Thursday, September 25, 2008

US Vs Pakistan : Troops Exchange Fire On Border

Claim : American Forces Preparing To Set Up Base In Borderlands

Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and now Pakistan :
Pakistani and American ground troops exchanged fire along the border with Afghanistan on Thursday after the Pakistanis shot at two American helicopters, ratcheting up tensions as the United States increases its attacks against militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban, who are being sheltered in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas.

The two American OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance helicopters were not damaged and no casualties were reported on either side from the ground fire. But American and Pakistani officials agreed on little else about what happened in the fleeting mid-afternoon clash between the allied troops.

American and NATO officials said that the two helicopters were flying about one mile inside Afghan air space to protect an American and Afghan patrol on the ground when the aircraft were fired on by small-caliber arms fire from a Pakistani military checkpoint near Tanai district in Khost Province.

In response, the American ground troops shot short bursts of warning fire, which hit well shy of the rocky, hilltop checkpoint, and the Pakistanis fired back, said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a spokesman for the Central Command.

General Abbas, the Pakistani spokesman, said the clash had been reported to NATO headquarters in Kabul and was under investigation by both Pakistani and NATO officials.

Although it lasted just a few minutes, military officials and diplomats said the brief clash showed there was a risk of a much more serious, and lethal, misunderstanding along the border.

Pakistani civilian leaders have denounced an incursion by American Special Operations forces into Pakistan on Sept. 3, which was authorized under orders given by President Bush in July, and the Pakistani Army has vowed to defend its border “at all costs.”

“We will not tolerate any act against our sovereignty and integrity in the name of the war against terrorism,” Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, told reporters on Wednesday. “We are fighting extremism and terror not for any other country, but our own country.”
Pakistan has made it very clear to the Americans that they will not, at least publicly, tolerate American forces fighting the WoT on Pakistan territory. On this front, the Pakistan government and the Taliban are in total agreement.

Syed Saleem Shahzad, writing in the Asia Times :
Pakistan is now the declared battleground in this struggle by Islamic militants to strike first against American interests before the United States' war machine completes its preparations to storm the sanctuaries of al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

Already, though, events had been set in motion to shape this new battlefield.

Approximately 20 kilometers from Islamabad lies Tarbella, the brigade headquarters of Pakistan's Special Operation Task Force (SOTF). Recently, 300 American officials landed at this facility, with the official designation as a "training advisory group", according to documents seen by Asia Times Online.

However, high-level contacts claim this is not as simple as a training program.

...the US has bought a huge plot of land at Tarbella, several square kilometers, according to sources directly handling the project. Recently, 20 large containers arrived at the facility. They were handled by the Americans, who did not allow any Pakistani officials to inspect them.

Given the size of the containers, it is believed they contain special arms and ammunition and even tanks and armored vehicles - and certainly have nothing to do with any training program.

There is little doubt in the minds of those familiar with the American activities at Tarbella that preparations are being made for an all-out offensive in North-West Frontier Province against sanctuaries belonging to the Taliban and al-Qaeda led by bin Laden. Pakistani security sources maintain more American troops will arrive in the coming days.

For both the militants and the United States, the gloves have come off.

Bajuar : 7 Soldiers, 25 Militants Killed In Fighting

Waziristan : 5 Clerics Hit In Attacks

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

US, Al Qaeda Share Same Enemies

From Pepe Escobar, writing in Asia Times :
Seven years after bringing down steel buildings with jet fuel - using planes as missiles - and outwitting the most high-tech air force and the most protected airspace in the world for nearly two hours, the historic al-Qaeda leadership is "celebrating" 9/11 with an hour-and-a-half video special titled "Seven Years of Crusades".

Washington, meanwhile, is stepping up the revamped "war on terror" deep inside Pakistani territory, with special forces commandos targeting the tribal areas. While US corporate media are absolutely transfixed by Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a new war in the shadows seems destined

to acquire its own irreversible momentum. Investigative military historian Gareth Porter (US warned over raids in Pakistan Asia Times Online, September 10, 2008) has already examined the deep disconnect between the George W Bush administration and the US intelligence community. On top of it, al-Qaeda in 2008 is a vastly different enemy from the al-Qaeda of 2001.

The new video, "hosted" by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two, is a sort of who's who talk show on the state of jihad around the world - in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya, Algeria, Palestine.

Qatar-based al-Jazeera got the video, showed only some short takes, and has been unusually quiet about it - as if it didn't want to shock US sensibilities. Same with Western corporate media. A version with German subtitles simply disappeared from YouTube. It's as if this whole business - Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri still at large, holed up in their mythical cave (with broadband and video equipment) - was a recurrent bad dream.

The key point in the video is that Zawahiri accuses Iran and the US of being partners in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Zawahiri also blasts Iraqi Shi'ites for not launching a jihad in Iraq against the "Crusader occupier". In his recent messages this is a recurrent theme: the "Persians" are the enemy of the Arabs and they're part of the occupation of Iraq.

The enemy of my enemy is my enemy.

Seven years after 9/11, for all practical purposes, al-Qaeda remains the golden motive that justifies the Bush administration threatening, invading, bombing or occupying Muslim countries. But, in fact, al-Qaeda's top strategic enemy nowadays, in a battle to seduce Muslim hearts and minds, are Shi'ites - be it Tehran or Hezbollah - and not the US.

Similarities are eerie. Iran is part of Bush's "axis of evil" as well as al-Qaeda's "axis of evil". The US tries very hard to pit Sunnis against Shi'ites all over the Middle East while al-Qaeda also incites a war between Sunnis and Shi'ites.

What Zawahiri is basically saying is that al-Qaeda - fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabis - want a "long war" as much as the Bush administration and its extension, Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Al-Qaeda's birth was midwifed by US intelligence in Peshawar in Pakistan in the early 1980s; by the mid-1980s, president Ronald Reagan was ecstatic with his mujahideen "freedom fighters". Fundamentalist al-Qaeda is as much against an independent, nationalist, Shi'ite Iranian regime as the fundamentalist Bush administration.

As for the "surge" in Iraq, it has now morphed into the surge in Afghanistan. Bush is withdrawing only 8,000 troops from Iraq by February 2009, while adding more to Afghanistan. So much for the so-called "success" of the Iraq "surge".

Top US commander in Iraq General David Petraeus told the Washington Post in Baghdad that Iraq remains the "central front" for al-Qaeda. Petraeus is the new head of Central Command starting this month. He will oversee Afghanistan and Pakistan - and also Iran. He believes al-Qaeda's historical leadership remains, in his words, "somewhere in the western border region of Pakistan".

Thus the recent attack by US special forces in the Pakistani tribal areas - killing women and children as well as alleged "terrorists", and alienating the tribals beyond any redemption.

We should expect more of the Petraeus method in Pakistan: high tech counter-insurgency plus widespread bribes in cash. That was his methodology during the "surge" in Iraq. The high-tech special ops - which killed a lot of Sunni guerrilla leaders - revolved around a program called Tagging, Tracking and Locating: in sum, a sophisticated assassination campaign. Robert Parry, writing at, was one of the very few in US media to pinpoint it.

That's essentially what Petraeus is already implementing in Pakistan, against the better judgement of the US intelligence community, with potentially devastating consequences. Westerners never learn: any war against the fierce Pashtun nation is essentially unwinnable.

The national security sweepstakes

Anyway, the Pentagon's "long War" - the remixed denomination of the "war on terror" - lives on. With a new chapter in Pakistan, the pressing possibility of an attack on Iran, a war for control of Eurasia, and a new cold war with Russia. Not to mention the militarization of American life, and smashing any form of dissent - as seen in the streets of St Paul, Minnesota, during the Republican convention.

Both the Barack Obama-Joe Biden and the McCain-Sarah Palin tickets avidly pose to see who is tougher on terror. Both pay lip-service to national security. Palin has been drafted by McCain with a key destination: to mobilize the rural and suburban so-called "national security moms", terrified of slimy, dangerous Muslims threatening their way of life.

But what if a Predator drone, under Petraeus orders, incinerated Zawahiri and bin Laden - seven years too late? Absolutely nothing would change. Dozens of new bin Ladens would rise from the ashes. Washington has done nothing to help the desperate Afghan population or suggest an alternative for the neo-Taliban - just as the billions of dollars showered on the Pakistani military have done noting to help dire living conditions in Pakistan.

The only "winners" in this "long war" are, and will continue to be, selected players in the gargantuan US military-industrial complex. That's the sorry legacy of 9/11, seven years on.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Seven Years Later, Is 'The War' Being Won Against Al Qaeda?

Der Speigel asks seven terrorism experts their opinions on the progress of the
WoT :

Most of the world now has a new understanding of "security." Global terrorism of the sort practiced by al-Qaida finds targets that are not always easy to comprehend: a Danish embassy in Pakistan, nightclubs on Bali, trains in London and Madrid, wedding parties in Jordan, a synagogue in Tunisia, a British bank in Istanbul.

To protect themselves, Western as well as non-Western states have passed new laws, some of them draconian. The United States set up a prison at Guantánamo Bay which has yet to be dismantled.

The CIA has kidnapped and transported terror suspects all over the world, including people who weren't especially suspect and have long been proved innocent. Arab nations have signed dubious extradition treaties to move terrorist suspects back and forth. Russia and China use the "war on terror" for their own purposes -- to declare Chechens and Uighurs potential terrorists, for example. The debate over torture, once thought to be settled in civilized nations, has enjoyed an unexpected and in some ways ignoble renaissance.

And al-Qaida?

Al-Qaida is not beaten. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are still at large. A number of high-ranking members of the organization have been killed or arrested, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and others. But terrorism hasn't stopped. Al-Qaida has retreated in Iraq, perhaps, but in Pakistan as well as North Africa, it has gained influence and space.

But there is no single, clear image of al-Qaida or its current status. It has changed from an organization of militias into something nobody recognizes. Is it more of a movement? Are al-Qaida's capabilities weaker than before, or is another 9/11 still possible? Are there fewer members of al-Qaida now, or more?

The Full Story Is Here
Russia Draws Syria, Iran Closer, Against The West

President Bush and the NeoCons were instrumental in driving Russia to ramp up its ally building, but Putin has taken full advantage of the US/Israel backed attack in South Ossetia. China, of course, stands quietly behind Russia.

From Debka :
Moscow announced renovation had begun on the Syrian port of Tartus to provide Russia with its first long-term naval presence on the Mediterranean.

As the two naval chiefs talked in Moscow, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov met Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki in the Russian capital for talks on the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant by the end of the year.

Moscow has sharpened its tone in comments aimed at the West and the US in particular. President Dmitiry Medvedev said Friday that Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was the equivalent for Russia of the 9/11 attack on America. Even if Georgia had become a NATO member, he said, he would not have thought twice about ordering the Russian army to go in.

Prime minister Vladimir Putin, after putting Moscow’s case on Georgia to the Western media, warned the US that stationing a missile defense shield near Russia’s borders would start an arms race in Europe. There was no basis for a new Cold War, he said.

In aligning with Tehran and Damascus, Moscow stands not only against America but also Israel. This volatile world region is undergoing cataclysmic changes at a time when Israel is virtually without a fully competent prime minister and key political and military decision-making by the rest of the government is at a standstill.

US Watches As Latin America Opens Up To Russia's Military

Putin : Bush Isn't In Charge Of America

Russia Keeps Promise, Withdraws Forces From Key Georgian Checkpoints

Thursday, September 11, 2008

US Tells Israel To Negotiate Flight Paths With Iraqis If They Want To Bomb Iranians

Is this the end, for now at least, of Israel's war plans for Iran?
The security aid package the United States has refused to give Israel for the past few months out of concern that Israel would use it to attack nuclear facilities in Iran included a large number of "bunker-buster" bombs, permission to use an air corridor to Iran, an advanced technological system and refueling planes.

Officials from both countries have been discussing the Israeli requests over the past few months. Their rejection would make it very difficult for Israel to attack Iran, if such a decision is made.

About a month ago, Haaretz reported that the Bush administration had turned down an Israeli request for certain security items that could upgrade Israel's capability to attack Iran. The U.S. administration reportedly saw the request as a sign preparations were moving ahead for an Israeli attack on Iran.

Diplomatic and security sources indicated to Haaretz that the list of components Israel included:
Bunker-buster GBU-28 bombs: In 2005, the U.S. said it was supplying these bombs to Israel. In August 2006, The New York Times reported that the U.S. had expedited the dispatch of additional bombs at the height of the Second Lebanon War. The bombs, which weigh 2.2 tons each, can penetrate six meters of reinforced concrete. Israel appears to have asked for a relatively large number of additional bunker-busters, and was turned down.

Air-space authorization: An attack on Iran would apparently require passage through Iraqi air space. For this to occur, an air corridor would be needed that Israeli fighter jets could cross without being targeted by American planes or anti-aircraft missiles. The Americans also turned down this request. According to one account, to avoid the issue, the Americans told the Israelis to ask Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for permission, along the lines of "If you want, coordinate with him."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

US-British Execution Squads Kill Thousands Of Iraqis

From Kurt Nimmo :
“More than 3,500 insurgents have been ‘taken off the streets of Baghdad’ by the elite British force in a series of audacious ‘Black Ops’ over the past two years,” reports Sean Rayment for the London Telegraph. “It is understood that while the majority of the terrorists were captured, several hundred, who were mainly members of the organization known as ‘al-Qa’eda in Iraq’ have been killed by the SAS.”

Recall the Washington Post, the CIA’s favorite newspaper, admitting that the putative leader of "al-Qaeda in Iraq," the criminal retard Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was little more than a Pentagon PSYOP.

The assassination program in Iraq is a collaborative effort between the British SAS and the American Delta Force. It is called “Task Force Black.”

General Petraeus was so impressed with the assassination effort he remarked: “They have exceptional initiative, exceptional skill, exceptional courage and, I think, exceptional savvy. I can’t say enough about how impressive they are in thinking on their feet.”

Let’s rewind. Recall the Washington Post, the CIA’s favorite newspaper, admitting that the putative leader of “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” the criminal retard Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was little more than a Pentagon PSYOP. “The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,” wrote Thomas E. Ricks in a front page story for the newspaper on April 10, 2006. “For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi’s role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the ‘U.S. Home Audience’ as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.”

As Michel Chossudovsky notes, much of this fairy tale propaganda is delivered to the corporate media by “top feeders” at the Pentagon. “Disinformation and war propaganda are an integral part of military planning. What the Washington Post fails to mention, however, is its own role in sustaining the Zarqawi legend, along with network TV, most of the printed press, and of course CNN and Fox News, not to mention a significant portion of the alternative media,” writes Chossudovsky. As we know, the Washington Post was long ago compromised by the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, so this role is now reflexive. US military-intelligence has created it own terrorist organizations. In turn, it has developed a cohesive multibillion dollar counterterrorism program “to go after” these terrorist organizations. To reach its foreign policy objectives, the images of terrorism in the Iraqi war theater must remain vivid in the minds of the citizens, who are constantly reminded of the terrorist threat. The Iraqi resistance movement is described as terrorists led by Zarqawi. In other words, “al-Qaeda in Iraq” is a fabrication designed to discredit the Iraqi resistance.

Sean Rayment and the London Telegraph would have us believe the British SAS is only killing “al-Qaeda in Iraq” members. In fact, it appears they are targeting the leadership of the Iraqi resistance while capturing and imprisoning street level “terrorists,” that is to say fighters resisting occupation.

As for British involvement in creating terrorism in Iraq, recall the two SAS agents captured by the Iraqis attempting to stage terror attacks. “Iraqi security officials on [September 19, 2005] variously accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant explosives,” the Washington Post reported.

As I wrote at the time, “the next time you read or hear about crazed ‘al-Qaeda in Iraq’ terrorists blowing up children or desperate job applicants, keep in mind, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, the perpetrators may very well be British SAS goons who cut their teeth killing Irish citizens.”

The CIA ran likewise operations in Vietnam. As former CIA employee Ralph McGehee notes, the “U.S. and Saigon intel services maintained an active list of VC cadre marked for assassination” in the late 1960s. Dubbed Operation Phoenix, the assassination program “called for ‘neutralizing’ 1800 [alleged Viet Cong] a month.” Approximately one third of the Viet Cong targeted for arrest were summarily killed by so-called “security committees” in provincial interrogation centers outside of judicial control and funded by the CIA. More than 40,000 Vietnamese were killed under Operation Phoenix at an estimated cost of nearly $2 billion (see Ralph McGehee, CIA and Operation Phoenix in Vietnam).

The collaborative effort between the British SAS and America’s Delta Force is obviously designed to take out the leadership of the Iraqi resistance, led by a disparate and not necessarily connected combination of former Ba’athists, nationalists, Sunni and Shi’a militias. It is intended to decimate the leadership — referred to as “al-Qaeda in Iraq” terrorists in the corporate media — as the United States prepares to downsize its presence in Iraq and shift emphasis under a new administration to Afghanistan.