUCOM over Europe (est. 1947), NORTHCOM over North America (est. 2002), PACOM over the Pacific rim and Asia (est. 1947), SOUTHCOM over Central and South America and the Caribbean (est. 1963), SOCOM as Special Operations Command (est. 1987), STRATCOM as Strategic Command over military operations to do with outer space, intelligence, and weapons (est. 1992), and TRANSCOM handling all transportation for the Department of Defense. The State Department was given “oversight” to clear the operations from each embassy, just to make sure everyone was ‘in the loop,’ unlike during the Bush years when it was run out of Cheney’s office without telling anyone else.
In 2010, it was reported by the Washington Post that the U.S. has expanded the operations of its Special Forces around the world, from being deployed in roughly 60 countries under Bush to about 75 countries in 2010 under Obama, operating in notable spots such as the Philippines and Colombia, as well as Yemen, across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. The global deployment of Special Forces – alongside the CIA’s global drone warfare program – were two facets of Obama’s “national security doctrine of global engagement and domestic values,” in the words of the Washington Post, though the article was unclear on which aspect of waging “secret wars” in 75 countries constituted Obama’s “values.” Commanders for Special Operations forces have become “a far more regular presence at the White House” under Obama than George Bush, with one such commander commenting, “We have a lot more access… They are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly.” Such Special Operations forces deployments “go beyond unilateral strikes and include the training of local counterterrorism forces and joint operations with them.”
So not only are U.S. forces conducting secret wars within dozens of countries around the world, but they are training the domestic military forces of many of these countries to undertake secret wars internally, and in the interests of the United States Mafia empire.
One military official even “set up a network” of private military corporations that hired former Special Forces and CIA operations to gather intelligence and conduct secret operations in foreign countries to support “lethal action”: publicly subsidized, privatized ‘accountability.’ Such a network was “generally considered illegal” and was “improperly financed.” When the news of these networks emerged, the Pentagon said it shut them down and opened a “criminal investigation.” Turns out, they found nothing “criminal,” because two months later, the operations were continuing and had “become an important source of intelligence.” The networks of covert-ops corporations were being “managed” by Lockheed Martin, one of the largest military contractors in the world, while being “supervised” by the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command.
Admiral Eric T. Olson had been the head of Special Operations Command from 2007 to 2011, and in that year, Olson led a successful initiative – endorsed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates – to encourage the promotion of top special operations officials to higher positions in the whole military command structure. The “trend” was to continue under the following Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who previously headed the CIA from 2009 to 2011. When Olson left his position as head of Special Operations Command, he was replaced with Admiral William McRaven, who served as the head of JSOC from 2008 to 2011, having followed Stanley McChrystal.
By January of 2012, Obama was continuing with seeking to move further away from large-scale ground wars such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and refocus on “a smaller, more agile force across Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East.” Surrounded by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in full uniforms adorned with medals, along with other top Pentagon officials, President Obama delivered a rare press briefing at the Pentagon where he said that, “our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority.” The priorities in this strategy would be “financing for defense and offense in cyberspace, for Special Operations forces and for the broad area of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”
In February of 2012, Admiral William H. McRaven, the head of the Special Operations Command, was “pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy,” advocating a plan that “would give him more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed,” notably with expansions in mind for Asia, Africa and Latin America. McRaven stated that, “It’s not really about Socom [Special Operations Command] running the global war on terrorism… I don’t think we’re ready to do that. What it’s about is how do I better support” the major regional military command structures.
In the previous decade, roughly 80% of US Special Operations forces were deployed in the Middle East, but McRaven wanted them to spread to other regions, as well as to be able to “quickly move his units to potential hot spots without going through the standard Pentagon process governing overseas deployments.” The Special Operations Command numbered around 66,000 people, double the number since 2001, and its budget had reached $10.5 billion, from $4.2 billion in 2001.
In March of 2012, a Special Forces commander, Admiral William H. McRaven, developed plans to expand special operations units, making them “the force of choice” against “emerging threats” over the following decade. McRaven’s Special Operations Command oversees more than 60,000 military personnel and civilians, saying in a draft paper circulated at the Pentagon that: “We are in a generational struggle… For the foreseeable future, the United States will have to deal with various manifestations of inflamed violent extremism. In order to conduct sustained operations around the globe, our special operations must adapt.” McRaven stated that Special Forces were operating in over 71 countries around the world.
The expansion of global special forces operations was largely in reaction to the increasingly difficult challenge of positioning large military forces around the world, and carrying out large scale wars and occupations, for which there is very little public support at home or abroad. In 2013, the Special Operations Command had forces operating in 92 different countries around the world, with one Congressional critic accusing McRaven of engaging in “empire building.” The expanded presence of these operations is a major factor contributing to “destabilization” around the world, especially in major war zones like Pakistan.
In 2013, McRaven’s Special Operations Command gained new authorities and an expanded budget, with McRaven testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee that, “On any day of the year you will find special operations forces [in] somewhere between 70 and 90 countries around the world.” In 2012, it was reported that such forces would be operating in 120 different countries by the end of the year.
In December of 2012, it was announced that the U.S. was sending 4,000 soldiers to 35 different African countries as “part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge,” operating under the Pentagon’s newest regional command, AFRICOM, established in 2007.
By September of 2013, the U.S. military had been involved in various activities in Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Senegal, Seychelles, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia, among others, constructing bases, undertaking “security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network.”
In short, Obama’s global ‘war of terror’ has expanded to roughly 100 countries around the world, winding down the large-scale military invasions and occupations such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and increasing the “small-scale” warfare operations of Special Forces, beyond the rule of law, outside Congressional and public oversight, conducting “snatch and grab” operations, training domestic repressive military forces in nations largely run by dictatorships to undertake their own operations on behalf of the ‘Global Godfather.’
Make no mistake: this is global warfare. Imagine for a moment the international outcry that would result from news of China or Russia conducting secret warfare operations in roughly 100 countries around the world. But when America does it, there’s barely a mention, save for the passing comments in the New York Times or the Washington Post portraying an unprecedented global campaign of terror as representative of Obama’s “values.” Well, indeed it is representative of Obama’s values, by virtue of the fact that he doesn’t have any.
Indeed, America has long been the Global Godfather applying the ‘Mafia Principles’ of international relations, lock-in-step with its Western lackey organized crime ‘Capo’ states such as Great Britain and France. Yet, under Obama, the president who had won public relations industry awards for his well-managed presidential advertising campaign promising “hope” and “change,” the empire has found itself waging war in roughly one hundred nations, conducting an unprecedented global terror campaign, increasing its abuses of human rights, war crimes and crimes against humanity, all under the aegis of the Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack Obama.
Whether the president is Clinton, Bush, or Obama, the Empire of Terror wages on its global campaign of domination and subjugation, to the detriment of all humanity, save those interests that sit atop the constructed global hierarchy. It is in the interests of the ruling elite that America protects and projects its global imperial designs. It is in the interests of all humanity, then, that the Empire be opposed – and ultimately, deconstructed – no matter who sits in office, no matter who holds the title of the ‘high priest of hypocrisy’ (aka: President of the United States). It is the Empire that rules, and the Empire that destroys, and the Empire that must, in turn, be demolished.
The world at large – across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America – suffers the greatest hardships of the Western Mafia imperial system: entrenched poverty, exploitation, environmental degradation, war and destruction. The struggle against the Empire cannot we waged and won from the outside alone. The rest of the world has been struggling to survive against the Western Empire for decades, and, in truth, hundreds of years. For the struggle to succeed (and it can succeed), a strong anti-Empire movement must develop within the imperial powers themselves, and most especially within the United States. The future of humanity depends upon it.
Or… we could all just keep shopping and watching TV, blissfully blind to the global campaign of terror and war being waged in our names around the world. Certainly, such an option may be appealing, but ultimately, wars abroad come home to roost. As George Orwell once wrote: “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”
Andrew Gavin Marshall is a 26-year old researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, chair of the Geopolitics Division of The Hampton Institute, research director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project, and hosts a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.
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 Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Halted Some Raids in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, 9 March 2009:
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 James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “C.I.A. Said to Use Outsiders to Put Bombs on Drones,” The New York Times, 20 August 2009:
 James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids,” The New York Times, 10 December 2009:
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 Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast,” The New York Times, 24 May 2010:
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 Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, “U.S. ‘secret war’ expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role,” The Washington Post, 4 June 2010:
 Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti, “Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants,” The New York Times, 14 March 2010:
 Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Is Still Using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts,” The New York Times, 15 May 2010:
 Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, “Special Operations Veterans Rise in Hierarchy,” The New York Times, 8 August 2011:
 Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker, “Obama Puts His Stamp on Strategy for a Leaner Military,” The New York Times, 5 January 2012:
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 Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, “A Commander Seeks to Chart a New Path for Special Operations,” The New York Times, 1 May 2013:
 Nick Turse, “How Obama’s destabilizing the world,” Salon, 19 September 2011:
 Walter Pincus, “Special Operations wins in 2014 budget,” The Washington Post, 11 April 2013:
 David Isenberg, “The Globalisation of U.S. Special Operations Forces,” IPS News, 24 May 2012:
 Tom Bowman, “U.S. Military Builds Up Its Presence In Africa,” NPR, 25 December 2012:
Lolita C. Baldor, “Army teams going to Africa as terror threat grows,” Yahoo! News, 24 December 2012:
 Nick Turse, “The Startling Size of US Military Operations in Africa,” Mother Jones, 6 September 2013:
Lies, War, and Empire: NATO’s “Humanitarian Imperialism” in Libya
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
In this report I seek to examine the war against Libya in a more critical and comprehensive manner than that of the story we have been told. We hear a grand fairy tale about powerful Western nations working together to save innocent civilians in a far-off country who simply want the freedoms and rights we already have. Here we are, our nations and governments – whose officials we elect (generally) – are bombing and killing people on the other side of the world. Is it not our responsibility, as citizens of these very Western nations, to examine and critique the claims of our governments? They are, after all, killing people around the world in our name. Should we not seek to discover if they are lying?
It has been said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Libya is no exception. From the lies that started the war, to the rebels linked to al-Qaeda, ethnically cleansing black Libyans, killing civilians, propaganda, PR firms, intelligence agents, and possible occupation; Libya is a more complex story than the fairy tale we have been sold. Reality always is.
What Were the ‘Reasons’ for ‘Intervention’?
We were sold the case for war in Libya as a “humanitarian intervention.” We were told, of course, that we “needed” to intervene in Libya because Muammar Gaddafi was killing his own people in large numbers; those people, on the same token, were presented as peaceful protesters resisting the 40-plus year reign of a brutal dictator.
In early March of 2011, news headlines in Western nations reported that Gaddafi would kill half a million people. On March 18, as the UN agreed to launch air strikes on Libya, it was reported that Gaddafi had begun an assault against the rebel-held town of Benghazi. The Daily Mail reported that Gaddafi had threatened to send in his African mercenaries to crush the rebellion. Reports of Libyan government tanks sitting outside Benghazi poised for an invasion were propagated in the Western media. In the lead-up to the United Nations imposing a no-fly zone, reports spread rapidly through the media of Libyan government jets bombing the rebels. Even in February, the New York Times – the sacred temple for the ‘stenographers of power’ we call “journalists” – reported that Gaddafi was amassing “thousands of mercenaries” to defend Tripoli and crush the rebels. Italy’s Foreign Minister declared that over 1,000 people were killed in the fighting in February, citing the number as “credible.” Even a top official with Human Rights Watch declared the rebels to be “peaceful protesters” who “are nice, sincere people who want a better future for Libya.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights declared that “thousands” of people were likely killed by Gaddafi, “and called for international intervention to protect civilians.” In April, reports spread near and far at lightning speed of Gaddafi’s forces using rape as a weapon of war, with the first sentence in a Daily Mail article declaring, “Children as young as eight are being raped in front of their families by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya,” with Gaddafi handing out Viagra to his troops in a planned and organized effort to promote rape.
As it turned out, these claims – as posterity notes – turned out to be largely false and contrived. Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International both investigated the claims of rape, and “have found no first-hand evidence in Libya that rapes are systematic and being used as part of war strategy,” and their investigations in Eastern Libya “have not turned up significant hard evidence supporting allegations of rapes by Qaddafi’s forces.” Yet, just as these reports came out, Hillary Clinton declared that the U.S. is “deeply concerned by reports of wide-scale rape” in Libya. Even U.S. military and intelligence officials had to admit that, “there is no evidence that Libyan military forces are being given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas”; at the same time Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, “told a closed-door meeting of officials at the UN that the Libyan military is using rape as a weapon in the war with the rebels and some had been issued the anti-impotency drug. She reportedly offered no evidence to backup the claim.”
An investigation by Amnesty International, released in June, attempted to assess the on-the-ground (as opposed to ‘in-the-newspapers’) reality of the claims made which led to Western “intervention” in Libya. Among the stories of mass rapes were the use, by Gaddafi, of “foreign mercenaries” and using helicopters and jets to attack rebel forces and protesters. As the Independent reported in June:
An investigation by Amnesty International has failed to find evidence for these human rights violations and in many cases has discredited or cast doubt on them. It also found indications that on several occasions the rebels in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence.
Hillary Clinton stated, “Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called ‘virginity tests’ have taken place in countries throughout the region,” and at the same time, the senior crisis responder for Amnesty International who was in Libya for three months following the uprising stated, “we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Human Rights Watch reported, “We have not been able to find evidence.” The rebels had been very active, in fact, in manufacturing and propagating lies that supported intervention and war, as the Amnesty representative explained, “rebels dealing with the foreign media in Benghazi started showing journalists packets of Viagra, claiming they came from burned-out tanks, though it is unclear why the packets were not charred.” Further, in regards to the use of foreign mercenaries, for which many black Africans were killed and imprisoned by the rebels, Amnesty reported, “there was no evidence for this.” The Amnesty rep in Libya declared: “Those shown to journalists as foreign mercenaries were later quietly released… Most were sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya without documents.” Others, Amnesty reported, “were not so lucky and were lynched or executed,” as “the politicians kept talking about mercenaries, which inflamed public opinion and the myth has continued because they were released without publicity.”
Those migrants who were shown to foreign media were not represented in that media in a friendly or even falsely unbiased manner. As the Daily Mail reported at the time, publishing photos of the “savage mercenaries” who later turned out to be migrant workers, “they were a pretty sorry bunch,” and that, “you could smell their fear.” The article then went on to declare, “these men are alleged to have been among several thousand foreign thugs and gunmen that Muammar Gaddafi sent against his own people, to kill and destroy and quell the uprising in eastern Libya.” Now, claimed the Daily Mail, “they are the prisoners of the people.” However, the article continued to – several paragraphs below, mind you – quote some of the “savage mercenaries” who made statements to the reporter such as: “We did not do anything… We are all construction workers from Ghana. We harmed no one… they are lying about us. We were taken from our house at night when we were sleeping.” The reporter assessed the situation with: “Still complaining, they were led away. It was hard to judge their guilt.”
Further, with the “credible” reports – as the Italian Foreign Minister referred to them – of “thousands” of civilians killed by Gaddafi in the early weeks of rebellion, the Amnesty International investigation found that, “there is no proof of mass killing of civilians.” During the first days of the uprising, most of the fighting was in Benghazi, “where 100 to 110 people were killed, and the city of Baida to the east, where 59 to 64 were killed.” However, there were indications that some of these deaths were also pro-Gaddafi forces, and that some “protesters” had weapons, indicating that it may have been a fight as opposed to a massacre. Further, reported Amnesty: “There is no evidence that aircraft or heavy anti-aircraft machine guns were used against crowds. Spent cartridges picked up after protesters were shot at came from Kalashnikovs or similar calibre weapons.” The Amnesty report further criticized Western media coverage of the war:
Much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge.
As for the notion that NATO was bombing Gaddafi troops poised for an invasion, even the New York Times quoted a Libyan official who claimed, “that Western powers were now attacking the Libyan Army in retreat, a far cry from the United Nations mandate to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians.” This is an important point, because the reason for the UN no-fly zone was purportedly to “protect civilians,” not to “take sides” in the civil conflict between the government and the rebels. As a Libyan official stated, some Libyan forces “were attacked as they were clearly moving westbound,” as in, away from Benghazi and the rebels in the east. He further stated, “Clearly NATO is taking sides in this civil conflict. It is illegal. It is not allowed by the Security Council resolution. And it is immoral, of course.” At the same time, the NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, declared that, “NATO will implement all aspects of the U.N. resolution. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Days before the Libyan government official claimed that Libyan forces were in retreat as they were bombed (something which would no doubt be immediately cast aside as Libyan propaganda by Western media sources), the New York Times, within days of NATO strikes beginning, reported on 20 March 2011 that, “with brutal efficiency, allied warplanes bombed tanks, missile launchers and civilian cars, leaving a smoldering trail of wreckage that stretched for miles,” and further, outside of Benghazi, “many of the tanks seemed to have been retreating, or at least facing the other way. And others were simply abandoned.”
Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, the most prestigious and influential think tank in the United States, was also a former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. Department of State, former National Security Council Senior Director, who has also been a key figure within the Brookings Institution, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In short, it is a hard thing to be a more institutionalized imperial strategist than Haas; however, even he wrote in early April that, “I did not support the U.S. decision to intervene with military force in Libya. The evidence was not persuasive that a large-scale massacre or genocide was either likely or imminent.” However, he of course went on to support NATO’s efforts, as – he explained – “we are where we are.”
Long before the UN resolution 1973 and the NATO air strikes began, the Russian military, who had been monitoring events in Libya from satellites, said that Libya never launched attacks from helicopters or jets against its own civilians, and that, “as far as they are concerned, the attacks some media were reporting have never occurred.” Of course, this was later confirmed by an independent investigation, however the war had already been sold on the basis of such dubious reporting. Indeed, far more journalists are “stenographers of power” rather than ‘investigators of truth.’
On March 1, the same day that the Russian military reported that there had been no jets used in attacks by Gaddafi against his own civilians, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, gave a press conference at the Pentagon where one reporter posed the question: “Do you see any evidence that he actually has fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?” Secretary Gates responded: “We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that,” and Admiral Mullen added, “That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.” So even the Pentagon itself admitted that it had absolutely “no confirmation whatsoever” that jets and helicopters had been used to attack civilians, yet the whole Western world took this as de facto truth. In this, we can see the power of the media in making a case for war, where their propaganda is more absurd and manufactured than that of the Pentagon’s.
Stenographers of Power?
Glenn Greenwald, an American constitutional and civil rights lawyer who writes for Salon.com wrote an article about the notion of reporters as “stenographers of power.” He quoted an article entitled, “How to be a stenographer,” in which it was written:
If you are considering a career as a stenographer, one of the most important things that you should consider is what type of job duties stenographers have. They transcribe, or type, material which they are dictated. This can include orders, memos, correspondence, reports and various other types of information.
Greenwald, in describing his own personal experience with courtroom stenographers, wrote:
Their defining trait is that they have a fierce devotion to transcribing accurately everything that is said and doing nothing else. It’s not uncommon for lawyers, in the heat of some dispute, to attempt to recruit the stenographer into the controversy in order to say who is right… Stenographers will never do that. They will emphasize that they are only there to write down what is said, not to resolve disputes or say what actually happened… But there’s a fundamental difference: stenographers are far better at their job, since they give equal weight to what all parties say. But Time and friends exist principally to trumpet government claims and minimize and belittle anything to the contrary, and they pretend to “balance” it all only when they’re caught mindlessly transcribing these one-sided claims and are forced to write down what the other side says, too. The bulk of our establishment journalists aren’t merely stenographers. They’re bad stenographers.
Following the beginning of the Iraq war, many newspapers had to publish small pieces outlining their role as “[bad] stenographers of power” in presenting the case for war in the first place. Of course, at the time that the New York Times, the Washington Post and others were selling the war to the American people, dissenters and critics were unabashedly seeking truth and were able to assess the claims made as “false” long before the war, let alone before these news publications had “discovered” the falsities they reported. Of course, claims will always be made that “hindsight is 20/20” and “we didn’t know,” but such claims don’t stand to scrutiny when the dissenters whose voices were never heard in the Times or Post were far ahead of the media in assessing the validity of the government’s assertions. In 2004, the New York Times had to publish a brief report on its own pre-Iraq war coverage, stating:
We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.
The Washington Post ran a similar story, detailing the attitude its editors and journalists took in the run up to the war in Iraq. It was reported that any article questioning the validity of claims made by the administration, such as the notion that there were WMDs in Iraq, wouldn’t make the front page. Bob Woodward, Assistant Managing Editor at the Post stated, “We should have warned readers we had information that the basis for this was shakier.” The article further explained:
Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration’s evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times… Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?..
Across the country, “the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones,” [Washington Post Executive Editor] Downie said. “We didn’t pay enough attention to the minority.”…
From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, The Post ran more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq. Some examples: “Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified”; “War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack”; “Bush Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to Hussein or U.S. Will”; “Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat”; “Bush Tells Troops: Prepare for War.”
One story that was submitted to the Post for publication, which threw into doubt all the claims made by the U.S. administration, and which largely quoted retired military officials and outside experts, “was killed by Matthew Vita, then the national security editor and now a deputy assistant managing editor” of the Post. Karen DeYoung, a former assistant managing editor who covered the prewar diplomacy, said quite bluntly that, “Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials had no problem commanding prime real estate in the paper, even when their warnings were repetitive”:
“We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power,” DeYoung said. “If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said.” And if contrary arguments are put “in the eighth paragraph, where they’re not on the front page, a lot of people don’t read that far.”
There you have it, a former assistant managing editor of the Washington Post herself admitted that, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” If there had ever been a clearer admission of being stenographers of power, I have yet to hear it.
No doubt, then, that upon the militaristic adventurism of yet another war, the media is again doing what it does best: being a “mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” Yet, with Libya it is even more profound; sold as a “humanitarian intervention,” this war must be presented in the media as a type of “rescue” operation as opposed to an imperial adventure. This task requires all the more deception on the part of both official statements and media “mouthpieces.”
As the saying goes, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Indeed, it was so in Libya, and continues to be assaulted day-in day-out so long as this unjustified war continues.
Who are the Rebels?
We have been told a great many things about the rebels in Libya. We were told that they were “peaceful protesters,” that they were “nice guys,” and represented a popular uprising. From the flurry of reports about the rebels, the general ‘presentation’ given by Western governments and media was that the rebels are average Libyan civilians seeking to liberate themselves from a brutal tyrant who was indiscriminately killing them. Invariably and incessantly, the media in the West, such as the Financial Times, frame the forces as “pro-democracy rebels.” Naturally, such assertions must be more diligently questioned and investigated. So who are the rebels? Who makes up Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC), largely recognized by the Western nations as the “legitimate” government in Libya?
The protests in Libya began in Benghazi on February 15, 2011. Fighting broke out between protesters and government forces, though it was naturally framed by Western media as a massacre, which ultimately turned out to be false. On 27 February, the National Transition Council (NTC) (also referred to as the Transitional National Council – TNC) was formed as a consolidated effort on the part of rebel groups to form an opposition ‘government.’ The TNC immediately called for a no-fly zone to be imposed by the U.N. and for air strikes against Gaddafi forces, which the TNC claimed were committing air strikes against them, which also turned out to be false. The rebels, however, were composed of a wide array of different groups. Among them, as Political Scientist and Sociologist Mahmood Mamdani explained, are “four different political trends: radical Islamists, royalists, tribalists, and secular middle class activists produced by a Western-oriented educational system.” Further, “of these, only the radical Islamists, especially those linked organisationally to Al Qaeda, have battle experience.”
While many Western media outlets initially tried to frame the rebels as simply, “lawyers, academics, businessmen and youths,” trying to sidetrack the Islamist elements within the rebel groups, eventually the story started to slowly break, though still largely downplayed. The TNC includes many former Libyan government officials who defected to the rebel camp at the start of the fighting. As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, “some of the officials are known in Washington and European capitals as secular, pro-Western and pro-business,” and that, “Islamists among the rebels have been largely kept out of the public spotlight, though they are believed to have support in eastern Libya and have assumed key functions in the rebel efforts.” The head of the TNC is a man named Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-educated political scientist and economist who previously headed Libya’s National Economic Development Board, “with the mandate to boost foreign investment and economic growth in country.” By putting Jibril at the head of the TNC, the Council is “sending a message to foreign companies that the future Libyan government is interested in foreign investment and privatization.” According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks from 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Libya wrote that Jibril “gets the U.S. perspective,” as in a meeting with Jibril, he had “highlighted the need to replace the country’s decrepit infrastructure and train Libyans,” and “requested American public and private assistance to do so.” Jibril, in his pitch to the ambassador, stated that Libya “has a stable regime and is ‘virgin country’ for investors,” leading the ambassador to conclude: “we should take him up on his offer.”
Jibril and the TNC released, in late March, a document entitled, “A Vision of a Democratic Libya,” as a type of blueprint for building a ‘new’ Libya. Among the many points in the blueprint were to: “Draft a national constitution”, “Form political organisations and civil institutions including the formation of political parties, popular organisations, unions, societies and other civil and peaceful associations”, “Maintain a constitutional civil and free state by upholding intellectual and political pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power, opening the way for genuine political participation, without discrimination”, “Guarantee every Libyan citizen, of statutory age, the right to vote in free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections”, “Guarantee and respect the freedom of expression”, and a firm commitment to “political democracy.” The ‘vision’ further states that it seeks, “the development of genuine economic partnerships between a strong and productive public sector, a free private sector and a supportive and effective civil society.”
Well, that all sounds well and good, but just how truly “democratic” or “respectful” of ‘human rights’ are the rebels and the TNC? How does their purported statements of support for Libyans “without discrimination” stand up to scrutiny? How truly democratic and peaceful are these groups?
Western Intelligence and the Rebels
The rebel groups are not simply disparate, localized, and grassroots individuals rising up in support of democracy and against a brutal tyrant. In fact, from the very beginning of the fighting, many rebels have been actively supported by Western and NATO intelligence agencies and special forces, including the CIA.
In March it was reported that the CIA had been authorized by President Obama to begin operations in Libya. The CIA was reportedly sent to Libya to gather intelligence for air strikes and “to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels.” As Obama said no U.S. forces were on the ground in Libya, which itself is a direct violation of the UN resolution 1973 which authorized a no-fly zone in Libya (but directly forbade foreign troops on the ground), “small groups of C.I.A. operatives [had] been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military,” reported the New York Times. As they had been in Libya “for several weeks,” they had arrived prior to even the passing of UN resolution 1973 and the imposition of a no-fly zone, indicating directly that there were no plans for peace, and war was the favoured option. Further, in the same report, it was revealed that British special forces and MI6 intelligence agents were also active in Libya. Prior to the UN resolution, which was implemented to only “protect civilians” and not to take sides in the conflict, President Obama signed a secret finding “authorizing the C.I.A. to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels.”
The CIA officers in Libya, reported the Los Angeles Times, are “coordinating with rebels and sharing intelligence,” and that, “the CIA has been in rebel-held areas of Libya since shortly after the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Tripoli, was evacuated in February.” As the article pointed out, in a clear indication of where the war might be headed:
In the early days of the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, teams of CIA officers and U.S. special operations troops entered secretly, coordinated with opposition groups and used handheld equipment to call in and aim airstrikes against the government armies.
However, at the time, in late March, Obama and the White House were declaring that, “no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya.” Before the UN resolution was even passed in early March, a report broke in the Independent which revealed a secret plan by the U.S. to arm the Libyan rebels through Saudi Arabia. Also before the U.N. resolution was passed, the Wall Street Journal revealed that, “Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge.” The Egyptian military is largely subsidized and supported by the United States, thus what it does with U.S. “knowledge” is also done with U.S. ‘consent.’
The leader of the Libyan rebel’s military command is a man named Khalifa Hifter. As McClatchy Newspapers revealed in March, he had “spent the past two decades in suburban Virginia but felt compelled — even in his late-60s — to return to the battlefield in his homeland,” and explained that he had maintained, over those 20 years in Virginia, strong ties to anti-Gaddafi groups without any ‘known’ financial support, while living a mere 20 miles from CIA headquarters. There is a significant amount of investigative research, largely not undertaken by the mainstream media, who largely kept Hifter’s name out of the press, that he is, in fact, an asset of the CIA, and has been for a great many years. However, the Guardian, in April of 2011, reported that Hifter had, in the early 1980s, “joined a CIA-run anti-Gaddafi force.”
Gaddafi, al-Qaeda, and … Charlie Sheen?
In late February and early March, Gaddafi was claiming that the rebel groups were linked to al-Qaeda, a claim which was largely ridiculed by Western media. Apparently, it is only the Western nations and media who have the ability to claim that all their ‘enemies’ are linked to al-Qaeda. As the Guardian reported on 1 March, “Muammar Gaddafi’s insistent claim that al-Qaida is behind the Libyan uprising – made in all his public appearances since the crisis began – has been dismissed at home and abroad as propaganda.” The group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an affiliate of al-Qaeda, have long been in Libya, and have been long-opposed to Gaddafi’s rule. Established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, the group has been responsible for assassinating dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen. At the time, MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency, was accused of supporting the LIFG in Britain’s vehement campaign to rid Libya of Gaddafi.
The Western media attempted to ridicule Gaddafi for making such claims, as MSNBC reported Gaddafi’s denouncement as a “rambling phone call to Libyan state TV.” The media kept up its campaign, with a Guardian headline in early March asking readers to participate in an online questionnaire entitled, “Charlie Sheen v Muammar Gaddafi: whose line is it anyway?” Or how about Vanity Fair, which ‘challenged’ their readers with a hard-bitten ‘journalistic’ quiz, asking, “The Two and a Half Men star and the Libyan dictator delivered rambling rants this week. Can you tell who said what?” As the National Post – Canada’s vociferously imperial national newspaper – wrote in early March:
It’s rare that the news stories that would usually be relegated to the “bizarre news” section make it onto the front pages, but over the last few days the fantasies of two famous men have forced their way into the public consciousness. Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen have probably never met (though given the proclivity for Hollywood stars to dabble in foreign policy, you never know), but they share a number of qualities, such as a slipping grip on reality and easy access to TV interviewers through which to share their musings.
This line of ridicule comparing Gaddafi to Charlie Sheen was repeated all over Western news media, as a simple Google search of both of their names will indicate, with several publications engaging in the rank-and-file self-assured ridicule, including the Mirror, MSNBC, New York Magazine, The First Post, the Chicago Tribune, Life, Reuters, Salon, the Telegraph, the Atlantic, ABC News, and comedy pundits like Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central, among many others. So this is what our ‘news’ media has come to, in a situation of impending war and devastation, the destruction of human life and invasion of foreign countries and occupation of foreign peoples, sending our young, largely poor domestic populations to go kill or be killed, turning their guns on other poor, forgotten peoples for the benefit of those who send them. Instead of taking an issue like “humanitarian intervention” in the proper context of a war, which like all wars, would kill inordinate amounts of innocent civilians, our media chose to engage in the disgraceful frenzy of a group joke.
As the claims of Gaddafi were increasingly ridiculed as the crazy rants of a beleaguered psychopathic dictator (note: I am not casting doubt on the fact that he IS a dictator), several intermittent reports slipped through the cracks which in fact validated many of Gaddafi’s “crazy” claims.
The Wall Street Journal reported in early April that ex-Mujahideen (CIA-trained) fighters from the Afghan-Soviet war are in Libya aiding the rebels. The ex-Mujahideen fighters that the West trained, armed and supported in Afghanistan in the 1980s are now referred to in common parlance as “al-Qaeda,” unless of course we are supporting them. Then, just as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, we call them “freedom fighters” or “pro-democracy protesters” in Obama’s case. In fact, the actual term “al-Qaeda”, as explained by former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, literally means “the database,” which “was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.” In short, al-Qaeda is a “database” of Western intelligence assets used to expand Western imperial interests around the world. They provide an excuse for intervention in countries whose governments you want to overthrow or whose people you want to prevent from ushering in a popular liberation struggle. Or, conversely, you can support them covertly in engaging in warfare against a hated regime, but invariably you would not want to refer to them as ‘al-Qaeda’ in such an instance, as it would conflict with the propagated concept of a worldwide “war on terror”, instead of what it actually is: a “war of terror.”
However, as the WSJ reported from Beghazi, “Sufyan Ben Qumu, a Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden’s holding company in Sudan and later for an al Qaeda-linked charity in Afghanistan, is training many of the city’s rebel recruits.” Many other officials within the rebel command come from similar backgrounds, as they make up the experienced elements of the rebel army, which is incidentally led by a CIA asset (as explained above). Even a rebel leader admitted that his fighters have al-Qaeda links, as reported by the Telegraph. Further, a senior American Admiral, and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander (leading the attack on Libya), admitted that al-Qaeda was among the rebels.
Yet, while these admissions surfaced in the mainstream media, once reported, in true Orwellian fashion, they were cast into the “memory hole,” all but forgotten. Thus, when any reference or indeed dissenter continues to refer to the rebel’s links to al-Qaeda, they are cast aside as a “crackpot” or a “conspiracy theorist.” It may have even been the very news outlet which is denouncing such claims that actually reported them as fact in the first place. The National Post recently engaged in a hit-piece against independent journalists who were based in Tripoli covering events and views unwanted by the NATO powers. In ridiculing these reports of NATO involvement with al-Qaeda linked rebels, the National Post journalist stated, cynically, “No massive popular uprising, no victorious rebels flooding into Tripoli greeted by throngs of well-wishers among the city’s populace. It was a NATO – Al Qaida job.”
The writer went on to denounce my former employers and colleagues at the Centre for Research on Globalization as “a Canadian clubhouse for crackpots of the anti-war, 911-truth, anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist variety. The Centre would not normally be worth noticing except for a laugh.” Seemingly, in the eyes of Terry Glavin and the National Post, “anti-war” and “anti-imperialist” sentiments are the intellectual bastion of “crackpots.” What, might I ask, does that say about the National Post? Personally, the label of “anti-war” and “anti-imperialist” is not an insult to me, nor to my former colleagues; it is a badge of honour, a source of pride and a directive for action. The framing of such anti-war and anti-imperialist sentiments as a ‘negative’ label, indeed says more about the National Post than it does about Global Research and its writers.
Is this a Popular Democratic Uprising?
The National Post refers to the rebels as a “massive popular uprising” of “victorious rebels” who entered Tripoli “greeted by throngs of well-wishers among the city’s populace,” perhaps we should ask if this is indeed the case. Scott Taylor, a Canadian journalist writing for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald in late August, observed (and it is worth quoting at some length):
The rebellion in Libya has been more of a media war than a full-scale armed clash… To prevent Gaddafi from inflicting reprisals on the rebels, the UN authorized a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Libya to protect unarmed civilians from being bombed. That, of course, did not apply to civilians living in Gadhafi-controlled sectors, as the Canadian-led NATO coalition soon began mounting airstrikes against government targets.
For more than five months now NATO planes have supported the rebels, and NATO warships have enforced a one-sided arms embargo against Gadhafi’s forces. And all foreign-held Libyan financial assets have been frozen, making it virtually impossible for Libya to purchase any war materiel, or even basic necessities such as fuel…
On a fact-finding trip into Tripoli last week, I saw first-hand that Gaddafi has solidified his control over the capital and most of western Libya. Foreign diplomats still based in Tripoli confirmed to me that, since NATO started bombing, Gaddafi support and approval ratings have actually soared to about 85 per cent.
Of the 2,335 tribes in Libya, over 2,000 are still pledging their allegiance to the embattled president. At present, it is the gasoline shortage due to the embargo and lack of electricity from NATO’s bombing that are causing the most hardship to Libyans inside Gadhafi-controlled sectors.
However, at present, the people still blame NATO — not Gaddafi — for the shortages. In an effort to combat that sentiment and to encourage a popular uprising against Gadhafi, NATO planes have taken to dropping leaflets in canisters over the streets of Tripoli. Unfortunately for the NATO planning staff, the canisters are heavy enough to cause injury and damage roofs when they plummet to the ground…
It is possible that the continued embargo, shortage of fuel and downgrading of Libyan utilities will create a humanitarian crisis inside Gadhafi’s Libya so severe that his followers have no choice but to turn on him for their own survival. However, if that indeed transpires it will be impossible for the West to justify this as being a humanitarian intervention.
It is no surprise that Gaddafi’s support has risen to such extreme levels, as this tends to be the case whenever a country is bombed and attacked by an outside imperial power. It is also no wonder that Gaddafi has such strong support among his people when one considers the human toll of fighting. Reports vary on the amount of deaths, both combatant and civilian, but in early June, the U.N. Human Rights Council mission to Tripoli reported that between 10-15,000 people have been killed in the fighting thus far. Reports of NATO strikes killing civilians do not help “win the hearts and minds” of Libyans, especially when one such strike killed over 85 innocent civilians, including 33 children. Also in June, the Italian Foreign Minister, following a NATO bombing of a house in Tripoli, declared, “NATO is endangering its credibility,” and in an extrapolation of how the West is losing the ‘propaganda war’, he stated, “We cannot continue our shortcomings in the way we communicate with the public, which doesn’t keep up with the daily propaganda of Gaddafi.”
‘Worthy’ vs. ‘Unworthy’ Victims: Are the Rebels Committing ‘Ethnic Cleansing’?
A typical propaganda tactic used by Western media, throughout the entire Cold War (and arguably much longer) is the notion of “worthy” and “unworthy” victims. In any conflict in which the Western world engages and seeks a particular outcome, the presentation to the public – (i.e., propaganda) – determines, by the very way in which it reports the conflict, who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys.” It is important for conflicts to be framed – from the view of the propagandist – in a black and white, simplified manner. Effective propaganda tends to play to the lowest common denominator. If everything is geared towards a very base, simplified audience, with minimal critical thinking and contemplation required, it tends to manifest those very sensibilities in the audience who consumes it. In short, by the very method of reporting, they create the audience they seek.
Make it simple to create a simple audience. Then, that which is contrary to the saturated and filtered version of ‘reality’ is simply rejected outright as lunacy, fantasy, conspiracy theory, or worse. It is rejected almost instinctively because it requires more effort to determine accuracy, to investigate claims, to understand much broader concepts and employ far more contemplation and thinking than is required by the propaganda system. It is not simply that the ‘truth’ itself is more complicated, which makes lies so appealing to the masses, but it is exactly because the method of investigating truth is far more complicated. Thus, setting back into the comforts of ‘simplicity’ (“let the TV tell me what to think”), is far more attractive an option than taking painstaking efforts to investigate and understand an issue.
Thus, in conflicts we come to the nomenclature of ‘worthy’ versus ‘unworthy’ victims. This allows the West – and the public especially – to “take sides” in a conflict before understanding the realities of the conflict itself. That way, intervention can be justified and assured. Strategy, more today than ever before, requires the need of an efficient, organized, and effective propaganda machine. In Israel-Palestine, Israeli citizens and even soldiers (within the Occupied Territories) are deemed as ‘worthy victims’, while Palestinians are deemed ‘unworthy’ victims. When an Israeli dies, whether a civilian or soldier, the media ensures that the ‘consumer’ knows the names, is exposed to the families, learns the ambitions and dreams of the victims. When Palestinians die, however, they become – if at all even reported – mere statistics, and more often than not, they are blamed for their own deaths, vilified and generally dehumanized. The Palestinians are the ‘unworthy’ victims.
In Libya, it is apparent that the rebels are ‘worthy victims’, while the majority of civilians, (as roughly 85% support Gaddafi) are deemed ‘unworthy’ victims. The deaths of rebels are often hyped and exaggerated; others are denied, underplayed, justified, or simply not covered at all.
The best example of this in the current conflict is the rebels themselves committing atrocities, particularly against black African migrants in Libya. In this scenario, rebels remain the ‘worthy’ victims, and the black Africans ‘unworthy.’ This disparity is increased in that the deaths of black Africans were not only largely ignored, but they were first demonized, and thus their deaths became justified. This was the basis for the propaganda rhetoric regarding Gaddafi’s “African mercenaries.” These stories proliferated through the Western media ad nauseum and largely unquestioned; they were accepted at face value. As an Amnesty International investigation revealed, the stories of African mercenaries massacring rebels for Gaddafi emerged largely from the rebels themselves, and as it turned out, was false.
A Google search of “African mercenaries” and “Libya” from February 15 (when the rebellion began) to March 30, less than two weeks following the NATO ‘intervention’, turned up over 86,000 matches. As it turned out, the “mercenaries” were in fact African migrants working in Libya. A Google search over the same period (Feb. 15 – March 30), but with the terms “African migrants” and “Libya” revealed just under 48,000 results. Yet, from as early as February, African migrants reported that, “they’ve become targets for Libyans who are enraged that African mercenaries are fighting on behalf of the regime.” The migrants work in Libya’s oil industry and certain other sectors. It was the reports of African mercenaries – which later turned out to be false – that induced the violence against African migrants, instead of simply justifying them. The Deputy Director of the North Africa Center at Cambridge University stated in late February, in an interview with NPR, “I tell you, these people, because of their skin, they will be slaughtered in Libya. There is so much anger there against those mercenaries, which suddenly sprung up. I think it is urgent to do something about it now, otherwise, a genocide [could occur] against anyone who has black skin and who doesn’t speak perfect Arabic.”
Al-Jazeera reported in late February that dozens of black Africans were killed, with hundreds more in hiding, as “anti-government protesters” (read: ‘worthy victims’) “hunt down” the “black African mercenaries” (read: ‘unworthy victims’). Migrants fleeing the violence who returned to their home countries were interviewed, and reported that, “We were being attacked by local people who said that we were mercenaries killing people. Let me say that they did not want to see black people.” Further, one witness reported, “Our camp was burnt down, and we were assisted by the Kenyan embassy and our company to get to the airport.” A Senior Fellow with the International Migration Institute posed the question:
But why is nobody concerned about the plight of sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya? As victims of racism and ruthless exploitation, they are Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population, and their home country governments do not give them any support.
These cases were rarely reported in Western media, however, African media sources reported much more diligently on these events, as they were more directly effecting their own citizens; thus, the victims are those who may deemed – in the African media – as ‘worthy victims.’ Thus, the coverage was much more extensive. One African media outlet reported in early March, that “rebel fighters and their supporters in eastern Libya are detaining, beating and intimidating African immigrants and black Libyans, accusing them of being African mercenaries.” In some instances, “rebels have executed suspected mercenaries captured in battle, according to Human Rights Watch and local Libyans.” Even the rebel-led government “concedes it is rounding up suspects and detaining them for questioning.” Not only is it African migrants who were in danger, but regular black Libyans as well, as in some cases rebels had lynched black Africans, claiming they were mercenaries. Human Rights Watch referred to the assault against black Libyans as “widespread and systematic attacks… by rebels and their supporters.” A Human Rights Watch official explained, “thousands of Africans have come under attack and lost their homes and possessions during the recent fighting,” and referred to the rebels (who are, in our media mostly referred to as ‘pro-democracy’ protesters) as “ad hoc military and security forces.”
Another report explained that the assaults against blacks have “revived a deep-rooted racism between Arabs and black Africans” in Libya, as “discrimination is common not only against migrant Black Africans, but also against darker-skinned Libyans, especially from the south of the country.” The Executive Director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in South Africa told IPS in late March, “Against this background, one needs to be a little wary of the accusations of ‘African mercenaries’ or even ‘Black African mercenaries’ that have been bandied around.” Further, he reported that, “about one and a half million Sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees, out of a population of nearly two to two and a half million migrants, work as cheap labour in Libya’s oil industry, agriculture, construction and other service sectors.” As it turned out, “this is not the first time Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population has fallen victim to racist attack,” as in 2000, “dozens of migrant workers from Ghana, Cameroon, Sudan, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Nigeria were targeted during street killings in the wake of government officials blaming them for rising crime, disease and drug trafficking.”
One apparent victim of these assaults told media that, “I bet you many Ghanaians and Nigerians and other nationals of south of the Sahara have been killed and murdered,” and further, “they put the dead bodies in mass graves, while they still pursued others. Sometimes we had to dig deep and wide holes to hide ourselves for fear of being identified by the opposition forces.” By early March, there were reports of hundreds of black Africans from over a dozen countries who landed at Nairobi Airport after fleeing Libya by plane, and were arriving “with horrific tales of violence.” Even in early March, Human Rights Watch told the Sydney-Morning Herald that they were “yet to confirm a single case of a mercenary being used in the conflict.” Even as reports spread out regarding Gaddafi’s “African mercenaries,” Human Rights Watch stated that, “of the hundreds of suspected mercenaries detained in the east, all had turned out to be innocent workers or Libyans in the regular army.”
The most high-profile coverage in the West perhaps came from the Los Angeles Times, in which the reporter had been led by the rebels to view some of their captured “mercenaries,” and the reporter wrote that the so-called mercenaries told the media, “We are construction workers,” as they pleaded their innocence, and then “the interview was abruptly ended and the group of Africans were led away to detention by Muhammed Bala, who described himself as a security officer for the rebel government.” Bala added, “We’re out looking for mercenaries every day.”
Some reports in late March suggested that black Africans had been “slaughtered in the thousands in the ongoing civil war in Libya.” As the rebels claimed that Gaddafi’s forces were engaging in mass rape, other reports (otherwise unconfirmed) reported that the rebels were themselves, were starting “to detain, insult, rape and even executing black immigrants, students and refugees,” stating that more than 100 Africans were killed by early March, and “some of them were led into the desert and stabbed to death,” while other “black Libyan men receiving medical care in hospitals in Benghazi were reportedly abducted by armed rebels.” Further, there were “more than 200 African immigrants held in secret locations by the rebels.” As the Somaliland Press reported in early March, the attacks reflect racist and xenophobic attitudes among many Arabs in Libya (specifically the east, where the rebels were largely based), some of which was a result of Gaddafi’s ‘pan-Africanist’ views, which many Arabs felt betrayed by:
In many situations, Gaddafi and his inner circle preferred black Africans and Libyans from the south over Libyans from the east. Now the angry mobs using the revolutionary movement across Arabia and North Africa are hunting down black people.
Mohamed Abdillahi, Somaliland, 25, was sleeping at his home in Zouara, when the mobs arrived. “They knocked on the door around 1 o’clock in the morning. They said get out, we’ll kill you, you are blacks, foreigners, clear.”
The testimonials are very similar among the thousands of Africans that saw the ugly side of Libya in the past weeks. “They have attacked us, they took everything from us,” said Ali Farah, Somali labourer 29 years…
Many of the fleeing Africans are terrified to tell their stories. At the checkpoint, they do not mingle with others. When asked about their ordeal, they just freeze, “they stopped us many times and said not tell what has happened here, say there are no problems,” Elias Nour from Ethiopia said.
Of all the publications, the Wall Street Journal reported in late June that within the rebel-held city of Misrata, black Libyans were being targeted by the rebels who were ethnically cleansing Misrata of its black population. Espousing the lies that the black Libyans from Tawergha, a small mostly black town 25 miles south of Misrata, were being used as mercenaries, this galvanized the rebels and their supporters against them, referring to them as “traitors.” Prior to the siege of Misrata, roughly four-fifths of the population in the poor housing project of Misrata’s Ghoushi neighbourhood were black Tawergha natives. Now, reported the WSJ, “they are gone or in hiding, fearing revenge attacks by Misratans, amid reports of bounties for their capture.” The rebel leadership in Benghazi reportedly stated that they were working on a “post-Gadhafi reconciliation plan,” yet claim that, “Libya is one tribe.” Some were calling for the expulsion of the Tawerghans from the area, and one rebel commander said, “They should pack up… Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata.” As further evidence of the increasingly ethnically focused rebel leadership, some “rebel leaders are also calling for drastic measures like banning Tawergha natives from ever working, living or sending their children to schools in Misrata.” One rebel slogan that has appeared on the road between Misrata and Tawergha refers to the rebels as “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin.”
It is thus a very legitimate concern that if the rebels take power in Libya, they may undertake an “ethnic cleansing” of Libya in order to eliminate threats to their power (as the black Libyans by and large are supportive of Gaddafi), as well as to have a convenient scapegoat target population upon whom they can place blame for all the ills that a post-Gaddafi Libya would surely face. Scapegoats are always necessary for leaders that seek to centralize their power and brutally enforce their rule. Totalitarian leaders throughout history have always employed such a tactic. The possibility of a rebel-led government committing ethnic cleansing in Libya is, I think, an imminent and extremely likely possibility.
By mid-March, the United Nations reported that black migrants were fleeing Libya at a rate of about 6,000 a day, while “some 280,000 have already escaped to neighboring states.” As one report in Uganda articulated, a major concern for European nations (who are actively engaged in the NATO assault) was in the possible exodus of black Africans into Europe, as Libya is one of the main routes for African immigrants into Western Europe, a major source of internal social stratification, xenophobia, racism, and political pressure. Thus, if Libya collapsed into a “state of lawlessness,” it could become a major problem for Western Europe. As one BBC reporter stated, “The fear with Libya is that sub-Saharan Africans will try to leave and there are more of them.” The Ugandan Independent reported that following the stories in the Western press about the “African immigrant” came the stories about the “African mercenary.”
In fact, the West European media did prominently feature stories about the impending ‘threat’ of a wave of African immigrants into their countries. An article in the major German publication, Der Spiegel, in late February reported that, “Moammar Gadhafi, in recent years, has enjoyed a cynical role as Europe’s border guard against African immigrants. Italian ministers now warn that if his Libyan government collapses, people will flow across the Mediterranean.” Italy’s Interior Minister, ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, warned that, “hundreds of thousands of immigrants could head for Europe” which would create a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency.” While immediately fearing a wave of immigrants due to “violence that Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has reportedly visited on its own people.” But, according to some observers, “if Libya collapses into anarchy… it could become an immigration route for far more people from sub-Saharan Africa.” Der Spiegel reported:
Gadhafi in recent years has played up his role as a bulwark against African immigrants to Europe. Italy and Libya began joint naval patrols in 2008 to stop boatloads of illegal or trafficked immigrants from crossing the Mediterranean, and last year Libya signed a 50 billion euro deal with the European Union to manage its borders as a “transit country” for sub-Saharan Africans.
Italian Foreign Minister Frattini said that some 2.5 million people in Libya — about a third of the population — are non-Libyan immigrants who would flee if the government fell.
Gadhafi himself has enjoyed stoking these fears. “Europe will become black,” he said last December, if European leaders failed to cooperate with him on immigration controls.
The fear of a wave of African immigrants into Europe was a major topic of discussion at the EU summit in Brussels in February, according to the Financial Times. EU ministers heard that, “the collapse of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime could result in a tidal wave of refugees and illegal immigrants pouring into Europe,” as roughly 1-2 million refugees “could attempt to make their way across the Mediterranean into southern Europe if the Gaddafi regime collapses.” The Italian Foreign Minister told the members at the EU summit:
We are following very closely the situation. Italy as you know is the closest neighbour, both of Tunisia and Libya, so we are extremely concerned about the repercussions on the migratory situation in the southern Mediterranean… We need a European comprehensive action plan. We should support all peaceful transitional processes that are ongoing in the Middle East while avoiding a patronising position.
The Minister further warned that, the collapse of the regime would lead to the “self proclamation of the so-called Islamic emirate of Benghazi.” He added: “I’m very concerned about the idea of dividing Libya in two, in Cyrenaica and in Tripoli. That would be really dangerous. Can you imagine having an Islamic Arab emirate on the borders of Europe? This would be a really serious threat.” The Czech Foreign Minister echoed this fear, warning that the fall of Gadhaffi could pave the way for “bigger catastrophes.”
The rebels are aided in their war – which is largely a “propaganda war” – by an American public relations firm “to help them earn recognition from the U.S. government.” The firm – the Harbour Group – in early April “signed a pro-bono contract with the National Transitional Council.” Pro-bono? Since when do public relations firms do charity work? In an article in the Hill, it was reported that Harbour Group “will be working with the council’s U.S. representative, Ali Aujali, who resigned as Libya’s ambassador to the U.S. in protest in February as the revolution began to hold.” The Harbour Group’s Managing Director Richard Mintz “will help manage the PR effort on behalf of the council.” Mintz told The Hill, “It’s the right thing to do. They need help and we are pleased that we are able to do that. It is in the U.S.’s interest, in the world’s interest.” Part of the firm’s work was to be aimed at gaining U.S. recognition of the TNC as the “legitimate” government in Libya, while “other goals for the Harbour Group are to encourage U.S. humanitarian aid to Libya and to push for the release of Gadhafi’s assets frozen by U.S. financial institutions to help pay for that aid.” The article went on:
To achieve those goals, the firm will help prepare speeches, press releases and op-eds, contact reporters and think tanks and develop a website and social media for the council.
According to the contract, the firm “will provide all of its professional services free of charge to the council,” though the council will be “directly responsible” for “major expenses,” such as Web design and travel.
The Harbour Group is plugged in politically — Mintz is a former director of public affairs for the Clinton administration’s Transportation Department — and is already familiar with the Middle East. The firm is helping to implement “a public diplomacy program” on behalf of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, according to Justice records.
In early July, Patton Boggs, the number one lobby firm in the United States, was hired by the rebels to promote their cause in the U.S., to get America to recognize the TNC as the “legitimate government” in Libya, as well as to unfreeze Libya’s assets in order to provide funds for them. One outside counsel at Patton Boggs stated, “We care about the cause… We want the Transitional National Council to succeed on behalf of all the Libyan people… We are proud that they selected us in assisting them and we hope that we can continue being effective for them.” According to an article in The Hill, a Washington-D.C. paper, “Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., a partner at the firm who is one of Washington’s top lobbyists, will be leading the Libya account.” Boggs wrote that, “We understand that at this time the [Transitional National] Council may not have sufficient funds to pay our fees for these important services… We will charge the Council on an hourly basis for our work, according to our customary hourly billable rates… [and] will not seek payment for these funds and costs until the Council obtains sufficient funds to pay for them.” Further:
Two lobbyists at Patton Boggs, Stephen McHale and Vincent Frillici, have filed so far to lobby on behalf of the council. Frillici previously served as the director of operations at NATO for the 50th Anniversary Host Committee and was deputy director of finance operations for the Democratic National Convention in 1996. McHale served as the first deputy administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and helped merge the administration into the Homeland Security Department.
Robert Kapla, who has represented foreign governments in the past, and Matthew Oresman, formerly a law clerk within the State Department and the Senate Judiciary Committee, will also work for the council…
Announcing recognition of the Libyan council would cut Gadhafi off from any legal legitimacy, allow the rebels access to funding to help the Libyan people and announce to the international community that only the rebels have the right to “transfer the country’s natural resources,” [Patton Boggs counsel David]Tafuri wrote in a Washington Post editorial.
The notion that a rag-tag group of rebels fighting a war in a far-off foreign nation know exactly who the best lobbying firm and one of the best PR firms in Washington, D.C. are is hard to believe. The decision to contact these firms, then, was likely suggested by an American voice. As reported, the point man of contact between both firms and the rebels is Ali Aujali, the former Libyan Ambassador to the United States, who clearly still maintains his close ties to Washington.
Sure enough, in July the United States recognized the rebels as the “legitimate” government in Libya. And now in August, there are major pushes for Libya’s frozen assets to be unfrozen for the new rebel government.
Could Libya Collapse?
Naturally, to prevent such a “catastrophe” as a “tidal wave” of African immigrants, the Europeans – who are now fully involved in the Libyan war – will need to push for an occupation of Libya. While most ad-hoc coalitions try to maintain some vestiges of unity until their initial objectives (overthrowing the state) are achieved, the Libyan rebels have already descended into infighting and murder. In late July, members of the rebel armed forces killed the commander of the armed forces, Abdel Fatah Younis, who was a former Libyan government official who defected to the rebels in the early days of protests.
This event “triggered fears that opposition fighters battling to oust Col Muammar Gaddafi could instead turn their weapons on each other.” When news spread, many units who were loyal to Younis abandoned their front line posts at the oil town of Brega, and poured into Benghazi “to avenge their commander’s death.” The TNC attempted to blame the murder on pro-Gaddafi loyalists, but his supporters believed he was killed by “his rivals within the rebel leadership.” Some of the supporters even fired on the hotel in Benghazi which the TNC leader and a favourite of the U.S., Abdul-Jalil, earlier gave a press conference. The General, when he was killed, was headed to defend himself in front of four rebel judges who were questioning “illicit contacts he may have had with the Gaddafi regime,” which were instigated when the Daily Telegraph reported that he was “the regime’s main point of contact with the rebels.” As another Telegraph article revealed, “Gen Younes was also engaged in a very public feud with the rebels’ most celebrated battlefield commander, Khalifa Hifter,” which “was seen as an important factor in the pervasive chaos along the front line as the two frequently countermanded one another’s orders.” Thus, the elimination of the General could possibly allow for “greater cohesion” among the rebels on the front lines. Unreported in that article, however, was the previously revealed fact that Khalifa Hifter, the man who profits most from the assassination, also has a long history of working with the CIA.
Yet, it would still appear inevitable, with remaining divisions among the rebels and competing and contradictory ideas of what a post-Gaddafi Libya would be like, infighting will continue and likely accelerate. There is the possibility of a scenario in which one faction, and most likely the most militant and well-quipped faction (being the Islamist, al-Qaeda-linked faction run by a CIA-operative), simply purges the rebels entirely of competing visions. This assassination could have been the start of that effort already, and even a warning to potential challengers. Regardless of the specifics, the Libyan war is likely to plunge into a total civil war, so the Western nations would perhaps be most interested in having a united, militant, and ruthless proxy army under one leadership and vision, not many. With such enormous support for Gaddafi remaining in the country, and in fact, accelerating as the NATO bombings and rebel attacks continue, a rapid overthrowing of the Gaddafi government would certainly spark major national unrest far more severe than at present. In such a power vacuum, the Western powers certainly want to ensure the group they backed will be the winning horse on the way to fill the empty seat of power.
Western government have recognized the TNC as the “legitimate” government of the Libyan people, while the Libyan people – to the tune of 85% – largely support Gaddafi. So, in the face of such enormous opposition, this ‘horse’ in the race would by necessity have to be brutal, exacting, precise, and ruthless. If they do not seize power instantly, and establish a firm control over the country, it would be likely that the nation would plunge into a vicious civil war. Further, if Gaddafi supporters quickly regain the seat of power, Western powers may seek to stoke and actively create the conditions for civil war. It is arguable that they are attempting to do this already. In such a case, it would – from the imperial perspective – be better to ‘divide’ the people among each other, and ‘rule’ over them as a justification for maintaining ‘order.’ In this instance, using recent precedents of the past decades – two conflicts which Western powers claim they “don’t” want Libya to turn into – Rwanda and Iraq, became likely outcomes. Either a situation in which a Western-supported rebel army rushes to power amid a massive wave of carnage and establishes a strong dictatorship, ultimately resulting in the ‘cleansing’ of opponents to the potential of genocide (such as with U.S. support for the RPF in Rwanda). Or, there could be an attempt to establish a liberal democratic government, with a mix of rebels and former government officials, yet dividing power among ethnic or tribal lines, further inflaming those very divisions, and possibly resulting in a total civil war (such as in Iraq). Further, if pro-Gaddafi supporters re-take power quickly and effectively, the rebels would likely go underground and attempt a more insurgent war, attempting to plunge the country into a civil war. The dismantling of Yugoslavia also presents a telling example. In this case, ethnic or tribal rivalries are inflamed, al-Qaeda-linked radical sects are actively armed and aided; these groups engage in ethnic cleansing and a territorial war, with the country ultimately breaking up into several small and easily manageable parts. In whichever case, the potential for Western troops on the ground in Libya is a stark reality.
The Occupation of Libya
In late August, Libyan rebels rapidly advanced on Tripoli, preceded by a massive NATO bombardment of the city. The operation – Mermaid Dawn – was planned weeks in advance by the rebels and NATO. As the Guardian reported: “British military and civilian advisers, including special forces troops, along with those from France, Italy and Qatar, have spent months with rebel fighters, giving them key, up-to-date intelligence,” though the article then claimed that they were also “watching out for any al-Qaida elements trying to infiltrate the rebellion,” ignoring, of course, that we have long been supporting the ‘infiltrated’ elements. One of the rebel organizers of the operation said, “Honestly, Nato played a very big role in liberating Tripoli. They bombed all the main locations that we couldn’t handle with our light weapons.” While “sleeper cells rose up and rebel soldiers advanced on the city, Nato launched targeted bombings,” and American hunter-killer drones were also used in the attacks. According to a NATO diplomat, “Covert special forces teams from Qatar, France, Britain and some east European states provided critical assistance, such as logisticians, forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as damage-assessment analysts and other experts.” Foreign military advisers were on the ground providing “real-time intelligence to the rebels,” or in other words, ‘directing’ the rebels. Apparently, Gaddafi aides attempted to communicate with Obama administration officials, including the Ambassador and Jeffrey Feltman, the Assistant Secretary of State, in order to “broker a truce.” Yet, reported the Guardian, “the calls were not taken seriously.” NATO warplanes bombed convoys of Libyan troops as they sought to re-take rebel advances within Tripoli and elsewhere, and further, NATO undertook “bombing raids on bunkers set up in civilian buildings in Tripoli.” The article continued:
The western advisers are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi’s downfall. They have learned the lessons of Iraq, when the US got rid of all prominent officials who had been members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party and dissolved the Iraqi army and security forces.
The rebels who helped in planning the operation had hoped that an invasion of Tripoli would have sparked an uprising among the people, joining with the rebels against Gaddafi, clearly indicating their own ignorance of the support for Gaddafi within Libya and especially Tripoli. The New York Times, explaining why the mass popular uprising never took place, claimed that it was a result of “a bloody crackdown on protesters in February by Colonel Qaddafi’s forces [which] had served as a grim deterrent to those inside Tripoli who might try to challenge the government’s authority.” Naturally, the New York Times failed to report, as Amnesty International confirmed, that those reports were largely exaggerated, and there were deaths on both sides, indicating that the “peaceful protesters” had – at least a few – fighters among them.
With British and French Special Forces troops on the ground alongside CIA operatives, NATO was integral in launching this “pincer” campaign in Libya, often bombing government troops in retreat. Britain played a strong role with both military and intelligence officials – Special Forces and MI6 – in planning and coordinating the assault on Tripoli. As the Telegraph reported, “MI6 officers based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi had honed battle plans drawn up by Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) which were agreed 10 weeks ago,” while “the RAF stepped up raids on Tripoli on Saturday morning [August 20] in a pre-arranged plan to pave the way for the rebel advance.” Before the official rebel attack even began, the RAF bombed a key communications facility in Tripoli “as part of the agreed battle plan.” It is likely that in a rebel government, two prominent factions, that which is composed of the former Libyan National Army, founded and now currently run by Khalifa Hafter, a CIA asset; and the Islamist al-Qaeda linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), both of which are currently supported through the TNC by the CIA, MI6, and NATO military structures.
So while it is clear that not only are NATO forces already in Libya, but they are in fact directing the operations of rebel forces, far beyond the mandate from the United Nations to simply “protect civilians.” But then, that wasn’t the point of the war.
Even as the rebels continue to fight in Tripoli, Western media has jubilantly and prematurely declared a victory for the rebels and for NATO. The Washington Post reported that the ‘lesson of Libya’ was that, “limited intervention can work.” But then, this is no surprise from the Post, considering that one of their editors had previously said, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” As the rebels were far from victorious – though victory had already been declared – the media engaged in a ‘discussion’ of “post-Gaddafi Libya.” Meanwhile, fighting continued in the streets of Tripoli, as one resident told the Independent, “The rebels are attacking our homes. This should not be happening,” and further:
The rebels are saying they are fighting government troops here, but all those getting hurt are ordinary people, the only buildings being damaged are those of local people. There has also been looting by the rebels, they have gone into houses to search for people and taken away things. Why are they doing this? They should be looking for Gaddafi, he is not here.
While British SAS Special Forces were on the ground in Libya helping to hunt down Gaddafi, the British Foreign Secretary declared that, “Gaddafi must accept defeat,” and President Sarkozy of France said, “Gaddafi’s time has run out.” Average Libyans in Tripoli were nervous with the celebratory rebels, claiming, “The situation here reminds me of Iraq in 2003,” and that, “We don’t know who has entered the city. We don’t know anything about the people who will rule this country, about their mentality.” As one resident explained to the Independent:
The past 42 years we knew everything about the country: our people, our politics, everything. Now we don’t know anything about the future. We are afraid of the end of this, that Gaddafi will use chemical weapons, that there will be a massacre. I am afraid of both sides – of the rebels and of Gaddafi… We have no safety in this city. Now most of the people in this area have left. There are no families in the building now, just the young men.
Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, drew several parallels between Libya and Iraq, such as the fact when the Americans took Baghdad, Saddam fled underground promising to fight to the death, as Gaddafi just did. Further, as the U.S. was faced with the birth of the Iraqi insurgency in 2003, officials and media pundits alike claimed that the insurgents were “die-hards” who apparently “didn’t realise that the war was over.” As Fisk observed, already a pundit on SkyNews in Britain had claimed the remaining fighters were “die-hards.” Fisk repudiates the notion, as repeated throughout the media and by Western officials, that it is now “up to the Libyans,” as amidst “the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and French servicemen – all pretending to be ‘advisers’ rather than participants – is the Benghazi Green Zone.” Fisk explained:
Of course, this war is not the same as our perverted invasion of Iraq. Saddam’s capture only provoked the resistance to infinitely more attacks on Western troops – because those who had declined to take part in the insurgency for fear that the Americans would put Saddam back in charge of Iraq now had no such inhibitions. But Gaddafi’s arrest along with Saif’s would undoubtedly hasten the end of pro-Gaddafi resistance to the rebels. The West’s real fear – right now, and this could change overnight – should be the possibility that the author of the Green Book [Gaddafi] has made it safely through to his old stomping ground in Sirte, where tribal loyalty might prove stronger than fear of a Nato-backed Libyan force.
Sirte, Fisk elaborated, is an oil rich region with a strongly pro-Gaddafi populace. It was in Sirte where the rebels were defeated by the loyalists in the current war. However, as Fisk opined, “we shall soon, no doubt, have to swap these preposterous labels – when those who support the pro-Western Transitional National Council will have to be called loyalists, and pro-Gaddafi rebels turn into the ‘terrorists’ who may attack our new Western-friendly Libyan administration.”
NATO officials stated that the alliance “will not put troops on the ground,” ignoring the fact that already there are special forces and intelligence operatives on the ground who have been there for several months since even before the war broke out. Though, NATO officials claimed that if any organization sends in troops, it would be the UN, with one official commenting, “It is a classic case for blue helmets,” and that, “Nato will help the UN if asked.” The Western “advisers,” according to NATO officials, “are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi’s downfall.”
The Telegraph reported that, “Britain is preparing to send a team to Tripoli to help with a key plan to stabilise Libya after the fall of the Gaddafi regime and prevent any repeat of the chaos seen in post-war Iraq.” Thus, the Western nations are engaging in double-speak, whereby they claim that no boots will be put on the ground, yet simultaneously send boots onto the ground. The trick, however, is in calling these boots “advisers.” This has been a common tactic for decades, as even before the escalation of the Vietnam War, President Kennedy, and Eisenhower before him, had sent “advisers” to Vietnam, which slowly, and inevitably became a massive occupying force. The British plan, which has already begun in effect, “included contacting officials in ministries in Libya by mobile phone to try to persuade them not to abandon their posts.” The British “stabilisation response team” has been sent to Libya by the Foreign Office, Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence. The Development Secretary stated, “It has been clear that we needed to learn the lessons of Iraq and plan for stabilisation and that that needed to take place in an organised and timely way.” Yet, in the same breath – and in the usual double-speak – he claimed, “It was equally clear that the process had to be Libyan led and owned.” The EU also offered to send “experts” to Tripoli “at any minute.” Libyan government officials have been and continue to be contacted “to let them let them know that they could stay in place under the new regime,” which Western officials proclaim is a lesson they learned from Iraq, where they had simply purged the former Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein and dismantled the army, adding to the chaos and crisis of post-Saddam Iraq. Commenting on this, the Development Secretary stated, “if you can get hold of the chief of police and tell him, ‘You’ve got a job, don’t take to the hills, and you will get paid,’ we can avoid that.” Another aspect of the plan includes unfreezing Libya’s assets around the world to give them to the new provisional government of the TNC.
The plans for the latest assault were organized far in advance. As Debkafile, an Israeli publication, revealed, they were established back in July between the US and France, as they were organizing plans for managing the Israel-Palestine issue:
According to the US-French plan, [an agreement] will take place shortly after the Libyan war is brought to a close – ideally by a four-way accord between the US, France, Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan rebels or, failing agreement, by a crushing NATO military blow in which the United States will also take part. The proposed accord would be based on Muammar Qaddafi’s departure and the establishment of a power-sharing transitional administration in Tripoli between the incumbent government and rebel leaders.
As recently as April, the EU said that they had a ‘ready’ force of 1,000 soldiers poised to be sent in to Libya in case they were needed. The Guardian reported that the EU “has drawn up a ‘concept of operations’ for the deployment of military forces in Libya, but needs UN approval for what would be the riskiest and most controversial mission undertaken by Brussels.” Purportedly, the combat troops would not be engaged in a combat role but would be authorised to fight if they or their humanitarian wards were threatened.” As one EU official stated, “It would be to secure sea and land corridors inside the country.” Another EU official declared, “The operation is agreed. It’s ready to go when we get the nod from the UN.”
How to Get NATO Support: Die and Lie
However, if the EU, NATO, or the UN were to deploy troops into Libya, it would need to be under the guise of providing “peacekeeping” or other “aid” support. Thus, it would only be possible to do so in the event that Libya collapses into chaos, whether there be mass killings, genocide, or civil war. In such a situation, one is reminded of the events surrounding the ‘Srebrenica massacre’ in Bosnia in 1995.
The official account was that roughly 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by Serb aggressors, thus justifying a NATO intervention. The reality, however, was that the Bosnian Muslims had been struggling for years to “persuade the NATO powers to intervene more forcibly on their behalf,” writes Edward Herman. In fact: “Bosnian Muslim officials have claimed that their leader, Alija Izetbegovic, told them that [Bill] Clinton had advised him that U.S. intervention would only occur if the Serbs killed at least 5000 at Srebrenica.” As a result of Clinton’s statement, the town was sacrificed by the Bosnian Muslims, and the propagated claim was that the Serbs had gone in and killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, thus justifying the NATO intervention in Bosnia. However, not only did the Bosnians sacrifice the town, but the numbers themselves were subject to much manipulation, and the facts of the circumstances surrounding the event were ignored by the media. The Croatians, along with Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton, were delighted at the reporting of the ‘massacre,’ as for the Croats, explained Herman:
this deflected attention from their prior devastating ethnic cleansing of Serbs and Bosnian Muslims in Western Bosnia (almost entirely ignored by the Western media), and it provided a cover for their already planned removal of several hundred thousand Serbs from the Krajina area in Croatia. This massive ethnic cleansing operation was carried out with U.S. approval and logistical support within a month of the Srebrenica events, and it may well have involved the killing of more Serbian civilians than Bosnian Muslim civilians killed in the Srebrenica area in July: most of the Bosnian Muslim victims were fighters, not civilians, as the Bosnian Serbs bused the Srebrenica women and children to safety.
In short, NATO (and Bill Clinton in particular) told the Bosnian Muslims that at least 5,000 Muslims needed to die at the hands of the Serbs in order to justify an intervention and the continuing war against Serbs all across the former Yugoslavia. The fact that a number of 8,000 Muslims having been killed was (and remains) widely propagated, though widely inflated and unsubstantiated (save for the investigations into the manipulation of those numbers), was a ‘convenient’ event for NATO and the Bosnians. Also significant is the fact that such an event took place in the midst of massive ethnic cleansing of Serbs, largely ignored by the Western media, as it was committed by those who NATO were claiming to “save” from “Serbian aggression”; in particular, the Bosnian Muslims and Croatians. Some years later, Madeleine Albright, upon being told of another massacre which was good for U.S. interests, stated that, “spring has come early this year.” Of course, this is also the same woman who said that 500,000 dead Iraqi children (killed by the UN sanctions Albright helped impose and enforce during the Clinton administration) was “worth it.” So, it is safe to say that we can dispense with any claims of “humanitarian” concerns on the part of NATO leaders. Their interests are imperial. Their propaganda is humanitarian.
The same must be kept in mind about Libya, where we were told we went to “intervene” in order to “protect civilians.” Yet, immediately we began supporting what turned out to be a ruthless military outfit, including al-Qaeda-linked Islamists, who have concocted lies to justify their cause and foreign intervention, and who have been committing ethnic cleansing of black migrants and citizens in Libya. We call these people “pro-democracy” and claim that they represent a “popular uprising.”
The British government stated on 22 August that, “hundreds of British soldiers could be sent to Libya to serve as peacekeepers if the country descends into chaos,” with two hundred troops on standby since the start of July, as well as 600 Royal Marines who “are also deployed in the Mediterranean and would be available to support humanitarian operations.”
The possibility of an invasion seems imminent, as even if the rebels take Tripoli and overthrow Gaddafi, since thereafter the real struggle would begin, and the rebel TNC would likely struggle to maintain unity and possibly engage in attempts to purge various factions from the leadership, as the assassination of the former army commander in late July indicated is already taking place. Uniting these factions remains one of the greatest challenges the rebels will face.
Military sources revealed to some alternative media the plans for the U.S. to occupy Libya with upwards of 30,000 soldiers by October. A Debkafile report from July indicates that Western leaders were actively planning for a military invasion and occupation of Libya, starting with the French and British and followed by American troops. In early July, the Russian envoy to NATO stated that, “I think that now we are witnessing the preparation stage of a ground operation which NATO, or at least some of its members… are ready to begin.”
The Barons of ‘Humanitarian Imperialism’
As the rebels entered the capital, the true nature and purpose of the war and “intervention” in Libya was made known, as Western oil companies made their intentions and interests public, and the rebel TNC established themselves as subservient to those very interests.
Gaddafi may have signed his own death warrant back in 2009, when his government gathered 15 executives from global oil and energy corporations and demanded that they foot the bill – to the tune of $1.5 billion – for Libya’s settlement with victims of the downed Pan Am Flight 103 (itself a very mysterious terrorist attack possibly tracing back to the CIA itself). Libya had been subjected to UN sanctions from 1992-2003 as punishment for the terrorist attack, though it has never been conclusively proven that Libya had any involvement. Gaddafi, for his part, was seeking to make those who profited off of his country’s wealth (foreign oil conglomerates) pay for the costs of their punishment, as the sanctions had largely affected the nation’s economy. Libyan officials warned the oil companies that if they did not comply, there would be “serious consequences” for their oil leases. In 2004, when trade restrictions were lifted with Libya, Gaddafi gave in to Western interests in the aftermath of the Iraq war, fearing that Libya would be next. As the trade barriers broke down, the U.S. Department of Commerce “began to serve as self-described matchmakers for American businesses,” as companies like Halliburton, Boeing, Raytheon, ConocoPhillips, Occidental, and Caterpillar tried to “gain footholds” in the country. However, there were several problems and corporate plundering was increasingly stalled. The Gaddafis often demanded the corporations plunder the nation in joint partnerships with state-owned (and Gaddafi family run) companies, which the foreign conglomerates resisted, in which the State Department tried to intervene (according to diplomatic cables), but often failed to come to an agreement. However, some companies such as Occidental Petroleum, Petro-Canada, and Canadian arms manufacturer, SNC-Lavalin made inroads into Libya.
In January of 2009, Gaddafi threatened that Libyan oil “maybe should be owned by national companies or the public sector at this point, in order to control the oil prices, the oil production or maybe to stop it.” Forbes magazine asked: “Is Libya about to take the lead of its friends in Venezuela and Russia and launch a new round of energy-sector nationalism?” Postulating on the answer, Forbes wrote: “The thought sends a shiver through the collective spines of ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Amerada Hess, and Royal Dutch Shell. All have made massive new investments in Libya.” Libyan papers had all been discussing the possibility of nationalization.
Libya, as Africa’s largest oil producer, even far surpassing the proven reserves of Nigeria, would be an enormous loss to Western interests. In March of 2009, Libya was trying to convince three American oil companies operating in the country “to sign revised contracts giving the North African nation a greater share of its oil production.” Libya had already revised its contracts with Petro-Canada, ENI of Italy, and Repsol of Spain, as well as Occidental Petroleum in the U.S. It was seeking to revise its contracts with ConcocoPhillips, Amerada Hess, and Marathon Oil, all U.S. companies.
In March of 2010, Middle Eastern press reported that, “Libya is an economic force to be reckoned with,” as it challenged both Europe and America, and gave “a warning to US oil firms that their contracts are in danger.” Oil companies were finding it increasingly difficult to do business in Libya. As one oil industry expert reported, many companies are seeking an exit, “That’s partly because Libyan authorities have, over the past year, taken a very hard line on contract negotiations and renegotiations. A lot of companies developing oilfields are finding it incredibly difficult to make money.” Libya also expelled Swiss companies and even detained two Swiss businessmen after police in Geneva arrested one of Gaddafi’s sons. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley publicly derided Gaddafi, “which in turn provoked a warning from Libya that failure to apologise could hurt US oil companies.” Crowley, in a not-so-subtle display of who the State Department really works for, apologized. As one commentator from an American think tank explained, Libya’s use of oil as political leverage represents a new turn in the country’s leadership: “After decades in isolation, Libya’s oil reserves and a sovereign wealth fund worth around US$60 billion (Dh220bn) have given it unprecedented leverage with western governments.” Italy received roughly a quarter of its energy supplies from Libya, and many other Europeans hoped that Libya’s natural gas fields would free them from dependence upon Russia. One industry analyst explained, “Libya mostly gets its way because people are prepared to pay the price,” and that, “the future of new discoveries really boils down to a small number of companies – such as BP, Shell, ExxonMobil – which have massive exploration programmes going on for the next few years, and which could open new frontiers.” However, “for time being, oil companies are leaving rather than entering.” There was even a diplomatic row in November of 2010 when Libya expelled an American diplomat from the country “for breaching diplomatic rules.”
In October of 2010, U.S. oil companies Chevron and Occidental Petroleum did not extend their 5-year licenses with Libya, and instead left the country. The companies, among the first to rush to Libya following the lifting of international sanctions and formation of bilateral relations with the U.S. in 2004, established 5-year contracts with Libya in 2005. Libya, while home to Africa’s largest proven oil reserves, remained largely ‘under-explored’, and thus, unexploited.
Gaddafi’s Libya had many shady dealings with foreign (primarily British, but also French, Italian, and American) companies and individuals. Prime Minister Tony Blair had especially facilitated the emergence of prominent British industrial and financial interests into Libya, setting up meetings with top executives and Libyan officials, both while in office and after leaving. Blair and a former top MI6 official who joined BP, helped the oil conglomerate establish itself in Libya. Business and social relationships were also established between top British elites and Gaddafi’s family. Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, had a cozy relationship with British Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, and in 2009, both men were guests of Lord Jacob Rothschild’s at his villa in Corfu. Until 2009, Lord Rothschild was an adviser to the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA). Tony Blair, who after leaving office, took up a job at JP Morgan, continued to go to Libya as a representative of the bank, and Gaddafi’s son referred to Tony Blair as “a personal family friend.”
JP Morgan Chase reportedly, as of late January 2011, “handles much of the Libyan Investment Authority’s [LIA’s] cash, and some of the Libyan central bank’s reserves.” According to one Libyan financier, by the summer of 2008, “a great percentage of the L.I.A.’s funds were in the interbank money markets, channelled through the central bank. They have given mandates to some of the international banks to manage this liquidity,” such as JP Morgan Chase.
Within ten days of Britain’s sanctions on Libya having been lifted in 2004, a secret delegation of British officials had rushed to Libya to open the way for British business interests. Among the officials were Lord Foster of Thames Bank; Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, the former Army Chief of Staff; and the financier Lord Rothschild, who brought his son Nathaniel, “and the party was accompanied by four executives from a public relations firm run by Lord Bell.” As reported by the Times, “At stake was access to oil and gas reserves and the opportunity to profit from the country’s $90 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority.” Lord Rothschild became an adviser to the Libyan Investment Authority, until 2009.
As Tony Blair and his secret delegation went to Libya in 2004, their meeting with Gaddafi “led to lucrative Libyan oil contracts for Shell,” and “a month before stepping down as PM, Mr Blair visited-Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli again at the same time that BP signed a $900million deal with the Libyan National Oil Company.” On behalf of JP Morgan, Blair helped develop banking opportunities in Libya. As the fighting broke out in February of 2011, Gaddafi’s “friends” in the West immediately turned their backs on him. A statement from Tony Blair’s office stated: “Tony Blair does not and has never had any sort of commercial relationship or any sort of advisory role with any member of the Gaddafi family, the government of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority nor any Libyan companies.”
In early March, Britain (and several other nations, including the United States and Canada) froze Libya’s foreign assets in their countries, which had been managed by the Libyan Investment Authority. Over $3.2 billion in assets were frozen in London, and over $32 billion were frozen in the U.S. As the fighting began, the major Western oil conglomerates closed down their operations and fled.
Clearly, Gaddafi, after establishing significant ties with foreign elites, from JP Morgan, to Rothschild, to Prince Andrew of the British Royals and Tony Blair, made ‘friends’ of himself and his family to the dominant foreign financial and oil interests. When he began using Libya’s newfound oil wealth as a political tool, his “new friends” quickly became “old enemies.” These Western elites had helped Gaddafi gain access to Western markets and invest in their companies, while those companies tried to plunder the resources of Libya, as soon as Gaddafi felt secure enough, he began to use his new oil and financial leverage as a political tool. As this began, the West – and in particular the banking and oil elites – found Gaddafi to be much more of a liability than an asset. Now that Gaddafi is “gone,” the jubilation of Western conglomerates can barely be contained.
This is evident in the fact that as the rebels have gone into Libya, foreign oil conglomerates quickly followed behind. On 24 August 2011, the Independent reported that, “British businesses are scrambling to return to Libya in anticipation of the end to the country’s civil war,” yet, “they are concerned that European and North American rivals are already stealing a march as a new race to turn a profit out of the war-torn nation begins.” Thus, it is a new ‘scramble for Africa’ as the Western nations and corporations rush to plunder the country’s resources and wealth. British business leaders said that, “plans are in hand to send a trade mission to Benghazi to meet leaders of the Transitional National Council (TNC).” Among the stampeding oil conglomerates, there “is also intense lobbying for the multibillion-pound reconstruction contracts that are likely to be offered once fighting ends.”
Even as the rebels had not taken Tripoli, reported the Globe and Mail, “already the leaders of France and Italy, and their national oil champions, were openly courting the top men of the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC).” As for who will get to reap the rewards of Libya’s newly “liberated” oil, “the NTC has already said it will reward the countries that bombed Col. Gadhafi’s forces.” One rebel official stated, “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like Italians, French and U.K. companies,” however, he added, “we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.” These were, of course, the countries that did not back the strong sanctions on Gaddafi’s regime.
This is what we call “humanitarian intervention.” A situation in which we go to war against a foreign nation, based upon lies; in which we support – arm, organize, and lead – a militant rebel army; an army which has been committing atrocities, ethnic cleansing, and spreading lies and misinformation; in which we call these rebels ‘pro-democracy’ protesters; in which we call a group with less than 15% of the support of the people a “popular uprising”; in which we bomb innocent civilians to allow these rebels to move forward and occupy new territory; in which our oil companies move in to plunder the wealth of the most oil-rich country in Africa. This – this! – is what we call “humanitarian intervention.”
Our leaders do not care for human life. They care about power and profits. They will tell you anything you want to hear in order to justify their imperial conquests around the world. They will send you – most especially the poor ‘you’ – off to foreign countries in order to kill poor, foreign people. They will do this in order to obtain control over resources and strategic routes. One of America’s most pre-eminent imperial strategists, Zbigniew Brzezinski, wrote in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, that America must maintain hegemony over the entire world, but – he wrote – “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of well-being.” In the same book, Brzezinski, in blunt language explained the purpose and role for America to play in the world:
To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.
Brzezinski, incidentally, supported the military intervention in Libya, which he claimed is “something between war and military intervention, to stop something that is going on, but without really trying to conquer the country,” and that, “if we didn’t act it would be worse.”
Who are we really helping? Who are we really hurting? And why?
We must not support this cynical and disastrous conquest of “humanitarian imperialism,” whether it is in Libya, or perhaps – quite soon – in Syria. Wherever we “intervene,” we make everything much worse for that vast majority of the people involved. Where our nations go, they spread chaos, war, death, destruction and genocide. When our nations speak, they speak of hypocritical morality and paradoxical ethics. They speak with twisted tongues and poison words.
We must speak truth back. We must “intervene” in the discourse of the powerful around the world, in order to promote the true interests of humanity: freedom, peace, and solidarity. Only when we seek – and speak – truth, can we ever hope to meet the true ‘humanitarian’ needs of the world’s people.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is co-editor of the book, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.” His website is http://www.andrewgavinmarshall.com
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 Robert Fisk, America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels, The Independent, 7 March 2011:
 CHARLES LEVINSON And MATTHEW ROSENBERG, Egypt Said to Arm Libya Rebels, The Wall Street Journal, 17 March 2011:
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 Russ Baker, Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?, Business Insider, 22 April 2011:
Amy Goodman, A Debate on U.S. Military Intervention in Libya: Juan Cole v. Vijay Prashad, Democracy Now!, 29 March 2011:
Patrick Martin, American media silent on CIA ties to Libya rebel commander, World Socialist Web Site, 30 March 2011:
 Chris McGreal, Libyan rebel efforts frustrated by internal disputes over leadership, The Guardian, 3 April 2011:
 Ian Black, Libya rebels rejects Gaddafi’s al-Qaida spin, The Guardian, 1 March 2011:
 Gadhafi blames bin Laden, drugs for Libya unrest, MSNBC, 24 February 2011:
 Richard Adams, Charlie Sheen v Muammar Gaddafi: whose line is it anyway?, The Guardian, 1 March 2011:
 Michael Solomon, Quiz: Charlie Sheen or Muammar Qaddafi?, Vanity Fair, 25 February 2011:
 Matt Gurney, Matt Gurney: Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen, spot the difference, The National Post, 1 March 2011:
 Robin Cook, The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means, The Guardian, 8 July 2005:
 CHARLES LEVINSON, Ex-Mujahedeen Help Lead Libyan Rebels, The Wall Street Journal, 2 April 2011:
 Praveen Swami, Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links, The Telegraph, 25 March 2011:
 Robert Winnett, Libya: al-Qaeda among Libya rebels, Nato chief fears, The Telegraph, 29 March 2011:
 Terry Glavin, Ottawa’s Gaddafi fans find their world crumbling, The National Post, 23 August 2011:
 Scott Taylor, Support for Gaddafi soars amid NATO bombing on civilians, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 21 August 2011:
 Up to 15,000 killed in Libya war: U.N. rights expert, Reuters, 9 June 2011:
 Media Advisory, Libyan Deaths, Media Silence, FAIR, 18 August 2011:
 Libya civilian deaths ‘sap NATO credibility’, Al-Jazeera, 20 June 2011:
 Patrick Cockburn, Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war, The Independent, 24 June 2011:
 MICHELE NORRIS, In Libya, African Migrants Say They Face Hostility, NPR, 25 February 2011:
 African migrants targeted in Libya, Al-Jazeera, 28 February 2011:
 Peter Mietzner, Rebels target suspected mercenaries in Libya, iNamibia, 5 March 2011:
 Simba Russeau, Uprising Revives Entrenched Racism Towards Black Africans, IPS, 21 March 2011:
 News Desk Report, Massacre of Blacks in Libya, The Ghanaian Journal, 9 March 2011:
 IBT, Black Africans and other non-Libyans targeted for revenge killings: reports, International Business Times, 1 March 2011:
 Jason Koutsoukis, Black men mistaken for mercenaries, The Sydney-Morning Herald, 6 March 2011:
 David Zucchino, Libyan rebels accused of targeting blacks, The Los Angeles Times, 4 March 2011:
 Onwuchekwa Jemie, Black Africans slaughtered in Libya, Business Day, 22 March 2011:
 LIBYA: Rebels execute black immigrants while forces kidnap others, Somaliland Press, 4 March 2011:
 Sam Dagher, Libya City Torn by Tribal Feud, The Wall Street Journal, 21 June 2011:
 Michel Martin, Black Migrants Caught In Libya Unrest, NPR, 16 March 2011:
 Rosebell Kagumire, Guest article: A mercenary and an immigrant; a story of black Africans and Libya, The Independent, 3 March 2011:
 Italy Warns of a New Wave of Immigrants to Europe, Der Spiegel, 24 February 2011:
 Stanley Pignal and Giulia Segreti, Italians fear African migration surge, The Financial Times, 21 February 2011:
 Libya: up to a million refugees could pour into Europe, The Telegraph, 21 February 2011:
 Canada joins propaganda war aimed at Gadhafi forces, CBC News, 26 August 2011:
William Maclean, Analysis: Seeking leverage, Libya foes in propaganda war, Reuters, 5 August 2011:
 Kevin Bogardus, PR firm helps Libyan rebels to campaign for support from US, The Hill, 12 April 2011:
 Rachel Leven, Libyan rebels hire Washington’s No. 1 lobby firm for ‘advice and assistance’, The Hill, 2 July 2011:
 CNN wire staff, U.S. recognizes Libyan rebels’ authority, CNN, 15 July 2011:
 Molly Hennessy-Fiske, LIBYA: Push to unfreeze Libyan assets, LA Times Blog, 25 August 2011:
 AP, Libyan rebel forces leader shot dead, The Guardian, 28 July 2011:
 Adrian Blomfield, Libyan rebels in disarray after mysterious killing of leading military commander, The Telegraph, 29 July 2011:
 Russ Baker, Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?, Business Insider, 22 April 2011:
Amy Goodman, A Debate on U.S. Military Intervention in Libya: Juan Cole v. Vijay Prashad, Democracy Now!, 29 March 2011:
Patrick Martin, American media silent on CIA ties to Libya rebel commander, World Socialist Web Site, 30 March 2011:
Chris McGreal, Libyan rebel efforts frustrated by internal disputes over leadership, The Guardian, 3 April 2011:
 Scott Taylor, Support for Gaddafi soars amid NATO bombing on civilians, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 21 August 2011:
 Richard Norton-Taylor and Dominic Rushe, Assault on Tripoli ‘planned weeks ago’, The Guardian, 25 August 2011:
 KAREEM FAHIM and MARK MAZZETTI, Rebels’ Assault on Tripoli Began With Careful Work Inside, The New York Times, 22 August 2011:
 Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Allies guided rebel ‘pincer’ assault on Tripoli, The Washington Post, 22 August 2011:
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 Howard Kurtz, The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story, The Washington Post, 12 August 2004:
 Kim Sengupta, Terror in Tripoli as loyalists fight to the death, The Independent, 25 August 2011:
 Portia Walker, ‘We are afraid of both Gaddafi and the rebels’, The Independent, 25 August 2011:
 Robert Fisk, History repeats itself, with mistakes of Iraq rehearsed afresh, The Independent, 25 August 2011:
 Richard Norton-Taylor, Nato will not put troops on ground in Libya, The Guardian, 24 August 2011:
 Duncan Gardham, Libya: Britain prepares to send team to help with stability plan, The Telegraph, 23 August 2011:
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 Edward S. Herman, “THE APPROVED NARRATIVE OF THE SREBRENICA
MASSACRE,” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (Vol. 19, No. 4, 2006), pages 411-412.
 Ibid, page 412.
 Ibid, page 411.
 Rahul Mahajan, ‘We Think the Price Is Worth It’, FAIR, November/December 2001:
 Jason Groves, Ian Drury and Nick Fagge, British troops may act as peacekeepers if Libya descends into chaos, The Daily Mail, 23 August 2011:
 Martin Chulov, Libya rebels have won the war but biggest battle will be uniting factions, The Guardian, 22 August 2011:
 Aaron Dykes, U.S. Invasion of Libya Set for October, Infowars.com, 15 June 2011:
 US and NATO prepare final assault on Qaddafi. He threatens terror, DEBKAfile, 3 July 2011:
 NATO may be preparing ground operation in Libya – Russian envoy, RIA Novosti, 1 July 2011:
 Marcello Mega, Police chief: Lockerbie evidence was faked, The Scotsman, 28 August 2006:
Steve James, Lockerbie-Pan Am 103: Prosecution case evaporates, World Socialist Web Site, 17 October 2000:
Susan Lindauer, Libya’s Blood For Oil: The Vampire War, The Intel Hub, 28 March 2011:
 ERIC LICHTBLAU, DAVID ROHDE and JAMES RISEN, Shady Dealings Helped Qaddafi Build Fortune and Regime, The New York Times, 24 March 2011:
 Christopher Helman, Is Libya Going To Boot U.S. Oil Companies?, Forbes, 22 January 2009:
 AP, Libya Wants Greater Share of Its Oil Revenue, CNBC, 3 March 2009:
 John Thorne, Libya flexes its new oil wealth muscles, The National, 14 March 2010:
 Libya orders U.S. diplomat to leave: reports, Reuters, 7 November 2010:
 Ali Shuaib, Libya says Chevron and Oxy exit licenses, Reuters, 2 October 2010:
 David Rose, The Lockerbie Deal, Vanity Fair, 26 January 2011:
 David Robertson, Richard Kerbaj and David Brown, Secret delegation went batting for British interests in Tripoli, The Times, 29 August 2009:
 Nabila Ramdani, Tim Shipman and Peter Allen, Tony Blair our very special adviser by dictator Gaddafi’s son, The Daily Mail, 5 June 2010:
 Michael Peel, Friends in high places turn their back on Tripoli, The Financial Times, 23 February 2011:
 Roula Khalaf, James Blitz and Lina Saigol, UK freezes Libyan wealth fund assets, The Financial Times, 3 March 2011:
 Javier Blas, Oil groups prepare to close down in Libya, The Financial Times, 21 February 2011:
 Jerome Taylor, Kevin Rawlinson, Laurie Martin and Charlotte Allen, Dash for profit in post-war Libya carve-up, The Independent, 24 August 2011:
 Eric Reguly, They bombed and therefore they shall reap, The Globe and Mail, 24 August 2011:
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (Basic Books: New York, 1997), page 36.
 Ibid, page 40.
 Hiram Reisner, Brzezinski: Libya Action Isn’t War, But Necessary Intervention, NewsMax, 24 March 2011:
Punishing Pakistan and Challenging China
Pakistan in Pieces, Part 2
Global Research, June 30, 2011
This is Part 2 of “Pakistan in Pieces.”
The AfPak War Theatre: Establishing the New Strategy
As Senator Obama became the President-elect Obama, his foreign policy strategy on Afghanistan was already being formed. In 2007, Obama took on veteran geostrategist and Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski as one of his top foreign policy advisers, and he remained his foreign policy adviser throughout 2008. On Obama’s campaign, he announced that as President, he would scale down the war in Iraq, and focus the “War on Terror” on Afghanistan, promising “to send in about 10,000 more troops and to strike next-door Pakistan, if top terrorists are spotted there.”
In October of 2008, before the Presidential elections, “senior Bush administration officials gathered in secret with Afghanistan experts from NATO and the United Nations,” to deliver a message to advisers of McCain and Obama to tell them that, “the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse,” and “that the next president needed to have a plan for Afghanistan before he took office,” or else, “it could be too late.” Both McCain and Obama had agreed to a troop increase for Afghanistan, essentially ensuring the “continuity of empire” from one administration to the next.
A week after winning the election, Obama invited one of Hillary Clinton’s top supporters and advisers to meet with him. Richard Holbrooke, who had worked in every Democratic administration since John F. Kennedy, “which extended from the Vietnam War, in the sixties, to the Balkan conflicts of the nineties,” was Clinton’s Ambassador to the United Nations for the last year and a half of the Clinton administration. Obama had decided “that Holbrooke should take on the hardest foreign-policy problem that the Administration faced: Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Holbrooke wrote in March of 2008, before Obama won the Presidency, that, “The conflict in Afghanistan will be far more costly and much, much longer than Americans realize,” and it “will eventually become the longest in American history.”
The position Holbrooke was to receive in the Obama administration was one created specifically for him. He was to become a “special representative” to the region of Afghanistan and Pakistan:
Holbrooke was thus placed in charge of “Af-Pak”, a term of his own creation, “to make the point that the two countries could not be dealt with separately,” which was then adopted into official parlance.
In November of 2008, the Washington Post reported that while Obama was considering giving the position of Secretary of State (which he then did), he was also discussing giving General James L. Jones the position of National Security Adviser, which he subsequently did. The article stated that, “Obama is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures such as Henry A. Kissinger.” James Jones was a former NATO commander and Marine Corps commandant.
Jones as NATO commander was pivotal in assembling troops for the war in Afghanistan, and at the time of his nomination as NSA (National Security Adviser), he headed “the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.” The official statement of purpose for the Institute for 21st Century Energy is:
Jones earned $900,000 in salary from the Chamber of Commerce, and got $330,000 from serving on the board of Boeing and $290,000 for serving on the board of Chevron upon his resignations of those positions to become National Security Adviser. In October of 2010, Jones was replaced as National Security Advisor by Tom Donilon.
On February 8, 2009, within weeks of being installed as NSA, Jones gave a speech at the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy, in which he stated:
He then elaborated on the purpose and restructuring of the National Security Council under the Obama administration. He stated that the NSC “must be strategic” in that, “we won’t effectively advance the priorities if we spend our time reacting to events, instead of shaping them. And that requires strategic thinking.” He further stated that:
Shortly after taking office, Obama set up a two-month White House strategic review of Afghanistan and Pakistan, to be headed by Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and scholar at the Brookings Institution, and “Riedel will report to Obama and to retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., the national security advisor,” and was to work very closely with Richard Holbrooke in drafting the policy review.
In February of 2009, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for the Washington Post describing the strategy America should undertake in Afghanistan and Pakistan, emphasizing the role of “security” over the aim of “reform” of the Afghan government, stating that, “Reform will require decades; it should occur as a result of, and even side by side with, the attainment of security — but it cannot be the precondition for it.” Militarily, Kissinger recommended the “control of Kabul and the Pashtun area,” which stretches from Afghanistan to the North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan province in Pakistan. When it came to the issue of Pakistan, Kissinger wrote:
Following the policy review, on March 27, Obama announced the administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, decidedly to make it a dual strategy: the AfPak strategy. Obama promised “to send lawyers and agricultural experts to Afghanistan to reform its government and economy, and to offer seven and a half billion dollars in new aid for schools, roads, and democracy in Pakistan.”
Holbrooke had a staff of 30 in the State Department, and “nine government agencies, including the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Defense and Treasury Departments, and two foreign countries, Britain and Canada, [were] represented in the office.” General David Patraeus, then Commander of U.S. CENTCOM (the Pentagon’s Central Command with authority over the Middle East, Egypt and Central Asia), along with then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, and Richard Holbrooke worked together and “pressured General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani Army, to push back against the Taliban in Swat,” which had the effect of precipitating the internal displacement of more than 2 million people.
Changing Strategy, Changing Command
In January of 2009, shortly after Obama took office, he announced that his administration “picked Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, a former top military commander in Afghanistan, to be the next United States ambassador to Kabul,” of which the New York Times said:
Further, the General had “repeatedly warned that the United States could not prevail in Afghanistan and defeat global terrorism without addressing the havens that fighters with Al Qaeda had established in neighboring Pakistan,” which is parallel to the new strategy in Afghanistan. His appointment “has the backing of Richard C. Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
On May 11, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired General David D. McKiernan, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which commands all NATO forces in Afghanistan. Gates stated that, “It’s time for new leadership and fresh eyes,” and that it was the Pentagon command which recommended the White House fire McKiernan, including Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen and McKiernan’s military boss, General Patraeus, Commander of CENTCOM.
There has been much speculation as to the reasons for his firing, and it is a significant question to ask, as the firing of a General in the field is a rarity in the American experience. The general view pushed by the Pentagon was that it was due to a matter of “consistency,” as in changing strategies and changing ambassadors, it was also necessary to change Generals. While McKiernan was focused on military means and tactics, the strategy required counter-insurgency tactics. It was reported that, “McKiernan was overly cautious in creating U.S.-backed local militias, a tactic that Petraeus had employed when he was the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.”
One Washington Post article made the claim that the push to fire McKiernan came initially and most forcefully from the Chairman of the JCS Mullen, and that Gates agreed and lobbied Obama to fire him. The reasoning was that McKiernan was “too deferential to NATO” in that he wasn’t able to properly manage the NATO forces in Afghanistan, and lacked the political fortitude to manage both military and political affairs.
The official reason for the firing was mostly to facilitate alignment with the new strategy requiring a new military commander, which is likely true. However, it requires an understanding of the new strategy as well as a look at who was sent in to replace McKiernan where you realize the true nature of his being fired. [Note: McChrystal himself was later fired in 2010 after publicly speaking out against top administration officials].
McKiernan was replaced with Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, former Commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the highly secretive command of U.S. Special Forces operations. As the Washington Post pointed out, his appointment “marks the continued ascendancy of officers who have pressed for the use of counterinsurgency tactics, in Iraq and Afghanistan, that are markedly different from the Army’s traditional doctrine.”
The new AfPak strategy, which McChrystal would oversee, “relies on the kind of special forces and counterinsurgency tactics McChrystal knows well, as well as nonmilitary approaches to confronting the Taliban. It would hinge success in the seven-year-old war to political and other conditions across the border in Pakistan.”
In March of 2009, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that the U.S. military was running an “executive assassination ring” during the Bush years, and that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) was running it, and that, “It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently,” and that, “They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office… Congress has no oversight of it.” He elaborated:
Hersh appeared on Amy Goodman’s program, Democracy Now, to further discuss the program, of which he stated:
At the time this news story broke, it was reported that the JSOC commander at the time, “ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower are jeopardizing broader goals there.” The halt lasted a total of two weeks, and “came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops in recent months killed women and children.”
All of this is very concerning, considering that the new Commander of NATO operations in Afghanistan, was the former head of the “executive assassination ring.” Having run JSOC between 2003 and 2008, McChrystal “built a sophisticated network of soldiers and intelligence operatives,” which conducted operations and assassinations in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan.”
In June it was reported that McChrystal was “given carte blanche to handpick a dream team of subordinates, including many Special Operations veterans, as he moves to carry out an ambitious new strategy.” He was reported to be assembling a corps of 400 officers and soldiers “who will rotate between the United States and Afghanistan for a minimum of three years.” The New York Times referred to this strategy as “unknown in the military today outside Special Operations.” The Times further reported that McChrystal:
In June of 2006, Newsweek referred to McChrystal’s JSOC as being a “part of what Vice President Dick Cheney was referring to when he said America would have to ‘work the dark side’ after 9/11.” McChrystal also happened to be a Fellow at Harvard and the Council on Foreign Relations.
As it was later revealed, the CIA had been running – from 2002 onwards – a force of roughly 3,000 elite paramilitary Afghans, purportedly to hunt al-Qaeda and the Taliban for the CIA. Used for reconnaissance, surveillance, and actual operations, many in the force have been trained by the CIA in the United States, and their operations and numbers have expanded since the new strategy involving Pakistan was put in place. The paramilitary force – or terrorists, depending upon one’s perspective – are undertaking covert operations inside Pakistan, often working directly with U.S. Special Forces. It must be remembered that during the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s when the CIA was funding, arming and training the Afghan Mujahideen to fight the Soviets – late to become known as ‘al-Qaeda’ – they were, at the time, referred to as “freedom fighters,” just as the terrorist death squads were referred to in Nicaragua. Thus, the nomenclature of “paramilitary force” must be viewed with suspicion as to what the group is actually doing: covert operations, surveillance, assassinations, etc., which by many definitions would make them a terrorist outfit.
In May of 2009, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was reported as saying that a US military offensive in southern Afghanistan could have the effect of pushing militants and Taliban into Pakistan, “whose troops are already struggling to combat militants.” Chairman Mike Mullen stated that this means that Pakistan “could face even greater turmoil in the months ahead.” This was based off of a US surge of troops in Afghanistan. Senator Russ Feingold said that, “We may end up further destabilizing Pakistan without providing substantial lasting improvements in Afghanistan,” and that, “Weak civilian governments, an increased number of militants and an expanded U.S. troop presence could be a recipe for disaster for those nations in the region as well as our own nation’s security.” Mullen responded to the Senator’s concerns by stating, “Can I… (be) 100 percent certain that won’t destabilize Pakistan? I don’t know the answer to that.”
But of course, the answer is in fact, certain; and it’s an unequivocal “yes”. These remarks were made following the surge of an additional 21,000 US troops to Afghanistan in March. In the beginning of May, Pakistan launched a military offensive against the Taliban in Swat and other areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), after a peace deal broke down between them, “forcing more than two million people from their homes.” It was further reported that:
In May, Holbrooke and the American military establishment had pressured the Pakistani government to undertake the offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley, which led to the displacement of more than 2 million people. As the New Yorker put it, Holbrooke “was mapping out a new vision for American interests in a volatile region, as his old friend Henry Kissinger had done in Southeast Asia. And he was positioning himself to be a mediator in an international conflict, as he had done in the Balkans.”
In September of 2009 a classified report written by General McChrystal was leaked, in which he had concluded, “that a successful counterinsurgency strategy will require 500,000 troops over five years.” It was further reported in September that, “the CIA is deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence ‘surge’ that will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history,” rivaling its stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. The initiative began “under pressure from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal,” and the extra personnel are being employed in a number of ways, including teaming up with Special Forces troops in “pursuing high-value targets.” Further:
In October of 2009, it was reported by the Washington Post that although Obama announced a troop surge in Afghanistan of 21,000 additional troops, “in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number.” It was reported that these additional forces were primarily made up of “support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police.” Thus, it brings the total 2009 surge in Afghanistan to 34,000 US troops. Thus as of October 2009, there were 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan (more than double the amount of when Bush left office), and 124,000 US troops in Iraq.
In early October, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for Newsweek in which he proposed a strategy for the US in Afghanistan, in which he initially made it clear that he supported General McChrystal’s proposal of sending an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan. Kissinger proclaimed that calls for an “exit strategy” were a “metaphor for withdrawal,” which is tantamount to “abandonment.” Clearly, Kissinger favours a long-term presence. He stated that even a victory “may not permit troop withdrawals,” citing the case of South Korea. Kissinger further wrote on the options for Afghan strategy, stating:
Kissinger further claimed that a reduction of forces in Afghanistan would “fundamentally affect domestic stability in Pakistan by freeing the Qaeda forces along the Afghan border for even deeper incursions into Pakistan, threatening domestic chaos,” and that, “the prospects of world order will be greatly affected by whether our strategy comes to be perceived as a retreat from the region, or a more effective way to sustain it.”
He further explained that any attempts to “endow the central government with overriding authority” could produce resistance, which would “be ironic if, by following the received counterinsurgency playbook too literally, we produced another motive for civil war.” Kissinger thus proposed a strategy not aimed at “control from Kabul,” but rather, “emphasis needs to be given to regional efforts and regional militia.” Kissinger explained the regional importance of Afghanistan, and thus, the “challenge” of American strategy:
In November of 2009, Malalai Joya, a former Afghan MP and one of the few female political leaders in Afghanistan, said that:
In late November, Pakistani Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani warned “that the US’s decision to send thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan may destabilize his country,” as it would likely lead to “a spill over of militants inside Pakistan.” In particular, it could force militants and Taliban to migrate into Pakistan’s southern province of Balochistan.
On December 1, President Obama announced that the U.S. would send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan by summer 2010, and with a “plan” to purportedly withdraw by July 2011. As the Washington Post reported, “adding 30,000 U.S. troops to the roughly 70,000 that are in Afghanistan now amounts to most of what Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces there, requested at the end of August.” Obama stated that the chief objective was to “destroy al-Qaeda,” and a senior administration official said that, “the goal for the Afghan army, for example, is to increase its ranks from 90,000 to 134,000 by the end of 2010.”
President Karzai said in early December that, “Afghanistan’s security forces will need U.S. support for another 15 to 20 years,” and that, “it would take five years for his forces to assume responsibility for security throughout the country.” This statement supports the conclusions set out in McChrystal’s classified report, which stated that the US would need to remain for at least 5 years.
Seth Jones, a civilian adviser to the U.S. military and senior political scientist at RAND Corporation, one of America’s top defense think tanks, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in December titled, “Take the War to Pakistan.” He stated that the U.S. is repeating the same mistakes of the Soviets when they occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s by not attacking the Taliban “sanctuary” in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. He stated that, “This sanctuary is critical because the Afghan war is organized and run out of Baluchistan.” He then proclaimed that, “the United States and Pakistan must target Taliban leaders in Baluchistan,” which could include conducting raids into Pakistani territory or hit Taliban leaders with drone strikes.
As Jeremy Scahill reported in June 2009, “more than 240,000 contractor employees, about 80 percent of them foreign nationals, are working in Iraq and Afghanistan to support operations and projects of the U.S. military, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.” Scahill reported on the findings of a Defense Department report on contracting work in the war zones, stating that, “there has been a 23% increase in the number of ‘Private Security Contractors’ working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which ‘correlates to the build up of forces’ in the country.” While contractors outnumbered forces in Afghanistan, in Iraq they were roughly equal to the US forces occupying the country, at 130,000.
It was reported that as Obama ordered more troops to Afghanistan in December of 2009, a new surge of contractors would follow suit. As of June 2009, the number of contractors in Afghanistan outweighed the US military presence itself, with 73,968 contractors and 55,107 troops. According to different estimates, “Between 7% and 16% of the total are Blackwater-style private security contractors.” As of December 2009, the number of contractors in Afghanistan was reported to be 104,100.
In January of 2010, as Obama’s announced 30,000 extra troops began to be deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistani officials became increasingly fearful that “a stepped-up war just over the border could worsen the increasingly bloody struggle with militancy” within Pakistan itself, ultimately further destabilizing Pakistan’s southwestern border and the “already volatile tribal areas in the northwest.” On top of sending militants into Pakistan, there were fears that it would exacerbate the flow of Afghan refugees into Pakistani territory.
Blackwater and the “Secret War” in Pakistan
In November of 2009, investigative journalist and best-selling author Jeremy Scahill wrote an exclusive report on the secret war of the United States in Pakistan. The story sheds light on the American strategy in the region aimed at the destabilization and ultimately the implosion of Pakistan. The chief architects and administrators of this policy in Pakistan are none other than the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), previously run as an “executive assassination ring” by General McChrystal, and the infamous mercenary organization, Blackwater, now known as Xe Services. JSOC and Blackwater work together covertly in undertaking a covert war in yet another nation in the region, adding to the list of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Scahill described the covert operations as “targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives,” as well as “other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan.” Further, “the Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes.” The sources for the report are drawn heavily from individuals within the US military intelligence apparatus. One source revealed that the program is so “compartmentalized” that “senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.” This program is also separate from the CIA’s own programs, including both drone attacks and assassinations, of which the CIA assassination program was said to be cancelled in June of 2009.
It was in 2006 that JSOC reached an agreement with the Pakistani government to run operations within the country, back when Stanley McChrystal was running it in close cooperation with Vice President Dick Cheney as an “executive assassination ring.” A former Blackwater executive confirmed that Blackwater was operating in Pakistan in cooperation with both the CIA and JSOC, as well as being on a subcontract for the Pakistani government itself, as well as “working for the Pakistani government on a subcontract with an Islamabad-based security firm that puts US Blackwater operatives on the ground with Pakistani forces in counter-terrorism operations, including house raids and border interdictions, in the North-West Frontier Province and elsewhere in Pakistan.”
JSOC’s covert program in liaison with Blackwater in Pakistan dates back to 2007, and the operations are coordinated out of the US Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and that Blackwater operates at “an ultra-exclusive level above top secret.” The contracts are all kept secret, and therefore “shielded from public oversight.” On top of carrying out operations for JSOC and the CIA inside Pakistan, Blackwater further conducts operations in Uzbekistan.
In regards to the drone strikes within Pakistan, while largely reported as being a part of the CIA drone program, many are, in fact, undertaken under a covert parallel JSOC program. One intelligence source told Jeremy Scahill that, “when you see some of these hits, especially the ones with high civilian casualties, those are almost always JSOC strikes.” Further, Blackwater is involved in the drone strike program with JSOC, “Contractors and especially JSOC personnel working under a classified mandate are not [overseen by Congress], so they just don’t care. If there’s one person they’re going after and there’s thirty-four people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die. That’s the mentality.” Blackwater further provides security for many secret US drone bases, as well as JSOC camps and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) camps within Pakistan.
With General McChrystal’s rise from JSOC Commander to Commander of the Afghan war theatre (which in military-strategic terms now includes Pakistan under the umbrella of “AfPak”), “there is a concomitant rise in JSOC’s power and influence within the military structure.” McChrystal had overseen JSOC during the majority of the Bush years, where he worked very closely and directly with Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As Seymour Hersh had exposed, JSOC operated as an “executive assassination ring” and had caused many problematic diplomatic situations for the United States, as even the State Department wasn’t informed about their operations. One high-level State Department official was quoted as saying:
Blackwater is also involved in providing “security for a US-backed aid project” in a region of Pakistan, which implies that even some aid projects are connected with military and intelligence operations, often using them as a cover for covert operations. Blackwater still operates in Afghanistan working for the US military, the State Department and the CIA. As one military-intelligence official stated:
Much of Scahill’s information has been supported by other mainstream news sources. In August of 2009, the New York Times reported that in 2004, the CIA “hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda.” The CIA had held high-level meetings with Blackwater founder and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince. The article also revealed that in 2002, Blackwater had been awarded the contract to handle security for the CIA station in Afghanistan, “and the company maintains other classified contracts with the C.I.A.” Blackwater has hired several former CIA officials, “including Cofer Black, who ran the C.I.A. counterterrorism center immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.”
On December 10, 2009, the New York Times reported that in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Blackwater “participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents.” These raids, referred to as “snatch and grab” operations, occurred almost nightly between 2004 and 2006, and that, “involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred.” One former CIA official was quoted as saying, “There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually became an extension of the agency.” Further, Blackwater was reported to have provided security not only for the CIA station in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq; and in both countries, Blackwater “personnel accompanied the [CIA] officers even on offensive operations sometimes begun in conjunction with Delta Force or Navy Seals teams.”
In late August it was reported that Blackwater had a CIA contract to operate the remotely piloted drones, carried out at “hidden bases” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as provide security at the bases. In December, the New York Times ran a story reporting that the CIA had terminated its contract with Blackwater “that allowed the company to load bombs on C.I.A. drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” However, while the CIA claimed that all Blackwater contracts were under review, a CIA spokesperson said that, “At this time, Blackwater is not involved in any C.I.A. operations other than in a security or support role,” which is still a very wide role, considering how the roles have been blurred between providing “security” and actively taking part in missions.
As the Guardian reported in December of 2009, Blackwater had a contract in Pakistan “to manage the construction of a training facility for the paramilitary Frontier Corps, just outside Peshawar,” which is the Pakistani Army’s paramilitary force. Despite a continual official denial of Blackwater involvement in Pakistan, in December, the CIA admitted Blackwater operates in Pakistan under CIA contracts, and in January of 2010, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that both Blackwater (now known as Xe Services) and DynCorp have been operating in Pakistan.
However, some reports indicate that Blackwater may be involved in even more nefarious activities inside Pakistan. A former head of Pakistani’s intelligence services, the ISI, stated in an interview that apart from simply taking part in drone attacks, Blackwater “may be involved in actions that destabilize the country.” Elaborating, he said, “My assessment is that they [Blackwater agents] — either themselves or most probably through others, through the locals — do carry out some of the explosions,” and that, “the idea is to carry out such actions, like carrying attacks in the civilian areas to make the others look bad in the eyes of the public.” In other words, according to the former head of the ISI, Blackwater may be involved in committing false flag terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.
In November of 2009, Al-Jazeera reported that while many attacks occurring across Pakistan are blamed on the Tehreek e-Taliban, Pakistan’s Taliban, “the group has issued its first video statement denying involvement in targeting civilians and has blamed external forces for at least two recent blasts.” The denial stated that the attacks are being used as an excuse to prepare for military operations in various tribal regions of Pakistan, including South Waziristan. The denial also stated that the Pakistani Taliban “had no role in the bomb blast in a Peshawar market that killed at least 100 people as well as an attack in Charsada, a town located in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.” The spokesperson claimed that the Pakistani Taliban does not target civilians, and that the bombings were “linked to Blackwater activities in the country.” Even when the bombings initially occurred the Taliban denied involvement, and the local media was blaming “Blackwater and other American agencies.”
The head of the Pakistani Taliban had previously stated that, “if Taliban can carry out attacks in Islamabad and target Pakistan army’s headquarters, then why should they target general public,” and proceeded to blame the bomb blast in Peshawar that killed 108 people on “Blackwater and Pakistani agencies [that] are involved in attacks in public places to blame the militants.” He was further quoted as saying, “Our war is against the government and the security forces and not against the people. We are not involved in blasts.”
In January of 2010, it was reported that Blackwater “is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan’s troubled national police force,” as Blackwater already “trains the Afghan border police — an arm of the national police — and drug interdiction units in volatile southern Afghanistan.”
As Jeremy Scahill reported in August of 2009 on a legal case against Blackwater, where a former Blackwater mercenary and an ex-US Marine “have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia.” Among the claims:
Further, both men stated that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq, often on Erik Prince’s private planes. These allegations surfaced in a trial against Blackwater for committing human rights violations and war crimes in Iraq against civilians. One of those who testified further stated that, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.” The testimony continued in explaining that:
In January of 2010, Erik Prince, the controversial founder and CEO of Blackwater gave an interview with Vanity Fair magazine which was intended to not simply discuss the company, but also the man behind the company. It begins by quoting Prince as saying, “I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions,” and continued, “But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus.” It is worth quoting the article at some length:
Prince’s Afghan security team is the “special-projects” team of Blackwater, and “except for their language its men appear indistinguishable from Afghans. They have full beards, headscarves, and traditional knee-length shirts over baggy trousers.” In regards to Prince’s worth with the CIA, he:
In Afghanistan, Blackwater “provides security for the US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and his staff, and trains narcotics and Afghan special police units.” There was also a revolving door of sorts between Blackwater and the CIA. Not only was Prince a CIA asset, but many higher-ups in the CIA would also move into Blackwater. A Blackwater-CIA team even hunted down an alleged Al-Qaeda financier in Hamburg, Germany, without even the German government’s awareness of it. Publicly, the Blackwater program with the CIA was canned. Although there was no mention of its covert program with JSOC in Pakistan, so one must assume its relationship is maintained in some capacity. Prince ultimately left his position at Blackwater in the face of bad press, but still controls the majority of the stock.
In September of 2009, General Mirza Aslam Beg, Pakistan’s former Army Chief, said that, “Blackwater was directly involved in the assassinations of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.” He told a Saudi Arabian daily that, “former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater the green light to carry out terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Quetta.” It was in an interview with a Pakistani TV network when he stated that Blackwater and “the United States killed Benazir Bhutto.” Beg was chief of Army staff during Benazir Bhutto’s first administration. He claimed that she was killed “in an international conspiracy because she had decided to back out of the deal through which she had returned to the country after nine years in exile.”
Is the West Punishing Pakistan to Challenge China?
China and Pakistan established diplomatic ties in 1951, and have enjoyed a close relationship since then, with Pakistan being one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1950. One of the primary reasons behind the close and ever-closer relationship between China and Pakistan is the role of India, as both an adversary and competitor to Pakistan and China. A Pakistani ambassador to the United States said that for Pakistan, “China is a high-value guarantor of security against India.” Further, within India, increased Chinese military support to Pakistan is perceived as “a key aspect of Beijing’s perceived policy of ‘encirclement’ or constraint of India as a means of preventing or delaying New Delhi’s ability to challenge Beijing’s region-wide influence.” These ties have increased since the 1990s, and especially as the United States became increasingly close to India. As a Council on Foreign Relations background report on China-Pakistan relations explained:
As the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. further explained, “Pakistan thinks that both China and the United States are crucial for it,” however, he went on, “If push comes to shove, it would probably choose China–but for this moment, it doesn’t look like there has to be a choice.” The recent U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement has further entrenched a distrust of America within Pakistan and pushed the country closer to China. In 2010, China announced it would be building two nuclear power reactors in Pakistan.
In 2007, China and Pakistan inaugurated Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province along the Arabian Sea, creating the first major point in an “energy corridor” which would eventually bring oil from the Gulf overland through Pakistan into China. China financed the building of the port city for $200 million, with plans to fund billions more worth of railroads, roads, and pipelines which would link Gwadar Port to China. Pakistan is strategically placed in the centre of the new ‘Great Game’, a nomenclature for the great imperial battles over Central Asia in the 19th century. Pakistan is neighbour to Iran, India, China, and Afghanistan, with a coastline on the Arabian Sea. Thus, Pakistan is situated between the oil-rich Middle East and the natural gas-rich Central Asian countries, with two of the fastest growing economies in the world – India and China – as energy-hungry neighbours; with the imperial presence of America in neighbouring Afghanistan, with its eye focused intensely on neighbouring Iran. A ‘Great Game’ ensues, drawing in Russia, China, India and America, and the main focus of the game is pipelines.
China has a major pipeline project in the works to bring in natural gas from Central Asia, transporting the gas from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and into China, which is set to be completed by 2013. Iran, OPEC’s second largest oil exporter (after Saudi Arabia), is among the top ten oil exporters to China, and in 2010 it was reported that the Chinese have invested roughly $40 billion in Iran’s oil and gas sectors, including financing for the construction of seven new oil refineries, as well as various oil and gas pipeline projects. In June of 2011, it was reported that China’s oil imports from Iran have increased by 32%, signaling a growing importance in the relationship between the two countries. The largest three oil exporters to China are Saudi Arabia, Angola, and Iran, respectively.
The Gwadar Port city built by Chinese investments is destined to be a central hub in the pipeline politics of the ‘Great Game,’ in particular between the competing pipeline projects of the Trans-Afghan Pipeline (TAP or TAPI), involving a pipeline bringing natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and into India; and the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (IPI). The major issue here is that the TAPI pipeline cannot be built so long as Afghanistan is plunged into war, thus the project has been incessantly stalled. On the other hand, India has been wavering and moving out of the picture in the IPI pipeline, in no small measure due to its increasingly close relations with the United States, which has sought to dissuade Pakistan from building a pipeline with Iran. However, in 2010, Pakistan and Iran signed the agreement, and are willing to either allow India or China to be the beneficiary of the pipeline. Whether going to India or China, Gwadar Port will be a central hub in this project. Pakistan has now been seeking direct help from China on the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project. The U.S., for its part, warned Pakistan against signing onto a pipeline project with Iran, yet Pakistan proceeded with the project regardless.
The southern Pakistani province of Balochistan is home to oil, gas, copper, gold, and coal reserves, not to mention, it is the strategic corridor through which the pipeline projects would run, and is home to the strategically significant port city of Gwadar. For the past fifty years, however, Balochistan has been a major hub of Chinese investment and opportunity, with Chinese companies having poured $15 billion into projects in the province, including the construction of an oil refinery, copper and zinc mines, and of course, Gwadar Port. India is increasingly concerned about China’s presence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. China is building ports not only in Pakistan, but in Bangladesh and Burma, as well as railroad lines in Nepal.
Following the supposed assassination of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. in Pakistani territory, tensions between Pakistan and America increased, and ties between China and Pakistan deepened. The Chinese were subsequently approached by the Pakistanis to take control of the port of Gwadar, and perhaps to even build a Pakistani naval base there, though the Chinese have denied Pakistani claims that any such deal had been reached. China, further, in response to the apparent U.S. assassination of Bin Laden, said that the ‘international community’ (referring to the United States) “must respect” Pakistani sovereignty. Indian news quoted diplomatic sources as saying that China “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani visited China on a state visit shortly after the American raid into Pakistan. Following the meetings, China agreed to immediately provide 50 fighter jets to Pakistan, a clear signal that Pakistan is looking for alternatives to its American dependence, and China is all too happy to provide such an alternative. As the Financial Times reported, “Pakistan has asked China to build a naval base at its south-western port of Gwadar and expects the Chinese navy to maintain a regular presence there.” China has also signaled that it would be interested in setting up foreign military bases, just as the United States has, and specifically is interested in such a base inside Pakistan. The aim “would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
It would seem, then, that the true cause of chaos, destabilization, and war in Pakistan is not the Orientalist perspective of Pakistanis being the ‘Other’: barbaric, backwards, violent and self-destructive, in need to ‘intervention’ to right their own wrongs. Following along the same lines as the dismantling of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the destabilization of Pakistan is aimed at wider strategic objectives for the Western imperial powers: namely, the isolation of China. While Pakistan has long been a staunch U.S. puppet regime, in the wider geopolitical context of a global rivalry between the United States and China for control of the world’s resources and strategic positions, Pakistan may be sacrificed upon the altar of empire. The potential result of this strategy, in a country exceeding 180 million people, armed with nuclear weapons, and in the centre of one of the most tumultuous regions in the world, may be cataclysmic, perhaps even resulting in a war between the ‘great powers.’ The only way to help prevent such a potential scenario would be to analyze the strategy further, and expose it to a much wider audience, thus initiating a wider public discussion on the issue. As long as the public discourse on Pakistan is framed as an issue of “terrorism” and the “War on Terror” alone, this strategic nightmare will continue forward.
As the saying goes, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”
But so too then, can war be the casualty of Truth.
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Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire
Global Research, October 5, 2010
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of his least known and ultimately one of his most important speeches ever, “Beyond Vietnam,” in which he spoke out against the American war in Vietnam and against American empire in all its political, military and economic forms. In his speech, King endorsed the notion that America “was on the wrong side of a world revolution.” Dr. King explained:
This is the nature of war of today: during King’s time, the pretext for war was to stop the spread of Communism; today, it’s done in the name of stopping the spread of terrorism. Terror has since time immemorial been a tactic used by states and governments to control populations. Al-Qaeda is no exception, as it was created and continues to largely function as a geopolitical extension of the covert apparatus of American empire. In short, al-Qaeda is an arm of the covert world of American intelligence agencies. In particular, the CIA, DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], US Special Forces, and multinational mercenary companies such as Blackwater [now Xe Services]. Where they go, al-Qaeda goes; where al-Qaeda goes, they accumulate; where they lay the groundwork, the American empire stands behind.
Yemen is perhaps an excellent example of America being on the “wrong side of a world revolution,” as the secret war in Yemen being exacerbated in the name of “fighting al-Qaeda” is in actuality, about the expansion and supremacy of American power in the region. It is about the suppression of natural democratic, local, revolutionary elements throughout the country seeking self-autonomy in changing the nation from its current despotic, authoritarian rule sympathetic to American interests, into a nation of their own choosing. It is about repressing struggles for liberation.
This brings in the involvement of Saudi Arabia, itself interested in ensuring Yemen is a loyal neighbour; so they too must suppress indigenous movements within Yemen seeking autonomy, especially those that are Shi’a Muslims, as the Saudi state is a strict Wahhabist Sunni Muslim regime. Shi’as are primarily represented in the region through the state of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s “natural” enemy; both vying for influence in Iraq and both vying for influence in Yemen. Through this we see another key American imperial aim in this war, that of seeking to stir up a conflict with Iran, perhaps through a proxy-war within Yemen, or perhaps in hopes that the proxy war would expand into a regional war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, naturally drawing in Israel, Egypt and the United States. Finally, we have the strategic location of Yemen to consider, bridging one of the largest oil transport routes in the world, parallel to Somalia and the Horn of Africa (where America is waging another war, again on the “wrong side of a world revolution”).
Just as American geopolitical strategists had chosen to favour Tutsis over Hutus in Central Africa in an effort to expand the American presence and business interests in the region; so too have American strategists chosen to favour a brand of radical Sunni Islam over the Shi’a or moderate Sunnis, and thus they support oppressive Sunni governments (such as Saudi Arabia), and denounce Shi’a governments as oppressive (such as Iran). Not to say that there is no oppression within Iran (there is oppression within all states everywhere in the world, Iran is no exception), but compared to Saudi Arabia, Iran is a bastion of freedom. Al-Qaeda is manifestly a significant facet of the pro-Wahhabist fundamentalist Sunni strategy of American imperialists. If they finance, train and arm the Sunni rebels or send in already-trained, armed and well-funded terrorists (commonly known as ‘al-Qaeda’ – the “database”), then they create a counter to any other domestic opposition or regional Shi’a dominance.
This essay examines the American war in Yemen as a war of empire, as a war against the rising tide of people’s movements and the “global political awakening” that is taking place around the world.
Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Art of Empire
To understand the current conflict in Yemen, as with all conflicts, we must go to history. To simply cast the conflict aside in the light of “fighting al-Qaeda” is a gross misrepresentation. Yemen’s history is deeply entwined with that of Arab nationalist politics in the Middle East, adding to that a balance of imperial power in the region.
The location of modern Yemen is vital in the notion of Yemen’s significance to imperial powers. Millennia ago, a settled civilization was established in the fertile south-west region of Arabia, and was “comprised by the kingdoms of Ma’in, Saba, and Himyar.” These kingdoms “were significant in the broader history of the Middle East, in part because of the long-distance trade links to India and the states at the top of the Red Sea.” When Islam arose:
When the Ottomans left in 1918, following their defeat in World War I, Zeidi Imam took over North Yemen, which was run by the Imams, while South Yemen was controlled by the British. From the late eighteenth century, the British being the dominant power in the Arabian Peninsula, “sought to protect its imperial communications by entering into a series of treaties with the ruling shaykhs of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman and by bringing the strategic southern tip of the peninsula under direct British control as the Aden Protectorate [South Yemen].”
Various families competed for power in Arabia, with Abd al-Aziz Ibn Sa’ud emerging victorious when in 1924 he exiled the previously imposed leader (supported by the British, but highly unpopular), Sharif Husayn. Britain quickly negotiated an agreement with Ibn Sa’ud in 1927, called the Treaty of Jeddah, which “recognized Ibn Sa’ud as the sovereign king of the Hijaz and sultan of Najd and its dependencies; he, in turn, acknowledged Britain’s special relationships with the coastal rulers [of the Arabian Peninsula] and pledged to respect their domains.” In 1932, the state became known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Following World War II, the United States became the single greatest superpower and it overtook the colonial possessions of the old European empires that collapsed prior to, during, and following World War II. In the Middle East:
The Imams in North Yemen had begun laying claim to all of “natural Yemen,” directly challenging British rule in the south. In the 1940s, “there began to develop political oppositions, to both the Imams in the North and the British in the South.” The “Free Yemeni” movement in the North staged a failed coup in 1948 to free the North from the authoritarian rule of the Imams.
Egypt saw the most significant upheavals in the immediate post-War years. In 1952, a group of junior military officers in the Egyptian Army orchestrated a bloodless coup in which they overthrew the Egyptian Monarchy and Colonel Abd al-Nasser took power, forming the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). The RCC’s primary political rival in Egypt was the Muslim Brotherhood, so when an assassination attempt on Nasser took place in 1954, the RCC outlawed the Brotherhood, arrested thousands of its members and executed several of its leaders. Nasser was not only the primary progenitor of nationalism in the region, but he was considered the exalted leader of the pan-Arab movement for unity.
Nasser set up a Soviet arms deal in 1955, in which Egypt exchanged cotton for Soviet military equipment, which dealt Nasser an impressive propaganda effect among Arab peoples who saw it as a rebuff of the Anglo-American grip on Egypt. Nasser, meanwhile, had been attempting to construct a dam at Aswan, and sought funds to do so from the World Bank in 1955. The World Bank approved a loan package (designed by the British and Americans), which would have required Egypt to accept particular conditions of the loan. Nasser had not made a decision on the package, when, in July of 1956, America announced it was withdrawing the offer.
On July 26, 1956, days following the loan withdrawal, Nasser announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal, giving Nasser incredible support across the Muslim and Arab worlds, as the Canal, “built with Egyptian labour but operated by a French company and used as the lifeline of the British Empire, had stood as a symbol of Western exploitation.” On October 29, 1956, Israel, Britain and France attacked Egypt, and a UN-sponsored cease-fire was signed by Britain and France on November 6, following the condemnation of the attack by both the USSR and America. The Suez Crisis, an Egyptian military defeat, had become a political success for Nasser.
In Yemen, the struggle of the Free Yemenis in the North waged on against both the rule of the Imams in the North and the British in the South. The Free Yemenis were largely influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt initially, but changed the rhetoric as the 1950s changed the dynamic of politics in the region, with the rise of Arab nationalism, and thus, “the predominant politics of the oppositions in North and South was nationalistic, involving support not only for the general goal of ‘Arab unity’ but also for ‘Yemeni’ unity.” Following the failed coup in 1948, the opposition in the North was split between intellectuals and groups of officers. In 1962, the officers overthrew the Imams and proclaimed the “Yemen Arab Republic.”
When this took place in the North, opposition spread to the countryside in the South where a guerilla movement developed. Between 1963 and 1967, the guerilla movement became a powerful force competing for power in Aden and the countryside, and was split into two: a Nasser-influenced group and a more radical Marxist “National Liberation Front” (NLF). Nasser inserted himself into the Yemeni civil war in 1962. The deposed Imam of Yemen had escaped to the mountains and rallied tribesmen to his cause, with significant support from powerful regional monarchs (and staunch American allies), Saudi Arabia and Jordan. So the new Yemeni regime turned to Nasser for assistance, and by 1965, close to 70,000 Egyptian troops were in Yemen fighting for the military regime in power. After several years of fighting rebels and traversing harsh terrain, Egypt withdrew in 1968.
During the civil war, the British were still holding onto their protectorate in the South, and were still very much politically bruised by Nasser since the Suez Crisis. Thus, the British “devised a scheme with Israel’s secret service, the Mossad, to aid the anti-Nasser forces in Yemen by supplying them with arms and financial help.” This effort was aided by the CIA, as well as Saudi intelligence and the Iranian SAVAK. Throughout the 1960s, the United States rapidly accelerated a program of military support for Saudi Arabia, which included a $400 million Anglo-American air defense program, military bases, infrastructure, “and a $100 million U.S. program to supply Saudi Arabia with trucks and military transport vehicles.” The aim was to weaken Egypt and Nasser through a civil war in Yemen, with each side using various groups for their own geopolitical ambitions.
In 1967, the National Liberation Front (NLF) came to power in South Yemen, as the British left, and South Yemen became an independent state. Subsequently, North and South Yemen supported opposition movements within each other’s territory. In 1972, the two sides briefly went to war with one another, when the North attempted to conquer the South with Saudi and Libyan support. While Yemen’s civil war had seen Yemen divided among itself, it had also become a regional conflict between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Yet, when the radical Marxist NLF government came to power in South Yemen in 1967, the NLF had “pledged its support for the overthrow of all the traditional monarchies in the Arabian Peninsula”:
The situation Saudi Arabia faced to its south created an impetus for the acceleration and growth of the Saudi armed forces. Thus, in the 1970s, “the Saudis allocated between 35 and 40 percent of their total annual revenues to defense and security expenditures.” In 1970, the defense budget had increased to $2 billion; by 1976 it was $36 billion.
In North Yemen, the radical left fought a guerilla war against the government from 1978 until 1982, with support from South Yemen. This movement in the North “saw itself as the vanguard of a mass movement that would bring about unity through overthrowing the military and tribal forces dominating the country.” The North Yemen government was not centralized, and so lacked a strong measure of legitimacy. During the 1970s, the President “promoted closer ties with the South as part of an attempt to strengthen the central government.” Throughout the 1980s, closer ties between the two nations were sought, and “unity” committees were established, but with little if any success. Not until the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War in 1989-1990 was progress on unity made, when “the internal weaknesses of both regimes led them to agree to enter a provisional unification,” which occurred in May 1990.
Each state thought that they could exploit the process of unification to exert their own authority over the other region. Thus, unity was “not a policy aimed at fusion but an instrument for inter-regime competition.” The North, in particular, “believed it could impose its will on the South,” following the 1993 elections and through the process of misleading negotiations. Eventually, this goal started to be realized, and “Yemeni unity was thus achieved by the successful imposition of the Northern regime’s power on the South, in alliance with both Islamists in the North, and with dissident exiles from the South.”
However, these disagreements and problems “led to a de facto split in the country in early 1994, followed at the end of April by an outright Northern attack on the South. On 7 July 1994 Northern forces entered Aden, thus effectively unifying the country under one regime for the first time in several centuries.”
Operation Scorched Earth
During the 1994 civil war in Yemen, the North was aided in its war against the south by Wahhabist Sunni rebels (practicing the strict branch of Islam common to Saudi Arabia as well as al-Qaeda). Following the war and the success of the North, the government had granted the Wahhabis a stronger voice in the government. This is a major complaint of the Zaydis, a Shi’a branch of Islam. The Zaydis had Saada as their main stronghold in the North, but were driven from power in the 1962 revolution, left to a region that remained undeveloped. Saudi Arabia drew increasingly worried about having a rebellious group of Shi’a Islam fighters (the Houthi) so close to their border, with the potential to stir up groups within Saudi Arabia itself.
In 2004, the Yemen government tried to arrest the leader, Hussein al-Houthi, a Zaydi religious leader, which sparked fighting and the leader was subsequently killed in an air strike, leaving the movement to be run by his brothers. In 2004, between 500-1000 people were killed in the fighting. In 2005, the fighting continued, and an estimated 1,500 people were killed. Fighting broke out again in 2007 between the government and the rebels, in which hundreds of people were killed. In 2008, a Shi’a mosque was bombed during prayer in the Northern stronghold of Saada, with the Yemen government blaming the Shi’a rebels, who both denied responsibility and denounced the attack. This spurred on further clashes between the government and the rebels, so that by late 2008, since the outbreak of fighting in 2004, between 3,700 and 5,500 “militants and civilians” had been killed in the fighting.
In June of 2009, nine foreigners were kidnapped while having a picnic in Saada, “the bodies of three of them, a South Korean teacher and two German nurses were discovered. Five Germans, including three children and a Briton, are still missing and their status is unknown.” It was never determined who was behind the kidnappings and murders, but the government blamed the Houthi rebels. The Houthis in turn blamed drug cartels in the region for the murders. Yemen was faced simultaneously with a secessionist movement in both the North and the South, and was reportedly facing a “greater threat from al-Qaeda,” which had been a “growing concern” of the United States. In July of 2009, Gen. David Petraeus, CENTCOM Commander, “and an accompanying delegation, flew to Yemen and met with [President] Saleh,” at which one of the topics of discussion was “how to better combat terrorism.” In August of 2009, Yemen launched a military offensive against Houthi rebels in the North.
This was Operation Scorched Earth, launched by the Yemen military on August 11, 2009. Troops, tanks and fighter aircraft were used in this Yemeni blitzkrieg against the Houthi and Zaydi in the North, with the President vowing to crack down with an “iron fist.”
This led to a refugee crisis in which, by October 2009, over 55,000 people fled their homes due to the conflict. In November, the rebels had a border fight with Saudi Arabia, killing a Saudi officer and injuring several others. Saudi Arabian “warplanes and artillery bombarded a Shiite rebel stronghold,” and Saudi Arabia and Yemen were “cooperating and sharing intelligence in the fight.” Moroccan special forces trained in guerilla warfare were accompanying Saudi soldiers, and Morocco cut off relations with Iran, which was being accused of arming the Houthi rebels. Jordan also reportedly sent 2,000 of its own special forces to help Saudi Arabia.
The American Empire in the Gulf of Aden and Africa
What is America’s particular interest in Yemen, and more broadly, in the region that encompasses the Gulf of Aden, over which Yemen rests at the pinnacle? The Gulf of Aden connects the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea, with Yemen positioned directly across the water from Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea. The Gulf of Aden is a vital transport route for the shipment of Persian Gulf oil, forming “an essential oil transport route between Europe and the Far East.” Clearly, control of the major oil transport routes is a key strategic imperative of any global power; in this case, America. Yemen, situated beneath Saudi Arabia, positions itself as even more significant to American strategic initiatives, in securing their interests in the world’s most oil-rich nation and key US ally. An American-friendly government in Yemen is a Saudi-friendly government.
Another key facet of American imperial strategy in the Gulf of Aden and Yemen regards the American imperial strategy in Africa. In 2005, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the main policy-planning group of the US elite, published a Task Force Report on US strategy in Africa called, “More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa.” In the report, it was stated that:
The report stated that, “The United States is facing intense competition for energy and other natural resources in Africa,” identifying India and primarily China as its main competitors “in the search for these resources and for both economic and political influence on the continent.” In particular, “China presents a particularly important challenge to U.S. interests.”
Further, “To compete more effectively with China, the United States must provide more encouragement and support to well-performing African states, develop innovative means for U.S. companies to compete, give high-level attention to Africa, and engage China on those practices that conflict with U.S. interests.” In analyzing how the War on Terror had been brought to Africa, the report stated:
As the Guardian reported in June of 2005, “a new ‘scramble for Africa’ is taking place among the world’s big powers, who are tapping into the continent for its oil and diamonds.” A key facet of this is that “corporations from the US, France, Britain and China are competing to profit from the rulers of often chaotic and corrupt regimes.” In May of 2006, the Washington Post reported that in Somalia, the US has been “secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.”
In December of 2006, Ethiopia, heavily backed and supported by the US, invaded and occupied Somalia, ousting the Islamist government. The US support for the operations was based upon the claims of Somalia being a breeding ground for terrorists and Al-Qaeda. However, this was has now turned into an insurgency. Wired Magazine reported in December of 2008 that, “for several years the U.S. military has fought a covert war in Somalia, using gunships, drones and Special Forces to break up suspected terror networks – and enlisting Ethiopia’s aid in propping up a pro-U.S. ‘transitional’ government.” Again, another case of America being on the “wrong side of a world revolution.”
The Ethiopian troops occupied Somalia for a couple years, and in January of 2009, the last Ethiopian troops left the capital city of Mogadishu. In 2007, the UN authorized an African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia. In March of 2007, Ugandan military officials landed in Somalia. Essentially, what this has done is that the more overt Ethiopian occupation of Somalia has been replaced with a UN-mandated African Union occupation of the country, in which Ugandan troops make up the majority. Since Uganda is a proxy military state for the US in the region, the more overt US supported Ethiopian troops have been replaced by a more covert US-supported Ugandan contingent.
In 2007, Newsweek reported that, “America is quietly expanding its fight against terror on the African front. Two years ago the United States set up the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership with nine countries in central and western Africa. There is no permanent presence, but the hope is to generate support and suppress radicalism by both sharing U.S. weapons and tactics with friendly regimes and winning friends through a vast humanitarian program assembled by USAID, including well building and vocational training.” The Pentagon announced the formation of a new military strategic command called “Africom” (Africa Command), which “will integrate existing diplomatic, economic and humanitarian programs into a single strategic vision for Africa, bring more attention to long-ignored American intelligence-gathering and energy concerns on the continent, and elevate African interests to the same level of importance as those of Asia and the Middle East.”
The article gave brief mention to critics, saying that, “not surprisingly, the establishment of a major American base in Africa is inspiring new criticism from European and African critics of U.S. imperial overreach.” Some claim it represents a “militarization of U.S. Africa policy,” which is not a stretch of the imagination, as the article pointed out, “the United States has identified the Sahel, a region stretching west from Eritrea across the broadest part of Africa, as the next critical zone in the War on Terror and started working with repressive governments in Chad and Algeria, among others, to further American interests there.” The article continued:
Ever since the 2007 US-supported air strikes and invasion of Somalia, piracy has been a significant issue in the waters off of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. In 2009, several major nations, including America, Britain and China, sent navy ships into Somali waters to combat the pirates who were negatively impacting trade through the region. As Johann Hari explained in the Independent:
In 2009, an American Navy commander suggested that the Somali pirates were in receivership of not only a great amount of sympathy from Yemeni people (while the government would help combat the piracy), but that “private citizens in Yemen are selling weapons, fuel and supplies to Somali pirates. And maritime experts worry that pirates are increasingly able to find refuge along Yemen’s vast coast.” Some Yemeni officials “suggest the extensive international attention to piracy is just a pretext for big powers like the U.S. to gain control of the Gulf of Aden, a waterway through which millions of barrels of oil pass every day.” One member of the Yemeni Parliament suggested that, “Western powers are allowing piracy to continue as a way to serve their own interests.”
Al-Qaeda in Yemen
The current war in Yemen and US support for it is predicated on the basis of aiding Yemen in the fight against al-Qaeda. Said Ali al-Shihri was arrested by the Americans in 2001 in Afghanistan, and was promptly taken to Guantanamo Bay. The Americans released him into Saudi custody in 2007, and he “passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.” In other words, the US handed him over to Saudi Arabia, who enrolled him in a program for ‘former jihadists’, and then he became the second in command in Al-Qaeda in Yemen. As one American intelligence official stated, “he returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007, but his movements to Yemen remain unclear.” One Saudi security official had reported (on condition of anonymity) that, “Mr. Shihri had disappeared from his home in Saudi Arabia [in 2008] after finishing the rehabilitation program.”
In June of 2009, US officials were reporting that Al-Qaeda fighters were leaving Pakistan to go fight in Somalia and Yemen. The CIA, the Pentagon and the White House reported that Al-Qaeda groups in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia were “communicating more frequently, and apparently trying to coordinate their actions.” The CIA Director, Leon Panetta, said that, “the United States must prevent Al Qaeda from creating a new sanctuary in Yemen or Somalia.” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Brookings Institution, a major US policy think tank, “I am very worried about growing safe havens in both Somalia and Yemen, specifically because we have seen Al Qaeda leadership, some leaders, start to flow to Yemen.” So the American national security establishment had refocused its efforts on Yemen. War seemed inevitable.
In the 1980s, millions of Yemeni men had worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, sending remittances back home to Yemen. In 1991, in the lead-up to the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia viewed these migrant workers as a potential security threat, so they expelled 800,000 Yemeni workers back to Yemen, and henceforth, Yemeni labour was banned in Saudi Arabia. Saudi financed Wahhabi madrasas sprung up across Yemen, providing a place for the disenchanted and unemployed Yemeni Sunni population to find an outlet for their political and economic dislocation. President Saleh of Yemen had often used Yemeni Wahhabis “to fight his domestic opponents – first the communists, then the Zaidis, and then the H[o]uthis.”
In August of 2009, as the Saudi assault on the Houthi rebels in the North was underway, a Houthi leader and brother to the slain former leader, Yahya al-Houthi, spoke to a Middle Eastern news agency. He was a former Yemeni Member of Parliament, who had fled to Libya, and subsequently sought political asylum in Germany. He told Press TV:
In other words, according to al-Houthi, Yemen (along with Saudi Arabia) are directly supporting the al-Qaeda contingent in Yemen in an effort to sow chaos (thus providing a pretext for the military assault), as well as aiding in the fight against the Houthis. In October, as the fighting raged on, it was reported that the Yemeni governor in the northern province had “signed a deal” with al-Qaeda, in which the government “would provide the militants with arms, budget and other military requirements to assist the Yemeni army against the Shia fighters.” Saudi Arabia remains, as it did throughout the entire history of the movement (since the 1980s), as the principle financier of al-Qaeda.
In fact, in 2009, it was revealed that members of the Saudi royal family directly provide “extensive financial support for al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.” The documents were revealed in a court case in which families of victims of the September 11th attacks were seeking to bring legal action against the Saudis for their financial support. The documents were leaked to their lawyers, and the US Justice Department stepped in (on behalf of the Saudis), and “had the lawyers’ copies destroyed and now wants to prevent a judge from even looking at the material.” Clearly, al-Qaeda is not an organization autonomous of Saudi financing.
The Southern Secessionist Movement
Apart from simply the Houthis, the Saleh dictatorship seeks to suppress a Southern Yemeni secessionist movement seeking autonomy and liberation against the illegitimate central government. Since 2007, “southern Yemenis have been staging mass protests calling for reinstatement of southerners dismissed from the civil service and army, higher pensions, a fairer share of the country’s dwindling national wealth, and an end to corruption.” The protests were met with “severe repression by the security services, which seemed to only spur on the demand for secession by the south, where most of the country’s oil is located.” One Yemeni analyst stated that, “If there is one thing that will break the country, it’s going to be the southern secession.” One southern secessionist activist stated that Saleh’s government was using the pretext of al-Qaeda and it’s war on terror “for the liquidation of the southern movement,” and that, “the southern movement is trying to continue the peaceful struggle. But the powers in Yemen have used excessive violence against peaceful protests.” The government, for its part, has attempted to propagate the baseless claim that the southern secessionists have links with al-Qaeda.
Interestingly, al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen, in a recorded statement, “declared support for the Southern Movement, but Southern leaders have thus far rejected his endorsement.” In an interview with France24, former South Yemen President, Ali Salem al-Beidh, explained that, “We have nothing to do with al Qaeda, we have never been in contact with this organization. Our movement rejects terrorism, which in contrast thrives in the north of the country. President Ali Abdallah Saleh uses al Qaeda to scare westerners and the United States.” Saleh’s government has committed several human rights abuses against the movement in the South, unlawfully and unjustly killing innocents during protests, with the military surrounding peaceful protests and opening fire.
The “rapidly spreading” protest movement in the South, explained the New York Times, “now threatens to turn into a violent insurgency if its demands are not met.” While the leaders of the movement favour peaceful protest, the government’s violent repression has made it so that “their ability to control younger and more violent supporters is fraying.” One southern leader stated, “We demand an independent southern republic, and we have the right to defend ourselves if they continue to kill us and imprison us.” Again refuting claims that the movement is tried to al-Qaeda, the leaders “say that they stand for law, tolerance and democracy, and that it is the north that has a history of using jihadists as proxy warriors.” A major problem arises within the Southern movement in that it remains deeply divided, with no clear singular leadership, drawing from an array of people, from socialists to Islamists, “with wildly different goals and unresolved disputes.”
The Underwear Bomber
On December 25, 2009, a 23-year old Nigerian-born man named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, when he tried to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear. This incident, still shrouded in mystery, provided the excuse for American involvement in the conflict in Yemen, as it was reported that Farouk had been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the newly-formed Saudi and Yemeni al-Qaeda group.
However, how Farouk managed to get on the plane, let alone past security with explosives on his person, is still an important question. After all, America knew about Farouk for up to two years prior to the incident, and even had him “on a list that includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization.” Britain’s MI5 knew three years prior to the incident that Umar had connections with Islamic extremists in Britain. Umar’s father, a former Nigerian government minister and successful banker, had even warned the US Embassy in Nigeria of his son’s extremist beliefs. Umar even had a US entry visa, and when the State Department stepped in to have his visa revoked, “intelligence officials asked [the State Department] not to deny a visa to the suspected terrorist over concerns that a denial would’ve foiled a larger investigation into al-Qaida threats against the United States.”
Suddenly, there was a flurry of reports from “respected” newspapers (such as the Washington Post and New York Times propaganda rags), that this “failure” of following through with the intelligence that was available on Umar meant that a review of security was needed, both in terms of possibly expanding the “watch lists” and in terms of expanding airport security, and proposing the use of body-scanners. Several politicians and news-rags were also calling for expanded military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Interestingly, there were several reports of eyewitnesses on board the plane who contradict the official account of Umar’s attempted terrorist act. An attorney on board the plane said that, “he saw another man come to the assistance of accused bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when he tried to board the airplane in Amsterdam without a passport.” The attorney and his wife had both seen this incident. The wife, also a lawyer, stated, “My husband noticed two men walk up to the ticket counter lady. The only reason he noticed them is that he thought they were really a mismatched pair.” She said that Umar “wore older, scraggly clothing, but the man who was assisting him, who appeared to be of Indian descent, was dressed in what looked like an expensive suit and shoes.” She recounted that the well-dressed man had told the ticket agent, “We need to get this man on the plane,” and that, “He doesn’t have a passport.” The ticket agent responded that no one was allowed to board the plane without a passport, to which the Indian man replied, “We do this all the time; he’s from Sudan.” Yet no further information has come forward about this mysterious ‘second man’ who helped Umar board the plane. Nevertheless, the propaganda of this attempted terrorist ‘attack’ had taken effect, as people were again afraid of the menace of “Islamic terror” and “al-Qaeda,” and the U.S. got the pretext to justify its intervention in Yemen.
American Imperialism in Yemen
While the ‘Underwear Bomber’ was used as a propaganda vehicle for supporting direct US military intervention in Yemen, covert US military involvement in Yemen had already been underway for some time (as well as British). In 2002, a mere six months following 9/11, President Bush authorized the deployment of 100 US troop to Yemen “to help train that nation’s military to fight terrorists.” The troops “would consist predominantly of Special Forces, but could also include intelligence experts and other specialists. The main target would be Al Qaeda fighters who are hiding in Yemen.” In September of 2002, it was reported that the United States was deploying Special Forces and CIA agents into the Horn of Africa in an effort to combat al-Qaeda in Yemen, and “800 US special forces have been moved to Djibouti, which faces Yemen.” In November of 2002, a CIA Predator drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – UAV) launched an attack on an al-Qaeda target within Yemen, killing six suspected al-Qaeda members, one of whom was an American citizen.
Prior to the ‘Underwear Bomber’ (as he has come to be known), the conflict in Yemen was primarily viewed as a civil war, and then with the participation of Saudi Arabia, as a regional Arab conflict. In September of 2009, it was reported that while the Yemeni government attempted to subdue a rebel Shi’a army in the north (Houthi), a refugee crisis was emerging, and a wider conflict was erupting, which could “suck the US into another sensitive conflict zone.” Many observed that if the US manages to stay out of the war, “the conflict might be subsumed in a regional war by proxy,” as in, through Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, further, was accusing Iran of supporting the Shi’a rebels in northern Yemen, with both money and arms, but Saudi Arabia “has produced no hard evidence.” From the time the Saudi assault on northern Yemen began in August of 2009, between 25,000 and 100,000 Yemeni refugees were displaced. One top official with the World Food Program (WFP) stated that, “We’re not confronted with a humanitarian crisis, it’s becoming a humanitarian tragedy.”
A member of the International Crisis Group (ICG) said, “that the United States might be forced to intervene as the security situation worsened to prevent Yemen becoming a ‘failed state’.” Further, “the country has been used as an al-Qaeda base before, and its strategic location between the oil supply routes of the Gulf and the piracy haven of Somalia means its stability is regarded as a key western interest.” Thus, said the ICG analyst, “You might well see American advisers, maybe even some special troops, go in for special operations.” President Obama declared in September of 2009 that, “the security of Yemen is vital for the security of the United States.”
In November of 2009, it was reported that a “delegation of military officers from Yemen arrived in the United States recently” for training, of which the purpose “was to familiarize the Yemeni military officers with formal training programs currently in use by the United States Marine Corps. Support to Yemeni military officer training is likely to increase the effectiveness of [Yemen’s] military force.” On December 13, 2009, (less than two weeks prior to the “Underwear Bomber” incident), it was reported that, “US special forces have been sent to Yemen to train its army amid fears the unstable Arab state is becoming a strategically important base for al-Qaeda.”
It would appear, then, that the “Underwear Bomber” incident arrived just in time for the United States to have an excuse to expand its war in the region. Without the propagandized attempted terrorist attack, the American public would not readily accept America’s entry into yet another war. Questions might be asked about the nature of the war, such as the US supporting the government of Yemen in its suppression and oppression of its own people and the autonomous movements developing within Yemen seeking change. Whereas with a terrorist attack (or attempted, rather), and the convenient link to al-Qaeda, which suddenly was reported to be heavily represented in Yemen, Americans see their involvement in Yemen as a war against al-Qaeda, and a necessary one at that.
Two days after the “Underwear Bomber” incident took place, the New York Times reported that, “in the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen.” In 2008, “the Central Intelligence Agency sent several of its top field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country,” and simultaneously, “some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics.” Further:
It was even reported that the US had been providing both intelligence and “fire power” to Yemen in its air strikes against “suspected al-Qaeda targets” throughout December, prior to the “Underwear Bomber.” The New York Times did its part to propagandize the al-Qaeda issue by stating that, “al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has rapidly evolved into an expanding and ambitious regional terrorist network thanks in part to a weakened, impoverished and distracted Yemeni government.” Naturally, the British were not far behind in supporting an imperialist campaign to crush indigenous movements for autonomy, directed against western-supported dictators. After all, the British have been doing this for centuries. Roughly one week following the attempted Detroit plane bomber story broke, it was reported that the UK sent counter-terrorist forces to Yemen, where they will train the Yemeni military “and will assist in planning operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” The British media referred to Yemen as “the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden,” and had revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that:
There further seems to be an effort to not only use al-Qaeda to advance US interests in the region, but also to draw a link to Iran, so as to further demonize Iran and even draw it into a regional war.
Pushing for a Proxy War With Iran
Government officials in Yemen had been declaring that the greatest threat to Yemen’s security comes not from al-Qaeda, but Iran, as they blame Iran “for fermenting the Shia rebellion,” and the chairman of Yemen’s national security agency stated that, “there are indeed signs, proof of Iranian interference.” While these allegations are made without any proof, “Western diplomats claim it is probable that Iran is providing money or materiel to the group, as it has to Hizbollah in Lebanon.”
In November of 2009, when Saudi Arabia had stepped up its military campaign in Yemen, the New York Times reported that, “the border skirmish could lead to the realization of Saudi Arabia’s worst fear: a proxy conflict with its archrival, Iran, on its doorstep.” Quoting a Yemeni professor as saying that the Iran link to the Houthis was “a myth,” the Saudi assault against the Shi’a group could provoke Iran to “turn myth into reality”:
However, even as the New York Times acknowledged, the idea that the Houthis are more religiously aligned to Iran than the Arab Gulf nations is a misnomer, as the Houthi religion of Zaydism “is doctrinally closer to Sunnism than to mainstream Shiism.” However, facts take a back seat to war propaganda.
On December 18, 2009, roughly one week before the “Underwear Bomber,” Time Magazine ran an article in which they reported on the claims of Yemen and Saudi Arabia that the Houthis “are receiving their funding, weapons and training from Iran in a bid to destabilize the region.” While acknowledging that there is no evidence of Iranian involvement, the Time article was entitled, “Yemen’s Hidden War: Is Iran Causing Trouble?” and the last sentence in the article wrote, “As for Iran — the only party that doesn’t seem to have any real involvement just yet — the time may soon be ripe to jump in.” The Washington Post carried an article entitled, “Yemen denounces Iran’s ‘interference’,” yet only in the final paragraph of the article did they report, “Yemen has accused Iran of funneling arms and providing financial backing to the rebels, but the Yemeni government has not provided evidence to support the assertions. The rebels have insisted that they receive no support from Iran or any other foreign powers.”
Saudi and Yemeni media and government propaganda presented a view that Iran was extensively involved in the internal conflict in Yemen. Yemen had seized an Iranian ship which it claimed was transporting weapons to Houthi rebels, while Saudi papers reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps was training the Houthi rebels. Another Saudi media outlet “reported that a dozen Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon were killed during battles in October,” and Saudi Arabia placed blame for the conflict on Iran, saying that “the insurgents are working for Tehran and [are] wanting to take their front to the Saudi border.”
While there has been no actual evidence of Iranian involvement put forward, the situation could become a self-fulfilling prophecy of the Saudis and Yemenis, in the sense that the more they accuse Iran of involvement, the more they demonize and publicly lambaste Iran, the more likely it is that Iran will be drawn into the conflict. If they are already the target of a campaign aimed at blaming their alleged involvement for creating the crisis, what do they have to lose from entering the conflict? Thus, Yemen could “possibly become a battleground for a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.” Regardless of whether or not the Iranians are or will be physically involved in the conflict, it has resulted in a war of rhetoric between both Saudi Arabia and Iran, further inflaming tensions between the two nations.
In January of 2010, General David Petraeus, commander of US Forces in the Middle East, said that, “the domestic conflict in Yemen could become a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.” He explained that, “it is not a proxy war now, but has the potential to become one, and there may already have been some movement in that direction.”
There was even a pathetic attempt on the part of the Washington Times to link Iran to al-Qaeda. Obviously, the Washington Times seemed to be blithely unaware of the fact that Iran is a Shi’a dominated state, which is religiously and ideologically opposed to al-Qaeda, which practices a strict Wahhabist Sunni brand of Islam, as propagated and practiced by Saudi Arabia, a major regional antagonist of Iran’s. To claim that there would be a link between Iran and al-Qaeda is simply to proclaim one’s own ignorance. No wonder then, that Senator John McCain, while on the campaign trail for President in 2008, so often ‘proclaimed his ignorance’ by several times making the claim that Iran was supporting al-Qaeda.
Could the United States be seeking to foment a wider war in the region? Could the civil war in Yemen be expanded into a proxy-war against Iran? Well, the United States (with the participation of several other NATO partners) fueled the proxy war in the last civil war, where the target was Nasserist Egypt. Could the US simply be employing the same strategy today as they were then, with simply a change of target? To understand this answer, we must look to the direct role played by the United States in the Yemeni civil war.
America Wages War on Yemen
Over a week prior to the “underwear bomber” fiasco, on December 16, 2009, the United States reportedly “perpetrated an appalling massacre against citizens in the north of Yemen as it launched air raids on various populated areas, markets, refugee camps and villages along with Saudi warplane,” according to the Houthi fighters. Over 120 people were reported to have been killed in the US bombing. The Houthi rebels have even reported that U.S. fighter jets “have launched 28 attacks on the northwestern province of Sa’ada.”
On December 21, 2009, days before the “underwear bomber” pretext, ABC news reported that the US had begun launching cruise missile attacks in Yemen under the authorization of President Obama, and the French media reported on one such strike having massacred “49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women.” While the air strikes were reportedly undertaken to target al-Qaeda in Yemen, they took place in the south near where some of the leaders of the secessionist movement were reportedly living. These raids had been increasingly taking place, and as the New York Times reported, “the United States provided firepower, intelligence and other support to the government of Yemen as it carried out raids.”
Over 2009, the Pentagon supplied the Yemeni military with $70 million, effectively subsidizing their military (as they do with a plethora of nations worldwide, most notably Colombia, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia), in order for Yemen’s military to be more able to crush the secessionist uprising in the South, the rebels in the North, and that pesky al-Qaeda which rears its head in any nation America seeks to conduct military operations in. As Newsweek reported in late December of 2009:
In other words, as the US brought in key Pakistani and Saudi assets (who themselves make up both the financial and operational arms of al-Qaeda), al-Qaeda militants began to emerge and launch strikes against Yemen. Suddenly, then, a pretext for US military involvement in the nation is delivered in the guise of fighting the “War on Terror.” Just as during the Cold War, the threat of ‘Communism’ was used to rally support for suppressing and waging war against national liberation movements all across the world, so now these movements are suppressed and waged war against under the guise of “fighting terror.” An odd ‘irony’ of history, then, that in order to “fight terror,” the West simply spreads it.
On December 29th, 2009, the Australian reported that, “the Americans have quietly opened a third, largely covert front against the al-Qa’ida terror network in Yemen, to combat a new generation of militants keen on transforming the country into a launching pad for jihad against the US, its Arab allies and Israel.” Besides the blatant propagandizing in the opening sentence, the first part reveals the fact of a new ‘secret war’ that America is waging. The article explained that a year previous, “CIA sent many of its top field operatives with counter-terrorism experience to the country, while some of the most secretive US special operations commandos began training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics.”
As US Senator Joe Lieberman proclaimed, “Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act pre-emptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.” Barbara Bodine, the former US Ambassador to Yemen, said that, “I think it would be a major mistake to turn this into a third front, if Iraq and Afghanistan are somehow front number one and number two.” She explained, “If we try to deal with this as an American security problem and dealt with by American military, we risk exacerbating the problem.” She astutely observed the nature of occupational forces when she warned, “If we go in and make this our war … it is suddenly going to become a war against us and we will lose it.”
The United States took it upon itself to “press” the Yemeni government – a hard-line oppressive dictatorship – to “toughen its approach.” In February of 2010, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates approved “more than doubling U.S. funding to train and equip Yemeni security forces to combat al Qaeda” at a figure of $150 million, up from $67 million the previous year. However, “the sum does not include covert U.S. assistance for Yemen, which has quietly increased in recent months.” U.S. CIA Director Leon Panetta, however, raised doubts as to whether Washington can count on Yemen in the long-term to fight al-Qaeda. Covertly, the United States had increased ‘assistance’ to Yemen through U.S. Special Forces, the CIA and the National Security Agency, “sharing satellite and surveillance imagery, intercepted communications and other sensitive information to help Yemen pinpoint strikes against al Qaeda targets,” or at least what are said to be al-Qaeda targets, but usually end up as civilian casualties.
In April of 2010, it was announced that the Pentagon had implemented plans to “boost U.S. military assistance to Yemen’s special operations forces to lead an offensive targeting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” AQAP, providing roughly $34 million in “tactical assistance” to Yemen’s special forces. A further $38 million will provide Yemen with military transport aircraft.
As the United States has dramatically increased CIA drone attacks in Pakistan, killing thousands of innocent civilians, in May of 2010, the United States announced that it had deployed drones to Yemen to target al-Qaeda. In June of 2010, it was leaked that the U.S. “secret war” has expanded globally, as “Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60” at the beginning of 2009. As the Washington Post reported:
The British are also involved in supporting the conflict in Yemen. In July of 2010, the head of Yemen’s Special Forces met with a British military delegation, in which “aspects of bilateral military cooperation between Yemen and the UK were discussed in addition to training, and ways to benefit from British military expertise to bolster the military and security capabilities of Yemen’s armed forces.”
In May of 2010, an air strike took place, which was reported to have killed al-Qaeda militants, in “a secret mission by the U.S. military.” However, “the strike, it turned out, had also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk al-Qaida members into giving up their fight.” As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, “that would be the equivalent of some foreign military force killing the lieutenant governor of an American state in an air strike.” Further, the “U.S. attacks have had no apparent impact on al-Qaida or on anyone else in Yemen, apart from its civilian population who have taken casualties in badly targeted attacks.” Commenting on the fact that US Special Forces operations in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Yemen, the reporter asks some important questions:
The questions are surprising to see being asked in the American media, as the rest of the corporate controlled media outlets simply report (without questioning) the government line, and explain that the U.S. has decided to expand the drone attacks in Yemen, which “would likely be modeled after the CIA’s covert drone campaign in Pakistan,” and that the Obama “administration will mount a more intense targeted killing program in Yemen,” without questioning who they are killing. As Glenn Greenwald of Salon Magazine pointed out:
In September of 2010, it was reported that the Pentagon was considering expanding Yemen’s military ‘assistance’ to $1.2 billion over the next five years, but don’t worry, “the US is also providing significant development and humanitarian assistance” to Yemen.
The ‘Cleansing’ of a Liberation Movement
In September 2010, while the Obama administration’s top counter-terrorism official, John Brennan, was in Yemen for talks with President Saleh, Yemeni security forces “laid siege” to a town in the South, Hawta, “where several dozen Qaeda militants were said to be holed up,” which led to thousands of civilians being forced to flee, while the military, as the New York Times reported, “was intermittently shelling the town with tanks and artillery and firing on the jihadists from attack helicopters.” As the article explained:
In other words, the Yemeni government, under intense pressure and support from the United States, is laying siege to a town in the South – in the midst of a massive and growing secessionist movement – which represents the greatest threat to the stability of the staunch U.S.-ally, and which also happens to be home to natural gas reserves. But we are told that the siege is a fight against ‘al-Qaeda’. Meanwhile, civilians were being killed, and one fleeing family said that, “the troops did not spare any one from their fire over the past two days.” The reality of what is going on in the village is “hard to know,” as NPR points out, “because the government is banning any independent observers from going in there.” As a reporter with NPR explained:
Yemen’s government is not new to media censorship and obfuscation, as there have been “dozens of extralegal abductions, politicised trials, illegal confiscations, writing bans, and censorship over the years. What’s particularly alarming is a recent legislative push to erect an elaborate legal facade to obscure repressive tactics.” The government is also attempting to pass “a repressive bill designed to regulate television, radio and online media. If passed, these changes would significantly reduce an already narrow margin for free expression.” The government has even arrested, tortured and tried critical journalists as “supporting al-Qaeda” with absolutely no evidence.
The “Friends” of Yemen: ‘Democratic Imperialism’ and NGOs as Modern Missionaries
In January of 2010, a group of nations and organizations met in London to form the “Friends of Yemen,” which includes the United States, U.K., 20 other countries, as well as the UN, EU, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League, World Bank and IMF. The purpose of the group was to coordinate foreign aid to Yemen, so that it coincides with military, economic and civil assistance aid programs, including forcing Yemen to cooperate with the conditions set by the IMF in order to receive foreign aid. The overall aid would be used to combat what the ‘Friends’ refer to as “appalling indicators,” which include “a growing population, dwindling oil reserves, water shortages and political instability as the government battles Houthi insurgents in the north and secessionists in the south.”
In September of 2010, the Friends of Yemen met in New York to organize a plan for Yemen’s foreign aid. As part of the package, Yemen has been forced to accept an IMF plan to increase taxes by 10% and to eliminate fuel subsidies. At the meeting in New York, the UN reported that there are “168,000 Somali refugees in Yemen, as well as 304,000 Yemeni civilians who continue to be displaced by the seven-month conflict between government forces and Houthis rebels which ended with a shaky truce in February.” The ‘Friends’ further encouraged “progress in the negotiations towards Yemen’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, which they hoped would be concluded by the end of 2010,” and while acknowledging that the proposed economic reforms would have an “adverse impact on the poor,” the Friends thus “committed to provide additional support for social protection,” as well as supporting the formation of national multi-party elections.
At the ‘Friends’ meeting, the United States vowed to commit $67 million for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), “to work in partnership with communities to directly address local needs. This includes health, education, and water projects; mobile health and veterinary clinics; and support for increasing the capacity of local governments to deliver essential services.” Further plans include funneling millions of dollars through NGOs aimed at providing social services and ‘poverty alleviation’ programs.
While sounding very pleasant and helpful, we must place the concept of promoting ‘democratization’ and the spread of NGOs in their proper geopolitical context. The fact that NGOs, ‘democratization’, economic programs under the direction of the IMF, and military assistance from the West are taking place at the same time is very significant, and not as contradictory as it might seem.
In Africa, the IMF and World Bank’s “Structural Adjustment Programs” that deconstructed society to service illegitimate debts to Western banks had the effect of spreading poverty and effectively induced “social genocide.” The national leaders became very rich, creating a tiny elite which was subservient to Western imperial interests. Western nations would arm the nation and use it as a proxy force in the region when necessary or help it in the oppression of its own people, in order to ensure the stability of their interests. The people of these various nations would protest, demonstrate, riot and rebel, so much so that between 1976 and 1992, there were 146 protests against IMF ‘austerity measures’ in 39 countries around the world. Governments, in response, would generally resort to violence to suppress these demonstrations, with “strikes declared illegal, universities were closed, and trade unions, student organizations, popular organizations and political parties also became the target of repressive legislation or actions.” This essentially created a “crisis of legitimacy,” where the economic ‘reforms’ were seen as destructive, where the political process was seen as corrupt, where the state oppressed and foreigners profited, while the people suffered. It didn’t help the situation that it was often authoritarian governments introducing these economic reforms.
In 1989, the World Bank concluded that the reason for the failure of ‘structural adjustment’ across Africa was not due to the destructive poverty-inducing nature of the reforms, but was do to the corrupt governments implementing them. Thus, it was a “crisis of governance.” The solution, in this sense, was to promote ‘democratization’, as in, a neoliberal concept of democracy. Africa had been experiencing a growth of democratic movements around the continent during the time of Structural Adjustment, which led the IFIs (International Financial Institutions) and Western nations to conclude that democratization and economic liberalization go hand-in-hand. In short, Structural Adjustment is ‘inherently’ democratic. The failure of this analysis was quite obvious: the pro-democracy movements that had arisen across Africa “reflect, to a significant extent, a popular reaction against the socially painful effects of structural adjustment.”
The ‘democratization’ movement is largely an effort to maintain ‘stability’ in the hegemony of the IMF/World Bank and Western interests over Africa and other regions, as instead of rotating from one coup to another, there is a parliamentary democracy where you go from one party to another (who all accept the dominance of the West and the ‘advice’ of the IFIs), which produces a more ‘stable’ environment for Western interests, as it also has the effect of pacifying popular opposition under the guise of promoting democratic accountability. However, these are not true democracies (nor are those in the West), where you simply vote between competing factions of elites who are collectively co-opted by the same international financial elites. They impose the institutions of democracy (legislatures, political parties, judiciaries) “without combining political democracy and social reform.” Thus, these democracies are essentially stillborn (dead before they even exited), as “formal democracy without social reform increases economic inequality and thereby intensifies unequal distribution of power in society.” As Noam Chomsky has argued, “the guardians of world order have sought to establish democracy in one sense of the term, while blocking it in a different sense.” He argued that “power holders use democracy as justification for their power and as an ideological instrument for keeping the public quiescent and out of decision-making processes.”
Alison Ayers analyzes ‘democratization’ as a multi-faceted approach in Africa, entailing: multiparty elections, constitutionalism, the rule of law, a “particular conception of human rights,” ‘good governance’, and an “independent civil society.” Multiparty elections comprise an occasional election in which people choose between competing factions of elites, while constitutionalism implies establishing a “set of rules securing property rights, governing civil and commercial behaviour, and limiting the power of the state.” In promoting ‘multiparty systems’, “the dominant agents of the democratization project have established a veritable ‘elections industry’ comprising voter and civic education campaigns, party-building activities, and electoral assistance and monitoring.” The “engineering of civil society” has taken on an explicitly neo-liberal form, in which it focuses on the “liberation of civil society” from the state, and of which NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have come to play a decisive role. Western aid agencies heavily finance international and local NGOs (thus often negating the notion that they are non-governmental), with the World Bank exponentially increasing its support of NGOs (often through governments).
In fact, NGOs have come to play a pivotal role in the modern imperial project, as they have been co-opted into a program of “welfare provision, a social initiative that could be more accurately described as a programme of social control.” The NGOs were used to respond to the social upheaval brought about by the age of ‘Structural Adjustment’, to provide a degree of social services that were formerly provided by the state. Thus, as the spread of Structural Adjustment increased throughout Africa, so too did the spread of Western NGOs. Western nations heavily support these supposed non-governmental organizations, with the U.S. transferring nearly 40 percent of its aid through NGOs. They have become an essential aspect of the ‘development’ agenda in Africa, itself based upon a colonial mindset. Whereas in the formal colonial period at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Africans were considered “uncivilized,” and so colonialism in Africa was not about oppression and economic exploitation, but was rather a ‘civilizing mission.’ Today, Africa is not ‘uncivilized’ but rather, ‘undeveloped’, and so, just as the missionaries of the formal colonial period played a role in ‘civilizing’ Africa – in the vision of the West (akin to how God created man in ‘his own image’) – the NGOs of the new imperial era have come to Africa in a ‘developing mission’. The ‘development’ paradigm had the effect of sterilizing popular opposition, as it framed the problem in Africa not as one of ‘emancipation’ (from colonial and oppressive powers), but as a problem of ‘poverty’ and ‘basic needs’. The role of NGOs in ‘development’:
There are further concerns to take into account in regards to ‘democratization’ and ‘aid’ through NGOs, not simply in the establishment of a system of lobotomizing resistance – preventing emancipation – and promoting the legitimization of the status quo powers (by treating the symptoms of poverty and oppression rather than the causes), but NGOs and ‘democratization’ often play a very covert role in imperialism, particularly through USAID (United States Agency for International Development) as well as a host of so-called Non-Governmental Organizations (which happen to be funded by the government), such as the National Endowment for Democracy. These organizations are effectively able to organize opposition to a national ruler, create a parallel media system, provide activist training and funding to covertly orchestrate a “soft power” coup, in which it is seen as a “democratic revolution” or a “peaceful revolution,” often following contested elections. This is done to create the illusion that these are popular people’s movements elevating leaders of “change”, but which simply are leaders that are subservient to Western imperial interests. Often, the CIA itself operates through such agencies covertly.
In South Vietnam for example, USAID provided cover for the CIA so extensively, “that the two became almost synonymous.” In the 1980s, during the largest CIA covert operation in history, funding the Afghan Mujahideen to fight the Soviet Union, the CIA and USAID worked very closely, coordinating their efforts, as “the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.” The textbooks, made in America at the University of Nebraska with tens of millions of dollars of financing from USAID, taught children “to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines,” and while USAID dropped funding for the program in 1994, the books continued in circulation, even after the Taliban came to power in 1996, and “private humanitarian groups paid for continued re-printings during the Taliban years. Today, the books remain widely available in schools and shops.” The entire program was coordinated with the CIA.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is another particularly covert imperial force, a NGO that gets all it’s funding from the US government, and about which U.S. Congressman Ron Paul explained eloquently:
The NED and a host of other NGOs (backed by government funding), as well as private foundations, have implemented a “soft power” approach to implementing “democratic regime change” in countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, often aimed at replacing former Western puppet leaders with new puppet leaders to better promote imperial interests in the nations where they take place. This has occurred in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and many other countries. An effort was undertaken to impose a similar “democratic regime change” with the CIA funneling $400 million for implementing this “soft power” strategy in Iran, resulting in the Iranian elections protests in the summer of 2009. While the strategy failed in its aims of “regime change” it mounted an incredibly successful international propaganda campaign, so much so that the world was lashing out against Iran for what the West claimed were fraudulent elections (but turned out to be free and fair elections), and at the same time, the Western media failed to cover a successful military coup in Honduras, in which the democratically elected President was kidnapped and sent to a foreign country, while the subsequent dictatorship brutally repressed people’s protests and demonstrations, with the new regime all the while being supported by the United States.
From this we can see that the “Friends of Yemen” promoting democratization and “good governance” in Yemen serves Western imperial ambitions. In the very least, it is designed to stifle and ultimately lobotomize organic, indigenous liberation, self-determination, and autonomy movements, while the same Western nations militarily arm and support the oppressive government in its repression of these people. It seems that for the time being, America has chosen to support the current Yemeni dictatorship, propping it up to crush its own people and their struggles for liberation. Simultaneously, America and the West are preparing themselves for a long-term strategy of “democratization,” in which they may have to replace Saleh and the current regime with a new client regime to secure American interests and hegemony in the region.
In this context we may view the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a program of the U.S. State Department aimed at supporting “reforms” in the Middle East and North Africa, in which they support international and local NGOs, educational institutions, local governments and private businesses to implement projects designed to directly engage and invest in the people of the region. MEPI has completed roughly 28 programs in Yemen alone, with roughly seven grants ongoing, aimed at organizing journalists, ‘human rights’ activists, improving the Parliamentary process, improving political participation, promoting women’s ‘empowerment’, and “raising democratic awareness.”
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is also active in Yemen, funding and running programs aimed at promoting “civic and human rights awareness,” facilitating “the free flow of independent news information to Yemenis on issues related to social, political, and economic growth of the country and to build the capacity of journalists to effectively monitor and report on human rights issues,” as well as identifying “the political needs and concerns of women, and to push political parties to adopt women’s issues in their party platforms.” One program of the NED includes nearly $200,000 of funding for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). According to their website, CIPE “strengthens democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform. CIPE is one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy,” and is also an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The $184,000 grant to CIPE from the NED is to “facilitate access to information and analysis about economic reform,” which will include producing “thirty 20-30 minute radio programs on economic reform in Yemen and sponsor economic reform pages in two independent newspapers,” in order to “empower Yemenis to participate in the democratic and economic reform process.” However, considering the group promotes “private enterprise” and is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the “information and analysis” about economic reform is more likely to be misinformation and propaganda. In total, the NED is operating roughly 13 programs in Yemen at the moment.
USAID’s programs in Yemen aim at taking the “missionary position” in addressing some of the symptoms of conflict, deprivation, disenfranchisement, and oppression, without allowing the people to seek emancipation and liberation. These programs includes a “new three-year Responsive Governance Project [which] aims to strengthen government institutions, support reforms including decentralization, and improve the delivery of public services while encouraging more citizen participation in the political process,” as well as “the Community Livelihoods Project that is focusing on improving agriculture and increasing employment opportunities in highly vulnerable communities, especially for youth.” Other programs aim at promoting education, health care, and ‘peace and security.’
So, while the U.S. government uses the IMF to wreck the economy of Yemen, spreading poverty and dismantling health care, social services and education; the U.S. simultaneously funds and arms the Yemeni dictatorship to repress the people rising up against their economic, social and political conditions; yet, again simultaneously, the United States – through USAID and various other “democratization” programs – aims to alleviate some of the social repercussions to maintain stability of their interests. Imperialism has an economic facet (the IMF), a political facet (military-intelligence support), and a social facet (NGOs and ‘democratization’).
Thus we also see the significance in that while the CIA expands its operations in Yemen (in support of the dictatorship), the current CIA Director holds doubts about “whether Washington can count on Yemen in the long-term to fight al Qaeda, citing internal unrest that threatens to destabilize the government and break up the country, along with growing anti-American sentiment.” This is made all the more interesting to take into account that the CIA Director announced that the CIA will be expanding its use of under-cover assets through a variety of unofficial organizations – such as corporations or other organizations.
War, Empire, and “Perception Management”: Propaganda Creates ‘Cultural Schizophrenia’
So who exactly is the US supporting in Yemen? Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in power since 1978, first ruling North Yemen, and subsequently ruling all of Yemen. Saleh has managed to remain the ruler of a ‘united’ Yemen by “clamping down on the press, concentrating military and economic power in the hands of friends and family and winning elections by suspiciously high margins.” Time Magazine reported that Saleh described ruling Yemen as “dancing on the heads of snakes.” Saleh, however, can hardly act as if he rules a ‘united’ Yemen, when “two-thirds of the country is in the hands of either separatist groups or local tribes.” Further:
The significance of this piece of information, located in the Time article, which was otherwise propagandistic of the “fight against al-Qaeda,” is that it acknowledges that the key to Yemen’s issues today is the legitimacy of the central government’s rule over the people of Yemen. The essential issue is that this is about people’s rights to govern themselves, to not be oppressed, not be murdered, nor economically devoured by international capital and national industrial interests. Our nations and our media call these people “terrorists”; our intelligence agencies sponsor ‘terrorists’ in these nations, who kill these people, and then we use that as an excuse to send in the military to kill more of these people. We support an illegitimate government, an oppressive and brutal dictator who vowed to crack down with an “iron fist” in August of 2009. His subsequent “iron fist” created “a humanitarian tragedy,” where by September over 25,000 people had become refugees, by October 2009, over 55,000 people fled their homes due to the conflict. These are the people the West is helping the Yemeni dictator kill. And not only him, but Saudi Arabia is helping, as are Pakistan and Jordan, three other nations subservient to American interests, and whose militaries are ‘American made’. Saudi Arabia especially, as it seeks to prevent the spread of the Shi’a resistance, which to the illegitimate state of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, combined with several other resistant and oppressed groups, could create the political, economic and social conditions for revolution. No wonder then, that the United States is planning to undertake the largest arms deal in American history with Saudi Arabia, valued at $60 billion, which “is aimed at establishing air superiority over rival Iran while also addressing weaknesses bared in border fighting with Yemeni rebels.”
A state seeks only its own survival and growth in power; that is the nature of all states. This is why nation-states are naturally inclined to forgo competition for power with the economic sphere, and simply merge interests and elite social structures. It is in their interest for both survival and growth in power.
Our oppressive and illegitimate nation-states seek to aid in the oppression of other peoples in other places, and increasingly so at home. However, it is through the media that this massive collective wave of ignorance and ‘cultural schizophrenia’ takes place. This is why most in the west see the world, blissfully unaware of its realities. The media leads the people through that old wardrobe into the land of Narnia: the media’s ‘perception management’ of the world is nothing but a ‘fantasy’. A good example of this ‘fantasy world’ is located in a Time Magazine article. It wrote:
The attack, in reality, killed 52 people, more than half of them being women and children, in which a US missile armed with cluster ammunition was used, with both the Yemeni and American governments claiming the target was an al-Qaeda training camp. The cruise missile was designed to be fired from a warship or submarine, and was filled with “cluster munitions which spray steel fragments for 150 meters along with burning zirconium for igniting buildings.” However, “the Yemeni government does not possess cruise missiles, which are part of the arsenal of US Navy vessels patrolling off the Horn of Africa and in the Arabian Sea.” The missiles were “launched on direct presidential orders.”
Our governments kill these people and call them “militants” and “terrorists,” our media repeat the accusation with no dissent. War is like no other situation that can lead to the growth of the state. War is the ultimate organizing principle in society, for with war powers, a nation can build, destroy, grow, oppress, control, expand, consume, corrupt and continue. As this power grows, so too does the power of all the other various major spheres of influence over humanity, such as the media and the academics. We can add to that the scientific and technological elite, who help to create the conditions, understanding, technology, and means of expanding power and controlling the masses so that today we have unmanned aerial vehicles called “Predator Drones” flying over Yemen killing innocent civilians, while the drones are operated from American military bases in Florida. America has been doing the exact same thing in Pakistan at a much more significant rate and for a much longer period of time (and most rapidly accelerated under the Obama administration of ‘change’).
This ‘invisible empire’ is managed through ‘perception management’ – propaganda – which infects all spheres of social power structures, but which is arguably most prominent and powerful in the media. This creates among western citizens, and most particularly among Americans, a type of ‘cultural schizophrenia’ in which the ‘mind of the nation’ (how the majority of people view their nation and their world) is so contrary to the reality of that nation and the world around it, that it creates a nation or a people ‘of two minds’, holding both the fantasy world of those who encompass it, and the hard-bitten reality of global power structures and systems.
This ‘cultural schizophrenia’ is most emblematic in the United States, where the majority of those within it view it as a force for good in the world, spreading freedom, democracy and ‘free markets’ around the world; while the reality is so different, that the majority of the rest of the world view the United States as a force for spreading fear, war, economic exploitation and power. This is the view, especially, of those to whom the United States has attempted to spread “freedom and democracy.”
This has slightly changed in the context of the “war on terror”, which has allowed for flowery rhetoric about democratic rights and liberty to subside beside the urgency of “fighting terror.” Around the world, people were rejecting the “liberal democratic” project in replacing the dictatorships of the 70s – 90s with [neo]liberal democratic governments, which were democratic only so much as they created political powers and held usually corrupt elections in which various power factions would compete for the authority to plunder the nation in cooperation with international corporations, financial institutions and western governments. Democracy in the ‘Third World’ had essentially proven itself a farce, and people’s movements were increasing. The “war on terror” has subsequently fiercely mobilized the American military (and its NATO cohorts), vastly increased its scope, operations, abilities and entanglements; and created the political conditions for the nation to rapidly accelerate the use of its military apparatus around the world, something which the American people would not support without what is perceived to be a good reason. After all, they will largely be the ones forced to fight and partake in these wars.
And so we come back to Yemen. As Martin Luther King said in 1967, “We are on the wrong side of a world revolution.”
 Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City:
 Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda. The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”, Global Research, 5 September 2010:
 James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, eds., Rethinking Arab Nationalism in the Arab Middle East. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), page 30
 Ibid, page 31.
 William L Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Westview Press, 2004), page 231
 Ibid, pages 231-232
 Zachary Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), page 116
 James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, Op Cit, page 31
 William L. Cleveland, op cit, pages 310-311
 Ibid, page 311.
 Ibid, page 312.
 James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, op cit, page 31.
 William L. Cleveland, op cit, page 315
 Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Owl Books, 2005), pages 140-141
 Ibid, page 142.
 James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, op cit, page 32.
 William L Cleveland, op cit, page 455.
 Ibid, pages 455-456.
 James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, op cit, page 40.
 Ibid, page 39.
 Ibid, page 32.
 Ibid, page 38.
 Ibid, page 39.
 Ibid, page 32.
 Profile: Yemen’s Houthi fighters, Al Jazeera, August 12, 2009:
 Ploughshares, Armed Conflicts Report: Yemen, January 2009:
 Deadly blast strikes Yemen mosque, BBC, May 2, 2008:
 Ploughshares, Armed Conflicts Report: Yemen, January 2009:
 Mohammed Jamjoom, Yemen lays out truce terms to rebel fighters, CNN, August 13, 2009:
 Yemen targets northern fighters, Al-Jazeera, August 12, 2009:
 Yemen denies warplane shot down, Al-Jazeera, October 2, 2009:
 Yemen rebels ‘seize Saudi area’, BBC, November 4, 2009:
 Saudis still bombing us, Yemen rebels say, MSNBC, November 7, 2009:
 Mohammed Al-Amrani, Moroccan, Jordanian Soldiers Fight along Saudi Troops, Yemen Gazette, December 5, 2009:
 ESA, Earth from Space: The Gulf of Aden – the gateway to Persian oil. European Space Agency: April 13, 2006:
 Anthony Lake and Christine Todd Whitman, More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa. The Council on Foreign Relations, 2005: page 32
 Ibid, page 33.
 Ibid, page 48.
 Ibid, page 81.
 David Leigh and David Pallister, Revealed: the new scramble for Africa. The Guardian: June 1, 2005:
 Emily Wax and Karen DeYoung, U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia. The Washington Post: May 17, 2006:
 David Axe, U.S. Losing ‘Secret’ War in Somalia. Wired, December 30, 2008:
 Scott Johnson, The Next Battlefront. Newsweek: September 17, 2007:
 Johann Hari, You are being lied to about pirates. The Independent, January 5, 2009:
 Kelly McEvers, In Anti-Piracy Fight, Yemen May Be Part Of Problem. NPR, May 8, 2009:
 ROBERT F. WORTH, Freed by the U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief. The New York Times: January 22, 2009:
 ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER, Some in Qaeda Leave Pakistan for Somalia and Yemen. The New York Times, June 11, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/world/12terror.html
 Mai Yamani, Yemen, haven for jihadis. The Guardian, May 25, 2009:
 Saudi, al-Qaeda support Yemen crackdown on Shias, Press TV, August 29, 2009:
 Yemeni gov,deal with al-Qaeda to crush Shia fighters, Shebastan News Agency, October 28, 2009:
 Josh Meyer, Saudis faulted for funding terror. The Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2008:
 ERIC LICHTBLAU, Documents Back Saudi Link to Extremists. The New York Times: June 23, 2009:
 Daniel Schwartz, Al-Qaeda is almost the least of Yemen’s problems, CBC News, 29 January 2010:
 Andrew England, Gunmen attack Yemen security office, The Financial Times, 14 July 2010:
 Stephen Day, The Political Challenge of Yemen’s Southern Movement, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2010: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=40411
 ‘The Southern Movement has nothing to do with al Qaeda’, France24, 3 August 2010:
 Human Rights Watch alert over Yemen ‘climate of fear’, BBC News, 15 December 2009:
 Robert F. Worth, In Yemen’s South, Protests Could Cause More Instability, The New York Times, 27 February 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/world/middleeast/28yemen.html
 Eileen Sullivan, US officials knew name of terror suspect who tried to blow up airliner in Detroit. AP, December 26, 2009:
 David Leppard and Dan McDougall, MI5 knew of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s UK extremist links. The Times, 3 January 2010: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6973954.ece
 Father of Terror Suspect Reportedly Warned U.S. About Son. Fox News, December 26, 2009:
 Current TV, Terror suspect kept visa to avoid tipping off larger investigation. The Detroit News, February 3, 2010:
 Karen DeYoung and Michael Leahy, Uninvestigated terrorism warning about Detroit suspect called not unusual. The Washington Post, December 28, 2009: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/27/AR2009122700279.html; ERIC LIPTON and SCOTT SHANE, Questions on Why Suspect Wasn’t Stopped. The New York Times, December 27, 2009:
 Paul Egan, Atty. Says He Saw Man Try to Help Nigerian on Flight Without a Passport. The Detroit News, December 29, 2009:
 MICHAEL R. GORDON and JAMES DAO, U.S. Broadens Terror Fight, Readying Troops for Yemen. The New York Times, March 2, 2002: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/02/world/nation-challenged-military-us-broadens-terror-fight-readying-troops-for-yemen.html
 Duncan Campbell and Brian Whitaker, US elite force gets ready for Yemen raid. The Guardian, 19 September 2002: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/sep/19/duncancampbell.brianwhitaker
 Dana Priest, U.S. Citizen Among Those Killed In Yemen Predator Missile Strike. The Washington Post, November 8, 2002:
 Richard Spencer, US risks being sucked into Yemen civil war. The Telegraph, 10 September 2009:
 Richard Spencer, US risks being sucked into Yemen civil war. The Telegraph, 10 September 2009:
 Gunnery Sgt. Christian Harding, Yemen military observes Marine training. United States Central Command, 3 November 2009:
 Damien McElroy, US special forces train Yemen army as Arab state becomes al-Qaeda ‘reserve base’. The Telegraph, 13 December 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6803120/US-special-forces-train-Yemen-army-as-Arab-state-becomes-al-Qaeda-reserve-base.html
 ERIC SCHMITT and ROBERT F. WORTH, U.S. Widens Terror War to Yemen, a Qaeda Bastion. The New York Times, 27 December 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/world/middleeast/28yemen.html?_r=1
 Steven Erlanger, Yemen’s Chaos Aids the Evolution of a Qaeda Cell. The New York Times, 2 January 2010:
 Sean Rayment, et. al., Detroit terror attack: Britain sends counter-terrorist forces to Yemen. The Telegraph, 3 January 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6924502/Detroit-terror-attack-Britain-sends-counter-terrorist-forces-to-Yemen.html
 Damien McElroy, US special forces train Yemen army as Arab state becomes al-Qaeda ‘reserve base’. The Telegraph, 13 December 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6803120/US-special-forces-train-Yemen-army-as-Arab-state-becomes-al-Qaeda-reserve-base.html
 Robert F. Worth, Saudis’ Efforts to Swat Rebels From Yemen Risk Inflaming Larger Conflict. The New York Times, 12 November 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/world/middleeast/13saudi.html
 Abigail Hauslohner, Yemen’s Hidden War: Is Iran Causing Trouble? Time Magazine, 18 December 2009:
 Sudarsan Raghavan, Yemen denounces Iran’s ‘interference’. The Washington Post, 12 November 2009:
 Olivier Guitta, Iran and Saudi Arabia drawn to Yemen. Asia Times Online, 11 November 2009:
 Meris Lutz, YEMEN: Raging insurgency exacerbates tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Los Angeles Times Blog, 13 November 2009: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2009/11/yemen-internal-fighting-threatens-to-descend-into-regional-conflict.html
 Al Pessin, US General Says Yemen Could Become Iran-Saudi Proxy War. VoA, 22 January 2010:
 EDITORIAL: Iran’s al Qaeda connection in Yemen, The Washington Times, 6 January 2010:
 Sam Stein, McCain Repeats Iran-Al Qaeda Gaffe Yet Again. Huffington Post, 19 March 2008:
 Robert Taylor, US bombs Yemen, kills 120, just another day in the life of an empire. The Examiner, 16 December 2009:
 ‘US fighter jets attack Yemeni fighters’, Press TV, 14 December 2009:
 Paul Woodward, US-backed raid killed 49 Yemeni civilians, officials said. The National, 21 December 2009:
 Kevin Peraino, Friends for Now. Newsweek, 29 December 2009:
 Agencies, US fighting covert war against terror in Yemen. The Australian, 29 December 2009:
 Michelle Shephard, Yemen: Terror threat? U.S. ally? Nearly failed state? Toronto Star, 2 January 2010:
 Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, U.S. increases efforts to boost security in Yemen amid increasing terror threat, The Washington post, 20 January 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/19/AR2010011904604.html
 Adam Entous, Gates backs big boost in U.S. military aid to Yemen, 22 February 2010:
 Adam Entous, U.S. gives Yemen key intelligence to strike al Qaeda, Reuters, 27 January 2010:
 Adam Entous, Pentagon to boost Yemen’s special operations forces, Reuters, 20 April 2010:
 Salman Siddiqui, Drone attacks hit all-time high, The Express Tribune, 27 September 2010:
 Con Coughlin and Philip Sherwell, American drones deployed to target Yemeni terrorist, The Telegraph, 2 May 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/7663661/American-drones-deployed-to-target-Yemeni-terrorist.html
 Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, U.S. ‘secret war’ expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role, The Washington Post, 4 June 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/03/AR2010060304965.html
 Mohammed Al-Amrani, Special Forces Commander Meets UK Military Delegation, Yemen Gazette, 10 July 2010:
 SCOTT SHANE, MARK MAZZETTI AND ROBERT F. WORTH, Veil lifts on covert action in Yemen, The New York Times, 14 August 2010: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2012625717_covertwar15.html
 Dan Simpson, The U.S. spreads the misery to Yemen, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 August 2010:
 Glenn Greenwald, An exciting new Muslim country to drone attack, Salon, 25 August 2010:
 AFP, US looks at bolstering funding for Yemeni military, The Jordan Times, 3 September 2010:
 Robert F. Worth, Yemen Military Attacks Town It Says Is Militant Hide-Out, The New York Times, 21 September 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/world/middleeast/22yemen.html
 Yemen civilians killed in ‘al-Qaeda hunt’, Press TV, 21 September 2010:
 Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Steve Inskeep, Civilians Flee From Battle In Southern Yemen, NPR, 24 September 2010:
 Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Yemen’s veneer of legality, The Guardian, 29 September 2010:
 Mark Landler, As Nations Meet, Clinton Urges Yemen to Prove Itself Worthy of Aid, The New York Times, 27 January 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/world/asia/28diplo.html
 Brian Whitaker, Can Yemen’s friends really help? The Guardian, 20 September 2010:
 James Reinl, Friends of Yemen discuss extremist threat, The National, 26 September 2010:
 Ministerial Meeting of Friends of Yemen, Joint statement from the Ministerial Meeting of the Friends of Yemen, British Commonwealth Office, 24 September 2010: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=PressS&id=22916622
 Aaron W. Jost, A Comprehensive Approach to Yemen, The White House Blog, 24 September 2010:
 Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill, “The Missionary Position: NGOs and Development in Africa,” International Affairs, Vol. 78, No. 3, (2002), p. 578
 Ernest Harsch, “Structural Adjustment and Africa’s Democracy Movements,” Africa Today, Vol. 40, No. 4, (1993), p. 14
 Ibid, page 10.
 Ibid, page 12.
 Barry Gills and Joel Rocamora, “Low Intensity Democracy,” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3, (1992), p. 502
 Ibid, page 503.
 Alison J. Ayers, “Demystifying Democratisation: The Global Constitution of (Neo)liberal Polities in Africa,” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2, (2006), p. 323
 Ibid, page 325.
 Ibid, page 326.
 Ibid, page 329-331.
 Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill, op cit, page 579.
 Ibid, page 580.
 Ibid, pages 574-575.
 Ibid, page 568.
 Jeff Stein, CIA chief promises spies ‘new cover’ for secret ops, Washington Post Blog – SpyTalk, 26 April 2010:
 Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway, From U.S., the ABC’s of Jihad, The Washington Post, 23 March 2002:
 Carol Off, Back to school in Afghanistan, CBC, 6 May 2002:
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Creating an “Arc of Crisis”: The Destabilization of the Middle East and Central Asia
The Mumbai Attacks and the “Strategy of Tension”
Global Research, December 7, 2008
The recent attacks in Mumbai, while largely blamed on Pakistan’s state-sponsored militant groups, represent the latest phase in a far more complex and long-term “strategy of tension” in the region; being employed by the Anglo-American-Israeli Axis to ultimately divide and conquer the Middle East and Central Asia. The aim is destabilization of the region, subversion and acquiescence of the region’s countries, and control of its economies, all in the name of preserving the West’s hegemony over the “Arc of Crisis.”
The attacks in India are not an isolated event, unrelated to growing tensions in the region. They are part of a processof unfolding chaos that threatens to engulf an entire region, stretching from the Horn of Africa to India: the “Arc of Crisis,” as it has been known in the past.
The motives and modus operandi of the attackers must be examined and questioned, and before quickly asserting blame to Pakistan, it is necessary to step back and review:
Who benefits? Who had the means? Who had to motive? In whose interest is it to destabilize the region? Ultimately, the roles of the United States, Israel and Great Britain must be submitted to closer scrutiny.
The Mumbai Attacks: 11/26/08
On November 26, 2008, a number of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred across India’s main commercial city of Mumbai, which lasted until November 29. The attacks and three-day siege that ensued left hundreds dead, and roughly 295 others injured. Among the dead were a Briton, five Americans and six Israelis.
Asserting the Blame
The 60-hour siege that engulfed Mumbai was reportedly undertaken by just ten, well-trained “commando killers.” Most blame has fallen on the heels of the group known as Lashkar-e-Taiba.
At first, a previously-unheard of organization, known as the Deccan Mujahideen, took responsibility for the terror attacks when it sent emails to several news outlets a mere six hours after the fighting began. However, much skepticism remained about whether the group actually even exists.
British intelligence then claimed that the attacks had the “hallmarks” of Al-Qaeda as it was undertaken in an effort to target westerners, similar to the 2002 Bali Bombings. British intelligence officials suggested the attacks were in “retaliation” for the recent US air attacks of suspected Al-Qaeda camps in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, and that India was chosen as the target because that is where Al-Qaeda has “sufficient resources to carry out an attack.”
On November 28, India’s foreign minister said the attackers were coordinated “outside the country,” in a veiled reference to Pakistan. India’s Prime Minister also blamed the attacks on militant groups based in Pakistan, which are supported by the Pakistani government.
Then, the focus was put directly on the group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Pakistani-based organization responsible for past attacks in India. American intelligence early on pointed the finger at this group, as well as identifying the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) as its supporter.
The Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT)
It is important to identify what the LeT is and how it has operated historically. The group operates out of the disputed territories between India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir. It has close ties with the Pakistani ISI, and is largely known for its use of suicide attacks. However, aside from its links to the ISI, it is also closely allied with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The LeT is even referred to as the “most visible manifestation” of Al-Qaeda in India. It has branches across much of India, Pakistan, and in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, South East Asia, and the United Kingdom. It primarily gets its funding from Pakistani businessmen, the ISI and Saudi Arabia. The LeT also took part in the Bosnian campaign against the Serbs in the 1990s.
All the above-mentioned connections make the LeT the most desirable outfit to blame for the Mumbai attacks, as its Al-Qaeda connections, international presence and historical precedents of terror attacks set it up as the perfect target. Much like with Al-Qaeda, the LeT’s international scope could serve as a basis for taking a “war against LeT” to the steps of many countries, thus further serving the interests of the Anglo-American “War on Terror.”
Militant Islam and Western Intelligence – The Case of Yugoslavia
The LeT has not operated independently of Pakistani influence and finances. It’s close relationship with the ISI must be viewed in context: the ISI has a close relationship with Western intelligence agencies, primarily those of Great Britain and the United States. The ISI has effectively acted as a conduit for Anglo-American intelligence operations in the region since the late 1970s, when the Afghan Mujahedeen were created in collusion with the CIA. Out of this collusion, lasting throughout the 1980s until the end of the Soviet-Afghan War in 1989, Al-Qaeda was created, as well as a series of other militant Islamic organizations.
It is often stated that the CIA then discontinued its relationship with the ISI, and in turn, that the militant Islamic organizations broke off from their Western intelligence sponsors to declare war against the West. However, the facts do not support this. The ties remained, but the strategy changed. What changed was that in the early 1990s, the Cold War ended, and Russia no longer was the “Evil Empire,” and thus the excuse for an exacerbated defence budget and imperialist foreign policy receded. As George H.W. Bush declared, it was during this time that we would see the formation of the “New World Order.” And with that, there was a need for a new, elusive enemy, not in the form of a nation, but a seemingly invisible enemy, international in scale, thus taking the war to an international arena.
So in the early 1990s, Western intelligence maintained its ties to these Islamic terrorist groups. Yugoslavia is a very important case to analyze in relation to current events. The break-up of Yugoslavia was a process undertaken by Anglo-American covert interests with the aim of serving their imperial ambitions in the region. In the early 1980s, the IMF set the stage in Yugoslavia with its Structural Adjustment Programs, which had the effect of creating an economic crisis, which in turn created a political crisis. This exacerbated ethnic rivalries, and in 1991, the CIA supported the Croat move for independence.
In 1992, with the start of the Bosnian War, Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists began operating with the ethnic Bosnian Muslim minority in fighting the Serbs. In turn, these Al-Qaeda affiliated groups were supported with training, arming, and finances by German, Turkish, Iranian and US intelligence agencies; with additional financial support from Saudi Arabia. In 1997, the Kosovo War began, in which the militant-terrorist-drug trafficking Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began fighting against Serbia, with training, arms and financial support from the US and other NATO countries. The CIA, German intelligence, the DIA, MI6 and British Special Forces (SAS) all provided training and support to the KLA.
Yugoslavia – Before and After Balkanization
The aim was in breaking up Yugoslavia, using ethnic rivalries as the trigger for regional conflict and ultimately war, leading to the dissolution of Yugoslavia into several countries, justifying a permanent US and NATO military presence in the region. [See: Breaking Yugoslavia, by Andrew G. Marshall, Geopolitical Monitor, July 21, 2008]
The Lashkar-e Taiba’s participation in the Bosnian War against Serbia would have in turn been financed and supported by these various Western intelligence agencies, thus serving the interests of Western Imperialist states; primarily those of Great Britain and the United States.
The LeT and Western Intelligence
The LeT has a sordid history of involvement with Western intelligence agencies, primarily those of Great Britain.
With the London 7/7 bombings [July 7, 2005] in which three underground stations and a double-decker bus had bombs explode on them; many of the suspected terrorists had interesting connections to Pakistan. For example, one of the suspects, Shehzad Tanweer, had apparently “attended a religious school run by the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)” while in Pakistan. Due to the LeT’s ties with Al-Qaeda, this allowed for the conclusion to be drawn that Al-Qaeda may have played a part in the London bombings, which were initially blamed on the international terrorist organization. The LeT also has close ties with the Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI), an Indonesian terrorist organization, which was blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings, which also targeted tourists in Indonesia.
The Bali Bombings
Interesting to note, however, is that in the early 1990’s, when the Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI) was officially formed into a terrorist organization, it developed close ties with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Further, the organizations founders and leaders played a significant role in recruiting Muslims to join the Afghan Mujahideen in the war against the Soviets during the 1980’s, which was covertly directed and supported by US, British and various other Western intelligence agencies. The JI wouldn’t exist “without the CIA’s dirty operations in Afghanistan.” A former Indonesian President stated that one of JI’s key individuals was also a spy for the Indonesian intelligence agency, and that Indonesian intelligence played a more central role in the Bali bombings than the JI itself.
The JI itself, had reportedly been infiltrated by the CIA, Israeli Mossad, and that “the CIA and the Mossad, assisted by the Australian Special Action Police (SAP) and the M15 of England, are all working towards undermining Muslim organizations in an attempt to weaken the Muslims globally.” Further, one of JI’s key planners of the Bali bombings, Omar al-Faruq, was reportedly a CIA asset, and even senior Indonesian intelligence officials believed the CIA was behind the Bali bombings. The CIA subsequently “guided” Indonesia’s investigation into the bombings, which found the JI, and the JI alone, responsible for the attacks. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, The Bali Bombings. Geopolitical Monitor, November 15, 2008]
Much of the focus of the London bombings of July 7, 2005 (7/7), was focused on the “Pakistani connection.” The suspected bombers had all visited Pakistan, and apparently developed contacts with groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e Taiba. However, a less known and less publicized connection yields some very interesting information. The suspected mastermind of the London bombings, Haroon Rashid Aswat, had visited all the suspected bombers leading up to the attacks. Phone records revealed that there were “around 20 calls between him and the 7/7 gang, leading right up to those attacks.” Why is this significant? Because Haroon Rashid Aswat, apart from being an Al-Qaeda operative, also happened to be an MI6 agent, working for the British intelligence. Haroon also made his appearance on the scene of Islamic terrorism when he was in Kosovo in the 1990’s, where he “worked for British intelligence.”
Another event which brought to the forefront a “Pakistani connection” was the August 2006 London liquid bomb plot, in which terrorists supposedly were plotting to blow up nearly a dozen Atlantic airliners bound for major US cities.
The Pakistani ISI apparently helped in “uncovering” the liquid bomb plot, aiding the British in their roundup of suspects, and “tipped-off MI5.” One of the Pakistani groups accused of some involvement in the liquid bomb plot was the Lashkar-e Taiba.
However, again, the suspected terrorists had been “infiltrated” and spied on by British intelligence for over a year. Further, the supposed ringleader of the bomb plot, Rashid Rauf, a dual British-Pakistani citizen, was pinpointed as the ringleader by both British and Pakistani intelligence, and was the link between the plot and Al-Qaeda. Rauf also has close ties with the ISI, and apparently had the plot approved by Al-Qaeda’s number two in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who formerly worked for the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war. The ISI had arrested Rashid Rauf following the “exposure” of the liquid bomb plot, yet, in 2006, the charges against him were dropped, and in 2007, he amazingly escaped Pakistani custody, having “managed to open his handcuffs and evade two police guards.” [See: Andrew G. Marshall, Liquid Bomb Plot. Geopolitical Monitor: October 27, 2008]
Clearly, if the LeT is discovered to be responsible for the Mumbai attacks, its connections to Western intelligence agencies should be more closely examined and subject to investigation. The ISI, throughout its history, has not been the key player in supporting various terrorist organizations, rather, it can be more accurately described as a conduit for Western intelligence agencies to covertly fund and support terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Central Asia.
We must examine the current attacks with a backdrop of reviewing recent terror attacks in India.
1993 Bombay Bombings
March 12, 1993, Bombay (today, Mumbai) experienced a coordinated attack of 13 explosions, which killed over 250 people. A man with close connections to Osama bin laden and Al-Qaeda, Dawood Ibrahim, was believed to have been the mastermind of the attacks. He has also financed several operations of the Lashkar-e Taiba, and was believed to be hiding out in Pakistan, and receiving protection and support from the Pakistani ISI, which in 2007, reportedly arrested him. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, Political Destabilization in South and Central Asia: The Role of the CIA-ISI Terror Network. Global Research: September 17, 2008]
Mumbai Bombings, July 11, 2006: 7/11
Over 200 people were killed in Mumbai when seven bombs exploded within 11 minutes of one another on several trains. Blame for the attacks was placed with the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), both of which have close ties with the ISI. The ISI was subsequently blamed for organizing the attacks, which were then carried out by the LeT and SIMI. The bombings led to the postponement of India-Pakistan peace talks, which were set to take place the next week. [Ibid]
Indian Embassy Bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan: July 7, 2008
On July 7, 2008, a bomb exploded at the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing over 50 people, and injuring over 100 others. The Afghan government and the Indian intelligence agency immediately blamed the ISI, in collaboration with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, of planning and executing the attack. Reports on the bombing suggested that the aim was to “increase the distrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan and undermine Pakistan’s relations with India, despite recent signs that a peace process between Islamabad and New Delhi was making some headway.”
Indian Embassy in Kabul
In early August, American intelligence agencies supported the claim that members of the ISI helped plan the attack, which they based upon “intercepted communications,” and that, “American officials said that the communications were intercepted before the July 7 bombing, and that the C.I.A. emissary, Stephen R. Kappes, the agency’s deputy director, had been ordered to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, even before the attack.” Interestingly, “a top Central Intelligence Agency official traveled to Pakistan [in August] to confront senior Pakistani officials with information about support provided by members of the ISI to militant groups.” However, the CIA knows of these connections, as it has actively supported and financed these covert ISI connections with terrorist organizations. So, what was the real purpose of this top CIA official’s visit to Pakistan?
Days after the CIA released this information to the New York Times, the US accused Pakistan of undermining NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan by supporting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and further, “Mike Mc-Connell, the director of national intelligence, and [CIA director] Hayden asked Musharraf to allow the CIA greater freedom to operate in the tribal areas,” and was threatened with “retaliation” if he did not comply. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, Political Destabilization in South and Central Asia: The Role of the CIA-ISI Terror Network. Global Research: September 17, 2008]
The ISI and the CIA
Again, if the ISI is to be blamed for the recent Mumbai attacks, as it has played a part in several attacks and support of terrorism throughout its history, it is important to identify its relationship with the CIA.
The CIA developed close ties with the ISI in the late 1970s, as the CIA used the ISI as a “go-between” for CIA support of the Afghan Mujahideen. This relationship was also pivotal in supporting the Afghan narcotics trade, which again is rampant. The relationship between the two agencies continued throughout the 1990s, in areas such as Chechnya, Yugoslavia and India. [See: Michel Chossudovsky, Al Qaeda and the “War on Terrorism”. Global Research: January 20, 2008]
A week prior to the 9/11 attacks, the head of Pakistan’s ISI was on a visit to Washington, D.C., where he met with several key policy figures, such as Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage; Senator Joseph Biden, who is going to be Obama’s Vice President; and with his counterparts in the CIA and Pentagon, and several other officials. He was in Washington right up to and after the 9/11 attacks, and was engaged in several key consultations with US officials, pledging support for the US War on Terror instantly. However, the very same Chief of the ISI also happened to have previously approved of wiring $100,000 to the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Atta, which was also confirmed by the FBI. Thus, the ISI suddenly became a financier of the 9/11 attacks. Yet, no action was taken against the ISI or Pakistan, apart from the ISI Chief being fired upon this revelation making it into the media.
ISI Chief Lt.-General Mahmoud Ahmad
Of significance is that this ISI Chief, Lt.-General Mahmoud Ahmad, was approved as head of the ISI by the US in 1999. From then, he was in close contact and liaison with top officials of the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the Pentagon. [See: Michel Chossudovsky, Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration? Global Research: November 2, 2001]
Collaboration between the ISI and CIA did not end with these disturbing revelations. In 2007, it was reported that the CIA was arming and funding a terrorist organization named Jundullah, based in Pakistan’s tribal areas, with the goal of “sowing chaos” in Iran. Jundullah not only is funded and armed by the CIA, but has extensive ties to Al-Qaeda, and the ISI, as the CIA’s financial support for the group is funneled through the ISI, so as to make it more difficult to establish a link between the CIA and the terrorist outfit. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, Political Destabilization in South and Central Asia, op cit ]
Anglo-American-Israeli Intelligence and India
In mid-October, American intelligence agencies warned Indian intelligence warned India about an attack “from the sea against hotels and business centers in Mumbai.” Even the Taj Hotel, which became the key area of fighting, was listed as a specific target. In late November, “India’s intelligence services had delivered at least three precise warnings that a major terrorist attack on Mumbai was imminent.”
Immediately following the attacks, it was reported that, “Unprecedented intelligence cooperation involving investigating agencies and spy outfits of India, United States, United Kingdom and Israel has got underway to crack the method and motive behind the Mumbai terrorist massacre, now widely blamed on Islamist radicals who appeared to have all four countries on their hit list when they arrived on the shores of India.” Specifically, “Investigators, forensic analysts, counter-terrorism experts and spymasters from agencies the four countries are converging in New Delhi and Mumbai to put their heads, resources, and skills together to understand the evolving nature of the beast.”
Further, “Washington suggested sending US Special Forces for on-the-ground operations in Mumbai but New Delhi declined the offer, saying its own forces could take care of the situation.” This unprecedented intelligence cooperation was based upon the understanding that, “the manner in which the terrorists who attacked Mumbai are reported to have singled out Americans and Britons, besides pointedly occupying a Jewish center, has revealed that their agenda was wider than just domestic discontent or the Kashmir issue.”
Shortly after the attacks began, it was reported that FBI agents were quickly flown to Mumbai to help in investigating the Mumbai attacks. Israel also offered to send in its “crack commandos to Mumbai to rescue Israeli hostages held in a Jewish centre,” which was refused by India, which led to Israeli media criticizing India’s response to the attacks as “slow, confused and inefficient.”
Hours after the attacks began on November 26, it was reported that two terrorists were killed and two others were arrested. Later on, reports surfaced in which Indian police had killed four of the Mumbai terrorists and arrested nine of them. The international media was full of this reported capture of nine terrorists.
Interestingly, by November 29, the story had changed. All of a sudden, Mumbai cops had only “nabbed” one terrorist. This person has effectively become the nail-in-the-coffin for laying the blame at Pakistan’s door. As soon as this person was caught, he began to sing like a canary, and said that, “all [the] terrorists were trained in marine warfare along with the special course Daura-e-Shifa conducted by the Lashkar-e-Taiba in what at once transforms the nature of the planning from a routine terror strike and into a specialized raid by commandos.” He also stated that the terrorists “were made to believe by their Lashkar bosses that they were not being sent on a suicide mission and that they would be coming back alive.” He also revealed the names of his fellow terrorists, all of them Pakistani citizens.
Along the same lines, another very interesting mystery of the Mumbai massacre is the early reports of British involvement. Shortly following the outbreak of violence, Indian authorities stated that, “Seven of the Mumbai terrorists were British Pakistanis,” and that, “two Brits had been arrested and another five suspects were from the UK.” Further, Blackberry phones found on the suspects contained “a lot of content” connecting them with the UK. The Chief Minister of Mumbai had early on reported that, “two British-born Pakistanis were among eight gunmen seized by Indian commandos who stormed buildings to free hostages.”
On December 1, the Daily Mail reported that, “As many as seven of the terrorists may have British connections and some could be from Leeds and Bradford where London’s July 7 bombers lived.” As a result of these revelations, Scotland Yard anti-terrorist detectives were sent to Mumbai “to assist in the investigation.” There was also speculation that one particular British Al-Qaeda suspect may have helped plan the assault, and just happened to be killed a week earlier in Pakistan by the CIA. That person was Rashid Rauf. This is the same Rashid Rauf who was at first declared the mastermind of the London liquid bomb plot, who had close ties with the ISI and Al-Qaeda, who was subsequently arrested by the ISI, and then miraculously “escaped” from Pakistani custody. Barely a week before the Mumbai Massacre, Rauf was reportedly killed by a CIA drone attack on a militant Islamic base in Pakistan’s tribal region.
Early on, there was an incident in which a taxicab was blown up in Mumbai, with the driver and passenger killed. The taxi started moving through a red light when the car bomb exploded, which ended up saving the lives of “hundreds,” as opposed to if the car had moved when the light was green and intersection was full. This ensured that the only ones who died were those in the taxi. This sparked an investigation into whether the driver “was aware that his car was loaded with explosives.”
Why is this significant? Because this closely resembles tactics used in Iraq since the Anglo-American occupation of the country, employed by both US and British intelligence and special forces in an effort to sow chaos and create civil strife and war. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, State-Sponsored Terror: British and American Black Ops in Iraq. Global Research, June 25, 2008]
Means, Modus Operandi and Motive
While the possibility that Pakistan and the ISI (or Lashkar-e Taiba) are responsible for the Mumbai attacks should be taken into consideration, given precedence and means, we must allow ourselves to contemplate other possibilities.
While India and the west are placing the blame for the attacks on Pakistan’s ISI and the Lashkar-e Taiba, the Pakistani press is reporting on another possibility.
On November 29, the Pakistan Daily reported that, with a stiff side of anti-Israel rhetoric, that the Mumbai attack would be used “as justification for a US invasion of Pakistan.” It reported that the Israeli Mossad “has mobilized since 2000 in the Jammu and Kashmir areas of India, where the Indian government has been pursuing a ‘security’ issue with regard to the Kashmiri people.” It quoted a Times of India article that reported, “Israeli counter-terrorism experts are now touring Jammu and Kashmir and several other states in India at the invitation of Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani to make an assessment of New Delhi’s security needs. The Israeli team, headed by Eli Katzir of the Israel Counter-Terrorism Combat Unit, includes Israeli military intelligence officials and a senior police official.” There was also a reported agreement on “closer India-Israeli cooperation on all security matters.”
Shortly after the start of the attacks in Mumbai, a Russia counter-terrorism presidential envoy stated that, “The terrorists in the Indian city of Mumbai, who killed more than 150 people and injured over 300, used the same tactics that Chechen field militants employed in the Northern Caucasus.” He elaborated, “These tactics were used during raids by militant Chechen field commanders Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduyev against the towns of Buddyonnovsk and Pervomaiskoye. For the first time in history the entire towns were terrorized, with homes and hospitals seized. The Mumbai terrorists have learned these tactics well.”
Shamil Basayev, one of the Chechen rebel leaders, as well as many of the other Chechen leaders, were trained by the CIA and ISI in Afghanistan, in CIA-run training camps during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s.
On December 2, former ISI Chief Hameed Gul, said that the “Mumbai incident is an international based conspiracy to deprive Pakistan of its atomic power. Talking to a private TV channel on Friday, he said that to involve Pakistan in the incident reflected that some forces wanted to declare Pakistan a fail[ed] state as somehow it had become necessary to make Pakistan kneel down in order to snatch its atomic power away.” He elaborated that the method of attacks, and how the militants executed them, “seemed impossible without internal support.” He continued in stating that the “US wanted to see [the] Indian army in Afghanistan to disintegrate the country,” and referred to recent US maps showing a divided Pakistan in four parts, and that making Pakistan “kneel down” before the IMF was “part of a pre-planned trick.”
As astonishing and outlandish as these claims may seem, the US has a long history of turning on its allies when they seek to become self-sufficient and developed, such as with Saddam Hussein and Iraq in the early 1990s. Also, it is vital to note the role of the IMF and World Bank in creating economic crises, and thus, political-social-ethnic instability, which invariably has led to all out ethnic war, genocides and “international interventions,” in countries such as Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
The International Financial Institutions (IFIs) often create the conditions for political instability, while covert Western intelligence support to disaffected and radical groups creates the means for rebellion; which then becomes the excuse for foreign military intervention; which then secures an imperial military presence in the region, thus gaining control over the particular region’s resources and strategic position. This is the age-old conquest of empire: divide and conquer.
Interesting to note is that in 2008, “Pakistan was again seeking IMF help. On Nov. 25, it won final approval on a $7.6 billion loan package after foreign reserves shrank 74 percent to $3.5 billion in the 12 months ended on Nov. 8.” This loan was approved a day before the Mumbai attacks began. On December 4, it was reported that, “Tough conditions of International Monetary Fund (IMF) have now started surfacing as IMF and the Government of Pakistan (GoP) agreed to discontinue oil import support, eliminate power subsidies and budgetary support of the government, public and private entities. IMF and GoP have agreed to phase out the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBPs) provision of foreign exchange for oil imports.” On top of this, “further steps will be taken during the remainder of the fiscal year to strengthen tax enforcement. Moreover, fuel prices will continue to be adjusted to pass through changes in international prices.” Further, “The programme envisages a significant tightening of monetary policy.”
The results of these conditionalities are predictable: Pakistan will lose all subsidies; fuel prices will drastically rise, as will food and other necessary commodity prices. At the same time, a tightening of monetary policy and World Bank/IMF control over Pakistan’s central bank will prevent Pakistan from taking measures to curb inflation, and the cost of living will skyrocket as the currency value plummets. All this is going on while taxes are increased and expanded greatly, and public jobs such as bureaucratic positions, education, etc., are downsized or altogether disbanded. Money will likely continue to flow to the ISI and Army, which will create discontent among Pakistan’s deprived and disillusioned. A military coup would be likely, followed by rebellion en masse, which would in turn pit the various ethnicities against one another. This could lead to either a war against India, ultimately ending with a consolidated national security state to act as a conduit for Anglo-American imperial ambitions, such as in Rwanda; or, it could result in ethnic conflict and wars, ultimately ending up in the break-up of Pakistan into smaller states divided among ethnic lines, such as in Yugoslavia. Or, it could end with a combination of the two, a divided, warring, region engulfed in crisis.
The break up of Pakistan is not a far-fetched idea in terms of Anglo-American strategy. In fact, the plan for the destabilization and ultimately, balkanization of Pakistan has originated in Anglo-American-Israeli military strategic circles. As I previously documented in Divide and Conquer: The Anglo-American Imperial Project [Global Research, July 10, 2008], the destabilization and balkanization of the near-entire Middle East and Central Asia has been a long-held strategy for the Anglo-America-Israeli Axis since the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Divide and Conquer
This concept evolved in strategic planning circles in the late 1970s in response to regional nationalist tendencies in the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as a perceived threat of growing Soviet influence in the region. The central aim of these strategic thinkers was to secure Middle Eastern oil and Central Asian gas reserves and pipeline routes under the control of the Anglo-Americans. Control over these vital energy reserves is a strategic as much as economic concern, as most of the world gets its energy from this area; so those who control the energy, control who gets it, and thus, control much of the world. The economic benefits of Anglo-Americans controlling the regions energy reserves cannot be analyzed separately from strategic interests, as they are one and the same. Anglo-American oil companies gain control of the oil and gas, while the British and American governments install puppet regimes to look after their interests; and to act as proxies in creating conflicts and wars with countries of the region who act in their own national interest, as opposed to acting under the guidance of and submission to the Anglo-Americans.
Arc of Crisis
After the 1973 oil shocks, which were, in fact, promoted and covertly orchestrated by Anglo-American banking and oil interests, the oil producing nations grew very wealthy, such as Iran. As well as this, countries like Afghanistan were becoming increasingly leftist and progressive. Fearing possible alliances developing between Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries with the Soviet Union, as well as the even greater threat of these countries becoming truly independent, taking control of their own resources for the good of their own people; Anglo-American strategists turned to what is called the “Arc of Crisis.”
The “Arc of Crisis” describes the “nations that stretch across the southern flank of the Soviet Union from the Indian subcontinent to Turkey, and southward through the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa.” Further, the “center of gravity of this arc is Iran.” In 1978, Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a speech in which he stated, “An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.”
Anglo-American strategy in the region thus developed and changed at this time, as “There was this idea that the Islamic forces could be used against the Soviet Union. The theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and so an arc of Islam could be mobilized to contain the Soviets. It was a Brzezinski concept.” Bilderberg member, Bernard Lewis, presented a British-American strategy to the Bilderberg Group during the 1979 meeting, which, “endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeini, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.” Since the Soviet Union was viewed as a secular and atheist regime, having oppressed religion within its sphere of influence, the rise of radical Islamic influence and governments in the Middle East and Central Asia would ensure that Soviet influence would not enter into the region, as radical Muslims would view the Soviets with more distrust than the Americans. The Anglo-Americans positioned themselves as the lesser of two evils.
Bernard Lewis was a former British intelligence officer and historian who is infamous for explaining Arab discontent towards the West as not being rooted in a reaction toward imperialism, but rather that it is rooted in Islam; in that Islam is incompatible with the West, and that they are destined to clash, using the term, “Clash of Civilizations.” For decades, “Lewis played a critical role as professor, mentor, and guru to two generations of Orientalists, academics, U.S. and British intelligence specialists, think tank denizens, and assorted neoconservatives.” In the 1980s, Lewis “was hobnobbing with top Department of Defense officials.” Lewis wrote a 1992 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, titled, “Rethinking the Middle East.” In this article, Lewis raised the prospect of another policy towards the Middle East in the wake of the end of the Cold War and beginnings of the New World Order, “which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call ‘Lebanonization.’ Most of the states of the Middle East – Egypt is an obvious exception – are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a proc ess. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates – as happened in Lebanon – into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”
Bernard Lewis’ Redrawn Map of the “Arc of Crisis”
A Foreign Affairs article of 1979, the journal put out by the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), discussed the Arc of Crisis: “The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism.” It explained that US strategy in the region was focused with “containment” of the Soviet Union as well as access to the regions oil. 
It was in this context that in 1979, as Zbigniew Brzezinski later admitted, “According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” He claimed that, “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.” What a perfect example of what George Orwell would call “double-speak,” saying that the Americans “didn’t push the Russians to intervene” but rather, “increased the probability that they would.” In other words, they “pushed” them to intervene.
This is when the Mujahideen were created, and through this, Al-Qaeda, and a variety of other radical Islamic groups which have come to plague global geopolitics since this era. Terrorism cannot be viewed, as it often is, in such a simple manner as “non-state actors” reacting to geopolitics of nations and corporations. In fact, many terrorist groups, particularly the largest, most well organized, extremist and violent ones, are “proxy state actors,” receiving covert support – through arms and training – by various state intelligence agencies. They are not simply “reacting” to geopolitics, but are important players in the geopolitical chessboard. They represent the perfect excuse for foreign militaristic adventurism and war; domestic tyranny in the form of developing police states to control populations, stifle dissent and create a totalitarian base of control.
As the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in September of 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, “The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world’s principal energy sources in the 21st century. The defense of these energy resources — rather than a simple confrontation between Islam and the West — will be the primary flash point of global conflict for decades to come.” Further, it stated: “It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America’s Chevron, ExxonMobil and Arco; France’s TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region.” Indeed, where Al-Qaeda is present, the US military follows, and behind the military, the oil companies wait and push; and behind the oil companies, the banks cash in.
Balkanizing the Middle East
In 1982, Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist wrote a report for a publication of the World Zionist Organization in which he advocated, “The dissolution of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon [which] is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front. Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run, it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel.”
In 1996, an Israeli think tank with many prominent American neo-conservatives, issued a report in which they advocated for Israel to “Work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of its most dangerous threats,” among them, to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
In 2000, the Project for the New American Century, an American neo-conservative think tank, published a report called Rebuilding America’s Defenses, in which they openly advocated for an American empire in the Middle East, focusing on removing the “threats” of Iraq and Iran.
Shortly after the US invasion of Iraq, prominent members of the Council on Foreign Relations had begun advocating the break-up of Iraq into at least three smaller states, using Yugoslavia as an example of how to achieve this.
In 2006, the Armed Force Journal published an article by retired Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters, which called for the redrawing of the borders of the Middle East. He first advocated the breakup of Iraq, and that, “Saudi Arabia would suffer as great a dismantling as Pakistan,” and that, “Iran, a state with madcap boundaries, would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today’s Afghanistan.”
Describing Pakistan as “an unnatural state,” he said, “Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren,” and that it “would also lose its Baluch territory to Free Baluchistan. The remaining “natural” Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi.” He even made up a helpful little list of “losers” and “winners” in this new great game: as in, who gains territory, and who loses territory. Among the losers are Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the West Bank and Pakistan. And Peters made the startling statement that redrawing borders is often only achieved through war and violence, and that “one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works.”
Ultimately, the aims of the Mumbai attacks are to target Pakistan for balkanization. The question of who is responsible – either the ISI, largely rogue of Pakistan’s civilian government and under the authority of Anglo-American intelligence; or separate Indian terrorists, likely supported by the same Anglo-American intelligence community – while important, is ultimately a secondary consideration in comparison to the question of Why?
The Who, What, Where, and When is a show for public consumption; masked in confusion and half-truths, designed to confuse and ultimately frustrate the observer – creating a sense of unease and fear of the unknown. The WHY, on the other hand, is the most important question; once you discover the why, the who, where, what, and when begin to fall into place, and create a full picture.
If the Mumbai attacks were designed to be blamed on Pakistan – as they likely were – and thus, to possibly start a war between Pakistan and India – which is now a growing reality – what is the ultimate significance of knowing if it was the ISI or Indian elements responsible? Albeit, this is important to know, however, when it comes to understanding the motives behind the attacks, it pales in comparison.
Pakistan is a strategic lynch-point in the region. Pakistan borders Iran, Afghanistan, India and China. It lies directly below the Central Asian republics of the Former Soviet Union, which are rich in natural gas resources. With NATO’s war in Afghanistan, and the Anglo-Americans in Iraq, and American forces in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the occupation of Pakistan would position Western imperial militaries around Iran, the central Middle Eastern target. With the balkanization of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, destabilizing forces would cross the borders into Iran, ultimately creating the conditions for political and social collapse within the country.
A conflict between Pakistan and India would not only have the effect of dismantling Pakistan, but would also greatly deter India’s rapid economic and social development as the world’s largest democracy, and would force it to come under the influence or “protection” of Western military might and International Financial Institutions. The same is likely for China, as destabilization would cross Pakistan’s borders into the most populated country on earth, exacerbating ethnic differences and social disparities.
A large Anglo-American military presence in Pakistan, or, alternatively, a NATO or UN force, combined with the already present NATO force in Afghanistan, would be a massive military strategic position against advancement of China, Russia or India into the region. With China’s massively increasing influence in Africa threatening Anglo-American and European domination of the continent, a massive military presence on the border of China could act as a powerful warning.
The Mumbai attacks do not aid India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or any nation within the region. The beneficiaries of the Mumbai Massacre are in London and New York, in the boardrooms and shareholders of the largest international banks; which seek total control of the world. Having dominated North America and Europe for much of recent history, these bankers, primarily Anglo-American, but also European, seek to exert their total control over the world’s resources, currencies, and populations. There are many concurrent strategies they are employing to achieve this end: among them, the global financial crisis, to reign in and control the world economy; and a “total war” in the Middle East, likely escalating into a World War with Russia and China, is the perfect tool to strike enough fear into the world population to accept an over-arching supranational governance structure – to ensure no future wars occur, to ensure stability of the global economy – a utopian vision of a single world order.
The problem with utopias is that they are “ultimate ideals,” and if humanity has learned anything in its history on this planet; it is that perfection is impossible, be it in the form of an “ideal person” or an “ideal government;” humanity is plagued by imperfections and emotion. Accepting our imperfections as a species is what can make us great, and understanding that a utopian ideal is impossible to achieve is what can allow us to create the “best possible” society we can have. All utopias attempted throughout history have always turned into dystopias. We must learn from humanity’s history of sordid flaws; and only when we accept that we are not perfect, and cannot ever become perfect, in person or in politics, are we free to become humanity at it’s most advanced and at its most noble.
 Damien McElroy and Rahul Bedi, Mumbai attacks: 300 feared dead as full horror of the terrorist attacks emerges. The Telegraph: November 30, 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3536220/Mumbai-siege-300-feared-dead-as-full-horror-of-the-terrorist-attacks-emerges.html
 Andrew Buncombe and Jonathan Owen, Just ten trained terrorists caused carnage. The Independent: November 30, 2008: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/just-ten-trained-terrorists-caused-carnage-1041639.html
 Maseeh Rahman, Mumbai terror attacks: Who could be behind them? The Guardian: November 27, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/27/mumbai-terror-attacks-india8
 Hasan Suroor, U.K. intelligence suspects Al-Qaeda hand. The Hindu: November 28, 2008: http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/28/stories/2008112860481700.htm
 Press TV, India links Mumbai attackers to Pakistan. Press TV: November 28, 2008: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=76797§ionid=351020402
 Agencies, India blames Pakistan for Mumbai attacks. Gulf News: November 28, 2008:
 Mark Mazzetti, U.S. Intelligence Focuses on Pakistani Group. The New York Times: November 28, 2008:
 SATP, Lashkar-e-Toiba: ‘Army of the Pure’. South Asia Terrorism Portal: 2001:
 Gethin Chamberlain, Attacker ‘was recruited’ at terror group’s religious school. The Scotsman: July 14, 2005: http://news.scotsman.com/londonbombings/Attacker-was-recruited-at-terror.2642907.jp
 Michel Chossudovsky, London 7/7 Terror Suspect Linked to British Intelligence? Global Research: August 1, 2005: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=782
 Michel Chossudovsky, The Foiled UK Terror Plot and the “Pakistani Connection”. Global Research: August 14, 2006: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=2960
 Richard Esposito, et. al., US Warned India in October of Potential Terror Attack. ABC News: December 1, 2008: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=6368013&page=1
 Praveen Swami, Pointed intelligence warnings preceded attacks. The Hindu: November 30, 2008: http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/30/stories/2008113055981500.htm
 Chidanand Rajghatta, US, UK, Israel ramp up intelligence aid to India. The Times of India: November 28, 2008: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/India_gets_intelligence_aid_from_US_UK/articleshow/3770950.cms
 Foster Klug and Lara Jakes Jordan, US sends FBI agents to India to investigate attack. AP: November 30, 2008: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gsTS09Q-pwO8Q0F_68FHwrmhCJOgD94OA5A80
 IANS, Israeli daily critical of India’s ’slow’ response to terror strike. Thaindian News: November 28, 2008:
 IANS, Two terrorists killed, two arrested in Mumbai. Thaindian News: November 27, 2008: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/two-terrorists-killed-two-arrested-in-mumbai_100124003.html
 Agencies, Four terrorists killed, nine arrested. Express India: November 27, 2008: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Four-terrorists-killed-nine-arrested/391103/
 ToI, Arrested terrorist says gang hoped to get away. The Times of India: November 29, 2008: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Arrested_terrorist_says_gang_hoped_to_get_away/articleshow/3771598.cms
 Mark Jefferies, Mumbai attacks: Seven terrorists were British, claims Indian government. Daily Record: November 29, 2008: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/2008/11/29/mumbai-attacks-seven-terrorists-were-british-claims-indian-government-86908-20932992/
 Jon Swaine, Mumbai attack: ‘British men among terrorists’. The Telegraph: November 28, 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/3533472/Mumbai-attack-British-men-among-terrorists.html
 Justin Davenport, et. al., Massacre in Mumbai: Up to SEVEN gunmen were British and ‘came from same area as 7/7 bombers’. The Daily Mail: December 1, 2008: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1089711/Massacre-Mumbai-Up-SEVEN-gunmen-British-came-area-7-7-bombers.html
 Debasish Panigrahi, Taxi with bomb jumped signal, saving many lives. The Hindustan Times: November 28, 2008: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/FullcoverageStoryPage.aspx?id=505311b6-974c-4d7b-87bb-8b5e29333299Mumbaiunderattack_Special&&Headline=Taxi+with+bomb+jumped+signal%2c+saving+many+lives
 Vijay V Singh, Was taxi driver aware of bomb in car? The Times of India: November 29, 2008: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Mumbai/Was_taxi_driver_aware_of_bomb_in_car/articleshow/3770989.cms
 PD, The Israeli Mossad False Flag Opperation Strikes In Mumbai. Pakistan Daily: November 29, 2008:
 RT, Mumbai terrorists used Chechen tactics. Russia Today: November 29, 2008: http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/33921
 Michel Chossudovsky, Who Is Osama Bin Laden? Global Research: September 12, 2001: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO109C.html
 PD, Former ISI Chief Mumbai incident international conspiracy to deprive Pakistan of atomic power. Pakistan Daily: December 2, 2008:
 Yoolim Lee and Naween A. Mangi, Pakistan’s Richest Man Defies Terrorism to Expand Bank Empire. Bloomberg: December 3, 2008:
 Sajid Chaudhry, Inevitable conditionalities of IMF start surfacing. The Daily Times: December 4, 2008:
 Patricia Goldstone, Aaronsohn’s Maps: The Untold Story of the Man who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East. Harcourt Trade, 2007: pages 21-22
 Patricia Goldstone, Aaronsohn’s Maps: The Untold Story of the Man who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East. Harcourt Trade, 2007: page 22
 Niall Ferguson, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power. Perseus, 2002: pages 193-194
 Herbert R. Lottman, Return of the Rothschilds: The Great Banking Dynasty Through Two Turbulent Centuries. I.B. Tauris, 1995: page 81
 Patricia Goldstone, Aaronsohn’s Maps: The Untold Story of the Man who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East. Harcourt Trade, 2007: pages 22-23
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 Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. Owl Books, 2005: page 332-333
 Bernard Lewis, Rethinking the Middle East. Foreign Affairs, Fall 1992: pages 116-117
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Congo Resource Wars
Global Research, March 12, 2008
geopoliticalmonitor.com – 2008-03-01
This report examines the current war and genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which started in the mid-1990s, placing emphasis on the roles of Western covert operations, corporations and the plundering of resources that has resulted.
War in the CongoKing Leopold’s War for Rubber
Nearly 125 years ago, during the beginning of the European ‘Scramble for Africa’, European empires competed with each other to take over Africa and plunder it for its resources. The King of Belgium at the time, King Leopold II, sought to take control over the Congo, as during the time, “the demand for rubber increased dramatically,” and the “Congo contained wild rubber trees which could be harvested immediately to meet the spiraling demand.” This was achieved by forcing African males to work by taking “their families hostage until a certain amount of rubber was harvested,” and they would, “chop off the hands of Africans who failed to meet their quotas or who resisted European demands for more rubber.” All of this resulted in “up to 10 million people [who] died through a combination of murder, starvation, exhaustion, disease and a plummeting birth rate.”
The Congo Civil War: 1996-1998
In 1996, two years after the massive killings in Rwanda, a new conflict arose, which today is still ongoing, and has in the last 12 years resulted in millions of deaths. The Congo, which before went by the name Zaire, was invaded in 1996 by Rwandan troops under the orders of Tutsi President Paul Kagame. He argued “that the Hutus across the border posed a threat to Rwandan security.” Kagame’s army, “massacred thousands of Hutu noncombatants who had taken refuge in The Congo when Kagame came to power” in Rwanda. Burundi, which also had a Tutsi government, and Uganda sent troops in 1997 to aid a Congolese rebel group under Laurent Kabila, who was attempting to overthrow Zaire’s dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko.”
Installing a New Puppet
It was in 1997 that Mobutu was overthrown, which led to Kabila, a staunch US ally, being the new iron-fisted leader. In 1998, Kabila had Rwandan and Ugandan troops leave the Congo, however, Rwanda “again invaded, claiming that it needed to pursue Hutus threatening its security,” and Uganda, too, invaded under the auspices of fighting Ugandan rebel groups which were based in the Congo. Uganda and Rwanda wanted to control the Eastern Congo area along the borders of their countries, while Kabila looked to other African nations to aid in taking control of the entire country.
The West and the War
Financing Both Sides
It was at this time that the United States began funding both sides of the conflict, giving money to both President Kabila’s Congolese Army and the rival Congolese Rally for Democracy. Increased conflict destablized the country and has made it more susceptible to foreign influence and control.
Covert Western Military Involvement
US Special Forces that had trained Kagame and the RPF, had, since 1994, taken on the task of training Kagame’s “Rwandan Patriotic Army” (RPA), in such tactics as, “counterinsurgency, combat, psychological operations, and instructions about how to fight in Zaire.” It was revealed that, “In August, before ordering the 1996 invasion, Kagame visited the Pentagon to get US approval,” and that, “Rwandan and Ugandan troops who were trained at Fort Bragg [in the United States] participated in the 1996-97 invasions to topple Mobutu.” It was even reported that, “U.S soldiers (probably Special Forces) were sighted in the company of Rwandan troops in Congo on July 23 and 24, 1998 – about a week before the “official” [second] Rwandan invasion of Congo.”
King Leopold, Inc.
During King Leopold’s plunder of the Congo, “rubber-agents”, acting on behalf of both the Belgian Empire and rubber interests, actively engaged in the mass murder, torture and abuse of Africans. Modern day rubber-agents still exist. “Military contractor [Kellogg] Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, reportedly built a military base on the Congolese/Rwandan border, where the Rwandan army has trained. Likewise, The Bechtel Corporation provided satellite maps and reconnaissance photos to Kabila so that he could “monitor the movements of Mobutu’s troops.”
Bechtel is a very secretive contractor with individuals such as Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz on its board of directors, and as a legal counsel, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. It should be noted, that during this time, Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton, which owned KBR. It was further corroborated by an independent human rights investigator that, “the Pentagon was directly involved, 1996-1998, along with the private U.S. military companies Military Professional Resources Incorporated, and Kellogg, Brown and Root (Halliburton)”
Plundering the Resources
Profiting from Genocide
The Congo is extremely rich in natural resources. Rwanda, Uganda, and the West, have all struggled to profit from the Country’s wealth in part through destabilization campaigns.
Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni’s brother, Salim Saleh, leased three airlines “to the Ugandan military to fly troops and supplies into Congo. With the cooperation of Ugandan army officers, Congolese rebel groups, and private entrepreneurs, Saleh ensured that the planes returned to Uganda loaded with gold, timber, and coffee.” During the same time, though Rwanda had no diamond mines, “its diamond exports increased from 166 carats in 1998 to 30,500 in 2000.”
Congolese rebel leader Kabila, before becoming President, “sent a representative to Toronto early in 1997 to speak to mining companies about ‘investment opportunities’,” and, “In May 1997, American Mineral Fields (AMF) cut a $1 billion deal with Kabila immediately after his forces captured Goma.” The negotiations were undertaken by “Kabila’s US-trained finance minister,” who gave “AMF exclusive exploration rights to zinc, copper, and cobalt mines in the area. Mike McMurrough, a friend of US President Bill Clinton, was the chair of AMF.” Another large Western mining interest is Barrick Gold Corporation, a Canadian mining company, whose board of directors includes such individuals as former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan and had as an adviser to the company, George Herbert Walker Bush.
Other corporate beneficiaries include Canada’s Heritage Oil and Gas, which “arrived with the Ugandan and Rwandan militaries when they invaded Congo in 1998,” Citibank NY gave a $5 million loan to “the financial arm of RCD-Goma (the Congolese militia allied with Rwanda),” and, “As Rwanda and Uganda continued to enrich themselves with the plunder, they received praise from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for increasing their gross domestic product.”
The Congo also has extensive petroleum reserves, as the first oil refinery in the Congo had its crude oil supplied by, “Shell, Mobil, Petrofina and Texaco,” and, “Recent onshore exploitation near the refinery involves Total, Pan Ocean Energy (UK) and Addax Petroleum (Canada).”
Genocide in the Congo
Keith Harmon Snow, an independent human rights investigator and war correspondent for Survivors Rights International, Genocide Watch and the United Nations, recently reported that in October 1996 there were at least 1.5 million Rwandan and Burundian refugees in eastern Zaire [Congo]. The full-scale invasion began more formally when the Rwandan Patriotic Army and Ugandan Patriotic Defense proxy forces shelled the refugee camps, killing hundreds of thousands in a “clear case of genocide.”
The same report also noted that the death toll in the Congo has reached heights matching the numbers of Belgian King Leopold’s genocide in the Congo over 100 years ago, with “more than 10 million dead in Congo since 1996, and millions more in Uganda and Rwanda.” It attributed the deaths as being “the products of the Bush-Clinton-Bush administrations.”
In April of 2001, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney held a hearing on Western involvement in the plunder of Africa, in which she stated, “at the heart of Africa’s suffering is the West’s, and most notably the United States’, desire to access Africa’s diamonds, oil, natural gas, and other precious resources . . . the West, and most notably the United States, has set in motion a policy of oppression, destabilization and tempered, not by moral principle, but by a ruthless desire to enrich itself on Africa’s fabulous wealth.” It would appear King Leopold II is back in the Congo, or did he ever leave?
 Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics. Palgrave MacMillan: New York, 2007: page 94
 Ibid, page 95
 Steven Hiatt, ed., A Game As Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc: 2007, page 94
 Ibid, page 98
[7-9] Ibid, page 99
 Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics. Palgrave MacMillan: New York, 2007: pages 94-95
 Steven Hiatt, Op cit, page 99
 Keith Harmon Snow, The War that did not make the Headlines: Over Five Million Dead in Congo? Global Research: January 31, 2008:
 Steven Hiatt, Op cit, page 95
 Ibid, page 99
 Ibid, pages 99-100
 Ibid, page 100
[17-19] Keith Harmon Snow, Op cit.
 John Perkins, The Secret History of the American Empire. Penguin Group: New York, 2007: page 257-258