Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countries

Those old enough to remember when President Clinton's penis was a big news item will also remember the "Peace Dividend," that the world was going to be able to cash now that that nasty cold war was over. But guess what? Those spies didn't want to come in from the Cold, so while the planet is heating up, the political environment is dropping to sub-zero temperatures. It's deja vu all over again.

Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countries

Postby admin » Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:46 am

Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countries
By Chris Kanthan
January 26, 2016

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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What exactly has been happening in Syria in the last few years? How did we end up with millions of refugees?

In this first month of 2016, we can be grateful that World War III didn’t start over Russia’s intervention in Syria that saw Turkey, a NATO member, shoot down a Russian jet. If Russia had retaliated, the other NATO members -– U.S., U.K., Germany, France etc. ­–- would have been obligated to join the fight. But it’s not over yet. The chaos in Syria –- and the Middle East, in general –- is now spilling over to Europe and the rest of the world. Millions of refugees, fanatic jihadists, hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, powerful nations colliding with another … all add up to a nightmarish powder keg.

The driving forces behind this bedlam are the perfect storm of confluence of geopolitics, oil, war-profiteering and religion. If that is not enough, there are several countries and jihadist groups involved in this conflict, with bewildering relationships that are often temporary, conflicting and totally Machiavellian.

Among the countries involved, the key outside players who have been trying to bring down the Syrian government are the U.S. and its six dwarves: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, Israel and Britain. The seventh dwarf is really a collection of nations that occasionally offer help, but are not deeply involved in the Syrian project. Germany, Kuwait, Bosnia, Canada etc. would fall under the category of “seventh dwarf.”

Now, what in the world would all these countries have against a tiny country of Syria that most people can’t even locate on the map? Part I of this analysis will look into the three motives of seven countries that essentially form the Coalition of Regime Change.

Motive #1: Oil & Gas Pipelines

While analyzing political problems, you always have to follow the money. In the Middle East, you wouldn’t be wrong following oil instead. In this case, Qatar and Saudi Arabia want to lay pipelines for both oil and natural gas, connecting them to Europe. These suggested pipelines, as shown in the picture below, have to go through Jordan, Syria and Turkey before entering Europe. Syria said No, and hence Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey decided to do whatever it takes to get rid of Syria’s President. Syria, instead, wants to help its ally, Iran, build a competing pipeline (shown in the picture as well).

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There is also oil interest from the Israeli side. Israel has been occupying [th]e Golan Heights, a piece of southern Syria, for many decades. Lo and behold, billions of barrels of oil were found in [the] Golan Heights a few years ago. With the right puppet in Syria, Israel can have all that oil to itself. And it doesn‘t hurt that the rights to exploit this oil goes to Genie Energy, an American company whose board of directors consist of a Rothschild, Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch and Larry Summers -– a veritable dream team of globalists.

After the civil war and chaos lead to barbaric terrorist groups taking over large parts of Syria, Turkey has been profiting a lot from the sale of ISIS’ oil. Having taken over a few oil refineries in Iraq and Syria, ISIS sells oil at a Walmart discount to Turkey which ends up selling most of that oil to Israel. That’s why even Putin has now openly said that Turkey attacked the Russian jet because the Russian planes are getting rid of ISIS’ oil trucks by the hundreds. Erdogan keeps playing innocent – “What? Me? ISIS oil?” – but his son owns one of the largest energy/shipping companies in Turkey, and Erdogan’s son-in-law is the Energy Minister. Many articles have been written on this topic that shows extensive evidence of Turkey-ISIS link, and Russia has released plenty of videos showing miles and miles of oil tankers entering and leaving Turkey from the ISIS-controlled areas, but Turkey and the U.S. pretend innocence. Enough said.

Motive #2: Religion

There are two main divisions of Islam, Sunni and Shiite, that have been at odds with each other for centuries. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are Sunni countries; Iran is a powerful Shiite country, Iraq is 70% Shiite, and Syria is a ruled by a minority Shiite group (called Alawite). Looking at the pipeline map again, one can see that Iran, Iraq and Syria will form a so-called “Shiite Arc.” For the Saudis, who still think it is 800 A.D., such a Shiite coalition is an abomination. In fact, according to fundamental Sunni Muslims -– ISIS, Al Qaeda, Taliban and the Saudis -– Shiites are not even Muslims. A tragic example of this religious hatred: for the last six months, Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen (a country with a large Shiite population), killing thousands of civilians.

Saudi Arabia has an ultra-conservative version of Islam called Wahhabism that became popular along with discovery of oil in that region after World War I. After all, when there are trillions of dollars at stake, you need a powerful tool to control the people, or else they may rise up and want a portion of that wealth.

Unlike America that wields its power through military bases, Saudi Arabia exercises enormous influence over Muslims all over the world through building and funding mosques and Islamic religious “schools” to the tune of billions of dollars. The schools are called madrassas, and let’s just say that the kids are not going to learn much math and science. In some areas of the world, these schools are outright abominable, indoctrinating kids with virtues of suicide bombing and jihad. There are more than 10,000 madrassas in Pakistan alone.

Thus, in this authoritarian and undemocratic country, strange and inhumane things happen: more than 200 people get beheaded in public every year, women get stoned to death for adultery, people are hanged and bodies displayed in public, gays and atheists get [the] death sentence, and even a 14-year-old peaceful protester can be sentenced to crucifixion.

However, since Saudi Arabia buys billions of dollars of American, British and French weapons every year, the Saudi King can have glitzy dinners with the CEOs of General Electric and Lockheed Martin, fund think-tanks who will pen pro-Saudi articles in the New York Times, and everyone will look the other way. Saudi Arabia even got a leadership role in the UN Human Rights Council. No, this is not from The Onion.

Recently, the German Vice Chancellor spoke out against Saudi Arabia’s funding of Wahhabi mosques and schools. Otherwise, the Western leaders keep mum, except in internal communications -– revealed by Wikileaks -– when, for example, Hillary Clinton said, “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups.” Of course, she would never say that in public. (LeT is a terrorist group in Pakistan.)

On to the next troublemaker: Qatar, the tiny rich country that owns Al Jazeera TV station, is also a Sunni country that, for decades, has financed Muslim Brotherhood -– a fundamental Islamist organization that started in Egypt, spread its influence all over the Muslim world, and has spawned both moderate and violent jihadist groups. During the feverish days of anti-communism, the U.S. govt colluded with the Muslim Brotherhood -– and even invited them to a White House meeting with President Eisenhower (picture below) -– to overthrow anti-USA governments in the Middle East.

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Shifting to north of Syria, Turkey used to be a very secular country, but under Erdogan, it has been sliding into orthodox Sunni Islam over the last decade. Thus, the new Islamic Turkey also has decided that a Sunni Syria will be a better alternative. Before openly turning against Assad, Erdogan demanded that half of the Syrian government be Sunni Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

Motive #3: Geopolitical Ambitions

The geopolitical ambitions are very complex and perhaps we have to sit in an occult meeting of the Bilderberg group to fully understand the real goals. Needless to say, there are forces that want to completely reorganize the Middle East as if it’s a board game. A New York Times article describes the goal of dividing 5 Middle Eastern countries into 14. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say who is behind this brilliant peace-promoting idea. This article also shows how Syria will be divided up into three countries. And it’s no coincidence that the original rebel group “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) has a flag with three stars.

Instead of further mucking around in the Middle East, Brzezinski is seeking to marshal all remaining US-UK resources for a final onslaught on Moscow, Beijing, and the other countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the main focal point of world resistance to London and Washington. This is Brzezinski's new Operation Barbarossa. The financiers who control Brzezinski are now fielding Obama as the plausible public face for a new era of brutal and bellicose imperialist subversion and geopolitics which will be advertised on the basis of multiculturalism and dignity through self-determination attained by the subversion, balkanization, partition and subdivision of existing states, instead of the narrow and venomous Islamophobia which has been the constant and strident note of the Bush-Cheney neocons.

-- Obama, the Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate, by Webster Griffin Tarpley


The Neocons in the U.S. have had their (delusional) plans for redrawing the Middle East for a long time, since the end of Cold War. As Wesley Clark said, he was told right after 9/11 that Dick Cheney and others had plans to invade Iraq and many more countries: “We’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

Going back decades to the 1950s, the CIA had attempted to overthrow the Syrian government and assassinate the leader. So, what was the modus operandi?

1. Use Sunni extremist/terrorist group, Muslim Brotherhood, as a tool to overthrow the Syrian government.

2. Use false flag attacks. Muslim Brotherhood would attack Syria’s neighboring countries. Then the U.S. would blame Syria, and wage an attack with the help of Iraq.

Any of this sounds familiar?

Other countries such as the UK, France and Israel have great interests in playing God with Syria as well. As for France, it will be a way to get back one of its former colonies. France actually played a key role in the creation of FSA -– the “moderate” rebels -– back in 2011 when “Arab Spring” was everywhere (Arab Spring had no involvement from George Soros, wink-wink). Plus, getting Syria will also enable France to get a foothold in neighboring Lebanon, another former French colony.

As for Israel, nothing would please it more than fractured, tiny, unstable Muslim nations that Israel can kick around and control with ease. There are also hardcore Israeli elites who envision a “Greater Israel” that will encompass much more land from neighboring countries, including a big chunk of Syria.

As for the despotic Erdogan, the Turkish leader, he and some elites in his country have a dream of re-establishing some of the Ottoman Empire’s glory. World War I ended the Ottoman Empire which had vast control over the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia (which comprise many of the –stan countries). To transform Turkey from a regional power to a global power again, Erdogan’s plan is to extend his influence in neighboring and far way countries by appealing to the fundamentalist Islamic movements.

For example, Erdogan has been using Muslims in Chechnya and Crimea to stir troubles for Russia. He has also been using Muslims in Uyghur -– a region in Western China, called Xinjiang in Chinese –- to harass China.
Turkey is now actively receiving Chinese Muslims from Uyghur and resettling them in Syria. These people will join the ranks of informal soldiers, ready to fight for Turkish ambitions both in Syria and China.

There are also other paramilitary groups in Turkey such as “Grey Wolves” which have committed several terrorist attacks since the 1960s, including terrorism against Russia in Chechnya and possibly a bombing in Bangkok just a few months ago. At the height of the Cold War, the CIA befriended -– if not created -- Grey Wolves, and used them to fight the “commies” and achieve other geopolitical goals in that region.

More shockingly, when the Russian jet was attacked by Turkey two months ago, one of the Russian pilots was slaughtered as he was coming down in a parachute, which is a war crime. Within an hour or two, a militia leader in that remote area appeared on local TV -– affiliated with CNN and Fox (!) –- and claimed credit for the shooting. Later, it was revealed that he is a member of the Grey Wolves.


Last but not the least, Turkey has a huge problem with Kurds who are one of the unluckiest people in the world. Millions of people –- with unique language and culture -– who don’t have a land of their own and are victims of callous and arbitrary maps drawn by the British and the French after World War I. If Turkey gets rid of Assad, it will be able to use the new leader to put down the Kurdish uprising.

On the pro-Assad side, both Russia and Iran have their national interests as well. Syria has been a staunch friend of Russia for decades and it hosts Russia’s only military (Naval) base that is not in the vicinity of [the] Russian border. Losing that will be a huge blow to Russia’s access to the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean … and thus an enormous threat to its trade and geopolitical power. Russia has also close ties to Iran, and thus the “Shiite arc” will strengthen Russia’s influence in the Middle East.

As for Iran, losing Syria means losing access to Hezbollah –- the proxy army –- in Lebanon that borders Israel. It goes something like this: if Israel attacks Iran, Hezbollah will rain rockets on Israel. This is one reason how Iran has managed to not get attacked all these years even though Israel and the Neocons in the U.S. have been itching to obliterate Iran for the last twenty years. So, Syria under an ally such as Assad is almost an existential necessity for both Russia and Iran.

That concludes the discussion of the warring parties’ motives, but how did we end up with ISIS? What exactly has been happening in Syria in the last few years? How did we end up with millions of refugees? Where do we go from here? How do we defeat ISIS? Will there be peace and Kumbaya after we defeat ISIS in “Sy-raq”?

Stay tuned for Part II of this series.
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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:52 am

Chaos in Syria, Part II – Destruction, ISIS and Beyond
By Chris Kanthan
January 31, 2016

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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“What we need is a Higher World Order where building nations is more profitable than destroying them; conducting fair trade with other nations is more mutually beneficial than occupying them and stealing their resources; and living in a multi-polar world is more peaceful and profitable than one nation hopelessly clinging on to a dangerous fantasy of a unipolar world.”

Rumble in the Desert – Events Leading up to Arab Spring

As stated before in Part I of this two-part series, the redrawing of the Middle East has been in the U.S. radar for a long time. Quoting Wesley Clark again, he was told -– in 1991 -– by the prominent Neocon and then #3 official in the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz: “One thing we did learn from the Persian Gulf War is that we can use our military in the Middle East and the Russians won’t stop us. And we’ve got about five or ten years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes –- Syria, Iran, Iraq –- before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”

Syrian President Assad knew he was on the crosshair of the US military, so he actually tried to court the US and the European governments. After 9/11, he cooperated extensively with the FBI and the CIA, giving them valuable information on Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda who were covertly operating in the Syrian/Iraqi borders.

But all his efforts were like a rabbit trying to make friends with a hungry lion. Before the dust settled on the “shock and awe” campaign against Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration had labeled Syria a “rogue nation” and threatened it with sanctions, which came into force the next year. By 2005, the Bush administration had withdrawn the U.S. ambassador from Syria. That’s when the “regime change” apparatus and programs were switched on.

After decades of regime changes around the world, the program has been fine-tuned into an algorithm. Enticing top political and military leaders to defect, funding “grassroots” opposition movements on the ground, arming militants, waging propaganda war, stirring up religious and social tensions are all standard protocols in a regime change operation.

By 2006, a former Vice President of Syria with close ties to Muslim Brotherhood had defected and gone to live in France; Saudi Arabia and Qatar were funding Sunni opposition groups within Syria; Kurdish groups within Syria were being lured to join the fight; and Sunni extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood were infiltrating Syrian borders. A WikiLeaks cable shows the depth of detailed analysis and planning in 2006 to bring Assad down.

Later in 2009, a U.S.-funded satellite TV station started beaming anti-government propaganda all over Syria (as revealed in another WikiLeaks memo, many years later).

The next year or so was rather uneventful, perhaps because the U.S. government was trying to recover from the great financial disaster of 2008.

Libya as the Template

However, with the spark of Arab Spring in 2011, the globalists were back on the saddle. What started in Tunisia was quickly leveraged by Washington to quickly chart out regime changes in Libya, Egypt and Syria.

Gaddafi (also spelled Qaddafi) of Libya had been an ally of the West for a long time and he was also quite popular in his country. Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa, and Gaddafi spent a lot of the oil money on his people, providing them with free education, free healthcare and numerous other benefits. Under Gaddafi, Libya had the highest Human Development Index, the lowest infant mortality and the highest life expectancy in all of Africa.

But he had one fatal quality: the desire to not be a puppet of the France-U.S. coalition. He talked about bringing in Chinese and Russian oil companies into Libya; he dreamed of a gold-based currency -– “gold dinar” –- that would move Libya’s bank reserves away from the Petro-dollar.

Thus, in 2011, the U.S. started arming and funding all kinds of militant mercenary groups from around the world to pour into Libya. Many of them were linked to Al-Qaeda and other known terrorist groups. But it didn’t matter. Here is an example: In 2004, the CIA Director warned about a terrorist group called Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in a congressional testimony. The leader of that group got arrested soon after and spent 7 years in a CIA prison. But in 2011, ABC News had a glowing article about the founder and leader of that same group. Why? Well, he made a deal with the CIA, got released from the prison, and now was fighting against Gaddafi for us!

There were also situations of arming known terrorist groups in Libya by accident. “Oops, we wanted to give the weapons to the moderate rebels, but it fell into the hands of the terrorists.” [A] few years later, we would see similar stories about ISIS getting hold of U.S. weapons under similar pretense.

Before we move on to Syria, it is worth noting that Libya is now in ruins, taken over by Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Yes, ISIS is in Libya now, trying to take over their oil. And guess what the proposed solution is? Bomb Libya, again!
Endless wars equal endless profit.

Back in 2011, Washington elites were congratulating themselves. Hillary Clinton laughed at Gaddafi’s death and said, “We came, we saw and he died.” Clinton and others were also sure that the stunning victory in Libya could be replicated in Syria.

Demolition Derby: Syria

So, the rebels from Libya -– Al Qaeda and other violent Islamists from Libya, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Algeria etc. -– were given money, arms and one-way tickets to Syria. On to the next project, the glorious warriors went. Even mainstream media like CNN reported on this with a positive spin. The infamous Benghazi compound was in fact a CIA operation, and it helped transfer all kinds of weapons to Syria, including mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles and the controversial anti-aircraft heat-seeking SA-7 missiles.

The next planned action was that NATO planes would declare a no-fly zone in Syria so that the global jihadists can keep attacking, but the Syrian government wouldn’t be able to retaliate with air strikes. This strategy had worked like a charm in Libya. But in Syria, there was an unexpected hurdle: Russia and China drew the line on the sand.

As revealed in 2015, Putin tried to compromise and agreed to work on a transition plan for Assad back in 2012, but the West was quite miffed and turned his offer down. Syria had to be destroyed and chopped into pieces according to the original plan. Defeat was not an option.


In 2012, Syria was run over by all kinds of rebels -– Free Syrian Army (FSA), Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda (called Al Nusra in Syria) and dozens of other jihadist groups from all over the world.

It was like Silicon Valley for Jihadist Startups, funded by Saudi VCs and armed by American technology.

Some moral and honest analysts in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) of [the] Pentagon warned that this situation will eventually lead to extremist and fundamentalist Sunni groups such as ISIS –- the general term being Salafists -– taking over Iraq and Syria. This was revealed in a document later obtained by Judicial Watch. This document uncannily predicted everything that would later on unfold.

But the elites of the American Deep State didn’t care. The repeated mantra was “Assad must go” and whatever it took to get there was fine. The former chief of the DIA would, later on, admit that the powers in Washington “made a willful decision” to allow a group such as ISIS to become powerful.

In 2012, the CIA was Skyping with the rebels on a daily basis; the CIA was also sending tons of lethal weapons to the rebels through Turkey; rebels in Jordan and Turkey were trained by French officers; France was also funding the rebels generously, handing out cash; even Germany had troops in the Turkey-Syria border; not to be outdone, the British were sending planeloads of weapons into Syria, in spite of an arms embargo.


Saudi Arabia and Qatar were mostly playing the financier roles, paying for a lot of these weapons, although they were sending some of their own jihadists and weapons (that they bought from the U.S. or Europe) as well. Interestingly enough, the God-fearing Saudis have also been shipping tons of highly potent amphetamines -– Captagon, the Meth of the Middle East -– to the rebels. These probably help the militants do the most heinous crimes.

Usually Israel is a mortal enemy of jihadis, but when it came to Syria, even they bonded. Israel was sending weapons and even treating thousands of wounded rebels in Israeli hospitals. Recently the Israeli defense minister said that ISIS was better than having Iranian influence in Syria.

From the beginning, the Israeli Mossad was active in conducting provocations which it sought to attribute to the PLO and its peripheries: attacks on airliners and on the 1972 Olympic games in Munich are therefore of uncertain paternity. The more horrendous the atrocity, the greater the backlash of world public opinion against the PLO. There is no doubt that the Mossad controlled a part of the central committee of the organization known as Abu Nidal, after the nom de guerre of its leader, Sabri al Banna. In 1987-88, just as the first Palestinian intifada uprising was getting under way, there emerged in the occupied territories the organization known as Hamas. Hamas combined a strong commitment to neighborhood social services with the rejection of negotiations with Israel and the demand for a military solution which was sure to be labeled terrorism. Interestingly enough, one of the leading sponsors of Hamas was Ariel Sharon, a former general who was then a cabinet minister. These facts are widely recognized; US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurzer, an observant Jew, stated late in 2001 that Hamas had emerged "with the tacit support of Israel" because in the late 1980s "Israel perceived it would be better to have people turning toward religion, rather than toward a nationalistic cause." (Ha'aretz, Dec. 21, 2001) In an acrimonious Israeli cabinet debate around the same time, Israeli extremist Knesset member Silva Shalom stated:

"between Hamas and Arafat, I prefer Hamas ... Arafat is a terrorist in a diplomat's suit, while the Hamas can be hit unmercifully." (Ha'aretz, Dec. 4, 2001) This tirade provoked a walkout by Shimon Peres and the other Labor Party ministers. Arafat added his own view, which was that "Hamas is a creature of Israel which, at the time of Prime Minister Shamir, gave them money and more than 700 institutions, among them schools, universities, and mosques. Even [Israeli Prime Minister] Rabin ended up admitting it, when I charged him with it, in the presence of Mubarak." (Corriere della Sera, Dec. 11, 2001) With incredible arrogance, the Bush administration has pronounced Arafat as unfit to be a negotiating partner. In effect, they are choosing Hamas -- or worse, an act of incalculable folly for Israel and for the United States as well.

-- 9/11 Synthetic Terror Made in USA, by Webster Griffin Tarpley


In 2013, Syria was burning. And the Coalition of Regime Change -– the U.S. and the seven dwarves -– were pouring oil onto the fire. By July 2013, there were more than 1.6 million Syrians refugees; more than 100,000 Syrian civilians had died, and there was no end in sight. By 2015, 300,000 civilians had died and 8 million -– a third of the population -– were forced to flee their homes. By the way, a large portion the refugees going to Europe are not even from Syria or other war-torn countries. Most of the displaced Syrians are stuck in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

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When Assad’s government still wouldn’t tumble, suddenly there was a claim that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons. This was supposedly the “red line” that Obama had drawn that would bring the U.S. into an open war with Syria. Famous journalist Seymour Hersh describes the shenanigans in his article called “The Red Line and the Rat Line.” Basically, Al-Qaeda (called Al Nusra in Syria) had access to chemical weapons for a long time, thanks to Turkey. They had staged a false flag attack and blamed it on the Syrian government in order to bring the U.S. into the war. The BBC also got caught with its pants down when it reported on a chemical attack using bad actors and a “doctor” who turned out to be the daughter of an Al-Qaeda leader.

The farce of chemical weapons was so blatant that, in 2013, the UK parliament refused to authorize a war. Soon after, the U.S. Congress also declined. At the same time, in Sep 2013, Putin came up with a face-saving deal for all the parties involved: Syria would give up all of its chemical weapons immediately.

ISIS and Beyond

This might be the critical turning point in time when the Coalition of Regime Change decided to go all in with supporting the extremists. Cash and weapons started pouring in indiscriminately. This is when ISIS started to gain funding, weapons and power.

Within a few months, by Jan 2014, ISIS had its first major victory –- capturing the city of Fallujah in Iraq. At that time, ISIS was still small, with about 7000 ragtag soldiers. But from then on, they seemed to exponentially grow in power. The official story in corporate media is like a Hollywood movie, with a lot of plausible stories about the growth and success of ISIS.

However, as the saying goes, truth is the first casualty of war, and anyone who carefully analyzes the story of ISIS will see a lot of red flags. Here are some quick examples:

• ISIS has a 24-hr. TV station, a radio station, and even a satellite TV station. Obama has dropped 20,000 bombs on Iraq and Syria in 2015, but none of them hit the radio or the TV stations. As for the satellite TV station, what kind of a satellite company would authorize that? Is the almighty USA unable to stop a satellite company from broadcasting terrorist videos of the most-hated group in the world? The satellites themselves are probably American or British.

• ISIS also has a huge presence in the social media. Consider that German citizens who criticize the government’s immigration policy get their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts suspended, pronto. Somehow, ISIS has great success recruiting people and spreading evil messages on U.S.-based, NSA-monitored social media.

• ISIS soldiers drive around in long lines of spanking new Toyota trucks that should be an easy target for any drone or a fighter jet, but yet they roam around happily. Also, when people raised questions about where ISIS got these trucks from, nobody has an answer.


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As discussed in Part I of this series, ISIS does a huge business of selling oil to Turkey, a NATO member and an American ally. Until Russian jets destroyed about a thousand oil trucks, this business was flourishing and constituted the prime source of revenue. What the U.S. did however was to drop flyers on these trucks before the Russian jets attacked them. Really (see picture below). The reason given by American officials was that the drivers may be ordinary citizens who are not associated with ISIS. Wish the elites showed this much compassion when they bombed a hospital in Afghanistan for more than an hour and killed many patients as well as doctors and nurses from Doctors Without Borders, a few months ago. Also, when asked why the U.S. didn’t attack the oil refineries of ISIS all this time, a commander answered that it was because of “environmental concern.” These people must have memorized George Orwell’s 1984.

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• The official line of “we are supporting moderate rebels” make no sense when a) these rebels belong to Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, b) these groups repeatedly sell their arms to ISIS or simply join ISIS, and c) the weapons seem to get accidentally dropped into the hands of ISIS all the time.

Some of the top ISIS commanders were CIA-trained terrorists from Georgia, Chechnya, Libya and other areas (Example 1, Example 2). Of course, they were not considered “terrorists” when they were fighting in the “right” region.

• Funding of ISIS by Saudi Arabia and Qatar also get conveniently ignored. Once in a while, a loose cannon like Joe Biden may slip up and admit to it, but otherwise it’s an embarrassing truth not to be discussed in polite company. As noted in Part 1 of this series, Hillary Clinton also speaks the truth about Saudi Arabia’s funding of terrorism all over the world in confidential memos, but just not in public.

One could go on and on. But hopefully this two-part series has provided sufficient history and analysis of the geopolitical agendas, Machiavellian tactics, and Orwellian tools so that the reader can question and challenge the official narrative/propaganda.

So where do we go from here?

Well, the bigger picture here is that ISIS serves a purpose –- a huge, profitable purpose that is beyond just Syria. ISIS is the next bogeyman that provides the rationale for wars and expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Communism was extremely rewarding for the war industry for about 50 years. Then we had Bin Laden who provided a great opportunity for $6 trillion wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also gave us the Patriot Act, the birth of unwarranted surveillance of all Americans, and the death of several constitutional rights.

But Americans get bored easily. They need a new enemy -– more frightening, more novel, and one that is not defeated easily. Hence ISIS –- a rebranded terrorist group, v2.0, with an amazing PR machine, generous financial supporters with deep pockets, and an endless supply of weapons.


ISIS won’t be defeated easily. It is not meant to be defeated.

Consider this: there were no Al-Qaeda, ISIS or any other deranged extremists in Iraq, Syria or Libya before. Now all three countries are in utter disarray, ravaged by terrorism. What a blessing for the military-industrial complex.

Russia’s Putin is making real progress in Syria, and the Coalition of Regime Change is attempting to negotiate a settlement (the party that is losing the war is the one that always wants to “negotiate”). Even if the war in “Syr-aq” ends, ISIS and Al-Qaeda and other groups will simply move on to other projects. They are already back in Libya. There are plenty of volatile regions around the world –- Central Asia, Western China, Southern Russia, Indonesia etc.

The only way to defeat terrorism and ISIS is through a change in the elite circles of banking and the military industrial complex. The financing and religious indoctrination arising from Saudi Arabia must stop. The weapons from the U.S., U.K., France and others must stop.

Many people don’t realize that the Muslim countries were far more liberal fifty years ago than today. Look at the pictures below -– from Afghanistan and Iran in the 1960s and 70s.

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The West has to take a leading role in liberalizing the Muslim world again … without being an occupier or a puppet master.

Finally, what we need is a Higher World Order, where building nations is more profitable than destroying them; conducting fair trade with other nations is more mutually beneficial than occupying them and stealing their resources; and living in a multi-polar world is more peaceful and profitable than one nation hopelessly clinging on to a dangerous fantasy of a unipolar world.
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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:57 am

Influencing the SARG in the end of 2006
by William Roebuck
December 13, 2006

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


INFLUENCING THE SARG IN THE END OF 2006
Date:2006 December 13, 16:03 (Wednesday)
Canonical ID:06DAMASCUS5399_a
Original Classification: SECRET
Current Classification: SECRET
Handling Restrictions-- Not Assigned --
Character Count:14471
Executive Order:-- Not Assigned --
Locator: TEXT ONLINE
TAGS:PGOV - Political Affairs--Government; Internal Governmental Affairs | PREL - Political Affairs--External Political Relations | PTER - Political Affairs--Terrorists and Terrorism | SY - Syria
Concepts:-- Not Assigned --
Enclosure:-- Not Assigned --
Type:TE - Telegram (cable)
Office Origin:-- N/A or Blank --
Office Action:-- N/A or Blank --
Archive Status:-- Not Assigned --
From:Syria Damascus
Markings:-- Not Assigned --
To:Department of the Treasury | Israel Tel Aviv | National Security Council | Secretary of State | The League of Arab States | U.S. Mission to European Union (formerly EC) (Brussels) | United Nations (New York) | United States Central Command | White House

1. (S) Summary. The SARG ends 2006 in a much stronger position domestically and internationally than it did 2005. While there may be additional bilateral or multilateral pressure that can impact Syria, the regime is based on a small clique that is largely immune to such pressure. However, Bashar Asad's growing self-confidence -- and reliance on this small clique -- could lead him to make mistakes and ill-judged policy decisions through trademark emotional reactions to challenges, providing us with new opportunities. For example, Bashar's reaction to the prospect of Hariri tribunal and to publicity for Khaddam and the National Salvation Front borders on the irrational. Additionally, Bashar's reported preoccupation with his image and how he is perceived internationally is a potential liability in his decision making process. We believe Bashar's weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as a the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising. These proposals will need to be fleshed out and converted into real actions and we need to be ready to move quickly to take advantage of such opportunities. Many of our suggestions underline using Public Diplomacy and more indirect means to send messages that influence the inner circle. End Summary.

2. (S) As the end of 2006 approaches, Bashar appears in some ways stronger than he has in two years. The country is economically stable (at least for the short term), internal opposition the regime faces is weak and intimidated, and regional issues seem to be going Syria's way, from Damascus, perspective. Nonetheless, there are some long-standing vulnerabilities and looming issues that may provide opportunities to up the pressure on Bashar and his inner circle. Regime decision-making is limited to Bashar and an inner circle that often produces poorly thought-out tactical decisions and sometimes emotional approaches, such as Bashar's universally derided August 15 speech. Some of these vulnerabilities, such as the regime's near-irrational views on Lebanon, can be exploited to put pressure on the regime. Actions that cause Bashar to lose balance and increase his insecurity are in our interest because his inexperience and his regime's extremely small decision-making circle make him prone to diplomatic stumbles that can weaken him domestically and regionally. While the consequences of his mistakes are hard to predict and the benefits may vary, if we are prepared to move quickly to take advantage of the opportunities that may open up, we may directly impact regime behavior where it matters--Bashar and his inner circle.

3. (S) The following provides our summary of potential vulnerabilities and possible means to exploit them:

-- Vulnerability:

-- THE HARIRI INVESTIGATION AND THE TRIBUNAL: The Hariri investigation -- and the prospect of a Lebanon Tribunal -- has provoked powerful SARG reactions, primarily because of the embarrassment the investigation causes. Rationally, the regime should calculate that it can deal with any summons of Syrian officials by refusing to turn any suspects over, or, in extreme cases by engineering "suicides.8 But it seems the real issue for Bashar is that Syria's dignity and its international reputation are put in question. Fiercely-held sentiments that Syria should continue to exercise dominant control in Lebanon play into these sensitivities. We should seek to exploit this raw nerve, without waiting for formation of the tribunal.

-- Possible action:

-- PUBLICITY: Publicly highlighting the consequences of the ongoing investigation a la Mehlis causes Bashar personal angst and may lead him to act irrationally. The regime has deep-seated fears about the international scrutiny that a tribunal -- or Brammertz accusations even against lower-echelon figures -- would prompt. The Mehlis accusations of October 2005 caused the most serious strains in Bashar's inner circle. While the family got back together, these splits may lie just below the surface.

-- Vulnerability:

-- THE ALLIANCE WITH TEHRAN: Bashar is walking a fine line in his increasingly strong relations with Iran, seeking necessary support while not completely alienating Syria's moderate Sunni Arab neighbors by being perceived as aiding Persian and fundamentalist Shia interests. Bashar's decision to not attend the Talabani-Ahmadinejad summit in Tehran following FM Moallem's trip to Iraq can be seen as a manifestation of Bashar's sensitivity to the Arab optic on his Iranian alliance.

-- Possible action:

-- PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business. Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here, (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders), are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue.

-- Vulnerability:

-- THE INNER CIRCLE: At the end of the day, the regime is dominated by the Asad family and to a lesser degree by Bashar Asad's maternal family, the Makhlufs, with many family members believed to be increasingly corrupt. The family, and hangers on, as well as the larger Alawite sect, are not immune to feuds and anti-regime conspiracies, as was evident last year when intimates of various regime pillars (including the Makhloufs) approached us about post-Bashar possibilities. Corruption is a great divider and Bashar's inner circle is subject to the usual feuds and squabbles related to graft and corruption. For example, it is generally known that Maher Asad is particularly corrupt and incorrigible. He has no scruples in his feuds with family members or others. There is also tremendous fear in the Alawite community about retribution if the Sunni majority ever regains power.

-- Possible Action:

-- ADDITIONAL DESIGNATIONS: Targeted sanctions against regime members and their intimates are generally welcomed by most elements of Syrian society. But the way designations are applied must exploit fissures and render the inner circle weaker rather than drive its members closer together. The designation of Shawkat caused him some personal irritation and was the subject of considerable discussion in the business community here. While the public reaction to corruption tends to be muted, continued reminders of corruption in the inner circle have resonance. We should look for ways to remind the public of our previous designations.

-- Vulnerability:

-- THE KHADDAM FACTOR: Khaddam knows where the regime skeletons are hidden, which provokes enormous irritation from Bashar, vastly disproportionate to any support Khaddam has within Syria. Bashar Asad personally, and his regime in general, follow every news item involving Khaddam with tremendous emotional interest. The regime reacts with self-defeating anger whenever another Arab country hosts Khaddam or allows him to make a public statement through any of its media outlets.

-- Possible Action:

-- We should continue to encourage the Saudis and others to allow Khaddam access to their media outlets, providing him with venues for airing the SARG's dirty laundry. We should anticipate an overreaction by the regime that will add to its isolation and alienation from its Arab neighbors.

Vulnerability:

-- DIVISIONS IN THE MILITARY-SECURITY SERVICES: Bashar constantly guards against challenges from those with ties inside the military and security services. He is also nervous about any loyalties senior officers (or former senior officers) feel toward disaffected former regime elements like Rifat Asad and Khaddam. The inner circle focuses continuously on who gets what piece of the corruption action. Some moves by Bashar in narrowing the circle of those who benefit from high-level graft has increased those with ties to the security services who have axes to grind.

-- Possible Action:

-- ENCOURAGE RUMORS AND SIGNALS OF EXTERNAL PLOTTING: The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Khaddam and Rifat Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime's paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.

Vulnerability:

-- REFORM FORCES VERSUS BAATHISTS-OTHER CORRUPT ELITES: Bashar keeps unveiling a steady stream of initiatives on economic reform and it is certainly possible he believes this issue is his legacy to Syria. While limited and ineffectual, these steps have brought back Syrian expats to invest and have created at least the illusion of increasing openness. Finding ways to publicly call into question Bashar's reform efforts -- pointing, for example to the use of reform to disguise cronyism -- would embarrass Bashar and undercut these efforts to shore up his legitimacy. Revealing Asad family/inner circle corruption would have a similar effect.

-- Possible Action:

-- HIGHLIGHTING FAILURES OF REFORM: Highlighting failures of reform, especially in the run-up to the 2007 Presidential elections, is a move that Bashar would find highly embarrassing and de-legitimizing. Comparing and contrasting puny Syrian reform efforts with the rest of the Middle East would also embarrass and irritate Bashar.

-- Vulnerability:

-- THE ECONOMY: Perpetually under-performing, the Syrian economy creates jobs for less than 50 percent of the country's university graduates. Oil accounts for 70 percent of exports and 30 percent of government revenue, but production is in steady decline. By 2010 Syria is expected to become a net importer of oil. Few experts believe the SARG is capable of managing successfully the expected economic dislocations.

-- DISCOURAGE FDI, ESPECIALLY FROM THE GULF: Syria has enjoyed a considerable up-tick in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last two years that appears to be picking up steam. The most important new FDI is undoubtedly from the Gulf.

-- Vulnerability:

-- THE KURDS: The most organized and daring political opposition and civil society groups are among the ethnic minority Kurds, concentrated in Syria's northeast, as well as in communities in Damascus and Aleppo. This group has been willing to protest violently in its home territory when others would dare not. There are few threats that loom larger in Bashar's mind than unrest with the Kurds. In what is a rare occurrence, our DATT was convoked by Syrian Military Intelligence in May of 2006 to protest what the Syrians believed were US efforts to provide military training and equipment to the Kurds in Syria.

-- Possible Action:

-- HIGHLIGHT KURDISH COMPLAINTS: Highlighting Kurdish complaints in public statements, including publicizing human rights abuses will exacerbate regime's concerns about the Kurdish population. Focus on economic hardship in Kurdish areas and the SARG's long-standing refusal to offer citizenship to some 200,000 stateless Kurds. This issue would need to be handled carefully, since giving the wrong kind of prominence to Kurdish issues in Syria could be a liability for our efforts at uniting the opposition, given Syrian (mostly Arab) civil society's skepticism of Kurdish objectives.

-- Vulnerability:

-- Extremist elements increasingly use Syria as a base, while the SARG has taken some actions against groups stating links to Al-Qaeda. With the killing of the al-Qaida leader on the border with Lebanon in early December and the increasing terrorist attacks inside Syria culminating in the September 12 attack against the US embassy, the SARG's policies in Iraq and support for terrorists elsewhere as well can be seen to be coming home to roost.

-- Possible Actions:

-- Publicize presence of transiting (or externally focused) extremist groups in Syria, not limited to mention of Hamas and PIJ. Publicize Syrian efforts against extremist groups in a way that suggests weakness, signs of instability, and uncontrolled blowback.The SARG's argument (usually used after terror attacks in Syria) that it too is a victim of terrorism should be used against it to give greater prominence to increasing signs of instability within Syria.

4. (S) CONCLUSION: This analysis leaves out the anti-regime Syrian Islamists because it is difficult to get an accurate picture of the threat within Syria that such groups pose. They are certainly a long-term threat. While it alludes to the vulnerabilities that Syria faces because of its alliance with Iran, it does not elaborate fully on this topic. The bottom line is that Bashar is entering the new year in a stronger position than he has been in several years, but those strengths also carry with them -- or sometimes mask -- vulnerabilities. If we are ready to capitalize, they will offer us opportunities to disrupt his decision-making, keep him off-balance, and make him pay a premium for his mistakes.

ROEBUCK
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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:43 am

WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists: Hillary Clinton memo highlights Gulf states' failure to block funding for groups like al-Qaida, Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba
by Declan Walsh in Islamabad
December 5, 2010

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Image
The terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab walks through the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station in Mumbai during the 2008 attacks. Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the atrocity, is one of several groups that have raised funds via Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Sebastian D'souza/AP

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba -– but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

"More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups," says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide," she said.

Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The cables highlight an often ignored factor in the Pakistani and Afghan conflicts: that the violence is partly bankrolled by rich, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them.


The problem is particularly acute in Saudi Arabia, where militants soliciting funds slip into the country disguised as holy pilgrims, set up front companies to launder funds and receive money from government-sanctioned charities.

One cable details how the Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, used a Saudi-based front company to fund its activities in 2005.

Meanwhile officials with the LeT's charity wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, travelled to Saudi Arabia seeking donations for new schools at vastly inflated costs -– then siphoned off the excess money to fund militant operations.

Militants seeking donations often come during the hajj pilgrimage -– "a major security loophole since pilgrims often travel with large amounts of cash and the Saudis cannot refuse them entry into Saudi Arabia". Even a small donation can go far: LeT operates on a budget of just $5.25m (£3.25m) a year, according to American estimates.

Saudi officials are often painted as reluctant partners. Clinton complained of the "ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist funds emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority".

Washington is critical of the Saudi refusal to ban three charities classified as terrorist entities in the US. "Intelligence suggests that these groups continue to send money overseas and, at times, fund extremism overseas," she said.

There has been some progress. This year US officials reported that al-Qaida's fundraising ability had "deteriorated substantially" since a government crackdown. As a result Bin Laden's group was "in its weakest state since 9/11" in Saudi Arabia.

Any criticisms are generally offered in private. The cables show that when it comes to powerful oil-rich allies US diplomats save their concerns for closed-door talks, in stark contrast to the often pointed criticism meted out to allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Instead, officials at the Riyadh embassy worry about protecting Saudi oilfields from al-Qaida attacks.

The other major headache for the US in the Gulf region is the United Arab Emirates. The Afghan Taliban and their militant partners the Haqqani network earn "significant funds" through UAE-based businesses, according to one report. The Taliban extort money from the large Pashtun community in the UAE, which is home to 1 million Pakistanis and 150,000 Afghans. They also fundraise by kidnapping Pashtun businessmen based in Dubai or their relatives.

"Some Afghan businessmen in the UAE have resorted to purchasing tickets on the day of travel to limit the chance of being kidnapped themselves upon arrival in either Afghanistan or Pakistan," the report says.

Last January US intelligence sources said two senior Taliban fundraisers had regularly travelled to the UAE, where the Taliban and Haqqani networks laundered money through local front companies.

One report singled out a Kabul-based "Haqqani facilitator", Haji Khalil Zadran, as a key figure. But, Clinton complained, it was hard to be sure: the UAE's weak financial regulation and porous borders left US investigators with "limited information" on the identity of Taliban and LeT facilitators.

The lack of border controls was "exploited by Taliban couriers and Afghan drug lords camouflaged among traders, businessmen and migrant workers", she said.

In an effort to stem the flow of funds American and UAE officials are increasingly co-operating to catch the "cash couriers" -– smugglers who fly giant sums of money into Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In common with its neighbours Kuwait is described as a "source of funds and a key transit point" for al-Qaida and other militant groups. While the government has acted against attacks on its own soil, it is "less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks outside of Kuwait".

Kuwait has refused to ban the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, a charity the US designated a terrorist entity in June 2008 for providing aid to al-Qaida and affiliated groups, including LeT.

There is little information about militant fundraising in the fourth Gulf country singled out, Qatar, other than to say its "overall level of CT co-operation with the US is considered the worst in the region".

The funding quagmire extends to Pakistan itself, where the US cables detail sharp criticism of the government's ambivalence towards funding of militant groups that enjoy covert military support.

The cables show how before the Mumbai attacks in 2008, Pakistani and Chinese diplomats manoeuvred hard to block UN sanctions against Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

But in August 2009, nine months after sanctions were finally imposed, US diplomats wrote: "We continue to see reporting indicating that JUD is still operating in multiple locations in Pakistan and that the group continues to openly raise funds". JUD denies it is the charity wing of LeT.

This article was amended on 15 December 2010. The original caption referred to the Chatrapathi Sivaji station in Mumbai. This has been corrected.
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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:56 am

US embassy cables: Hillary Clinton says Saudi Arabia 'a critical source of terrorist funding'
by theguardian.com / wikileaks / Hillary Clinton
5 December 2010

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009, 13:28
S E C R E T STATE 131801
NOFORN
SIPDIS
FOR TFCO
EO 12958 DECL: 12/28/2019
TAGS EFIN, KTFN, PTER, PINR, PREL, PK, KU, AE, QA, SA
SUBJECT: TERRORIST FINANCE: ACTION REQUEST FOR SENIOR
LEVEL ENGAGEMENT ON TERRORISM FINANCE
REF: A. (A) STATE 112368 B. (B) RIYADH 1499 C. (C) KUWAIT 1061 D. (D) KUWAIT 1021 E. (E) ABU DHABI 1057 F. (F) DOHA 650 G. (G) ISLAMABAD 2799
Classified By: EEB/ESC Deputy Assistant Secretary Douglas C. Hengel for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

-------

Summary

-------

1. (U) This is an action request cable. Please see para 3.

2. (S/NF) Summary: In August 2009, Special Representative to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan (S/SRAP) Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in coordination with the Department of Treasury established the interagency Illicit Finance Task Force (IFTF). The IFTF is chaired by Treasury A/S David Cohen. It focuses on disrupting illicit finance activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the external financial/logistical support networks of terrorist groups that operate there, such as al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT). The IFTF's activities are a vital component of the USG's Afghanistan and Pakistan (Af/Pak) strategy dedicated to disrupting illicit finance flows between the Gulf countries and Afghanistan and Pakistan. The IFTF has created a diplomatic engagement strategy to assist in the accomplishment of this objective. The strategy focuses on senior-level USG engagement with Gulf countries and Pakistan to communicate USG counterterrorism priorities and to generate the political will necessary to address the problem. The IFTF has drafted talking points for use by all USG officials in their interactions with Gulf and Pakistani interlocutors. These points focus on funding for terrorist groups threatening stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan and targeting coalition soldiers. These points have been cleared through the relevant Washington agencies.

3. (SBU) Action request: Drawing on the background materials for respective countries, and in preparation for the upcoming visits by Ambassador Holbrooke and Treasury U/S Levey in January, the Department requests all action posts deliver the general talking points in paras 5-6 and country specific talking points contained in the following paras: (1) Saudi Arabia ) para 8, (2) Kuwait ) para 10, (3) UAE ) para 12, and (4) Pakistan ) para 13. The talking points should be delivered by Ambassadors/Charge D'Affaires.

4. (C) In response to State 112368, the Department has received responses from Embassies Riyadh, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Islamabad regarding the resource capabilities devoted towards these efforts. The Department also received each Mission's evaluation of the effectiveness of host country institutions working on combating terrorism financing along with post's recommendations on ways forward.

----------------------------------------

General talking points for all Embassies

----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Threat financing:

Cutting off the flow of funds to terrorist organizations and achieving stability in Af/Pak are top U.S. priorities.

These objectives require effective actions against terrorist fundraising in the Gulf by al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other Af/Pak-based violent extremist groups, all of which undermine the security of the entire international community. We will not succeed without your cooperation.

Long term success in combating terrorist financing requires a comprehensive, strategic approach that includes the following elements:

(1) aggressive action to identify, disrupt and deter terrorist donors, fundraisers and facilitators;

(2) appropriate legal measures, including effective prosecution, to hold terrorist financiers and facilitators publicly accountable and to send a strong message of deterrence to current and would-be donors that their actions face significant legal and social repercussions.

(3) strong oversight of charities, including their overseas branches, to ensure that these organizations are not supporting terrorist and extremist elements;

(4) strict enforcement of UN 1267 sanctions; and

(5) full compliance with international anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) standards, including vigorous enforcement.

6. (SBU) Charities:

The United States strongly supports legitimate charitable activities and is a strong proponent of private charitable giving.

We recognize and admire the emphasis placed on charity within Islam and we seek to work cooperatively with governments and organizations in the Islamic world to ensure that legitimate charitable activities thrive.

At the same time, we want to increase our cooperative efforts to ensure that extremists and terrorists do not exploit charitable giving.

--------------------------------------------- ----------

Country-specific background material and talking points

--------------------------------------------- ----------

7. (U) Saudi Arabia background

(S/NF) While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) takes seriously the threat of terrorism within Saudi Arabia, it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority. Due in part to intense focus by the USG over the last several years, Saudi Arabia has begun to make important progress on this front and has responded to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United States through proactively investigating and detaining financial facilitators of concern. Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. Continued senior-level USG engagement is needed to build on initial efforts and encourage the Saudi government to take more steps to stem the flow of funds from Saudi Arabia-based sources to terrorists and extremists worldwide.

(S/NF) The USG engages regularly with the Saudi Government on terrorist financing. The establishment in 2008 of a Treasury attache office presence in Riyadh contributes to robust interaction and information sharing on the issue. Despite this presence, however, more needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan. In contrast to its increasingly aggressive efforts to disrupt al-Qa'ida's access to funding from Saudi sources, Riyadh has taken only limited action to disrupt fundraising for the UN 1267-listed Taliban and LeT-groups that are also aligned with al-Qa'ida and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(S/NF) Saudi Arabia has enacted important reforms to criminalize terrorist financing and restrict the overseas flow of funds from Saudi-based charities. However, these restrictions fail to include "multilateral organizations" such as XXXXXXXXXXXX Intelligence suggests that these groups continue to send money overseas and, at times, fund extremism overseas. In 2002, the Saudi government promised to set up a "Charities Committee" that would address this issue, but has yet to do so. The establishment of such a mechanism, however, is secondary to the primary U.S. goal of obtaining Saudi acknowledgement of the scope of this problem and a commitment to take decisive action.

(S/NF) Department note: The Department received post's comments regarding embassy staffing at Riyadh and recommendations for enhancing bilateral cooperation (ref B). The Department agrees with post's recommendation that the U.S. must reinforce, on a political level, the Saudi Arabia Government's recent acknowledgement that terrorist groups other than al-Qa'ida are a threat both to it and to regional stability. The Department also supports post's assessment that consistent engagement, including the exchange of actionable intelligence, by senior USG officials is paramount. We plan to discuss these issues with the SAG during upcoming senior-level USG visits.

8. (U) Saudi Arabia talking points

(S/REL USA, SAU) We recognize your government's efforts to disrupt al-Qa'ida networks in the Kingdom and we reaffirm our commitment to support the Saudi government in its actions on terror finance. We encourage your government to continue efforts against al-Qa'ida and stress the importance of sharing and acting on information related to terrorist financing.

(S/REL USA, SAU) We note your concerns with fundraising in the Kingdom by al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups and urge decisive action to enforce the UN 1267-mandated asset freeze against Taliban and LeT fundraising similar to Saudi efforts to enforce UN 1267 sanctions and take other appropriate action to target al-Qa'ida.

(S/REL USA, SAU) We underscore that the Taliban and LeT are aligned with al-Qa'ida and that your government's support for disrupting the financing of these groups is critical to the stability of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the broader Central and South Asian region. We emphasize the need to prevent the Taliban from using the cover of reconciliation talks to raise funds.

(S/REL USA, SAU) We urge your government to assume responsibility for the overseas operations of charities and NGOs headquartered in the Kingdom. We encourage you to prevent terrorists and their supporters from exploiting religious events (Hajj, Umrah, Ramadan) to raise funds. We acknowledge the recent adoption of stricter financial controls on charities, but urge greater regulation and oversight of the Saudi charitable sector.

(S/REL USA, SAU) We would like to stress our interest in broadening and deepening this dialogue and information exchange as we still lack detailed information on the ultimate sources of terrorist financing emanating from the Kingdom. We commend your government for recent efforts to put terrorists and terrorist financiers on trial, and we encourage you to publicize details of prosecutions to maximize the deterrent effects.

(S/REL USA, SAU) You have had success in detaining and deterring financial facilitators. However, we encourage your government also to focus on the long-term and more fundamental goal of dissuading donors from funding violent extremism.

(S/REL USA, SAU) We commend your government's effort over the past several years to use the media, internet, and other forms of public outreach to discourage extremism. We emphasize that a critical component in this campaign is cutting off the flow of funds from Saudi Arabia to foreign religious, charitable, and educational organizations that propagate violent extremist ideologies to vulnerable populations.

9. (U) Kuwait background

(S/NF) The USG has consistently engaged the Government of Kuwait (GOK) about the specific activities of terrorist financiers in country, Kuwaiti charities financing terrorism abroad, and Kuwait's lack of a comprehensive anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime. While the GOK has demonstrated a willingness to take action when attacks target Kuwait, it has been less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks outside of Kuwait. Al-Qa'ida and other groups continue to exploit Kuwait both as a source of funds and as a key transit point.

(S/NF) The GOK has undertaken a number of initiatives to curb terrorist financing in the charitable sector (ending direct cash donations, increasing monitoring and supervising mosques and charitable organizations, and enhancing enforcement of regulations by a Ministry of Social Affairs task force). It also recently arrested some Kuwait-based al-Qa'ida facilitators, but it is too early to assess whether this marks a change in Kuwaiti policy of co-opting terrorists as a means of deflecting potential attacks against Kuwaiti interests.

(S/NF) Kuwait's law prohibits efforts to undermine or attack Arab neighbors, a basis for the prosecution of al-Qa'ida facilitators, Kuwait remains the sole Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country that has not criminalized terrorist financing. The GOK faces an uphill battle to implement comprehensive terror finance legislation due to a lack of parliamentary support. However the government is also not currently prepared to push hard on this issue. The GOK at times has obstructed or been slow to enforce UN-mandated asset freezes of Kuwait-based entities.

(S/NF) A particular point of difference between the U.S. and Kuwait concerns Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS). In June 2008 the USG domestically designated all RIHS offices RIHS under Executive Order 13224 for providing financial and material support to al-Qa'ida and UN 1267-listed al-Qa'ida affiliates, including Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jemaah Islamiyah, and Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya. The United States nominated RIHS for listing under UNSCR 1267 but Indonesia placed a technical hold on the RIHS listing due concerns regarding RIHS's presence in Indonesia. Libya also placed a hold -- probably at Kuwait's behest -- citing insufficient information on RIHS's activities. Indonesia has rotated off the United Nation's Security Council so only Libya's hold on RIHS remains. (Department note: Libya's hold will drop in 2010 unless one of the newly elected UNSC Members places a hold on our request to list RIHS.) In Kuwait, RIHS enjoys broad public support as a charitable entity. The GOK to date has not taken significant action to address or shut down RIHS's headquarters or its branches, which is consistent with GOK tolerance of similar behavior by Kuwaiti citizens and organizations as long as the behavior occurs or is directed outside of Kuwait.

(S/NF) Department note: The Department appreciates post's thorough description of the staffing situation at Mission Kuwait (ref B). The Department commends U.S. Embassy Kuwait for taking an active approach in proposing a strategy to build GOK capacity in combating financial crimes through training and seminars focused on legislation and law enforcement (ref C). The opportunity to engage the GOK on improving its capabilities to deal with financial crimes is enthusiastically welcomed by agencies in Washington. Washington agencies appreciate post's assessment and identification of several focal areas that deal with financial crimes. These goals closely track the work of the IFTF Capacity Building Working Group. The Department commends Embassy Kuwait's recent support of Kuwait's National Anti Money Laundering Committee's AML conference in early December 2009. In response to post's request, the Department will work with relevant members of the Washington inter-agency to provide comments and feedback to the draft of Kuwait's amended AML law.

10. (U) Kuwait talking points

(S/REL USA, KWT) We appreciate the breadth and depth of our strong bilateral relationship. We would like to see our cooperation on counter-terrorist financing improve to a level that matches our excellent cooperation in many other areas. In this respect, the recent Kuwait anti-money laundering conference held in Kuwait is a positive step forward.

(S/REL USA, KWT) Our information indicates that Kuwaiti donors serve as an important source of funds and other support for al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups. The arrest in August of six Kuwaiti men who were plotting terrorist attacks on U.S. and Kuwait interests marks an important step in enhanced counterterrorism cooperation. We encourage you to keep up the positive momentum.

(S//REL USA, KWT) We underscore that the Taliban and LeT are aligned with al-Qaida and that your government's support for disrupting the financing of these groups is critical to the stability of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the broader Central and South Asian region. We emphasize the need to prevent the Taliban from using the cover of reconciliation talks to raise funds.

(S/REL USA, KWT) We appreciate your government's generosity for a wide range of important causes and for the positive contributions made by Kuwaiti charities. We commend Kuwait for some of the initiatives taken to enhance oversight of charitable donations, but we need you to do more to prevent the financing of terrorism abroad from Kuwaiti soil.

(S/REL USA, KWT) Our goal is to work more closely with your government to separate and protect legitimate charitable activity from those that fund terror. We have particular concerns about their foreign activities.

(S/REL USA, KWT) We remain concerned that the continued absence of counterterrorism legislation criminalizing terrorist financing will continue to prevent effective counterterrorist efforts.

(S/REL USA, KWT) We urge your government to prioritize the passage of counterterror finance legislation. Robust and comprehensive anti-money laundering and counterterror financing laws will enhance your government's ability to prosecute those seeking to undermine Kuwait's security, but will also enhance the reputation of Kuwait's financial sector as a whole.

(S/REL USA, KWT) If raised, Kuwait RIHS: We have shared our concerns with your government regarding RIHS on numerous occasions. We designated the organization in the United States as a specially designated terrorist entity based on information that RIHS funds have supported terrorist groups in various regions of the world. The USG is not alone in its concern; six other governments (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and Russia) have taken enforcement action against RIHS branches in their countries.

(S//REL USA, KWT) We would welcome the opportunity to work more closely with you to ensure that RIHS and other charities cannot be used to support terrorists.

11. (U) United Arab Emirates background

(S/NF) UAE-based donors have provided financial support to a variety of terrorist groups, including al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups, including Hamas. Washington agencies note, however, that they have limited information on the identity of Taliban and LeT donors and facilitators in the UAE. Hence there is limited information to be shared with local interlocutors. Nonetheless, the point can be emphasized that the UAE's role as a growing global financial center, coupled with weak regulatory oversight, makes it vulnerable to abuse by terrorist financiers and facilitation networks.

(S/NF) Department Note: The Department has received post's comments regarding personnel staffing at Mission UAE and the challenges post faces. The Department is supportive of the action plan laid out on engaging with the UAE on Taliban finance issues (ref E). The Department assesses that a bilateral commitment by the United States and the UAE to focus on weaknesses within its financial regulatory measures is an important step in making progress on strengthening UAE efforts to disrupt potential terrorist financing.

12. (U) United Arab Emirates talking points

(S/REL USA, ARE) We appreciate the depth and breadth of our bilateral relationship.
Since 2001, we have developed a strong partnership with your government in countering financial support for al-Qa'ida, and more recently, in constricting Iran's ability to use UAE financial institutions to support its nuclear program.

(S/REL USA, ARE) We would like to extend our cooperation and partnership to efforts to deal with the threat represented by Taliban and LeT fundraising in the UAE. We believe that the United States and UAE, which both have troops in the field in Afghanistan, share a common interest in curtailing any Taliban or LeT fundraising activities and fully implementing UN 1267 sanctions on such activities on behalf of these groups in the UAE.

(S/REL USA, ARE) However, we are pleased that concerns have been raised in the UAE regarding the Taliban and LeT fundraising. We also commend the calls for increased vigilance, information sharing, and enforcement actions to disrupt and deter this activity.

(S/REL USA, ARE) In our view, the alignment of the Taliban and LeT with al-Qa'ida means that our mutual efforts to disrupt the financing of these groups also is critical to the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(S/REL USA, ARE) We emphasize the need to prevent the Taliban from using the cover of reconciliation talks to travel and raise funds.

(S/REL USA, ARE) We appreciate your government's willingness to work with the USG on cash courier interdiction and note that such efforts are crucial to undermine al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and other groups' ability to exploit the UAE as a fundraising and facilitation hub. We urge your government to strengthen its regulatory and enforcement regime to interdict cash couriers transiting major airports.

13. (U) Pakistan background

(S/NF) Pakistan's intermittent support to terrorist groups and militant organizations threatens to undermine regional security and endanger U.S. national security objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although Pakistani senior officials have publicly disavowed support for these groups, some officials from the Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) continue to maintain ties with a wide array of extremist organizations, in particular the Taliban, LeT and other extremist organizations. These extremist organizations continue to find refuge in Pakistan and exploit Pakistan's extensive network of charities, NGOs, and madrassas. This network of social service institutions readily provides extremist organizations with recruits, funding and infrastructure for planning new attacks. On the international stage, Pakistan has sought to block the UNSCR 1267 listings of Pakistan-based or affiliated terrorists by requesting that China place holds on the nominations. China recently placed a technical hold on the designation of three Pakistan-based or affiliated terrorists nominated by India, although China did not prevent the most recent Pakistan-related U.S. designation nomination in June.

(S/NF) The Department has received post's comments regarding personnel staffing and the detailed description of the challenges faced by Embassy Islamabad in the area of terrorism finance (ref D). Department leaves it to post discretion to determine which departments within the host government should receive the points provided in para 16 so that Pakistan fully understands the priority the USG places on this issue.

14. (U) Pakistan talking points

(S/REL USA, PAK) Emphasize that Pakistan's support for disrupting financing to the Taliban and LeT obligatory pursuant to their obligations under UNSCR 1267 and successor resolutions, and is critical to achieving stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(S/REL USA, PAK) We are deeply concerned that Pakistan has failed to enact an AML/CTF law that meets APG/FATF standards. As you may realize the FATF is currently engaged in a "International Co-Operation Review Group" exercise, that is likely to have very negative multilateral repercussions if the Parliament does not pass an adequate AML/CTF law.

(S/REL USA, PAK) We stress your government's obligation, under UNSCR 1267, and successor resolutions to strictly enforce existing sanctions against the 142 Taliban, LeT leader Hafiz Saeed, LeT/JUD, al Rashid Trust, al Akhtar Trust and other individuals and entities on the UN 1267 Consolidated List.

(S/REL USA, PAK) We urge your government to support the international community's efforts to combat terrorist financing. Your government's views of UNSCR 1267 listing requests for LeT and other Pakistan-based terrorist groups should be made on the merits of the requests and not linked to politics, including what country made the nomination or which countries are referenced in the public statements of the cases.

(S/REL USA, PAK) We urge your government to comply with UN and domestic legal obligations to enforce sanctions on the Pakistan-based, UN-proscribed NGOs al Rashid Trust and al Akhtar Trust, and all successor organizations that continue to funnel money and provide other forms of support to the Taliban and LeT.

(S/REL USA, PAK) We emphasize that social services provided by NGO extremist organizations, such as Jamaat-ud Dawa (JUD) challenge the legitimacy of your government to provide for its people. This includes relief efforts in the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps of the Northwest Frontier Provinces by the new LeT/JUD charity Falah-e Insaniyat Foundation.

(S/REL USA, PAK) We stress that our governments must work together to ensure that there are moderate alternatives to terrorist-controlled social welfare networks upon which IDPs and other vulnerable populations currently rely. We must work together to develop and support NGOs not affiliated with terrorist groups, and establish a comprehensive oversight and enforcement mechanism for NGOs that is consistent with the Financial Action Task Force's international standard.

(S//REL USA, PAK) We urge your Government in the strongest possible terms to take action against the Haqqani network, which is funneling weapons and fighters across the border to fight U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. This network, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani who was listed by the UN under UNSCR 1267, funds its activities through illicit activities, including kidnapping, extortion, bank robbery, narcotics, smuggling, and fraud.

(S//REL USA, PAK) We urge your Government to replace the anti-money laundering decree recently promulgated by your Executive Branch with legislation fully consistent with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations and to ensure that the current decree can stand in court. The FATF Forty Plus Nine Recommendations are international standards, which Pakistan, by virtue of its membership in the Asia-Pacific Group, committed to.

15. (U) Qatar background

(S//NF) Department Note: Qatar is one of the four Gulf countries included in the IFTF, and accordingly, the IFTF developed the background information included in para 16 for inclusion in the diplomatic engagement strategy. However, given the current focus of U.S. engagement with the GOQ on terror finance related to Hamas, it would be counter-productive for Embassy Doha to engage the GOQ at this time on disrupting financial support of terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(S/NF) Qatar has adopted a largely passive approach to cooperating with the U.S. against terrorist financing. Qatar's overall level of CT cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region. Al-Qaida, the Taliban, UN-1267 listed LeT, and other terrorist groups exploit Qatar as a fundraising locale. Although Qatar's security services have the capability to deal with direct threats and occasionally have put that capability to use, they have been hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals.

(S//NF) Department Note: The Department has received post's comments regarding personnel staffing and the thorough description of the coordination process on terrorist finance issues at Embassy Doha (ref F). Department appreciates post's assessment that GOQ definitions of what constitutes terrorism differs occasionally from those of the USG. Department agrees with post's suggested approach on this issue of engaging with direct discussions with host government officials.

----------------------------------------

Points of contact and reporting deadline

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16. (U) Please direct any questions or comments on this request to EEB/ESC/TFS (Jay J. Jallorina or Linda Recht). Posts are requested to report back on responses from other governments by January 19, 2010. CLINTON
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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 4:08 am

Profile: Libyan rebel commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj
by BBC News
4 July 2012

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Abdel Hakim Belhadj is a rising star in the Libyan leadership and standing for election, but his past ties to jihadi groups have sparked controversy -- along with his claims of being tortured at the behest of US and British intelligence agencies under the programme known as rendition.

In August 2011 he stood victorious inside Col Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound after fighters from his Tripoli Brigade broke through the defences of the ousted leader's fortress.

But the victory was a long time coming for the staunch anti-Gaddafi fighter, who spent seven years in the city's notorious Abu Selim prison, where he says he was regularly tortured.

He says he and his wife, Fatima Bouchar, were handed to the Gaddafi regime by the CIA after being arrested in Thailand and transported via UK-controlled Diego Garcia.

Now he is taking legal action against former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over claims that Mr Straw signed papers authorising the move.

It is thought to be the first time civil action of this kind has been taken against a former foreign secretary.

Islamist days

Mr Belhadj had fought against Col Gaddafi for many years and had been involved with an Islamist group's attempt to overthrow the Libyan leader in the late 1990s.

Mr Belhadj -- known in the jihadi world as Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq -- commanded the now defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

The group was formed in 1990 by Islamist Libyans who had fought in Afghanistan against Soviet forces in the 1980s.

The LIFG waged a three-year low-level insurgency mainly based in eastern Libya, and staged three attempts to assassinate Col Gaddafi in 1995 and 1996, according to Middle East analyst Omar Ashour of Exeter University.

By 1998, the group was crushed. Most of its leaders fled to Afghanistan and joined forces with the Taliban. There, Mr Belhadj is alleged to have developed "close relationships" with al-Qaeda leaders and Taliban chief Mullah Omar, according to an arrest warrant issued by the Libyan government in 2002.

The warrant says that he was based in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, from where he ran and financed training camps for Arab mujahideen fighters.

It notes that he was born in 1966 in the Souq al-Jumaa area of Tripoli and studied at al-Fateh University, where press reports say he earned a civil engineering degree.

The warrant says Mr Belhadj travelled widely, spending time in Sudan, Pakistan, Syria and Iran. He is also said to have visited Turkey, London and Denmark.

After the 11 September attacks and the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, he and most of the LIFG leaders fled that country as well, only for Mr Belhadj to be arrested in 2004 in Thailand by the CIA and then handed over to Col Gaddafi's government.

Mr Belhadj spent time in the Abu Selim Prison, before being freed in 2010 under a "de-radicalisation" drive championed by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader.

CIA rendition

His latest incarnation as the top Libyan rebel commander, widely credited with chasing the Gaddafi family out of Tripoli, has propelled him to international attention -- along with his account of being tortured under the controversial CIA interrogation programme known as rendition.

Files unearthed from Col Gaddafi's intelligence archives and seen by the BBC documented Mr Belhadj's capture by the CIA in Bangkok in 2004, and his forcible repatriation to Libya.

Peter Bouckaert, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch -- which originally obtained the documents -- explained the circumstances of Mr Belhadj's transfer.

"He was rendered by the CIA, he was captured, abducted together with his pregnant wife and flown on the so-called black flight to Tripoli for his interrogation," he said.

Mr Bouckaert said Mr Belhadj was one of about eight or nine suspects who were abducted and handed over to the Libyan intelligence service.

"From the files it's very clear [CIA agents] were present in some of the interrogations themselves."

In Abu Selim prison, Mr Belhadj told the Guardian newspaper, "I was injected with something, hung from a wall by my arms and legs and put in a container surrounded by ice. They did not let me sleep and there was noise all the time."


Mr Belhadj told the BBC that after the CIA and Britain's MI6 intelligence agency got him to Tripoli in March 2004, they did not witness his torture, but interrogated him afterwards.

"What happened to me was illegal and deserves an apology," he told the BBC's Jeremy Bowen in Tripoli.

In March, the BBC revealed the UK government had authorised the rendition of Mr Belhadj and his wife, though it was not clear at what level. And on 15 April the Sunday Times published an article quoting sources alleging the authorisation had come from Mr Straw.

Mr Belhadj and his wife are seeking damages from the former minister for the trauma they say they suffered.

Papers have also been issued in the High Court to sue the UK government, its security forces and senior M16 officer Sir Mark Allen for damages in the case.

UK ministers have denied any complicity in rendition or torture. Mr Straw says he cannot comment on the claims because of an ongoing police investigation into the UK's alleged role in rendition.

The CIA has previously said it should come as no surprise that the US worked with foreign governments to help protect America from terrorists.

Moderate tone

When the rendition claims first surfaced after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Mr Belhadj said they would not stop Libya's new rebel leadership -- the National Transitional Council -- from having "orderly relations" with the US and Britain.

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Libya's new rebel commanders say they will shun extremism

The NTC has dismissed any suggestions that Abdel Hakim Belhadj is a former al-Qaeda sympathiser, following reports in the international media as well as statements attributed to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi himself.

"NTC members have stated time and again that the revolution has no links to al-Qaeda," said NTC spokesman Al-Amin Belhadj told al-Jazeera Television last year.

"Everyone knows who Abdel Hakim Belhadj is. He is a Libyan rebel and a moderate person who commands wide respect. Unfortunately, some circles in the West repeat these claims," he added.

Asked about his Islamist links, Mr Belhadj told the BBC that he was always an anti-Gaddafi fighter, but insisted that he was never an al-Qaeda member.

He is contesting the 7 July elections as a candidate of the Al-Watan (Homeland) Party in a Tripoli constituency.
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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 4:15 am

Libya: Gaddafi regime's US-UK spy links revealed
by BBC Bews
4 September 2011

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US and UK spy agencies built close ties with their Libyan counterparts during the so-called War on Terror, according to documents discovered at the office of Col Gaddafi's former spy chief.

The papers suggest the CIA abducted several suspected militants from 2002 to 2004 and handed them to Tripoli.

The UK's MI6 also apparently gave the Gaddafi regime details of dissidents.

The documents, found by Human Rights Watch workers, have not been seen by the BBC or independently verified.

Meanwhile, the head of Libya's interim governing body, the National Transitional Council, said its soldiers were laying siege to towns still held by Col Gaddafi's forces.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil said Sirte, Bani Walid, Jufra and Sabha were being given humanitarian aid, but had one week to surrender.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Benghazi says there have been unconfirmed reports that Bani Walid has now been taken by anti-Gaddafi forces.

But witnesses on the edge of Bani Walid say the opposition fighters are still on the outskirts although our correspondent adds that it appears as if Gaddafi loyalists have abandoned many of their outlying positions.

'Protecting Americans'

Thousands of pieces of correspondence from US and UK officials were uncovered by reporters and activists in an office apparently used by Moussa Koussa, who served for years as Col Gaddafi's spy chief before becoming foreign minister.

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UK officials were apparently keen for Tony Blair to meet Col Gaddafi in a tent

He defected in the early part of the rebellion, flying to the UK and then on to Qatar.

Rights groups have long accused him of involvement in atrocities, and had called on the UK to arrest him at the time.


The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Tripoli says the documents illuminate a short period when the Libyan intelligence agency was a trusted and valued ally of both MI6 and the CIA, with the tone of exchanges between agents breezy and bordering on the chummy.

Human Rights Watch accused the CIA of condoning torture.

"It wasn't just abducting suspected Islamic militants and handing them over to the Libyan intelligence. The CIA also sent the questions they wanted Libyan intelligence to ask and, from the files, it's very clear they were present in some of the interrogations themselves," said Peter Bouckaert of HRW.

The papers outline the rendition of several suspects, including one that Human Rights Watch has identified as Abdel Hakim Belhaj, known in the documents as Abdullah al-Sadiq, who is now the military commander of the anti-Gaddafi forces in Tripoli.

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Alleged CIA letter
Dear Musa
I am glad to propose that our services take an additional step in cooperation with the establishment of a permanent CIA presence in Libya. We have talked about this move for quite some time and Libya's cooperation on WMD and other issues, as well as our recent intelligence cooperation, mean that now is the right moment to move ahead. I am prepared to send [XXX] to Libya to introduce two of my officers to you and your service, arriving in Tripoli on 20 March. These two officers, both of whom are experienced and can speak Arabic, will initially staff our station in Libya. [XXX] will communicate the details via fax. I will call to confirm this with you.
We are also eager to work with you in the questioning of the terrorist we recently rendered to your country. I would like to send to Libya an additional two officers and I would appreciate if they could have direct access to question this individual. Should you agree I would like to send these two officers to Libya on 25 March. Again [XXX] will communicate the details to you.
Steve


The Americans snatched him in South East Asia before flying him to Tripoli in 2004, the documents claim.

Mr Belhaj, who was involved in an Islamist group attempting to overthrow Col Gaddafi in the early 2000s, had told the Associated Press news agency earlier this week that he had been rendered by the Americans, but held no grudge.

The CIA would not comment on the specifics of the allegations.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said: "It can't come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats."

The documents also reveal details about the UK's relationship with the Gaddafi regime.

One memo, dated 18 March 2004 and with the address "London SE1", congratulates Libya on the arrival of Mr Belhaj.

It states "for the urgent personal attention of Musa Kusa" and is headed "following message to Musa in Tripoli from Mark in London", according to the Financial Times. Its authenticity could not be independently verified.

The UK intelligence agency apparently helped to write a speech for Col Gaddafi in 2004, when the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair was encouraging the colonel to give up his weapons programme.

And British officials also insisted that Mr Blair's famous 2004 meeting with Col Gaddafi should be in his Bedouin tent, according to the UK's Independent newspaper, whose journalists also discovered the documents.

"[The prime minister's office is] keen that the prime minister meet the leader in his tent," the paper quotes a memo from an MI6 agent as saying.

"I don't know why the English are fascinated by tents. The plain fact is the journalists would love it."

In another memo, also seen by the Independent, UK intelligence appeared to give Tripoli details of a Libyan dissident who had been freed from jail in Britain.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague played down the revelations, telling Sky News that they "relate to a period under the previous government so I have no knowledge of those, of what was happening behind the scenes at that time".

Mr Blair and US President George W Bush lobbied hard to bring Col Gaddafi out of international isolation in the years after the 9/11 attacks, as Libya moved to normalise relations with former enemies in the West.

Bani Walid

In a press conference in Benghazi, Mr Jalil said four Gaddafi-held towns had one week to surrender "to avoid further bloodshed".

But our correspondent, Jon Leyne, says there are reports Bani Walid has now fallen without a fight, with Gaddafi loyalists either melting away or regrouping further south. However, these reports have not been confirmed.

One anti-Gaddafi commander, Abdulrazzak Naduri, had earlier told AFP that Bani Walid had until just 08:00 on Sunday or face military action.

Col Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unconfirmed. It was believed that two sons, Saadi and Saif al-Islam, had been in Bani Walid recently.

The NTC is stepping up its efforts at reconstruction, setting up a supreme security council to protect Tripoli.

Ian Martin, a special adviser to the UN secretary general, arrived in Libya's capital on Saturday to try to boost international efforts in the country's redevelopment.

The NTC has also said its leadership will not now move from Benghazi to Tripoli until next week, with Mr Jalil the last to go.

Our correspondent says this could mean a delay in the opposition formally assuming the role of the new government and raise fears of a power vacuum in the capital.

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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 4:30 am

Control and crucifixions: Life in Libya under IS
by BBC News
3 February 2016

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Images from Islamic State videos from Sirte

Five years after the violent uprising that brought down Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, fighters from so-called Islamic State (IS) have established a base in the coastal city of Sirte.

With an estimated 1,500 fighters in the city, they have started to impose their own rule of law, with dress codes for men and women, segregation in school classrooms and the establishment of a religious police.

Punishments inflicted on residents, for crimes ranging from theft or alcohol production to "spying", include imprisonment, amputations, public crucifixions and beheadings. The group has set up its own "police force" and is reported to be carrying out house to house searches and forcing people to attend Islamic re-education classes.

The head of intelligence in nearby Misrata says most of the IS fighters who control Sirte are foreigners -- from Tunisia, Iraq or Syria.

Access to the city is dangerous for journalists and there is limited communication with people who live there -- often for fear of retributions. We spoke to people who have been forced to leave the city, to escape Islamic State.

Warning: You may find some of the content below disturbing

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Image published by IS that the group says shows punishments being carried out in Sirte

'Bint Elferagani' -- children's doctor

I was a children's doctor at the Ibn Sina Hospital. I'm now in Tripoli having escaped with my immediate family back in August 2015 when clashes were starting. But of course like others, we have relatives still inside. We sometimes contact them via the internet thanks to a satellite connection. But more widely, there's no internet or phone lines available.

Those who remain in the city tend to be the less well-off ones who can't afford rent in other cities. We have also been told about the lack of medicines at hospitals. Those with life-threatening conditions who can get out, are getting out.

The killing is unbelievable. I lost four cousins on my father's side, five cousins on my mother's side, three other relatives and two neighbours.

One cousin was crucified at the Zaafran roundabout.

Another cousin was killed at the Gharbiyat roundabout and a third was beheaded.

The fourth was killed with a tank missile. My friend lost three of her young brothers.

My friend, who also left Sirte, settled in Zliten recently. But the situation there is tragic. Her brother was killed in an explosion, the suicide attack on 7 January. He was about to graduate at the military school. An occasion of happiness was turned into one of mourning.

Islamic State has taken over key locations in Sirte

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Map showing key locations used by so-called Islamic State in Sirte
Image: Copernicus Sentinel-2/ESA image captured on 29 November 2015


I blame regional countries for IS. I hate hearing names of certain countries now: Egypt, Tunisia, Qatar, Algeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria. We Libyans, would have sorted our problems by ourselves if they had left us alone.

There are Libyans amongst them (Islamic State) like the Benghazi and Derna jihadists. Libya is a small place, we all know each other.

My dad is a senior policeman and was getting threats in Sirte. Anyone who works with the police can be kidnapped or killed unless you join them.

Daesh forces (IS) are mainly in the city centre. A friend tells me they took over our empty house as well as the main government buildings like council buildings, the hospital I used to work at, the local mosque and the university.

Public crucifixions

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One man who had fled Sirte said his brother had been shot in the public square and then crucified

'Al-Warfali', from Sirte

I left Sirte back in early December. Islamic State fighters took over the city in February 2015. It wasn't an invasion per se. It was a combination of local jihadi fighters (Ansar Al-Sharia) declaring their allegiance to the Islamic State group and later being joined by fighters fleeing or beaten by the forces of General Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi.

There are also other nationalities in the ranks of IS that we either noticed from their accents or looks. They included Tunisians and Egyptians. They were not just Arabs. In April 2015, there was a special parade welcoming people they said were Boko Haram fighters from Nigeria.

IS was quite laid back at the start in terms of implementing their harsh interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law. You get the feeling that they were focussing on building loyalty and allegiances from the tribal society of Sirte.

It was only in August when Islamic codes of dress and behaviour began to be implemented more noticeably. It was also then when crucifixions and lashings began to be meted out to anyone convicted. These usually take place after Friday prayers.

Until I left in December with my family, going in to and leaving the city was quite routine. The only people experiencing problems when it comes to their freedom of movement is anyone associated with other fighting groups or suspected of being a "spy".

Most foods and items at the shops are slightly more expensive. But there hasn't been any petrol available for a year and a half. People who still receive their public sector salaries from Tripoli choose to stay. Leaving simply does not make economic sense for most people.

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Letter distributed by Islamic State in Sirte to public sector workers

'Re-education' courses

Leaflets and letters have been distributed to shopkeepers and public sector workers inviting them to "re-education" courses run by Islamic State.

IS have their command centre next to the domed, marble-clad Ougadougou Conference Centre -- built by Muammar Gaddafi to host pan-African summits.

The centre is now used for courses where IS members instruct employees in the importance of adhering to their version of Islamic law.

The letters warn: "Whoever does not attend will be liable to questioning."

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Re-education courses at the Ougadougou Conference Centre

'Ibrahim' from Sirte

I'm originally from Sirte. I was self-employed but I left the city with my family on 17 July last year, some time after the arrival of IS.

I was of course also scared for my family. We still have relatives and friends inside the city. We now live in Misrata.

When we escaped, they left people alone to come and go as they please. I'm hearing from friends people can still leave if they wish to.

We're also hearing that medicines at hospitals are almost non-existent. Food is available, but via 'war profiteers'. As far as we know, there's no petrol left.

They must have taken the city with the help of pro-Gaddafi people. The pro-Gaddafi lot came in initially under the pretext of kicking out the Misrata fighters from Sirte. There's no way these foreign IS fighters would have known their way around the city without help from locals. The city is tribal and loyalties are divided.

They started crucifying people at entrance to the city two months into their rule. Their "crime" was being spies for "Libya Dawn" fighters. The location of the crucifixion is at the entrance to the city.

I saw at least one myself being crucified. Later, I heard and read about 17 more, including my friend Sharaf Aldeen and his brother (the salafi cleric) sheikh Meftah Abu Sittah. Both were killed then crucified.

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Image published by IS that the group says shows a billboard instructing women how to dress in Sirte

Sharia law in Sirte

Billboards instructing women how to dress according to Sharia were erected in Sirte in July 2015. The poster reads:

Instructions on wearing the hijab according to Sharia

1. It must be thick and not revealing

2. It must be loose (not tight)

3. It must cover all the body

4. It must not be attractive

5. It must not resemble the clothes of unbelievers or men

6. It must not be decorative and eye-catching

7. It must not be perfumed.

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Firefighter at oil depot near Ras LanufImage copyright Getty Images

'Khaled' - oil facility worker

I'm originally from Ras Lanuf and have studied at university in Sirte.

I'm now in Sidra (174km east of Sirte) where I work and where Daesh are trying to take over the oil port but the Petroleum Facilities Guards have so far repelled their advances. Their last major attempt was on 4 January. They set off a car bomb at the gate just outside the port where the guards where stationed.

At least seven guards and several IS members were killed. IS later went round us at Sidra to make their way to Ras Lanuf, 15km away. They took over a military area between Ras Lanuf and the industrial zone.

Daesh attacks have never stopped. They know they don't have the resources to overpower the oil port. So they're resorting to hit and run tactics, including setting fuel containers on fire. Their very last attack was on Saturday (30 January).

We're not living in a state of full war, yet it's not completely peaceful. People are trying to live some sort of normal life. That's why schools have reopened after they were closed at the start of January.

I was in Sirte myself in late December. I still have friends there. Communication is hard because lines have been cut. Those who left went out through the west of the city towards Misrata.

The route is open and safe that way. Eastwards towards the Sidra oil port, for example, is dangerous as there's still clashes. I know local fighters from Ras Lanuf are preparing a counter attack on Sirte.

Islamic State in Libya

Image
Islamic State fighters have carried out hit and run attacks on oil depots near Ras Lanuf, along the coast from Sirte

Libya was thrown into chaos after Nato-backed forces overthrew its long-serving ruler, Gaddafi in 2011.

Elections were held in 2014, but those who held power in Tripoli refused to give it up, another rival faction set up its own parliament elsewhere and other armed groups have been fighting for control of cities and what remains of the country's infrastructure.

The Islamic State group is estimated to have no more than 2,000 to 3,000 fighters across the country, according to a United Nations report published in December 2015. Their fighters are mainly split between Derna and Sirte -- with around 1,500 of them in Sirte -- where they have taken control of the state-run radio station and broadcast speeches by IS religious leaders.

The Head of Intelligence in nearby Misrata, Ismail Shukri, says most of the IS fighters are foreign. Although the majority are from Tunisia, he says senior IS figures from Iraq and Syria are also taking refuge in Libya.

IS numbers in the capital, Tripoli, are believed to be marginal -- with only 12 to 24 operating as a cell in the city, the report suggests. However, they have been able to carry out high-level attacks, including a strike on the Corinthia Hotel in January 2015, which left eight people dead, and an assault on a prison inside Tripoli's Mitiga airbase in September.

IS militants having been trying to push eastwards from Sirte and have carried out a number of attacks on the oil facilities at Sidra and Ras Lanuf since the start of January 2016.

Image
Libya - map of conflicting groups and IS attacks

Produced by Dominic Bailey and Abdirahim Saeed

Some of the images used in this article showing life in Sirte were first published on social media by the local affiliate of the Islamic State group. While the images correspond with reports provided by local residents, their authenticity could not be verified.

Satellite images: Landsat and Copernicus Sentinel-2/ESA
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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:33 am

Information Report, Not Finally Evaluated Intelligence: Country: Iraq
by Department of Defense
August 12, 2010

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YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


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INFORMATION REPORT, NOT FINALLY EVALUATED INTELLIGENCE.
COUNTRY: (U) IRAQ (IRQ).
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THE GENERAL SITUATION:

A. INTERNALLY, EVENTS ARE TAKING A CLEAR SECTARIAN DIRECTION.

B. THE SALAFIST, THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, AND AQI ARE THE MAJOR FORCES DRIVING THE INSURGENCY IN SYRIA.

C. THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY SUPPORT THE OPPOSITION; WHILE RUSSIA CHINA AND IRAN SUPPORT THE REGIME.

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E. THE REGIME'S PRIORITY IS TO CONCENTRATE ITS PRESENCE IN AREAS ALONG THE COAST (TARTUS, AND LATAKIA); HOWEVER, IT HAS NOT ABANDONED HOMS BECAUSE IT CONTROLS THE MAJOR TRANSPORTATION ROUTES IN SYRIA. THE REGIME DECREASED ITS CONCENTRATION IN AREAS ADJACENT TO THE IRAQI BORDERS (AL HASAKA AND DER ZOR).

3. (C) AL QAEDA - IRAQ (AQI):

A. AQI IS FAMILIAR WITH SYRIA. AQI TRAINED IN SYRIA AND THEN INFILTRATED INTO IRAQ.

B. AQI SUPPORTED THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION FROM THE BEGINNING, BOTH IDEOLOGICALLY AND THROUGH THE MEDIA. AQI DECLARED ITS OPPOSITION OF ASSAD'S GOVERNMENT BECAUSE IT CONSIDERED IT A SECTARIAN REGIME TARGETING SUNNIS.

C. AQI CONDUCTED A NUMBER OF OPERATIONS IN SEVERAL SYRIAN CITIES UNDER THE NAME OF JAISH AL NUSRA (VICTORIOUS ARMY), ONE OF ITS AFFILIATES.

D. AQI, THROUGH THE SPOKESMAN OF THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ (ISI), ABU MUHAMMAD AL ADNANI, DECLARED THE SYRIAN REGIME AS THE SPEARHEAD OF WHAT HE IS NAMING JIBHA AL RUWAFDH (FOREFRONT OF THE SHIITES) BECAUSE OF ITS (THE SYRIAN REGIME) DECLARATION OF WAR ON THE SUNNIS.

ADDITIONALLY, HE IS CALLING ON THE SUNNIS IN IRAQ, ESPECIALLY THE TRIBES IN THE BORDER REGIONS (BETWEEN IRAQ AND SYRIA), TO WAGE WAR AGAINST THE SYRIAN REGIME, REGARDING SYRIA AS AN INFIDEL REGIME FOR ITS SUPPORT TO THE INFIDEL PARTY HEZBOLLAH, AND OTHER REGIMES HE

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CONSIDERS DISSENTERS LIKE IRAN AND IRAQ.

E. AQI CONSIDERS THE SUNNI ISSUE IN IRAQ TO BE FATEFULLY CONNECTED TO THE SUNNI ARABS AND MUSLIMS.

4. (C) THE BORDERS:

A. THE BORDERS BETWEEN SYRIA AND IRAQ STRETCH APPROXIMATELY 600KM WITH COMPLEX TERRAIN CONSISTING OF A VAST DESERT, MOUNTAIN RANGES (SINJAR MOUNTAlNS), JOINT RIVERS (FLOWING ON BOTH SIDES), AND AGRICULTURAL LANDS.

B. IRAQ DIRECTLY NEIGHBORS THE SYRIAN PROVINCES OF HASAKA AND DER ZOR, AS WELL AS (SYRIAN) CITIES ADJACENT TO THE IRAQI BORDER.

C. THE LAND ON BOTH SIDES BETWEEN IRAQ AND SYRIA IS A VAST DESERT PUNCTUATED BY VALLEYS, AND IT LACKS TRANSPORTATION ROUTES, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL HIGHWAY AND SOME MAJOR CITIES.

5. (C) THE POPULATION LIVING ON THE BORDER:

A. THE POPULATION LIVING ON THE BORDER HAS A SOCIAL-TRIBAL STYLE, WHICH IS BOUND BY STRONG TRIBAL AND FAMILIAL MARITAL TIES.

B. THEIR SECTARIAN AFFILIATION UNITES THE TWO SIDES WHEN EVENTS HAPPEN IN THE REGION.

C. AQI HAD MAJOR POCKETS AND BASES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER TO FACILITATE THE FLOW OF MATERIEL AND RECRUITS.

D. THERE WAS A REGRESSION OF AQI IN THE WESTERN PROVINCES OF IRAQ DURING THE YEARS OF 2009 AND 2010; HOWEVER, AFTER THE RISE OF THE INSURGENCY IN SYRIA, THE RELIGIOUS AND TRIBAL POWERS IN THE REGIONS BEGAN TO SYMPATHIZE WITH THE SECTARIAN UPRISING. THIS (SYMPATHY) APPEARED IN FRIDAY PRAYER SERMONS, WHICH CALLED FOR VOLUNTEERS TO SUPPORT THE SUNNI'S IN SYRIA.

6. (C) THE SITUATION ON THE IRAQI AND SYRIAN BORDER:

A. THREE BORDER BDES ARE SUFFICIENT TO CONTROL THE BORDERS DURING PEACE TIME FOR OBSERVATION DUTIES AND TO PREVENT SMUGGLING AND INFILTRATION.

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C. IN PREVIOUS YEARS A MAJORITY OF AQI FIGHTERS ENTERED IRAQ PRIMARILY VIA THE SYRIAN BORDER.

7. (C) THE FUTURE ASSUMPTIONS OF THE CRISIS:

A. THE REGIME WILL SURVIVE AND HAVE CONTROL OVER SYRIAN TERRITORY.

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B. DEVELOPMENT OF THE CURRENT EVENTS INTO PROXY WAR: WITH SUPPORT FROM RUSSIA, CHINA, AND IRAN, THE REGIME IS CONTROLLING THE AREAS OF INFLUENCE ALONG COASTAL TERRITORIES (TARTUS AND LATAKIA), AND IS FIERCELY DEFENDING HOMS, WHICH IS CONSIDERED THE PRIMARY TRANSPORTATION ROUTE IN SYRIA. ON THE OTHER HAND, OPPOSITION FORCES ARE TRYING TO CONTROL THE EASTERN AREAS (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), ADJACENT TO THE WESTERN IRAQI PROVINCES (MOSUL AND ANBAR), IN ADDITION TO NEIGHBORING TURKISH BORDERS. WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES AND TURKEY ARE SUPPORTING THESE EFORTS. THIS HYPOTHESIS IS MOST LIKELY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DATA FROM RECENT EVENTS, WHICH WILL HELP PREPARE SAFE HAVENS UNDER INTERNATIONAL SHELTERING, SIMILAR TO WHAT TRANSPIRED IN LIBYA WHEN BENGHAZI WAS CHOSEN AS THE COMMAND CENTER OF THE TEMPORARY GOVERNMENT.

8. (C) THE EFFECTS ON IRAQ:

A. [DELETE: (b)(1) Sec. 1.4(c)] SYRIAN REGIME BORDER FORCES RETREATED FROM THE BORDER AND THE OPPOSITION FORCES (SYRIAN FREE ARMY) TOOK OVER THE POSTS AND RAISED THEIR FLAG. THE IRAQI BORDER GUARD FORCES ARE FACING A BORDER WITH SYRIA THAT IS NOT GUARDED BY OFFICIAL ELEMENTS WHICH PRESENTS A DANGEROUS AND SERIOUS THREAT.

B. THE OPPOSITION FORCES WILL TRY TO USE THE IRAQI TERRITORY AS A SAFE HAVEN FOR ITS FORCES TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE SYMPATHY OF THE IRAQI BORDER POPULATION, MEANWHILE TRYING TO RECRUIT FIGHTERS AND TRAIN THEM ON THE IRAQI SIDE, IN ADDITION TO HARBORING REFUGEES (SYRIA).

C. IF THE SITUATION UNRAVELS THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME, WHICH IS CONSIDERED THE STRATEGIC DEPTH OF THE SHIA EXPANSION (IRAQ AND IRAN).

D. THE DETERIORATION OF THE SITUATION HAS DIRE CONSEQUENCES ON THE IRAQI SITUATION AND ARE AS FOLLOWS:

--1. THIS CREATES THE IDEAL ATMOSPHERE FOR AQI TO RETURN TO ITS OLD POCKETS IN MOSUL AND RAMADI, AND WILL PROVIDE A RENEWED MOMENTUM UNDER THE PRESUMPTION OF UNIFYING THE JIHAD AMONG SUNNI IRAQ AND SYRIA, AND THE REST OF THE SUNNIS IN THE ARAB WORLD AGAINST WHAT IT CONSIDERS ONE ENEMY, THE DISSENTERS. ISI COULD ALSO DECLARE AN ISLAMIC STATE THROUGH ITS UNION WITH OTHER TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA, WHICH WILL CREATE GRAVE DANGER IN REGARDS TO UNIFYING IRAQ AND THE PROTECTION OF ITS TERRITORY.

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--3. THE RENEWING FACILITATION OF TERRORIST ELEMENTS FROM ALL OVER THE ARAB WORLD ENTERING INTO IRAQI ARENA.

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Re: Chaos in Syria, Part I – Three Motives and Seven Countri

Postby admin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:52 am

The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels
by London Review of Books
April 17, 2014

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In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.​* Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria -– and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’ ( Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’)

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial. In the meantime the Turkish press has been rife with speculation that the Erdoğan administration has been covering up the extent of its involvement with the rebels. In a news conference last summer, Aydin Sezgin, Turkey’s ambassador to Moscow, dismissed the arrests and claimed to reporters that the recovered ‘sarin’ was merely ‘anti-freeze’.

The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons. It said Qassab had ‘self-identified’ as a member of al-Nusra, and that he was directly connected to Abd-al-Ghani, the ‘ANF emir for military manufacturing’. Qassab and his associate Khalid Ousta worked with Halit Unalkaya, an employee of a Turkish firm called Zirve Export, who provided ‘price quotes for bulk quantities of sarin precursors’. Abd-al-Ghani’s plan was for two associates to ‘perfect a process for making sarin, then go to Syria to train others to begin large scale production at an unidentified lab in Syria’. The DIA paper said that one of his operatives had purchased a precursor on the ‘Baghdad chemical market’, which ‘has supported at least seven CW efforts since 2004’.

A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN’s activities said: ‘Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.’

In the months before the attacks began, a former senior Defense Department official told me, the DIA was circulating a daily classified report known as SYRUP on all intelligence related to the Syrian conflict, including material on chemical weapons. But in the spring, distribution of the part of the report concerning chemical weapons was severely curtailed on the orders of Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. ‘Something was in there that triggered a shit fit by McDonough,’ the former Defense Department official said. ‘One day it was a huge deal, and then, after the March and April sarin attacks’ -– he snapped his fingers -– ‘it’s no longer there.’ The decision to restrict distribution was made as the joint chiefs ordered intensive contingency planning for a possible ground invasion of Syria whose primary objective would be the elimination of chemical weapons.

The former intelligence official said that many in the US national security establishment had long been troubled by the president’s red line: ‘The joint chiefs asked the White House, “What does red line mean? How does that translate into military orders? Troops on the ground? Massive strike? Limited strike?” They tasked military intelligence to study how we could carry out the threat. They learned nothing more about the president’s reasoning.’

In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force –- a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya –- was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria.

By the last days of August the president had given the Joint Chiefs a fixed deadline for the launch. ‘H hour was to begin no later than Monday morning [2 September], a massive assault to neutralise Assad,’ the former intelligence official said. So it was a surprise to many when during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on 31 August Obama said that the attack would be put on hold, and he would turn to Congress and put it to a vote.

At this stage, Obama’s premise –- that only the Syrian army was capable of deploying sarin -– was unravelling. Within a few days of the 21 August attack, the former intelligence official told me, Russian military intelligence operatives had recovered samples of the chemical agent from Ghouta. They analysed it and passed it on to British military intelligence; this was the material sent to Porton Down. (A spokesperson for Porton Down said: ‘Many of the samples analysed in the UK tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.’ MI6 said that it doesn’t comment on intelligence matters.)

The former intelligence official said the Russian who delivered the sample to the UK was ‘a good source -– someone with access, knowledge and a record of being trustworthy’. After the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria last year, American and allied intelligence agencies ‘made an effort to find the answer as to what if anything, was used -– and its source’, the former intelligence official said. ‘We use data exchanged as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The DIA’s baseline consisted of knowing the composition of each batch of Soviet-manufactured chemical weapons. But we didn’t know which batches the Assad government currently had in its arsenal. Within days of the Damascus incident we asked a source in the Syrian government to give us a list of the batches the government currently had. This is why we could confirm the difference so quickly.’

The process hadn’t worked as smoothly in the spring, the former intelligence official said, because the studies done by Western intelligence ‘were inconclusive as to the type of gas it was. The word “sarin” didn’t come up. There was a great deal of discussion about this, but since no one could conclude what gas it was, you could not say that Assad had crossed the president’s red line.’ By 21 August, the former intelligence official went on, ‘the Syrian opposition clearly had learned from this and announced that “sarin” from the Syrian army had been used, before any analysis could be made, and the press and White House jumped at it. Since it now was sarin, “It had to be Assad.”’

The UK defence staff who relayed the Porton Down findings to the joint chiefs were sending the Americans a message, the former intelligence official said: ‘We’re being set up here.’ (This account made sense of a terse message a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: ‘It was not the result of the current regime. UK & US know this.’) By then the attack was a few days away and American, British and French planes, ships and submarines were at the ready.

The officer ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of the attack was General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs. From the beginning of the crisis, the former intelligence official said, the joint chiefs had been sceptical of the administration’s argument that it had the facts to back up its belief in Assad’s guilt. They pressed the DIA and other agencies for more substantial evidence. ‘There was no way they thought Syria would use nerve gas at that stage, because Assad was winning the war,’ the former intelligence official said. Dempsey had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. Last April, after an optimistic assessment of rebel progress by the secretary of state, John Kerry, in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that ‘there’s a risk that this conflict has become stalemated.’

Dempsey’s initial view after 21 August was that a US strike on Syria -– under the assumption that the Assad government was responsible for the sarin attack –- would be a military blunder, the former intelligence official said. The Porton Down report caused the joint chiefs to go to the president with a more serious worry: that the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression. It was the joint chiefs who led Obama to change course. The official White House explanation for the turnabout -– the story the press corps told –- was that the president, during a walk in the Rose Garden with Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, suddenly decided to seek approval for the strike from a bitterly divided Congress with which he’d been in conflict for years. The former Defense Department official told me that the White House provided a different explanation to members of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon: the bombing had been called off because there was intelligence ‘that the Middle East would go up in smoke’ if it was carried out.

The president’s decision to go to Congress was initially seen by senior aides in the White House, the former intelligence official said, as a replay of George W. Bush’s gambit in the autumn of 2002 before the invasion of Iraq: ‘When it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, Congress, which had endorsed the Iraqi war, and the White House both shared the blame and repeatedly cited faulty intelligence. If the current Congress were to vote to endorse the strike, the White House could again have it both ways -– wallop Syria with a massive attack and validate the president’s red line commitment, while also being able to share the blame with Congress if it came out that the Syrian military wasn’t behind the attack.’
The turnabout came as a surprise even to the Democratic leadership in Congress. In September the Wall Street Journal reported that three days before his Rose Garden speech Obama had telephoned Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, ‘to talk through the options’. She later told colleagues, according to the Journal, that she hadn’t asked the president to put the bombing to a congressional vote.

Obama’s move for congressional approval quickly became a dead end. ‘Congress was not going to let this go by,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Congress made it known that, unlike the authorisation for the Iraq war, there would be substantive hearings.’ At this point, there was a sense of desperation in the White House, the former intelligence official said. ‘And so out comes Plan B. Call off the bombing strike and Assad would agree to unilaterally sign the chemical warfare treaty and agree to the destruction of all of chemical weapons under UN supervision.’ At a press conference in London on 9 September, Kerry was still talking about intervention: ‘The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.’ But when a reporter asked if there was anything Assad could do to stop the bombing, Kerry said: ‘Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week … But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.’ As the New York Times reported the next day, the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards had first been discussed by Obama and Putin in the summer of 2012. Although the strike plans were shelved, the administration didn’t change its public assessment of the justification for going to war. ‘There is zero tolerance at that level for the existence of error,’ the former intelligence official said of the senior officials in the White House. ‘They could not afford to say: “We were wrong.”’ (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on 21 August.’)

The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)

In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation.
The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress –- the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said.
Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. ‘The Obama administration,’ Warrick wrote, ‘has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.’ Two Middle Eastern intelligence officials fingered Qatar as the source, and a former US intelligence analyst speculated that the manpads could have been obtained from Syrian military outposts overrun by the rebels. There was no indication that the rebels’ possession of manpads was likely the unintended consequence of a covert US programme that was no longer under US control.

By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. ‘Erdoğan was pissed,’ the former intelligence official said, ‘and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal.’ In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government -– through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation -– was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. ‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training -– including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics -– the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’

There was no public sign of discord when Erdoğan and Obama met on 16 May 2013 at the White House. At a later press conference Obama said that they had agreed that Assad ‘needs to go’. Asked whether he thought Syria had crossed the red line, Obama acknowledged that there was evidence such weapons had been used, but added, ‘it is important for us to make sure that we’re able to get more specific information about what exactly is happening there.’ The red line was still intact.

An American foreign policy expert who speaks regularly with officials in Washington and Ankara told me about a working dinner Obama held for Erdoğan during his May visit. The meal was dominated by the Turks’ insistence that Syria had crossed the red line and their complaints that Obama was reluctant to do anything about it. Obama was accompanied by John Kerry and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser who would soon leave the job. Erdoğan was joined by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister, and Hakan Fidan, the head of the MIT. Fidan is known to be fiercely loyal to Erdoğan, and has been seen as a consistent backer of the radical rebel opposition in Syria.

The foreign policy expert told me that the account he heard originated with Donilon. (It was later corroborated by a former US official, who learned of it from a senior Turkish diplomat.) According to the expert, Erdoğan had sought the meeting to demonstrate to Obama that the red line had been crossed, and had brought Fidan along to state the case. When Erdoğan tried to draw Fidan into the conversation, and Fidan began speaking, Obama cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ Erdoğan tried to bring Fidan in a second time, and Obama again cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ At that point, an exasperated Erdoğan said, ‘But your red line has been crossed!’ and, the expert told me, ‘Donilon said Erdoğan “fucking waved his finger at the president inside the White House”.’ Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: ‘We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria.’ (Donilon, who joined the Council on Foreign Relations last July, didn’t respond to questions about this story. The Turkish Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to questions about the dinner. A spokesperson for the National Security Council confirmed that the dinner took place and provided a photograph showing Obama, Kerry, Donilon, Erdoğan, Fidan and Davutoğlu sitting at a table. ‘Beyond that,’ she said, ‘I’m not going to read out the details of their discussions.’)

But Erdoğan did not leave empty handed. Obama was still permitting Turkey to continue to exploit a loophole in a presidential executive order prohibiting the export of gold to Iran, part of the US sanctions regime against the country. In March 2012, responding to sanctions of Iranian banks by the EU, the SWIFT electronic payment system, which facilitates cross-border payments, expelled dozens of Iranian financial institutions, severely restricting the country’s ability to conduct international trade. The US followed with the executive order in July, but left what came to be known as a ‘golden loophole’: gold shipments to private Iranian entities could continue. Turkey is a major purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and it took advantage of the loophole by depositing its energy payments in Turkish lira in an Iranian account in Turkey; these funds were then used to purchase Turkish gold for export to confederates in Iran. Gold to the value of $13 billion reportedly entered Iran in this way between March 2012 and July 2013.

The programme quickly became a cash cow for corrupt politicians and traders in Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. ‘The middlemen did what they always do,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Take 15 per cent. The CIA had estimated that there was as much as two billion dollars in skim. Gold and Turkish lira were sticking to fingers.’ The illicit skimming flared into a public ‘gas for gold’ scandal in Turkey in December, and resulted in charges against two dozen people, including prominent businessmen and relatives of government officials, as well as the resignations of three ministers, one of whom called for Erdoğan to resign. The chief executive of a Turkish state-controlled bank that was in the middle of the scandal insisted that more than $4.5 million in cash found by police in shoeboxes during a search of his home was for charitable donations.

Late last year Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz reported in Foreign Policy that the Obama administration closed the golden loophole in January 2013, but ‘lobbied to make sure the legislation … did not take effect for six months’. They speculated that the administration wanted to use the delay as an incentive to bring Iran to the bargaining table over its nuclear programme, or to placate its Turkish ally in the Syrian civil war. The delay permitted Iran to ‘accrue billions of dollars more in gold, further undermining the sanctions regime’.

The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily. ‘One of the issues at that May summit was the fact that Turkey is the only avenue to supply the rebels in Syria,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘It can’t come through Jordan because the terrain in the south is wide open and the Syrians are all over it. And it can’t come through the valleys and hills of Lebanon -– you can’t be sure who you’d meet on the other side.’ Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, ‘Erdoğan’s dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we’re the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him -– where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.’

A US intelligence consultant told me that a few weeks before 21 August he saw a highly classified briefing prepared for Dempsey and the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, which described ‘the acute anxiety’ of the Erdoğan administration about the rebels’ dwindling prospects. The analysis warned that the Turkish leadership had expressed ‘the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response’. By late summer, the Syrian army still had the advantage over the rebels, the former intelligence official said, and only American air power could turn the tide. In the autumn, the former intelligence official went on, the US intelligence analysts who kept working on the events of 21 August ‘sensed that Syria had not done the gas attack. But the 500 pound gorilla was, how did it happen? The immediate suspect was the Turks, because they had all the pieces to make it happen.’

As intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks were gathered, the intelligence community saw evidence to support its suspicions. ‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ -– who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas -– ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey -– that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’ Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. ‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’ Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria, or at least that was the idea. But it did not work out that way.’

The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. ‘Nobody wants to talk about all this,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can’t say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can’t go back and blame Erdoğan.’

Turkey’s willingness to manipulate events in Syria to its own purposes seemed to be demonstrated late last month, a few days before a round of local elections, when a recording, allegedly of a government national security meeting, was posted to YouTube. It included discussion of a false-flag operation that would justify an incursion by the Turkish military in Syria. The operation centred on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the revered Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, which is near Aleppo and was ceded to Turkey in 1921, when Syria was under French rule. One of the Islamist rebel factions was threatening to destroy the tomb as a site of idolatry, and the Erdoğan administration was publicly threatening retaliation if harm came to it. According to a Reuters report of the leaked conversation, a voice alleged to be Fidan’s spoke of creating a provocation: ‘Now look, my commander, if there is to be justification, the justification is I send four men to the other side. I get them to fire eight missiles into empty land [in the vicinity of the tomb]. That’s not a problem. Justification can be created.’ The Turkish government acknowledged that there had been a national security meeting about threats emanating from Syria, but said the recording had been manipulated. The government subsequently blocked public access to YouTube.

Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on. ‘I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdoğan’s continued support for the rebels, especially now that it’s going so wrong,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The answer was: “We’re screwed.” We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdoğan, but Turkey is a special case. They’re a Nato ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdoğan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous. The Turks would say: “We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.”’

4 April
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