Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Wrangle over Afghanistan's Future

Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, has suspended talks on a long-term security deal to keep US troops in his country after Nato leaves in 2014, accusing Washington of duplicity in its efforts to start peace talks with the Taliban.

This wrangle proves that US troops are not being withdrawn by 2014. The oily term now used by US and British government officials is "drawdown" of troops because the main task of stabilising Afghanistan in order to facilitate the infrastructure projects ( e.g. The TAPI gas pipeline ) is not yet acheived.

One US website 'Countdown to Drawdown' gives 10 facts about the fiction of US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. This war is by no means at all over because the central geopolitical war aim of getting the TAPI pipeline secured has not been fulfilled yet.
Fact 1: It is not the case that all US troops will be removed from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
In June 2011, President Obama announced his plan to begin the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. But the president did not say that all US troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. What he did say was 10,000 troops would be removed by the end of the summer 2011, with 23,000 additional troops leaving at the end of the summer of 2012. After that, according to the President: our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security. Notice that the President did not say that our mission in Afghanistan will end by 2014, only that it will cease to be a "combat" mission and become a "support" mission. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has since confirmed that President Obama never said US troops would be completely withdrawn by the end of 2014. What you should be asking yourself is, "what is a support mission?", "how many troops will be required for it?", and "how long will it last?" We will get to these questions shortly. First, it's important to highlight one thing:
Fact 2: There is currently no end date for the war in Afghanistan.
Nowhere in the President's June 2011 speech did he mention a deadline for the full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, and no date for full withdrawal has been specified since then. In fact, the Strategic Partnership Agreement, which was struck between the United States and Afghanistan in June 2012, provides for a US military presence after 2014, although the magnitude of the presence was not specified.
On November 15, 2012, it was reported that Afghanistan and the United States had begun negotiations for a bilateral security agreement, which will govern the US military presence in Afghanistan post-2014, including how many troops are left in Afghanistan, and for how long.
Why have British newspapers not yet commissioned an article challenging the official narrative and also revealing the long term geopolitical ambitions and war aims that have been central to this war ? The Afghanista War has always primarily been about the New Great Game for energy supply routes.

When is an 'Extremist' Extreme Enough or Not?

Perhaps, given William Hague's supposed aversion for 'extremism', he thinks events in Eygpt are tending towards 'extremism' or whether 'extremism' is what the 'extremists' he deigns to be 'extreme' are different to those who are not to be thought of 'extreme' because his government and he supposes it convenient.

The latest from Eygpt is this,
The Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, has appointed a member of the hardline Islamist group Gamaa Islamiya to the governorship of Luxor – a tourist city in which militants associated with the group killed 58 tourists in 1997. The symbolism of the appointment has enraged Egypt's sidelined non-Islamist opposition, who see it as further evidence that Morsi is unconcerned about the country's increasing polarisation.
Morsi is supportive of the Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria. They cannot be 'extremists' then. Otherwise, William Hague would tell us. Indeed, maybe even ex London Mayor Ken Livingstone would now care to considers whether Qaradawi's hate fuelled sermons against the Shia insurgents are the sort of thing he likes.

US Negotiations with the Taliban are In the Pipeline.

So the US is officially set to negotiate with the Taliban,
The US is to open direct talks with Taliban leaders within days, it was revealed on Tuesday, after Washington agreed to drop a series of preconditions that have previously held back negotiations over the future of Afghanistan.

In a major milestone in the 12-year-old war, political representatives of the Taliban will shortly meet Afghan and US officials in Doha, the capital of Qatar, to discuss an agenda for what US officials called "peace and reconciliation" before further talks take place with Afghan government representatives soon after.

The move came on the day that NATO forces handed official control of nationwide security to Afghan troops. Less than 12 hours later the US confirmed that four US personnel died at Bagram air base near Kabul, in what was thought to be a mortar attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
None of this should have proved surprising.

The US and UK were always less interested in defeating the Taliban for 'liberal interventionist' reasons than to secure the construction of the TAPI pipeline which is set to run through Helmland where the Taliban are still dominant and most British soldiers have been killed.

Having failed to secure the pipeline route militarily, the US now seeks to revert to the previous attempts to court the Taliban that went on before the terrorist attack of September 11| 2001. US officials have even gone as far as stating that getting the Taliban to formally reject Al Qaida is only a "negotiating aim".

The constant invocation of the 'terror threat' from Afghanistan was a big lie used as a pretext to continue military attempts at 'nation building' and in practice this meant infrastructure projects such as the railway lines and the TAPI pipeline, in Hillary Clinton's words a 'New Silk Route'.

The geopolitical ambition has long been in Afghanistan to get the supply of Turkmen gas to flow south, diversifying energy routes away from Russia and offering an alternative pipeline to Pakistan instead of Iran's IP 'peace pipeline'. These are the stated objectives of US foreign policy and its representatives.

Naturally, as the Syrian crisis dominates international attention, this was a good time for Washington to open up direct peace talks with the Taliban who are virulent enemies of Iran. The securing of the TAPI pipeline is intended to block off Iranian exports eastwards.

This geostrategy is interconnected to the decision to back Sunni fundamentalists in Syria, even at the risk of furthering the conflict and benefiting Al Qaida. As with Afghanistan, the rhetoric of countering terrorism is a pretext for advancing risky strategies concerned with control of oil and gas.

This is the price to be paid for Western over dependence upon oil and gas in the Middle East and Central Asia. The ultimate bulwark against controlling the oil and gas of both regions is Iran which occupies the land bridge between the two. This accounts for the obsession with destroying the regime in Tehran.

The fact that Afghanistan War has been a resource conflict seldom gets the level of attention it needs due to liberal wish thinking and an inability to accept the terrifying reality, that with the growth of the Indian and Chinese super economies, the West is now involved in a potentially lethal power game for resources.


It's curious how four years can make such a difference. President Obama intoned gravely in in 2009,
“We must never forget. This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.
The fact is that the Taliban were never at all that friendly to Al Qaida. In which case, it has to be explained why after the US invasion and occupation had caused Al Qaida to leave Afghanistan that Western forces remained there so long if the Taliban could have been negotiated with.

The Afghanistan War has gone through various stages of being sold through 'public diplomacy' .It was once part of a 'war on terror', 'nation building' and liberal interventionism under. Those terms were steadily dropped and the mission was portrayed as protecting Afghan women from the Taliban.

In Britain under Cameron the messianic justifications offered by New Labour functionaries went and have been replaced by rhetoric on securing Afghanistan from being a base for terrorism. If that was the case, then it is still unclear why from the war against the Taliban has gone on so long only to be reversed.

The only constant and coherent explanation for 'staying the course' for so long ( and thousands of US sponsored private contractors are remaining after 2017 ) is that the 'security' of the country was necessary to ensure the one big geopolitical war aim that makes sense-the construction of the TAPI pipeline.

Curiously, UK international aid will continue to pour into Afghanistan until 2017 when the latest reports in the Pakistani media predict that the TAPI pipeline will be finished. The Afghanistan war may have had many supposed 'justifications' that were in reality little more than rationalisations for realpolitik.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Political Lying and Syria.

The only conclusion to be drawn from William Hague's consistent 'public diplomacy', on the British government being able to safely supply the 'right rebels' with weapons that won't fall into the 'wrong' hands, is that he is either divorced from reality or is willingly taking colossal risks.
"We are currently sending equipment that saves lives and who are we sending that to? Well, we are sending it to those more moderate, more sensible elements of the opposition. Obviously, we're not sending it to extremist groups, to groups that we're very concerned about, that could become a terrorist threat.
"The equipment we have supplied so far is not arms, but we have no evidence that that has fallen into the wrong hands in any sense and we have been supplying it for some time, so bear that in mind,"
Hague may well have 'no evidence' that so-called ''non lethal aid' has not fallen into the 'wrong hands' in Syria because , as with the allegations that rebel factions used sarin gas neither he nor the US administration is interested in looking for it.

This is what is so dangerous about the mindset that Hague seems to be trapped in. The rigid and abstract geopolitical thinking is clearly in continuity with the US neoconservatives and that was based on the faith based idea that with will power and 'resolve' the 'West' can win through.

In that sense, 'public diplomacy' is essentially the requisite propaganda based on a mendacious use of oil spin and words. In a brutal civil war, there is no guarantee that arms will not be traded to financially well backed 'extremists' by those receiving arms from Britain and the US.

The CIA, as numerous New York Times reports going back into 2012 prove, have been funnelling 'lethal aid' to insurgents in Syria-including second hand ex-Yugoslavian arms from Croatia. Satellite information has been used to guide the insurgents.

Given that arms from the ex-Soviet Union and Yugoslavia have been traded globally since the 1990s, it is utterly madness to assume that in the chaos in Syria both some of Assad's stock of weapons and any weapons from the West would not be sold by those wanting to make money.

Hague's stance is based clearly adhering to what he anticipates the Washington line was going to be and acting as an advocate in the UK for a full' shoulder to shoulder' stance with the US. There seems little independence in British foreign policy.

Yet there have been no real political warnings yet nor debate which mentions the facts about why arms have and will inevitably fall into the 'wrong' hands if they are supplied. No criticism from politicians looking at logical flaws in the case for intervention.

The useless Nick Clegg is not opposed to sending arms to Syria as it clear from what he actually states,
"At this point we're not providing arms. If we wanted to, we would do it. We clearly don't think it is the right thing to do now or else we would have decided to do it....We need to work in concert with our allies but we do not need to do the identical thing."
Nothing Clegg said rules out the fact that if the US decides it will arms the insurgents that Clegg would not 'work in concert' while pretending Britain was making independent decisions. Something ruled out when he says "the idea that we can provide a unilateral British solution to this is fanciful.
 Well, obviously it isn't a 'solution' and Clegg knows it's not an option anyway which is why he can say what he is saying because it amounts to nothing specific. He just wants to pretend that he supports an independent line on Syria while not criticising the action outright or really opposing it.

Political opponents ought to have had Cameron and Hague on the ropes, attacking their logic and questioning their use of language. Instead what we have is mere grandstanding, posturing and positioning of views simply to try and use the concern over intervention of Syria to promote themselves.

Hague, however, remains the most seasoned practitioner of political lying when he states,
"It's also not easy to take a decision to allow people to be killed who are faced by much superior arms and who may be driven to radicalism and extremism by being placed in the situation, so it's a classic dilemma."
The logic here is that if Britain does not supply arms to the unspecified 'good rebels' to use against the superior arms of Assad, then they will be driven to radicalisation and "extremism" This is an admission that the 'rebels' he would be prepared to arm will turn against us if we do not back them.
"There certainly are extremists. The complexity of this situation is there's more than two sides and there is an opposition.
There is no need for the word 'and' after admitting there is 'more than two sides' because many that are fighting as part of the opposition to Assad are 'extremists' if by that it is mean Sunni fundamentalist fanatics who want outright domination and victory and no peaceful solution.

Hague keeps arbitrarily using the word 'extremist' in a Humpty Dumpty way to mean what he wants them to mean. The word is used in the meaningless manner described by Orwell in Politics and the English Language.As is clear when he insinuates he has met leaders who are not 'extremists'
'I've had many meetings with opposition leaders who are not that type of opposition leader, who are sincere – in my view and the view of John Kerry and many other western foreign ministers – about their commitment to a future democracy in Syria, to dealing with the stockpiles of chemical weapons, to making sure that minorities are properly represented and not persecuted in Syria...Their commitment to that is sincere so we shouldn't fall into the trap of thinking everybody on every side is an extremist. There are a lot of good Syrians, I can assure you."
The fact is that 'extremists' can be sincere to the point of being fanatical and can say what they want Hague to hear. Hague needs to reveal which opposition leaders he has met and which he thinks are the 'sincere' leaders. Otherwise, the public has to take his word for it. And they cannot.

Given that Hague has repeatedly acted in bad faith about negotiations at Geneva being dependent upon the ability of the 'good rebels' to win militarily, it is clear that the leaders he has in mind are those such as General Idriss who rejected talks and called for the US to provide weapons to his forces.

Idriss of the Supreme Military Commandhas admitted several times that he cannot create a unified force despite numerous attempts to do so as only a small part of the 'rebel forces' are trained soldiers. So Al Qaida and radical Sunni fundamentalist forces can easily take control on the ground.

The only solution is to start negotiations at a Geneva Conference with Russia and Iran included to avoid the war developing any further. The fighting is now a grudge match with sectarian overtones and only fanatical jihadists will exploit the chaos. This is the only realistic option.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Syria: What Could Happen if the Conflict Intensfies.

The Syrian Crisis deepens day by day. David Cameron is a vain, incompetent and blustering figure, the leader of a nation with too much of a global role, none of the responsibilities that come with being one of the five permanent security council members and no independent foreign policy.

Cameron states his predictable backing for the US and is trying to act the statesman by pretending the US now can see the wisdom of the lead Britain and France took in bringing to light claims about President Assad's  use of chemical weapons ( sarin nerve gas ),
"I welcome this candid assessment by the Americans. I think it, rightly, puts back centre stage the question, the very difficult question to answer but nonetheless one we have got to address: what are we going to do about the fact that in our world today there is a dictatorial and brutal leader who is using chemical weapons under our noses against his own people."
War clouds are darkening and amassing steadily on the horizon. The Syrian Crisis has potential consequences far more lethal than the invasion of Iraq, though that invasion is a major cause of the current crisis in having led, over the last decade, to Shia government favourable to Tehran.

The US has expressed considerable concern over growing Iranian influence. So the US and UK are highly likely to back the Sunni militias with weapons. Encircling and controlling Iranian ambitions is a basic tenet of US foreign policy. Iran will step up its supply of weapons, cautiously backed by Russia.

Faced with this Cameron and Hague are out of their depth, mediocrities trying to cope with the immense complexities that they do not fully grasp. They live in a detached world of abstract theoretical geopolitcs in which 'existential enemies' can be combatted only through sabre ratting and 'resolve'.

Cameron emits same rhetoric as Blair with Iraq, the same shrill oversimplifications and messianic overtones. There will be no point of return from this one if the conflict escalates further across the Middle East. Too much is at stake.

The Western economies depend far too much upon oil and gas to let Iran have dominance over Syria. Iran occupies what Zbigniew Brzezinski called one of the most important 'geopolitical pivots' in the world, an area between the Middle East and Central Asia where most of the globe's oil and gas is.

Iran is facing economic crisis as US sanctions create inflation and falling living standards. Hemmed in from the east by US presence in Afghanistan, blocking the IP pipeline in favour of the TAPI pipeline is an extension of the sanctions policy and it is leading to Iranian resentment of the West.

The temptation for Tehran to step up the conflict in Syria as an escape westwards and to retain it's influence is considered a direct threat to the US's ability to control the balance of power over the Gulf. Bahrain faced Shia protests against the minority Sunni regime in 2012.

The prospect of Shia dominance in Syria and the defeat of Sunni fundamentalist 'rebels' ( i.e. insurgents ) is anathema to the US and UK so there is no prospect for peace nor the diplomatic resolution of the crisis and they no more want to negotiate with Assad than with Iran.

There are no signs the Sunni insurgents will not continue to suffer set backs and military defeats with Hezbollah now supporting Assad from Lebanon. So it is very probable the US and UK and France will supply arms so as to counter Iran and it will respond by doing the same.

The escalation of a lethal proxy war and more weapons entering Syria can only create create a total bloodbath to happen on a scale that could not only exceed Iraq but which could polarise the regional and global powers and ramp up the conflicts over oil and gas supply routes to a new level.

Should the conflict lead to the destabilisation of Lebanon and Jordan, as well as turning Syria into a version of Afghanistan, that could have severe consequences for the 'blowback' from Sunni militias and Al Qaida reaping havoc across the border into Saudi Arabia.

The US and Britain will do everything to shore up Saudi Arabia from collapse but the knock on effects upon oil production would seriously destabilise global oil supplies and prices. The slump in the West would be intensified and the blowback from Al Qaida terrorists cause mayhem.

The Geopolitical Factors Behind the Syrian Crisis.

It's now official. The US has announced, in response to what it regards as confirmation that the Assad regime is using chemical weapons, that it will now arm the 'rebels' in Syria. This morning the Guardian newspaper headline reported 'US says it will arm Syrian rebels following chemical weapons test'.

The US was positively itching to arm 'the rebels' for some time. The chemical weapons pretext was one needed to convince them that could conceal a cynical strategy that had already covertly been promoting via the CIA in arming jihadists just as they did in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The secular Syrian democrats who initiated protests against President Assad are no longer influential and the 'rebels' are better now term insurgents as they were in Iraq when Sunni militias with similar ideologies fought against the US and then the Shia guerillas that were allowed by the US to defeat them.

The willingness of the US, UK and France to back Sunni militias in Syria is a consequence of the fact that it backed majority Shia dominance in Iraq, and turned a blind eye to sectarian and ethnic cleansing after 2006, as the price of getting a stable government in Baghdad and being eventually able to withdraw troops.

Having supported a Shia government in Iraq, the US and UK now find themselves fearing Shia dominance promoted by Iran spreading in to Syria in a way that would upset the balance of power in the Middle East. Added to that, if Assad wins, Syria, Iraq and Iran would potentially move closer.

This poses a threat to Western geopolitical strategies for containing Iran which, in effect, means imposing punitive sanctions to destabilise the government, politicising the IAEA to find Iran guilty of trying to create a nuclear bomb and continuing the war in Afghanistan to hem it in from the east.

Control over pipeline supply routes are part of this lethal New Great Game, one becoming more dangerous with the growth of the Indian and Chinese super economies and the Western attempt to compete in Central Asia and the Middle East for access to fossil fuel resources.

The Afghanistan War, set to continue by covert means and by supporting US contractors after troop 'drawdown' ( i.e. not withdrawal ) by 2014, is crucially concerned with blocking off Iranian gas exports east through the partially completed IP pipeline to Pakistan. The US favours the TAPI pipeline.

The proposals for a Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline from Iran's South Pars gas field which is shares with rival Qatar, who is backing Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Islamist militias in Syria, has created consternation in Saudi Arabia and, of course, in Turkey, the main 'East-West pipeline transit country after Russia.

Destroying Iranian power is the key to hegemony over both the Middle East and Central Asia which is why the US and UK have repeatedly made Iran the most demonised nation in the region, even if it's government commits far fewer human rights abuses than Saudi Arabia, an outright despotism.

The fact is that the three permanent security council members that 'represent' the West are not prepared to see the insurgents lose , as they have been after the defeat in Qusair because the ultimate game plan is to curtail and roll back Iranian influence in Syria.

With a Shia dominated government favourable in Iraq, the balance of power has tilted towards Iran. That threatens the interests of Saudi Arabia and the stability of certain other minority Sunni regimes such as Bahrain that faced uprisings in the wake of the Arab Spring by Shia Muslims this time.

It will be interesting to see how Iran and Russia will react to the US decision. to arm the 'rebels' The only certainty is an intensification of the war, regional instability and a potentially very dangerous clash of interests together with an arms race by outside powers to back 'their side'.

This is a very, very dangerous situation. It has all the elements in place for a potential escalation into an all out regional war and major diplomatic crisis with global ramifications. For those in Britain interested in averting catastrophe, energy security needs to be looked as a matter of emergency.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Why the Syrian Crisis is so Dangerous to World Peace.

Hague has all but made up his mind that the Syrian Sunni fundamentalist insurgents will be armed if he and the Foreign Office can claim it is in Britain's interests to do so. As only 80 MPs have expressed concern that it should be put to a Commons vote, it is clear Hague thinks it is merely a formality.
"We have a good record on going to the House of Commons for a vote. There would be a vote one way or another. I can't see any reason why it couldn't be before any such decision was implemented"
Note that Hague is not open to the possibility of the decision not being implemented. He insinuates there is no reason why it could not be voted for 'one way or another' but that could mean they can vote only after Hague has made the decision. Parliament then has to rubber stamp it.

The same hypocrisy is evident in Hague's high handed attitude towards peace negotiations. If it looks as though, with the fall of Qusair and the Syrian government gaining on the ground militarily, that the Geneva Conference will be continually pushed back because the outcome cannot be dictated.

This is essentially what Hague means when he states,
"It makes it less likely that the regime will make enough concessions in such negotiations, and it makes it harder to get the opposition to come to the negotiations,"
There have been numerous opportunities to open negotiation to try and bring about a ceasefire but Hague does not want them. The objective is, at any cost,  to get regime change no matter how many Syrian civilians die in the carnage. Any 'peace' conference is meant to be a means to that end.

As Peter Oborne has put it,
'Mr Cameron wants to escalate the fighting by arranging military support to the rebels. He told Parliament on Monday that he hopes this will “tip the balance” in their favour. Iran – in reality an essential part of any solution – will not be welcome at the negotiating table, and in Mr Cameron’s mind there is no future for Assad, which probably means that the war will drag on and on'.
Iran, of course, is not part of the solution because the aim of regime change in Syria is to rollback Iranian influence in the Middle East and to side with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, a NATO power, in removing Assad through using Sunni fundamentalist proxy forces.

The messianic drive to intervene in Syria is much about backing Saudi Arabia and protecting the oil supply, the 'balance of power' and, of course by extension, those lucrative arms deals worth billions of pounds to British Aerospace.

The pretence that it is about saving lives is pure propaganda as almost every humanitarian aid agency has repeatedly called for a ceasefire and negotiations for a transition of power to be arranged. Keeping the war going actually can benefit Saudi Arabia as domestic fanatics can be exported there.

The so-called 'rebel' militias often do not have much in common with one another. The Saudi sponsored proxies are Wahhabi militias and Turkey is backing militias of the sunni Muslim Brotherhood which Riyadh has an an aversion to because of tensions between in it and Wahhabi Islam

Meanwhile, as is the case with Afghanistan, rich Saudis have provided funds to Al Qaeda-affiliated groups and in Syria that means Jabhat Al-Nusra. If Salafi jihadists overthrow Assad's regime the prospect would be further bloodshed and the next target would be Jordan.

Hague's policy of being prepared to arm sunni militias as a counter to Hizbollah and Assad's forces is a repeat of the realpolitik decision to back the Afghan mujahadeen in the 1980s, one that had long term disastrous consequences in creating 'blowback' in the form of Al Qaida in the first place.

The magnitude of the crisis in Syria, and Hague's absurd foreign policy response to it, are outcomes of longer term failures to move towards greater energy independence and the dangers of being dependent upon a dysfunctional Saudi Arabian regime that has sponsored terrorism for years.

Yet the Syrian crisis is now bring events to a climactic head on clash of interests between Saudi Arabia and Iran as another catastrophic result of the Iraq War which created similar warfare on sectarian lines. The price of stability there was to tacitly allow Shia militias to crush Sunni insurgents and pursue ethnic cleansing.

That strategy led to an Iraq dominated by Maliki who looks favourably towards Tehran and willing to contemplate a new axis of power between Iran, Iraq and Syria. Along with potential lucrative pipeline deals to connect the South Pars gas field to the Mediterranean, a new lethal front in the New Great Game opened up.

The Syrian Conflict has created a potentially intractable crisis that could presage a region wide war. Saudi Arabia could face 'blowback' should Syria become like Afghanistan. The disruption to oil supplies would then compound global economic stagnation and lead to instability of the sort not seen since the 1930s.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Syria could be the Tipping Point for All Out Regional War in the Middle East

Syria really could be the tipping point where the civil war develops into a regionwide conflict intensified by sectarian enmities. So it adds to the instability caused by the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as well as surpassing the catastrophic bloodshed and carnage that happened as the power of the state disintegrated there and left a power vacuum

Yet the civil war in Syria could be more potentially lethal than Iraq as all the regional powers have turned the conflict into a proxy war. This will inevitably affect Britain because of its overdependence upon Saudi Arabia for oil supplies and to prop up the 'balance of power' in the Middle East against the main threat to Western interests in the shape of Iran.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague's preparedness to back Syrian insurgents is interconnected with these strategic interests. Turkey, which is backing Muslim Brotherhood militias from the north  is a NATO power that, along with Saudi Arabia, is concerned with the growing influence of Iran in Syria where it has acted to shore up Assad's Alawite shia regime.

The absurdity is that in Iraq the US and UK tacitly allowed shia militias to defeat the sunni ones that were fighting them for control over Iraq in the sectarian war that arose after Saddam's state was removed by force ('regime change'). Ethnic cleansing was involved in that and the US and UK looked the other way as the price of defeating them.

As a result of that the Shia Iraqis are now dominant, in partnership with the Kurds, and under Maliki have moved closer towards Tehran. Many willing shia jihadists are arriving in Syria from Baghdad. This a clear long term outcome of Tony Blair's disastrous foreign policy and one that is set to get worse as the Syrian conflict looks likely to spill over into Iraq and Lebanon.

In this sense, there is a definite continuity between Blair and Hague that is routinely ignored by political pundits desperately trying to pretend there is some fundamental difference between the New Conseratives and New Labour. There is none because when Cameron speaks of an 'existential threat' from jihadists he really also means one to our oil supply.

There is a difference in tactics involved in backing Syrian insurgents as opposed to military intervention and not in the intent. The ultimate 'game plan' is to destroy Iran because it is the only regional power that can challenge the US's militaristic endgame of removing it as an independent state capable of resisting designs to control the oil and gas of both the Middle East and Central Asia.

Three months before Hagues's decision to show his preparedness to arm the 'rebels', i.e sunni fundamentalists, by getting the EU embargo removed, Baghdad approved of plans for a Iran-Iraq-Syria Pipeline from the South Pars Gas Field which Iran shares with Qatar. These realpolitik considerations are foremost in the foreign policy towards Syria.

Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia started to arm the Sunni fundamentalists from the outset of the Syrian civil war to forestall the rise of Iranian influence so that the UK now has to stand by this corrupt despotic rentier regime to uphold its oil interests in the Middle East, as well as lucrative arms deals amounting to millions of dollars and pounds.

Therefore, the UK and France, and possibly the US in future, want to redress the balance of power by arming sunni insurgents as a counter to the rise of shia predominance they promoted in Iraq ! The same tired pretexts are already being wheeled out as 'Public Diplomacy'-'chemical weapons', 'humanitarian intervention' 'fighting extremism', 'terror threats' etc.

The fact is that  in backing unreservedly Saudi Arabia, the US and Britain is supporting a country that actually funds terrorists elsewhere, including Al Qaida, as well the Taliban in Afghanistan against whom British soldiers have been fighting and dying for twelve years now. The war in Afghanistan is crucially about securing the TAPI pipeline as an alternative to Iran's pipeline to Pakistan.

It is truly Orwellian as regards the ideological schizophrenia, doublethink, and changes of the official line. It's clear shoddy realpolitik has always underlain the purported humanitarian rhetoric about both Iraq and Syria. British people must wake up and think about the problem of oil consumption and dependence unless we want to lose the democracy we have taken for granted for so long.

For the foreign policy will only lead to greater volatility, increasing terror attacks and the increase in state power in Britain over people's lives; the price for thinking that 'business as usual' in such dangerous lands that spawn terrorists and fanatics is something that cannot be questioned or that some terror threat is somehow not connected to it.

The US is not Withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014

Resource Wars are just beginning and Iraq and Afghanistan are clear examples as might be intervention in Syria. The future will consist most likely of mercenaries being paid by Western governments to procure the pipeline routes and not bother at all with using national armies to do so because the casualty rate of 'our boys' make bad public relations for the government when advocating wars. 

2014 is not a date when British troops are 'withdrawn'. Mostly, they will be but a number will be there along with mercenaries and private contracters to whom war has been 'outsourced'. This is what is meant by politicians such as Defence Minister Philip Hammond when they use Orwellian terms such as 'drawdown' now as opposed to withdrawal.

The Fiscal Times reported ,
 '.....the military withdrawal does not mean the United States is out of the country entirely. The country is leaving tens of thousands of contractors behind.

According to the latest contractor census performed by the industry group Professional Overseas Contractors, there are currently 110,404 contractors still working in Afghanistan. Of these, 33,444 are Americans. The rest are either Afghan or from another country.

These workers do everything from serve food to cut hair to provide security. They outnumber U.S. troops by nearly 40,000. For every one American soldier, there are 1.46 contractors.  

The vast majority of these contractors are in the private security business, working for the State Department to protect diplomats. This means they are armed to kill on behalf of the U.S. government

Once the military leaves completely, these contractors will be responsible for training Afghan police and troops, building Afghan infrastructure, conducting development projects, and protecting workers. Under the terms of the Afghan-American strategic partnership agreement signed last summer, just a small number of U.S. troops are going to remain in the country until 2024. Much of the work currently being done by the military will be left to contractors to complete .

“It’s a de facto army, a de facto military presence there. They are a de facto logistic and supply chain,” Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, told The Fiscal Times. “We’re going to be relying on contractors across the board. They will be doing all of the things that go into nation building.”'
 The battle to secure the building of the TAPI pipeline will continue along with drone strikes and other means of enforcing global power without it getting too much bad publicity at home. So much for the idea that Afghanistan was a 'humanitarian intervention'. The advocates of that are stragely silent now.

The Sectarian War Rhetoric of Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

This was the fanatical Islamist invited to London by the slimy demagogue and vote grubbing ex-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone as 'truly welcome', Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has been ramping up the sectarian rhetoric in the Middle East.  Such a force of peace, tolerance and reconciliation as reported by peter Beaumont,

'Nine days ago the influential Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi denounced the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement – whose fighters helped Bashar al-Assad's regime retake the Syrian city of Qusair last week – as the "party of Satan".... "The leader of the party of the Satan comes to fight the Sunnis … now we know what the Iranians want … they want continued massacres to kill Sunnis," Qaradawi said. "How could 100 million Shias defeat 1.7 billion [Sunnis]? Only because [Sunni] Muslims are weak."

Britain's Role in Ensuring the Continued Carnage in Syria.

Britain's role in ensuring the continued carnage in Syria has been well described by Patrick Cockburn in The Independent. ( Just who has more to gain if the killing goes on ? )

'Britain and France are playing a small but mischievous role in ensuring the slaughter in Syria continues. By successfully ending the EU embargo on arms for the rebels they will not bring talks nearer, as they pretend, but make them unlikely to take place at all'

By offering more arms, the EU will also be putting off the day when the two sides talk to each other through mutual exhaustion and the knowledge that neither can win'...

The explanation for the actions of the Western states may be that they do not want the war to end except as a victory for their allies. This certainly is the view of many in the Middle East, such as Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the former Iraqi National Security Adviser, who told me the civil war "is the best option for the West and Israel because it knocks out Syria as an opponent of their policies and keeps Iran busy. Hezbollah is preoccupied by Syria and not with Israel'.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

How Propaganda Works : Nick Cohen and the Syrian Civil War.

Propaganda that appeals to the emotions seems to have become a speciality of those who use rhetorical framing devices to pigeonhole those opposed to a certain position as being less than human and to win arguments cheaply. Using 'humanitarian intervention' as a means to that end has become increasingly common since the 1990s.

One of the worst examples of this trend is Nick Cohen. Unlike certain advocates of the Iraq war as a humanitarian intervention such as the Canadian liberal Michael Ignatieff, who rejected his support for it when it became clear the US and UK invasion of 2003 had unleashed sectarian warfare, Cohen has learnt nothing.

Instead of looking at the facts of the current civil war in Syria, Cohen offers a generalised interpretation of a position he ascribes to all those who think that Foreign Secretary Hague's threat to arm the Sunni insurgents will force President Assad to stand down.
'Sceptics about humanitarian intervention in Syria hit you with what they regard as a killer question: "Where do you stop?" If the "international community", such as it is, tries to halt the massacres in Syria, why doesn't it intervene in North Korea or Somalia?'
This is meant to prove that those with qualms about Hague's recent move to get the EU's arms embargo on Syria lifted, along with the French foreign government, are somehow at one with those are simply pointing elsewhere to what the West is not doing in order to suggest that it should do something about Syria.

Now obviously this is true because there is no civil war in North Korea. Nor are the geopolitical interests of largest Global Powers at stake as Syria as they are in Somalia. For the one evident thing about the Syrian crisis is that it has become a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Britain has consistently supported Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and continues to do so despite Cohen's own attempt to use these corrupt Gulf states corrupt influence on London as a cause for criticism at a domestic level, because it is the lynch pin of Britain and the US's foreign policy in the Middle East.

Given the fact that Saudi Arabia and Qatar began to arm the insurgents from early on in the Syrian conflict, using rhetoric devices as 'illiberal intervention' as Cohen does in passing reference to these powers, and omitting the fact that the CIA and MI6 have assisted on the ground, is a form of political lying.
'as for the conscience of the west, when it considers Syria at all, it finds liberal intervention unconscionable – nearly everywhere, that is, except in William Hague's Foreign Office..I accept praising Hague (and by extension David Cameron) in the Observer is akin to praising the pope at an abortion rights rally'.
No intelligent person cares about Mr Cohen's 'position' or what others think about it as it is not that relevant. The facts are more important. Hague supported the insurgents who hijacked the revolution against Assad as soon as they could as soon as the civil war broke out, making it clear that 'Assad Must Go'.

That policy, formulated by the US under the blustering and incompetent Hillary Clinton, was downplayed when it became clear Assad was just not going to 'go' . So Hague's new bluster about forcing Assad to negotiate his way out is clearly not to be praised but best condemned.

On its own terms Cohen has provided absolutely no geopolitical context to the supposed narrative that, thus far, the 'West' has sold out the Syrian 'rebels'. If the UK and US governments were so interested in Syrian civilians why did they not condemn Saudi Arabia's 'illiberal intervention'?

The reason is that Britain's Foreign policy under Hague, no less than that of the US, is shackled to the strategic relationship it has with Saudi Arabia, one criticised by Nick Cohen without him understanding that they do so to preserve the 'balance of power' in the Middle East.

The protection of the flow of Gulf oil and maintaining Saudi Arabian and Qatari interests against Iranian influence, especially when much opposition within the Gulf states has come from Shi'ite Muslims, is the basic strategic reality underlying US and UK foreign policy.

Given that Hague did not 'intervene' from the beginning and 'Radical Islamists have filled the void', the burden of proof lies with Cohen when suggesting that Hague has done or it intends to act in Syria in such a way that could be termed 'humanitarian intervention'.
'It is only from Hague's Foreign Office and the Quai d'Orsay that you find a glimmer of an understanding of the moral and diplomatic questions the Syrian catastrophe raises'
Well, if Hague's policy of threatening to back those radical jihadists who now predominate in Syria's anti-Assad insurgency is as 'humanitarian' as Cohen believes, then more than just 'a glimmer of an understanding' is needed. In fact, Cohen 'needs to start' by looking at reality.

Not least as most international humanitarian organisations have called on Britain not to back the Syrian insurgents with weapons and to use diplomacy to try and bring about a ceasefire. Yet the insurgents want total victory at any cost and not to protect civilian life.

The same is true of Assad who knows that in Libya it was the UK and France who led the way in aiding the insurgents there and that he faces the same primitive form of 'justice' meted out to Colonel Gaddafi if he were to lose.

Hague's policy is essentially to pretend that he tried before the forthcoming Geneva Conference ( if it happens ) all the alternatives to war while, in fact, effectively encouraging the insurgents to believe they will win because realpolitik interests dictate that they must.

For the real endgame of Hague's foreign policy is that same as that of Washington and that is curtailing Iranian ambitions in the Middle East with the growth of its influence in neighbouring Iraq. The irony is that this was a result of the military intervention of 2003.

Those advocates of the Iraq War are still interesting to read now, some more than others. Cohen is interesting if only because he epitomises a certain way of thinking that seemed briefly to be credible during the frantic polemicising within the left over the issue of the Iraq War.

Cohen's credibility is largely exhausted and he has continuously only indulged in an exercise in rhetoric in order to avoid coming to terms with the impact of the Iraq War which was supposed to lead to a domino effect in toppling Syria as well.

This can now be interpreted as necessary because after the Syrian civil war has grown more protracted and savage President Assad is The New Saddam. Just as Saddam Hussein was a 'New Hitler' , Assad is another Saddam and so another Hitler or Stalin.

The conceit, as well as utter banality of this, is instructive in understanding how the polemicising over Iraq actually worked, the sense of unreality connected to it and the indifference to what was really at stake. Cohen is only interested essentially in defending his position as a journalist.
'I accept praising Hague (and by extension David Cameron) in the Observer is akin to praising the pope at an abortion rights rally'
Cohen here attempts to fend off the inevitable criticism in advance by pretending that because he "praises" William Hague that those who presumably damn him can only be doing so because they don't really care about Syrians as he really does.

The idea is to insinuate he 'really' cares while anyone opposed to Hague's stated preparedness to arm the insurgents is morally stunted, malign, pseudo-left or only rigidly obsessed with Britain's national interest, is a crude form of pure propaganda.

Cohen had his brief moment of notoriety as part of the self proclaimed 'decent left' in the years between the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, that is between 2001 and 2003. Since then events have continually confounded him.

The reason for this is that Cohen, along with others who argued far better than he such as Christopher Hitchens, saw Iraq and the conflict with totalitarianism as they saw it as a rerun of the battle against Fascism and Stalinism in the 1930s and 1940s.

Such journalists thought they could see a similarity after 9/11 between European totalitarianism and Al Qaida and, by extension, all secular nationalist tyrannies such as Saddam's Baathist Iraq and Assad's Baathist Syria. No deeper analysis of the history of each nation is necessary.

For even if both Al Qaida and secular totalitarianisms in the Middle East did have a basis in European revolutionary traditions, they were not as one. They did not amount to what Michael Gove called, in his abysmal tract Celsius 7/7, a 'seamless totalitarian threat'.

The reason it is important to understand Cohen's position is not because there is any depth, humanity or clear message in it. It is because the way he sets the propaganda message appeals to humanitarian sentiments without being truly influenced by them.

As with Iraq, the attack on opponents of the Iraq War was based on the desire to destroy all opponents of the war as being 'objectively Saddam' . There was a 'sell out' leftist or liberal left that was pro-dictatorship or those who supported democracy and freedom.

Cohen and others went for that 'position' because they equated realpolitik with what they considered reality and thought of Iraq as an action replay of the 1930s with themselves is inheritors of George Orwell's mantle as opposed to being merely Orwellian.

Now Cohen seems to think the Syrian Civil War is a chance to pose again as someone who believes 'liberty is telling people what they don't want to hear' as Orwell did after his experience of the Spanish Civil War. It's facile rhetoric and ahistorical.

Those like Cohen and Hitchens seem to have fell into the trap of thinking that because a vocal part of the 'anti-war movement' were and are apologists for totalitarian regimes, that this was one reason to back 'good wars' to put one over on them.

Part of that has to be seen as a revulsion against the fact so many intellectuals and journalists had supported the Soviet Union in the 1930s. With the increasing knowledge of Soviet crimes after 1991 and the opening of the archives, many wanted to be 'new Orwells'.

Hitchens was one of these who 'positioned' himself in the tradition of anti-totalitarianism when he wrote Orwell's Victory . At least, that book had some interesting things to say. Cohen saw the possibilities of promoting himself by going along with this trend.

The difference is that Orwell did actually go to fight in Spain as part of an independent militia. Moreover, the situation in Spain in 1936 or Britain in 1939 has little to do with that in 2001 in Afghanistan or Iraq in 2003.
Cohen wants to believe now that Spain in 1936 is similar to Syria in 2013.

Nothing in the decade after the catastrophic war in Iraq, the hundreds of thousands dead, the revived sectarian violence of 2013 nor the prospect of regional sectarian warfare,  has had any impact on Cohen. Some fanatical interventionists have learnt nothing from Iraq, not even from their own ideas back then

For 'interventionists' kept saying about humanitarian intervention that each crisis is different and needs a new response. That true but it does not , in fact, happen and he curious thing about Syria is that most of the siren voices for war in 2001 and 2003 are now silent.

Indeed what do voices such as Brian Brivati , so vocal about Afghanistan and Iraq, have to say about Syria now?. Who remember such people now ? So far such enthusiasts for the Iraq War have not come forth as they once did with such brimming confidence.

Only Cohen has defended these ideas because now there is nothing left for him to lose as he nothing much to say other than salvaging what remains of his credibility. With regards foreign policy his journalism is sloppy, shrill, self important and largely propaganda.

The British Parliamentary Opposition  Does Not Oppose Hague.

Cohen writes in his article,
Douglas Alexander this time, Labour's "progressive" foreign affairs spokesman, breezily maintains that there is no need to help rebels because Syria is already "awash" with weapons. He then contradicts himself by maintaining that if Britain and France were to arm rebels – why would they need to if Syria were already "awash" with weapons? – the rebels would not come to the negotiating table.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander is not actually saying very much other than affecting to suspend his 'judgement' on the idea of helping the insurgents, one that Hague has actually just threatened to do as a means of pretending this is a way of getting Assad to negotiate his way out of power.

The fact is that four of the largest insurgent groups actually doing the fighting tried to scupper negotiations themselves before the Geneva Conference by rejecting the Syrian National Council as representing 'the national will' ( i.e. the will of the people as defined as Syrian and by them alone ).

Hague's threat to send arms to the 'right rebels' does not really change the fact there is no organised 'the opposition' and in conditions of chaos there can be no guarantee they would not 'fall into the wrong hands'. Obviously, nobody knows exactly which groups Hague regards as the 'right' groups.

The phrase about Syria being 'awash with weapons' is a deliberate piece of rhetoric to just create the impression of concern about what Hague is suggesting without spelling out why any decision to back insurgents in Syria is highly dangerous and likely to cause an arms race.

Cohen simply throws in the word progressive as an adjective in scare quotes before Alexander's name because anybody, even a self serving careerist politician, who has the slightest doubt about the merit of backing the insurgents against Assad is merely practising callous realpolitik.

This is why when forensically dissecting the propaganda the language is important. When Cohen writes 'Sceptics about humanitarian intervention' he is seeing it as one solid block of thinking that only cynics could oppose as a shoddy rhetorical trick to win polemical victories.

The same propaganda mechanisms were deployed by journalists and politicians and other opinion formers and framers around the Iraq War. So it is in continuity with that idea of 'humanitarian intervention' deployed by neoconservatives to affect that realpolitik decisions are 'humanitarian' ones.

Though nobody has yet been openly insane enough to call for full scale Western military intervention, the decision to back the insurgents would be a foreign policy similar to the one practised by the US and UK in the 1980s when backing the mujahadeen against the Soviet Union.

With Hague,no less than those such as Cohen, the messianic and Evil Enemy is now Iran instead of the Soviet Union. So proxy wars are one means to roll back dictatorship and get into the business of 'democracy promotion'.

The flaw in that is obvious in that neither Russia nor Iran are, in fact, dictatorships. Moreover, given that the itch to arm the insurgents as a counter move is about supporting Saudi Arabia's proxy war against Iran, it is actually about realpolitik and nothing to do with humanitarian considerations.

The absurdity is that the UK and US militarily in Iraq had to allow Shia ascendency-and ethnic cleansing-as the price of defeating sunni insurgents only to find that the Shia government moved closer to Tehran and it's energy interests in the Middle East.

With the collapse of the Syrian state's power and the rise of sunni fundamentalist insurgents, who displaced the relatively feeble secular opponents of Assad ( presumably the 'right rebels' ), was not created by the 'inaction' of the West but the action of its strategic allies.

No action nor pressure by the US or UK was put on Saudi Arabia or Qatar to stop supporting the 'wrong rebels'. The CIA and MI6 have been already in action funnelling arms and supplies to the insurgents in Syria from Jordan and Turkey to no avail.

It's curious that those screaming about the outrage to the conscience of the free West such as Cohen cannot see or choose not to see the facts as they are as opposed to pretending that they can ride with the tide of history on the right side.

As is evident here,
Hague is impressive because you do not need to tell him what he already knows. He accepts that the world failed Syria and gave Assad the time and space to brutalise the population. He at least is not surprised by reports of massacres.
Well, maybe he does not actually care that much. It's great to know Hague does not need to be told anything because he knows it already. So did Tony Blair when he decided to invade Iraq and who still tries to rationalise the scale of the bloodshed as part of a greater historical plan unfolding now from Iraq to Syria.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Role of the Iran-Iraq-Syria Pipeline.

Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar has written much on the centrality of the race for fossil fuels in driving geopolitical clashes. In RT's Op-Edge section he has written of the planned pipeline route through Syria as one reason why Qatar started to back anti-Assad insurgents.
     The Syrian Pipelineistan angle.
This graphic Iranian success in South Asia contrasts with its predicament in Southwest Asia.

The South Pars gas fields –  the largest in the world – are shared by Iran and Qatar. Tehran and Doha have developed an extremely tricky relationship, mixing cooperation and hardcore competition.

The key (unstated) reason for Qatar to be so obsessed by regime change in Syria is to kill the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which was agreed upon in July 2011. The same applies to Turkey, because this pipeline would bypass Ankara, which always bills itself as the key energy crossroads between East and West.

It’s crucial to remember that the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline is as anathema to Washington as IP. The difference is that Washington in this case can count on its allies Qatar and Turkey to sabotage the whole deal.
This means sabotaging not only Iran but also the 'Four Seas' strategy announced by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2009, according to which Damascus should become a Pipelineistan hub connected to the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The strategy spells out a Syria intimately connected with Iranian – and not Qatari – energy flows. Iran-Iraq-Syria is known in the region as the 'friendship pipeline.' Typically, Western corporate media derides it as an 'Islamic' pipeline. (So Saudi pipelines are what, Catholic?) What makes it even more ridiculous is that gas in this pipeline would flow to Syria and then Lebanon –  and from there to energy-starved European markets close by.

The Pipelineistan games get even more complicated when we add the messy Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey energy love affair – detailed here by Erimtan Can – and the recent gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean involving territorial waters of Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria; some, or perhaps all of these actors could turn from energy importers to energy exporters.

Israel will have a clear option to send its gas via a pipeline to Turkey, and then export it to Europe; that goes a long way to explain the recent phone call schmoozing between Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan and Israel’s Netanyahu, brokered by Obama.

Terrestrial and maritime borders between Israel and Lebanon remain dependent on a hazy UN Blue Line, set up way back in 2000. Damascus – as well as Tehran –  supports Beirut, once again against Washington’s will. And Damascus also supports Baghdad’s strategy of diversifying its means of distribution, once again trying to escape the Strait of Hormuz. Thus, the importance of the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline.

No wonder Syria is a red line for Tehran. Now the whole of Pipelineistan will be watching how far Qatar is willing to go following Washington's obsession.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

William Hague's Doublethink and Syria

Hague's preparedness to back Sunni fundamentalists in Syria is purely Orwellian now. Hamas has switched sides to back the sunni fundamentalists against Hizbollah and Assad. And Hague is prepared to back a side that has Hamas style insurgents if not the practical possibility of backing jihadists close to or actually Al Qaida.

The Lebanese Daily Star in Beirut has reported,

'Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, switched allegiances and broke off with President Bashar Assad’s government in the wake of the uprisings.

Last Thursday, Palestinian refugees from Syria set fire to humanitarian aid donated by Hezbollah in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, citing their anger over the party’s role fighting alongside the Syrian regime'.
Yet Hamas are still regarded officially as 'terrorists' . If Hamas were to come out in direct support of the 'rebels',Hague would be backing those he and the British establishment regards as terrorists. Maybe 'we are all Hamas now"...And would they be rehabilitated as 'rebels' ? This is why his foreign policy is so fundamentally stupid.

The situation is a black farce and shows the schizophrenia caused by being dependent upon Saudi Arabia for oil and having to stand by it as a 'strategic partner'.


From the Guardian,
The White House has accused Hezbollah and Iran of being "partners in tyranny" after their role in the Syrian government's retaking of the strategic town of Qusair. The White House spokesman Jay Carney said:
What Washington means is that they fear Iranian backed domination of Syria because it goes against their geopolitical interests. That is shown in the absurdity of the statement by Jay Carney about how they are concerned about one side winning victories in a brutal war with a strong sectarian bias.
We remain very concerned, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms the Assad regime's assault on Qusair ... It is clear that the regime is unable to contest the opposition's control of a place like Qusair on their own, and that is why they are dependent on Hezbollah and Iran to do their work for them. The fact that a regime like Assad has its partners in tyranny here – Hezbollah and Iran – says a great deal about their intentions and the fact that Assad's principal concern has been his own grasp on power, not his own people – people that he's butchered.
Take the words 'partners in tyranny' out of that statement and it simply reads as though the US establishment simply prefers its partners in the region who are backing sunni fundamentalists and insurgents such as Saudi Arabia. One could just as reasonably call the US and UK 'partners in tyranny'.

In fact, the US has not stated, as the Guardian states, that Iran and Hezbollah are 'partners in tyranny' but both these backers and the Assad regime are considered 'partners' in tyranny' because the US wants to draw attention to Shia 'tyranny' instead of its backing for sunni fundamentalists.

It's important to notice these sleights of hand and rhetorical tricks as well as interpreting them as part of a deceptive geopolitical agenda.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Some Considerations on Hypocrisy, Double Standards and Inconsistency.

I have been pondering a lot recently on the nature of hypocrisy  Most people seem to think hypocrisy means doing one thing and acting in another way from the position of the self righteous accuser who is somehow above ever doing so himself. It is a constant human trait that seems to have developed in recent years.

In fact it seems to me that the vast majority of comments, outrage and fury on online blogs, fierce polemics over foreign policy, anti-war marches or calls for 'intervention' consist of trying to prove that the other person is a hypocrite or has double standards ( and are these exactly the same thing anyway ?).

For example British foreign policy is criticised because it is hypocritical in opposing Iran and calling for 'regime change' there and in Syria while Saudi Arabia remains a key ally and strategic partner. No doubt that's a double standard but is it one forced upon Britain by over dependence upon oil ?

When protesters for 'anti-war' groups use oil interests as a trump card to prove British foregn policy is evil without noticing how dependent the economy is on it, no less than others in the developed and rapidly developing world, are they being hypocritical by refusing to pose the question that way?

After all, it is not easy to point the finger at the government invading countries for oil while not calling on British people to think about energy alternatives or to draw attention that most of them benefit from having continued supplies of relatively cheap oil ?

If that were the case, then the majority of British people are as responsible as their rulers in not being prepared to give up their high octane lifestyles in order to reduce the consumption of oil. Could a politician really expect to be re-elected if he argued that we need to cut down on car use and consumption?

Pat Davers responded,
How many of the people who said that the Iraq war was “all about oil”, stopped using oil, or even made a serious effort to reduce oil consumption?
Perhaps the anti-war marchers might not even welcome that question because the assumption tends to be that the only real beneficiaries are the oil corporations, the financiers of pipelines and building companies investing in infrastructure.

It is convenient to 'explain' the conflicts wracked Middle East as whay 'they' in power are causing to happen because it means that 'we' are only responsible for getting rid of 'them' without thinking about whether it is 'we' who make that foreign policy possible through oil consumption.
The thing is though, that the world is a horrible mess of competing interests and conflicting priorities to the extent that none of us can be completely consistent in our outlook, and such we’re all guilty of hypocrisy, which after all, is no worse than “the tribute that vice pays to virtue”. It’s still worth pointing out some of the more blatant examples though.
Yes I agree. But it's difficult not to come to the conclusion that in Britain many self proclaimed 'official' opponents of wars seem to take the role of the accuser when they themselves belong or have belonged to revolutionary sects backing murderous violence.

Many Stop The War activists are hypocritical in the deepest sense because they are not only not pacifists at all but want to simplify the world into black and white binary categories of Good ( i.e us ) versus Evil 'them' ( the evil hideous capitalist-imperialist British government ).

A lot of leading StWC do not actually care about 'stopping wars' even if they could since the aim in to turn outrage into support for their propaganda. A lot of protest, without any attempt at understanding what is really driving them, is a form of look-at-me narcissism.

There are legitimate protests against the arms trade and the repellent policy of supply arms to Saudi Arabia, a country that has funded and backed the Taliban but remains the lynchpin of US and UK strategical designs for the balance of power in the Middle East.

Evidently, the scale of the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a regime far more repressive and fanatical and brutal than that in Iran, exceeeds what could even be vaguely defined as its proportional defence needs. Quite obviously it's about enriching British arms manufacturers.

Yet without the over dependence upon oil and gas, Britain ( and other Western nations ) would not be so bound to support appalling regimes nor be drawn into the danger of risk and bad foreign policies such as those of Iraq, Libya and, if Hague gets his way, Syria.

Most British opponents of the war must know that high oil consumption is a major factor behind the USA and Britain, with other EU nations sitting on the fence, promoting these interventionist foreign policies as the old order crumbles in the Middle East.

Yet too few of them publicly advocate that Britain becomes energy independent or have the will to mention these frightening facts or propose constructive alternatives to the public. They must prefer to bask in the feeling of self righteousness that comes from being 'right'.

Even so, most informed people know anyway that British foreign policy is based on schizophrenia and double standards. So, while it is still worth pointing out what British interests really are when proposing 'intervention in Syria, energy conservation has to be an issue.

And that might involve advocating that people would need to change their lifestyles, stop using their cars as much, not fly EasyJet so often and to let people know how intimately tied up high octane consumerism is with oil dependency and conflicts over resources.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Tony Blair, The Neoconservatives and What is at Stake in Syria.

Tony Blair is trying to retrospectively justify his disastrous foreign policies as regards the Middle East of which the conflict in Syria is, in many ways, a delayed consequence. The return of sectarian violence in Iraq parallels that of the continued disintegration of the Syrian state.

The decision of William Hague to advocate arming the sunni insurgents and fundamentalists is in continuity with the shoddy realpolitik behind the decision to invade Iraq in order to control the world's second largest supply of oil for 'the West' and counter Chinese inroads into the Middle East.

Given that sectarian warfare between Shia and Sunni Iraqis broke out as the state collapsed led the US and UK to tacitly allow Shia 'ethnic cleansing', as a means to defeat the Sunni groups who had dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria shows a different predominance.

The Sunni insurgents are now fighting an Allawite regime supported not merely by Iran and Hizbollah but also by Iraq's Shia regime in Baghdad under al-Maliki So Hague is itching to tilt the balance of power back towards the Sunnis in Syria.

Blair writes a mendacious piece of propaganda which presents untruths, distorts the fact or omits them. Though not in office now, Blair's spin and duplicity has been continued by Hague who is also using the transnational 'terror threat' to back a policy of supplying arms to Sunni fundamentalists.

In accordance with Orwellian doublethink, the highly likely prospect of arms falling into the hands of anti-Western jihadists is denied, as it has been by Hague who is irresponsible enough to claim that he would have the power to ensure they did not fall into the 'wrong hands'.

Blair writes,
'...we are deluding ourselves if we believe that we can protect this country simply by what we do here. The ideology is out there. It isn’t diminishing.
Consider the Middle East. As of now, Syria is in a state of accelerating disintegration. President Assad is brutally pulverising communities hostile to his regime. At least 80,000 have died. The refugees now total more than one million. The internally displaced are more than four million.
The Syrian opposition is made up of many groups. The fighters are increasingly the Al Qaeda- affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra. They are winning support, and arms and money from outside the country'.
The way Blair cuts from the assertion that the terror threat to Britain is 'out there' and 'isn't diminishing' ( after all it would mean his 'war on terror' had failed to say it had 'increased' after Afghanistan and Iraq ) to 'consider the Middle East' is a standard piece of neoconservative propaganda.

Blair is now selling the line that because Assad will not go and is ready to embark on 'ethnic cleansing and 'chemical warfare', that , as a result, 'something must be done'. It is the same act with William Hague as there is no difference between Labour and the Conservatives on foreign policy.

Blair is trying to claim that by backing the 'right' sort of militias, that groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra who would profit from the chaos in Syria could be defeated. Yet the CIA and MI6 have been in Syria from the outset of the war funnelling arms and aid to the insurgents.

William Hague's effective decision to push for the West to support the 'rebels' i.e Sunni fundamentalist militias and insurgents, is clear now. Hague will make a decision and will do it with France to a point that will put pressure on the US to decide to fall in or do what it wanted to do anyway more quickly.
Our priority is to get the regime in Damascus and the opposition to the negotiating table in Geneva. A decision to deliver lethal weapons will depend on the course of these negotiations, as well as by the attitude of other countries. Because we will only supply weapons along with others, in accordance with international law and under carefully controlled conditions.
This tactic of threatening to arm some mythical 'the opposition' , as opposed to some insurgent groups who are opposed by others-one reason why the Syrian National Council cannot agree who is going to represent them at the Geneva Conference.

Hague is not so foolish that he cannot see that the negotiations are merely window dressing as Assad will never make any precondition about any transition being that he will first stand down. Hague knows that and so the Geneva Conference will be used as proof that Assad Must Go.

That was Hague's position all along and he is an ideological fanatic who has learnt nothing from the history of sectarian warfare in Iraq and wants to arm the Sunni insurgents as a policy of countering Iranian influence and Shia domination.

Hague's foreign policy can be aptly summarised by Lord David Howell's explanation in 2011 of the thinking behind British strategy in the Middle East. It is factual and taken from Hansard. It is surprising that the Guardian is not drawing attention to the facts that would help the public understand Hague's position 
'There is an eastern dimension to the whole of what is happening in the Middle East. Chinese influence and investment are everywhere. Chinese warships are in the Mediterranean for the first time in several hundred years. The influence of the rising powers of Asia on the Middle East is heavy and growing. Exports from the Middle East-we are looking immediately more at the oil-producing countries to the east of the region-are increasingly going to the east. Sixty-six per cent of all oil production from Saudi Arabia goes eastwards. A large proportion of China's fossil fuel imports come from this region. This cannot be brushed aside; it is a decisive element in the unfolding pattern of Middle East reform.
As far as we are concerned, there are some energy implications, to which we should not be blind. Egypt itself is not a major energy producer but it has some oil and quite a lot of gas, which it exports through the Arab peace pipeline to Jordan, Syria and Israel. Extraordinarily-perhaps this is often overlooked-Israel relies on Egypt for between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of its daily gas supplies. The continuation of that pipeline is an extremely important element in the situation. All over the region new gas pipelines are being developed, such as the so-called Islamic gas pipeline between Iran, Iraq and Syria. We have to understand that a new pattern of energy transportation and production is emerging in the area'.
One reason why Iraq was invaded was to control second largest supplies of the oil and gas in the world against Chinese inroads into the Middle East. The fear of a Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, a "so-called Islamic gas pipepiline" is contrasted with the "Arab peace pipeline" from Egypt to Israel.
Hague's decision to back the Syrian insurgents may seem insane but it has its basis in reacting to the need to protect Western oil and gas interests against the danger of growing Iranian influence. Not least given that a major ambition in the US and Britain is 'regime change' in Tehran.

This is the price to be paid for the US and UK being overdependent on the Middle East for oil as is alluded to by Howell himself when he states 'Exports from the Middle East-we are looking immediately more at the oil-producing countries to the east of the region-are increasingly going to the east'

For 'east of the Middle East' is first Iran then Afghanistan which acts as a transit country for the oil and gas of the Central Asian republics to south east Asia and away from predominant Russian control. Moreover, in Afghanistan the TAPI pipeline is a key part of blocking the rival IP alternative.

The job of journalists is to look at these interests and the stakes in the New Great Game for global domination through controlling supplies of oil and gas. It is of vital importance if the British public is to be informed and very likely important to the continued existence of civilisation itself.


A Note on Tony Blair

As Hague seems intent on arming the sunni fundamentalists in Syria, some have raised questions about whether he is sane or not. The same was said of Tony Blair who tended to take a lead in foreign policy decision whearas PM Camero, surely mindful of the impact of Iraq on Blair's popularity, has not.

The disturbing thing about Tony Blair is that he is not evil but certainly deluded and able to spin a case for anything once he had absolutely decided it was 'the right thing to do' . He was supposed to be a lawyer and he was certainly a bad ham actor.

In the Mail article he does show an element of being both throughly ignorant about the reality and nature of Al Qaida while brooding upon dark, almost metaphysical ponderings on the nature of their ideology and evil. Take this,
...we are deluding ourselves if we believe that we can protect this country simply by what we do here. The ideology is out there. It isn’t diminishing.
Evil is part of an 'ideology' that is 'out there'. Maybe really far out there for a mediocre politician who grew up in the comfortable post war generation and was wholly ignorant of what war means as most Conservative and Labour politicians were when he was growing up.

Blair is projecting when he claims Evil Is Out There like some sort of hideous cosmic force that could come right to your house, reminding me of a malign version of the Old National Lottery advert where a huge finger descended from the sky and pointed to a small lit up windom with phrase 'It Could be You'.

Blair is clearly a troubled man. Much of his 'post-political' career has been about lauding goodwill, trumpeting the good that can come if evil is destroyed by good religious people rejecting violence. The man is desperate to be accepted again. Hence The TonyBlairFaithFoundation.

Blair, I think, knows that he bears a terrible responsibility for what happened in Iraq. Everything he has done or written since is more about trying to explain or get people to empathise with him because he knows he made an appalling decision.

It is up to him to live with that until he dies.


Hague can be compared with Blair because they represent a continuity in foreign policy aims and goals. The means to affect the policy of 'regime change' as if this can be imposed to order by Britain and other Western states remain 'humanitarian intervention'  Hague suffers from the same delusions as Blair in that sense.

Blair was not lying over Iraq but was able to make a case for war after having convinced himself that the messianic dream of imposing 'regime change' across the Middle East was a more likely outcome than the removal of Saddam creating sectarian conflicts.

Hague is not lying either for both he and Blair are interested in what they consider the 'higher truth' . In Blair's case a project of global democratic revolution. In Hague's case it is to roll back Iranian influence by decisive interventions to get rid of dictators.

That means not telling the public or explaining what those strategic ambitions and interests are, while being prepared to commit Britain to materially supporting the Sunni insurgents andbeing willing to risk putting them into the hands of violent jihadists.

There is no benefit to Hague in trying to explain such complexities to the British public and confusing them with that when a simplistic narrative that we are supporting the good rebel forces against evil Assad without commiting ground troops is the official line.

The problem is that William Hague is not William Pitt and this is just not the eighteenth century. In mass democracies the line has to be promoted, through what it termed 'Public Diplomacy', that our interests are enlightened and good and Assad's and Iran's are evil.

The problem is that it is more complicated than that, Saudi Arabia is pouring arms and cash into Syria to support the insurgents and started to do so from the outset. That was before Hizbollah started to enter the sectarian war on Assad's side.

Britain and the US are overdependent upon Saudi oil still while desperately trying to diversify their oil supplies with Chinese competition strong now in the Middle East as regards the divvying up of the oil concessions ( especially in Iraq ).

Ironically, the war in Iraq actually promoted that. The only way the US and UK could withdraw from Iraq was to allow the Shia to defeat and crush the Sunni insurgents. The price of that has been an authoritarian semi-democracy under Maliki that favours Iran and China.

One opponent who claimed Blair was wrong but Hague is right claimed,
Blair not only has the blood of Iraq on his hands, but he has the blood of the Syrian people too, because his actions mean intervention against any future tyrant is incredibly difficult, regardless of how brutal that dictator is acting. One need only look at Assad's actions to know that.
Well, Blair had the full backing of the Conservative Party in invading Iraq. Hague supported the invasion of Iraq wholeheartedly despite the fact it was a bad idea. The reason was quite simply that it made sense to those who thought it would bring about strategic benefits.

This is precisely why it needs to be pointed out that the strategy of arming sunni insurgents with fundamentalist ideas and, quite possibly, Al Qaida, simply in order to thwart the threat od Shia dominance is a consequence of Iraq.
William Hague is just trying to do the best thing for the Syrian people themselves, which is incredibly hard with the full propaganda forces of Assad, and Russia, and Iran fighting for their own selfish self interests, against him and the Syrian people
There is no such thing as 'the Syrian people'. The country was an artificial nation state since it was carved out of the Ottoman Empire after it collapsed under the impact of the Great War. It is fragmenting into sectarian violence that most Syrians did not want. 
Hague is prepared to increase the scale of the violence by arming the Sunni insurgents. All humanitarian aid agencies on the ground in Syria object to that but like a man possessed Hague presses on and on with this course regardless.

If you were so concerned with the condition of Syrian civilians instead of using political cant phrases such as 'the Syrian people' beloved of demagogues, populists, spin doctors and dictators, then it might be realised that Hague's foreign policy is not about them.