Middle East ‘Regime Change’ Madness. “Hillary Clinton’s Policies Has Turned the Middle East into a Killing Field”

 

 

 

hillary-clinton-400x225Hillary Clinton’s “regime change” policies as Secretary of State helped spread the chaos that has turned the Middle East into a killing field and might have done even worse if not for extraordinary obstructions from the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding Syria, as Gareth Porter recounts at Middle East Eye.

Seymour Hersh’s recent revelations about an effort by the U.S. military leadership in 2013 to bolster the Syrian army against jihadist forces in Syria shed important new light on the internal bureaucratic politics surrounding regime change in U.S. Middle East policy. Hersh’s account makes it clear that the Obama administration’s policy of regime change in both Libya and Syria provoked pushback from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

That account and another report on a similar episode in 2011 suggest that the U.S. military has a range of means by which it can oppose administration policies that it regards as unacceptable. But it also shows that the military leadership failed to alter the course of U.S. policy, and raises the question whether it was willing to use all the means available to stop the funneling of arms to al-Nusra Front and other extremist groups in Syria.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

Hersh details a JCS initiative in the summer of 2013 to share intelligence on Islamic State and al-Qaeda organizations with other German, Russian and Israeli militaries, in the belief that the information would find its way to the Syrian army. Hersh reports that the military leadership did not inform the White House and the State Department about the “military to military” intelligence sharing on the jihadist forces in Syria, reflecting the hardball bureaucratic politics practiced within the national security institutions.

The 2013 initiative, approved by JCS chairman, General Martin Dempsey, was not the first active effort by the U.S. military to mitigate Obama administration regime change policies. In 2011, the JCS had been strongly opposed to the effort to depose the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya, a regime-change effort led by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

When the Obama administration began its effort to overthrow Gaddafi, it did not call publicly for regime change and instead asserted that it was merely seeking to avert mass killings that administration officials had suggested might approach genocidal levels. But the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which had been given the lead role in assessing the situation in Libya, found no evidence to support such fears and concluded that it was based on nothing more than “speculative arguments.”

The JCS warned that overthrowing the Gaddafi regime would serve no U.S. security interest, but would instead open the way for forces aligned with al-Qaeda to take over the country. After the Obama administration went ahead with a NATO air assault against the Gaddafi regime the U.S. military sought to head off the destruction of the entire Libyan government.

General Carter Ham, the commander of AFRICOM, the U.S. regional command for Africa, gave the State Department a proposal for a ceasefire to which Gaddafi had agreed. It would have resulted in Gaddafi’s resignation but retain the Libyan military’s capacity to hold off jihadist forces and rescind the sanctions against Gaddafi’s family.

But the State Department refused any negotiation with Gaddafi on the proposal. Immediately after hearing that Gaddafi had been captured by rebel forces and killed, Clinton famously joked in a television interview, “We came, we saw, he died” and laughed.

By then the administration was already embarked on yet another regime change policy in Syria. Although Clinton led the public advocacy of the policy, then CIA Director David Petraeus, who had taken over the agency in early September 2011, was a major ally. He immediately began working on a major covert operation to arm rebel forces in Syria.

The CIA operation used ostensibly independent companies in Libya to ship arms from Libyan government warehouses to Syria and southern Turkey. These were then distributed in consultation with the United States through networks run by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The plan went into operation within days of Gaddafi’s death on October 20, 2011, just before NATO officially ended its operation at the end of that month, as the DIA later reported to the JCS.

But the result of the operation was to accelerate the dominance of al-Qaeda and their Islamist allies. The Turks, Qataris and Saudis were funneling arms to al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, al-Nusra Front, or other closely related extremist groups. That should not have surprised the Obama administration. The same thing had happened in Libya in spring 2011 after the Obama administration had endorsed a Qatari plan to send arms to Libyan rebels. The White House had quickly learned that the Qataris had sent the arms to the most extremist elements in the Libyan opposition.

The original Petraeus covert operation ended with the torching of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in September 2012 in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed. It was superseded by a new program under which Qatar and Saudi Arabia financed the transfer of weapons from other sources that were supposed to be distributed in cooperation with CIA officials at a base in southern Turkey.

But “thousands of tons of weapons” were still going to groups fighting alongside the jihadists or who actually joined them as Vice President Joe Biden revealed in 2014.

By spring 2013, al-Nusra Front and its Islamic extremist allies were already in control of wide areas in the north and in the Damascus suburbs. The Islamic State had separated from al-Nusra Front and established its own territory south of the Turkish border. The secular armed opposition had ceased to exist as a significant force.

The “Free Syrian Army”, the nominal command of those forces, was actually a fiction within Syria, as was reported by specialists on the Syrian conflict. But despite the absence of a real “moderate opposition,” the Obama administration continued to support the flood of arms to the forces fighting to overthrow Assad.

In mid-2013, as Hersh recounts, the DIA issued an intelligence assessment warning that the administration’s regime change policy might well result in a repeat of what was already happening in Libya: chaos and jihadist domination. The JCS also pulled off a clever maneuver to ensure that the jihadists and their allies were getting only obsolete weapons. A JCS representative convinced the CIA to obtain much cheaper arms from Turkish stocks controlled by officials sympathetic to the CIA’s viewpoint on Syria.

But the JCS failed to alter the administration’s policy of continuing to support the flow of arms into Syria. Did the military leadership really use all of its leverage to oppose the policy?

In 2013, some officials on the U.S. National Security Council staff pushed for a relatively modest form of pressure on Qatar to get it to back off its continued supply of arms to extremists, including al-Nusra Front, by pulling out a U.S. fighter squadron from the U.S. air base at al-Udeid in Qatar. But as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year, the Pentagon, obviously reflecting the JCS position, vetoed the proposal, arguing that the forward headquarters of the Central Command at the airbase was “vital” to U.S. operations in the Middle East.

The political implications of the episode are clear: bureaucratic self-interest trumped the military’s conviction that U.S. security is being endangered. No matter how strongly the JCS may have felt about the recklessness of administration policy, they were not prepared to sacrifice their access to military bases in Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Turkey to pressure their Middle Eastern allies.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. [This article originally appeared at Middle East Eye,http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/us-military-leadership-s-resistance-regime-change-1343405723#sthash.RtsyxSes.dpuf]

Hillary Clinton’s Stonewalling of Peace Agreement with Libya: Bombshell Tapes Confirm Citizen Commission’s Findings on Benghazi

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US President Barack Obama and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Global Research, February 04, 2015
By Roger Aronoff

 

Benghazi-400x400As Hillary Clinton further delays the announcement of her 2016 run for the White House, more news has broken regarding her role in the 2011 disastrous intervention in Libya, which set the stage for the 2012 Benghazi attacks where we lost four brave American lives.

 

 

Two new stories from The Washington Times expose some of the infighting among government agencies and branches of government on this controversial decision, and highlight the key role that Clinton played in initiating the war. You can listen to tapes of discussions between Pentagon staffers, former Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and the Qaddafi regime for yourself.

This news also validates the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB) 2014 interim report, which exposed that Muammar Qaddafi had offered truce talks and a possible peaceful abdication to the United States, which Washington turned down.

“[The article] also makes it clear that the Benghazi investigation needs to be broadened to answer the question: ‘Why did America bomb Libya in the first place?’” commented Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic (Ret.), a key source for the CCB’s interim report who was also quoted by the Times.

“Despite the willingness of both AFRICOM Commander Gen. Carter Ham and Muammar Qaddafi to pursue the possibility of truce talks, permission was not given to Gen. Ham from his chain of command in the Pentagon and the window of opportunity closed,” reads Kubic’s statement for our report from last year. You can watch here, from a CCB press conference last April, as Admiral Kubic described his personal involvement in the effort to open negotiations between Qaddafi and the U.S. government.

Now we learn that the likely source of the stonewalling came from the State Department—and Secretary Clinton—herself. “On the day the U.N. resolution was passed, Mrs. Clinton ordered a general within the Pentagon to refuse to take a call with Gadhafi’s son Seif and other high-level members within the regime, to help negotiate a resolution, the secret recordings reveal,” reported the Times on January 29.

Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates indicated in his book, Duty, that he was opposed to the war for national security reasons. He highlighted a division among White House advisors—with Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, and Samantha Power “urging aggressive U.S. action to prevent an anticipated massacre of the rebels as Qaddafi fought to remain in power.” Add to that list the former Secretary of State.

“But that night, with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces turning back the rebellion that threatened his rule, Mrs. Clinton changed course, forming an unlikely alliance with a handful of top administration aides who had been arguing for intervention,” reported The New York Times on March 18, 2011, the day after UN Resolution 1973 authorizing a “no fly” zone in Libya was voted on and passed.

“Within hours, Mrs. Clinton and the aides had convinced Mr. Obama that the United States had to act, and the president ordered up military plans, which Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hand-delivered to the White House the next day.”

The Washington Times now reports that “In the recovered recordings, a U.S. intelligence liaison working for the Pentagon told a Gadhafi aide that Mr. Obama privately informed members of Congress that Libya ‘is all Secretary Clinton’s matter’ and that the nation’s highest-ranking generals were concerned that the president was being misinformed” about a humanitarian crisis that didn’t exist. However, one must wonder just how much President Obama implicitly supported Clinton in her blind push to intervene in what was once a comparatively stable country, and an ally in the war against al Qaeda. While this new report is certainly damning of Mrs. Clinton’s actions, and appears to place the blame for the unnecessary chaos in Libya—which ultimately led to Benghazi—on her shoulders, President Obama shares the blame as the ultimate Decider-in-Chief.

“Furthermore, defense officials had direct information from their intelligence asset in contact with the regime that Gadhafi gave specific orders not to attack civilians and to narrowly focus the war on the armed rebels, according to the asset, who survived the war,” reports The Washington Times in its second of three articles. Saving those in Benghazi from a looming massacre by Qaddafi seems to have been a convenient excuse made by the administration for political expediency. Could it be, instead, that President Obama, as well as Mrs. Clinton, put greater value on the rise to power of an “Arab Spring” government with Muslim Brotherhood connections? And, as the CCB interim report shows, the U.S. government was willing to go so far as to facilitate the provision of arms to al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya in order to ensure that Qaddafi fell.

Will the mainstream media pick up on these new revelations, or will they cast them aside as another “phony scandal” to throw into their dustbins filled with other stories that might possibly embarrass the Obama administration, or prove to be an impediment to Mrs. Clinton’s path to the White House?

“It’s critical to note that Qaddafi was actively engaged with Department of Defense officials to arrange discussions about his possible abdication and exile when that promising development was squashed by the Obama White House,” noted CCB Member Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer, regarding the failed truce talks. “The Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi has been asking, ‘Why?’ for well over a year now.”

“It is time the American people and the families of those who fought and gave their lives at Benghazi in September 2012 were told why those brave Americans had to die at all, much less die alone with no effort made to save them,” she said.

Clinton, through House Democrats, has indicated that she is willing to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. But Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) recently indicated that the Committee must first examine her emails from the State Department before questioning his witness. This complicates the issue of her testifying, since Mrs. Clinton is in the process of calculating when she will announce her presidential run.

Do the emails that Gowdy has requested from the State Department even extend back to 2011?

Chairman Gowdy identified three “tranches” that his potential questioning would fall under in an interview with Fox’s Greta Van Susteren:

  • Why was the U.S. Special Mission Compound open in the first place?
  • What actions did Clinton take during the attacks?
  • What was Clinton’s role during the talking points and Susan Rice’s Sunday morning talk show visits?

A fourth tranche should be: Clinton’s push to intervene in Libya and how it set the stage for an insecure country and strong jihadist movement willing—and able—to attack the Americans posted there. And while he’s at it, Rep. Gowdy should ask Mrs. Clinton to explain why all of the very legitimate requests for increased security in Benghazi were turned down, and why were Ambassador Chris Stevens’ personal security staff, from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) directed to store their weapons in a separate location—not on them—on the night of September 11, 2012?

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org.

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