“The Caliph”, a CIA blockbuster between fiction and reality

It is a well-defined product. At the end of a vast special operation in which an unallowable weapon was used, it is necessary to stage the death of the person who wielded it. This is the best way to erase the traces in public opinion. After Bin Laden’s death, this is al-Baghdadi’s death.

It was like watching a movie,” President Trump said after witnessing the elimination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Caliph, Daesh’s leader, transmitted in the White House Situation Room. It was there that in 2011 President Obama witnessed the elimination of the then enemy number one, Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda.

The same staging: the US secret services had long since located the enemy; he was not captured but eliminated: Bin Laden was killed, al-Baghdadi committed suicide or was “suicided”; the body disappeared: that of Bin Laden buried in the sea, the remains of al Baghdadi disintegrated by his explosive belt were also dispersed at sea.

The same company that produced the film: the Intelligence Community, made up of 17 federal organizations. In addition to the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) there is the DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency), but each sector of the Armed Forces, as well as the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, has its own secret service.

For military actions, the Intelligence Community uses the Command of Special Forces, deployed in at least 75 countries, whose official mission includes, in addition to the “direct action to eliminate or capture enemies”, the “non-conventional war conducted by external forces, trained and organized by the Command”.

This is exactly what took place in Syria in 2011, the same year that the US and NATO wars demolished Libya. This is demonstrated by documented evidence, already published. For example:

- In March 2013, the New York Times published a detailed survey on the CIA network through which rivers of arms for Islamist militants trained by the US Special Forces Command arrive in Turkey and Jordan, with funding from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies [1].

- In May 2013, a month after founding Daesh, al-Baghdadi met with a delegation from the United States Senate in Syria headed by John McCain, as revealed in photographic documentation [2].

- In May 2015, Judicial Watch revealed a document by General Michael Flynn, dated August 12, 2012, in which it was stated that there was “the possibility of establishing a Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and[that] this is exactly what the Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey that support the opposition want” [3].

- In July 2016, Wikileaks revealed a 2012 email from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which she wrote that, given the Iran-Syria relationship, “the overthrow of Assad would be an immense benefit for Israel, reducing its fear of losing the nuclear monopoly” [4].

This explains why, although the US and its allies are launching the military campaign against Daesh in 2014, Daesh’s forces can advance undisturbed in open spaces with long columns of armed vehicles.

The Russian military intervention in 2015, in support of the Damascus forces, reversed the fate of the conflict. Moscow’s strategic objective is to prevent the demolition of the Syrian state, which would cause chaos as in Libya, exploitable by the USA and NATO to attack Iran and surround Russia.

The United States, short-circuited, continues to play the card of Syria’s fragmentation, supporting the Kurdish independence fighters, and then abandoning them in order not to lose Turkey, NATO’s outpost in the region.

Against such a backdrop, it is understandable why al-Baghdadi, like Bin Laden (formerly a US ally against Russia in the Afghan war, then in Bosnia and Herzegovina), could not be captured for public trial, but had to physically disappear to make evidence of his real role in the US strategy disappear. That’s why Trump loved the movie so much and it ended well.

[1] « Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A. », par C. J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, March 14, 2013. “Billions of dollars’ worth of arms against Syria”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 18 July 2017.

[2] “John McCain, Conductor of the “Arab Spring” and the Caliph”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 18 August 2014. “John McCain admitted he is regular contact with Islamic State”, Voltaire Network, 20 November 2014.

[3] Report of the Military Intelligence Agency to the various departments of the Obama administration on jihadists in Syria, August 12, 2012.

[4] « New Iran and Syria », Hillary Clinton, December 31, 2012, Wikileaks.

When Israel’s military begins to attack, so does its army of online trolls

excerpt from Mondoweiss

Act.IL is a global pro-Israel campaign at least partially funded by the country’s government.

The project includes an app that enables users to earn points and prizes for promoting the state of Israel online, by attacking BDS and other pro-Palestinian movements.

At the time the developers of the app were talking about how they were working with the Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security service] and, you know, Israeli defense officials to identify targets online and to have a sort of duty to craft responses. But they’ve kind of backtracked on that.

But basically, it’s an app which anyone in the world can download onto their phone and it identifies targets online or they call them “missions” in which pro-Israel individuals can can very easily participate in online discourse. So, it will identify a tweet for them to read, or it will identify a Facebook comment on a news article that they can like.

Essentially, it’s a way of coordinating online behavior in a way that looks organic, but is actually quite choreographed by this sort of centralized body with support from the Israeli government. And yet the intention of it is to very suddenly shape online discourse in a way that’s pro-Israel.

And a lot of them are meant to deflect from the coverage of the fact that it was Israel’s targeted killings of the Islamic Jihad officials which knowingly triggered this latest round of violence. And so a lot of the articles are trying to combat that by saying, you know, there’s rockets all the time, Israel didn’t strike first.

There’s also a bunch of missions where they’re sharing Facebook videos, for example, of rocket fire in Israel to say, you know, this is what life is like under terrorism from Gaza, that kind of thing.

Some of the missions are kind of offensive. One of them is sharing a video of a man in Israel and how his dog is being harmed emotionally by the rocket fire, so promoting the welfare of dogs in Israel. Meanwhile, I think at this point in time about 36 Palestinians have been killed.

Four of them are children. And so [the missions are about] avoiding any questions of Palestinian casualties and trying to put all of the blame on Gaza. And so those are those are the kinds of missions that are that are flooding the app at this moment.

And there were many missions that were targeting specific school board trustees and sending emails to the individuals on the curriculum committee. So, when it comes to those specific instances, I think the app can be quite powerful.

The amount of resources that they put into these kinds of campaigns, what does it suggest? Well, I don’t think it necessarily suggests that [they believe BDS is a real threat], but rather that they are not willing to allow any pro Palestinian sentiment to become accepted within today’s discourse. My impression is that is all less about the actual threat of BDS and more about the absolute intolerance towards any thing positive about the Palestinians.

Bolivia coup led by Christian fascist with foreign support

The squalid US-backed fanatics of the Bolivian right ransack the house of the country’s elected president, Evo Morales. And the havoc is just beginning. Let no one call them “pro-democracy.”

By Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton

Excerpt

Donald Trump White House enthusiastically praised the coup, trumpeting it as a “significant moment for democracy,” and a “strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua.”

Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho is a far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the Santa Cruz region, where the US has encouraged separatism. He has courted support from Colombia, Brazil, and the Venezuelan opposition.

The Organization of American States, a pro-US organization founded by Washington during the Cold War as an alliance of right-wing anti-communist countries in Latin America, helped rubber stamp the Bolivian coup.

It called for new elections, claiming there were numerous irregularities in the October 20 vote, without citing any evidence. Then the OAS remained silent as Morales was overthrown by his military and his party’s officials were attacked and violently forced to resign.

The day after, the Donald Trump White House enthusiastically praised the coup, trumpeting it as a “significant moment for democracy,” and a “strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua.”

Since Morales entered office in 2006, the UJC has campaigned to separate from a country its members believed had been overtaken by a Satanic Indigenous mass. 

The UJC is the Bolivian equivalent of Spain’s Falange, India’s Hindu supremacist RSS, and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov battalion. Its symbol is a green cross that bears strong similarities to logos of fascist movements across the West.

And its members are known to launch into Nazi-style sieg heil salutes.

 

Founder of White Helmet’s Death: Wife’s Israel Connection

The deep state that props up puppets and pawns (only to kill them once they have been sufficiently used) with its vast resources through int’l drug trade, int’l business profits and the creation of fiat money through the fed. res. of the United States has more reasons for motive than can be easily counted: Le Mesurier had served their purpose and thus was now expendable.

Working for British intelligence MI6, pushed by his Israeli wife and then slipped on a banana skin , high on drugs, fell off the balcony , and landed in a path of a moving train. lol

The Syrian Civil Defense Force (aka the White Helmets) is funded in part by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Included here are two links showing contracts awarded by USAID to Chemonics International Inc. (DBA Chemonics).

USAID SAMS – CIA NGO Arm

The first award was in the sum of $111.2 million and has a Period of Performance (POP) from January 2013 to June 2017. It states that the purpose of the award will be to use the funds for managing a “quick-response mechanism supporting activities that pursue a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria.”

The second was in the sum of $57.4 million and has a POP from August 2015 to August 2020. This award was designated to be used in the “Syria Regional Program II” which is a part of the Support Which Implements Fast Transitions IV (SWIFT IV) program.

The Russian and Syrian governments have long seen the White Helmets ‘volunteer rescue group’, active in Syria, as dangerous terrorists. James Le Mesurier, who helped start the group, has now been found dead in Istanbul.

His death follows just days after the Russian Foreign Ministry, in a series of tweets on November 8, wrote that Le Mesurier had “connections to terrorist groups.” Moscow said that the Syrian Civil Defense, the formal name of the White Helmets, assisted the “most dangerous terrorist groups” in Syria.

James Le Mesurier was a former British army officer. He was founder of the not-for-profit Mayday Rescue group, which, according to its website, “builds emergency response capacity in communities at risk of conflict and natural disaster.”

The group began operations in 2014, and opened its Istanbul office in 2015 to support its most prominent rescue project, the Syrian White Helmets.

Le Mesurier has received personal awards in the UK for his work with the White Helmets, a former failed nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and winner of the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.

Haley condemns Russia, Iran after chemical attack in Syria

The April 4th, 2017 incident at Khan Sheikhoun has provoked an emotional response around the world after images began to emerge showing civilian adults and children apparently suffering from the effects of chemical weapons. President Donald Trump has stated that the attack has totally changed his views towards the Syrian civil war, and may alter his intended strategy there.

Although Western media immediately accused Bashar al-Assad of participating in a gas attack against his own people, the evidence indicates that the intended target was not immediately in a civilian area and was in fact a location where Syrian White Helmets were on the scene with rebel groups at what observers have claimed was a storage facility for conventional and chemical munitions.

Additionally, evidence indicates that rebel groups may have had prior knowledge of the attack and knew that there was a risk of chemical weapons being unleashed.

The attack also came in the aftermath of a trip by Senator John McCain to meet with groups known to associate with radical jihadist factions in Syria, at a time when the United States government has been engulfed in a power struggle between different political factions who disagree strongly over what should be appropriate policy in regards to the Syrian civil war.

Besides its project in Syria, Mayday Rescue also organized emergency response teams in Somalia and Lebanon.

The volunteers working as part of the White Helmets are acknowledged to have saved thousands of lives during the eight-year Syrian civil war, and the group maintains that it is neutral, because it provides assistance to both sides in the conflict.

However, the Syrian and Russian governments have long viewed the group as promoting Western propaganda and supporting anti-Assad insurgents.

Its first responders often risk death from “double tap” bombing raids by Syrian government forces, who launch secondary bombing attacks on the volunteers once they head into bombed buildings to search for survivors in the rubble.

Roger Waters denounces “fake” White Helmets

Evo Morales: ‘Israel is a ‘Terrorist State’

Palestinians see in Bolivia, although geopolitically removed from the Middle East, a true friend, and a trusted ally. On the other hand, the resignation of Morales is welcomed news in Tel Aviv.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales Decries ‘Genocidal’ Israel, Rejects US Embassy Move to Jerusalem

November 13, 2019

On November 10 Bolivian President Evo Morales, announced his resignation from office following what was described by his deputy, Álvaro García Linera, as a military coup.

Morales’ 14 years in office have been seen by many as a triumph for the indigenous people of Bolivia; in fact, for indigenous peoples everywhere.

Along with late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and late Cuban President Fidel Castro, among other socialist or socialist-leaning South American leaders, Morales represented the hope of an entire generation.

All of this came crashing down following the general election in the country on October 20. Morales’ opponents, who have traditionally received strong backing from Washington, accused the president’s camp of rigging the elections.

Following the announcement of the results which gave Morales a 10% point lead over his rival, an orchestrated campaign was launched by the opposition to overthrow the president.

READ: Bolivia UN envoy says to Israel, ‘You kill children and women’

Well-publicized opposition protests resulted in national upheaval, political turmoil, and an army ultimatum to Morales. Fearing further violence and chaos in the country, the president announced his resignation.

It would be safe to argue that this is not the end of Bolivia’s socialism or the people’s-led drive for justice and equality. Bolivia’s grassroots movement is strong and rooted not just in Bolivia itself, but throughout the region and beyond.

This is one of the reasons why Palestinians of all backgrounds are watching the developments in Bolivia with much anxiety and concern.

Palestinians see in Bolivia, although geopolitically removed from the Middle East, a true friend, and a trusted ally. On the other hand, the resignation of Morales is welcomed news in Tel Aviv.

Highlighted below are seven instances where Bolivia, under Morales, showed the type of solidarity with the Palestinian people that was, at times, unparalleled anywhere else in the world:

  1. Cutting Ties with Israel:

Even before Bolivia officially recognized Palestine, on January 14, 2009, it cut ties with Israel. Later that same day, Venezuela followed suit. The Bolivian decision was made in response to the destructive Israeli war on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead. At the time, Morales called for the stripping of the Israeli President Shimon Peres, of his Nobel Peace Prize due to his support of the Israeli crimes in the besieged Gaza Strip.

  1. Recognizing Palestine: 

On December 22, Morales followed his decision of severing ties with Israel with officially recognizing the State of Palestine as an independent and sovereign State. The Bolivian move was clearly part of a coordinated South American effort to show greater solidarity with the Palestinian people, as it came at the heels of a similar decision made by Brazil and Argentina.

  1. Supporting Palestine at the United Nations: 

At his September 21, 2011 UN General Assembly speech in New York, President Morales said, “not only does Bolivia support the Palestinian recognition by the United Nations, our position is to welcome the Palestinians to the United Nations”. Morales also denounced Israel for “bombing, attacking, killing and taking land”, from the indigenous Palestinian people. Bolivia’s support of Palestine at the United Nations remained strong and unfaltering for at least the last decade.

  1. Declaring Israel a terrorist state: 

On July 30, 2014, President Morales went further by declaring Israel a “terrorist state”, following the latter’s most recent war on the Gaza enclave. Morales’ statement was not mere rhetoric as it was coupled with concrete steps to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against occupied and besieged Palestinians. On that day, Bolivia also classified Israel as a “group 3” country, which means that any Israeli wanting to visit Bolivia needed to obtain a visa that required the approval of the National Migration Administration.

  1. Prioritizing Palestine: 

When Bolivia assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in June 2017, it declared Palestine a top priority on its political agenda. “Our priorities: conflict in the Middle East of 50 years of the occupation of Palestine, and non-proliferation of chemical and nuclear weapons,” President Morales tweeted at the time.

  1. Naming Palestinian martyrs: 

On May 15, 2018, the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations registered one of the most symbolic, yet emotive gestures of solidarity towards Palestine that was ever displayed at international institutions. Sacha Llorenti started his talk at a UN emergency session by naming all 61 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza’s Great March of Return. The Palestinian victims were all killed in non-violent popular protests that demanded an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza.

  1. Cooperating with Palestine: 

On June 22, 2019, Bolivia sealed its solidarity with the Palestinian people with the signing of the development cooperation agreement between the two countries. Although free trade and cooperation between both economies is not an easy task, if at all possible, considering that Palestine is under total Israeli control, the agreement was a natural and organic evolution of the political support and the grassroots solidarity with Palestine that has been in the making for many years.

It would be untenable to discount the power of the indigenous movement of Bolivia despite Morales’ abrupt resignation. It would be equally wrong to conclude that the absence of Morales would automatically sever the strong rapport predicated on people’s solidarity and common struggle between Palestine and Bolivia.

Gaza Terrorist Fighter Assassinated by Zionist Entity

These are the people fighting to get their land back from the terrorist children of the terrorist Irgun. Israel is nothing but the legitimization of Zionist terrorism which has continued unabated for over 70 years.

The Occupation of Palestine. The Zionists stole their homes and land.

“We have to wait and see if “strongman” Netanyahu follows the killing of Bahaa Abu Al-Ata with another major offensive. If Hamas doesn’t respond, it will lose face amongst the Palestinians. If it does, a major military attack with devastating potential is the possible outcome. Netanyahu, it seems, is ready to do anything to boost his popularity and maintain his grip on power in Israel.”

The 42-year-old was killed in an Israeli air raid on his home in Gaza that also killed his wife.

Bahaa Abu al-Ata, a commander of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, has been assassinated in an Israeli air raid targeting his home in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The attack in the early hours of Tuesday also killed the 42-year-old’s wife. Medics and local sources told Al Jazeera that the raid in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighbourhood also wounded two of his children who are receiving medical treatment in the city’s al-Shifa hospital.

Later on Tuesday, large crowds gathered outside Gaza’s main hospital to participate in Abu al-Ata’s funeral procession.

During the 2014 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, Abu al-Ata had survived an assassination attempt when he was a deputy commander to Daniel Mansour, commander of al-Quds Brigades in northern Gaza, the sources said.

Overall, more than 2,250 Palestinians, including nearly 1,500 civilians, were killed and a further 11,000 were wounded in the July-August 2014 war, according to Palestinian and United Nations estimates. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians died.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that Abu al-Ata was “in the midst of plotting additional attacks these very days”, without elaborating.

“He was a ticking bomb,” he added.

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad promised to avenge Abu al-Ata’s killing. A barrage of rockets was fired towards Israel after his assassination was confirmed.

“Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity,” the group said, referring to Israel.

According to political analyst Zulfiqar Swirgo, the assassination operation was not a new policy but an urgent necessity to rescue the Israeli Prime Minister. “The developments and escalations might put Netanyahu in trouble, but this depends on the level of response from the Palestinians, Iranians and Syrians. He has become a dangerous mafia thug.”

VETERAN’S DAY: Watching My Students Turn into Soldiers of Empire

A new generation of West Pointers joins America’s hopeless wars

 

I imagined a life of fancy uniforms; tough masculine training; and maybe, at worst, some photo opportunities during a safe, “peace-keeping” deployment in a place like Kosovo.
Sure, the U.S. was then quietly starving hundreds of thousands of children with a crippling sanctions regime against autocrat Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, occasionally lobbing cruise missiles at “terrorist” encampments here or there, and garrisoning much of the globe

 

November 11, 2019

Patches, pins, medals, and badges are the visible signs of an exclusive military culture, a silent language by which soldiers and officers judge each other’s experiences, accomplishments, and general worth.

In July 2001, when I first walked through the gate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at the ripe young age of 17, the “combat patch” on one’s right shoulder — evidence of a deployment with a specific unit — had more resonance than colorful medals like Ranger badges reflecting specific skills.

Back then, before the 9/11 attacks ushered in a series of revenge wars “on terror,” the vast majority of officers stationed at West Point didn’t boast a right shoulder patch.

Those who did were mostly veterans of modest combat in the first Gulf War of 1990-1991.

Nonetheless, even those officers were regarded by the likes of me as gods. After all, they’d seen “the elephant.”

We young cadets arrived then with far different expectations about Army life and our futures, ones that would prove incompatible with the realities of military service in a post-9/11 world.

When my mother — as was mandatory for a 17-year-old — put her signature on my future Army career, I imagined a life of fancy uniforms; tough masculine training; and maybe, at worst, some photo opportunities during a safe, “peace-keeping” deployment in a place like Kosovo.

Sure, the U.S. was then quietly starving hundreds of thousands of children with a crippling sanctions regime against autocrat Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, occasionally lobbing cruise missiles at “terrorist” encampments here or there, and garrisoning much of the globe.

Still, the life of a conventional Army officer in the late 1990s did fit pretty closely with my high-school fantasies.

You won’t be surprised to learn, however, that the world of future officers at the Academy irreparably changed when those towers collapsed in my home town of New York.

By the following May, it wasn’t uncommon to overhear senior cadets on the phone with girlfriends or fiancées explaining that they were heading for war upon graduation. 

As a plebe (freshman), I still had years ahead in my West Point journey during which our world changed even more. Older cadets I’d known would soon be part of the invasion of Afghanistan.

Drinking excessively at a New York Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day in 2003, I watched in wonder as, on TV, U.S. bombs and missiles rained down on Iraq as part of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s promised “shock-and-awe“ campaign. 

The system for endless war and debt.

Soon enough, the names of former cadets I knew well were being announced over the mess hall loudspeaker at breakfast. They’d been killed in Afghanistan or, more commonly, in Iraq.

My greatest fear then, I’m embarrassed to admit, was that I’d miss the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It wasn’t long after my May 28, 2005, graduation that I’d serve in Baghdad. Later, I would be sent to Kandahar, Afghanistan. I buried eight young men under my direct command.

Five died in combat; three took their own lives. After surviving the worst of it with my body (though not my mind) intact, I was offered a teaching position back at my alma mater. During my few years in the history department at West Point, I taught some 300 or more cadets. It was the best job I ever had.

I think about them often, the ones I’m still in touch with and the majority whom I’ll never hear from or of again. Many graduated last year and are already out there carrying water for empire. The last batch will enter the regular Army next May.

Recently, my mother asked me what I thought my former students were now doing or would be doing after graduation. I was taken aback and didn’t quite know how to answer. 

Wasting their time and their lives was, I suppose, what I wanted to say. But a more serious analysis, based on a survey of U.S. Army missions in 2019 and bolstered by my communications with peers still in the service, leaves me with an even more disturbing answer.

A new generation of West Point educated officers, graduating a decade and a half after me, faces potential tours of duty in… hmm, Afghanistan, Iraq, or other countries involved in the never-ending American war on terror, missions that will not make this country any safer or lead to “victory” of any sort, no matter how defined.

New Generation of Cadets Serving the Empire Abroad

West Point seniors (“first-class cadets”) choose their military specialties and their first duty-station locations in a manner reminiscent of the National Football League draft.

This is unique to Academy grads and differs markedly from the more limited choices and options available to the 80 percent of officers commissioned through the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) or Officer Candidate School (OCS).

Throughout the 47-month academy experience, West Pointers are ranked based on a combination of academic grades, physical fitness scores, and military-training evaluations. Then, on a booze-fueled, epic night, the cadets choose jobs in their assigned order of merit.

Highly ranked seniors get to pick what are considered the most desirable jobs and duty locations (helicopter pilot, Hawaii). Bottom-feeding cadets choose from the remaining scraps (field artillery, Fort Sill, Oklahoma).

In truth, though, it matters remarkably little which stateside or overseas base one first reports to. Within a year or two, most young lieutenants in today’s Army will serve in any number of diverse “contingency” deployments overseas. Some will indeed be in America’s mostly unsanctioned wars abroad, while others will straddle the line between combat and training in, say, “advise-and-assist” missions in Africa.

Now, here’s the rub: given the range of missions that my former students are sure to participate in, I can’t help but feel frustration.

After all, it should be clear 18 years after the 9/11 attacks that almost none of those missions have a chance in hell of succeeding.

Worse yet, the killing my beloved students might take part in (and the possibility of them being maimed or dying) won’t make America any safer or better. They are, in other words, doomed to repeat my own unfulfilling, damaging journey — in some cases, on the very same ground in Iraq and Afghanistan where I fought.

Consider just a quick survey of some of the possible missions that await them. Some will head for Iraq — my first and formative war — though it’s unclear just what they’ll be expected to do there.

ISIS has been attritted to a point where indigenous security forces could assumedly handle the ongoing low-intensity fight, though they will undoubtedly assist in that effort.

What they can’t do is reform a corrupt, oppressive Shia-chauvinist sectarian government in Baghdad that guns down its own protesting people, repeating the very mistakes that fueled the rise of the Islamic State in the first place.

Oh, and the Iraqi government, and a huge chunk of Iraqis as well, don’t wantany more American troops in their country. But when has national sovereignty or popular demand stopped Washington before?

Others are sure to join the thousands of servicemen still in Afghanistan in the 19th year of America’s longest ever war — and that’s even if you don’t count our first Afghan War (1979-1989) in the mix.

And keep in mind that most of the cadets-turned-officers I taught were born in 1998 or thereafter and so were all of three years old or younger when the Twin Towers crumbled.

The first of our wars to come from that nightmare has always been unwinnable. All the Afghan metrics — the U.S. military’s own “measures for success” — continue to trend badly, worse than ever in fact. The futility of the entire endeavor borders on the absurd.

It makes me sad to think that my former officemate and fellow West Point history instructor, Mark, is once again over there. Along with just about every serving officer I’ve known, he would laugh if asked whether he could foresee –or even define – “victory” in that country.

Take my word for it, after 18-plus years, whatever idealism might once have been in the Army has almost completely evaporated.

Resignation is what remains among most of the officer corps. As for me, I’ll be left hoping against hope that someone I know or taught isn’t the last to die in that never-ending war from hell.

My former cadets who ended up in armor (tanks and reconnaissance) or ventured into the Special Forces might now find themselves in Syria — the war President Donald Trump “ended” by withdrawing American troops from that country, until, of course, almost as many of them were more or less instantly sent back in.

Some of the armor officers among my students might even have the pleasure of indefinitely guarding that country’s oil fields, which — if the U.S. takes some of that liquid gold for itself — might just violate international law. But hey, what else is new?

Still more — mostly intelligence officers, logisticians, and special operators — can expect to deploy to any one of the dozen or so West African or Horn of Africa countries that the U.S. military now calls home.

In the name of “advising and assisting” the local security forces of often autocratic African regimes, American troops still occasionally, if quietly, die in “non-combat” missions in places like Niger or Somalia.

Afghan interpreter, left, and U.S. solider, on a mountain ridge near Forward Operation Base Lane, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, Feb. 21, 2009. (DoD/Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini)

None of these combat operations have been approved, or even meaningfully debated, by Congress. But in the America of 2019 that doesn’t qualify as a problem. There are, however, problems of a more strategic variety.

After all, it’s demonstrably clear that, since the founding of the U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2008, violence on the continent has only increased, while Islamist terror and insurgent groups have proliferated in an exponential fashion.

To be fair, though, such counterproductivity has been the name of the game in the “war on terror” since it began.

Another group of new academy graduates will spend up to a year in Poland, Romania, or the Baltic states of Eastern Europe. There, they’ll ostensibly train the paltry armies of those relatively new NATO countries — added to the alliance in foolish violation of repeated American promises not to expand eastward as the Cold War ended.

In reality, though, they’ll be serving as provocative “signals” to a supposedly expansionist Russia. With the Russian threat wildly exaggerated, just as it was in the Cold War era, the very presence of my Baltic-based former cadets will only heighten tensions between the two over-armed nuclear heavyweights. Such military missions are too big not to be provocative, but too small to survive a real (if essentially unimaginable) war.

The intelligence officers among my cadets might, on the other hand, get the “honor” of helping the Saudi Air Force through intelligence-sharing to doom some Yemeni targets — often civilian — to oblivion thanks to U.S. manufactured munitions. In other words, these young officers could be made complicit in what’s already the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.

Other recent cadets of mine might even have the ignominious distinction of being part of military convoys driving along interstate highways to America’s southern border to emplace what Trump has termed “beautiful“ barbed wire there, while helping detain refugees of wars and disorder that Washington often helped to fuel.

Yet other graduates may already have found themselves in the barren deserts of Saudi Arabia, since Trump has dispatched 3,000 U.S. troops to that country in recent months.

There, those young officers can expect to go full mercenary, since the president defended his deployment of those troops (plus two jet fighter squadrons and two batteries of Patriot missiles) by noting that the Saudis would “pay” for “our help.”

Setting aside for the moment the fact that basing American troops near the Islamic holy cities of the Arabian Peninsula didn’t exactly end well the last time around – you undoubtedly remember a guy named bin Laden who protested that deployment so violently – the latest troop buildup in Saudi Arabia portends a disastrous future war with Iran.

None of these potential tasks awaiting my former students is even remotely linked to the oath (to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”) that newly commissioned officers swear on day one.

They are instead all unconstitutional, ill-advised distractions that benefit mainly an entrenched national security state and the arms-makers that go with them.

The tragedy is that a few of my beloved cadets with whom I once played touch football, who babysat my children, who shed tears of anxiety and fear during private lunches in my office might well sustain injuries that will last a lifetime or die in one of this country’s endless hegemonic wars.

Sgt. John Hoxie, watches 82nd Airborne Division’s All American Week celebration May 18, 2009. Hoxie returned to Fort Bragg for the first time since he was injured during a 2007 deployment to Iraq. (The U.S. Army/Flickr)

A Nightmare Come True

This May, the last of the freshman cadets I once taught will graduate from the Academy. Commissioned that same afternoon as second lieutenants in the Army, they will head off to “serve” their country (and its imperial ambitions) across the wide expanse of the continental United States and a broader world peppered with American military bases.

Given my own tortured path of dissent while in that military (and my relief on leaving it), knowing where they’re heading leaves me with a feeling of melancholy.

In a sense, it represents the severing of my last tenuous connection with the institutions to which I dedicated my adult life.

Though I was already skeptical and antiwar, I still imagined that teaching those cadets an alternative, more progressive version of our history would represent a last service to an Army I once unconditionally loved.

My romantic hope was that I’d help develop future officers imbued with critical thinking and with the integrity to oppose unjust wars.

It was a fantasy that helped me get up each morning, don a uniform, and do my job with competence and enthusiasm.

Nevertheless, as my last semester as an assistant professor of history wound down, I felt a growing sense of dread.

Partly it was the realization that I’d soon return to the decidedly unstimulating “real Army,” but it was more than that, too. I loved academia and “my” students, yet I also knew that I couldn’t save them.

I knew that they were indeed doomed to take the same path I did.

My last day in front of a class, I skipped the planned lesson and leveled with the young men and women seated before me. We discussed my own once bright, now troubled career and my struggles with my emotional health.

We talked about the complexities, horror, and macabre humor of combat and they asked me blunt questions about what they could expect in their future as graduates.

Then, in my last few minutes as a teacher, I broke down. I hadn’t planned this, nor could I control it.

My greatest fear, I said, was that their budding young lives might closely track my own journey of disillusionment, emotional trauma, divorce, and moral injury. The thought that they would soon serve in the same pointless, horrifying wars, I told them, made me “want to puke in a trash bin.”

The clock struck 1600 (4:00 pm), class time was up, yet not a single one of those stunned cadets — unsure undoubtedly of what to make of a superior officer’s streaming tears — moved for the door. I assured them that it was okay to leave, hugged each of them as they finally exited, and soon found myself disconcertingly alone. So, I erased my chalkboards and also left.

Three years have passed. About 130 students of mine graduated in May. My last group will pin on the gold bars of brand-new army officers in late May 2020. I’m still in touch with several former cadets and, long after I did so, students of mine are now driving down the dusty lanes of Iraq or tramping the narrow footpaths of Afghanistan.

My nightmare has come true.

“Israel’s” new trick to steal more Palestinian tourism and heritage

“The Israeli cable car project is an obscene violation of the cultural, historical, spiritual, geographic & demographic character of Jerusalem,” Ashrawi said via Twitter.

Palestinians in Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighborhood at the foot of the Old City, said it would encourage tourists to bypass them on the way to holy sites. “(It) will give the impression that it is a Jewish city and remove the Palestinian heritage from it,” Silwan resident Khaled Al-Zeer said, adding that “the foundations of the project will be built on our land”.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli plan to run a cable car over Jerusalem to the walls of the Old City has angered Palestinians who say it would erase their heritage.

The proposed cable car would shuttle some 3,000 tourists and worshipers per hour from Jerusalem’s western part to the Palestinian eastern Old City in a four-minute ride. The plan moved forward this week when a special committee headed by Israel’s finance minister gave it a green light.

A crucial component to challenging Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people is examining the harmful role of tourism in Israel. Palestinians, wherever they are, are denied the freedom to move freely to and within their homeland by Israel.

At the same time, Israel cultivates a tourism industry that quite literally erases Palestinians from the landscape and history, appropriates Palestinian culture and cuisine, and whitewashes the reality of Israel’s state violence.

A World Bank report has warned that the crisis-plagued Palestinian economy is being stripped of billions of dollars each year by Israeli plundering in Palestinian territory of key natural resources.

Bethlehem Celebrates Another Occupied Christmas

Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is surrounded by the eight-metre high concrete Separation Wall. This is just one of a number of restrictions on movement imposed by the occupation authorities against Palestinians in the West Bank and tourists wishing to visit the area.

Israel suspended ties with the UN agency for adopting a resolution said to deny Jewish control to the region’s holy sites:

UNESCO  criticized actions taken by Israel, which it refers to as the “occupying Power,” around the holy sites, including restriction of UNESCO experts’ access to sites and actions by Israeli forces against Muslim worshipers. Israel has occupied the West Bank since the war of 1967 and annexed East Jerusalem. This move, however, has not been recognized under international law.

Israel’s planned Jerusalem cable car

“It is inconceivable that what hasn’t been excavated in 2000 years should be dug into now to implement a project in a moment of distraction that will serve as a badge of shame,” Ben-Dov wrote.

Architect’s plans for a Jerusalem cable car showing pylons running parallel to the Old City Walls. (Part of plans submitted to the National Planning Council).

Slamming what he called the planners’ total disregard for the property rights of those likely to be harmed by the cable car, the archaeologist, who was also responsible for excavating the Western Wall tunnels, claimed that construction of the stations would be in “crude violation” of the Antiquities Law, which mandated preservation of excavated sites.

 

Director of HRW deported for denying legal Palestine land belongs to Israel

Israel suspended ties with the UN agency for adopting a resolution said to deny Jewish ties to the Muslim’s holy sites.

Israel’s highest court on Tuesday upheld the deportation of Omar Shakir, a US Citizen and local director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel.

The court’s ruling read that “Not only was there [from Shakir] systematic support for BDS which continued after he began his work for the organization [HRW], his conduct surrounding FIFA, as well as his repeated calls for boycotting Israeli illegal assets in the region, is based on a sweeping denial of the legitimacy of Israeli illegal communities in Judea and Samaria [internationally recognized Palestine land.]”

Shakir is being removed under a 2017 law allowing the government to block entry to supporters of Israel boycott movements such as boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Israel used the law in August to block US Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from conducting a visit to Palestine and Jerusalem.

BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

This will be the first time the law has been used to deport someone working in the country legally. Shakir told the Jerusalem Post that the court’s interpretation of the law would “have ramifications not only for human rights advocacy and for human rights groups,” but any other person who needs to be posted in Israel.

HRW has called the government’s attempts to deport Shakir a clear attempt by the country to suppress criticism. While Shakir has claimed to have never called for any form of boycott of Israel while at HRW, the organization has opposed Israeli settlements in the West Bank and has called for companies to stop supporting them.

The court’s ruling read that “Not only was there [from Shakir] systematic support for BDS which continued after he began his work for the organization [HRW], his conduct surrounding FIFA, as well as his repeated calls for boycotting Israeli assets in the region, is based on a sweeping denial of the legitimacy of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria [legal Palestine land].

Shakir announced the verdict on Twitter, saying that Israel would join the “ranks of Iran, N Korea & Egypt in blocking access for @hrw official.” If the government decides to carry out its efforts, the US citizen will have 20 days to leave Israel and the Palestinian territories or else face deportation.

Kushner: ‘Israel is not the cause of all the suffering of the Palestinian people’

“If you want to go and invest in the West Bank or Gaza,” Kushner insisted, “the issue that’s holding you back is the fear of terrorism and that your investment could be destroyed.”

Well, it could. Remember the greenhouses in Gaza, donated by Germany, bombed by the Israelis? Countries develop their economies best not with foreign investments, but with investments by their own people. And the Palestinians are not allowed to do that. Remember the Wanted 18, the dairy cows who were deemed a threat to Israel’s national security?

In the 1980s, as part of a Palestinian boycott of Israeli taxation and commodities, residents of Beit Sahour decided to form a collective and stop purchasing milk from Israeli companies, in a quest for greater self-sufficiency. They purchased cows from a sympathetic kibbutznik and set about teaching themselves how to care for the animals and milk them—even sending a member to the United States to learn dairy farming. The farm was a success, with strong local demand for “Intifada milk.”  One day an Israeli soldier came to the farm, took photos of the cows, and told the Palestinians they weren’t allowed to have the cows and gave them 24 hours to shut it down. He said the cows were a threat to Israel’s national security.

All of the irrigation wells used by farmers near the Gaza border have collapsed due to Israel taking the underground water sources through their deep wells. The Palestinians in Gaza are not allowed to dig wells more than 100 metres deep.

In September 2011, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said there were 522 roadblocks and checkpoints obstructing Palestinian movement in the West Bank, up from 503 in July 2010. That number does not include the temporary checkpoints known as “flying checkpoints,” of which there were 495 on average per month in the West Bank in 2011, up from 351 on average per month in the previous two years. ”

The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor releases a report documenting Israel’s destruction of EU-funded projects in Palestine.

“Palestinians need help to rebuild, but as soon as they start to get back on their feet, Israel knocks them back down.” Israel’s master plan is to keep them from moving forward.

Gaza Strip A surge in Israel’s destruction of EU-funded projects in Palestine is linked to the EU’s decision in 2015 to label products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to a new report. 

The report, titled ‘Squandered Aid’ and authored by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, was disseminated on the sidelines of a recent EU session. The report, of which Al Jazeera obtained an exclusive copy before its release this week, documents Israel’s repetitive destruction of EU-funded projects in Palestine.

The Euro-Med group estimates the total squandered EU aid money at €65 million ($73m), lost over the period 2001-2015, with at least €23 million ($26m) lost only during the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza.

OPINION: Finally, the EU stages an Israel intervention

During the first three months of 2016, the number of demolitions – per month – of projects funded by private, international or EU parties increased to 165, from an average of 50 per month during 2012-2015. This includes 120 documented demolitions of EU-financed buildings over the first three months of 2016, compared with 82 demolitions between 2001 and 2011.

“It’s the classic ‘catch-22’,” says Cecile Choquet, a researcher at Euro-Med. “Palestinians need help to rebuild, but as soon as they start to get back on their feet, Israel knocks them back down.”

Demolitions and stop-work orders were particularly directed at structures located in Area C of the occupied West Bank, which falls under Israeli security and civilian control. It is regarded by the international community as the main land reserve for a future Palestinian state. In a single week in August 2015, 63 houses were destroyed, leaving 132 Palestinians homeless.

The surge has attracted international focus. In 2015, 31 human rights groups condemned Israel’s “wanton destruction of Palestinian property and of projects funded by international aid in the occupied West Bank”.

Palestinians need help to rebuild, but as soon as they start to get back on their feet, Israel knocks them back down.

Cecile Choquet, researcher at the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor

The office of the Coordinator of Israeli Government Activities in the Occupied Territories (COGAT) claimed that “measures are taken against illegal building”. However, Euro-Med reports that, in some cases, Israeli authorities have demolished Palestinian projects they had earlier approved.

Further, permits are scarce, with only as few as 2.3 percent of applications for building permits in Area C approved by Israeli authorities between 2009 and 2012, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported last Tuesday on a “tense and difficult meeting” between Israeli and EU officials, where the EU expressed opposition to home demolitions and forced evacuations of Palestinian populations.

The EU Ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, reportedly warned that a continuation of the massive demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank “is liable to harm relations between the EU and Israel”.

In accord with Euro-Med observation, Haaretz ascribed the significant increase in demolition activities, especially of construction funded by the EU, to an Israeli attempt to adopt sanctions against the EU in response to the decision to label products from the settlements in European supermarkets and heavy political pressure by right-wing Israeli parliamentarians.


READ MORE: Israeli home demolitions reach record high


Al Jazeera spoke to Wijnand Marchal, First Secretary for Economic Affairs at the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah, who confirmed that Dutch-sponsored projects have been increasingly encountering problems during or after implementation, especially over the last six months.

“We have seen an increase of stop-work orders and demolition orders,” Marchal told Al Jazeera. “In Gaza, the agricultural programmes have [during the latest war of 2014] witnessed the demolition of water wells, greenhouses, and packing houses belonging to cooperatives,” he continued.

During 2015, Dutch projects incurred damages totalling over $230,000 as a result of Israeli enforcement activities. “In case Israeli demolitions of Dutch development projects is continuing, this will have a negative impact on our relations with Israel,” the Dutch diplomat told Al Jazeera.

Euro-Med deplores that since 2012, information on damage to EU-funded projects has been inaccessible to both the media and human rights institutions.

Money raised to rebuild Palestinian houses

Rami Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor, says the report relied primarily on field research, including interviews with eyewitnesses, village councils, municipalities and relevant governmental and non-governmental bodies, as well as past publications and anonymous “tips” made available by diplomats who asked to remain anonymous.

“It might represent an embarrassment to the EU for not protecting its funded facilities properly,” says Choquet of Euro-Med. “Thus, most relevant data are classified.”

In addition, Abdu warns that some in Europe are questioning the wisdom of investing more funds in the occupied Palestinian territories “particularly in light of the austerity measures implemented following the debt crisis throughout the region and the wave of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Inside Story – Punishing the Palestinians?

“At a recent conference in Washington, DC, the president of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), Bill Corcoran, observed that funding from large donors is beginning to dry up due to the realisation that rebuilt infrastructure will likely be destroyed once again,” says Pam Bailey, an international secretary at Euro-Med.

“The response of international agencies is to withdraw funds. But my question is: Why don’t they instead finally take action against Israel, instead of penalising ordinary Palestinians?”

Concluding the report, Euro-Med urged the EU commission to substantively penalise the Israeli government when UN- or European-funded projects are targeted.

“Recently we have seen more interest by our parliament on the challenges facing development projects in the West Bank. Some parliamentarians press for compensation from Israel,” the Dutch Representative Office told Al Jazeera, confirming that they remain even more committed to humanitarian and development assistance to Palestinians.

According to Bailey, Israel’s targeting of EU-funded projects won’t stop “until the EU takes action”.

Israel uses fake people, stories to promote Jewish immigration, over and over

Nothing is real about the Israel narrative from beginning to end. Once one identifies the Zionist behavior to the Nazi behavior,  which is all to obvious, it all becomes clear. Hitler was right:
“While the Zionists try to make the rest of the World believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb Goyim. It doesn’t even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organization for their international world swindler, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.

November 1, 2019 

Israel has made a lot of effort to persuade Jews from Europe and the US to migrate in order to maintain the demographic superiority of Jewish citizens in the state which was the purpose of the holocaust and why only Zionists can hold the narrative. Their criminal state depends on it.

Fabricated immigrant stories and quotes along with stock images of people were posted on Twitter by the Israeli Immigrant Integration Ministry to encourage Jews relocate to the occupation state.

An investigation undertaken by the Times of Israel failed to find any of the supposed immigrants quoted on its social media accounts.

Following an inquiry, many of the fake posts – using the now defunct hashtag AliyahStory -encouraging Jews to make “aliyah” – the move to Israel – were deleted and the ministry confirmed yesterday that all of the people quoted were made up.

Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva noted that in one case, it confirmed that the image was a real person, who was not an immigrant and never made the quote attributed to him.

According to the ministry’s Twitter feed, a Tanya Lipworth from Chicago could never imagine that she would fulfill the Zionist dream and make “Aliyah a reality”.

However, there is no record on the internet of a Tanya Lipworth existing.

“I grew up in a Jewish home, Jewish school, but could never imagine that I would fulfill the #Zionist dream. I realised after spending a year in #Israel after studying that making Aliyah could become a reality,” says Tanya Lipworth from Chicago, USA.

— Misrad Haklita (@MisradHaklita) January 6, 2019

“The thing about life in #Israel after making #Aliyah is that I realized is how to keep in contact with family and friends back home,” Carla Weinberg from Toronto is reported to have said.

Another alleged immigrant, Misrad Haklita was quoted saying: “Modern technology has made it easier to keep in touch! We love our Friday FaceTime!”

According to The Times of Israel, most of the names do appear on Facebook but do not appear to belong to anyone living in Israel.

Oops, Hollywood Jewish director steps in the scene while camera is rolling.

Jason Pearlman, a former spokesman for Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, said: “If it is the case that this is a genuine ministry account, and the photos and names are fabricated, it is nothing short of horrendous.”

“To use stock images to illustrate classrooms or meetings is one thing, but at a time when Israel’s credibility is constantly attacked on social media, to make people up is nothing short of idiotic.”

Israel has made a lot of effort to persuade Jews from Europe and the US to migrate in order to maintain the demographic superiority of Jewish citizens in the state.

Although 20 per cent of the Israeli population are Palestinians, Israel has consistently denied those who were ethnically-cleansed from Palestine since 1948, along with their descendants, their legal right of return to their homeland.

According to internal Jewish Agency figures, immigration to Israel rose by more than a quarter in the first half of 2019, fueled almost entirely by a continued surge in Jewish immigrants from Russia.

Trump’s Move to ‘Secure’ Syrian Oil is Fake News

Syria’s oil sector is decimated. Syrians do not even take seriously its revival as a foundation of post-conflict reconstruction!   No wonder Assad, Russia and Iran aren’t  having a hissyfit!

The Trump administration’s decision to move US forces out of the way of the Turkish military’s intervention against the Syrian Democratic Forces was met with bipartisan condemnation, with many decrying the “betrayal” of the US’s Syrian Kurdish allies. It appears that the administration sought to mute this criticism through a show of force to secure Syria’s oil fields.

If Syria’s oil production is insignificant, then why would the US military be directed towards controlling the oil fields? There is no apparent reason, other than a bad case of Oilcraft, coupled with a desire by this administration to save face in the aftermath of a perceived retreat from Syria. 

1 November 2019

That this would be either contemplated or welcomed as an affirmation of the US commitment to maintaining a military presence in Syria is testament to the power of the myth that whoever controls the oil has power. Syria’s oil sector is decimated. Syrians do not even take seriously its revival as a foundation of post-conflict reconstruction.

As Syria’s oil production is insignificant, the US move reflects a desire by this administration to save face in the aftermath of its perceived retreat from the country

Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, many analysts have suggested that the conflict was “about oil” and a Western desire to control Syrian oil production. 

This understanding not only denied the agency of the protesters while diminishing their calls for political change, but it also misunderstood the realities of Syria’s oil sector. Syria has never been a significant oil producer by regional standards, reaching a production peak of around 380,000 barrels a day before the civil war erupted. 

In 2016, an International Monetary Fund working paper estimated that production had declined to just 40,000 barrels per day.

The global insignificance of Syrian oil production, the declining rates and revenues of the industry, and the absence of any new reserves was never enough evidence to convince naysayers that Syria’s tragedy wasn’t brought about by the geopolitics of oil. 

Delusional worldview

With US President Donald Trump’s recent declaration that US strategy was to “keep the oil” and that US forces had “secured the oil”, the theory that oil interests have driven Western intervention in Syria has resurfaced. 

The Trumpian logic that Syrian oil fields need to be secured for US interests – and that US interests can only be secured through access to oil fields – is a delusional worldview grounded in a misunderstanding of how oil production and markets actually work. Author Robert Vitalis calls this Oilcraft: a way of thinking about oil-as-power that does not correspond to how oil markets shape production and prices. 

Syria’s oil sector is decimated. Syrians do not even take seriously its revival as a foundation of post-conflict reconstruction

Access and price fluctuations in oil markets are not determined by who controls what at any given time. We simply do not live in a world in which all oil produced in the world is controlled by the military or commercial interests of the US and its allies.

Markets do not function according to who has “secured” access to oil. Producers produce, and consumers consume. These patterns exist independent of what oil fields the US military occupies. 

Syria’s feeble oil production has little impact on global oil markets. Prior to the conflict, the majority of Syrian oil production that was not consumed domestically was exported to Europe. In 2011, the EU placed sanctions on Syrian oil imports. European companies involved in the Syrian market, including Total and Shell, ceased operations in the country and withdrew personnel. 

The threat of sanctions from the US or EU discouraged new commercial investments and partnerships in the Syrian oil sector. The Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC), Syria’s public sector enterprise responsible for oil production, was also under sanctions and unable to conduct simple commercial transactions with external partners. 

Biting sanctions

With the conflict becoming increasingly violent and sanctions taking a toll on everyday economic life, domestic oil production was geared towards the internal market. Sanctions not only blocked the principal Syrian export market, but they also squeezed the SPC’s ability to produce and sell oil to international buyers. 

By 2013, many of Syria’s oil fields had been under threat or taken over by armed groups that did not have the capacity to produce oil. Some oil fields remained dormant and, in some areas, rudimentary techniques were used to extract oil.

The difficulties of transport and refinement meant that much of the oil trading and consumption was heavily localized, and there was a lot of evidence that various armed groups, including the Syrian army, used oil in barter deals with other groups. 

Oil became a minor, but not insignificant, prize in Syria’s war economy. Most of the armed groups were content not to contest for control of the oil fields, and instead focused their efforts on other forms of wealth extraction through taxation, kidnappings and the like. Control of oil fields was simply not worth it. 

Unlike in other conflict zones, where resources are fought over by different armed groups – such as the case with coltan extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo – there was no comparable situation in Syria; war economies did not emerge in relation to oil extraction.  

The combination of dwindling reserves, infrastructural neglect, and sanctions that have been exacerbated by the conflict means that not even Syrian government planners are looking to the oil trade to finance reconstruction. The debates within Syria today about reconstruction do not revolve on how to restart oil production, or how oil revenues can finance post-conflict spending. 

Devastating impacts

Since the early 2000s, Syrian government planners have understood the need to move away from any reliance on oil revenues and the oil sector as a whole. The devastating impacts of the conflict and sanctions on the oil sector have only confirmed what many Syrians already knew – mainly, that the oil sector cannot save the economy. 

If Syria’s oil production is insignificant, then why would the US military be directed towards controlling the oil fields? There is no apparent reason, other than a bad case of Oilcraft, coupled with a desire by this administration to save face in the aftermath of a perceived retreat from Syria. 

The Trump administration’s decision to move US forces out of the way of the Turkish military’s intervention against the Syrian Democratic Forces was met with bipartisan condemnation, with many decrying the “betrayal” of the US’s Syrian Kurdish allies. It appears that the administration sought to mute this criticism through a show of force to secure Syria’s oil fields. 

That this would be either contemplated or welcomed as an affirmation of the US commitment to maintaining a military presence in Syria is testament to the power of the myth that whoever controls the oil has power. Syria’s oil sector is decimated. Syrians do not even take seriously its revival as a foundation of post-conflict reconstruction. 

Contrary to what Trump assumes through his public declarations about securing oil, we won’t be experiencing reduced prices at the pumps anytime soon. And if we do, it certainly won’t be because US troops are occupying Syrian land.