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'I Have a Drone' Mena Obama And The Warlords Romp And Jostle

Politics / Middle East Aug 28, 2013 - 10:18 AM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


U.S. defense officials told the Associated Press that the Navy sent a fourth warship armed with missiles including Tomahawk cruise missiles to the eastern Mediterranean but without immediate orders for missile launch against Syria. Military commanders from the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, France, Italy and Canada met in Amman, Jordan on Sunday, August 25 to coordinate plans for upcoming attacks on Syria. According to France's leading newspaper 'Le Figaro', August 23, guerrilla warfare commandos trained by the US entered Syria for armed action against government forces from mid-August, around Deraa. A previous group of 300 men, probably directed and supported by American CIA operatives, Israeli operatives and Jordanian commandos, although Jordanian participation was denied by officials, crossed the border on August 17. 'Le Figaro' reports that from August 19 the two groups of fighters have united for joint attacks on the forces of Bashr al Assad. For some analysts this may explain use of chemical warfare agents, such as toxic industrial wastes by Syrian army forces so close to Damascus, in a region not previously known for rebel attacks.

Source Banzai 7 Institute

Western policy analysis and briefings on the now dangerously out-of-control Middle East and North Africa (MENA) rarely note the fact that the region was “carved up” by the West following the 1917 collapse of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, and the 1945 collapse of Mussolini's regime – but this has left enduring Western paternalism. The region's haphazard borders and troubled nations were created out of the splintered Ottoman Empire mainly by the US, UK and France, following the semi-mythical T.E. Lawrence or “Indiana Jones” phase of border tracing and nation building.

The will to maintain those borders and nations remains strong – constantly backed by the obsession with oil and gas supply and transport security issues – but this will is countered, even outright opposed by a new set of local warlords mainly using “proxy war” armed fighting groups often with claimed 'Islamic defence' credentials. These new warlords notably include the Gulf State petromoarchies, as well as Israel, Turkey and Iran. In today's American-led rush to war against Syria, the Gulf State's local warlords and Israel are in play from the start, as well as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which in Syria is fighting alongside Saudi-paid mercenary “djihadists”, also funded by Qatar and the other Gulf States against the regime of Bashr al Assad. In Egypt, the Brotherhood is hunted down by the Army-backed coup leaders, who have received $12 billion from the three Gulf States Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait, but not from Qatar which provided a total of $5 billion to the Brotherhood-backed Moursi government during its short stay in power.

Despite the sea change signaled by the Arab Spring revolt and the spiraling number of so-called “djihadist” mercenary fighters, ignoring the failed and fragile states that result when local dictators are removed or replaced by the new warlords, who occasionally claim democratic legitimacy in Iraq, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen – Western policy planners remain stolidly paternalist.

Led by the USA, they act like the Bourbons. They  forgot nothing about their previous total dominance, and learn nothing about how much the MENA region has changed.

Plenty of reasonable doubt can firstly be laid against the claim the Syrian government regime is using chemical weapons – but the massive quantities of Depleted Uranium weapons used by the US and its allies in the two Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003 are proven and impossible to deny. These weapons leave behind chemically toxic and radioactive residues for decades.

The Saudi-owned Al-Sharq Al-Awsat paper, known for its hostility toward the Assad regime, reports that in the face of “overwhelming international pressure”, al Assad allowed a UN-organized international fact-finding team to investigate the alleged chemical attack near Damascus, but the newspaper in its August 27 edition added: “Regardless of the conclusions the fact-finding team comes to, the leaders of the US, the UK and France have already decided that Assad’s gesture is too little too late. The Syrian regime will already have had enough time to destroy crucial evidence”. The London-based Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi added that the military strike is expected to be limited and to be carried out from air or water. The main option being officially considered is to launch rocket attacks on specific points for a period of 24-48 hours “to send a message to the Syrian regime”. After that, the rebels and mercenaries can continue their ground-based attacks.

Israeli military planners did not meet face-to-face with certain members of their allied colleagues in Amman, Jordan – which included top Saudi, Qatari and Turkish military planners – and Israel's 'Times of Israel' paper reported, August 22, that Saudi Arabia will not officially permit Israeli aircraft to cross its territory on the way to strike Iran, saying this message was passed on to Jerusalem via Obama administration officials during recent talks in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said by the newspaper to prefer the US to lead, and help a possible strike on Iran. The paper added that the closing of Saudi airspace would remove from Israel’s options one potential route to bomb Iran, but others exist: north over Turkey, or straight east through Jordan and Iraq. However the paper said it is “unclear” whether those countries would allow Israel to use its airspace.

The 'Times of Israel' also notes that Defense minister Ehud Barak will never cease repeating that Iran is getting near to “the zone of immunity,” after which its nuclear program will be militarily beyond reach – beyond the stage where Saddam Hussein’s Osirak was smashed and Bashr al Assad’s North Korean reactor was shattered. Whatever the complications of bombing Iran today, Ehud Barak says, “it will be a whole lot more complex later on”. He therefore does not doubt that Obama is determined to prevent Iran from attaining the bomb, but it is only the “timeline” for bombing that divides them, “as officials on both sides acknowledge”. The red lines for Syria and Iran are drawn in different places.

They however coincide in the same strategic goal of weakening the Syrian and Iranian regimes to enable “local opposition forces” to spread mayhem and finally topple the regimes. In Syria, with its highly complex sectarian and community mosaic, certain groups like the Christians are basically dependent on the al Assad regime for their continued survival. In Iraq, following the fall of Saddam Hussein, the unprotected and rapidly shrinking Christian community is proof that they are the “natural target” for the so-called djihadists. While this is rarely reported by Western media, even less attention goes to the real operating methods of the insurgents. Apart from mass executions of villagers, in Christian and Alawite villages, the theft of goods starting from basics as simple as household furniture and TVs, through cars, to the pillage of artworks and antiques from churches, which are then torched, are basic self-financing methods for the insurgents. This economic pillage extends to municipal office equipment, power cables and transformers, and vehicles, leaving a wasteland behind.

Not only petrodollars but also a demographic explosion multiplying its population nearly 5-fold since 1945 have transformed the MENA. The region now seethes with its own geopolitical operators, or Sorceror's Apprentices, mostly seeking proxy war onslaught against their designated (and changing) enemies, without exposing their own armed forces in-theatre. They openly pursue their own shifting border tracing and nation change agendas, using mercenary militias and fighters, increasingly without even the “formality” of Islamic fundamentalist indoctrination to justify their outrages and atrocities – to themselves and their paymasters only.

The most powerful players – with the largest amounts of petrodollars – the Saudi-led Gulf States, are already often in outright opposition in various “theatres”, such as the open Saudi-Qatari clash on how best to “restructure government” in Egypt. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are for the least uneasy allies, operating or backing proxy war insurgents who are sometimes in open conflict with each other. Israel's “de facto” alignment with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States in the war against al Assad's regime and their hoped-for war against Iran's al Khamenei is another example. Rarely detailed by Western media reports on Syria's civil war, this is a proxy war theatre for a widening number of Middle East power factions, ranging from Kurds and Druzes, to Lebanese and Egyptians, as well as “religious sectarian” armed groups and fighters. As shown by statements by Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan, designated this week by King Abdullah to head the war effort in Syria, this proxy war is only one sign of its broader effort to expand regional influence. To that end, outside Syria, the Saudis gave outspoken political and financial support to the Egyptian military as it sets out to crush the Muslim Brotherhood – which is however supported by Qatar and by Turkey's fiery PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who describes the post-coup government in Egypt as: "I (say) that state terrorism is currently underway in Egypt."

Armed anarchy is now the most accurate description of Libya's fractured administration, as I note in this article: The rational possibility of Western forces “stepping in” and putting Humpty Dumpty back together again in this “theatre”, as in others, is zero. Iraq post-2003, again rarely reported by Western media is now engaged in its fourth year of “slow motion civil war”, particularly using large-sized sophisticated car and truck bombs, claiming about 750 – 1000 lives per month, as well as thousands of injured. In this case, Sunni and Shia fighters and insurgents are opposed, the Sunni fighters being funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, and Shia fighters by Iran.

In Libya, but not yet in other “post-revolution” MENA states that are now proxy war theatres, its oil industry is a favoured target for theft and protection rackets by the insurgent “Islamic” defence forces. As a direct result, Libya's oil export capability, and capacity have plummetted.

Leaders such as Barack Obama stoically pretend that the MENA is in in some ways still a Western geopolitical legacy plaything of the 1920s and 1930s, and immediate post-1945 world. In fact they have to move on rapidly to entirely different policies and strategies in the region. Their sole real interest – oil and gas – will soon be menaced, either directly or as a collateral victim in a very generalized and region-wide “Arab revolt”.

Public statements by Western political leaders claiming they have found, and are “working with” moderate Islamist political movements like Turkey's ruling AK Party, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the Tamarod movement, moderate Palestinians, and other civil democracy movements in the region – are now cloud cuckoo. The publicly stated goal to make the Middle East “more democratic” is no longer on the menu, if it ever was, for the initial and basic reason that current “legacy borders and frontiers”, and the nation states behind them, have little or no remaining credibility.

As we know or can soon find out, the ruling monarchs of the Gulf States are not interested in becoming “more democratic” themselves. Their demographic power base – the percentage Sunnites in their populations – has in most cases been severely eroded by Shia population growth from existing large cohort numbers, before the Sunnite rulers were chosen and installed by the West. The longstanding regional strongmen who ruled in the MENA throughout the Cold War – and long after – were rigorously anti-democratic. Supposing, as Obama seems to suppose that armed Sunnite “djihadists” in Syria – for example - invoking thousand-year-old religious conflicts, as well as their psychotic whims and thirst for booty can “work towards democracy” is not a funny joke, but a joke all the same.

Personal animosities and hatreds come into full play when the Princes and local Warlords operating organized crime syndicates collide. Saudi King Abdullah, for example, is said by 'Wall Street Journal', in its August 25 edition to have tried for a decade to personally woo Assad away from Iran, but failed. The King is now his mortal enemy. In retaliation for Assad humiliatingly rebuffing his personal advice in 2011 on how to ease both regional and Syrian national tensions, and because Assad cracked down brutally on political opponents in the holy month of Ramadan, Abdullah now thirsts to do whatever is needed, and spend all that is needed to destroy his mortal enemy. Saudi Arabian and other Gulf State spending to date in their Syrian proxy war is estimated at about $6 billion, but is now set to radically increase as Western armed forces themselves play mercenary petrodollar-receivers.

As late as 2012, Turkey's Erdogan maintained the fiction of having good relations, even an “alliance” with Bashr al Assad. Today, Erdogan gives unqualified support to anti-regime rebels letting them operate freely on Turkish soil, turns a blind eye to their frequent atrocities, and criticizes the US for saying the Saudi-backed Jabhat al-Nusra fighters are a terror group. As we also know, Erdogan also says the Saudi-backed al-Sisi coup leaders in Egypt are operating “state terrorism”.

President Obama and his Western allies imagined that aligning the West with the few Islamist parties defined as “moderate-middle way” would narrow the yawning gap between the West and what are taken for, and hoped-to-be 'moderate' political entities emerging in the Muslim world, such as the Tamarod movement in Egypt. Thios movement has recently called for the US “to get out of Egypt”, and for the Camp David accords with Israel to be shredded.

Either permitting or fomenting civil regime-change wars, or operating them itself as in Iraq, Libya and probably Syria, the West is in fact creating a new series of failed states with failed economies. This can only serve as the breeder mechanism for radical and criminal groups, using Islamic themes as their justification to predate local populations and economic resources, and further dislocate the economy. The positive feedback is strong, as so-called Islamic fighting groups clash for control of remaining wealth – exemplified by Libya's turf war among well-armed militia groups for access to and sale of oil, ranging from pure and simple theft of oil in storage tanks or tanker trucks, to protection rackets operated on oil producers and transporters.

In Syria, where some estimates place the number of “foreign djihadist fighters” at 50 000,  wealth-grubbing pillage by armed gangs, called “Islamic”, extends across a wide spectrum of criminal activities, but the initial wealth base in Syria is smaller than in Iraq or Libya.  Armed local vigilante groups are a natural response to this pillage, adding to firepower and casualties. When or if the al Assad regime falls, Syria can only fall apart, into at least 4 or 5 regional groupings – similar to the emerging three-region split of the former unified Libya.

Either wittingly or unwittingly the process of selective aid and opposition to armed political factions and movements in the Middle East has built a new and powerful tradition of militia fighting, grafted on to Islamic political movements. Aided by the flow of petrodollars and the population explosion, by intensive 24/7 Internet propaganda, and teamed with massive quantities of smaller-calibre weapons available worldwide, swollen by ransacked arsenals in the cases of Libya and Tunisia, probably Syria (and possibly Egypt), it can be no surprise that Arab Spring revolt has morphed into civil war. Favoured by the breakdown of the unified “legacy state”, the next logical stage is the dissolution of the state in a one-way process, further intensified by the collapse of the economy.

Whether wanted or not wanted by Western leaders, this is the process under way. When they decide to do something about it, there can be a prospect of stability, otherwise not.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2013 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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