Here’s what the media and politicians don’t want you to know about the Manchester, UK, suicide attack: Salman Abedi, the 22 year old who killed nearly two dozen concert-goers in Manchester, UK, was the product of the US and UK overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and “regime change” policy in Syria. He was a radicalized Libyan whose family fled Gaddafi’s secular Libya, and later he trained to be an armed “rebel” in Syria, fighting for the US and UK “regime change” policy toward the secular Assad government.
The suicide attacker was the direct product of US and UK interventions in the greater Middle East.
According to the London Telegraph, Abedi, a son of Libyan immigrants living in a radicalized Muslim neighborhood in Manchester had returned to Libya several times after the overthrow of Muamar Gaddafi, most recently just weeks ago. After the US/UK and allied “liberation” of Libya, all manner of previously outlawed and fiercely suppressed radical jihadist groups suddenly found they had free rein to operate in Libya. This is the Libya that Abedi returned to and where he likely prepared for his suicide attack on pop concert attendees. Before the US-led attack on Libya in 2011, there was no al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other related terrorist organization operating (at least with impunity) on Libyan soil.
Gaddafi himself warned Europe in January 2011 that if they overthrew his government the result would be radical Islamist attacks on Europe, but European governments paid no heed to the warnings. Post-Gaddafi Libya became an incubator of Islamist terrorists and terrorism, including prime recruiting ground for extremists to fight jihad in Syria against the also-secular Bashar Assad.
In Salman Abedi we have the convergence of both these disastrous US/UK and allied interventions, however: it turns out that not only did Abedi make trips to Libya to radicalize and train for terror, but he also travelled to Syria to become one of the “Syria rebels” fighting on the same side as the US and UK to overthrow the Assad government. Was he perhaps even trained in a CIA program? We don’t know, but it certainly is possible.
While the mainstream media and opportunistic politicians will argue that the only solution is more western intervention in the Middle East, the plain truth is that at least partial responsibility for this attack lies at the feet of those who pushed and pursued western intervention in Libya and Syria.
There would have been no jihadist training camps in Libya had Gaddafi not been overthrown by the US/UK and allies. There would have been no explosion of ISIS or al-Qaeda in Syria had it not been for the US/UK and allied policy of “regime change” in that country.
When thinking about Abedi’s guilt for this heinous act of murder, do not forget those interventionists who lit the fuse that started this conflagration. The guilt rests squarely on their shoulders as well.
Three years after the CIA began secretly shipping lethal aid to rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, battlefield losses and fears that a Donald Trump administration will abandon them have left tens of thousands of opposition fighters weighing their alternatives.
Among the options, say U.S. officials, regional experts and the rebels themselves, are a closer alliance with better-armed al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, receipt of more sophisticated weaponry from Sunni states in the Persian Gulf region opposed to a U.S. pullback, and adoption of more traditional guerrilla tactics, including sniper and other small-scale attacks on both Syrian and Russian targets.
Just over a year ago, the opposition held significant territory inside Syria. Since then, in the absence of effective international pushback, Russian and Syrian airstrikes have relentlessly bombarded their positions and the civilians alongside them. On the ground, Syrian government troops — bolstered by Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Shiite militia forces from Iraq — have retaken much of that ground.
In brutal attacks over the past three weeks, they have been driven out of much of the eastern Aleppo stronghold that they have occupied since 2012.
Trump has made clear that his priority in Syria is the separate fight against the Islamic State, ideally in cooperation with Russia and the Syrian government, as well as other allies. While still vague about his plans, the president-elect has rejected the Obama administration’s view that ending the civil war and bringing Assad to the negotiating table are ultimately key to victory over the Islamic militants, and indicated he will curtail support for the opposition.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the rebels, saying, “We have no idea who these people are.”
“My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS,” he told the Wall Street Journal last month, using another name for the Islamic State.
Assad, in an interview the week after Trump’s election, called the United States a “natural” counterterrorism ally. He has long labeled the opposition as terrorists equal to the Islamic State.
The possibility of cutting loose opposition groups it has vetted, trained and armed would be a jolt to a CIA already unsettled by the low opinion of U.S. intelligence capabilities that Trump had expressed during his presidential campaign.
From a slow and disorganized start, the opposition “accomplished many of the goals the U.S. hoped for,” including their development into a credible fighting force that showed signs of pressuring Assad into negotiations, had Russia not begun bombing and Iran stepped up its presence on the ground, said one of several U.S. officials who discussed the situation on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The United States estimates that there are 50,000 or more fighters it calls “moderate opposition,” concentrated in the northwest province of Idlib, in Aleppo and in smaller pockets throughout western and southern Syria, and that they are not likely to give up.
“They’ve been fighting for years, and they’ve managed to survive,” the U.S. official said. “Their opposition to Assad is not going to fade away.”
Although their fortunes were boosted last year by U.S. and Saudi Arabia-provided TOW antitank missiles, the rebels have long complained that American assistance has been stingy and has come with too many strings attached. Concerned that more sophisticated weapons, including portable antiaircraft missiles, would end up in the hands of extremists, President Obama refused to send them and prevailed upon regional allies to impose similar restrictions on their own arms shipments.
Now, said one U.S.-vetted rebel commander, “we are very frustrated. The United States refuses to provide weapons we need, and yet it still thinks it can tell us what to do. They promise support and then watch us drown.”
“America will have no influence if our comrades are forced [to retreat to] Idlib” from Aleppo, said the commander, who asked not to be identified to speak about sensitive rebel relations with the United States.
Most rebels already forced to relinquish territory have gone to Idlib, which is fast becoming a holding pen for what is left of the rebellion. The area is dominated by as many as 10,000 fighters for Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda-linked group now known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, and an equal number of Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamist group tied to the wider rebel movement that the United States does not consider terrorist.
Some experts, including Trump’s designated White House national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, think that the growing operational alliance between the rebels and extremist groups began long ago.
Flynn argued last year that Obama’s Syria strategy of first withholding, then offering only measured support for the opposition through a covert CIA program, effectively allowed extremist organizations to grow at rebel expense. Asked in a July 2015 al Jazeera interview whether there should have been stronger early support for the opposition, Flynn said: “When you don’t get in and help somebody, they’re going to find other means to achieve their goals. . . . We should have done more earlier on in this effort.”
At the same time, Flynn has said, the administration downplayed early intelligence indicating that al-Nusra and eventually the Islamic State organization, which combined Islamist extremists and former Iraqi army officers left adrift by the 2003 U.S. invasion, were growing rapidly.
In a book published last summer, Flynn wrote that they are allied with those who “share their hatred of the West,” including “North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela.”
But in an analysis looking forward, echoed by Trump and certain to be influential in the incoming White House, Flynn has also outlined a World War II -type global alliance, including both the United States and Russia, under a single leadership, to combat what he has called “Islam’s . . . political ideology.”
Others have noted that cutting off the opposition would not only support Russian and Syrian aims but also would benefit Iran at the perceived expense of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other regional U.S. allies who view that country as an existential threat.
“There will be significant reputational costs with our allies in the region if we abandon support of the moderate opposition,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
He said the question is “whether our Gulf allies can count on us or they can’t, whether the Iranians are going to be given free rein or they won’t.”
“A lot obviously will depend on what the president-elect does, what his advisers urge him to do,” Schiff said. Referring to retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s choice for defense secretary, Schiff added, “I think Gen. Mattis will have different views . . . [that] recognize the implications in terms of Iranian influence in the region.”
Disagreement over whether to take a tougher line against Russia in Syria — including direct military intervention on behalf of civilians and, indirectly, the rebels — in Aleppo and beyond has already caused deep divisions between Obama’s State Department and the reluctant Defense Department and the White House.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry has continued negotiations over a cease-fire, meeting again with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Rome on Friday. Talks have focused on an agreement to safely deliver humanitarian aid and to evacuate both civilians, who want to leave, and the al-Nusra forces that Russia says are the majority of some several thousand anti-Assad fighters in the eastern part of the city. U.S. officials think the militants there number in the hundreds.
But Kerry has had little leverage to persuade Moscow to change its strategy, designed to ensure a military victory for Assad.
As the incoming Trump administration considers withdrawing from involvement in either assisting or resolving the civil war, others have indicated they will move into the anticipated vacuum.
Qatar has said it will continue supporting and supplying the rebels, regardless of what the United States decides.
“We want to have the U.S. with us, for sure. They have been our historic ally,” Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Jassim al-Thani said last week in an interview with Reuters in Doha. “But if they want to change their minds . . . we are not going to change our position.”
Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency, though government-run, is providing remarkably clear and reliable diagrammatic descriptions of the current status of the U.S-and-fundamentalist-Sunni, versus Russia-and-Shia-and-NON-fundamentalist-Sunni, sides, in the current oil-and-gas war in the Middle East, for control over territory in Syria, for construction of oil-and-gas pipelines through Syria supplying fuel into the world’s largest energy-market: Europe. Russia is now the dominant supplier of both oil and gas, but its ally Iran is a Shiite gas-powerhouse that wants to share the market there, and Russia has no objection. Qatar is a Sunni gas-powerhouse and wants to become the main supplier of gas there, and Saudi Arabia is a Sunni oil-powerhouse, which wants to become the major supplier of oil, but Saudi oil and Qatari gas would be pipelined through secular-controlled (Assad’s) Syria, and this is why the U.S. and its fundamentalist-Sunni allies, the Sauds, and Qataris, are using Al Qaeda and other jihadists to conquer enough of a strip through Syria so that U.S. companies such as Halliburton will be able safely to place pipelines there, to be marketed in Europe by U.S. firms such as Exxon. Iran also wants to pipeline its gas through Syria, and this is one reason why Iran is defending Syria’s government, against the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-jihadist invasion, which is trying to overthrow and replace Assad.
Here are the most-informative of Anadolu’s war-maps:
The first presents the effort by many countries to eliminate ISIS control over the large Iraqi city of Mosul. A remarkably frank remark made in this map is “An escape corridor into Syria will be left for Daesh [ISIS] so they can vacate Mosul” — an admission that the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari team want the ISIS jihadists who are in Mosul to relocate into Syria to assist the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari effort there to overthrow and replace the Assad government:
The second is about the Egyptian government’s trying to assist the Syrian government’s defense against the Saudi-U.S.-Qatari invasion of Syria, at Aleppo, where Syria’s Al Qaeda branch is trying to retain its current control over part of that large city. The Saud family are punishing the Egyptian government for that:
Here is Russia’s proposed gas-pipeline, which would enable Russia to reduce its dependence upon Ukraine (through which Russia currently pipelines its gas into Europe). Obama conquered and took over Ukraine in February 2014 via his coup that overthrew the democratically elected neutralist Ukrainian President there:
In addition, there is the following map from oil-price.com:
That map shows the competing Shia (Russia-backed) and Sunni (U.S.-backed) gas-pipelines into Europe — the central issue in the invasion and defense of Syria.
On 21 September 2016, Gareth Porter headlined “The War Against the Assad Regime Is Not a ‘Pipeline War’,” and he pointed out some errors in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s account that had been published under the headline “Syria: Another Pipeline War”. Porter argued: “It’s easy to understand why that explanation would be accepted by many anti-war activists: it is in line with the widely accepted theory that all the US wars in the Middle East have been ‘oil wars’ — about getting control of the petroleum resources of the region and denying them to America’s enemies. But the ‘pipeline war’ theory is based on false history and it represents a distraction from the real problem of US policy in the Middle East — the US war state’s determination to hold onto its military posture in the region.” Porter ignored the key question there, as to why “the US war state” has a “determination to hold onto its military posture in the region.” Opening and protecting potential oil-gas-pipeline routes are important reasons why. Clearly, Kennedy’s documentation that the CIA was trying as early as 1949 to overthrow Syria’s secular government so as to allow to the Sauds a means of cheaply transporting their oil through Syria into Europe, remains unaffected by any of the objections that Porter raised to Kennedy’s article. The recent portion of Kennedy’s timeline is affected, but not his basic argument.
Furthermore, any military strategist knows that “the US war state” is intimately connected to the U.S. oil-and-gas industries, including pipelines (“oilfield services”) as well as marketing (Exxon etc.). And Porter got entirely wrong what that connection (which he ignored) actually consists of: it consists of U.S. government taxpayer-funded killers for those U.S. international corporations. Here is how Barack Obama put it, when addressing graduating cadets at West Point, America’s premier military-training institution:
Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago.
It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead — not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.
He was saying there that America’s military is in service to U.S.-based international corporations in their competition against those of Russia, Brazil, China, India, and anywhere else in which “rising middle classes compete with us.” Those places are what Gareth Porter referred to as “America’s enemies.” Economic competitors are “enemies.” Obama thinks that way, and even a progressive journalist such as Porter doesn’t place into a skeptical single-quotation-mark-surround, the phrase ‘America’s enemies’ when that phrase is used in this equational context. On both the right (Obama) and the left (Porter), the equation of a government and of the international corporations that headquarter in its nation — the treatment of the military as being an enforcement-arm for the nation’s international corporations — is simply taken for granted, not questioned, not challenged.
RFK Jr. was correct, notwithstanding some recent timeline-errors. Syria is “Another Pipeline War,” and Obama is merely intensifying it. (On 9 November 2015, I offered a different account than RFK Jr. provided of the recent history — the Obama portion — of the longstanding U.S. aggression against Syria; and it links back to Jonathan Marshall’s excellent articles on that, and to other well-sourced articles, in addition to primary sources, none of which contradict RFK Jr.’s basic view, “Syria: Another Pipeline War.”).
Another portion of Porter’s commentary is, however, quite accurate: America’s ‘Defense’ (or mass-killing-abroad) industries (such as Lockheed Martin) are not merely servants of the U.S. government, but are also served by the U.S. government: “the US war state’s determination to hold onto its military posture in the region” is protection of the major market — the Middle Eastern market — for U.S. ‘Defense’ products and services. It’s not only America’s firms in the oil, gas, and pipelines, industries, which benefit from America’s military; it is also America’s firms in the mass-killing industries, that do.
To the extent that the public (here including Barack Obama and Gareth Porter) do not condemn the presumption that “the business of America is business,” or that a valid function of U.S.-taxpayer-funded military and other foreign-affairs operations is to serve the stockholders of U.S. international corporations, the hell (such as in Syria) will continue. Gareth Porter got lost among the trees because he failed to see (and to point to) that forest.