Al-Qaida-linked militants’ advance throws west’s Syria plans into disarray

Growing success of Hayat Fateh al-Sham in northern province of Idlib raises worries that program and allies will utilize relocation as pretext to wage military project

The wests policy on Syria has actually been tossed into chaos due to sweeping advances by al-Qaida-linked militants in the north-west of the nation, acquiring the military edge in the biggest location of opposition-held area.

The assertion of control by Hayat Fateh al-Sham (HTS), the previous al-Qaida affiliate formerly called the al-Nusra front and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, over the province of Idlib amidst the downsizing of American assistance for rebel groups has actually caused worries that Assads allies, consisting of Moscow, would utilize the relocation as a pretext for a terrible and broad military project.

The future of the north remains in terrific threat, stated Michael Ratney, the United States state departments Syria envoy, in a declaration published online. , if [ Hayat Fateh al-Shams] control of Idlib is understood it will be challenging for the United States to encourage other worldwide celebrations to avoid required military procedures.

A western diplomat stated there was no proof yet that either Russia or the Syrian federal government were preparing for a broad military offensive on Idlib. The plain recommendation by the United States that it might be perhaps reluctant or not able to avoid such a project was the clearest indication yet of the alarm at the militants gains and that it sees no advantage to continuing to overtly back the disobedience versus the program of Bashar al-Assad , providing Moscow higher take advantage of over the result of the dispute.

Idlib was taken by a group of mostly Islamist opposition fighters supported by US-backed rebels in a significant project in the spring of 2015. The 2 most effective groups in the province were the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham and HTS.

Last week, HTS took a crucial border crossing with Turkey and routed Ahrar al-Sham from numerous essential locations in the province in a few of the worst inter-rebel battling considering that the start of the six-year long uprising versus Assad.

The effort by the al-Qaida-linked militants to develop obvious control over Idlib was consulted with demonstrations by civilians, who advised them to withdraw from significant cities and enable civilian control over city government. Numerous fear the militants increase will provide a pretext for Assad and his allies to bomb the province in a way just like their violent improvement of the city of Aleppo late in 2015.

They wish to complete us and Jolani and his gang were the tools, stated an Ahrar al-Sham source, describing Abu Mohammad al-Jolani , the leader of the al-Nusra front.

There are around 2 million individuals in Idlib, a lot of them internal refugees who left the combating somewhere else in the nation after regional ceasefire arrangements. It is thought that 1.3 million need humanitarian help.

The United States just recently cut help to rebels through a concealed CIA training program and the Donald Trump administration has actually revealed an increasing determination to deliver Syrias fate to Assads allies in Moscow. As if to highlight the contradictions in American policy, its secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, stated on Tuesday that Washington was still dedicated both to Assads departure and cooperation with Russia.

Clearly, Russia has actually aligned itself early on in the dispute with the Syrian routine and Bashar al-Assad, which we discover to be undesirable, he stated in a press rundown. And it continues to be our view that the Assad routine has no function in the future governing of Syria.

A western diplomat stated the HTS move played into the Assad programs narrative that it was combating terrorists, however that civil resistance to the militants was crucial since it was uncertain exactly what HTS plans, and they have actually made no effort yet at governance.

The United States has actually dealt with Russia to moderate regional ceasefires in parts of Syria, consisting of a current arrangement to establish a de-escalation zone in the south where rebels near the Jordanian border are fighting the Assad routine. The United States continues to back efforts to combat the Islamic State horror group, with a project to recover the militants de facto capital of Raqqa under method and led by Kurdish paramilitaries.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/04/al-qaida-linked-militants-advance-throws-wests-syria-plans-into-disarray

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The long-running family rivalries behind the Qatar crisis

Diplomats in Middle East state problems can not quickly be fixed partially since they are individual along with political

I t is a row that is roiling the Middle East, pitting the most affluent and most prominent Arab sheikhdoms versus each other, and stimulating weeks of shuttle bus diplomacy. Behind the Saudi Arabia-led blockade of Qatars sea, land and air ports lies a long-running household fight.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates , Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties last month with the uber-rich Gulf state of Qatar, which shares the worlds biggest tank of gas with Iran, Riyadhs disliked competitor. The bloc implicates Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge it rejects.

The blockade tries to cut Qatar off from the remainder of the world: the land border has actually been sealed, Qatari overflights prohibited and shipping lanes closed. The Saudi-led union provided 13 needs to raise the blockade , that included shutting al-Jazeera, the TELEVISION voice of the Arab spring, and dropping assistance for the Muslim Brotherhood. In spite of United States intervention, little has actually been dealt with.

Diplomats in the area state the concerns can not be dealt with, partially due to the fact that they are not simply political they are individual, too.

The rulers have familial relationships and the kinship ties in between the Saudis, the Emiratis and the Qataris they are extremely, extremely near to each other, stated one highly-placed source in the area. This suggests huge political problems are likewise household problems. Those ended up being extremely tough to fix, specifically when the Saudis and the Emiratis desire routine modification.

Saudi King Salman, left, speak to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan of the UAE. Picture: Untitled/AP

In the fractious world of Middle Eastern politics, where outright queens trade on their family and piety, household dissent is frequently stalled by distributing opportunity and money. These are turbulent times in the Arab world, which makes this Game of Thrones challenge all the more harmful.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are both caught in an open-ended and expensive war in Yemen . Dropping oil costs struck both economies hard. Qatar, which is more based on gas, is tightening its belt, too, however its population is smaller sized and wealthier in per capita terms than its 2 bigger neighbours.

On paper, the present ruler of Qatar is Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the 37-year-old boy of Sheikh Hamad, who officially abandoned in Tamims favour in 2013 .

However, Simon Henderson, a prominent expert at the Washington Institute, composed just recently that Hamad, now referred to as the father-emir, was still pulling the strings a view extensively shared in the Middle East.

Sheikh Hamad at the 2010 statement that Qatar had actually been granted the 2022 World Cup. Photo: Michael Probst/AP

In lots of methods, Hamad is the creator of the brand-new assertive Qatari identity. When commanding a brigade of Qataris versus Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf war nearly 30 years earlier, he selected his battle with the Saudis initially on the battleground.

The soldiers of the Hamad brigade were amongst the very first union soldiers to engage Iraqi forces at the fight of Khafji in February 1991. When Saudi forces signed up with the fight, nevertheless, United States marines wound up securing Saudi soldiers due to the fact that their Arab allies from Qatar were mistakenly drizzling friendly fire on them.

Qatar ancestral tree

Things were repaired quickly after the war however stress remained, specifically as Hamad returned as supreme military leader and a recently embellished war hero. He continued to rile Riyadh, informing the Saudis over a border disagreement in 1992 that they would response to the barrel of a weapon.

These worries were understood when the young sheikh deposed his daddy, Khalifa, who had actually left the nation for Geneva, where he was apparently going through medical treatment. Hamad sent out tanks to surround the royal court, which gave up meekly.

Since then, he has actually been a disruptive force in the area. Sheikh Hamad established al-Jazeera, which, together with social networks, has in current years stirred popular opinion in methods Arab federal governments particularly the Saudis did dislike.

Many think the present dispute might be rooted in these old competitions. The source concurred, informing the Guardian: The Saudis and the Emiratis informed the present emir you make your dad send to us. They moved really strongly versus the dad. How can the boy do that?

The Sauds affect in Qatar has actually long been through popular households, most especially that of the Attiyahs, who are their blood relations. Hamad was raised not by al-Thanis however in your home of his maternal uncle, an Attiyah.

However, instead of wed an Attiyah to continue ties with the Sauds, Hamad sealed his powerbase in the Thanis by weding the children of 2 effective uncles.

But his preferred partner and mom of the existing emir is Sheikha Mozah, the only better half he is seen in public with and who comes from an extreme custom. Her dad, a citizen, had actually been imprisoned by Hamads dad after revealing require the reasonable circulation of wealth in the nation.

Hamads most prominent consultant is not an Attiyah another break from custom however a Thani, Hamad bin Jassim, who wagered that purchasing impact within the increasing force of political Islam would take long-lasting stability for the small state, a departure from the remainder of the Gulf states.

Qatars diplomacy has its critics. Fawaz al-Attiyah, a previous Qatari diplomat, stated that to him and others who needed to go back or be sidelined it was apparent that the advertisement hoc policy goals and careless methods [by Doha] were bound to stop working.

This was the background to a competition in between the Sauds and the Thanis, stated a Qatari knowledgeable about both, who are bound together by marital relationship and faith. Both the Thanis and Sauds stem from the peninsulas Nejd interior, from where austere Wahhabism sprung. Both look for to declare their variation of Wahhabism is the ideal course.

<svg width=" 6"height="14 “viewbox=”0″0 6 14″class=” reveal-caption-icon __ svg”centered-icon __ svg rounded-icon __ svg inline-information __ svg inline-icon __ svg “> Sheikha Mozah with Queen Elizabeth. Photo: POOL/REUTERS

In Qatar, ladies are permitted to own, unlike in Saudi Arabia . There are no spiritual authorities requiring services to shut throughout prayer times. Hamad has actually gone as far to declare the Thanis belong to al-Wahab, an affront to the Saudis who declare proprietorship over the austere variation of Islam.

Allen Fromherz, scholastic and author of Qatar: Rise to Power and Influence, stated: Qatar truly declares a Wahhabism of the sea. Its a more versatile and open idea of Wahhabism than that of the desert. Sheikh Hamads claim of family tree to al-Wahhab might be a method of fortifying the authenticity of this alternate vision of Wahhabism and a method of deactivating those who would declare that Qataris are not really Wahhabi In essence, Sheikh Hamad is attempting to take the high roadway and move on even quicker than the Saudis.

Another aspect is Hamads public support of democracy; he informed United States tv in 2003 that any individuals that wish to establish their nations … need to practice democracy. Thats exactly what I think. He did not make excellent on a guarantee to have an Qatari chose parliament in 2013, his support of the tally box frustrated neighbouring judgment households.

One of those outraged by such talk was UAEs crown prince and its de facto ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan , who has actually long harboured misgivings about Qatar. Cable televisions gotten by WikiLeaks reveal him raving in 2009 that Qatar was simply part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In reality, the UAE has actually frequently intervened in royal politics, backing various branches of the Thani clan. This started as quickly Britain revealed it would be leaving the Gulf in 1968 and strategies were hatched for Qatar to be part of the UAE.

<img class="gu-image"itemprop="contentUrl"alt="An"bird's-eye view of skyscrapers emerging through fog covering the horizon of doha."src="https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/289cb8713b15abb3c10ecd968eea68b64ba965f2/0_271_4134_2480/master/4134.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=b5519a0250ab322dbce12ef004390535&quot;
/> A bird’s-eye view of skyscrapers emerging through fog covering the horizon of Doha. Photo: Yoan Valat/EPA

This concept was buried remained in 1972 when the then Qatari emir, Sheikh Ahmad, who had actually proposed developing a higher federation of Arab Emirates and ruled languidly from his rental property in Switzerland, was ousted while on a searching journey in Iran by his cousin Sheikh Khalifa. Sheikh Ahmad wound up in Dubai and wed the child of the city mentions wonderfully rich emir.

UAE has actually because taken sides in Thani household rows, most significantly for many years permitting Hamads daddy to remain in their area where he outlined counter-coups, all which stopped working.

This was the setting when a pro-Saudi paper sprinkled on 1 June with the spectacular news that the descendants of Sheikh Ahmad had actually apologised for Qatars present day rulers, whom they apparently had actually disowned.

However, a Qatari with connect to the royal court informed the Guardian that this was phony news from the Emirati intelligence. The UAE has actually rejected it managed the hacking of news websites in order to publish incendiary incorrect quotes or that it is destabilising the present program.

The Qatari source stated couple of sheikhs or member of the family wished to be discovered on the incorrect side of Dohas power video game, mentioning that dissident Thanis who had actually supported coup efforts dealt with alarming repercussions in the past. In 2001, Thanis had actually been sentenced to death for conspiring for the topple of Hamad.

The source included: Sheikh Ahmads household [are] keeping their heads down. Nobody is stating anything.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/21/qatar-crisis-may-be-rooted-in-old-family-rivalries

Al-Jazeera: the Qatar broadcaster at centre of diplomatic crisis

Arab worlds leading TELEVISION channel is utilized to debate today it fears for its future as Saudi Arabia desires it closed down

Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based broadcaster that has actually discovered itself at the centre of the Gulf diplomatic crisis , was released in 1996, and has actually considering that grown to end up being the most-watched TELEVISION channel in the Arab world.

It declares to relay to more than 310m homes in more than 100 nations. The business utilizes more than 3,000 individuals and has a London studio in the Shard. When it sent rough video messages from Osama bin Laden, #peeee

The broadcaster increased to international prominence after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. By this time it had actually currently developed millions of audiences in the Middle East by providing a vibrant rolling news service that audiences had actually not experienced prior to.

When al-Jazeera was released, the then emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani stated reporters would report the news as they see it. Al-Jazeera still declares to have actually been the very first independent news channel in the Arab world.

The launch of an English-language channel in 2006 was part of a significant international growth that has actually resulted in the facility of more than 70 bureaux all over the world.

Al-Jazeera introduced a United States cable television news channel in October 2013, however this showed to be the peak of its development, in the meantime a minimum of.

Al-Jazeera America was closed in 2015 in the middle of diminishing seeing figures and a collection of suits.

The business likewise revealed it was cutting 500 tasks all over the world, with the majority of the layoffs in Qatar. Like other media organisations, al-Jazeera has actually been required to fight versus falling marketing profits. This down pattern in marketing has actually likewise accompanied a fall in the rate of oil, which has actually reduced the worth of gas in Qatar , and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani prospering his dad as the emir.

These aspects appear to have actually made the judgment household more unwilling to continue pumping large resources into al-Jazeera, with Sheikh Tamim choosing a various method to diplomacy from his dads.

Al-Jazeera was applauded for its extensive protection of the Arab spring, which started in 2010, however ever since has actually been criticised by other nations in the area for supporting pro-Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Three al-Jazeera reporters were imprisoned in Egypt in 2015 for reporting on occasions in Cairo.

Qatar diplomatic atom
<meta name="explainer-body" content="

5″ june: two weeks after donald trump visits the middle east and throws his weight behind the saudis, riyadh and its regional allies cut diplomatic, economic and transport ties with qatar, alleging links with terrorism

6 june: saudi arabia and the uae order qatar to break all links with the muslim brotherhood, hamas and iran, as the us president appears to take credit for the coordinated action on twitter

7 june: the uae says any person expressing sympathy for qatar could face up to 15 years in prison. trump and kuwait offer to mediate the crisis

8 june: qatar's foreign minister gives a series of defiant interviews, pledging never to 'surrender the independence of our foreign policy'. qatar-based al-jazeera comes under a sustained cyber-attack

9 june: saudi-led coalition imposes sanctions on groups and people accused of having islamist militancy ties many of them qataris or with links to qatar. the turkish president signs legislation that would offer qatar military assistance if necessary

“>

The broadcaster has actually likewise been criticised for describing Islamic State as the state organisation, instead of the Arabic acronym Daesh, and suicide bombers as shaheed, which equates as martyr in English. Al-Jazeera has actually rejected this reveals it supports extremism and stated it is not partisan to any group, ideology or federal government.

Now Saudi Arabia has actually required Qatar shut down the broadcaster as part of a threatening 13-point demand as the cost for raising a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo .

Al-Jazeera has actually condemned the call for its closure as absolutely nothing however an effort to end flexibility of expression in the area, and reduce the right to details.

Journalist organisations around the globe have actually revealed their outrage at the risks to al-Jazeera. In Britain, the National Union of Journalists stated needs versus the broadcaster were outrageous acts to secure down on liberty of expression and the media and promised to raise the problem with the appropriate diplomatic agents in London.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jun/24/al-jazeera-the-qatar-broadcaster-at-centre-of-diplomatic-crisis

Qataris ponder ‘the situation’ as blockade against emirate bites

Talk of the ramifications of the crisis, and the supposed hacking and phony news that might have sustained it, is inescapable in Doha

I n the suppressing heat of a Qatar night 2 cops stand in the middle of a Doha city centre interchange, holding up the traffic and avoiding pedestrians from crossing.

We need to wait a while and stop, a boy on the kerb describes. The emir is passing. A column of white automobiles accompanied by a security information speeds previous, setting off flashes from the speed electronic cameras. The boy views as the tail lights decline, then remarks: Well, you understand the scenario here …

In Doha nowadays the scenario a week-old blockade of Qatar by its Gulf Arab neighbours led by Saudi Arabia which has actually closed most air paths, shut borders and seen Qatars neighbours buy its residents out is inevitable.

It is the talk of expat supper celebrations and casual conferences in between academics at the foreign universities and thinktanks, and it controls the media. If the peace of mind of a helpful view may make it go away, federal government authorities ask checking out press reporters for their viewpoint of the scenario as.

A week after Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt enforced the embargo in a returned overtly by the United States president, Donald Trump Qataris are still trying to unwind exactly what activated it and where the crisis is heading.

The blockade threatens to divide countless households throughout the area where one partner is a Qatari, and it has actually required airplanes getting here in Doha a significant transportation center to get in through a narrow passage over Iran that weakens the nationwide providers practicality.

Residents of a Qatari-funded real estate job in Gaza wave the emirates flag at rally. Picture: UPI/ Barcroft Images

Dairy items that when originated from Qatars neighbours and briefly vanished from grocery store racks now visited air from Turkey, which recently passed a law enabling it to send out soldiers to Qatar together with the materials of yoghurt and leben. Iran sent out 4 freight aircrafts of food on Sunday and prepares to offer 100 tonnes of vegetables and fruit every day, authorities in Tehran have actually stated.

The blockade has actually likewise resulted in lacks of United States currency in exchange homes utilized by foreign employees, who comprise 90% of the population, to send out cash house.

I talked to my partner today. She stated: Send your cost savings to me now. I am not worried, however my household are terrified, stated John Vincent, an air-conditioning technician from the Philippines queueing at one exchange home.

For many locals, nevertheless, the Gulfs worst crisis in 3 years has actually been marked by a stretched sense of normality.

Families crowded the stores in Dohas large City Centre shopping mall on Friday to gather conventional present bags of sugary foods for the Ramadan celebration of Garangao. The huge hotels, while quieter than typical, have actually filled each night with Qataris concerning consume at the Ramadan iftar buffets

The stress and anxiety is more discreet. Attorneys for huge building tasks are silently digging out their agreements as deliveries of structure products are postponed or dry up.

Where is everything heading? Thats the concern everybody is asking here, stated Nader Kabbani, the director of research study for the Brookings Institution in Doha. At the minute everybody is simply attempting figure things out … however a great deal of it is guess work.

The apparent factor for blockade is the claim that the Qataris have, in Trumps words, traditionally been a funder of terrorism at an extremely high level. This, nevertheless, is as quickly suitable to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

The truth seems an effort led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to penalize Qatar for its independent diplomacy underwritten by a canny and extensive worldwide financial investment method from London to Tokyo. The county has actually hosted members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and pursued a conciliatory relationship with Iran, with which it shares a big gas field.

The Qatar-Saudi fight appears to have actually come out of thin air, states Junaid Ahmad, a scholastic based in the United States who studies the Gulf. The truth is that this has actually been going on for rather a while.

All this hyperbolic language we have actually seen in the recently from Saudi and its allies how Qatar supports the Houthis in Yemen or the Shia opposition in Bahrain – has to do with Qatar being neutral. And neutral can not be endured, specifically where it pertains to Iran.

The embargo brings its own dangers for Saudi Arabia. As Qatars foreign minister, Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, has actually visited foreign capitals, the small emirate has actually amassed increasing global compassion in spite of Trump and his senior authorities striking an extremely various tone about the crisis.

More severe still, state some observers, is that far from distancing Qatar from Iran and Turkey, the blockade might press the emirate ever better to them.

The pressure on Qatar might have monetary effects too for its neighbours as it is required to look for alternative port and supply plans which, if the crisis withstands, might end up being more long-term. Doha is likewise rundown groups of global attorneys in London, Washington and somewhere else to challenge those behind the blockade not least its effect on the nationwide airline company with a view to looking for reparations.

<img class="gu-image"itemprop="contentUrl"alt="Yoghurt"imported from turkey on sale in a doha grocery store"
src=”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/a04aa39d78b11263472871abca2117a52adb5df3/0_516_2430_1458/master/2430.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=5fe5623106652f909965ff52d3d0686f”/&gt; Yoghurt imported from Turkey on sale in a Doha grocery store. Picture: Reuters

There is likewise the concern of how the obviously highly-coordinated relocation has actually concentrated as much on Qatars neighbours and their programs as on the accusations versus the emirate consisting of claims that cyberwar strategies were utilized to set off the crisis.

Qatari and FBI private investigators now think an infection was presented into the countrys state news firm on 20 April. It lay inactive up until 24 May, when hackers apparently presented incorrect remarks credited to the emir that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel and questioned whether Trump would continue in workplace.

Qatari authorities have actually likewise connected the hacking attack to exactly what they state has actually been a collaborated lobbying project versus the emirate around the very same time and a series of sees both publicised and personal by senior authorities associated with thecoalition versus it to Washington and somewhere else returning to December.

To us this is an act of hostility and the focus must be the criminal offense of the hacking that happened. We need to stagnate far from that focus, stated Sheik Saif Ahmad al-Thani, the director of Qatars federal government interaction workplace.

Doha has actually likewise pinpointed reports of a supposed series of hacked e-mails exchanged in between the UAEs ambassador to the United States and the neo-conservative Foundation for Defence of Democracies thinktank in the run-up to statement of the blockade going over the function of al-Jazeera and Qatar.

Leaked to The Intercept and numerous other media organisations it recommends if absolutely nothing personal and else strong lobbying versus Qatar.

I believe Qatars challengers were definitely lobbying, stated Christopher Davidson, the author of The Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East.

I believe the future that they see for Qatar, if not routine modification, is that it has to be removed of its diplomacy and independent political resources. It has to be a vassal.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/12/qataris-ponder-the-situation-as-blockade-against-emirate-bites

Iran attacks: Trump reaction to Isis killings ‘repugnant’, says foreign minister

Mohammad Javad Zarif counters at the United States presidents discuss the suicide battle which has actually been declared by Islamic State

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated on Thursday that United States President Donald Trumps response to the fatal Islamic State group attacks in Tehran was repugnant.

Repugnant WH [White House] declaration … as Iranians counter horror backed by United States customers, Zarif tweeted.

He was reacting to Trumps comment that states that sponsor terrorism danger coming down with the evil they promote.

Thirteen individuals were eliminated and more than 40 injured in the attacks on Tehrans parliament complex and the shrine of advanced leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the very first declared by Isis in Iran.

Trump has actually long implicated Iran of backing terrorism and has actually threatened to wreck a 2015 nuclear offer in between Tehran and significant powers.

Even as Washington revealed its acknowledgements on Wednesday, the United States Senate advanced legislation that would enforce brand-new sanctions on Iran, partially for exactly what the expense referred to as the Iranian programs support for acts of worldwide terrorism.

Iranian security authorities counter that it is their local competing Saudi Arabia a close United States ally that is accountable for financing and spreading out the extremism that underpins Isis.

Irans Revolutionary Guards implicated Riyadh and Washington of being associated with Wednesdays attacks and swore vengeance.

Trumps remarks likewise brought criticism from Iranians on social networks, who remembered their federal governments deals of assistance and the candlelight vigils kept in Iran after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/08/trump-reaction-to-isis-attacks-in-iran-repugnant-says-foreign-minister

Presenting the Trump doctrine: ‘forever war’

Trumps enthusiasm for war is the logical endpoint of a grim process started years ago by his predecessors in the White House

Moab sounds more like an incestuous, war-torn biblical kingdom than the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, AKA the mother of all bombs. Still, give Donald Trump credit. Only the really, really big bombs, whether North Korean nukes or those 21,600 pounds of Moab, truly get his attention. He wasnt even involved in the decision to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal for the first time in war, but his beloved generals we have the best military people on Earth already know the man they work for, and the bigger, flashier, more explosive, and winninger, the better.

It was undoubtedly the awesome look of that first Moab going off in grainy black and white on Fox News, rather than in Afghanistan, that appealed to the president. Just as he was visibly thrilled by all those picturesque Tomahawk cruise missiles, the equivalent of nearly three Moabs, whooshing from the decks of US destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and heading, like so many fabulous fireworks, toward a Syrian airfield or was it actually an Iraqi one?

Weve just fired 59 missiles, he said, all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing Its so incredible. Its brilliant. Its genius. Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five.

Call it thrilling. Call it a blast. Call it escalation. Or just call it the age of Trump. (If you look at whats happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really to whats happened over the past eight years, youll see theres a tremendous difference, tremendous difference, he commented, adding about Moab: This was another very, very successful mission.)

Trump
Trump announces Lt Gen HR McMaster as his national security adviser at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Anyway, here we are and, as so many of his critics have pointed out, the plaudits have been pouring in from all the usual media and political suspects for a president with big enough well, hands, to make war impressively. In our world, this is what now passes for presidential. Consider that praise the media version of so many Tomahawk missiles pointing us towardwhat the escalation of Americas never-ending wars will mean to Trumps presidency.

These days, from Syria to Afghanistan, the Koreas to Somalia, Yemen to Iraq, its easy enough to see Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump as something new under the sun. (It has a different ring to it when the commander-in-chief says, Youre fired!) That missile strike in Syria was a first (Obama didnt dare); the Moab in Afghanistan was a breakthrough; the drone strikes in Yemen soon after he took office were an absolute record! As for those regular army troops heading for Somalia, that hasnt happened in 24 years! Civilian casualties in the region: rising impressively!

Call it mission creep on steroids. At the very least, it seems like evidence that the man who, as a presidential candidate, swore hed bomb the shit out of Isis and let the US military win again is doing just that. (As he also said on the campaign trail with appropriately placed air punches: You gotta knock the hell out of them! Boom! Boom! Boom!)

Donald Trumps first 100 days in office in four minutes

Hes appointed generals to crucial posts in his administration, lifted restraints on how his commanders in the field can act (hence those soaring civilian casualty figures), let them send more military personnel into Iraq, Syria andthe region generally, taken the constraints off the CIAs drone assassination campaigns, and dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group somewhat indirectly to the waters off the Koreas (with a strike force of tweets and threats accompanying it).

And theres obviously more to come: potentially many more troops, even an army of them, for Syria; a possible mini surge of troops into Afghanistan (that Moab strike may have been a canny signal from a US commander seeking to showcase Afghanistans myriad threats to a president paying no attention); a heightened air campaign in Somalia; and thats just to start what will surely be a far longer list in a presidency in which, whether or not infrastructure is ever successfully rebuilt in America, the infrastructure of the military-industrial complex will continue to expand.

Institutionalizing war and its generals

Above all, President Trump did one thing decisively. He empowered a set of generals or retired generals James Mad Dog Mattis as secretary of defense, HR McMaster as national security adviser and John Kelly as secretary of homeland security men already deeply implicated in Americas failing wars across the greater Middle East. Not being a details guy himself, hes then left them to do their damnedest.

What I do is I authorize my military, he told reporters recently. We have given them total authorization and thats what theyre doing and, frankly, thats why theyve been so successful lately.

As the 100-day mark of his presidency approaches, theres been no serious reassessment of Americas endless wars or how to fight them (much less end them). Instead, theres been a recommitment to doing more of the familiar, more of what hasnt worked over the last decade and a half. No one should be surprised by this, given the cast of characters men who held command posts in those unsuccessful wars and are clearly incapable of thinking about them in other terms than the ones that have been indelibly ingrained in the brains of the US military high command since soon after 9/11.

That new ruling reality of our American world should, in turn, offer a hint about the nature of Donald Trumps presidency. It should be a reminder that as strange as his statements, tweets and acts may have been, as chaotic as his all-in-the-family administration is proving to be, as little as he may resemble anyone weve ever seen in the White House before, hes anything but an anomaly of history. Quite the opposite.

Like those generals, hes a logical endpoint to a grim process, whether youre talking about the growth of inequality in America and the rise of plutocracy or the form that American war-making is taking under him.

When it comes to war and the US military, none of whats happened would have been conceivable without the two previous presidencies. None of it would have been possible without Congresss willingness to pump endless piles of money into the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex in the post-9/11 years; without the building up of the national security state and its 17 (yes, 17!) major intelligence outfits into an unofficial fourth branch of government; without the institutionalization of war as a permanent (yet strangely distant) feature of American life and of wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa that evidently cant be won or lost but only carried on into eternity.

None of this would have been possible without the growing militarization of this country, including of police forces increasingly equipped with weaponry off Americas distant battlefields and filled with veterans of those same wars; without a media rife with retired generals and other former commanders narrating and commenting on the acts of their successors and proteges; and without a political class of Washington pundits and politicians taught to revere that military.

In other words, however original Donald Trump may look, hes the curious culmination of old news and a changing country. Given his bravado and braggadocio, its easy to forget the kinds of militarized extremity that preceded him.

Police
Police officers in riot gear approach demonstrators in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2016. Photograph: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

After all, it wasnt Donald Trump who had the hubris, in the wake of 9/11, to declare a Global War on Terror against 60 countries (the swamp of that moment). It wasnt Donald Trump who manufactured false intelligence on the weapons of mass destruction Iraqs Saddam Hussein supposedly possessed or produced bogus claims about that autocrats connections to al-Qaida, and then used both to lead the United States into a war on and occupation of that country. It wasnt Donald Trump who invaded Iraq (whether he was for or against the invasion at the time). It wasnt Donald Trump who donned a flight suit and landed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego to personally declare that hostilities were at an end in Iraq just as they were truly beginning, and to do so under an inane Mission Accomplished banner prepared by the White House.

It wasnt Donald Trump who ordered the CIA to kidnap terror suspects (including totally innocent individuals) off the streets of global cities as well as from the backlands of the planet and transport them to foreign prisons or CIA black sites where they could be tortured. It wasnt Donald Trump who caused one terror suspect to experience the sensation of drowning 83 times in a single month (even if he was inspired by such reports to claim that he would bring torture back as president).

It wasnt Donald Trump who spent eight years in the Oval Office presiding over a global killlist, running Terror Tuesday meetings, and personally helping choose individuals around the world for the CIA to assassinate using what, in essence, was the presidents own private drone force, while being praised (or criticized) for his caution.

It wasnt Donald Trump who presided over the creation of a secret military of 70,000 elite troops cosseted inside the larger military, special-ops personnel who, in recent years, have been dispatched on missions to a large majority of the countries on the planet without the knowledge, much less the consent, of the American people. Nor was it Donald Trump who managed to lift the Pentagon budget to $600bn and the overall national security budget to something like a trillion dollars or more, even as Americas civilian infrastructure aged and buckled.

It wasnt Donald Trump who lost an estimated $60bn to fraud and waste in the American reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, or who decided to build highways to nowhere and a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan. It wasnt Donald Trump who sent in the warrior corporations to squander more in that single country than was spent on the post-second world war Marshall Plan to put all of western Europe back on its feet. Nor did he instruct the US military to dump at least $25bn into rebuilding, retraining and rearming an Iraqi army that would collapse in 2014 in the face of a relatively small number of Isis militants, or at least $65bn into an Afghan army that would turn out to be filled with ghost soldiers.

In its history, the US has engaged in quite a remarkable range of wars and conflicts. Nonetheless, in the last 15 years, forever war has been institutionalized as a feature of everyday life in Washington, which, in turn, has been transformed into a permanent war capital. When Donald Trump won the presidency and inherited those wars and that capital, there was, in a sense, no one left in the remarkably bankrupt political universe of Washington but those generals.

As the chameleon he is, he promptly took on the coloration of the militarized world he had entered and appointed his three generals to key security posts. Anything but the norm historically, such a decision may have seemed anomalous and out of the American tradition. That, however, was only because, unlike Donald Trump, most of the rest of us hadnt caught up with where that tradition had actually taken us.

The previous two presidents had played the warrior regularly, donning military outfits in his presidential years, George W Bush often looked like a GI Joe doll and saluting the troops, while praising them to the skies, as the American people were also trained to do. In the Trump era, however, its the warriors (if youll excuse the pun) who are playing the president.

Its hardly news that Donald Trump is a man in love with what works. Hence, Steve Bannon, his dream strategist while on the campaign trail, is now reportedly on the ropes as his White House counselor because nothing hes done in the first nearly 100 days of the new presidency has worked (except promoting himself).

Think of Trump as a chameleon among presidents and much of this makes more sense. A Republican who had been a Democrat for significant periods of his life, he conceivably could have run for president as a more nativist version of Bernie Sanders on the Democratic ticket had the political cards been dealt just a little differently. Hes a man who has changed himself repeatedly to fit his circumstances and hes doing so again in the Oval Office.

In the world of the media, its stylish to be shocked, shocked that the president who campaigned on one set of issues and came into office still championing them is now supporting quite a different set from China to taxes, Nato to the Export-Import Bank. But this isnt faintly strange. Donald Trump isnt either a politician or a trendsetter. If anything, hes a trend-senser. (In a similar fashion, he didnt create reality TV, nor was he at its origins. He simply perfected a form that was already in development.)

If you want to know just where we are in an America that has been on the march toward a different sort of society and governing system for a long time now, look at him. Hes the originator of nothing, but he tells you all you need to know. On war, too, think of him as a chameleon. Right now, war is working for him domestically, whatever it may be doing in the actual world, so he loves it. For the moment, those generals are indeed his and their wars his to embrace.

Honeymoon of the generals

Normally, on entering the Oval Office, presidents receive what the media calls a honeymoon period. Things go well. Praise is forthcoming. Approval ratings are heartwarming.

Donald Trump got none of this. His approval ratings quickly headed for the honeymoon cellar or maybe the honeymoon fallout shelter; the media and he went to war; and one attempt after another to fulfill his promises from executive orders on deportation to repealing Obamacare and building his wall have come a cropper. His administration seems to be in eternal chaos, the cast of characters changing by the week or tweet, and few key secondary posts being filled.

In only one area has Donald Trump experienced that promised honeymoon. Think of it as the honeymoon of the generals. He gave them that total authorization, and the missiles left the ships, the drones flew and the giant bomb dropped. Even when the results were disappointing, if not disastrous (as in a raid on Yemen in which a US special operator was killed, children slaughtered, and nothing of value recovered), he still somehow stumbled into highly praised presidential moments.

So far, in other words, the generals are the only ones who have delivered for him, big-league. As a result, hes given them yet more authority to do whatever they want, while hugging them tighter yet.

Heres the problem, though: theres a predictable element to all of this and it doesnt work in Donald Trumps favor. Americas forever wars have now been pursued by these generals and others like them for more than 15 years across a vast swath of the planet from Pakistan to Libya (and ever deeper into Africa) and the chaos of failing states, growing conflicts and spreading terror movements has been the result. Theres no reason to believe that further military action will, a decade and a half later, produce more positive results.

What happens, then? What happens when the war honeymoon is over and the generals keep right on fighting their way? The last two presidents put up with permanent failing war, making the best they could of it. Thats unlikely for Donald Trump. When the praise begins to die down, the criticism starts to rise, and questions are asked, watch out.

What then? In a world of plutocrats and generals, what coloration will Donald Trump take on next? Who will be left, except Jared and Ivanka?

This piece was originally published in TomDispatch. Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the cold war, The End of Victory Culture

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/26/trump-forever-war-doctrine-military

Russia and China veto UN resolution to impose sanctions on Syria

Russia and China veto UN resolution to impose sanctions on Syria

France, UK and US wanted sanctions over chemical weapon use but Vladimir Putin rejects totally inappropriate proposal

Russia and China have vetoed a UN resolution to impose sanctions on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons during the six-year war.

It is Russias seventh veto to protect the Syrian government from UN security council action. The vote was one of the first confrontations at the UN between Russia and the US since Donald Trump took control of the White House in January, pledging to build closer ties with Moscow.

Russia and China are both permanent members of the UN security council. France, the UK and the US complete the five-nation lineup. Another 10 nations are non-permanent members, elected for two-year terms by the 193 states that are members of the UNs general assembly.

Russian president Vladimir Putin described the draft resolution on Tuesday as totally inappropriate.

Russia argued that the resolution drafted by Britain, France and the US would harm UN-led peace talks between the warring Syrian parties in Geneva, which began last week.

Nine UN council members voted in favour of the resolution and Bolivia voted against, along with China and Russia. Egypt, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan abstained.

A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by any of the five permanent members in order to be adopted. Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, criticised Moscow following the vote.


Nikki
Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, greets outgoing security council president and Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, Volodymyr Yelchenko, before the meeting. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

It is a sad day on the security council when members start making excuses for other member states killing their own people, she said. The world is definitely a more dangerous place.

Russias deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, described the statements made against Moscow as outrageous and warned: God will judge you.

The vetoes received widespread condemnation by rights groups. Sherine Tadros, of Amnesty International, said: By vetoing this resolution, Russia and China have displayed a callous disregard for the lives of millions of Syrians.

French UN ambassador Franois Delattre said the failure by the council to act would send a message of impunity.

Physicians for Human Rights, an organisation that guides doctors in Syria on how to treat victims of chemical attacks, said the security council had shown itself impotent to halt the terrible scourge of chemical weapons.

Its statement added: Shame on the Russian Federation, China and all those who enable the Syrian governments attempts to escape accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Vladimir
Vladimir Safronkov, centre, Russias deputy UN ambassador, keeps his hand lowered during the vote. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Western powers put forward the resolution in response to the results of an investigation by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The international inquiry found Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks and that Islamic State militants had used mustard gas.

British UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the council before the vote: This is about taking a stand when children are poisoned, its that simple.

Chlorines use as a weapon is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013.

If inhaled, chlorine gas turns to hydrochloric acid in the lungs and can kill by burning lungs and drowning victims in body fluids.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assads government has denied its forces have used chemical weapons. Russia has questioned the results of the UN/OPCW inquiry and has long said there was not enough proof for the security council to take any action.

The draft resolution would have banned the sale or supply of helicopters to the Syrian government because the UN/OPCW inquiry found Syrian government forces had used helicopters to drop barrel bombs containing chlorine gas.

It also proposed targeted sanctions a travel ban and asset freeze on 11 Syrian military commanders and officials, as well as on 10 government and related entities.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/01/russia-and-china-veto-un-resolution-to-impose-sanctions-on-syria