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War Council Pawns meet in Israel

By BILL van AUKEN | GLOBAL RESEARCH | MARCH 21, 2013

Starting a two-day visit to Israel on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama issued bellicose threats against both Syria and Iran. The visit, which plainly has the character of a US-Israeli war council, makes clear that ten years after the US invasion of Iraq, US imperialism is preparing even greater crimes in the Middle East.

The Democratic president threatened the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad that it would “be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists,” adding that if evidence showed that such a weapon had been used it would be a “game-changer.”

On Iran, Obama repeated his vow “to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon” and that “all options are on the table,” while recognizing Israel’s “right” to take unilateral action against Iran. There “is not a lot of daylight” between the US and Israel on Iran, he said.

Obama’s remarks came one day after the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. No speeches or ceremonies were organized by the Obama administration or the US Congress Tuesday to mark the onset of a war to which 1.5 million Americans were sent, and where nearly 4,500 died and hundreds of thousands suffered either physical or psychological wounds.

Silence, in this case, denotes guilt. Both political parties, every branch of government, the media and the US corporations were directly complicit in what unquestionably stands as the greatest war crime of the 21st century: an unprovoked war, launched on the basis of lies, against a virtually defenseless nation, claiming some one million lives and leaving an entire society in ruins.

America’s ruling elite is now pressing for even greater and more destructive conflicts, in the face of mass public opposition to war. In Orwellian fashion, familiar and discredited pretexts of “weapons of mass destruction,” terrorism and the promotion of “democracy” are being recycled, this time to justify war against Syria.

On Capitol Hill there was a drumbeat of calls for new Middle East wars. Adm. James Stavridis, the chief of the Pentagon’s European Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday on extensive planning by NATO for intervention in Syria. “We are looking at a wide range of operations, and we are prepared if called upon to be engaged as we were in Libya,” he said.

Under serious consideration, according to Stavridis, is the establishment of a “no-fly zone.” Calls for such a no-fly zone in Libya, approved by the United Nations Security Council in March 2011, led to a US-NATO bombing campaign and war for regime change.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Carl Levin, (Democrat, Michigan) led the questioning. The day before, he had spoken at the Council on Foreign Relations, calling for the establishment of “a protected zone along the Turkish-Syrian border” and the use of military force to “go after some Syrian air defenses and after some of the Syrian air power.”

Resolutions were introduced in both the House and the Senate calling for stepped-up arming and training of Western-backed “rebels” fighting to overthrow Assad.

Meanwhile, the apparent use of a chemical weapon that claimed the lives of over 30 Syrians Tuesday prompted renewed demands for direct US intervention on Capitol Hill.

The Syrian government charged that the Western-backed fighters fired the rocket carrying the chemical warhead. By all accounts, the device hit a government-controlled village outside of Aleppo. Opposition sources said that most of the victims were Syrian government soldiers, while sources in Syria described them as Alawite civilians, a population that largely supports Assad.

Lawmakers invoked Obama’s earlier threats that the use of chemical weapons in Syria represented a “red line” that would prompt US intervention. “If today’s reports are substantiated, the President’s red line has been crossed, and we would urge him to take immediate action to impose the consequences he has promised,” Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain said in a joint statement.

Graham went further in an interview, calling for sending US ground troops into Syria to secure its chemical weapons, an operation that the Pentagon estimated would require 75,000 soldiers and Marines.

The twisted logic of this campaign is that the two-year-old sectarian civil war that the US and its allies in Europe, Turkey and the Persian Gulf monarchies have fomented, funded and armed has weakened the Assad regime to such an extent that its chemical weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

However, these terrorists, such as the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist militias, are the principal shock troops of the Western-backed war for regime change.

As for the claim that Washington is promoting “democracy” in Syria, there could be no more telling refutation than the “election” Monday of the prime minister for a new “interim government” to be installed on Syrian territory seized by the so-called rebels. The winner, chosen by barely 35 members of a Syrian National Council formed under the tutelage of the US State Department, was Ghassan Hitto. A US citizen and Texas-based IT executive, he left Syria as a 17-year-old over 30 years ago.

The ideological pretexts for a US war in Syria are even less coherent than the ones used to carry out the war in Iraq a decade ago. The real driving forces are the same. What is involved is a predatory war aimed at redrawing the map of the Middle East to suit the interests of US imperialism and assure its hegemony over the region’s energy resources. War for regime change in Syria is part of a broader campaign for war with Iran and carries with it the threat of drawing in Russia and China, as well.

While the American ruling establishment may want to bury the memory of the Iraq war, working people have drawn their own conclusions, with poll after poll showing the overwhelming view that it should never have been fought.

The attempt to foist a new war on the American people, using the same warmed-over lies, comes together with a deepening assault on jobs and living standards and continuous revelations of the criminality of the financial aristocracy, in whose interests these wars are fought. Such a volatile mixture is a recipe for social explosions within the United States and the development of a mass political movement against imperialist wars in Iraq, Syria and beyond.

 

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Syrians attacked with chemical weapons in Aleppo, say reports

Both the Syrian government and the terrorists groups in charge of the conflict in Syria deny using chemical weapons

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 19, 2013

The Syrian government accused rebel militias that vie for control of the country of using chemical weapons in an attack in the southern province of Aleppo. According to the Information Ministry of Syria, 16 people died as a result of the attack.

In previous weeks and months, Western military forces issued a warning about the use of chemical weapons on the civilian population, with U.S. President Barack H. Obama threatening military action if Assad attacked his own people. This attack may then be the beginning of a set up by Western supported insurgents to create an excuse for a full invasion of Syria.

Syrian Information Minister, Omran Al Zoabi, said on Tuesday that the rebels used chemical weapons in an attack on Aleppo in which, in addition to the 16 deaths, mostly civilians, there were at least 86 wounded, mostly in critical condition. “This is a dangerous escalation,” said Al Zoabi on state television in an interview in which he said that Turkey and Qatar, official supporters of the rebels, are responsible for the “legal, moral and political” consequences of the attack.

Several rebel groups rejected the accusations on Tuesday and instead accused the regime of being responsible for the launch of a Scud missile loaded with these materials. “We have no long-range missiles or chemical weapons. If we had them, we would not employ civilians as a target,” said military spokesman Istanbul Lobre Sirius, Louay Muqdad, to AFP.

The regime has, in addition to conventional arsenals, vast reserves of sarin, mustard gas and cyanide. One of the concerns of the international community is that either the regime used these chemical weapons or that terrorists groups linked to the rebels and al-Qaeda in Syria who were brought to fight the Assad regime, get their hands on chemicals weapons handed out to them by Western supporters.

The news agency SANA did not specify what type of chemical weapon were used by the rebels, who the Assad regime has been fighting for over two years and that is composed by terrorists brought in from Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and other neighboring countries. The Syrian war, in which the West is heavily invested, has already claimed the life of more than 70,000 people and caused one of the largest migrations of refugees –more than one million– in the region.

Last week, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, told a conference that he believes Assad is preparing for the use of its chemical arsenals. “Assad retains control over chemical weapons, air force and military equipment from Syria. Assad is making preparations to use these chemical weapons. He has not yet given the order, but is preparing for it,” he said. Israel is said to have requested that the United States attacks Syrian sites where they believe the Assad regime houses its military arsenal.

In August, U.S. President Barack Obama, who tomorrow will visit Israel, warned the Syrian government that if it used chemical weapons against its own people it would face a U.S. military intervention. Until today, the prospect of a chemical attack from the part of the Assad regime has been null, and continues to be, but the use of chemical weapons against civilians –either by Assad or the rebels– is the perfect excuse to invade the country with foreign troops. Several attempts by the United States and some European countries to drive through United Nations resolutions to attack Syria have failed due to the vetoes by Russia and China.

Number of injuries in U.S. sponsored Syrian war overpasses 100,000

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 12, 2013

It is not a secret that the U.S. and other Western military forces working for the military industrial complex are aiding terrorists in Syria to create unrest and kill thousands of people. Just yesterday it was confirmed again that the United States is training Syrian rebels in Jordan to then send them to Syria.

The U.S. has also trained terrorists in Turkey, and provided intelligence and weapons to terrorist groups in Syria which are used to attack innocent civilians. All of this amounts to war crimes, but no one in the West has or will call for such a thing.

In the meantime, some 100,000 Syrians have resulted injured in the two-year war between government forces and armed rebel groups, of which a quarter have been disabled for life, says a UN commission of inquiry to that country.

These victims are in addition to the 70,000 people recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a figure that the same entity, however, has calculated conservatively, but that is actually higher.

“As hostilities spread through Syria, fleeing civilians struggle to find safe spaces. The result is a wave of displacement, women and children who bear a tremendous burden, with millions caught up in the crisis, trauma and need psychological support,” said committee chairman, Paulo Pinheiro. However, neither Pinheiro nor anyone else in the UN called for an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from Syria, which has helped turn the crisis into an even more complicated situation.

The escalation of violence in recent weeks explains how from one million Syrians who in the past two years have fled their country to seek refuge in neighboring countries, some 160,000 have done so “in a period of just twelve days”.

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Assad says Great Britain wants to further militarize conflict in Syria

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 4, 2013

Since the civil war began in Syria, the public has head president Bashar al-Assad talk about the role of the rebel terrorists in the multiple attacks against civilians, hospitals and other infrastructure. Outside Syria, everyone knows that the rebels are being armed by the United States and a short list of European nations who want Assad dead or out of Syria. But this is the first time since the conflict began that President Assad explicitly blames a western sponsor for the escalation of the conflict.

Assad has accused Britain of “militarizing” the crisis in his country, given recent British government efforts to convince other countries of the European Union to authorize shipment of arms to the rebels. The shipment of weapons has been going on for at least two years, but no western government has officially recognized their secret support to the terrorists. “Don’t expect me to act as a pyromaniac firefighter,” said Assad in an interview with the British newspaper The Sunday Times.

“To be honest, Britain has had a famously unhelpful role in our region, in different cases, over many decades,” said Assad. “The problem with the government now is its superficial and immature rhetoric, which only highlights the tradition of bullying and hegemony.” At a meeting on Thursday in Rome, the Friends of Syria met with Western powers, including the U.S. and the EU, to clarify the reach of their support to the different factions of terrorists that work under the umbrella of the Syrian opposition.

Publicly, Western nations aiding the terrorists in Syria have naively expressed their concern about the possibility that some weapons fall into the hands of jihadi militias that have infiltrated the opposition and that the West claims are legitimate. In his interview, Assad spoke of those fears, saying that he would be willing to talk with the rebels if they lay down their arms, “but not with terrorists who are willing to use weapons to terrorize the population, kill civilians and attack public spaces and destroy the country. ”

“The British government wants to send military aid to the moderate groups in Syria, even though it is well-known that these groups are not moderate,” said Assad. “We all know now that our fight is against Al Qaeda, the Al Nusra Front, an arm of Al Qaeda, and other groups of people indoctrinated with extremist ideologies.” According to Assad, Israeli intelligence actually fears that these terrorists will carry the radical groups around the Middle East to destabilize the region.

“We have an opposition that is part of the political institutions and armed terrorists there. We are ready to dialogue with the opposition but not with terrorists. We fight against terrorists,” said Assad, adding that, despite international pressure, he will not leave power.

The two-year civil war in Syria has resulted in the death of more than 70,000 people, according to United Nations. The number of refugees has also seen an upward spike and will soon exceed one million people.

Assad warned the U.S. and Europe from what, in his view, can happen if the regime falls and jihadist groups take over. “Europe, the U.S. and others will pay direly for the price of instability in the region.” Well, that is exactly what the Western instigators want: chaos and death to bring about ‘order’ by their own means. Assad added that his departure from power would not solve the conflict: “It is absurd, and recent precedents in Libya, Yemen and Egypt attest to this.”

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United States will increase support for Syrian Terrorists

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | FEBRUARY 28, 2013

Hillary Clinton was very blunt when she appeared before Congress to talk about the Benghazi affair. She said the U.S. would continue causing war and conflict all over the world. Days after, during his confirmation, John Kerry, the current State Department Secretary seconded Clinton’s words and reaffirmed the American interest to maintain political and military control of the world as it stood up until that point.

Now, as a sworn U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, confessed in Paris his desire to accelerate the “political transition” in Syria after two years of a conflict that has claimed more than 70,000 victims and hundreds of thousands of refugees. All indications are that the Obama administration plans to paint brush its policy toward Syria in a way that resembles a change in the way it has so far approached the civil war in the country. The new plan will be presented at a conference to be held in Rome with the Syrian opposition, who the U.S. and its European cohorts recognize as the governing body in Syria.

Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, backed up Kerry’s announcement during his press conference yesterday at the White House by saying that Washington will increase assistance to the Syrian terrorists in an effort to achieve a society that leaves behind the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

On Sunday, John Kerry began his first official trip as Secretary of State in a tour that focuses on the Syrian conflict. He visited London, Berlin and Paris. Today he will be in Rome and then travel to Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar before returning to Washington.

Since the start of his journey, the head of U.S. diplomacy has made indirect references to a change of direction from the White House and announced that “we’re not going to Rome just to talk,” Kerry said in London on Monday.

In Berlin, the Secretary of State said the White House desires “a peaceful solution” in Syria, adding that that outcome is something that Assad refused to negotiate and that such refusal resulted in the killing of more civilians. Kerry does not say, though, that it is the aid provided by the U.S. and the rest of its partners in the region and Europe, which enables the Syrian terrorists to kill innocent civilians. Men, women and children are either murdered in cold blood, or get caught in the fight between the Assad regime and the revolutionaries.

The one-day meeting with the Syrian opposition occurred after the leader of the National Coalition opposition, Moaz Ahmed al-Khatib, accepted to attend the discussions which he had labeled as “the international silence before the crimes”. John Kerry has been very clear with the Assad regime about its future. The failed Democratic presidential candidate said that the Syrian president will not remain in office by firing “shots”.

“He needs to understand that there won’t be a solution if he continues to use force, so you have to convince him of that, and I think the opposition needs more help to be able to do it,” Kerry pointed out in a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

The Obama administration is planning to provide the rebels with armored vehicles and combat equipment –such as body armor–. For a while, Washington provided what it called “nonlethal” aid to the Syrian rebels. Last summer, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former director of the CIA today David Petraeus and former Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta proposed a plan to arm the rebels, which was rejected by the House White saying he preferred to continue building a strong political opposition. Later, the weapons made its way to the Syrian terrorists anyways.

In Syria, the so-called opposition has attacked the refusal of the U.S. and other Western countries to provide even more resources to attack the Assad government. This of course is a ploy, since the rebels have been properly armed directly by the U.S. and indirectly by American allies in the region.

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