The War on ISIS is a Farce

Nowhere in recent years have the contradictions of imperialism been so clear than in the West’s war against ISIS. Working people are bombarded with messages in the media of the worldwide threat of ISIS, with the aim of the messages to convince working people of the need to sacrifice their civil liberties and democratic freedoms to counter ISIS and to support more military interventions in the Middle East. If Barack Obama, David Cameron, Tony Abbot, and other Western leaders were truly interested in countering the threat of ISIS, perhaps they should follow Stephen Harper’s “strong leadership” by finding the nearest closet to lock themselves in.

The rise of ISIS has its origins in the illegal occupation of Iraq by the U.S., the U.K., and other Western forces in 2003, which caused the deaths of an estimated 5% of the Iraqi population. The Bush and Blair administrations falsely accused the Iraqi regime of harboring weapons of mass destructions, of supporting al-Qaeda, and of having some connection with the 9/11 attacks. What the public wasn’t informed of was that the Bush administration had plans to attack Iraq long before 9/11. What’s more, the U.S. facilitated the rise of Saddam’s regime, supplied it with weapons of mass destruction in its war against Iran, and unlike Saudi Arabia and other allies of the U.S. in the region, Iraq was a secular state that was violently opposed to the reactionary Islamist ideology of al-Qaeda. The war, if anything, was a boon for al-Qaeda, which was never active in Iraq before the U.S.-led occupation.

In 2011, the U.S., the U.K., France, Canada, and other Western imperialist states, along with their allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, allied themselves with militant Islamist organizations in Libya and Syria to overthrow the secular governments of Muammar al-Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad respectively.

Western imperialism invoked the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine to justify NATO airstrikes on Libya, killing thousands of civilians. Libya was the wealthiest and most stable country in Africa, with the continent’s highest standard of living and with universal healthcare and education for all its citizens, but in the aftermath of NATO’s humanitarian intervention, the country fell into a state of collapse as rival tribes and Islamist organizations battled to control the country’s wealth. Militant Islamists captured, brutally tortured, and murdered Gaddafi. The NATO intervention in Libya directly facilitated the breakaway of the Azawad and the rise of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali. Using the “war on terror” ruse the U.S., E.U., Canada, and other imperialist states have been actively supporting the Malian regime in its war against Tuareg autonomy and AQIM, which they earlier supported in Libya along with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Libya was virtually handed to al-Qaeda by NATO.

With their success in Libya, al-Qaeda and other Sunni Islamic militants quickly mobilized to overthrow the secular government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where the failure of Western imperialism is eerily similar to Afghanistan from the late 1970s to the 1990s and, albeit on a much larger scale, to Libya.

The U.S. policy of supporting hostile Sunni insurgent groups laid the foundation for the rise of ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and nearly every single Sunni extremist group that has appeared in the last 40-50 years. In Afghanistan, to undermine the country’s 1978 socialist revolution and spread instability into Soviet Turkestan, U.S. imperialism with its allies in the Persian Gulf and in Pakistan supported militant Islamist groups that would later form the nucleus of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The policy of supporting Sunni insurgent groups was given a further impetus following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, where an anti-U.S., theocratic Shiite regime was established. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in 2007: “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

The Islamic State was formed in 2006 when al-Qaeda in Iraq merged with other Sunni insurgent organizations. The name was changed to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or Levant) (ISIS) in April 2013 after a second merger, this time between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusra Front.

The U.S., the U.K., Canada, and other imperialist states, through their allies Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, have been supporting the “moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels with hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons as well as setting up training camps and offering free medical treatment to injured fighters. The question that begs to be asked is how ISIS has managed to defeat the FSA despite hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the West and its allies in the region?

You would have to be an absolute lunatic to believe that Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf States, all absolute monarchies run by a small clique of corrupt Arab sheikhs that couldn’t be farther from an acceptable version of democracy, would support a moderate, democratic, and free Syrian organization. Even to the corporate media in the West it is no secret that these allies of the West fund reactionary Islamist organizations whose interests are antithetical to democracy. The Washington Post reported that “Qatar’s cultivation of African Islamists, principally Somalia’s al-Shabab insurgents, has…troubled the United States,” which is drone bombing Somalia in the name of the “war on terror.” Israel, the region’s “only democracy” we are told, itself supported Hamas to counter the influence of the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization in the 1980s.

These “moderate” FSA fighters that the U.S. and its allies support, if there really was an independent FSA, have en masse joined the ranks of ISIS. Dozens of outlets have detailed this fact. A Lebanese newspaper quoted an FSA commander as saying, “We are collaborating with the Islamic State and al-Nusra,” and Al-Jazeera reported in 2013 that “hundreds of fighters under the command of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) have reportedly switched allegiance to al-Qaeda-aligned groups.” The World Net Daily quoted Jordanian officials as saying that the rebels trained by U.S. instructors in Jordan have joined ISIS.

Furthermore there is overwhelming evidence that the U.S. and its allies are both directly and indirectly supporting ISIS. According to a source close to Iraqi intelligence, there is allegedly an ISIS training camp in Turkey that is in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana, where American personnel and equipment are located. NATO member Turkey is among the most staunch supporters of the rebels, a fact that an ISIS fighter detailed to the Jerusalem Post: “Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place.”

Former Iraqi Prime Minister and current Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki publicly accused U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar of bankrolling ISIS. Kuwait, in particular, due to its weak financial laws, has become a financial and organizational hub for Syrian rebel groups. The Brooking’s Institute in Washington, D.C. reported “evidence that Kuwaiti donors have backed rebels who have committed atrocities and who are either directly linked to al-Qa’ida or cooperate with its affiliated brigades on the ground.”

Evidence exists of direct Israeli support for ISIS fighters. United Nations observers in the Golan Heights reported to the United Nations Security Council of direct contact between ISIS and Israel, including Israeli Defense Forces supplying ISIS with unmarked crates and offering medical treatment to wounded fighters. An Israeli officer spoke out in opposition to the U.S. war against ISIS, claiming that in fighting ISIS the U.S. is strengthening what Israel perceives as the real threat, the Shiite alliance of Hezbollah and Iran.

Finally nearly all of the aid provided to the “moderate” rebels has been captured or sent to ISIS. It wasn’t long after the Washington Post reported that aid from the CIA and the State Department, which included dozens of Toyota pickup trucks, were being delivered to rebels on the Turkish-Syria border that the iconic photo of ISIS militants in a convoy of Toyota pickup trucks invading northern Iraq became public. Less than four months after Obama pledged $500 million in weapons and aid to the FSA rebels, ISIS had acquired the same amount of weapons from the FSA; a Syrian fighter told Al-Quds al-Arabi that much of the aid was sold to unknown parties in Turkey and Iraq. Don’t forget about the repeated “accidental” weapon drops by the U.S. in ISIS-controlled territory!

The war against ISIS in the Middle East by Western imperialism is a farce. ISIS has and continues to dutifully serve Western and Israeli imperialist interests in the Middle East, causing chaos in formerly staunch anti-imperialist states that had the strength to oppose Israel, and creating a force capable of countering Iranian influence.

The reason ISIS is now a “threat” is that Western imperialism, in failing to topple the Syrian government, requires a new pretext to continue its aggressive military interventions in the Middle East, in particular to weaken Syria and the Shiite leadership of Iraq for an attack on Iran. If defeating ISIS was the real objective, the Western powers would form an alliance with Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, which have relentlessly battled ISIS on the ground, not with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.

Working people need to realize that the real threat to the world isn’t ISIS, Iran, or Syria, it is Western imperialism.

(Image source: https://globalnews.ca/news/5178370/refugee-claimant-complicit-isis-crimes-against-humanity-tribunal/)

Attack on Paris a Direct Consequence of Western Imperialism

(Photo: A French solider in Mali. Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2267033/Mali-French-soldier-pictured-wearing-Call-Duty-grinning-skeleton-mask.html)

The tragic shooting in Paris of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in 2011, that left 12 people dead is a direct consequence of Western imperialism’s interventions in the Middle East.

The U.S. and its Western imperialist allies have continuously violated the national sovereignty and the right to self-determination of every country in the Middle East and North Africa in the last 50 years. Attacks such as the shooting in Paris, the September 11th attacks on New York (if we are to believe the dubious official story of the U.S. government), the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the attempted attack on the Eiffel Tower by Algerian hijackers in 1994, the London bombings of 2005, the Sydney Hostage Crisis, all are an inevitable consequence of the Western imperialism’s policies towards the people of the Greater Middle East and North Africa. From the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, the overthrow of Iran’s democratic leadership in 1953, to more recently supporting some of the world’s most reactionary and undemocratic monarchies and funding Islamic paramilitaries in Syria and Libya, the people of the Greater Middle East and North Africa have had their human and political rights subordinated to the interests of Western imperialism for decades.

Continue reading “Attack on Paris a Direct Consequence of Western Imperialism”

War in Afghanistan Far from Over

Now into its 13th year U.S. and NATO are announcing the end to combat missions in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of troops, but despite the symbolic flag-lowering ceremony, the U.S.-led war is in fact not ending, and the brutal war is set to continue through 2015. NATO is set to “transition” to a non-combat, “Resolute Support” mission to assist the Afghan National Army in its operations, with 4, 000 NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan into 2015.

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President Obama has authorized the 10, 800 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan in 2015, an increase of 1, 000 from his May pledge to reduce U.S. troops in the country, to resume combat operations against Afghan militants, including night raids by Special Operation soldiers, previously banned by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and ariel strikes. A senior American military officer was quoted saying that “the Air Force expects to use F-16 fighters, B-1B bombers and Predator and Reaper drones to go after the Taliban in 2015.”

The continuation of combat operations in Afghanistan by U.S. troops comes after the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the U.S. and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, a former U.S. citizen and World Bank employee, a highly controversial agreement that was followed by a wave of attacks. The agreement allows for thousands of U.S. troops to remain in the country for another decade and grants all U.S. servicemen immunity from prosecution under Afghan laws. Several massacres and unlawful acts were committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including the murder of 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar and the footage of U.S. soldiers urinating on the dead bodies of Afghans and posing for photographs with dead civilians.

The U.S. and its imperialist allies have a long history of occupations and interference in Afghanistan. In the 1980s, the U.S. and its allies through Pakistan funded radical Islamic counterrevolutionaries, including bin Laden and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, that fought to topple the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), then implementing widespread social reforms that benefited millions of Afghans. These “freedom fighters,” as former U.S. President Ronald Reagan described them, tortured teachers and activists, burnt down schools, poisoned children, and raped women.

karmal
Babrak Karmal, first President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

After the PDPA was overthrown, the U.S. largely disengaged from Afghanistan, having accomplished its primary objective, and the various counterrevolutionary factions fought amongst themselves in a devastating civil war. Later the Taliban, an organization of Islamic students led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, defeated these factions and captured Kabul in 1996. The U.S., “keen to see Afghanistan under strong central rule to allow a US-led group to build a multi-billion-dollar oil and gas pipeline” from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea, indirectly supported the Taliban’s rise to power through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S.-led 2001 invasion of Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11 or bin Laden. Notwithstanding the scientific inaccuracies of the official 9/11 story, the FBI has admitted it lacks any hard evidence to formally indict bin Laden for his responsibility in 9/11, only the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The U.S.-led invasion was an imperialist war of resource plundering and transferring public wealth into private hands. The media went into a frenzy when the U.S. “discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan” in 2010. The New York Times even declared that Afghanistan could become “the Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a mineral used in the manufacture of batteries. It is inconceivable that U.S. authorities weren’t aware of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth before the invasion; the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s confirmed the existence of enormous mineral reserves and produced “superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits.”

Since the U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan the drug trade has boomed. Prior to the invasion, opium cultivation was banned by the Taliban in collaboration with the United Nations, and by 2001 the crop had declined by 90% to 185 tonnes. After the U.S. invasion the opium crop had skyrocketed to 3400 tonnes in 2002 under former President Hamid Karzai. The drug trade was an important source of covert funding for the Afghan counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s and 1990s and has long been under the control of the CIA. Mujahideen counterrevolutionaries forced Afghan peasants to plant opium, turning the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas into the world’s top heroin producer, with the collaboration of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad.

Afghan farmers in their fields.
Afghan farmers in their fields.

The money from the drug trade is laundered through banks and recycled as covert funds for intelligence agencies. Money laundering, according to the IMF, constitutes 2-5% of the world’s GDP, and a significant share of money laundering is linked to the trade in narcotics. The trade in narcotics represents the third largest commodity after oil and arms, with powerful financial interests behind the trade. “From this standpoint, geopolitical and military control over the drug routes is as strategic as oil and oil pipelines,” writes Professor Michel Chossudovsky.

Partners in Apartheid: Boycott Indigo Books and Music

Branches of Indigo Books and Music and its subsidiaries Chapters, Coles, SmithBooks, and IndigoSpirit are a familiar site to Canadians from coast to coast, thanks to the company’s monopoly control of retail-bookstore sales in Canada. But behind the inviting facade of each store there lies a terrible reality – the murder of Palestinians.

Heather Reisman, the founder and CEO of Indigo Books and Music, and her husband, Gerry Schwartz, the co-founder of Onex Corporation, are among the most rabidly pro-Zionist capitalists in Canada. With a combined net worth between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion they donate millions of dollars to support Israeli soldiers in their occupation of Palestine through the Heseg Foundation, an organization they founded that provides scholarships and other support to foreign-born soldiers that serve in the Israeli military and participate in the oppression of the Palestinian people. The Heseg organization handed out over a hundred thousands dollars worth of rewards to Israeli soldiers that participated in the 2008-2009 assault on Gaza.

28 December: Palestinians gather in the crater left by an Israeli missile strike on a building used by Hamas in Gaza City - Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP - The Guardian
28 December: Palestinians gather in the crater left by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City – Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP – The Guardian

The assault, which had nothing to do with ending rocket fire, an act of resistance legal under international law when a nation is occupied, but to murder Palestinians and to weaken the democratically elected Hamas into submission, killed 200 Palestinians in a single day, and killed more than 1, 400 Palestinians, including 400 children, in total. Reisman and Schwartz are close to several powerful Israeli military leaders and war criminals. “On the Heseg board are army and air force chiefs of staff, the head of Israeli intelligence (Mossad), and Maj General Doren Almog who has been charged with war crimes by Britain for his role in bombing civilians.”

During Israel’s genocidal war on the people of Lebanon in 2006, a war that killed thousands of Lebanese civilians and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, Reisman and her husband, in a highly publicized spectacle, switched from supporting the Liberals to supporting the Harper neo-conservatives due to Harper’s support for Israel. Kate Gilmore, speaking for Amnesty International, dismissed claims that Israel tried to avoid civilian casualties: “Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of power and water plants, as well as the transport infrastructure vital for food and other humanitarian relief, was deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy,” she told the press.

Destruction in Beirut, Lebanon, August 2006. Marco Di Lauro/http://www.marcodilauro.com/
Destruction in Beirut, Lebanon, August 2006. Marco Di Lauro/http://www.marcodilauro.com/

The level of destruction in Lebanon invalidates Israeli claims of ‘collateral damage’ and indicates that the war was about much more than ‘self-defense’. The Lebanese government estimated that 30, 000 houses, 900 businesses, 120 bridges, 94 roads, and 31 other vital points were destroyed in the 7, 000 Israeli airstrikes and 2, 000 naval shells launched against targets in Lebanon. The firing of over a million cluster bombs has left large swathes of southern Lebanon uninhabitable, and the extensive use of cluster bombs near the end of the war “looked suspiciously as if Israel had taken the brief opportunity before the war’s end to make south Lebanon – the heartland of both the country’s Shi’ite population and its militia, Hezbollah – uninhabitable, and to prevent the return of hundreds of thousands of Shi’ites who had fled Israel’s earlier bombing campaigns.” The use of white phosphorus shells, a chemical weapon that “causes skin to melt away from the bone and can break down”, a clear war crime committed by Israel. In total an estimated 700, 000 Lebanese were displaced and around 1, 100 murdered by Israel forces in the 34 day campaign against the people of Lebanon.

All peace loving people should support the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid’s boycott of Indigo Books and Music.