#BentBritain: #UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications!

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications ~ and , The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al Saadi
The admission comes ahead of a legal challenge brought on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, over allegations that security services unlawfully intercepted their communications with lawyers.  Photograph: PA & AFP

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The admission that the regime surrounding state snooping on legally privileged communications has also failed to comply with the European convention on human rights comes in advance of a legal challenge, to be heard early next month, in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients to provide the government with an advantage in court.

The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, who, along with their families, were abducted in a joint MI6-CIA operation and sent back to Tripoli to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2004.

A government spokesman said: “The concession the government has made today relates to the agencies’ policies and procedures governing the handling of legally privileged communications and whether they are compatible with the European convention on human rights.

“In view of recent IPT judgments, we acknowledge that the policies adopted since [January] 2010 have not fully met the requirements of the ECHR, specifically article 8 (right to privacy). This includes a requirement that safeguards are made sufficiently public.

“It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on their part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligations to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously. Nor does it mean that any of the agencies’ activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

He said that the intelligence agencies would now work with the interception of communications commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations.

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and one of the Belhaj family’s lawyers said: “By allowing the intelligence agencies free reign to spy on communications between lawyers and their clients, the government has endangered the fundamental British right to a fair trial.

“Reprieve has been warning for months that the security services’ policies on lawyer-client snooping have been shot through with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through.

“For too long, the security services have been allowed to snoop on those bringing cases against them when they speak to their lawyers. In doing so, they have violated a right that is centuries old in British common law. Today they have finally admitted they have been acting unlawfully for years.

“Worryingly, it looks very much like they have collected the private lawyer-client communications of two victims of rendition and torture, and possibly misused them. While the government says there was no ‘deliberate’ collection of material, it’s abundantly clear that private material was collected and may well have been passed on to lawyers or ministers involved in the civil case brought by Abdel hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004 by British intelligence.

“Only time will tell how badly their case was tainted. But right now, the government needs urgently to investigate how things went wrong and come clean about what it is doing to repair the damage.”

Government sources, in line with all such cases, refuse to confirm or deny whether the two Libyans were the subject of an interception operation. They insist the concession does not concern the allegation that actual interception took place and say it will be for the investigatory powers tribunal hearing to determine the issue.

An updated draft interception code of practice spelling out the the rules for the first time was quietly published at the same time as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling against GCHQ earlier this month in the case brought by Privacy International and Liberty.

The government spokesman said the draft code set out enhanced safeguards and provided more detail than previously on the protections that had to be applied in the security agencies handling of legally privileged communications.

The draft code makes clear that warrants for snooping on legally privileged conversations, emails and other communications between suspects and their lawyers can be granted if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. They have to however ensure that they are not available to lawyers or policy officials who are conducting legal cases against those suspects.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under UK law. Following exposure of widespread monitoring by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Belhaj’s lawyers feared that their exchanges with their clients could have been compromised by GCHQ’s interception of phone conversations and emails.

To demonstrate that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required in advance of Wednesday’s concession to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.

The MI6 papers noted: “Undertaking interception in such circumstances would be extremely rare and would require strong justification and robust safeguards. It is essential that such intercepted material is not acquired or used for the purpose of conferring an unfair or improper advantage on SIS or HMG [Her Majesty’s government] in any such litigation, legal proceedings or criminal investigation.”

The internal documents also refer to a visit by the interception commissioner, Sir Anthony May, last summer to examine interception warrants, where it was discovered that regulations were not being observed. “In relation to one of the warrants,” the document explained, “the commissioner identified a number of concerns with regard to the handling of [legal professional privilege] material”.

Amnesty UK’s legal programme director, Rachel Logan, said: “We are talking about nothing less than the violation of a fundamental principle of the rule of law – that communications between a lawyer and their client must be confidential.

“The government has been caught red-handed. The security agencies have been illegally intercepting privileged material and are continuing to do so – this could mean they’ve been spying on the very people challenging them in court.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that government spies have been rumbled breaking the law.”


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#Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the #West’s modern crimes!

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes ~ Ben White, The Nation, February 14, 2015.

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

The week after Mohammed’s death, on February 5, Mr Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and discussed the violence of ISIL.

“Lest we get on our high horses”, said the commander-in-chief, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

These comments prompted a (brief) media storm, with Mr Obama accused of insulting Christians, pandering to the terrorist enemy, or just bad history.

In fact, the president was simply repeating a point often made by liberals since September 11, namely, that all religions have blots on their copy book through the deeds of their followers.

One of the consequences, however, of this invocation of the Crusades – unintended, and all the more significant for it – is to seal away the West’s “sins”, particularly vis-à-vis its relationship to the Middle East, in events that took place a thousand years ago.

The Crusades were, in one sense, a demonstration of raw military power, and a collective trauma for the peoples of the regions they marched through and invaded.

In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099, a witness described how the Europeans ordered “all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses”.

He added: “No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids.”

Or take the Third Crusade, when, on August 20, 1191, England’s King Richard I oversaw the beheading of 3,000 Muslim prisoners at Acre in full view of Saladin’s army.

Just “ancient history”? In 1920, when the French had besieged and captured Damascus, their commander Henri Gourard reportedly went to the grave of Saladin, kicked it, and uttered: “Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”

But the US president need not cite the Crusades or even the colonial rule of the early 20th century: more relevant reference points would be Bagram and Fallujah.

Bagram base in Afghanistan is where US soldiers tortured prisoners to death – like 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer Dilawar. Before he was killed in custody, Dilawar was beaten by soldiers just to make him scream “Allah!”

Five months after September 11, The Guardian reported that US missiles had killed anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 in Afghanistan. Months later, the paper suggested that “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention”.

When it was Iraq’s turn, the people of Fallujah discovered that US forces gave them funerals, not democracy. On April 28, 2003, US soldiers massacred civilian protesters, shooting to death 17 during a demonstration.

When that city revolted against the occupation, the residents paid a price. As Marines tried to quell resistance in the city, wrote The New York Times on April 14, 2004, they had “orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not”.Months later, as the Marines launched their November assault on the city, CNN reported that “the sky…seems to explode”.

In their bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and UK armed forces rained fiery death down on men, women and children. Prisoners were tortured and sexually abused. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. No one was held to account.

It is one thing to apologise for the brutality of western Crusaders a thousand years ago. It is quite another to look at the corpses of the victims of the imperialist present, or hear the screams of the bereaved.

In his excellent book The Muslims Are Coming, Arun Kundnani analysed the “politics of anti-extremism”, and describes the two approaches developed by policymakers and analysts during the “war on terror”.

The first approach, which he refers to as “culturalism”, emphasises “what adherents regard as inherent features of Islamic culture”. The second approach, “reformism”, is when “extremism is viewed as a perversion of Islam’s message”, rather than “a clash of civilisations between the West’s modern values and Islam’s fanaticism”.

Thus the American Right was angry with Mr Obama, because for them, it is about religion – or specifically, Islam. Liberals, meanwhile, want to locate the problem in terms of culture.

Both want to avoid a discussion about imperialism, massacres, coups, brutalities, disappearances, dictatorships – in other words, politics.

As Kundnani writes: when “the concept of ideology” is made central, whether understood as “Islam itself or as Islamist extremism”, then “the role of western states in co-producing the terror war is obscured”.

The problem with Mr Obama’s comments on the Crusades was not, as hysterical conservatives claimed, that he was making offensive and inaccurate analogies with ISIL; rather, that in the comfort of condemning the past, he could mask the violence of his own government in the present.

The echoes of collective trauma remain for a long time, and especially when new wounds are still being inflicted. Think it is farfetched that Muslims would still care about a 1,000-year-old European invasion? Then try asking them about Guantanamo and Camp Bucca instead.

Ben White is a journalist and author of Israeli Apartheid

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes
Pep Montserrat for The National

Inside #ISIS: Report of first Western journalist ever given access to the ‘Islamic State!’

Inside Isis: The first Western journalist ever given access to the ‘Islamic State’ has just returned – and this is what he discovered ~ ADAM WITHNALL, The Independent.

The first Western journalist in the world to be allowed extensive access to Isis territories in Syria and Iraq has returned from the region with a warning: the group is “much stronger and much more dangerous” than anyone in the West realises.

Jürgen Todenhöfer, 74, is a renowned German journalist and publicist who travelled through Turkey to Mosul, the largest city occupied by Isis, after months of negotiations with the group’s leaders.

He plans to publish a summary of his “10 days in the Islamic State” on Monday, but in interviews with German-language media outlets has revealed his first impressions of what life is like under Isis.

Speaking to the website Der tz, Todenhöfer revealed that he actually stayed in the same hotel in Benghazi as James Foley, the US journalist who was beheaded on camera by Isis in August.

“Of course, I’ve seen the terrible, brutal video and it was one of my main concerns during the negotiations as to how I can avoid [the same fate],” he said.

Once within Isis territory, Todenhöfer said his strongest impression was “that Isis is much stronger than we think here”. He said it now has “dimensions larger than the UK”, and is supported by “an almost ecstatic enthusiasm that I have never encountered in any other warzone”.

“Each day, hundreds of willing fighters arrive from all over the world,” he told tz. “For me it is incomprehensible.”

Todenhöfer claims to have been able to move among Isis fighters, observing their living conditions and equipment. On hisFacebook page, he has posted images which he said show German Heckler & Koch MG3 machine guns in the hands of Isis. “Someday this German MG could be directed to us,” he said.

Isis’s fighters themselves sleep, he said, in barracks formed from “the shells of bombed-out houses”. They number around 5,000 in Mosul, and are spread so widely that were the US to bomb them all “they would have to reduce the whole of Mosul to ruins”, he said.

Todenhöfer says that this ultimately means Isis cannot be beaten by Western intervention or air strikes – despite US claims last week that they have proven effective. “With every bomb that is dropped and hits a civilian, the number of terrorists increases,” he said.

Speaking in a TV interview with RTL’s Nachtjournal programme two days after his return to Germany last week, Todenhöfer said Isis has worked hard to establish itself as a functioning state. He said it has “social welfare”, a “school system”, and that he was even surprised to see it has plans to provide education to girls.

Most concerning of all, he said, was Isis fighters’ belief that “all religions who agree with democracy have to die”.

He said the view that kept being repeated was that Isis want to “conquer the world” and all who do not believe in the group’s interpretation of the Koran will be killed. The only other religions to be spared, Todenhöfer said, were the “people of the book” – Jews and Christians.

“This is the largest religious cleansing strategy that has ever been planned in human history”, he told RTL.

Todenhöfer plans to use his first-hand experience of Isis in a book he is writing about the group. He says on Facebook that he has always “spoken to both sides” in his 50 years reporting from war zones, including interviews with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and al-Qaeda, with Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and with leaders of the Taliban.

In his view, Isis will soon come to the West to negotiate a level of co-existence. “The only ones who could stop this now are the moderate Iraqi Sunnis,” he said, adding: “If you want to defeat an opponent, you must know him.”

 JSIL1 

* Makes sense Jürgen Todenhöfer got access to ISIS. He has a history of connections with Sunni insurgents, even wrote a book about it!  

#CIA #Torture and the Myth of Never Again: The Persecution of John Kiriakou!

Torture and the Myth of Never Again: The Persecution of John Kiriakou ~  Thursday December 11, 2014, FIREDOGLAKE.

No one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The United States sanctioned acts of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memosdrafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.

Some tortured prisoners were killed by the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that no one would be held accountable for those murders either. “Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths,” he said, “the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Jose Rodriguez, a senior CIA official, admitted destroying videotapes of potentially admissible evidence, showing the torture of captives by operatives of the U.S. government at a secret prison thought to be located at a Vietnam-War-era airbase in Thailand. He was not held accountable for deep-sixing this evidence, nor for his role in the torture of human beings.

John Kiriakou Alone

The one man in the whole archipelago of America’s secret horrors who went to jail is former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Of the untold numbers of men and women involved in the whole nightmare show of those years, only one.

And of course, he didn’t torture anyone.

The charges against Kiriakou alleged that in answering questions from reporters about suspicions that the CIA tortured detainees in its custody, he violated the Espionage Act, once an obscure World War I-era law that aimed at punishing Americans who gave aid to the enemy. It was passed in 1917 and has been the subject of much judicial and Congressional doubt ever since. Kiriakou is one of six government whistleblowers who have been charged under the Act by the Obama administration. From 1917 until Obama came into office, only three people had ever charged in this way.

The Obama Justice Department claimed the former CIA officer “disclosed classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities.”

The charges resulted from a CIA investigation. That investigation was triggered by a filing in January 2009 on behalf of detainees at Guantanamo that contained classified information the defense had not been given through government channels, and by the discovery in the spring of 2009 of photographs of alleged CIA employees among the legal materials of some detainees at Guantanamo. According to onedescription, Kiriakou gave several interviews about the CIA in 2008. Court documents charge that he provided names of covert Agency officials to a journalist, who allegedly in turn passed them on to a Guantanamo legal team. The team sought to have detainees identify specific CIA officials who participated in their renditions and torture. Kiriakou was accused of providing the identities of CIA officers that may have allowed names to be linked to photographs.

The real “offense” in the eyes of the Obama administration was quite different. In 2007, Kiriakou became a whistleblower. He went on record as the first (albeit by then, former) CIA official to confirm the use of waterboarding of al-Qaeda prisoners as an interrogation technique, and then to condemn it as torture. He specifically mentioned the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah in that secret prison in Thailand. Kiriakou also ran afoul of the CIA over efforts to clear for publication a book he had written about the Agency’s counterterrorism work.

If Kiriakou had actually tortured someone himself, even to death, there is no possibility that he would be in trouble. In the national security state that rules the roost in Washington, talking out of turn about a crime has become the only possible crime.

Facing decades away from his family and young children, Kiriakou agreed to a plea bargain and is still in prison serving a 30-month sentence.

Never Again

For years it was the policy of the United States of America to torture and abuse its enemies or, in some cases, simply suspected enemies. It has remained a U.S. policy, even under the Obama administration, to employ “extraordinary rendition” — that is, the sending of captured terror suspects to the jails of countries that are known for torture and abuse, an outsourcing of what we no longer want to do.

Techniques that the U.S. hanged men for at Nuremburg and in post-war Japan were employed and declared lawful. To embark on such a program with the oversight of the Bush administration, learned men and women had to have long discussions, with staffers running in and out of rooms with snippets of research to buttress the justifications being so laboriously developed. The CIA undoubtedly used some cumbersome bureaucratic process to hire contractors for its torture staff. The old manuals needed to beupdated, psychiatrists consulted, military survival experts interviewed, training classes set up.

Videotapes were made of the torture sessions and no doubt DVDs full of real horror were reviewed back at headquarters.

Torture techniques were even reportedly demonstrated to top officials inside the White House. Individual torturers who were considered particularly effective were no doubt identified, probably rewarded, and sent on to new secret sites to harm more people.

America just didn’t wake up one day and start slapping around some Islamic punk. These were not the torture equivalents of rogue cops. A system, a mechanism, was created. That we now can only speculate about many of the details involved and the extent of all this is a tribute to the thousands who continue to remain silent about what they did, saw, heard about, or were associated with. Many of them work now at the same organizations, remaining a part of the same contracting firms, the CIA, and the military. Our torturers.

What is it that allows all those people to remain silent? How many are simply scared, watched what happening to John Kiriakou and thought: not me, I’m not sticking my neck out to see it get chopped off.They’re almost pathetically forgivable, even if they are placing their own self-interest above that of their country.

But what about the others, the ones who remain silent about what they did or saw or aided and abetted in some fashion because they still think it was the right thing to do? The ones who will do it again when another frightened president asks them to? Or even the ones who enjoyed doing it?

The same Department of Justice that hunted down the one man who spoke against torture from the inside still maintains a special unit, 60 years after the end of WWII, dedicated to hunting down the last few at-large Nazis. They do that under the rubric of “never again.” The truth is that same team needs to be turned loose on our national security state. Otherwise, until we have a full accounting of what was done in our names by our government, the pieces are all in place for it to happen again. There, if you want to know, is the real horror.

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Peter Van Buren writes about current events at blog. His book,Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent, is available now from Amazon

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Imprisoned Former #CIA Agent John #Kiriakou Speaks About #Torture, Prison, and the Future!

Imprisoned Former CIA Agent John Kiriakou Speaks About Torture, Prison, and the Future ~ Natalia Megas, Capital Comment, Washingtonian.

A jailhouse interview with the man whose disclosures prompted this week’s damning torture report.

John Kiriakou in the documentary Silenced. Photograph courtesy AFI Docs.

Do you think the Obama’s administration’s record is better than Bush’s?

Obama’s intelligence policy is essentially an extension of the Bush administration, but bloodier. Especially the use of drones … I’m disappointed because the administration has turned its back on human rights. Obama has surrounded himself with true hawks.


In 2007, 15-year CIA veteran John Kiriakou told an ABC News reporter that his agency had waterboarded an Al Qaeda detainee, Abu Zubaydah, whom Kiriakou was involved in capturing in 2002. His revelation confirmed to the American public the CIA’s torture program and helped spur a years-long Senate investigation and a damning, 6,000-page report, the abstract of which was released this week.

Kiriakou pleaded guilty in 2012 to disclosing classified information, including the name of a fellow CIA operative, to a New York Times reporter. In early 2013, he reported to the a federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, to begin serving a 30-month sentence. Kiriakou, along with supporters that include his congressman, Virginia Democrat Jim Moran, says the real point of his prosecution was to silence him and others from talking about torture. (Kiriakou case is the subject of the documentary Silenced, which screened last summer at AFI Docs.)

Kiriakou will be transferred to home confinement for the final three months of his term in February. Earlier this month, as the Senate debated releasing its report, I went to Loretto to talk to Kiriakou about his experience in prison, his feelings about the government, and his future.

Jim Moran recently asked President Obama to pardon you, calling you an “American hero.”

Moran has gone out on a limb. He’s really done right by me. He has really been there through the whole nightmare.

What do you think was misunderstood about your case?

The most important issue is my case wasn’t about leaking [the name of a CIA operative]. It was about torture. CIA never forgave me for telling the American people that torture was part of official US government policy.

Do you think the Obama’s administration’s record is better than Bush’s?

Obama’s intelligence policy is essentially an extension of the Bush administration, but bloodier. Especially the use of drones … I’m disappointed because the administration has turned its back on human rights. Obama has surrounded himself with true hawks.

You’ve just finished writing a new book, Doing Time Like A Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison. Can you give us a sneak peek?

Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter accusations. If calm is not to your benefit, chaos is your friend. And don’t trust anyone.

How has that helped you survive prison?

I’ve “survived and thrived” here based on my wits, by forming strategic alliances, by relying on myself, by trusting nobody. They made me appear more “seasoned,” more commanding of respect.

What challenges do you face coming out?

The biggest challenge will be finding permanent work. I recognize I’m controversial. Some companies dislike controversy. I’ll have to find a place that will fit both of us.

What do you want to do?

I’d like to sit at a desk at a think tank, think the big thoughts and write provocative articles and books. I think I can do more good with writing and speaking. I hope to speak a lot about prison reform.

What kinds of changes do you envision?

Europe makes good use of house arrests [especially for non-violent crimes]. First-time, non-violent offenders get no second chances in the US. You do hard time from the first moment. Nothing’s correctional about it.

What are your living arrangements like?

We live in open cubicles—10-by-16 made for four. There are 250 people in my unit and we have ten sinks, 11 showers, six toilets, six telephones. We stand in line for everything. Everyone is sick all the time. Overcrowding leads to short tempers and increased violence. There’s no legal effort to depopulate federal prisons.

How do the other inmates treat you?

At first, they stayed away. Thought I was a hit man.

If a movie were made about you, what would it be about?

It would focus on the fact that I’m a regular guy doing decidedly irregular things, who found himself in historic situations. If it happened to me, it could happen to anybody.

How so?

Americans didn’t understand that after 9/11 the national security state would be permanent in our lives. Certainly, reasonable people can agree to disagree on the civil liberties that we should or should not give up to remain safe. But the government has imposed a regime where we’ve lost our liberties without debate, and we’re not supposed to complain about it. Indeed, you risk an Espionage Act charge if you do.

Natalia Megas is a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications in the United States and abroad.

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Uprising could trigger #Isis undoing, says study!

Uprising could trigger Isis undoing, says study ~ , home affairs editor, The Observer, Saturday 1 November 2014.

Former counter-terror head at MI6 says Islamic State’s biggest challenge will be controlling dissent.
Mehdi Army fighters
Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. He has said Sunnis and Shias should rally behind the authorities to prevent Isis destroying Iraq. Photograph: Stringer/iraq/Reuters

A large-scale uprising from people living under the totalitarian regime of Islamic State (Isis) is the most likely trigger that will lead to the undoing of the self-declared caliphate, according to an authoritative report into the jihadi group by the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6.

A detailed appraisal of the organisation, obtained by the Observer, says that, although Isis has performed strategically well so far, its biggest challenge will be controlling dissent and coping with the difficulties of administration in the vast territory it governs.

The report by Richard Barrett, who headed the UN’s al-Qaida and Taliban monitoring team and helped establish the UN’s working group on terrorism, is one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the group and examines its genesis, revenue streams and cohort of foreign fighters along with its ambitions.

The social media platforms that Isis has exploited successfully to disseminate propaganda will also play a key role in its demise by rapidly spreading discord among the six million people under its rule, the report states.

It adds: “The thirst for change that Islamic State has managed to exploit will not be slaked by its totalitarian approach towards its subjects. In today’s world, no state, however remote, can hope to control its population by limiting its access to information or suppressing its ability to think. It will be no more able to harness the social, economic, and political forces around it than were the states that, through their failure, allowed the space for Islamic State to grow.”

Barrett said that international agencies had recently noted a “slowdown” in the volume of foreign fighters joining Isis, partly because some that had returned home had talked negatively about their experiences. “The fact that many people have gone home and are starting to talk about how bad things are means there’s a counter-narrative going on which has helped slow numbers,” said Barrett, whose report for security analysts the Soufan Group will be used by governments as an intelligence briefing about Isis.

A report by the UN security council, revealed on Friday that 15,000 foreign jihadis have travelled to Syria and Iraq from more than 80 countries to fight alongside Isis and other groups.

Barrett’s report also quotes the 15,000 figure, adding “over half come from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey”. However, it adds that, if Isis begins to lose its foreign cohort, it will be weakened to the point it might be overrun. “If these [foreign] fighters desert it, Islamic State will probably be unable to maintain momentum and so be an easier target for its enemies.”

Around 500 Britons are thought to have travelled to Syria and Iraq, although they are not listed among its ranks of suicide bombers in the report which during 2014 has included “Danes, Egyptians, French, Iranians, Jordanians, Libyans, Moroccans, Pakistanis, Russians (Chechens), Saudi Arabians, Syrians, Tajiks, Tunisians, Turks and Uzbeks”.

The UN report on Friday identified the use of social media by Isis as “unhindered by organisational structures”. It is this approach that Barrett believes will contribute to the break- up of Isis by quickly spreading internal criticism. Isis has been adept at using social media such as Twitter along with newer, smaller platforms – Ask.fm and Kik, Quitter and Diaspora – to broadcast its message. Barrett notes the group is “intolerant of any opposition or divergence from its worldview, and has set up networks of informers and a heavy security apparatus, managed from the centre, to ensure that no challenge to its authority can grow”.

This system has meant that those living under Isis have “begun to see it as merely a new form of oppression”, with residents recently revealing that conditions inside Mosul, the largest city under Isis control, have deteriorated. Barrett also says that the “hostility of Islamic State to individuality has also driven away many members of the professional classes, leaving hospitals without staff or medicines and schools without teachers”.

It is this, the administration of territory, that will play a key role in the longevity of Isis, emphasising the importance of agencies such as Isis’s Islamic administration of public services including electricity, sanitation and water.

However, the complexity of the challenge facing Isis is encapsulated by the fact that, while the seizure of grain stores has lowered prices, and keep bakeries running, many farmers have fled, meaning the crop for next year remains unplanted. The report adds that the amount of money required to run the caliphate “may equate to those of the Iraqi government before Islamic State took control”.

ISIS FACTS

■ Around six million people are currently living under its rule.

■ Employs between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters, according to US intelligence estimates, and another army of administrators to keep Isis functioning.

■ Controls land in Iraq that accounts for 40% of national wheat production.

■ Its latest annual report, which covers the 12 months to November 2013, demonstrates an increase in capability, with more than 9,000 military operations recorded, many indicating a high level of tactical flexibility.

■ Reportedly pays fighters between $200 and $600 a month.

■ Administration employees paid around $300 rising to $2,000 for senior managers.

■ More than four million mentions of the English acronym Isis between 17 September and 17 October 2014 on Twitter; the Arabic acronym mentioned 1.9m times over the same period.

Palestinian Youth Organization: Confrontation of the Zionist/Imperialist Project in the Arab Region!

Palestinian Youth Organization: Confrontation of the Zionist/Imperialist Project in the Arab Region ~ PFLP.

Comrade Khaled Yamani of the Palestinian Youth Organization delivered the following paper at the Anti-Imperialist Youth of World Conference in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2014: 

Confrontation of the Zionist/Imperialist Project in the Arab Region

Imperialism is the main enemy of the people. Imperialism stems from multiple sources, and not only one; while the largest, most influential, sophisticated and aggressive is U.S. imperialism, which may conflict and struggle over interests with other imperialisms, this does not mean that other imperialisms are an ally for our struggle. It also does not mean that all imperialisms are equal; clarity in what is our primary struggle, against U.S. imperialism, will only deepen the conflicts between U.S. imperialism and other imperialist forces.

In order to build on our clarity around this concept, we must turn to look at the role that we should play in practice: challenging illusions of peace with the Zionist state and exposing the terrorism of U.S. imperialism in its drive to control the Arab world and Central Asia (the expanded area labelled the “Middle East”) in order to control the oil markets in order to exercise its dominance over the world.

We are at war with imperialism, which is led by the U.S. state terror, with the Zionist state playing an organic and critical role, and supported by other imperialist states. These forces have the goal of destroying all of the progress that has been achieved in our region since independence and decolonization, which is illustrated by the destruction of infrastructure, and the overall economy, in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. This comes in addition of the promotion of sectarian conflict in order to dismantle and undermine social structures and social cohesion in targeted societies. While its control is incomplete, imperialism exploits these conflicts to keep us suppressed, disadvantaged and disunited, because this is the situation most advantageous to imperialism’s achieving control and perpetuating occupation.

The imperialist Zionist occupation entity

The primary objective of the Zionist invasion was to transplant a human base to undergird imperialist armed might, to confront and push back the Arab liberation movement, which constitutes a major threat to the interests of imperialism, which seeks victory in this vital region of the world. It is not true that the Zionist movement was a result of the persecution of Jews in Europe, and there is no true separation between the plans of the Zionist movement and those of imperialism for the region. There is a strategic cohesion between “Israel” and the Zionist movement and global imperialism. The battle with the Zionist entity is key to the overall conflict in the region: between the masses on the one hand, and global imperialism on the other hand.

The Palestinian revolutionary forces raise the slogan: “No coexistence with Zionism.” The end of the Zionist entity is necessary in order to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region. Zionism requires a serious response and confrontation equal or greater in measure to the imperialists’ promotion of the Zionist entity in the region.

This approach must be fundamental and constant in our discourse – especially of the Arab left, and must be at the base of building our strategy of confrontation. Our independence, development and unity as Arabs will not be achieved except through struggle, force, and power. The achievement of social progress is in fact a battle against the imperialist/Zionist juggernaut. Our well-being as a society is not possible without struggle and victory against the imperialist powers.

This is the basis of a clear strategy to build resistance, but it also requires the achievement of internal change in order for it to become possible to build a force that is capable of implementing this strategy and achieving its aims. Thus, the overlap of internal and external conflicts: we cannot build power and strength to confront imperialism with the ongoing presence of internal groups attached to the imperialist project. At the same time, we cannot overlook or minimize the direct threat from imperialism and Zionism engaging in wars against us, seeking control and occupation.

The development of a strategy to resist the imperialist/Zionist project in our region and the world must take into account the following:

1. There has become one battle, from Palestine, to Iraq, to all Arab countries. This struggle is intertwined with that of the peoples of Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, as well as Latin American nations and the rest of the world in general. The Palestinian people are standing on the front lines, and struggling in the trench of the various oppressed peoples and classes affected by the colonial capitalist system, in the struggle of the people in the greater battle against imperialism and its associated forces.

2. Palestinians and the Arab world must note that the Zionist state is an organic part of the politics of imperialism, a colonial settler entity, and an army of “mercenaries” to confront the movement and development of Arab progress. It is an economic center for the corporations of monopoly capitalism and imperialism. We affirm the illegitimacy and illegality of the racist Zionist entity and refuse all attempts to view it as a natural and normal state permanently accepted in the Arab region. The natural, former, present and future relationship of the Arab region with this entity is the relationship between the resistance and the dismantling of the occupation and the settlement. The primary contradiction in our region is between the Arab liberation project on the one hand and imperialism, Zionism and their projects on the other hand. This conflict cannot be resolved by any settlement that leaves imperialism and Zionism in place; it is a struggle until victory.

Any project that includes the integration of this entity in the Arab region is a project of domination that must be resisted. It is necessary to resist normalization of relations at all levels throughout the Arab world; normalization is an important mechanism to install and uphold Zionist hegemony. It is also essential to uphold the right of return of the Palestinian Arab people to their homeland, to their cities of villages of origin, as an absolute, unconditional, personal and collective right that is inalienable, and no authority is entitled or authorized to bargain or waive that right in any form. We emphasize here the Arab character of this right, as it is part of the Arab liberation project.

3. We must rebuild our society on the basis of resistance and the need to build democratic systems that represent the popular classes, in order to confront the imperialist Zionist schemes. We are concerned as revolutionary leftists that all projects of renaissance, renewal and resistance must be centered in the popular classes, in order to defeat capitalism and its subsidiaries who hold authority, and to confront and defeat the Zionist imperialist project.

4. Dependence on the so-called “international legitimacy” reflects and demonstrates imperialist hegemony and U.S. domination of the world. It is this supposed legitimacy that allows these forces to deny and disregard the natural, historical and moral rights of the people of the world. Legitimacy instead must be measured by the people’s right to accept or reject international resolutions approved by the imperialist powers engaged in a global war against the people.

5. In order to form and activate the front of resistance to imperialism and Zionism, in our case, the Palestinian struggle with the imperialist Zionist occupation, we must ask ourselves important questions. (How can the resistance intensify contradictions and class fissures in the Zionist occupier society? What is the tool best suited for pressure to escalate these contradictions?) Certainluy the answer is: The most effective and appropriate tool is the resistance, and the popular liberation war in all of its forms, and at the head, armed resistance. The only language that is understood by the enemy is that of revolutionary violence. The armed struggle is the principal approach that will make our land a key battlefield to the victory in the long struggle against the occupation and its attempts to liquidate our cause. With the masses and their conviction to achieve their goals of liberation at the forefront, this strategy ensures the resistance will achieve its objectives by multiplying the losses of the enemy and inflicting economic losses. The embrace of the resistance fighters who engage in armed struggle and revolutionary violence by the masses is a protective shield so that the enemy cannot isolate them or truly prepare to cope with their strikes.

6. Based on our understanding that the concept of the national democratic revolution is a scientific concept closely associated with the class struggle and national struggle, it is a revolution of national liberation and resistance to the presence of imperialism and Zionism, in order to end their presence in our nation. At the same time and place, there is a democratic revolution against despotic regimes of exploitation and dependency, that continues the struggle for complete liberation and sovereignty in economy, politics, culture and all of the issues of our people which primarily target the poor, the oppressed and the workers. Our vision of development is based on the principle of independent development, self-reliance, revolution and popular democracy. In our current condition as an Arab nation, the basis of revolution is a commitment to a vision and a program that reflects the interests and goals of workers, poor peasants, and the poor and oppressed masses, and it is from this understanding that we confront rulers.

Liberation requires liquidation of the comprador economic structure, the abolition of the domination of the market in the economic field and of the domination of right-wing neoliberalism in the economic, social and cultural spheres on a superstructural level. This means restructuring and building institutions of cultural and social resistance in line with the class interests of the masses of workers, poor and oppressed peoples, and hard and dedicated work to abolish social, economic and cultural backwardness and oppression, and to build instead on foundations of progress, enlightenment and democracy. Industrial and economic development must be planned, on the basis of equal opportunity, in order to provide a minimum income that ensures security for the people, meeting the needs of workers and the poor, and must come alongside the development of healthcare, social security, and cultural programs to serve the people, meet the needs of the masses, and achieve the principles of revolutionary social justice.

7.  On the importance and role of youth in revolution and social justice: there is no doubt that the youth represents a significant and distinct social group in various communities. They are strong and vital, and constitute an important source of prosperity, progress, development and sustainability in the community. When young people are absent from the social arena, the signs of stagnation and decline, accelerate toward collapse.

Perhaps the most important characteristic of young people as a force of social change is that they are, in general, the most ambitious group in a community. The process of change and progress does not stop, and any political party, youth organization or social group seeking political and social change must prioritize attracting the energies of young people and employing these energies toward specific goals.

There is a consensus that the power of youth is a double-edged sword, youth are innovative, creative, and productive if they are supported and are given strength and investment; but with no investment and engagement, they can become an unproductive sector if society fails to deal with its problems and find effective solutions. Young people as a resource depend in the first and last place on the willingness of the community, with all of its components, to support them at various levels, economically, socially, politically, culturally, intellectually and otherwise.

Young people are an important social force and a key sector in this community, and this sector has the means to win in the battle for change. There are many examples of this; the world felt the importance of the youth and students for decades in the countries of the developing world, where the vanguard of revolutionary youth in the national liberation movements led their countries to freedom from colonialism.

It is also the responsibility of leftist forces to take up the task of promoting and deepening awareness of a national culture of democracy among young people, of accommodating the advances of society, and bringing together cultural, national and human projects to defend a democratic and revolutionary culture to confront obscurantist, narrow-minded and oppressive extremist cultural projects. The national democratic identity, affiliation and culture is one that inspires among youth national commitment and democratic vision based on the history and struggle of Arab liberation movements, and leftist liberatory goals.

The Left and Marxist parties and the forces of the Arab left must push to crystallize a new policy that reflects the aspirations of Arab youth. This comes first through political programs and organizing of young people, that express the concerns, interests and aspirations of young people themselves and the challenges they confront at the domestic and external levels, along with attention to the issues of democracy, freedom and social justice. This also means taking up economic struggle; there is a high unemployment rate among youth in the Arab world, in some places over 50%, in addition to issues of education, literacy and health care, which should be at the forefront of daily struggles and party programs. The state of poverty, underdevelopment, illiteracy, the absence of democracy and the suppression of individual and collective freedoms in the Arab world are the results of the dominance of imperialism and the control of the Arab reactionary regimes associated with it, which are one of the key barriers to advancing the Arab national project. The continuation of this deteriorating situation only furthers the continuation of imperialist hegemony and that of its reactionary and bourgeois allies among the Arab ruling class.

8. The liberation of women is a prerequisite to the liberation of our society. Arab women confront two intertwined persecutions, social injustice and discrimination; and Arab women are a full partner in life and share fully in the daily suffering and struggle at all levels. Arab women must be supported to contribute fully as members and leaders of leftist organizations and youth movements, and our organizations must struggle for the liberation of Arab women, at political, social and class levels.

The elimination of imperialist hegemony, exploitation and capitalist greed, and the defeat of global imperialism and its military, economic and cultural control over our countries, which produces extreme poverty, widespread unemployment, hunger, and destruction in poor and developing nations and regional ethnic conflicts, will not occur, and victory over the imperialist onslaught will not be achieved, except through the formation of a democratic global movement to confront imperialism and its consequences, and seek dialogue between the peoples of the world on an equal basis, away from the policy of annexation, subordination and domination.

Palestinian Youth Organization

PalC

PFLP: On the anniversary of the notorious Balfour Declaration, the Zionist entity remains illegitimate!

PFLP: On the anniversary of the notorious Balfour Declaration, the Zionist entity remains illegitimate ~ PFLP.

On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Alfred Balfour delivered a treacherous stab in the back to the Palestinian Arab people, through a letter sent to Lord Lionel Rothschild, expressing the support of the British state for the establishment of a “Jewish national home” in Palestine. This promise marked the stamp of approval on the Zionist project in Palestine and its work to impel the migration of Jews from various countries of the world in order to constitute Zionist military forces, supported with various types of modern weapons, who proceeded to commit massacres as a prelude to the establishment of the Israeli state on the ruins of our homes and lands and the displacement of our people in the region and around the world in 1948.

This historic crime, in which the British colonial state gave away what it was not its to give, continues to be a stain on the British state and global imperialism. The Palestinian people will not forget and will not forgive, over successive generations, the great crime committed against them.

The Palestinian people swiftly rejected this declaration on a popular level. Immmediately upon its announcement, Palestinians engaged in fierce clashes with the British occupation and the Zionists, refusing the dismantlement and destruction of their homeland, Palestine, and giving their lives in order to prevent the dispossession of Palestinian land and giving it to the Zionists. The Palestinian people took action from the outset, boldly acting with a firm commitment to the justice of their cause and the right to defend their land from this scheme. The magnitude of the crimes committed were severe and massive, leading to the establishment of the Zionist entity and the escalation of the conflict that continues until this moment.

We in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, after 97 years of this treacherous colonialist promise, are confident in the ability of the Palestinian people to continue their resistance in order to undo the effects of this heinous crime and defeat the Zionist project in Palestine, no matter how long the struggle continues. We emphasize the following points:

1. Britain bears direct responsibility for this heinous crime committed against the Palestinian people. The imperialist British state is firmly in the camp that is hostile to the Palestinian people, and must not only apologize to the Palestinian people for this crime but atone for it by ensuring the return of the Palestinian people to their land, and the return of the Palestinian land and rights to their rightful owners.

2. There is growing global solidarity with the Palestinian cause, especially in Britain, which is evidenced in the recent vote of the British House of Commons in response to the pressure of the movement. The solidarity movement must escalate the pressure on the British state in order to end the historical injustice against our people and stop supporting the Zionist entity on all levels.

3. The battle with the Zionist criminal enemy and with global imperialism requires a struggle against racism and colonialism on the Arab level. Once again, we reaffirm that this entity is a Zionist-Arab conflict and should not be limited to our people, fighting in isolation from their Arab sisters and brothers.

4. The escalation of the Zionist attacks on the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, in the occupied city of Jerusalem, and on our prisoners in Israeli jails, cannot terrorize our people, and will not kill the Palestinian will of steadfastness and resistance. The resistance will continue in various forms until the achievement of its objectives.

5. There is a need to build national unity and reconciliation, and expedite the call for the provisional Palestinian leadership to meet and carry out their responsibilities and to rebuild the Palestinian institutions on the basis of proportional representation and a national vision with the participation of all forces in democratic elections, and the formulation of a national strategy based on adhering to constants and unity in order to confront the racist Zionist entity.

6. We draw lessons from the experience of 21 years of abhorrent, absurd negotiations, which have only proven clear failure, and the alternative of going to the United Nations for the implementation of all of the rights of our people without negotiations. It is important to join all national organizations and it is particularly imperative to join the International Criminal Court without further delay to prosecute the occupation for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

7. We must escalate the pressure to end the suffering of our people, who confront siege and aggression, as a national collective responsibility. We reaffirm that our first priority to mitigate the Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip in the reconstruction is lifting the siege and opening all crossings immediately, and we call for a national committee to monitor the subject of reconstruction to protect it from Zionist involvement and intervention.

Finally, after 97 years of this racist declaration, we reaffirm that the Zionist entity remains an illegitimate and false entity, and we hold our firm conviction that it will be defeated, uprooted and dismantled. This requires us to strengthen our militant role, support the steadfastness of our people, and harness all of our energies to confront the Zionist entity.

We promise our people to remain on the road of struggle until the defeat of the occupation on every inch of our land.

BalfourOriginal

Wag the dog: Kerry calls Netanyahu to apologize for official’s ‘chickenshit’ comment!

Kerry calls Netanyahu to apologize for official’s ‘chickenshit’ comment ~ RT.

US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to apologize for the remarks of an anonymous senior government official who called the PM “chickeshit.”

Kerry and Netanyahu had a “good conversation” that included a discussion of ways to improve relations between US and Israeli leaders, American officials told the Times of Israel. The two men also discussed other regional issues, including efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“The thing about Bibi [Netanyahu] is, he’s a chickenshit,” a senior Obama administration official told the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who published the quote in an article Tuesday on the “crisis in US-Israeli relations.

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars. The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states,” the anonymous source continued.

The White House and Kerry quickly moved to distance themselves from the quotes.

The president’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, said the anonymous official’s remarks do not reflect the US position or President Barack Obama’s views.

“We condemn anybody who uses language such as was used in this article. That does not reflect the president, it does not reflect me,” Kerry said at the Sixth Annual Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday.“It is disgraceful, unacceptable, damaging, and I think neither President Obama nor I – I’ve never heard that word around me in the White House or anywhere – I don’t know who these anonymous people are who keep getting quoted in things. But they make life much more difficult, and we are proud of what we have done to help Israel through a very difficult time.”

On Wednesday, Netanyahu made the unusual move of responding directly to the quotes, using them to his political advantage, according to Newsweek. Israeli leaders do not usually acknowledge comments made anonymously.

“Our supreme interests, chiefly the security and unity of Jerusalem, are not the main concern of those anonymous officials who attack us and me personally, as the assault on me comes only because I defend the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said while opening a memorial ceremony in parliament for an Israeli cabinet minister assassinated by a Palestinian in 2001.

“Despite all of the attacks I suffer, I will continue to defend our country. I will continue to defend the citizens of Israel,” he added.

Regardless of the crassness of the comments in the Atlantic, many Israelis agree with the characterization of the country’s leader, as he is considered to be one of the most risk-averse Israeli prime ministers in history, Newsweek reported.

On Thursday, left-leaning paper Haaretz published a political cartoon that depicted Netanyahu flying a plane labeled “Israel” into New York City’s Twin Towers, which is flying the American flag. Cartoonist Amos Biderman offered no caption to explain the drawing.

In a phone interview with the Times of Israel, Biderman explained that the cartoon implied Netanyahu was leading to “a disaster in Israel-US relations on the scale of 9/11,” pointing to the prime minister’s“arrogance” and unchecked settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

| How the West Created the Islamic State … With a Little Help From Our Friends!

How the West Created the Islamic State … With a Little Help From Our Friends  ~ Nafeez Ahmed,  bestselling author, investigative journalist and international security scholar.

Part 1 – OUR TERRORISTS

“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated,” Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon press conference in August.

Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS/IS “cancer,” said President Obama. Yesterday, in his much anticipated address, he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.

“The only way to defeat [IS] is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,” declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.”

Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.

Now despite Pentagon denials that there will be boots on the ground – and Obama’s insistence that this would not be another “Iraq war” – local Kurdish military and intelligence sources confirm that US and German special operations forces are already “on the ground here. They are helping to support us in the attack.” US airstrikes on ISIS positions and arms supplies to the Kurds have also been accompanied by British RAF reconnaissance flights over the region andUK weapons shipments to Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Divide and rule in Iraq

“It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs,” said one US government defense consultant in 2007. “It’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

Early during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US covertly supplied arms to al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents even while ostensibly supporting an emerging Shi’a-dominated administration.

Pakistani defense sources interviewed by Asia Times in February 2005 confirmed that insurgents described as “former Ba’ath party” loyalists – who were being recruited and trainedby “al-Qaeda in Iraq” under the leadership of the late Abu Musab Zarqawi – were being supplied Pakistan-manufactured weapons by the US. The arms shipments included rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry. These arms “could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them”, a source told Syed Saleem Shahzad – the Times’ Pakistan bureau chief who, “known for his exposes of the Pakistani military” according to the New Yorker, was murdered in 2011. Rather, the US is playing a double-game to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement,” said the Pakistani defense source.

This was not the only way US strategy aided the rise of Zarqawi, a bin Laden mentee and brainchild of the extremist ideology that would later spawn ‘ISIS.’

The JSOC insignia

According to a little-known November report for the US Joint Special Operations University(JSOU) and Strategic Studies Department, Dividing Our Enemies, post-invasion Iraq was “an interesting case study of fanning discontent among enemies, leading to ‘red-against-red’ [enemy-against-enemy] firefights.”

While counterinsurgency on the one hand requires US forces to “ameliorate harsh or deprived living conditions of the indigenous populations” to publicly win local hearts and minds:

“… the reverse side of this coin is one less discussed. It involves no effort to win over those caught in the crossfire of insurgent and counterinsurgent warfare, whether by bullet or broadcast. On the contrary, this underside of the counterinsurgency coin is calculated to exploit or create divisions among adversaries for the purpose of fomenting enemy-on-enemy deadly encounters.”

In other words, US forces will pursue public legitimacy through conventional social welfare while simultaneously delegitimising local enemies by escalating intra-insurgent violence, knowing full-well that doing so will in turn escalate the number of innocent civilians “caught in the crossfire.” The idea is that violence covertly calibrated by US special operations will not only weaken enemies through in-fighting but turn the population against them.

In this case, the ‘enemy’ consisted of jihadists, Ba’athists, and peaceful Sufis, who were in a majority but, like the militants, also opposed the US military presence and therefore needed to be influenced. The JSOU report referred to events in late 2004 in Fallujah where “US psychological warfare (PSYOP) specialists” undertook to “set insurgents battling insurgents.” This involved actually promoting Zarqawi’s ideology, ironically, to defeat it: “The PSYOP warriors crafted programs to exploit Zarqawi’s murderous activities – and to disseminate them through meetings, radio and television broadcasts, handouts, newspaper stories, political cartoons, and posters – thereby diminishing his folk-hero image,” and encouraging the different factions to pick each other off. “By tapping into the Fallujans’ revulsion and antagonism to the Zarqawi jihadis the Joint PSYOP Task Force did its ‘best to foster a rift between Sunni groups.’”

Yet as noted by Dahr Jamail, one of the few unembedded investigative reporters in Iraq after the war, the proliferation of propaganda linking the acceleration of suicide bombings to the persona of Zarqawi was not matched by meaningful evidence. His own search to substantiate the myriad claims attributing the insurgency to Zarqawi beyond anonymous US intelligence sources encountered only an “eerie blankness”.

US soldiers in Fallujah

The US military operation in Fallujah, largely justified on the claim that Zarqawi’s militant forces had occupied the city, used white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and indiscriminate air strikes to pulverise 36,000 of Fallujah’s 50,000 homes, killing nearly a thousand civilians, terrorising 300,000 inhabitants to flee, and culminating in a disproportionate increase in birth defects, cancer and infant mortality due to the devastating environmental consequences of the war.

To this day, Fallujah has suffered from being largely cut-off from wider Iraq, its infrastructure largely unworkable with water and sewage systems still in disrepair, and its citizens subject to sectarian discrimination and persecution by Iraqi government backed Shi’a militia and police. “Thousands of bereaved and homeless Falluja families have a new reason to hate the US and its allies,” observed The Guardian in 2005. Thus, did the US occupation plant the seeds from which Zarqawi’s legacy would coalesce into the Frankenstein monster that calls itself “the Islamic State.”

Bankrolling al-Qaeda in Syria

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business,” he told French television: “I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”

Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway. The goal was to elicit the “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

Since then, the role of the Gulf states – namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan (as well as NATO member Turkey) – in officially and unofficiallyfinancing and coordinating the most virulent elements amongst Syria’s rebels under the tutelage of US military intelligence is no secret. Yet the conventional wisdom is that the funneling of support to Islamist extremists in the rebel movement affiliated to al-Qaeda has been a colossal and regrettable error.

The reality is very different. The empowerment of the Islamist factions within the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) was a foregone conclusion of the strategy.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) greets Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L), United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (2nd L) and British Foreign Minister William Hague, in Tunis

In its drive to depose Col. Qaddafi in Libya, NATO had previously allied itself with rebels affiliated to the al-Qaeda faction, the Islamic Fighting Group. The resulting Libyan regime backed by the US was in turn liaising with FSA leaders in Istanbul to provide money and heavy weapons for the anti-Assad insurgency. The State Department even hired an al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan militia group to provide security for the US embassy in Benghazi – although they had links with the very people that attacked the embassy.

Last year, CNN confirmed that CIA officials operating secretly out of the Benghazi embassy were being forced to take extra polygraph tests to keep under wraps what US Congressman suspect was a covert operation “to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.”

With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, otherreports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.”

The National thus confirmed the existence of another command and control centre in Amman, Jordan, “staffed by western and Arab military officials,” which “channels vehicles, sniper rifles, mortars, heavy machine guns, small arms and ammunition to Free Syrian Army units.” Rebel and opposition sources described the weapons bridge as “a well-run operation staffed by high-ranking military officials from 14 countries, including the US, European nations and Arabian Gulf states, the latter providing the bulk of materiel and financial support to rebel factions.”

The FSA sources interviewed by The National went to pains to deny that any al-Qaeda affiliated factions were involved in the control centre, or would receive any weapons support. But this is difficult to believe given that “Saudi and Qatari-supplied weapons” were being funneled through to the rebels via Amman, to their favoured factions.

Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that “most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups… are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

Lest there be any doubt as to the extent to which all this covert military assistance coordinated by the US has gone to support al-Qaeda affiliated factions in the FSA, it is worth noting that earlier this year, the Israeli military intelligence website Debkafile – run by two veteran correspondents who covered the Middle East for 23 years for The Economist – reported that: “Turkey is giving Syrian rebel forces, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, passage through its territory to attack the northwestern Syrian coastal area around Latakia.”

In August, Debkafile reported that “The US, Jordan and Israel are quietly backing the mixed bag of some 30 Syrian rebel factions”, some of which had just “seized control of the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, the only transit point between Israeli and Syrian Golan.” However, Debkafile noted, “al-Qaeda elements have permeated all those factions.” Israel has provided limited support to these rebels in the form of “medical care,” as well as “arms, intelligence and food…

“Israel acted as a member, along with the US and Jordan, of a support system for rebel groups fighting in southern Syria. Their efforts are coordinated through a war-room which the Pentagon established last year near Amman. The US, Jordanian and Israeli officers manning the facility determine in consultation which rebel factions are provided with reinforcements from the special training camps run for Syrian rebels in Jordan, and which will receive arms. All three governments understand perfectly that, notwithstanding all their precautions, some of their military assistance is bound to percolate to al-Qaeda’s Syrian arm, Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is fighting in rebel ranks. Neither Washington or Jerusalem or Amman would be comfortable in admitting they are arming al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in southern Syria.”

This support also went to ISIS. Although the latter was originally founded in Iraq in October 2006, by 2013 the group had significantly expanded its operations in Syria working alongside al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra until February 2014, when ISIS was formally denounced by al-Qaeda. Even so, experts on the region’s Islamist groups point out that the alleged rift between al-Nusra and ISIS, while real, is not as fraught as one might hope, constituting a mere difference in tactics rather than fundamental ideology.

ISIS fighters pose for the camera

Officially, the US government’s financial support for the FSA goes through the Washington DC entity, the Syrian Support Group (SSG), Syrian Support Group (SSG) which was incorporated in April 2012. The SSG is licensed via the US Treasury Department to “export, re-export, sell, or supply to the Free Syrian Army (‘FSA’) financial, communications, logistical, and other services otherwise prohibited by Executive Order 13582 in order to support the FSA.”

In mid-2013, the Obama administration intensified its support to the rebels with a new classified executive order reversing its previous policy limiting US direct support to only nonlethal equipment. As before, the order would aim to supply weapons strictly to “moderate” forces in the FSA.

Except the government’s vetting procedures to block Islamist extremists from receiving US weapons have never worked.

A year later, Mother Jones found that the US government has “little oversight over whether US supplies are falling prey to corruption – or into the hands of extremists,” and relies “on too much good faith.” The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through “handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,” and the judgement of its allies. Countries supporting the rebels – the very same which have empowered al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists – “are doing audits of the delivery of lethal and nonlethal supplies.”

Thus, with the Gulf states still calling the shots on the ground, it is no surprise that by September last year, eleven prominent rebel groups distanced themselves from the ‘moderate’ opposition leadership and allied themselves with al-Qaeda.

By the SSG’s own conservative estimate, as much as 15% of rebel fighters are Islamists affiliated to al-Qaeda, either through the Jabhut al-Nusra faction, or its breakaway group ISIS. But privately, Pentagon officials estimate that “more than 50%” of the FSA is comprised of Islamist extremists, and according to rebel sources neither FSA chief Gen Salim Idris nor his senior aides engage in much vetting, decisions about which are made typically by local commanders.

Part 2 – THE LONG WAR

Follow the money

Media reports following ISIS’ conquest of much of northern and central Iraq this summer have painted the group as the world’s most super-efficient, self-financed, terrorist organisation that has been able to consolidate itself exclusively through extensive looting of Iraq’s banks and funds from black market oil sales. Much of this narrative, however, has derived from dubious sources, and overlooked disturbing details.

One senior anonymous intelligence source told Guardian correspondent Martin Chulov, for instance, that over 160 computer flash sticks obtained from an ISIS hideout revealed information on ISIS’ finances that was completely new to the intelligence community.

“Before Mosul, their total cash and assets were $875m [£515m],” said the official on the funds obtained largely via “massive cashflows from the oilfields of eastern Syria, which it had commandeered in late 2012.” Afterwards, “with the money they robbed from banks and the value of the military supplies they looted, they could add another $1.5bn to that.” The thrust of the narrative coming from intelligence sources was simple: “They had done this all themselves. There was no state actor at all behind them, which we had long known. They don’t need one.”

“ISIS’ half-a-billion-dollar bank heist makes it world’s richest terror group,” claimed the Telegraph, adding that the figure did not include additional stolen gold bullion, and millions more grabbed from banks “across the region.”

This story of ISIS’ stupendous bank looting spree across Iraq made global headlines but turned out to be disinformation. Senior Iraqi officials and bankers confirmed that banks in Iraq, including Mosul where ISIS supposedly stole $430 million, had faced no assault, remain open, and are guarded by their own private security forces.

How did the story come about? One of its prime sources was Iraqi parliamentarian Ahmed Chalabi – the same man who under the wing of his ‘Iraqi National Congress’ peddled false intelligence about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda.

In June, Chalabi met with the US ambassador to Iraq, Robert Beecroft, and Brett McGurk, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran. According to sources cited by Buzzfeed in June, Beecroft “has been meeting Chalabi for months and has dined at his mansion in Baghdad.”

Follow the oil

But while ISIS has clearly obtained funding from donors in the Gulf states, many of its fighters having broken away from the more traditional al-Qaeda affiliated groups like Jabhut al-Nusra, it has also successfully leveraged its control over Syrian and Iraqi oil fields.

In January, the New York Times reported that “Islamist rebels and extremist groups have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources”, bolstering “the fortunes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and the Nusra Front, both of which are offshoots of al-Qaeda.” Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels had “seized control of the oil and gas fields scattered across the country’s north and east,” while more moderate “Western-backed rebel groups do not appear to be involved in the oil trade, in large part because they have not taken over any oil fields.”

Yet the west had directly aided these Islamist groups in their efforts to operationalise Syria’s oil fields. In April 2013, for instance, the Times noted that al-Qaeda rebels had taken over key regions of Syria: “Nusra’s hand is felt most strongly in Aleppo”, where the al-Qaeda affiliate had established in coordination with other rebel groups including ISIS “a Shariah Commission” running “a police force and an Islamic court that hands down sentences that have included lashings.” Al-Qaeda fighters also “control the power plant and distribute flour to keep the city’s bakeries running.” Additionally, they “have seized government oil fields” in provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasaka, and now make a “profit from the crude they produce.”

Lost in the fog of media hype was the disconcerting fact that these al-Qaeda rebel bread and oil operations in Aleppo, Deir al-Zour and Hasaka were directly and indirectly supported by the US and the European Union (EU). One account by the Washington Post for instance refers to a stealth mission in Aleppo “to deliver food and other aid to needy Syrians – all of it paid for by the US government,” including the supply of flour. “The bakery is fully supplied with flour paid for by the United States,” the Post continues, noting that local consumers, however, “credited Jabhat al-Nusra – a rebel group the United States has designated a terrorist organisation because of its ties to al-Qaeda – with providing flour to the region, though he admitted he wasn’t sure where it comes from.”

And in the same month that al-Qaeda’s control of Syria’s main oil regions in Deir al-Zour and Hasaka was confirmed, the EU voted to ease an oil embargo on Syria to allow oil to be sold on international markets from these very al-Qaeda controlled oil fields. European companies would be permitted to buy crude oil and petroleum products from these areas, although transactions would be approved by the Syrian National Coalition. Due to damaged infrastructure, oil would be trucked by road to Turkey where the nearest refineries are located.

“The logical conclusion from this craziness is that Europe will be funding al-Qaeda,”said Joshua Landis , a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

Just two months later, a former senior staffer at the Syria Support Group in DC, David Falt, leaked internal SSG emails confirming that the group was “obsessed” with brokering “jackpot” oil deals on behalf of the FSA for Syria’s rebel-run oil regions.

“The idea they could raise hundreds of millions from the sale of the oil came to dominate the work of the SSG to the point no real attention was paid to the nature of the conflict,” said Falt, referring in particular to SSG’s director Brian Neill Sayers, who before his SSG role worked with NATO’s Operations Division. Their aim was to raise money for the rebels by selling the rights to Syrian oil.

Tacit complicity in IS oil smuggling

Even as al-Qaeda fighters increasingly decide to join up with IS, the ad hoc black market oil production and export infrastructure established by the Islamist groups in Syria has continued to function with, it seems, the tacit support of regional and western powers.

According to Ali Ediboglu, a Turkish MP for the border province of Hatay, IS is selling the bulk of its oil from regions in Syria and Mosul in Iraq through Turkey, with the tacit consent of Turkish authorities: “They have laid pipes from villages near the Turkish border at Hatay. Similar pipes exist also at [the Turkish border regions of] Kilis, Urfa and Gaziantep. They transfer the oil to Turkey and parlay it into cash. They take the oil from the refineries at zero cost. Using primitive means, they refine the oil in areas close to the Turkish border and then sell it via Turkey. This is worth $800 million.” He also noted that the extent of this and related operations indicates official Turkish complicity. “Fighters from Europe, Russia, Asian countries and Chechnya are going in large numbers both to Syria and Iraq, crossing from Turkish territory. There is information that at least 1,000 Turkish nationals are helping those foreign fighters sneak into Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) is allegedly involved. None of this can be happening without MIT’s knowledge.”

Similarly, there is evidence that authorities in the Kurdish region of Iraq are also turning a blind eye to IS oil smuggling. In July, Iraqi officials said that IS had begun selling oil extracted from in the northern province of Salahuddin. One official pointed out that “the Kurdish peshmerga forces stopped the sale of oil at first, but later allowed tankers to transfer and sell oil.”

State of Law coalition MP Alia Nasseef also accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of secretly trading oil with IS: “What is happening shows the extent of the massive conspiracy against Iraq by Kurdish politicians… The [illegal] sale of Iraqi oil to ISIS or anyone else is something that would not surprise us.” Although Kurdish officials have roundly rejected these accusations, informed sources told the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraqi crude captured by ISIS was “being sold to Kurdish traders in the border regions straddling Iraq, Iran and Syria, and was being shipped to Pakistan where it was being sold ‘for less than half its original price.’”

An official statement in August from Iraq’s Oil Ministry warned that any oil not sanctioned by Baghdad could include crude smuggled illegally from IS:

“International purchasers [of crude oil] and other market participants should be aware that any oil exports made without the authorisation of the Ministry of Oil may contain crude oil originating from fields under the control of [ISIS].”

“Countries like Turkey have turned a blind eye to the practice” of IS oil smuggling, said Luay al-Khateeb, a fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, “and international pressure should be mounted to close down black markets in its southern region.” So far there has been no such pressure. Meanwhile, IS oil smuggling continues, with observers inside and outside Turkeynoting that the Turkish government is tacitly allowing IS to flourish as it prefers the rebels to the Assad regime.

According to former Iraqi oil minister Isam al-Jalabi, “Turkey is the biggest winner from the Islamic State’s oil smuggling trade.” Both traders and oil firms are involved, he said, with the low prices allowing for “massive” profits for the countries facilitating the smuggling.

Buying ISIS oil?

Early last month, a tanker carrying over a million barrels in crude oil from northern Iraq’s Kurdish region arrived at the Texas Gulf of Mexico. The oil had been refined in the Iraqi Kurdish region before being pumped through a new pipeline from the KRG area ending up at Ceyhan, Turkey, where it was then loaded onto the tanker for shipping to the US. Baghdad’s efforts to stop the oil sale on the basis of its having national jurisdiction were rebuffed by American courts.

In early September, the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybášková, told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee that “several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organisation that has been brutally conquering large portions of Iraq and Syria,” according to Israel National News. She however “refused to divulge the names of the countries despite being asked numerous times.”

A third end-point for the KRG’s crude this summer, once again shipped via Turkey’s port of Ceyhan, was Israel’s southwestern port of Ashkelon. This is hardly news though. In May,Reuters revealed that Israeli and US oil refineries had been regularly purchasing and importing KRG’s disputed oil.

Meanwhile, as this triangle of covert oil shipments in which ISIS crude appears to be hopelessly entangled becomes more established, Turkey has increasingly demanded that the US pursue formal measures to lift obstacles to Kurdish oil sales to global markets. The KRG plans to export as much as 1 million barrels of oil a day by next year through its pipeline to Turkey.

The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline: Iraqi Kurdistan alone could hold up to 45 billion barrels of oil, allowing exports of up to 4 million barrels a day in the next decade if successfully brought to production

Among the many oil and gas firms active in the KRG capital, Erbil, are ExxonMobil and Chevron. They are drilling in the region for oil under KRG contracts, though operations have been halted due to the crisis. No wonder Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker that Obama’s air strikes and arms supplies to the Kurds – notably not to Baghdad – effectively amount to “the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal – as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example – are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company.” The Kurds are now busy working to “quadruple” their export capacity, while US policy has increasingly shifted toward permitting Kurdish exports – a development that would have major ramifications for Iraq’s national territorial integrity.

To be sure, as the offensive against IS ramps up, the Kurds are now selectively cracking down on IS smuggling efforts – but the measures are too little, too late.

A new map

The Third Iraq War has begun. With it, longstanding neocon dreams to partition Iraq into three along ethnic and religious lines have been resurrected.

White House officials now estimate that the fight against the region’s ‘Islamic State’ will lastyears, and may outlive the Obama administration. But this ‘long war’ vision goes back to nebulous ideas formally presented by late RAND Corp analyst Laurent Muraweic before the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board at the invitation of then chairman Richard Perle. That presentation described Iraq as a “tactical pivot” by which to transform the wider Middle East.

Brian Whitaker, former Guardian Middle East editor, rightly noted that the Perle-RAND strategy drew inspiration from a 1996 paper published by the Israeli Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, co-authored by Perle and other neocons who held top positions in the post-9/11 Bush administration.

The policy paper advocated a strategy that bears startling resemblance to the chaos unfolding in the wake of the expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ – Israel would “shape its strategic environment” by first securing the removal of Saddam Hussein. “Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and ‘roll back’ Syria.” This axis would attempt to weaken the influence of Lebanon, Syria and Iran by “weaning” off their Shi’ite populations. To succeed, Israel would need to engender US support, which would be obtained by Benjamin Netanyahu formulating the strategy “in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war.”

The 2002 Perle-RAND plan was active in the Bush administration’s strategic thinking on Iraq shortly before the 2003 war. According to US private intelligence firm Stratfor, in late 2002, then vice-president Dick Cheney and deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz had co-authored a scheme under which central Sunni-majority Iraq would join with Jordan; the northern Kurdish regions would become an autonomous state; all becoming separate from the southern Shi’ite region.

The strategic advantages of an Iraq partition, Stratfor argued, focused on US control of oil:

“After eliminating Iraq as a sovereign state, there would be no fear that one day an anti-American government would come to power in Baghdad, as the capital would be in Amman [Jordan]. Current and potential US geopolitical foes Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria would be isolated from each other, with big chunks of land between them under control of the pro-US forces.Equally important, Washington would be able to justify its long-term and heavy military presence in the region as necessary for the defense of a young new state asking for US protection – and to secure the stability of oil markets and supplies. That in turn would help the United States gain direct control of Iraqi oil and replace Saudi oil in case of conflict with Riyadh.”

The expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ has provided a pretext for the fundamental contours of this scenario to unfold, with the US and British looking to re-establish a long-term military presence in Iraq in the name of the “defense of a young new state.”

In 2006, Cheney’s successor, Joe Biden, also indicated his support for the ‘soft partition’ of Iraq along ethno-religious lines – a position which the co-author of the Biden-Iraq plan, Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, now argues is “the only solution” to the current crisis.

Also in 2006, the Armed Forces Journal published a map of the Middle East with its borders thoroughly re-drawn, courtesy of Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters, who had previously been assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence where he was responsible for future warfare. As for the goals of this plan, apart from “security from terrorism” and “the prospect of democracy”, Peters also mentioned “access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself.”

In 2008, the strategy re-surfaced – once again via RAND Corp – through a report funded by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command on how to prosecute the ‘long war.’ Among its strategies, one scenario advocated by the report was ‘Divide and Rule’ which would involve:

“… exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts.”

Simultaneously, the report suggested that the US could foster conflict between Salafi-jihadists and Shi’ite militants by:

“… shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes… as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.”

One way or another, some semblance of this plan is in motion. Last week, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Leiberman told US secretary of state John Kerry:

“Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.”

Nafeez Ahmed is a bestselling author, investigative journalist and international security scholar. He has contributed to two major terrorism investigations in the US and UK, the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest, and has advised the Royal Military Academy Sandhust, British Foreign Office and US State Department, among government agencies.

Nafeez is a regular contributor to The Guardian where he writes about the geopolitics of interconnected environmental, energy and economic crises. He has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, among many others.

Nafeez’s just released new novel, ZERO POINT, predicted a new war in Iraq to put down an al-Qaeda insurgency.