31 August 2006

US Army Contemplates Redrawing Middle East Map to Stave-off Looming Global Meltdown

In a little-noted article printed in early August in the Armed Forces Journal, a monthly magazine for officers and leaders in the United States military community, retired Major Ralph Peters sets out the latest ideas in current US strategic thinking. And they are extremely disturbing.


Ethnically Cleansing the Entire Middle East

Maj. Peters, formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence where he was responsible for future warfare, candidly outlines how the map of the Middle East should be fundamentally re-drawn, in a new imperial endeavour designed to correct past errors. “Without such major boundary revisions, we shall never see a more peaceful Middle East,” he observes, but then adds wryly: “Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works.”

Thus, acknowledging that the sweeping reconfiguration of borders he proposes would necessarily involve massive ethnic cleansing and accompanying bloodshed on perhaps a genocidal scale, he insists that unless it is implemented, “we may take it as an article of faith that a portion of the bloodshed in the region will continue to be our own.” Among his proposals are the need to establish “an independent Kurdish state” to guarantee the long-denied right to Kurdish self-determination. But behind the humanitarian sentiments, Maj. Peters declares that: “A Free Kurdistan, stretching from Diyarbakir through Tabriz, would be the most pro-Western state between Bulgaria and Japan.”

He chastises the United States and its coalition partners for missing “a glorious chance” to fracture Iraq, which “should have been divided into three smaller states immediately.” This would leave “Iraq’s three Sunni-majority provinces as a truncated state that might eventually choose to unify with a Syria that loses its littoral to a Mediterranean-oriented Greater Lebanon: Phoenecia reborn.” Meanwhile, the Shia south of old Iraq “would form the basis of an Arab Shia State rimming much of the Persian Gulf.” Jordan, a US-Israeli friend in the region, would “retain its current territory, with some southward expansion at Saudi expense. For its part, the unnatural state of Saudi Arabia would suffer as great a dismantling as Pakistan.” Iran too 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.” Although this vast imperial programme could be impossible to implement now, with time, “new and natural borders will emerge”, driven by “the inevitable attendant bloodshed.”

As for the goals of this plan, Maj. Peters is equally candid. While including the necessary caveats about fighting “for security from terrorism, for the prospect of democracy”, he also mentions the third important issue -- “and for access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself”.

The whole thing sounds disturbingly familiar, especially to those who have read the musings of then Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon.


Keeping the World Safe… for Our Economy

Despite trying to dress up his vision as an exercise in attempting to selflessly democratize the Middle East, in a contribution to the quarterly US Army War College journal Parameters almost a decade ago, he acknowledged with some jubilation that: “Those of us who can sort, digest, synthesize, and apply relevant knowledge soar--professionally, financially, politically, militarily, and socially. We, the winners, are a minority.” This minority will inevitably conflict with the vast majority of the world’s population. “For the world masses, devastated by information they cannot manage or effectively interpret, life is ‘nasty, brutish . . . and short-circuited.’” In “every country and region”, these masses who can neither “understand the new world”, nor “profit from its uncertainties… will become the violent enemies of their inadequate governments, of their more fortunate neighbors, and ultimately of the United States.” The coming clash, then, is not really about blood, faith, ethnicity, at all. It is about the gap between the haves and the have-nots. “We are entering a new American century”, he says, in a veiled reference to the Bush administration Project of the same name founded in the same year he was writing. In the new century, “we will become still wealthier, culturally more lethal, and increasingly powerful. We will excite hatreds without precedent.”

In predicting the future course for the US Army, Maj. Peters argues that: “We will see countries and continents divide between rich and poor in a reversal of 20th-century economic trends.” In this context, he says, “we in the United States will continue to be perceived as the ultimate haves”, and therefore, “terrorism will be the most common form of violence”, along with “transnational criminality, civil strife, secessions, border conflicts, and conventional wars.” Meanwhile, “in defense of its interests”, the US “will be required to intervene in some of these contests.” And then he sums it all up in one tidy paragraph:

“There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.”

So what’s prompted Maj. Peter’s decision to air his vision for the Middle East in the Armed Forces Journal at this time in the wake of the latest Middle East crisis? A number of critical developments.


Source: Imminent Global Crises Converge

According to an American source with high-level access to the US military, political and intelligence establishment, Western policymakers are in no doubt that the world faces the imminent convergence of multiple global crises. These crises threaten not only to undermine the basis of Western power in its current military and geopolitical configurations, but also to destabilize the entire foundations of industrial civilization.

The source said that the latest petroleum data indicates that “global oil production most likely peaked two years ago.” This is consistent with the findings of respected geologists such as leading oil depletion expert Dr. Colin Campbell, who in the late 90s predicted that world oil production would peak in the early 21st century. “We have come to the end of the first half of the Oil Age,” said Dr. Campbell, who has a doctorate in geology from the University of Oxford and more than 40 years of experience in the oil industry. Similarly, Kenneth Deffeyes, a geologist and professor emeritus at Princeton University, estimates the occurrence of the peak near the end of last year. The source pointed out that contradicting official Saudi claims to have sufficient oil reserves to maintain optimum production for the duration of the century, in fact over the last few years "the Saudis have consistently failed to meet their oil production quotas" and are currently struggling to maintain production at even two-thirds of previous levels.

The source also said that leading US financial analysts privately believe that “a collapse of the global banking system is imminent by 2008.” Although the warning is consistent with the public findings of other experts, this is the first time that a more precise date has been estimated. In a prescient analysis drawing on highly placed financial sources, US historian Gabriel Kolko, professor emeritus at York University, concluded in late July that:

“All the factors which make for crashes – excessive leveraging, rising interest rates, etc. – exist... Contradictions now wrack the world’s financial system, and a growing consensus now exists between those who endorse it and those, like myself, who believe the status quo is both crisis-prone as well as immoral. If we are to believe the institutions and personalities who have been in the forefront of the defense of capitalism, and we should, it may very well be on the verge of serious crises.”

The source also commented on the danger posed by rapid climate change. Although most conventional estimates suggest that global climate catastrophe is not due before another 30 odd years, he argued that the overlapping of several “tipping-points” suggested that a series of devastating climatic events could be “triggered within the next 10 to 15 years.” Once again, this is consistent with the findings of other experts, most recently a joint task-force report by the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK, the Center for American Progress in the US, and the Australia Institute, which said in January last year that if the average world temperature rises “two degrees centigrade above the average world temperature prevailing in 1750 before the industrial revolution”, it would trigger an irreversible chain of climatic disasters. In its report, the task-force says:

“The possibilities include reaching climatic tipping points leading, for example, to the loss of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets (which, between them, could raise sea level more than 10 meters over the space of a few centuries), the shutdown of the thermohaline ocean circulation (and, with it, the Gulf Stream), and the transformation of the planet's forests and soils from a net sink of carbon to a net source of carbon."

The source also revealed that US generals had repeatedly war-gamed a prospective conflict with Iran, but consistently found that the simulations predicted “an absolute nuclear disaster”, from which no clear winner would emerge. The scenarios gamed were so dismal, he said, that the generals strongly advised administration officials to avoid such a war at all costs. However, the source said that the Bush administration is ignoring the fears of the US military.

In this context, it would seem that the musings of Maj. Peters issue less from a concerted confidence in US power, than from a sense of growing desperation and unease as the political, financial and energy architecture of the global system is increasingly fragmenting under the weight of its own inherent instability. Despite the seeming gloominess of the situation, however, there is clearly fundamental dissent about the current trajectory of American and Western policy at the highest levels of power. The source remarked that “humanity is on the verge of a precipice, and either we’ll all just drop off the edge, or we’ll evolve. I’m not sure what that new human being might look like, but it will clearly have to involve a completely new set of ideas and values, a new way of looking at the world that respects life and nature.”

26 August 2006

poetic reflections on a dying civilization

In the last few days, I've felt like I've been going crazy. Sometimes I feel utterly overwhelmed not only by the scale of the global crises now unfolding as I write, but by the personal struggles of just being alive, in this system, with a family to care for.

Perhaps to some extent for my own sanity, I've just created a new blog where I can post my poetry.

21 August 2006

The Truth about the "Terror Plot".... and the new "pseudo-terrorism"

I am disappointed to say that so far there has been very little serious critical discussion, grounded in factual analysis, of the alleged “Terror Plot” foiled on the morning of Wednesday, 10th August 2006. Except for a few noteworthy comment pieces, such as Craig Murray’s critical speculations published by the Guardian last Friday, the mainstream media has largely subserviently parroted the official claims of the British and American governments. This is a shame, because inspection of the facts raises serious problems for the 10/8 official narrative.


No Imminent Plot

On the basis of the “Terror Plot”, Prime Minister Tony Blair is planning “to push through 90-day detention without charge for terror suspects.” Home Secretary Dr. John Reid has ordered the draft of new anti-terror legislation that would suspend key parts of the Human Rights Act 1998, to facilitate the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects in the UK without charge or trial. The law is planned to apply also to British citizens. And since 10th August, Britain was on its highest “critical” state of alert, which indicates the threat of an imminent terrorist attack on UK interests. Only in the last few days was it lowered back down to “severe”.

The stark truth is that the “Terror Plot” narrative has been thoroughly, hopelessly, politicized. There was never any evidence of an imminent plot. A senior British official involved in the investigation told NBC News on 14th August that:

“In contrast to previous reports… an attack was not imminent, [and] the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.”

If British security officials knew that an attack was not imminent, the decision to raise the alert level to critical, indicating an imminent threat, was unjustified by the available intelligence -- this was, in other words, a political decision.

Other British officials told NBC News that many of the suspects had been under surveillance for more than a year, since before the 7th July 2005 terrorist attacks. “British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence” -- as it was clearly lacking. But: “American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner.” An American official also confirmed the disagreement over timing.


Brits Opposed Arrest and Torture of Key Informant

The NBC News report further reveals, citing British security sources, that British police did not want to yet arrest Rashid Rauf, the alleged mastermind, al-Qaeda facilitator and key informant on the details of the plot: “British security was concerned that Rauf be taken into custody ‘in circumstances where there was due process,’ according to the official, so that he could be tried in British courts. Ultimately, this official says, Rauf was arrested over the objections of the British.”

However, the arrest of Rashid Rauf is at the crux of the case, as it purportedly triggered the ensuing wave of arrests, with Rauf providing in-depth details of the plot to his interrogators in Pakistan. Among the details attributed to Rauf is the idea that the plotters intended to mix a “sports drink” with a gel-like “peroxide-based paste” to create a chemical explosive that “could be ignited with an MP3 player or cell phone.”

The problem is that several Pakistani newspapers reported on 13th August that “Rauf had ‘broken’ under interrogation.” The reports were described by a Pakistani human rights group “as confirmation that he had been tortured.” According to the Guardian, “Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that it was obvious how the information had been obtained. ‘I don’t deduce, I know -- torture,’ she said. ‘There is simply no doubt about that, no doubt at all.’”

That most of the details about the plot came from Rauf, who has been tortured and “broken” while under interrogation in Pakistan, raises serious questions about the credibility of the story being promoted by the British and American governments.


Torture Precedents: the “Ricin Plot”

The revelation bears hallmarks of a familiar pattern. It is now well-known that the interrogation of terror suspects using torture was responsible for the production of the false “Ricin Plot” narrative. In much the same way as Pakistan has done now, Algerian security services alerted the British in January 2003 to the alleged plot after interrogating and torturing a former British resident Mohammed Meguerba. We now know there was no plot. Police officials repeatedly claimed they had found plastic tubs of ricin -- but these claims were false. Four of the defendants were acquitted of terrorism and four others had the cases against them abandoned. Only Kamal Bourgass was convicted, but not in connection with the “Ricin Plot”, rather for murdering Special Branch Detective Constable Stephen Oake during a raid. Indeed, the “rendition” of terror suspects orchestrated by Britain, the United States, and other western states, attempts to institutionalize and legitimize torture as a means for the production of fundamentally compromised information used by western states to manipulate domestic public opinion.

It is perhaps not all that surprising then to learn that, according to a Daily Mail headline, the Pakistanis have found “no evidence against ‘terror mastermind’”, despite two weeks of interrogation under torture and forensic combing of Rauf’s home and computer. The plot “may not have been as serious, or as far advanced, as the authorities initially claimed”, observes the Mail somewhat sheepishly, and belatedly. “Analysts suspect Pakistani authorities exaggerated Rauf’s role to appear ‘tough on terrorism’ and impress Britain and America.” I wonder if the paucity of evidence has something to do with why, as the Independent on Sunday reported: “Both Britain and Pakistan say the question of Mr Rauf’s possible extradition [to the UK] is some way off.” Indeed. A spokesman for Pakistani’s Interior Ministry gave some helpful elaboration, telling the Mail that extradition “is not under consideration.”

The extradition to Britain of the alleged chief mastermind of a plot to kill thousands of Americans and British citizens by simultaneously blowing up multiple civilian airliners has, in other words, been ruled out indefinitely.


Er, Still No Evidence…

All the evidence now suggests that the Americans wanted immediate arrests without proper evidence. It seems, there was no imminent necessity of such immediate action, nor was there sufficient evidence of an imminent plot, other than the claims of an informant under torture. There are only two further possibilities. Either there was no real evidence of any plot at all; or these premature arrests could have seriously compromised a long-term surveillance operation against suspects who may have been involved in a wider network involved in terrorist-related activity, an operation that has now been scuppered -- meaning that we may never know for sure what they were actually planning.

Meanwhile, reports of material evidence in the UK have been unnervingly threadbare. Only eleven out of the 24 suspects arrested over the alleged airliner bomb plot have been charged, largely it seems on the basis of police findings of “bomb-making equipment and martyrdom videos”. Out of the other thirteen, two have been released without charge. But the “bomb-making equipment” discovery of “chemicals” and “electrical components” is ambiguous at best, especially given that police descriptions of the alleged bomb construction plan is to mix a sports drink with a peroxide-based household gel (the chemicals), and detonate the mixture with an MP3 player or mobile phone (electrical components). If possession of such items makes you a terror suspect in possession of potential bomb-making equipment, then we are all terror suspects. As Craig Murray observes:

“Let me fess up here. I have just checked, and our flat contains nail polish remover, sports drinks, and a variety of household cleaning products. Also MP3 players and mobile phones. So the authorities could announce -- as they have whispered to the media in this case -- that potential ingredients of a liquid bomb, and potential timing devices, have been discovered. It rather lowers the bar doesn’t it?”

Yes -- clearly, it lowers the bar to potentially include millions of perfectly normal British citizens. The police story is also, simply, scientifically absurd, as Murray further notes: “The idea that high explosive can be made quickly in a plane toilet by mixing at room temperature some nail polish remover, bleach, and Red Bull and giving it a quick stir, is nonsense.” Citing US chemistry experts, Washington-based information security journalist Thomas C. Greene similarly concludes that

"... the fabled binary liquid explosive -- that is, the sudden mixing of hydrogen peroxide and acetone with sulfuric acid to create a plane-killing explosion, is out of the question... But the Hollywood myth of binary liquid explosives now moves governments and drives public policy. We have reacted to a movie plot."


CIA, MI6 and ISI

A report by Asia Times Pakistan Bureau Chief Syed Shahzad citing Pakistani intelligence sources confirms that the British-born Pakistanis arrested in Lahore and Karachi were active members of al-Muhajiroun, the banned UK-based extremist Islamist group currently directed by Omar Bakri Mohammed from Lebanon. Moreover, they had been penetrated by Pakistani intelligence services. “I can tell you with surety”, said one Pakistani source, “that the boys [recently] arrested in Pakistan have long been identified by the Pakistani establishment.” They had come to Pakistan and “interacted with a few officials of the Pakistani army” with a view to stage a coup against the Musharraf regime. Omar Bakri has repeatedly issued fatawas calling for the assassination of Musharraf. In fact:

“Pakistani intelligence -- coming from a strong military background -- penetrated deep into them… The closeness of the Pakistani intelligence with some boys with a Muhajiroun background was a known fact, but at what stage it turned out to be their ‘London terror plot’, we are completely in the dark. However, I safely make a conjecture that those highly motivated boys were exploited by agents provocateurs. A religious Muslim youth in his early 20s is undoubtedly full of hatred against the US, and if somebody would guide them to carry out any attack on US interests, there would be a strong chance that they would go for that. And I think this is exactly what happened… they were basically [en]trapped.”

I have no doubt that these individuals could have been associated with extremist groups. But while it may be possible they were involved in terrorist-related activity, it is now indisputable that there was no evidence of an imminent plot, and the specific claims about the details were obtained from an informant under torture. We should therefore be very cautious in accepting the “Terror Plot” official narrative, as there is clearly a continuing danger of political interference compromising ongoing intelligence investigations for political expedience.

But the deep involvement of the Pakistani ISI in penetrating the very group that was subsequently arrested and tortured, raises serious questions about what was going on. Moreover, the Asia Times also notes that the Pakistani intelligence operation against these groups was coordinated on the initiative of the CIA and MI6. Indeed, MI6 had also ensured that a deep undercover British intelligence operative had “infiltrated the group, giving the authorities intelligence on the alleged plan”, according to several US government sources.

The revelation that the arrestees were associated with al-Muhajiroun also raises serious intelligence issues. Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leader of the group, which recently operated under the names of the Saved Sect and al-Ghuraaba, was recruited by MI6 in the mid-1990s to recruit British Muslims to fight in Kosovo. Despite being implicated in the 7/7 London bombings, the British government exiled him to Lebanon where he resides safely outside of British jurisdiction, and thus effectively immune from investigation and prosecution. One inevitably wonders about the nature of Bakri’s corrupt relationship with British intelligence services today.


P2OG: Stimulating Reactions

So what were the CIA, MI6 and ISI doing? Given the disturbing context here, in which the entire “Terror Plot” narrative has obviously been deeply politicized and to some extent even fabricated, a balanced analysis needs to account precisely for the stated new “counter-terror” strategies of western intelligence services. In August 2002, a report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board revealed the latest strategic thinking about creating a new US secret counterintelligence organization -- the Proactive Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) -- which would, among other things, conduct highly clandestine operations to “stimulate reactions” among terrorist groups, by infiltrating them or provoking them into action in order to facilitate targeting them. In January 2005, Seymour Hersh revealed in the New Yorker that the P2OG strategy had been activated:

“Under Rumsfeld’s new approach, I was told, US military operatives would be permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign businessmen seeking to buy contraband items that could be used in nuclear-weapons systems. In some cases, according to the Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked to join up with guerrillas or terrorists. This could potentially involve organizing and carrying out combat operations, or even terrorist activities.”

Hersh refers to a series of articles by John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California, and a RAND terrorism consultant, where he elaborates on this strategy of “countering terror” with Pseudo-Terror. “When conventional military operations and bombing failed to defeat the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya in the 1950s,” muses professor Arquilla, “the British formed teams of friendly Kikuyu tribesmen who went about pretending to be terrorists. These ‘pseudo gangs’, as they were called, swiftly threw the Mau Mau on the defensive, either by befriending and then ambushing bands of fighters or by guiding bombers to the terrorists’ camps.” He goes on to advocate that western intelligence services should use the British case as a model for creating new “pseudo gang” terrorist groups, purportedly to undermine “real” terror networks. “What worked in Kenya a half-century ago has a wonderful chance of undermining trust and recruitment among today’s terror networks. Forming new pseudo gangs should not be difficult.” He then confidently observes about John Walker Lindh, the young American lad who joined the Taliban before 9/11: “If a confused young man from Marin County can join up with Al Qaeda, think what professional operatives might do.”

Hmmm....

I’m thinking about it, and I’m looking at the deep intelligence penetration of al-Qaeda affiliated networks like al-Muhajiroun by the CIA, MI6 and ISI, and unfortunately I’m not experiencing the same sense of elation as Arquilla. Is the 10/8 “Terror Plot” connected to the post-9/11 P2OG strategy?

Whatever happened on 10/8, it is not the majestic “success story” painted by the British and American governments. It is symptomatic of something far worse, the mechanics of which will never be truly understood in the absence of a full-scale independent public inquiry focusing on the 7th July bombings, but including associated British and western “security” policies which see Pseudo-Terrorism as a legitimate tool of statecraft.

7 August 2006

The Four-Frontal War: Covert Operations Escalate in Middle East and the Horn of Africa

Civil War Looms in Iraq

"US Generals forsee Iraqi partition" was the unnerving headline penned by Guardian journalists Julian Borger, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton Taylor yesterday. They quote the leaked memo to Prime Minister Tony Blair written by William Patey, Britain's outgoing Ammbassador to Iraq, which revealed that "a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq" is currently more probable than the stabilization of the country. His comments were shockingly confirmed by General John Abizaid, the head of US Central Command, and General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, both of whom warned of the imminent probability of Iraq's slide to civil war.

While the media debate has shifted onto whether or not a civil war is imminent in Iraq -- and it's obvious from the comments of the above informed observers that it is -- unnnoticed and barely reported is the compelling evidence that some sectarian violence has been deliberately fostered and orchestrated by US and British military intelligence. When Iraqi police found "explosives and a remote-control detonator... in the car of the two SAS special forces men" disguised as Arabs, last year in September, veteran war correspondent John Pilger in the New Statesman was one of the few to note the odd details. "What were they planning to do...?" with the explosives, he wondered: "Although reported initially by the Times and the Mail, all mention of the explosives allegedly found in the SAS men's unmarked Cressida vanished from the news. ... the SAS men, disguised as al-Sadr's followers, were planning an attack on Basra ahead of an important religious festival."

Orchestrating the Terrorist Insurgency?

I had written in some detail about this event at the time last year -- the only news outlet that would touch the story was the progressive online newsmagazine Raw Story. But this was not the only event suggesting that American and British military intelligence operatives have been playing a double-game in Iraq. Iraqi nuclear scientist Dr. Imad Khudduri, who worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 to 1998 when he left the country, reports that a driver in Baghdad had his license confiscated by US army officers at a check-point. They told him "to report to an American military camp near Baghdad airport for interrogation" to retrieve his license. When he got to the camp, he was questioned for 30 min before being released. As for his license, the US army officers told him it had been sent for processing to al-Khadimiya police station, where he had to hurry to pick it up before the responsible officer left his shift. "The driver did leave in a hurry, but was soon alarmed with a feeling that his car was driving as if carrying a heavy load", reports Dr. Khudduri.

"... he also became suspicious of a low flying helicopter that kept hovering overhead, as if trailing him. He stopped the car and inspected it carefully. He found nearly 100 kilograms of explosives hidden in the back seat and along the two back doors. The only feasible explanation for this incident is that the car was indeed booby trapped by the Americans and intended for the al-Khadimiya Shiite district of Baghdad. The helicopter was monitoring his movement and witnessing the anticipated ‘hideous attack by foreign elements’.

"The same scenario was repeated in Mosul, in the north of Iraq. A car was confiscated along with the driver’s license. He did follow up on the matter and finally reclaimed his car but was told to go to a police station to reclaim his license. Fortunately for him, the car broke down on the way to the police station. The inspecting car mechanic discovered that the spare tire was fully laden with explosives."


Going back to my own research on this, in my Raw Story report just under a year ago, I noted two important points:

1. Press reports as well as official statements from al-Qaeda in Iraq [scroll down to 'Extremists Threaten To Intensify Attacks] suggested that al-Qaeda had teamed up with Saddam Hussein's old Ba'ath Party loyalists. Iraqi intelligence and US military officials have known for years that al-Qaeda operatives from outside Iraq had "formed an alliance with former intelligence agents of Saddam Hussein".

2. Pakistani military sources told the Asia Times in February 2005 that the US has "resolved to arm small militias backed by US troops and entrenched in the population," consisting of "former members of the Ba'ath Party". In other words, al-Qaeda's latest Ba'athist recruits undergoing what the London Times called "Al-Qaeda-style training, such as how to make remote-controlled bombs" were getting themselves "entrenched" in the civilian environment while also being covertly armed and supported by elements of the US military. The US had procured “Pakistan-manufactured weapons, including rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry.” A Pakistani military analyst noted that the “arms could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them.” It is difficult to avoid the conclusions that US military intelligence has actively implemented a series of covert operations designed to manipulate and arm the terrorist insurgency, thus contributing to the deterioration of security.

Neo-Con Plan: The Dissolution of Iraq

But why? The dissolution of Iraq has long been an essential feature of hardline Israeli strategic thinking. In 1982, the Hebrew journal Kivunim -- the official organ of the World Zionist Organization -- published an article by former Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon, who observed that:

"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... In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel... Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north."

The fragmentation of Iraq, in other words, is an integral part of Zionist grand strategy, a strategy that is staunchly supported by the neoconservatives in the White House.

Sources close to the incumbent Iraqi government fear that the drastic deterioration of security in Iraq will be exploited by the Anglo-American coalition to dissolve the fragile parliament and declare a state of emergency, thus permanently sealing the occupation. It is difficult to discern whether this specific scenario is plausible, but there can be no doubt that policymakers in Washington and London want to manipulate the situation to ensure long-term control over Iraqi oil reserves.

Nuclear-ization of Mid-East War

As covert operations to fracture Iraq are escalating, the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon is deepening. Evidence mounts that Israel is planning a wider regional war using nuclear weapons. As ceasefire negotiations continued last week, the Israeli Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological & Chemical Weapons reported (5.8.06) that:

"The Government of Israel has recently purchased from the United States bunker-busting bombs (GBU-28), for use in its war in Lebanon. These bombs contain depleted uranium -- a carcinogenic substance that spreads in the form of a toxic and radioactive dust, which enters the lungs and bones and is especially harmful to babies and young children."

The invention of bunker-busting bombs are a brazen attempt to make nuclear devices a viable weapons of warfare without automatically implying Mutually Assured Destruction. In late May 2003, at President Bush’s insistence, Congress voted to end the 10-year ban on the development of tactical nuclear weapons -- also known as ‘mini-nukes’ or 'bunker-busting' bombs - that range up to a third the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The new nuclear devices are designed to “produce small amounts of radiation, earth-penetrating weapons to attack underground bunkers, larger devices with greater radiation effects and weapons to destroy chemical and biological agents.” These measures conflict with US treaty obligations -- the US is a signatory to both the comprehensive test ban treaty (although has not ratified it) and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Despite being designed to concentrate the impact in order to limit the nuclear fallout to the intended target, tactical nuclear weapons remain extremely dangerous and inherently indiscriminate -- and of course far more devastating for civilian populations than conventional weapons. For example, according to Council on Foreign Relations scientist Robert Nelson in Physics Today, “anyone within the roughly 3W0.6 km2 area covered by the base surge would receive a fatal dose of radiation. (W is the explosive energy yield in kilotons of TNT.).” Estimating a typical third-world urban population density of 6000/km2, this implies that a single “1-kt weapon would kill tens of thousands”, whereas a single more powerful “100-kt weapon would kill hundreds of thousands of people.”

Nukes, in other words, are still nukes.

Have No Doubt: They Want War... on Four Fronts

Israeli's acquirement of tactical nuclear weapons within the last few days is therefore of urgent concern, and indicates that the regime is stepping-up its planning for an impending wider regional conflict. It must be remembered that Israel has long planned this war. The "clean break" strategy advocated a decade ago by Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser David Wurmser -- which "is progressing as planned" according to Pentagon whistleblower Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatowski PhD -- sees a conflict with Lebanon as an integral dimension of a war to expand Israeli influence over Syria and Iran: "An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon."

As the US, UK, and other powers scuttle around shouting for a ceasefire agreement, according to former senior advisor to President Clinton Sidney Blumenthal, neither the US nor Israel want peace:

"The National Security Agency is providing signal intelligence to Israel to monitor whether Syria and Iran are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah ... neoconservatives on Vice President Dick Cheney's national security staff and Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative senior director for the Near East on the National Security Council, are prime movers behind sharing NSA intelligence with Israel, and they have discussed Syrian and Iranian supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli bombing of both countries... The neoconservatives are described as enthusiastic about the possibility of using NSA intelligence as a lever to widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas into a four-front war."

The ceasefire rhetoric is being used deliberately by Anglo-American and Israeli officials to manufacture a justification for opening multiple theatres of war in the region. As Robert Fisk at the Independent observes, the draft resolution is absurdly pro-Israel, failing to even call on Israeli troops to withdraw from Lebanon, and guaranteed to be rejected by Hizbullah as merely an exercise in imperial hubris.

Carving Lebanon?

Meanwhile, US efforts are currently designed to facilitate the political divisions in Lebanon. While supporting Israel's invasion of Lebanon, and condemning Hizbullah's resistance, the Bush administration is simultaneously planning "to help train and equip the Lebanese army so it can take control of all of the nation's territory". The plan is motivated by Hizbollah's growing popularity as the only force in Lebanon capable of attempting to defend its people.

Indeed, the strategic planning behind the "clean break" onslaught now in motion was already in place in the 1980s and is mentioned in the Kivunim article cited previously, which advises that: "Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track." Moreover, this is part of a broader process of reconfiguration of the entire Middle East. "The entire Arabian peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia", the article continues.

"Low Intensity Warfare" in Iran and Somalia

It should not come as a surprise then to learn that the War on Iran has, in fact, already begun -- as early as June 2005. Former US marine and chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, revealed citing confidential sources secret US military flights in Iran “using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.” The CIA’s Directorate of Operations was financing and directing the Mujahadeen el-Khalq (MEK), the notorious Iranian opposition group (formerly run by Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services) still categorized by the State Department as a “terrorist organization.” CIA-sponsored MEK terrorist operations currently include “remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.” Additionally, the US military had prepared a base of operations in neighbouring Azerbaijan “for a massive military presence” designed to facilitate a “major land-based campaign” to conquer Tehran. CIA paramilitary operatives and US Special Operations units are training with Azerbaijan forces to form special units capable of “operating inside Iran for the purpose of intelligence gathering, direct action, and mobilizing indigenous opposition to the Mullahs in Tehran.”

Covert operations are escalating in other potentially oil-rich regions. In February this year, CIA planes reportedly "delivered large amounts of money and guns" to three warlords in Somalia who dominated Mogadishu. "They named themselves the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism" and began fighting against the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a loose legal federation of Somali clans supported "by local businessmen, to restore order by using religious law to settle disputes and punish criminals. Each clan's court has jurisdiction only over its own clan members, but it was a start on rebuilding a law-abiding society." The BBC describes the UIC as "a grassroots movement" which has "become increasingly popular among city residents and the business community desperate to see an end to the rule of the gun." An initiative that Washington was not happy with. In late July this year, the US "let Ethiopia send troops in to protect the isolated 'Interim Government' in Baidoa. That probably means renewed war, and across borders this time... Just when Somalia was about to escape from its long nightmare, a new and worse one has appeared: the prospect of a war that would consume the entire Horn of Africa."

Although Somali clan leaders have expressed the desire to cooperate with Washington's demands on alleged al-Qaeda terrorists, Washington suddenly seems less interested in tangible peaceful solutions. UIC clan elders reportedly "met with US Ambassador William Bellamy in Nairobi, Kenya and promised to cooperate in the hunt for al-Qaeda terrorists."
They even "signed an agreement with the US ambassador that if they tell us exactly where these men are in Somalia, our clan militia will go and capture them and turn them over." Since then, the US has been surprisingly silent about the location of the alleged terrorists -- but still wants to ignite a war that could engulf the whole Horn of Africa. A spokesperson for the US embassy had "no comment" on the meetings.

US interests in Somalia are rather familiar, and have remained much the same since the 1992 Bush Snr. invasion called "Operation Restore Hope". At that time the Los Angeles Times revealed: “Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major US oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside. That land, in the opinion of geologists and industry sources, could yield significant amounts of oil and natural gas if the US led military mission can restore peace to the impoverished East African nation.” As the Independent adds, "The oil giants’ exclusive concessions to explore and drill [are] worthless in the absence of a viable government to enforce their claims.” The UIC, as an increasingly popular, largely Islamic Sufi federation, fundamentally threatens to permanently prevent the retrieval of these exclusive concessions to US oil corporations.

Concluding Comment

It seems that the War Machine is now in full-swing. US covert operations to control strategic resources are exploding in Iraq, Iran and Somalia. Western diplomatic, military, intelligence and financial maneuverings are carefully positioning Israeli policy to fracture the conflict with Lebanon in a conflict on four (or more) fronts. Tactical nukes are being prepared for imminent use, increasing the probability of a full-scale regional conflagaration.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney is still hiding somewhere in his bunker, and Western leaders continue to promise us that they only want peace.

Orwell must be spinning in his grave.

5 August 2006

The Asian News: 7/7 "Cock-up or Conspiracy?"

Last week The Asian News, a monthly pick-up newspaper published by the Guardian Media Group, published an editorial review of my book, The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry. It describes the book as "a polemical grenade". Full review posted below:

"Cock-up or conspiracy?"

THE ASIAN NEWS

By Steve Hammond, Editor

THE British Muslim community is now transfixed by strident allegations and counter allegations over its outlook and ideology.

Right-wing newspaper critics accuse it of harbouring the most desperate terrorist plotters while organisations including the Islamic Human Rights Commission charge the authorities of launching a full scale witch-hunt against innocent Muslims.

Meanwhile we read that a staggering 100,000 candidates (presumably overwhelming Asian and Muslim) applied for the 400 jobs the internal security service M15 want to recruit 600 new employees to monitor - crudely put, spy on - UK Muslims. Ironically, Al Qaida sympathisers are said to be trying to infiltrate M15 according to a recent Guardian front page lead.

What a circus of controversy the 7/7 atrocities unleashed and therefore all the more important to grasp what really happened on that fateful day just over a year ago, and what circumstances led up to the tube and bus bombings.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed’s 'The London Bombings' throws a polemical grenade into this debate by suggesting the terrorist attack was brought about by the British authorities themselves.
His thesis - that in the years leading up to 9/11 and 7/7 the British security services, the Foreign Office and American government organisations including the CIA, fostered so-called Islamic extremists, including al Qaida, because it suited their Cold War purposes in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa.

He argues further that this policy included encouraging and monitoring home-grown extremists. But concludes that there was "blowback", as he puts it, with the extremist turning to bite the Western hand that fed it.

Some of this is incontrovertible. It is well documented that the CIA via the Pakistan secret service and military massively financed, armed and supplied the uprising against the Afghani Communist regime and that the ensuing chaos led to the Taliban and Bin Laden. But the precise allegation that the tube bombers were nurtured by the authorities in the UK, is shocking not to say sensational. Ahmed claims, that because of this background, British government and security forces are stubbornly resisting calls for an independent inquiry into 7/7, an event that Ahmed suggests, that was not all that it seemed.

He starts by questioning the official version of what happened on that sunny, summer's day. For example the assertion that the bombs were suicidally detonated inside the tube train carriages. He quotes witness statements that describe the floor of the tube carriage erupting as if bombs had been placed underneath. Such an operation would have been far more sophisticated than a suicide bombing.

To buttress this speculation he turns to early statements made by police and security service personnel to newspapers and the electronic media that the explosives appeared to be military grade material that originated from the Bosnian conflict where British and US sponsored Islamic extremists, including some from Britain, fought alongside indigenous Muslim forces against the Serbs.

Ahmed says the sophisticated-explosive line was dropped mysteriously in favour of assertions that the explosives were simple and home made. Yet he points out that the authorities claim they are still investigating what type of explosives were in fact used a year later. He also picks out other anomalies that have led to a raft of conspiracy theory websites about 7/7.

For example the claim that the four bombers got the 7.40am train from Luton to arrive at Kings Cross for 8.23am in time to be captured on CCTV there at 8.26am. But, says Ahmed, Thameslink, which ran the trains that morning, say there was no 7.40am train but one at 7.42am which arrived at Kings Cross at 8.39am, after the bombers were supposed to have been caught on camera.

So far so puzzling.

Ahmed now introduces a new strand to his argument. He challenges the view put about by the police, security services and the government that no-one knew anything about the four bombers or other extremists operating in their circle.

He gives a detailed account, culled mainly from security service reports at home and abroad, to suggest MI5 and MI6 knew of these extremist circles, and indeed had double agents inside them, including the much tabloid-pilloried Abu Hamza al-Masri of Finsbury Park Mosque infamy (who has now, very conveniently in Ahmed's view, been allowed to slip out of the country to Libya from where the British authorities have made no attempts to get him extradited) and his side-kick Omar Bakri Mohammed who has himself boasted of providing the security services with information.

[the reviewer, Steve, seems to be confused on this point, as it was Omar Bakri who was allowed to go to Lebanon, not Libya, where he is now outside the jurisdiction of British law and therefore cannot be arrested or prosecuted for possible involvement in the 7/7 attacks; Abu Hamza was recruited by the British security services along with Bakri in the mid-1990s to get British Muslims to go to Kosovo, and appears to have remained an MI5 informant for the duration of his inflammatory terror-sponsoring career (Nafeez)]

He quotes from reports naming the bombers as men who were being watched and individuals who were in frequent contact by mobile phone with senior al Qaida leaders in Europe. He says their membership of Bakri's al Mahajiroun organisation, which claimed to recruit Muslims for training and fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was well known to the authorities and points out that the blatant urgings by Hamza and Bakri to use violent means to further their cause were well known to the authorities and obvious grounds for prosecutions under half a dozen laws. Yet the authorities did nothing.

He says the staggering tolerant attitude of the British authorities towards these circles prior to 7/7 was dictated by a twin policy of appeasement - i.e. because home grown and foreign terrorist had been given sanctuary in the UK there was an understanding they would not attack the home country, and, because there had been a history of collaboration with such circles in the past arising out of the war in Afghanistan and Bosnia. He quotes from several security sources to sustain this alarming suggestion.

Since the publication of his book some of Ahmed's claims have been substantiated particularly his challenge to government claims that the bomber probably acted alone and were "home grown". After the video featuring one of the bombers gloating over the destruction he would cause was released by al Qaida, the Home Office have conceded that there was outside directions of the operation.

The rest of the book examines just how, in order to overthrow communist regimes and to "dominate and control" the resources of the Balkans, the Middle East, the oil-and-gas-rich Caspian area and North Africa, the British and US authorities often worked closely with Islamic fighters. This thesis is recommended by the journalist John Pilger and praised by the left-wing American author Gore Vidal, a consistent critic of the US political establishment. [interested readers may wish to follow up this line of inquiry with my previous book which explores the subject fairly comprehensively, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (Nafeez)]

Readers should be aware that extraordinary conspiracy theories can be erected on seeming anomalies in official accounts that turn-out to be nothing but a reflection of chaotic events at the time and not evidence of some dastardly plan by the evil men and women who wield power. In other words the cock-up theory not the conspiracy theory.

But strange things do happen. During the IRA bombing campaign security services and police working on two of the worst terrorist attacks (in terms of loss of life), the Birmingham and Guildford pub bombings, managed to arrest, apparently frame and jail two groups of men and women who, after more than a decade behind bars, were released after the original guilty verdicts were declared unsafe.

Incompetence or conspiracy? We will be nearer the truth about the tube bombings surely if Ahmed's call for a full, independent public inquiry is heeded.

"The London Bombings, an independent inquiry" by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is published by Duckworth, £8.99 paperback.

4 August 2006

The Peace Process: so close and now so far...

Increasing corroboration of the story of how Shin Bet scuppered unprecedented peace negotiations that made the current war in Lebanon inevitable, from a mainstream daily newspaper in New Zealand (of all places -- why aren't newspapers in London, Washington and Tel Aviv covering this?). The author of the piece, Chris Trotter, is a well-known political commentator in that country. Here, he draws on the reporting by myself (which was based on that of my colleague Graham Ennis from the Omega Institute) and Israeli journalist Arthur Neslan, as well as it seems his own sources to show how the entire narrative of the Middle East crisis has been subverted in favour of Israeli aggression.

"So close and now so far"
THE DOMINION POST
New Zealand
04 August 2006

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3754421a1861,00.html

By CHRIS TROTTER

With horror upon horror piling up in Lebanon, war has once again laid waste the hopes of peace-loving people all over the Middle East. And now it is revealed that, instead of recoiling from another Arab-Israeli bloodbath, the world could just as easily have been celebrating the outbreak of peace.

At least that is the claim that has been made by Nafeez Mossaddeq Ahmed, of the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex, and journalist Arthur Neslen on the English-language website of the Arab TV network, al Jazeera.

Apparently, negotiations between Hamas and Israeli religious leaders had advanced to the point where both sides were ready to kick-start a bold new peace initiative by jointly demanding the freeing of the captured Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Almost forgotten in the maelstrom of violence engulfing Lebanon, Corporal Shalit remains a captive of the Hamas militia in Gaza. He has been in their custody since late June, when he was taken prisoner during a gun battle between Hamas militants and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

Desperate to preserve the informal truce between the Israeli Government and the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Parliament, religious leaders on both sides moved swiftly to secure his freedom.

Time, they knew, was of the essence. So often, in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, tentative movements toward peace and reconciliation have been brought to a sudden halt by the provocations of extremist elements on both sides of the conflict.

Sensing, perhaps, that the abduction of Corporal Shalit was one of these, the peacemakers spent the first week of July in frantic efforts to secure the Israeli soldier's freedom and extend the truce.

Though neither the Palestinian Authority nor the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were officially involved in these discussions, both governments were kept fully informed of developments.

By the second week in July, the religious leaders were ready to hold a press conference at which a joint appeal would be made for Corporal Shalit's freeing. Of equal importance to this show of Palestinian-Israeli unity was the planned announcement of proposals for the freeing of Palestinian prisoners. It was hoped that this confidence-building exercise would act as the catalyst for a whole new framework for official peace negotiations.

But, according to Nafeez and Neslen, that was not the way events unfolded. On the eve of the press conference, Israel's internal security service the Shin Bet is alleged to have arrested Abu Arafa, the Palestinian cabinet minister for Jerusalem, and Abu Tir, a senior Hamas member of the Palestinian Parliament, and threatened them with detention if they attended the meeting. Not surprisingly, the plans of the peacemakers were thrown into disarray.

At the downsized press conference, Yitzhak Frankenthal of the Arik Institute for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace, whose son was killed by Hamas in 1994, became the target of sustained media abuse.

According to Neslen, one of the outraged press pack demanded to know: "Should someone who murdered your son be freed?"

Frankenthal replied: "It would be the easiest thing in the world for me to say that they are terrorists and we must fight them.

"But in the eyes of the Palestinians, they are liberators. We need to understand that it is the obligation of the Palestinians, as it is the obligation of every other nation, to fight for their liberation.

"The time has come for reconciliation, and the only way to achieve that is to talk."

The following day, IDF tanks and troops poured across the Gaza border. Twenty-four hours later Abu Tir and Abu Arafa, along with a third of the Palestinian cabinet, were taken into custody by Israeli forces.

Hopes for a lasting peace were dashed. And not just with Hamas.

It has been reported that covert operations inside Lebanese territory by elements of the IDF were timed to coincide with the assault on Gaza and that on July 12, the Israelis were saying that Hizbollah had captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting swift Israeli retaliation.

By the following day, the story had changed. Now it was Hizbollah which had crossed the border.
I argued last week that Israel was acting according to Hizbollah's script. Seven days later, I'm left wondering if it's the other way around.

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