Eric Draitser, Global research, March 18 2015:… It should be noted that a number of other terror outfits have been used through the decades in the ongoing “low-intensity” war against Iran, including the infamous Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a terrorist group hailed as heroes by the US neocon establishment. Thanks to Wikileaks, it also now documented fact that Israel …
Breaking the Resistance with US Sponsored Terrorism and Proxy Wars
With the situation in the Middle East seemingly spinning out of control, many political observers are left wondering what it all means. The war in Syria has been at the forefront of the news since 2011, and rightly so, as Syria has become the epicenter of a larger regional conflict, particularly with the ascendance of ISIS in the last year.
Undoubtedly, the mainstream acceptance of the ISIS threat has changed the strategic calculus vis-à-vis Syria, as the US prepares to launch yet another open-ended war, ostensibly to defeat it. And, while many in the West are willing to buy the ISIS narrative and pretext for war, they do so with little understanding or recognition of the larger geopolitical contours of this conflict. Essentially, almost everyone ignores the fact that ISIS and Syria-Iraq is only one theater of conflict in the broader regional war being waged by the US-NATO-GCC-Israel axis. Also of vital importance is an understanding of the proxy war against Iran (and all Shia in the region), being fomented by the very same terror and finance networks that have spread the ISIS disease in Syria.
In attempting to unravel the complex web of relations between the terror groups operating throughout the region, important commonalities begin to emerge. Not only are many of these groups directly or tangentially related to each other, their shadowy connections to western intelligence bring into stark relief an intricate mosaic of terror that is part of a broader strategy of sectarianism designed to destroy the “Axis of Resistance” which unites Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. In so doing, these terror groups and their patrons hope to internationalize the war in Syria, and its destructive consequences.
Terrorism as a Weapon in Syria and Iraq
In order to understand how these seemingly disparate groups fit into the regional destabilization, one must first recognize how they are connected both in terms of ideology and shared relationships. On the one hand you have the well known terror outfits operating in the Syria-Iraq theater of this conflict. These would include the ubiquitous ISIS, along with its Al Qaeda-affiliated ally Jabhat Al-Nusra.
However, often left out of the western narrative is the fact that the so called “moderate rebels,” such as the Al Farouq Brigade and other similar groups affiliated with the “Free Syrian Army,” are also linked through various associations with a number of jihadi organizations in Syria and beyond. These alleged “moderates” have been documented as having committed a number of egregious war crimes including mutilation of their victims, and cross-border indiscriminate shelling. And these are the same “moderates” that the Obama Administration spent the last three years touting as allies, as groups worthy of US weapons, to say nothing of the recent revelations of cooperation with US air power. But of course US cooperation with these extremist elements is only the tip of the iceberg.
A recent UN report further corroborated the allegations that Israeli military and/or Mossad is cooperating with, and likely helping to organize, the Jabhat al-Nusra organization in and around the Golan Heights. Such claims of course dovetail with the reports from Israeli media that militant extremists fighting the Syrian government have been treated in Israeli medical facilities. Naturally, these clandestine activities carried out by Israel should be combined with the overt attacks on Syria carried out by Tel Aviv, including recent airstrikes, which despite the inaction of the UN and international community, undeniably constitute a war crime.
Beyond the US and Israel however, other key regional actors have taken part in the destabilization and war on Syria. Turkey has provided safe haven for terrorists streaming into Syria to wage war against the legally recognized government of President Assad. In cooperation with the CIA and other agencies, Turkey has worked diligently to foment civil war in Syria in hopes of toppling the Assad government, thereby allowing Ankara to elevate itself to a regional hegemon, or so the thinking of Erdogan and Davutoglu goes. Likewise, Jordan has provided training facilities for terrorists under the guidance and tutelage of “instructors” from the US, UK, and France.
But why rehash all these well-documented aspects of the destabilization and war on Syria? Simple. In order to fully grasp the regional dimension and global implications of this conflict, one must place the Syria war in its broader geopolitical context, and understand it as one part of a broader war on the “Axis of Resistance.” For, while Hezbollah and certain Iranian elements have been involved in the fighting and logistical support in Syria, another insidious threat has emerged – a renewed terror war against Iran in its Sistan and Baluchestan province in the east.
Rekindling the Proxy War against Iran
As the world’s attention has been understandably fixed upon the horrors of Syria, Iraq, and Libya, a new theater in the regional conflict has come to the forefront – Iran; specifically, Iran’s eastern Sistan and Baluchestan province, long a hotbed of separatism and anti-Shia terror, where a variety of terror groups have operated with the covert, and often overt, backing of western and Israeli intelligence agencies.
Just in the last year, there have been numerous attacks on Iranian military and non-military targets in the Sistan and Baluchestan region, attacks carried out by a variety of groups. Perhaps the most well known instance occurred in March 2014 when five Iranian border guards were kidnapped – one was later executed – by Jaish al-Adl which, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium is:
an extremist Salafi group that has since its foundation claimed responsibility for a series of operations against Iran’s domestic security forces and Revolutionary Guards operating in Sistan and Balochistan province, including the detonation of mines [link added] against Revolutionary Guards vehicles and convoys, kidnapping of Iranian border guards and attacks against military bases… Jaish al-Adl is also opposed to the Iranian Government’s active support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which they regard as an attack on Sunni muslims…Jaish ul-Adl executes cross border operations between the border of Iran and Pakistan and is based in the Baluchistan province in Pakistan.
It is important to note the centrality of Iran’s support for Syria and the Syrian Arab Army (and of course Hezbollah) in the ideological framework of a group like Jaish al-Adl. Essentially, this terror group sees their war against the Iranian government as an adjunct of the war against Assad and Syria – a new front in a larger war. Of course, the sectarian aspect should not be diminished as this group, like its many terrorist cousins, makes no distinction between political and religious/sectarian divisions. A war on Iran is a war on Shia, and both are just, both are legitimate.
Similarly, the last 18 months have seen the establishment of yet another terror group known as Ansar al-Furqan – a fusion of the Balochi Harakat Ansar and Pashto Hizb al-Furqan, both of which had been operating along Iran’s eastern border with Pakistan. According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium:
They characterize themselves as Mujahideen aginst [sic] the Shia government in Iran and are linked to Katibat al Asad Al ‘Ilamiya; Al-Farooq activists; al Nursra Front (JN), Nosrat Deen Allah, Jaysh Muhammad, Jaysh al ‘Adal; and though it was denied for some time, appears to have at least personal relationships with Jundallah…The stated mission of Ansar al Furqan is ” to topple the Iranian regime…”
Like its terrorist cousin Jaish al-Adl, Ansar al-Furqan has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks against the Iranian Government, including a May 2014 IED attack on a freight train belonging to government forces. While such attacks may not make a major splash in terms of international attention, they undoubtedly send a message heard loud and clear in Tehran: these terrorists and their sponsors will stop at nothing to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Two inescapable facts immediately come to the fore when examining these groups. On the one hand, they are Sunni extremists whose ultimate goal is the destruction of the Iranian state and all vestiges of Shia dominance, political, military or otherwise. On the other hand, these groups see their war against Iran as part and parcel of the terror wars on Syria and Iraq.
And then of course there’s Jundallah, the notorious terror organization lead for decades by the Rigi family. Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the group is undoubtedly aware of its long-standing ties to both US and Israeli intelligence. As Foreign Policy magazine reported in 2012, Israeli Mossad and US CIA operatives essentially competed with one another for control of the Jundallah network for years. This information of course directly links these agencies with the covert war against Iran going back years, to say nothing of the now well-known role of Israeli intelligence in everything from assassinations of Iranian scientists to the use of cyberweapons such as Stuxnet and Flame. These and other attacks by Israel and the US against Iranian interests constitute a major part of the dirty war against Iran – a war in which terror groups figure prominently.
It should be noted that a number of other terror outfits have been used through the decades in the ongoing “low-intensity” war against Iran, including the infamous Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a terrorist group hailed as heroes by the US neocon establishment. Thanks to Wikileaks, it also now documented fact that Israel has long since attempted to use Kurdish groups such as PJAK (Iraqi Kurdish terror group) to wage continued terror war against Iran for the purposes of destabilization of the government. Additionally, there was a decades-long campaign of Arab separatism in Iran’s western Khuzestan region spearheaded by British intelligence. As Dr. Kaveh Farrokh and Mahan Abedin wrote in 2005, “there is a mass of evidence that connects the British secret state to Arab separatism in Iran.”
These and other groups, too numerous to name here, represent a part of the voluminous history of subversion against Iran. But why now? What is the ultimate strategy behind these seemingly disparate geopolitical machinations?
Encircling the Resistance in Order to Break It
To see the obvious strategic gambit by the US-NATO-GCC-Israel axis, one need only look at a map of the major conflicts mentioned above. Syria has been infiltrated by countless terrorist groups that have waged a brutal war against the Syrian government and people. They have used Turkey in the North, Jordan in the South, and to a lesser degree Lebanon and, indirectly, Israel in the West. Working in tandem with the ISIS forces originating in Iraq, Syria has been squeezed from all sides in hopes that military defeat and/or the internal collapse of the Syrian government would be enough to destroy the country.
Naturally, this strategy has necessarily drawn Hezbollah into the war as it is allied with Syria and, for more practical reasons, cannot allow a defeated and broken Syria to come to fruition as Hezbollah would then be cut off from their allies in Iran. And so, Hezbollah and Syria have been forced to fight on no less than two fronts, fighting for the survival of the Resistance in the Levant.
Simultaneously, the regional power Iran has made itself into a central player in the war in Syria, recognizing correctly that the war could prove disastrous to its own security and regional ambitions. However, Tehran cannot simply put all its energy into supporting and defending Syria and Hezbollah as it faces its own terror threat in the East. The groups seeking to topple the Iranian government may not be able to compete militarily with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, but they can certainly create enough destabilization through terrorism to make it more difficult for Tehran to effectively aid in the fight in Syria.
The US-NATO-GCC-Israel alliance has not needed to put its own boots on the ground to achieve its strategic objectives. Instead, it is relying on irregular warfare, proxy terror wars, and small-scale destabilizations to achieve by stealth what it cannot achieve with military might alone.
But it remains paramount for all those interested in peace to make these connections, to understand the broad outlines of this vast covert war taking place. To see a war in Syria in isolation is to misunderstand its very nature. To see ISIS alone as the problem is to completely misread the essence of the conflict. This is a battle for regional hegemony, and in order to attain it, the Empire is employing every tool in the imperial toolkit, with terrorism being one of the most effective.
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
ISIS a pretext for US-sponsored regime change in Iraq
Eric Draitser, RT, August 18 2014: … Washington wanted to permanently base US troops in the country, and Maliki rejected this proposal, demanding the permanent withdrawal of all US forces by the end of 2011. Maliki purged Iraq of the US-sponsored terrorist organization the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) which had waged a decades-long campaign of terrorism …
‘ISIS a pretext for US-sponsored regime change in Iraq’
(Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder of StopImperialism.com.)
The ousting of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is part of a broader US plan for Iraq and the Middle East as a whole.
Against the backdrop of the war against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Washington has managed to kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes. Not only has the US removed a political leader who had proven to be problematic due to his opposition to US military presence in Iraq, as well as his staunch support for Syria and President Assad, they have also created the conditions for the dismemberment of the Iraqi state.
The US and its allies are supporting de facto ‘independence’ for the Kurdish region in the north of the country, using the IS as a convenient pretext for openly arming and supporting Kurdish forces. Naturally, one should not look for altruism in Washington’s motives. Rather, this strategy is to benefit western oil companies with dollar signs in their eyes, licking their lips in anticipation of being able to deal directly with Kurdish President Barzani.
Additionally, Maliki’s ouster deprives Syrian President Assad of a key ally, thereby emboldening the IS and the other militants waging war against Syria. It provides further evidence, as if more were needed, that the political future is bleak for any Iraqi leader who dares to break from the script written for him by Washington. Perhaps most importantly, it allows the US and its allies to be the leading force politically in the war against the IS, an organization created by US policy and covert operations in the region.
In the sales and marketing industry, there is a term known as ‘solution selling’ whereby the salesperson either creates or exaggerates a problem, then presents his or her product as the invaluable solution. Indeed, this sort of sales strategy is precisely the approach Washington has taken in the region, and specifically in Iraq.
The IS disease
The IS has only very recently become an internationally recognized epidemic of militant Islamist extremism that must be eradicated at all costs. That international recognition came only when the organization began taking control of territory in Iraq, threatening Western oil and gas interests. While the IS was waging its brutal and vicious war against the Syrian people and government however, the IS was merely an afterthought, simply a group of extremists fighting the ‘brutal dictator’ Assad.
It seems then that the danger of ISIS and the necessity to eradicate it is directly correlative to US interests. Put another way, the IS is a useful tool in Syria and southern Lebanon where it creates chaos to the detriment of Assad and Hezbollah respectively, while in Iraq, the IS is dangerous where it threatens the US client regime in Kurdistan and Western oil interests. But of course, the detail consistently left out of most analysis of the IS problem is the simple fact that it is a creation of US intelligence and its covert war on Syria.
As early as 2011, the US CIA was involved in an elaborate and widespread program to covertly arm militant extremists in Syria in order to overthrow the government of President Assad. As the New York Times and other media outlets reported in 2012, the CIA was working with the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups along the Turkish-Syrian border to funnel weapons, communications equipment, and other military materiel to terrorist groups at war with Damascus. Despite vehement claims by Washington that only ‘moderate rebels’ were receiving such support, it is an open secret that much of those supplies ended up in the hands of then-ISIS, which already by 2012 was beginning to establish itself as a dominant fighting force in the Syrian war.
Perhaps it should then begin to make sense why, when ISIS launched its allegedly ‘surprise’ attack on the critical Iraqi city of Mosul in June, they were so well armed and equipped with everything from matching pickup trucks to anti-tank weapons, RPGs, and a host of other US-made equipment. Naturally, in the days and weeks following the attack, ISIS armed itself even further with confiscated Iraqi military equipment, also provided by the US. So it would be fair to say that, consciously or unconsciously, the United States helped to create and unleash the IS we know today.
No longer simply another militant organization among many, the IS has grown, thanks to US sponsorship, into the premier terrorist fighting force in the region, capable of engaging national militaries (Iraq, Syria) and other well-organized armed groups such as Hezbollah. In effect, the IS has become the enforcer of US foreign policy, a proxy force that furthers the US agenda without any significant US military presence needed. And yet, the IS is presented in the mainstream media as the greatest threat in the Middle East. Why so? Why were they no threat at all in Syria, but have become the great menace in Iraq?
Iraq, Maliki & Western interests
The US waged an aggressive war and occupation of Iraq for nearly a decade for the purposes of establishing a puppet government that would be amenable to Western economic and geopolitical interests. In many ways, that project failed as PM Maliki emerged as a strong, nationalistic leader who was unwilling to accede to the demands of the occupiers.
Washington wanted to permanently base US troops in the country, and Maliki rejected this proposal, demanding the permanent withdrawal of all US forces by the end of 2011. Maliki purged Iraq of the US-sponsored terrorist organization the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) which had waged a decades-long campaign of terrorism against Iran by closing down Camp Ashraf, the base from which the organization operated. Maliki also sacked two key figures in Iraq’s banking establishment, both of whom were close associates of neocon darling, and failed Iraqi presidential candidate, Ahmed Chalabi, thereby earning him the ire of Washington, which sought to maintain its grip on the purse-strings of Iraqi wealth.
But of course, these were by no means Maliki’s only ‘crimes’ in the eyes of the US. He also challenged Western oil companies looking to make massive profits off of Iraq’s vast energy deposits. Perhaps the best-known instance occurred in 2012 when ExxonMobil signed an oil exploration deal with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. Maliki rejected the validity of the deal, noting that any oil contracts must be negotiated with the central government in Baghdad, rather than Barzani’s US-aligned government in Arbil. Maliki’s spokesman noted at the time that:
“Maliki views these deals as representing a very dangerous initiative that may lead to the outbreak of wars… [and] breaking up the unity of Iraq…Maliki is prepared to go to the highest levels for the sake of preserving the national wealth and the necessary transparency in investing the wealth of the Iraqis, especially oil… [He] sent a message to American President Barak [sic] Obama last week urging him to intervene to prevent ExxonMobil from going in this direction.”
It is no secret that Maliki’s strong-willed resistance to this deal, in addition to his refusal to pay ExxonMobil upwards of $50 million to improve production at one major southern oilfield led directly to the oil company pulling out of the lucrative West Qurna-1 project. Essentially then, Maliki took on the very powerful oil corporations (BP is no friend of Maliki either), seeking to get a better deal for Iraq. It would be safe to assume that the endemic corruption in Iraq would have made it easier for Maliki and his associates to enrich themselves by skimming off the top and/or receiving payouts from other oil interests. However, this is secondary to the primary ‘crime’ of challenging the hegemony of oil companies in Iraq.
And it is here that we see quite clearly why the US has been so keen on protecting their Kurdish puppet government, which really should be understood as a ruling clique centered on President Barzani and ex-President of Iraq Talabani, their families, and cronies. Since as early as 2011, Western oil companies sought to bypass Maliki and the legal government in Baghdad by making independent deals with the Kurds. Not only did they not want to pay the taxes that would be used to fund the recovery of Iraq from more than a decade of war, they attempted to play the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities off one another in a cynical ploy to more effectively and efficiently exploit the corruption and competition that exists in both.
Of course, it should be noted that the US, Israel, and other Western powers have long maintained very close ties with Barzani and the Kurds. A valid argument could be made that Kurdistan represents a forward base for US military power projection in Iraq and, particularly against Iran. Additionally, Israel has long maintained close ties with Kurdish authorities, both in terms of political support as well as covert intelligence and espionage-related activities. As Israeli scholar Ofra Bengio recently wrote in the pro-US, pro-Israeli publication the Middle East Quarterly:
“From the 1990s on, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) maintained relations with Kurdish officials since ‘pro-Israel Jewish activists viewed support for the Kurds, a small nation struggling for self-determination in a hostile Arab neighborhood, as helping Israel reach out to a natural ally.’ According to Morris Amitay, AIPAC’s executive director from 1974 to 1980, ‘Our Israeli friends always appreciated our friendship with the Kurds.’ Amitay’s son, Mike Amitay, also served as executive director of the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI) from 1996 to 2005.”
Naturally, the Israeli connection is not strictly a benevolent one. Rather, Israeli intelligence and special forces have been deeply intertwined with their Kurdish counterparts as far back as 2003 and the commencement of the second US war in Iraq (though likely decades before that). As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh noted in 2004:
“The Israelis have had long standing ties to the Talibani and Barzani clans [in] Kurdistan and there are many Kurdish Jews that emigrated to Israel and there are still a lot of connection. But at some time before the end of the year, and I’m not clear exactly when, certainly I would say a good six, eight months ago, Israel began to work with some trained Kurdish commandoes, ostensibly the idea was the Israelis — some of the Israeli elite commander units, counter-terror or terror units, depending on your point of view, began training — getting the Kurds up to speed.”
So, as should be self-evident, Washington’s decision to use military force against ISIS is a cynical ploy to protect intelligence assets, economic interests, and create a nominally independent Kurdish state which will become integrated into the US-Israeli sphere of influence in the region. In order to achieve these strategic objectives, first and foremost, Maliki had to be gotten rid of.
And so, regime change has once again come to Iraq, this time through the backdoor. By arming ISIS in Syria, the US unleashed a monster in Iraq, which it now uses as the pretext for fulfilling the long-standing goal of de facto partition of Iraq. With Kurdish independence robbing Iraq of vital oil resources, it is unlikely that any ruling coalition consisting of Sunnis and Shia will effectively govern the country, regardless of the individuals at its helm. And this is precisely the point. Sadly, in the interests of the West, Iraq will now endure yet another civil war and period of misery and despair. There will be no economic development, no political progress, no peace. Exactly what Washington wanted.
Voltairenet, July 03 2014: … MEK president Maryam Rajavi seized the opportunity to violently lash out against Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and rejoice over the progress achieved by the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). French politics nowadays are profoundly schizophrenic: on one hand France (as the U.S.) officially condemns the …
Press TV, June 28 2014: … The French Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the anti-Iran terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) for its acts of violence. On Friday, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal criticized the MKO for “its violent and non-democratic inspirations,” its “cult nature,” and its “intense campaign of influence and disinformation.” …
Defectors of Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (Translated by Nejat Society), June 25 2014: … They criticize the group’s fraudulent propaganda that is aimed to deceive cult members inside or outside Iraq noticing the annual masquerade held by the MKO propaganda arm in the Parisian …
Henriette Johansen, Middle East Monitor, June 18 2014: … He recapped how the documents were passed to Germany’s intelligence agency by a member of the Mujahideen-E-Khalq (MEK) an Iranian terrorist organisation in exile, which has been a client of Israel’s Mossad spy agency for several years. German intelligence and many other government officials …
Fars News, Tehran, June 16 2014: … is the prerequisite for such an agreement”.Brok, for his part, said that the new European Parliament lays emphasis on the importance of the relations with Iran, and said, “The majority of the European Parliament do not like cooperation with groups such as MKO and only a minority group in the Parliament support the MKO.” …