Thursday, September 11, 2014

Anti-war movement responds to Obama's speech on Iraq, Syria and the Islamic State

“We in the ANSWER Coalition oppose this war  and we will be organizing mass demonstrations to oppose the bombing of Iraq and Syria”
No New Iraq War -
President Obama's new war plans in Iraq and Syria will not liberate the people of either country but will lead to more destruction. The U.S. military defeat of the secular Iraqi and Libyan governments (in 2003 and 2011) and its policy of fueling armed civil war against the secular, nationalist government in Syria are the fundamental reasons the so-called Islamic State has grown and become strong.
Perpetuating a now 23-year-long U.S. political tradition, President Obama is announcing tonight that he, like the three preceding U.S. presidents, will go forward with another bombing campaign in Iraq. This is a war that will lead only to more catastrophe and destruction.

“We in the ANSWER Coalition oppose this war and we will be organizing mass demonstrations to oppose the bombing of Iraq and Syria. This war, like the earlier ones, is being sold on the basis of misinformation and fear. The United States is a major part of the problem and cannot be the solution to the current crisis in Iraq,” stated Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.
This Administration and the previous three administrations have each waged war or conducted a bombing campaign in Iraq under a shifting set of public rationales. Each was carried out under the supposed imperative need to protect “U.S. interests” and each was conducted using noble, humanitarian or anti-terrorist slogans.
If one goes by the media headlines this U.S. war too will be for another noble cause — just as the previous wars and bombing campaigns were described when they were conducted by George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush. This time the war will be conducted under the slogan of defeating the heinous so-called Islamic State forces who have come to dominate predominantly Sunni communities in northern and western Iraq.
The U.S. military cannot solve, but only exacerbate, the current crisis in Iraq and Syria. In fact, the U.S. government, the CIA and the Pentagon are responsible for the disintegration of Iraq and Syria and the consequent rise of the Islamic State and other equally reactionary, sectarian forces in Iraq's central government and elsewhere in these countries.
The so-called Islamic State did not exist a decade ago. It exists now and has grown strong for three basic reasons each of which is a direct consequence of U.S. policies and actions in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

1. The United States invasion in 2003 destroyed the unitary secular government of Iraq and then followed it up by outlawing the Baathist political party, disbanded the national Baathist-led Iraqi army, and then, as an occupation strategy, hand picked Iraqi Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki whose government pursued a sectarian policy of terrorizing Sunni communities.
This Iraqi national government and army, and the Shiite militias that support the government, have carried out similar atrocities against Sunni communities that the Islamic State forces are carrying out against Shiites, Christians, Yazidis and other Sunnis who don't support their ultra-reactionary, sectarian and anti-women policies. It was precisely the brutality of the Maliki government that has allowed the Islamic State to pretend to be the defender of Sunni communities in north and western Iraq. If the US media had reported on the widespread abuses and atrocities committed by the Iraqi government against Sunni communities, it would have aroused the same visceral disgust that has now been engendered against the atrocities committed by the Islamic State.

2. The United States and its NATO partners smashed the secular, nationalist Libyan government through a massive bombing campaign in 2011. This war of aggression fractured Libya as a unitary state, similar to what happened in Iraq, and led to the seizure of vast tracts of territory and heavy weapons by jihadist militias. These weapons and many fighters quickly migrated to join the war supported by the United States and its regional allies against the secular nationalist government in Syria.

3. The Islamic State in Syria acquired vast quantities of heavy weapons and funds since 2011 as part of the armed opposition in Syria. Official U.S. policy was to support the armed struggle against the secular Syrian government. The armed opposition groups, including the Islamic State, received weapons and funds from a coalition of countries that included the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The U.S. government is also planning to use the current crisis to directly intervene militarily in Syria. The real goal in Syria will be to militarily defeat the Assad government. The armed rebel groups in Syria – including the Islamic State – have shown that they cannot defeat the Syrian army without the direct military intervention of the United States. Any military intervention by the United States in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government is a violation of international law and the UN Charter.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

USA & EU prepared for years of military intervention in northern Arabia oil fields

"Destroying ISIS May Take Years, U.S. Officials Say"
2014-09-07 for "New York Times" daily newspaper []:
Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon reported from Washington, and Helene Cooper from Tbilisi, Georgia. Julie Hirschfeld Davis contributed reporting from Washington, and Azam Ahmed from Erbil, Iraq.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is preparing to carry out a campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that may take three years to complete, requiring a sustained effort that could last until after President Obama has left office, according to senior administration officials.
The first phase, an air campaign with nearly 145 airstrikes in the past month, is already underway to protect ethnic and religious minorities and American diplomatic, intelligence and military personnel, and their facilities, as well as to begin rolling back ISIS gains in northern and western Iraq.
The next phase, which would begin sometime after Iraq forms a more inclusive government, scheduled this week, is expected to involve an intensified effort to train, advise or equip the Iraqi military, Kurdish fighters and possibly members of Sunni tribes.
The final, toughest and most politically controversial phase of the operation — destroying the terrorist army in its sanctuary inside Syria — might not be completed until the next administration. Indeed, some Pentagon planners envision a military campaign lasting at least 36 months.
Mr. Obama will use a speech to the nation on Wednesday to make his case for launching a United States-led offensive against Sunni militants gaining ground in the Middle East, seeking to rally support for a broad military mission while reassuring the public that he is not plunging American forces into another Iraq war.
“What I want people to understand,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that was broadcast Sunday, “is that over the course of months, we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum” of the militants. “We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities; we’re going to shrink the territory that they control; and, ultimately, we’re going to defeat them,” he added.
The military campaign Mr. Obama is preparing has no obvious precedent. Unlike American counterterrorism operations in Yemen and Pakistan, it is not expected to be limited to drone strikes against militant leaders. Unlike the war in Afghanistan, it will not include the use of ground troops, which Mr. Obama has ruled out.
Unlike the Kosovo war that President Bill Clinton and NATO nations waged in 1999, it will not be compressed into an intensive 78-day tactical and strategic air campaign. And unlike during the air campaign that toppled the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, in 2011, the Obama administration is no longer “leading from behind,” but plans to play the central role in building a coalition to counter ISIS.
“We have the ability to destroy ISIL,” Secretary of State John Kerry said last week at the NATO summit meeting in Wales, using an alternative name for the militant group. “It may take a year, it may take two years, it may take three years. But we’re determined it has to happen.”
Antony J. Blinken, Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser, has suggested that the United States is undertaking a prolonged mission. “It’s going to take time, and it will probably go beyond even this administration to get to the point of defeat,” Mr. Blinken said last week on CNN.
Mr. Kerry is scheduled to head for the Middle East soon to solidify the anti-ISIS coalition. And Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is traveling to Ankara, Turkey, on Monday to woo another potential ally in the fight against the Sunni militant group.
Although details of how the emerging coalition would counter ISIS remain undecided, several American officials said that they believe the list of allies so far includes Jordan, offering intelligence help, and Saudi Arabia, which has influence with Sunni tribes in Iraq and Syria and which has been funding moderate Syrian rebels.
The United Arab Emirates, officials said, has also indicated a willingness to consider airstrikes in Iraq. Germany has said it would send arms to pesh merga fighters in Kurdistan. And rising concern over foreign fighters returning home from Syria and Iraq may also have spurred Australia, Britain, Denmark and France to join the alliance.
Administration officials acknowledged, however, that getting those same countries to agree to airstrikes in Syria was proving harder.
“Everybody is on board Iraq,” an administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the policy is still being developed. “But when it comes to Syria, there’s more concern” about where airstrikes could lead. The official nonetheless expressed confidence that the countries would eventually come around to taking the fight into Syria, in part, he said, because “there’s really no other alternative.”
The talks between Mr. Hagel and the Turkish leadership may be crucial in determining whether the United States will be able to count on Ankara on a number of fronts, including closing the Turkish border to foreign fighters who have been using Turkey as a transit point from which to go to Syria and Iraq to join militant organizations and allowing the American military to carry out operations from bases in Turkey.
But Turkish officials have been wary of attracting notice from ISIS, given that the group holds the fate of 49 kidnapped Turkish diplomats in its hands. In June, Sunni militants with ISIS stormed the Turkish Consulate in Mosul, Iraq, kidnapping the consul general and other members of his staff, and their families, including three children.
Mr. Obama’s planned speech suggests he may be moving closer to a decision on many remaining questions, including whether and at what point the White House might widen the air campaign to include targets across the border in Syria, possibly to include ISIS leadership and its equipment, supply depots and command centers. The time of the speech on Wednesday has not been announced.
Senior officials have repeatedly ruled out sending ground combat troops, a vow Mr. Obama reaffirmed in his appearance on “Meet the Press.”
“This is not going to be an announcement about U.S. ground troops,” he said. “This is not the equivalent of the Iraq war.”
But it is not clear if that declaration would preclude the eventual deployment of small numbers of American Special Operations forces or C.I.A. operatives to call in airstrikes on behalf of Kurdish fighters, Iraqi forces or Sunni tribes, a procedure that makes it much easier to distinguish between ISIS militants, civilians and counter ISIS fighters.
During the recent operation to retake the Mosul Dam, Kurdish soldiers, using a more roundabout procedure, provided the coordinates of ISIS fighters to the joint United States-Kurdish command center in Erbil, which in turn passed them to American aircraft, Masrour Barzani, the head of Kurdish intelligence, said in a recent interview.
The White House is counting on an effort by American, Iraqi and Gulf Arab officials to persuade Sunni tribesman in western Iraq, now aligned with ISIS, to break their ties after chafing under the harsh Shariah law the group has imposed.
Unless the new Iraqi government is substantially more inclusive, American encouragement and support for these groups to turn on ISIS may be far less effective than it was in 2007, when many tribes fought the forerunner of ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Some Sunni tribal leaders are still bitter at the treatment under former Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite.
“Even if they try we will not accept it,” said Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleimani, a tribal leader in Anbar who lives in Erbil. “In the past, we fought against Al Qaeda and we cleaned the area of them. But the Americans gave control of Iraq to Maliki, who started to arrest, kill, and exile most of the tribal commanders who led the fight against Al Qaeda.”

"Canada to send military advisers to Iraq to ‘help Iraqi troops’"
2014-09-06 from "" []:
Speaking at the NATO summit in Wales, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday that the decision was made following a request from US President Barack Obama.
He said a contingent of between 50 to 100 Canadian forces will work closely with US advisors in Iraq.
Harper claimed that the barbaric acts of the ISIL in Iraq and Syria made Canada and its allies anxious and that Ottawa will look at further steps to respond to the threat of the terrorist group.
“If left unchecked, this lawless area will become a training ground for international terrorists and an even greater threat to Canada and its allies,” Harper said.
US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes also said that Washington “welcomes PM Harper’s announcement that Canada will send military advisers to Iraq as part of our effort to support Kurdish forces.”
Western intelligence services say more than 130 Canadians have joined the ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
The ISIL controls large swathes of Syria’s northern territory. The group sent its members into neighboring Iraq in June and seized large parts of land there.
The terrorists have committed heinous crimes and threatened all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Izadi Kurds, during their advances in Iraq.
Senior Iraqi officials have blamed the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some Persian Gulf Arab states for the growing terrorism in Iraq.
The terrorist group has links with Saudi intelligence, and is believed to be supported by the Israeli regime.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Veterans For Peace Statement Opposing U.S. Bombing of Iraq and Syria"

The U.S. is racing down a slippery slope towards war in Iraq and Syria. Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has conducted more than 124 airstrikes in Iraq. Approximately 1,000 U.S. troops are now on the ground in Iraq, with at least 350 more currently on their way.
President Obama initially said the bombing was part of a humanitarian mission to assist the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq being threatened by ISIS, the fundamentalist Islamic army that now controls wide swaths of Iraq and Syria. But Obama has now announced an open-ended bombing campaign, and he has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry into the region to build military and political coalitions to sustain a long term war against ISIS.
According to the New York Times, President Obama has also authorized U.S. surveillance flights over Syria, reportedly in search of ISIS targets for later bombing missions. The Syrian government has offered to coordinate with U.S. military action against ISIS, the strongest rebel force fighting to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. But the U.S., which has aided ISIS' growth by facilitating the arming and training of rebels in Syria, has not asked permission for its flights into Syrian airspace.
Veterans For Peace members have witnessed the brutality and the futility of war, including the war in Iraq. We were sent to a war based on lies and we became part of the killing of a nation, along with as many as one million of its people. We watched as U.S. policy makers consciously stirred up ethnic and religious divisions, creating the conditions for civil war today.
Veterans know from first hand experience that you cannot bomb your way to peace. More bombing will ultimately mean more division, bloodshed, recruitment for extremist organizations, and a continual cycle of violent intervention.
Last year the American people overwhelmingly sent a message to President Obama and the Congress: No U.S. Bombing in Syria. Last month, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H. Con. Res. 105 stating that there is no legal authority for U.S. military involvement in Iraq without express Congressional approval. By unilaterally pursuing miltiary action in Iraq and Syria, President Obama is acting in contempt of the American people, as well as of U.S. and international law.
We support the troops who refuse to fight and who blow the whistle on war crimes. Under international law, military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to be part of illegal wars and war crimes. U.S. troops are not the cops of the world. There is no legitimate mission for any U.S. service members in Iraq or Syria. We encourage GI's to find out their rights at the GI Rights Hotline.
Veterans For Peace absolutely opposes U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, no matter what the rationalization. We call on all our members to speak out against any U.S. attacks on Iraq and Syria.
We wish to see a U.S. foreign policy based on true humanitarianism and real diplomacy based on mutual respect, guided by international law, and dedicated to human rights and equality for all.