Tag Archives | Middle East

US Officials Leak Information About the ISIS Raid That’s More Sensitive than Anything Snowden Ever Leaked

AK Rockefeller (CC BY-SA 2.0)

AK Rockefeller (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Trevor Timm writes at the Freedom of the Press Foundation:

Over the weekend, the US government announced that special forces soldiers entered Syria to conduct a raid that killed an alleged leader of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf. In the process, anonymous US officials leaked classified information to the New York Times that’s much more sensitive than anything Edward Snowden ever revealed, and it serves as a prime example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to disclosures of secret information.

Here’s how the New York Times described how the US conducted this “successful” raid:

The raid came after weeks of surveillance of Abu Sayyaf, using information gleaned from a small but growing network of informants the C.I.A. and the Pentagon have painstakingly developed in Syria, as well as satellite imagery, drone reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping, American officials said. The White House rejected initial reports from the region that attributed the raid to the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

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Thirteen Things I Learned in Iran

A hilltop view of Tehran, the capital of Iran. (Photo: ninara/flickr/cc)

A hilltop view of Tehran, the capital of Iran. (Photo: ninara/flickr/cc)

Robert Naiman writes at Common Dreams:

I just experienced the blessing of visiting Iran for the first time. Here are some things I learned.

1. If you are visiting someone’s office and you appear very sleepy, you may be asked if you want to take a nap. If you say yes, a comfortable place to take a nap may be immediately prepared. I want to state categorically for the record that no country in which you can take a nap any time you want should ever be bombed by anyone.

2. Any American who wants a hero’s welcome in Iran right now should compare the Saudi bombing and blockade of Yemen to the Israeli bombing and blockade of Gaza. An American sporting a “Saudi Arabia = Israel” button could get invited to any party in Iran right now.

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Obama Says Palestinians Deserve ‘An Independent, Sovereign State’

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Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)


In his first interview with an Arabic-language newspaper, US President Barack Obama tells Asharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinians deserve “an independent, sovereign state,” which should stoke things up nicely ahead of a key summit with Gulf leaders:

Q: There was much appreciation for your initial efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and have a two-state solution. And yet those efforts have been met by obstruction from various sides. Have you given up on reaching the two-state solution before the end of your presidency, and if not, how can you change the dynamic?

Obama: I will never give up on the hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the United States will never stop working to realize that goal. As I said when I visited Ramallah two years ago, Palestinians deserve an end to the occupation and the daily indignities that come with it; they deserve to live in an independent, sovereign state, where they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity.

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Assassination as Policy in Washington and How It Failed, 1990-2015

Lauri Heikkinen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lauri Heikkinen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Andrew Cockburn writes at TomDispatch:

As the war on terror nears its 14th anniversary — a war we seem to be losing, given jihadist advances in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen — the U.S. sticks stolidly to its strategy of “high-value targeting,” our preferred euphemism for assassination.  Secretary of State John Kerry has proudly cited the elimination of “fifty percent” of the Islamic State’s “top commanders” as a recent indication of progress. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself, “Caliph” of the Islamic State, was reportedly seriously wounded in a March airstrike and thereby removed from day-to-day control of the organization. In January, as the White House belatedly admitted, a strike targeting al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan also managed to kill an American, Warren Weinstein, and his fellow hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto.

More recently in Yemen, even as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took control of a key airport, an American drone strike killed Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, allegedly an important figure in the group’s hierarchy. 

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Life Under ISIS

Patrick Cockburn writes at CounterPunch:

The Islamic State was declared in the weeks after the capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second city, by Isis on 10 June 2014. It was only then that countries around the world began to wake up to the fact that Isis posed a serious threat to them all. Reorganised under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2010 after the death of the previous leader, Isis took advantage of the Syrian uprising of 2011 to expand its forces and resume widespread guerrilla warfare. Sunni protests against mounting repression by the Baghdad government transmuted into armed resistance. In the first half of 2014 Isis defeated five Iraqi divisions, a third of the Iraqi army, to take over most of the giant Anbar province. A crucial success came when Isis-led forces seized the city of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, on 3 January 2014 and the Iraqi army failed to win it back.

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Just What We Need: Another War

Sound the bugle! Get the press to march along; we are going to war.

Again!

Enemies R ‘Us, and for a long time with the killing of bin Laden, a Jihadi fatigue had set in. With the apparent shriveling up of the Al Qaeda menace, America’s threat-defining and refining machinery was somewhat adrift. What had been so simple, turned too complex to fuse into one soundbite.

Former Intelligence official Thomas Fingar, now of Stanford University, describes his own frustration in finding out what US policy priorities should be in national intelligence. He asked his colleagues to share the threats they worried about. He was soon inundated.

“When I was given responsibility for the process known as the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, almost 2300 issues had been assigned priorities higher than zero, “ he explained. “My first instruction was, “Reduce the number.”

He knew they needed only one bad-ass enemy to focus fears and attract appropriations to fight.… Read the rest

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Beheadings – They’re Just So Yesterday!

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Whilst beheadings are undoubtedly savage and brutal the fundamental problem is that they are terribly old-fashioned. Today, civilized nations blow people up, obliterate them with drones, riddle them with bullets, and execute them with chemicals cocktails. Many of those killed with hi-tech weapons die slowly in excruciating pain, their bodies ripped to pieces. But this is somehow okay since it is the modern way and done from a distance – however savage, brutal and indiscriminate the results. Most of the weaponry involved comes from the guardians of peace and democracy in America and Britain, with average cost-per-kill running into tens of thousands of dollars per “insurgent,” millions by some estimates.

The drums of full-spectrum war are beating once again, stimulated by outrage and hysteria over this single video. Bearing in mind the fallacy of WMD it would behoove us to see this war-worthy video but no, we are banned from doing so, with the mere viewing of it in the UK declared a potential terrorist act.… Read the rest

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Back In Iraq: We Only Want To Save You

USMC-04308Welcome back to Iraq—complete with our ever present WMD’s — Weapons of Mass deception.

Suddenly, the country we never wanted to have to think about again is back in the news and on our military agenda. So, after a few denials that troops would not, never, and no way be sent, sure ’nuff, U.S. boots are back on the ground, but to play a very different “mission.”

Of course, it’s not combat, assures Secretary of Defense Hagel who was wearing his tennis clothes when he met with GIs. That is, no doubt, why we are pounding that country with bombs again.

To signal that we are not back in the days of the war for Iraqi Freedom, the Pentagon announced its latest humanitarian effort with a tweet, that, in the media world we are now part of, maybe the equivalent of a whimper not a neocon bark.

Once again, we are the good guys charging in to protect and defend, save and rescue.… Read the rest

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The Iron Dome Inside The Heads of Israel’s Leaders

When you go to a dictionary to look up “dome,” you find lots of references to hemispherical structures or forms. You also find that it is a slang word for the head.

And so, it may not be much of a stretch to look at the “Iron Dome” counter-missile system utilized by the Israeli forces as a perfect metaphor for the men authorizing its deployment and use, the iron domes of the heads who head up Israel’s military, and orchestrate its most assuredly not defensive war against Gaza.

Iron Dome near Sderot.jpg
Iron Dome near Sderot” by NatanFlayerOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

It is also a metaphor for the war itself. The finger pushing reliance on computer technology—whether with domes or drones—tends to block all sensitivity of the human costs and consequences.

CNN reports that,

“Israel uses Iron Dome to block rockets from striking its major population centers.

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Suicide Bombers Over Gaza In A World Coming Apart

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For years, the term “suicide bombers” has been synonymous with terrorist attacks, especially in Israel. The idea of a martyr willing to give his life for a cause while taking out an “enemy” became a feature of modern conflict especially with resistance movements confronting modern armies.

Oddly enough, the phrase, seems to have blown back today into Israel itself, as its military engages in a much deadlier “suicide mission,” acting like Ahab in Melville’s Moby Dick determined to slay the monster whale while killing themselves.

First, there are the costs to Israel’s economy: With major airlines canceling flights, there goes the summer tourist season.

Next, Deutsche Welte reports,

“The conflict has so far cost Israel’s defense budget more than a billion shekels, some 200 million euros. Eitan Avriel of the business magazine “The Marker” suspects that the army will reclaim this money from the government. more than a billion shekels, some 200 million euros.

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