Amnesty International: “Damning evidence” US may be complicit in Yemen war crimes

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US-made BLU-97 submunitions used by Saudi Arabia-led coallition in Saada, Yemen, on May 23 2015 clusterbombyemen1

 

Damning evidence of war crimes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which is armed by states including the USA, highlights the urgent need for independent, effective investigation of violations in Yemen and for the suspension of transfers of certain arms, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

‘Bombs fall from the sky day and night’: Civilians under fire in northern Yemen examines 13 deadly airstrikes by the coalition in Sa’da, north-eastern Yemen, which killed some 100 civilians, including 59 children. It also documents the use of internationally banned cluster bombs.

“This report uncovers yet more evidence of unlawful airstrikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, some of which amount to war crimes. It demonstrates in harrowing detail how crucial it is to stop arms being used to commit serious violations of this kind,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser who headed the organization’s fact-finding mission to Yemen.

“The USA and other states exporting weapons to any of the parties to the Yemen conflict have a responsibility to ensure that the arms transfers they authorize are not facilitating serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

Amnesty International is calling for a suspension of transfers to members of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, that are participating in the military campaign, of weapons and munitions which have been used to commit violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes in Yemen: in particular, bombs from the MK (MARK) 80 series and other general purpose bombs, fighter jets, combat helicopters and their associated parts and components. […]

Read in full Yemen: Call for suspension of arms transfers to coalition and accountability for war crimes at Amnesty International

The U.S. Is Destroying Europe

 

europe-usa-eu-flags-400x199In Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and other countries at the periphery or edges of Europe, U.S. President Barack Obama has been pursuing a policy of destabilization, and even of bombings and other military assistance, that drives millions of refugees out of those peripheral areas and into Europe, thereby adding fuel to the far-rightwing fires of anti-immigrant rejectionism, and of resultant political destabilization, throughout Europe, not only on its peripheries, but even as far away as in northern Europe.

Shamus Cooke at Off-Guardian headlines on 3 August 2015, “Obama’s ‘Safe Zone’ in Syria Intended to Turn It into New Libya,” and he reports that Obama has approved U.S. air support for Turkey’s previously unenfoceable no-fly zone over Syria. The U.S. will now shoot down all of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s planes that are targeting the extremist-Muslim groups, including ISIS, that have taken over huge swaths of Syrian territory.

Cooke reports:

Turkey has been demanding this no-fly zone from Obama since the Syrian war started. It’s been discussed throughout the conflict and even in recent months, though the intended goal was always the Syrian government. And suddenly the no-fly zone is happening — right where Turkey always wanted it — but it’s being labeled an ‘anti-ISIS’ safe zone, instead of its proper name: ‘Anti Kurdish and anti-Syrian government’ safe zone.

The New York Times reported on July 27th, that,

“the plan calls for relatively moderate Syrian insurgents to take the territory, with the help of American and possibly Turkish air support.”

However, the Times, stenographically reporting (as usual) from and for their U.S. Government sources (and so propagandizing for the U.S. Government), fails to define “relatively moderate,” but all of the “relatively moderate insurgent” groups in Syria cooperate with ISIS and help them to find and decapitate, or sometimes hold for ransoms, any non-Muslims there. Under Assad, Syria has been a non-clerical state, and has enjoyed freedom of religion, but all of the Syrian opposition to Assad’s rule is alien to that. The U.S. is now, even more clearly than before, anti-Assad, pro-Islamist.

Seymour Hersh reported in the London Review of Books on 17 April 2014, that the Obama Administration’s Libyan bombing campaign in 2011 was part of a broader program to bring sarin gas from Libya to the al-Nusra Front in Syria, in order to help produce a gas-attack upon civilians, which the U.S. Administration could then blame upon Assad, as being an excuse to bomb there just as Obama had already so successfully done in Libya. Both dictators, Gaddafi and Assad, were allied with Russia, and Assad especially has been important to Russia, as a transit-route for Russia’s gas supplies, and not for Qatar’s gas supplies — Qatar being the major potential threat to Russia’s status as the top supplier of gas into Europe.

Obama’s top goal in international relations, and throughout his military policies, has been to defeat Russia, to force a regime-change there that will make Russia part of the American empire, no longer the major nation that resists control from Washington.

Prior to the U.S. bombings of Libya in 2011, Libya was at peace and thriving. Per-capita GDP (income) in 2010 according to the IMF was $12,357.80, but it plunged to only $5,839.70 in 2011 — the year we bombed and destroyed the country. (Hillary Clinton famously bragged, “We came, we saw, he [Gaddafi] died!”) (And, unlike in U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, that per-capita GDP was remarkably evenly distributed, and both education and health care were socialized and available to everyone, even to the poor.)

More recently, on 15 February 2015, reporter Leila Fadel of NPR bannered “With Oil Fields Under Attack, Libya’s Economic Future Looks Bleak.” She announced: “The man in charge looks at production and knows the future is bleak. ‘We cannot produce. We are losing 80 percent of our production,’ says Mustapha Sanallah, the chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation.”

Under instructions from Washington, the IMF hasn’t been reliably reporting Libya’s GDP figures after 2011, but instead shows that things there were immediately restored to normal (even to better than normal: $13,580.55 per-capita GDP) in 2012, but everybody knows that it’s false; even NPR is, in effect, reporting that it’s not true. The CIA estimates that Libya’s per-capita GDP was a ridiculous $23,900 in 2012 (they give no figures for the years before that), and says Libya’s per-capita GDP has declined only slightly thereafter. None of the official estimates are at all trustworthy, though the Atlantic Council at least made an effort to explain things honestly, headlining in their latest systematic report about Libya’s economy, on 23 January 2014, “Libya: Facing Economic Collapse in 2014.”

Libya has become Europe’s big problem. Millions of Libyans are fleeing the chaos there. Some of them are fleeing across the Mediterranean and ending up in refugee camps in southern Italy; and some are escaping to elsewhere in Europe.

And Syria is now yet another nation that’s being destroyed in order to conquer Russia. Even the reliably propagandistic New York Times is acknowledging, in its ‘news’ reporting, that, “both the Turks and the Syrian insurgents see defeating President Bashar al-Assad of Syria as their first priority.” So: U.S. bombers will be enforcing a no-fly-zone over parts of Syria in order to bring down Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad and replace his secular government by an Islamic government — and the ‘anti-ISIS’ thing is just for show; it’s PR, propaganda. The public cares far more about defeating ISIS than about defeating Russia; but that’s not the way America’s aristocracy views things. Their objective is extending America’s empire — extending their own empire.

Similarly, Obama overthrew the neutralist government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine in February 2014, but that was under the fake cover of ‘democracy’ demonstrations, instead of under the fake cover of ‘opposing Islamic terrorism’ or whatever other phrases that the U.S. Government uses to fool suckers about America’s installation of, and support to, a rabidly anti-Russia, racist-fascist, or nazi, government next door to Russia, in Ukraine. Just as Libya had been at peace before the U.S. invaded and destroyed it, and just as Syria had been at peace before the U.S and Turkey invaded and destroyed it, Ukraine too was at peace before the U.S. perpetrated its coup there and installed nazis and an ethnic cleansing campaign there, and destroyed Ukraine too.

Like with Libya before the overthrow of Gaddafi there, or Syria before the current effort to overthrow Assad there, or the more recent successful overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych, it’s all aimed to defeat Russia.

The fact that all of Europe is sharing in the devastation that Obama and other American conservatives — imperialists, even — impose, is of little if any concern to the powers-that-be in Washington DC, but, if it matters at all to them, then perhaps it’s another appealing aspect of this broader operation: By weakening European nations, and not only nations in the Middle East, Obama’s war against Russia is yet further establishing America to be “the last man standing,” at the end of the chaos and destruction that America causes.

Consequently, for example, in terms of U.S. international strategy, the fact that the economic sanctions against Russia are enormously harming the economies of European nations is good, not bad.

There are two ways to win, at any game: One is by improving one’s own performance. The other is by weakening the performances by all of one’s competitors. The United States is now relying almost entirely upon the latter type of strategy.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Ukraine PM Yatsenyuk’s Nazi Rhetoric: Accuses USSR of having invaded Germany and Ukraine during WW2

 

 

[In January 2015], Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the USSR had invaded Germany and Ukraine in WW2. Despite attempts by the Western press to bury the story, Russia is now demanding answers from Berlin.

Nothing is louder than silence. I know this, you know this and you can be sure that Angela Merkel knows it too. Why then is the Chancellor’s government refusing to comment on Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s extraordinary remarks? The reasons are complex, as I will shortly outline. First, though, here’s what Yatsenyuk actually said.

“All of us still clearly remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany,” he told German-state broadcaster ARD. ”We need to avoid [a repeat of] it.”

“Nobody has the right to rewrite the results of the Second World War,” he also added. ”Russia’s President Putin is trying to do exactly this.”

When I saw the comments on my Twitter timeline, I was initially convinced it was a joke. So much disinformation is circulated on the platform that I automatically dismissed it as a misquote. Surely a senior politician wouldn’t say something like that? Only 24 hours later, when I saw Yatsenyuk’s words still swooshing through the Twitter-sphere, did I realize that he actually did utter those words.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, apparently handpicked for the PM post by US diplomat Victoria Nuland, believes the USSR invaded Germany in WW2. This runs contrary to the almost universally accepted narrative that Germany actually attacked the Soviets first in Operation Barbarossa. After repelling the attack, USSR forces eventually made it to Berlin where they met the other liberating powers, the USA and Britain.

Naturally, some are claiming that Yatsenyuk made a slip of the tongue. This is hogwash. The only thing that dropped was his mask. I’ve heard similar remarks before and the location was Western Ukraine, where the PM is from. Yatsenyuk hails from Chernivsti, widely regarded as the region’s second cultural capital, after Lvov, which is viewed by many as the nationalist stronghold.

Something interesting used to happen each May 9 in Ukraine (the anniversary of the German surrender in 1945). Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk and all the other major cities, bar one, honored the defeat of the Nazis. Many in Lvov have never looked too happy with the day. In fact, in 2011, local ‘patriots’ went a step further by attacking a small gathering of veterans who were commemorating the occasion.

The reason for this feeling is simple. West Ukrainians believe that they lost the war. Their side was defeated. Put simply, Yatsenyuk is merely a product of his environment. However, this time he expressed publicly a view that was probably previously restricted to private discourse. It’s possible that he felt a German audience might have been sympathetic to his position. If so, that was a huge misread of the German people.

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Ukraine PM Yatsenyuk – Nazisme-Ukraine

 

Standard North American and Western European history textbooks give students the impression that WW2 in Europe was a fight between Germany, the USSR, France and the UK, with the US getting involved later. The other countries where the war was fought are, largely, regarded as victims of Germany. This is simplistic. In reality, Germany wasn’t alone in its invasion of the USSR in 1941. Forces from Romania, Finland, Italy, Hungary and Slovakia also took part and West Ukrainian elements collaborated with Hitler’s war machine.

The difference between Ukraine and, for example, Slovakia is that Slovaks have come to understand that their wartime behavior was wrong. The pro-Nazi leader, Jozef Tiso, is rightly reviled among the vast majority in Kosice and Bratislava. However, in West Ukraine, their chief Hitler acolyte Stepan Bandera is accorded ‘hero’ status. Indeed, there’s a gigantic statue of him in front of the main railway station in Lvov.

Ukrainian reverence for relics of the Nazi past is both embarrassing and worrying for Germany. I’m sure Merkel often wishes that her NATO allies had found a more reasonable client state to antagonize Russia with. Ukraine’s refusal to deal with its past head-on is a festering boil for EU diplomats.

Just this week, the Czech President, Milos Zeman, was embroiled in an argument with Bandera fan boys in Ukrainian academia.

“You are aware of the Bandera statement: ‘You must kill every Polish person between 16 and 60 years of age?’ If you say you don’t know this – then what kind of scholars of Ukrainian studies are you?” he wrote.

Zeman continued: “I want to tell you that Bandera wished to make out of Ukraine a vassal state of Germany… I can’t congratulate a country that has such ‘national heroes.’”

This also explains the silence of German media on Yatsenyuk’s words. If the German public were made fully aware of what the visitor from Kiev had said, they would be outraged. So much so that Merkel could be forced to withdraw all support for Ukraine.

If Yatensyuk’s comments were widely circulated, they would embolden revisionists in Germany and beyond – something there is, sadly, no shortage of.

Just as it seemed the story would fade away, the Russian Foreign Ministry made a late intervention, asking Berlin to outline its official position on Yatsenyuk’s verbiage. The reply, assuming it ever arrives, will be telling.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Unruly Hearts will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

 

 

 

US and the Lausanne Negociations: Another Idiotic Plan to Hurt Russia

 

iran-oil-rig-400x266“The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests…..We must, however, be mindful that…Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States.”

The Wolfowitz Doctrine, the original version of the Defense Planning Guidance, authored by Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992

“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

-THE GRAND CHESSBOARDAmerican Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, page 30, Basic Books, 1997

The Lausanne negotiations between Iran and the so called P5+1 group (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany) have nothing to do with nuclear proliferation. They are, in fact, another attempt to weaken and isolate Russia by easing sanctions, thus allowing Iranian gas to replace Russian gas in Europe. Lausanne shows that Washington still thinks that the greatest threat to its dominance is the further economic integration of Russia and Europe, a massive two-continent free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok that would eventually dwarf dwindling US GDP while decisively shifting the balance of global power to Asia. To counter that threat, the Obama administration toppled the elected government of Ukraine in a violent coup, launched a speculative attack on the ruble, forced down global oil prices, and is presently arming and training neo-Nazi extremists in the Ukrainian army. Washington has done everything in its power to undermine relations between the EU and Russia risking even nuclear war in its effort to separate the natural trading partners and to strategically situate itself in a location where it can control the flow of vital resources from East to West.

Lausanne was about strategic priorities not nukes. The Obama administration realizes that if it can’t find an alternate source of gas for Europe, then its blockade of Russia will fail and the EU-Russia alliance will grow stronger. And if the EU-Russia alliance grows stronger, then US attempts to extend its tentacles into Asia and become a major player in the world’s most prosperous region will also fail leaving Washington to face a dismal future in which the steady erosion of its power and prestige is a near certainty. This is from an article titled “Removing sanctions against Iran to have unfavorable influence on Turkey and Azerbaijan”:

“If Washington removes energy sanctions on Iran…then a new geopolitical configuration will emerge in the region. Connecting with Nabucco will be enough for Iran to fully supply Europe with gas…

Iran takes the floor with inexhaustible oil and gas reserves and as a key transit country. Iran disposes of the 10% of the reported global oil reserves and is the second country in the world after Russia with its natural gas reserves (15%). The official representatives of Iran do not hide that they strive to enter the European market of oil and gas, as in the olden days. Let’s remember that the deputy Minister of Oil in Iran, Ali Majedi, offered to revive project of Nabucco pipeline during his European tour and said that his country is ready to supply gas to Europe through it…

“Some months earlier the same Ali Majedi reported sensational news: ‘two invited European delegations’ discussed the potential routes of Iranian gas supply to Europe,” the article reads.” … It is also noted that the West quite materially reacted to the possibility of the Iranian gas to join Nabucco.” (Removing sanctions against Iran to have unfavorable influence on Turkey and Azerbaijan, Panorama)

So, is this the plan, to provide “energy security” to Europe by replacing Russian gas with Iranian gas?

It sure looks like it. But that suggests that the sanctions really had nothing to do with Iran’s fictitious nuclear weapons program but were merely used to humiliate Iran while keeping as much of its oil and gas offline until western-backed multinationals could get their greasy mitts on it.

Indeed, that’s exactly how the sanctions were used even though the nuclear issue was a transparent fake from the get go. Get a load of this from the New York Times:

“Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.” (U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb, James Risen, New York Times, February 24, 2012)

See? The entire US intelligence establishment has been saying the same thing from the onset: No Iranian nukes. Nor has Iran ever been caught diverting nuclear fuel to other purposes. Never. Also, as nuclear weapons physicist, Gordon Prather stated many times before his death, “After almost three years of go-anywhere see-anything interview-anyone inspections, IAEA inspectors have yet to find any indication that Iran has — or ever had — a nuclear weapons program.”

The inspectors were on the ground for three freaking years. They interviewed everyone and went wherever they wanted. They searched every cave and hideaway, every nook and cranny, and they found nothing.

Get it? No nukes, not now, not ever. Period.

The case against Iran is built on propaganda, brainwashing and bullshit, in that order. But, still, that doesn’t tell us why the US is suddenly changing course. For that, we turn to an article from The Brookings Institute titled “Why the details of the Iran deal don’t matter” which sums it up quite well. Here’s a clip:

“At heart, this is a fight over what to do about Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East and the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia. Proponents of the deal believe that the best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to seek to integrate Iran into the regional order, even while remaining wary of its ambitions. A nuclear deal is an important first step in that regard, but its details matter little because the ultimate goal is to change Iranian intentions rather destroy Iranian capability.” (Why the details of the Iran deal don’t matter, Brookings)

Notice how carefully the author avoids mentioning Israel by name although he alludes to “the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies”. Does he think he’s talking to idiots?

But his point is well taken; the real issue is not “Iranian capability”, but “Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East”. In other words, the nuclear issue is baloney. What Washington doesn’t like is that Iran has an independent foreign policy that conflicts with the US goal of controlling the Middle East. That’s what’s really going on. Washington wants a compliant Iran that clicks its heals and does what its told.

The problem is, the strategy hasn’t worked and now the US is embroiled in a confrontation with Moscow that is a higher priority than the Middle East project. (The split between US elites on this matter has been interesting to watch, with the Obama-Brzezinski crowd on one side and the McCain-neocon crowd on the other.) This is why the author thinks that easing sanctions and integrating Iran into the predominantly US system would be the preferable remedy for at least the short term.

Repeat: “The best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to integrate Iran into the regional order.” In other words, if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em. Iran is going to be given enough freedom to fulfill its role within the imperial order, that is, to provide gas to Europe in order to inflict more economic pain on Russia. Isn’t that what’s going on?

But what effect will that have on Iran-Russia relations? Will it poison the well and turn one ally against the other?

Probably not, mainly because the ties between Iran and Russia are growing stronger by the day. Check this out from the Unz Review by Philip Giraldi:

“Moscow and Tehran are moving towards a de-facto strategic partnership, which can be easily seen by the two groundbreaking announcements from earlier this week. It’s now been confirmed by the Russian government that the rumored oil-for-goods program between Russia and Iran is actually a real policy that’s already been implemented, showing that Moscow has wasted no time in trying to court the Iranian market after the proto-deal was agreed to a week earlier. Providing goods in exchange for resources is a strategic decision that creates valuable return customers in Iran, who will then be in need of maintenance and spare parts for their products. It’s also a sign of deep friendship between the two Caspian neighbors and sets the groundwork for the tentative North-South economic corridor between Russia and India via Iran.” (A Shifting Narrative on Iran, Unz Review)

But here’s the glitch: Iran can’t just turn on the spigot and start pumping gas to Europe. It doesn’t work that way. It’s going to take massive pipeline and infrastructure upgrades that could take years to develop. That means there will be plenty of hefty contracts awarded to friends of Tehran –mostly Russian and Chinese–who will perform their tasks without interfering in domestic politics. Check this out from Pepe Escobar:

“Russia and China are deeply committed to integrating Iran into their Eurasian vision. Iran may finally be admitted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming summer summit in Russia. That implies a full-fledged security/commercial/political partnership involving Russia, China, Iran and most Central Asian ’stans’.

Iran is already a founding member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); that means financing for an array of New Silk Road-related projects bound to benefit the Iranian economy. AIIB funding will certainly merge with loans and other assistance for infrastructure development related to the Chinese-established Silk Road Fund…” (Russia, China, Iran: In sync, Pepe Escobar, Russia Today)

Get the picture? Eurasian integration is already done-deal and there’s nothing the US can do to stop it.

Washington needs to rethink its approach. Stop the meddling and antagonism, rebuild relations through trade and mutual trust, and accept the inevitability of imperial decline.

Asia’s star is rising just as America’s is setting. Deal with it.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle editionHe can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Defying the dollar Russia & China agree currency swap worth over $20bn

Yuan banknotes (Reuters / Petar Kujundzic)

Yuan banknotes (Reuters / Petar Kujundzic)

Published: October 13, 2014

The central banks of China and Russia have signed a 3-year ruble-yuan currency swap deal up to $25 billion, in order to boost trade using national currencies and lessen dependence on the dollar and euro.

On Monday, China’s Central Bank announced the 150 billion yuan (815 billion ruble) currency swap between the Russian ruble and Chinese yuan. In terms of the Chinese currency that is $24.5 billion, and in Russian rubles, $20.1 billion.

“We need to expand the practice of using national currencies in trade. Currently they only account for 7 percent of turnover,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the 18th annual Russian-Chinese Commission, also attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

The deal is valid for 3 years, and can be extended if both Russia and China agree. The draft currency swap was settled in August, but details on the size of the deal were sketchy.

Using more local currencies will speed up trade between the two countries who are aiming to reach $100 billion by 2015. Trade between Russia and China is already nearly $90 billion and is scheduled to hit $200 billion in the next six years.

Cooperation between Russian and Chinese banks is also on the rise, and China’s Import Export Bank, which is 100% state owned, has pledged to help Russian banks now cut off from Western capital markets, due to the latest round of sanctions.

The Export-Import Bank (Exim) has agreed to establish a credit line equivalent to $2 billion for Russian state bank VTB, and has also signed agreements with VEB (Vnesheconombank), and the Russian Agricultural Bank.

The credit lines can be used to finance imports from China, from agriculture to high tech equipment.

Medvedev and Li signed over 40 other agreements at the meeting, including outlining plans to add another pipeline from Russia to China. Li is in Moscow for a three-day visit.

 

Pentagon spends $8.3M per day on war against Islamic State

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21 Oct 2014

Islamic state gets U.S. made weapons air dropped into territory they control.

At least one bundle of U.S. weapons air dropped in Syria appears to have fallen into the hands of ISIS, a dangerous misfire in the American mission to speed aid to Kurdish forces making their stand in Kobani.

An ISIS-associated YouTube account posted a new video online Tuesday entitled, “Weapons and munitions dropped by American planes and landed in the areas controlled by the Islamic State in Kobani.” The video was also posted on the Twitter account of “a3maq news,” which acts as an unofficial media arm of ISIS. The outfit has previously posted videos of ISIS fighters firing American made Howitzer cannons and seizing marijuana fields in Syria.

ISIS had broadly advertised its acquisition of a broad range of U.S.-made weapons during its rampage across Iraq. ISIS videos have showed its fighters driving U.S. tanks, MRAPs, Humvees. There are unconfirmed reports ISIS has stolen three fighter planes from Iraqi bases it conquered.

The authenticity of this latest video could not be independently confirmed, but the ISIS fighters in the video are in possession of a rich bounty of American hand grenades, rounds for small rockets, and other supplies that they will surely turn around and use on the Kurdish forces they are fighting in and around the Turkish border city.

 

 

On Monday, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the U.S. government was confident that the emergency airdropped supplies for the Kurdish forces near Kobani were falling into the right hands.

“We feel very confident that, when we air drop support as we did into Kobani… we’ve been able to hit the target in terms of reaching the people we want to reach,” Rhodes told CNN. “What I can assure people is that, when we are delivering aid now, we focus it on the people we want to receive that assistance. Those are civilians in need. Those are forces that we’re aligned with in the fight against ISIL [the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS], and we take precautions to make sure that it’s not falling into the wrong hands.”

Rhodes was responding to questions about a Monday report in The Daily Beast that U.S. humanitarian aid was flowing into ISIS controlled areas near Kobani by truck. That aid was mostly food and medical supplies, not the kind of lethal weapons in the new ISIS video.

“Senior administration officials” said Sunday that three American planes dropped a total of 27 bundles near Kobani and more U.S. air drops could come as part of the joint U.S.-Iraqi effort to aid Kurdish fighters in the Kobani area. The supplies were provided by Kurdish authorities, the official said. There have also been at least 135 air strikes against ISIS in the area, according to the State Department.

In the new footage, many of the weapons appear to be U.S. made. But at least one American logistics specialist has his doubts about the authenticity of the video’s claims.

“I’ve watched the video several times and it appears bogus to me,” e-mailed Dakota Wood, a former U.S. Central Command logistics planner, now with the Heritage Foundation. “The RPG [[rocket propelled grenade] rounds seem packaged properly, but the final box opened has Spanish markings. The canister opened at the end of the video is not representative of a current U.S. grenade (all our frag grenades are baseball shaped). The photo of M-16s is highly questionable, as the packaging shown is what one would see at a civilian gun show, instead of the packaging I’m familiar with from shipments to armories. Plus, those boxes also don’t fit with the air drop bundle shown.”

Wood added, “Why deliver a box of loose grenades all tumbling around knowing it’s going to be dropped from x-1000 feet? Why brand new M16s in cardboard boxes that are displayed on tables in a camo-netted setting when the drop occurred in the middle of some pretty sparse terrain and the video/pictures are shared so soon after the drop? There are just a lot of odd elements. And we know from so much propaganda video from all sides that folks will put together and post just about anything to puff-up their story.”

The airstrikes and air drops appear to be having an impact. The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer, reporting from the Syrian border, said the morale in Kobani has shifted in the last 24 hours. But ISIS continues to hold major swaths of territory in and around Kobani, despite widespread media reports to the contrary. And the civilians there are suffering, badly.

“I think what this represents is the President recognizes this is going to be a long-term campaign against ISIL; and that we need to look for whatever opportunity we can find to degrade that enemy and to support those who are fighting against ISIL on the ground,” a “senior administration official” told reporters.

— with additional reporting by Noah Shachtman

The Pentagon speaks

The Pentagon has revised its estimate of the cost of the US air war in Iraq and Syria, saying the price tag for the campaign against the Islamic State group comes to about $8.3 million a day.

Since air strikes began on August 8, the campaign – which has involved about 6,600 sorties by US and allied aircraft – has cost $580 million, said Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban.

The Defense Department had previously put the average daily cost of the military operation at more than $7 million a day.

The higher figure reflected the increased pace of air strikes and related flights, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

But independent analysts say the Defense Department is underestimating the genuine cost of the war effort, which began in mid-June with the deployment of hundreds of US troops to secure the American embassy in Baghdad and to advise the Iraqi army.

Some former budget officials and outside experts estimate the cost of the war has already exceeded a billion dollars, and that it could rise to several billion dollars in a year’s time.

Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments projected the war could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion a year, in an analysis issued on September 29.

If the intensity of the bombing raids is expanded, the air war could cost as much as $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year, according to Harrison’s report.

One of the biggest drains on the budget for the air war are the large number of surveillance and reconnaissance flights that bombing raids require, analysts say.

The campaign, dubbed “Operation Inherent Resolve,” has seen thousands of spy flights and aerial refueling runs.

The cost of flying the spy planes range from about $1,000 an hour for Predator and Reaper drones to $7,000 an hour for high-altitude Global Hawk drones, or as much as $22,000 per hour for E-8 J-STAR (Joint Surveillance Target Radar Attack System) aircraft.

Funds for the air war are coming out of the Pentagon’s de facto war budget, the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.

Separate from the regular defense “base” budget, the OCO fund is often portrayed as a “credit card” to cover the costs of wars.

Congress increased the OCO budget to about $85 billion for last fiscal year, ending September 30. The proposed fund for the new fiscal year 2015 is due to drop to $54 billion.

So despite a collapsing economy, crumbling infrastructure, millions of people unemployed and living in poverty, the US has unlimited funds to foist ‘democracy’ on sovereign nations states, so that these countries too may experience the ‘wonders’ of American-style democracy.

China President Xi Jinping Slams U.S. about Protests in Hong Kong

 

President Obama is scheduled to visit China next month, and with tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong, the Emperor hopes that human rights could force itself onto the agenda between the U.S. and the Chinese in a way not seen in many years. But that’s not the case.

But President President Xi Jinping knows that Mr. Obama’s lecture about human rights will all be a hypocrisy.

With Washington eager to work with Beijing on a list of priorities — from climate change to curbing Iran’s nuclear program — officials in both countries are eager to keep it that way.

The White House is not reconsidering Mr. Obama’s visit, the official said, though it has been calibrating how best to signal its concern for the umbrella-wielding protesters in Hong Kong [which the Obama Administration said it’s funding], especially after the police began roughing up the crowd on Sunday.

The United States knows that it has little leverage over China in the dispute over a proposed voting law in Hong Kong, which the Chinese government regards as a strictly internal matter. Chinese officials, including the foreign minister who visited Washington this week, have told their American counterparts, politely, to mind their own business.

The tensions in the American position are evident in how it responded to the clashes on Sunday, when the police used tear gas and pepper spray on the protesters. The American consulate in Hong Kong issued a statement urging both sides to show restraint and making no reference to the desire of the crowds for more democracy. Did Mr. Obama make any statement about the violent police assaults across the US?

Occupy Wall Street protester Brandon Watts lies injured on the ground after clashes with police over the eviction of OWS from Zuccotti Park. Photograph: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Occupy Wall Street protester Brandon Watts lies injured on the ground after clashes with police over the eviction of OWS from Zuccotti Park. Photograph: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Occupy Portland N17

Now, Mr Obama,  consider what legitimate law enforcement goal could possibly require an officer to disperse a chemical weapon directly into the face of an unarmed female protester at point-blank range? Though we don’t know precisely what chemical agent was in that spray, those with allergies to capsicum can go into anaphylactic shock when exposed to pepper-spray. There’s a reason these weapons are characterized as “less-lethal,” and not “non-lethal.”

“We do not take sides in the discussion of Hong Kong’s political development,” the statement said, “nor do we support any particular individuals or groups involved in it.” Really? What about “funding”?

Worried that the United States looked as if it were bending over backward to avoid offense, the White House sent out the press secretary, Josh Earnest, to urge the Hong Kong authorities to show restraint and declare that the United States supported “a genuine choice of candidates that are representative of the people’s and the voters’ will.”

Critics also note that the United States has said little about Mr. Xi’s broader crackdown on civil liberties. Should the U.S. say it with the government record of violating civil liberties?

Mr. Obama raised the issue of Hong Kong, but the statement made it clear that he did so only after a long list of other issues, including the Ebola outbreak and the military campaign against the Islamic State.

In a meeting with Mr. Wang at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry also mentioned Hong Kong, expressing “high hopes that the Hong Kong authorities will exercise restraint and respect for the protesters’ right to express their views peacefully.” Sure, just like your government did in Occupy Wall Street and many other cities in the U.S.

Here comes China’s Boom! The Knockout!

Mr. Wang, however, left no doubt that China did not welcome the scrutiny. “Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs,” he said, using time-tested language. “For any country, for any society, no one will allow those illegal acts that violate public order,” he said. “That’s the situation in the United States, and that’s the same situation in Hong Kong.”