Jettison Blair!

Labour needs to push Blair overboard soon to have any chance in the May elections. By Liam Bailey

Prime Minister Tony Blair has stated his intentions to stand down before the next election. It is a near certainty that he will be replaced by the Chancellor Gordon Brown. Gordon Brown has announced his intentions to distance himself from the white house, to “speak his mind” and put Britain’s National interests first.

The Prime Minister has refused to set a date for his departure, but has said the 2006 Trades Union Congress (TUC) would be his last, meaning he will leave sometime before September. Most people believe he will leave in May to have a decade in office but keep his promise to go before the TUC 2007. Others believe he will go sometime before May to give his successor time to assure the maximum Labour vote at the May elections for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and local councils.

Pollsters are predicting a heavy defeat for Labour at the May elections. Under Blair they may well be right. I predict arrogant Blair will again put his legacy before the Party and Britain’s national interests by staying in office until at least May, assuring his decade as Prime Minister. Not only that but Labour is currently conducting an extensive policy review, which Blair hopes will secure his legacy by entrenching long-term plans for public service reforms. It is highly unlikely that he will leave before its conclusion.

Many people also believe he will hang on as long as possible in the hope the Northern Ireland’s devolution can be restarted while he is still in office. All these things make it unlikely that he will be stepping down any time soon and unlikely his successor will have anytime to influence the vote in May, if in fact Blair doesn’t stay on for the elections.

The Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said it best: “We have a constitutional novelty. A prime minister with responsibility and no authority and a chancellor with authority but no responsibility. How can this dysfunctional government conduct the affairs of the country?” The latest Labour party scandal proves he is right.

Former Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has caused a massive stir in the UK by taking her Dyslexic son out of state school and into a private school. Ms Kelly said she was doing “the right thing for my child”, in paying 15000 pounds per year fees to move her son from public schooling in Tower Hamlet’s borough to private schooling. A boarding school in Oxfordshire is Ms Kelly’s choice, despite there being 20 schools close to her home, six with either outstanding or excellent Special Education Needs (SEN) services according to a recent Ofsted report. Downing Street almost immediately released a statement supporting MS Kelly and David Cameron, who has a son with cerebal paulsey expressed his sympathy.

I doubt if the thousands of parents across the country, who have children with severe learning difficulties but can’t afford private school will feel the same, in fact it is likely that they will have lost faith in public sector SEN schooling. Either way the former Education Secretary, now Communities Minister Ruth Kelly has shown little faith in her community, little faith in the education system and therefore little faith in herself. Her decision has also caused a massive scandal for Labour, which could really do without it at the moment.

The debate has continued in the papers and Thursday’s British television news, since the Sunday Mirror expose. In 2005 David Blunkett became the ninth minister Blair had forced to resign, and five others have resigned in scandalous circumstances, four over the Iraq war. I have no doubt that Ruth Kelly would have been the tenth forced resignation under normal party conditions. An ITN news reporter echoed Menzies Campbell Wednesday, saying: Blair has the responsibility but no authority and Brown has the authority but no responsibility, so it looks likely she –Ruth Kelly– will stay in her job. So, not only is it yet another high-profile scandal and yet more bad publicity for the Labour Party, but it has yet again drawn attention to the “dysfunctional government” running the UK.

All the above combines to make it very unlikely the pollsters will be proved wrong about the May elections. Labour will indeed be in for a blood-bath.

So, what has never looked likely before begins to look likely now, a Scottish National Party (SNP) win in the Scottish Parliament elections and maybe even Scottish Independence. The Scottish National Party is slightly ahead of Scottish Labour, and miles ahead of all other parties in most opinion polls, you can’t blame them for thinking this could be their year.

The SNP will undoubtedly try to gain Scottish independence, which has a lot of support in Scotland but not from me. I am a proud Scot, but I am also proud to be British and believe we have far more clout in Europe and the world speaking with one unified voice. Devolution has meant Scotland can still act in its own right, with its own separate funding and separate policies, as the smoking ban in Scotland has proven. I am a smoker and to see people on T.V. smoking in English pubs, knowing we can no longer smoke in public places north of the border is one example I could do without.

New supporters are adding to the people who have always supported the SNP’s vision for an independent Scotland. They believe Scotland could be better off as an independent state because it would have sole control and reap the profits of Scotland’s oil reserves, which they believe would expand the Scottish economy.

The fact that the opposition party set to gain the most in the Scottish Parliament elections is not the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats but the SNP is evidence of what is making people angry, perhaps more so than any of the above. The Scottish people want to distance themselves from Blair’s foreign policy and they see the SNP’s vision for an independent Scotland as the best way to do that.

Therefore, perhaps the biggest disadvantage for having Blair onboard is his unrelenting support for Bush and the U.S. combined with anti-U.S. feeling in the U.K. running at an all time high. This is largely because of Bush’s foreign policy, which Blair has followed blindly. Despite support for the Iraq war and therefore Bush and therefore Blair being at an all time low, Blair refuses, whatever his reasoning to criticise Bush even slightly, no matter how stupid his foreign policies seem.

The latest U.S bombing in Somalia is yet another example, Blair was asked during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s questions if he was concerned by the air strikes from the US air force carried out on Somali targets over the last few days. It was suggested by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn that what was needed was not foreign intervention but a peace process. Blair agreed: “What is in the interests of everyone in Somalia is to have a peace process that works properly”.

Bearing in mind that for the last fifteen years Somalis have endured either all-out war or total violent chaos in the country, Blair should surely have stopped there, or perhaps added something like: and that is what everybody, including the U.S wants to see in the country. Instead he added: the extremists at work in Somalia pose a threat not just to those outside Somalia but those within it as well and that global terrorism around the world had “a clear ideology and strategy” and where lives were being affected by it, it was right that those responsible were targeted. Bush can do no wrong in Blair’s eyes.

People are worried that with Blair in power the government will be pressured by Bush’s troop surge in Iraq and won’t keep its promise of bringing thousands of our troops home this year. Home from what many believe is an un-winnable war.

Blair staying in power but not really in charge puts the Labour party at a definite disadvantage. For one thing it gives opposition MP’s an easy target to aim criticism and ridicule at. Everyday that passes without an announcement of Blair’s departure means less time for the new leader to turn things around, more time for people to get even angrier as the dysfunctional government is exposed time and again and more reason for opposition MP’s to rub their hands together.

There is a program scheduled on British T.V. channel More Four called the Trial of Tony Blair. In the program Blair is convicted and jailed by a war-crimes tribunal at The Hague. This is further evidence of the U.K’s feelings about the Iraq war and Blair’s part in it. The Labour Party needs to cast Blair from around their neck before it is too late.

The End of War as We Know It!

Islamic extremist terrorism is a new threat. It requires a new approach. By Liam Bailey

9/11 was the pinnacle of an emerging ideology that had been festering for many years. Mainly since 1979, successive American Presidents oil bias and selective or intentional ignorance to unintended consequences of foreign policy decisions created a monster. On 9/11 it bit the hand that stopped feeding it when it had served its purpose. In dealing with the monster Bush has invaded two oil-rich Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, carrying on the great tradition of exacerbating the problem.

The history lessons should have already taught anyone considering the invasion of a Muslim country that it may not be such a good idea. The long running conflicts in Kashmir and Chechnya should ring alarm bells. The U.S government’s arrogance of “Anything you can do, we can do it better” and Bush’s refusal to admit their military short-comings in Vietnam prevented any such reluctance to invading Afghanistan.

Bush should really have been well versed in Afghanistan’s history and the perilous future of countries who invade, as many of Bush’s top aides were part of the Reagan cabinet that exacerbated the Soviet’s troubles in Afghanistan. A policy started by Reagan’s predecessor, which drew the Soviet Union into invading. The U.S was so confident that the Afghan Mujahideen would defeat the Soviet Union with their support that they concentrated on dragging it out for as long as possible. The spiralling cost of the invasion was a major factor in the demise of the Soviet Union. The U.S is proud their policy went so well, unfortunately it caused instability in Afghanistan for almost a decade.

Bush clearly wasn’t made aware of the possible quagmire Afghanistan could become, or, from Bush’s rhetoric, he holds his U.S and its military on a pedestal and refused to believe a few “Rag-tag” extremists (stirred up Moslems” as Zbigniew Brzezinski called them) could defeat it. The U.S heavily aided and armed the Northern Alliance, which was ousted by the Taliban and had been trying to regain control ever since. The Alliance was no match for the Taliban with Pakistan’s support. The sudden influx of U.S support redressed the balance and the Northern Alliance drove the Taliban back into their caves on the Afghan/Pakistan border.

In Afghanistan, recruiting was always going to be easy for the Taliban seeking to reform and regroup for the insurgency Mullah Mohammed Omar promised. In the Madrassas on the Afghanistan border and across Pakistan, many of which were built with U.S money during the Soviet invasion, a militant interpretation of Salafist Islam is taught. In these teachings there is no greater honour than to be a fighter in the Mujahideen’s struggle to liberate Islamic land from a godless invader.

Nobody knows whether NATO will prevail in Afghanistan or the radicals and Pakistan made Taliban will. Either way, the minute Bush invaded Afghanistan, not only did he legitimize Osama Bin Laden and other terror network’s Fatwahs [PDF p51] by giving their terrorism a battlefield. He then went ahead to show that Osama Bin Laden’s propaganda was true by failing to show remorse for “collateral damage”, and failing to rebuild Afghanistan, thus displaying the imperialistic traits of a war based on ulterior motives. None of which was concern for the Afghan people living under the cruel Taliban.

All the above amid the media frenzy caused by 9/11 and the new “War on Terror” –war on the world’s newest and biggest fear– meant Osama’s propaganda being proved right was watched by every Muslim fortunate enough to have a computer and/or television. The problem Al Qaeda had with dwindling global membership was solved by 9/11 and the war on terror’s first action. Gauntanamo, the “shock and awe” of the Iraq campaign and resulting “collateral damage” further served Al Qaeda’s Salafism fuelled cause. As did the atrocities committed by U.S forces.

Now Salafi Islamists had two battlefields to unleash the deeply entrenched anti-Americanism that had led to 9/11, in the form of insurgent warfare. Two places were U.S forces and interests could be attacked far easier, therefore far more frequently and far more effectively than any other country such interests exist.

Toppling Saddam was the easy part, sacking the Baathist supporters, some of which made up the police and security forces was the stupid part and led to the creation of another wing of the insurgency. An insurgency that now rocks Iraq with suicide bombings and other terror attacks daily. Both the above are Sunni elements of the insurgency, one fighting against the hated American empire, the other fighting to put Sunnis back into the primary position they had been in under Saddam. The latter adds a sectarian element to the insurgency, which the U.S exacerbated by –again acting stupidly– imposing a majority Shia Transitional Government, the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The sectarian misery has built, from its early beginnings of shrines being blown up into two peoples of the same religion attacking each other in almost every way imaginable, driving each other from their homes, and an environment in which nobody feels safe. An environment so corrupted by Jihad, Anti-American propaganda and deep rooted hatred caused by Saddam favouring a minority, part of which were responsible, voluntarily or not, for brutalizing the majority.

I haven’t even mentioned the Kurdish element. The years of oppression by Saddam, crushing their every revolt for an independent Kurdish state with his campaign of ethnic cleansing has led to a prevalence of the same militant Islamic teachings of Afghanistan’s troubled past. As such they make up their own part in Iraq’s misery, fighting for an independent state the hard way: adding to the death and destruction in the hope the U.S will eventually realize that creating three independent states is the only way to end it all. This may prove to be the case.

3000 U.S troops have been killed in Iraq and the occupation isn’t even three years old, which means that more than a thousand U.S troops have been killed every year of the occupation. Increasing the number of U.S troops in a so called “surge” may do no more than give the insurgents more prize targets to kill with their ambush tactics of hit and run, roadside bombs, suicide car bombs and rocket attacks.

What doesn’t help is the fact that any Muslim resistance group fighting occupation is almost guaranteed to be armed and/or funded by a sympathetic and oil-rich Muslim country, as Syria and Iran are showing in Iraq.

In the Lebanon invasion, similar tactics were employed by Hezbollah, another fundamentalist guerrilla group, also allegedly assisted by Syria and Iran. The way those “stirred up” Muslims stood the course of Israel’s organized military, with artillery, air support and even less scruples towards “collateral damage”, supports my argument.I’m not saying that every Muslim country invaded by a superior military will evolve into the state Iraq has become, the chances are they won’t. Iraq, like every Muslim country has its own individual religious and cultural dynamics. A few things are clear though:

The tactics have been set and their effectiveness proven. From now on, every non-Muslim country that ignores the historical lessons and invades a Muslim country, faces a war to decide not whether they will prevail and then restore order, but how long they are prepared to occupy a country partly populated with people who are willing to die to expel them, killing as many as possible in the process.

There is no doubt that the world faces a great threat from religious extremist terrorism, driven by an anti-modernist strand of Islam, interpreted to suit a violently anti-American ideology. This was expanded in 1998 to include U.S allies; almost every country in the western world. The simple fact is that trying to defeat it with the very military that is at the heart [PDF p50] of the anti-Americanism is only doing what the U.S usually does, exacerbating the problem. The new threat we face is not a conventional threat, and it cannot be defeated with conventional warfare.

US: End of Middle East Dominance: What Dominance?

Previously suppressed states are exploiting the mess in Iraq and vying for supremacy.By Liam Bailey

With the Baker report suggesting America talks with its staunch adversaries Iran and Syria, and the public’s apparent support for Baker’s findings. It is beginning to look like Bush might finally be forced into –unthinkable for him– acts of history validated common sense. Since talking to Iran and Syria was first suggested by Blair after he gave evidence to the Baker Commission, analysts have been questioning the end of U.S domination in the Middle East.

The question should be: did the U.S ever dominate the Middle East? Sure, unconditionally supporting Israel ensured their influence in that conflict, IDF style. Bombing and shooting the Palestinians into agreement with the U.S’ –fad– peace plan at the time. Meanwhile the U.S exerted little or no influence in Israel’s often ill-advised and frequently illegal actions. Israel currently has little or no influence in Middle East affairs anyway. It couldn’t get by without U.S aid [PDF], let alone suppress the latest Palestinian Intifada.

There was a tradition of U.K and U.S influence in Iran’s monarchical rule after we imposed a suitable Shah. The current stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, and its meddling in Iraq [PDF] show how much things have changed. Not only recently but since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the hostages taken in the U.S embassy during the revolution flipped the bird to U.S influence in Iran.

Iran currently showing disregard for U.S power is a facade to amplify its own strength and help their hegemonic aims.

Syrian diplomats have always adhered strictly to agreements reached with their U.S counterparts. But they have also been close to all-out war over the Israeli Lebanon conflict in 1983. The U.S, recognising that Syria plays a central role in the Middle East and in global Jihad, attempts to exert its influence. And turn the “rogue state” from a supporter of terrorism to a supporter of democracy and U.S hegemony. They have and probably will never succeed in that aim.

The U.S has enjoyed 70 years of good relations with Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, until 9/11 put a significant strain on the “special relationship”. Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Israel during the Israel/Hezbollah conflict and rhetoric of going to war showed that the U.S doesn’t hold much influence over Saudi Arabia.

In Iraq’s case, we all know the current scenario. The U.S has as much influence in Iraq now as any of the rival militia factions. The same influence it has recently had over every other Middle East country, very little.

The U.S has had reasonable influence in Turkey since shortly after World War II, with the exception of the mid-late 70’s when Turkey invaded Cyprus. The U.S’ influence in Turkey crumbled in the build up to the Iraq war. Turkey refusing U.S forces entry to hit Iraq from the North, showed that –unlike Saudi Arabia– Turkey’s loyalty to their Iraqi Muslim brothers and sisters influenced their policy more than U.S relations. U.S aid [PDF] was cut-off 2003. Except a small military grant, which I presume was necessary for Turkey’s involvement in Afghanistan.

Relations fell apart in Mar. 2005, when the U.S ambassador to Turkey resigned after two years. Because Turkey’s government came out in support of their President’s decision to visit Syria in early April that year, despite the U.S warning against it. Also for ignoring the ambassador’s calls for Turkey to join an international coalition concerning Syria.

The U.S weighs its relationship with and influence of Egypt perhaps higher than any other Middle East country, because of its leadership role in the region. A role which was set when Egypt was actively fighting Israel and sought military aid from the Soviets. Several other Arab states shortly followed suit. U.S Israel relations improved after the 1979 peace treaty was signed with Israel. Since then the U.S has given billions of dollars [PDF] in military and financial aid to sustain Egypt’s moderate voice in Arab councils. Persuade less moderate regimes of the benefits of compromise and to maintain the Egypt-Israeli peace treaty.

The latter has been more successful than the other two by far. As the U.S failed to realize that the feelings of Egypt’s leaders toward Israel’s treatment of their Arab Palestinian brothers didn’t change overnight. More likely they realised they would be in a much better position to help the Palestinians in every way with a whole whack of U.S aid.

Jordan’s monarchy has perhaps the best relationship with the U.S. The U.S began providing Jordan with economic and military aid in 1951 and 1957 respectively. Relations were slightly soured by Jordan’s reluctance to participate in the first Iraq war to liberate Kuwait. Relations improved throughout the 1990’s as Jordan began to take a more favourable view of normalization of relations with Israel. Over the years the U.S has provided billions of dollars [PDF] in aid to Jordan. In return Jordan provided logistical support in the Afghanistan war, and, informally the same in the current Iraq war, although the monarchy was publicly opposed.

King Abdullah’s policies of normalization with Israel and alliance with the U.S cause much unrest from Jordan’s Islamic fundamentalist groups. Like the Jordan Muslim Brotherhood, an influential part of the political mainstream. It also causes unrest in parts of the Palestinian communities, and in prominent professional and trade organizations.

The Middle East and its rich oil reserves have always been at the fore-front of U.S policy. So much so that they have taken their eye off the ball elsewhere; allowing China to become the main influence in Asia and enter the fight for global supremacy. The North Korean nuke test is another example of the Bush administration taking their eye off the ball.

Given all this focus on their Middle East policy it is ludicrous that it has descended into such a farce.

Little wonder as it is largely the world’s most backward foreign policy. Unconditionally supporting a country surrounded by enemies –Israel–, while hoping to exert influence over its enemies. Is like a boxer’s coach shouting orders at the opposing fighter. Stupid. Previously however the U.S had tried to exert their influence over Israel’s enemies by diplomacy in the main. Bush Jnr coming in with his complete ignorance of foreign policy and its relation to even recent history, alongside his policy of never talking to your adversary. Combined with the backward policies above, are perhaps the main reasons for the current state of the Middle East.

Something else I find laughable however is Bush Snr, responsible for another reason for the current mess. Coming in now and telling his son what he needs to do in Iraq. If he had honoured his statements to the Iraq’s Shia and Kurdish populations, by ordering U.S forces to go on into Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, in the first gulf war 1991. Embracing the uprising started by the Shia in the south and driving Iraqi forces into the Kurdish uprising in the North. Both of which were started because of Bush’s suggestion of support.

Saddam would undoubtedly have been easily defeated. As he was 2003, but the occupying U.S or U.S/U.N forces would have probably had the support of the Kurdish minority and Shia Majority. Giving the Sunni’s no choice but to join the new diplomatic efforts or be left out of Iraq’s democratic future. As oppose to miss-trust for Bush Jnr by Shia and Kurd’s after being lied to by his dad before him. And resentment because of the massacres his lies led them into.

I believe had Bush Snr done this Iraq would have been a stable democracy by now, certainly closer than has been for decades.

In closing, the U.S never really had much influence in Middle Eastern affairs. The little it did have from supplying heavy financial aid to needy countries in prominent positions. And U.S and Israel’s superior military force were sufficient to secure the things they really needed and manipulate affairs to ensure no-one else gained more control.

The Iraq war in 2003 showing that U.S military force was useless against sporadic Jihad’s guerrilla warfare. Accelerated the rate at which the little Middle East influence the U.S had is disappearing. All that remains is moderate influence in return for heavy aid to countries with even less influence –than the U.S– in Middle East affairs.

The rich and influential Middle East countries are exploiting the exposed weakness to secure their own hegemony.

It will be interesting to watch the changing political and military landscapes in the coming months. Especially if a serious U.S strategy shift in Iraq coincides with a policy shift in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Liam Bailey is a writer from the UK, he runs the War Pages weblog and can be contacted by e-mail.

Somalia Resolution: No Peace to Keep

Peacekeepers should never be expected to establish peace.By Liam Bailey

The 15 Member United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1725 Dec. 6 2006. The U.S led resolution authorizes a regional force from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) to establish a protection and training mission in Somalia. And the lifting of the UN arms embargo in relation to supplying the peacekeeping force. The previous UN mission in the country, started similarly but ended in a bloody battle and the death of 18 Marines attempting to disarm rival factions. The current resolution states its intention to consider taking measures against those that seek to prevent or block a peaceful dialogue process, overthrow the Transitional Federal Institutions by force, or take action that further threatens regional stability. Suggesting that, like its predecessor it could become far more than a protection and training mission, which may well have an adverse effect regional stability.

The U.S pushed for the resolution fearing that, predominantly following Salafist Islam, based on the Wahabi ideology that drives Al Qaeda’s Jihad. The Union of Islamic Courts will turn Somalia into a safe-haven and breeding ground for terrorism if they succeed in taking complete control of the country.

The current situation and likely near future presents similarities with other regions in the world past and present, none of which have gone well, in fact quite the opposite. When the U.S proposed the resolution, immediately analysts were calling out on the U.S’ intention to send troops into another Muslim country they were not wanted. In Iraq’s case that is where the similarities end and the opposites begin…

The U.S led coalition invaded Iraq to topple the government, whereas, no U.S or Western forces will enter Somalia to ensure that the government is not toppled.

The resolution reiterates that Transitional Federal Charter and Institutions are: “The only route to peace and stability” in Somalia, a northeast African nation without an effective central government since 1991. Statements like that, and passing the U.S led resolution authorizing a force, predominantly to protect the TFG in their stronghold of Baidoa, and train their security forces to counteract Islamist rule. Suggests they share the U.S’ desire, or ideology if you like to lump all Islamic militants together. Immediately make them the bad guy’s in any conflict, and proceed to meet them with force under the heading of the War on Terror. As in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, where the U.S and their supporters are finally being forced –by Iraq– to admit that this one size fits all policy just may be a mistake.

Despite Kofi Annan saying Thursday that the nations providing the troops should convince the UIC that they would not be an invasion force, adding: “It is important that we get the Somalis to understand that the force is coming in to help.”

The resolution and proposed force are provoking a predictable reaction from the Somali Islamists. Ibrahim Adow of the UIC told the BBC Friday: “Deploying foreign forces to Somalia is seen as invading forces and the Somali people are prepared to defend themselves against aggression.” Another UIC spokesman, Abdirahin Ali Mudey told The Washington Post Thursday that the resolution will introduce sophisticated weapons into Somalia and provoke a war between his group and the government. The UNSC hopes the resolution will restore peace and avert wider conflict in the region. But Mudey accused them of allowing Ethiopia to occupy Somalia and said that his movement would now reconsider attending the scheduled peace talks with the government later this month.

The UIC considerations would have taken a turn for the worse Friday when TFG forces, according to eye-witnesses accompanied by Ethiopian troops attacked UIC controlled Dinsoor. Some analysts, like BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut are warning that it could be the opening shots of the long awaited war for control of Somalia. I think it more likely that they are attempting to grab as much land before the arrival of the peacekeeping force, to give them more leverage in the power-sharing agreement that will supposedly follow the UN mission.

A peacekeeping force in Somalia may yet be a long way off, as many of the IGAD and AU nations are reluctant to send forces into the depths of the Somali conflict. Uganda, the only country to pledge troops for the force are now saying they may hold off until the security situation improves. Their Deputy Defense Minister called the lifting of the arms embargo “a first step” but said “It may be that we will think of holding off until the terrain is not so hostile for Ugandan forces.” And that the situation had changed since they first backed a peacekeeping force January 2005. Some are saying the UN’s adoption of the resolution is more a symbolic display of support for the TFG.

If or when a peacekeeping force do arrive in Somalia I suspect they will be in for a rough time. In the final comparison with Afghanistan, not the current war, now led by N.A.T.O, of which the coalition invasion would draw the same comparison’s as Iraq with Somalia’s current plight; the invasion of a Muslim country to topple a Muslim government not in the U.S interest. The earlier invasion however, when Soviet forces entered to strengthen the weak Afghan government they supported against a Mujahideen onslaught, is identical to the current situation. In that the IGAD and AU forces are entering on behalf of the UN, to protect the Somali government which they support, despite it controlling only a fraction of the country. Also identical in the level of outside support for both sides, intent on fighting a proxy war inside Somalia.

So if the examples of conflict in Somalia’s last peacekeeping mission, Iraq, Israel/Palestine and Afghanistan past and present are anything to go by. The AU and IGAD nations’ reluctance to pledge troops is understandable. And if a peacekeeping force ever does enter Somalia it won’t achieve its title aim, especially if it follows the UN mandate. Imposing Sharia law throughout Somalia by Holy War (Jihad) if necessary is central to the UIC’s Salafist ideology, force is the operative word and they will always meet it with force. And they will always have outside support from the world’s extremists.

The only way to avert all out war in the region is by reaching out to Somalia’s moderate Muslim’s with diplomacy to secure peace first, followed by an appropriate force to make sure the agreements are implemented. After a decade of war Somalian’s deserve peace. Not the U.S hijacking diplomacy to open yet another front in the War on Terror that will end in catastrophe. I’m really surprised and disappointed with the UN and the U.S’ failure to learn from their –many– mistakes.

Al Qaida: The Iraq Trap

New book author on BBC2 suggests Al Qaida tricked the U.S into (their downfall) the Iraq war. By Liam Bailey

Released Oct. 17, “Inside the Global Jihad how I infiltrated Al Qaeda and was abandoned by Western Intelligence” is the story of Omar Nasiri, who started out running guns for Algerian Islamic Radicals: Groupes Islamiques Armés; Armed Islamic Groups in English, GIA as they are most commonly known. After stealing money from the radicals he was forced to seek the protection of French intelligence in Belgium, who were taking the GIA threat very seriously. Omar Nasiri, which is a pen name to protect his identity, was given the money to return to the radicals and over the next 7 years became a vital French intelligence asset.

As the various splinter Islamic radical groups began to coalesce into the global threat of Al Qaida. Nasiri was sent to the training camps of Afghanistan, losing contact with his French intelligence controllers. When his training was complete he was sent to the UK, to form a sleeper cell. Picked up by British intelligence he again became a spy under the joint control of British and French intelligence, the French were worried that London wasn’t taking the threat seriously, naming the capital Londonistan because of the number of radicals taking refuge there. While in London Omar Nasiri provided intelligence on radical clerics like, Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza and mosques like Finsbury park; a haven for radical preaching. Until he parted company with the intelligence community in the late 90’s when they began to lose trust in him and he began to become frustrated that they weren’t taking his information seriously enough.

Omar Nasiri’s account of life inside Al Qaeda training camps is, according to Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden Unit, “more complete than any intelligence we had available to us in the 1990s” and “has no peer in the publications of the American intelligence community.” As well as being checked for validity by Michael Scheuer, the facts were also checked by members of various European intelligence agencies before publication.

The above facts about Nasiri’s story came from his Oct. 16 interview on BBC2’s Newsnight. During the interview Nasiri gave some details about the training regime inside Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan. Nasiri talked of seeing one of his fellow trainees hanging by his feet from the ceiling, his trainer explained to him that the man wasn’t being punished; he was being trained in what to do if he was captured and tortured under interrogation. Nasiri said that Al Qaida operatives are taught, not how to maintain silence under torture, but to lie; to tell the enemy what they think the enemy wants to hear.

This brought the interviewer to ask about the top Al Qaida operative Iban al Shakh al Libby, who, when captured revealed the intelligence that Colin Powell presented to the UN in the run up to the Iraq invasion. Nasiri said that al Libby was accomplished in the training techniques of remaining calm and telling the enemy what they want to hear under interrogation. Evidence emerged recently that the intelligence from al Libby that formed the basis for the Iraq war was art of a confession extracted under torture in a CIA prison in Egypt. When Nasiri was asked what al Libby would do if tortured, Nasiri said, “he would lie.”

Nasiri went on to suggest that, before the Iraq war, Al Qaida had wanted to draw the U.S into invading a Middle East Muslim country, and said that Iraq was believed to be the weakest. Given the long running battle between the U.S and the UN as to whether Saddam’s reluctance to cooperate with weapons inspectors was strong enough evidence that he was concealing an active WMD program, and given that U.S Neocon plans for an Iraq invasion since 1998 were almost common knowledge. It is easy to see that the intelligence al Libby provided on Al Qaida links with Saddam were –knowingly– exactly what the enemy wanted to hear, and according to Nasiri, exactly what Al Qaida wanted the U.S to believe.

This adds yet more doubt in the ability of President Bush to run his country effectively. Not only were Bush’s father and his aides, many top U.S intelligence analysts and many respected media analysts able to predict that an Iraq invasion would go horribly for the U.S. But Al Qaida, the U.S’ biggest enemy at the time were also able to predict that among other things, their activities would turn Iraq into a quagmire for coalition forces, also adding weight to the claims that Al Qaida have stirred up Iraq’s sectarian misery. So again I ask: why wasn’t Bush Jnr or anyone by his side able to see that they were right?

If Nasiri is correct, and what al Libby revealed under torture did draw the U.S into the very invasion of a Muslim country that Al Qaida were praying for. Then the U.S has been given a taste of its own medicine in Iraq.

Although the official line remains that U.S funding for the Afghan Mujahideen began after the Soviet invasion in 1980. A 1998 interview with President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski revealed that the U.S had begun covertly funding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan July 3 1979, long before the Soviet invasion Dec. 24 the same year. Brzezinski advised the President the day funding began, that he believed it the covert aid would induce the Soviet’s to invade Afghanistan, and, so called the Afghan trap, would be an opportunity to give the Soviet’s their Vietnam War.

Just as the Afghanistan war effectively ended the Soviet’s run –against the U.S- for world supremacy. The Iraq war, with the U.S now considering seeking their enemies help has effectively ended the U.S’ run for joint –with Israel- Middle East domination and their reign of world supremacy.

This article was published by OhmyNews International 18/11/06

Begging for Help in Iraq

The end of U.S supremacy in the 21st century.By Liam Bailey

When Bush announced Iran and Iraq as part of an axis of evil with N. Korea, shortly after the announcement invading Iraq, there is no doubt in my mind that Ahmadinejad and Khomeini must have believed they would be next. Because of this there is also no doubt in my mind that Iran’s leadership set about an active and major campaign to make the Iraq war as costly for coalition forces as U.S support of Saddam made theirs. In an effort to prevent invasion of Iran, at least long enough to see Bush expelled from power in favour of a less war hungry President.

Bush being elected for a second term was undoubtedly viewed by Iran as a set-back in this aim, which might well have led to their campaign in Iraq being stepped up. This would certainly account for the constantly rising violence despite the U.S’ best efforts to squash the insurgency. But I doubt even Iran could have foreseen their plan would have gone this well. As now the two leaders of the coalition, Bush and Blair are both beating a path to Iran’s door in seek of help with the massive problem in Iraq. Little wonder then that Ahmadinejad intends to make America beg.

In yet another U.S unintended consequence going to an unnecessary war in Iraq, may well have put Iran in the driving seat over its nuclear programme. Who would have thought that Iran would be putting conditions on the U.S for direct talks, drawing attention to yet another Bush mistake. I bet that Bush is wishing he had agreed to direct talks with Iran without conditions all those months ago, when the theocratic regime made such an offer over their nuclear program.

Although in a televised press conference Oct. 14 Ahmadinejad said he has “no problem” talking with Britain, because the UK and Iran have maintained relations, talks with the U.S however, mutually rejected since the 1979 Islamic revolution could only come at a price.

“We have said from the beginning that we will talk with the American government, but under conditions. The conditions concern the US attitude. If they correct their behaviour, we will talk to them like others,” Amhadinejad said, making little or no effort to conceal the confidence in his voice. Iran talking of correcting the U.S’ behaviour is a stark turn around in world affairs.

Ahmadinejad’s statement could have been in reference to many things, returning Iranian assets seized in the U.S since the 1979-81 U.S embassy siege, an end to the U.S imposed sanctions putting pressure on the Iranian regime and/or a reversal of the U.S’ refusal to accept the Tehran regime’s legitimacy. The one issue Ahmadinejad made clear his conditions would concern was Iran’s fledgling nuclear program, saying: “We are not going to withdraw from the Iranian nation’s rights,”

This declaration implied that any Iranian help in the U.S’ problem of Iraq would mean the U.S’ dropping their hard-line stance and ending their concerted efforts to have UN sanctions imposed on the Tehran regime’s fledgling nuclear program. This will be the clincher, whether the U.S can accept a nuclear Iran to save face in Iraq.

Whether Bush accepts Ahmadinejad’s conditions or not will not change Israel’s stance towards a nuclear Iran. In response to the possible shift in U.S policy over Iran’s nuclear program, there have already been yet more threats from hard-liners in Israel, like finance minister Netanyahu that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Olmert who has also warned of the consequences should diplomacy fail to stop Iran’s nuclear aims, is in the U.S discussing the issue with Bush. Bush has assured him that the U.S resolve against Iran’s nuclear ambitions will not be weakened by the Democrats taking Congress as the pair called Oct. 15 for more support from the international community on ending Iranian enrichment.

Given the Bush administration adherence to strongly pro-Israeli foreign policy, and it maintenance of refusing to accept a nuclear Iran I find it difficult to believe that a new defence secretary and a change in Congress will change Bush’s stance on Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli doubts about American resolve however could well lead to a strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities similar to their attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981. Iran’s tendency to run their nuclear program covertly prior to their announcing it, and given Uranium enrichment facilities being easy to conceal it is doubtful Israel could take out all of Iran’s capabilities in one strike.

The consequences of such a strike, and the millions of Iranians possibly dying from radiation poisoning would undoubtedly result in a wave of terror against Israel, definitely from Iran and Hezbollah and quite possibly other militant groups. If such a strike doesn’t come from Israel, it will be interesting to see how new U.S defence secretary James Baker weighs a nuclear Iran against ending the U.S death camp of Iraq, whether he will enjoy the same influence over Bush that Rumsfeld did and how this will change the effect U.S policy has on the world.

This article was published by OhmyNews International 15/11/06

Assistance Needed in Iraq

The end of U.S supremacy in the 21st century.

When Bush announced Iran and Iraq as part of an axis of evil with N. Korea, shortly after the announcement invading Iraq, there is no doubt in my mind that Ahmadinejad and Khomeini must have believed they would be next. Because of this there is also no doubt in my mind that Iran’s leadership set about an active and major campaign to make the Iraq war as costly for coalition forces as U.S support of Saddam made theirs. In an effort to prevent invasion of Iran, at least long enough to see Bush expelled from power in favour of a less war hungry President.

Bush being elected for a second term was undoubtedly viewed by Iran as a set-back in this aim, which might well have led to their campaign in Iraq being stepped up. This would certainly account for the constantly rising violence despite the U.S’ best efforts to squash the insurgency. But I doubt even Iran could have foreseen their plan would have gone this well. As now the two leaders of the coalition, Bush and Blair are both beating a path to Iran’s door in seek of help with the massive problem in Iraq. Little wonder then that Ahmadinejad intends to make America beg.

In yet another U.S unintended consequence going to an unnecessary war in Iraq, may well have put Iran in the driving seat over its nuclear programme. Who would have thought that Iran would be putting conditions on the U.S for direct talks, drawing attention to yet another Bush mistake. I bet that Bush is wishing he had agreed to direct talks with Iran without conditions all those months ago, when the theocratic regime made such an offer over their nuclear program.

Although in a televised press conference Oct. 14 Ahmadinejad said he has “no problem” talking with Britain, because the UK and Iran have maintained relations, talks with the U.S however, mutually rejected since the 1979 Islamic revolution could only come at a price.

“We have said from the beginning that we will talk with the American government, but under conditions. The conditions concern the US attitude. If they correct their behaviour, we will talk to them like others,” Amhadinejad said, making little or no effort to conceal the confidence in his voice. Iran talking of correcting the U.S’ behaviour is a stark turn around in world affairs.

Ahmadinejad’s statement could have been in reference to many things, returning Iranian assets seized in the U.S since the 1979-81 U.S embassy siege, an end to the U.S imposed sanctions putting pressure on the Iranian regime and/or a reversal of the U.S’ refusal to accept the Tehran regime’s legitimacy. The one issue Ahmadinejad made clear his conditions would concern was Iran’s fledgling nuclear program, saying: “We are not going to withdraw from the Iranian nation’s rights,”

This declaration implied that any Iranian help in the U.S’ problem of Iraq would mean the U.S’ dropping their hard-line stance and ending their concerted efforts to have UN sanctions imposed on the Tehran regime’s fledgling nuclear program. This will be the clincher, whether the U.S can accept a nuclear Iran to save face in Iraq.

Whether Bush accepts Ahmadinejad’s conditions or not will not change Israel’s stance towards a nuclear Iran. In response to the possible shift in U.S policy over Iran’s nuclear program, there have already been yet more threats from hard-liners in Israel, like finance minister Netanyahu that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Olmert who has also warned of the consequences should diplomacy fail to stop Iran’s nuclear aims, is in the U.S discussing the issue with Bush. Bush has assured him that the U.S resolve against Iran’s nuclear ambitions will not be weakened by the Democrats taking Congress as the pair called Oct. 15 for more support from the international community on ending Iranian enrichment.

Given the Bush administration adherence to strongly pro-Israeli foreign policy, and it maintenance of refusing to accept a nuclear Iran I find it difficult to believe that a new defence secretary and a change in Congress will change Bush’s stance on Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli doubts about American resolve however could well lead to a strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities similar to their attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981. Iran’s tendency to run their nuclear program covertly prior to their announcing it, and given Uranium enrichment facilities being easy to conceal it is doubtful Israel could take out all of Iran’s capabilities in one strike.

The consequences of such a strike, and the millions of Iranians possibly dying from radiation poisoning would undoubtedly result in a wave of terror against Israel, definitely from Iran and Hezbollah and quite possibly other militant groups. If such a strike doesn’t come from Israel, it will be interesting to see how new U.S defence secretary James Baker weighs a nuclear Iran against ending the U.S death camp of Iraq, whether he will enjoy the same influence over Bush that Rumsfeld did and how this will change the effect U.S policy has on the world.

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Islamic Terror Rife in UK

The government’s actions have turned moderates into extremists.

By Liam Bailey

Head of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller shocked Britain Nov. 10 2006 when she announced that MI5 were tracking around 30 “priority one” terror plots in the UK involving 200 groups comprising of some 1600 dangerous extremists, mostly British born and linked to Al Qaeda. She also said that she believed in the not too distant future the threat could be from chemical or nuclear attacks. Adding that “martyrdom” videos showed that extremists were clearly motivated by their interpretation of U.K foreign policy as Anti-Muslim, “in particular the U.K’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan”.A video of one of the 7/7 bombers, released shortly after the attacks stated only the Iraq war as a reason for the attacks, this is because even Muslim’s can see the reasoning behind the Afghanistan invasion, given the carnage of 9/11 and the strong links between the perpetrators and terrorism central Afghanistan.

The media made a mockery of the justification for the Iraq war, illuminating the “sexed up dossier” and 45 minute strike lie, leaving Muslim’s to wonder at the true reason for obliterating Muslim land.

So when the U.K under Blair went ahead with its part in the Iraq war, despite the millions of people, including many Muslim’s protesting before the event, this caused many British Muslim’s, mainly the young to rebel against our way of life; creating an element of separatism within our Muslim communities.  

Blair and Bush’s actions before the Iraq war, like Gauntanamo bay displaying severe discrimination against Muslim’s, guilty (and tortured to admit it) until proven innocent under the watch of two supposedly democratic governments. Gauntanamo Bay was also responsible for showing Muslim’s and non-Muslim’s that the U.S and U.K governments clearly felt it was okay to treat Muslim’s as second class citizens, not entitled to the same basic rights as non-Muslim’s, such as innocent until proven guilty and the right to legal counsel, or the Geneva convention preventing torture.  This laid the foundations for the separatism the Iraq war created.

As a dispatches survey in July/Aug 2006 found that the separatism is young Muslims, alienated and disillusioned by British foreign policy, focusing on their religion and becoming devout Muslim’s, in that they stop enjoying western comforts and past-times. I believe their drifting away from their British roots and British friends makes them ripe for radicalization as Eliza Manningham-Buller said “by friends, families or organised training events in Britain and abroad.”

The 7/7 bombings, an unintended consequence therefore of the UK’s support Gauntanamo bay, and involvement in the Iraq war brought the War on Terror to UK shores, leading to heightened security in the capital and increased pressure on the intelligence services.
Religious discrimination against Muslims increased after the July 7 attacks, which also showed, long before the MI5 chief’s announcement, that the increasing separatism within our Muslim communities, particularly among the young, can easily turn into extremism and “home-grown” terrorism. This increased the demonization, discrimination and persecution of Muslims, which in turn increased Muslim separatism, and the vicious cycle began.

The MI5 chief also said that the number of plots had increased by 80% since January, this can’t be directly put down to Afghanistan, Gauntanamo or Iraq, but their triggering 7/7 and the heightened pressure on the government and intelligence services led to intelligence mistakes, homeland security policy and foreign policy that can account for such a staggering increase. The first, an intelligence and police mistake was the Forest Gate raid.

The Forest Gate raid angered Muslim’s, initially because of the shooting, the unnecessary level of force/officers (250) and the almost immediate suspicions in the media that the raid was launched on flimsy intelligence. Subsequent stories unfolded in the coming days, revealing the raid was launched on the flimsiest of uncorroborated intelligence, from –according to his own barrister- an “utter incompetent”. Serving a sentence under the terrorism act 2000, Abu Bakr Mansha reportedly gave the information in return for a transfer to a more lenient prison.  Blair’s support for Gauntanamo and the Forest Gate raid also showed Muslim and non-Muslim Britain that (Blair) the UK government felt that the current massive problem of terrorism being carried out by Muslims, gave them the right to openly discriminate against and persecute Muslim’s, this further demonized the Muslim community and fuelled the vicious cycle of discrimination and separatism. 

The 7/7 bombings also enabled the government to pass new terror legislation: The Terrorism Act 2006.

The changing or expansion of the definition of terrorism, and the inclusion of “glorification of terrorism” as a charge in the Terrorism Act 2006 worried civil liberties campaigners, who feared anyone campaigning against the government could be accused of glorifying terrorism and therefore arrested.   The new laws and police powers, especially longer detention of terror suspects; extended to 28 days without charge and extended stop and search and interception powers –surveillance, phone taps and room bugs- have and are causing anger within the British Muslim community.  Even the governments information commissioner fears that Britain has become a surveillance society.

Muslim’s, especially the young have been complaining about increased persecution by the police since before the 7/7 attacks, especially the stop and search powers of the Terrorism Act 2000 being used excessively and disproportionately against them. As I have said the 7/7 attacks increased pressure on the police, so the extension of stop and search powers in the new bill -mid 2006- meant even more young Muslim’s were being stopped and searched, devout Muslim’s with the stereotypical Islamist look –like Osama Bin Laden- were increasingly targeted by police. This isn’t entirely the police’s fault, potential terrorists are likely to be Muslim, but under the new laws, stopping and searching the same individuals or groups is doing more harm than good.

The police’s best chance in the fight against terrorism comes from regular, reliable intelligence from within the Muslim community, continuing to demonize, create the impression of discrimination, and Blair’s comments after Forest Gate that more similar raids were likely; practically saying that stopping another attack is more important than the obvious mistreatment and shooting of a subsequently innocent –second class citizen-Muslim, decreases the chances of obtaining said intelligence and therefore of successfully fighting terror.

The Israel/Lebanon conflict was another possible turning point between growing levels of Muslim separation and the current heightened threat from extremism/terrorism or as Eliza Mannigham-Buller put it between “passive sympathy” and “active terrorism.” 

Blair’s handling of the Israel/Lebanon conflict again showed double standards and discrimination against Muslim’s, in that he and Bush condemned Hezbollah killing civilians in rocket attacks but allowed Israel to continue indiscriminately killing Lebanese Muslim’s. Even as most other world leaders were calling for an immediate ceasefire. Some Muslim’s must have thought the only way to stop Israeli bombardment was for Hezbollah to defeat Israel, leading to many Muslim’s in the Middle East taking up arms in Jihad and going to Lebanon to fight.

I’m sure many of Britain’s young Muslim’s were also angered by the heavy civilian death toll and with vivid images in every news report like the 34 children killed in Qana may quite possibly have radicalized some young Muslim’s in Britain and around the world, saving the terror networks and radical clerics a job. Undoubtedly, Blair’s support for such carnage increased the separatism among British Muslim communities, leaving yet more young Muslim’s ripe for radicalization and more worryingly with so many Jihad video’s just one Google away, possibly some actively seeking out terror networks to join.

Jack Straw’s –publicity stunt- comments that Muslim women wearing the veil was a barrier to communication and would hinder the integration of Muslim communities. Also adding that he felt all Muslim women should voluntarily remove their veils. The debate they provoked brought support for his remarks from several other prominent government ministers. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis feared the veil was creating a voluntary apartheid. As I wrote in a previous article, Jack Straw’s comments and those supporting them could eventually lead to government sanctioned apartheid, by denying Muslim women the same rights as everyone else, to wear what they want in a “free” country. As the first Muslim peer Lord Ahmed said this added to the demonization of and discrimination against U.K Muslims coming from the top of government down, this again increased the separatism making terror networks and radical cleric’s job of recruitment far easier.

So, in attempting to stop another 7/7, the UK government, police and intelligence services’ actions have demonized Muslim’s and gave the impression that, given this new threat, persecution of Muslim’s is okay. Every action that did this increased the feeling of separatism within young U.K Muslims. As 7/7 and The MI5 chief’s announcement showed, this separatism has been increasingly turned into extremism by the radical clerics and terror groups. Therefore, because of the government’s ill-thought out actions, especially those since January the U.K now faces an incredible threat from “home-grown” Islamic terrorism.

This article was published by OhmyNews 3 days ago. I predicted the terror threat MI5 warned of just after the Airline bomb plot in August this year.

Is Attacking Iran a Viable Option?

This article was also published by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, one of my best achievements so far…

Is Attacking Iran a Viable Option?

The definitive end of U.S military supremacy.

By Liam Bailey

I have written several articles on the Iran crisis pitting two expanding and important strategic alliances against each other and the similarities to the powder keg of Balkan and European alliances that erupted into World War I.

On one side is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Led by China and Russia, the SCO has four other permanent member states: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Along with a senior official from India’s oil and gas industry, the prime ministers of Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and Iran attended the last meeting in Shanghai on June 15. It was the first meeting since Iran announced that it had successfully enriched Uranium: Iran was invited to become a full member.

The meeting was about strengthening trade and exports but also had a strong undertone of strengthening the alliance. A verbal oath was sworn for defending each other in the event of any attack. China and Russia have already signed military cooperation agreements with and are the main suppliers of advanced weaponry to Iran and Syria. This gave them verbal military cooperation agreements with all the SCO members, including Iran.

A senior spokesperson for U.S. ally Japan said: “The SCO is becoming a rival block to the U.S. alliance; it does not share our values. We are watching it very closely.” The U.S. too was watching it very closely, but from afar because their request for observer status at the meeting had been denied on the grounds that they shared neither land nor fluvial border with any of the SCO member states.

The meeting’s undertone of warning the U.S. against attacking Iran was evident in Chinese President Hu Jintao’s closing statement: “We hope the outside world will accept the social system and path to development independently chosen by our members and observers and respect the domestic and foreign policies adopted by the SCO participants in line with their national conditions.” Jintao’s statement was immediately followed by the verbal agreement — all members vowing to defend each other’s sovereignty and the alliance as a whole.The strengthening of this rival alliance and its challenge to U.S. supremacy was worrying amid speculation of advanced U.S. plans for war in Iran. The developments in the coming weeks and months increased the powder keg tensions of a well-backed Iranian nuclear standoff.The start of July, with joint military exercises by U.S., Romanian and Bulgarian armed forces, which continued until September, coincided with the North Korean missile tests of July 5 and began an intense period of war-games and weaponry testing from all the major players in both alliances.

Aug. 19 saw the beginning of Iranian military exercises and missile tests in all the border provinces likely to become the frontline in the event of a U.S. attack. The SCO and Collective Security Treaty Organisation) (CSTO) headed by China and Russia respectively, held joint exercises in coordination with the Iranian exercises, both launched Aug. 24 in Kazakhstan, which between them involved all 10 members of the SCO except Uzbekistan.

The Russian and Chinese exercises were thought to have come in response to mistrust of the U.S.’s intentions in the region, the threat of attack on Iran, the U.S. navy’s involvement in the rebuilding of Kazakhstan’s navy since 2003, and Iranian fears that the U.S. was attempting to build up their ally Azerbaijan to counter Iranian influence and dominance in the region. Hence, the Iranian exercises along the Azerbaijan border.

These provocative drills from all sides of the powder keg of alliances could easily have took us one step closer to war, because of the strong support from the Muslim world, Russia and China for Iran’s stance that it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under theNuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As the exercises continued, they coincided with Iran’s response to the six-nations incentive package on Aug. 22, which was a practically flat refusal to suspend enrichment as a precursor for U.S.-involved talks. This made Iran’s failure to comply with U.N. Resolution 1696 and suspend enrichment by Aug. 31 inevitable.

This lead to a stalemate, the U.S maintaining its hard line toward the rogue regime and immediately pressuring for sanctions, the EU taking the middle ground, and Russia and China effectively vetoing any form of U.N. punishment against Tehran. China is of course heavily dependant on Iran’s oil reserves on its path to becoming a world superpower.

As October comes to an end, we are still no closer to a compromise on ending Iranian enrichment and possible proliferation. The U.N. is split and sanctions just do not look viable in the foreseeable future. Yet another draft resolution has been drawn up by the U.S. and its allies and diplomats say it could be presented to Russian and Chinese officials this week. The proposed resolution aims to impose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear progression similar to those imposed on North Korea last week with the passing of U.N. Resolution 1718.

However, the fact that North Korea angered China and Russia with its openly defiant and dangerous (for China) nuclear test, has put the bond between China and Russia, and the dependence of China on Iran, foremost in their decision making processes, not to mention strengthening the SCO alliance. All of which makes the passing of this draft resolution unlikely.

As the U.S. has always maintained that it will not let Iran get the bomb, decisive military action continues to become increasingly likely. Who knows, Bush may give us one last expensive war on his way out of office. All the signs seem to indicate that this is highly possible. North Korea, named alongside Iran and Iraq as part of Bush’s axis of evil, performed its first nuclear test on Oct. 9. Its defiance of the international community in its six-nations format could and in my view will harden Bush’s already hard-line stance toward Tehran’s enrichment program and make military action a real possibility should Iran seem close to obtaining the bomb.

The months between Iran ignoring U.N. Resolution 1696 and North Korea’s nuclear test brought many statements from senior Iranians. Many speaking on condition of anonymity threatened tough retaliation against any imposed sanctions. The latest announcement, on Oct. 23, that Iran had launched a second batch of 164 centrifuges, bringing the total to 328 interconnected centrifuges, which can enrich uranium for energy or weaponry purposes, further exasperated the Bush administration.

But according to a diplomat close to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, no UF6 uranium gas is being fed into the cascade, as has generally been the case with the first batch: “The second cascade was brought on line earlier this month but they appear to be just running it empty. That is, vacuum-testing to assess durability.”

These reported advances in Iran’s quest for nuclear power, either for civilian or military use, are increasing the pressure on the U.S., the EU and the fractured UN to end the standoff before it reaches a critical point like North Korea’s defiant test. As is Israel’s leadership, who have also constantly fueled the tensions over the past months by periodically threatening the use of its military might to end Iranian enrichment, a cycle of responding to Iran’s slow but propagandized advances tit-for-tat. Therefore, in such a heightened climate, if Bush puts another wrong foot forward in his handling of Kim Jong-il (that is, concentrates on Iraq and pressurizes Iran while allowing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions to become nuclear weapons and reach a catastrophic climax), it could strengthen the Iranians’ resolve, which is already strong because of China’s large dependence on Iranian oil.

Chinese dependence, which is empowering an Iranian regime bent on becoming a nuclear power, is a dangerous mix in itself. Add to this, reports from Chinese and Russian defectors that a catastrophic conflict with the U.S. has been in the planning for years and that the timetable is to be stepped up in the event of an attack on Iran, and it becomes very dangerous indeed.

Despite the consequences of a U.S. attack on Iran ranging from bad to catastrophic, depending on the strategy and success of the attack, the stalemate within the dysfunctional U.N. is threatening to leave Bush with no option. Speculation over the use of military force against Iran has been rife since Tehran’s April announcement of successful uranium enrichment.

The latest surge in tensions is over proposed U.S naval exercises with Britain, France, Bahrain and Kuwait in the Persian Gulf next week. Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted an unnamed Foreign Ministry official as calling the maneuvers dangerous and suspicious. The official also said the exercises, reported to be practice runs for intercepting and searching ships carrying WMDs, were not in line with the security and stability of the region but instead aimed at fomenting crisis. The source blamed the neoconservatives’ warmongering, which is being used in an attempt to achieve success in the mid-term elections.

I believe the proposed exercises are another attempt by the U.S. to provoke Iran into a knee-jerk reaction, which would further alienate it from Russia and China and ultimately allow Bush to use military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

According to a war game organized by The Atlantic with the help of retired air force colonel and specialist in the field Sam Gardiner, which simulated preparations for an assault on Iran by the next American administration be it Republican or Democrat, such an assault could involve any or all of three separate strategies: (1) a punitive raid on key Revolutionary Guard units to retaliate for Iranian actions in Iraq and elsewhere, (2) a pre-emptive strike on all possible nuclear facilities or (3) the forceful removal of the Mullah regime from Tehran in a regime change operation.

The war games panel decided that the first two could be carried out independently but that the third would require the success of the first two as preparation. In reality, the second option — a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities — is the one most often discussed. Also in reality, any one of these actions or the encouragement of similar actions from Israel’s military forces could well unleash a catastrophic global conflict.

The earliest retaliation would likely come in the form of missile attacks on Israel and other U.S. allies within the range of Iranian missiles (1,280 kilometers), followed by the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil channel, as threatened in the event of sanctions. Also, Iran may decide that a bloody defeat for the U.S., even if it means chaos in Iraq, is something they might actually prefer and begin exerting their significant influence over the majority Shia militias in Iraq to more heavily join the war against U.S. forces. Iran has so far discouraged the Shia communities from becoming involved in the insurgency. This would mean that the number of U.S. forces in Iraq would be greatly reduced for the first time as forces would be needed for the Iran invasion, which would coincide with the most dramatic rise of violence against U.S. forces since the Iraq invasion began.

If the Iran invasion did not go according to plan, the subsequently shrinking number of U.S. troops in Iraq could shortly find themselves unable to control the rising violence and forced into a hasty withdrawal from the Green Zone. Such an outcome would be seen as a defeat and empower the Jihadists for decades to come.

If any or all of the SCO members (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) were dragged into the conflict with allegiance to Iran, in turn bringing involvement from U.S. allies (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Japan, Israel and the U.K., although the latter two would quite possibly be involved in some capacity from the beginning), a catastrophic global conflict would become World War III.

If none of these countries became involved but the badly overstretched U.S. military failed to achieve regime change in Tehran, whatever Iranian nuclear capabilities remained would undoubtedly be channeled toward the rapid advancement of any existing nuclear weapons program.

Military action in Iran, therefore, should be consigned to the realm of fiction. But Bush’s predisposition to falling for his own rhetoric, and the slim chances of achieving any form of sanctions against Tehran, leave a catastrophic global conflict that could easily become World War III looming over our heads. Whatever the strategy, if Bush or the next American president decides to use military force against Iran, it could easily result in the definitive end of U.S. military supremacy in the 21st century.

The War On Terror: Fighting A Losing Battle!

Have Bush and Blair’s actions since the shocking barbarity of 9/11 made clear the level of threat we face from Islamic extremist terror, actually done anything to lessen that threat? Or are we losing the war on all fronts because our military is fighting.

By Liam Bailey

In the aftermath of 9/11 the Afghanistan retaliation was expected and to some point understandable given the atrocious attacks on the World Trade Centre and the strong links with the terror networks and training camps of Afghanistan. Hence the relatively small resistance to the Afghanistan war from the international community. Afghanistan is now a NATO concern, unfortunately because other NATO countries are reluctant to send troops into a large counterinsurgency operation with no sign of ending only UK troops are in Afghanistan, making it mainly a UK concern. Iraq however is a different story.

Iraq has turned into a major concern for America, Britain and the world. Not only has it replaced Afghanistan as the main haven for Al Qaeda’s violent Jihad it is the ultimate example of an aggressive invasion and lengthy occupation of a Muslim country, which would outrage Muslim’s anyway, but by America, Islam’s biggest enemy the outrage is complete. The U.K’s involvement made them Islamic enemy number two. Iraq quickly became a self sufficient recruiting machine for terror networks, as well as the training and battleground for brainwashed Jihadi’s from around the globe.

During the Afghanistan war, Gauntanamo started turning Muslim’s around the world against US and U.K foreign policy, in displaying our government’s willingness to show open religious inequality against Muslim’s purely on the basis of their appearance, religion and location, by denying the right to a fair trial. The thousands of innocent Iraqi’s killed in the “collateral damage” of the shock and awe bombing campaign continued to turn Muslim’s against the U.S and U.K, as did all the atrocities committed by U.S forces, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Fallujah as well as who knows how many other smaller incidents.

The war on terror has had some successes; the patriot act in the U.S abolished the draconian bureaucracy prohibiting the sharing of intelligence between the various U.S agencies at the front line in the fight for homeland security. The removal of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan rid Al Qaeda of its state-based operations centre, but the installed U.S government has struggled against the warlords and Taliban forces have re-emerged. In Iraq the defeat of Saddam Hussein by coalition forces rid the country and region of a vicious and cruel regime as well as eliminating a potential state-sponsor of terrorism and source of WMD’s, however, continued instability has made the country a breeding ground for extremism and anti-U.S/U.K terrorism, as the recent report by 16 U.S intelligence agencies showed.

The War on Terror has also led directly and indirectly to the capture or death of an estimated two thirds of Al Qaeda’s leadership, despite this Al Qaeda membership is estimated to have more than doubled from 20,000 in 2001 to the current 50, 000. Little wonder then that various countries involved in fighting the war on terror alongside the U.S have foiled some 15 serious terrorist attacks since 9/11. The war on terror has also been successful in limiting the capabilities of Al Qaeda’s leadership to communicate with the various cells and members around the world, they can no longer safely use e-mail, mobile or satellite phones for fear of detection by the intelligence services but they are still thought to be using anonymous internet chat rooms.

Despite these successes in the war on terror there has been around 12 major terrorist attacks on western interests, obviously this count doesn’t include attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, insignificant or attacks not on western interests. This is because, as I said the defeat of the Taliban and U.S control of Afghanistan removed Al Qaeda’s central base of operations, almost immediately after 9/11 made Al Qaeda famous in most of the Muslim world and notorious throughout the non-Muslim world, the ensuing war in (massive bombing-collateral damage) Afghanistan, Gauntanamo Bay’s arguably illegal detention of Muslim’s, the arguably illegal invasion of Iraq and subsequent pattern of atrocities committed by U.S forces, not only made it easier for the terror networks to radicalise and recruit, but they brought about this new threat of “self generating” terror cells, radicalised by current events and inspired by Al Qaeda but not part of the central chain of command, which makes it harder for our intelligence services to protect us from the expanding threat.

Perhaps the recent fertiliser plot was an example of this new threat, maybe Omar Khyam was in some way connected to Al Qaeda central command but Jawad Akbar was the man coming up with all the plots and ideas. If it was an Al Qaeda cell, as we know from experience the targets would have been predisposed and the attack fully planned when the cell was awoken.

Although the number of terrorist attacks around the world fell from 426 attacks in 2000 to 355 attacks in 2001 and again to 205 attacks in 2002, the Jihad propaganda flowing from the invasion of Afghanistan, followed by Gauntanamo Bay, Iraq and support for Israel against Lebanon etc has brought about a constant rise in terrorist attacks ever since. This is displayed in the U.S annual patterns of terrorism reports, the 2003 patterns of global terrorism report contains, in the statistic section, a bar graph of the number of attacks each year from 1982-2003, which shows the number of attacks rose to 208 in 2003.

The biggest factor in rising terrorism however has been the Iraq war, according to U.S National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC) statistics for 2004 the number of attacks rose dramatically to 651, attacks in Iraq also rose to 198 from 22 in 2003. NCTC figures for 2005 show an even more dramatic rise to 11, 114 attacks, but they had changed the way attacks were counted so comparisons couldn’t be made to previous years. The only way I could create such a comparison was to look at how terrorism was measured in 2004, the 2004 chronology by the NCTC counted only significant attacks, i.e. one or more fatalities or above $10,000 damage fatalities or not, in figures for 2005 all attacks were counted, but in the statistics section a graph shows that the number of attacks involving 1 or more fatalities was 2884, with attacks killing between 2 and 4 people at 1614 in 2005, I therefore deem the comparable total for 2005 to be somewhere between the two figures. Therefore as our forces are still involved in heavy fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and between the two war zones fierce gun battles, allied and non-combatant deaths and terrorist attacks happen daily the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions must surely be deemed mistakes in the fight against extremism in its current form for homeland and global security. Unfortunately, things are also going wrong at home.

U.S failures in the months before 9/11 when U.S intelligence agencies noted a surge in intercepted “chatter” about an impending Al Qaeda attack in the spring and summer of 2001, in July 2001 a Phoenix FBI agent issued a memo warning of Al Qaeda operatives enrolled or enrolling in U.S aircraft schools and in August 2001 Zacharais Massaoui was arrested at a Mineanapolis flight school, after his strange questions like how to get into the cockpit of a 747 and his sole interest of learning to steer the plane once it had taken off caught flight trainers attention.

Cold-War budget cuts meant U.S intelligence didn’t have the translators or the staff to cope with the surge in “chatter” meaning it was largely just that, and for the same reason an antiquated computer system left FBI analysts unable to send e-mail or link up field reports like the Phoenix memo and the details of Massaoui’s arrest. Also, U.S rules prohibiting the sharing of information between criminal enquiries and counter-intelligence investigations meant that C.I.A didn’t tell the FBI for months that two terrorists were in the country, in hindsight two of the 19 hijackers. It is clear to me that a lack of resources played a part in 9/11? Which became the catalyst for conflict as Bush went to war, on Islamic terrorism, starting with Afghanistan and finishing… no-one knows.

The Afghanistan war cost the U.S government 18.1 billion dollars in its first fiscal year (2001-02) according to CRS (Congressional Research Service) figures. The war went well in its infancy; evident in the reduced cost of FY2003, reduced by 1.1 billion dollars in the year the Iraq war began at a cost of 51 billion dollars in its first fiscal year. The U.S war spending on Afghanistan continued to drop in line with coalition success in the country costing 15.1 billion dollars in fiscal year 2004, while Iraq costing 77.3 billion dollars began a steady and continuous rise. In fiscal year 2005 U.S Iraq spending rose to 87.3 billion dollars and for the first time since the conflict started Afghanistan war costs rose to 18.1 billion dollars. Costs of both wars continue to rise; in the latest figures released by CRS for FY2006 Iraq cost the U.S 100.4 billion dollars and Afghanistan 19.9 billion dollars.

As most of you will know U.K armed forces have fought alongside U.S forces in both wars since they began. Funding for U.K forces involvement in the war on terror comes from the “special reserve”, according to Iraq analysis, corroborated by the Times and the Guardian this reserve has been constantly increasing since the initial £1 billion pledged in the pre-budget report 2002. In the 2003 budget another £2 billion was secured for the special reserve to cover “the full costs of the U.K’s military obligations” in Iraq. Another £800 million in the pre-budget report for 2004 released later in 2003 brought the total to £3.8 billion, which rose to £4.32 billion with the £520 million pledged in the pre-budget report late 2004. Another £380 million was pledged in the 2005 budget followed by £580 million in the pre-budget report for 2006 later in the year and a further £800 million in this year’s budget bringing the total to £6.44 billion pounds. The Guardian reported in its coverage of UK war spending that Gordon Brown had pledged an additional £135 million for MI5 late 2005, an announcement coming after 7/7, pledging a fraction of the money the arguable cause of the attacks Iraq has cost, to the only people who had any chance of stopping them can easily be seen as too little too late.

The UK government, like the U.S government is spending the biggest proportion of their defense budget on two foreign wars, both for homeland security, and like the U.S all the while mistakes are being made inside the UK in the same fight for homeland security. Take the year before the atrocious attacks of 7 July 2005. According to the ISC (Intelligence and Security Committee) report (p18 of 52) into those terrible attacks Siddeque Khan and Shazad Tanweer, two of the London bombers attended meetings with others under investigation by our security services in 2004, security services didn’t seek to investigate or identify them or several other unidentified men at the meetings, although it is believed this would have been possible had the decision been taken. This is because the man under investigation was not himself an “essential target”, and U.K intelligence at the time suggested the men’s focus was training and insurgency operations in Pakistan. 7/7 then lead to the mistaken shooting by the MET of Jean Charles De Menezes, and finally the joint failure of the MET and MI5 which lead to one of the biggest media storm fiasco’s in the UK’s war against extremism, the Forest Gate raid.

So, who can say whether the money being spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could have prevented these mistakes had it instead been funnelled into UK police and intelligence agencies, but as a lack of resources played a part in failing to stop 9/11 such high war costs can only be making things worse. The failure of MI5 to investigate two of the London bombers a year in advance was also put down to a lack of resources, so we can’t help but connect this lack of resources with the massive budget given to maintaining a war on two fronts, a war that after the early weeks began exacerbating the threat from global terrorism, while bearing a new “home-grown” or “self-generating” threat. If our governments continue to take actions that unintentionally increase the risk, while the money spent on these actions is weakening our defences at home one must wonder, if it isn’t already, when the balance will be tipped in the terrorists favour?

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